Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Damnestic

My family is due here in just a few hours and I'm cleaning like crazy (except for I'm blogging my pants on fire for one last moment here before invasion). You know, I would feel so fake if only the parts you could see were clean, so I've organized the closets, vacuumed the attic (seriously), and toted a few loads from the storage closet too Goodwill. All that's left is the kitchen, glittering with a universe full of glass slivers.

I screamed and the pyrex 8 x 10 exploded. There's this historic problem with making tea before having any. The wrong burner, a messy kitchen, and the pan from last night's roasted veggies. Blue glass shot all the way down the stairs, around two corners and melted carpet. Sine and co-sign co-mingled somehow with longitudes and latitudes, speed and velocity, and out of this science and math orgy in Huck's brain popped 175 mph shards of glass. Whew. I was only three feet away and fully survived with only a barely burned toe and a prick of glass. If you're going to be randomly executing a series of catastrophic coincidences, make sure you do yourself a few favors, like piling cookie sheets on top of the pan at such an angle that the glass can't shoot into your backside. Nice. I admit I'm a domestic catastrophe. But I've got the cleanest closets full of broken glass that you'll ever see.

As far as the kids chores go, Santa's got long coat tails and this mama's gonna ride them all the way to Christmas. This morning I spent two hours answering the same question, "What else can I do?" Seriously. I ran out of chores so I had them scrub the banisters and spindles. I wondered what could possibly cause this unprecedented spirit of helpfulness. Then Blue asked, "Do you think Santa would really leave a switch or a lump of coal in some one's stocking?"

The chickens have also been further domesticated, although much less willingly. Their free ranging days have been cut short. We all discovered this week that the neighbors scatter chicken scratch all over their yard... for quail. Not for our chickens. They were sour pusses about the clucking visitors. And once the girls knew there was a candy store next to our health food aisle, they started Bee lining first thing in the morning to their yard.

My chickens. My responsibility.

And yet there's something here that seems not completely fair. I mean, wouldn't you wonder about my psychology just a little if I set out dog food for coyotes and then whined that the neighborhood dogs (who are free range) were snacking at my door step?

Without any spare time, incessant darkness closing in, and a budget without wiggle room, I installed a quick and dirty chicken yard. It's saggy and ramshackle and genuinely ugly. Those are the neighbors that always remind us that our yard and house are their view and so I hope they enjoy it.

The chickens moved through the seven stages of grief fairly quickly, however. They seem happy to consistently know where they are. Recently they'd been utterly lost... on the back porch. I found them huddled in the dark, crying. They could see their red lighted coup, but couldn't figure out how to get to it. (Hint: try going down the stairs directly behind you!) King Louis le Cat is thrilled that he can wander outside without getting his eyes pecked out. And although I miss spotting them in the most unusual places, I'm all enjoying my poop-less deck.

In other heartbreaking domestication news, Sukey's halter caused a Satsuma sized callous on her face which made me cry. She has to be tethered otherwise she escapes the "fence", which looked fine when we moved in but has since been revealed as a hoax and/or a hologram inadequate to contain tumble weeds, much less a wild calf. I applied a new halter, one that will hopefully rub differently. But Huck found her last night, slipped free and dancing beneath those million disco balls in the night sky. I tied her again. A bull moose crashed through the neighborhood last week, destroying otherwise good fences and devouring the rosarium. The last thing I need is a well-insured calf to blame it on.

Taming isn't my strong suit. Caging, tethering, time-outing, boiling watering. Ick. It's the wild in us all that resonates in me, that calls my curiosity, that gains my compassion. It's those scribbles outside the lines. But I've somehow elected myself as animal husband. And I suppose it's now my duty to keep my animal... um... wives, in line, safe from themselves, those cars and the entrapping neighbors. oh well. I'm off to scrub the drawers of the fridge. I wonder what I'll shatter and burn this time. My own free spirit, perhaps?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mommy, I need a tissue!


Whew. I just breezed in from my time travel experience. Wow. Sure am glad to be back in this decade again. I went into the past about 60 years, and then caught a glimpse of the future in the next 30, and let me tell you: this is the time to be a woman.

