Six Word Saturday…

My six words for this Saturday are:

Gladly bidding farewell to stressful week!

Yes, this has been the week from hell…no two ways about it. 

Our vacation ended with coming home to attend a funeral.

Upon returning from vacation, found workplace in turmoil.

Forced to proceed with arrangements to move last remaining parent to personal care home.

Need I say more???

Thanks to Cate @ for hosting SWS.

Published in: on July 31, 2010 at 8:53 am  Comments (7)  

Flashback Friday…Vacation Bible School Memories

I never had the chance to attend VBS when I was a child.  I suppose they had VBS back then, but I never went.  My family’s church attendance was sporadic during my childhood, but my parents were Christians. 

There was a time when I lived with my uncle, who was a preacher, and his family, and that was longest that I ever attended church regularly.  I attended church camp with his daughter one summer, I suppose that was their version of VBS.  

When I was in my mid-teens, my parents and I finally began to attend church on a regular basis.  I joined the church,  and was baptized when I was sixteen.  I attended church regularly until I married my husband and moved to the city.  After that, my husband and I alternately visited his church and my church  we came home on weekends.

 Several years later, when our children were still small, my husband and I  became members of a small Baptist church after we’d moved back to our hometown.  It was at that small church that I first experienced VBS.  I was a teacher’s helper for the primary age group.  I absolutely loved it, from the first day!  I think I enjoyed VBS,  as much or more, than the children did.  I was sad when it was over.

 A few years, and two churches later, my husband and I became members of his childhood church.  While my husband always knew, it took some time and searching for me to realize the place that God wanted us to be.  Religion had been an issue in our marriage since day one.  While we were both Baptists, we were different kinds of Baptists, and it took a while for God to lead me in the right direction–and have me willing to follow.

 Eventually, I became a primary Sunday School teacher, and assistant youth leader in our church.  I’d never forgotten how much I enjoyed VBS the year that I helped with it, but this church didn’t have a VBS program at that time.  One night  I asked about VBS at one of the circle meetings, one thing led to another, and the next thing we knew, we were planning to have VBS.  Since I brought it up, I was put in charge, along with my friend, Wanda,  who was the junior Sunday School teacher.

 We had our first session of VBS that summer, and it was very successful.  My husband, who is very handy, helped me  transform a corner of the church annex for each one of the years that our church hosted VBS. Of course, each year had a different theme, and we decorated according to the theme.  The only theme I can still remember is “Camp Can-Do” and the verse  Phillipians 4:13.  I still have ” Can-Do Bear”.

Brandy, Brett, Brad, and their cousin April dressed in t-shirts for VBS cir. 1991

I would also buy colored t-shirts in packages, remove the pockets from each one them, then decorate them with VBS iron-ons.  Sometimes I had help doing this, sometimes I didn’t.  Each year our t-shirts were different colors, and we wore them for the closing program.  This was before it was so easy to order designed t-shirts like people do now–oh wait, I’m telling my age!

 My husband had a very old, but very large Suburban truck at the time.  I would load up our own children, then drive to town to pick up any children who needed a ride.  By the time I got to church, I had a load of kids, and the children were having a ball!  There were always willing teachers,  cheerful helpers, Bible lessons,  arts and crafts,  plenty of refreshments, and lots of fun times.

 Those years of VBS are among some of my favorite memories.  My daughter and I sometimes talk about how fun it used to be.  I eventually had to give up my church duties when I became ill.  The church had VBS one more time after I stopped doing it, and they haven’t had it since.  Unfortunately, there aren’t that many young people in our church these days.  Our church’s children attend VBS at other area churches, and they attend our own church camp. 

 Yes, I love VBS.  I’ve never forgotten the excitement of it–or  all of the work involved–or the reward and satisfaction that I felt when it was all over with.  I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to experience VBS, even if it was as an adult.  Everyone should try it at least once! 

 Thanks to Linda @ for making me walk down “memory lane” about VBS.  I’m also linking up with Java @ where the over 40 bloggers like to hang out on Fridays!

