Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Happy Halloweeen!!

Frodo, Arwen and the Butterfly Fairy Princess say BOO!

J really likes to carve pumpkins, and he is good at it

Headless Horseman

Princess Jackie O' Lantern, drawn by JBean, carved by J.

Silly Face


and Vote for

Nov 4th

Designs from Yes, We Carve blog...a brilliant idea.

What's your favorite candy?

T, who likes Kit Kats and Mounds bars

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Pulling My Hair Out

Quick, take this quiz:
My littlest one has been such a pill these last few days that I am:
A. Selling her to the gypsies, just as soon as they show up at my door
B. Locking her in a closet with a rabid weasel
C. Leaving the country and flying to Fiji....alone
D. Keeping a food journal to figure out what the sam hill I am feeding her that's making her crazy

And the answer is: D but I reserve the right to also consider C. Does anyone have any frequent flyer miles they want to donate to my sanity? How about hard liquor? I won't drink it, I will just stare at it and think about drinking it...promise.

I don't think I am feeding her anything strange, but I want to make sure it isn't a blood sugar dip, or a food dye or high-fructose corn syrup or Obnoxious Juice What? You haven't heard of O.J.? I am pretty sure most teenagers drink it, and since I have one in the house, maybe my 7 year old also managed to find it. Still don't know where it comes from, though.

I figure by keeping a list of everything she eats and drinks, I might be able to figure out if there is a pattern to her fits,screams and general unpleasantness. Is it food? Time of day? Fear? Anxiety? I am rational. So by studying it, I am hoping to hit upon a solution. Or head to Fiji. Stay tuned.

So..what do you suggest I do with this child?

T, who just wants a normal life, but geez, I will settle for a margarita

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tic Tac Dooooh!

T, who says it's his to lose

I Have It...I Admit It

I haven't been writing much, we are so close to the election that I have been thinking of that, instead. I am watching CNN, MSNBC, Daily Show and trying to keep up with the news. It's crazy. We are poised on the cusp of real change, and I so hope it happens.

I remember in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote...and lost the Presidency. It broke my heart. I am one of those conspiracy theorists who believes the election was stolen that day. Then, in 2004, when Kerry lost, the same thing happened. And I was done with politics. Around 2005, I stopped watching the news regularly. The knot that I sat in my gut afterwards was just too painful. I wasn't sleeping at night, I was having panic attacks, it was just too much. I would hear the evil (and make no mistake, what was done to this country has been evil) done by the Bush Regime and I would just cry. So I had to opt out, for my own peace of mind.

And then this upstart came in. He was young, comparatively. He had young daughters, which translated to me, means that he has a horse in this race. He was an idealist. He had ideas that made sense. He was personable, organized and trustworthy. And I fell. Now, I am participating again. I feel the stirrings and I am seriously feeling like something might be Right again. It has been a long, dark 8 years. And we are coming out of the tunnel. Now we just have to be sure that the sunlight doesn't blind us. We must hold our elected officials to what we elected them to do. And we have to stay informed, not just believe what they say.

Remember, they work for us. And we need to care, to vote and to demand change.

T, who says Change begins with US

Monday, October 27, 2008

It Wasn't Theirs To Steal, Anyway

Finally, a song I can get behind! I love that it's a country song. How deliciously ironic. remember the debacle with the Dixie Chicks and how country music fans tried to censor them? The song is called I'm Takin' My Country Back.



Then the siege will be over. We will have a new President. And while I DO NOT want McCain, if by some unfathomable act he is elected, he cannot be worse than Bush.

Change is comin'. There's a fresh wind on the horizon. Do you feel the stirrings?

>How about you? Are you starting to breathe again, too?

T, who actually might be able to breathe again

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Who is the REAL America?

There is a culture war going on...some think if you live in a city, you aren't a Real American. Sadly, these are presidential candidates and government officials! Is this ok with you? When did it become unamerican to exercise free speech? Or disagree with those in power? For those who don't get have to see this clip!

So are you wondering if YOU are a real American? Take Jon's test:

T, who thinks we must live in the Twilight Zone

Friday, October 24, 2008

Have I Told You That I Think You ROCK?

consider it said...YOU ROCK. Thanks for reading.

