Changes afoot

Deep breath.

Okay.  It has been far too long since I have written in this space.  I have sat down on a few different occasions and made the effort to organize my current experiences, thoughts, and emotions into some form that makes sense; but I have failed every time.

And then tonight I sat down, wrote a long post…actually finished it!…and went to publish it, only to find out that it had somehow magically disappeared in between clicks of the mouse.

I don’t think I have the energy to completely rewrite it; but I wanted to say this at least.  I am here.  My little family and I are going through momentous–and largely difficult–changes on many different fronts right now, and not all of us are dealing well with them.  I certainly am not coping as well as I wish I were.  Pain, loss, uncertainty, endings, beginnings, the abortion of nearly all of my self-definitions…none of these are things that are comfy for me.  I don’t like them.  I am teetering on the edge of depression, and find it really, really hard to get out of bed some mornings.  Like yesterday.

But then, something happens.  A friend messages me.  A wise counselor checks in.  A sister calls late at night just to see if I am okay.  I read a blog post that keeps me going for another five minutes.  And I realize…as this essay reminded me this morning…I am still here.  I just have to keep showing up, and eventually (as hard as it is to believe at the moment), everything really will be okay.

None of our days right now are perfect.  But today, we had a pretty good school day.  We picked up our milk, and skimmed the cream and made butter.  We sang.  We painted.  We read.  We counted. We ate hard boiled eggs and gluten free waffles and fruit and cheese and pasta with zucchini sauce.

So yes: I am showing up, hard as it is sometimes.  And I plan to keep showing up in this space, because I need it.  I need the interaction, the satisfaction, the accountability.  The practice. 

And yes, I am still reading (forgive the cloudy lens…didn’t realize that someone with small grubby hands had been the last to use the camera!)…

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and making…

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and loving every minute of my children’s growth.

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And sometime last week, I found honeysuckle and goldenrod growing together along the border of the back field.  It was comforting to me; spring mixed with fall, unexpected pleasures.  A surprising beauty.

‘Cause every little thing is gonna be all right…”

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Published in: on October 10, 2013 at 2:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Honesty.

So Little Guy has not had a full-on meltdown in months.  We’ve had a couple of minis, and a couple of close calls, but not the full, kicking, screaming, thrashing, sometimes hours-long messes we used to have before going gluten-free and then GAPS, and focusing very hard on his sensory diet.

Until this morning.

It wasn’t quite as bad as they used to be.  It only lasted about twenty minutes.  But someone said something that frustrated his sense of order, and he lost control.  Completely.  And throughout that twenty minutes, he hit me.  Several times.  In the face.

And I guess I was hit one more time than I could handle today, because I said something I immediately regretted.   Don’t worry….I didn’t curse or swear at him, call him a name or say anything ugly.  Nothing like that.  But I went beyond my personal boundary for expressed frustration.

And I was instantly angry with myself.  Very angry.

And then I was angry that I was angry at myself.  I mean, after all, everyone around me seems entitled to moments of frustration and weakness occasionally; but somehow when I have a weak moment, it’s a huge deal to everybody…myself included.

The morning didn’t get much better from there.  As I stood making my second pot of coffee, trying to conceal my tears and not caring in the least how dehydrated I already was and that I really should have been drinking water, not coffee, I thought, I wish this day had ended before it began. 

But, just as quickly, I realized I didn’t.

Because, if I had missed this day, I would have missed the amazing moment when he came back to me, smiled, and made a little joke.

I would have missed the bright green fields behind my house.  And making a birdfeeder.  And planting seeds.  And cooking dinner.  And loving.  And being loved.

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And the writing on the wall.

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I would have missed Baby V waking up from her nap and grinning up at me with outstretched arms…still holding her teddy bear, of course.  I would have missed drawing numbers in salt.  I would have missed giggles over spilled water.  I would have missed the sound of Little Guy singing…yes, singing!….to himself in the shower.

And that would have been sad.

Because, really….I don’t want to miss a thing. 

Not one.

Published in: on March 14, 2013 at 11:13 pm  Comments (4)  

Updates + a fresh start

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since Christmas.

There are reasons (which I will go into in a moment), but first, here is what I am going to do.  I want to get back on track with my weeks-in-review, partly because I love sharing what we are doing; partly because I like having the visual record of our work; and partly because the encouragement I receive from all of you is a huge help to me. Part of the reason I haven’t blogged in so long is that, with each week full of schooling and activities that went by, I became more and more bogged down by the idea of having to catch up on all those posts.

