Category Archives: Humor

Mary Had a Little Dog ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥

My husband Tom is a huge animal lover. In his early 20’s he worked for a veterinarian tending to beloved sick and wounded pets, and later he was employed at the Wildlife Way Station caring for wild animals that had been abandoned in the city. He tells a very funny story about how he survived the low pay by eating Monkey Chow.  Maybe one day he’ll write about it in his blog Middle Age Metal Head.

Like Indiana Jones, he’s not terribly fond of snakes, but with the exception of his lukewarm enthusiasm for that not-warm reptile, Tom loves all God’s creatures except for one: little dogs. He really hates them.

His disdain for these small fluffy balls of joy came into conflict with the desire of my daughter Mary who’s been pining for a little dog for years. We currently have two dogs – a German Shepherd named Jasmine, and an Australian Shepherd called Spike. They weigh in at 65 and 55 lbs. respectively, and although they’re nowhere near the size of Great Danes or St. Bernards, they are sizeable dogs that could scare away any home invasion.

Although I was raised with mid-sized mutts, my siblings and their kids today are primarily adopting purebred miniatures. And unlike the dogs of our childhood who were secluded to the yard, the house, or the foot of our bed, these doggies accompany their masters everywhere. My niece Kattie is planning to have her Mini Yorkshire Toby serve as the ring bearer at her wedding. Just like in the G/PG movies, my sister Tammie used to sneak her Maltese around in her purse wherever she went, except for at home when Lacey would live in her cleavage. Lacey passed away recently, which was very sad. I know my sister loves me more than almost anything in the world, but I feel fairly certain that she cried over Lacey much longer than she’ll ever cry over my death.

Mary loves to go to her Aunt Tammie’s house. My sister has a huge yard with several dogs of all sizes and even though three of her four kids are grown and have moved out of the house, Tammie’s constantly babysitting their basset hounds or boxers. It’s always so heartbreaking if one of them has puppies. Mary begs and pleads to take one home, but Tom has been insistent. He calls them “rat dogs,” and says that the whole collection of toy dogs at Tammie’s house wouldn’t weigh as much as one of our dogs. I’m not sure why that matters, but it seems to really irk him.

But Mary has been persistent. This week she turned 12, and she has been begging for a small dog for her birthday. Tom started to cave a little and suggested that she start feeding, watering and walking our dogs and cleaning up the poop in the yard. He thought Mary might whine a bit, but she didn’t. She scooped up those stinky piles with gusto. Tom reluctantly agreed to a home invasion from a little rat dog.

Mary started looking online at the pet adoption sites, studying the little orphan’s names and preferences (Captain likes to catch balls; Tiny enjoys having her tummy rubbed), and of course breeds (Chihuahuas and Poodles not allowed – a hard limit for Tom). Tom originally demanded that the dog must be at least 20 lbs., which to Mary and me seemed like a medium-sized dog. I figured that any dog that could fit into Pampers Cruisers Diapers would definitely not be classified as “little.” But we wore him down, and Mary searched for pups that were Pampers Size 1 and 2.

Every day she asked if she could go after school and find her new dog, but I was swamped with work and kept postponing it. I finally told her when she was off school for Veteran’s Day that Tom would take her. She couldn’t have been more excited had it been her own birthday. Unfortunately, it turned out that the shelters were closed for the holiday and she wouldn’t be getting one after all. She came home and cried, which meant that she was really, REALLY heartbroken because it takes a lot to make that girl cry.

I told her we’d go the week of Thanksgiving while she was off school, and she couldn’t wait for the day. She had her eye on a Terrier named Samantha at the Burbank Animal Shelter. I bought her a dog bed from Costco, and we drove over to see if Samantha could possibly be the pup that would be her new best friend.

However, the shelter had some stipulations. We had to come back with the whole family to see how Samantha got along with everyone – a nearly impossible task since everyone always has something going on, and the shelter closes each day at 5:00. We were also to bring Spike and Jasmine along to see what they thought of her, probably to make sure they wouldn’t immediately swallow the little dog whole. If it was a good fit for everyone, then we had to schedule an appointment for the next week to get her spayed. After that, we might be able to take her home.

