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Last Night, I Hit My Daughter

Let me explain.

Recently, my 16-month-old daughter has taken up the habit of crawling up on my chest to sleep–something she hasn’t done since she was about 4 months old. When she was climbing up last night, she ended up putting her hands with all of her weight pressing down on my throat. For a moment, I couldn’t breathe.

My hands flew up to quickly move her off of me, but at the same time, she lifted her head and I accidentally hit her.  Her eyes widened in shock, and she was silent at first, but then her face melted into pure devastation.  The tears came quickly, along with sad little sobs.  The pain in her expression was clear– not so much physical pain, but emotional.

I was horrified.  I felt awful.  All I could do was rock her and tell her over and over that I was sorry, praying that she would understand it was an accident. When she stopped crying, she was obviously mad at me. She didn’t want to look at me, and when she did steal a glance, she quickly furrowed her brow and looked away again.  Her actions seemed to say, “How could you, mom?  How could you hurt me?”

After several minutes of me cuddling and loving on her, she finally crawled back up on my chest again. She stared at me intensely for a moment, and then gave me the sweetest little kiss.  I’m sure this was her way of saying, “It’s ok, mommy.  I still love you.”

In my case, what happened was an accident.  It’s impossible to prevent every accident, but most of the time, we can spring back from them.  The thing that struck me the most about this experience was the realization that there are people who do this on purpose.  How can this be? How can someone become so cold, so heartless, that they can hurt their child intentionally and feel nothing when they see the pain in their eyes?  How can they live knowing that they hit their sweet child, who trusts and loves them more than anything in the world?

Children, as wonderful as they are, can be beyond frustrating. I get it. Some days, maybe you are already at the end of your rope– running on almost no sleep, dealing with stressful situations, worn thin– and then they press that last button.  We are human, and I can understand that patience has its limits. But hitting is always a choice.  Every one of us is capable of making the choice to hit a child.  Fortunately, every one of us is also capable of choosing NOT to hit a child. I believe that sometimes, we have to make that choice before a child ever enters into our care.  We have to tell ourselves that no matter what, it simply is not an option.  Working on that mindset and sticking to it helps us not to slip over the edge on those days when we’re way beyond our last nerve.

I urge each of us to make that choice.  And for those who have already slipped over the edge, the good news is that you can still choose to end it now and work on making amends. This is so very important!  I hope that I can always carry this experience with me as a reminder to make good decisions.

Thank you, sweet little daughter, for loving me and trusting me still.  I will do my best to hold and honor that precious trust.

Happy Birthday, to my most precious daughter!

One year ago today, I held my sweet baby girl in my arms for the first time. I never really shared our birth story, because I didn’t feel many would be interested, but it seems appropriate to talk about it today.  While it may not be comparatively unique or special, it will always be so to me.

I woke up February 19th feeling especially tired.  This in itself wasn’t unusual because, like most women, I had been having trouble sleeping during the final few weeks of my pregnancy.  The day was pretty normal.  I did some work for my online job and prepared a few things around the house.  Around 11am, my lower back started to bother me and I pregnant-waddled over to our Lazy Boy chair (probably the best purchase we made during my pregnancy!) to try and relieve some of the pain.  My husband had just left to go get lunch from China Magic Noodle–a favorite place of ours. While I had been looking forward to the food, I suddenly found myself wishing he would hurry back soon.  My back pain was growing more intense, and even if he couldn’t do anything to relieve the pain, I just knew I would feel better if he were there.

When he got home he asked if I was ok and I explained my back pain.  “Do you think you’re in labor?”  He asked.

I didn’t know how to answer.  One thing about me is that I’m a worrier.  I worry about everything, and many of my worries center around the thought that I’m inconveniencing people. And I felt like it would be an inconvenience to several people if I went to the hospital thinking I was in labor when I really wasn’t. I didn’t want to be an over-reactive first-time mom.  So I said I thought I was fine and we should go eat.  When we went to the kitchen, my sister-in-law was there.  She took one look at me and said, “Are you in labor?”

After I explained the back pains, she recommended going to the hospital just to check things out. I agreed that we would go after lunch.  I went to get a plate for my food, then stopped.  Then reached for a plate again.  Then stopped again.  Finally I turned to my husband and said, “I don’t think I feel like eating.”   A pregnant lady not wanting to eat?  Definitely something up!