So I’m not going to try to catch up.  We have been steadily working, the same as always, for the past two months; and that is a lot of weeks.  So I am just going to share a few pictures of a few of the things we have been doing.  And then I am going to move on.

In January and February, we….

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played and learned new skills….

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drew lots of pictures and learned to write many new letters…

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spent time with our dogs…both of whom are getting a bit old and tired….

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learned (with great joy and delight!!) to pedal a tricycle….

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visited family in Georgia and spent time with our great-grandmother…

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had fun with friends…

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read lots of books….

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did lots of fine motor work….

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played naked…

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celebrated a sixth birthday…

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did more fine motor work…

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baked a lot….

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and made a sensory bin.

(We also all had the flu, weathered another sickness or two, endured one of the roughest sensory months we’ve had in a while, and found out that Hubby is going to Korea for a year, beginning in May.  Which means we will be on our own here for a year.  Those are some of the reasons I have not been blogging.) 

And now….this post done….I have relieved myself of my non-posting guilt, and can happily resume my weekly posts.

Love to you all.  🙂

Published in: on March 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm  Comments (4)  

Christmas

Well, here we are three days after Christmas.  It’s been an interesting Christmas season for us.  It started out beautifully (as you can read here ), but ended a little more drearily with sadness at the death of a family member, and sickness that passed through the whole family.

Plus, we were missing all the family and friends we didn’t get to see this year.

So we had to work a little harder than usual to salvage Christmas.  But after all was said and done, Hubby and I agreed that in some ways, it was our best Christmas ever.  We had quiet, unity, peace, and love.  Our focus was redirected to the things that really mattered.

We shared gifts together and lit all of our Advent candles over a lovely, slow brunch.  We watched The Polar Express and made art.  We drank wine as I prepared my first goose.  We watched Baby V take in the wonder of  her first Christmas.  We watched Little Guy dance in excitement over his gifts, and promptly go into sensory overload.  We ate carrot cake and veggie chips with dip.  After the kids went to bed, Hubby and I curled up on the couch with a movie and another glass of wine.  And the next morning, we woke up to snow.

So you know?  It was actually pretty okay after all.

Merry Christmas a few days late from me…

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and Little Guy…

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and Baby V…

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and Hubby.

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Little Guy’s favorite gift was his new sixteen-color set of beeswax block crayons.

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He also has been loving all of his new Arnold Lobel books.

Baby V’s big present  was a ride-on toy, but she’s not too sure about it yet.  Her current favorite gift is a set of instruments from her grandparents.

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How was your Christmas?

Published in: on December 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Our Christmas season so far + links

We are having a wonderful Christmas season so far….possibly our best ever.  I don’t really know why.

I mean, I can think of some things…Little Guy is more aware of Christmas this year than ever before.  It is our first Christmas with Baby V.  We are more plugged into our current community than we have been at our last few postings.

But there is also that certain something…an indefinable blend of hope, peace, gratitude, and longing that gives me a heightened awareness of the importance of every single moment I spend with my husband and children this holiday season.  It reminds me to value everything I have…and also to recognize its potential for transience.

And it reminds me of the one thing I desire most this year.

Peace.

I know it sounds trite.  I know that’s what everybody says at Christmas.  But this year, I find myself aching for peace.  I want peace for my siblings and parents.  I want peace for my son.  I want peace for my husband.  I want peace for myself.  I want peace for the recently bereaved.  I want peace in the Middle East, and for those I know and care about who are there.  I want peace in my church.  I want peace for hurting friends.

It is not all possible, I know.  But doesn’t the desire count for something?

I think it does.  Peace begins in the conscious need for peace.

Anyway.

We have had a lovely Christmas season so far.  We visited the light show on the river with some good friends here from playgroup.  We went to our community Polar Express celebration with another good friend.  We visited two live Nativities this past weekend.  We have been making Christmas ornaments, some at home, and some at our holiday library storytimes.  We have been watching Christmas movies…old favorites and new favorites.  We have been reading Christmas books…some we have loved for years, and some we have just discovered.  We have been eating GAPS-friendly treats….oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies, walnut crunch.

We have played with our Nativity set, sat in the dark with the Christmas tree lights, and listened to Christmas music.

Baby V has discovered snowglobes and shiny ornaments.

It has been a good few weeks.

I hope your December has been as lovely as ours.

And before I sign off for today, I’d like to leave you with a few links I’ve been enjoying recently.  Merry Christmas!

