Monday, October 31, 2011

Questions of the I-wasn't-expecting-that variety

So- it's Halloween.  The kids have been HELL all day.  Freaky, weird, blow-your-socks-off, drop-the-f-bomb-more-than-once kind of hell.  I'm trying to get dinner on the table so that we can get faces painted, costumes on, and the kids out the door.  And I tell the kids how when I was little, we used to say "Halloween Apples!" at the door instead of "trick or treat!".

And Boy-o asks - "Was Girlio in your tummy then?"

Me:  "No honey, I was just a kid like you.  You have to be a grown-up to have a baby in your tummy" (lie #1).

Boy-o: "Well, how do babies get IN your tummy?"

Me: "uhhhhh."

L takes this opportunity to begin: "Well, when two people love each other, they work really hard to have a baby..." (Lie #2 - you don't have to love or even like each other to make a baby, but we'll leave the joys of casual sex for another day, say when he's six or so).

Me: "Honey - you have to have eggs from a woman's body and sperm from a man's body to make a baby.  They get all mixed up and then hang out in the woman's belly and a baby grows."

Boy-o looks at me quizzically.

Me:  "Yeah, I know, Mama and Mommy didn't have any sperm from a man to make a baby"  Bit of a pause... "So we went shopping!"

And Boy-o, satisfied, goes back to the business of getting ready for supper.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Repost - Just a Housewife

**I wrote this post as my third blog ever - and have reposted it once yearly since then.  I like to re-read it whenever I start feeling shitty about myself and need a good dose of defiance***

Just a Housewife

I am a feminist. I believe firmly that a woman's "place" is wherever she wants and needs to be. (I wish very much that we lived in a world where that were possible for all women). I also believe that happy (reasonably) well-adjusted parents make happy, (reasonably) well adjusted children, regardless of whether those parents work outside or inside of the home. So why is it that I find it so difficult to answer the question: "What do you do for a living?" I find it equally distressing to respond to the ever present: "So, when are you going back to work?" 

I hate the word housewife. I hate the word homemaker. These words are so loaded with patriarchal bullshit that I can barely utter them in any seriousness, much less use them to describe myself or what I do. Yet that's the check-box that applies to me. And because of it, I get dismissed by the folks at the bank, the car dealership, and occassionally, other parents. It feels like a pretty limiting check box. But what else do I call myself? How can I encapsulate what I do, day in and day out, without sounding either overly-simplistic or self-denigrating?

I have a master's degree in Gender Studies. I'm a complete and total nerd and I love researching and writing. In fact, it's one of the only things I've ever been really good at. I always thought I'd be an academic, and was planning for a return to school for my PhD immediately following the birth of my son. But things didn't quite turn out that way. 

Being at home with my son was a real learning experience! Some days were amazing and I felt thrilled and gratified at being able to witness and guide the growth of this little being. Some days were horrendously frustrating and tiring and what I couldn't wait to get "back out in the world." All of the days (and often nights) were long and challenging. But when that first birthday rolled around, and it came time to look at putting Boy-o in daycare, I simply couldn't do it. The very thought of it made me want to cry and throw up at the same time. I just wasn't ready to let go of my role as stay-at-home mama. When Boy-o was just shy of two, I started to feel a bit suffocated, and decided to look around for some part-time work outside of the home. And then, I got pregnant with Girlio. So - I've been out of the paid workforce for almost four years now. But not out of the workforce. 

To say I keep my household running would be an understatement. I make it possible for my partner to focus on her paid work because of all of the behind the scenes work I do. Cooking, cleaning, child care and sock washing. (It is invisible and undervalued work, but work nonetheless). 

I don't deal in the economies of paychecks (at least not mine) - I deal in the economies of scraped knees, band-aids, juice boxes and swing pushes. I struggle each day to instill creativity, love of life, respect for the earth and for humanity in my children. I am working my ass off to raise children who will not be sexist or racist or homophobic, who will value difference and do their part to make this world a better place. I do this while struggling not to let my identity become subsumed in the world of my home and children. Some days are better than others. There are many days when my cats rubbing against me for attention at the end of the day makes my skin crawl, because if one more thing "needs me", I will die/cry/spontaneously combust. And seldom a day goes by when I don't find myself wishing I had more contact with a world outside of child raising, more money, more time on my own, more positive feedback to nurture my sense of self and importance in the world. 

