finding our laughing place

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Not that you had any doubt, but we obviously had a great trip. Disneyland never fails to make me wish lived there. I do know how ridiculous that sounds by the way. It’s just…well, we just have so much fun when we are there. We all act like kids. And while I do realize that two of us still ARE kids, well…the four of us acting like big kids is so much fun.

I mean…YMCA on Splash Mountain? But of course:

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I have several things that I want to share with you. Like how much fun we had on the Halloween Haunts Tour. (And spent some time with other awesome bloggers along the way.)

 

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These are some pretty rad people

Or the new light up Mickey Ears that are programed to change and light up with the fireworks and shows. They even turn OFF during specific events. It’s like technology and magic had a baby and that baby is light up Mickey Ears. THEY ARE COOL.

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This is my kid and her ears watching the AWESOME fireworks

The Halloween decorations? AWESOME. AMAZING. SUPER RAD. I may or may not want to decorate every inch of my house for Halloween now. (My husband thanks you, Disneyland.) I also didn’t expect to love Halloween at Disneyland as much as I love Christmas at Disneyland. (Foolish girl that I am.) Spoiler Alert: OMG I LOVE HALLOWEEN AT DISNEYLAND.

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I want one outside my house now

But one of my favorite things was watching my kids. Ramona is my little dare-devil all of a sudden. She now rides all the rides. And somehow it was up to me to ride Tower of Terror over and over with her. Turns out it DOES get easier and I don’t need quite as much recover time after the falling is all over after the 5th time on it. (She also shares my love for California Screamin. So there’s THAT.)

Tower of Terror. Again. (See? I look less frightened.)
Tower of Terror. Again. (See? I look less frightened.)

Even Beezus, who will NEVER ride Tower of Terror…and still has nightmares about the time I kinda forced her onto CA Screamin’ had an absolute blast. She loves the other roller coasters that DON’T go upside down or start like you’re being shot out of a cannon. (My favorite part.) None of that really matters, though, as I see this JOY on her face. This sixteen year old, junior in high school who is GIDDY about Cars Land and finally getting to ride Radiator Springs Racers. (We weren’t able to ride it the last time we were there.) I was expecting to cross off one thing off the College Bucket List after this weekend, but ended up crossing off TWO. And maybe it sounds weird to be so excited about this, but my kid let loose and danced her way down Route 66 this weekend. MULTIPLE TIMES. After trying for years to get her to let go and just dance, all we needed was some oldies music, some rad fluorescent lightening and a little Disneyland magic. (Yeah…I said magic. Again.)

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I giggled and laughed and let-loose right along with her. We all did.

So yeah…so much more Disneyland updates coming your way. But first? First I’m going to be excited about crossing two things off our College Bucket List.

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And thanking Disneyland for making it all happen.

 

 

 

My family and I were given tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party and Disney park. All opinions are my own.

 

we can’t help ourselves

For the past week or so, I’ve secretly announced to Beezus (or The Dude) how many sleeps we have until Disneyland.

Four more sleeps!

Two more sleeps!

For some reason, Beezus thinks that I sound British when I’m saying this. I find this hilarious and, without fail, launch into the best British accent I can muster for the remainder of the conversation.

Yeah…I completely deserve all the eye rolling.

One more sleep, though. One. More. Sleep.

photo credit: disney
photo credit: disney

Fall-ing

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such a pretty Fall cupcake

I made a Fall To Do list today. Which immediately inspired me to have Thanksgiving conversations with some of my family. I’m really sorry to have to admit that to you. I mean…I know that it’s only September…and I didn’t mean for it to happen, but I didn’t stop it either. I should be ashamed of myself.

