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8 posts from February 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Perils of Having a Teenage Daughter

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OOPS, overslept my nap.  Ya think that the last 2 days of cleaning Sarah's room wiped me out? Yeah.  Duh.  We have a winner!

Now, just so you all know how I picked this winner - I counted the number of original comments that "were not" replies to other comments.  My comments are made up of 2 layers - the first layer is the original comment, the second layer beneath a comment would mean that a reader replied to a comment.  Goodness, this sounds ridiculous.  Anyway, I counted the number of "original" first layer comments, and that was "15" and got the winner.  And the winner is ... (from first layer comments) ...

RandomWinner 

CONGRATULATIONS TO Karen in Ohio!  You've won a $200 gift certificate to Tar - zhay - oh, I mean Target!  Yay! 

Karen in Ohio wrote:

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Karen in Ohio - email me at susan@raisin-toast.com to claim your prize.  No shipping address required. 

Thank you to everyone who entered!  And, thank you to my wonderful sponsor for this great contest!  More contests to come in the coming weeks!  


 


I actually thought I would have time to do a post yesterday, but I got caught up in one big mess.  You see, I have a teenage daughter, Sarah, and she is 15 years old.  As responsible as she is with her academics, her room is another story entirely.  I can't quite put my finger on this, but does she actually enjoy having her room, her private space, her personal domain, looking as if someone came in and ransacked it?



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So, yesterday morning I decided to tackle this filthy boudoir of hers, and hoped to finish in time to post "this" story, together with a short video in fast action showcasing the process from the minute I walked in to the finished product.  Unfortunately, by 11pm last night, not only was I completely exhausted, but my back felt like someone had taken a sledge hammer to it.  My back is not my friend. 



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I've been cleaning out every drawer, and even cleaning the inside of the drawers.  I have been organizing everything in her room and making a home for every item, no matter how big or how small.  I have rearranged things a bit too.  And, hopefully, when I am done, it will look humane.  Better than that - it will be beautiful.  Well, it won't be anything for Architectural Digest, but it will be a nice place for her to reside during her private time.  I not only want Sarah to be proud of her room - I want to be proud of her room!



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Despite all the hours and effort I put in to cleaning her room yesterday - approximately 12 hours, I am nowhere near being done.  I got up bright and early this morning to tackle it again - but first I had to take 3 Advil if I was going to prevent having to go to the hospital incapacitated and unable to move.



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When Sarah got home from school yesterday, she was shocked.  Happy and grateful, but shocked to say the least.  I don't know how many times I have asked Sarah to clean her room and I have put her on restriction from other activities until it was done.  I'd peek in when she told me it was done and I'd be somewhat satisfied.  Emphasis on "somewhat."  But then, given 24 hours or less, the room looked like it was ransacked again. 



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As bad as it is, I don't judge her.  Why?  Because I was 15 once myself, and as many times as my parents hounded me to clean my room, inevitably it would look even worse than it did when they were upset with me the first time!  Oh, let me tell ya, I was clever (or at least I thought I was).  I would stash things where they didn't belong and cram clothing in drawers and under the bed.  I would kick stuff under my dresser and on the top shelf of my closet.  Anything to avoid actually having to "clean" and be "responsible" for my room.  What a joke. 

What amazes me is how many teenagers actually live like this.  Is this a hormonal thing or what?



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I can't believe I was so stupid as to think that this was actually an intelligent way to keep my room.  So, it's kind of hard to get upset with my daughter for doing the very same thing that I used to do when I was her age.  Now that I think about it, her room isn't the only thing that scares me.  What about all that other crap that is going thru her brain?  Have you given much thought about what you "thought" and "did" when you were 15?  Does that scare the hell out of you or what?  It does me!!!



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Think about it - if you cram things in drawers and stash them anywhere you please with no rhyme or reason, then you are bound to miss it when you really need it.  You won't be able to find it.  Period.  Or, when she gets up to go to school and really wants to wear that special pair of jeans or top that looks really great on her, she probably still won't be able to wear it even if she does find it because it will be dirty and smelly.



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Does that sound smart to you?  I didn't think so. I'm hoping that when I am done, she'll see the result and be proud of her room.  Proud enough, mind you, to keep it organized, clean, and a reflection of her sweet personality - not her evil twin the slob.

