MBM Intro and 3 Tips To Balance Your Writing Time by @rlbelliston

march-book-madness-2301

Welcome! This is my fourth year hosting March Book Madness. (What is March Book Madness? Explanation here.)

2015 MARCH BOOK MADNESS SCHEDULE:

MBM
2015 March Book Madness Presenters: Rebecca Belliston, A.L. Sowards, Chris Rosche, Danyelle Ferguson, Charity Bradford, Charissa Stastny, Sarah Belliston, Tricia Pease, JoLynne Lyon

I love these authors! Their topics include writing with humor, honing in genres, MFA programs, editing strategies and more. Don’t miss a post. Subscribe to get posts delivered in your inbox here.

This year, I thought I’d post my own thoughts. It would be strange to introduce myself, so I’ll just jump right in. :)

3 TIPS TO BALANCE WRITING TIME by Rebecca Belliston

3 Tips How to Balance Your Writing Time by Rebecca Belliston

Continue reading “MBM Intro and 3 Tips To Balance Your Writing Time by @rlbelliston”

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My Jobbies: Juggling a life of Writing, Composing, and Mothering

I just updated my quick bio blurb to read:

  • I’m REBECCA BELLISTON, author and composer. If I’m not  chasing my five kids, I’m writing fiction or music, the two best jobbies in the world. I also love to laugh, play the piano, and snuggle up with a good book (though not at the same time).  

What is a jobby, you might ask?

Continue reading “My Jobbies: Juggling a life of Writing, Composing, and Mothering”

Friday Funnies: The Reality Of Being The Youngest of Five

I can’t remember exactly what we were doing as a family, but at some point, I leaned over and saw my youngest son (5) writing this…

(See if you can figure out his inflection; notice the first word in the upper left corner. It will give you a clue as to what he meant.)

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Poor kid.

I’m pretty sure therapists have their patients write down their frustrations from time to time. If that’s the case, he’s all set.

In my husband’s defense, this easily could have been written about me.

“Hey, Mom. Mom? Mom?! MOM! MOM!!!!!!!!!”

The realities of being the youngest of five.

The other kids think he’s spoiled rotten. This makes me think otherwise. :)

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And since I’m showing pictures…Do you ever pick up your camera and find a completely illogical and random picture?

IMG_0217Yeah.

Apparently this is what happens at our house when my hubby and I go out to dinner. In case you can’t quite see it, let me explain what we have here:

  1. Up front is Afro Princess Rapunzel with her baby stroller.
  2. Basketball boy seems normal enough until you realize he’s wearing a Winnie the Pooh costume. I didn’t realize Pooh could dunk.
  3.  Bob Marley is the one holding a guitar, sporting a  ninja costume and a yellow floaty. Huh? A floaty?
  4. The mad scientist is wearing I don’t even know what. Not sure if I want to know.
  5. Cowboy Pumpkin Boy is riding his horse. He’s probably the most logical costume, assuming it’s logical for a pumpkin to ride a horse.
  6. The one up front in the lovely pink cherry skirt is a boy wearing reindeer antlers and wielding a light saber. Classic.
  7. Oh, and my daughter is in pajamas on the table.

You know, when people say this generation has no creativity, I beg to differ.

When we got home that night, I asked my kids, “So what did you do with your friends tonight?”

They said, “Oh, we made a video.”

Let’s just say I’m anxious to see this video.

Have a great weekend!

PS) I haven’t posted on the blog much in the last month because every extra ounce of time has been spent finishing that room shown above. You can probably see the bucket of plaster and ladder in the picture. The basement is almost done. Yay! I guess the kids like it. :)

Friday Funnies: I’m Reading A Book

My kids love YouTube.

It kind of scares me, actually. I’m glad YouTube has safety filters, but I still try to stay aware of what they’re watching.

Lucky me.

I can’t tell you how many random, lame videos I’ve been subjected to. You should feel sorry for me.

One of their favorite YouTube sensations is Julian Smith. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s funny, a little odd, and sometimes not allowed in our house. But…Janette Rallison posted about one of his videos this week. It’s a song my kids have sung around the house, but I hadn’t seen yet.

