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By now you all know that Star Wars plays a Death Star sized role in my life. Thus, Star Wars, plays a Death Star sized role in my family’s life.

Since Lis and I are embarking on our 11th year of marriage, I thought I would put a Star Wars spin on my usual anniversary post.

Last year I compared our 10 years of marriage to the vows we made when we were hitched. I’ve told the story of “When Kevy, Met Lisy.” And I’ve shared cheesy stories about how I married my “It Girl”, my best friend, my soul mate and blah blah. ;)

Star Wars fundraiser 145What I haven’t done was relate Star Wars with my marriage.

Here are 11 Star Wars phrases to describe our 11 years of being married.

Before I start … you won’t hear me describe Lis by saying, “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.” And you won’t hear me explain, “Size matters not. Judge me my size do you?” (Good thing she doesn’t.)

There are moments when I’m sure Lis thinks of me as the red R2 unit that blows up (“This R2 unit has a bad motivator!”), and times after a bad decision I’ve thought, “Who’s the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?” Both of those didn’t make the cut.

I’m sure when I got married there was, “a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.” Those voices being all the women finding out that I was off the market. Ha! As Han told Luke, “Great kid, don’t get cocky!”

I wasn’t able to use Lukas’s pick, “Let the Wookie win.” (Do you think he thinks I’m the Wookie, and Lis lets me wins sometimes, just to make me happy?) Nor was I able to use, “But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!!!” to explain my whininess when I have to do something I don’t want to do. I still blame Luke Skywalker for this unwanted trait in my life.

I kept it clean (though there were some funny dirty ones here), I kept it real, and kept it fun. And this is what I came up with (cue John Williams’ “Main Title“).

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”

Wedding pictures 002Okay, so 11 years isn’t that long ago. Okay, so Brazil isn’t in a different galaxy (but it is on the other side of this planet). But 11 years ago in the Land of Soccer (and Beautiful Women), I stood in a constrictive suit, on a beautiful day, and married the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Seriously, my lady doesn’t like to fancy up, but when she does … deep sigh, large smile … she looks nice. Nowadays she likes to complain about the way she looks, but in my mind, she will always look like the day I got off the airplane my first time to Brazil (hubba hubba), or the day we got married. Still Lis, that’s not an excuse to let yourself go. ;)

“Wars not make one great!” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Do I believe in soul mates? I don’t think so. But if there is such a thing as soul mates I married mine. I don’t have an easy personality to get along with. At times I can be a “stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!” I’m quick-tempered (quicker than most, but not as quick as I once was), I can be a jerk to my loved ones, I can be whiny and impatient. Lis has not only put up with those things, but has the perfect personality to counter my dark side. Why the line from Yoda? Because in our 11 years of marriage we’ve never gotten into a shouting match. I may yell and yell, but she’ll just turn her back and walk away (and then ignore me for a couple of days). I may yell and yell, but her response will be, “Do you want me to punch you in the face now?” Does fighting make someone or something better? Hmm…not in this instance.

“Never tell me the odds!” – Han Solo, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

The honeymoon (we never really had) was barJune 29 (2)ely over before we were given a new challenge in our marriage – cancer. Not even two years into our marriage Lis had been diagnosed with leukemia. Without immediate treatment she’d have 3-6 months to live. With chemotherapy treatment and a likely bone marrow transplant, she’d have a greater long-term survival rate. It’s likely we wouldn’t be able to have kids again, but we were happy that we were blessed with one, a son, who was five months old when Lis was diagnosed. Well the Force was strong with us. Her fight wasn’t easy, and didn’t come without any scares, but she beat leukemia, took treatment so well that she didn’t need the bone marrow transplant, and the kid we weren’t able to have? We had two more. Never tell us the odds!

“The Force will be with you. Always.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

What is the Force? Obi-Wan explained to Luke that, “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” For the purpose of this post and quote, I like to think of the Force spiritually. I like to think of the Force as our Christian faith. Sure there are times when God may use the Darth Vader line, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” But our faith allowed us to survive Lis’s battle. Our faith individually and together, has continued to grow throughout our relationship, thus allowing us to continue keeping us together and allowing us to deal with stressful situations. May the Force be with you.

“Strike me down and I’ll become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

I know, I’ve been talking a lot about Lis’s battle, but what do you expect. Go through something so life-changing, so early in your life together and you’ll continue to look back at it. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right? Cancer tried to strike us down and instead we became more powerful than even we could possibly have imagined. Not just in our marriage, but with the way we handle situations. We went from caring less about us and more about others. I love being a part of the community, our church, the American Cancer Society, and that is because of the battle we fought.

“Do or do not … there is no try.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

We’ve taken a few risks in the last few years; one being the decision to start our own business. There may be others on the binary sunset horizon. Sure, there are times where we think, “I have a bad feeling about this.” Whenever a tough decision comes my way, and I wonder if I should take the illogical risk and try it Yoda’s line pops into my head. Don’t try it … just do it. Lis and I “dated” for a year before we were married. We didn’t go into it to try it. We just do it.

“No. I am your father.” – Darth Vader, Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

cropped-img_20130504_143955.jpg

I can’t sneak through a post about our marriage without mentioning our three kids. Yes, Luke, Lia and Lando Levi. Like every parent we have our ups and downs, our good days and our bad. But what makes our marriage tick is the teamwork we put into raising our three merdinhas. Each of them extremely different from the other. Each one extremely similar to the way we once were. Lis’s stubbornness. Kevin’s impatience. Lis’s strength. Kevin’s compassion. The kids have all of these – and more! – but we love them dearly and wouldn’t change one thing about them. Okay, so maybe Lukas can cry less, Lia can ask fewer questions and Levi can be less of a wrecking ball. I guess that’s what makes them unique. I guess that’s what makes us love them.

“Impossible to see the future is.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode II – The Attack of the Clones

Lis and I learned this real fast. After we were married, we were sitting in her hot, stuffy apartment in Brazil writing down our five-year plan. Ha! The first kid came four years earlier than expected. Cancer showed up before our first travel experience. We couldn’t dictate the future then and we can’t do it now. Impossible the future is to see.

