Sunday, January 21, 2018

Book Talk: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

Over on our Laughing at the Rain youtube channel, The Girl (aka Mermaid) has decided to share her passion for books in a short "book talk!" She created (and edited) the video all on her own and gives you a closer look at at the introductory book in a fascinating series (I'm reading them too!).

The story is really interesting for all ages but it's appropriate for middle schoolers and up (5th graders with great reading skills would be fine too). It's like Hunger Games and Harry Potter mashed together with some really unique aspects as well.

So, check out her book talk here -

Book Talk: The Unwanteds

You can buy the book at the link below:

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Skate Like Nobody's Watching

When my daughter was learning to skate at age six or seven, she fell down a lot. Maybe five times each lap around the rink, sometimes maybe every 10 feet of skating. That's a lot of falling.

But the funny thing about the falling was that every time she got up, she took off skating just as fast as she did before the fall. There was no caution, no fear, no whining, and no quitting. In fact, when her favorite songs came on, she even danced while she skated. "Hey," I said, from my spot skating alongside her, "You aren't ready to dance on skates. You can't really skate yet!"

And she laughed and kept dancing, and skating, and falling, and skating again.

Fear of falling never affected her enjoyment of skating. In fact, she learned to fall in a gentle, rolling sort of way. "Mama, if you fall right, it doesn't even really hurt!"

Just a few days ago, three or four years after she was a falling machine, a friend told me that she'd run into someone who described her son's fear of learning to skate. He wanted to learn to play hockey, but he had to learn to skate first, and he was afraid.

The boy's mom stood by the rink with him and noticed my tiny girl with her long blond hair whizzing by... and falling down. Over and over again. And Mom said, "Look at that little girl! She's learning to skate too. See how she falls down but she just gets back up again?" The boy decided that, if such a little girl could fall down and get back up again, so could he. Now, years later, he plays hockey, just like he wanted to.

And over the years, that little girl fell less and less often until one day she told me at the end of a skating session, "I didn't fall down AT ALL!"

Life is full of opportunities to fall down. Take them. You never know who you'll inspire while you're doing it.


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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Turkey Day

About a year ago, Husband backed my car into a wall at my son's school. I was out of town and he sent me a picture of the bashed in bumper with an "Oops, the wall bit your car" message or some such thing (which did not qualify as an apology, I mentioned later). And I've lived with the dent ever since. It's only cosmetic, so while I hate seeing it, it doesn't keep the car from running and it will be stupidly expensive to fix just so that my ego isn't bruised when I look at it. And it least it's easy to find my car at the Y parking lot, where there are a million dusty green Toyota Siennas.

A month ago, Husband's car was sideswiped by another and the driver side door was damaged. No one was injured and the car was otherwise fine, so all-in-all, not tragic. But Husband hated the idea of a dent in his door (funny how the shoe feels on the other foot, right?). There was some concern that the other guy's insurance wouldn't pay since Florida is now a No-Fault state and no ticket is issued unless someone is injured or the car is totaled or some other special wizardry that didn't happen in this case. But, amazingly, the driver told his insurance company the truth and Husband happily called me to tell me that his car would be fixed at no charge to us.

Me: "That's great!"

Husband: "Yeah, what a relief!"

Me: "That guy had good insurance."

Husband: "Yes, he did!"

Me: "Too bad the turkey that messed up my car didn't have good insurance, right?"

Husband: "Ha, yeah, right."

We completed the call and hung up. The Girl piped up from the backseat:

"Hey, wait a minute! Daddy messed up your car! You just called Daddy a turkey!"

Me: "Yes. Yes I did."

The Girl found this very, very funny.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Old, Schmold

Recently, my kids had some friends over to play. The Girl and the two friends got out all 200(ish) of The Boy's Marvel character statues to have an epic battle in the living room. An extensive amount of time was spent organizing the characters and then selecting each child's "team," which would later be sent into battle against the other teams.

One of the boys was painstakingly choosing his team. The Girl clearly thought the game prep was taking too long and urged him to speed up. This got him a little bit flustered.

Friend: I really need Arch Angel* for my team. Where is she? I can't find her anywhere! 

The Girl: She's right there!

