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Meet Emily
36. Floridian. Teacher. Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mommy of Four. Catholic. Gator. Reader. Writer. Photographer. Musician. Dreamer. Blogger.

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Giving Up Shopping for Lent | Final Update

Happy Easter (a little late)! Lent is over! I saw this through to the end but then forgot to update. When I was asked by the 5th person how things went I figured it was probably best to write a final post.

So did I make it? The strictest answer is no but I still think I did a pretty darn good job of it. I did buy a few things. I kept to things that were either a) absolutely necessary (medicine for when I came down with the flu, shoes for a certain son of mine who grew a size during Lent.) b) a deal on something I needed in the future that was too good to pass up (school uniforms) and c) a few basic food essentials- namely bread and eggs. And I was doing so so well but then I went a bit astray. You see I saw bunny ears for cars, you know like the reindeer antlers you see around Christmas? Well I made a stupid whim purchase– $9.99 on Amazon and a day and a half later I was the proud owner of a very dignified and grown up adult like costume for my already mom-i-fied minivan. Yup, that’s where I fell off the wagon. It happened with only a week to go too.

All things considered, I think this was appropriately challenging and an effective sacrifice for the spirit of Lent. It was hard and it led to a lot of self-reflection. It made me realize how often I browse and it was freeing not to be tempted by wanting stuff. It was also time saving to skip the grocery routine. I’m happy to say that while we ran out of many things we did not run out of food. In fact I was a little disappointed that we didn’t clear out more so I bagged up a bunch of things and donated them instead. I saw the bottom of the deep freezer for the first time in many months and we ate a lot of things that would have otherwise continued sitting on the shelf of the pantry indefinitely.

What things did I miss most?

I missed sweets. There were no cookies or fun snack foods for the last month or so (with a couple exceptions of other people bringing us stuff because they are super nice like that.) That’s a very decent diet plan actually. If it’s not there you can’t eat it and feel guilty about it. We ran out of chips, crackers, goldfish, and pretzels too.

What things did we truly need to replenish?

Running out of bread was a no go. I didn’t realize how often my dear oldest son eats a PB&J before bed. Since overall, he doesn’t eat enough I didn’t want to discourage that. Plus, when you run out of other lunch type foods, sandwiches are really the only option. So we got fresh bread a few times. We also ran out of eggs which we eat a lot. Could we have done without? Yes, but it may have prevented the kids from eating as much as they should. We ended up fine on milk. I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded more bananas and apples but they also ate ALL of the fresh ones I bought after this whole thing was over and none went to waste so maybe that was a good lesson? Time will tell.

Did the kids get annoyed about not having things?

Not really, no. I had given them a lot of warning about this so when things ran out they ran out. There was some fighting over the lasts of things but they were fine. Actually it really limited the asking for things because they knew I wasn’t setting foot in a store or ordering anything.

Finally, where was the first place I shopped?

We went to Lowes on Good Friday to purchase some basic home repair items and then we went to Target and loaded up on fresh fruits, vegetables, yogurt, cheese, eggs, bread, meat, and other things like cat litter. I definitely didn’t go crazy or anything. I find that while I still love shopping, I didn’t miss the list making and meal planning at all.

Overall, I hope to do this again next year and this time not slip up but try to make it the whole time without any unnecessary spending at all!

Thanks for following J

Giving Up Shopping for Lent | Update 4

Well it’s been over a month since I started this endeavor. I confess I did fall of the wagon so to speak, just a little bit, last week. As my husband joked, yeah, you really went to town there! I got a fantastic coupon for school uniforms which have to be purchased regardless so it seemed foolish to waste that. So those have been ordered. I also purchased a baby shower gift for a dear friend and I bought a lighting transformer because my dad is helping us install landscape lighting and that was the only thing keeping us from moving forward. I took my mom to the mall this weekend but bought nothing myself. On the same trip I took the kids to Toys R Us to use up their gift cards because there is varying information on whether or not the stores are closing and it also seemed foolish to take chances on losing the money so off we went. So, frivolous? No, but shopping nonetheless. I have still not stepped foot in a Target store in over a month and I find myself really looking forward to going to one again. I think over this last month I have realized that truly not shopping at all is next to impossible because things just pop up that you can’t predict however, I do like the look of my bank account at the moment which has had so few transactions that I have to open it to the 30 day view to see anything. That’s pretty cool!