“If money is all you love, then that’s what you’ll receive.” – Princess Leia, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

We all love money to a certain extent. As the wise Jedi, Zig Ziglar once said, “I’ve had money and not had money and having money is far better.” It’s true. Except the part about Zig Ziglar being a wise Jedi. However, Lis and I learned right away the different stages of having money. After Lis got sick we went from a two income household to one. We cut some unnecessary things and survived. When I was finally making a decent income we decided to leave that and start our own business from scratch. There have been $1,100 months and $4,000 months. We’ve continued to cut down on unnecessary bills. We’ve learned that money doesn’t matter that much to us. Yes, would we rather have some than none – of course, but when people ask me my definition of success it’s to be able to support my family and take them on a vacation once a year (that includes visiting our family in Brazil, which is the price of a small country). That’s all we want to do. Fancy cars, extravagant houses, cable television, a Jedi craves not these things.

“I love you.” – Princess Leia; “I know.” – Han Solo, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

We’re not the kind of couple that holds hands as we skip through Wal-Mart, calls each other “babe” or jumps on Facebook every time we do something nice for each other to profess our love to our “friends.” You won’t hear us repeat any cheesy love quotes from Star Wars: Episode II – The Attack of the Clones. Lines like Anakin’s, “From the moment I met you, all those years ago, not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought of you. And now that I’m with you again… I’m in agony. The closer I get to you, the worse it gets. The thought of not being with you. I can’t breathe. I’m haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me. My heart is beating… hoping that kiss will not become a scar. You are in my very soul, tormenting me… what can I do?- I will do anything you ask.”

And Padme’s profession, “I truly… deeply… love you and before we die I want you to know.

Nope. We’re more Leia and Solo, and that’s why Solo’s response to Leia is even more precious to us. We love each other. We make sure to tell each other that every night (or at least the night’s where one of us don’t fall asleep on the couch watching a movie) before we fall asleep. I love her, she loves me; we both know.

“Stay on target.” – Gold Five, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

Pretty simple. We’ve made it 11 years and we’re doing fine. Let’s keep on keeping on. Let’s continue to “Stay on target.”

Here’s to another 11 years of staying on target!

When life gets you down, confused, frustrated … host your community’s lip sync event!

Things have been caddywhompus for the wife and I the last couple of months. Here, there, maybe there, maybe here again? I won’t get into too much, but I will say change is on the horizon, though we don’t know what or where that change that might take us.

Then came the 26th annual Sultan Lip Sync. An event I had participated in with my brothers, and our friend, the last two years. An event the aforementioned and I had won the last two years.

If you know me, and have read this blog for more than a couple of years, you’ll know that I love a lip sync, and for some odd reason, I seem to be somewhat good at it. I won’t get into that too much either, you can read my 2011 entry, “Behind the Music: My Life as a Lip-Syncer” here. Let’s just say I’ve participated in quite a few lip sync contests and I’ve never finished lower than second (and that was only once).

This year though would be different. My brothers either ignored my numerous requests at getting the band back together, or flat-out told me “not sure.” My wife continuously denied my requests at attempting to bring “Love is an Open Door” to the big stage (see our living room performance for the kids here), and my 9-year-old son and I couldn’t agree on something we could do together.

My 5-year-old daughter though said she’d perform “Let It Go” from Frozen, thus continuing the tradition of having a Johnson performing at the lip sync. More on that very, very soon!

I was without an act, so I decided to emcee. After all, I still wanted to play a part in the event.

I coaxed my former-Relay For Life Co-Chair, good buddy, and best darn DJ (and now hot dog man), Jerry, to co-emcee and he agreed (insert Peaches & Herb “Reunited”). We had a blast, brought some new (and much-needed) energy to the event and … more on that in a bit.

When Lia – that’s my daughter – said she’d perform “Let It Go” I was a little hesitant. Though very dramatic around the house, she had never performed before on stage, didn’t want any part of the church Christmas program last winter, and well, she’s five.

GrinCCat

Lia’s performance made me feel like a Cheshire Cat!

She did a dry run in front of me and Levi (our 3-year-old) and well … NAILED IT! I had tears in my eyes, a Cheshire Cat grin on my face, and clapped numerous times throughout her performance. The hardest part of doing a lip sync is making sure you and your mouth are believable. OK, that last sentence sounds silly, and most of us feel doing a lip sync is a piece of cake (try it!), but it’s true, moving your mouth to a song, and making it look believable ain’t so simple. Lia was a natural! She had that part down already!

The second biggest thing was the comfort on stage. She was a little shy when she performed in front of the extended family. She refused to perform in front of my youth group (there were boys in attendance!). She would twiddle her hair, or rub her nose, if she felt embarrassed. We kept giving her confidence. She still insisted on doing the performance. And, though I was hoping she wouldn’t get stage fright when the curtains opened, we were going to let her do it, as long as she wanted to. She made two last practice runs, this time agreeing to do it in front of the youth, and she showed an improved energy that she didn’t have before.

How did she do? I’ll let you be the judge, though one of the judges commented, “TORE IT UP!” and I also heard that the judges were “blown away,” and that she both “killed” and “rocked” it.

Jerry joked at the event that I was like a beauty contest mom, putting my daughter through rigorous lip sync training. Ha! Didn’t have to. She was a natural. I gave her some suggestions. She used and didn’t use the ones she thought worked well with what Elsa was trying to accomplish in the movie.

Fun tidbit, watch her performance and Elsa’s from the movie. Result, someone has watched this a little too much.

Yes, it brought tears to my eyes. I was so proud of her. This was by far her best performance. I don’t want to sound too cocky, but the best performers perform the best when they are on the big stage. They draw their energy from the crowd, from the spotlight, from the fun they are having. I know when we performed “Y-M-C-A“, our best performances were when the crowd was laughing, clapping and bringing energy. Just re-watched our “Y-M-C-A” performance. Check it out if you haven’t seen it. Friday night’s crowd did that for Lia. She received five different applauses throughout her performance. She was having fun and you could see it.

For the second year in a row one of my kids took first place in the lip sync (Lukas participated in our LMFAO performance last year). She won $50, bought a doll, saved the rest, and will perform an encore at the 2014 ACS Relay For Life. Plug: Donate to our event by clicking here.