But here’s the thing…there are a lot of us on my side of the family. Planning and scheduling holidays and events can get really difficult. Some of my siblings do one year at the in-laws, the next year with our side of the family. (One of my siblings lives too far away. Boo.) I don’t necessarily do that anymore. I used to try and cram SO. MUCH. THANKSGIVING. into one day, that it ended up being pretty gosh darn stressful. My family has taken to planning a separate Thanksgiving so that we can still all get together. Somehow, though, the on/off schedule has gotten a little out of sync. So somehow, my sister in law and I just declared Thanksgiving 2015 the year we all are together on the actual Day of Thanks. That gives everyone plenty of time to get squared away with their respective families.

What I realized after we had made such Thanksgiving declarations, is that I will have a college student coming home for the holidays that year. My head kinda exploded with that realization.

I will have you know that I only JOKED about sobbing hysterically. I didn’t actually do it. (PROGRESS.) (This won’t last.)

The fun thing about this year’s holiday celebrations is that we are (officially) welcoming in a new family member. My youngest brother (the youngest of all the siblings) gets married next month. I can’t even remember if I have mentioned that here, and I’m too lazy to go back and check, so yeah…my brother is getting married mid-October. I’m pretty much over-the-moon over my newest sister in-law. Both of my brothers have somehow convinced some pretty amazing ladies to marry them. I’m not sure how they did it, but I’m sure they have me and my sisters to thank for it. Just a hunch.

Once we get back from Disneyland, it will be less than three weeks until the wedding. Crazy. I should probably find something to wear that isn’t work clothes or yoga pants.

But now that the thought of shopping for a dress has sufficiently stressed me out, I’m going to go back to thinking about Disneyland. However, if I show up to the wedding in jeans and a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, I may not have to worry about Thanksgiving plans since I will probably be uninvited.

I should re-think this plan. Probably.

Beezus and Ramona

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photo: sarah maren photographers

Years before my children were ever born, Beverly Cleary wrote a book (well, books) about my children. I mean, it isn’t EXACTLY about my children. But the similarities between Beezus and Ramona and my own children are pretty hilarious. And the very reason that I call them by those names on this here blog.

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In fact, it was after seeing the movie about the same characters that this realization hit me over the head. And by “hit me over the head” I mean, sitting in a dark theater completely gobsmacked and cousin Lucy leaning over to whisper, “OMG your kids. Those are your kids.”

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I don’t even know how that happens. I mean…is Beverly Cleary psychic? Did she change the actual events of our lives in her books so we wouldn’t sue her?

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photo: sarah maren photographers

I knew long ago that my girls would be ridiculously different for each other. Even the pregnancies were amazingly different. And yet, somehow I still find myself surprised when their differences lead to hefty battles. Or getting whiplash from the change of pace that the two of them set.

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photo: sarah maren photographers

Sometimes I think I am completely ill-equipped to parents such polar opposite children. What works for one will NEVER work for the other. And yet, somehow here we are…so many years later…kinda sorta hanging in there doing okay. Sometimes we’re just surviving to survive. But for the most part? I think we’ve done just fine.

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But at the end of the day, I am just so amazed that they are mine. These…PEOPLE…these amazing daughters with all these opinions and talents and personality.

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They really are the coolest kids ever. I should probably thank Beverly Cleary.

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grim, grinning ghosts come out to socialize

photo: mine
photo: mine

My family is so good at going to Disneyland. Not because we’re geniuses or anything, we have just learned over the years what works for us and how we’ve even learned how to have an amazing time without breaking the bank. You would think we would’ve grown out of it by now, but my kids are 16 and 11 and still want to go to Disneyland on all our vacations. All of them.

Sorry, Hawaii or Mexico. You’re just not good enough.

There is something about Disneyland that zaps the four of us into the best versions of ourselves-all at the same time. Even when we travel with friends or meet up with some of our favorite people. We have our Disney plans down to a science, so we know how to ride our favorite rides and see our favorite things pretty efficiently. We find that we have tons of patience for crowds and waiting. (Miracles!) And, somehow, we all just go with the flow and let the fun and excitement dictate how we spend our day.

