I'm so happy to be back

This is the longest break from blogging I have taken since I started blogging with any serious intent. I've been blogging for nearly nine years and in those first few years month long breaks were common.

So yeah, nine years. In the past couple weeks, as we have completely re-hauled FIMBY, I have unearthed many of my old posts. It was so much fun to read about the days when the kids were younger. To remember how different my life was then. 

bubble blower

Some of those posts made me achy with longing for past seasons of my life. But mostly reading those posts made me happy. Happy I wrote those stories. Happy I lived those experiences with my children. And happy for where I am now. 

I have to say, I love this blog. I've written about many things in nearly nine years but mostly I've told our family story. And this, the writing and the reading, brings me joy.

Before taking this break last month, I had reached a point where I was drained of words and writing vision. Or rather, the vision was getting muddied. But I was definitely drained of words. So it was a good time to do all the upgrades we've been meaning to make on the blog, re-building the back end of things. And to re-design some parts of the blog I've wanted to change. Blog categories being one of those changes. 

bubble blower

Watching the new blog come together has been a nail biting experience for me many days. I am a writer and photographer, a beauty seeker and manager of family living. I'm not a technical wizard. I had a vision for this space but Damien was the person to make that happen.

I am learning more technical skills all the time but my progress is slow and nowhere near the level of my creative vision, i.e.: my ability to make things "look" they way I want them to is quite limited. 

Damien is a patient man and he has coded his way through this re-launch from beginning to end. Thank you Dear.

Bubble bokeh

And of course, this isn't the end. It never is. FIMBY, as you see it now, is mostly much done except for my resources pages which, like everything else, are getting a complete re-vamp.

What are my resources pages?

They are the pages where I curate the most helpful and "how-to" type posts in the different topics I write about. In some ways, they are the best of posts.

I'm attached to each post I write. Each one tells some part of my story but I also realize not every post is meaningful or helpful to readers. For goodness sake, there's over 1,500 of them

There's no way you want to read through all those to find the bits most useful to you. (And trust me, most of that is not helpful or useful to you. My early blogging years were very much "updates for grandma" type posts.)

spring bouquet

Resource pages are where I try to bring together my most helpful posts on creative, adventurous and healthy family living. My soap making page is wildly popular (in FIMBY numbers) and I refer people to my homeschooling help page often.

These pages: soapmaking, homeschooling, vegan eating, adventurous living, creative mompreneur, and homemaking (current working titles) are getting completely re-worked to be more helpful to readers. They will feature the "best of" FIMBY posts in those topic areas and recommended resources. They're not done yet but I'll let you know when they are. 

While taking a writing break and creating a new FIMBY space I stopped reading other blogs. Actually I stopped reading other blogs earlier in winter, for a few reasons. I feel like a bad blogger saying as much, since I love it when people read this blog. But sometimes all the "looking out there" is not helpful. I am in that season right now. 

bubbles on street

I am in a season (nearing a reprieve I hope) of intense personal growth. On the whole this has been more painful than joyful. And most online influences, even good ones, have not been helpful to this intensely personal process. 

There is a time for gathering, reading, absorbing, learning, and gleaning. A time for being influenced. And then there is a time to put all those influences through the refining fire of life and see what remains in the ashes. Is there any gold there? 

This is a personal process but it relates to blogging also. It's about finding my own way for the future and having the confidence to do what I love most, which is write about family life. 

pastel bubbles

I know what I want to write. I know what brings me joy. And stepping away from outside influences has helped confirm those in my heart and strengthen my resolve to simply do my own thing. I am tired of writing trends, where a lot of bloggers write about the same thing. I'm over the concept of "niche". I'm done with my concern about where I belong in the blogging world.  

I'm going to write about the things I am passionate about. My family, freedom homeschooling, creativity, nature, health, and adventure; to name a few. And how it shakes out and where that "places" me is of little concern.  

Here's to another nine years. Living and writing our story.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

Filed Under

« Preparing for a New Season
The Spring I Start Running »
  • Rana

    Rana on April 15, 2013, 12:45 p.m.

