Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2013-11-12

Ways I’m Embracing My Imperfect Meditation Practice

People are always going on and on about the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health benefits of a meditation practice. I’ve been working on becoming a gold star meditator in fits and starts for years. If my meditation practice had a star it would probably be glitter, shiny and a little distracting.

First of all, I’m a shitty, inconsistent meditator with a lot going on in my head. But I have noticed that since I’ve been attempting to meditate for three years, I am a lot calmer and better at it than I used to be. The trying is the important part. I don’t do it every day though I wish I did. I’ve assembled a few of my meditation tips to encourage other people to seek their inner peace even if they, too, are shitty, inconsistent meditators.

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Calling the corners at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

I set up a place when I moved into my new apartment that made sense for meditation. At my old place I would sit at the foot of my bed right in front of my altar to meditate. I was never completely comfortable and discovered I liked meditating a lot better from a chair. So I bought a really cute armchair for $30 from a thrift store and set it right next to my fire escape window, where I have a few pots of flowers and herbs. I call it my “Feelings Chair” and every morning I write my morning pages in it and when I meditate I usually do it there. It’s pretty close to my altar (though it doesn’t face my altar) that I feel like I can get the energy from my little sacred spot in the corner where I do my meditating. It’s not perfect, but it works and that’s what’s important.

I really like Sharon Salzberg’s book Real Happiness, it’s like $10 and comes with a guided meditation CD. Very very good intro to many kinds of meditation. It helped me lighten up on myself about meditating. I used to get so frustrated that I couldn’t perfectly clear my head of all thoughts. She says, “The sky is not the clouds,” with regards to thoughts that saunter in during meditation.

Sometimes my meditation practice is just me staring at a squirrel I’m noticing who has a really beautiful fluffy tail, or some birds playing, or how flamey trees are when I’m walking Macy. I try to walk 20 minutes every single day in the Winter as a form of fighting Seasonal Depression, but I don’t always make it a meditation walk. (When I do a meditation walk, I do a version of the Sharon Salzberg prescription in the book I recommended, but mostly I just try to clear my head and focus on being on the walk.) Sometimes it’s a gratitude walk where I literally list things I’m grateful for during the entire twenty minutes (things get repeated).

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Backstage prayer circle with Ivan Coyote, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Felice Shays and Cal Truman (not pictured). Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

I also really love guided meditation journies streaming online. I started with the Oprah Winfrey/Deepak Chopra free meditation situation earlier this year and I’ve done a couple of others, but the Oprah/Deepak one two combo is pretty great. There is a new one that started yesterday. Once you sign up for one you end up getting notices for follow-up ones and now I’m subscribed to a few different online meditation sites for their free streaming meditations.

I’m trying out a video meditation series, which I’ve never done before, and might help folks get started. It really combines the peace I get looking at nature with guided meditation audio. I’m not totally wild about the content partners (not particularly meaty lectures) but the videos are gorgeous.

Lynnee Breedlove had a great quote on his FB the other day about what he thinks about meditation. He’s been a guru to me for quite some time, and he taught me a lot about the value of paying attention.

Meditating, it occurred to me. if god is love and the greatest way to love someone is to put your attention on them, and attention is awareness, which is consciousness, then all you have to do to experience god is pay attention (hard for ADD people, so we try to lengthen moments of attention with substances or brain chemical inducing behaviours, but such addictions cloud the attempt.) therefore consciousness/paying attention is experiencing/being god/godlike. So “all you have to do” to meet god/transcend is look at some one/thing, listen, and breathe. the more moments you can do this, the closer you are to god or the higher you transcend. simple, right?–Lynnee Breedlove

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Invoking the Goddess Lilith at the TRL Lilith Fair tribute show. Candle holder is Ashleigh Nicole Smith as Lilith and a helpful audience member who “Had a light for the Goddess,” as I requested. Photo by The Think Theater Queer Photography.

I like the idea that prayer is asking the Goddess questions and meditation is where you receive the answers. I had a lover who meditated differently–she treated it as a discussion with the universe and did a kind of question and answer. So when we meditated together I’d be keeping my mind blank and she’d be talking to the universe. But it was actually still really helpful to share energy in that way, and mutually pretty calming. Lots of my friends swear by group meditation or pair meditation.