Wish me luck.  I'm hoping to have a funny video - run in super-fast mode - to entertain you. 

And, to satisfy your own desire to clean your child's room, I am offering a $200 gift certificate to Target to one of my readers, so you can find some great bins and other stuff to organize your child's room!  Just answer the following question in the comments:

What do you do to encourage your child to keep their room clean and organized?


Contest will end at 12pm (Noon) EST tomorrow (Saturday), and a winner will be announced at 6pm EST Saturday evening.

Good Luck!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Big Bear Solutions

Bob5

Big Bear has not found a job yet, but that hasn't stopped him from finding work.  Does that make sense?  He has been pounding the pavement every day since his lay off on September 15th to find a job.  In the meantime, we have depleted our savings and our retirement is dwindling down to the bottom.  We're not there yet, thank goodness, but it's not far off to the edge of the cliff.

Fortunately, Bob has resources.  Lots of 'em.  Intelligent, hard working, resources I might add.  Good people that he has worked with over the years that have also been laid off.  It seems as though most of the people that Bob has worked with are all laid off and looking for work.  The other night Bob went to a gathering of individuals from all different professions - CEOs, CFOs, VPs, Directors, Executives of all types (and sizes) who are looking to network and who live in the Charlotte area.  Bob came home excited to have met so many interesting people and he is following up with a number of them.



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Before he left for this meeting, though, he came downstairs in a panic.  "Susan - I need you to design me a business card - quick.  Like NOW.  Help me think of a name for my private consulting company - quick, I've got to be there at 6:30."  Then he ran back upstairs to get dressed.

So, I gave Photoshop and my creative genius the ol 5-minute try.  Fortunately, we had business card stock Avery paper in our home office so that he could print something off quickly.   For my Big Bear, I got to work immediately on making him a name.  Hmmmm, let's see ...

Of course, I wanted it to be something that stood out.  I didn't want it to sound too techy.  Then it hit me - "of course!  I've got it!"  And so, I got to work in Photoshop designing Bob a business card to hand out at this networking meeting, gathering thing he was going to.



This is what I came up with:

BIG BEAR SOLUTIONS FUNCARD

So, whatta ya think?  Bob loved it.  Of course, the numbers, address, and email have been changed to protect the innocent.  Still, you get the drift.  You like it?  Roarrrrr.  I can hear that bear now.

My man is in business dangnammit.  And he's got cards.

When he got home he told me that everybody commented on his cards and wanted to know who designed them.  Am I good or what?  snicker snicker.

I even added a bit about him onto the back of the card ...



BackofBigBearCard

We're a team I'll tell ya.  Big Bear and I make a great team.  And, for any of you out there who need professional business cards on heavy stock paper and lookin' really good, go to Overnight Prints.  That's who I go to to create my business cards for my Fine Art studio.  They do an awesome and professional job.  But, in the meantime, because we were short on time, we did the Avery thing on our printer.  They looked great for Bob's purposes the other night.

Bob has not been sitting idle this entire time, either.  He has a number of opportunities brewing behind the scenes.  Independent consulting opportunities with one of his collegues, and employment opportunities as well.  Let's hope something materializes soon.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers!  We're doing just fine.  And besides - he's now got cards.

SusieQSignature

Thank you Hystersisters

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On January 22, 2003, I had a total hysterectomy.  I mean I had everything taken out.  Ovaries and all.  Why?  Because I was an emotional and physical wreck, peri-menopausal mess.  For about 2 years prior to my surgery, I had been experiencing intermittent hot flashes and my cycle was a complete disaster.  For almost a year I was having a cycle every 2-3 weeks.  There seemed to be no end to the emotional and physical roller-coaster I was going through.

When I was tired, I was in a coma when I slept.  Unfortunately, I was tired all the time.  Then, out of nowhere, I felt like I had the flu - with sweats, hot flashes, achy bones and muscles.  I was miserable.  So, Big Bear and I went to my doctor and I told him point blank "Get this thing and everything attached to it out of me - now."  I told him I couldn't live like this any longer and he listened.  The following week I had surgery to have everything removed - ovaries included.  I do not regret that decision for one second.  However, and there is a "however" in there - it has changed many aspects of my life and I want to discuss them here.