It was truly amazing the number of hoops we were going to have to jump through to adopt a dog that was already on death row.

The next day was Mary’s actual 12th birthday. I still had too much work to take a break, but Mary really, really, REALLY wanted a little dog, so I shoe horned a couple of hours by bending the laws of time – a superpower I try not to overuse. I called the Van Nuys Animal Shelter to find out if they had the same rules as Burbank.

“So even if we find a dog we like, we can’t take it home until we can get the whole family here, right?”

There was a pause on the other line. “No. Why do you need the whole family?”

“But do you still need us to bring our dogs there?” I asked.

Another pause. Then very slowly: “We don’t want your dogs here.”

An hour later, we were taking home Bella, an adorable 1-year old terrier mix weighing in at a dainty 8 lbs. Because her shots were up to date and she had already been spayed, the dog was ready to roll.

Despite himself, I think Tom really likes her. He’s nicknamed Bella “Little Turd,” and she even comes when he calls her. Bella holds her own with our big dogs, and if you ask Mary how she likes her new dog, her voice turns sweet as honey. “I love her,” she swoons. Which has inspired me to write this little ditty:

Mary had a little dog.

Its cheeks were white as snow.

And everywhere that Mary went.

The dog was sure to go.

Obviously, we’re now working on potty training.

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Filed under Anxiety, Family, Humor, Husband, Kids, Parenting, Pets

For “Giving Tuesday,” Can I Give Back All My Free Address Labels?

Black Friday – the biggest shopping day of the year for the brick & mortar establishments – is followed three days later by Cyber Monday – the most popular online shopping day. And since you already have your credit cards out and are floating on that high that only comes from the combination of spending a lot of money and getting a really great deal, some brilliant philanthropists (and of course some savvy marketers) came up with today’s Giving Tuesday. They figure that we have one day for giving thanks and two for getting deals, so why not balance it out and create another day for giving back? And by “giving back,” they don’t mean the return line at Wal-Mart after you’ve developed buyer’s remorse.

I think Giving Tuesday is a great idea and I hope it catches on like wildfire. Especially for those people who don’t really think about charities until the end of the year tax write-off, I think it’s a wonderful way to initiate the recognition of worthy charities and hopefully start instilling a desire to help those in need, without expecting a fancy meal and a door prize in return.

Even though I completely encourage Giving Tuesday, today won’t necessarily be a special day for me. I try to be a giver year-round, not just on some new cyber-Hallmark holiday akin to Secretary’s Day. My kids will probably joke that I like to give them crap (although they wouldn’t actually the word “crap” or I’d really give them crap), but I wouldn’t hesitate a second to donate a kidney, a lung, or even half a brain if I could spare it. I enjoy volunteering my time in the community, and I even get a kick out of donating blood. And I don’t do it for the free carbs and a sticker.

I’ve never had a garage sale. I prefer to donate my gently-used items to charities, although one organization that I’ll just call Charity-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named came to pick up my bags of goods one day and instead left a note that said “Landfills are expensive.” Apparently the jacket good enough for me to wear the day before was unfit for a homeless person living in a box on a freeway offramp.

Ever since I started making enough money to eat something more extravagant than air-popped popcorn and off-brand macaroni and cheese, I’ve been giving to charities. Whether it was a Girl Scout selling over-priced cookies outside the market, a friend participating in a walk, jog, run or jump-a-thon, or some tear-jerker infomercial, my checkbook was always out. In the early 1990’s I was doing quite well financially and probably donated to 40 different charities annually. I’d send $25 to anything that came in the mail and more if the request was solicited by a friend.

But for the past few years we have been in financial dire straits, and I now have to be more choosey about charities.

The problem is, like pesky gum on your shoe that you just can’t scrape off, I seem to be in these charity databases for life. To them I’m still a potential donor left over from previous flush years, and I still might have sympathy and disposable income left to burn.

They don’t just send a form letter. What really irks me are the gilt-ridden gifts I don’t need or ask for that are smuggled along with the letter. I receive glossy photos of a malnourished child in Africa, a sad-eyed pup that’s about to be euthanized, or baby seals stuck in muck. They send calendars filled with 12 months of those plighted children, puppies, and baby seals. I get incredibly cheap-looking Christmas or greeting cards that I just pass on to some other charity. And if I had a dime for every time I got a dime from the March of Dimes… wait! I do have a lot of dimes!