    Here! Here!  I love the new look and the attitude that goes with it.  I can't wait to read more!  Renee, your blog has been such an inspiration to me.  I have gained so much from knowing you and your family.  Because of the experiences your family has taken, it has moved me to do things with my family I never thought I could do.  We are striving for more outdoor activities, we can't wait to get camping again, my homeschool experience has gone a lot smoother and we are just a closer family.  Thank you for putting yourself and your family out there and keeping it real.

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 15, 2013, 12:56 p.m.

      Hello Rana! Thank you. I am so happy to be back. Being silent for a while has been good but the extrovert in me is desperate to start connecting again with people here. And I really appreciate your kind and supportive words about the influence my writing has had on your own family life. I am just so grateful to share my heart and life with other moms and to encourage you in someway. 

      XO, Renee

      reply

  • Charity Johnson

    Charity Johnson on April 15, 2013, 1:36 p.m.

    Yay! So happy you are back. I love following the story of your family! I love reading about your adventures and hearing your honest struggles and joys! I am so thankful that you are not following the blogging trends! This can be so hard to do sometimes when we read other blogs. What a great idea to take a step back so you can give yourself the space to evaulate without outside influences. It is amazing how much of our lives are "out there" so to speak, and how sometimes we can feel like we have to blog/facebook/twitter about everything that goes on. I am thankful for originality, authenticity, and the direction of your blog. It is one of my favorites to read (maybe because I know you personally, but also because it is real). Some blogs are full of great insights but often make me feel like I fall short as a mama, blogger, homeschooler, etc....because I am not doing it "that way." I try not to remain in that space for very long, and thankfully, I come around pretty quickly!

    All that to say, I love you, I love your family, I love your blog...and I am happy that you are back sharing your stories!

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 15, 2013, 1:43 p.m.

      Love you too Charity! PS. I will respond soon to your e-mail about hiking clothing for kids. I need to talk to D. about it because he is the one who does all our clothing and gear planning and purchasing.

      reply

  • Misti

    Misti on April 15, 2013, 1:37 p.m.

    Glad to see you back! I had received my AT magazine before I saw your email about having the recipes in there so I was excited to see y'all in there! What an exciting thing!

    Looking forward to more of your writing and adventures here!

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 15, 2013, 1:41 p.m.

      Hi Misti! One of the things I will start blogging about, hopefully soon, is our thru hiking plans for next year. For the next year and half FIMBY will be very much about that journey, our preparation, the hike itself and life after hiking - which I can't even imagine. I can't wait to start talking about the AT more here but there is just so much else to write about! (smile).

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      • Amanda

        Amanda on April 18, 2013, 12:06 p.m.

        You're going to do the AT?!  Awesome. :)  NOBO or SOBO?  When you get to the VT portion, maybe we can join you for a bit!!  I've been thinking hard about doing a SOBO Long Trail thru-hike with the boys in  a couple of years.  How very exciting!  I can't wait to read more about your plans.  Welcome back, I've missed your posts very much!

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        • renee

          renee on April 18, 2013, 12:07 p.m.

          NOBO, and we'd love to have company on the trail (smile).

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          • Amanda

            Amanda on April 18, 2013, 12:16 p.m.

            Oh, I'm going to start scheming right this very minute.  Since we live so close to the trail, you should plan a town day when you come through here - and an overnight at our place.  I wonder when most people get to VT?

            reply

            • renee

              renee on April 18, 2013, 12:22 p.m.

              Absolutely! Our AT plans will be public this summer or late spring. We will be announcing to readers our plans and hoping to meet and stay with people along the way. We are giving ourselves 6 months, starting early April, that might put us in VT in August sometime. We will absolutely be in touch with you and be making plans as we get closer to the time. We would love to stay with you!

              reply

  • Lisa Z

    Lisa Z on April 15, 2013, 2:14 p.m.

    Welcome back! I missed your writing. I love the idea of putting aside outside influences for a time and going within. I've been doing a lot of inner work but am still perhaps paying too much attention to "everyone else" too. I am going to have to think about that for myself! Everything looks beautiful, btw. I love the "bubbles" of color in the photos above. They're magical!

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 15, 2013, 3:45 p.m.