Friend: Oh yeah. I already picked her. HA!

The Girl: That means you're old.

Friend (who is 11): What? I'm not old.

The Girl (who is 8): When you can't find something and then you realize you already have it, that means you are old. My mom does that with her sunglasses. She looks around for them but they are really on her head already. She's old. It's what you do when you're old.

Me (from a nearby room): HEY!!!!!

Tessa wanted to play Marvel battle too. ACCESS DENIED!

I refuse to accept the accusation that I am old. I also need to find my sunglasses. I swear the two are not related.

*Name invented because I can only name about five Marvel characters and the one in question wasn't one of those. Sorry, I'm not sorry. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


The Girl is a very practical child, when she wants to be. Recently, in class, she was asked to choose the three children that she would like to sit next to when the desks are moved into pairs. The teacher stressed that students should write down the names of students with whom they worked best rather than friends.

Selecting who you sit next to in second grade.... That's a big deal! The Girl told me her list.*

Girl: First, I put down Grace, because we work well together in math class. My second choice was Johnny. And my third choice was Mary.

Me: You didn't pick Michael? You really like him! You've known him forever. 

Girl: Well, the teacher specifically mentioned that we should pick people we work well with. Socially, Michael and I get along great. He makes me laugh, and we really have fun! Academically, I work better with the others. So that's who I chose.

Well, then. Carry on.

(I love it when my eight-year-old is more pragmatic than I am. I totally would have picked Michael.)

*Names changed so that my kid doesn't hurt any other kids' feelings. 


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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Unfortunate Long Light

Today I was driving The Girl home from swimming only to find myself stuck in traffic directly in front of The Todd, which is technically known as Todd Couples Superstore.  As you might assume, The Todd sells "adult products," otherwise known as sex stuff. The outside of the building is fairly plain (and windowless, naturally), and would never have caught The Girl's eye except for the cartoon king and queen on the wall.

The Girl: What's that place?

Me: Uhhh, what place? 

(Come on, light!)

The Girl: That place, right there. With the king and queen on it.

Me: It's called The Todd.

(Please don't ask me what the store sells. Please, please, please! What am I going to say if she asks me? I don't lie to the kids, but what's an honest answer that's developmentally appropriate? Think fast, THINK FAST!)

The Girl: Wh...


The Girl: Why does it have that king and queen on the wall?


Me: I don't know.

(Thank goodness this traffic is starting to move.)

The Girl: That queen's boobs are really big. 

Me: Yeah, I guess so.

The Girl: Her arms are crossed and they are, like, spilling all over them.

Me: Uh huh.

(Where is this going?)

The Girl: I'm almost done with my nuggets. 


Saturday, September 6, 2014

This is the part when....

I love to sing. I don't know why it feels so good, but I love doing it. I find that it improves my mood. It also shakes my kids out of their grumps and funks when necessary. One day, everyone was aggravating me, so I told them I was going to sing all my conversations with them for the foreseeable future. They groaned, but it turned all the grouching into laughter, so it obviously worked.

My strong points are classical and Broadway styles, which lend themselves quite nicely to improvised tunes about washing hands, brushing teeth, and flushing the toilet. It is a powerful, successful strategy for getting us through the day. I'm a competent singer, though I won't be gracing the stage of any reality singing shows anytime soon. My kids don't know how much worse this habit could be if I was tone deaf!

One early morning before school, The Girl, who is seven going on 17, emerged from her bedroom at the speed of snail, tipping my "aggravation detector" right off the bat. It's amazing how 6:45 on a school day equates to a dragging child wrapped in a blanket like it's not 80 degrees already, when the same time on a Saturday results in someone who has already played six video games, watched TV, and has strewn dolls all over her room. But that's not the point of this story.

So The Girl was standing there, all grumped up, and I asked her what she wanted for breakfast. After no reasonable, intelligible answers were forthcoming, I selected Ariana's Break Free for the song of the moment.

Me [singing in an early-morning falsetto]: "This is... the part where you eat your breakfast...."

I accompanied it with some jazzy hands and whatnot. You know. For emphasis.

The Girl: "MOM! Seriously?!"