But this I know for sure. Child raising is labour. A labour of love, most certainly, but labour nonetheless. Hard labour. The hours are crap, the pay is worse, the vacations non-existent, and the acnowledgement from the world around us pretty non-existent. 

What do I do for a living? 

I'm a teacher and a doctor and a therapist and a laundrymat. I'm a playgroup leader and a chef and a nutritionist. I'm a personal shopper and a cleaning lady and a librarian. I'm a taxi driver and a soccer coach and the occasional jailer. I'm the CEO of this operation, and I'm pretty good at it. I'm up to my eyeballs in laughter and tears and dirty diapers and snotty kleenex. I'm on call 24/7. Fit that in a check-box. 

When I am going back to work? 

Fuck off.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Repost from this time last year... funny how not much has changed ;)

Continued Confessions of a Slacker Mom (from Nov 2010)

I'm not really all that much of a Type A, really.   I used to be.  When I was a student, and an outside of the home worker, I was the best of the best.  Overachiever.  Totally detail oriented.  I worked my ass off and tried my damndest to get it just right.  But my stay-at-home mama personae seems to more like, I don't know, is there a type Q?  (It's somewhere pretty far down the alphabet chain, at any rate).   I don't have a just-so house, I'm usually running behind or forgetting something, or both, the kids are almost never stain-free and/or clean-faced (nor am I), and I'm totally okay with coming in second place (or, like tenth).  Or maybe forgoing the race altogether.   I'm more than okay with the fact that the Jones' do it better.  Good on the Jones'!

I do wonder though, how my working personality has changed so much with my roles?  Is it the monotony of doing the same repetitive tasks over and over again, resulting in a bit of, you know, soul suckage?  Is it the lack of external value (and hence validation) attached to the work I do?  Is it the fact that over time I've come to realize that the housework is essentially useless because it last -2 seconds, so my energy is better spent ensuring the children make it through the day a but stimulated and well, unmaimed?   (Or all of these things in combination?)  Whatever the reasons, it's clear that I'm a slacker mom.  There is no overachieving going on behind these walls, other than the attempts to provide stimulating, fun activities for the childrens once in awhile.  (Again - I emphasize once in awhile, because 1. I think children are generally way over-activitied, and 2. this provides me with a nice excuse to let them do their own thing/let them watch too much tv when I need to).  

Here are some examples of my slackage:

1.  The house is a mess.  Again.  Still.  There are dirty dishes on the counter.  And baby food all over the kitchen floor which sticks to my slippers as I walk.  The children are napping at the same time.  A reasonably achieving mom would take the time to deal with the mess so she can, you know, interact with the kids when they wake from their naps.  Me - I make tea.  And then I blog.  Or check my facebook.  Or both.  This is my unpaid break in my unpaid day.  And there ain't enough sticky in the world to make that floor worth washing on my break.  (If cleanliness is next to godliness, it's actually possible that I might be Satan, or at least a close devotee.)  

2.  I don't make beds.  Ever.  Not ever.  Nope.  Never.  (What's the point, I ask you?)

3.  Sometimes, I fill the sink with dirty dishes and sudsy water and let Boy-o wash them. Who says child labour can't be fun?

4.  I cannot recall the last time I picked up a vacuum cleaner.  

5.  We may soon have a contest to name the dust-bunnies.  

6.  I don't mind cooking, but I HATE meal-planning.  Hate.  Hate.  Hate it.

7.  I let the kids watch TV when I want an extra break or want to finish a blog.  As I've previously mentioned, unlike many granola parents I know, I don't think TV is the enemy.  In fact, I kinda think of it as an comforting friend.

8.  I don't like to play.  I'm not a player.  There - I've said it.  The cardinal sin of parenting.  I don't like to get down on the floor and play.  I'm a bad, bad mother and a bad bad person.  Don't get me wrong - I like spending time with my kiddos.  I'll set up art projects for them, or fieldtrips, or watch them play dress-up, or engage in a game of tag or building blocks now and again.   And I love to have a kitchen dance party or a nice long chat or story read with my smalls.  But I'm not, you know, in love with hunkering down to play all day long.  (Which is but one of the reasons I want to clobber people who tell me that I'm so lucky to be able to stay home and play with my kids all day.  Seriously, people!)  I'm not even sure, pseudo-grown-up, serious child that I was, that I even liked playing when I was a child.  That's just me.  (That's why I'm rocksteady and my wife is the rockstar.  She plays, I kiss boo-boos, it all comes out in the wash).

