Redesigning Happiness

Follow along as I redesign my life one day at a time

Quick and Easy Ideas for Elf on the Shelf

Quick and Easy Ideas for Elf on the Shelf, Elf on the Shelf, Changing your elf, Places for elf

Quick and Easy Ideas for Elf on the Shelf

The Idea of Elf on the Shelf:

Elf on the Shelf originated to encourage positive behaviors in children. The idea begins with an Elf that is sent from the North Pole to watch the behaviors of kids. Elf leaves every night to report back to Santa. When he comes back, he surprises the children with a new hiding spot. The movement is what makes him seem real to the kids. It has sparked the creativity of parents all over the world!!! Check out some of the Elf on the Shelf ideas I’ve collected from my Facebook friends. This is a work in progress…more photos will be added daily!

Introducing Elf:

Quick and Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas, Elf on the Shelf, moving Elf, Ideas for Elf, Ideas for moving Elf

Elf making a flour angel

Quick and Easy Ideas for Elf on the Shelf , Elf on the Shelf Ideas, Ideas for changing Elf

Fun with Photos:




Copy machine fun

Fun with toys:



Playing the game “Spoons”


Paper bag race




Video game fun!



Dinosaur attack


Fun with food:


Sipping the syrup

Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Elf with donuts (actually Cheerios)


Mini marshmallow fight

Elf on the Shelf Ideas


Banana Minions


M & M’s note


Pudding fun! Good for plastic Elves only!


Elf hid candy canes around the house



Magical punch

Misc. fun:


Elf swinging on a toilet paper roll


Elf swinging on a candy cane

Elf on the Shelf Ideas, Quick and Easy ideas for Elf on the Shelf


Elf hung the kid’s underwear on the tree




Elf made paper snowflakes



Watching the movie “Elf”







elf ideas, Elf on the shelf

Elf bath with mini marshmallows


Elf taking a bath (in cotton balls)


15 Children’s Books that Promote Kindness

15 Children's books that promote kindness, kindness, top children's books, how to teach kindness

This post contains affiliate links.

In a world full of hatred, hostility, and selfishness, kindness must begin with us! It is true that our actions speak louder than words, but books can reach the heart of children and inspire many conversations and concepts. Please take a look at these 15 children’s books that promote kindness. A changed world can begin with your and your child!

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud 

This heartwarming book encourages positive behavior by using the concept of an invisible bucket to show children how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love by “filling buckets.”

We All Sing With the Same Voice by Philip Miller and Shepperd M. Green

The familiar words to this joyful song combine with vibrant illustrations to celebrate the idea that no matter where children live, what they look like, or what they do, they’re all the same where it counts — at heart. “We All Sing with the Same Voice” was aired and continues to be seen on Sesame Street

The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Minna and her classmates have been asked by their teacher, Mrs. Bloom, to work on a Kindness Project. Mrs. Bloom wants them to do and draw and share an act of kindness. Minna and her family do lots of kind things, but Minna can’t decide which one is right for her project. Then she starts writing and drawing and cutting—and an idea for a paper quilt picturing many acts of kindness begins to take shape!

Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler

When Mrs. Ruler asks five of her kindergarteners to miss recess, she’s got a special plan up her sleeve. She’s about to teach a new golden rule: KINDNESS IS COOL!

Soon the entire class is doing so many good deeds that their kindness bulletin board barely fits their classroom! From clearing the table after dinner, to helping the elderly, one kindergarten class is proving that kids really can make a difference.
Count along with Mrs. Ruler’s class. Can all their good deeds really add up to 100 acts of kindness?

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead 

Friends come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. In Amos McGee’s case, all sorts of species, too! Every day he spends a little bit of time with each of his friends at the zoo, running races with the tortoise, keeping the shy penguin company, and even reading bedtime stories to the owl. But when Amos is too sick to make it to the zoo, his animal friends decide it’s time they returned the favor.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena 

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

Those Shoes by Meribeth Boelts

All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson 

Can one child’s good deed change the world?

It can when she’s Ordinary Mary―an ordinary girl from an ordinary school, on her way to her ordinary house―who stumbles upon ordinary blueberries. When she decides to pick them for her neighbor, Mrs. Bishop, she starts a chain reaction that multiplies around the world. Mrs. Bishop makes blueberry muffins and gives them to her paperboy and four others―one of whom is Mr. Stevens, who then helps five different people with their luggage―one of whom is Maria, who then helps five people―including a man named Joseph who didn’t have enough money for his groceries―and so on, until the deed comes back to Mary.