It’s funny. Weird, but funny (which describes all five of my kids). If you love books and have a strange sense of humor like us, you might like it, too. 

And here’s one more video that made me smile this week, not because it’s funny, but because it was just sooo cool.

This video comes from Eclipse, an awesome mens A’Capella group. It’s their version of Taylor Swift’s “22”. A great love song for those of us who need reminders to keep dating after marriage.  

  • Maybe I should have started with that video. The two are nothing alike. Sorry. Random.
  • As I rewatched both videos for this post, my kids came running up to my computer to see them again. They’re crazy.

The best part, though, was last night my kids were playing the Wii, and I happened to glance over from the kitchen. For some reason I’ve yet to figure out, the 5yo and 16yo were wearing the exact same glasses as Eclipse wore in the video. Not sure where they found them, or why they needed them to play Wii Sports Resort, but it made me laugh. :)

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Happy Weekend!

Read other Friday Funnies here.

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Comment here

Friday Funnies: Welcome To My Life

You know the old saying, A picture is worth a thousand words?

Well…

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Formerly Neapolitan Ice cream

Welcome to my life.

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I was alerted to this strange ice cream phenomenon by my fuming mad daughter (who is convinced her brothers were put on earth to eat us out of house and home). 

Picture me trying to yell at my son for eating ONLY the chocolate part while trying not to laugh my head off. He might as well have licked the inner part clean. Not a spoonful of chocolate left. It’s like the Grand Canyon in there. I’m pretty sure he didn’t use a bowl either. Straight from the container. That’s his style.

Yep. Welcome to my life.

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It’s one of those parenting dilemmas, though. Disciplining without laughing. You see, I can totally understand his predicament. Vanilla is boring, and you have to be in the mood for strawberry. But chocolate is great anytime. Anytime!

Gotta love him for his creativity.

I’m not sure if he’ll live to his 12th birthday–not if my daughter can help it–but you gotta love his creativity. 

Welcome to my life.

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What do you think? Is Neapolitan better this way? Personally, I’ve never been a fan. Pick a flavor already and stick with it. Why confuse your taste buds?  It’s the last time I buy it, that’s for certain.

By the way, any suggestions on how to eat the rest of it? There’s not a soul in the house who will touch it. Oh, wait. There might be one.

Maybe I’ll sick it on the 4yo. He won’t care. :)

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Have a great weekend!

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Comment here

Friday Funnies: Maybe I Should Leave the House More Often

(losing)

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It’s possible I’m not getting out of the house enough.

In fact, I know I’m not.

:)

In an effort to keep my youngest (the notorious 4yo from the UofM library fiasco) entertained, I’ve spent the week playing hours and hours of UNO, his new favorite game.

I should warn you: if you’re going to let a 4yo deal when you’re not watching, fate will tip wildly on his side.

Don’t believe me?

HIS HAND YESTERDAY

MY HAND YESTERDAY?

Not even so much as a lousy little Reverse.

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He took the Hunger Games motto to heart. “May the odds be ever in your favor.” Or more accurately, “May the odds be ever stacked against you, you gullible mother of mine.”

I’m happy to say I almost won that round. Apparently, cheaters almost never prosper.

And just to show what hanging with a 4yo around the clock does to your brain, I find this video clip incredibly funny.

I’ve watched it more times than I should admit.

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Funny, huh?

The writers of Sesame Street have a great sense of humor. I aspire to be one of them–sort of.

(I’m assuming you’ve already seen the Harvard baseball team version of this song. If not, it’s here. You must watch the whole thing. What makes this even better is that my daughter (13) was doing this little dance to the radio as we were driving. We pulled up to a red light and the man next to us, an older man in his 70s, started doing the dance with us. Classic. I love funny people!)

Have a great weekend!!!

