Even ants can learn.

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So I’ve had this wacky nostalgia phase lately due in part to the fact that I have decided to knock on someone’s door & toss my hat into a ring that I’m not entirely sure even exists, and part of that has involved talking to people I never thought I’d meet about a portion of my life that my normal business existence doesn’t encounter: fandom.

After a decade of being in fandom, but not really participating on an operational level, my own career path is taking me deeper towards it. While most people my age in LA are getting out of entertainment, I’m finding that my natural trajectory is bringing me into that industry.

For those of you unaware of my humble interweb beginnings, I’m a Bronzer.
holy crap, I just did a search and The Bronze Welcome Wagon is still on the internet.

People will ask why fandom matters, & what we are beyond just a bunch of crazies who like a show or whatever. I’ve sat in meetings with web content people & listened to them describe fans like they’re ants – that fans just show up, as though they’re mindless lemmings who can be commanded.

The truth is, fandom matters because fans aren’t ants. They’re people.

And the stories we tell have an impact on people. On how they view the world. Human beings don’t simply use stories to entertain — the purpose of stories was also to educate. We’re supposed to take the lessons offered and actually apply them in our lives — stories are meant to inspire us to be better.

Which is why how fans are treated & what goes on in fandom is important not only on an economic level as an industry develops, but also in terms of personal impact as our society evolves.

National Coming Out Day

As much as I love what Glee has done to bring the issue to the forefront, long before Chris Colfer twinkle-toed his milkmaid complexion onto a stage at McKinley high school, there have been gay kids. Despite the occasional veiled question raised by my mother regarding my present state of singledom, I actually am straight. However, you can’t work in the art community without having encountered or witnessed how hard being a gay kid can be.

I was reminded of this a couple weeks ago when a Bronzer came to town and after twelve years, we met for the first time in person.

Like me, Cassandra was one of the younger Bronzers — she was only 14 or 15 when she found us, & one of the things that we discussed that day was how having to hold your own in a written forum debating issues with professionals in their mid-30s is a great way for a teenager to get real mature, real quick.

One of the things that really struck me about the conversation was when Cassandra and I talked about the introduction of the character Faith in season 3 & the fact that it was the first time she’d encountered someone openly discussing homosexuality.

As Cass put it, “I remember someone talking about Faith in that way, & I was like, ‘But… that’s a girl. Talking about Faith, who’s also a girl. and that would be… oh‘.
“I mean, we’d heard about gay people, but I lived in Northern Ireland and we had problems with things blowing up, so gay people were like, you know, unicorns or world peace — I mean you knew they might be out there, but you didn’t think it would ever actually show up in your life. But there it was, right there on the internet and people were talking about it like it wasn’t any big deal.”

For Cass, that was the first time she encountered homosexuality – in a fandom environment, in a way where it wasn’t wrong, or attacked or stigmatized, but simply… something that just was, & that’s the way it was.

I sat there on a beach wall in Venice a few weeks ago, talking to a girl I’d met on the internet over a decade ago and in real life less than an hour before. That fifteen year old is now in her mid-twenties and trying to decide if she wants to stay in Scotland for school to get her PhD in genetics or go to London, adding with a smile that we shouldn’t ever tell her parents part of her decision will be influenced by which school has the better roller derby league nearby.

I think of this conversation and the impact that fandom has on people’s lives on National Coming Out Day because when we were talking about Cass’ first interaction with homosexuality in question, she finished the story with, “…and I just never really forgot that moment, when I first talked to someone that was okay with being a lesbian, because as it turns out… I’m one too.”


Music: Mumford & Sons – To Darkness (Dharohar Project EP) Dharohar Project EP - Mumford & Sons

random thoughts on creationism vs. evolution

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Hi. I’m back.

So there I was on Monday morning, sitting on Sepulveda northbound, waiting for them to clear the crane so I could keep driving to Museum!Co, thinking about theology and creationism, and I figured I’d just riff a little something out, see what y’all think, use it as a nice, gentle way to ya know… ease back into blogging.

No pressure, right? Totally.