9.  Potty mouth.  Potty mouth.  Potty mouth.  "Mama!  Did you just say "JEA-ZUZ?!" or alternatively, "MAMA! Did you just say "FACK?"  

10.  KD.  Yum.  And it's got cauliflower in the noodles now.  So whatever.

Now - though I shouldn't have to say it, I will (because some Pollyanna somewhere will be reading this going, "Doesn't she even like kids?" or "Why doesn't she just go back to work then," or something equally annoyingly, cloyingly, Pollyanna, I'm-A-Better-Housewife-Than-You.   I love my kids.  I love my life with my kids at home (except for the days where it starts to suck out my soul, but work outside the home jobs tend to do that too, if memory serves).  No job is consistantly fulfilling, and all jobs get complained about.  (Blah blah broken record blah blah).  Most stay-at-homers probably are a better housewife than me.  And I'm all kinds of okay with that.  The mechanics of household maintenance are not skills that have ever felt natural to me, and that's not likely to change any time soon.

I'm just not a Type A anymore.  And I don't think that being a proudly slacker (potty-mouthed, dirty-housed, non-playing) mama makes me a bad mama.  I like to think that what I lack in on-the-ground-household-maintenance-skills, I make up for in thoughtfulness about the social, cognitive and emotional growth of my smalls.  And - my slackness makes me a happier and saner mama (which my kiddos really benefit from).  

And, as an added bonus, it gives me a little something extra to be smart-ass-y about.  And you all now how much I loves me some smart-ass-y-ness now and again.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

big scary teenagers

So - I had the opportunity to talk about my experience as a queer mama as part of a panel presentation to a group of at-risk youth the other day.  And it was pretty great.  The youth were, you know, youth-like.  Mostly pretending not to listen, but clearly listening nonetheless.  It made me remember how much I loved working with young folk back in the day, and how bloody cool teenagers really are when you give them some space, and more importantly, some credit.

Anyhow - it got me thinking about how people are always so negative about teenagers, and how frequently I hear parents lamenting about the horrors of the teenage years.  Some of that is about the sullen, moody, figuring-stuff-out part of teen-dom.  True -it's a pretty hormonal time (if memory serves!).   Some of it is parental angst (understandable) about kids moving away and beginning the difficult separation process. 

But in particular, the dating and sexuality stuff seems to be the parental voodoo doll. Perfectly sensible people lose their shit at the thought of their kids growing up and doing the nasty.  In fact, the fear-mongering about kids and sexuality starts so early that since the birth of Boy-o, and then later Girlio, people (many people)  said (and continue to say) things to me like: "you're going to have to beat them off with a stick" and other similarly odd things.  And I kinda don't get it for a few reasons, not the least of which is that that's sort of an odd thing to say about babies and small children. 

But also because I recognize that my kids have rights to be sexual beings, who are, eventually, going to have sex with other people.  Whoa.  I know right?!  Moreover - and some folks will probably want to shit all over me for this bit - I actually want my kids to have sex at some point.  Good sex.  NO - not now.  They're two and four years old.  But -a life in the monastery/convent isn't really what I imagined for either of my tots.  I want them to have sex when they decide they're ready, and when they are sure of what ready means to them... and neither of those things are up to me

The part that IS up to me, is teaching them to love themselves, respect themselves, trust their guts and their instincts and their hearts.  Teaching them that they have a right to pleasure on their own terms and in their own time.   That they, and their bodies are perfect and deserving of love and autonomy and safety.  And whether they choose to take that leap at 14 or 16 or 19 or 25 - I hope with everything I've got that they will make choices with their bodies and hearts and minds that feel good and right to them.  (And, of course, I hope they'll make better choices than I did - but again - not up to me ;)

I'm not saying I won't worry.  Or kvetch.  Or wait up at night worried sick.  I totally, totally will.  Doubtless.  If someone tries to make my kids have sex before they want to or they're ready, I will curbstomp them into smithereens, utterly remorseless.  No two ways about that.   I'm pretty effing fierce when it comes to my littles.