Today I did a planned shopping trip for bread, milk, and coffee creamer. I knew we’d need to do that eventually. The sort of frustrating thing is that we have yet to come close to using up all the food in our pantry or deep freezer. I really wanted to clear those things out. I think one way or the other I’m going to make sure we finish that stuff even if Lent is over.

Until next time!!

Giving Up Shopping For Lent | Update 3

This is hard y’all. I have always loved shopping and even when I don’t really have the money to shop I have still enjoyed browsing. I love walking through stores and getting ideas for future projects. Good, bad, or indifferent, I get a small thrill from buying something fun and new no matter how small (Target dollar section is my favorite!) And more than anything, I LOVE a good deal! So this past weekend we had a swim meet in Sarasota and I was driving through St. Armands Circle just itching for a stop into the amazing stores they have down there. But no. I didn’t. I also came across a fab deal on Amazon but no, I didn’t buy that either. Be proud! Haha!

I did find however, that any time you take a road trip, even a small one, purchases are fairly inevitable. Because hotels were $200 a night, we opted to drive back and forth from home each day but that allowed me to justify Starbucks because, yawn, I gave my entire weekend to my son’s swimming. I also said on a whim that I’d buy him the state championship t-shirt if he surpassed his goal time which he did by a lot- in fact he set a personal record in 5 of 6 races. So does that count as shopping? Perhaps not exactly but I can’t possibly justify it as a necessary purchase. We also stopped for ice cream because, well, he asked if we could and sometimes I just want to be the mom that says yes. So I did. And we had an incredible weekend. I don’t feel badly about the few spending choices but then again I do because this is supposed to be hard and not something where you give in just because. In the moment, I weighed keeping with this goal vs making happy memories with my kiddo. I went for the happy memories.

As far as food goes, we still have a deep freezer full of food- breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our refrigerator is pretty low on everything. Our main freezer is also running low but definitely has a week or two more of food in it. Our pantry looks full but there are a lot of things that don’t really go with anything else unless you’re on one of those chef shows where you get random ingredients and make a gourmet meal. Since I’m not that talented in the kitchen I’m not sure what to do with the random stuff except to use it as a side with something else. A person who shall remain nameless went and bought us bread and eggs which we were out of. I didn’t ask nor did I do the shopping. But I guess that’s kinda cheating. So far the kids haven’t really noticed that we have run out of some things. They tend to be more “see it, eat it,” type kids and don’t seem to care what we have or don’t have. I have no doubt we’ll be able to get through at least another week or two, probably more, with what we have. Until next time…

Giving Up Shopping for Lent | Update 2

Well accountability in this form sure is a powerful motivator!

This week continued to go well as far as shopping goes but I did have to make an exception. I went ahead and bought more carpet cleaning solution for our machine. Most everyone in our house suffers from allergies and I felt that it was more important to get the carpets cleaned now than wait it out for another month just for the sake of avoiding a purchase. So Amazon came to the rescue (which was actually helpful since I didn’t have to enter a store) and our carpets are freshly shampooed and definitely cleaner. I’ll chalk it up as a medical necessity.

Along the same lines, I will be making a stop tomorrow to get more allergy medicine since I ran out and being a functional adult is definitely a necessity as well.

We are still nowhere close to running out of food. The kids have wasted some things that infuriated me and it hasn’t hit them yet that those crackers they spilled all over the floor are a snack they won’t be having later. I want this to be an effective motivator against waste but so far it hasn’t made a difference. On the other hand, I love seeing the pantry clear out a little and we definitely ate some things that would have otherwise continued sitting on the shelf until they expired.

This was weekend number two of no grocery list making, no shopping, no food unloading and having that time back in my weekend is spoiling me.

So there you have it, total purchases so far = 1 for carpet cleaner. Browsing is way down as well. I use it as a time filler and it’s as much a waste of time as spilling a sleeve of crackers is a waste of food. This week I expect to need to purchase the allergy medicine and the salt for the water softener. So far so good.

Giving Up Shopping for Lent | Update 1

Well today is Sunday so it’s my normal grocery day. I didn’t make a list, I didn’t load the kids into the car, I didn’t spend an hour+ at Target getting groceries. I didn’t spend time unloading and putting them all away (or yelling at the kids to do it).

