Tuesday, May 31, 2011

He waits, patiently.

I wonder what it's like to spend the bulk of your day in a small room. Zoe still calls her cubby, a covey.

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Only an engineer

Being married to an engineer means I get to laugh. Frequently. Tonight he made dinner, including this little fruit platter. He proudly presented his creation:
"I call it Mikehenge!"
All I could do was laugh. And say, "That's blog-worthy!" And grab the iPhone. He protested. But not too much. And then he made a minor adjustment before allowing me to shoot.

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Listening to a story

Trying to document her final preschool days.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Water tower stairs

Giant City State Park, Makanda, IL

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Memorial Day

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Or don't eat at all!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My muse

It has been far too long since I've studied my muse through a lens.  Don't get me wrong...I photograph her nearly every day, at least with the iPhone.  I just haven't been fully engaged lately.  (Which ya'all have been reading me whine about.)  (I apologize for that.  I sincerely do.)  Most of my iPhone snaps of her are grab shots around her school.  Lots of posed mugs to send to her daddy.  She knows the routine now, which is to stand here, here, or here, and smile.  It's not good for either of us, now that I think about it. Completely the wrong way to capture her effervescence. 
Well, I'm back.  I finally feel like me again.  At first I could hear the whispers.  Then they grew louder.  I wandered into the darkroom the other night, loaded images from the Nikon to the iMac from over a month ago, started some music, and took a look.

And just like that: home.  My writing came back.  My desire to look for images everywhere.  My joy.

This is the little face I see more often than not.  Sheer happiness.  I get the distinct impression that she's truly enjoying her life, and I'm pleased and proud that I am part of making it that way. 

 It's good to be back.

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Hot diggety dog

Hooooo boy.

I took one for the team today.

I went to Zoe's school and ate a hot dog lunch to make up for her school picnic being rained out yesterday.

I knew I was in trouble when I plopped my fat ass onto a tiny chair and bellied up to a table a foot and a half off the ground, and Ms. Sherese asked, "You ate lunch before you came, right?"  I responded negatively, she wrinkled up her nose, gingerly handed me a hot dog and said, "Oh.  Um...well...oh."  Piece by piece, I received the rest of my lunch from the teachers.

One questionably-meated hot dog, a bag of Lays (and not Baked Lays, grrr), and two Oreo cookies (and not Reduced Fat Oreos) later, and I was already queasy.

I realized that I had a triple whammy, a trifecta of suckitude, on my hands:

  1. The "meal" was not enough to fill me up for lunch.
  2. It was, however, what my caloric intake should be for the next week.  Which meant I couldn't stop somewhere and get something else to eat.  Ever.
  3. My vaunted stomach-of-steel ("I can eat/drink anything and never get sick!") is either severely compromised by years of eating/drinking anything or is just tired of the fight.  Burble.  Grumble.  Pfffffffft.
I will do anything for my daughter.  I would lay down my life for her.  Sacrifice whatever it takes to ensure her health and happiness.


I need to start planning ahead a bit better.  A quick hit at CBW for a veggie bowl would have done the trick.  I'm even happy to bring one for Zozer, too.  Heck, to save myself, I'm tempted to feed the whole damn class.

I called M on the way back to the office.  I could tell he was in a really fantastic restaurant in Denmark, eating delicious food and drinking something alcoholic.  (Yes, I could tell all this in the first nanosecond when he picked up, I heard the clink of silverware and stemware in the background, and he said, "Hello?")  I bemoaned my lunch to him, and said, "I can guarantee you're eating something better than I ate."  He just laughed.  And probably shoved a forkful of filet oscar in his mouth.

Shout-out to CW, who gamely entered the madness today with me, and ate a crummy lunch in the name of motherly love.  Love you, sister!

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What I miss

I realized today that what I miss when he's in Denmark (or Bangalore, or Mumbai, or London, or Seoul, or Canberra, or even West Kingston) goes beyond the usual. Beyond the help with dinner, cleaning up, caring for Zoe. It goes beyond the household chores that two people share when they live together. (Although I do miss his help around the house.  Let's not dilute that message too much.)