It took me weeks and weeks to recover from my surgery.  Fortunately, I had family and friends who cared for me and pampered me during that time.  I was so lucky.  Blessed is more like it.  Unfortunately, I have spinal issues that got progressively worse during that recovery time and 6 weeks after surgery I couldn't walk.  THAT was not a good thing.  I felt like a 90 year old woman.  The good news is that my Big Bear helped me through every second of the recovery and got me back on my feet.  I couldn't have done this without him.  He was my rock. 

A lot changes when you have a hysterectomy.  For me, that included changes in my body, my weight, my hair, my sex drive (yes I said it here daggonit - I'm keepin' it real by golly).   And these changes are not fun.  In fact, they are down right lousy, stinky, horrible, ugly, yukky, and weird.  I'll get into those things in a minute, but first...

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Welcome Hystersisters.com.  My saving grace during those first months after my surgery.  I cannot say enough for Kathy and the forum and website that she has built for women who have had or will have hysterectomies.  Everything I could possibly need to know was right there on her site.  I joined on the very day I had my surgery - after I woke up from the feel-good anesthesia of course.  And I am so happy I did.  I had an online support system like no other.  I made friends, had my questions answered, and my concerns and experiences were validated with kindness, concern, and professionalism. 

It has been 6 years since my surgery and I've gone through many good and bad changes over the years.  First of all, I gained weight.  Now for some of you that's like "who cares?"  but for me, I've been rather spoiled in that I've never had a weight problem.  Never.  Nada.  Skinny Minny.  Twiggy.  Yep, that was me.  "Was" being the operative word here.  I never thought in a million years I would have a weight problem.  Now, I wouldn't go so far as to say that I have a weight "problem."  It is, however, a bit uncomfortable and strange to not have any clothes in my closet that fit, to have jeans that look gross (if I can get them up over my stinkin' child-bearing hips) and to go clammering through my mother's closet for clothes because everything in my closet is a size 8 and I am now a size 12.  There - are you happy now? 

My hips ain't never been so wide.  My butt ain't never been so round.  My tummy ain't never been so rolly-polly.  I ain't never felt so bad about myself.  I ain't never felt so undesirable in the sack.  I ain't never going to fix this "problem" without some help.  So, today, I signed into my account on Hystersisters and got a dose of reality, friendship, advice, validation, and good solid guidance.  Which begs the question - why did I wait 6 years to get these answers?  Because, uuuuh - I have no clue.  I should be scolded.

 

Fan-02-june

Hormones.  I take Estrogen.  To be exact - I take Estradiol.  I tried Estratest, but for some reason that made me feel sick and nauseous.  So, I went back to Estradiol.  Since I had everything taken out, my doctor told me I did not need Progesterone, but the more I read about the benefits of Progesterone, the more I questioned the validity of going without it.  I still question this, and today I went to Hystersisters.com and did some research.  I am not alone.  There are even a few women who have opted to take Progesterone and have had positive results - like an increase in their own natural testosterone production thereby improving their sex drive.  Progesterone also has benefits for strong bones in later years and helps decrease a woman's chances of developing osteoperosis.  Now, obviously, I am no doctor.  This is all just information that I have read about the benefits of taking Progesterone after a hysterectomy.

Still, I do not understand why doctors believe that this hormone is unnecessary after a hysterectomy.  It obviously has many benefits for a woman's well-being and overall health, even in her later years.  That said, I'm going to hop on over to Hystersisters store today and get some Progesterone cream.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Sound like a plan? 

As for other changes.  I'm really tired a lot of the time.  I just don't have any energy, which might explain why I hate to exercise.  It wasn't always like that.  My skin is not the same either.  Although I have nice, clear skin, it is thinner (I notice this particularly around my hands) and it doesn't have the same tone that it did just 5 years ago.  I'm wilting.  wilting.  wilting.  (name that movie)  My hair does not have the same bounce and boing that it used to have.  Which might explain why women who are older tease and spray their hair so it looks like a concrete hat.  No, I don't do that, but it isn't easy maintaining nice hair after going through all these hormonal changes.