And it was GLORIOUS!!!

Do you realize how much time I gained by not doing all that? Oh my goodness!! I also didn’t make a plan for the week of meals and I’m a little nervous about that but I know we have so much stuff in the deep freezer that I can’t get near the bottom so there’s food to eat in there, plenty of it.

I keep getting questions about milk and fresh foods but my answers remain the same. I haven’t worried about that yet at all. I did realize that we will run out of salt for our water softener and I’ll need to buy more in about 2 weeks. I also need to clean the carpets and I don’t think there’s enough solution to do the job so I might have to get some of that too (or just wait to clean the carpets). So far it’s stuff more than food that I’m thinking about needing to buy. It’s really making me focus on what we really need vs just what I think we need. The kicker there is, I already thought I was pretty good at that. I know how to budget and pinch pennies. I was already not spending a ton but now it’s even less. I’m proud of that!

I am also trying REALLY hard not to be swayed by advertisements. I have given up Facebook for Lent twice now and I’m not this year but I really get sucked into the Facebook ads that are marketed directly to me. They know my weaknesses, damn them! So forcing myself to ignore that stuff has been tough. I never even buy the stuff but I always browse. Maybe that’s why I’m writing now, all my free time!

So that’s your update for now, more next week!

Giving Up Shopping for Lent

I haven’t really used this platform regularly in a while but then on February 13th I announced that I was giving up shopping for Lent. My post read:

For the sake of accountability… This year I’m giving up shopping for Lent- that’s ALL shopping including groceries. I took one last shopping trip to Target today to get stuff for Easter Baskets and one last click in my Amazon Shopping cart and we’ll see how far this takes us. I’m not sure we have 6 weeks worth of food in the pantry but I know no one is going to starve. This might be the hardest thing I’ve ever given up for Lent. Wish me luck!

Not just to be clear this isn’t something I took lightly. I’ve given this a lot of thought and I also got buy in from my family because realistically it can’t be done if they’re not on board but they are and so we began this little test of endurance and sacrifice Wednesday and it will continue until Easter, April 1.

Oh the questions! I didn’t really except more than a few “good luck” comments but I got several questions publicly posted as well as privately from people who had read my post and wanted to know more. I offered this follow up to my original post:

We have exceptions. 1) any medical necessity is a given 2) any school necessity including things I may need for my class. But necessity is key. Sorry book fair (unless the kids bring their own money) 3) if we really truly run out of food of course I’ll get more. But we have a ridiculous amount right now and I’m tired of the kids wasting food. They need to become more conscientious of the waste. Plus, the apocalypse ready level of food we have currently is making it hard to know what we have and stuff is going bad. We need to become more aware of what we have and this seems like a good way to do it. No one will starve. We can get creative. If I need to get some staples part way through then so be it.

This really boils it all down. The point of giving up something for Lent is to actually give something up and for me that’s a lot of things- it’s the thrill of shopping (I love you, Target!) as well as the time filler of browsing for things online, things that I will want and then know I can’t/won’t buy for whatever reason usually because I simply don’t need it. But for the kids it’s understanding waste and realizing when they run out of something it’s gone until April. I want them to understand the first time they go to the pantry and don’t find what they want, that I’m not going to get more of it in a few days, that they will have to wait.

I got questions about milk, bread, and fresh fruits/vegetables. My answers:

Milk: We drink almond milk which has a longer shelf life than dairy milk. I purchased enough to last 6 weeks IF it is not wasted. If we run out I have some shelf stable almond milk to supplement but no one really likes milk that much anyway so it won’t be missed.

Bread: I’ll admit this is one of my biggest worries because one of my dear children would survive solely on PB&J and it’s our go-to quick snack. But when the bread runs out he will still be able to eat peanut butter on crackers, pretzels, or dried apples.

Which brings me to fresh fruits and veggies: Well considering I have 6 rotting bananas on my counter right now and recently found 3 very shriveled up apples in the refrigerator, I don’t think my kids are appreciating the fresh fruit and vegetables too much as it is and it’s being throw out. We have lots of frozen vegetables and I mean LOTS. I’m not worried about this. It’s called a sacrifice for a reason. Their meals will still be nutritious even if the green on their plate was frozen first. Oh, and since all 4 of them eat at least one meal or snack at school, all of which include fresh fruits and veggies, they will still be getting it daily.

