Archive for the 'friends' Category


one of those weeks i was missing in action was because i was at my parent’s house.  they like to get their hands on my children every once in a while and rough the city off of them.


this is uncle reuben’s colt, sassafras.  the kids love having a “mini” horse.


jael is the one who seemed to like it best.


gideon was the least impressed.


hey now!


my mother took the kids mining a few times.  there is some place out in the middle of nowhere where you can dig up marble sized garnets.




harkens back to the good ol’ days of child labor.


little mine slaves.


i sense an uprising.






jael saw a bumper sticker there that said, “even good girls get dirty.”  true, true.


later they went camping.


which was also dirty.



cousin hadassah.



swimming in the nasty.


makes you wish you were still five and didn’t have a conscience.


reuben was just excited to have someone to shoot guns with him.


trying to get me to not look like a retard.  “why do you keep sticking your butt out like that?”


and there were just heaps of flies.  i would try to aim but then i would break out in the hokey pokey.  shaking it all about.  it’s a wonder i didn’t shoot anyone.


it’s a work in progress.


look at those babies.


and that’s what grandma does to you.  runs you into the ground.  no mercy.


there’s jehu with gideon sweating like a stuck pig next to him.  turns out gideon picked up a fever somewhere and passed on the nastiest bug to everyone  in a mile radius.  except, of course, to grandad.  who is invincible.


and here is my sister sarah’s adorable little thug.  reuben often points out my children’s genetic inferiority.  i mean, there’s mister chievous in his skull beanie and under armor, sporting a crowbar.  meanwhile my white bread is laying comatose with his two stuffed animals, and accompanying security blanket.  …next to his brother who just polished off his personal copy of “little women.”


mister chievous beats up boys who read “little women.”  bwa-ha.  actually, this little boy got accepted to logos last week.  tell me he’s not going to rock it in a school uniform.  kindergarten girls, eat your hearts out.



tea and roses

my friend sharla asked me to help her plan our friend janean’s baby shower.  it only took two seconds thinking about before i had my heart set on an english tea party in a rose garden.  and then the ball was rolling.

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sharla had an amazing and gracious friend who let us use her back yard.  the church lent us tables.  our host had all the linens and chairs.  another friend brought the mass quantities of snack sets.  everything went together lovely.

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best of all i could tell the girls were utterly transported.

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i think it was something they will always remember.

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even judith was stoked.

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sharla and i had so much fun planning.  i drove out to her house and we went through her storage shed collection of china.  not everyone keeps tea service for 40.

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there she is.  a glutton for punishment that one.  she can hardly stand it.

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she arranged the loveliest victorian table settings.  my dear husband even pressed and folded 40 cloth napkins.  he only does that when i’m pushing critical mass.

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i re-used both the girls’ buntings on the gazebo.

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a tour of teacups.  i had a set of 12 of these.  now i have 5 since the bottom of the box dropped out and sayonara.

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the kids had a whole miniature service.

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this green one (was) my favorite.

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it’s a good thing there were so many flowers.  the girls couldn’t keep their hands off them.  fortunately i don’t think they made a real noticeable dent.

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here is janean expecting number four.  (sharla, by the way, had her boy last week.  janenan is still packing.)

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i got up that morning and baked a pile of blueberry scones.  sharla made lemon lavender shortbread cookies and fruit salad.  someone else brought cucumber sandwiches.  and best of all, my friend kimberly made clotted cream.  i’m thinking i should go back in time.

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some of the prettiest girls in the world.

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the children’s table.

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judith, like her mommy, is fascinated by betsey johnson.

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habbers found (and took) a friend.

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i also made coconut chocolate mousse for dessert.  i came out and took them by surprise.  there was groaning all around.  i made them eat it.

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and the perfect baby shower gift for a future tea partier.

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we can hardly wait.  who is this mystery lady?

breaking grandma’s house

what could be more fun?  grandma decided to chop the house in half.  typical weekend project.  reuben isn’t so keen on having to do it himself, so when he saw marc he practically shouted with glee, “boy!  want to go on the roof?”  who doesn’t want to go on the roof?  so there is my husband on the right with his safety harness and helmet.  which made me holler and ask, “boy!  why are you the only one up there who is taking the proper safety precautions?”  he looked around and said, “i’m the only one who has anything to live for.”  he could have been referring to the kids, but in that moment i suspected that he loved me.

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jael on her way to check the chickens in her heels.  i would have to take a video to catch the way she minces along.  stopping to wave at daddy.

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trying to pet a chicken.

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picking up a little extra salmonella and avian flu.

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and eggs, of course.

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ping came back to say goodbye to jehu.

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pulling nails.

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except for jehu.  he obviously has better things to do.

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like watch the crazy fools on the roof.

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see you all again in a week.  what do you want to do exciting?

grandma’s part deux

grandma is a sadist.  you should have seen all the stuff she loaded in the car to take eight grand-kids on this one day outing.

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and that is exactly what grandmas are for.  this weekend the other grandma is taking her nine grand-kids to the sand dunes.  why anyone would want to add sand to that already daunting equation, i have no idea.

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judo hanging out with grandad.

