Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Longest Three Weeks

We got new photos of Elvie today.  They are not very recent, but more recent than any of the others we have.  In three of the four, she is sleeping.  In the only one in which she is awake, she looks sad.  If I could get on a plane right now and go to her, I would.

As it is, there are three more weeks to go.  I was nervous before, about getting everything done and ready and being prepared for the certain lack of sleep to come, but now I don't care about any of that.  What we don't have, we can get.  There's a Safeway and a Walgreen's just up the street.

Twenty-one days.  Heaven help me.

countdown to ethiopia, 21 days

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sixth Sense

At 4:54am, I awoke to a wet bottom next to me in bed.  We've been using cloth training pants at night since Zinashi doesn't wet as often anymore, and while they keep most of the moisture from hitting the mattress directly, the pajama pants always get pretty well soaked.  Zinashi wasn't even awake, and frankly, I'm not sure why I woke up either.  Some sixth sense of motherhood, in which I can identify a pee accident in my sleep?  I suppose it is handy, in the sense that she didn't have time to roll over and get more surface area wet, but if I were to choose a sixth sense, that probably wouldn't be it.

By the time I was done getting her into fresh pajamas, she was awake, and it didn't take long before she was asking if it was morning, and could she have eggs?  I put my foot down and said things like not right now which later became not until you go back to sleep, for crying out loud.  I understand that some of you think that if your child wakes at 5am, they're just awake at 5am, and you just get up and trudge to the kitchen to start the day, but we really can't have that happening.  Because A) Zinashi goes to bed late, and that is not nearly enough sleep for her to be reasonable during the day, and B) I am not a morning person. The combination of those two factors would probably kill us.  Also, I need this time to be simple.  I need to still be getting sleep now, before we have the unpredictable sleep of a jet-lagged, traumatized infant to deal with.

Because guess what?  We get on the airplane in twenty-two days.

countdown to ethiopia, 22 days
If you're wondering if I'll post one of these every day until we leave, the answer is YES.

Honestly, it's blowing my mind.  A baby.  In our house.  Soon.  WHOA.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Let's Get This Countdown Started

I booked plane tickets this morning.  This countdown is really for Zinashi, but she'll share it with you.  (So generous of her, right?)

countdown to ethiopia, 23 days

We fly June 21.  That's twenty-three days from today.  Giddyup.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Check!


the bulletin board

I went and bought myself a bulletin board and some fancy tacks.  It's all part of my new organizational goal for my office space.  Straightaway I put up three lists, all of things to do before we go get Elvie.  They are pretty self-explanatory, I think.  Must Do really does mean MUST.  Oughta Do is for stuff that needs to be done around the house and will most definitely not get done once we've got a medically fragile infant in the house.  Wanna Do is for fun.  I'm happy to report that today we checked off half the items on the Wanna Do list.  I realize there are only two, but they are both things that I really wanted to do.  So today, I took Zinashi to the movies.

I know that when we come home with Elvie, our lives will change drastically, especially initially.  And while I intend to be purposeful about spending time one-on-one with Zinashi, I recognize that it will be much harder than it is now.  In particular, I will have a lot less energy for excursions such as going to the movies.  So we did that today, because we won't be able to do it later, at least not for awhile.

In other ways we also operate on this same principle.  I have been carrying Zinashi a lot lately and helping her with things she can usually do herself.  Some may say that doing this is getting her used to something that I cannot continue, but my aim right now is to do as much for her as possible, to fill her full to overflowing with love and care and meeting her needs right away so that when I cannot do that, she's got plenty to go on.  It is going to be a challenging transition for her regardless; if we can go into this with her securely ensconced in our love, then that is the best possible preparation.  We talk about what it will mean to have a baby in the house.  We talk about learning to wait and taking turns.  And then we show her that she is still our baby and will always be our baby, even when there's another baby in our lives.

As for that other baby, our Elvie, I am just ready to go get her.  I can talk all I want about how we have plenty to do and not enough time and blah-blah-blah, I should just stop saying that.  I want her home.  The end.