For those of you who may not know, my present religious status is what George Carlin called a “Recovering Catholic”. While I may not actively practice, I have about 18 years of in-depth education in theology, including time as an altar server (but not one of those altar servers) and almost a decade of time in Catholic School, which I once cracked up my meditation teacher by declaring, “You did CCD? Poser — some of us had to wear the plaid, okay?”

So for me, the religious rhetoric going around politics now is equal parts amusing and horrifying.

Here’s the thing – most of these right wing Christians don’t like Catholics either. They left us, remember? We’re the freakin’ pagans, and if you look at the history of Catholicism, it really does work a bit like a corporation — the guy at the top makes these high-flying declarations about how things will be, & the people at the lower levels hear that news, sigh, and decide, “That’s great, but we have to make it work here in the real world, so let’s just… figure this out as we go.”

For a great example of this, go read a book called How the Irish Saved Civilization.

The point being that when it comes to a strict view of the Cosmic Muffin, your everyday Catholics have been known to fudge a couple things around the edges.

As such, I am offering a thought that occurred to me the other day when I ran across yet another creationism argument.

The argument that many Creationists make is that we just …showed up. Factory direct, as-is, fully formed from the get-go like some sort of metaphysical Cabbage Patch Kid.

As such, they tell us there is no way that we’re descended from any sort of ape, because evolution is against God’s plan.

Well I don’t know that. Do you?

But you know what is in God’s supposed plan? Free will.

Deuteronomy 30:19 gives us a choice: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both you and your seed may live”.

As such, if you are going to hold theology, we have free will.

Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill ‘em right back.

~ Firefly.

See here’s the thing – you have a choice. You can choose to survive. You can choose to adapt. You can choose to change your behaviors and capabilities in order to continue to live. If God gave us free will, then that is an inherent part of it — making the choice to extend your life if possible.

Now, since evolution’s principles are literally rooted in the survival of the fittest, wouldn’t it fall into the category of free will, which, as one of the many gifts God bequeathed to the world, we should embrace as part of His divine plan?

What you plan and what takes place ain’t ever exactly been similar.

~ Serenity.

Here’s a thought: What if God’s idea of perfection is imperfection?

If, as people are fond of saying, God is our father, then part of being a parent is allowing your child to learn, to grow. Because if you don’t do that, they won’t be able to take care of themselves. This is the cycle of life – as much as they might want to protect their offspring, all parents must allow their child to take risks & possibly move on from them. How many times has someone referred to their child in a way that equals the phrase “to do better than those who have come before”?

Well if we are made in God’s image, and this is a pattern of behavior which is commonly found across not only humanity, but throughout various species of life on this planet, what is to say that God isn’t implementing that philosophy with us?

If we hold to the tenet that we are God’s children, and that he has given us free will, would not evolution – which is a process of choosing to learn how to survive better than your precedents – thus be the ultimate expression of free will and the fulfillment of God’s parental love for us?

What if, as a parent, God’s plan for humanity was not that we continue on as humans, but that we as a race eventually learn how to become like Him? What if the reason we’re all debating the finish line is because we haven’t gotten there yet?

By trying to limit what others can know and thus not provide information which could be used to continue the evolution of humanity as a whole, Creationists inhibit our ability to choose to become more than what we presently know.

The right wing throws God’s name around like an actor’s drunk girlfriend trying to get free alcohol at the Standard, but the truth is that they are in fact worshiping the golden cow of their own fear, when true faith would be climbing the mountain despite uncertainty of what you might find at the top.

Time is construct. People made it up. One day on Earth is 24 hours. A day on Mars is 24 Earth hours & 37 minutes. A day on Pluto is 153 Earth hours.

How long is a day for God? How long are seven?

Your guess is as good as mine. But just you wait ’till your father gets home, & I’m bettin’ we’re all gonna find out.

dogma screenshot
“I do believe in this.” What does that mean? ~ Dogma


 

Music: Still – Alanis Morrisette Alanis Morissette: The Collection - Alanis Morissette

drive vlog: fatigue, parking, sephora and paleo.

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I bring y’all along for my first vlog as I drive home from the grocery store after a very long day. Topics covered: my first day of paleo while working, paying for parking in LA, and the actual motivation behind my first purchase from Sephora.