I went through the entrance of a place called Toys R Us (although my computer won't let me do that adorable little backward R). I'd heard that other people with kids make pilgrimages. I think I went once, to return something. Our kids have toys, I assure you (is anyone from CPS reading this?). And some of them are indeed plastic and occasionally trendy. Today, however, instead of entering into a toy store, I seem to have wandered in to a time machine.

After I passed through the corridor of zinging lights and red and green, I found myself smack dab in the 1950's.

There were the pink aisles. And the blue aisles. In the pink aisles I found miniature domestications. Strollers, cribs, easy bake ovens, dolls, dolls, dolls, dolls that made Barbie look progressive. Dolls that poop and pee. Dolls that cry: "Mommy I need a tissue!" (SOOOO cute!!!! Right?). Not wanting risk any misconception that some toys could be gender neutral, they applied thick layers of pink plastic to everything. Pink radios, pink computers, pink guitars, pink micro-scopes (those were the special edition super-weak ones) and pink vomit (that was mine!).

And then on the blue side of the store (divided by an impossibly wide crevasse of aisle) there were all sorts of cool toys, toys that used batteries for something more interesting that crying, toys with buttons (and if those buttons caused poop it was COOL poop), toys without toy diapers, toys that vroomed, toys that built, toys with courage, toys with balls, really.

Call me an old fashioned femi-nazi, but I found this array of crap to be so disheartening, so disgusting, so frighteningly back slid, that I almost started crying myself, "Mommy! I need a tissue!"

What the hell is going on here? I'd seen some glimpses of modern culture through the fingers I've had slapped over my eyes this past decade, but holy crap. Do girls really find changing a pretend diaper to be the most exciting thing they want to do all day? I would expect there to be some girls like this. But that's all there is. That's it. There aren't any other options. There's nothing exciting about girl toys. AT ALL.

I want boy toys myself. Yo, Santa, get me a remote control ANYTHING!! I love that shit. But DON'T GET ME AN EFFING REFRIDGE!! I'm sure I speak for many stifled little girls right now.

The only truly gender neutral thing I found was the McDonald's kiosk, with plastic patties to flip, and a dorky little visor. So, both boys and girls can proudly cross the gender divide, equally earning minimum wage and pimples galore. Thank god it's not all going to crap.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Art-eries carry blood from the heart to the body

During teacher conferences a few weeks ago I mentioned to Blue's teacher that Blue is less than thrilled with the art "class." This is taught on Fridays, not by a trained, enthusiastic certificated teacher, but by the regular teacher. She's brilliant at teaching math and reading, but like all of us, she's not perfect at everything. Her art instruction is less than inspired and rather control-freaky. Anti-art. I mentioned being a couple credits short of my art degree (I was a double major until that pink cross appeared on the dip stick, then I shortened my elongated college career by finishing up just the one philosophy-esc major) and so art was kind of important in our house, and Blue probably had absurdly high expectations of art at school. And the teacher burst forth with a plea for me to help her, readily admitting it wasn't her forte. I was impressed she knew herself and her limits so well.

I've been careful with what I involve myself. I'm planning on staying here for an absurdly long time and I have immense difficulty un-extricating myself from volunteer work once I've begun. I've chosen surgical precision infiltration into activities. And people. I want everything I do to ring true. No time fillers. No people fillers. Just people that get me and work that touches me. And until that happens, I'll be fine alone-ish, with my family.

This seemed close enough. So I decided to try it. With the caveat that if it doesn't make my heart sing, I don't do it again.

My heart is still belting out an aria.

To match their Sioux studies, I suggested a shield decorated with a dream animal of protection and festooned with feathers and beads (this I pulled from a book about the Sioux... it's not just some stereo type I gleaned from Tonto, rest assured). We discussed, improvised, planned and developed the project. And then we began.

Where I went during those two hours astonished me. I was there, in this hectic class room. I wasn't overwhelmed or frazzled as I suspected I would be. I was fully present, asking each child if the animal resonated with them. If when they looked at their drawing they saw something they loved. If they felt they were done, or if they wanted to add more. Nothing was bad. Nothing needed erasing, unless they felt it wasn't their best. I encouraged drawings so big and powerful and protective that the plate could not contain them. I wanted them to feel safe enough to be big, and free enough to express the big world within each small child. What I wanted them all to know was that art is about personal expression. And in this there are no rules except: do your best. Art is about our best and truest selves. Whoever you are is beautiful and wonderful and that is the story that art tells, first and foremost. And I got to help them hear their shields tell that story. I took each shield into my hands and praised it for it's specific strengths. And while I did that I explained about colors and textures and dynamics. I got to speak about artists using the unique qualities of their materials, such as the ruffled edges of our paper plates. As long as a teacher is present, art is a collaboration with that teacher, with her values, with her ideals. What I valued and expressed became part of their work. I felt it was my responsibility to guide them to a final work they felt proud of because it was theirs and it was good.

