Monthly Archives: March 2013

“The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened.” ~Saki


People say that dreams and goals are what keep us going.  As I sit here and ponder that, I also can’t help but think about how my goals have changed after having children.  If you have kids, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.  If you don’t, you may wonder just how much a person’s dreams can possibly change.  Well, let me explain it to you…

Goal Before Kids:  To save up enough money to go to law school
Goal After Kids:  To save up enough money to send both kids to school with lunch money on the same day

Goal Before Kids:  To make time to travel abroad
Goal After Kids:  To make time to pee

Goal Before Kids:  To learn to speak French fluently
Goal After Kids:  To learn to speak “tween” fluently (See here for “Tween 101”)

Goal Before Kids:  To retire by the age of 40
Goal After Kids:  To get my kids out of my house by the age of 40

Goal Before Kids:  To get a job right out of school
Goal After Kids:  To keep a job (Thanks, Mr. Pres…)

Goal Before Kids:  To have a big, beautiful house
Goal After Kids:  To have a tiny house so it is easier to shove everything under the bed and make it appear beautiful

Goal Before Kids:  To have good credit
Goal After Kids:  To have any credit (Thanks, sperm donor…)

Goal Before Kids:  To look fabulous in a bikini
Goal After Kids:  To make sweats look fabulous

Goal Before Kids:  To not let my gym membership expire
Goal After Kids:  To not let my library card expire

Pitiful, right?  But at least I still have goals!  As Lewis Carroll says in Alice in Wonderland:

Cat:  Where are you going?
Alice:  Which way should I go?
Cat:  That depends on where you are going.
Alice:  I don’t know.
Cat:  Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.

Make goals.  Have dreams.  If you can’t reach them right now, make new ones.  You’ll reach them eventually (or at least be able to blog about them) – Don’t ever give up!!!

BEFORE KIDS:

Photo by Leslie Dobbe Photography

Photo by Leslie Dobbe Photography

Photo by Leslie Dobbe Photography

Photo by Leslie Dobbe Photography

AFTER KIDS:

Photo by Leslie Dobbe Photography

Photo by Leslie Dobbe Photography

Photo by Leslie Dobbe Photography

Photo by Leslie Dobbe Photography

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“Despite being what would now be called a deprived child in a one parent family, I did not grow up with an urge to smash windows or to bash old ladies over the head in order to steal handbags.” ~Eva Hart


Photo by Alicia Benton

Photo by Alicia Benton

Single parenting is H-A-R-D work!!!  I mean, parenting with a partner is tough, but single parenting is the hardest job on the face of the planet.  There are days when I don’t know if I can even get out of the bed for fear of bursting into tears the moment someone speaks to me.  Now, don’t get me wrong… I don’t want a pity party, and I’m not looking for sympathy.  I’m just amazed by every single parent I meet.  Seriously.  I think that single parents are secretly superheroes in disguise.

Superheroes:

Are Strong:  Have you ever carried in 100 bags of groceries (50 on each arm) by yourself while the kids are pushing you over to try to find the one with the Cheez-Its in it?  A single parent has.

Are Brave:  Have you ever had to get out of the bed to kill a giant, man-eating spider by yourself [what?!] because the kids are already asleep?  A single parent has.  (And let me tell you… that’s brave.)

Are Intelligent:  Have you ever had to remember what x equals if a is three, b is five, and c is purple over fifteen years after learning it the first time?  A single parent has.

Have Special Powers:  Do you have eyes in the back of your head and super-sensitive hearing that help you divert crayon-all-over-the-walls disasters before they happen?  A single parent does.

Wear Costumes:  Have you ever had to go out in public in a bathrobe and one slipper, with fruit snacks in your hair in order to get the cupcakes your kid promised the teacher he’d bring to school this morning but just told you about ten minutes ago?  A single parent has.

Earn Respect:  Have you ever been grocery shopping and have people look at you in amazement because you can unload the cart, pay, pick up the fifty packs of gum that just “fell for no reason,” and not manage to lose the kids all at the same time?  A single parent has.

