Friday, April 20, 2007
It'll be good to catch up with them.

Salesguy J - *looks out the windows at the rain* "Did you call somebody to get this turned off and moped up?"

Valancy Jane - "Yeah, I called the property management, and they're sending someone right over they said ......"

Salesguy J - "Oh good."

Valancy Jane - "..... but I think they're from county mental health."

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One man's trash .......
What exactly does this person think anybody is going to DO with this?

microwave Hi... this microwave does not heat anymore, but it turns on and all other functions are OK.

A bedside table with built in clock?

A very small bookshelf?

Low visibility rotating display case?


Blame it on the bassa nova.
It was about a year ago, that the emails between Nick and I started to heat up, and we started including favorite songs, or whatever it was we were listening to at the time.

I sent him one of my favorite songs, and told him how it made me think of beaches and dancing very close and very slow in a very large crowd. And how no matter how I was feeling, Patria by Ruben Blades always made me take a deep breath and think about beaches and dancing close and slow, i.e. all that is good and healthy in life, and no matter what was bothering me, it couldn't take away beaches and dancing.

Nick's response was to ask if it was alright that he had a crush on me, just a little one.

So if you think I liked that song before .........

Last night I was pretty frustrated with life. I had lots of laundry to do, insurance forms to fill out, a LOT of birds to feed, bunny veggies to pick up and a payment to wire because I'd waited until the last minute and couldn't find my account number. And we were out of Q-Tips.

Also, if you're paying attention, you will know I was PMSing. (But I think mostly it was the Q-Tip thing.)

And when I'm PMSing, I'm not so much grouchy or bitchy, per se, it's just that my ability to deal with life diminishes. And I will freely admit that it's not an attractive emotion on me. I want to hold whoever is in front of me responsible for how I'm feeling, and the fact that it's completely irrational just makes me feel guilty and then I hold them responsible for THAT because if they weren't standing in front of me I would be feeling angry at just a wall or something, so it really is all their fault anyway. It spirals. And the moment I most need a hug, I'm really the least likely to inspire someone to hug me.

But that's just what my Knickers did.

He's way better medicine than any song. Better than beaches and dancing, too.

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Not everything in life is a joke.
But sometimes it feels that way.

I know that joking around on your dental insurance forms probably isn’t a good idea, but with questions (set ups?) like “Primary language” (None, puppy dog eyes, total and complete lies!) and “Communication impairments”(Suspicious, oversensitive to criticism, tendency to interrupt) how am I supposed to resist?

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Has anyone ever died from cramps?

Just wondering.

Tell Knickers I love him, and that we're low on cat food.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007
It's like the most painless way to have a baby.
For about nine months now, Nick has been collecting parts, genetically engineering his little uberbike.

pink bike

Yesterday his rims arrived, and Nick was so anxious to try out his new truing stand that he jumped from the car before I'd fully stopped in the driveway.

After several hours of labor, I was tired. Watching someone try to braid a couple dozen spokes into a round frame, man, it really wears me out. Putting on the tubeless tires went well. I'd been a little nervous about that part, ever since Nick told me that when his friend Steve had attempted it, the pressure had blown the sticky stuff ALL OVER THE ROOM, in what Steve described as resembling a 40-man jizz fest.

A hilarious mental picture perhaps, but not one I wanted recreated in my living room.

Eventually, I wandered off to bed, and without the aid of an epidural or any other drugs, fell fast asleep.

And when I awoke, we had our new baby.

She's pink and shiny and the most perfect bike ever. We can tell already that she's going to be smart.

There will be lots of pictures to follow. Lots and lots and lots, if I know my Knickers. Pictures here, pictures on his flickr page, and probably pictures in his wallet. Next to the ones of Luca.

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I’m like a priest. Well, not at all, really, only in the way that everyone confesses to a priest. Otherwise, I’m very un-priest-like.

Why does everyone at work tell me EVERYTHING?

I mean, I know the answer to that question, and it’s that for three years I’ve maintained a pretty much perfect record of not gossiping, of being a good listener, and being discreet.

And I won’t pretend that I’m not, as Edith Wharton puts it in The Age of Innocence, “fully aware that [my] reputation for discretion increased [my] opportunities of finding out what [I] wanted to know.”

It’s has come in handy on rare occasion. But by and large, I don’t want to know.

What is it exactly that I know?

Lots of things. Everything short of where the bodies are buried. Straight from the horses mouth. Stuff that would make you say “Wow” and you don’t even know the people in question.

And most days it’s fine, but today is one of those rare days when I’m dying to spill.

End rant. I’m ok now.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007
I suppose you're wondering why I've called you all together today.
I need you, my Board of Directors, to help determine the future of ValancyJane Enterprises, Inc.