      It's interesting Lisa. There are seasons of life where I gain so much from what other people have to say in the blog world. I feel comfortable reading, picking and choosing, and taking what works for me. Then there are other seasons where I feel so sensitive and vulnerable and... I don't honestly know what it is. But I know that during those particular times I feel much more contented when I don't look "out" as much. It's a way of protecting myself from discontentment and self worth issues (which I'm working on).

      I'm still in that place - no blogs right now (except for maybe two or three I really dig). I don't want the distraction from what I'm trying to do here - in my life and my writing - living with joy and contentment. 

      reply

  • Lety

    Lety on April 15, 2013, 2:41 p.m.

    Hi Renee! You took a long break, and had me worried! But I'm glad you are back, and I like the way you, or your husband, redesigned your blog. The writting of your blog about your life and family it's very inspiring to me. So, keep it comming! Leticia

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 15, 2013, 3:41 p.m.

      Thank you! Oh no, don't be worried. It's funny because my life continued much the same as usual I just wasn't "here". Very much alive and well but March was a hum dinger and I will be sharing more about that in the near future. 

      reply

  • Mindy

    Mindy on April 15, 2013, 3:01 p.m.

    It's so good to see you and FIMBY again! I clicked on my shortcut this morning just to see (as I've done periodically since your break...I like catching up on your instagram photos too) and there it was! And the new look is spectacular. Welcome back! You've been missed.

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 15, 2013, 3:38 p.m.

      Good morning Mindy. Thank you so much. I missed this space also but I was working on it nearly everyday so I'm used to the new look and feel. The design has already lost its newness for me (smile).

      reply

  • Kika

    Kika on April 15, 2013, 3:08 p.m.

    It was a nice surprise to open up my internet this morning and see that you were back (FIMBY is my home page)! I'm glad you took the time needed away from this space and look forward to hearing what's on your heart and mind over the next season of your life.

    BTW, please tell Brienne we are thankful for her video which introduced us to Herb Fairies; Ella is looooving it already. This weekend she had a talk in her grandpa's hospital room, with him, about the 'annoying chickweed' in his yard and what he could use it for;)

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 15, 2013, 3:36 p.m.

      Hi hon. I'm your homepage!? Gulp. Better keep things lookin' nice here then. I'm so glad Ella loves Herb Fairies. 

      reply

      • Leilani

        Leilani on April 17, 2013, 4:33 a.m.

        Oh yes, we've started on Herb Fairies, too, and the girls and I are smitten.  Thank you to you and Brienne for introducing us!  (Now if only we could find some chickweed around here.  I think I'm going to have to actually order seeds.)

         

        next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

         

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  • Sarah m

    Sarah m on April 15, 2013, 3:11 p.m.

    So glad to see you back here, and what a nice boost for a Monday morning (I actually like them)! I'd been stalking the blog for activity and instagrams :) 

    Can't wait to see what's next, and "Freedom Homeschooling"....I don't know if there was supposed to be a comma between those two, but I really like the term. 

    Sarah M

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 15, 2013, 3:34 p.m.

      freedom homeschooling - one term. No commas. And thank you Sarah. It's wonderful to be back. 

      And I like Monday mornings also (smile).

      reply

  • Mystie

    Mystie on April 15, 2013, 4:25 p.m.

    Welcome back! I love your new look! 

     

    I'm looking forward to your development of Freedom Homeschooling, too. I am a mix of classical, Charlotte Mason, and unschooling, and a shorthand term like that could work for us, I think. :)

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 15, 2013, 9:55 p.m.

      Maybe I should trademark the term (smile). Freedom homeschooling is one of my main life messages right now and was what I was hoping to communicate in a course form this spring (that's not happening now - long story, which I'll tell in bits and pieces on the blog.) All that to say freedom homeschooling best communicates, in a few words, my philosophy of learning (smile). Feel free to grab it for yourself also.

      reply

  • Aimee

    Aimee on April 15, 2013, 7:26 p.m.

    Love the fresh look and your renewed energy.  I have been feeling similar to you...paring down access to social media and limiting blogs...it's just too much for my weary spirit.  I need to focus on MY OWN LIFE and not others' lives.  I know the life I value....I just need to go do it.

