the year of personality

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I’ve been trying to think about the best way to sum up our 2013 with Logan.  The best I can come up with is this: if Logan’s first year was all about survival (my surviving sleep deprivation and David surviving me), his second year has been all about personality.  I don’t know if this is a two-year old thing or a boy thing or a Logan-specific thing, but the kid’s got all kinds of personality.  He’s independent, curious, stubborn, demanding, bright, manipulative, fun-loving, silly, observant, impulsive, and compassionate.  And all in equal parts.  I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings.

January 1, 2014. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Japan Part 2: Kozantei Ubuya Review

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Kozantei Ubuya – the two brown buildings on the right

This is the one post I was looking forward to because it’s a review of what was the highlight of my trip:  Kozantei Ubuya.

Kozantei is located on the shores of Lake Kawaguchiko and has an unobstructed view of Mt. Fuji from across the lake:

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You stay at Kozantei for one thing: the view.  The food, onsen, and service are all outstanding, but it’s the view of Mt. Fuji with the lake in the foreground that elevates your experience to a once-in-a-lifetime feel.  And it never gets old.

We paid approximately $616 for 1 night, but this price was for 2 people, including a kaiseki dinner and breakfast, and was for an upgraded room with an open-air bath.  Although my Mom had a little bit of sticker shock when I told her the cost per night, my Mom was a believer by the end of our stay.  She went from “I can see why it costs this much” to “this is very reasonable” to “this is a bargain!”  First off, it’s not a bargain.  But it’s worth every penny.

Check-in starts at 2pm and there is a shuttle service from the train station.  During check-in, we were given the customary welcome snack of matcha tea and a small sweet – I think it was chestnut in a sweetened cake-like crust.

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We were then escorted to our respective rooms…which felt like mini-suites.

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This was not the nicest hotel room we’ve ever stayed in, but compared to size of most Japan hotel rooms and given the view, this was definitely luxurious for Japan-standards.

After dropping off our bags, we went to check out the facilities.  On our way to the public onsen baths, we realized that there was a spa offering massages and other treatments.  It’s located right behind the row of massage chairs:

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The prices were very reasonable, so we booked a 30 minute foot massage ($35) for me and an 80 minute full-body massage ($70) for David.  I don’t think many ryokans have spas, but I think it’s brilliant because you can’t spend every minute in the onsen baths.

Then we took a peek at the public baths, which were completely empty:

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But I couldn’t wait to try our private bath on the balcony.

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My mom was a little worried that the glass railings meant that people from the street below (our rooms were on the 2nd floor) and across the lake could see in.  I’m sure she’s right, but when in Rome….

We had some time to kill before dinner, so we went to the lounge for the free wifi:

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No free coffee like Rakuyu, but they did have tea, juice, and water.  Although we were there for the free wifi, it was pretty amazing to sit with our feet up, watching the sun set over Mt. Fuji.  I’m telling you, the view never gets old.

Then it was off to dinner:

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When we walked in to our private room, our appetizers were already waiting.  They were almost too pretty to eat:

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I’m a picky eater, so I didn’t try all the appetizers, but I was still amazed by the presentation.  I just loved the small details, like the sweet potato chips cut in the shapes of leaves.

Here are more pictures of what we ate:

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Soup – heated tableside

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Hibachi course

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Dessert

At first, I thought the clear stuff surrounding the dessert was ice, but it was actually a citrus gelatin.  So good.  And I don’t even like citrus-flavored anything.

After dinner, it was back to the private bath and view, of course.

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For breakfast, we had our choice of a Japanese breakfast or Western.  All of us, except for David, chose Japanese.  He said he wanted something different. His breakfast consisted of ham, heated pastries, toast, and yogurt & fruit.  Big yawn.  I’m not even going to post a picture, it was that boring.

Contrast that to my Japanese breakfast:

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This was the initial breakfast set up.  They also brought in miso soup chock full of teeny-tiny clams and an egg dish which looks plain, but it was so delicious:

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And get this, my favorite part of the breakfast was the rice.  Each person gets an individual pot of rice that they boil right before you get seated, so if you let it sit for a little while, the rice gets slightly charred at the bottom.