(No, really, the end.  I've got an episode of Mad Men to watch before bed.)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Life Rolls On, Whether or Not There's an Internet Connection

For the past two days, we've not had internet access at home, and I've not had time to go elsewhere to get it.  It's made me feel a little bit like this:

lose something?
I lost something.  I think it was my mind, but it's hard to remember.

And sometimes like this:

funny bunny
Except I'm not that cute in bunny rabbit ears.


But life is good.  While we wait on some things, other things are happening.  Beautiful things.

girl in the yellow hat
Like sometimes I get to have coffee across the table from the girl wearing this yellow hat.


It's so easy to get lost in what's going wrong or what I cannot do anything about except for wait.  To get flustered over things like loss of internet connection or not knowing if I should book flights yet.  But if I pay attention, I can see the good all around me.

my first baby
Like my first daughter caught in the sun's rays on the train.


Life is so good right now.  We are working hard for Elvie, and we are in a financial crunch, and we are running short on time and long on projects that keep getting put off one more day, but still, there is so much good.  Some of it has come from your hands and hearts and typing fingers.  I am so grateful to you. My life be kind and gentle and good to you, too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Not in the Envelope

Today has been a frustrating day; let's talk about things I want, but that don't belong in my little envelope. It'll be a little bit of wishful thinking, an indulgent daydream.

First, this dress.  In Clementine or Sunflower.  Dreamy.

While we're at Boden, how about this top?  In green, s'il vous plait.  Excuse me, I'm using French.  Vert.

Finally, I'd take a housekeeping service for a good deep clean of my house.  Right now I'm working on "slightly less unsanitary," and that's quite enough.

I was going to wish for a new paperweight, but I already have one.

paperweight
Oh, dear, it's another instagram photo of the cat.  Things must have taken a turn for the worse.

What's on your wish list today?  Big or small, tell me.  I'd like to daydream about your wishes, too.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Envelope


the stash

In this drawer, I have a chocolate stash, note card sets that I made to sell for our last adoption, and an envelope. The chocolate stash is there for obvious reasons, and the big shocker is that thus far Zinashi has failed to find it or notice when I slip my hand in and snag a bite while working at the desk. The note cards will stay there until I either sell them or give them away (the latter being more likely). And the envelope, well, that is the keeper of my hopes and prayers. Into it I tuck little notes about what I need and the things about which I am worried. Lately it's mostly been filled with what we need for Elvie. There's a short list of things we need for her nursery, a half dozen small post-its with the names of different expenses on them, and slightly larger notes regarding what I hope for both my daughters' futures. Mostly what I write down is practical. Tangible. Because this is also where I come to be reminded that things are going okay. 

Yesterday we found out that something we were hoping would happen in regards to plane tickets wouldn't be happening at all. It is a setback, for sure, and incredibly discouraging. At the point at which I was ready to burst into tears, I sat down with my little envelope. I tucked in a new note with a new request, and I went through the old ones and started to check off the things that had been provided to us, each one in turn, as we needed it. And there were so many things to check off, so many things I'd forgotten that I asked for.

 I'd like to say that it lessened the stress of the moment, but it didn't. What it did do was set me up to go on a walk later and let things go. To file away in my mind all these things that had been done for us and feel comfortable making new requests. When I got home from my walk, I slipped a new bit of paper inside my envelope.

 I'll let you know how that one turns out.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Last Tuesday (and the Wednesday Before It) with Old Lady Mary

The reasons we went back to Kansas City for a quick visit before it's time to travel to pick up the baby are many, but there was really only one reason that made it a priority, and that reason is that we have a commitment to seeing Old Lady Mary.  Yes, it was lovely for Zinashi to see her grandparents and play with her cousins, and of course we adored seeing the friends we managed to squeeze into our schedule.  But the number one reason that I pushed our budget to the brink while working on adoption fees was for Old Lady Mary.  And I'm so glad that we made the trip.