Truth be told, we love going to Disneyland any time of the year. Summer? A blast. Thanksgiving and Christmas? Ridiculously magical. (Yes, I just said magical. I’m sorry. But you have to know the truth IT SNOWS ON MAIN STREET.)

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photo credit: disney

For years we’ve talked about going to Disneyland during the Halloween season. We’ve had many conversations about wishing we could go when the park is “dressed up” for spooking. But this is where I admit that I had no idea how amazingly cool Disneyland is for Halloween. And it’s even cooler this year.

  • The Halloween season made its appearance just this past Friday (Friday the 13th, man.) and stays until Halloween. New this year: special Halloween décor at the Mad Tea Party in California Adventure.
  • Mickey’s Halloween Party: 13 nights of magical Halloween partying with Mickey. A separate ticket after-hours event for you and your family to celebrate Halloween and trick or treat with your favorite Disney characters. Your event ticket gets you in to the park up to three hours before the event, so you and your family can enjoy the park before celebrating with Mickey. Tickets sell out fast, so get your tickets early. For more information on the specific 13 dates, click on over here.
  • Monsters U Dance Party: new this year, a dance party with your favorite Monsters University students. It has been described as a “family friendly frat party” but if Mike and Sully show up in togas, I’m just not sure what to think.
  • Rides and attractions also “dress up for Halloween. The Haunted Mansion is a mix of Halloween and Christmas a la Nightmare Before Christmas. Space Mountain transforms into Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. (AWESOME.)
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photo credit: disney

What half of my kids don’t know yet, and why I’ve waited a little bit to say anything, is that the four of us are heading the Happiest (Spookiest) Place on Earth next weekend to check out Mickey’s Halloween Party. Like, next Friday kind of next week. I’m so giddy I can’t stand it. I’m also probably super annoying and I’M SORRY. This was just one of those things that has been on our radar for so long, I just can’t help how excited I am. And part of that is because I’m so excited to surprise that Ramona kid of mine. She’s been working so hard, I can’t wait to see (and probably video) her reaction when she realizes where we’re going. I’m a little bit bummed that we couldn’t surprise Beezus, but sometimes juniors in high school can’t be surprised by trips somewhere if they’re missing a day of school. (LAME, I know.)

I’m probably a little more excited than I should be to see some of the Disney villains take the stage. It’s not very often they get to be the center of attention, and I’m super excited to see them out and about a lot more. Hopefully my kids feel the same way because I kinda want to get a picture with as many as I possibly can. No seriously. I mean COME ON…Maleficent OUT IN THE WILD PARK.

I might not be able to sleep this week.

 

My family and I have been given tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party and Disney park. All opinions are my own.

it’s a venti kind of Thursday

Every Monday and Wednesday, my husband (The Dude) teaches an evening class at a nearby college. I know! Our life isn’t busy enough so we threw another mound of crap on an already very full plate. But what started out as a work “I think you should do this” thing turned into “hey we could totally pay off this bill” thing. We obviously talked a lot about this before fully committing to it and decided we would try it out for a semester. And yes, I said “WE”. My Mondays and Wednesdays are now a whole lot more insane.

And they were pretty insane before.

I think since we live in a pretty constant state of busy, it’s almost like we don’t even notice when we throw another log on the busy fire. However, this week saw us have MANY scheduling conflicts and overbookings for things that were already scheduled way in advance. Which is fine. Sorta. It’s just that I am asking for help even when it’s hard to do so.

Yesterday was especially nutty. Luckily, my mom had Ramona and could hang out with her later than normal. I had gotten a ride for Beezus from her water polo game to softball practice (because logistics were impossible unless I only worked a half day) but I still needed to get her softball bag to her after leaving the office. Maybe it was lucky that we both got a little stuck in traffic, because that way we ended up at practice at the same time. As I called out my goodbye as she traded one backpack for another, I said “Hey! I’ll probably be late!” My response when she asked why? “Because my life is insane! And so is yours! Yay!” (I did have a smile on my face. Just thought I’d put that out there. It might have been an ironic, sarcastic type of smile.)