It’s a feel-good story that inspires and celebrates a world full of ordinary deeds!

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig 

Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine. This story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson 

Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually, Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.

This story will resonate with readers long after they’ve put it down because of its powerful anti-bullying message and striking art.

Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss

Everyone’s favorite elephant returns in this timeless, moving, and comical classic in which we discover that “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” Thanks to the irrepressible rhymes and eye-catching illustrations, young readers will learn kindness and perseverance (as well as the importance of a good “Yopp”) from the very determined—and very endearing—Horton the elephant.

The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth

What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? Nikolai knows that he wants to be the best person he can be, but often he is unsure if he is doing the right thing. So he goes to ask Leo, the wise turtle. When he arrives, the turtle is struggling to dig in his garden, and Nikolai rushes to help him. As he finishes work, a violent storm rolls in. Nikolai runs for Leo’s cottage, but on his way, he hears cries for help from an injured panda. Nikolai brings her in from the cold, and then rushes back outside to rescue her baby too.

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson 

It was the perfect summer. That is until Jeremy Ross moved into the house down the street and became neighborhood enemy number one. Luckily Dad had a surefire way to get rid of enemies: Enemy Pie. But part of the secret recipe is spending an entire day playing with the enemy!

In this funny yet endearing story, one little boy learns effective recipes for turning your best enemy into your best friend. Accompanied by charming illustrations, Enemy Pie serves up a sweet lesson in the difficulties and ultimate rewards of making new friends.

Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins 

Who knew that cakes were so rude?! In this deliciously entertaining book, a not-so-sweet cake—who never says please or thank you or listens to its parents—gets its just desserts. Mixing hilarious text and pictures, Rowboat Watkins, a former Sendak fellow, has cooked up a laugh-out- loud story that can also be served up as a delectable discussion starter about manners or bullying, as it sweetly reminds us all that even the rudest cake can learn to change its ways.

Whoever You Are by Mem Fox 

“Little one, / whoever you are, / wherever you are, / there are little ones / just like you / all over the world.” So begins the Australian author Mem Fox’s joyful picture book Whoever You Are, a celebration of the world’s diverse cultures, both our similarities and differences. Leslie Straub’s innovative, colorful, folk art–style oil paintings of children from all corners of the globe are bordered with photographs of hand-carved, bejeweled frames—and they all reflect Fox’s message that no matter where we come from, within our hearts “Joys are the same, / and love is the same. / Pain is the same, / and blood is the same.”

My Christmas Story

My Christmas Story, true meaning of Christmas, Jesus Birth

My Christmas Story 

Growing up as a preacher’s kid (PK), I learned about the true meaning of Christmas from day one. I learned about Jesus’ birth from my parents and from church, which I attended 3 times a week (Sunday a.m./p.m. along with Wednesday nights). I remember being in yearly Christmas programs with other children and dressing up in pretty Christmas dresses, sometimes even matching handmade ones. It was a happy time of year with family, friends, gift giving, and yes, even Santa!

My Christmas story, the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus birth

My mom and I, 1973

Christmas, the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus Birth

My dad and I – 1973

Unlike many children, I don’t remember thinking that Santa was a genuine person. He was just another part of the fun holiday. Maybe my parents told me that Santa wasn’t real, but one thing was for sure, I knew the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus was born in a manager, sent from God to one day die for our sins. He was born to the virgin Mary – which of course is one of God’s many miracles. He grew up to spread the word of peace, joy, love, and forgiveness. His life wasn’t a princely storybook, in fact, he dealt many hardships before eventually dying on a cross for our sins. It is his life that we celebrate on Christmas Day.

We celebrate with those with love. We gather to eat meals and exchange presents. We gather to have fun and laugh! Family celebrations look different to everyone, but my hope is that every family knows the true meaning of the celebration…Jesus birth!

True meaning of Christmas, Jesus Birth

Christmas with my cousins 1974

Jesus Birth, True meaning of Christmas

My family 2014


Breakfast with Santa at the Rusty Bucket + Giveaway

One of my favorite places to eat is the Rusty Bucket! There are four Michigan locations – the closest for me are the two in Northville. Their buffalo chicken sandwich is the best I’ve ever had. During a recent group outing, we visited the location in Northville and everyone loved their meals. If you haven’t been to a Rusty Bucket, you are missing out! Find a location near you below.