First lesson of vlogging: secure the phone better.


LUXURY ACCESSORIES at FORZIERI.COM

Sleep, half-marathons & a new minion.

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’tis been an odd sort of fortnight, yo.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve had a small breakdown, decided to take a break from rowing competitively for a while, made some decisions regarding my career & business, acquired a minion, and pulled myself back from being such a friggin’ girl.

sometimes you just need someone to remind you not to be a chick.

In the course of my situational rollercoaster, I had about a week where I thought I should say yes to a possibility that was a bad idea. Then a Frenchwoman was kind enough to metaphorically smack me upside the head & remind me that just because certain situational issues had changed didn’t mean that certain personality differences had altered, so at the end of the day, I had the choice of whether I wanted to have a friend or an inevitable ex-boyfriend – given the way I presented that information, you can probably guess which I chose.

the stuff that oars contribute to.

I’m not quitting rowing. Let’s just make that clear. But I need some time, and some distance, and just… a break. I need to not care about rowing so much, and work on other aspects of my life before I think even about backing up to a stake boat again.

Sleep is the best meditation - dalai lama
source

Initially, I chose to take a week off from exercise completely. What did I do with that extra time?

I slept.

Oh yah. I slept. And slept. And then, when I was done with that, I slept some friggin’ more. At one point, Jenny from Forrest Gump called & was like, “Damn girl, you got skills.”

But sleep doesn’t last forever. Much to Zoey’s disappointment, eventually you have to wake up, roll your sleep-groggy arse out of bed and see to the rest of your life.

Getting my land legs back.

I took a week off exercising completely, and then only did some light cardio last week – 45 minutes on an arc machine at heart rate is a full workout for alot of people, but for a rower that’s just enough to justify sitting (okay laying) in the dry sauna followed up by a nice long shower.

The first workout back after I’ve taken time off is usually kind of… rank. And I mean that in the odoriferous sense. Exercise really is how my body detoxes – I sweat on a ridonkculous level, and if I go more than three days without exercising in some fashion, the sweat that I throw off in that return workout really is just… well it’s noxious. After a whole week off… ugh, I don’t even want to suggest to you what those clothes smelled like when I pulled them out of my gym bag. ’twasn’t pretty, people. just. not. pretty.

It was kind of weird, not having that… routine of working out as part of my daily life. You notice odd things — this weekend I realized this was literally the first time in years that all of my workout clothes were clean & in the appropriate drawer at the same time.

I think the dogs were a little startled to have me around that much. Ernie was thrilled, but Zoey kept looking at me like, “What’s the catch?”

However, we all know that Sedentary!Claris only lasts so long, so thanks to a story involving a pair of pants that I’ll share at another time, I decided to do the San Francisco Half Marathon at the end of July — partly because I’ve lived in LA for a decade & never been to San Fran, but also because the finish line for the 1st half marathon is only about two miles from Lovely Poet & Missi’s apartment, so I won’t have far to go before I can fall over afterwards.

hustlin’ with help.

Along with smacking some sense into me so I didn’t was less likely to make stupid decisions in my romantic life, the aforementioned frenchwoman also said, “You have this competitive drive that you pour into sport, but in the long run it doesn’t gain you much for the rest of your life. I don’t understand why you don’t take that same attitude and apply it to business? Wouldn’t the results of that solve alot of other problems in your life?”

That was very hard for me to hear. Not due to an unwillingness to recognize the inherent truth therein, but because it forced me to concede the one thing none of us ever want to admit — the French were right.

So for me, this summer is also about finally getting my arse in gear & doing what I should have been doing way before now — treating my business like a career instead of a job. That means going through & redoing my contracts, finishing up the revamp of my portfolio, doing some sites for strategic purposes, & launching one of my own projects.

Truth told, it’s gonna be a whack of work.

Which is why it kinda works out that one day in a boathouse locker room whilst shooting the sh*t with a teenager while I was getting dressed, I ended up finding a minion.
If you’re a rower, that sentence is completely legal & actually did make sense. Just trust me & roll with it.