Are Athletic:  Can you carry a kid on one hip, a baseball bag on the other, have a good hold on another kid’s hand, all while running full-speed through the parking lot so they’re not late for practice?  A single parent can.

Have a Sidekick:  Do you constantly have someone on your heels at all times, sticking their little fingers under the bathroom door while you’re trying to enjoy three seconds in peace and quiet pee?  A single parent does.

Are Role Models:  Do you have impressionable little people watching your every move and listening to every word that comes out of your mouth, just waiting with bated breath for the second they get to do exactly what you just did?  A single parent does.

Have a Weakness:  Do you risk the chance of acquiring the world’s largest ulcer because you’re constantly worried sick about who your kid is becoming, who they’re talking to, hanging out with, what they’re learning about from the hoodlums they go to school with, whether they’re safe, etc., etc. (you get the drift)?  A single parent does.

Use Gadgets:  Have you ever had the joy of sitting on the floor until your knees no longer work, putting 10,000 Lego pieces together, only to have your masterpiece smashed to smithereens thirty minutes later?  A single parent has.

Have an Arch Enemy:  Have you ever had to explain your every move and pure motive to an “ex,” who is dying for you fail and will never ever admit that you’re actually doing a pretty good job raising kids?  A single parent has.

Have a Hideout:  Have you ever pretended having to poop just so you could sit in the bathroom by yourself for an extra ten minutes in peace and quiet?  A single parent has.

Have an Alter Ego:  Have you ever been referred to as “Mom,” “Hey Mom,” “Mommy,” “Mom,” “Ma,” “Hey Mom” (or “Dad,” “Hey Dad,” “Daddy,” “Dad,” “Hey Dad”)  more times in a day than you have by your real first name?  A single parent has.

Have a Love Interest:  Have you ever felt a love so whole and complete you couldn’t imagine your life without the ones who filled you with that love or remember your life before it?  A single parent has.

Have a Cool Ride:  Do you drive a vehicle that can fit twice as much cargo and old french fries in it as the manual in the glove compartment says it can?  A single parent does.

Have a Goal:  Have you ever dreamed about the night you may actually get to go out with fellow adults and have adult beverages and adult conversations without worrying that your kids are going to go bat-poop-crazy on each other while you’re gone?  A single parent has.

To all single parents – You are my superheroes.  I hope your kids grow up to be as resilient and tough as you are.


“Slang is the suitcase of the damned, my dear. CHECK IT.” ~Heather Cocks


Okay, so I’m a little behind the times.  Every time I say something is cool or awesome or rad or even gnarly [lol], I get a major “you’re an idiot” eye roll from my completely gnarly [lol] teenager.  That, of course, would be Gerald, who is the epitome of cool (at least in his own head).  When we have conversations, I often feel like I’m speaking to an alien from another planet… one to which I’ve not been honored to visit yet.  In an effort to help all of my fellow “bofs” [noun: boring old farts] have ridiculous effective conversations with today’s teens, I’ve put together a mini cheat-sheet for quick reference.

Here’s your 2013 “Teen Slang for Dummies” guide:

Beast

Old fart definition:  noun – any nonhuman animal, especially a large, four-footed mammal
Hip teen definition:  adjective – very good; excellent; cool; awesome
Example:  Dude, your news kicks are beast!

Chill

Old fart definition:  adjective – moderately cold; tending to cause shivering
Hip teen definition:  adjective – great; awesome; cool; fine; okay; fun; low-key
Example:  Man, that penny board is so chill!

Derp

Old fart definition:  This word does not exist in our normal, old fart language.
Hip teen definition:  noun – dummy
Example:  Come on, stop being such a derp.

Dookie Fresh

Old fart definition:  Again, THANKFULLY, this word does not exist in our normal, old fart language.
Hip teen definition:  adjective – excellent; awesome; cool
Example:  Wow, those rims are dookie fresh!

Fetch

Old fart definition:  verb – to go and bring back; return with; get
Hip teen definition:  adjective – great; awesome; cool
Example:  That new song by Macklemore is so fetch!