So that’s the run down for now. I figured this is as good a place as any to post updates on our progress. In 3 days I have spent zero $$. I did browse online but stopped myself from buying what would have been an awesome deal. I was proud of myself. I can tell this is going to be VERY hard.

2018

Here it is 2018 and the last time I posted it was the last day of 2014. So much has changed since that last post that I feel like an imposter here, looking in at someone else’s life. For one thing, we doubled the number of children we had to four. But the world has changed. It is no longer prudent to put yourself out there the way I used to. It opens you to unwanted criticism, hateful judgment from perfect strangers, and general wrath from people who look through the window of your life as though they have some right to peek inside- and I suppose when you are sharing your story for the world to see, they kind of do. In any case, I used to enjoy writing and sharing my life here. I like to think that I was a blogger before blogging was a thing tons of people did. I built this from the ground up, teaching myself along the way. And for now I’m moving on. I will keep my life more private for my children, and for myself. If you’ve stopped by here and we know each other or even if we don’t, say hi. I can’t promise new posts any time soon but it felt like an update was needed. Until next time…

Twenty Fourteen

I love the Time Hop app. If you don’t have it, you should get it. It’s like a little trip down memory lane every day. Today when I checked mine, I was reminded that now’s the time to make my annual end of the year post to my blog which, I was also reminded, was born 10 years ago this month. That’s really a long time when you think about it especially because back in 2004, blogging wasn’t a *thing* yet. WordPress wasn’t nearly as user-friendly as it is now either and I taught myself from the ground up while sitting in A’s tiny (gross) New Jersey apartment. At that point in time we were married but I lived and worked in Florida and he was still stationed in NJ. I spent the week after Christmas with him that year and while he worked, I learned the art of HTML. Ah those were the days.

In any case it’s time for reflection.

There, done.

I guess this isn’t really a year I want to rehash. Some great things happened this year. Some truly awful things happened and that’s just personally. Every time I watched the news it seemed like another tragedy, another disaster. So dismal. I hope 2015 has better news in store for us. I hope humanity will have a collective change of heart to try to do better and be better and put positive influence over the things we can control so we can more easily come together when we are struck by the things we cannot. But I can’t control humanity (nor would I want that task) so I can only change myself. Resolutions/goals to follow.

But first, let’s look at last year’s goals:

  1. Read 40 books– same as 2013
  2. Run a 5K– running the entire time, no stopping and dying on the side of the road or anything
  3. Going along with number 2, get my body back in shape by eating better and more natural foods. We will be replanting our vegetable garden in the spring and that will help but we are also going to switch to organic meats and continue to cut back on processed foods (which we are already doing pretty well with).
  4. Finish the darn baby blanket I started making 6 months ago!
  5. Take on and complete a new photo project.

And on a scale of 1-10, 10 being 100% completion of everything, I’d give myself a 7.5. Not too shabby.

Books: I read 36 (after finishing the one I’m reading– plan to finish it today). I’m so frustrated by this. I had 40 well within my grasp but I got stuck in a rut. After finishing book #35, I literally started 8 different books and could not get into any of them. That was 5 weeks ago. I would have broken past 40 but alas, I’m still short. You can see my completed list here https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/3296989 (I am not sure, you may need to follow me to be able to see the list). Several of the books were re-reads in preparation for the final book in the series but I still counted them. I don’t want to go through all of them right here but I do want to discuss a few that really stuck with me.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. My friend kept telling me how great this book was and she was absolutely right! This book captivating and totally different in concept than anything I’ve ever read before. I highly recommend it.

The Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer. This is a YA series that scared the crap out of me. I still think about it sometimes. The premise is that an asteroid hits the moon and knocks it closer to earth and the change in the gravitational pull sets off a chain of apocalyptic events that basically destroys the earth and reduces the world population by billions. But instead of the story taking place long after the apocalypse like some stories, it’s page by page the story of this one family’s survival as they slowly starve to death. It’s brutal and sad but also a page turner and a story of how family is what holds you together. It’s also a little eye opening and it made me evaluate how quickly we’d die in this sort of event (quickly) and if I’d even want to survive (no). I recommend the series except the 4th book which was awful. Just read the first 3 and pretend it ends there. I promise the 4th book doesn’t add anything.

Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi. I re-read the first two before Into the Still Blue came out in January. This series had such a great and satisfying ending unlike the Divergent series which I know really angered a lot of people. This series is also YA dystopian/post apocalyptic.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Ah yes, see I do read books intended for adults 🙂 I discovered a great author and also read her book Three Wishes. Both were wonderfully written, crisp, and true to life. Both dealt with some heavy subject matter but were a nice change from the apocalypse.

The book I’m about to finish is called What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. It was a Christmas gift and it’s awesome and also very nerdy (which I love!) Want to know what would happen if you drained the world’s oceans or threw a baseball at 90% the speed of light? These questions, among others, are answered.

Moving on… #2 Run a 5K *check* Completed this back in March. I didn’t die.

#3 We did REALLY well on this. I know this probably sounds nuts to many people but we had never been meal planners. For years we have done the haphazard “What should we have for dinner?” thing at 4pm which ended up with us getting take out or eating cereal. Awful. I can’t believe we did that for so long. I plan our meals now using Plan to Eat and I’ve also started really cooking, not just heating something frozen. We eat so much healthier now and no longer eat out 4-5 times a week. This has been life changing for us.

#4 I finished the baby blanket. It came out beautifully! I followed this tutorial http://moderngracedesign.blogspot.ca/2012/09/baby-blanket-free-pattern.html and it looks pretty much exactly as pictured.

#5 I started but didn’t finish. I’m over the photo projects. I like to take pictures, no I love to take pictures. I had a blast photographing the beauty of Ireland. I also truly love taking pictures of my kids in their everyday life but making time each week to sit down and post something felt like an unnecessary stress. From now on I’ll just post pictures as I feel like it. No need to make something that’s fun into a chore. On a side note, I did finally photograph lightning which was absolutely incredible and a huge goal of mine so let’s count that.

 

Phew this is getting long.

So what should I do in 2015. Here’s my list

1. Read 40 books. Yes I mean it. I WILL accomplish this goal!

2. Increase my step count. I got a Fitbit back in January and I average on a good week, around 45,000 steps but I can do better. I don’t want to put forth a specific number except to shoot for more than that.

3. Stop reading the comments on internet articles. I know that probably sounds silly but I have to stop this. I get irrationally angry by the comment section. I’m losing my faith in humanity and I shouldn’t allow people like that to get to me. So no more reading the comments sections.

4. Make more things. I know this is kind of vague (ok very vague) but I like creating and I seeing a project through from start to finish. I’m not sure what I will make but I’m going to leave it open to whatever inspires me.

5. Be less connected and by that I mean, put my phone away. I’m not going to do cold turkey thing. I don’t think that’s necessary but I also know that I don’t need to have it in my pocket all hours of the day. I’m going to start putting it away for a couple hours a day. If you try to reach me and you can’t now you’ll know why.

6. I don’t usually do 6 but I’m going to set a goal for myself to become an educational consultant with Usborne and grow my personal business. I’ve had several moms buy books from me and then come back to tell me how much their children love them and how it has changed how their kids feel about reading. Music to my ears! Being an educational consultant would allow me to sell to schools and I think that would be a great personal experience in addition to being a good business goal.

Now that you’ve gotten through my list, what are your goals for 2015?

An Unreachable Goal of Perfection

I love to sit in the evening and scroll through Facebook looking for interesting articles or silly quizzes and things of that sort. The other day I came across a Buzzfeed list called “19 Secrets Teachers Won’t Tell You“. I read through it. Agreed with some of the things, got a little chuckle and moved on. I didn’t even bother to repost it. For whatever reason however, I decided to look at the comments. I should never look at the comments because in virtually all cases, comments on public articles are utterly horrifying. These were no exception.

There were dozens upon dozens (at the time, probably hundreds now) of people tagging teacher friends asking them if the list spoke truth. Others were calling out teachers for being horrible human beings should the list be true. Others still, saying that any teacher who doesn’t love all his/her students equally should be out of a job. It was basically criticism after criticism. Now the list itself was a very poor representation of what teachers feel on most days but I think just about any teacher could have said or written some of those things on a bad day and that’s where people who comment these mean things really lose me.