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There was serious talk about our needing to invest in little pots and little hibachis so we could cook food like Kozantei and Rakuyu.  As if.

And that’s it folks!  My favorite highlight from our trip to Japan.

I Kozantei.

November 23, 2013. Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Japan Part 1: Rakuyu Review

We’re attempting something new here:  a non-Logan related post AND a series of posts about a trip to Japan that David and I took (sans Logan).  But with Halloween coming up in a few days, I’ll be back shortly with my mandatory pumpkin & Logan-in-a-costume post!  Here’s a little preview of my pathetic attempt to carve a pumpkin:

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Now, back to the good stuff:  Japan.

David and I spent 11 days in Osaka, Kyoto, Mt. Fuji area, and Tokyo.  We were accompanied by my parents (David’s parents watched Logan back home), my aunty, my cousin, & my cousin’s roommate.  Despite a few traveling hiccups here and there, our trip was AMAZING!

Rather than start from the beginning of our trip and work our way through each day, I’ve decided to start with the highlight for me {mostly because I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep up this ‘series’ of posts}.  This highlight came in the middle of our trip, when we traveled to the Mt. Fuji area, Fujikawaguchiko, and stayed at two onsen ryokan.  Because my Dad’s only request was to see Mt. Fuji and my Mom’s only request was to stay at a onsen, it made sense to combine the two.  After many, many hours of research, I decided we would stay at a moderately priced ryokan the first night and then at a luxury ryokan the second night.

In this post, I’ll review the first ryokan we stayed at:  Rakuyu.

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Rakuyu overlooks Lake Kawaguchiko and does not offer a view of Mt. Fuji.  I was devastated when I realized this when we arrived at Rakuyu, but by the end of our stay, I couldn’t care less.  We paid approx. $300 for 1 night, but this price was for 2 people and included both dinner and breakfast.

The day we arrived, the weather was bad.  It was very overcast, rainy, and windy.  Despite the inclement weather, the views were still beautiful.  {In fact, the one thing I noticed about Japan is that even when the weather is bad, the scenery still manages to look beautiful and picturesque.  I’m convinced Japan is magical.}

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As we checked in, we were offered the customary tea & small snack.  This wafer cookie was so delicious!  It tasted like brown sugar and was very light, melting in your mouth.  Sandwiched inside was a thin layer of mochi and an (bean paste).

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Here is the beautiful lobby area which has floor-to-ceiling picture windows:

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I don’t know if you can make him out, but there’s my Dad sitting on what would be our family couch during our stay.  We retreated to that couch every single free moment we had.  I loved sitting on that couch and looking and the scenery.  {wifi was only available in the lobby area}.

After checking in, my Mom and I were led to a table and given the option of choosing our own yukata and belt to wear during our stay.  The men-folk wear whatever is made available in the room.  I loved being able to rifle through the prints and pick my own yukata.

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We were then escorted to our respective rooms.

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I loved the little seating area in front of the picture window.

This particular ryokan had both public and reservable private onsen.  The public onsen (men & women are separated) had a spectacular open-air view:

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Because David had never been in an onsen, we decided to reserve a private onsen before dinner to ease our way into the onsen experience.  It was approx. $20 for 45 minutes.  It was located one floor above the public onsen and was also exposed to the open-air.

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I thought 45 mins was a short time period, but I realized that I could only sit in the hot water for a maximum of 25-30 mins.  Even with the chilly open-air, the heat starts to get to you.

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After our bath, we headed back out to the lobby, where coffee and tea are available at all hours.  Nothing makes me happier than unlimited coffee!

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Our kaiseki dinner was served in the ‘restaurant,’ but the restaurant was actually comprised of small private rooms that gets assigned to each guest during their stay.  I think my Mom was initially a little disappointed we weren’t served our meals in our rooms, as is customary, but when we walked in to dinner and began eating, she couldn’t stop raving about the food.