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 15, 2013, 9:58 p.m.

      Amen sister. I hear you loud and clear. You will get nothing from encouragement from me in that regard. Which is wierd since it might mean tuning this space out also. But I'm cool with that. I hear you on "weary spirit". I am full to the brim with words for that. That was my March. More will be coming on the blog about that. xo, Renee

      reply

      • renee

        renee on April 15, 2013, 10:02 p.m.

        P.S. This post of yours on Sustainable Homeschooling is really beautiful. Love the metaphor for how to keep the joy in our homeschools - we have to be growing sustainable learning environments. Love it!

        reply

  • Heather

    Heather on April 15, 2013, 8:09 p.m.

    Yay!  So glad you are back.  In reading your blog, I see a woman willing to be vulnerable because she is grounded in wisdom and strength.  May you continue to have the energy and courage to follow your passion!

    reply

  • Mama

    Mama on April 15, 2013, 11:20 p.m.

    I've been checking my Google Reader every day in the hopes of seeing a new post of yours pop up :) Today I was pleasantly surprised! The new look is great. Very professional and yet welcoming. It has always been and continues to be one of my very favorites blogs to follow. As a fellow writer I completely understand the need to take a break. You really need to do that once in a while in order to keep the passion and inspiration! But I am happy to see you back, and look forward to reading your posts.

    reply

  • Sarah

    Sarah on April 16, 2013, 3:14 a.m.

    ...And I'm so happy you're back! I'm commenting because (I have been following your twitter feed on the side religiously during your absense and...) I saw your instagram of books that you might use as read-a-louds and I highly recommend both Bridge to Terabithia and Island of the Blue Dolphins. They both are special to me because I read them just as I was beginning to read proficiently (in fourth grade... after a lot of extra remedial practice). I remember both well. BT was given to me by my first grade teacher (who worked with me during later years helping me learn to read) when she moved back to Granada. I cried many tears over that book, so I always see it as a more private read (but that could be my specific experience). IBD was a school reading book that we read while we were studying California Native Americans which was a way-cool combo, I thought! Whichever you choose, they're both wonderful! 

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 16, 2013, 12:10 p.m.

      Thank you Sarah. When I presented these options to my kids I was told we already read Island of the Blue Dolphins which I now vaguely recall. And Celine informed me Bridge to Terabithia was a bit sad and Laurent nixed that idea. He's a sensitive soul that one. So, Misty of the Chincoteague it is!

      reply

      • Sarah

        Sarah on April 16, 2013, 7:21 p.m.

        Good call by Laurent... that book is quite sad (although I still recommend it to other parties). Have fun with Misty! (I've never read it but the cover is cute :)

        reply

  • Kyce

    Kyce on April 16, 2013, 4:24 a.m.

    It is lovely to see this space so freshly tended and made even more beautiful. It is a tremendous relief to let go of reading blogs (and for me, writing one), and to come into our own. I look forward to seeing where your inner compass guides your voice and journey.

    reply

  • Beth

    Beth on April 16, 2013, 1:10 p.m.

    I missed you and am glad to see you blogging again!  The new format looks great - friendly, cheerful and streamlined.  I pray that this season of personal growth you are going through will result in more widom and joy in your life. 

    reply

  • Angelia

    Angelia on April 16, 2013, 6:07 p.m.

    I don't know if I have commented here before or not  - but I just wanted to let you know that I do love reading your blog:)  So glad you are back.  Love your themes on the sidebar...............

    reply

  • Tara

    Tara on April 16, 2013, 8:56 p.m.

    I am so happy you are back and I like the new look.  I hope to read for as many years as you will write!

     

     

    reply

  • Amber

    Amber on April 17, 2013, 3:22 a.m.

    Yay!  So glad to see you back.  I totally understand what you wrote about taking a break from reading and writing.  I hope that we get to hear a bit of insight from your personal growth that you've talked about.  I, too, feel like I am in a stage like that, but have not the freedom to work through it much, having three kids 4 and under.  Thank you for all you write.  I always find encouragement to be better, but never feel bad about myself for not doing it like or as well as you.  That's hard to find, as you know, online.  I am glad to have found it here at FIMBY.  I like the redesign too.  