I am really behind on Bloggy Housekeeping (not to mention regular housekeeping!) and need to give thanks to some and props to others. we go:

From the Bon Bon Gazette I received the Kick Ass blogger's award...thanks Hellokittiemama! I appreciate the vote of confidence!

The rules:

1. Choose 5 bloggers that you feel are “Kick Ass Bloggers”.
2. Let ‘em know in your post or via email, twitter or blog comments that they’ve received an “Award!” Share the love and link back to both the person who awarded you and back to
3. Hop on back to the Kick Ass Blogger Club HQ to sign Mr. Linky then pass it on!

I choose my own, and because I never could follow the rules, I choose 6:

Whitterer on Autism


Confessions of an Apron Queen

For a Different Kind of Girl

That Girl Blogs

Attack of the Redneck Mommy

Marshella presented me with

The Charming Award

The Rules: Leave the following message on your post when you pass the award on to their chosen eight blogger buddies. “These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

From California to Singapore

A Smeddling Kiss

Feel Me.

Shannon Sez So

this military mama

adventures in babywearing

the adventures of leelo and his potty-mouthed mom

And my friend, 2TooManyHats, has tagged me. As if you don't know enough about me, now I have to find seven inane pieces of information that you probably could care less about...but I am a good sport, so here goes...

  • My second toe is longer than my big toe. I have piano player toes. Yeah, that's it.

  • my favorite coffee comes from Starbucks. I order a Grande mocha decaf, and used to get chocolate whipped cream, but they discontinued it. Now I get regular whipped cream and have them drizzle it with chocolate syrup.

  • I was the consummate "WHY??" kid. My parents were so exasperated that by age six, they bought me a set of encyclopedias. I read them all by the time I was in the 6th grade.

  • I like Science Fiction, but not all of it. I like cerebral Sci-Fi, like Fringe, Heroes and, two that aren't around anymore, Babylon 5 & Firefly.

  • I love animals and feel immense joy visiting them at the zoo. I really think I have a connection...when I show up they come to the fence, or make eye contact. It's weird, and others have commented on it.

  • I love tech gadgets, but they have to be intuitive. Just tech isn't enough for me...I don't like piddling to figure things out. One of the reasons I love Apple: things are where you THINK they will be.

  • I bit my nails for many, many years. One day, I just stopped. I don't know how. Now they are long and strong and nice-looking. I tried for years and couldn't cease; no idea how I finally did.

  • I like to cook, but it is difficult to spend the time to do so. I cook well, but have a hard time duplicating the same thing. I add to taste, and it works, but I never know what I just did.

Ok, so now I have to pick 7 more people to shower you with random stuff about themselves: Momma's Tantrum
To Think is to Create
A Box of Chocolates
Dried Paper Cuts and Chickens
The White House
Peyton's Hope Page

There. Go.

T, who wants to give an award to EVERYONE

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Monkey Butt than You Can Handle

The San Diego Zoo is running a special for the month of October: all kids under 11 are free! So, though San Diego is an hour-and-a-half away, we piled into the van and made the drive.

Once there, we visited the Children's Zoo, and the Reptile House. JBean was reluctant , but I walked her through it. She has a snake phobia, but a little bit of graduated desensitization is hopefully having her get over that. I had her walk through with Jordan, sort of on the outskirts, so that she could see from afar, but she didn't have to examine the snakes closely. I made sure she knew I was looking at them, and told her a bit about them. And finally, when there was a lizard, I brought her over to see it. She gained accomplishment, and confidence...I set her up to succeed.

I am convinced that is what parenting is...setting your child up to succeed...bit by bit.

She is at the age where the unknown is very scary, so every enclosure we approached, she had to be reassured that the animal was safe, it couldn't get her, and it was NOT NOT NOT a snake. Once she saw the animal, she relaxed and enjoyed watching it. The animals seemed to enjoy us, too. At every stop, I ended up with some great pictures. Almost like the animals were posing!