Why are teachers held to such a ridiculously outrageous expectation of perfection? Nothing less will be acceptable. Not only must you get kids on target in all their subject areas, you have to make sure they get along, don’t participate in bullying behaviors, feel loved, eat all their lunch, and get into the best college and lets not forget those teachers who also have shielded their children from crazed gunmen and tornadoes, too. There is no gray area here, it’s not a sliding scale. To some, this is an all or nothing thing and if you’re not doing all these things you’ve failed miserably and should look for a new job. And you know what? As a teacher I was okay with these expectations. They are things I’d have put on myself even if others didn’t. But according to these people commenting on this article you also have to love every student every moment of the day, you cannot ever vent to others when you are frustrated, you may never have a bad day where you put in a movie for the kids, you must be filled with joy when you see students outside of school and on and on. Say what? Are these people asking for a human to teach their children or some sort of robot? News flash– these things ARE true. Not always but sometimes. Do parents of multiple children not occasionally feel frustration towards one child while not with the others? Are there not days that even the best of parents think (not say, not act, but think) that they love their child but don’t like them very much in that moment? As a teacher there were moments of frustration. What made me a professional was that I could and did still show my students the respect they deserved. But now, according to these people, I wasn’t allowed to think the frustration either.

And these thoughts are what led me to thinking about my current job as a mom. The message we get as moms is a complete 180 from what is expected of teachers. Having a bad day and are frustrated with your kid and yelled? Don’t worry, it’s okay, all moms have bad days. You still love your child. Not feeling well and put your kids in front of the TV? It’s okay, moms need time to themselves too. Moms don’t get sick days. You just have to do what you need to do to get by. Your child is 7 and not reading yet? Don’t worry, all kids are different and grow at their own pace. They will get there eventually.

Why are these the messages that moms are given yet if you turned it around and replaced mom with teacher it would be deemed completely unacceptable? We are forcing this already greatly under-appreciated profession into a realm of expectations that is so wildly unrealistic that it is driving teachers to leave the classroom and seek other careers entirely. And it’s a terrible shame. So my request is this. Next time you get upset at something a teacher says or does, ask yourself it it’s an expectation you’d want held to you as a parent. And if you can’t honestly say you never would or could do whatever that thing was, then cut the teachers some slack. They are human too.

Flash Forward

The other day I had a moment the likes of which I really can’t recall ever experiencing before. It was the sort of thing that happens in movies where the character is watching a scene unfold and then suddenly, without warning, the scene shifts as you enter the character’s imagination and they are seeing not the present but the future. I had a moment like that.

Let me set the scene for you. Tuesday morning, it is so muggy and hot, Allison’s hair instantly curls into ringlets the moment we get out of the car. I have Molly tucked away in her Tula and we walk together, me and my girls, into the preschool for the first day of school. Allison’s backpack contains exactly the following: 1 folder- purple, 1 butterfly lunchbox. Allison insists on walking in with it on her back but it’s clear that it’s too heavy– that water bottle and ice pack are enough to throw her balance. I offer to help but she replies “I’ve got it”.

We see her friend who is walking with her mother into school as well. This little girl is only the second person Allison has ever identified as “friend” and I’m thankful she’s chosen well in both instances. The girls wave and the moms break out cameras to snap a few quick photos.

Then the moment comes. We continue walking into the building along with other parents as we carry our heavy bags (mine is my purse with camera, Allison’s her backpack) and suddenly I was no longer there, instead I was walking into a dorm room in the middle of August feeling the cold air conditioned air burst forth into the humid summer. We are loaded down with boxes and Allison’s ringlet hair is longer, her body taller yet still just as slender and toned as it is now. She is starting college.

I could feel my eyes start to mist but not because I was dropping my baby girl off at preschool but because I blinked and she was starting college.

And I know. I just know with every ounce of me that I’m going to blink and 15 years will pass and she will be all grown up, the daughter I thought I’d never have, off on great adventures and changing the world one fiery, independent, fiercely loving moment at a time.

Best of Allison 454

“Filter” courtesy of Florida summer. (Really, my lens just would not unfog.)

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