What I really miss are the casual conversations that don't seem very intense or in-depth but really, truly make up the fabric of our lives. What happened at work today (for both of us). What happened at school. Conversations and e-mails with friends and family. Even sorting the mail can turn into a pretty good chat. Especially when we get yet another mailing from The Church about The Dangers of Pornography.  (What is up with that this year, anyway? The Church has made me think more about pornography recently than I ever have, which I doubt is her intention.  Funny how that happens frequently.)

Our conversations this week have been two-minute snippets. "Hey." "Hey!" "How is everything? How is Zoe?" "Great! She's doing really well. Crabby this morning but fine now." "Oh, that's good. Okay, it's 2 a.m. here and I need to get to bed." "Okay. Talk to you later. I love you." "Love you, too. Bye."

That's when I get him at all. The week has been full of European rings (it's more of a buzz than a ring, really) that dead-end into an automated message asking me to enter my voicemail box number. I can't leave voice messages when he's over there. Texting works sporadically. He's inundated with email already, so it's a crapshoot as to when he'll finally get around to reading whatever I send.  Getting an email response from him is virtually unexpected.

In other words, he's pretty much completely unreachable. Which, to me, is ridiculous in 2011.

He's having a blast, from what I can tell, which is awesome. Zozer and I are hangin' cool, doing our Girls' Week thing, so we're having fun, too. I just miss the little daily interaction is all. The sharing of lives.

He's home tomorrow, thankfully. It can't come soon enough.  I need to chatter in his ear about all the mundane things that happen every day.  (This, I think, is truly why he so loves international travel.  His ears get a break!)

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ominous clouds

On the way to pick up Zoe tonight. Gave me the willies.

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High Risk: Tornadic Wednesday Ahead

First of all, that's not what you want to see when you log into The Weather Channel's page with your zip code.

Second of all, how cool is the word "tornadic?"

I think that might be my new favorite word, right up there with "grommet" and "bokeh." I might have to try working that into everyday conversation regularly. "Boy, I was busy at work today. I had so many people in and out of my office it was positively tornadic in there."

Unfortunately, the prediction of tornadic activity forced the administrators of Zozer's preschool to cancel the family picnic tonight. I'm disappointed for Zoe, and myself, really. She's been looking so forward to today. She chose her special polkadot shorts to wear last week (and refused to wear them for a week, "saving" them for the "party day" despite my assurances that I do indeed, do laundry regularly and that they would be clean in time), and of course selected special Party Underwear last night at bathtime.

I'm disappointed for her, and for me because this is her last preschool picnic. I've become acutely aware in the last few days that she will soon be a kindergartner. Which is highly distressing as it signals yet another milestone and proof that she is actually growing up. I'm so proud of her, and at the same time, I mourn the loss of her babyness. I feel like I just enrolled her in preschool, just went through that traumatic first day, just watched her transition from the Elephant Room, and then the Bunny Room.

Now she's a "big kid" at her school, one of those gangly children completely at ease running through the hallways while the parents of the new children try to keep their little ones from being bowled over. Just like I did three years ago. Now she's the seasoned preschool veteran who welcomes shy, new friends and shows them the ropes. When did that happen? Did I blink and forget to open my eyes for three years?

Plan B for her picnic is to have it tomorrow during school hours. Parents have been invited to come to the school to eat lunch with their children, which I of course will do. It'll be fun, but it's not the same as her picnic in the park with the playground and everyone running around like little banshees.

Eh, well, either way it's a safe prediction that consumption of preschool hot dogs will inevitably result in tornadic activity in my abdominal region.

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Bordeaux, B&W

As promised...

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011


So. Freakin. Adorable.

Click in the water to feed the fishies!


Couldn't you just use air freshener?!