So Veni is going to come help me out this summer, and we’ll see if, between the two of us we can’t take over the world – within project scope, of course. Shouldn’t be too hard, I finally signed up for Basecamp, so once I get done with the tutorial webinar on Monday, we can totally map things out, and before you know it, domination shall be mine. Just you wait & see.

Music: Florence + the Machine (MTV Unplugged) MTV Presents Unplugged: Florence + the Machine (Deluxe Version) - Florence + the Machine


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Favorite things: April showers edition

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Favorite Things: April 2012
source

#nerdproblems

That moment where you don’t know if the reason things are uploading slowly is because the coffeeshop’s wi-fi is overloaded, or because your laptop is slowly dying, which is why you’re really, really kinda hoping the new one you ordered is early & shows up today instead of tomorrow as the shipping manifest predicted.

Moving on…

Before I share the tale of how I went to Joshua Tree for a weekend so I could alternately sleep, meditate, and allowed two guys to beat the crap out of me for my own endocrinal good, I thought we’d hit on a happy note & I’d share some of the things brightening my world right now.

Problem: I can never find my iPhone because everything I own is black.

…and to try to solve that, a bright orange case seemed a good solution. However, I soon discovered that for some reason, the headphone jack & charger openings weren’t large enough to allow me to use my original charge wires — damn you Apple & your ability to make things smaller & nicer over time! :shaky fist:

Solution?
In a rare display of glitter in my life, I got an iphone case that looks like Dorothy slippers.

red sparkly iPhone case

Because it’s awesome. And the sequins mean it sparkles so I don’t root around in my bag mumbling under my breath about personal tendencies to apply goth color spectrums in my electronic accessorization.

psst – they also have green, gold & pink. I’m almost tempted to start a collection just because seeing me take out a sparkly red iPhone seems to startle people. #KeepEmOnTheirToes

I found tea that smells like cake. No. Joke.

In December, I picked up a couple of the holiday teas that were out at the store, & may possibly have opened a box, started to walk away, then doubled back like Toucan Sam following Froot Loops as I took a deep breath and said, “Oh my god, that tea smells like cake. It then proceeded to become my go-to cuppa until January when I ran out & may have had a small panic.

Then I remembered that I had the internet and things became okay again.

If that’s not your (tea)bag, I’d suggest that Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride is also pretty damn awesome.. I’m gonna go ahead & assume y’all can figure out on your own what that smells like.

Having a day? Just sit back & let the sound of British make you feel better.

I bring you Matthew Mcfayden reading the first proposal scene of Pride & Predjudice. Why? Because it’s lovely – there’s something about the way he reads that, no matter what’s going on, just makes your day feel a little better. Go on, put your headphones on & have a nice little auditory break.

I mean, the visuals are kinda shmatlzy, but otherwise…see? Wasn’t that nice?
If you just want the audio, word is it can be found here.

Lovely. Let’s go have some tea.

Oh, Tumblr – you do make so many things better.

In a time where Texts from Hillary made us all consider the re-emergence of large dark sunglasses, we also got Texts from my dog, which completely reinforces my fear of Zoey figuring out technology.

Texts from my dog

…and they’re British. Because the Britishisms just automatically make it all so much better.

Did anyone else see this preview & go, “That’s freakin’ awesome…”

I don’t give a crap that it’s probably a formulaic “Author hunts serial killer copying his books” plotline — somebody thought to cast John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe. Screw the rest of the plot, that decision alone is just fantastic.

To that casting director: Those of us who grew up in the late 80′s early 90′s salute you!

You’re like Dumbo. Except without his feather.

in case you’re like the Geico guys who live under the rock, I’m posting The Many Faces of Jenny Lawson. Because it’s awesome. And you should go pre-order your book now.

So go hit up the pre-order love, read it, steal yourself a Bible to compare, and then and we can all Pretend This Never Happened..

Music: This is the Thing – Fink Perfect Darkness (Bonus Video Version) - Fink


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Afterglow Cosmetics, Inc

My first 2k in a single: blown. away. Literally.

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When most people think of California, they think of sun & surf and warm temperatures. After all, we don’t have winter, right?

Well… sort of.