“Go to the hospital!” commanded my sister-in-law.  So we went!

I was supposed to have an OB appointment that afternoon, but it was clear we weren’t going to make it there, so I called and let them know I was at the hospital being checked out.  Shortly after, the nurse came in to take a look and confirmed that I was 5cm dilated and my water was on the verge of breaking.  So we were staying and baby girl was officially on the way!  Shortly after that was when the more intense contractions started.  I had mostly what I’ve heard commonly referred to as, “the dreaded back labor.”  I have nothing to compare it to, so I don’t know what makes back labor worse than normal labor.  I’m not going to try and quantify it or spend time talking about how painful it was.  Labor hurts.  We know this.  We also know it’s different for every woman, so I can’t see the point in trying to describe it.

They asked me if I would like an epidural, and I said, “Sure!”  I had already decided ahead of time that I would get one– to me, I feel like when we have the technology, why should I make the experience worse than it has to be?  I wanted to enjoy it as much as possible and I couldn’t see my baby begrudging me being in less pain.  Once I had the epidural, I felt much more comfortable, and we just played the waiting game. My parents, Chris’s parents (and Chris, of course),  and my sister-in-law waited with us for several hours.  We chatted and joked about the slow process.  My epidural wore off after about two hours so they gave me a boost and I was able to take a little nap.  Our family members and the nurses checked in periodically to see if I was feeling like pushing yet.

By about 11pm, the room was full of people– parents from both sides, 4 of my siblings, and my two sisters-in-law.  Chris and I had said ahead of time that anyone who wanted to be there could, but that we wouldn’t force them to.  They all wanted to be there.  I was a little nervous at first about having so many people there, but it turned out to be more fun that way. While we waited, we took guesses on what the baby would look like.  Everyone said she would have dark hair, and lots of hair.  We took guesses on weight as well, with most guesses being in the 7lb range.

I wondered how I would really know when it was time to start pushing.  But the body is an amazing thing, and I was surprised how well my body knew what to do.  At about 12:45am, the unmistakable urge to push came and I alerted the nurse. The room came alive with excitement.  Time to get the show on the road! By this point, the epidural had more or less worn off again, but it was a little late to do anything about it, so, after a blessing from my father and husband, I was ready to grit my teeth and get down to business.  The nurse, Susan, was a great coach– very calming and supportive. I began to feel nervous again, but told myself to trust in myself.  It would be ok.

After maybe half an hour of pushing, Susan commented that the baby seemed to be stuck on my pelvic bone.  This made a little jolt of fear run through me, as my mom had had to have c-sections with all of her kids due to the shape of her pelvic bone.  I really didn’t want a c-section–especially not an emergency one!  So I tried even harder, pushing my body and energy to their limits, and thankfully Susan announced that the baby was still making progress, albeit slowly.  I’m not sure exactly how much time passed, but we finally made it over the pelvic bone and it was time to get the doctor.  I was told that just five more good pushes and the baby’s head would be out.  I felt so nervous and so excited!  I was about to meet my baby!  The little precious being that I had cradled within me for 9 months was about to begin her journey into the world.

From the beginning, I told myself that saying “I can’t do this” wasn’t an option.  I also told myself that screaming wasn’t an option, nor was any sort of freaking out.  I somehow managed to stick to my rules, and amazingly, at 1:59am, we had a baby.  I held my breath as we all waited for those first precious cries.  I heard them and my heart melted.  There she was– our little pink, light-haired angel (none of the dark hair everyone expected!).  I was so tired, but so anxious to hold her and comfort her.  After doing a quick clean up and check of vitals, they brought her to me and laid her against my chest.  She stopped crying instantly, and I felt such a familiarity as I cradled her there.  She was so beautiful and perfect!  I hummed to her and patted her little bottom as I had done so many times while she was in my belly.  She lay there, quiet and content, with her eyes open and taking in the world. It was such an inexplicable feeling–I was holding her in my arms for the first time, yet I already knew her.  I had felt her tiny body so many times as she pressed against my belly, and the same little body was now out in the world. She was the most familiar little stranger I had ever known.

