Mothering on the Edge

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sound of Meme-sic

What is your favorite word ?
I love words...opulent, egregious (Sassy knows why that's making me smile lately), grandiflora...if you give me more time, I'll come up with more. Teaching kids new words is probably one of my favorite things to do. My sunday school class knows all about exodus, genesis and similitude. If you've ever read Davita's Harp by Chaim Potok, that little girl's mother knows all about words. Or maybe it's Asher Lev...anyway, a gifted child in one of Chaim Potok's books has a mother that teaches him words through entymology. That's my favorite way to do it, too.

What is your least favorite word ?
with apologies to all my readers (this is how much I dislike this word, I hate having it in my blog, in print...ugh). My least favorite word is cunt. It sounds ugly and means ugly things. I've made peace with its sister words (vagina and pussy) but this one...just can't shake it. No, I don't know the entymology.

What turns you on spiritually,creatively,emotionally ?
Music...really dramatic music, like Beethoven. Sassy likes Chopin and Mozart, the technically perfect, quick, beautiful. I like Beethoven, Tchaichovsky (wow, have to spell check that) the romantics, the overblown, melodic, sweeping stuff. I like VanHalen and Elton John for the same reason...go figure.

And discussion--really fun, interesting discussion with people stimulates me. I love talking to my dad, my husband, my sisters, my friends...just about anybody.

What turns you off?
Gosh...boredom, monotony, whining (my own internal whines or others')

What's your favorite curse word?
hmmm, so hard to choose. Just kidding. I don't swear that much these days, and usually when I do it's just internally. "crap" is my old standby.

What sound or noise do you love to hear?
laughter, my husband's voice...birds outside my window when I wake up in the morning, a quiet house

What sound or noise do you hate?
anything scraping on paint and/or my kids whining or having a tantrum

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I have a dream of writing for a living.

What profession would you not like to do?
Daycare worker...other people's kids get on my nerves way too fast. Also dry cleaner or nurse.

If Heaven exists,what would you like to hear God say at the pearly gates?
"Everybody hide, here she comes!" (I expect to live a long time and have a big party waiting for me)

Tag! You're it!
The problem with slacking on your blogging is you get tagged last, with a pity tag from your sister, and you don't know anyone who hasn't already been tagged. So if you're reading this, and you haven't done it already-!TAG!

Posted by Sarah Jean :: 1:22 PM :: 2 Comments:

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~French Toast~

So, I do the massive cooking. This morning we made French Toast Sticks-me and the kids. I got the recipe here: http://www.30daygourmet.com/Manuals/Daycare_Cookbook.asp. That site is good, they have downloadable cookbooks you can pay for, and a good share of free recipes, like the french toast sticks! They're great fun to make with the kids (messy!) and make good quick breakfasts.

I'm working on a healthier version of the recipe (not so much the wonder bread and white sugar)--I'll post it if it's any good.

In other news, Sassy and I have been busy with our grandmother (yes OUR grandmother, my kids' great-grandmother) in town. She's a busy, smart lady, kind of sassy and edgy herself. We had a really good time. My suddenly-shy kids even took a shine to her after a few visits (and well-placed birthday presents).

And, it's memorial day weekend and guess what? It's going to SNOW today! HAHAHA. Welcome to Utah. It probably won't get to my house, but the foothills are almost certain to see some rain turning to snow. The Muum is almost certainly protecting her tomaters today.

Tori has reached her goal of a calendar "covered in stars". She's potty trained. Dry for 10 days solid...using the facilities at friends' houses and even in public with the dreaded "loud flush". I'm so proud I could almost throw diapers around the house and dance a little jig. Or maybe I did. Now we move on to the finer points of the art of potty: reliable use of TP, flushing every time and using less than 2 cups of liquid soap to wash hands. But who cares? Haha! 2 down, 1 to go.