Ever the homeschooler, JBug brought a notebook and wrote down questions she wanted answers to so she could Google them once we came home. We still don't know why gorillas eat their own waste, though! No, I am not kidding!

When Mr. Mountain Lion saw the littlest one of our party...

mmmm, LUNCH, he seems to be saying as he sees her

"oh Koala Lou, I DO love you!"

"So, tell the doctor where it hurts..."

This is Calvin. He's 100 years old

The giraffe was THIS close!

The Zoo is constructing a new elephant habitat, to be opened in Spring of 2009..the animals will have more room

More Monkey Butt

T, who really loves the zoo (if it's the right one)

Guess What I Got??

My New Toy

I expect to be spending more time on twitter now...and I can actually text, with a built-in keyboard. Before my phone had me picking between 3 different numbers, and it was awful! I will do a review in a few days. For now, it seems pretty ok...small annoyances, like I can't find a twitter client, but that's the price you pay for early adoption, I guess. I like most of the features, it is easy to use, and so far, haven't found it to be laggy. The GPS can't find me in my house, but the Google Maps portion works well. It's pretty, maybe not as spare as the iPhone, and evokes shades of the Sidekick, but I still like it.

Oh, and


That was a teaser.(we went to the San Diego Zoo yesterday... pictures and post forthcoming)

T, who says, Monkey Butt!

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Carving Out Family Time

On Saturday, I got it in my head to visit the Pumpkin Festival held every year at Cal Poly Pomona. We were supposed to meet up with our local 4H group, but parking was awful, and we ran late. Looping through the parking lot, stress was rising, and tempers were flaring, and Jon and I started snapping at one another. Neither of us is at our best when we don't know where we are going...and we are late. We stuck with it, and finally did find a parking place, and it was relatively close. Score!

It was almost 11 a.m. and we were supposed to meet our group at 10:30. We looked around, but there were so many people we never did find them. Despite the heat, we went right to the pumpkin patch and it was really fun. I enjoyed traipsing through with the kids and picking out pumpkins. I also took a couple of pictures that I liked.

Later in the afternoon, we headed over to the Insect Fair, behind the pumpkin patch. There were two buildings full of bugs and spiders. I overcame some of my fears. I held a tarantula! And a scorpion. And...wait for it.... I held a hissing cockroach! I know, right? Me! I am a badass, as you know. And I have photographic evidence, of at least the tarantula.

JBear, of course, was in his element. I may have a future entomologist up and coming. JBean struggled a bit with fear, and truly, arachnophobia is something many have. Fear of spiders is on the top 5 fears list. She shrank away whenever we were anywhere close to the spider tables, and I just went with it. I did make her see them from afar. The fact that they had a lot of er, dead bug specimens in glass cases, pinned down. This was actually good, because JBean was able to check them out without fear. And she almost touched a snake. She actually held a gecko!

Later I asked her: "Are you afraid of the bugs, JBean?"
"Yes," she answered.
"Are you as scared as you were when we first got here?"
"No, I don't think so... I liked the butterflies and the geckos."

We ended the day with a snow cone. The perfect ending to a perfect day. Now I know it seems that I bring autism into everything, but really, when we have days that just feel normal they are all the sweeter.

Have you done anything fun lately? Tell us!

T, who is feeling really optimistic today

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let Me Paint You a Picture

Dear Backpacking Dad, I accept the fact that I had to sacrifice a whole evening in writing this post for whatever it is that you giving away on your blog, But I think you’re crazy for making me write a post telling you who I think I am. You see me as you want to see me, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what I know is that I am:

a brain
an athlete
(does yoga count?)
a basketcase
(ask my therapist)
a princess
(I can feel any little piece of fuzz in my bed..but I can't do that Lipstick Trick that Claire could do)
and a criminal
(once I left Target without paying for a toy that was underneath my cart, and didn't realize it until later...but then I never went back)

Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,

Send Chocolate


And just so you think I am not taking the easy way out... High school was awful for me. The high school I attended had 300 in my class, and I wasn't one of the In Crowd. In fact, they called themselves the "A-Crowd", and everyone else was shit outta luck. I was too smart for my own good, socially awkward, a late bloomer. I didn't play sports, was always the last one picked for any athletic team. My foray into softball ended in one completely defeated season. We didn't win a game all year. I was pathetic; my team even more so.