Here is what our dinner table looked like in the beginning:

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In the little kettle on the right was a clear matsutake & fish soup that was heated on the table.  On the right in the mini rice cooker was a matsutake mushroom & eel kamameshi, cooked tableside as well.  They used a lot of individual candle-like heating pods at both ryokans we stayed at.

As we finished each course, our server would bring another.  It was close, but I think most everyone liked this dinner more than the dinner at the second ryokan.  Here are some of the dishes:

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After dinner, we returned to find that the staff had prepared our futon beds:

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The futon bed was comfortable enough, but it was harder to get used to the harder buckwheat-filled pillows.

I was so happy to wake up to beautiful weather:

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After a morning visit to the onsen, we went to the restaurant to have our breakfast.  I loved how every person had their own miso soup bowl being heated at the table.

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We had a leisurely breakfast and talked about how we would spend our day before heading over to the second ryokan, Kozantei Ubuya.  Or, as I like to call it, ‘heaven on earth.’

October 29, 2013. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

one-two, buckle my shoe

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Happy birthday to my baby little man!  And how old are you?  “One-two!” {not shown is his claw-like hand attempting to put up just 2 fingers}.  Two years old!  More like 2 years old going on 20.  All I hear nowadays is: “no, mama, Logan’s turn” or “no, mama, let go” or “no, mama, down please.”  Cue the weeping.  This year, we’re going low-key (read: lazy and last-minute) with the birthday celebrations.  No invitations, decorations, or vendors.  Just a small family lunch this weekend.  There may not even be cake, as someone keeps forgetting to pick up the phone and order it.  Seriously, it’s a miracle that favors were even dropped off at Logan’s sitter for the other kids this morning.  And that only happened thanks to my mom’s last minute mall run yesterday.  I think I’m still suffering from post-1st-birthday-party-stress disorder.  Which reminds me that I need to sort out some kind of cupcake situation for his dessert today.  Thanks again to my mom who just called and asked (somewhat bewildered) if she needs to pick up cupcakes for Logan.  It takes a village.

September 5, 2013. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

I blinked and missed August

I know every month seems to fly by, but August was especially sneaky.  I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to “be in the moment” as Oprah says, but it’s like I’m trying so hard to be in the moment, that I don’t realize that a lot of other stuff happened while I was trying to be in the moment.  Maybe I’m not being in the moment correctly.  That’s probably it.  Because my attempt to be in the moment is usually trying to take everything in and mentally etch it in my memory bank.  Which, when I think about it, is utterly ridiculous because I have the memory of a gnat.  Next time I feel like I need to be in the moment, I’m just going to take a picture on my phone.  Because iphone pictures are forever.  Instagram ones too.

Anyway, August happened.  I know this only because I have the iphone pics to prove it.  Of course, they’re only from last two weeks of August due to iphone issues, so I’m not entirely convinced that the first two weeks of August happened.  So let’s dive in.  Roll that beautiful iphone picture footage!

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For those of you who are wondering about Logan’s outfit: diaper by Pampers, shoes by Crocs.

I asked David why Logan isn’t wearing any clothes in this picture and all he said was “not sure.”  I’m pretty sure David didn’t even notice that Logan was just in his diaper.  Apparently, we’re that family.

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Like a little cherub.  Makes my ♥ melt.

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I discovered these when I ventured out to Kalihi.  You would never think to find these inside a building where the doors and windows are protected by metal bars, but hot damn these were the best.ice.cream.sandwiches.EVER!!!

And this past weekend, we took Logan for his first visit to the dentist…whose office is literally 1 block away from our house.  You know that theory that  people who live the closest are always the last to show up?  Apparently, it applies to necessary medical visits as well.

Logan was in good spirits that day.  Couldn’t even sit still for pictures:

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very happy

Then we visited with the dentist:

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So that was August.  Up next, September!