Our first visit was the day after we got into town.  I was wearing something red, I think, and Zinashi was wearing this dress, plus a blazer:

hard at work with her very own tape

We stopped and got fun treats for her that day (a Tweety Bird balloon and some Little Debbies, if you must know), but didn't do our usual grocery run.  My friend Olivia has been doing an amazing job taking care of Mary in my place, and I knew that she had already brought groceries.  Mary was thrilled to see us, lavishing us with praise and talk of our good looks and how we were still her fashion models.  In that regard, the visit did not disappoint.  She'd even set aside some little chocolates for Zinashi, just like always.  But something didn't feel right, and it was simply that we came with so little in our hands.  So I offered that when we came for our second visit of the week, we would bring groceries.  "Just like old times!" Mary exclaimed.  Indeed.  Even the phone call to take the grocery order was the same, with a lot of loud talking/borderline yelling.  We filled the cart at the grocery store and showed up feeling good.  Mary requested that we buy pudding cups, and as it turned out, she wanted them because she was giving the three pudding cups she still had from other grocery trips to Zinashi.  This cracked me up.  I was in such good humor about it that I let Zinashi eat two of them in one go, sitting at the little table at our old regular Starbucks.

pudding, lots of pudding

It was a little sad to walk back down Mary's hallway, not knowing just when we'll be back to see her.  I had questioned if it was wise to spend the money on plane tickets to Kansas City when we need to save so much for Elvie, but I know now without a doubt that it was both appropriate and worth it to make room in our budget to see our dear friend.  We can't wait until we can go back and have another little cutie in tow for her to gush over.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hard Things, Good Things

I am behind on everything.  Laundry, housekeeping, sleep, etc.  I didn't get even half of what I wanted to do done today.  But we got an update on Elvie, and we went to consult with an international adoption doctor, who was amazing and gave us nearly two hours of her time, so the day was not entirely lost.  I read some words about Elvie's relinquishment that I wish I could erase entirely from her life experience, and then when I talked with the doctor about these unfortunate facts, I agreed with her when she said the very-adoption-un-PC thing to say, which is that Elvie is lucky.  Not to have gone through what she's been through, not to have been born with a birth defect that renders her unable to develop normally until we can get her here and get her the care she needs, not to have lost her family because of something that is so clearly not her fault, but lucky in one thing:  that she was born in a hospital.  I will say prayers of thanks for that every single day because without that, who knows what might have happened?  She is alive, and she will get the medical care that she needs because of that one simple thing.  And now she has us, and she has all of you, pulling for her.  That makes me so happy.

you are my sunshine
This girl makes me so happy, too.


There is work to do to get Elvie home, and five weeks both seems to short and too long.  Too short to figure out the rest of the financials, the plane tickets, the medical plans, but too long to be away from a baby who has lived three months without being held by her own mother.  I wish I had more time, but I wish that I had more time while I was there with her.  That, right there, is how I would sum up my life right now.  And that is hard, but that is good, because it is teaching me so much.  About patience, and trust in the process, and seizing the moments that I have right now to see the sunshine on my beloved first daughter's face.  About how the good outweighs the hard every single time, without question.  I welcome the lessons; on the other side of them, there is so much joy.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Give It Forward: Our May Recipient

I am pleased to announce that our Give It Forward payment for May went to The Small Things.  There is such great work going on in the lives of children through this organization, and I honestly couldn't think of better hands to place this money into.


Thank you all so much for being a part of what we are doing through Give It Forward.  What you are giving is helping us get Elvie home and also giving us the joy of making our payment to an amazing organization each month instead of to a bank.  This is truly a great pleasure.

Just a note:  because of the way we are required to make the portion of the payment that is matched, we are unable to include it in the receipt we display here.  So while the donation amount in total is $240, we are only able to display a receipt for $200 at this time.  We want to be accountable to you as our donors and readers, and I appreciate your patience while I try to figure out a way to notify you of our recipient in a timely manner and also show both the principal payment and the matched interest portion of the payment.



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Home, Tired, Back to Paperwork

We're back and buried beneath a whole new mound of a different sort of paperwork, all Elvie-related, of course.  This is how I labor for my babies.  The paperwork has been much more laborious for Elvie than it was for Zinashi, but I figure if I don't end up with another six-hour flight full of doxycycline-induced stomach cramps and anti-vomit breathing techniques, then it will all be even in the end.

Later today I'll be posting who gets our Give It Forward payment for May (and making the payment!), but for now I'm going to leave you with a couple of photos from our trip while I try to crawl out from underneath this paperwork.

yeah, i don't know. weirdo.
I asked her to smile, and instead she squeezed her eyes shut as hard as she possibly could.  At least she's not frowning, right?



this is my sweater.  it does not normally have a hood.
She was cold, so I loaned her my sweater.  It does not normally have a hood.