And yes, I have decided to return to the name Valancy Jane. For a while I used Sarah Smile, because it was closer to my real name and I wanted to prove that I wasn't afraid to put my name on what I wrote, and also for the sentimental reason that My Nick calls me Sarah, which made me like my given name for pretty much the first time ever.
Both excellent points but I feel they've been made.
For personal branding reasons, and also personal preference, I am returning to Valancy Jane.

But on to more pressing matters.

As you all by now probably know, on Friday at 12:30pm, Google "disabled" my account. To be shut out of both my gmail and blogger accounts without so much as a warning was a bit like coming home to find that your longtime lover had locked you out and wouldn't let you see your kids. I over-dramatize here, but only a little.

Five days later, Google, again with no explanation, simply a form letter apology, has reopened the doors.

But where did I go for those five days?

Most of you know, most of you found my comment on the post below (commenting on your own blog feels like ringing your own doorbell) that I, in my dire loneliness, had gone to Wordpress. And preceded to get very comfy there.
Go look. My shoes are definitely off. My toothbrush is next to the sink.
See, I had no idea if Google would EVER let me back.

But it has, so now I feel like Kate Bekinsale in that Pearl Harbor movie.
Like a nurse in the war and my fiancee is supposedly dead so I start dating Josh Hartnett and have that great sex scene amidst the hanging parachutes, and then Ben Affleck comes back because he was never really dead and now who do I marry?
As you can see, it's been an emotional five days.
And it's not a choice between Josh and Ben, because that would be easy (hellooooooooo, Ben, duh). It's a choice between my two blogs.
Ignore my little wordpress blog like a pregnancy I aborted ("I just wasn't prepared to raise another blog! It's my choice!") or move out of the blogger blog I've built up and worked on, like a sad old victorian house that you walk past and wonder about, while it's porch sags and it's corners fill up with spam comments?
(Again, I over-dramatize, but only a smidge.)

I need your advice.

To help, I present the following -

Reasons to stay with Google/Blogger -
Logical - more leeway with the layouts, nobody has to update their links to me, no 'old blog - new blog' confusion when googled.
Emotional - we have history together, up until five days ago it's been very good to me, it's comfortable.

Reasons to stay with Wordpress -
Logical - It's better (no really, technologically speaking, it's more advanced and easy to use), I can import all my old posts so it all stays together, and I can have 'valancyjane' as the address instead of 'vjgreetings' which only made sense back when the title of the blog was 'greetings from the lobby.'
Emotional - It never kicked me to the curb, in fact it took me in when I had nowhere to post.

You now have the floor, ladies and gentlemen.

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Friday, April 13, 2007
So then I said ....
.... *gestures to her christmas-in-the-trailer-park-with-festive-flamingo pajamas*
In this competition, in most contests here at work, in life in general, really, I'm competing in the catagory of "Most Unique."

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"Pajama Jammy Jam"
That's the official name of our pajama day here at work today.

And it's funny really.
I've written before about Pajama Days and how much I love them and wish there were more of them.
I was really excited about Pajama Day here at work.

But now that we're all here, it's awkward. Too ........... intimate. Not that anybody is wearing anything sexy or inappropriate. To the contrary, really. It's like, slumber party-wear. What you wear when you have houseguests. You know, the slightly cleaned up version of what you really sleep in. The version where you're fully covered and everything matches. Where you dig out the matching (to the pjs AND to each other) slippers, instead of the dirty and cat hair covered comfy ones you usually wear.

But even that is a view of my coworkers that I've never had. That I'm happy to never have of some of them.

It would almost be better to have a naked day. At least then I could get a few snickers in before I avert my eyes.

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Also, he was smirking.
My Nick - "Hold out your hand."

Sarah Smile - "Why?"

My Nick - "Dude, hold out your hand."

Sarah Smile - "You're holding a shot glass."

My Nick - "Yeah. So?"

Sarah Smile - "And a lighter."

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Thursday, April 12, 2007
11 Months
With all the hurry-up-and-wait of the company healthcare meeting today, I find myself with very little time left to blog about our 11 month anniversary.

Hellooooo, people. I wanna go blog about my boyfriend. Can we hurry up with this work stuff?
Priorities here.

And so all I'll say, all I have time to say, all I really need to say, is that Nick will be here any minute, like every day. And I'm looking for him, like every day. And when I see him, everything will instantly get a little bit better. Like every day.

His company makes everything, every day, better.

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"Does this plan cover brain damage caused by ridiculously long meetings?"
I wanted to ask, but I suspect she would have assumed it was a legitimate question, and then the meeting would have been longer.