Published in: on July 30, 2010 at 9:09 am  Comments (14)  

When It Rains, It Pours…

The month of July has been one of the worst months for our family in quite sometimes.  It reminds me of the month of January back in 1989, when both of my parents were in the hospital at the same time–daddy in ICU, and mama in the Psychiatric Unit.  I was driving back and forth 130 miles round trip, every day, to see about them, while my family was struggling without me at home…then I got the flu…then two of my children came down with the chicken pox…Get the picture?  Things just seemed to spiral out of control.  After months and months of pure hell, life eventually got normal again–but even then, it was a new normal. 

Our new normal included nursing home visits that left us feeling belittled and guilty because we put my parents there.  It included having to deal with their unoccupied house that was literally falling down.  It included finding money in our budget to pay for my parents personal expenses.  It included having to make time on all special occasions to make two one-hour trips to and from the nursing home–one to get my parents out, another to return them–after cooking all holiday meals, and hosting the events.

This horrible month began with our son Brad’s girlfriend finding out that she had pre-cancerous cells on her cervix, which later were found to be actual cancer, then her mom passed away, then our quick family vacation amidst the shock of the death, waiting for Jennifer’s surgery to be scheduled…While all of these things have been going on, my husband’s mother, who is 88, has been on a downhill slide. 

We have a lady who comes to stay with Ed’s mother  four mornings a week, and then Brad has been there during the evenings for the past 3 years, but lately all of those things have been disrupted.  The lady took a two-week vacation, then about the time she returned, Jennifer’s mother died, and Brad’s been spending most of his time over at her house.  In the midst of all of these changes, Ed’s mom’s mental and physical condition has declined.

Yesterday I got a call from the lady who stays with my mother-in-law, telling me that Ed’s mom was having some problems.  I went up to the house. The house smelled of urine, and my mother-in-law seemed confused and weak, and she kept having to go to the bathroom.  I called my husband at work.  After a trip to the ER, it was determined that she had a bad urinary tract infection.  We were hoping for a brief hospital stay for her, but that was not to be the case.  They sent her home.  She’s not eating, and can barely get around on her own.  She won’t take her medications like she should.

We now think that the time has come to begin looking for other living arrangements for Ed’s mother.  I always feared that this day would come, and we’ve dreaded it.  We’ve already been through this with my parents, and it was not an easy or a pleasant situation.  We’ve tried to put it off for as long as we can.

So with heavy hearts, we begin the search for a place for his mother to live.  My husband told her last night that he was going to begin to look into assisted living homes.  She did not argue, but she will.  She’s feisty, and I know she will probably put up a fight, and try to make him feel miserable in the end.  Misery loves company, and she is one miserable woman.

The saddest part of all is that my husband and I realize that one of us will be in her shoes one of these days, if we live that long…What a future to look forward to.  Can I just say that “old age sucks”?

Published in: on July 29, 2010 at 10:52 am  Comments (2)  

Our Vacation Cabin…

our family vacation cabin in Helen, Ga.

The kitchen was the most popular, and most used room in the cabin!  I felt “at home” in the kitchen because I have this same dining furniture in my own house.  I also have black appliances.  We brought along plenty of food, and we ate almost every meal at the cabin.  I had one major complaint about the kitchen though.  It was very dark!  All of the bulbs were those energy-saving flourescent kind, and I could barely see my hand in front of my face!

  Most of the walls throughout the cabin were painted burgundy and hunter green which didn’t help the lighting situation.  I was truly “craving some light” by the time we left.

My oldest son and my daughter are pictured here, along with their children.  The little boy, Caden, belongs to my son, while the little girl, Madison, belongs to my daughter.  They were spending a few moments relaxing in the living room of the cabin. 

The cabin was decorated in a “bear theme”.  There was a fake bear-skin rug on the back of the love seat.  Madison was scared to death of that rug when we first entered the cabin!  My husband put the rug on his back, pretended to be a bear, then played with it as a puppet for a while.  After that Madison decided that she liked the rug!

My husband and I enjoyed sitting out on the upper back deck of the cabin–especially early in the morning.  The surrounding area was so beautiful and peaceful,  first thing in the morning.  We sat on that deck and saw four deer grazing across the backyard!   There was also a charcoal grill on the deck, and we grilled ribs and hamburgers one evening.

This is a view of the backyard of the cabin.  It was huge!  You can see the back of the cabin in the top part of the photograph.  Our family took our bean bag tossing game, and played a few rounds one evening after supper.  We didn’t have time to try out that huge fire pit. 