Me: Hey, you know, not everybody's mom sings them Ariana Grande music before 7 in the morning.


But then she told me "A Pop Tart*," so mission accomplished. Thanks, Ariana!

I've included the video here in case you are not up on pop music and have no idea what I'm talking about. While the song is catchy and fun, I suspect that this may be the worst video of all time. My apologies. 

*Don't lecture me on the Pop Tarts. It's food, it's fortified, and it's in her body before school starts, and that's the best I can do. Breakfast is not her friend.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Got buns?

This morning, Husband was looking through the refrigerator and this conversation happened:

Husband: We've got these hot dogs in here if you want to cook them for lunch or whatever.

Me: But we don't have any buns.

Husband: Well, you know, you can still have hot dogs. You don't have to have buns.

Me: I don't want none unless you got buns, hon.

Husband: That's nice.

Me: COME ON! A SIR MIX-A-LOT REFERENCE THIS EARLY IN THE MORNING?! You gotta give me props for that!

Husband: You know what? You're right. That was a good one.


Unfortunately, that reference plus Nicki Minaj's annoying new song has "Oh. My. Gosh. Lookit. Her. Butt." bouncing around in my head like a nauseating rubber ball, so the joke may be on me.

Here's your Throwback Thursday Sir Mix-A-Lot video. You're welcome.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Tori Amos concert is kind of a religious experience

If you know much about Tori Amos, you'll know that her fan base is largely a devoted, lovely bunch of people. They come from all walks of life, from the fellow in the front row in his short sequined evening gown, heels, blond bob, and five o'clock shadow, to the heavily tattooed 30-something-year-old woman, to the enthusiastic mom and her fading-fast-elementary-school-aged son, to the dad and his family, to my forty-something writer-mom-self. At the concert, we are all the same, moved by the music, lyrics, artistry, and passion of a woman who is one of the most talented and prolific in the music business. It's so amazing to be a part of this open group, where people spent nearly two hours not worrying about how they look or seem, just feeling and thinking almost as one. The dad nearby me tapped along to every song, sharing the names of each one with his pre-teen daughter, and singing along to most of them. The bobbed dude in the front row danced and wiggled with such enthusiasm that I could feel it up in row 16. And I loved every minute of it. Who cares who you are, what you do, what you wear, what you look like? We're all Tori Amos fans!

In Tampa on August 22 (her birthday!), Tori delivered yet another moving, energetic, fun concert. Although she had no other musicians with her, she filled the room with music, using her piano, keyboard, organ, and a few well-placed backing tracks throughout the show. She talked, giggled, and made us laugh with her chatter. She made some of us scream and cry with her music. And in the Lizard Lounge section of the night, which she usually devotes to covers requested by fans, she played two of her own choices in honor of her birthday. Both, she said, were by people who were "good eggs" in the music industry. "There aren't many of those," she added. Each song was titled "Thank You."

The first was a Led Zeppelin cover that Tori had done earlier in her career as a B-side to a single (remember B-sides?). It is one of my favorites of all the covers that Tori has ever done, and I just so happened to record it on my phone. Forgive me for my poor quality video. I was just a little bit excited.

After that, she played Alanis Morissette's Thank U, which is one of my favorite Alanis songs. Before she got started, Tori said she had never played this song before. I was so excited when I realized what it was, I smacked my concert-going-partner, my sister-in-law, Stacy. She survived and was a good sport about it. The video fairly shaky, as I regarded the experience more important than the recording. Since you weren't there, you may not agree. Too bad for you. :)

Before the show began, the opening act invited us all to be a part of Tori's birthday celebration, letting us know that we should sing "Happy Birthday" when people brought the cake onstage at the start of the encore much later in the show. Well, we kept our secret, as did the entire crew, because Tori seemed very surprised by the falling balloons, streamers, and party hats in the first few rows. It was totally fun!

Complete dork that I am, I brought Tori a small birthday present (a card and some chocolate). My plan was to give it to her daughter who was working the merchandise stand. Unfortunately, Tash was not there (probably preparing for the birthday celebration) so I found a really sweet security guard and asked him super nicely how he thought I could get it to her. He offered to take it backstage when his shift was over (which was in a couple of minutes). I suppose there's a chance that he ate the chocolate himself, but he was pretty nice so I guess I can live with that possibility.