Posted by Sarah Jean :: 7:54 AM :: 2 Comments:

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lean, Mean, Laundry Machine

So, this will be a long post. Better get a drink. Or, if you don't have time to read it, scroll down to my Thursday Thirteen. Not great, but not as long as this. Go ahead. Come back after bedtime. It'll still be here.

This is the story of how I changed my laundry room from Mount Washmore into a Lean, Mean, Laundry Machine. Seriously. I used to hate laundry. I would buy new clothes to get out of it. Now, I can't say I love it, but I don't dread it. I don't avoid it. And I'm always caught up. I share this, like I share my favorite cookie recipe, because it's too good to keep to myself, and my dear friend Magically Mama is suffering.

Most of the credit for this brilliance goes to my husband. He's an engineer. And he introduced me to LEAN engineering. He got a degree in engineering, and took whole courses in lean, but here's the sloppy homemaker's version: Lean manufacturing is manufacturing without wasted time, material or effort. So, when you're going to "lean" a process, you have to first examine it in its "current state" to see where the waste is. Then redesign the system to eliminate as much waste as possible. Diagram 1 is my "current state" laundry process, what it was like when we started.


I know...you might have to click on it to see it better. On the far left is our "suppliers"--where we get dirty laundry. We had 5 laundry baskets scattered around the house. I set it up this way so that the laundry would get in the baskets, rather than end up on the floor.

The triangles are WIP stations. The engineer says that stands for Work In Progress, but basically, it's stuff waiting to be done. You know, the stuff you keep mentally flogging yourself for? WIP stations. So each place where the laundry waits is a WIP station. Most of the time it would wait in the hamper for a few days...maybe a week.

Then, when I did laundry, I would gather up all the laundry and put it in the washer. (Duh, you're thinking. Edge, I know how to do laundry.--I know you do. Stick with me, here). My washer takes 35 minutes. Then (if I remembered) I would move the laundry to the dryer within 10 minutes. The dryer takes a while...another hour. Then, when THAT was done (again, if I remembered and hadn't forgotten I was doing laundry) I would take it out, and set it somewhere until I had time to fold it.

Folding is where we really get in trouble, isn't it? Can't fold it on the kitchen table without cleaning the kitchen. Can't fold it on the couch, or the kids mess it up before you finish. Can't fold it on your bed, because if you don't finish (all 4 loads you've been putting off all week) you have to dump it back into the basket before it's done, unfolding it! AUGHHHH! Folding is the worst!!! Our laundry was taking 1-5 days to get folded and put away. I make my kids (and husband) put their own laundry away. The problem is, they had these HUGE piles of laundry to put away, and they would whine and complain and I would chase them through it. Then they would drop half of it on the way to their rooms, which meant I had to refold it...again.



Ok, I needed a little break. Awful old laundry system. So we figured out a few of the waste points right away. Having multiple gathering points for the dirty laundry was wasteful. Briefly discussed putting in a laundry chute, but decided for now to just have a central gathering point--IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM!!! But, I said, the kids won't put their laundry in the laundry room! They'll leave it on the floor! And then I'll have to pick it up AND take it to downstairs!

So, we realized we had to make our suppliers and customers do their share of the work. This led to the Laundry Declaration of 2006, which reads:
Laundry is provided as a free service to all, regardless of family position, conditioned only on the fair use of said service.
-The Management
This means, that in order to have their laundry done, people need to A) bring their dirty clothes to the laundry basket, B) make sure their laundry is ready to wash, and C) put away their laundry daily. Some day I'll tell you about laundry abuses and the punishments thereof, but not today. Basically, if people (kids) fail to do these things, they lose privileges. First, TV, then freedom, then food. No messing around. Every afternoon when we get home from school, they have to take dirty laundry down to the white bin in the laundry room, and pick up clean, folded laundry from their baskets. Until they do, no afternoon snack, no playing outside, no TV, no dinner. When they get old enough to mind going naked, we'll switch it to just not doing their laundry. Simple enough...