I hesitantly handed our baby to the nurses as they took her to finish cleaning her up and doing whatever else they needed to do.  Susan said we were going to move to the restroom to clean me up, and I nearly gave her a heart attack as I got out of bed and stood up.  She had expected my legs to be numb from the epidural, so when I stepped out of the bed she thought I was going to hit the floor.  NOPE!  I could feel everything, as the epidural had worn off long before that.  But it was kind of fun seeing her reaction. 🙂

While giving me post-partum care instructions, Susan paused and said, “That was a really good birth.  Especially for a first-time mom.”

And it really was a good birth.  I don’t know how good it was in comparison to others, but to me, it was special.  Having my family there turned out to be a wonderful experience. I heard many of them talk about it later, and it sounds like it was positive for everyone.  I’m so happy to have this cherished memory and to have shared it with them. I look back on it with a feeling of joy. I’ll be the first to admit that I was really scared about labor.  I had heard so many horror stories and really didn’t know what to expect.  I was so terrified of something going wrong and I worried that I would be inadequate.  But I can honestly say that I have never felt so strong as I did when I delivered that baby.

I also felt nervous about what I was going to do with this little person who I would now be responsible for for the greater part of my days.  But since then, it has been hours of love and sunshine in our lives.  Our sweet baby girl has been the biggest blessing, and it has been my absolute privilege to watch her grow over this past year.  Every day I look at her in wonder and awe, and just think that God must love us so very much to trust us with such a precious little spirit.

Happy birthday, my darling daughter. You are loved more than you could ever comprehend!

Boyfriend 1.0 to Husband 1.0

When I was 16, I began my search for a Boyfriend.  There were many models on the market and I had to decide what features I wanted.  It took some time, but I finally decided on Boyfriend 1.0.  I thought Boyfriend 1.0 was everything I wanted, but for whatever reason, it just didn’t work out.  I was disappointed, because I had really wanted it to last.  But I moved on and began my search for a new Boyfriend. 
 

I tried a number of Boyfriend models over the years.  Some of them came highly recommended by others, but when I tried them out for myself, they weren’t for me.  Others promised many things, but couldn’t deliver–totally false advertising!  Some of the models were very nice, but just didn’t have all of the features I was looking for.  Eventually I stopped trying so hard to find the perfect Boyfriend. Maybe I just didn’t need one as much as I thought I did.  But then I started hearing talk of another Boyfriend model that people thought I should try out.  Oddly enough, it was Boyfriend 1.2, which was the upgraded version of Boyfriend 1.0. 

 

At first I resisted.  I had already tried 1.0 and it didn’t work out.  Why should I expect 1.2 to be any different?  But finally I was persuaded and decided to give Boyfriend 1.2 a trial run.  Amazingly, all of the things I had originally loved about Boyfriend 1.0 were still there in the upgraded version, but with many extra features added.  Boyfriend 1.2 even acknowledged that 1.0 had some faults, and I had to admit that I had several shortcomings back during the Boyfriend 1.0 phase as well.  All that was in the past, and the new Boyfriend 1.2 seemed to have everything I wanted.

 

I was so happy with Boyfriend 1.2 that when I was offered the upgrade to the Boyfriend 1.2 Fiance Edition, I had to say yes.  How could I say no?  Because of my continuing satisfaction with the Fiance edition, just four months later I decided I was ready to upgrade again to the model a step above the Fiance edition: Husband 1.0. 

 

I knew that upgrading to Husband 1.0 would be a huge commitment.  It was a big investment and I couldn’t just toss the Husband aside if it didn’t do what I wanted or expected.  Fortunately, Husband 1.0 included a lifetime guarantee, so I knew it would be possible to work through any issues that might arise.  I took the plunge. 

 

I have been with Husband 1.0 for five years now and I couldn’t be happier.  I know I made the right decision and look forward to many more years with Husband 1.0.

Happy Anniversary! 

And believe me, I am still alive!

A breeze blows…..

Crickets chirp…..

A pin drops…..

Ok.  Done with that.  The silence has ended!  I am still alive.  I have been incredibly busy between work and school and life, and my blog has been terribly neglected. 