Gnarly

Old fart definition:  adjective – another word for gnarled; slang for distasteful, offensive, or gross
Hip teen definition:  adjective – very good; excellent; cool  (yep… precisely the opposite of what it meant when we old folks were growing up)
Example:  That homerun was gnarly!

Hoss Boss  (Nope, not kidding…)

Old fart definition:  As you probably guessed, this word does not exist in our normal, old fart language.
Hip teen definition:  adjective – incredibly awesome; great
Example:  That kid is totally hoss boss!  He should hang with us!

Pure

Old fart definition:  adjective – clear; free from blemishes; free from foreign elements
Hip teen definition:  adjective – awesome; extremely excellent; great
Example:  Dude, that dunk was pure!

Ratchet

Old fart definition:  noun – a toothed bar with which a pawl engages
Hip teen definition:  adjective – loud; rude; obnoxious; severely ghetto
Example:  Man, that chick is mad ratchet.  I wish she would just shut up!

Ridiculous

Old fart definition:  adjective – absurd; preposterous; laughable
Hip teen definition:  adjective – extremely impressive; unbelievable; very good; excellent; cool; awesome
Example:  Dude, Clowney’s tackle on that kid was ridiculous!

Sick

Old fart definition:  adjective – affected with ill health or disease
Hip teen definition:  adjective – crazy; insane; great; cool; awesome
Example:  That skateboard trick was sick

Smoking

Old fart definition:  verb – to give off or emit smoke
Hip teen definition:  adjective – extremely attractive; hot
Example:  The new girl in my math class is smoking!

Sweet

Old fart definition:  adjective – having the taste or flavor characteristic of sugar or honey; not rancid
Hip teen definition:  adjective – used to express extreme satisfaction or approval; good; excellent; cool
Example:  No school tomorrow?  Sweet!

Whack

Old fart definition:  verb – to strike with a resounding blow
Hip teen definition:  adjective – bad; sucks, crazy; insane
Example:  Man, that’s whack that your mom grounded you.

Wicked

Old fart definition:  adjective – evil or morally bad in principle; mischievous
Hip teen definition:  adjective – awesome; cool; used to add emphasis
Example:  Holy crap, it’s wicked cold outside!

Okay… So now that you’re up-to-speed on today’s hippest language, I challenge you to go strike up a conversation with a teenager.  I know.  That’s ridiculous, isn’t it?  😉


“I’d learned that some things are best kept secret.” ~Nicholas Sparks


Photo by Alicia Benton

Photo by Alicia Benton

Photo by Alicia Benton

Photo by Alicia Benton

Ten secrets my kids don’t know about me:

1.  I am absolutely TERRIFIED of the world in which they’re growing up.  Murders, drugs, gangs, bullying, lack of respect, Liberals…

2.  I wonder every day if I’m failing as a mom.  Do all moms wonder if they’re doing a good job or ruining their kids for life?

3.  I’m broke.  No, seriously…

4.  I’m worried about whether I’ll ever be that mother-in-law.  You know – the monster who hates any female who tries to steal her son from her.

5.  It breaks my heart every morning that I drop them off at school and don’t get to walk them to their classes anymore.  Psycho.  I know, I know.

6.  They’re my heroes.  [See why here.]

7.  I really don’t have eyes in the back of my head.  They still wonder, to this day, how it is that I know every time they’re doing something they shouldn’t be.  (I’m just awesome like that, I guess.)

8.  I’m not really counting down the days until they move out.  In fact, in reality, I’m dreading it.  What will my purpose in life be when I’m no longer needed as a 24-hour-a-day referee?

9.  I don’t really sit around all day and think about how to make their lives miserable.  I don’t know if they’d believe this one since I’m often known as “The Meanest Mom in the World.”

10.  I love Bruno Mars.  If they knew that, then they would decide that they hated him, and we wouldn’t get to listen to him in the car anymore.

Someday (hopefully no time within the next 40 15 years) they’ll have little munchkins of their own, and then I’ll finally sit down and share my secrets with them.  By then, they’ll have their own secrets to keep from nosey little ears (and not just from me).  How terrifying refreshing will that day be?!