Another reminder why I love my job. We just received a few of these in as samples.
I coulda used this product back when I was a kid and our aging golden retrievers would drop loaded fartbombs before struggling to their feet and lumbering slowly out of the danger zone.
Rest assured, my biggest question was answered right there on the label: yep, works on people farts, too.
And yes, you're reading that correctly. It does indeed say, "From the makers of Poop Freeze."
What's not to love about the animal health industry?

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Bordeaux, in color

Yes, I'm finally getting around to the Bordeaux images.

Or, I should say, I've stopped beating myself silly about them.  I haven't been very photographically minded lately, but just in the last day or two, I've felt it creeping back in.  Finally.

Thank goodness.

I was starting to have a serious existential crisis.

Here is my color take from Bordeaux.  Black and whites tomorrow.

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Why didn't I think of that?

Another storm passed through here yesterday while I was at work, thankfully with no twisters, but lots of wind and rain.  A warning call from my MIL let me know that I was most likely without power.  The woman is in Chicago and I'm five minutes from home, yet she knows before I do.

When I picked up Zozer I warned her that we probably didn't have power and, if so, we'd go out to eat.  Naturally, she had all kinds of questions about what it means to not have power.  This, combined with being in an extremely good mood meant that she chattered the entire way home.  She'd ask questions, then answer them herself.  I was but her chauffeur, meant to just shut up and drive.

Finally, the conversation became a little more two-sided when I started talking about what we could do with no power.  We could read a book with a flashlight.  Or play games.  With a flashlight?  Yeah, with a flashlight.  When the sun goes down, we'll have to use flashlights.  Or candles.  We'll be like pioneer women in Little House on the Prairie (which we've started watching together).

She thought for a minute.

"Mommy?  Can we watch Little House?"

"No, sweetie.  We can't.  If we don't have power we can't turn on the TV."

She thought about that long and hard for a minute, before her face brightened.

"I know!  We can watch it!  We'll just point the flashlight at it!"

Oh boy.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Happy Anniversary...to me!

Blew right past it.  It was yesterday, and the day went by and we did all kinds of fun things, and I never once stopped to think of it.

Yesterday, May 22, was my fifth anniversary.

No, not my wedding anniversary.  Although that's important.  Some (M) might say more important.


Yesterday marked my fifth year of being a blogger.  It was my blogiversary.

I wondered back then, when I started, if I'd keep it up.  If I'd grow bored with it.  If anyone would even care, really.  What started as an easy way to show photographs of my kid became oh so much more.  It became the journal of my life.  Where I logged events both important and not.  Where I documented the fun and laughter, the pain and tears.

When I tell my mom funny stories about Zoe, she laughs and says, "Are you writing this down?  You should be writing this down."  And then I remind her that I have the blog, and she says, "Oh, yeah!"  And that's when I realize just how much this little corner of the Internets means to me.

Let's see.  In five years, both of us have gotten new jobs.  We made it through grad school together.  Zoe started walking, and talking, and learned (finally!) to use the potty.  We've lost loved ones, and gained new family members through marriage and birth.  We've made new friends and learned to cherish the old ones even more, no matter how infrequently we see them.

My world is much larger than it was five years ago.  And it's much more colorful.

For that, I will be eternally grateful.

So for those of you who are still hanging in here with me, thanks for stopping by.  I love that you love me enough to care about what I have to say, think, write and photograph.  I love that you are sharing my life with me.  What more could a girl ask for?!

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Homemade Laundry Detergent Update

You know, I just went off on people who post inane garbage on Facebook, and here I am getting ready to inform you all about my laundry.  Oh, for Pete's sake.

However, someone asked in the comments section about a gajillion years ago whether my home-made laundry detergent worked, and I keep forgetting to respond.

So here it is: my laundry update.

The home-made detergent is awesome.  I have not noticed that it necessarily gets my clothes any cleaner, really, but the smell is great and the clothes are, indeed, just as clean as when I used store-bought expensive detergents.  I stopped using dryer sheets, too, after reading about all the nasty chemicals that go into dryer sheets, and have found that we don't need them at all.  (Which makes me wonder how much $ we could have saved over the years just on dryer sheets.)