I hope that some of these suggestions help encourage folks to do some meditating. Kelli Jean Drinkwater told me “Self care stretches time,” and I’m hoping that this Winter I can meet the demands of some impending emotional difficulties with an arsenal of self care and peaceful, meditative times.

***

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2013-05-01

Book Review: Reveal: A Sacred Manual for Getting Spiritually Naked by Meggan Watterson

Cruising Twitter one day in early April hero and mentor Barbara Carrellas tweeted that we should check out the new book from her friend Meggan Watterson. I plunged into the internet rabbit hole, learning that this book was about delving inward for spiritual fulfillment, something I have been yearning to develop. With Barbara’s recommendation and my curiosity piqued, I was ready for it. Hay House Books sent me a review copy of Reveal: A Sacred Manual for Getting Spiritually Naked.

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The book is part memoir, part self-help manual, part spiritual overview, with a distinct focus on the Divine Feminine. I learned so much about world religions and spiritual practices I didn’t already know.

The author travels on two different pilgrimmages to Divine Feminine sacred sites in Europe and tales of those journeys are part of all of the awakenings in the book. She trumpets many times that she went all that way to find something that was inside herself the whole time.

That’s what was most captivating for me reading this book. I wanted to find a way to not get so rocked to my core every time something happened “to” me or someone in my life left. I’ve done a lot of this work, through building my self-esteem and self-worth, but I know there’s something in my spirituality leading me to that solid, unshakeable core as well. That is the ultimate destination in the relentless pursuit of my joy.

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From the book: “The fierceness of Kali’s iconography is a symbolic attempt to capture the intensity of her force. The complete transformation Kali’s unconditional love demands feels as terrifying as her appearance. It’s a love that is powerful and paradoxical, trasformational and frightening, because it asks for nothing less than complete surrender.” Kali is a goddess for those of us who have been called “too much.”

Meggan talks about her intense fear of flying that she was able to overcome with an integrated spiritual practice, ultimately learning how to replace her fear with faith. By the end of the book she mentions dancing down the aisle of the last commercial flight she was on. A stark difference from the white knuckled grip of fear she used to experience. I think a lot of folks can relate to wanting to unlearn fear that holds us back from our destiny.

The book is organized in seven main steps to “Reveal” the sacred truth within. For those out there interested in body liberation activism, her chapter on REVEAL: Your Sacred Body will especially resonate. Getting into your body and seeing it as sacred is essential work to living wholly integrated. She also talks about returning to the body after a childhood sexual assault and I thought it was a great chapter about embodiment.

I’m also particularly curious about how one listens to their soul-voice–that still, small voice that creates impressions or straight-up talks to you from the inside, telling you where next to go. There’s a whole REVEAL: Your Soul-Voice chapter.

I really enjoyed Meggan’s tale of meeting “the hugging saint” Amma, who literally hugs every single person she meets. I was so impressed–what a heart-open way of connecting with people. Amma’s website claims she has embraced 32 million people. That’s like more hugs than anyone gets in a lifetime. Looking at Amma’s photos I see so much of my step-mom in her it’s actually really mystical.

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I’m also always ready to find cissentric language in things that talk about “women’s” whatever, but this book wasn’t gender essentialist. It talked extensively of the bond women share, the sacred feminine, but made very little reference to how womanhood is embodied or created.

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From the book, discussing her first visit to the Black Madonna of Notre Dame de Vassiviere, pictured above. “The Black Madonna is black not just because of her relation to the Egyptian goddess Isis but also because ‘she has literally or figuratively been through the fire and has emerged with an immense capacity for love and understanding.'” That is how I always want to emerge from pain.

Bonus for all of you R. Kelly fans out there–she met him on a ship once.

Books like Reveal are necessary because so much of feminine energy and women’s bodies are erased, ignored or subjugated from modern-day spirituality. I learned so much that piqued my spiritual interest. One of the signs of a good book is that it keeps sliding into my everyday conversations. Like talking to my roommate about my interest in the Gnostic Gospels, turns out she has a copy and it’s in my living room waiting for me.