  • This is a lovely conglomeration of one family’s Advent ideas, by one of my favorite blogger friends.
  • A St. Lucia post from Bending Birches.
  • A collection of real food Christmas treats from Modern Alternative Kitchen. 
  • Something I think I may make for Christmas breakfast.
  • A photo site I check every day just to make me happy.
  • A very helpful sensory processing blog I just discovered this week.
  • Some chocolates I want to make when I have time.
  • An article that explains my apparently contradictory belief about something.
  • And a book art portfolio that I look up when I need a reminder that black and white isn’t always black and white.
Published in: on December 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm  Comments (1)  

A Michaelmas thought

I meant to post our week-in-review tonight, but I’m too tired.  So I’m going to do it tomorrow night.  It’s been another good week; we have a lot to share.

But again, I’m pretty tired.  And I have a lot on my mind, so I’m going to share a bit of that.

Today has been a thoughtful day.  It is traditionally the feast St. Michael, or Michaelmas. It is a day which brings thoughts of good triumphing over evil, dragons being overcome, darkness and light striving together.  It brings to mind conquering heroes brandishing swords, headless beasts on the turf, pain and turmoil and glorious overcoming, realms restored to their rightful order.

Only, for me, maybe not so much.  Oddly enough, today is a day that has made me think of being gentle with myself, and with others.  It has made me think of how I can bring more peace into my own and others’ lives.  I suppose that is because, in the course of trying to find a St. George and the Dragon story to read to Little Guy, I realized I really didn’t like the violent stories…and not only because we try very hard to keep violent stories, play, and visuals out of our household.  (We do.)  I realized that, to me, the violent versions are too simple.

Sometimes our darkness is not easily recognized as darkness.  Sometimes, it is invisible.  And sometimes, fighting it only makes it stronger…because in fighting, we internalize the opposition.

In my quest for a St. George story, I found one in which St. George doesn’t kill the dragon; he tames it, and treats it gently and with kindness.  The dragon is not obliterated; it lives on, in a changed and gentler state.  And George is still the hero who restores peace to all the land.

Recently, I had someone whose opinion I value tell me I was being too hard on myself.  I was then told the same thing by someone else.  And then this week, twice I felt the flutterings that signal the beginning of a panic attack…something I haven’t had to deal with for a few years now.  Oddly enough, it happened at a time in which I thought I was doing really well, and was at peace.  But suddenly, dragons that I thought I had conquered started raising their ugly heads.   And negative thoughts poured into my head.  Anger at someone who had hurt a dear friend. Pain from a memory associated with that anger.  Fear when my child had a hard time coping with a situation.  And simple exhaustion from the extent of my responsibilities at this point in my life.

I didn’t have the panic attack (fortunately.  That is the last thing I need right now.)  But I am learning something.  I am learning that, with myself, my family, my friends, and everyone around me…the best way to deal with dragons is gently. 

Dragons have to be coaxed from their lairs, sometimes gently, sometimes firmly.  Believe it or not, they can be hard workers and even achieve some very un-dragon-like feats of goodness.  Dragons can sleep, and awake as peaceful monsters.

But none of that can happen if I constantly attack them with swords. 

In my quest for intentionality, I find myself striving more and more to find peace and centered-ness,  and have them about me to give if needed.  I’m not so good at it yet, but I’m trying, and seeing little results.  My mind is a little quieter.  The house runs a little smoother.  Hubby and son are calmer when they see me at calm.

I’ve never celebrated Michaelmas, and didn’t end up reading Little Guy the St. George story (at least, not yet.)  But this is what I gleaned from today.  Looking at my life…everything I consider bad is mixed with something good, or has brought about something good.  Every single thing.  And the more I battle the things that bring me fear, the more agonized I become.

While, on the other hand, the more I focus on peace, rhythm, love, and calm, the tamer my dragons become…by default. 

So I think I will try to do a little less fighting and a little more gentle taming.

Good night.

Published in: on September 30, 2012 at 3:45 am  Comments (2)  

Six months old

Baby V was six months old on Monday.  She is growing so fast.

She is the brightest, happiest baby I have ever seen….and I am not just saying that because I am her mommy.  She is getting a reputation for always smiling.  People at church come up to me all the time and comment on how happy she is.

She loves books.  She loves to nurse.

She loves our dogs.  (She loves to nurse.)

She loves going outside.  She loves her daddy.  She loves her brother.  She loves her babysitter.  She loves our priest.   (She loves to nurse.)

She loves playing with gourds at the kitchen table.  She tries to feed herself with a spoon, if allowed.  She cries for food she is not allowed to have.

She rolls to go places.  It is hilarious to watch.  She takes a toy with her and rolls until she can’t roll any further.  Tonight, she got stuck under the piano.