Do you have any other “Call Me Maybe” video clips? We’re starting a collection at the Belliston household. (Must be kid-friendly) 

Comment here.

related posts: Four-year-olds and Curators Don’t Mix

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Friday Funnies: Four-year-olds and Curators Don’t Mix

(not laughing–not yet)

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I’m not sure if I’m ready to laugh about this incident yet. In fact, I know I’m not. But I haven’t done Friday Funnies for awhile, and if I don’t document this now, it won’t be readily available to torture my son with later.

I love genealogy.

I’ve loved it since I was a little girl and my mom would tell me stories about my ancestors fighting in the Revolutionary War or coming over in the Mayflower. It’s fascinating to see pictures of great, great, great grandmothers who have my eyes—or I should say, I have theirs. It’s very cool.

There is one line of our genealogy that has been stuck in the 1800s forever. This family lived in America, in Ohio actually, so this has been very frustrating. It seems like there should be more information than there is.

My sister in Utah emailed me earlier this week saying we might have a lead. Someone found reference to a book, a diary, of one of the daughters in this family, that dates back to 1863. In this diary, she lists not only her parents, but her grandparents and where they were born. A huge breakthrough. The online description told us that much about the diary, but of course, not what those names are.

But the best part was this diary is being preserved in a library 45 minutes from my house. In Michigan. Of all the places for it to be, 45 minutes away from me!

Cool, right?

Wednesday, I dropped the two middle kids off at school, looked in the rearview mirror at the youngest (4yo), and said, “You want to go for a little drive?”

He’s bored to tears at home. Our house is too quiet now that the other kids are in school. So of course he agreed.

Keep in mind here, I’ve been a mother for 16 years. I’m experienced. I’ve taken many four-year-olds on many adventures. I know better, right?

It wasn’t until we get lost in Ann Arbor trying to find the address, that I realized this library was smack dab in the middle of the U of M campus.

There wasn’t any parking within three blocks. But it was a beautiful, fall day in Michigan. The air was cool and crisp. Perfect. I hoisted my laptop bag over my shoulder and convinced him to go on a “little” walk. This little walk ended up being over a mile, because apparently there are two University Avenues on the U of M campus. A North University Ave and a South University Ave.

That would have been nice to know going into this.

But I was still stoked. I’m about to make a major breakthrough.

The 4yo got tired two blocks in.

I carried him around with the heavy laptop bag, trying to figure out why I couldn’t find this library on N University Ave, while trying my best to fit in on the prestigious university.

FYI: 4yos don’t blend in at prestigious universities. Just in case you’re wondering.

As soon as we found the library, I realized this wasn’t the massive library I envisioned. It was a tiny, quaint library. A special library. Which meant it wouldn’t have the world’s cutest children’s department where the 4yo could occupy himself. In fact, from the lack of children I’d seen on campus, I figured this tiny library wasn’t going to have a children’s department at all.

But I was an experienced mother. I knew how to distract my kids. I didn’t let this deter me. My family had waited 80 years for this breakthrough. I drove 45 minutes and dragged a 4yo around the UofM campus. I wasn’t turning back. I could do this.

We took a ten minute pretzel break outside. I got him in a happy mood, and ventured in.

Clue #1 that this wasn’t going to end well:

I was greeted by a receptionist who sat in front of a closed door. Closed. I couldn’t even peek inside the library.

Clue #2 that this wasn’t going to end well:

While eyeing the 4yo, she asked why I was there. Then she gave me paperwork to fill out. Paperwork. They wanted to know who I was, what was my intent, schooling, and research history. I’m surprised it didn’t ask for my height and weight.

Clue #3: She asked for two forms of ID.

Yep. Driver’s license and a Visa. And she wrote down my license #. Keep in mind, all of this is to READ A BOOK. I’ve already learned from the paperwork that I’m not allowed to copy or photograph the book. I can only read it and take notes. But it still required two forms of ID.

Once I went through the screening, she called a man down to escort me inside the library. He, too, eyed the 4yo, but introduced himself. As a curator.

Clue #4: Not a librarian. A curator.

Suddenly I felt like a scene out of a Dan Brown movie, where Robert Langdon breaks into an old library vault, and searches through documents he shouldn’t be touching, ruining books right and left.