My laundry room is more tidy, too, in that I don't have giant multi-gallon containers of Tide HE sitting around.  I don't have a rack near my machine that will hold one of those containers, and I can't put them on top of the front-load washer because I did that once and the machine got up to full speed and threw the container to the floor and, well, that was a mess involving lots of expletives and I really don't want to deal with that again.  So it would sit on the floor and I'd have to lug the thing up to the top of the washer for every load and then set it back down again, and trip over it constantly.

Now, though, my little plastic container of powder sits in an over-the-door rack I have near the washer, along with the boxes of washing soda and Borax that await future detergent batches, and it's no longer a pain to fill the washer compartment.

So, in a nutshell, I heartily endorse home-made detergent.  You'll save tons of money, your clothes will be clean and smell fresh, it's healthier for your family and the environment, and you'll be a domestic maven.  You can even fashion your own crown out of tin foil if you want.

Here's the recipe...can't remember if I posted this before and I'm too lazy to go back and look:

1 bar Fels Naptha, grated
1 cup Washing* Soda (I used Arm & Hammer)
1 cup Borax 20-Mule-Team

Mix it all up together and use approximately 1 tablespoon per load (front loader).  If you have a side loader, or a particularly large load, you can use a bit more.  It doesn't take much, though.  I say "approximately" 1 tablespoon because we're not baking here, people. You don't need to be all exact-like.

*Yes, washing soda.  Not baking soda.  I'm not sure what would happen if you used baking soda.  Maybe you'd smell like a cupcake?  Anyhoo, Target does not carry washing soda...I got it at Shop 'n Save, a local grocery store.  It sits humbly in the detergent aisle, next to the hoity-toity expensive detergents that call each other Mitsy and Bitsy and snub the washing soda by not allowing it to join their "Lavendar and Bleach-Additives and Specially Formulated for Darks" clique.


Good weekend. Still cranky. Sigh.

Girls' weekend went off without a hitch, and was packed with all kinds of good stuff.  I went to a birthday party, took Zozer to a birthday party, hit a housewarming event, visited my Gran in the nursing home and my dad way out in the sticks and the local park.  We got the house cleaned, and a lot of piles put away.  We read some books, and played, and colored.

Oh, and the world didn't end.  There's always that.

I'm feeling restless these days.  Like I can't settle down.  I have a short fuse, and feel on the verge of tears more often than not.  I am frustrated, and resentful, and have little to no tolerance for most people.  In short, I am exactly the person I don't want to be, which just pisses me off more.  I have successfully managed to keep this from Zozer, though, and I do take pride in that.  Unfortunately, M bears the brunt of it.

He's in Denmark this week, and most likely very, very thankful to be away from Crazy Wife.

I realize this will pass.  I just gotta work through it.  I have taken steps towards recovery:

  1. Cleaning up the house goes far.  I always feel like I can't get my mental house in order until my physical house is in order.  I can see all the horizontal surfaces in my home again, so that's good.
  2. I am limiting my time on Facebook.  I'm not a huge FB user anyway, but now I find when I go on there I just get pissed.  So many stupid, inane posts about absolutely nothing.  People all posting the same garbage, over and over and over again (much like my grouchy blog posts, come to think of it.  Sigh).  Do I really need to know everyone's work schedule?  I think not.  I'd venture to guess that maybe 10%, maybe, is worth reading.  Actually, I just like the pictures.  By the time I get done, I feel like I've just wasted part of my life that I'll never get back.  Which just pisses me off more.  I'm a social media luddite.  I'm starting to take pride in becoming a Facebook curmudgeon, and in cultivating a rich "off-line" life.  
  3. I have gone "invisible" on the instant messaging system at work.  Which has greatly enhanced my mood.  I tried just setting my status to "unavailable," but when people pinged me anyway (WTF?  Do you not get what "unavailable" means?  It's means I. am. not. available.) I went dark.  I feel like a superhero.  I can see you...but you can't see me.
  4. I am drinking a lot of water.  I mean a LOT of water.  Trying to flush out whatever toxins are making my cranky.  I realize this is not entirely logical, but at least it's an effort to do something and ya'all know how much of a control freak I am.
That's about it.  Or what I'm willing to divulge at this point, anyway.  (No, Ma, I'm not resorting to drugs or alcohol or any other harmful substances.)