She wakes up smiling.  She goes to bed smiling.  She tries to hug her brother when he comes close enough.  She hides her head in my shoulder when she feels shy, and peeks out sideways.

And did I mention she really, really, really loves to nurse???

Happy six month birthday, little girl.

Here are a few pictures from the past week.  We’re usually not into the super girly-girl stuff, but this dress was just too cute not to include in six-month pictures!

Published in: on September 20, 2012 at 1:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Books, books, books!

I know I am not the only person around here who is on pins and needles every time an Amazon order finally shows up as “shipped.”  I know….I’m like a little kid.  But every book order that arrives on my front porch is like another Christmas to me.

Which is why I’m really excited right now.  I just placed a book order for books for myself using a gift card I received as an anniversary gift…and am looking forward to reading some wonderful food writing and a couple of good novels in a few days.

AND, this package showed up last week!

I can’t help it…I’m REALLY psyched.  Educational books rank pretty closely after literary novels and food writing on my Personal Book Excitement Scale.
Here’s what I’ve got to read over the next few weeks:

You are Your Child’s First Teacher–A Waldorf-inspired book on parenting and early childhood development, focusing on ages birth to six.  It has excellent reviews and is widely recommended in Waldorf circles.

Early Intervention Games–A fantastic book from “The Game Lady,” Barbara Sher, full of great social/fine motor games for my SPD kiddo.  I’m looking forward to some new ideas for working with him.

Earthways–Environmentally-friendly craft book.  You can’t have too many of those!  I am so excited about teaching both my kids about their responsibility in caring for their earth-home.  And since I’m a bit craft-challenged, I can always new ideas.

Make Way for Reading–A BRAND NEW reading list for K-8, complete with recommendations for Waldorf education blocks!  This just came out a couple of months ago, and I’ve been eagerly waiting to get it.

Planting Seeds–Another pretty new book, by renowned Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, on simple and pertinent ways to teach and practice mindfulness with children.  I’m already gleaning great ideas.

Festivals, Family, and Food–A beautiful book of crafts, recipes, poems, and stories related to the seasons and major festivals.  Tons of gorgeous and even easy ideas for non-crafty people like me!  Also inspiring just to sit and read through.  🙂

The Children’s Year–Another Waldorf-inspired book of natural crafts and projects to do with and for children throughout the year.

The Nature Corner–An older book.  It’s a how-to on creating seasonal tableaux.  Beautiful photos and ideas!

Anyway, I have to go get dinner on the table…just had to share!  What is everyone else reading?

Published in: on September 4, 2012 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Nurturing

Nurture–this is a word I’ve been thinking about a lot recently.  I guess that isn’t surprising, with a new baby in the house.  I spent half my time cuddling, breastfeeding, cleaning, bathing, dressing, and talking to Baby V.  I protect her from harsh chemicals, loud sounds, harmful foods.  I provide her with stimulation and soothing when each is appropriate.  She is easy to nurture.  It comes naturally.

Little Guy is not always so easy to nurture naturally.  But it’s something that’s been weighing on my mind a lot recently.  Do I spend too much time worrying? structuring? providing feedback? pushing developmental achievements? nit-picking speech issues?  planning every minute? trying to stop this behavior or promote this one?

Am I really nurturing him the best I can?

For the last several mornings, Little Guy has been climbing into my bed at six a.m. or so, and staying for about thirty minutes.  He wraps himself around me, cuddles, tucks his legs underneath me, giggles.  He just wants that closeness.  I have noticed him wanting one of us to stay longer at night when we tuck him in, just to cuddle and listen to his audiobook with him.  Sometimes in the afternoon, he wants to curl up on the couch with a movie and be held.  He asks to be read to even more than usual…and we read to him a lot.  

This is very different from six months ago.  Then, he hardly ever wanted to be held or touched, even when I wanted to hold him.  Now, he does.  And since he is expressing that need, I need to find ways to preempt it…to provide warmth and closeness before he asks for it.

Now, don’t get me wrong…he thrives on structure and schedule.  They provide him with a sense of security and safety.  But within that rhythm that I work so hard to give him…I need to keep my priorities straight.  We are loving our first few weeks of “real” homeschooling; he is thriving on the activities, the learning, the therapy games. But I’ve noticed that the days on which he has more touch, more physical closeness and attention, he does much better on his studies.  He is calmer, more focused, more attentive.

Some days, a little extra warmth does more than all the structure and teaching and therapy in the world.

Have you been thinking about nurturing recently? How are you making sure to keep it a priority in the midst of school and all the other fall activities starting?

Published in: on August 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm  Comments (2)  

Embarking

Wow, it has been a long time.