So that was one waste point eliminated. The next was moving around clean laundry to fold it, and then refolding it because I couldn't get it all done in one sitting. The engineer had to really think about this one, because most manufacturing machine operators don't have constant interruptions. But, most machine operators don't move from their work area either. Bingo. He said I should fold the laundry right out of the dryer. WHAT? And put it where? Our laundry room is an unfinished place right off the garage. It's dusty and there is no way I'm putting clean laundry on the concrete floor.

So we got all the baskets from all over the house (remember? 5 of them!) and arranged them on the floor, one for each child, a big one for he and I, and one for the house (towels and such). Simple enough. Fold the laundry right out of the dryer and put it in the right bin for whoever needs to put it away. Now, this doesn't work as well when you're pregnant. You'll want a chair, then, so you can sit and fold. And yes, it's dull. But you aren't doing more than one load at a time. If I have more than 1 load to fold in a day, I do it on the couch. But that almost never happens. How? I'll tell you in a minute. I need another break.



Ok, dinner's in the oven (stuffed peppers! mmmm). Anyway. The main waste point we found was in time spent waiting (where the job could potentially be forgotten, sidetracked or otherwise messed up). It felt like it took ALL DAY to do the laundry. And basically, it did. Or several days:
  • 10 minutes gathering laundry
  • 5 minutes loading washer with load 1
  • (35 minutes of waiting for load 1 to wash)
  • 10 minutes moving load 1 to dryer and loading load 2 into dryer
  • (1 hour waiting for load 1 to dry and load 2 to wash)
  • 10 minutes unloading load 1 and loading load 2 into dryer.
  • (another hour waiting for load 2 to dry)
  • 1 hour folding and refolding both loads
  • 30 minutes getting people to put their laundry away
THAT'S nearly 5 HOURS!!! For only 2 loads, not the usual 3 or 4 I used to do. Now...hold on, because here comes the one really big change. Moving laundry baskets and folding in the laundry room...that's small potatos. The biggest change was to eliminate the waiting time as much as possible. Which meant changing the order I do laundry. No, I'm not drying first...exactly. But almost. But exercise a little faith...and keep reading. Remember, I spend less than an hour every other day on laundry. LESS THAN 1 HOUR!

Here is the "future state" diagram. You can see everyone brings their laundry straight to the single WIP in the laundry room. You can see everyone takes their laundry away when it's folded.

What you don't see is how I do the laundry. How I get it done in 40 minutes flat. Are you ready? Here's the secret:

I leave a load in the dryer.

Serious? Yes. And it makes all the difference. Each laundry day, I start a load in the washer. I take the old laundry out of the dryer and fold it while the washer is going. I put all the clothes and towels in their bins. I match the socks and toss them in, too. I fold a load in about 20 minutes. But the washer is still going? Right. But until it buzzes, I'm on the clock. I'm doing laundry! I read a blog or two, have a snack, play with the kids...whatever. When the washer buzzes, quick, I move that stuff to the dryer and start it. And I'm done!

New schedule:
  • 5 minutes loading washer
  • 20 minutes folding
  • 10 minutes hanging out
  • 5 minutes loading dryer
40 MINUTES TOTAL!

But wait! But wait, you say! If you leave the laundry in the dryer, doesn't it wait until next laundry day (in my house, 2 days away) to get "done"? Doesn't it wrinkle? Well, yes...but what do you think it's doing now, crumpled up in baskets mentally WIPping you? Taking days and days to get done and getting wrinkled! If you iron (I don't) you can make a separate basket for ironables and do them on a non-laundry day. Yes, that means it will take an extra week for them to get done. Look into drycleaning. *shrug*

Laundry takes 2-4 days to cycle at my house, from going into the laundry bin to being clean and folded, ready to put in a drawer. Don't like it? Do your own, I say!