Meanwhile, I took second place in the adult division for my performance of “Reindeer(s) are Better Than People”.

And Jerry and I? Needing a filler while the judges counted votes, we did a non-rehearsed lip sync version of the “Evolution of Dance“. It was fun. It killed. It killed us. I’m still sore!

I also did an un-rehearsed performance of “Let It Go” bringing the kids up on stage to assist. It was a lot of fun, minus the beating I received from the Lorax trees.

All this led to the most fun I’ve had in a long time, and at a time when I really needed it.

Thanks Lip Sync, I HEART you!

Every now and then I run across a picture that puts chills down my spine. Old black and white photos of Yankee legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, classic western towns, and any photo of Kate Upton (and to be fair this GQ photo shoot of my all-time crush Rachel Green from 2009, and this Princess Leia Rolling Stone shoot from 1980) normally pique my … interest.

Where was I? Oh right. On Tuesday StarWars.com released the most recent photo that heightened the hair on the back of my neck. This picture was released in conjunction with the announcement of the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII.

star-wars-episode-7-cast-announce
I know, seems silly, seeing a bunch of actors sitting in a circle about to do a first-read of the Star Wars script (I’m sorry did I say “sounds silly”, I mean “SOUNDS AWESOME!”), but something about the photo made me feel like I was part of the group. I mean look how cool and relaxed it seems. Everyone just casually hanging out, talking, knowing they’re about to kickstart something very, very cool. And then there’s Chewy (Peter Mayhew, farthest on the right), analyzing the script. Like he has tough lines or something. “Wave furry hands in the air in disgust and cry out WAARRGGHH!”

Oh, and I know that there are bigger and better things that we should be thinking about instead of this movie, but for some of us that are going through a rough patch in our life, this picture, and this news, allows us to take our mind off of the stressful part of our every day life. So leave me be!

Yes, just the excitement of seeing original cast members like Mayhew and Anthony Daniels, was enough to make me dance around like I was on Endor, and Lando and labia lips Nien Nunb had just torched the second Death Star.

Okay, so it was a bad attempt to be different. The real excitement is seeing Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in the picture confirming their return to the film franchise.

I wasn’t totally surprised that the announcement was made. If you read my prior post from Friday, you read that I felt, “big news is on the binary sunset horizon and I hope that news brings more optimism.”

Geez, back-to-back Dork Side posts. Sorry Mom for boring you!

Am I optimistic about this casting announcement? Heck to the Yeah I Am!

Adam Driver was already confirmed as the likely villain, throw a black hooded robe on him and I can definitely see a future Sith. Will creepy Max von Sydow be the old wise Sith that shows Driver the way of the Dark Side (thus setting us up for the final two of this trilogy)? Or will he play the Alec Guinness role?

Will Andy Serkis play a Gollum CGI-like role in Episode VII, or will we see him live and on-screen?

Oscar Isaac earned praise for leading the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, he can’t be so bad as Han and Leia’s son. Maybe Domhnall Gleeson, who has a Jedi look to him, and John Boyega, will be future Jedi, though both could fill the Han and Lando smuggler type characters.

As much as there was some bugaboo about only one new woman joining the cast (have no fear, I’m sure there are other actresses – and actors – that will play parts in this film), I think the one I’m most interested in is Daisy Ridley. Not just because she’s obscure, but because I have a feeling this is our hero. Whether it be as Han and Leia’s daughter, or not, Star Wars has always had that strong female character and I just feel our protagonist is going to be a female, and it’s going to be Miss Ridley. Plus, in staying with tradition, George Lucas always hired complete unknowns as his leads (SEE: Hamill and Hayden Christiansen).

Even Luke Skywalker himself is excited about this cast!

I have to second what my Star Wars-loving Pastor had to say, “I’m just excited for some new action figures.” Count me in for a Ridley and Driver 3 3/4-inch figure!

I was a little unsure when the original news broke about Disney taking over Lucasfilm. And I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about the Expanded Universe news. But hiring J.J. Abrams, a self-proclaimed fanboy, having he and Empire Strikes Back writer Lawrence Kasdan (who also penned Oscar nominated screenplays for The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist and Grand Canyon), and now this mix of old and new cast members makes me giddy!

And I’m excited that my trio of kids will have their own generation of Star Wars heroes and villains to get to know. I hope Ridley is the hero. My daughter loves to occasionally play with the 3-4 variety of Leia figures that I had when I was a kid. Lil’ Levi likes Chewie (and he’ll be back), Lukas is a Han Solo fan and me … I still love me some whiny Luke Skywalker. I can’t wait! Only 596 days, 8 hours and 57 minutes remain until I’m standing in line for the movie!

Just got chills again!

Every day I sit patiently waiting for Star Wars: Episode VII news to break.

A few months back I set Google up to inform me daily of anything with “Star Wars” and “Star Wars Rumors” in the storylines.

I’ve gotten nothing. Other than the movie is set to release in December 2015. Shooting for the film is said to be beginning next month. Casting should be completed. The only confirmed announcements are J.J. Abrams helmed as director and R2-D2 will return.

Until today when Lucasfilm announced that the Expanded Universe, the too many to list books, comic books, and video games, mean nothing to what is considered the Star Wars universe. The only things canon, as they call it, are the six films (darn Phantom Menace made the cut) and The Clone Wars cartoon series.

I have mixed feelings on this. I’ve only read a few of the Expanded Universe books. I know just the basic storylines, and was intrigued by the stories of Han and Leia’s children, and how one turns evil like Grandpa Darth and is taken out by his twin sister. The stories sounded exciting, and I was hoping to see them developed on screen.

Except they won’t. All that hard work that the writers of these hundreds and hundreds of Star Wars books put in, goes for naught. My buddies hundred and hundreds of dollars spent on EU books, oh they mean nothing now. I feel bad for those, like him, that were heavily invested in the EU and treated them like they were part of the series. And they were for awhile, we thought.

I can see why Disney would do this. They can start fresh. Create their own canon, their own storyline. Sometimes you have to blow it all up and start over (SEE: Death Star II), as the Emperor might say, “Wipe them out…all of them!”