I keep meaning to write a post, as this or that important life event comes along and demands to be recorded or shared…but then something else always comes along and prevents the writing.

Like a new baby, a new diet, an education decision, a new editing project, a christening, a family visit.  Life has been busy.

But I fully intend to keep up now, for a few reasons.  Firstly, we are embarking on a new diet that is very important to our family…the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet.   For some time now, we have been on a gluten-free, mostly whole foods, mostly organic and local diet.  (I address this at length in another post.)  But this past week, we have taken the plunge even further into GAPS.  What does this mean for us?  It means not only no gluten, but no grains at all; no sugar; no potatoes, sweet potatoes, artificial sweeteners, soy, hydrogenated oils, and the list goes on and on.  It has been an overwhelming step, and one long and carefully considered and studied; but the results of the diet when used with children with issues similar to Little Guy’s (SPD and multiple developmental delays, digestive issues, food sensitivities) are so overwhelmingly positive that it seemed wrong NOT to give it a try.  Plus, Hubby could use some weight loss for work, and I could use some help losing my baby weight from Baby #2, and with the hormonal imbalances I’ve been noticing since then.  So we can all benefit.  This past week marked our official start.  Tuesday, I cleansed the house of all GAPS-prohibited items.  All flours (including all remainders of my expensive gluten-free flours!) went in the trash.  Anything with sugar, ditto.  We had spent the week before using up all prohibited vegetables, rice, and a few other pantry items, so really the cleanse was not as difficult as it could have been.  And Wednesday was our first day on the diet.  So far, it has been going well; everyone seems to have found at least a few things that really work for them, and while I have been cooking/culturing/baking pretty much round the clock, it has been an overall positive experience.

So my plan (assuming I can manage my time well) is to record our GAPS journey here, complete with (hopefully) weekly menu plans.  I always enjoy reading the menu plans that others post, for inspiration and ideas; and hope to provide the same.

Oh yes…Baby #2.  I suppose that in my catch-up/new beginnings post, she really does deserve at least a paragraph to herself.  🙂  Baby V was born March 17th, after a hard, fast, completely natural labor.  (And by fast, I mean FAST….my contractions started at eight p.m., and she was born at 11:55!) She is now four and a half months old, and is just the happiest, calmest baby I have ever met.  She loves everybody, especially her big brother; she adores hearing her daddy sing; she gives me the most beautiful smiles in the morning when she wakes up….and she really, really, really loves to nurse. I can’t go anywhere without getting comments on what a plump little girl she is.  She is truly the light of our lives, and we can already hardly imagine our household without her.  (Plus, I am getting more reading done while nursing her than I’ve been able to in a long time.  Nothing liked hours of forced immobility to help with much-needed reading time!)

Which brings me to Goal #2 for this blog: to keep all my dear family and friends updated on Baby V’s development and accomplishments.

And Goal #3 has to do with our next important life change.  This coming Monday will mark our official first day of homeschool kindergarten.  This has been a long and labored decision…well, series of decisions, actually.  With the various things Little Guy has going on, we have known for quite a while that public school was not going to be the best fit for him; and when we moved to this area and learned about the local school systems and their less-than-ideal accommodation for children with learning differences, there was absolutely no doubt in our minds: we were going to homeschool.  That decision made, I had to move on to choosing a type of curriculum that would work best for him, both bringing out his abilities in a nurturing manner, and helping him with his delays.  After much careful consideration, I decided on a primarily Waldorf-based approach, with some Charlotte Mason philosophy mixed in.  Going from there, and moving slowly with lots of study, phone calls, and careful comparison, I ended up choosing Oak Meadow’s kindergarten curriculum.  It is a holistic, Waldorf-inspired, child-centric, delayed academics, activity-based approach…which I think will be PERFECT for Little Guy.  It will help him with his delayed motor skills, and play on his storytelling, story-loving strengths.  I have been working through the (very inspiring!) teacher materials, and am all ready to start with him this Monday morning.  We will be supplementing the curriculum with Charlotte Mason based reading, narration, and nature study; the Explode the Code phonics series (Oak Meadow doesn’t start reading in kindergarten, but Little Guy is ready to move in that direction); and Straight Talk II, a home-based speech t herapy program.  We are so very excited!  I am planning to give weekly updates on our homeschooling activities and progress.

I had intended to write more, but again, life intervenes.  Hubby and Little Guy are home from their trip to the local Circus Museum; Baby V is up from her nap and happily squealing on my bed; and I need to start on dinner.   Till next time…

 

 

 

Published in: on August 4, 2012 at 9:27 pm  Leave a Comment