August 29, 2013. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

you got everyone beat, July

From start to finish, July has been really good to us {I’d like to think that July is trying to make up for this past March}.  Not only have we stayed cold-free all month, but we did it while throwing ourselves into every opportunity offered up to us.  And I say “offered up to us” because we really do sit back and see what happens when the weekend rolls around:

What did you say, Mom?  There’s a bon dance this weekend and we can tag along?  Sure!

Hi Jill.  Thomas wants to schedule a fancy dinner for the family?  Ok, let me know when.

Hey Ryson, we hear Rene’s out of town, so can we come over and use your pool?

That last one is David.

And although I’ve neglected to mention this in a long time, Logan’s development has just blown me away these past few months.  Just a couple of months ago, he could only say one-word or two-word phrases like “please” or “sit mama.”  But now, there’s “mama sit down please” and “thank you mama” (unprompted!) and “happybirthdaytoyou.”

And there’s counting, “1..2..4..9.”  He really likes the numbers “4” and “9” for some reason.

And a color, not colors.  If you ask him what color something is, he’ll say “orange” no matter what color it is.  Without.fail.

And lots of awkward, but awesome dancing!  Logan’s version of dancing is a combination of lurching from side-to-side, flash dance running-in-place, and bunny hopping.  It’s hilarious!  David keeps trying to video Logan dancing but it’s like he has a sixth sense when a camera is on him because he’ll turn around and say “no dada, no dada, dance.”  David says that Logan is anti-papparazzi.

But enough with the development recap, let’s see some pictures!

This is my fave summer activity so far:  Tuesday night KCC farmer’s market.

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Of course, daredevil Reese taught Logan how to dive into the pool.

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Our view of the fireworks from Waikiki beach.

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Moilili Summer Festival.

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Our new lemon tree.

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Palisades bon dance.

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More pool time with Reese.

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Mortons.

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Company picnic.  I stole these pretty pics from David’s co-worker, Carey.

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One of my all-time fave pics just because these pics of him running around with a chip in his hand and smiling is just the epitome of who he is.  Love him!

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August has some big shoes to fill.

July 30, 2013. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

apparently, Logan’s a flashy-shoe kind of boy

It’s no secret that I’m insanely jealous and bitter that girls have super cute baby/kid clothes and accessories, and boys have nothing.  Sure, there are a few boys clothes that are cute enough, but nothing like those girl outfits which make you squeal “OMGthatistoocute!!”  So ever since I learned I was having a boy, I took the bargain shopper approach and only purchased clothes that were on sale and pretty much avoided anything that cost over $15.  Even then, it pained me that I was even spending money on meh clothes.

{I take that back, I think I once purchased a Ralph Lauren polo shirt for Logan which was $22, but that was because I purchased David a matching shirt and I about DIED when I saw them in their matching shirts.  SO WORTH IT!}

Anyway, let’s just say it’s been pretty depressing whenever I shop for Logan and shopping should never be depressing (except swimsuit shopping..that’s a given).  But the other month, as I was browsing for shoes for Logan, I came across these:

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Here’s the thing, never in a million years would I ever buy these shoes for myself or David.  I mean, c’mon, they have orange neon shoelaces!  But for some reason, I shelved the boring shoes I was holding and I purchased the flashy shoes.  I was a little nervous, but once I put them on Logan, I fell in LOVE!  I realized that no matter how boring his outfit, these statement shoes made it a fun.

For instance, doesn’t this boring jeans/polo shirt outfit look so much cuter with the shoes?

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And they just add a much-needed pop of color to this shorts/collar shirt outfit.

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And as is tradition with every other gorgeous shoe on the planet, they gave Logan his first blister when I let him wear them without socks.  Beauty = pain, son.

But every time I catch a glimpse of them, they make me smile.

I statement shoes.

June 14, 2013. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

it’s gettin hot in herrrr

We were supposed to go to Maui last week, but I cancelled it.  We’re planning on going on a bigger trip later this year, so I thought I’d be fiscally responsible and cancel the Maui trip to save money.  I was pretty proud of myself for making what I thought was an ‘adult’ decision.