“I want you to think about it long and hard.” ~Michael (from The Office)


As a parent to a tween and a teen, I find myself praying quite often that they won’t pick up on the latest moronic cool terms and phrases that many other kids their age have coined as “sick” or “beast.”  Unfortunately for me, however, God finds some of my other prayer requests more urgent and answers those first.  (He’s got quite a sense of humor, in case you didn’t know.)  Anyway, sure enough, the boys have recently discovered the joy in the infamous phrase, “That’s what she said.”  Yep – that’s right.  They’re only about eight years behind the times on this one, but they love it (and think it’s hilarious) nonetheless.  Here’s a little sneak peak into my torturous, testosterone-filled house:

My sister:  Alicia, do you want the brownies with nuts or without?
Me:  With.  I don’t like the ones without nuts.
The Boys:  THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!  [Bahahaha!]

Gerald:  Mom, do you want the rest of this cornbread?
Me:  No, it’s too hard now.
The Boys:  THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!  [Bahahaha!]

Ronald:  Mom, look at this bruise I got at practice today.
Me:  Wow, it’s huge.  It must really hurt.
The Boys:  THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!  [Bahahaha!]

Gerald:  Mom, are you going to eat this candy bar?
Me:  No.  I don’t really like white chocolate.
The Boys:  THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!  [Bahahaha!]

Me:  Ronald, you had a great hit today!
Ronald:  I – –
Gerald:  THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!  [Bahahaha!]

Me:  That made me choke.  It went down the wrong hole.
The Boys:  THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!  [Bahahaha!]

Me:  Ronald, you need to hurry up and finish that.  It’s not that hard.
The Boys:  THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!  [Bahahaha!]

Gerald:  Mom, I don’t like these potatoes.
Me:  Well then just hurry up and swallow them.  And don’t eat anymore.
The Boys:  THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!  [Bahahaha!]

Ronald:  Mom, come look at this spider!
Me:  Where?  I can’t see it.  It’s too small.
The Boys:  THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!  [Bahahaha!]

— Um… FAIL!!  They’ll get it eventually… —

What happened to the days when my boys were sweet and innocent?  Okay, wait…  Those may have never existed.  That may have only been in my head.  Hmm – It’s a good thing they’re cute.


“The soul is healed by being with children.” ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky


I try to usually keep my posts upbeat and sometimes even funny.  Sometimes that’s hard to do, though, when it feels like your life is falling apart.  Ever been there?  Anyway, this is no attempt to gain pity, but I’m just having one of those weeks, and I’m going through a really hard time in my life right now.  It’s times like this when I’m so thankful for Gerald and Ronald.  On the days when it’s hard to even get out of bed, when I don’t feel like I can even function, all I have to do is look at their mischievous little faces (and their dimples) and feel some sense of hope.  Hope for our future – hope for tomorrow.  When I walk in the door every afternoon, the first thing they do (before their World War 3 battle begins) is ask me how my day went.  How do you not just melt at that and forget, at least temporarily, all of the awful things you’re going through?  No one [who should be blessed with children, at least] ever wants their kids to know they’re going through a hard time, so I’m grateful that they force me to put my big girl panties on and keep moving forward.  They depend on me and rely on me to be their stability, and Lord knows, I never want to let them down.                                                                                                                          

Photo by Leslie Dobbe Photography

Photo by Leslie Dobbe Photography

It’s funny how the ones that you’re supposed to be strong for are actually the ones who are strong for you and help you face your discouraging tomorrows.  All without even knowing it…   In fact, sometimes they’re even the only ones I can depend on for unconditional love and no judgment.  Things won’t always be this hard, right?  One look at my beautiful boys’ faces, and I think I already know the answer to that.  Thank you, God, for giving me these boys as a constant reminder that you know the plans you have for me – plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future.