Breakfast with Santa at the Rusty Bucket + Giveaway

Disclosure: I was given $25 to Rusty Bucket to facilitate this post.

Breakfast with Santa at the Rusty Bucket + Giveaway

Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern is celebrating the holiday season with its annual Breakfast with Santa event. You and your family can visit one of the four locations on Saturday, December 10, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. For just $5, visitors will enjoy a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast, as well as coffee, juice or milk.

Most important, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Toys for Tots. Guests also are encouraged to donate new or gently used coats. Coats will be donated to the Salvation Army in early 2017.

All Rusty Bucket locations in Michigan are participating. Limited seating will be available, so guests are encouraged to call ahead for reservations. Santa will visit each table and families are encouraged to bring cameras for photo opportunities.

The four Metro Detroit area locations are:

    • 30450 Telegraph, Bingham Farms 248-594-2730
    • 42874 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills 248-239-3663
    • 15400 Sheldon Rd., Northville 734-254-9699
    • 18785 Traditions Dr., Northville 248-349-1399


Enter below to win a $25 giftcard to one of the four Metro Detroit Locations. Must be a Michigan resident to win. Winner has 48 hours to respond to email.
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Brentwood Home Review and Giveaway

Brentwood Home Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: I was given the Brentwood Home Sleep Wellness Bundle to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

About Brentwood Home

Recently, I was introduced to an online store called Brentwood Home of Los Angeles. For over 30 years, Brentwood Home has teamed with local artisans and fabricators to design healthy, natural, and luxurious mattresses, pillows, and bedding. Their products meet California’s standards for environmental quality by combining organic, non-toxic, and natural materials with no chemical retardants, phthalates, ozone depleters, or heavy metals. Their expertise is comfort and healthy living!


Brentwood Home Pillows

I was given the privilege of trying two styles of Brentwood Home’s pillows. I feel good knowing that my new pillows meet the above standards. As an allergy/sinus sufferer, I wake up refreshed and clear as a result of the natural and chemical free pillows. Brentwood Home’s pillows are designed to represent all over comfort! I’ve been sleeping on both the Carmel Latex Pillow and the Helena Latex Filled Pillow. These pillows are made with 100% natural latex. The Carmel pillow is more resilient so it tends to be for those who need a firm, supportive foundation. The Helena Pillow is made with ribbons and silky-smooth kapok fibers and is adjustable to fit the needs of the sleeper. A zippered opening allows the user to remove or add fill to his/her desired comfort level. To be honest, I’ve been sleeping on both pillows and I’m still undecided about which one I love more! I guess I need more sleep time to find out.



If these pillows sound amazing to you, I have good news! One lucky reader has the chance to win the Brentwood Home Sleep Wellness Bundle which consists of two Helena Pillows and two Carmel Pillows (valued at $276). Enter below for your chance to win. Giveaway ends on 12/14. Good luck!

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This giveaway is open to US residents only. Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. The winner will be notified via email and must respond with shipping information within 48 hours of notice. Brentwood Home is responsible for fulfillment of the prize.

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$45 PayPal Cash Giveaway (Ends 12/4)

$45 PayPal Cash Giveaway (Ends 12/4)

$45 PayPal Cash Giveaway (Ends 12/4)

Just in time for the holidays!

Everyone can use a little extra cash in their pocket to spend! Enter our giveaway for the chance to win $45 PayPal Cash.  Best of luck of Redesigning Happiness and Happy Holidays!

This giveaway is open to US residents, ages 18 and older with a valid Twitter Account.  The giveaway will end on 12/4/2016 at 11:59 pm.


New and Improved Olga’s Kitchen

new-and-improved Olga's Kitchen

New and Improved Olga’s Kitchen

Recently some blogger friends and I were invited to visit a brand new Olga’s Kitchen in Ann Arbor, MI. This location, the third in Ann Arbor, is located at 3500 Washtenaw Avenue. Settled in a shopping strip, the location is easy to find and there is plenty of parking.

New and Improved Olga's Kitchen

What many people don’t know is that Olga’s was purchased by TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants in late 2015. Since then many changes have happened to both the layout of the restaurants and the menu.

Team Schostak opened the first of its redesigned restaurants in Monroe, MI, this August, unveiling the new look, and future, of the Olga’s Kitchen brand, along with a renewed commitment to the brand’s 46-year legacy, bringing back popular menu items and buying high-quality ingredients and locally sourced products whenever possible.

New and Improved Olga's Kitchen

Olga’s Spice Bread Pudding is made with real pumpkin.