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When people talk about what was edited out of the Bible it makes me so annoyed! My mom, who declined to raise me Catholic though she was raised Catholic and now attends mass every Sunday as an out Lesbian in a gay-accepting church, always said she was suspicious of any book that deleted the voices of women. I wish I had spiritual teachings like Reveal growing up!

Buy Reveal on Amazon for $13.29, Kindle for $10. Buy it from Hay House directly for $15.

2013-03-27

Blue Bottle Ritual With Spunky: Letting Go of the Old and Womanifesting the New

Nearly fifteen years ago I was working as a camp counselor at a Girl Scout Camp and met this blonde girl who annoyed me. I perceived her to be totally cliquish, shallow and ridiculous. A couple of weeks into camp (and in camp time that’s a lifetime) something shifted and suddenly we bonded over a candy necklace and became close friends. It was years before we realized we were soul mates* but we were certainly BFF right away. Spunky is the closest thing to a sister I have and, these days, through the magic of google video chat, I spend more time with her than 90% of the people I know in New York City.

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This is what Spunky and I look like now.

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This is what we looked like at 19 on “twin day” where either we dressed like twins on purpose or it was a dress your counselor dinner and we let our girls dress us like twins.

Part of being camp counselors is participating in a lot of non-consensual woo. I totally didn’t identify it as woo at the time (and balked at all forms of religion and spirituality), but having been a lifelong Girl Scout, I really knew how to plan rituals and ceremonies chock full of meaning for our girls.

Spunky and I used our current spirituality and past Girl Scout training to design a ritual recently that I thought might help some of my blog readers who are interested in getting energy unstuck.

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This was the first place I ever felt at “home” on a stage. Now being on stage is part of how I pursue my mission in life. Camp really gives kids and young adults life long learnables.

One thing that counselors had done for me in the past that I loved was giving the gift of a blue bottle. There’s a song about it. It’s a little blue bottle that you keep to remind you of summer’s energy, it’s a great gift at a Scout’s Own or a CIT graduation ceremony. I was CIT Director the summer Spunky and I met, and I gave her a blue bottle of her own during one of the ceremonies advancing my girls. I still have the blue bottle I received and it lives on my altar. Whenever Spunky and I do tarot readings over video chat we each grab ours to help us connect.

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One of my friends killed a rattlesnake under that platform tent!

It’s kind of eerie how much energy we mirror back to one another. Often we’ll have the same kind of action going on in our love lives at the same time, though she’s straight and I’m queer and our relationships look different than one another they are still often similar lessons and emotional journeys.

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This is the spot where we shared that candy necklace and became friends!

When I was coming to California for Thanksgiving a few months ago, we decided to create a ritual to womanifest some new direction for us in our thirties. The blue bottles we had were about who we were in our late adolescence and foolish twenties. Now we wanted something to redirect our energy towards what we wanted in our adult post-Saturn Return lives. We also decided to go to the most magical spot we could think of, which happened to be the waterfall on a trail just past the buildings of the camp where we first met.

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Maybe we sweet talked a caretaker in letting us wander the trail through camp.

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My spirituality is pretty grab bag, based on the premise that there is good orderly direction in the universe, a feminine divine that is inclusive of all genders, and deep connection and appreciation for the natural world. Rituals are great and I use them a lot in small ways to help me connect to the Goddess.

Rituals are a way to bind the magic of a particular event. They are a way of ordering your thoughts and pointing you in a particular direction. There are prescribed spells and rituals out in books and on the internet, which can be a helpful framework to start. I much prefer to hear about them first hand from people who have used them before. I find I am pretty good at making meaning out of things and it works more intensely if I just put intention into what I’m doing, regardless if it is a prescribed ritual or I’m just making it up. When designing my ritual with Spunky, I just set about making meaning.

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I totally said a prayer of protection for all the fat and/or awkward kids that will have to participate in this ropes course! Adolescent nightmare!