But then I booked us a staycation.

I waited until the Wednesday before the Memorial Day weekend to start looking for hotels.  I asked a friend in the hotel industry for a little help and all she said was: really? booking last minute on Memorial Day weekend? really?  Frankly, I don’t understand what all the fuss was about.  When you think about it, there’s no stress in deciding which hotel to go to when you book last minute.

Anyways, we ended up at Marriott Beach Club

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And like most locals I know, we completely ignored the beach and spent every minute at the pools.

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We lugged Logan’s life vest and turtle floaty to the hotel, but it was this cheapy inflatable ring that my brother-in-law purchased for Logan that he loved.

Logan went swimming four times during our 2-night stay.  David and I held our breath to see when he would get sick because every time we’ve taken him swimming at a pool, he’s gotten sick.  Every. Single. Time.

And this time…

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was the exception!  He had a little bit of a cough the day after we left, but nothing serious and certainly nothing which prevented us from shuffling him off to the sitter’s.

I’m sure it’s because he’s become so immune to germs at the sitter’s that now he’s the kid at the pool who’s infecting other kids.  I couldn’t be prouder!

And last, but not least…my favorite parts of the staycation: smoothies by the pool, trying Wendy’s frosty waffle cone, and Waiola shave ice.  I’m not gonna lie, a couple of these may have been on the same day :(

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Still, we’re getting better at this!

May 31, 2013. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

It’s almost May, so that means it’s time for my April post

Ever since we had the disastrous mid-March event, I feel like time has been on fast-forward.  It’s almost May and I have no recollection of April.  You know it’s bad when you have to scroll through your iphone pictures to remember what happened.  So here are my highlights of the past month and a half:

Best Picture:

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This is a classic.  He refused to walk near the fenced-in area, so I was instructed to hold him facing outward and then walk backwards towards the Easter bunny to try to minimize his interaction with the Easter bunny.  It didn’t help.  So I handed him off to the Easter bunny and jumped out of the picture for 10 seconds.

My in-laws took him to the mall a few days later and the Easter decor was gone but the fence was still up.  They said he warily eyed it and started to side-step past it, as if he were afraid to take his eyes off the area in case the Easter bunny returned.

Best Martha Steward Moment:

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Yes, that is an inflatable pool in our living room.  During the 1.5 weeks Logan stayed at home due to him being sick and then his sitter hurting her knee, he started to get restless and I could tell it was taking a toll on my parents and in-laws.  I googled in-door activities and up popped this idea of an activity box made out of rice/beans.  The idea was to let him play outside, but it was so humid, that I had to devise a way for him to play inside, so out came the inflatable pool.  Ghetto-looking, but at least it made clean-up easy.  I’d like to think Martha would be proud.

Worst Haircut:

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Yet another David haircut.  My poor son now has a mullet.  It cannot grow out fast enough.

May 1, 2013. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

this sums up our March thus far

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This is Logan’s new facial expression.  I hate it, but David loves it.  Then again, David almost bought a pair of pleated, cuffed slacks from Sam’s Club the other day that he liked.  So there you go.

March has not been good to us so far.  It started with an epic vomit event by Logan which turned into a never-ending diarrhea lifestyle that’s been going on 10 days now and there’s no end in sight.  Logan has been asked not to return to the sitter’s until he has a normal poop, which means that we’ve been scrutinizing his poop like astrologers, looking for signs or indications that the end is near.  Worse yet, David got sick and then I got sick and then my parents got sick.  And worst of all, my restricted diet has not resulted in any weight loss.  I mean, c’mon.  Give a girl a break.  When I mentioned this to David, he said, I’m sorry dear, what can I do to make you feel better?  And when I mentioned it to my mom, she said, I know!  Me either!  Isn’t it sad?!  Apparently, only women think about the weight loss advantage of having a stomach virus.

Ok, enough complaining.  But I’m expecting more out of you, later-half of March.

March 15, 2013. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

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