We are into the second month of a new year.  How crazy is that?  A month ago, people started making their New Year’s Resolutions.  By now, probably about 95% of those resolutions have been forgotten.  :-) 

Once upon a time I set resolutions for myself, but I noticed something.  Usually those resolutions were pretty grandiose.  I would end up not doing it and then feel horrible about myself later.  Rather than making a resolution this year and then feeling bad about it afterward, I decided to try something a little different.  This year, I simply want to do the best that I can.  I want to push myself a little more to learn new things.  I want to work on my self-confidence and just do what I can to be a good person.  I know I’m not going to be perfect all the time.  I know in the eyes of some people, no matter how hard I try I will always come up short.  I don’t need to worry about those people.  I don’t need to compare myself to others.  I am not them and they are not me.  I just need to do the best that I can and not worry about the rest. 

I am working on checking a box on my “learn new things” list.  My in-laws gave me an early birthday present– a sewing machine.  I’m pretty excited about that!  My mom has been kind enough to let me borrow hers over the years, but I’m always worried about breaking it or using it when she needs it or coming over at inconvenient times.  Now I don’t have to worry about that.  My mom has taught me sewing basics over the years, so I have had a good foundation to start with, but I still have a long way to go!  I have already completed a few simple projects, and I may post details on them in the future.  I’m pretty happy with how they turned out!  I feel like sewing is such a good skill to have and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can come up with.

So here’s to a new year!  New skills, new goals, new hopes.  May we all make the best of it!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I know it’s not original, and many of you may not care, but I’m going to do the obligatory blog post about the things I am thankful for.  Why?  Because these things are important to me.  I’m so thankful to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with so many wonderful things. 

 

First, my family.  Immediate family, In-laws, extended family, the whole bunch!  I am so blessed to have such a loving and supportive family.  I’m especially thankful for my parents and my husband’s parents.  They do so much for us and have given us much to be thankful for.  I love them so much!  And of course, I’m especially thankful for my husband as well.  He has been working so hard in medical school and still takes the time to show me he loves me.

 

I’m thankful for children, particularly my two little nephews and my…second cousins?  Whatever you call my cousins’ children!  Children bring such joy and such opportunities for learning.  My two nephews are at our house nearly every day, and I enjoy watching them grow and experience the world.  I also think it’s funny how entertained adults are by the things kids do and say.  Some of that stuff you just can’t make up.   I look forward to having my own someday!

 

I’m thankful for animals.  I have always been an animal lover and I don’t think that will ever change.  They just make me smile and I’m glad to have them around.  I’m especially thankful for my goofy dog.   She is a sweetheart and it’s nice to have her come snuggle up next to me on the couch.  She does important things like protect me from moving clouds and hot air balloons. 😉

 

I’m thankful for my friends.  I feel like I have been kind of a flaky friend lately, because I’ve had so much going on in my life that I haven’t had much room for friend time.  But even throughout my flakiness, there are still my true friends who are always there for me. 

 

I’m thankful for my job.  In this economy, having a job at all is something to be thankful for.  But I’m especially thankful to have a job I enjoy.  When I used to think about what I would like to do for a job, I always came up with the same list of interests: Writing, drawing, photography, working with kids, designing.  Somehow I found a job that lets me do all of that and more.  I’m also thankful for the people I work with.  It’s a positive environment and I’d say we all get along pretty well.   The job I had prior to this one had me coming home on the verge of tears every day and dreading going to work—not because of the job itself, but because of the people I worked with.  My current job is completely different, and that’s a good thing.  I have been here 3 years so far, and hope for more. 

 

I could keep going on and on, because I really do have so much to be grateful for, but I’ll end it here.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!     

The Journey to “The One”

Have you ever sat and reflected on what it might have been like if you married someone else?  I’ve thought about it before, and I’m always grateful that I didn’t. Everyone’s journey to “the one” is slightly different, and many are searching for that person.  “How do you know when they are the one?” is a common question.  For me, everything just clicked in a way that it didn’t with other guys, and I felt so at peace about it. 

I’ll tell you a little about some of my experiences, in no particular order. 

With some guys, it was almost immediately apparent that I’d rather gouge my eyes out than endure a relationship with them.  Others it wasn’t quite so simple.  I think of one guy who there wasn’t anything in particular I disliked about him.  We had a lot of common interests, shared the same values, he was respectful, physically attractive, and he took me to Phantom of the Opera.  Sure winner, right?  I honestly couldn’t pinpoint anything that bugged me about him.  But there was just something missing.  The time I spent with him felt almost hollow.  I was willing to keep spending time with him to see if anything changed, but he moved away for school and that ended it.  When he got a girlfriend, I was surprised at what I felt–nothing.  I really didn’t care one way or the other.  Sometimes there’s no real reason why it isn’t.  It simply isn’t. 