But sex is part of life.  A good, good, fun part of life.  And I'd like my kids to get to live in all the good, good, fun ways that they possibly can. 

(So unless they ask or need me to, I don't think I'll be beating anyone off with a stick.) 

And I still think teenagers are cool.

Onion repost: Study finds every style of parenting produces disturbed, miserable adults

Study Finds Every Style Of Parenting Produces Disturbed, Miserable Adults

October 26, 2011
ISSUE 47•43
03.06.06 SANTA ROSA, CA—A study released by the California Parenting Institute Tuesday shows that every style of parenting inevitably causes children to grow into profoundly unhappy adults. "Our research suggests that while overprotective parenting ultimately produces adults unprepared to contend with life's difficulties, highly permissive parenting leads to feelings of bitterness and isolation throughout adulthood," lead researcher Daniel Porter said. "And, interestingly, we found that anything between those two extremes is equally damaging, always resulting in an adult who suffers from some debilitating combination of unpreparedness and isolation. Despite great variance in parenting styles across populations, the end product is always the same: a profoundly flawed and joyless human being." The study did find, however, that adults often achieve temporary happiness when they have children of their own to perpetuate the cycle of human misery.

:)  Gotta love The Onion

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween as an excuse for racism? Not a very good one.

Catching on

My kids are onto me. They've got me pegged. Totally.

I walk into the bathroom, where I find my daughter and several rolls of ripped up, unrolled toilet paper strewn EVERYWHERE.

And she looks up at me, grinning a sweetly evil grin and says: "Look Mama! I made toilet paper ART!"

If ya call it art, you can get away with anything....

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

look what my fat self stumbled upon...(!)

Warning: This post will instill rage (and possibly longing for a rooftop and an AK47 in most sensible people.  Resist the urge.  Violence is never the answer.  - well - almost never.)

So there I was, hanging out with my good friend google, doing various searches for PhD-ish related topics.  And I had the stunning misfortune to stumble upon this site: and a conversation forum called: Tough Love - on the topic of fat moms.   I hate to say that I'm shocked about what I read there, because I really ought not to be.   Still, every once in awhiile bold-face ignorance can reach up and give you a little slap in the face.  Below is the transcript of my 'little slap.'

"Before I start I will preface this with a brief explanation of how the scientific method works. Sometimes a theory or a premise is proposed and that theory or premise either get proved to disproved to within what is considered the current scientific certainty. Another and more common method is observation. You observe something like the stars, plants or animals and you draw a conclusion after intense and thorough observation. We can all agree on the fact that birds fly, our sun is a star and that most plants grow using photosynthesis.

For a long time my team and I have observed fatlings in their environment. We watch their behaviors. We see what the put in their shopping carts. We see that they avoid. We see how they interact with normals and others of their kind.
Childhood obesity is a travesty. The biggest shame is that it is preventable but those few of us leanlings that are left will not confront the uncaring mother who is irresponsible when in come to providing her children the nutrition they require to be healthy. It starts when she squirt the kid out of her toxic womb.

We have observed maybe 2000 mothers with infants and toddlers and here is what we found. When the babies of normal mothers get fussy or cry the normal mother is more likely to pick that baby up and comfort it and check first to see if something is wrong. Fat mothers are far more likely to offer the child a bottle, pacifier or food to quell their fussiness.

Now for the theory. We theorize that doing that teaches the child that food is love and that food solves problems. It is like the child who experiences corporal punishment and see violence as a solution to all problems.

Here is the bottom line. Fat mothers are bad mothers. They need to put on their adult pants and do right by their kids."

Sigh.  So there it is.  I really need to put on my adult pants.  I repent!  I repent!  I shall start teaching my children to count their calories and hate their bodies first thing tomorrow.   Can I join your club of thin and ignorant?  Pretty, pretty, pretty please?  If I promise never, ever to use my toxic womb again?

Wow.  Just, you know, wow.