About Olga’s Kitchen

Founded in 1970 by Olga Loizon, Olga’s Kitchen is known for its signature, grilled-to-order secret recipe Olga Bread. Serving nearly 20,000 pieces of its Olga Bread every day across its 25 restaurants, Olga’s Kitchen has solidified its reputation as the leader in the casual family dining restaurant industry, with a focus on delivering a positively unique and consistent culinary experience. From its Olga Bread to The Original Olga® and Olga’s Snackers®, Olga’s Kitchen has an unmatched standard for delighting its loyal guests with menu items infused with bold flavors, made-to-order from high-quality ingredients. For more information, visit

New and Improved Olga's Kitchen

Three Cheese Olga

Olga’s Ann Arbor

Team Schoastak decided on this new location because Olga’s Kitchen has been a favorite of both students and residents of Ann Arbor since the mid-1970s. The modern look of the new restaurant is sure to be a hit with a younger crowd along with those looking to enjoy the beauty of a new restaurant.

While visiting the new location, we were able to try many of the items from the menu. When it comes to appetizers (starters), Olga’s has some of the tastiest. Classic Snackers will always be my favorite!  The crispy Olga bread topped with seasoning and served with a side of swiss almond cheese sets a craving for me. Yum! Just looking at this basket below has me drooling!

New and Improved Olga's Kitchen

During this visit, we were able to try a few other starters too – Zucchini Fries Basket, Three Cheese Bites, and Spinach & Feta Dip Snackers. Although I liked them all, nothing tops the Classic Snackers in my book!


Spinach & Feta Dip Snackers, Zucchini Fries, Classic Snackers, and Orange Cream Cooler.


Three Cheese Bites served with their signature sauce.

For my main meal, I choose the Olga’s Perfect Pair Meal with a half-sized Three Cheese Olga, small Olga salad, and a cup of White Bean Chicken Chili. I really enjoyed the chili with the mildly spiced chicken, white beans, and Monterey Jack Cheese. Of course, the small portion of snackers and cheese alongside the chili was a nice touch!


After our main meal, we were presented with dessert, Olga’s Spice Bread Pudding, which is available until January 16, 2017. This scrumptious dessert is made with fresh ingredients and real pumpkin. Some people might consider Olga’s famous Orange Cream Cooler a dessert, while others might think of it as a beverage. My blogger friends and I started our meals with this sweet, thick, cool orange treat!



Are you interested in trying one of the new Olga’s Kitchen locations or some of their new or improved menu items? If so, enter below for a chance to win a $50 gift card! Giveaway ends 12/15/2016

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Movie Review: Disney’s Moana


Movie Review: Disney's Moana


If I had to describe the movie Moana with a few words, I’d choose magical, musical, and majestic! Disney’s latest animated movie, Moana, takes us to the Pacific Ocean where we find an adventurous strong-willed teenager (Moana) who longs to sail the vast ocean.

Moana’s island paradise of Motunui was once beautiful and lush.  It is slowly turning to ashes because a magical artifact known as the heart of Goddess Te Feti was stolen. The culprit is said to be Maui (Dwayne Johnson) – the greatest demigod of all the Pacific Islands.

The only way to restore the beautiful island is to locate Maui and force him to restore the heart of Goddess Te Feti. It is Moana that sets out to do just that, against the wishes of her father. As Moana quickly finds out, Maui is not the criminal her people made him out to be. Instead, he joins forces with Moana to find and return the magical artifact.

My Feelings

As I said above, the movie is magical, musical, and majestic. Maui exhibits plenty of magic from his animated moving tattoos to his magical hook. But Maui isn’t the only magical character in this movie. The ocean with its magical talent could also be considered a character.

The movie has quite a few well-placed musical numbers. Catchy songs such “You’re Welcome” and “How Far I’ll Go” enrich the film.

Majestic is a term I would use to describe the impressively beautiful scenery in this movie! From the beautiful lush mountains and plants to the crystal clear blue ocean, the scenery draws you in and makes you want to stay (kinda like Hawaii does).

Overall, I really enjoyed Moana. Just as many other Disney movies, this movie had some really funny lines that were likely intended for adults. My buddy and I found ourselves frequently laughing out loud. I believe both children and adults will be entertained by this movie. There are a few scenes that might be scary for young children. The movie was rated PG for some scary images and brief thematic elements. Be cautious if your child is easily frightened by large monstrous creatures.