There were others guys who had crushes on me at one point that I didn’t learn about until way after the fact.  I was pretty oblivious to those things.  I would just be talking to a guy who would mention it suddenly, and I’d feel slightly guilty as I thought to myself, “Oh…I hadn’t even considered you a possibility.”  Some people you just never think of as anything more than a friend.  Others were mutual, fleeting crushes that never really lead to anything.  Not even so much as a date.  I remember one guy I went out with once and it was kind of like when you rescue a dog– they just adore you after that.  But I just wasn’t interested in him and didn’t even have a desire for a second date.  I felt really bad when I had to tell him, but I knew it would just be harder if I put things off.

There was another with whom I fell fast and hard for, but looking back, it was based on such trivial things.  We did have a lot in common, but it was things don’t matter in the long run when it comes to having a deep, lasting relationship. I hardly knew him but I built up this glorified idea of him in my mind.  Once I actually got to know him better, I slowly realized I disliked his personality, he was dishonest with me, I didn’t find him attractive, and we had different opinions on a lot of critical issues. The idea in my mind wasn’t who he really was.  But even then it was hard to let go because I was so attached to the illusion and kept thinking perhaps it could become reality.  It didn’t.  Moving away from that relationship was probably one of the best things I could have done in my life and I’m grateful for the wake-up call.  Then there was another guy who I had a great rapport with and we engaged in many intellectual discussions.  For some time, I lived for my conversations with him.  We entertained feelings for each other for awhile but in the end I was pretty sure neither of us would make the other happy and we would do better moving on and not holding each other back.  He disagreed and was upset with me when I said we could never work, but I was firm about it.  We always got into arguments, and neither of us would have been able to make the compromises necessary for a relationship because we felt too strongly about the things we disagreed on.  I haven’t kept tabs on him over the years, but I hope he found happiness and that he has forgiven me.

And then there is my husband.  My high-school sweetheart who became my world.  I liked him from the very first day I met him freshman year.  The more I got to know him, the more I liked him.  However I was painfully shy and it took awhile for us to become close.  We were more like acquaintances than friends and never saw each other outside of school.  Finally, junior year I realized that if I didn’t try to develop the friendship, senior year would come and go and I’d likely never see him again.  I grit my teeth past my shyness and asked him for his email address, which I thought was a huge step.  Soon I was inviting him to hang out with my friends and I. It didn’t take long after that for us to go on our first date.  I was over the moon and just thought he was the most wonderful thing in the world.  By senior year, we were dating, in whatever, silly sense of the word that meant in our youthful minds. 

By the end of senior year, he dumped me.  Whoops!  And I have to give him a hard time about the fact that it was done over email.  He still gets really embarrassed about that, but I have long forgiven him and just find it funny now.  It was just one of many signs that both of us were too immature for a relationship at that time.  We kept in touch a little, but not much.  He served a mission for our church and I wrote to him once.  I didn’t know until later on how much that single letter meant to him.  I feel bad that I didn’t write to him more, but I honestly had no idea that it mattered to him that much, and didn’t want to seem like the stalker-ex.  A few months after he got home, he messaged me out of the blue one day.  At the time I was going to school 3 hours away.  We started talking more from a distance, and he finally asked me if I wanted to go out next time I was in town.  I shrugged and said whatever, already determined that it wasn’t going to go anywhere.           

What I didn’t expect was how much I enjoyed myself on that date.  There was one point in the evening where we were talking and he touched my hand and I lost my train of thought.  Needless to say I was really confused when I got home. I had thought I was over him.  He was history!  But there was clearly still something there.  On our next date, I had so much fun.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had had that much fun on a date, or when I had laughed so much.  At the time we went on our first date, he was semi-dating someone else.  It was a long-distance relationship and they had both agreed to date other people and explore their options.  But he said after that second date with me, he knew he was going to have to break it off with the other girl. He did, and we started to see each other more and more, and I found that when I wasn’t with him, I missed him.  I felt restless. 