It was Spunky’s idea to get blue bottles again. We looked all over the Haight (I was staying in the Castro) thinking there would be a head shop or something with tiny bottles but nothing in our price range. We ended up finding them at the exact same Cost Plus in Marin County I used to buy blue bottles for my CITs. We got these great jars intended for spices that actually had blue lids in them.

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We created an altar space with all of the elements of our ritual.

We also bought some things that were symbolic of what we wanted to womanifest to put into the bottle. I got us some purple fluorite, which helps enhance third eye vision, balance and seeing truth behind illusion. We bought these shark teeth for strength. We put in these flowers I found on the ground when we were wandering the Haight at a particularly magical moment “in the flow,” to remind us to keep seeking the natural flow of life. (We both struggle with patience.) When we got onto the camp grounds we each grabbed an acorn (symbolizing kids), a tiny rock from the waterfall and some lichen because I’ve always thought lichen was really rad and it’s a good symbol of light and dark and working together with opposing elements to find balance.

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In the flow on the Haight.

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We also went to a fabric store to buy ribbon to do a binding for the handle of the bottle. I had read about doing magic with braiding–just by braiding something together and meditating on it you are able to infuse that thing with energy. So we each bought three strands of ribbon that symbolized things that we wanted in a life partnership. Mine are a purple fuzzy ribbon (spiritual connection and warmth), a green piece of lace (growing together and openness), and a black studded patent leather ribbon (for hot sex and good style). We each bought a piece of black netting to put around the bottle.

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During our ritual, which was using our energy together in a space that had a lot of meaning to us. We opened it by burning some mugwort for dream/manifesting energy and playing music on Spunky’s iphone. If this were a Scout’s Own I would have had everyone singing some song but we had a lot of Indigo Girls on her iPhone so that’s what we used. We cleansed our stones, put them in the bottle, said some meaningful things, wrote out things we wanted to let go of from our twenties that no longer served us, burned those pieces of paper and let the ashes flow down the waterfall, wrote out womanifestation prayers about our lives and our future life partners, put everything in the bottles, braided our ribbons and tied everything up.

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Spunky wrote this prayer a couple of weeks before in a text message to me and transcribed it to her bathroom mirror and we bound it into our bottles.

It was really special to do this with Spunky at the place where we first met in this lifetime.** Katie, from Empowering Astrology, has suggested to use the power of the Uranus/Pluto square to co-create, and the time is especially auspicious now with this full moon to do use our energy to shift things and clear out emotional clutter.

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*I believe that soul mates come in all kinds, both romantic and non, and sometimes they start out romantic and become not romantic. One of my closest soul mates is more than a friend to me but there really isn’t a word in the English language to describe what we mean to each other.
**Spunky’s energy healer says we’ve been connected since Atlantis. A past life reader I had a session with told me Spunky and I exist to mirror unconditional love to one another on our journeys.

2012-10-18

What Brian Learned from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Child

I have to say I feel complicated about Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Child. I am utterly delighted by the show, and the title character’s lust for chicken nuggets, pink, glitter and tulle are quite dear to my heart. The fact that the family portrayed is not at all interested in class passing and are utterly at liberty on camera being themselves makes them so, in the words of Four Four, free. It also challenges notions of what is “fame” and what is “appropriate” on television. The complicated parts I feel about it are wondering if it is poverty porn? Is it creating a spectacle out of people simply because they don’t conform to what are the typically televised “standards” for Americans? I mean, compared to the Real Housewives, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Child is actually a lot more loving and interesting, a show based on interesting unabashed characters versus manufactured drama and pretend wealth on Barbie bodies.

Heather likes to tell me I’m really idealistic because I still believe that television can do good things. (She said this after I talked about how much the Real Housewives does to advance women’s spirituality since they all go to psychics.) I think that a television show highlighting a working class family from rural Georgia who don’t conform to body standards is radical in its own way. I mean, Mama on that show has plenty of body shame to dish out on other fat women which I find really sad, but she’s still a fat woman on prime time television and that’s better than yet another Kardashian look-alike.