Even though they may be attempting to stretch that donated dollar as tightly as possible by paying bargain basement prices on these presents, I’m concerned that they might be manufacturing these gifts in 3rd World Countries with the same horrible conditions they’re hoping to wipe out from the lives of plighted children, puppies, and baby seals.

But the most prevalent gifts are the ubiquitous address labels. I have probably received a billion of them in a variety of “Miss,” “Ms.” and “Mrs.,” “Cathy” or “Catherine,” and even some with the married names I never took.

Even though I didn’t ask for them, I’ll keep the labels and these days I probably won’t end up donating to their charity. I used to feel guilty about it, but it’s not like anyone else has any use for them. I can’t fill up a donation box of “Cathy Flynn – Valley Village, CA” labels for Charity-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and hope that Mr. Homeless Man in a Box can find them constructive, with the exception of using them to tape up leaky holes in his habitat.

I like to use the labels for as my contact information on charity raffle tickets rather than handwrite the same lines 100 times. The money may not be going to the optimistic organization that printed and mailed those address labels, but at least it’s still going to a good cause.

Two weeks ago I donated about 20 bags of clothing to the Superstorm Sandy victims, and then gave literally a truckload of household items to our local public middle school during their Goodwill drive. We have a monthly credit card payment to our public elementary school as well as my local public radio station since I’d be a complete thief to listen to NPR as often as I do without paying something for it. And since I don’t really know today how I’m going to pay for those credit card charges next month, I’m praying that even if I’m a contributor this year, it won’t tip me over the financial cliff so far that I’ll be one of those charity recipients next year.

I guess the bright side is – if we lose the house I won’t need to worry about what to do with all those return address labels. I doubt those charities will be able to find me at my new home next door to the Homeless Guy in a Box.

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Filed under Anxiety, Debt, Financial Insecurity, Fundraising, Humor, Public Schools, Volunteering

This Black Friday I Got Everything I Wanted

At 4:00 on Thanksgiving afternoon, while the Black Friday shoppers were obsessively pouring through their newspaper ads searching for the best doorbuster deals of 2012, I was sitting down to a delicious turkey dinner perfectly prepared by my gourmet husband and eating, laughing, and shooting the breeze with 22 members of my family who I love and adore.

At 6:00 on Thanksgiving evening, while the Black Friday shoppers were mapping out their strategies on how to attack each superstore as it opened so they could scoop up the best toy or electronic product before they ran out of stock, my family and I were entertained by my 12-year old daughter who serenaded us with her beautiful voice and a Dixie cup, imitating Lulu and the Lampshade’s viral video You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone.

At 8:00 on Thanksgiving evening, as Wal-Marts and Sears were opening their doors historically early, Black Friday shoppers were racing to buy $688 Vizio 60” LED Smart TVs and $39.99 Nook Simple Touches, just as I was lounging on the sofa, savoring pecan pie and watching the last two hours of one of my all-time favorite movies – Gone With the Wind – with my mom & stepdad who were staying with us over the holiday.

At 10:00 pm on Thanksgiving evening, while the Black Friday shoppers were waiting in line at Target to purchase their Xbox 360 4gb Kinect Bundles for $199.99 and Nikon L310 digital cameras for $99.99, I was cuddling next to my 16-year old daughter and her laptop, watching BBC’s Sherlock – a show she’s been dying to share with me for months.

At midnight, while Black Friday shoppers were impatiently waiting for Best Buy to open their doors so they could nab the Complete 5th Season of Big Bang Theory for just $8.99, I was crawling into bed and spent an insanely long time staring at my beautiful 6-year cherub son who, because of our houseguests, was peacefully sleeping in our bed for the evening.

At 6:00 in the morning, as Black Friday shoppers at a Sacramento K-Mart were rushing to buy half price Christmas trees, a man shouted “Calm the f**k down! Push one of my kids and I will stab one of you motherf**kers!” In the meantime, I experienced the rare luxury of sleeping in late on a Friday.