Where other places have snow & cold, we have wind & rain — from the middle of January until about the end of March, there’s about a 75% chance that things will look like Winnie the Pooh’s Blustery day fell off the wagon & went on a drunken rampage until April comes along to smack the atmosphere out of its drippy bender.

For rowing, this is both good and bad.

Good, because you have the possibility of being able to train on the water — I’m sure East Coast rowers reading this are like, “Yeah, I’ve been off the water since November, so I feel really bad for you right now.” And then they play a quick riff on the Tiniest Violin in the World before going back to their winter erg dungeons while they wait for the ice to get thin enough for a coach’s launch to break a pathway for them to row.

Bad, because we have hope. A shining, beautiful aspiration to great winter training conditions which the weather then proceeds to smash to smithereens with things like 20 mph winds.

Exhibit A: The Pairs Matrix.

Z has a very straightforward method for determining the varsity 8+ – he takes a week & systematically seat-races the girls in pairs. The Dreaded Pairs Matrix.

I have been around for, oh, maybe five or six years of them, & I think only … two(?) have been finished first try during the week he tries to do it.

Completely normal for them to get cancelled due to wind. In fact this year I took a small snippet of video on that Wed to demonstrate the 15kt winds tossing around the sailboats at Bear!Boathouse that week.

… his reply was silence, which in Z’s world is what he says when he knows he shouldn’t say what he wants to say. ;)

It’s actually gotten to the point where I said to him last week, “Look, I say from now on, you pick the date of when you want it, then go, ‘okay, that’s not going to work’ and push it forward two weeks.”

“Actually,” he admitted ruefully, “this year it got delayed a whole month.”
And then maybe we chuckled.

All I can say is that it seemed okay at the time.

A few weeks beforehand, I’d said, “Sure, I’ll do Spring Regatta — I’ve never done a 2k in a single before, I’ll just go bang around & see what happens.”

Note to Everyone I Will Ever Know Ever: Please do whatever you can to stop me from saying the words, “I’ll just see what happens” — because it turns out that’s a really bad idea.

 

and if all of that had happened, it would be bad.

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For the record, I had a plan.

Shut it, I totally did. I had a bunch of freelance work in my queue, and I said to myself, “Self, we are going to be sane about this. We are going to sit, and work out timelines & process, and include that in estimates and establish a system for how we’re going to tackle off of this that will allow us to have sanity and get some sleep. Indeed Self, that is what we shall do.”

And, in a rare occasion of personal awesome, that’s what I did.

I know! I was so proud of me too!

…and then it all got shot to hell.

Then on a Thursday morning, I got a call from what I shall call Finance!Client

Finance!Client: Hey, you know that two month timeline we had?
Claris: ….yes…
Finance!Client: Well we know our old site sucks, and we’re going to a conference, so we wanted to see if we could move that up a little so we’d have the site ready for it.
Claris: Okay… when is the conference, gentlemen?
Finance!Client: Monday.
Claris: I knew you were going to say that!

And yes, I actually did say that out loud. Freelancers everywhere: you’re welcome.

However, considering that the final tally for the contract will be slightly under what I make in two months worked at Museum!Co (which is no mean amount in itself, thanks be to art museums) I really couldn’t turn that one down, so away we went, and everything got thrown up in the air as I scrambled to finish the site for Finance!Client before all the other projects fell back down to hit the ground.

Which is why, as of last Wednesday, I have completed enough work that I am now caught up to… last Sunday evening. (except for Civic!Co. There I’m just kinda eff’d & will have to spend the next week & a half doing… pretty much nothing else.)

Afterglow Cosmetics, Inc

However, in the interim I had a couple thoughts that I figured I’d share with you, so here they are.

Things I would want you to know if they’d happened to me.

But they didn’t, so obviously this is all entirely hypothetical.

 

Annual Inadvertent Flip Test: Combat Landing Edition.

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Yup. That’s the bottom of a boat. A boat that I normally row.

so… how was your Sunday?

For the record, it really wasn’t my fault.

Sunday, I was going up the marina at a good clip, about 80% pressure so a 2.04, 2.05 at a 27,28, doing what I should be doing.

All of a sudden, one minute I was at the catch, the next I was rolling sideways into the water.
(which despite what people think about California, is no small amount of cold in February)

No, I did not hit a buoy, thank you very much.