Dahlinks - you may be skinny and certain of your moral high ground here - but I gotta tell you.  You really ought to be a bit worried about pissing off the fat chicks.  'Cause I could drop-kick your skinny ass if I thought it was worth the effort.  True story.  Proved via scientific observation and everything. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day five

Today is day five of Broken Washing Machine. This may be the fanciest school run day ever. It's party dresses or naked.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

A project I love... and hate.

Today I am writing about a project I learned about from Offbeat Mama concerning a project started by a 25 year old Indiana lesbian (named Stephanie), entitled We Are The Face of Equality

Stephanie is collecting photos from around of the world of LGBT people in the hopes of creating a project that works towards furthering the rights seeking movement of queer folks globally, but particularly in the United States.  She is soliciting photos from anyone interested in participating - and if you are - follow the link for submission information. 

On the surface, this project is lovely, optimistic, full of hope.  Stephanie wants to create photographic imagery of the love shared by queer folk, to normalize that love.  So far, I'm all on board.

The thing I have an issue with is the rhetoric used to explain the need for such a project, which is, principally, that we queers are just 'the same' as everyone else, we are 'normal' too, and thus should be afforded rights.  Stephanie argues: "So many of the people that are against equal rights for gays are so because they see us as the stereotypes they see on TV or gay pride parades: half naked, always thinking about sex, drag queens, sleeping around and spreading diseases."

And there's where I walk the plank, so to speak.

Now don't get me wrong - we queers should be afforded the same rights as straight folks.  Of course we should.  BUT - we should be afforded those rights regardless of whether or not we are 'just like' straight folk.  (And for the record, this point is entirely debatable).  We should be afforded rights whether or not our children are as 'well-adjusted' as those from straight couplings.  We should be afforded rights whether or not we choose to walk around in public in our skivvies.  We should be afforded rights whether we are always fucking or thinking about fucking or fucking in public places.  Whether or not we are gender normative.  Whether or not we believe in or practice monogamy.  Whether or not we have sexually transmitted diseases.  Or lisp.  Or pack. Or perform in drag.  Or butch it up.  Or femme it up.  Or wear butt-less chaps (though - the fashionista in me balks a bit at this one... but, ya know, different strokes...).  Or, or, or.... my list could be endless, but who has the time?

If our quest for equality, in whatever form that may take, depends on pandering to the expectation of sameness, that 'equality' won't mean much in the end.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bringing Up Baby: Pam on The Office and the Issue of Control in Childbirth | Bitch Media

Hey all -

This is a great piece on a pretty realistic portrayal of how women struggle to be heard and respected in hospital based childbirth (and yet another reason why The Office is awesome!). Check it out...

Bringing Up Baby: Pam on The Office and the Issue of Control in Childbirth Bitch Media

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Giving thanks...

For the first time in the better part of five years, I spent some time away from my home and partner and kids. A trip to Toronto to visit friends, all by myself. No one else’s baggage to keep track of, no one else’s oxygen mask to in an emergency, no one’s daily survival needs to consider except my own (and those of the very grown-up and lovely friends I was visiting, but they, as it turns out, survive quite well without my help and assistance on a daily basis. I know, right?! Amazing!).

I stayed up late, late, late into the night talking and drinking and catching up. I drank far too much. I peed by myself. And not by fluke. I mean ALL WEEKEND LONG! Multiple times! I showered by myself. Long, luxurious, uninterrupted showers. I basked in the sun on patio after patio with good friends. I traipsed, I shopped, I toured, I saw an art exhibit done entirely on iphone and ipad, I got a mani/pedi, I went to the TO Women’s Bookstore (which is in danger, as always, of closing. C’mon TO – support your local bookstore. Jeez! ) I ate amazing veggie sushi (which is pretty much a non-entity over here in the land of Redneckville and was so effing good I could’ve eaten it for every meal all weekend long), I drank too much (oh wait, I already said that one. Well, it probably bears mentioning again.) I watched a movie I’d been meaning to see for a year. I talked about grown-up things. I had time to think and be in my own head. It felt so incredibly decadent and self-indulgent.