At noon, as Black Friday shoppers were driving to Sears to purchase their 32″ LCD HDTVs, for just $97, I started an 8-hours stint of raking and weeding our unruly backyard – a chore I hadn’t found time to do since this summer.

At 8:00 pm, as Black Friday shoppers were stuffing their Old Navy, Kohl’s, Gap, and other half-off clothing from the mall into their last few square inches of trunk space, I put away the garden tools, wrestled a bit with our dogs, took a long hot shower, dished out a slice of leftover pie, and sat down with my husband to watch episodes of The Good Wife and Covert Affairs that had been recorded weeks ago.

At 11:00 pm, as Black Friday shoppers were unpacking the last of their loot and adding up how much damage had been wrecked on their credit cards, I crawled into bed, read for a few minutes on my first generation iPad, and drifted off to sleep giving thanks that I truly have a wonderful life.

This Black Friday I got everything I wanted, and it didn’t cost me a dime. What I wanted was time – time with my family, time to myself, time to sleep in, time to sit back and watch a little tv, and time to do absolutely nothing. It’s a luxury I can’t usually afford.

Today I give thanks for the time (Friday), and the time (moments) after Thanksgiving.

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10 Reasons Why I Am Grateful This Thanksgiving

I live in the East Fernando Valley. The rest of my family resides in various pockets of the Inland Empire – an hour away without traffic, and a slow multi-hour freeway crawl on a holiday like Thanksgiving. As Spock would say, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” so most holidays I’m the one checking Sigalert and making a pit stop at the In-N-Out drive thru to tide myself over before the big meal.

The last time I hosted Thanksgiving dinner at my home was in 1993. This was pre-kids, and my ex-husband and I prepared a turkey dinner for my mom, siblings, nieces and nephews at the home we rented in Toluca Lake.

Notice that I say: “prepared.”

Sometime mid-morning our oven broke and we finished cooking the turkey in the microwave. The ceremonial slicing of the bird occurred around noon so we could divide it into pieces small enough to fit into the microwave. You didn’t have the option of white meat or dark meat. Instead, it was your choice of “dry as a bone” or “pink enough to cause e coli.”

Besides the long drive and the rising price of gas, the microwaved turkey dinner was probably a good reason for my family to take nearly two decades before allowing me to host another Thanksgiving dinner.

As I write this post, my family will be arriving here in just under an hour to give me another shot. And since my current husband will be doing all the cooking this year (another reason why I think this one’s a keeper), I’m taking a moment to reflect upon the 10 Reasons Why I Am Grateful This Thanksgiving:

1. I am grateful that I get to enjoy a long visit with my Family of Origin, but that they’ll all leave before I remember why I couldn’t wait to move out the second I turned 18.

2. I am grateful that I didn’t have to kill my own turkey.

3. I am grateful that I decided against being cheap enough to make a pumpkin pie out of our leftover Halloween jack-o-lanterns.

4. I am grateful that my family will be so hungry that they won’t notice that we do not own a dining table.

5. I am grateful that that most Americans and I share the belief that Thanksgiving calories don’t count.

6. I am grateful that I am not invited to any social engagements this coming weekend where I would need to try and hide the 5 lbs. I gained on this single day.

7. I am grateful that the turkey’s tryptophane will keep me from waking up early enough to partake in the Black Friday Sales that I can’t afford.

8. I am grateful that there will be a variety of vegetables, but I don’t have to eat any of them.

9. I am grateful that since I am destined to become a football widow today, I’ll have two dozen family members here to entertain me.

10. I am grateful that we had new sewage pipes installed this year, just in case any of my family members have become closet bulimics.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and I hope that your hearts are overflowing with gratitude instead of bad cholesterol.

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No More Trick Or (Candy-Free) Treats

When you’re a kid, it’s all about the candy. It’s Sweetarts for Valentine’s Day, chocolate bunnies and jelly beans for Easter, candy canes for Christmas, and goody bags and sweets-filled piñatas at birthday parties… all inevitably followed by the dreaded tummy ache and crossed fingers during the next dentist checkup.

And then there’s the Granddaddy Candy Holiday of them all: Halloween.