Poor Bob.  My sweet Big Bear.  He's so patient.  That's all I'll say about that. (I know, too much information) but these things are important!  Very important - to a marriage.  Fortunately for us, he is my best friend, my loving companion, my rock of Gibraltar, my big bear.  There is no one I would rather cuddle with.  He is so loving and affectionate.  And patient.  And tolerant.  And, and, and...  just wonderful.  I recommend you get a big bear of your own if you don't already have one.  Especially if you are going thru menopause. 

So, as I sit here and take in a big breath, a sigh, a "what the heck" inhale, I realize that I am not alone.  Life changes things along the way.  We grow up and we grow out.  We're turned on, and then we lose sight of the switch.  We go gray.  Our bodies get fatter while our skin and our hair gets thinner.  It's a dreadful life cycle, but we all go through it.  Anyone who says they don't is just plain lying or still in their 20s.  I wish it weren't so, but that's just how the cookie crumbles. 

 


I can sum it all up in 6 words ...

I am turning into my mother.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Road to 50 is Paved With Good Intentions

HannahSleeping

There is no way for me to tell you that I've failed at my own good intentions except to just, well, say it.  "I've failed."  Maybe then it will kick me firmly in the butt and wake me up to my own inadequacies.  Such as exercise.  What is it exactly that makes me dread even the thought of it?  Last April, when I turned 49, I promised myself (and others present at the time) that I was going to take this year and get in shape; to change my woeful ways; to burn the bridges of sitting on my butt with my laptop in hand.  And, rather than pounding the keyboard exercising my fingers, I promised I would move my legs, and my arms, my waist, and my hips - and oh yes - my butt too.



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But, as usual, I get up to the same story, different day, and I refuse to change.  I am a victim of my own self-imposed routine. 

Get up (when I'm dang ready)

Brush my teeth and gargle

Stare circumspect into the mirror and growl at the image looking back at me

Brush my hair and put on a headband to get the gray strands out of my face

Shuffle into the kitchen where I pour myself a small glass of orange juice with a dash of sugar

Open the refrigerator where I hope that we are not out of Raisin Bread

Pop 2 slices into the toaster

Close my weary eyes as I grab a small plate from above the toaster

Grab a knife

Wait

Wait some more

Burn the tips of my fingers pulling the toast out of the toaster

Butter each slice just so

Rip off a paper towel.

Hobble (no longer shuffling) into the family room with breakfast in hand

Sit on the sofa

Cover up  with a cozy blanket

Turn on my computer

Take a bite of my hot delicious raisin toast


And...

Realize that I'm stuck in a rut 

More like a huge pot hole



DogNapping

So what is it exactly that is keeping me here?  Well, as I sit here I think I might just know the answer.  Comfort.  I'm comfortable.  I'm spoiled.  I'm not a lazy thinker or doer, but I am a lazy butt in all physical sense of the word.  I hate to exercise. 

Every time I'm in the throws of physical pain due to exercise of any kind my brain is at conflict with the rest of me. 



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"What the hell are you doing this for?"  I have no fricking idea.  

"This hurts - go take a nap."    Okay

"You'll have to do this 5054 times before you will see the slightest results."  I'm quitting now

"This is a sure way to kill yourself."  I'm gonna stop, just as soon as I collapse

"Cool pillow is 10 steps north of your head"  Hmmmm

"Nobody else in this family is killing themselves for slim, trim tummies"  Where's the pillow?

"I told you it would hurt"  Ah hell, forget it. 

This is time spent killing myself that I could be doing something more productive - like painting or reading, writing or teaching or - napping.

Need I say more?



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As I approach the big 5 - 0 in 2.5 months, I realize that changing my comfortable routine is not going to happen unless Bob Greene wakes me up with a whip in the morning.  And since Oprah herself can't stick to her guns even with the guru by her side, how can I?  I'm sorry folks, but I did not grow up in a family that put great value on exercise other than the very basic that is involved in lawn maintenance, cleaning out the garage, carting loads of laundry back and forth from the laundry room and barking orders at the kids. 



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I'd rather read.  I'd rather paint.  I'd rather write.  I'd rather learn something new.  I'd much rather take a nap. 

And besides, I'm too dang impatient to see the results of my efforts.  Maybe that is why I love exercising my fingers and my brain so much - because I see immediate results. 