I honestly fell in love with every student and every shield they created. And I was free to do this because the teacher was attending to the business end of 24 3rd graders. The class buzzed with beauty and enthusiasm. I was not overwhelmed with kids, I was overwhelmed with love for 24 perfectly cherish-able beings. My heart could barely contain that much love.

When the students left, the teacher and I pawed through their plates and I tell you, I have never seen such beautiful work. We were both astounded at what they accomplished with some pencils, paper plates, yarn and a little instruction. Such a humble project and such glorious and divine rewards.

Most schools have cut real art programs. Teachers, untrained in this crucial spiritual work, have had to roll up their sleeves and get to it. Some probably love it, relish it as their favorite part of the day. Others welcome help. And I will. I will.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Zero Tolerance

First there's an issue with borrowing your husbands balaclava. The black anarchist face mask makes the whole frozen, below zero air problem burn the nostrils a little less. Unfortunately, it's worn in the wee hours of the morning, before personal hygiene has been attended to. A fix for this hot-box of hell might be to breath only through the nose. However, then you get the morning smells of some one else, a man, and everything he's ever eaten in the full stench that this baklava has accumulated over the past months. I should be thankful he's ever out there, in his bulky michelin ninja suit on mornings he doesn't have to be at work early. But instead, I'm complaining about the smell of his loaned warm things.

The next problem is with wet things and frozen metal. Never touch the barn or stall doors with wet hands. You wash off the cow's teet and then you grab the milk bucket and then you can't put the bucket down. You shake it. You scrape it. And eventually, it flies off into cow crap. But no worries the crap is frozen solid, albeit only five minutes old. This makes mucking out the stalls a piece of cow-cake, almost. You can just pick the patties up and toss them into the wheel barrow. No shovel required. They also aren't as wet and soupy not only because they are frozen, but also because the cows are wasting away with dehydration, despite your best efforts. It is hard to slurp a three foot by two foot ice cube down. And the hose is frozen. So I'm trekking buckets of water from the well to the barn, over and over. The cold well water which so thoroughly quenched thirst and shivered me timbers this summer, now steams as it rushes from the spigot and clouds up as it pours on to the ice trough. When you finally get to milking, it freezes to the sides of the pail before it even hits the bottom. Don't worry, once it gets in to the house it slides down and gets pourable.

But the milking works up a fine sweat, as does some hefty mucking. It's great exercise, and fills the lungs with a burning cold which is supposed to make me pound my chest and want to live forever, but instead makes me pound my chest and think I'm dying.

At least the radio still works. It's not tuned to news or anything, but contains a special CD. I read a study on milk cows. And they give a gallon more a day if listening to Mozart vs. not listening to anything vs. rock music vs. Rush Bimbo (which is scientifically shown to plummet milk production as well as IQ's). Not that I could use a gallon more a day, I'm drowning in the stuff as it is. But it does seem to make things come out easier. I found Mozart to be a little too exciting, actually, so the first song we hear is "Sonata for Two Pianos, Andante" by Brahms. The first few notes sound just like "Baby's First Christmas" by Connie Frances. Then comes Vaughn Williams with "Greensleeves," the tune for "What Child is This?" That's when she's almost going dry, but then the rushing main melody floods in and she lets down anew. It's so Christmassy!

Yes, a dark cold barn, the stiff and tough shit, the hormonal chickens fighting in their coop, the water frozen solid: your worst bucolic nightmare. But with Brahms and Vaughn Williams the stars twinkle more brilliantly in the icy sky, the hay smells manger-y and warm and my 700 pound wild cow seems almost cuddly.

Modern life had me down. No reason to experience nature's ways and whiles. No reason to not cocoon myself into a constant, safe temperature. I wanted reality, cold and hot, mild and wild, windy and calm, spring and summer and fall and winter, all of it to dance with me, to touch my swirled finger tips and lead my feet to the music of this sphere. I wanted life on earth: full, unrestrained, unchained, intimate, relevant.