If anyone has any tips on how to get rid of the blues, I'd love to hear them.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011


Friday, May 20, 2011



Once again, I found myself paragraphs deep into a "poor me" rant.  Good grief.  Even I don't want to hear that crap.

So I will spare you the whining and the self-martyring and say this:

I'm working on a solution.  I'm figuring it out.  I will not continue to live like this, because it's ridiculous to be this crabby for this long.  It's starting to really, really piss me off.

Many apologies for not being fun and lively and witty here in this space.  Suffice it to say I have a lot going on and little spare time.

But I'm gonna fix that, and fix it right-quick.  I hope to be back to my old, smart-ass self soon.

Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I {heart} stupid bumper stickers

I am extremely cranky today.  Beyond my usual, normal crankiness.

I just wrote a hate-filled awful post that portrays me as not a very nice person.

And then I read it, and deleted it.  I think it's much better that way.

I'll keep a snarky bit, though.

Saw a guy on the way into work with a bumper sticker on his car that read: I {heart} dating my wife.

  1. I can't tell you the last time that M and I had a date where either of us could really relax and that didn't involve a scheduling crisis of epic proportions.
  2. At first glance, the sticker reads: I {heart} doing my wife.  Ewwwww.
  3. What guy puts that sticker on his car?  My guess is the wifey gave it to him.  In which case he needs to grow a pair and say, "Darling, I love you, and I do love dating you, but that's cheese to the nth degree and I will not drive around with that on my car."
I am becoming a menace on the road.  What started out as speeding from necessity (too many places to be and not enough time scheduled to get there) has turned into aggressive, rage-filled driving.  I keep it in check when Zoe's strapped in the back seat, but once she's safely at school, I turn into a cross between Mario Andretti and the Terminator.  Which is not good because Mario crashed a lot and the Terminator is just plain creepy.

M said to me this morning, "I think we are overscheduling ourselves."  You think?  Then I snapped at him about having to photograph the stitching coming undone on his OluKais and lovingly spread my bitchiness to him.

I'm not crabby about photographing the stitching, and am actually well pleased that the company is honoring their warranty and will replace his shoes.  I'm crabby that photographing the stitching on his shoes is the extent of my photography these days.  Not that he knows this.  He only knows that when he mentioned it, his wife's head split open and aliens came out and spit green goo all over the room while screeching in a sub-human voice.

I don't like being crabby.  I hate it, actually.  I'm a firm believer that one can choose to have a good day, just as one can choose to have a bad day.  And I'm pissed at myself for choosing the latter today.

Which only makes me more cranky.

I just realized that M will read this, and will promptly hide the keys to the Corvette after learning of my current driving habits.  Damn.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011


Friday, May 13, 2011


Thursday, May 12, 2011


I know, I know.  I've been pretty incommunicado the past couple weeks.  Meh.

Life has just been cruising along.  Trips in and out of town.  House cleaning and laundry.  Work.  Other than my gran smashing her fingers in the garage door Monday there hasn't been much news to report.  She's doing fine, by the way, but it was a good sign that she needs round-the-clock supervision and care and so she's now in a nursing home where she belongs.

I've mentioned before that we've led a pretty packed life since graduation, and I think it's starting to catch up with me.  I'm just as busy as I've ever been, but lately I feel like I'm skimming along right on the surface of things.  Never really diving deep.  Part of it is being distracted about multiple things going on at the same time.  Part of it is being so scheduled that I'm constantly aware of the time and that I need to leave by "this time" at the latest to get to my next place.  Work and personal life are mirroring each other right now: I'm doing a lot of different things and none of it particularly well.  As evidenced by a glaring typo in the headline of a blog post from last week.  Sheesh.