 Just on the other side of the backyard was the Chattahoochee River.  It was shallow all the way across, so the children could play in the water.  We didn’t have time to go tubing, but I bought a raft, walked up the river a ways, then floated down it several times.

We enjoyed sitting on these rocks, watching the river flowing by–along with a few tubers every now and then.  Unfortunately, some of us got chiggers, or what we down south refer to as “red bugs”,  from sitting on those rocks beside the river!  Lucky me!  I got the worst case of them–about a dozen total.  I’ve been scratching ever since I got home!  “Red bugs” are one souvenir that I really would have prefered to leave in the mountains!

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 9:05 am  Comments (10)  

Beginning Our Vacation With Tragedy…

our caravan on the way to Helen

About two months ago, our family planned a vacation together.  This trip was to include me and my husband, our two married children and their families, and our youngest son and his girlfriend.  Our bags were all packed, the car was loaded, and our alarm clocks were set.  Our entire family was set to leave for our vacation at 8 a.m. on  Thursday.  At 6 a.m. the phone rang, and it was our youngest son, telling us that(his girlfriend) Jennifer’s mom had passed away.  That was an awful way to start the day!

Barely awake, and still in shock, we had some fast decisions to make.  Multiple family vacations are hard to co-ordinate, and we’d had to prepay for our cabin.  For a variety of reasons, but with very heavy hearts, we decided to continue on with the vacation without Brad and Jennifer.  We very much would’ve liked to cancel and reschedule, but it really wasn’t a viable option, so we continued on as planned. 

When I say that we left with heavy hearts, I am not exaggerating.  We were constantly in touch with Brad by phone the entire day that we spent traveling.  As you can imagine, he and Jennifer were devastated.  Those of us traveling had red eyes from crying.  With each passing mile, we felt worse and worse. I was so distraught that I couldn’t even bring myself to even talk to Jennifer on the phone that entire day.  The others sent her text messages.  We tried to enjoy the trip, and the beautiful scenery around us, but the subject always came back to Jennifer and Brad.

I sat on the back deck of that beautiful cabin, high in the mountains, and listened to my son tearfully share all that had transpired during the past 24 hours that we’d been gone, and  finally I was able to speak to Jennifer for the first time since her mother had passed away–not at all how I’d envisioned spending the time on that deck with such a beautiful view.  After talking with Jennifer, I felt reassured that she was going to be okay.  Strangely enough, I think she may have comforted me more than I comforted her.

It turned out that Jennifer’s mom’s funeral wasn’t going to be held until Sunday afternoon.  As soon as I heard that, I knew that we would do whatever it took to get home in time for that funeral–and we did.  My husband and I left the mountains behind at 4:45 in the morning on Sunday.  The rest of the family left within a couple of hours behind us.  We all made it safely home, and we all went to the funeral.

Despite the adverse conditions that we vacationed under, our family did manage to have some fun times, and I will share some of the highlights in other posts.  One thing that our family discovered during this vacation– in hard times, a family draws closer, which is always a good thing.

Published in: on July 27, 2010 at 9:49 am  Comments (4)  

A Friday Flashback On Monday…Food For Thought

Here it is Monday, and I am spinning my wheels, trying to get going. A lot has gone on during the past few days, and I will share some of that along and along during the week, but today I will share the post that I wrote when I was planning to participate in Linda’s Friday Flashback meme. Better late than never, right?  The theme was “food for thought”.

When I think of happy mealtimes, I think of get-togethers that we had at my grandma’s house.  All of my aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather, and the table would be full of lots of wonderful food.  Believe it or not, when I was a child, my favorite things–out of all of that food–were the pineapple or pimento cheese sandwiches!  Isn’t that just like a child?  My two favorite things that grandma made were bread pudding and fried tarts.  It’s been years since I’ve had any bread pudding!

I can remember that we ate fish a lot while growing up.  This was probably because my parents enjoyed fishing, therefore, we ate the fruits of their labor.  I never cared for fish, still don’t.  For a while I’d eat only the tails–I know, it’s sort of gross, isn’t it? 

Both of my parents shared the cooking  duty in our family.  My daddy could cook  just as good as mama could.  Sometimes they cooked together, sometimes they took turns.  In my last  years of living at home, daddy did almost all of the cooking because he worked an early shift, and he beat mama home from work.  He had supper cooked before mama ever got home.  In fact, what little cooking I learned at home, I learned from my daddy.