Disney had to let those that believed in the EU know that things are about to get whacked out. There will be different characters, different planets, different stories than the ones they read in the EU books. Plus, it gives the screenwriters and director freedom to not worry about the EU fanboys that take the Star Wars universe too serious. I mean, how fun is it if we know the end of the next trilogy?

Still it’s hard to think they’re just going to wipe out 30 years of storylines and start anew. There are already four books scheduled for release before next winter’s continuation of the original trilogy – and they look interesting. Okay, maybe not “A New Dawn,” which is just trying to get us excited for the Star Wars: Rebels cartoons that Disney is producing, but a story told by the point of view of my boyhood idol, Luke Skywalker, called “Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi.”

I’m still optimistic. I feel big news is on the binary sunset horizon and I hope that that news brings more optimism. A new hope. The Force will forever be strong with me … I hope.

There are certain phrases in life you just don’t want to hear. “You have cancer” usually makes the top five of that list. On April 7, 2005 – nine years ago today – my wife and I heard those news as the doctor informed us that she had leukemia.

I had always enjoyed the “Songs in the Key of Life” column that we posted on PopBlerd! A reference to Stevie Wonder’s Grammy award-winning Album of the Year titled “Songs in the Key of Life,” the column would feature one of our writers relating a song to a moment in their life.

I made my “Songs in the Key of Life” debut in September when I used Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Cinderella” to celebrate my daughter’s fifth birthday.

We all have songs that may pop up on your iTunes playlist and take you back to a moment that either made you smile or made you emotional. We all have songs that we like to put on to take us back to a moment that either made us smile or made us emotional.

Rascal Flatts’ 2005 single “Skin (Sarabeth)” has done that to me for the last nine years.

Fitting that the song was released just months after my wife’s diagnosis, and right before her final round of treatment. I still remember the first time it played on the radio. I tried to shush my sister-in-law, who was visiting from Brazil and understood no English, so I could listen intently to the lyrics.

Sarabeth is scared to death
To hear what the doctor will say
She hasn’t been well, since the day that she fell
And the bruise that just won’t go away

It was late-November when my wife took a tumble, carrying our son, down the concrete stairs of my parent’s porch. Like a good running back she kept our one-month old tightly in her arms, using her left to brace herself for the fall. No damage was done, but a month, and then two months later her wrist was still sore and still bruised.

Not only was her wrist bruised but so were odd parts of her body. Her abdomen, the palm of her hand, I had wondered what I might be doing to her while I slept. Her co-workers jokingly – I hope – said, “I don’t want to know what’s going on with you and Kevin at home.” We waited, and waited, and waited … almost too long.

She began to fill fatigued. She had non-stop headaches. But what first-time mom, with a 5-month old doesn’t feel fatigued or have headaches? Then the pinpoint red dots began to appear on her feet, her shins, before covering her entire leg. Okay, fine, maybe it was time to heed the advice of many of people and visit the doctors.

So she sits and she waits with her mother and dad
And flips through an old magazine
Till the nurse with the smile stands at the door
And says will you please come with me

It was the morning of April 7, 2005 when my wife, 5-month old son and myself sat in the doctor’s office. He ran some blood tests, thought everything sounded odd and sent us on our way. I went back to work, my wife and son back to our rented townhouse just a block from the medical clinic.

I went to work, told my boss that we were waiting and seeing, and introduced myself to our newest employee. Then the phone rang. It was my wife, frantic and almost in tears. My wife never cried, not even during “Old Yeller.” We needed to head straight to the hospital because it might be cancerous. My body trembled. I hung up the phone, stuttered to my boss that I needed to go to the hospital right now, and stumbled out the door. I called my mom and asked if she could drive us to the hospital. I was in no condition to drive my family to the emergency room 20 minutes away.

We sat, and sat, and sat in the ER confused. We were finally told to go up to the seventh floor, and checked into Room 707. Again, we sat, and sat, and sat confused. The nurse asked my wife to undress. She hesitated, confused. They need to run tests, it’s likely that she’d have to stay overnight. Tests? Overnight? Just a hospital gown? Geez! What did we have for dinner?

Sarabeth is scared to death
Cause the doctor just told her the news
Between the red cells and white, something’s not right
But we’re gonna take care of you

Six chances in ten, it won’t come back again
With the therapy we’re gonna try
It’s just been approved, it’s the strongest there is
I think we caught it in time
And Sarabeth closes her eyes

That evening an oncologist came in, excused my confused (using that word a lot, but seriously, we were all confused) dad and brother, and told us the news. She had Acute Myeloid Leukemia aka Cancer, and if not treated immediately, she would have roughly 3-6 months to live. If you’re a fan of the TV show “Scrubs” this is where there’d be a quick flash to my thoughts and a ton of bricks landing on my head.

Yes, they thought they caught it in time, but yes, we waited until the very last minute to come into the hospital. The cancer cells were eating up her blood. In fact, she was so low on blood that they would need to refill her immediately, before starting chemotherapy. So for 24 hours straight she received a refill on blood. Twenty-four hours after that she received 24 hours a day, for seven straight days, chemotherapy treatment that killed the blood – and her body. I’ve never seen anyone go through hell, but this has to be pretty darn close.

Our immediate thought went to our 5-month old. She would need to stop feeding him, and we would need to ween him immediately to the bottle. What would we do with him, with work, with life? It all came to a crashing halt. It didn’t matter.

The morning of April 7 was the last time she would taste fresh air for 30 days.

And she dreams she’s dancing
Around and around without any cares
And her very first love is holding her close
And a soft wind is blowing her hair

Sara Beth is scared to death
As she sits holding her mom
Cause it would be a mistake for someone to take
A bald headed girl to the prom

For just this morning, right here on her pillow
Was the cruelest of any surprise
And she cried when she gathered it all in her hands
The proof that she couldn’t deny
And Sara Beth closes her eyes

And she dreams she’s dancing
Around and around without any cares
And her very first love is holding her close
And a soft wind is blowing her hair

It’s quarter to seven, that boy’s at the door
And her daddy ushers him in
And when he takes off his cap
They all start to cry
Cause this morning where his hair had all been
Softly she touches just skin

And they go dancing, around and around
Without any cares
And her very first true love is holding her close
And for a moment she isn’t scared.