I swear I think the left half of my brain is numb.
It literally feels numb.
More numb than my ass.
I feel so much dumber than when I went in.
Maybe this will bring the feeling back.

And if that's a dumb idea, blame the meeting.

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I always said when I had enough pets, I'd stop.
Nobody seemed to believe me. But I always knew I meant it.
Just because that threshold was farther out than most people's, doesn't mean it didn't exist.


There's been another accidental finch pregnancy. See, Maddox is such a punk that he fights with everyone but Hazel, even his own kids, and I can't put him by himself, so I have to keep him with Hazel the Prolific.
The method of birth control we've been using so far is for me to raid her nest and throw out the eggs. But she makes this strangled chirping noise when I do it, and I feel so bad upsetting her that I only do it when I see eggs in there.
And Hazel's gotten sneaky, hiding them under the nest bedding.
But I really have no one to blame but myself when I looked in and saw three little open beaks pointed back at me.

Of course I'll take great care of them, since they're my responsibility, but I think I'm going to try to find them another good home. It's not that I'd say these three additions push us into the range of Too Many Birds, but they definitely tip us into Enough Birds.

I have enough birds.

In the meantime, I get the fun of watching them grow up. Last night, the biggest of the three came out of the nest for the first time! Isn't s/he adorable?Soon his/her markings will come in, and then we'll know if he or she is in fact, a he or a she.
And I'll have the fun of setting up a big pretty cage for 'em with toys.

And then the hard part.


Anybody want some sweet little finches?

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Ask him nicely and he'll send it to you. Then this will be even funnier.
Sarah Smile says:
This song is awesome.
And I'm not just saying that because the mailman just gave me a really weird look.
Although I did enjoy that.

Jonny Opinion says:
What song?

Sarah Smile says:
The Necessary Properties of Moses, that you sent me earlier.

Jonny Opinion says:
I'm glad you called it a song.
But try singing it in the shower.

Sarah Smile says:
I will, actually.
Nick might check on me, to make sure I'm alright.

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I shouldn't have started looking.
Because suddenly I don't know how I ever lived without these.Don't look at me like that.
Sure they're shiny and odd looking, but frankly, so am I.
We belong to each other.
Shoes like this deserve to be worn, and I think I'm the girl to do it.
If you agree, er ............ send money.

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Mo' money, mo' problems?
Something happened while Nick and I were doing my taxes, something that shook me to my core, that messed with my very sense of identity.

It came right down the wire about whether or not I would end up OWING state taxes or getting a refund.

Either way, it was going to be a small enough amount of money that it didn't really matter. It's more the principle of the matter. Since when do I make enough money to be in that income bracket?

Ok, there is an answer to that question, it pretty much dates back to my last raise. Like, it adds up when I do the math, but like my age, it's sorta crept up on me.

I suddenly feel like such a grown up.
Lets see if that feeling lasts until I get my refund. (And yes, it worked out that way, I'll be getting a small refund.) Lets see whether or not I use it for student loans or ............... this.

Oh who am I kidding. The federal refund I'll use sensibly, but they might as well send my state refund right over to Anthropologie. With a note in the memo section, with my shipping info and the words "for these".

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Confessions of the Chronic Interrupter.
" It's not that I stopped listening ......
.... it's just that I started talking."

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"About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment." - Josh Billings (1818 - 1885)
One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.
- AA Milne

It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.
- Robert Anton Wilson

The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that carries any reward.
- John Maynard Keynes

The older I grow, the less important the comma becomes. Let the reader catch his own breath.
- Elizabeth Clarkson Zwart

Exit, pursued by a bear.
- William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), Stage direction in "The Winter's Tale"

There's always somebody who is paid too much, and taxed too little - and it's always somebody else.
- Cullen Hightower

Look for the ridiculous in everything and you will find it.
- Jules Renard (1864 - 1910)

Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.
- Kurt Vonnegut (1922 - )

Ninety percent of everything is crap.
- Theodore Sturgeon (1918 - 1985)

Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane.
- Philip K. Dick (1928 - 1982), Valis

New York now leads the world's great cities in the number of people around whom you shouldn't make a sudden move.
- David Letterman (1947 - )

My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.
- Orson Welles (1915 - 1985)

Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong.
- George Carlin (1937 - )

There's no secret about success. Did you ever know a successful man who didn't tell you about it?
- Kin Hubbard (1868 - 1930)

Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level.
- Quentin Crisp

Either I've been missing something or nothing has been going on.
- Karen Elizabeth Gordon

Someday we'll look back on this moment and plow into a parked car.
- Evan Davis

When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
- Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