Since Tori has written and recorded, I don't know, hundreds of songs, you don't always get to hear exactly what you want at a show. Not every song was my favorite, but I heard enough great stuff to be moved and excited and reminded as to why I love this amazing artist. I also noted that, even though she's been singing regularly her whole life, her voice sounds fantastic. She was on pitch and beautiful all the time. A lot of "singers" could take some lessons from Tori!

The set list and photos from the birthday celebration are on Tori's instagram if you want to check it out. Her twitter includes more photos, including one of the crowd in which you can see the diversity and amazingness I mentioned.

What a great night!


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'm wasting my wifi

I sat down to work at the YMCA and found this wifi option. I love clever, funny people.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Big straws?

In case you need help sorting it out. 

(The Girl wants to know where the "SMALL STRAWS" sign is.)


Friday, August 1, 2014

Here's your sign

So, how much do you think this guy was selling his shaved ices for?

Coulda had a much smaller sign....


Friday, May 2, 2014

A Conversation Between Smart Siblings

Tonight my family went to dinner at Sweet Tomatoes. Three out of the four of us love eating there. The fourth, not so much. And the fourth has a really loud mouth.

But today I got an email that said that, for the next four days, Sweet Tomatoes is having a nacho bar. Yes, that's right. Nachos. Make your own. Unlimited.

This sounded like something that would entice The Fourth.

Said child made it to the table with all yellow food (chips, cheese, and corn). But the rest of us got our groove on and pigged out.

After consuming a plate full of yellow plus some lava cake, The Fourth got bored. He started goofing around with his soda glass. And then this conversation, between siblings ages 7 and 10, happened:

The Girl: What are you doing?

The Boy: Trying to make fart noises on this cup.

The Girl: You know, that's totally inappropriate.

The Boy: Yeah, well you are inappropriate IN GENERAL.

Fortunately, The Fourth was distracted by this conversation and no fart noises disturbed our Sweet Tomatoes neighbors. Also, the nacho bar is just chips, cheese, tomatoes, and peppers. Dial down your expectations.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

A look back

I was just reading through this blog and I thought I'd remind you about some of the funnier stand-alone entries. At least, right now in my sleep-deprived, Saturday afternoon state, they seem pretty hilarious. Your mileage may vary.

I don’t understand people who park on sidewalks

A relaxing Thanksgiving night, or maybe not

Young, Armstrong, what’s the difference

Hopefully it’ll look good when it matters

Switched at birth

Spiders vs. SPIDERS

Happy Saturday, people! Now I'm off to wash a dog that apparently found a pile of death to roll in. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Another Conversation

It may be that this blog will just start featuring the occasionally amusing conversations that Husband and I tend to have. Here's this afternoon's:

Husband: What time are you supposed to leave for your appointment?

Me: Five minutes ago.

Husband: Oh, so you're right on time then.

For the record, I did make it there on time.

A Conversation

I've been having to baby my shoulder for the last six months thanks to rotator cuff tendinitis that just won't go away. What tends to happen is that it gets better, I gently use it, then it's entirely effed up again. So now I'm trying to just not use it much at all (except at physical therapy) while I take steroids and generally just complain.

I bought a new bag of dog food this week and I carefully carried it into my house, all snugged up against my body to protect the delicate shoulder. I let the bag slide down but did not attempt to pour the bag into the container, which would involve, you know, using my shoulder. It didn't take too long before Payton the Wonder Whippet found the bag and ripped a hole in it so that she could help herself. I shut the bag behind a door and asked Husband to pour the food in the bin when he fed the dogs.

Two days later, this conversation happened:

Me: Do you remember me asking you to pour the bag of dog food into the container?

Husband: Yes.

Me: Do you remember doing it?


Husband: I remember forgetting to do it.... Is that possible? To remember forgetting?

Me: I'm not sure.....