Anyway, my BFF Brian posted these brilliant recaps of Honey Boo Boo on his Facebook page that he has given me liberty to share with you, dear readers, in case you were wondering what you missed or, like us, are missing the weekly installments of wacky hijinks in South Georgia.

xo,

Bevin

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Me and Brian on his birthday. Our friendship just turned 12!

Last night, Arnie and I sat down to watch the premier of this program. We had a houseguest from China. We baked pasta and poured pinot noir. I learned a lot. These are the top 10 things I learned.

1) A vagina is more properly known as a biscuit. This is becuase vaginas flake open like a really well made biscuit. Like the kind you get at Hardees.

2) When searching for a family home, don’t look for one that is merely near the rail road tracks. Look for one that has freight trains constantly roaring through on an easement you’ve granted the rail road across your lawn.

3) In some parts of Georgia, black men get the confederate flag painted onto their chests and drape themselves in an Ol’ Dixie the size of a bed sheet at sporting events.

4) In some parts of Georgia, bobbing for pigs feet and belly flopping in a puddle of mud are considered sport equivalent to the Olympic Games.

5) You can never have enough living room furniture on which to display pallet after pallet of toilet paper.

6) The best way to lose weight is to fart 12 to 15 times per day, while passing around a bucket of cheese balls. This is because it is a fact that farting 12-15 times per day is a sign of good health.

7) If something like one in three hundred people who swim in a local stagnant pond will contract the flesh eathing bacteria known to be living the local stagnant pond, these are acceptable odds.

8) It is acceptable to refer to your teen daugher as “Chubbs.”

9) Most often, when one excuses oneself from the dinner table, it is because one has to make a poo poo. If you are a “what you see is what you get” kind of person, the intent to go make a poo poo should be announced when leaving the table in the middle of the meal.

10) The only way to avoid having nasty hair is to always wash it in the kitchen sink. Use a stool if necessary.

***

Last night, was another episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Child. I learned a lot. These are the top ten things I learned.

1) Extreme couponing is even better than sex; it’s like doing your crack rock. And if you’re doing it right it takes an hour and a half to get through the checkout line.

2) If you are an adult standing up in a shopping cart, you may fall and take out and end cap.

3) The best place to pick wax out of your ears? The dining room table.

4) If you put a teacup piggy with on the dining room table, it will shit on the table where you eat. This is hilarious!

5) How to have a good time on the weekends: Find the carcass of a deer that has been hit by a car lying on the side of the road. Grind up the deer and put it in the freezer for later eating. Good times.

6) A redneck waterslide can be made from a tarp, a hose, and a bottle of baby oil. It may be a little messy, but God made the dirt and the dirt don’t hurt.

7) Elvis helps Santa Claus make toys.

8) If you and your baby daddy are on an anniversary date, romance is in order. Here are some romantic things you can do. Use a fork, just this one time. Eating with your hands is for all the other days. Feed your baby daddy jell-o off your spoon. Sexy and jiggly both. Give your baby mamma a gift. Wrap up a 40 pound, bronze statue of a deer, no need to box it, and reference your road kill weekends as reason a deer statue is meaningful.

9) Common law spouses are more properly known as “Shack-‘em-up mates.”

10) If there is no sign posted at your business explicitly forbidding pigs, then it is assumed that pigs are allowed in your dress shop.
***
I just watched the latest episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. I learned some stuff. These are the top ten things I learned.

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1. Summers are hot.

2. In some parts of Georgia, goods can be obtained at the Kuntry Stoe

3. Practice and practice and practice and practice and practice and practice and practice and practice and practice and practice and practice and practice and practice make perfect.

4. Pets like to be fed. This is annoying. Therefore it’s ok to rip a child’s pet out of her arms and give it back to the breeder.

5. It is a good idea to put you 6 year old on a four wheeler especially after getting a good laugh when Crazy Tony gets crushed underneath his.

6. Mama does not like to be thrown in the mud because she can’t get out.

7. Best place to trim toenails is in Mama’s bed. Trimmings should be left behind in the sheets.

8. Mama thinks Sugar Bear should wear his Santa suit to bed in July because it is “smexy.”

9. When having contractions, best not to pee so you don’t have your baby in the toilet.

10. The later stages of pregnancy hurt your biscuit.

***

I just watched the latest episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. I learned some stuff. This is what I learned:

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– New babies smell like poop.