“Suppose you were the last one left? Suppose you did that to yourself?” ~Cormac McCarthy


Okay, so today’s post is going to be a little different than my usual ones.  You can thank some of my coworkers for that.  So I come in to work this morning, unusually bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for a Monday morning (an early Monday morning, at that), and [obviously] the very first thing I do is go to the kitchen for coffee.  I mean, how else am I supposed to make it to lunchtime without chewing someone’s head off?  Well, I get within 50 feet of the kitchen, and I can already smell someone’s breakfast.  I’m sure right now you’re thinking, “What did you smell, Alicia?  Delicious bacon, maybe?  Or some warm oatmeal?”  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Nope, it wasn’t bacon or oatmeal… IT WAS FISH!!!  Yep, that’s right.  You heard me correctly.  FISH.  Now, it’s your prerogative if you want to eat disgusting, microwaved, salmon for breakfast in your own home, but WHY on God’s green earth would you subject me to smelling that at 8:00 on a Monday morning?  WHY, I ask?  WHY???  Fishy smells aren’t really that pleasant any time of day; however, rest assured – They’re even more disgusting first thing in the morning.  Take my word for it, if you’ve never experienced it.  The entire kitchen oozed raunchy, foul fish.  How can that even be appetizing to someone?  Clearly, whoever heated up their fish must be suffering from a [very] stuffy nose this morning.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t.  What’s worse is that yesterday, while recovering from the weekend and trying to prepare the boys for school today, I cleaned out my car, and Gerald had forgotten to take his lunch box out of it.  I brought it inside and emptied out its contents so he could make his lunch for today.  Guess what I found in there?  Nope, not just Fruit Roll-Up wrappers and sticky pudding spoons… I found one of my Tupperware bowls in there.  Well, what’s the big deal with that, you’re wondering, right?  Well, the big deal is that there was still macaroni and cheese in said bowl.  And it was 80 degrees here all weekend, making it more like 100 degrees in my car.  My first mistake was trying to save my bowl.  I knew when I made that decision that I was making the wrong one.  I should have just tossed the whole thing.  But… I love Tupperware, and I didn’t want to part with my favorite bowl with the cool vented lid.  Oh.  Em.  Gee.  BIG MISTAKE, PEOPLE.  Big mistake.  It reeked of sour, rotten milk.  And Gerald, of all people, had the nerve to gag!  Any of you who know me that I have a very sensitive gag reflex (sorry, TMI).  The mere sound of him gagging, coupled with the curdled milk smell, was enough to make me have to hold in the very mess that was forming in my throat.  Needless to say, I had finally recovered from that this morning when I walk in to fish hell.  I don’t know what I did to tick someone off, but someone must be trying to get sweet revenge.  Hmphh…


“I hate you. You’re crazy. One minute you’re cool, the next minute you’re throwing pointy objects at my head…” ~L.M.N.


Ah, young love…  Do you remember those days?  I remember the days when boys were gross, and I used to chase them around the playground.

Photo by Alicia Benton

Photo by Alicia Benton

My mom used to tell me that meant I had a crush on one of those boys.  What?!  No way!  She was nuts!  Of course, as I grew up, I realized that she was exactly right.  I mean, how else are you supposed to show a boy that you like him, besides chasing him around and pushing him down when you finally catch him???  Well, I’ll tell you what – It’s quite an eye-opening experience when you finally get to see your kid reach those days.  There’s a girl in Ronald’s class, who also happens to live in our neighborhood, who thinks “Ronald is gross.”  [Read:  “Ronald is cute.”]  How do I know this, you ask?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  For one, every day when Ronald gets home from school, he updates me on the latest number of times that Kayla pulled his hair in class and on the bus.  (Remember, he’s got the mean ‘fro going on…)  Then, he tells me all about how while he was riding his bike, she chased him around the neighborhood throwing pine cones at him.  Today, my sister and I watched first hand as she showered him with pink flower petals as he rode by.  Then she proceeded to pick up handfuls of pine straw and attempt to cover him in it.  She never misses a chance to tell me about all the “gross” things Ronald does.  He keeps telling me how annoying she is, and when I tell him that it’s just her way of showing him that she likes him, he responds with, “Eww, Mom.  That’s gross.  Plus, she’s mean to me.  There’s no way she likes me.”  Ha!  Little does he know that she goes home after school and doodles her first name right alongside his last name.  She’s already picked out her wedding dress for that glorious day ten years from now that she gets to marry MY son!  [Over my dead body, by the way…]  It’s so funny to me now to see that the way we females show boys that we like them is by doing the meanest things we can think of to them.  What… you want me to be NICE to the boy I like?  Yeah right!  Hmm… I guess some things will never change, huh?  😉