I walk across the frozen grass. It sparkles in the sudden motion light, a trail of stars in the dirt, and Paul Simon sings in my mind, "She's got diamonds on the soles of her feet..." I'm a rich girl. I'm a mortgage-broke and frozen girl, but I'm a rich girl too. I don't try to hide it. Diamonds on the souls of my feet.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

First, I need to gush about my daughter who's again decided that her name really sucks and is going by one of her middle ones, Juniper. So, Juniper rediscovered last Christmas's knitting kit (which I stashed away, away, away thinking "My god people, WE don't knit. Not in this house. Keep your bundles of tangle-ready yarn to yourself." While we perhaps LOOK like a knitting family, I can't (personally) imagine anything worse. If I'm going to lounge for a second, I'm going to be reading and if I'm supposed to be listening to something, like a lecture or you talking, it better be so interesting that I don't have extra attention left over for knitting any kind of itchy, semi-warm, bulky crap (that I frequently love in spite of it all), and if what you're saying isn't that interesting, I'm going to walk away or turn you off (if your some sort of recorded visual with that sort of switching device) because I've got dishes to wash!

Regardless of my best intentions to shield her from such craftiness, she pulled it out on Saturday and proceeded to knit herself a hot pink hat on Sunday. This morning, she says, "Mom, can I take my knitting (another hat) on the bus?" "WHAT!??"
"Well So-n-so and So-n-so and So-n-so and So-n-so knit on the bus!"
"What? There's some sort of elementary school Bus 41 Knitting club? Fine take the knitting and be sure to loose the needle somewhere you can't find it!"

We've definitely plopped in to our perfect school district. In addition to knitting as the school hobby, every girl also owns a horse. Traditionally they each, personally, own a wild draft horse stallion, who rears and has silky black hair, and the little girls are the only one's who can control them. Not only does Juniper need to bring her knitting on the bus, she also needs at least one wild stallion, of the tall, beautiful and impossibly strong variety. This ain't no city school district.

But honestly, that knitting kind of looks like FUN! It's this simple little plastic ring with knobs on it. And it looks, if not interesting at least fun and, dare I say, relaxing? I might try it... some day. My new friend, Yoko, is learning how to knit this week too. She's trying to drag me along with her! "We'll have so MUCH FUN!" She insists. But she's on a mission to knit 6 hats to send back to Japan before Christmas. I'm just casually observing with a small seedling of interest. There's that whole learning stage, where everything you do sucks. I don't tolerate that stage well. And anyway, I've just learned to milk, and make yogurt and cheese and truffles (three batches in a week! One experimental!) and gather eggs (very tricky). Isn't that enough for a while?

We plunked down a five spot for a permit and trekked it up to the Mountains, near Usk, and chopped down ourselves a fine fine tree! We only went about 25 feet into the National Forest because there was snow and ice and cliffs on the ground and we didn't want to go too far in that dangerous "survivor Man!" direction. And Juniper cut down a tree for herself too!

Coyote treats the trees as temporary storage for his Christmas toys on strings. Santa in a race car and Bob the builder with a Christmas tree zoom around the house, converse with each other and everything else and then eventually make it back to their home branches. All the ornaments get a chance to play for a while before going back to bed. Isn't that nice.

I can see, via the USPS, that it's time for Christmas donations. Juniper once crammed all of her cash in an envelope and sent it off to her hero: Jane Goodall. And now we get invitations to do it again, and again, and again. Coyote got the mail today, noted the picture on Jane's envelope and queried, "Mom, why is that monkey in jail?"
To go in to the particulars of animal testing or not?
"Well, the monkey, he got drunk. He sat on the elephants trunk. The elephant sneezed and called the police and that was the end of the monk, the monk." He felt unsatisfied with the answer, but I wasn't. So, I did go in to animal testing which was a series of Why?'s that I cannot adequately answer anyway.