The instructions for machine operators are called "standard work", the engineer tells me. They're posted near each machine so operators can be replaced quickly if needed. They don't usually include little laundry angel stickers, but tough. It's my process and I like the laundry angels.
And yes, I do spend an extra 10-15 minutes each day chasing kids through their afternoon routines...but that's something I had to do anyway. The laundry part of it is well worth the extra trouble.



So, how do we get from where we are now, to this lovely (or bizarre) system? Get help. Ask your husband, friend, kids...whoever you've got to spend the time with you to get your current piles done. Do it all! Fold it, put it away! No matter how tired you get! Never surrender!

And leave one load in the dryer when you're done. Then, tomorrow, get up and put one load in the washer. Fold what's in the dryer and make your kids put it away. Relax for 10 minutes. What a great homemaker you are! Then move the washed stuff to the dryer. Bam! You're done!

Good luck! Comments, suggestions and ideas are welcome. Criticism you can keep.

Posted by Sarah Jean :: 4:17 PM :: 4 Comments:

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Thirteen Jobs I've Had


Thirteen Edgy Jobs I've Had
  1. Pizza call girl (that is the girl you call to order pizza...in case you weren't sure)
  2. Early morning custodian 5-9 am. I once polished the finish off a set of doorknobs because I didn't notice the labels. I said--it's 5 in the morning!!! That's the risk you take!!!
  3. Pants presser at a dry cleaner. This did not last long. I now have a palpable hatred for pleated pants and ironing.
  4. Ice cream server. Built great forearm muscles and learned valuable lessons about the freezing points of common add-ins (i.e. gummy bears freeze easily, becoming rock-hard little death-jellies that break blender blades)
  5. Ticket Seller. Talk to interesting people from all over the world and sell them tickets for events you will never have enough money to attend yourself.
  6. Copy editor. Sounds dull, but I enjoyed it, and I got to set my own hours!
  7. Grader.
  8. Family history writer. A much more entertaining job when there is polygamy involved.
  9. Office manager for a midwifery service. This involves keeping on-call midwives on an appointment schedule, making lots of copies and answering questions like, "My baby's bellybutton is oozing some green stuff. Do I need to do anything about that?" (yes, call your pediatrician) and "Can I get pregnant while nursing?" (technically yes, but it's easier if you put the babe down for a nap first).
  10. 11. 12. & 13. MOM! This includes: landlord, milk cow, snuggler, language specialist, ethics professor, chauffer, chef, cultural liason, personal coach, reading teacher, housekeeper, research assistant, personal shopper, yoga instructor, psychologist, laundress, and general manager of the family. So, ya...it gets 4 spots. It's also my favorite so far. Most days...

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)



Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!




Posted by Sarah Jean :: 12:01 PM :: 0 Comments:

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

This is my muum. No joke. Born to be Wild!!!

Posted by Sarah Jean :: 9:42 PM :: 0 Comments:

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Thirteen BAD Mother's Day Gifts

So, this is a joint effort between me and Sassy. She has a companion TT that I will link to as soon as it's up. Feel free to comment with the worst mother's day gifts you've ever received.