People who grow up outside the boundaries of the Land of Good & Plenty must think it an odd custom for Americans to ring the doorbell of a neighbor they’ve never met while their little precious dons a tiara or a muscle-laden costume (or a tiara and a muscle-laden costume if they live in West Hollywood) who hurls an opened pillowcase into the resident’s face and yells “Trick or Treat?” The neighbor repays this intrusion by plopping a piece of machine-wrapped candy into the overflowing bag, then the little tyke trots off to beg at the doors of the rest of the neighborhood.

When I was a kid, elderly neighbors used to hand out pennies or apples. We were told not to eat the apples, just in case that kindly octogenarian was really a mass murderer who snuck razor blades into the core. Forget that no kid would actually choose to eat the apple. With the choice of a piece of fruit or a Baby Ruth Bar, is there ever a dilemma? Also, you’d think the FBI could track down the homes of such sinister culprits, even without the use of fingerprinting or the more modern DNA test.

But the cold hard fact is – kids don’t want apples or pennies. They want the candy.

So why is it that for the past 13 years we have not offered such cavity contributors?

On August 12, 1999, my daughter Emily went to the pediatrician’s office for her 3-year checkup and instead was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This is not the same diabetes you rampantly hear about on the airwaves where you are kept in check if you just eat right, exercise and take a pill, nor part of the epidemic among lower-income children who eat the majority of their meals under the Golden Arches. Roughly ten percent of all diabetics are type 1 (insulin-dependant), rather than type 2 (adult onset).  Most people are unaware that they are two completely different diseases, and at least for the type 1’s, it is contracted through absolutely no fault of their own.

Any food Emily eats with carbohydrates requires an insulin injection. Without the shot, in a matter of days Emily would be dead.

I don’t mean to be a downer. It’s just the truth.

It was hard on me and Emily’s dad, and of course even harder on Emily. So after two and a half months of counting carbs and turning our little toddler into a human pincushion, we were faced with the horrors of Halloween.

We decided to ix-nay the andy-kay and instead purchased our Halloween treats from the biggest overseas cheap trinket organization of them all – Oriental Trading Company. You don’t just buy one or two items from this website. The objects are often ordered by the gross, which means 144, which in of itself is mighty gross.

We purchased every cheesy Halloween novelty they offered – stickers, pencils, temporary tattoos, spider rings, squishy pumpkins, glow-in-the-dark balls, bendable skeletons, plastic vampire teeth, sticky eyeballs, skull keychains, rubber fingers, orange slinkies, bubbles in black mini bottles, gooey worms, spinning tops with witches and black cats, and monster finger puppets.

We bought a ton of these toys. Well, maybe not literally a ton, but certainly dozens of gross which weighed tens of pounds. For Halloween 1999 we handed those cheap toys out in lieu of candy, and for the most part, the kids didn’t seem to mind. Then unlike the leftover candy assortment that’s usually just eaten and transformed into resentful gross tonnage that becomes fodder for New Year’s resolutions, we just boxed up the leftover toys until the next Halloween.

And the next.

And the next.

Today, a week after Halloween 2012, I’m packing up our holiday decorations and this is all that’s left of that original 1999 Halloween toy collection.

Oh, Oriental Trading Company – you have served us much longer than Nestle’s, Hershey’s, and anything the Dollar Tree could have offered. We had no diabetic comas, no rotten teeth, and we have not contributed to the carbon footprint of our planet.

Forget the last one. I meant carb, not carbon.

And unlike Nestle’s or Hershey’s, nothing expired. As for the Dollar Tree candy – that would outlast the Apocalypse. There’s nothing natural in that stuff, so there’s no ingredients that could ever expire.

Even with the terrors of Halloween, that’s kinda scary… isn’t it?

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Very VERY Busy Mom is Too TOO Busy to Write a Blog

2 lazy to upload a real image

im 2 busy 2 rite rite now & 2 tired 2 coreect typos. I want 2 take a nap & change the name of my blog to Very VERY Slacker Mom.

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I’m a Half Century Old Today!