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grandma hitting the trail.  6 miles.  (mommy waited at the other end, reading “the real downton abbey” in the car.)

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grandad proving to be a lackluster babysitter.

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trying out uncle rueben’s new canoe.

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boys in search of adventure.

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hey, who invited the girls?

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the single uncle reuben.  (he’s just wearing that hat so other girls don’t try and steal him before you get the memo.)  oh yes, and that’s his “almost life jacket.”  does that make it a death jacket?  natalie and i were wondering.  because uncle reuben doesn’t exactly know how to swim.  it has something to do with the fact that in his youth, whenever he was within the proximity of water, he took the precaution of locking himself in the car.  i bet his subconscious still suspected that i might at any moment drop the camera and run push him in.

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grandad warming up the habbers.

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reuben and his doofus dog.

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it was at this moment, while grandma was trying to shove everyone in reuben’s canoe, that the safety inspector came by.

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arriving at the other dock for rabber’s turn.

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she wasn’t entirely convinced.

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dock posse.

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judith and her omnivore cousin, haddassah.  as reuben is fond of saying, “that baby looks like she ate your baby.”  he’s not impressed with my breeding skills.  oh yeah, let me see what you got, bro.

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sarah saying, “oh, this old thing?  i only found it at the thrift store.”  so no, you can’t go buy yourself one.  a puffed sleeve monopoly.  injustice.

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the handsome gideon.

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the obviously not dead grandad.  who needs more than three red blood cells anyways?

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“patience, young padawan.”

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and reuben demonstrating yet other child safety techniques.

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with so many spectacular relatives i am relieved to know that i am under no obligation to be cool or exciting.  huzzah.

ain’t no party like my nana’s tea party

if you’ve been missing me it’s because i’ve been gone.  now i’m back, but i’ve spent the last two days washing everything in the combined wardrobe of seven people.  but we had fun at grandma’s house.  just ask jehu.

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while we were there i helped natalie throw a going away tea for her friend ping, who was here on foreign exchange.  the weather was inclement, so i opted to move things inside the teahouse.  (formerly known as the “greenhouse.”  but that was before i kicked out all of reuben’s tomatoes, vacuumed, and moved in the settee.)

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my friend mackenzie, arriving in style followed by her charming posse of six.  cute, eh?

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the teahouse.  obviously wasted on plants.

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natalie bought a variety of loose teas from the co-op.  another friend brought fresh cream from their farm.

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and everyone else brought food.  if only i could wish myself back in time….

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natalie’s friend naphtali holding baby judo.  i had begun to develop my suspicions, but while on this trip it was confirmed that my mother cannot pronounce the name “judith.”  (just like she can’t pronounce “rahab.”  to her it’s ray-hawb.)  anyways, get this, judith is judas.  as in iscariot.  not cool mom.

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packing them in.  i think we had unrealistic expectations as to how many people we could actually fit in a potting shed, but we tried.  it was rather comic getting ready for this party as well.  my mother and i ended up in town all morning until two and natalie had to stay in school until three.  when we did get home, i decided to sew a batik bunting for the side of the shed, my dad decided to put the bats up , while my mother up and paints the front of the house.  putting bats on the greenhouse wouldn’t have been such a big deal if it didn’t mean my dad had to roll a new log on the sawmill and mill them up from scratch.  seriously, he did.  and to think they were all giving me guff for sewing, when we had “so many things to do.”  like i’m the person who’s crazy around here.  😉

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isn’t it cozy?

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in the back corner you might be able to see the vintage sink mom wants to plumb in for watering plants.  they “found” it in the back of the garage.  it’s a big garage.

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i would also like to point out that the person who built the teahouse is single and moderately handsome.

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though not exceptional with children.

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we were sitting on the couch once while he was helping me buckle the baby into her seat.  all of the sudden he got this look in his eye and said ominously, “oooo, 5-point safety harness!”   next thing you know it was baby ferris wheel.

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of course, it all depends on your perspective.

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the babies think he’s great.

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here is ping.  i don’t know what it is, but the kids all love her.  i think it’s the name “ping” (it’s just fun to say) and the fact that she can’t speak english well enough to dissuade them from tailing her.  when she left, jehu went to bed in tears, insisting it was “worse than dying.”    i’ll be posting fan mail to thailand in a few weeks.

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another tea partier.

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natalie and her friends hanging out in the tree house.

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it was a lovely time.  and having a teahouse rocks.  i want one.  the perfect place for warming up on a spring day, reading books,  touring pinterest, enjoying a pot of tea with friends, watching movies, being able to escape to at least one place that’s clean, or having sleep overs.  reuben strung hammocks up and put mattresses underneath and we slept 5 little kids in there.  snug as bugs.  a teahouse is now on my official wish list.  reuben even takes orders if you want one.  or you could trade your daughter in marriage and get one for free.  i’d call that a steal.  (who knows what else you could get him to make you.)

the greats

my grandparents are staying with us a few days.  on friday we went to every yard sale in town.  almost.  grandma bought habbers this new dress.

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i bought grandma a gel manicure.  she let me pick the color.  (but that was before she found out it doesn’t come off.)