In theory, he'll do it when he lets the dogs out next. Unless he forgets to remember what he remembered that he forgot.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Well, this makes sense

This morning, The Girl, who is a rarely-absent, never-tardy, model student, had a dental appointment. The dentist only seals molars in the mornings, so there was no way to avoid missing school. Since the appointment was at 9 and school starts at 8, it seemed silly for me to drop her off at 7:30, drive all the way out to The Boy's school to drop him off at 8:15, then pass the dentist on my way back to get her from school and race back to the dentist, probably late. So instead, I kept her with me for The Boy Delivery and then we went to the dentist and on to school. We may have had a little time in between the drop-off and the dentist during which I purchased her a doughnut, but I'm not confirming that.

Upon arriving to school, I was told that The Girl's tardy was the dreaded "unexcused" because I did not bring a note from the dentist saying where she'd been.

Never mind that I'm her mom and I could TELL them why she was late and explain the legitimacy. Never mind that she wore a sticker proclaiming, "Super patient! No cavities!" Never mind that, if I had dropped her off first and then immediately picked her up again, I wouldn't have needed a note for that. Never mind that, if she was entirely absent from school, I wouldn't need the dentist to write a note to excuse her. I'd simply call the automated system and say, "She's not going to be there because she's got an appointment" and that would be that. Although, I've never tried that, but I know if you tell them she's sick, that's all they care about. No note.

But because she missed the very beginning of the school day for an appointment, she needs a note from the dentist.

Wonder if I had said that she was feeling sick this morning but now she was better so I brought her to school? Would I have needed a note then? Who would write it? Would I have had to go back home and fax them a note as I was required to ask the dentist to do? Am I even allowed to determine whether my child has a legitimate need to come to school two hours late?

The school said that this was  a county policy, but my son is often late due to doctor appointments and his school takes my word for it. Of course, they are a charter school and are apparently allowed to think with their very own brains instead of drinking the county Kool-Aid.


After two calls to the school to get the corrected FAX number because the secretary's handwriting sucks and no one there answers the phone with any regularity, and two calls to the dentist to make the note request and then to give them the right fax number, and then another call to the school to leave a message asking the registrar to confirm receipt of the fax, I now wait for a return phone call to ensure that The Girl's record remains untarnished by the unexcused tardy that might keep her from getting all her proper honors at report card time. Who wants to bet that the report card comes out with an unexcused tardy marked anyway?


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

No Faith in Jaw Breaker Fans

Apparently the folks at my local movie theater don't have any faith in the intelligence of jaw breaker lovers. They felt the need to explain the meaning of $1.00.

The sad thing is, I think they had to explain how you make a dollar out of coins because people were probably trying to jam dollar bills in the coin slot. 

Morons are everywhere.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Best bumper sticker EVER!

No offense to you running folk but this, this CRACKS ME UP.

Can't read the fine print?

My attitude EXACTLY.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

We Can Make Going to Lowe's Really Exciting!

The kids and I accompanied my parents on a trip to Lowe's today. My children were goofing around in the store and I, current candidate for Parent of the Year, was ignoring them because their "harmless" game wasn't bothering any other shoppers and it allowed me to examine the nuances between 16 similarly colored bathroom faucets. 

The goofing got a little wilder and then The Boy said, "Hey, watch this, Mom, Watch this! This is going to be funny...." to which I replied, "I'm not going to watch you all do something stupid," as I, in fact, erroneously turned to look at him. Apparently, I then blinked or experienced some sort of wrinkle in time because the next thing I saw was The Girl falling with The Boy falling on top of her, slamming her head into the concrete floor. 

I guess I really didn't comprehend the force of the hit as I helped her up and cuddled her when she cried. Then she said she was going to throw up, and on our way to the bathroom, she asked me what happened. I thought that was pretty weird, but the good thing was that when she forgot what happened, she also forgot that she needed to vomit, so we just went and got some ice instead. Lowe's overall was far less concerned than they should have been since the didn't really know how she got hurt and so for all they knew, I could have been plotting my takeover of the store via lawsuit right now. 

After getting an icepack for her head, The Girl seemed to be OK but sore, so we went to lunch. She ate. But on the way home, her headache worsened. She complained of nausea and then puked when we got home. I called the pediatrician's office, but of course they were closed. The on-call nurse said that the rule for head injuries was that two vomits in three days equals a trip to the doctor. We quibbled over whether the fact that The Girl barfed twice in close succession counted as two separate vomits. Don't you think you should have to leave the bathroom in between barfing sessions for them to count as two separate vomits? 