Thirteen Things you Should NEVER give for Mother's Day
  1. Anything from Victoria's Secret. Only possible exception is for the mother of your children. Yes, we know they sell cosmetics, clothing and other items, but let's face it...it's a lingerie store. Nothing says unresolved Oedipal issues more than the pink striped bag.
  2. Kentucky Fried Chicken is trying to make a Mother's Day plug. Don't fall for it, people! This is the same as saying "Wow, Mom, you're so fat...what's one more bucket of lard?" If your mom loves KFC and you're having a Mother's Day picnic, great. Bring the chicken and flowers, but don't you dare count that as a gift.
  3. Household appliances, repairs or items. For example, a new toilet is not a mother's day gift. Neither is a refrigerator, a new toaster or replacing something you broke. If Mom asked for a new fridge or toaster, that's ok. And a whole new kitchen will work.
  4. Wierd stuff off ebay. Really, it's too late for Ebay. Just don't.
  5. Bath salt sets - these are generic, and way too easy. it SEEMS like a good idea, but seriously, most women have 3 or 4 of those below their bathroom counter, gathering dust. if you're going to buy a bath related item (beware!), make sure she likes the scent and actually has USE for the item(s). some women love baths. some, not so much.
  6. Personal Hygiene Items, i.e. deoderant, nose & ear hair trimmers, gym memberships...anything that implies she is not clean, thin and utterly gorgeous.
  7. bowling balls. especially if she doesn't bowl and you DO. duh. also, if you like cars, don't buy her tires or whatever.
  8. Handmade gifts are actually GOOD, provided they are thought out and not last minute. You know that thing women always say about the thought being what counts? Think! Spend some time on it.
  9. Ditto on letters. Time and thought count. Cards do not count unless they are handmade and you are under age 12.
  10. Joke gifts. We know you think you're funny. 363 days out of the year, we humor you. Please, give us Mother's Day off.
  11. Anything you buy from a gas station. You're better off giving nothing. REALLY.
  12. Inappropriate jewelry. Hearts with diamonds, bling that reads: MOM, and the ever-popular mother's necklaces with little people. Each of these will thrill some mothers, and make others cry...in the bad way. Really, if you're not SURE she will love it, don't give it. If you are sure she will love it, consult one of her (female) friends or relatives before purchase. Really.
  13. Nothing. Please, don't do this. She loves you! If that's not enough, we'll pull out the big guns...guilt! Do something. Sit down and write a letter telling her what a great mom she is. Help the kids make a card. Please...for humanity's sake.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)



Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!




Posted by Sarah Jean :: 10:16 AM :: 4 Comments:

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“Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss.”

The Count of Monte Chocolate strikes again.

I went to a baby shower/blessingway for a dear friend of mine having her first baby and really enjoyed myself. AND I brought home some of the extra refreshments--chocolate covered strawberries! Best party favor ever.

Don't expect a lot of bloggage for the next week or so, friends--I've got 2 birthdays, mother's day, a room overhaul and my grandmother coming to visit.

Let the count show you how it's done. "Dee chocolate, she is so rich...mmmm"

Posted by Sarah Jean :: 8:30 AM :: 1 Comments:

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Because I said so

That's why! The kids are getting the "Whiny Whys" before summer even begins and I'm having dreams about yelling at them (and getting horrible bubbling fungus under my fingernails..connection?). I was relieved to wake up this morning and find that my walls have not been colored on (lately) and the only major thing wrong with our home is the living room bay window, which has been steadily growing a crack since December. MUST GET IT FIXED!!!

In other news, the blond hunk has his own blog--it's an engineering blog...not exactly my target demo, but that's ok. He's converting a Geo Metro to electric, as his little way of "sticking it to the man." At least it's not an MG.

And I'm cleaning my kid's rooms today in preparation for an EXTREME ROOM MAKEOVER!!! H is turning 7 this weekend, and so we're moving her into a room with her sister, kicking little E into solitary confinement and painting the "girls room" pink. No, I haven't snorted too much play-do dust. This is a great opportunity to stimulate creativity and individuality and HAVE YOU SEEN THE CUTE STUFF THEY HAVE FOR GIRLS ROOMS!!! Muahah. Pictures to follow.

Total interruptions this entry: 15
Questions as to when I would be done: 3
Requests for juice/snacks (all rejected): 4
Potty announcements: 2
Imaginary phone calls fielded: 3
Suggestions for site improvement for preschool usefulness (click on THAT, Mom!): 10
Chair yoga: 6 asanas for improved flexibility and health (hold me, Mom!)

Posted by Sarah Jean :: 8:56 AM :: 2 Comments:

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Even though it's Friday...