We always ate at the table, as a family.  Back then, the food was served in bowls on the table, “family style”.  We ate meats, breads, and vegetables.  There was no fast food in those days.  I still remember when our Dairy Queen was built–in  the late 60’s.  We also had a restaurant called “Reese’s 301 Drive Inn” that served delicious “homemade hamburgers”.  It was a rare treat to get a hamburger from Reese’s.  The Dairy Queen was for buying an ice cream as far as we were concerned. 

I always got stuck cleaning up the kitchen after mealtime.  My parents would go to the living room, and watch television, while I spent the next hour washing dishes by hand.  We never had a dishwasher–I was the dishwasher!  In fact, I didn’t own a dishwasher myself until about 12 years ago!  Our children used to share the dish washing duties–and what a good time they used to have while doing it!

Some of my favorite dishes that my parents used to cook were home-made vegetable soup, corn bread, blackberry cobbler, bar-b-que chicken, and fried squash.  For some reason, my parents never cooked spaghetti or chili.  After I met my future husband, and ate with his family, I discovered that they made the best spaghetti and meatballs!  My future mother-in-law taught me how to make it, and I’d cook it at home for my parents.  I didn’t learn how to make chili until after I got married.

My  father-in-law was quite a good cook!  He and his wife also shared the cooking duties in their home.  He made the best fried chicken that I have ever eaten, hands down!  Everyone who ever tasted it, would agree.  He passed away over eight years ago, but boy what I’d give to taste his chicken again!

Published in: on July 26, 2010 at 9:39 am  Comments (4)  
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About Jennifer’s Mom…

Thanks to each and every one of you who have responded to my request for prayers for Jennifer and her family.  They have been much-needed and appreciated.  For those who have asked, yes, this is the same Jennifer that I have previously asked you to pray for because of her health issues. 

Jennifer’s mom, Denise, had a heart problem, but it was thought to be somewhat under control.  She had visited the cardiologist earlier this week, and wasn’t scheduled to go back for several months.  Without any warning,  in the early hours of Thursday morning, she passed away while sleeping. 

It’s been a shock, to say the least, for this family to have to deal with the loss of a wife and a mother, especially on the heels of Jennifer’s cancer diagnosis, but they are a strong, close-knit,  Christian family, and God will see them through these trials.  I ask that you please continue to remember Jennifer and her family in the coming weeks as they mourn their loss, and await Jennifer’s surgery.

 I met Jennifer’s mom years ago.   When I used to work at school, I taught Jennifer( as well as one of her brothers)  in first grade.  Denise was a kind and loving person.  She was a wonderful mother, and it was reflected in her children.  I never forgot how smart,  polite, and well-behaved her children were.  As you can imagine, I was thrilled when I found out that Brad was dating Jennifer. She’s just the  girl I’d been praying that he would find, and our family loves her dearly.

Jennifer’s mom, Denise,  was laid to rest today, following a service that surpassed any that I’ve ever attended.  Most of the service was conducted by Denise’s children, including the music.  Her children’s love and respect for their mom was very evident in their words spoken and read during the service.  A song “Something Special For Mama” brought a tear to every eye in the church which over-flowed with friends and loved ones who came to say farewell.  Denise will be sorely missed by her family, and all who knew her–myself included.

Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 6:34 pm  Comments (9)  

More Prayers Needed, Please…

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this post.  It has been a long day.  Our day began at 6 o’clock this morning with a call from our youngest son, Brad. 

The prayers that I am requesting are for Brad’s girlfriend, Jennifer–and for the rest of Jennifer’s family as well.  I’m sorry to say that Jennifer’s mother, Denise, passed away shortly before 6 this morning from heart failure.  She died in her sleep.  Denise was just 49 years old.  Denise was a wonderful Christian lady, and she will be greatly missed.

My heart is breaking for Jennifer, as well as for her two brothers, and her father.  My heart is also breaking for my son, Brad,  as he watches his loved one,  Jennifer,  dealing with the painful agony of losing her mother.  It is a very difficult time. I don’t know what else to say.  Words fail me tonight.