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I will say this, though - "Idle minds may be the devil's workshop ... but Idle bodies need a whip and a threat"

In other words - if I don't get off my butt and start movin' soon, I will pay with poor health, lack of muscle tone, big butt syndrome, skinny legs, achy muscles, and chronic fatigue.  Making it more and more difficult every day to get moving.  So why am I still sitting here?



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I'm comfortable.  There I said it. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day Memories

YouClickwithMe

As a small schoolgirl in the 1960s, I think my favorite holiday of all was Valentine's Day.  I had the best time going with my mother to the Five & Dime (a small drug store) and purchasing several boxes of Valentine's cards to hand out to all of my elementary school classmates. 

 



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My mother and I would scatter the cards out on the kitchen table and I would pick the exact card I wanted to give to each classmate.  And, if it was a classmate that was my friend, I made sure it was an extra special card from the box.  I would sign my name to all the cards, stuff the cards in their respective envelopes, and personalize the envelope.  Then off to school I would go with a lunchbag full of about 30+ Valentine's cards and little bags of candy.



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Class was always the most fun on Valentine's day.  We would talk about what Valentine's day meant to us, make cards in class to take home to our parents, and then we would all share in a snack of cupcakes, candy, and fruit punch.  I can still remember the sights and sounds of those days some 40+ years ago. 



PuppyLove

There was always a lot of laughter and silliness as we handed out our cards to all the children in our class and our teacher.  I can recall always hoping the teacher would like my card the best.  As a child, I find that those little things were important to me and I try to remember that feeling with my own children, knowing that when they make a picture for me or a card, just how important it is that I express joy and delight in their creation and expression of love towards me.  These are the things that memories are made of, and I'm all for making memories with my children.



SugarandSpice

All in all, I think those days in elementary school were my most memorable for this special day.  I honestly cannot think of a Valentine's day that was special as I got older.  Even today, Big Bear is doing a few things on the honey-do list, I've been doing laundry and cleaning up, then we built a fire.  Sarah has a friend over for a sleepover and a movie, but other than that, we are just relaxing at home. 



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In several hours we were going to take the children out for dinner too.  For me this is a perfect Valentine's Day spent surrounded by the people that I love and adore.



Police

I hope you too, are having an especially wonderful day with the people (or that one special person) that is dearest to your heart.



NoPhoney

Happy Valentine's Day!

Love,

SusieQSignature



Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wind In My Hair and Bugs In My Teeth Pt. 2 - the Video

Bike37

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  Now, take the ride along with us in my video from Big Bear's right shoulder.




Enjoy the ride? I'm sure they'll be more.

(Note: The Ride was 4 hours - the Video is 20 minutes.  So, when you've got 20 minutes to kill and want some wind in your hair and some bugs in your teeth - then sit back on the sissy bar and enjoy.)


 SusieQSignature

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wind In My Hair and Bugs In My Teeth Pt. 1

Bike1

So, what do you do on a Sunday afternoon when the weather is perfect?  We go riding.  Not bicycle riding.  Not horseback riding.  Not 4-wheeling.  We go bikin' - on our Harleys.  Unfortunately, I sold my V-Rod 2 years ago because my eyesight is not that great anymore, and, well, I was not throwing my leg over my Harley enough to justify having a 20,000 dollar hunk-a-burnin-love sitting idle in the garage. 



Bike4

Yesterday, however, I would have loved to have had my V-Rod instead of riding on the back of Big Bear's Road King.  The good thing about riding on the back of Big Bear's bike, though, was that I was able to video parts of the ride and take lots of pictures! 



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And, we didn't go riding alone.  No-sir-ee, we went cruisin' around town with a couple of Bob's friends from his past career at Avaya. 



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This is Greg.  Unemployed.  Lookin' for work.  New father.  Riding a Triumph.  What's with that anyway, Greg?  "And, Greg - fix that brake light before someone creams you from behind."



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This is Tom and his lady - Wendy.  Tom is Unemployed.  Lookin' for work.  Rides a Harley.  "Nice bike you have there, Tom."



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As we were cruisin' down the road, through the countryside, into South Carolina, enjoying the fresh air, I realized that there are a lot of people in this State that are short on brains.