I don’t remember exactly when marriage started coming up in our conversations.  It just happened naturally.  I didn’t feel shocked or surprised by it. I don’t know if I had one slap-in-the-face moment where I knew I was “in love” (although there is one special experience I might write about some other time),  but simply at some point it went from thinking I could live with him to thinking I couldn’t live without him.  I couldn’t envision the future without him as part of it and I just knew he was the one I wanted to share my life with.  There was no anxiety, which was a weird thing for me because I tend to be a worrier.

As I think of wedding plans, I’m amazed at how smoothly things went.  We had set the wedding date 4 months from the time we were engaged, which most people said wasn’t enough time to plan a wedding.  But everything clicked into place.  When we went to book a reception hall, the ONE date open that month was our wedding date.  Same thing with the photographer.  Everything I bought for the wedding was on sale, and I wasn’t even searching the sales racks.  It just so happened that the things I picked out were on sale. There were countless other little things that I can’t even remember now.  Wedding plans obviously aren’t the most important part of the marriage, but it was like the universe was saying, “Yes, this is supposed to happen.” 

4 years ago today, I married him, and I have never looked back.  I felt so calm and happy on the morning of my wedding!  Marriage, of course, is work.  There will always be ups and downs.  But I can’t think of anyone I would rather share it with.  Happy Anniversary to my sweetheart, my best friend in the whole world!

If The Jeans Fit (Or Not)

In general, I think shopping for clothes is fun.  I love to deal hunt and it’s nice to have something new to wear.  However, there is one type of clothing that I absolutely hate shopping for:  Pants.  My body type is not ideal for pants fitting.  You know how people talk about that magic pair of jeans they found that fits them to a T and makes them look amazing?  I haven’t found those yet.  I have to go with whatever manages to cover my short legs, large butt and thighs and big hips without leaving a huge gap at my waist.  I’m cursed blessed with a beautiful pear shape.  Apparently the fashion industry doesn’t believe pears wear pants.  Especially not short pears.   

Usually what happens when I go pants shopping is this:  My optimistic self exclaims, “Today’s the day!  If I have to try on every pair of jeans in the store, I will find one that fits perfectly!”  20 pairs of non-fitting jeans later, my self-esteem has plummeted and I’m ready to explode the fitting room mirror.  This last time was particularly discouraging.  3 years ago when I switched from an active photography job to an office job, I didn’t think about changing my eating habits or replacing the activity I was losing, so weight gain naturally followed.  I have been exercising on and off, but recently decided I need to get more serious about dropping those pounds.  For the past 3 months I have been exercising daily, watching my portion sizes, and trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, as well as less fattening foods in general.  The numbers on the scale haven’t moved much, and a few times they have even moved in the wrong direction (WHY!?).  Now, I’m realistic.  I didn’t expect 20  pounds to just fall off of me and I know I could still do better in terms of exercise and eating habits.  However, with the changes I have made, I expected at least some small progress by now, especially when I keep seeing, “If you do this, you should lose about a pound a week.”  Well, I’m doing everything it says to do and I can tell you I haven’t lost the predicted 12 pounds.  I haven’t even lost one.  I was already feeling pretty discouraged about that before the jeans shopping, but after attempting to squeeze into several pairs I was feeling like a cow and about ready to cry.

I was hoping to find something new, but eventually decided to just reach for the same brand and style I got last time since those had fit decently.  I grabbed the size I bought last time and headed to the fitting room again.  Much to my dismay, I just couldn’t quite get the zipper up all the way.  I despairingly asked my husband if he could grab me a size up, wondering how it was possible for me to have outgrown a size despite all the efforts I had been making.  “Good enough…” I grumbled as I tried on the larger size, and we bought the jeans and went home with myself feeling significantly worse about my body. 

And then a surprising thing happened.  When I checked the tag on my old jeans, I found I had been mistaken about the size.  The ones I just bought were actually the same size as my old ones.  I realized that I had ALMOST fit into a size smaller.  Ok, I realize that after 3 months of exercise and improved eating, ALMOST losing a size isn’t much to brag about.  But considering I thought I had somehow gained a size, this made me feel a lot better.  I just have to keep doing what I’m doing and push myself even harder.  Maybe someday when I go to try on jeans I’ll leave with a smile. 

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