I spent Thanksgiving dinner having French martinis and nachos with a good, good friend on a patio overlooking Lake Ontario. And being so, so, ever so thankful. But perhaps not for the reasons that might normally come to mind at Thanksgiving. Yes, of course I was, and am still, thankful for the abundance of love and support in my life. Thankful for my beautiful, wild little munchkins who thrill me and challenge me and fill my heart to brimming on a daily basis. Thankful for health and home and hearth. For living in a country that affords me many rights and privileges so many others lack. The list goes on…

But most of all, and maybe for the first time ever, I was consciously (and knowing me, self-consciously), thankful for me. The grown-up, full of grown-up dreams and needs and thoughts me. The outside world me. The stand on my own two feet without anyone else’s help or direction me. The me that I remember from that time before I became this entity called “mom,” and maybe even from the time before I became this entity called “wife.” The me that thought about me first.  I remembered that me. It honestly felt a bit like wearing a stranger’s skin for the first little while. But I got pretty damn comfy in that skin.

And you know what? That me chick? She’s pretty fucking awesome. (And possibly just a wee small bit of trouble).

This Thanksgiving, I am ever so selfishly grateful for her return.  I hope she sticks around. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

when heterosexism works in your favour (it still feels yucky)

So today I experienced one of moments when the larger cultural impossibility of queerness, (and certainly the the invisibility of queerness for the girly-girl - which to be clear - is very frustrating whether it works in my favour or not) actually did me a solid (as my friend Patrick would say).

See, I have this lead foot.  And I also have this habit of being stuck up in my head when I shouldn't be.  And those two things combined led to me (and sleeping Girlio in the back seat) being pulled over by the guy in the car with the flashing red-and-white lights.  In case you were wondering, he failed to find these aspects of my personality in any way endearing.  Anyhow - so - I got ma'amed.  Sternly.  I handed over my license and registration politely like a good girl.  And then Mr. Police Dude was in his car for a long time.  Long, long.  Disturbingly long.  And when he returns, he tells me (again with the stern) that the reigstration is expired.  I respond with something eloquent and composed, like "shit! Really?" Because - in case you didn't know this - this is bad.  Like get-out-of-the-car-then-car-gets-towed-away-kinda-bad.  And before I can say anything else, Mr. Police Dude says, (yes, if you guessed sternly, you get the prize), "I'm going to let you go on a warning, since it isn't YOUR car.  But you need to let your friend know that if she doesn't get her updated registration in here, she'll be in some trouble!"  True, the car is registered in L's name.  But if our car was registered in a dude's name and I got pulled over while speeding in our nice family automobile full of sleeping kid and cheerios, you can be darn sure he'd have assumed this was a shared hubby & wifey piece of property.  I'm thinking you could also likely assume that if I read more outwardly queer, I would not have been done this favour.  He assumed the car couldn't possibly be mine because I couldn't possibly be queer.  A big chunk of me, like let's say 96.7% wanted to protest: "Oh yes this is MY car!"  My big-queer- honk-if-you're-a-homo-rific-car.  (Also this is annoying, because, as the little-woman-stay-at-home-wifey, my existence is routinely ignored by folks who want to talk to the important working spouse.  So, all buttons pushed.)  I took the low, possibly less honourable road, squelched the indignation and listened to the other very small % of my brain that was saying "simmer down, little lady." 

And I thanked Mr. Officer Dude and drove away with my very large speeding ticket and my still sweetly sleeping Girlio. 


And while I feel thankful for not having to walk what would have been a no-longer sweetly sleeping baby home, and not havnig another enormous fine and towing costs added to my considerable speeding ticket; I also feel kinda dirty.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

harm reduction parenting

Today was rough.  Rough, rough.  Things in general are weird and stressful.  And then the kids were getting on my nerves.  When I say this, what I mean is, dancing and jumping on my nerves like the cast of Stomp!  And I had work to do.  And there was whining and crying and fighting and hanging off of my clothes.  In short, it wasn't pretty. 

So, I had one of those moments where I did the thing that I don't actually believe is the right thing to do, but know full well is the thing I need to do.  I grabbed some leftover gift certificates and trekked the little buggers out to Toysrus for some present fun and future landfill filler.  In short - I bribed my way into some temporary peace.

Bad mama.  Bad, bad mama.

But I got some work done.  So bad or not, I raise my glass to harm-reduction parenting.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday morning humour...

This was shared by my friend Terri this morning - too good not to pass on!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


This morning I struggle to remember what I ate for breakfast before crusts....

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