I took all the back roads as I headed home to try and avoid some of the traffic. Quick phone call to touch bases with Sarah on some important FP updates. Sang at the top of my lungs when I needed to. Pulled up to my house, knowing I would be leaving again in 15 minutes. My brother was there dropping off a chair (because, duh…doesn’t your brother drop off chairs on Wednesdays?) so a quick hello and an equally quick goodbye, and my mom (Ramona) and I were off to a family-type meeting regarding my brother’s wedding next month. A meeting I should’ve only stayed at for 20 minutes because Beezus would be done with practice soon. However, it was rather hard to leave right in the middle of plan stuffs.

So I asked for help. Again.

Wonderfully and thankfully for me, my dear friend (and another parent from the softball team) could cover for me. I was able to text everyone involved and soon enough, Beezus had a ride to their house while they waited for me to finish up. I didn’t stay too much longer, though. Just long enough for my sister in-law to call me Miss Perfect and long enough for me to be super sarcastic and crack jokes to people I didn’t know very well. (Totes normal!)

As I picked up Beezus from my sweet friend’s house, she said it sounded like the next few weeks were pretty crazy. I said yeah. She asked what she could do for me. (I love her.) I said, “Uh…THIS. This helped me a ton! Taking my child home with you saved the day.”

And then I said what I always seem to say:

I just need to get through September.”

But of course, I’m an idiot and wasn’t thinking about the aforementioned wedding next month.

“Uh. Just kidding. I just need to get through October.”

I know full well that I’ll be saying the very same thing in November and December. (Holidays. Duh.) But, for right now? Getting through the next 4-5 weeks is all I can focus on.

Now, you would think that our story would end with us heading home after that. But it doesn’t. Yes, we are as insane as you think we are, but we have family visiting from out of town (out of the country, really) and so we popped over to my in-laws to say hello while The Dude met us there. We only stayed for an hour, though…the kids had to get to bed. And I had to start a load of laundry because I really wasn’t sure what the clean underwear situation was. (Ahem. It was good I did laundry.)

Tonight doesn’t look a whole lot different, but I won’t make myself look more insane by telling you about that too. At least there is a lot less driving tonight, The Dude isn’t teaching, and I probably won’t have to start a load of clothes when I get home. However, I really should do the dishes that are beginning to pile up in the sink just in case we have company tonight after the family attends Beezus’ double-header softball games.

I’m terrible at not telling you things.

I also REALLY deserve this venti iced coffee.

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Ramona the Brave

I cannot believe the difference in Ramona the past couple of weeks. I mean, they are subtle differences, but I can see the changes in her every day. I’m grateful that she’s doing better. I love that she loves certain parts of school. I’m relieved…well, I’m relieved that she doesn’t hate life.

thumbs up, baby
thumbs up, baby

She’s making friends. She’s enjoying school more and more. At least most parts of school. Homework and test taking are a struggle in a couple of her classes, but we’re working on that. We’re trying to figure out what works for her. I haven’t said anything, but I’ve been wondering about a slight learning disability and maybe even some sensory issues that I didn’t realize before. I’m not get into that right now, but she works so hard studying and yet struggles so hard on her tests and quizzes. I’m not quite ready to give her a label. I’m also not sure that I’m right. But let’s just say that this mama is working on doing a lot of research to understand the way she learns. (For the record, I still have don’t really know.)

What I do know? She loves band. LOVES it. I had no idea that she would take to it so well. She’s playing the flute and can play Mary Had a Little Lamb like a BOSS. Her close friends have come from meeting them in band class. I even got to meet one of their moms at last week’s school event. Which makes me feel like we’re actually getting to be part of the community. (Bonus!) And these friends seem so nice! Like, really nice! I’m almost afraid to say it out loud, but no drama! (4th and 5th grade was fraught with drama. It was not my favorite.) She is thriving and absolutely adores her band teacher.