I got my AARP card in the mail this week. For those of you who have been living in a Forever 21 store or in front of the Jersey Shore all your short lives, AARP is the advocacy group promoting issues like Social Security, retirement benefits, and other concerns of Americans who are considered to be past their prime. Typical AARP members might include Betty White and Clint Eastwood, although if he were a spokesperson, Clint probably would have been dropped after his recent RNC rambling stint. However, 90-year old Betty White should be promoted to Queen AARP due to her witty Facebook response: “Is Clint talking to a chair?” A full 20 years after the cancellation of The Golden Girls, Betty’s still got it.

AARP used to be known as the American Association of Retired Persons, but is now an acronym without a title of origin, even though it is officially pronounced “ay ay ar pee” instead of “aaaarp,” which would sound like the bark of a small yapper dog, which coincidentally the majority of AARP members probably keep as their companions.

My kids are 5, 11, and 16 years old, and to them, 50 must seem absolutely ancient. By the time my mom was 50, she already had seven grandchildren – two who were older than my son is today. I was born before the Kennedy assassination, 7 years before the first moon walk, before most Americans had color tvs, before the Beatles released their first single, and 8 years before Republican Vice President Paul Ryan candidate was born. I share the 1962 birth year with Tom Cruise, Jon Stewart, Jim Carrey, Demi Moore, Steve Carell, Jodie Foster, Axl Rose, Garth Brooks, Eddie Izzard, Sheryl Crow, Jon Bon Jovi, Matthew Broderick, Rosie O’Donnell, MC Hammer, Emilio Estevez, Craig Ferguson, Bobcat Goldwait, John Slattery, Craig Kilborn, Joan Cusack, Kelly Preston, Flea, Felicity Huffman, and Ralph Fiennes.

1962 was a very fruitful year.

I have “1962” in my email address. I once had someone ask if that was the year I was born. I nonchalantly answered that it was.

“That’s awfully brave of you,” she answered.

No, I didn’t hit her. And I only thought about crying for a second.

When I told people that I had a milestone birthday coming up, many of them would try to flatter me.

“You’re turning 29!”

God, I never want to see 29 again. Back then I was in a horrible relationship, had zero self-esteem, and no life beyond work. It’s a good thing I didn’t end it all in desperation. I never would have known that my best years were still to come.

At 50, I have a full life – a little too full most of the time – but one that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I have a husband who always makes me laugh, three terrific kids who make my life worth living, a close-knit family I adore, a wide group of loving friends, a home that I appreciate, good health, a job that pays be a decent living and allows me to work from home where I have the freedom to choose my schedule, rewarding volunteer opportunities, a brain that still works most of the time, and I have this blog where I can try to be the funny that I have trouble being in person.

I don’t like my jiggly arms, varicose veins, grey roots, and recent vertical lines that are wrapping around my mouth. But I do like my smile lines, my red root rescue dyes, my thicker skin (metaphorically) and the wisdom that I’ve gained and still acquire more of every day.

I say 50 is the new 30.

Thankfully I’m not alone in having kids later in life, and most of us older moms can keep up with those younger mothers any day of the week. I’m not as frazzled and emotionally unstable as I would have been 20 years ago. And although I definitely was in a better boat financially, I don’t mind sharing my paycheck with my family. Balance transfers and a decent credit score keep the roof over our heads, our bills up to date, and our bellies more than full.

Realistically, I will probably never retire. Between my recent student loans, the debt equal to the GDP of a small nation that my husband has amassed by pursuing his Ph.D., and the inevitable college tuition bills of my three children, I will be paying off student loans until I’m dead. I don’t mind. I like being productive, and if there’s a choice between cutting lip smacks from the main characters of Once Upon a Time (or whatever show I land on after its hopefully 20-year run) or playing golf and bingo all day, I would choose the job.

Here is the Happy Birthday post I put on all my friends’ birthdays on Facebook. I don’t know who I stole it from, but if it’s you, I thank you for it. And now I share it with the rest of my readers for you to cut and paste on your own friends’ pages:

♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸•♫♪ hApPy bIrthDaY to you ♪♫•*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*♫♪hApPy bIrthDaY to you ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪♥ ♥ ♥hApPy bIrthDaY dEar cAtHy •*¨*•♫♪hApPy bIrthDaY to you ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ xo

… and many more!

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