Published in: on July 22, 2010 at 10:40 pm  Comments (7)  

Record Players, Loretta Lynn, And Other Things…

I’m really going to “date” myself with this post!  Who out there in blogland knows what a record player is?  Anyone?  Does anyone know who Loretta Lynn is?  Let me tell you a little story about both…

I got my first record player when I was eleven or twelve years old (back in 1966).  My parents bought it for my birthday.  I secretly think that Mama bought that record player as much for her as for me.  Never had I gotten such an expensive birthday gift before–or since. 

Along with the record player,  Mama bought two record albums–The Kinks and Loretta Lynn.  I’d never heard of either one!  Mama played Loretta Lynn’s album “You Ain’t Woman Enough(To Take My Man)” over and over, and I actually became quite fond of Loretta .  I  liked her even better than The Kinks!

Years later, after I was married, I bought a record of Loretta Lynn’s greatest hits.  I’ve always liked different kinds of music, and even though at the time I liked primarily pop music, Loretta was a refreshing change.  My husband seemed to enjoy her music as well.  He’d go around singing “Hey Loretta!  I love you more than my Irish Setter…” one of the songs on the album.

For those of you who may not know, Loretta Lynn was born and lived in a place called “Butcher Holler”.  She married DoLittle Lynn when he was 22 and she was just 13, and he moved her to Washington State–far away from the family that she loved so much.  She had 4 children by the age of 20, and times were very hard.  Thanks to her husband’s brains, and her God-given talent, she became a country music star, and– a “country music legend”.  She wrote most of her own music, and had numerous country hits over the years.

I was thrilled when Loretta Lynn’s autobiography,  “Coal Miner’s Daughter” was published.  I was a stay-at-home mom back then.  I bought the paperback book and couldn’t put it down until it was finished.  Loretta is one of the most “country” people in the world–and I just love her!  What you see is what you get.  It’s hard to believe that anyone can be as “unknowledgeable” as Loretta was, and make it so far in this world. 

Of course, later the movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter” was made from the book, and it was a very successful and entertaining movie.  Sissy Spaseck won an Oscar for her portrayal of Loretta in the movie.  Many years passed, and I all but forgot about Loretta Lynn–until a few weeks ago when I watched “Coal Miner’s Daughter” on television– again.

I decided I might like to read Loretta’s book again.  I went on-line to search for a used copy of it.  That’s when I discovered that she had a follow-up autobiography called “Still Woman Enough”, which was written in 2002, a long while after her husband of forty-something years had died.

Let me tell you, I think I enjoyed “Still Woman Enough” just as much, or more, than I did “Coal Miner’s Daughter”!  It’s pure Loretta Lynn– it’s all genuine and country.  I laughed and I cried. I finished it last night, and I am sad that I did.  I feel as though I’ve spent the past several days “just sittin’ down gettin’ to know Loretta”.  She just “tells it like it is”, and I sure respect her for it.  Some of the things that she wrote must have been difficult to tell.

It’s sort of funny, the other day I was in a little shop on St. Simon’s Island, when I heard an older woman mention Loretta Lynn’s name to a young man.  Then she said to him, “Oh, you probably don’t know who that is, do you?”  The young man replied, “No.”  So I am guessing that many of you may not know who Loretta is either. 

Whether you know who Loretta is or not, if you are looking for two good books to read, I highly suggest “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “Still Woman Enough”.  I found my used copies for just ninety-nine cents from Alibris books on-line. 

And about that old record player of mine?  I traded record players with my then future husband,  Ed,  after we met and became serious about each other.  His record player was bigger and better than mine, and he offered to trade.  What a guy!  I don’t know for sure, but I believe the record player fell “victim” to his two younger brothers,  while Ed was away in the army.  I never saw my old record player again…

Published in: on July 22, 2010 at 6:25 am  Comments (8)  

Kathy’s Random Dozen…

It’s time for another “Random Dozen” post…

(1)First, a Jennifer update.  She had her first onchologist appointment on Monday, and will be having surgery in 4 to 6 weeks.  She will have to travel two states away, to North Carolina,   to under go a fairly new procedure, that only 500 women in the entire world have had!  Her entire cervix will be removed via robotic surgery, then a sort of implant(“kind of like a noose”)  will be put in its place to close off the uterus.  By having this procedure done, Jennifer should hopefully be able to carry a pregnancy one day, although it would be a higher risk pregnancy, and she’d have to have a c-section.  The doctor says that removal of the entire cervix will take care of the cancer, with no further treatment necessary.  Please continue to remember Jennifer in your prayers as she awaits her surgery.  Four to six weeks seems like a long time, but the doctor has assured her that she will be okay until then.  The time frame should put Jenn’s surgery right around the time of her 24th birthday. 