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Last week my dear child got in trouble for her attitude and then grounded from her iPod and TV. Quite honestly, it’s the best thing that ever happened to her. I think she’s sleeping better. She’s not as distracted. She’s reading more. I’m not saying it solved all our problems, but my goodness she’s different without those two things. The Dude didn’t give her a time period of how long she’d be without the iPod and TV privilege. I don’t know how or when we’ll even start talking about it. But for now? It’s better for her not to have constant and easy access to them. It’s almost like her mind is at peace without them.

And in completely unrelated news, she got her very own razor this past weekend. Yeah…leg shaving milestone. Leg. Shaving. Milestone. Super not ready for that. I mean, she spent the day wanting everyone to feel her legs so that helped to bring things back a little bit, but yeah. These kids of mine are making me feel old.

Of course, it just took me several (SEVERAL!!) tries to spell “subtle” in that sentence up there so who knows? Maybe I’m just getting old all on my own. Looking into convalescent homes is next on my to-do list. Because of course.

Our College Bucket List

For the past four or five months, I’ve been compiling a list. A bucket list of sorts. But it is all about things I want to do before Beezus goes to college. (Also, I just went and counted. I haven’t had a sunrise/sunset, talked about college moment in eight posts. I’m not saying it’s a record, I’m just saying it’s an improvement.) I spent a LOT of hours working in an office when she was younger and missed A LOT of important (to me) events. Let’s just say that creating a College Bucket List is a way for me to focus on what I CAN do before she’s off to college instead of what I can’t go back and change.

And listen. I know that sending kids off to college isn’t hard for everyone. Or maybe other people just handle it better than I ever will. But I have LOVED making this list. I don’t want to be holding on to regrets when I’m already having a hard time letting go. And YES, some of these trips will have to be when she’s home from college on summer break, but let me pretend I can get this all done in a year and a half.

college bucket listI will probably revise this as we go, but I love that I already have things scheduled or at least know the time frame that some of these things will happen. I guess, like many things in my life, if I have a “TO DO” list, or a plan, it almost feels like it’s all going to be ok. I mean, I’ll still be a weeping mess once the day arrives, but I feel a little less out of control. I feel like these are going to make some pretty damn awesome memories that we’ll all remember.

I have a few things coming up that I’m super excited to talk about. And putting this list together and on the blog helps me to be even more excited about all of it.

sometimes this is what our evenings look like

Yesterday I left work around 5:45. I was already running late to pick up Beezus from school and water polo practice when she called me.

“Um…do you have my softball bag?”

“Uh…no. Did you put it in my car?”

“Um…no. Ok. I’ll just tell coach that I’ll be late to batting practice so we can go home and get it.”

“Can’t you just use someone else’s bat?”

“MOM.”

“Beezus.”

(Exasperated sigh from both of us.)

We don’t live close to her school. We live slightly closer to where batting practice was, but driving ALL the way home and then basically ALL the way back wasn’t going to work for me. I was already solo-parenting it last night. Dropping Beezus off late would’ve made me late getting home for Ramona when my parents dropped her off.

I have nothing planned for dinner. I also don’t have much to make into dinner.

Being sick all last week has put me behind on all household things. Although, my house is pretty clean, thank you husband and my short breaks from feeling poopy.

(I still don’t feel all that great. But at least I’m better than I was.)

Ramona still had homework to do when she got home. I worry about her getting it done and still getting to bed on time.

Feed the dog. Clean up…after the dog.

Husband, thankfully, was able to pick up Beezus from batting practice, but I was already in the car and a quarter of the way there when he called. (I had no problem making THAT U-turn to head back home.)

Help Ramona with her homework. Remind Ramona that she needs to finish homework and hurry to bed because it’s getting late.

Laundry. Damn. That should’ve been started hours ago. I rushed to get that going. OH BUT WAIT. I forgot that I washed towels two days ago. So, yeah…THOSE need to be washed again.