The rest of the song is less-relateable for us. My wife didn’t dream of dancing (though Brazilian she can hardly bust a move on the dance floor), and she didn’t care about losing her hair. I still remember walking into her room one Sunday morning, and, with two clumps of hair in her hand, stating, “I want this out now.” She was my bald beauty just a couple hours later.

I always knew my wife was tough, preferring a good punch in the arm over a gentle kiss, but this battle just confirmed it. She never worried, never backed down, never got upset or depressed. Even her oncologist admitted that he had dealt with a lot of tough dudes in his time, but none compared to her. That’s my girl!

It helped that we were able to have our son, in his playpen, in the room for the majority of the time. It helped that family and friends would treat her room like the local coffeehouse. My brothers would be playing cards, my dad would be napping in the chair next to my wife’s bed, my mom – who finished runner-up in the MVP race during my wife’s battle (sorry, but when you win the battle you rightfully earn the MVP) because she went above and beyond what any other mother-in-law might have done – feeding my son. My buddy and I watching the NBA playoffs. The cafeteria was our dining hall, the nurses became family. My son learned to walk on the seventh floor, and the nurses called him the “Prince of 7A.”

On the day before her first Mother’s Day my wife was released from the hospital with a BIG smile on her face. Her mom and youngest sister were able to make the trek up from Brazil to be with her.

My wife would have four more week-long stays at the hospital for follow-up treatment. Those were usually followed up with an infection and another week-long stay at the hospital. But in the end she was victorious. So victorious that there was no need for a bone marrow transplant, and so victorious that, despite being told we’d likely not have kids again, we had two more.

There are so many more stories or details I could get into (you’ll have to read past posts for all that), but I won’t bore you with that. I will say that since then I’ve been heavily involved with the American Cancer Society and have listened and shared my story with hundreds of people. There are three things that I consistently tell people that were keys to my wife’s victory: Faith, support and a great sense of humor.

Today is April 7, a day I like to call our “Pause and Reflect Holiday.” A time for my wife, kids and I (and often my mom because she played such an integral   role in this battle) to take an afternoon off to be together. We can all get caught up, stressed and frustrated over financial turmoil, petty family drama, packed schedules and when will they announce the cast of the upcoming Star Wars film, that we need to look back on this date in Johnson 5 history and realize there was a time when time stopped and we didn’t know what tomorrow might bring. I know, we still don’t know, but April 7, 2005 taught me, as tough as it might be, you really have to take life one day at a time. And love … we always need love!

Oh, and if you feel so inclined, help us as we participate in our 10th American Cancer Society’s Relay For Lifeby donating to our ACS RFL team, The Force. Click http://main.acsevents.org/goto/johnson5   to support me in this fight. Thank you!

It’s been a month since I last posted about what I called the “12-Second Debacle”. I have stayed away from any football news since then, turned down requests from my buddy to watch the Seahawks Super Bowl DVD, and told Lukas that if he planned to replay the Super Bowl with his LEGOs he best do it in another room. Yes, I’m over it. Shut up!

Since I have nothing fun to write about, I thought I would give myself a recap of February 2014, so when it’s February 2024 I can look back and think, “Geez, I was so young and stupid then!” I know that’s what I think when I look back at Kevin from February 2004. Kinda that whole Matthew McConaughey Oscar speech thing, except that he sees himself as a hero and I’m a cross between Goofy and Wile E. Coyote.

So future Kevin, here are a bunch of random things that ran through my head as I sat down at 9:30pm on March 6, 2014 to write.

How are you finding the time? Lucky for me someone wanted to speak at tomorrow’s LeTip meeting so instead of coming up with something at the last-minute (and before preparing my third speech in a week) I get to relax. Yes, there are dishes to be done, but the kids are attempting to fall asleep (except for Levi … more on that when I brief you about him) and the noise of running water and banging dishes wouldn’t help accomplish the highlight of my day.

Things have been super busy, as you can expect. Basketball and church on Sunday. Tuesday morning “Boomtown” meeting, Tuesday afternoon LeTip board meeting, Wednesday featured the Chamber luncheon that you run as President, Wednesday night is Youth Group that you run at the church. Thursday morning Toastmasters, and your inspirational speech you teared up on – darn you! And that brings you to Friday morning LeTip, possibly “Coffee with the Mayor” and Saturday’s LEGO club. OK … so that’s the highlight of your week.

Oh yah, don’t forget you did your best attempt at Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars by hosting Sultan’s annual Community Awards Banquet. You can find that performance by clicking here (Thanks TurkPride TV!): Community Awards

UPDATE: Okay, maybe I was more like Seth MacFarlane. One of the attendees from the Awards Banquet came up to me this morning and mentioned a fire department joke I told to introduce one of our fire departments, and how inappropriate the joke was. “What word starts with F and ends with UCK … FIRETRUCK! Geez!” Of course, fire truck is actually two words, but for the sake of the joke. Doesn’t matter. I told him that I wavered on it, took the advice of two people that said to go for it, and, as I told him today, unfortunately that’s what people will remember from it. He agreed. Didn’t bother to compliment the fact that I had a “Go Turks!” chant going to pump up the audience for that evening’s Turks’ basketball playoff game, that I brought up 10 members of the community to do a David Letterman type “Top 10 Reasons I Volunteer”, or that I was able to fly through the event within 1-1/2 hours, an hour faster than last year’s, with more crowd interaction and less butchering and awkward pauses than the prior host (trust me, I was there). When all else fails go with your instincts, and when that fails (as it usually does) go with what your wife says, “Don’t tell the joke!”

Yes, future Kevin we hope that all these networking events will eventually pay off, but you’re really going to have to start ASKING people for their business rather than wearing a Nationwide windbreaker over a Nationwide fleece zip-up, over your dress shirt with the Nationwide lapel pin, over your Nationwide boxers (OK, so I don’t have the boxers – yet), and expect people to just randomly assume you want to do business with them. Yes, the ASK! Followed by the “How Hard Do I Push Them to Do Business With Me?” chat. Followed by the “What If They Reject Me?” feelings. Followed by either the loss, which puts me in a depressed state of mind for 2-3 business days, or the surprised excitement when they actually sign on the dotted line of both the application and their check, and the happy dance that follows as they drive away.