And we also had a big fabulous party, with real live people, not E-people (although I love you, whoever you are). It was my usual style of hosting which means that I didn't really calculate the number of party goers until an hour before. And I counted 18. We don't own enough service for 18 anythings, much less people who want to eat off plates, wipe mouths with napkins, drink from something other than a spigot and eat with utensils. I've prided myself on maintaining only one dishwasher load of dishes, which can never equal 18. I impressed my guests with my casual-chic poverty-heirloom collection of aging, random paper plates and birthday party left-over utensils. I had upped the numbers with some garage sale finds this summer and it wasn't so bad.

It was supposed to be a small, intimate gathering of the few friends we've made since moving here six months ago. Instead it was a drunken rager of staggering proportions. Hostess extraordinaire, I failed to finish preparing dessert before they arrived. After dinner, tipsy and silly, I finished dipping the truffles while they watched and seemed fascinated and certainly enjoyed the final products, once they dried. Luckily no one here (anywhere?!)knows about my blog so I can make up whatever fabulous crap ("they seemed fascinated") I want to about them and no one is the wiser... that's the beauty of having a no-name blog, FYI. And then the MEN CLEANED THE KITCHEN and the women went to the Lord of the Flies basement to whip the kids into cleaning too. By the time everyone left, the house was yet again spotless: wink, wink.

It was a milestone of moving and life. A house big enough. And friends/acquaintances enough. And here we are, making our nest and laying our eggs in Spokane, of all the crazy, random places.

My photo loading abilities have vanished, either through my own fault or the computer's or some thing out there in computer land. Will post photos when I figure this out again, again, again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Presenting: the five debutants


Last night, beneath that brilliant full moon, deep in the barn, behind the hay, far from the nesting box I purchased (then filled with straw and dropped an oh-so-suggestive golf ball into) eggs have been discovered. Perfect, small eggs. 1-2-3. Not the gelatinous orbs I was warned they would initially grunt out. But thick shelled and brown.

We'd hoped. We'd dreamed, but still we wondered. The girls aren't even 6 months old yet. And winter is when egg production usually drops off. Apparently the issue is food: they need to be awake long enough to eat enough to have enough calories left over to pop out an egglet. We put a light on a timer in their hutch and at least one of them has responded.

We are perfectly giddy over our debutant, whoever she may be! Chicken Bat Mitzvah!

Of course, the eggs weren't where they're supposed to be, which raises eyebrows. The girls spend most of their day under the back porch and I'm wondering if I should belly crawl down there to check out the scene. But that sounds like some grody combination of Halloween and Easter, hunting rotten eggs with spiders.

I was going to tell you how we have these fabulously egalitarian chickens. No pecking order has been observed. Everyone eats. Priscilla, the white one who flaps across the lawn like a plastic bag, is a bit of a loner who likes to be pet. Otherwise, they're all kind of the same. But now that puberty has set in... Well, we all know what happens next. This morning there were fights! Massive chicken brawls in the barn! Like some crazy illegal boxing match. I couldn't believe it. They even did that cocky head strut thing, circled around each other, eying their opponents, bobbing around looking for openings and weaknesses. Crazy girls. I almost ran and got the Principal! No way was I going to break that up myself: too entertaining and I'm too chicken... or not enough chicken, to jump into the middle.

Chickens are easy pets, mostly. You should really get some. They are hilarious. They follow Blue out to the bus stop in the morning. They follow their silver scrap bucket everywhere. I'll take it out to the barn and they'll run behind me, their thin little legs whirling while their humongous thighs causing quite the waddle. I'll dump the bucket in their trough, and then they will follow that shiny metal bucket of promise all the way back to the house, never even noticing the treats of whey and soggy toast crusts in the trough.

Chicken food is perfectly formulated for chickens. Every little pellet contains every nutrient a chicken needs in perfect proportion. And my harem hates it. They'll pick at it once they're locked in the hutch for the night. And they'll peruse the first handful in the morning. But they're easily bored with it and would much prefer the kitchen scraps or to run about rummaging for grubs in the cow shit, for seeds in the dead garden, for insects anywhere, for ANYTHING BUT their food. And when you think about it, how would you like to eat the same thing every day, every bite the same flavor. No matter how perfectly, scientifically suited to your dietary needs, I think we'd all go crazy.

And that is the story about my crazy quintuplets, may they survive their adolescence and figure out where to put their eggs.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The OJ issue

First it was Orange Juice.