Moana sails into theaters on Wednesday, November 23 with a running time of 1 hour 53 minutes. I highly suggest seeing the 3D version.

Expert Tips and Advice to Winter-Proof Your House Efficiently

Expert Tips and Advice to Winter-Proof Your House Efficiently

Expert Tips and Advice to Winter-Proof Your House Efficiently

Winter is almost here. The cold air is already blowing and the snowflakes have started falling. For many, it’s a sign that the holiday season has started but for some, it’s the time of the year when their energy bills start to increase.

Winter proofing your home can help you save great amount of money. It can help keep the energy consumption low and aside from that also protect your home from severe damage due to harsh weather conditions.  Below are some tips and advice for winter proofing your home.


Check and repair your roof if needed.

Inspect your roof for possible weak spots, damage and leaks. If you have the budget, call for professional help so it can be checked and repaired thoroughly. Always remember that even the tiniest crack or hole can create chaos so make sure that your roof is inspected (and repaired if needed).

Inspect and clean the gutters.

Remove all the debris stuck in the gutters. Make sure that they are clear of leaves or any other foreign objects.  Check for weak spots and problem areas and repair them as needed.

Check and repair your bricks if needed.

Inspect your walls for possible cracks and holes. Make sure that  water isn’t able to seep through it. Water can cause great damage during winter season. Fill and seal the cracks to keep the cold air out while effectively keeping the warm temperature in.

REMINDER: Make sure that the exterior part of your house is free from any cracks, holes and gaps. Aside from preventing the cold weather from coming in, you can also prevent insects and bugs from getting inside your house.  Use waterproof filler and sealant to quickly and effectively seal any openings.


Insulate all doors and windows properly.

Check and make sure that doors and windows are properly sealed and insulated. Check the weather-stripping for cracks and tears. If the damage is  severe, you might consider replacing it. Fill the gaps, holes, and cracks with caulk or other waterproof sealant to effectively block the cold air from coming in thus lowering your heating bill.

Clean and clear your chimney.

Make sure that your chimney is clean and clear from any kind of debris that can cause fire and health hazard.  If you don’t plan to use your chimney, make sure that it’s properly sealed to keep the heat from escaping your house.

Hire an expert to check and clean your heating system.

It’s highly recommended that you hire an expert to inspect, check, and thoroughly clean your heater. The vents must be inspected and cleaned as well. This will give you the assurance that your heating system will work properly and efficiently throughout the winter season, thus keeping your energy consumption as low as possible.

Add extra insulation.

Consider adding an extra layer of insulation at your basement and attic. This can effectively keep the heat inside your house while blocking the cold temperature.  Make sure that you thoroughly check these areas for possible cracks, holes and openings.

About the Author

Ron is the webmaster of Apartments-For-Rent-In-Michigan.Com. He often writes tips and advice for homeowners, tenants and landlords. You can visit this blog for more information.


Five Broadway Blockbusters at Detroit’s Fisher Theatre



Tickets are going on sale for five Broadway blockbusters at Detroit’s Fisher Theatre. These productions and their engagement dates are:

  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch, February 21 – March 5, 2017
  • Circus 1903, March 14-19, 2017
  •  RENT 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR, March 21 – 26, 2017
  • Motown The Musical, April 18 – 30, 2017
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, May 2-14, 2017

**Please note that all show dates may be subject to change.

Tickets for Motown The Musical start at $39 and will go on sale Thanksgiving Day, November 24 at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, and online or www.ticketmaster.comMotown The Musical tickets can also be purchased at The Fisher Theatre Box Office starting Friday, November 25.

Tickets for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Circus 1903, RENT 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time go on sale Sunday, November 27 at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, and online at or  Tickets for these shows can also be purchased at The Fisher Theatre Box Office starting Monday, November 28.   Tickets for Hedwig and the Angry Inch and RENT 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR start at $39.  Tickets for Circus 1903 and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time start at $35.

A limited number of premium seats for all shows will be available through Ticketmaster and at The Fisher Theatre Box Office.  For group sales information please call 313-871-1132 or email For information about open captioned performances please call phone at 313-872-1000, ext. 0.

For information about each show as well as its performance schedule, please visit Performance schedule, tickets prices, and cast are subject to change without notice.

Broadway In Detroit Holiday Gift Certificates are also now available for purchase at The Fisher Theatre Box Office or online at

Ticket buyers are reminded that The Fisher Theatre and Ticketmaster are the only official retail ticket outlets. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that the theatres are unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and are unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

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