Tell me future Kevin, how’d we do? Did we make it? It’s an extremely tough business, this sales business. A $647 paycheck for the last two weeks of February didn’t help. You attempt to stay positive but when you have a dry spell of a week or more it’s hard to bounce back. It’s not in your make up. So tell me, did we make it?! OK … I’ll wait and see.

Keep positive … stay encouraged … even though you mention to the City that you want to host a flood informational class in their conference room and they steal your idea and present it to the other agents in the area. Theme song for this paragraph, “No Love” by Eminem and Lil’ Wayne.

Speaking of positive (sort of) you’re down to 210-pounds. We’re not sure how you did it, but drinking less pop, and eating less at night are the leaders in the clubhouse. The 210 is the least you’ve weighed in at least 5-7 years. Nice work! You’ve lost 20 pounds in a year!

You rid yourself of Facebook … at least for a day. Let’s see how long it lasts. Future Kevin, do they still have Facebook or did it finally ruin relationships between everyone. Maybe we no longer socialize, or only socialize thru social media.

adam-driver-574332lWhy did you rid yourself of Facebook (probably temporarily, though you’re secretly hoping it lasts forever. Be … strong)? It had become a huge distraction at work. You were either caught up replying to instant messages from friends, or caught up in something you saw on one of the many sports or Star Wars pages you’ve liked. No, there wasn’t stalkerish snooping, but these stories often led to other stories and just like that you were 45 minutes into reading about why some Fanboy thinks that Adam Driver (pictured right) is going to be Jacen Solo. Is he future Kevin? How did Driver do?

And this B.S. about how social media drives business! It ain’t driving my business, or like everything else, I just ain’t that good at it. I would post nearly daily and get nothing. I started to post Motivational Songs of the Day, in hopes of inspiring people with music, along with generating conversation and maybe some views. Ha! Nobody offered to share with me what songs they find motivated, I had two to four people who regularly liked it (my mom, my wife, my sales buddy that helped me come up with the idea, and one other random person), and I averaged about 22 views per post. I don’t know. I’d like it if my insurance agent posted fun, interactive stuff like Motivational Songs of the Day.

If you haven’t gotten a quote from me, or done business with me, why or why not? Please tell me. Please be honest. I thought that the people I supported via the ACS Relay for Life, community events, school, church and more would help support me. That’s why I went out on my own. I thought I’d have enough referrals from people who I work alongside with in all the community events I love doing, that my well wouldn’t run dry. Well … I’m real thirsty boss!

Our basketball team is 3-2. We won three straight and played two nearly flawless games. In one of them I dislocated my ring finger. Ouch! Knuckle was off to one side. Next day the doctor popped it into place. I can’t quite grab my kid when he goes streaking by, but typing no longer causes it to swell up and be sore. First world problems right guys?

My buddy Wes made a copy of the Toni Braxton / Babyface album “Love, Marriage & Divorce”. Like McDonald’s I’m lovin’ it! Nice to have some decent slow jams to sway to. Thanks ‘Face, you’re always so good at doing that for me!

‘Nuff about me, let’s check in with my family.

Lis was so stressed about my lack of production showing up in our bank account that she took on a fourth job working nights at Jack in the Box. Yes, thanks to your support my wife is now working nights at Jack in the Box, along with cleaning two of our friends houses, a condo complex, and raising our three kids. By the way, my wife rocks. Rather than bitch and moan about how I’ve gotten off to a rough and slow start, she took action. There are a lot of wives out there that can take a page out of my wife’s book. Kids out of diapers by two, kids sleeping in their own beds, supporting your husband, maybe not with hugs, kisses and encouraging words, but by taking action and not telling him how you wish he were different. Yes, I take her for granted, but darn I did a great job of picking her!

Speaking of great job, we had a conference with Lukas’s 3rd grade teacher today. He’s doing great. Reading above grade level. Math above grade level. He’s a team player. Loves to help his classmates with problem solving. He’s popular in class, because he likes everyone and not to the point where he’s over-confident or cocky. He works hard. Loves to ask questions. Pretty much everything we don’t see from him at home. Ha! Except that we did have to ask the question, “Does he cry?” For the third year in a row his teacher had to reassure us that, “He’s a sensitive kid.” But his teacher said that when he does get upset (often for something silly like making a mistake in class) that he just asks him to step into the hallway and get himself calmed down. No problem there! Except the teacher confessed that one time he had forgotten that Lukas was in the hallway and they started a birthday party without him. It wasn’t until one of the kids was like, “Uh teacher, Lukas is still in the hallway.” Best part of the conference was that story!

I had to send Lukas into the hallway during basketball this season. He was getting manhandled by kids that were more interested in pushing their way into steals, than actually playing solid defense. He hadn’t dealt with that before and he let it get to him. Next time we faced that team he was breaking ankles, crossing them over, scoring seven points, getting to the free throw line, and doing his best to will his team to victory. Except we loss. First season of basketball though and he led his team in scoring. Very proud!

While Lukas is dreaming of a college career in hoops, Lia is proud to admit that when she grows up she wants to be a “food scanner.” What’s a food scanner? You know those people who check out your food when you leave the grocery store? Yes, they’re called grocery clerks. That’s what my daughter strives to be. I honestly think this one can be whatever she dreams to be. She’s just five so I hope that dream grows bigger, because I have high expectations for her. In the meantime, it’s all “paper or plastic?”

We did finally get her signed up for Kindergarten. Some people wait in line for TVs, DVDs or whatever else you wait in line for on Black Friday. Well this was our Black Friday! Registration started at 9am, Lis was in line by 8:30am. It’s been a long time coming, or so it seems. We felt she was ready last year, but her birthday falls 26 days later, so she’s spent an extra year making us excited for September 2014. She says she’s nervous because she can’t write, or can only spell Lia, Levi, Cat and Dog. I know kids her age that can barely talk and just learned to use the bathroom on their own. She’ll be just fine.