Enjoy your Wednesday, friends.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Photo a Day While We Are Away: The Second Tuesday

Zinashi and I will be away visiting friends and family in Kansas City until May 15.  To keep you company while we're gone, I'm posting one of my recent Instagram favorites of Zinashi every day.



shopping helper

I often go grocery shopping on my own in order to simplify things, but when I need to take Zinashi, she is a willing and capable helper.  We are scheduled to fly into SFO late tonight, so tomorrow morning will find us doing just this; I'm pretty sure there is very little left in the cabinets that we'll need to make a meal.  Whether Froggie will need to accompany us or not remains to be seen.  I kind of hope he's up for it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Photo a Day While We Are Away: Monday


Zinashi and I will be away visiting friends and family in Kansas City until May 15.  To keep you company while we're gone, I'm posting one of my recent Instagram favorites of Zinashi every day.


exuberance

Sometimes she engages every single muscle in her body when she waves.  This has the effect of making the person she is waving at unable to do anything other than wave back with a big smile.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Photo a Day While We Are Away: Sunday

Zinashi and I will be away visiting friends and family in Kansas City until May 15.  To keep you company while we're gone, I'm posting one of my recent Instagram favorites of Zinashi every day.



smartypants can write lots of letters lately

The reading curriculum we are using also includes a letter writing component at the end of every lesson; Zinashi has loved the rest of the lesson, but in the beginning she resisted writing the letters.  Sometimes, I'll allow her to just wait until she is ready to do a new task, but learning to read was her idea, and I had explained to her that if she wanted to learn to do it, I'd teach her, but she'd have to work hard.  It was a huge challenge to get her to write the letters at the end of each lesson, so imagine my shock when she called me to the white board to examine the letters she'd written all on her own, with no prompting. The letters look good, but I was more proud that she had decided on her own to work on something that was hard for her.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Photo a Day While We Are Away: Saturday

Zinashi and I will be away visiting friends and family in Kansas City until May 15.  To keep you company while we're gone, I'm posting one of my recent Instagram favorites of Zinashi every day.



waiting, eating chocolate, looking like a dream

I can't get enough of this outfit.  I think it's the saddle oxfords that take it over the top.  Zinashi has opinions about clothing, but luckily, she likes everything I bring home for her.  This dress was a gift from my mom for her to wear for Easter, and while I pointed it out online and got her approval, Zinashi did not actually choose the dress.  That, my friends, is the beauty of online shopping.  There are no garish cartoon character shirts to catch her attention from eight aisles away (because yes, she is a normal child, and she can sniff these things out, even though she has no idea who any of the characters are), and she is always thrilled to open the box.  Everybody wins. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Photo a Day While We Are Away: Friday


Zinashi and I will be away visiting friends and family in Kansas City until May 15.  To keep you company while we're gone, I'm posting one of my recent Instagram favorites of Zinashi every day.



burger time

When we suddenly needed to get our paperwork done sooner, we needed to drive to Sacramento to get documents state certified.  Driving to unfamiliar destinations is not my favorite thing, I thought I was going to tough it out and go on my own with Zinashi, but Jarod offered to take the day off work to drive us.  While I took the documents to the appropriate office, Jarod and Zinashi headed down the street to find something to eat.  Jarod maintains that these burgers were not very good, but to me they tasted just right.  Or maybe my taste buds were just reacting to the sweet taste of victory of paperwork.  Either way, this is a good memory for me.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Photo a Day While We Are Away: Thursday

Zinashi and I will be away visiting friends and family in Kansas City until May 15.  To keep you company while we're gone, I'm posting one of my recent Instagram favorites of Zinashi every day.



after dinner conversation with the queen

When I came to San Francisco to look for a place for us to live, I promised Zinashi that I would bring back a surprise for her.  I found this cape in the Goodwill store on Haight, and she was thrilled with it.  Now we can have dinner with the queen whenever it strikes her fancy to put it on (which is not often enough, really).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Photo a Day While We Are Away: Wednesday