The guy, this curator, was wearing a white shirt, bowtie, and sweater vest, fulfilling all stereotypes. He informed me that all of my bags must be stored in a locker before we could enter.

Clue #5: Bags in locker.

And that’s when I remembered, I’m not Robert Langdon. They weren’t going to let me ruin any book for this lifelong search of mine. Or my four-year-old son who suddenly stuck out like a freckled red head in Bangladesh. But I played along. I signed my life away, locked my things away, and, under my breath, I did something I try to never do as a mom. I bribed the 4yo.

It’s not that I’m against bribery. I’ve used it plenty of times, but most times it backfires, turning seemingly wonderful kids into monsters. Next thing you know, they expect every candy bar from every grocery checkout simply because they woke up for the day. No. I keep bribery in my back pocket to pull out in the most desperate of times.

As I follow the bow-tied man through the doors to the main room, I knew I was 100% desperate.

Whispering, I promised the 4yo that if he was silent the whole time—the whole time—we’d get ice cream and lunch as soon as we left. I’d even buy him a pony. Okay. Not the pony, but I wasn’t against throwing it in if needed. I’d received ‘the look’ from every employee I’d passed thus far. They don’t get kids to their library. Probably ever. He had to be perfect. I had to prove these people wrong about kids. Kids are great. Kids are awesome! And mine know how to behave, right?

Sort of.

For fifteen minutes.

The curator had already pulled my book from the back vaults (or wherever they stored it), and it was waiting for me at a table, perched on top of a special stand—a stand!—that protects the binding and book cover.

What number is that? Clue #6?

You’d think I was asking to read the Declaration of Independence.

But at last, Bow-tie man left me alone with the book in the dead silent, drop-a-pin-and-hear-it-echo room. I sat my son next to me and pushed him as far away from the book and the stand as possible. I prayed a silent prayer that he wouldn’t get a sudden case of stomach flu and vomit all over it. That would be just my luck. In front of us sat another curator, watching all of us in that room with our books, making sure we didn’t breathe–or vomit–wrong. 

My time was limited. I was smart enough to know this. Yet, I was so anxious to see this precious diary with the keys to unlock my heritage. My family has waited 80 years for this moment. I could break through, I could get us to the next level. But I had to balance it with my present issue of bringing my 4yo into a Robert Langdon movie. Have you ever seen a 4yo in a Robert Langdon movie? Neither have I.

There’s a reason.

(Why didn’t I leave him home with a neighbor??? My spontaneity backfired. Big time.)

I flipped through those pages like my eldest flips through his chemistry book.

I skimmed, pretended to read, yet saw very little. And it was amazing stuff in there. Entries about the civil war. Hand-copied obituaries. Even old recipes for pickled cherries. It was awesome and totally worthy of Bow-tie man’s protection. But I was flying through the book, passing it all up in search of “the page.”

The son finished his drawing and said, “More paper, please.”

I looked around. I panicked. My bags were in the locker. My bag of tricks.

Not good!

I shoved my copy of the paperwork I just filled out (yes, they gave me a copy!) and knew I had to wrap things up. There was very little white space on that paper. I had three minutes, tops, before he was done.

More flipping, and I found the page in the diary. There it was. Name after hand-written name on that page, giving us the links we’ve been searching for. I started scribbling frantically.

The son messed up his pictures and threw his pencil down.

He wasn’t happy. And to let me know, he made a peep. A small peep, but it echoed through the room. I felt patron eyes glare at the back of my head. The curator up front gave me a warning look.

I started erasing his mistake for him.

He peeped louder. He didn’t want my help. He wanted another piece of paper. So I whispered in his ear and reminded him of the ice cream and pony awaiting him. He clamped his mouth shut, but more peeps tried to break through. And more escaped. He still wants another piece of paper.

Stupid lockers.

I no longer had three minutes. I had 30 seconds before all heck broke loose. I could see it in his watering eyes.