    Hugs, Amber

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 17, 2013, 1:04 p.m.

      Amber, I plan to be writing about it. 

      I'm curious what you mean about "not having freedom to work throught it" because your kids are younger. I would like to encourage you that the freedom you are seeking is in being yourself and in tuning out the outside noises and distractions to focus on what's happening in your own domain. And we can do this no matter the age of our kids. (but perhaps you were talking about time freedom for thinking and reflecting?)

      I can really relate to you in your current stage of mothering. I went through a long "tuning out" time while my kids were little. Mothering advice wasn't all that helpful to me (thank goodness there were no blogs then!). I just needed to learn, by trial and error and talking with close friends and reading a few well chosen books (but not many) how to parent my own wee ones, based on who they were and who I was. 

      I'm not saying that's where you're at or what you need to do. But I do want to encourage you that you have the freedom to "tune out" those influences in your life that are not helpful - that's what I'm talking about in terms of my own personal growth this season. I also pray for the time in your life, since that is so precious and limited with little ones. 

      xxoo 

      reply

      • Amber

        Amber on April 17, 2013, 2:21 p.m.

        You are correct in assuming it is lack of time to process internally and think about things.  I find myself in moments while washing dishes (when the two older kids are miraculously playing in the sand box quietly) when I am thinking through and processing things, but even after an early bed time for the kids, my mind is tired and weary- not in a place for conversation or really thinking.  

        I have been able to mostly tune out the unhelpful and unnecessary information.  I am doing my best to balance blog and book reading with my own personal beliefs and rhythms...looking at those who encourage me in the way I want to raise my kids.  It is definitely been helpful to do so.

         

        Thank you for the encouragement.  And, again, thank you for your blog.

         

         

        reply

  • Leilani

    Leilani on April 17, 2013, 4:30 a.m.

    Welcome back!!!  Missed you alot while you were "gone".  I love the new look, so clean and bright!  And all your new write-ups on the pages - so thoughtful.  I hope you found some rest and rejuvenation.  I'm so glad you're back!

    reply

  • Pamela Neves

    Pamela Neves on April 18, 2013, 2:39 p.m.

    Hi Renee, I'm a subscriber by email but for the past few months I no longer receive your posts. They are not in my spam folder either. I've updated my preferences but still no FIMBY posts sadly. I'd love if we can figure out the issue.

    Thanks and I love the new look!

    Love, Pamela

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 18, 2013, 2:55 p.m.

      Pamela, 

      I'm not sure which e-mail subscription service you are referring to. We used to use Feedburner for e-mail delivery of separate posts. We no longer do that. That stopped around the new year. We merged our old e-mail subscribers into our newsletter subscriber list. If you are on that list you should get be getting my weekly (or nearly weekly) newsletter. This newsletter is the only e-mail subscription we offer. 

      I checked your account status at Mailchimp, the service that delivers our newsletters, to make sure you are subscribed to the FIMBY newsletter. You are. (It's kind of confusing for people sometimes because we offer newsletters for all our sites and if you've subscribed to one you might think you've subscribed to FIMBY when in fact you aren't). 

      It should be all set now Pamela but if you don't get a newsletter this weekend let me know. And thank you for bringing this to my attention. And thank you for reading (smile).

       

      reply

  • Jessica

    Jessica on April 18, 2013, 8:31 p.m.

    Love the look of your new blog!  I dislike when I have to click again to read a post and then click again to go back to see if there is something else I would like to read.  But I'll deal. :)

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 18, 2013, 8:44 p.m.

      Jessica, you shouldn't have to do too much clicking. When you are on the main page you can read the newest post right there. If you visit another post (or to comment on the recent post) you can see the most recent posts on the right hand sidebar. No need to click back to the main page to see the most recent posts again. 

      I disdain visiting blogs (and pretty much refuse to read those) that require me to "click to read more" (blech). But I also like a tidy appearance on my own blog, without a never ending scroll of posts down the page. And I love an overview on the front page of recent entries. So I compromised for one full post and 4 summaries. Also, if you visit any blog theme, say homeschool, you will see three posts/page. 