I had no idea who I was, and I felt things deeply. I suppose we would call me emo back then. I was brainy, but that wasn't popular, and you know to a teenage girl with low self-esteem, fitting in is everything. So I often dumbed myself down. I would write the wrong answers on homework. I would give the wrong answer when called upon in class. Anything to fit in. I still didn't.

I cut my long hair short, short, feathered on the sides. I went moody and dark. I streaked it with purple. I went from glasses to contacts. I made a lot of friends outside my school. I found my tribe, if you will. But just like a prophet can't preach in his hometown, I couldn't change the impressions I had made with the kids I went to school with from the 6th grade on. To them, I would always be the skinny, flat-chested brainy know-it-all with the big glasses and the straight hair. Smart in school and not very savvy socially.

In fact, short of a D cup and a cheerleading outfit, I wasn't going to fit in. I didn't party, (at least not until later, once my Social Fate was already sealed) and I was a rules follower. In the small town where I grew up in Central California (best known as The Salad Bowl of the World I kid you not. Shut up and stop laughing! well, there wasn't much to do there, save cruise Main Street and get stoned at whoever's house parents weren't in that weekend. I wanted nothing to do with either. So I was an outcast. Of course, I pretended that I wanted to be different, but deep down, I wanted to belong. It just wasn't going to happen.

I remember the most embarrassing experience I had in high school. P.E. was my second hour class. My first hour was all the way across campus, and if I didn't hightail it, I was late. This particular morning, I was running late so I didn't have time to dress out in our required uniform of tacky white t-shirt and baggy, baggy black gym shorts. I wore my jeans to class. All was fine, until, during a game of volleyball, I bent down to take a dig, and heard my pants rip all the way across the butt. I left nothing to the imagination, and it was with much glee that my classmates gave me a hard time about it for the rest of the year. I suppose I was an easy mark.

It was that day when I realized I would never be Claire, though I longed to be, more than anything. I was closer to Allison, and no matter what I did, I was never going to make it as a Claire. So that is the day I redefined my expectations. I became who I wanted to be, not who I thought other people would like me to be. I took a step left of Center and that is where I live to this day. I have made a lifetime out of being outside the box, and being proud of it.

I don't like to be like everyone else. I don't follow the crowd. I stand up for what I believe. I speak up rather than remaining silent. Even when it is not popular to do so. I look past the superficial. And I work hard to make sure everyone is included. Because that lost little 15 year old hasn't forgotten what it is like to stand on the sidelines. Even still.

I suppose my life can be summed up by something I was told by the guy I had a major crush on in high school. I was 16, he was 19. He said to me:

"You know what the difference is between you and us [our group of friends]? We want to know what color the car want to know what the paint's made of."

Guilty as charged.

Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.-Robert Frost

T, who says Don't You Forget About Me

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Better than Getting Your Leg Gnawed Off (barely)

What's the worst thing you can do with a child who is anxious? How about take her to Universal Studios during the month of October? Last Tuesday my entire family was visiting and decided they wanted to play tourist and see Universal Studios. I figured, "Why not?" Might be fun, after all, years ago back when I was a teenager I took the Backlot Tram tour. It was fun, a bit suspenseful.. my kids would love it, right? Or, at least, they would tolerate it. Except, my kids are different.... Maybe it's the autism...they are all so literal, and take situations very seriously.'s a movie studio, right? They make their living playing pretend. Surely my children would see that?

I knew there would be trouble when we first entered the gates to large posters of serial killers: Freddy Kruger, Jason, Texas Chainsaw Massacre. it never even occured to me that the Studio would be running scary Halloween promos and we know My JBean was terrified, and extremely reticent to continue.I had to coax her into continuing, she was whimpering. If we had been alone, just our family, we would have left. But we had family to think about. We helped JBean (and JBug, too) to avoid the posters, look the other way. But as we ventured further into the park, there were dummies of zombies, and they were scary looking. Their emaciated flesh hung on their bones, their mouths frozen in an unholy grimace. Exactly the kind of imagery that can stick with a kid who has an overactive imagination. Enter: JBug. Yes, she is 14, but she really doesn't like visual scariness. Can you blame her?