(2)It’s almost time for our long-awaited vacation trip to the mountains of Helen, GA.  Traveling to Helen should prove to be interesting.  There will be four carloads of our family, all heading to the same cabin.  Staying together might prove to be fun–in the cars and in the cabin!   If you remember, we had a “snore fest” on our last trip!  I’ve warned my oldest son, that he should invest in some ear plugs…

(3)My husband and I have been trying to watch the movie “Avatar” for the past 3 days.  We keep get interrupted and having company.  I don’t quite know what to think of the movie so far except this: “What in the world was James Cameron smokin’ when he made that movie?”  Blue creatures that look like a mixture of a cat and a human?  Woah! 

(4)After more than five years of trying, and two signed petitions–our little area of “Gooseneck” has finally gotten DSL!  Woo Hoo!  I never thought I would see the day.  I gave up nearly two years ago and subscribed to WildBlue satellite internet.  After we return from our vacation, I plan to “get connected”.  No more losing my internet every time a cloud blows by!  DSL is also twenty-five dollars a month cheaper. 

(5)I really hate going off and leaving “Bobs” the cat again.  She’s just calmed down from our last trip, now she will be upset again.  I will miss my “Bobs.  She stayed mad with me for two weeks after our trip to the beach in June!  She’s only recently begun giving me “love” again…I couldn’t even get a purr for a while! 

(6)Our entire family loves watching the show “Big Brother”.  My husband and I were the last ones to start watching.  Now my husband looks forward to watching  it each week.  Sometimes a bunch of us get together to watch.  We were all sorry to see the saboteur get voted off the first week.  I was looking forward to more “pranks”.  We all want Enso to get voted off!

(7)My husband picked this whole bowl of  cherry tomatoes at one time,  off one little tomato bush.  I think we’ve finally found a tomato that we can grow successfully!  I’ll be sure  to remember that next spring, and buy more than one plant.

(8)I will miss Captain Phil Harris on the show “The Deadliest Catch”.  He added an element to the show that none of the other burley captains do.  Watching his sons with him in ICU (following his stroke) brought back memories of me with my own dad in ICU.  My dad made it out of ICU(twice), Captain Phil didn’t .

(9)Have you ever seen the movie “Steel Magnolias”?  If so, do you remember the scene before the wedding, when the father of the bride is “waging war” with a shot-gun,  on the birds in their yard?  I witnessed such a sight on our front porch last week.  I looked outside and saw my husband with–not a shot-gun, but his trusty BB gun–shooting into the trees at the squirrels.  Apparently, the squirrels are stealing the pears off our trees.  The ground is covered in half-eaten pears.  Ed isn’t happy about sharing so many of his pears…Funny Ed!

(10)Do you remember when I wrote the post about my oldest son buying a car off Ebay?  Remember that I said I didn’t have a picture of that car?  Well, I have a picture of it now.  See? 

(11)There have been no more snake visitors since Sunday, but we’ve all had several good laughs listening to the story of what was going on inside of my daughter’s house after the discovery of that snake stretched out in the hallway.  My husband’s description of our son-in-law,  poised in the hall,  with a broomstick raised, wearing only his boxer shorts,  was hilarious! 

(12)Last Halloween I found and purchased some large “fake” cockroaches.  They looked quite real and I used them for decorations at my Halloween party.  Later, I gave one of the roaches to my youngest son, Brad.  Brad’s had many “fun moments” with that roach–at his girlfriend,  Jennifer’s,  expense.  Eventually, he played one joke too many, and Jennifer grabbed the fake roach and threw it into the  field behind her house.  She had the last laugh while she watched Brad search that field for over an hour looking for his fake roach!  He never did find the thing!  Brad was sad, but Jennifer was glad!

That’s my random dozen for this week!

Have a great day!

Published in: on July 21, 2010 at 9:52 am  Comments (5)