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and grandpa bought jale a $15 sewing machine.  real enough to work.  cheap enough to break.  the first thing she did was sit down and sew herself a pillow case.

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in her princess dress, pearls, and fairy wings.  of course.

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she makes a nice straight stitch too.

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i gave her some material and she sat down and ran through a whole bobbin.  she can work the presser foot and drive, neat as a whistle.

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of course, grandpa still has to thread the needle.  what are grandpa’s for?

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and judith likes having even more people around who love her.  that or she just likes to be carried.  particularly by people with handles.

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grandma doesn’t believe that babies should ever cry.

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baby agrees.

riding herd

i babysat for a friend last week.  a friend with girls.  and not just any girls, red headed girls.  at one point i clocked the women folk at 10.  the boys were sadly outnumbered with only 3.

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it was a riot.  i believe i woke up sore the next day.

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but children love riots.

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especially when you add sticky and fire.  then everyone is happy.

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isn’t daddy a saint?

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rahab and her somewhat leery friend.  maybe if habbers didn’t trash talk her guests after windmilling them she’d get farther when it comes to winning friends and influencing people.

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and if you must know, i’m rather infamous for my backyard.  it is, and always has been, an absolute pile.  literally.  and the kids love it.  i just thank the lord i have a privacy fence and then don’t go back there.

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my number one son.  on his way to practice that evening he was soliciting the girls to see if any of them knew how to tie shoes.  which was making me bust up.  i’ll be teasing him about that well into his twenties.

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“she seems like a nice girl, son.  but can she tie shoes?”


we just finished a lovely evening with the mccullys.  daddy boy made heaps and piles of indian food.

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and i ate it all.  seriously, last man standing.  afterwards we ate chocolate cake and ice cream and chatted while the children went feral.  (don’t ever let me babysit.  i can’t be trusted.)

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the pirate baby.  so christened on the day of her birth by mike himself.  “rahab?  isn’t that like a pirate name?”  actually, it means “sea dragon,” so close enough.  and lesson learned.

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the cook.  i don’t know how much longer i can get him to keep the beard.  he says it’s going to get caught in his pursik and rip his face off.  but mommy don’t care.  it’s hot.

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and that’s that.  just sitting here downloading the 300 pictures off my camera before going to bed.  let’s just say we have a bit of a backlog.  watch out.  *m

the black walnut

my brother and i just finished putting together his little etsy shop.  freshly stocked and ready to go.  i was going to let you in on the good stuff before someone else got it.

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for instance, check out this bird’s eye maple baby rattle.  it’s absolutely lovely.  the perfect shower gift as well as a keepsake that will last a lifetime.  i’m commissioning them for all of my shower gifts herewith.  (which means, if your name is becca, mackenzie, or amy jo, you’d better pick now and i’ll save it for you.)

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but this one is really my favorite.  it is one of the small rattles.  perfect for a little baby hand.  there is something about the weight, color, and sculpture of this one that makes it a complete delight.  like candy.  i love it.   it just sets in the palm of your hand.  and right, now that you mention it, i think i should keep it.

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he’s also been turning out bracelets.  prices aren’t quite settled yet, but i think these are around $5.  i wear mine with everything.

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and he turns out dandy tops.  he sent us a whole variety for chirstmas and i keep them out on the coffee table for guests.  they’re like mini-masterpieces in different shapes and kinds of woods.  i always like to keep something for busy little hands in the living room.  things that don’t look ugly when spread about.  buy a pile.

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he even tried his hand at a maraca.  for the more enthusiastic babies.

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anyways, now you know.  happy shopping.


someone had a birthday.

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we had a tea party.  i think we’ll always do a tea party.  then we don’t have to deal with the requests for rainbow birthdays, or strawberry shortcake birthdays, or “swimming dog birthdays.”  seriously, one of my friends had a swimming dog birthday.  with the most amazing cake ever – of a swimming dog.  no one will ever forget it.  best birthday ever.  but i’m sticking to the tea party.  standard fare.

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one of my friends even bought me a present.  because when she was buying jael a present she knew i had to have it.  and it’s true.  a biscuit tin.  the most perfect biscuit tin in the world.  i’m going to fill it with ginger snaps.  which means all i need are surprise visitors.  (hint.)

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here is the boy invasion.  the thing with nice five year old girls is that they usually have brothers.  and brothers love nothing better than raiding a good tea party.

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here they are packing up on reserves.

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a few boys got whacked in the noggin, a hole was dug and covered with sticks to create a trap, and the fence fell over because boards were confiscated to build a fort.  a classic good time at the otto’s.

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meanwhile the ladies ate in civilized fashion.  except for one.

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the two princesses.

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taking tea.

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note the hovering baby ogre.

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opening presents.

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housewives with beehives.  this lady is straight out of mad men.  you should see her vintage serving ware.  dreamy.

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making necklaces.

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and soaking in the birthday afterglow.

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we’ll see how long that holds her.  a birthday only once a year is not enough for this girl.  preposterous.  once every four years is even worse.

keeping up appearances

vicar: "oh no, it's the bucket woman. drive, drive!!"

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