      And if none of this works for you, well, I appreciate you still reading. 

      reply

  • Nicola

    Nicola on April 20, 2013, 6:02 a.m.

    Welcome back! I am testing a comment to see if I can get one to stick with your new re-do. It looks fabulous, Renee! That said, I am so glad for your weekly "postcards," because that is how I best keep up with you. I still read, just don't comment anywhere much anymore! What an inspiring spring clean!!

    reply

  • Chris

    Chris on April 20, 2013, 2:02 p.m.

    What Renee has written about thinking for yourself is so true. There is so much information now. Helpful and not-so-helpful. Sometimes you just have to step back and digest what you have read and let it shake itself out. Thank you for your quiet insight. I, too, love the natural way of doing things. I homeschooled my kids for some of their school life and I would not trade that time for all the wealth in the world. 

    Bravo, Renee, keep on writing.

    reply

  • Lisa

    Lisa on April 20, 2013, 3:25 p.m.

    Welcome back! I am so glad the newsletter told me you were up and running. Two suggestions: 1) can you put the date of the post at the top of the post, instead of the bottom? I like to know when the post was posted before I start reading and 2) can you link your Outdoors blog again? I could only find the Toe Minimalist and Tougas Cafe websites. I love the clean look of this update!

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 20, 2013, 3:37 p.m.

      I will be linking to our other blogs again soon at the bottom of the page. It will be obvious and easy to find. That is something that didn't get done before going live again. There's a bunch of little things like that, I'm not entirely pleased with everything yet but the biggies are done.

      The date will probably stay where it is for a while. I'm liking the very clean look without the date at the top but I appreciate your feedback. I would like FIMBY to read a bit more like a story and less like a journal, but we'll see how that goes. 

      I average 4 posts a week and so if you visit once a week you can preview all those posts in one glance and know they were published in the last week. 

      reply

      • Lisa

        Lisa on April 20, 2013, 8:46 p.m.

        Thanks for explaining the four post outlay. That makes sense to me! Glad to know your Outdoor blog will be linked later.

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        • renee

          renee on April 20, 2013, 9:49 p.m.

          I'm glad that makes sense. And I'm pleased you like our outdoor blog also, too bad we haven't published anything there for three months! Ack.

          reply

  • faithfamilyfibro

    faithfamilyfibro on April 21, 2013, 12:29 p.m.

    Beautiful, just beautiful....clean and crisp.  I love the new digs and we missed you!!!  So glad you are back. Trying to figure out how to get an email subscription and not just the weekly newsletter...do you have an email feed delivered daily!!  Everything looks wonderful.  Have a great week!!

    reply

    • renee

      renee on April 21, 2013, 1:21 p.m.

      Karen,

      Thank you for your enthusiastic response. There are still a few things I need to finish in this space but it's mostly there.

      I don't have an individual post e-mail feed. The service we used for that called Feedburner is owned by Google and Google is not investing anymore resources into maintaining that service. According to my technie husband, who knows about these things, Google is leaving Feedburner to die, and he's pretty sure it will go the way of Google Reader. From the technical end of things he doesn't want us using a service that is not supported. 

      We started the newsletter late last fall (after coming home from Allume actually, I was totally fired up about the newsletter after Darren's talk). We didn't want to lose our e-mail feed to Google mismanagement so we merged our e-mail subscribers into the e-mail newsletter subscription. 

      Some readers don't like this and would prefer e-mail notification of individual posts, but we're not set up for that any more. Maybe again someday but I am actually trying to create something unique and interesting with my newsletter. So, we'll see.  

      I want to make the blog accessible to people but I also want to do my own thing in terms of how content is delivered. 

      I'm explaining all of this to you because you're a blogger and can appreciate the decision making process for how best to deliver your content. 

      Again, thanks for your encouraging support and question about the e-mail.

      reply

  • Sharon

    Sharon on April 21, 2013, 3:53 p.m.

    I'm glad you're back.  I like FIMBY's new look and am intrigued by how "a family story blog" develops.  I also love the bold new attitude.  Congratulations.

    reply

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