That brings us to Wreck-It-Ralph, the newest nickname for Levi. I call him “Tank” as well, either one goes fine because he’s big and he’s rough and, “I’m going to wreck it!” At least that’s what he does with what seems like everything. We’ve had toys, games, furniture, whatever that has lasted through two kids and nine years, then “Ralph” comes along and it’s destroyed. Drives me nuts! “Take that from him before he … ahh!”

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The thing he does better than all three kids, other than destroy things, is fall asleep. Wow, I’ll race my 2-year-old against your 2-year-old in a “First One to Fall Asleep” contest. He’s out in three minutes flat! It’s amazing! He’s always been able to fall asleep anywhere, and now he does it in a matter of minutes. It makes bedtime so much easier, especially since the ones that had trouble falling asleep are old enough to realize that you don’t need 10 glasses of water or 13 trips to the bathroom. As he closes in on 3-years (March 27) I hope that it continues like that. What an amazing trait to have! I only realized this when I was in my mid-20′s and was falling asleep after two minutes, most of the time after boom-boom. Why does it make me so sleepy?

ChewyBaseball starts soon! Yes! That means it’s fantasy baseball season! Already have one team name that Lukas helped me with. The Walking Carpets! Like our logo?

See you in April for a recap of March!

I wasn’t afraid to share my pride, even though I was in “enemy” territory.

When a silly bet came my way I didn’t totally back down from it, despite the terms not being agreed upon before they were shared with the social media world. (Really? Can you call out someone out on a bet before you even talk to them about the bet you’re placing with them?) More on that in a bit.

I dished it out and when it was dished I took it with grace. I allowed the #GoHawks, and anti-Peyton Manning posts to go untouched on my social media wall. It’s all part of the fun right?

I fought a good fight in the hope that my team would do the same …

And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened.

I had looked forward to this moment for two weeks. I was nervous, and it showed in the two Super Bowl dreams I had the morning of the event. A chubby Russell Wilson in a bright yellow King’s Court shirt. Wes Welker catching the first pass and going 30 yards (but the refs counted it for only nine!). The game being held at an empty warehouse and with no lights! Richard Sherman being nice. It was all part of my pre-Super Bowl slumber.

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Well done parents, well done!

The pre-funk to the event was great! Church was uplifting and Super Bowl (but mostly Seahawk) related. My mom made a sweet looking football-shaped cake. My dad made French toast, and even dyed a couple of slices orange for me! The party guests were arriving and the snack spread was shaping up as one of the best ever!

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Look at Kevin all smiles before the Super Bowl. Little did I know!

And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened.

Sure I was rooting for and picking the Broncos. You want to root and cheer for your team. You want to have confidence in your team. But I knew what the Seahawks defense could bring and I was nervous. There was a reason I picked them as my Super Bowl champions in the preseason. They were a complete team.

WEIRD SIDENOTE: I picked the Hawks to defeat the Houston Texans in the Super Bowl. Funny, Seahawks win the Super Bowl, Texans finish with the worst record. Bookends to a season! Nailed it? 

SIDENOTE II: Just to prove that I knew what I was talking about back in September here’s an excerpt from my preseason preview, “But there’s a buzz here in Seattle about this team, and maybe it’s feeding me too. They have a confidence that channels their head coach, Pete Carroll. A swagger that says, “We can’t be beat!” or maybe it says “U Mad Bro?” either way, the Hawks look tough. They upgraded their defensive line with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. They have the best secondary in the game, and they have a calm and collected quarterback in second-year man Russell Wilson.”

The analysts should-be asking me for advice. These were two teams I had watched all year-long. And not just highlight watch, every down watch. I knew what the Broncos offense could bring. I knew what the ‘Hawks D could do. I knew my distaste about Wilson rolling out of the pocket and almost always finding someone open. This is what scared me most.

I still had confidence that the Broncos would do enough with the ball to put some points on the board. I mean, they averaged 37.9 points per game in the regular season. I know the Seahawks held opponents to 14.4 but there was NO WAY the Broncos were going to be held to that.

And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened.

I wanted it to be a good game. Part of me fretted about it being similar to the Broncos-Seahawks postseason 40-10 debacle. But that wouldn’t happen again!

And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened.

What if the score were 20-0 at the end of the first quarter? How would I react? I should’ve watched the game by myself? Nah, this won’t happen. These are the high-flying Broncos. Manning, Demaryius, Orange Julius, Welker, Decker and even Moreno! C’mon Kevin!

And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened.

By far, the most frustrating and UN-fun Super Bowl I have ever watched.

It started with losing the coin toss (darn you Joe Namath!) and bridged over to the first snap of the game when the ball went off Manning’s helmet and into the end-zone for a safety. And 12 seconds into the 48th Super Bowl the fun and excitement was quickly halted.

I clutched my football, rocked back and forth in the middle of the couch like Rain Man watching Jeopardy, shot quick Super Bowl trivia answers back to the people in attendance that weren’t quite sure about the safety and how frequently it happens as the first score (just three years ago … Tom Brady … second time ever).

As it had been in the postseason the Broncos run defense was great. Beast Mode was going nowhere. Down 5-0, we still had a shot, just needed a stop on third down. Nine-yard pass to Golden Tate. Need to get a stop on third down. Six yard pass to Doug Baldwin. Need to get a stop on third down. Thirty-seven yard pass to Baldwin. Need to get a stop on third down … screw it. Field goal 8-0.

Early second quarter, down 15-0 (by nightmare of 20-0 was on its way to becoming true) the Broncos looked ugly, but were driving. Then Manning is hit as he tosses the ball, it lingers up in the air and I’m hoping for Knowshon Moreno to just bat it to the grass. Nope, intercepted by Malcolm Smith, taken to the house.

My parent’s house erupted. My dad, who could maybe, maybe name three Seahawks entering the game, started his #GoHawks chant, talked about how Peyton was acting his age, and some other nonsense I zoned out on because well … because it was nonsense. I felt like it was time to leave. I didn’t want to be the downer of the party. I grabbed some snacks and went into the playroom. I needed to cool off and there was no better way to do that than by watching Frozen with my always smiling, always optimistic, 5-year-old daughter. Funny, needed to cool off and the movie of choice was Frozen. Fitting also because the hit songs from the movie are “Let It Go” – which I attempted to do – and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”  – which I wanted to do.