Zinashi and I will be away visiting friends and family in Kansas City until May 15.  To keep you company while we're gone, I'm posting one of my recent Instagram favorites of Zinashi every day.



at the ups store, perusing

Whenever we needed a signature notarized for our adoption paperwork, we came into this same UPS Store.  I don't know how many times total we ended up in here, but it was enough that they knew us well.  Zinashi was a champ at keeping herself occupied while we took care of each document.  It helped that they had a good-sized display of funny animal cards.  This was taken on the day we had our last document notarized, and I regret not having her choose one to bring home as a reward for her patience.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Photo a Day While We Are Away: Tuesday

Zinashi and I will be away visiting friends and family in Kansas City until May 15.  To keep you company while we're gone, I'm posting one of my recent Instagram favorites of Zinashi every day.



she is exquisite

I know that she is my daughter, and I am possibly a little bit biased, but I just find her to be so exquisite, in every single way.

Choose Who Gets Our Give It Forward Payment for May!

I promised myself that I wouldn't open this post with a question about how it got to be May already, but seriously you guys:  How did it get to be May already?  We are almost halfway through 2012, and I still have to remind myself not to write 2011 every single time I have to put the date on something.  And if you consider how many documents we had to sign and date for Elvie's adoption so far, that means that I've had a ton of practice and still can't accept the onward march of time.

Anyway.  Give It Forward.  That's why we're here.  Let's get back to the point, which is to choose where this month's payment goes.  Without further ado, your three choices.

I have had a delightful email exchange with Bekka of The Small Things, and I am so impressed with what they do!  They support Nkoaranga Orphanage in Tanzania and are involved not only in caring for the smaller children, but also financing schooling for the older children, as well as supporting the needs of the orphanage and affiliated hospital as a whole.  Giving to The Small Things can help with projects such as Light Up the Night, which will pay for the rewiring of the orphanage and also getting lighting in place for the hospital's maternity wing.  Both of these projects are important for the safety and well-being of children and mothers. Who wouldn't want to help make that happen?

We've featured charity: water before, and the reason I've come back to them is that water is essential.  They give clean water to those who don't have it around the globe. That's a beautiful and important thing.

Springtime always makes me think of growing things, and Slow Food has a mission to start gardens in Africa.  A Thousand Gardens in Africa aims to do just what the name of the project says, passing on agricultural knowledge to a new generation and promoting sustainable growing practices that value biodiversity and culture.

So, who gets the payment?  Tell us, please.  As always, you have until midnight, Pacific Daylight Time, on the 15th to make your choice and let us know.




web survey

Monday, May 7, 2012

Just Beachy

Zinashi and I leave tomorrow for a week in Kansas City, and there is so much that I am behind on.  I intended to spend all day yesterday catching up, but the afternoon weather was perfect, and the beach was calling, and honestly, what's a girl to do?  Go to the beach, that's what.

beachy

We met friends there and had a marvelous time, despite Zinashi needing two trips to the bathroom within one hour, and me being the one elected to take her both times.  I don't know why I found this to be so irritating, except that it took time away from my primary occupation, which was holding down the beach blanket.

on the beach
Those sunglasses are ridiculous, which is exactly why I love them.


I've got a list of things to accomplish today, but the suitcase is mostly packed, and I suppose if I leave with crumbs on my stovetop and sand on the bathroom floor, it won't be the end of the world.

We'll be busy fitting in as many friend visits as we can all week, so I'm taking a little blog break, but don't worry!  I've got a little something scheduled to pop up for you every day until we return.  Our flight back arrives late on the 15th, after which I plan to resume worrying about things that shouldn't be worried about and using the internet as a very cheap therapist.  Have a wonderful week, internet friends.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Song and a Story, Courtesy of Zinashi

First, a song, inspired by the portion of Richard Scarry's Please and Thank You Book called Lowly's Horrid Pests.  She's really taken to the story of the Grabby Pest, in which a sly fox takes Little Sister's ice cream, but a more sly grandmother catches him by the collar with her umbrella.




Next, a retelling of the children's classic, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, except in this version, there is a gorilla and a lot more goats.  In fact, there were about eight more goats after I stopped recording.  A lot of goats want to cross that bridge to eat those berries, and the poor troll doesn't get to eat any of them.