The nurse disagreed.

So, off we went to the Pediatric Emergency Clinic, where we spent a whole five minutes (and were gifted with a barf bucket) before they strongly suggested that I save my co-pay and go straight to the ER because that's where they were going to send us anyway. So, we and our new bucket headed off to the nearby ER.

The first thing I learned is that you should always have someone drive you to the ER because there are no freaking parking places and I couldn't just drop her off and go drive around for a half an hour looking for a place to put my car because she's seven and that's frowned upon. When we got inside with all our gear (videogames, books, a jacket, a well-loved stuffed animal, the barf bucket...) we discovered a line and no one attending it. Not comforting. 

It was hours and more barf before she was seen by an actual medical person who did more than take her temperature and ask her what happened. Every seat was taken in the pediatric area, and a banged-up noggin and a barf bucket didn't move us up in the triage. When The Girl went on a vomit rampage in the bathroom, I went searching for someone who actually worked there so I could describe her worsening of symptoms and attempt to politely suggest that they get their shit together and fix my kid. 

She was gifted with the opportunity for medical treatment shortly thereafter. We were moved to a private room with a TV, which was really nice because the crowded waiting room had enough of that "people yelling into their cell phone" vibe going on to last me for a good long while. I found it quite interesting that the nurse came in, questioned us, and then prescribed a CAT scan. I kind of thought that would be a doctor thing. But I didn't care as long as someone acted like they were paying attention to us. 

The Girl was feeling worse and worse but, when we wheeled into the CAT scan room and she saw the machine, she perked up a bit. I think some of her stomach and head pain were from anxiety. I guess a scan of your head sounds pretty scary, especially after spending hours sitting in a stark waiting room with random yelling people and general uncomfortableness. 

After the scan,we finally saw a doctor, who asked The Girl various questions and performed an exam and generally seemed very doctorly. He took the time to chastise me for not being sure that The Girl isn't, in fact, allergic to any medication. He then proclaimed her as having a mild concussion, which, it turns out, is only a clinical diagnosis rather than something you actually know from some test. Who knew? He hadn't seen the CAT scan yet so we had to wait for that next. I expected the doctor to come back and tell us what he saw on the scan, but apparently that's not the way the ER works. We waited for 30 minutes, a snack was delivered, she ate it, and then after another 30 minutes, I went to go and ask the nurse how much longer it would be before The Girl could be discharged. He appeared to be surprised that we were still there. After that, the wheels got turning and I was finally set free with some papers, my starving, bruised child and my barf bucket full of amusements. 

Tonight I have to wake her up every two hours to make sure that she's coherent and not having problems due to the concussion. So far, that's not been too successful. It turns out that a sleeping child woken every two hours just isn't all that coherent no matter what. I should write down everything she says. She just told me that she went to school today "a little bit." Hmm.

Now to wait for the bill. I'm sure our $100 co-pay didn't cover it. This trip to Lowe's is going to be the gift that keeps on giving. 

"Mom, my head hurts!"

Help pay for our ER trip! Here's how:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Where's Froggo?

Can you find the critter in this picture?

Here he is!

Pretty good camouflage, right?

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Halloween-Themed Urine Sample Cup

As you may remember,  at my all-too-frequent visits to the urologist for my bladder disease,  Interstitial Cystitis, I like to make my urine sample cups more amusing by writing notes or drawing pictures on them. Here is the latest....

It says, "This isn't a trick but it's not a treat either."

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

I'm pretty sure I can tell them apart

I just found this in my facebook timeline. Not as a joke... this was a legitimate posting and a for-real response.

You know, I can't even gripe about the run-on sentence here. It's just too much.
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Happy Friday!

Have a GREAT weekend!

(Someone is really enjoying my new computer.)
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

You can't unsee this

My new computer came with this camera app that my daughter is thoroughly enjoying. My family has gotten a lot of laughs out of it, which probably says something about our intellect (or lack thereof). She took this one on her own and left it for me to see.

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