I gathered my things, left the book on the special stand, and informed the 4yo that it was time to go.

He freaked.

Yep. Freaked.

I overestimated. I didn’t have 30 seconds. I had 10. And even then, I wasn’t fast enough.

You see, my bribery backfired. I promised him he could have the ice cream only if he was quiet while I worked. He knew he hadn’t been quiet. He wanted to stay and try again. He was desperate to fulfill his end of the bargain. But I knew there was no way he’d be able to pull himself together after driving 45 minutes and walking a mile. Not even for a pony. He was done. But he was convinced otherwise. He tried hard to cry silently. He even pinched his red eyes to keep them from watering. But he wasn’t fooling anyone. Not in the silent room.

I grabbed my laptop in one hand (extremely awkward, considering it’s not in its case), I shoved the paper and pencil and 4yo’s jacket on top of it, and stood up.

“Let’s go.”

He freaked his freak.  

No longer would his tightened lips contain his displeasure at leaving this locked-down, oval-office-type-security library. He wanted to stay! He wanted ice cream!

Pride flying out the window, I picked him up with the free arm that’s really not all that free. So he went limp noodle on me and dropped.

Hard.

His lip hit the corner of my laptop. Suddenly, he was mad and injured. I scrambled to keep hold of the laptop and papers, knowing I would never be allowed back on the U of M campus, let alone in their precious, special library.

The 4yo was on the floor, flailing.

Mind you, he hadn’t pitched a fit like that since he was two. Why in that place, at that time, did he choose to regress, I’ll never know. But I was mortified.

The lady curator was kind enough to ask if I needed help. I shoved my laptop and papers at her, and picked up the limp noodle. Man, he’s heavy when he wants to be. We got out of the main room and were greeted by the receptionist who gave me a look like, “Why did you ever in a million years bring a kid to a place like this?”

So the fun part was, I still had to get my stuff out of a locker and packed up. I dropped the 4yo on the ground so he could flail around without injuring me. But he’s an intelligent boy. Once free, he jumped up and ran back to the door. Remember his goal. Ice cream. He was determined to get back in there and earn it. (May I never bribe another kid as long as I live.)

He got the door half open before I realized his plan. Stupid lockers.

Sadly, the doors weren’t made out of steel. They weren’t soundproof either. In fact, the building was probably 100 years old, so every sound of our episode in the hallway was probably echoing in their perfect little setting.

I wasn’t happy.

It seems like the incident would have ended with me dragging him, literally, outside. It almost did. But alas, even that was too dignified an escape for us. Life wasn’t done laughing at me for the day.

Thirty yards away from the building, the crying, screaming kid informed me I’d forgotten his jacket. I stared at him for several minutes, contemplating. If we didn’t have a mile to walk in the crisp, cool air, I would have left it. I would. But cold skin leads to more screaming. College kids passed us right and left, carrying their heavy backpacks and giving us ‘the look.’ I couldn’t exactly leave the screaming child outside with them. Could I? I’m not proud to admit that I considered the possibility longer than I should have. But I did the right thing.

I picked him up and dragged him back inside.

The receptionist looked up as we entered. Words cannot describe the expression on her face.

Without speaking because, really, what was there to say at that point, I walked past her, snatched up his jacket, and walked back out. And then we started the long walk to the car. 

I’m not quite ready to laugh at this episode that is sure to live a long, vivacious life in the minds of those curators at the U of M. Someday, maybe, but not yet. But I can promise you that when this child of mine has a child of his own who throws a fit at the worst time, in the worst place, I will be quick to remind him of this day.

In case you haven’t lost all respect for me yet, I should finish the story.

We got ice cream on the way home.

Yep. I’m officially that mom.

Anyone else have a story that reaches far beyond humiliation? Anyone else ever momentarily tempted to give their child up for adoption? (jk) Comment here.

(Oh. Since they took all my information, there’s a chance that the U of M curators have tracked me down and are reading this post. If that’s the case, I absolve you of any and all disdain you feel towards me for putting all of us in that situation. I knew better. I did. And I will never make that mistake again. Hopefully.)

related posts: Friday Funnies

Friday Funnies: Neon Moons and Sparkly Nails

(laughing)

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My boys seem to star in every Friday Funny post. That’s because they’re…well…crazy.