I really think we should start carrying a tip jar when we're planning to be on public transportation for an extended period of time.  People tell us all the time that we should have her do some modeling and use the income to pad her college fund, but I'm thinking that takes too much effort.  Tip jar it is!

Friday, May 4, 2012

We Did It Once, We Can Do It Again


my city girl

We've spent a lot of time on our feet lately.  I like to think that it's enough without being too much.  It seems to be balancing out the effects of multiple chocolate bars and a string of potato-chip-and-sour-cream lunches, which is to say that despite disastrous nutritional choices, I can still button my jeans.  That's probably not a good thing technically, but I'll accept it as a favor to me during a time in which I've got too much on my mind to feed myself properly.  Heaven knows it's hard enough to put a decent dinner on the table for my family every night with my mind so divided between all my tasks.  I will take all the help I can get, in whatever form it shows up.

Before Zinashi came home, I remember wondering just what we were walking into, if we were biting off more than we could chew.  I had no doubt that we were supposed to say yes to her, but I still would sit there in the quiet afternoon and wonder what was in store, and it scared me a little.  It is a big deal, going from being just two adults to being responsible for a little person, and in our case one who had been through a traumatic experience.  Sometimes I feel that same way now, thinking of all we need to do for Elvie, and wondering just how we'll make it work.  I've been having trouble getting to sleep, with some nameless worry picking at my tired mind.  I'm pretty sure that's it, simply not knowing the fullness of our future challenges.  But then I look back on our time with Zinashi, and I remember that we just did what we had to do.  There was never any question of if we could or would do it.  There was exhaustion and frustration, for sure, but there was also love for our daughter and commitment to being a family.  We will have those same two things on our side this time.  Knowing that, I'm pretty sure I can sleep.

Now if only I could have a similar realization that would cause me to set down the chip bag and pick up something with actual nutritional value, I'd be all set.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

This Guy


jarod and zinashi

This guy right here is an excellent husband and father.  I don't say that enough, so I'm taking a moment to say it now.  We are incredibly lucky to have him as the Ababi of our little family, and I can't wait to see this man with a baby in his arms.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Progress in the Process

I got an email from our adoption coordinator today that our final piece of paper for our dossier had arrived and was being put with all our other dossier documents so that the whole shebang could be sent out to Washington, D.C., for authentication and then on to Ethiopia to be translated, where it would be put together with all the other necessary documents to have our case submitted to court.  If all goes well, that will happen on or around the 21st of this month.  We are requesting a court date for the end of June and hoping to work with the US Embassy to satisfy their requirements for issuing a visa shortly after our court date.  For a number of reasons, mostly medical in nature, it is best if we can shorten the time between court and embassy dates as much as possible.

I feel a little like we've cheated the system with this adoption; families normally wait months or even years after dossier submission to be matched with a child, then months to hear of a court date, then months to bring their children home.  Our adoption, by contrast, has been on fast forward.  When I think of all the families in different stages of waiting, I feel a little guilty about that.  But when I look up at Elvie's photo above my desk, I know that this is not about anyone else's adoption story, it's about hers.  And hers includes a need to get home for medical care as soon as we can make that happen.  So that's what we're doing.

We are trying to wrap up a lot of things in our family-of-three life before we become a family of four.  Zinashi and I will go to Kansas City in a week to see friends and family there; we won't have another chance until after Elvie's big surgery, and who knows when the actual date will be for that, and how long she'll need to heal before we can travel.  We're also getting the last of the house projects done, as I'm pretty sure no one will be staining end tables or reupholstering anything once Elvie gets home.

In preparation for Elvie's arrival, I have a list of Must Haves that I'm working into the budget, and the rest we'll figure out once she's here.  The crib, for example, did not make the cut.  The changing table did.  Eventually we'll carve out a space just for her in our house, but for now, I think the space we've carved out for her in our hearts and lives will do nicely.  Thank you for carving out a little space for her in your hearts and lives as well.  We have been astounded by your amazing generosity.  She won't lack for anything she really needs; you have made sure of that.  I find myself saying this a lot lately, but I will say it again and again:  Thank you.


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