I suppose for some, Universal Studios would be a great time. And there were attractions that we enjoyed. The Curious George childrens'park was a lot of fun. Shrek 4D was done well. Jurassic Park was a decent ride, even if the pacing was a bit off. But overall, the park didn't match our family values. The Simpsons Ride talked about Sideshow Bob, and serial killers and butts and was just tacky. And scary. We don't watch the show at home. I made the mistake of taking JBean on the ride without previewing it....scared her to death. I felt terrible. It was a motion-simulator, and a good one. The ride probably would have been amazing if I hadn't been busy covering her eyes and promising she would never have to go on a ride like that again. Lesson learned.

Then came the Backlot Tram Tour. I don't let my kids watch scary movies. They have never even seen Jurassic Park. They haven't seen Jaws, War of the Worlds, The Mummy... call me overprotective. My kids don't really like movies that are frightening. Body parts strewn over the crash site of War of the Worlds is just beyond their experience. I was horrified, because, truly, when kids see that type of imagery, and are exposed over and over again, do you really think it doesn't change them in some fundamental way? I never want my children to be unresponsive in the face of that kind of carnage. I don't ever want them to see it as normal, or be desensitized to it. While I wish my 14 year old was less sensitive, I am am somewhat glad that she recoils in horror to what to me, is horrific.

Set of War of the Worlds

On the other hand, I wonder if the other extreme, that of being afraid of your shadow, is just as bad. Overactive imagination? Maybe. Maybe it's the autism that makes my kids so literal, I couldn't say. I do know though, that my brother's kids had a great time. And honestly, so did JBear...for the most part. But fear can turn into Fear. Whimpering, teary-eyed Fear. Fear that means you can't go around the corner in case you run into something you don't want to see. Most kids can suspend reality and know the monsters are really just guys dressed up to play with you. My girls, while they understand that in their heads, can't get past what they see.

Have I mentioned that JBean has such a fear of Halloween costumes that we cannot venture into Target anywhere that the costumes might be? I have to give Halloween stores a wide berth. She is really afraid. In addition to the zombies, the Mummy and Frankenstein were running around. And Beetlejuice. As I mentioned, the girls dissolved into tears when he showed up, which he saw and immediately took off again. (he isn't out to scare anyone) I have no idea how they ended up being so afraid: I am sure it has something to do with the fact they don't like clowns.

It wasn't a complete loss. We also saw Scooby Doo and Shaggy. And JBug rode the Jurassic Park ride and loved it so much she repeated it. I visited Wisteria Lane, and realized I am not nearly as Desperate as I thought I was. But Universal Studios isn't a place we would return to....we'll stick to Disneyland, I think.

What suggestions do you have for dealing with childrens' fears?

T, who needs to think

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Maybe We Could Move to Wyoming

No posts the last couple of days because my family is visiting from Oregon. First time in many years that we have all been together in one place. So my family is playing tourist this week: Disneyland, Universal Studios... guess there are drawbacks to living in Southern California, after all. More soon, I promise.

Don't forget me!

T, who wishes she had more time & energy

Friday, October 03, 2008

Two's My Limit, I'm Driving

I hear all the time from mothers who tell me about the errands they run. I think it is par for the course, part of Motherese, the Mother tongue of Mothers everywhere. We talk about bedtimes, and bathroom habits and what errands we drag our kids on. I listen in envy as a mother tells me, "We went to the bank, and then I had that thing to return to the store, and I needed a windshield wiper blade at the auto store and we got the car washed, and on the way home we stopped to get groceries!" And I always ask, because I am a glutton for punishment, "Where were the kids in all of this?" And the reply is something along the lines of, "Oh, they went with me, they looooove errands and are flexible to whatever needs to be done!" And that's when that familiar feeling wells up inside of me, and I want to laugh or cry or something between the two and can't decide which. Because? That never happens in my house. Sorry. Couldn't hear your reply over the laughing...