I have three boys. 16, 11, and 4.

Between the three of them, they’re always coming up with something that makes me want to laugh (or pull out my prematurely graying hair).

The 16yo wanted to paint his room this week. He sleeps in the almost-finished basement, which means his room has been in various stages of construction for five years. He’s a patient kid. When I asked him what color he wanted to paint his room, he said, “Blue and green.” In my mind, I was thinking, navy blue and forest green. A very masculine combination. But dark. Too dark for a basement, in my opinion. I tried to talk him out of it and got him to agree to one wall blue, one green, one white, and one striped with the three colors.

A compromise.

Then we went to the paint store. I suddenly realized what he meant by “blue and green.” Not just any blue, but bright royal blue. And not just any green, but neon, hurt-your-eyes green. In fact, the technical name of the green paint was “Shockingly green.” And it is.

I stared at the paint swatch and thought, “ARE YOU NUTS!” Yet out of my mouth came a calm, controlled, “Are you sure? It’s pretty bright.”

“Yeah. It’s sweet!”

Since his room is the absolute furthest room from mine I consented to this crazy color combination. I have been priming and painting ever since. Here’s what we have so far.

You walk into the room now and everything is cast under a greenish glow. It’s awesome. (And reminiscent of a snow suit Sadie wore in my book if you’ve read it). I must say, it makes me laugh every time I walk in. Love that kid.

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The 4yo gave me and our neighbors a great laugh this week.

Us adults were sitting back on our deck one evening while the kids played capture the flag. The perfect way to spend a summer evening. 

The 4yo came tearing onto the deck and said, “Mom. Mom! The moon is following me!”

He then darted back and forth on the deck, dodging the chairs and us adults while keeping his eye on the sky. “See! It’s following me!”

We laughed. But he wasn’t done.

This continued for five minutes! He dodged left, faked right, ran back and forth and over to the driveway, trying to lose the moon. But that clever lunar beast knew exactly where he was headed.

Thankfully my son found this terribly funny and not terribly frightening.

I mean, think about it. How creepy is it that something as big as the moon follows you EVERYWHERE you go! No wonder why some people insist that the universe revolves around them. :) I found it too amusing to correct him. If you haven’t noticed yet from my posts, I rarely correct my children. I know. I’m horrible. But…if he still thinks the moon is following him in his adult years, I’ll assure him that the world does not, in fact, revolve around him.

Even though right now it does–at least for our family (and neighborhood).

To prove this, the last story is also about him. Actually, it’s about my eldest daughter as well. I guess it’s not just the boys doing crazy things.

I was gone several hours today, taking care of many things, including getting a driver’s license for my eldest son (STAY OFF THE ROADS!).

My daughter has had to babysit the other kids a lot this week because of my crazy schedule. She wasn’t too happy to babysit again today. You see, her summer hours are very limited and very precious. She only gets to see her friends every day, not every hour, and as she often reminds me, that is JUST NOT ENOUGH.

Feeling sorry for her, I told her she could still hang out with her friends as long as they kept an eye on my youngest. The 4yo being followed by the moon.

Note to self: begrudged daughters will take out frustrations on unsuspecting children to get revenge on trusting mothers

Not only does he have these amazing pedicured piggies (and really, they are quite amazing with the orange sparkly polish and perfectly formed daisies), but he can describe them sooo well, too.

Him: “Um, it is pumpkin orange. Um…and it’s sparkly. And it’s gray sparklies. And, and it has flowers on it!”

Me trying not to burst out laughing: “What do you think daddy will say?”

Him: “Oh. Those are beeeautiful!”

Sadly this is not the first time it’s happened. (See related post here; I’ll never learn)

Even more sadly, I’m sure it won’t be the last.

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Have a great weekend!

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Anything funny happen to you this week?

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Related Posts: Friday Funnies

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