So, I haven't been posting, mostly because of a nagging depression. I'm getting better now, instead of worse, though, so that's something to celebrate. Even though it's Friday, here's my:


Thirteen Things I'm doing to be less depressed
  1. Pray. This has seriously proved to be the most effective antidepressant I've ever tried. (and it has a low risk of sexual side effects--like, really low. Like, if praying gives you problems in that area...it's not the prayer, it's you.)
  2. Take my vitamins. Whoever invented Viactiv should get some sort of medal. I mean...chocolate vitamins! What kind of genius idea. I know they aren't quite as good as some others, but since they actually get down my throat on a regular basis, I think it cancels out just about any other weaknesses.
  3. Hang up this painting in my room. I painted it, I don't know what it means, but it makes me feel better to look at it. So I do.
  4. Eat better. I realized I've slipped into a habit of eating mostly junk food or no food. Not so good for the skin, the energy level, or the brain. I briefly contemplated a whole foods diet, but...the thought of giving up refined sugar all together is just too much for me this week. I'll think about it again later.
  5. Exercise! Not hard core or anything, but getting back to my morning yoga and that kind of good stuff. Maybe hit the gym once or twice a week. Maybe walking. Just a little bit of exercise. So my body doesn't explode from the shock or something.
  6. Leave myself signposts. A good friend who also struggles with recurring depression came up with this and it's BRILLIANT! The idea is, you leave your future self notes from your present self, so that when you get in a bad place emotionally, you can get help from yourself when you were in a good place. I have a sign on my fridge that says in plain English what to do:
    • If you're overwhelmed, make a list.
    • If you're scared, ask for help.
    • If you're exhausted, take a break.
    • If you feel like you can't move, ask for support and inspiration.
    Ya, I like to boss myself around. But if you've been there, you know. When you get in that deep dark hole, you need some clear, simple instructions.
  7. Listen to inspirational music. This really helps. My current favorite is My dad and 359 of his closest friends singing primary songs, but I've got a Michael McClean tape in the car and some Peter, Paul and Mary that the kids like. And my new phone (Valentine's gift from the blond hunk, of course, plays MP3s, so I can wear it around like a mental IV of good feelings.
  8. Cleaning up my environment. I don't like to clean, but I do like to live in a clean place. So until the maid returns from her vacation, I guess I'll have to do it. Here is my desk, currently:
    Hopefully I can post an "after" pic soon.
  9. Giving up my escapism. Less time wasted on the computer, more time actually living life. Go figure.
  10. The Pleasant Pixies. The Pleasant Pixies are mischievous, cunning little fairies that invade homes where *gasp* people are being unpleasant. Whining attracts them like nothing else. They come at night, and they break things. Temporarily, of course. They're usually willing to come back and fix what they've broken once everyone is being pleasant again. Their favorite things to break are TVs and DVD players. Sometimes (when mommies and daddies are being unpleasant) they even break computers. The Pleasant Pixies came last night and broke our TV. They even taped a copy of our family rules to the screen, decorated with pictures of themselves. Vandalous little pixies, aren't they? But, it's all in good fun because they will absolutely fix things they've broken once EVERYONE is being pleasant again. (They left a note on my computer limiting me to an hour/day and a warning to BE MORE PLEASANT!).
  11. Laugh with friends. I have friends, on the internet, in real life, friends I'm related to and friends I haven't seen in years. They make me laugh, and that makes me happy.
  12. Flylady. She's like a pleasant pixie herself, isn't she? Anyway, the only way #8 is going to get anywhere is with this chicky.
  13. Sink into it. This is a yoga trick I learned several years ago. When you've just about had it with a pose, and your body is screaming at your to untangle!!! and you've lost all focus...just sink into it. Every breath, just sink a little lower, or stand a little taller, or whatever you're doing that's hard...do it a little more. Yes, it's hard. Sink into it. When I start to get bored with the knockknock jokes or the diapers, just sink into it. This is my life. Live it deeper. Love it.
Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)



Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!




Posted by Sarah Jean :: 10:22 AM :: 3 Comments:

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