Later the pundits would say Smith’s Super Bowl MVP was won off of that interception. It kind of put the game away. I can confirm that. I felt put away, even if there was a half of football remaining.

Oh, and a question for the 12′s. How many 12th Men knew who Smith was coming into this game? 10 … 11 … 12. That sounds about right.

The extended break from the second quarter, and the extended halftime allowed me to cool off and remind myself that it’s just a game. I need to stop getting too invested in these players, these teams, these games. It’s not good for my heart, and with each loss it only hurts more. I mean, does Manning really care about me?

I started the second half a little optimistic … and then the Broncos did something odd, blooping the kickoff and allowing the speedy, but fragile, Percy Harvin to catch the ball on the bounce and run it back for a TD. 29-0. Time for more snacks. I jokingly yelled #GoHawks. We were a minute into the third quarter and I was starting to embrace the loss.

Denver never looked comfortable. I had watched all but one of their games this season and there was only one time on Sunday I looked at Manning and the offense and felt they were comfortable. That one time they got the ‘Hawks to jump offsides. The rest of the night they looked out of sorts, like they spent too much time in New York and not enough time studying Omaha.

By early fourth quarter I decided to turn my phone back on. Bring on the trash talk. I received a few texts – funny most came from people I didn’t realize were sports fans until this past week – a few one word posts on my Facebook wall and this picture.

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I found it amusing, but when the image appeared in real-time my buddy said, “Cut the lights!” in reference to last year’s lights going out in New Orleans. I found that more amusing so I made my own meme. See, I’m a good sport.

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It was all reminiscent of the mid-’90s when my brother and I were diehard Phoenix Suns fans living in Seattle SuperSonics territory. After every Suns playoff loss – especially to the hands of the Sonics – our phone wouldn’t stop ringing with trash talk. After the No. 8 seeded Denver Nuggets upset the No. 1 seeded Sonics, my brother and I just stood in the background smiling and saying nothing. Especially when Mutumbo did this.

I’m excited for this city. It’s been a long time coming. I wish it wasn’t at the hands of one of my favorite teams. I wish I could join in the celebration, but really I’m not that excited because of who they dominated. DOMINATED! Why couldn’t it have been the Patriots?! I hate the Patriots!

I’m excited for the few buddies that I know have stuck by this team through the AFC years, Shaun Alexander MVP year, the Shaun Alexander Running out of Bounds Years, and the Legion of Boom / Russell Wilson years.

I think it’s neat for my son to see this team win. He wore his worn-down Marshawn Lynch jersey, the same one he’s had for three years, before a lot of these 12th Men had bought theirs.

I’ll pay off the bet I succumbed to. Yes succumbed. The bet was thrown at me for people to see before I could even counter. Silly me countered the outrageous bet of shaving my oblong head with getting a buzz cut instead. I’ll get my buzz cut with the ‘Hawks jersey. I’ll play the game fairly and won’t be a sore loser. Darnit!

The Bet 

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I’m a man of my words. Stupid words perhaps, but I kept my bet. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was done at the Man Cave, a barber shop for men, with a pool table along with sports and movie memorbilia. Heck, when I was getting my hair washed I got to look at a picture of my two favorite girls from the ’80s – Princess Leia and Daisy Duke. My buddy wasn’t as bad as I thought he might be. He did give me a “Did You Know? That was the longest lead of any Super Bowl … ” I didn’t come here to hear stats I said. The first trim was scary, going from a mop top to a 1/2 an inch in as much time as it took the Broncos to fall behind in Sunday’s Super Bowl. The owner said I was a good sport, and that they wondered if I’d make good on my bet. I even had a blue 12 put on the back of my head. Now one of these pics will be my profile pic for a week. All in good fun, all in good fun!

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The Morning After

Last night I went to sleep with a full tummy and a sore heart (mostly from the loss, though the gobs of shredded beef, bean dip, fried chicken, cake, cookies, pigs-in-a-blanket and chips didn’t help either).

This time there were post-Super Bowl

dreams. Manning was flustered. Out of energy. He gobbled down orange slices to get his energy up. The Manning face looked crazed. I woke up in a heated sweat, and to the sound of my eldest tossing chunks from the top bunk. Luckily his brother had escaped from his bed below a few minutes earlier.

I woke up to 10 more Facebook posts, mostly fake apologies, again most from people I didn’t realize were sports fans.

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Nothing like a little Princess Leia to brighten your post-Super Bowl morning.

And when I came into work and turned on my computer I was greeted by this image of Princess Leia. Way to go Ghosts of Kevin Past, you knew that if I woke up to rotating images from my “Omaha!” folder that the bad memories would come back. This image makes things all better. ;)

What did I learn this weekend?

First, and totally off topic, that Lukas can play ball. He scored seven of his team’s 13 points and introduced us to his crossover, the first time he used it all season. He broke about three ankles, was hammered numerous times, grew frustrated but continued to play better, did his best and tried his hardest to lead his team to its first win, was emotionally upset because of the physical beating he took, and even though we were ousted from the playoffs showed that he might have some future ball in him. Very, very, very proud Dad moment!

I’m thankful for my immediate family and how they’ve taken to my investment in sports. In years past Lukas would have taunted me. Instead he felt bad for me (or was annoyed by my dad) and decided to watch the game in the other room. Afterwards he celebrated, but it wasn’t in a way in which I wanted to sock him in the face. ;)

My daughter could careless. She’s always smiling, always content, the perfect remedy for the destruction of your team. She watched Frozen and her day was made.

Levi is almost three. That’s about it.

When my wife and I first announced our engagement naysayers asked if she was into sports. “Nope. And that’s okay with me. She understands and acknowledges my love for sports, and that’s all I need.” Seriously, if she were a sports fan things would be a little tense in the household. As I sat and wrote this after the game she reminded me, “Ahh you, it’s just sports.” Sometimes it bothers me when people say that, but she’s right. It’s a game, it’s a sport, and I need to be reminded of that.

And that pitchers and catchers report in 9 days, 4 hours.

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