“It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.” ~Dylan Thomas


Do your kids ever fight?  Well, mine give sibling rivalry a whole new meaning.  You haven’t seen fighting until you’ve spent five minutes with Gerald and Ronald.  Seriously.  Five minutes.  That’s all it takes.  So, today I thought we would be golden and fight-free… Ronald had a field trip all day, so he didn’t have to do any work.  When we got back to the school, I signed him out early.  Then I let Gerald walk from school with his two best friends so he didn’t have to ride the bus.  Neither of them had baseball practice today, so they got to play the Xbox all afternoon.  That should be Heaven for an 11- and 13-year-old, right, and guarantee me at least one day of no fighting?  Well, not for MY kids.  Nooooo… that would be asking too much.  That would be like me asking for snow in July.  It can’t happen.  From the second Gerald walked in the door from school, here’s what I’ve heard [verbatim]:

“Mooooom, my brother’s blinking at me.”

“Mooooom, my brother farted next to me.”

“Mooooom, my brother won’t let me have a turn playing the game.”

“Mooooom, my brother ate the last piece of cornbread.”

“Mooooom, my brother pooped right before it was my turn in the shower.” 

“Mooooom, my brother is breathing too hard.”

“Mooooom, my brother called me ugly.”

“Mooooom, my brother’s chewing too loud.”

“Mooooom, my brother just tried to touch my butt.”

“Mooooom, my brother’s pretending to stab my eye out with his knife.”

As usual, when dealing with these two, I learned a few valuable lessons today.

1. Don’t make steak (or anything else that requires a knife) for dinner.

2. Ignoring them does not help.  They only yell louder.

3. I should change my name.  Now.

4. Pretending to be invisible doesn’t work.  They know I’m still here, and they keep finding me.

Please, someone… HELP.  Get me out of here!!!


“The good thing about being old is not being young.” ~Stephen Richards


Okay, so I thought that making the transition from my 20s to my 30s is what would officially mean I was “old.”  I was wrong.  The true sign of my senior status (in my kids’ eyes, at least) happened this morning.  As Gerald and I were sitting in the car together, wasting time before he had to go into school, the following conversation took place.  [Please note that in addition to the actual words that were spoken, I am also going to throw in those thoughts that were never actually spoken out loud…]  Our conversation went as follows:

Gerald:  Hey Mom, who is Robert De Niro?

Me:  [Are you kidding me?]  Robert De Niro?  [Am I that old – geez?]  Only one of the best actors of all time.

Gerald:  Really?  Oh.  Is he black?

Me:  What?!  No!!!  [You’ve got to be kidding me!]

Gerald:  Hmm.  Well, what is he in?

Me:  The Godfather, man!  And Goodfellas!  [Are you freaking kidding me?!]

Gerald:  I’ve never heard of those.  Are you sure he’s really popular, Mom?

Me:  [Omg.  You’re kidding…]  Yep, I’m sure.  He’s one of the best, honey.

Gerald:  Oh.  Well maybe only old people know who he is then.

Me:  [Swinging blindly into the back seat where Gerald’s sitting.  Come here, you little rat..!]  No, I don’t think so.  He was in Meet the Fockers.  That’s not that old. 

Gerald:  Ooohhhh!  Why didn’t you say that one first, Mom?  Now I know who he is!  I love that movie – maybe Ronald and I will watch it again this weekend!

Me:  Oh, good.  [Enjoy it, you little focker.  It may be the last movie you ever watch.]

Lesson I learned this morning:  I’m officially a failure as a parent.  My kids don’t even know who The Godfather is.  Guess what we’re really watching this weekend?


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