I don't own a cell phone or a pager. I just hang around everyone I know, all the time. If someone wants to get a hold of me, they just say 'Mitch,' and I say 'what?' and turn my head slightly.
- Mitch Hedberg (1968 - 2005)

The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how good I get, I'll never be as good as a wall.
- Mitch Hedberg (1968 - 2005)

With a stop light, green means 'go' and yellow means 'slow down'. With a banana, however, it is quite the opposite. Yellow means 'go', green means 'whoa, slow down', and red means 'where the heck did you get that banana?'
- Mitch Hedberg (1968 - 2005)

There are more fools in the world than there are people.
- Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856)

Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats.
- Howard Aiken (1900 - 1973)

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.
- Soren Kierkegaard (1813 - 1855)

I always keep a supply of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.
- W. C. Fields (1880 - 1946)

Talking with you is sort of the conversational equivalent of an out of body experience.
- Bill Watterson (1958 - ), Calvin & Hobbes

Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.
- Truman Capote (1924 - 1984)

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.
- Adlai E. Stevenson Jr. (1900 - 1965), Speech in Detroit, 7 Oct. 1952

Everybody lies, but it doesn't matter because nobody listens.
- Nick Diamos


More Luca!
Because who doesn't need more Luca? I mean, could you possibly look at this picture and not feel better about life? Or this one?
I defy you to try.

So in the interests of public mental health, I bring you WucaBear Face .......

..... and Sleepy WucaBear Face .......

.....Luca with Kylie (left) and Mister (right). Note that of the twelve feet this mass of dog collectively owns, only four are on the ground .....And best of all, Luca in clothes.
Horrible? Perhaps.
Worth it? Hell yeah.

(Photo credit to Nick for all of these.)

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Happiness isn't always so complex.
Sometimes it's as simple as feeding fruits and veggies to Rudolf.

He KNOWS his drawer in the fridge and the rustle of the produce bags and he stands up and his nose twitches in double time, and then he uses his hammock as a trampoline. It's so cute it makes my chest hurt.

Also, he loves cilantro. And that makes me want to kiss his face even more, because he has cilantro breath.

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Make your own flip book!

(Photo credit to My Knickers)

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Could they send me a tape player too?
Radio - "..... call now for my free tape. You don't have to live with depression and anxiety....."

Sarah Smile - "I wanna call and request a free CD or podcast. 'Oooooooh, we just assumed if you had a CD player you wouldn't be depressed...'."

My Nick - "I bet, despite having no mention of it, that's it's all about Jesus. I bet that's the 'real, drug-free help.' I bet she's building a Jesus army."

Sarah Smile - "Of depressed people? That's awesome. 'Bow to my will, or I will send my depressed army to sit in your living room and listen to Kurt Cobain until you break.'"

My Nick - "What's wrong with Kurt Cobain? His music wasn't so depressive. He just collapsed in on his own genius."

Sarah Smile - "Sorry, I have no idea what music depressed people listen to -"

My Nick - "Kelly Clarkson?"

Sarah Smile - "HA! See, when I'm depressed, I don't listen to music. I turn on the TV and watch old episodes of the Jenny Jones Show. That's the soundtrack to my depression."

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I never remember if it's "good morning" or "good afternoon."
Sarah Smile - "Good morning, [company name], this is Sarah, how can I help you?"

Caller - "Thank god it isn't morning anymore."

Sarah Smile - "Uh, yes. And I wanted you to think about that. I wanted us to all have reality check about how grateful we should all be that the day is progressing along nicely toward the time when we can all go home. I wanted us to take a moment and ponder the small blessings. That's what I was trying to do, and it certainly wasn't a mistake on my part. Yeah."

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See what they're capable of?
This is why I don't let Mau out alone.

He wouldn't just head down to a fish and chips shop, either. He'd go to NASA or the Pentagon. And then for fish and chips. He likes fries.

(Thanks to MK for the link.)

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So Then Jesse Said...
.... "Great. Now I have rug burn on my lips."

I miss my cousins already.

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The two handsomest fellas in the world.

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"Live Bait Pet Shop"
Sarah Smile - "Oh god."

My Nick - "I saw that too. Don't worry, though. I looked carefully, and they're two SEPARATE establishments."

Sarah Smile - "Whew."

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Note to self - Don't keep both jelly beans and advil in your pocket.

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Monday, April 09, 2007
So then I said ....
"You know, that's the second time this week I've seen EMTs parked outside that pizza place. So either they REALLY like their pizza, or that place kills people."

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The trip was a little over 24 hours, which is almost how long it took to write this post.
Jesse (my brother), Bethany (my sister in law) and I started the trip as all good road trips should. At Carls Jr.