Do we have anything for lunches? NO. No we do not. So to the grocery story I go. At 10 o’clock at night. Knowing that I have to be up at 4:30 to help get Beezus and The Dude out the door by 5am. (Tuesday mornings at our house suck eggs, y’all.) (The Dude offered to go to the store. But helping with high school math is way harder than a grocery store trip. I made him stay home.)

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I try to not feel guilty that I toss crap like Uncrustables in my cart. Sure, PB&J are the easiest sandwiches in the world to make…but let’s go ahead and make it easier on Jill because I’M STILL NOT DONE WITH OTHER SHIT ONCE I GET HOME FROM THE GROCERY STORE. There’s lots of other good and healthy food in my cart, so I try to make myself feel better. Except…what is my family going to eat for dinner tomorrow while I’m gone at an event? Probably should grab something for them…

Get home and start the load of laundry that I needed to start HOURS ago. Put those pesky towels in the dryer.

Put away groceries. Stopped feeling bad about Uncrustables when I think about how all lunches are practically made.

Send some emails that I meant to send hours ago. Love that emails can be sent so late.

Put clothes in the dryer.

Head to bed. Pretend that I’m going to bed at 9 and not midnight. Laugh at earlier in the day when I thought I might be able to go to bed early.

Remind myself to be grateful that not all nights are like this.

no rest for the insane

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There’s something about an “all hours of the day/night” Labor Day weekend softball tournament that makes you question everything about letting your child play competitive sports. Because I’m not joking. I really meant ALL. HOURS. OF THE NIGHT. And it’s the reason why I’m not sure that I’ll ever catch up on sleep or ever feel human again. It’s also the reason I just found 17 typos in just this first paragraph alone.

For the record, I love my children. I love to support them in all that they do. But since even Beezus hates this tournament, I don’t feel bad telling you how much I hate it, too.

Just to give you a visual that you don’t want, the tournament starts Friday night. Beezus’ first game wasn’t until 10:30 Saturday morning. The next game? Not until 2am Sunday morning. And then another game at 5:30 am. The next game times depend on brackets and game scores, so we didn’t find out until later Sunday afternoon that the next games would be at 10:30pm…and then the winner of that game (which was my kid’s team) would advance to the next round. That particular game would start sometime around 12:30 or 1 in the morning. (And? Let’s be honest…we were a little glad they didn’t win that game because the Championship game was scheduled to START at 5am Monday morning. Ugh.)

Sounds fun, right?

After that first game Saturday morning, I spent most of the afternoon getting a few things done while making sure that Beezus gets enough rest. I also made arrangements for Ramona to stay the night somewhere so that I could go to the Saturday night/Sunday morning games. There wasn’t really time for me to sleep because, well, because that’s part of being a parent. There are still things that have to be done even if I know I won’t be getting much sleep.

And I didn’t.

At all.

All weekend.

But I will tell you that there are some benefits of being sleep deprived. Well, there are benefits to choosing to hang out with your kid instead of catching a few hours of sleep.

After the (very early) Sunday morning games, Beezus and I head out in search of waffles. And…probably Eggs Benedict. Because DUH EGGS BENEDICT. I had no idea how I was going to stay awake for this breakfast, but it was one of those times where there was no way in hell I was saying no. Sleep deprived hilarity ensued, but it was so much fun to have an early morning date with this kid. We may have been laughing so hard that nearly the entire restaurant turned to look, but that might’ve been my imagination.

my early morning breakfast date
my early morning breakfast date

Now, because my kid burns thousands of calories a day with water polo and softball…and just regular life, I don’t mind telling your that she pretty much hoovered all the food in front of her. I’ve never, ever seen her be the boss of breakfast. But that’s a title she now has. She took no prisoners and showed no mercy. But the best part was as she took the last bite, she embraced her inner rock star diva.

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But not only does she drop her fork like a boss, she says out loud:

“And THAT’S how you do it.”

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I almost expected her to add “bitches” to the end of that sentence. But she refrained.

Clearly she’s a better person than I am.