It's high time to simplify, but right now I have neither the time nor the energy to do so.  Ironic that simplification takes active effort, but there it is.

I just learned today that I have to give a big presentation Monday afternoon on the 2011/2012 communications strategy for North America.  And about five minutes later realized that most of my audience will be at our NA headquarters in Lenexa.  So off I fly, again, early Monday morning.  My sister joked recently that about the only time I have to blog is when I'm on an airplane.  I think she might be right.  I doubt I'll be blogging on Monday's flight, though, as I will probably be working on...wait for it...the 2011/2012 communications strategy for North America.  (See above statement about doing nothing particularly well.)

The other night, driving home from the hospital after visiting my gran, I looked up the highway past my exit.  And the thought crossed my mind, "What if I kept going?"  It was exhilarating, the thought of just bolting for awhile.  But then I realized that it would be fun for about five seconds and then I'd miss my Zozo and my M.  Okay, so I should stop and get them.  And the car needs gas, so there's that.  And it's the wrong car, anyway.  The Corvette is much more romantic than a '99 beige Honda Accord.  Plus I should get some clothes, and the camera. Oh, and the iPhone charger because I desperately need that, no matter where I go.  And I laughed, and realized that I will never, ever be the impetuous, irresponsible, unreliable girl who drives off into the sunset and that, ultimately, that's okay.

Even if I do skim along the surface of my life every once in awhile.

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Monday, May 09, 2011


Okay, so maybe I made it look a little more gloomy than it really is. But it's how it feels. It's how all hospitals feel.
Prayers for my Gran, please.

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Friday, May 06, 2011

In keeping with today's theme...

I'm editing a scientific white paper for my company this afternoon.  It was first written in French, and then very poorly translated to English.  It concerns a study done on poultry (broiler chickens to be precise) to determine vaccination efficacy.  I get to do this all the time...I know, I know, ya'all are so jealous of my insanely cool job.

Anyway, one of the first things I do when receiving a document of this sort is to change, in Word, the official language of the document from French to English.  If I don't do this, Word puts all sorts of angry, red squiggly lines under words that I damn well know are spelled correctly.  It's been doing this over and over today for the word "farm."  Just out of curiosity, I right clicked on one of the "farms" to see what alternate Word recommends.

Apparently "fart" is a legitimate word in French.


Won't be getting those again

There isn't a whole lot I regret in my life.  I'm a forward-thinker, an optimistic, glass-half-full kind of girl.  I mean, sure, there were some questionable hair styles back in the 80s, and some glasses that I wish weren't quite so big.  And colorful.  But you know, all in all, I've been pretty lucky to be able to look around, shrug, and say, "Eh, no regrets."

Well, until today.

I hereby declare that I absolutely, positively, undeniably regret ordering the hot-sauce-laden buffalo nachos for lunch.  I met my friend Dana, and we did our usual split of a giant tray of buffalo chos.  We can get enough nachos to feed an army plus two giant soft drinks for eleven bucks.  Can't beat it.

Today, whilst consuming aforementioned nachos, Dana remarked, "Boy, these are hotter than normal."  I gulped down some tea and nodded in agreement.  "Yeah, we're light on the chicken and heavy on the hot sauce."

Not that it slowed either of us down.

Nom. Nom. Nom.

Fast forward an hour.  Stomach is rumbly.  Ohhhhh boy.  A mad dash to the bathroom, and, well, "Shit!"  (Yes, pun intended.)

Needless to say, after liberally dousing the bathroom with air freshener (so now it smells like ass AND cinnamon apple pie - yay!), shutting down my computer and bolting out the door, I'm now working comfortably at home.  Where I can stink up my own bathroom and wear elastic-waisted pants in comfort.


Happy Cinco de Uh Oh!

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Heading home. Again.