For as long as I can remember, or at least since I have been running errands with kids One errand is usually doable. Maybe this is part of the autism, maybe it is just the particular makeup of my kids. Two is pushing it. Three?

Core breach: Warning, Meltdown Imminent.

Sometimes, I forget this, and the results aren't pretty.

Today, after the meltdown over the Logic class with JBug but that's another story, for another time the kids had an appointment to get their hair cut. We have a wedding tomorrow and they were both due to do the hair thing. They like the hair place, so that went well. Then I had to swing by our church on the other side of town to drop something off quickly. I had also promised JBug that we would try to find her a dress for the wedding, so against my better judgment (isn't it always? This is where I go wrong...) I decided we would make a trip to the store. It's not a loud store or particularly bright, but there are lots of racks of clothes, and little kids get bored easily.

I can't accurately represent what went on at the store, except to tell you that at one point, while I was quickly checking the fit of one of JBug's prospective dresses, JBear had coerced JBean to bite herself on the arm, and then told her to bite harder, and she did! I think her middle name should be Lemming. She of course, hurt herself, started crying, was angry with him and hit him hard. This occurred while I was 20 feet away for about thirty seconds. This doesn't count the loud, loud voices that they use, which make me cringe and I can imagine people cursing me for my children.I get it... sometimes I curse me for my children!

You know the Very Quiet Cricket? My kids are more like The Extremely Noisy Pests
I had promised them smoothies if they could hold it together at the store. THAT didn't happen. So the smoothies didn't either. We came straight home, amidst the wails of JBean, who was beside herself that she missed out on the smoothie, and angry with me that I stuck to my word. Of course, driving home was a picnic; everyone loves ear-piercing, bloodcurdling screams and feet thumping against the back of the seat. We pulled into the driveway, she ran to her room and locked the door, screaming. She did come out long enough to hit me, so that was festive. I managed to talk to her about her behavior, and she may have gotten it. We'll see. She has since calmed down, and is sitting here next to me building with blocks, but I am getting too old for this rollercoaster crap. And, I have no one to blame but myself.

So...I have made the rule Hard and Fast:

Thou shalt not run more than two errands in a single driving session. Two shall be the number, and the Number shall be Two. Neither shall the number be Three. Or Four. Two is the number. Or else. I'm not kidding. Flying monkeys, I needs them?

(but that says nothing to the number of drinks I get to have once the kids are in bed!)

T, who really, really needs a break

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Barbarians at the Gate or I Finally Figured Out Who She Reminds Me Of!

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a closet political wonk. I tried to give it up because idealism hurts too much. But I am back, and knee-deep in the issues. Sometimes though, you just have to laugh. (it was THAT kind of day) Watching the debate tonight, I was struck by the similarities of Palin to an old character that Phil Hartman used to play on Saturday Night Live. Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.

So, with apologies to the late Phil Hartman and SNL... I present:

Unfrozen Conservative VP Candidate:
"Doggone it! I'm just a hockey mom. I fell on some ice and later got thawed out by some of your Republicans, who thought you would vote for me because I don't have dangly parts."
"Your world frightens and confuses me! Sometimes, the big words your journalists use make me want to run for the hills or use folksy word endings. I can't pronounce the word, "n-u-c-l-e-a-r. I say nucular. I can't answer questions that you ask, I get all discombobulated. My primitive, backwoods mind doesn't grasp these concepts. I'm only a governor from Alaska! I don't understand your strange big-city politics. I don't know the names of the people I try to affiliate myself with, I don't understand runnin' for VP, 'cause I don't have to be competent, just all friendly-like!"
But one thing I do understand: I was given a list of talking points, and you betcha I am gonna hit every one! I can't think for myself, but I can use your boomstick to hunt a moose and sure make you some good BBQ mooseburgers, a heck of a lot of 'em! Do you want to go for a ride on my scary Snow Machine? We can look for Putin rearin' his head over the ocean over there."

Watch and see if you agree: (only link I could find was here).

T, who says sometimes you have to laugh or you'll cry

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