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What's wrong with this picture?  Anyone?  Got a clue? 



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How about these happy folks on their crotch rocket?  What's wrong with this picture?  No, this is not a trick question either.  Does she look comfortable?  Does he look happy?  What is she holding onto? huh? huh?



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Now, this guy has brains.  And, he wants to keep them too.  He must live in North Carolina.



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We continued to enjoy the sites, the sounds, and watch the people of South Carolina fish for their dinner.



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Yep, this was a pretty place.  Occasionally loud with the roar of Harley pipes screaming by my left ear, but otherwise, very nice.  I think I'll paint this picture. 



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I thought this little boy was adorable.  Here he was, out with his father - fishing.  He knew how to handle that fishing pole like a pro. 

 



Bike46

Now, don't these people look as though they are enjoying their Sunday afternoon on the lake?  I might just paint this picture too.  But, first, who do you think was having more fun?  These nice South Carolinians boating on the lake or ...



Bike53

These nice folks, my Big Bear included, hangin' out at the Flamingo on the lake.  Note - the bikers with helmets value their brains and their life and are the ones wearing the helmets. 



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This biker babe, however, enjoys the wind in her hair so much that she must have just forgot to put on her helmet when she left home.  Ya think?  Nice bike.  Nice whitewalls too.



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The beautiful bikes were lined up like dominoes.  They were out by the hundreds this Sunday afternoon.



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Even the trees were starting to bloom.  It was a gorgeous day and I was thoroughly enjoying spending the day with my Big Bear.



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We were having a fun day together.  Big hamburgers, lots of french fries and onion rings and sweet tea.  We live in the South - gotta have our sweet tea. 



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Tom ws enjoying his cigar and posing for the camera.  Ha ha.  Ha ha.  Oh, Tom - you are so funny.  Are you sure you'll be able to drive that bike goin' home?  Maybe you're just getting too much sun?  Ya think?  This must be what people do who are unemployed.



Bike92

Yeah, that's the ticket.  The unemployed go ridin' on Sundays, hang out at South Carolina bars called "The Flamingo," smoke cigars, and drink sweet tea.  And beer. 



Bike87

But we didn't drink the beer.  My Big Bear is a smart guy.  He won't drink and drive - ever.  I knew there was a reason I loved him so much.  He wore his helmet too.  Gotta protect the family jewels - the ones on top especially.



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Now these are my kind of chaps.  Yeah, yeah, I like the chaps over at Ree's place too, but I love these the most.  They make you look hot no matter how big your butt.



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Maybe I need to slow down.  



Bike67

Now here's a real live rebel.  Rebel?  You out there reading this?  These are the kind of rebels we have around our parts.



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Hello nice people.  I promise we won't kick up any dust around your bike.  Promise.  Tommy Lee?  Ya hear me now?  I promise I won't get near it. 

 



Bike40

All in all, we had a great day.  We had a lot of laughs.  We had a lot of sweet tea.  We had to go to the bathroom.  Are we home yet?  My back is killing me, I've gotta go potty, and my butt is numb. But dang did I ever have fun.  Part 2 will be the video if I can figure out how to edit it. 



SusieQSignature

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Serious Side of Big Bear

Bob5

 The other night, Big Bear asked me to take his picture for his resume.  Of course, I obliged, and we set up the lights in the family room.  I thought his picture would look nice up against the red wall.  I told him I thought it would be "commanding" and speak "strength" and "Intelligence."  Hey!  I'm an artist, I'm supposed to say things like that!



Bob6 

Of course, once I started taking his picture I couldn't help but laugh.  



Bob10 

And, when I start ragging on Big Bear, he can't stop laughing either.  Okay, let's get serious.



Bob18 

Doesn't he look like he's going to kick my butt?  I could swear he was thinking "If you don't take this stinkin' picture and stop making me laugh, I'm going to have to hurt you."



Bob17 

"Very nice dear.  But, you may look too confident.  Kinda like 'I'm brilliant and I know it' look."



Bob21 

"Ah come on already!  Now who's being stupid?"



Bob4 

Now I like this picture.  Okay, dear, we're done.  Now get out of that snoot suit and build us a fire - and you know exactly what kind of fire I'm talkin' about too.



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