– Cream cheese tastes great straight from the container. Even better when it’s licked from your fingers.

– At water parks folks let their vajiggle-jaggle hang out out.

– If you never remove your socks on account of one time your foot got run over by a forklift and now your toes are mildly deformed, insects will NEST IN YOUR FLESH.

– Spray tan is like poop in a can.

– There is something called a “Rock Star Diva Pageant.”

– If you have sass judges will looooooooove you.

– If your nerves are getting the better of you while you are waiting for that gay up front to announce whether your child has won “Grand Supreme,” just lay down on the floor. Keeping your seat is neither necessary nor possible.

***
Hey, you guys! I just saw the latest episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. I learned some stuff. This is what I learned.

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– Shhh! It’s a Wig. Is is the name of a place.

– Wigs for children are called wiglets.

– In the summer, you can pass time by stayin’ inside and diggin’ your boogers.

– The best time to invest in a new pool is the last week of summer.

– Sugar Bear’s puttin’-together-skills ain’t that good.

– If you get two sides, then why can’t the sides be meat? This is the eternal question.

– There ain’t no helpin’ crazy.

– In Georgia, the “Department Store” is a dumpster in a field. You can get there via four wheeler and they have very good prices.

***

I watched the latest episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, you guys. I learned some stuff. This is what I learned.

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– The Bam Bam look is when you don’t wear shoes to go shopping at the gas station mini-mart.

– Each roller skate must be put on the correct foot. Otherwise wearing them is uncomfortable.

– Your baby does not come out of your butt. It comes out of your biscuit. But a woman will ew herself before she has a a baby.

– Do not piss on mama’s couch. Do. Not.

– Recipe for lemonade: take five pounds of sugar and add 2 gallons of lemon juice. This is because the secret to good lemonade is a lot of sugar and a lot of lemon juice.

– What’s for dinner? Butter, sketti, and ketchup.

– It’s been a while since Alana done had road kill in her belly. This is because the deer ain’t migrating like they used to.

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The recipe for sketti. It’s actually really good, in case you are out of pasta sauce at your house.

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Hey, you guys! I saw tonight’s episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. I learned stuff. This is what I learned.

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-Supermodels look like they are undergoing electroshock.

-Mama don’t wear no makeup. Period.

-A good way to earn money if you’re impoverished is to play bingo.

-Bingo is a sport. But couponin’ is mama’s all time favorite sport.

-Miss Georgia 2011 is that tall in real life.

-If Alana can’t talk with her mouth full, when is she gonna talk?

-Miss Georgia 2011 never thought she’d say “fart” on camera, but that was before she met Honey Boo Boo, so…

-Perfect gifts for a 7 year old on her birthday: Hot sauce, soap, and cereal bars.

-Forklift foot and gravity sometimes conspire to prevent Mama from enjoying inflatable water slides.

-One more thing. Look it up yourself. #booboosneeze

Next week is the family sized season finale.

***

Hey, you guys. I saw the season finale of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo tonight. This is a photo of Alana’s reaction to being told she may want to avoid chicken nuggets.

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I learned a few final things over the course of this family sized episode. This is what I learned.

-Good place for a family portrait? Under an overpass.

-Sugar bear is not the dress up type. Unlessen it’s a funeral.

-Baby Kaitlin arrived on the Biscuit Express.

-Baby’s don’t smell bad like raunchy biscuit bad. More like formula bad.

-Eleven fingered babies remind Sugar Bear of Swiss Army Knives.

-Chubbs may not be an animal person.

-If you have to choose between going to a pageant and attending the birth of a youngin’, remember that the youngin’ will be born only once. You can’t take that back.

-Alana to gnats: Move to Africa. I’ll help you pack your stuff.

-Says Mama, “I raise my kids to be who they are. You can like us or love us. ” And she’s right. Those are the only choices.

-Alana has chicken nugget power.

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