Here is Jesse, driving.
After only an hour, we had assumed road trip positions. Jesse driving, Bethany napping, me .... wiggling my toes, drinking a large soda, and filming the two of them.

I saw a strange cloud that looked like PacMan eating an S. I took it as a sign of ............. something.
And this is what it looked like out the window.
We stopped at Jack in the Box so I could buy a kids toy and also, pee. Jesse bought another large soda and did not pee. Jesse is a CAMEL.
This is also what it looked like outside the window.
We received word on the way up that our other cousin Julie had had her baby, a girl named Ella Katherine. I'm certain, with our genetics, they're not exaggerating at all when they say she's beautiful.

Just as we were about to get off at the exit to Cousin Liz's house, we discovered that it was detoured. We had to go way around, and Jesse's car's GPS system said "recalculating" so many times that she (American English Jill) started to sound really annoyed with us.

Once we got there, we wasted no time in diving into dinner. Headfirst. Well, no, fingers first. Head second.

Here is my cousin Bekah, Jesse and and my cousin Jordan.
Bethany. (So cute!)
This is Enrique Jr ("Ki-que"), my Cousin Liz's son. (Also so cute!)
Lets just clarify right now that while asking "Why is Jordan doing that?" might be a very natural question to ask, it's also quite futile. "Because she is" is about all you're going to get. That said, here is Bethany and Jordan, letting her eyes be mirrors to everyone elses' soul.
Jesse opened the wine while my cousin Kimberly expresses all of our collective impatience. Boooooooooooooooze!
Kimmie is very good at pretending she doesn't see you setting up the shot and then moving something in the way at the last minute. (Enrique Sr, Liz's husband, looks on.)
Here is my cousin Liz holding Ki-que, while he flirts with Bethany.
Interesting fact. Jordan is the fastest text messenger IN. THE. WORLD.
Bekah laughs. A lot.
Jordan. Because she is.
It is impossible to be around Jordan for more than five minutes without some of her faces catching on, as Jesse demonstrates.
Ha. Finally. Totally worth the effort.
Now here is Jordan and Kimmie dancing. You might think that I'm a lame-o would can't figure out how to rotate the video, but in fact, they are dancing on the walls, Fred Astaire style. They're awesome like that.

We drove into town to drink tall drinks and sing karaoke. Bekah and I lead vocal exercises.
Here is video of the drive. You might begin to wonder what the connection between my cousins and the finger up the nose pose is, but really it's a locational thing. Vegas' dusty air makes your nose run, and then the dry heat freezes-dries it instantly, creating the perfect storm of booger.

Nobody is more surprised that I'm in Vegas than myself.My cousins introduced me to the game of Take-Pictures-Under-The-Stall-Doors. I caught on quickly.
This shot of Kimmie is my favorite.
But when I tried to take a picture of Jordan, I got this. Apparently she can levitate, and she never told any of us.
I tried to get a shot of Bekah, but then realized, hey, that's not Bekah. And maybe I'd better run now.

Much fun was had, the drinks were tall, and the karaoke patrons were very tolerant. We called ourselves Jesus Rodriquez and the Sweaty Boxes. We might go on tour.
On the way home, we discovered that six people fit a limo perfectly, and took it as a sign that we should always ride in them.
Liz and Enrique graciously put us up for the night, and Jordan I took the downstairs couches so we could giggle and whisper like 12 year old.
But being three AM, we dropped off pretty quickly.

This is Jordan when she first wakes up. I'd show you what I looked like, but I want to be kind to your eyes.
My cousin Tilla, who'd had to work the night before, joined us. She is so adorable, it's almost painful to look at her directly.
Since Jesse, Bethany and I all didn't think to bring swimsuits, we made a quick detour to Ross. I found a pretty cute suit and wrap, and some shoes that just needed to belong to me. They have bows on the toes. Picture soon.
I offered Bethany five bucks to get what was essentially the bikini version of this. (Picture here.) To her credit, she declined.

Liz and Enrique got a room at the Bellagio, so we could all use the pool there.
Here are Tilla and Ki-que.And Bekah and Christian (her son).This is Allie, Liz's daughter. I want to eat her.
Even the clouds knew that this was a momentous day, this aligning of some much McIlhenney in one place.
Speaking of the weather, this is my Uncle Art. He said that he cast a spell on the weather for us. I suppose this could be a sign that he's crazy, but *shrug* it was a lovely thought and a lovely day, so I choose to believe him. Always act as if things that should be true, are.
Our waiter must have wanted us to have a lovely time, he brought us each our drinks two at a time. Sometimes, it ain't so bad to be alive.

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