A road trip, two moms, three kids, and a stop at a gas station. The kids were thirsty. I grabbed an OJ. And her daughter puked it all up in the back seat. "Don't you know people shouldn't drink orange juice!" Her mom howled at me. Um... no I didn't. My people drink OJ without much of a hitch, so it never occurred to me that OJ would be the ONE thing in a roadside convenience store that would be bad for children. Apparently Skoll would have been preferable. Despite the fact the her people don't do OJ, we continued on as friends.

Now, here comes the reprimanded for NOT drinking OJ every morning. The previous generation is appalled at the lack of it in my fridge. APPALLED! Usually, they bring their own. Here's my perspective: Good OJ is EXPENSIVE and I'm not all that in to it. Perhaps, if your household consists of 2 self-controlled adults, $7 a week on the stuff is peanuts. But here, where children roll and rumble, $7 OJ is absurd. And the frozen stuff sucks. And we've got a gallon-a-day fresh, raw milk machine in our back yard, so I'm not sure that importing OJ from the far corners of the earth, or rather the middle part, is so crucial.

Do you OJ? You suck either way.

The same holds true for our conundrum child, Coyote. His birthday is July 13th and he's always been young...very very very young for his age. I don't think he was ready to be born until he was 6 months old.

They say to hold boys back a year, if at all possible. They're not ready for school at the crack of five years old. They need a whole other year to play and run. Girls: make 'em miserable just as early as possible, but leave the boys alone. Last year, his Montessori teacher was sure he would not be ready for Kindergarten. Our child-psychologist friend agreed.

Decided: wait a year on Kindergarten. Awkward, expensive, odd to me, a girl so young for her grade she could barely walk when others could run.

Then came teacher conferences a week or so ago. And Coyote's teacher (a former NOW president BTW who opted out and has now taught Montessori for 25 years --- wasting HER LIFE!!!! as the "Feminine Mistake" would have us believe.) Anyhoo... she says she hasn't found anything Coyote CAN'T do and she thinks this should be his Kindergarten year (they're flexible like that). First Grade next year.

Well, I had just gotten used to the idea that we'd hold him back. So this was a shock, like telling a mother her child was 18, then breaking the news that she was just four, and a year later telling her she just earned a drivers license and was accepted at the University of Paris. The wonderful teacher assured me that no matter what I decided, I would spend the rest of my life wondering if I did the right thing and blaming all Coyote's foibles and failures on my inability to navigate the basic task of parenthood. As a parent of four, she told me it is the unavoidable fate of all mothers. And then I suddenly realized: my gosh, first grade! I'll probably have to get a job!! And he's my baby. My bambino. My little Jesus in a manger who just learned how to fart on demand. So soon I'll be marching him off for 6 hours a day of blahblahbladdyblahblah. And she says to me, "It sounds like your the one with the issue here. He's ready. Now you need to be." Don't hold him back!

Conferencing with Blue's teacher, I asked what the difference was with summer birthday boys. She was clear that waiting a year would ensure a confident leader and "rushing" in would result in a follower, always a follower.

Weigh that against Coyote's teacher who noted that he really doesn't care about friendships. He's got one good friend and ignores everyone else. I don't think he cares to lead or follow. He's his own little dude. He's way deep into his own head. He's charming and polite and doesn't give a shit.

Something to think about, no? So,I took my usual course of consulting with everyone for their opinions and ideas, the better to shape my own. Oh. How that backfired. Backfired so shockingly, so forcefully, it might shut me up FOREVER.

Well. Over Thanksgiving, I met with someone else who's opinion was strongly in the Hold Him Back Camp. Start Kindergarten next year. It's ALWAYS best for the child.
And this person then said to me, "It sounds like you're the one with the issue here. He's not ready and you need to stop pushing him." Gosh, but just three years ago this same person noted how terribly I was coddling him by breastfeeding "too long."

Yes. It sounds like I'm the one with the issue here. If you don't come into this world born with a staunch opinionated sword, and a closed minded shield, you are the one with the issue. If you're considering the possibilities and you haven't made up your mind yet, it's an "ISSUE". A made-up mind, tight as a drum with hospital corners, always sounds so intelligent, so knowledgeable, so right. And those of us still considering the options appear stupid and slow. I'll admit to having issues, but slowly deliberating upon important, life altering decisions that don't need to be made for nine more months is not one of them.

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