It seems that a coach from Neighbor!JuniorTeam was bowing a 2x with a high school rower, decided it was time to go in, turned around to go horizontally across the traffic pattern to head back up to their boathouse, & somehow completely missed the sight of me alone in the middle of a deserted marina going full tilt up along the approved traffic pattern.

As such, N!JT Coach started to paddle across. The result? A great moment in boat repair history wherein I came straight up and, due to my momentum, over their bow hull.

I said to Salter afterwards, “Thank god I was at the catch when it happened & my bow ball was out of the water — if I’d been at the finish, I’d have hit straight on & we’d probably be talking about replacing the back end of the boat.”

In terms of my day, I was on the 6th of 10 intervals, so I was literally smack dab in the middle of my workout when I got thrown into the water mid-stroke.

To her credit, N!JT Coach totally took responsibility for what happened, which was nice. Unfortunately, that still left me bobbing up & down in the middle of the marina with a single that might or might not be leaking, which was… not nice.

This was the point where my workout became a biathalon.

Second event: swimming.

I can get back in a MAAS or Peinert like most people breathe — I teach Sculling I, for me it’s not a big. However, the Fillipi is a far narrower shell. Add in that there was still a part of my brain looking around like a toddler woken up from a nap asking, “What… what happened? How did we get here?” I pretty much knew I wasn’t going to be able to manage a demonstration of my normally mad-ass flip test skills at that moment in time.

Thankfully, this all happened across from Lions!Boathouse – as another rowing boathouse, their dock is low enough for me to be able get in & out of my single, which the general marina boat slips are not.

So, I grabbed a rigger in one hand and started to awkwardly breaststroke my way over, tugging the single behind me. Thankfully, N!JT Coach realized that hey, this could be done better & offered to tow the boat over for me, which brings me to some very important lessons:
 

My monkey has red pants!

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Hopefully that works in my favor

In the process of completing a survey as part of a job bid, I finished the Self-Evaluation of Skills where I numerically rated my skills in various software products, programming languages, & miscellaneous skills. In the comments section, I put the following:

“In the survey above, the word “Writing” is spelled wrong.
(I also do proofreading.)”

I’m just sayin’.

Fear the future.

Someone marked a post on pinterest with the caption: “I want to be an Olsen”.

…I don’t know who you are, but I’m really really scared for you.

My monkey has red pants!

Let me start by saying this: I like kids. I do.

Due to the fact that I spent most of my teenage years working as what is now called an au pair* & thus have already raised someone else’s toddler, I don’t presently feel any driving urge to manufacture additional replicants. However, I do like other people’s children & honestly do enjoy interacting with them.
*back then we just called it “babysitting a lot”.

The result is that I am totally the person that stands behind parents at the grocery store & makes faces at your kids so that they laugh & clap and then when you turn around I pretend to be fully absorbed in my iPhone screen, thus causing you to wonder what on earth is wrong with your offspring that they are having spasms of joy over what appears to be nothing at all.

And then, when you turn around, I start making faces at the kids all over again. :thumbs up:


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That said, even I felt a little bad about this one.
 

Ernie’s Adoptaversairy! Also? Expectation vs. Reality.

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So, remember how, around this time last year, I was going to foster this Chihuahua mix because Dao guilted me into it? And how I was totally only going to keep him for the weekend just so they wouldn’t gas his skinny little ass?

…and thus entered Ernie into our lives.
Much to Zoey‘s deep chagrin.

Also? Holy crap lookit how skinny he used to be.

As such, despite several attempts by his older sister to sell Ernie to gypsies for a quarter, Ernie survived his first year with us. And since we’d don’t know his actual birthday, it’s been decided to make Valentine’s Day his Adoptaversairy Day, so today, Ernie turns seven.

In fact, Ernie comes into his seventh year having learned many important things.

Things I Have Learned!

by Ernie.

 

Expectation vs. Reality: the Adoptaversairy Version

 

Expectation.
Now, considering the way our house is, you’d probably hear the word “Adoptaversairy” and think “Oh holy jesus, you like, put the dog in a hat, didn’t you?”
 







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