The Introvert’s Guide to Public Restrooms

I want to talk to you about something very important to me. I know we haven’t talked in a while, but, y’know what, I’m jumping right in.

Public restrooms are very scary for me.

I’m sure this is the case for others as well… or maybe I’m alone… but if you don’t want to talk about this issue, you can just wait around for the next post. Let’s be totally honest here, though, are public restrooms not just frightening? That is why I want to talk about bathroom courtesy. Here are my two primary issues with using a public bathroom.

1: They’re gross.

Yes.

100%. Nothing is pleasant about them. Yes, some are cleaner and/or more hygienic than others, but nobody likes peeing in the same room as other people. (It’s a rock fact!)

2: People. See also: Interaction; speaking words. That said, I do love me a good conversation, but if you don’t know me personally, you better not be making direct eye contact.

If there are enough people in there at once, the latter shouldn’t be an issue. In Costco, for instance, or a movie theater, people will be too busy talking to their fellow extroverts to care anything about you. The times you really need to watch out are when there is only you and one other person. Here are some ways to avoid this dangerous situation.

First, gauge bathroom attendance before making your own trip. If you’re in a restaurant, make sure to be seated with a clear view of the bathroom entrance, in order to see who is going in and who is coming out. If you see a steady stream of people, go for it, it’s probably safe. As mentioned before, there will probably be enough people to distract. You can even try going while the hand dryers are running. This is easier to time this when there are more people around. If there are only one or two people going in at a time, and there’s not a big enough time slot for you to squeeze in there, you can probably hold it through the ride home. If there’s no way you can last that long, and you’re not making any more stops, bushes out back or dark corners can be used in a pinch.

Second, if you find yourself in the taxing situation of being alone in a public restroom with only one companion, try the ghost method. This is where you remain completely quiet when you hear someone come in, and you remain in your stall until they leave. You can even lift your feet up if you think you’re in danger of them looking under the stall door. If you slip up and make a noise, sluggishness is the key. Make sure you keep moving, but each action must be done as slowly as possible. Come on, you can unroll that toilet paper slower; like fun, that’s the best you can do!

Finally, if you fail all this previous training material, and end up out of the stall with another person there, wash your hands like the wind. This is the situation where portable hand wipes or sanitizer come in handy. If you do utilize these items, first of all, good on you, mate! Second of all, however, make sure you run the water for a little while. You don’t want them to take you for a savage. And if, by some unfortunate series of events, you end up side-by-side at the sink with one other person, look down, wash, dry, and get out of there. If they talk to you…….. good luck.

Thank you for reading, I hope you feel more prepared now for your next public restroom experience. Have a wonderful rest of your day.

Sometimes You Just

I’d like to talk for a minute about quiet time.  If you’ve grown up in a Christian home, you probably know what “quiet time” is.  For those of you who don’t know, this is Christianese for about 15 minutes to an hour spent, usually in the morning, reading your Bible, praying, and just spending time with Jesus.  Before I go any further, I’d like to say that everything I am saying to you all, I am also saying to myself.  Because I need to hear this.

It is impossible, in ones life, to never have a morning where you wake up and just don’t want to take the time to do your quiet time.  For me, the usual excuses are, “I have so much to get done” or, the ever-more-intimidating, “I’m afraid I won’t encounter Jesus.”  I’ve had good mornings, and I’ve had bad mornings, and I’m sad to say that the bad mornings have given me a fear of more bad mornings.

I’m here to tell you (and me) this.  When you wake up in the morning, open up your Bible.  Force yourself to step outside of time.  Don’t look at your clock, don’t look at your phone.  Invite your Father into your space.  And if you’re afraid that you won’t feel Him, just remember: He delights in YOU (Psalm 18:19).  So even if you don’t feel Him as strongly as you want, remember that He feels you.  He listens to you.  He loves hearing you talk to Him.  He loves to talk to you, even if it takes a while for you to hear.

Even if you can’t bring yourself to pick up your Bible… even if you can’t find the courage to pray… just sit with Him and listen.  Sit with Him and let Him calm your doubts.  Because His peace surpasses all understanding.

Sometimes you just need to read.  Sometimes you just need to talk.  Sometimes you just need to sit and listen.

Father, Abba, friend.  Let me have the courage, the patience, the faith, and the discipline to spend this time with you every morning.  I know that even when I don’t treasure it as much as I should, you do. I trust you, I know that you love me.  On the good days and on the bad days, I promise to sit with you in faith and in quiet.

When Love Came Down at Christmastime

Every Christmas, we talk about when Jesus came. Christians embrace it, atheists avoid it, most people know it… but whatever you believe, and whatever you do about it, the thought of Jesus usually crosses your mind at some point in the Christmas season.
Then, there’s always that one person… that one blog post… that one church service that tells you to look deeper into it, and really think about why Jesus came down to save us. I’m not going to do that today.

Today, I’m going to state the simple truth. The simple truth is this: Jesus came down to save us. Now, when most people hear this, they hear “Jesus came to save the world,” but He didn’t. God didn’t send His only son to save everyone collectively. He sent His only son to everyone individually. One day, God came to Jesus and said, “Son… this might seem hard, but I have a favor to ask. Our people… they’re… misbehaving. We both know they’re all imperfect, but I don’t want all of them to die. Still, we can’t just let their sins go without a second thought… so I’m going to need you to leave our perfect home and go down there.”  “Sure, Dad, of course I will.”  “Wait… I’m not done. I’m going to need you to go down as a baby, and live a normal, middle-class life for about 3 decades. And… son, in order to save them, you’re going to be persecuted and beaten and whipped and… crucified. Only then can they live with us in paradise.”  “Okay.”  “Okay?”  “Yeah. I mean, I love them more than anything. Why wouldn’t I want to save them?”

He knows us. He saves us. He wants us to live with Him in paradise. He thought of you and He thought of me personally when His father sent Him down. Then He gave us perfect forgiveness.

That is Christmas. That is why we celebrate.

A Story(:

For world history this week, I was supposed to write a story, true or fictional, about someone being in the right place at the right time. Of course, I chose fictional, so I could just let my mind run rampant.  I just thought I would share it with you people. Enjoy and let me know what you think!  Sorry it’s so long(;

Red Lipstick

     A chilling wind blew down the street, throwing fallen, dead leaves every which way as it went. Leroy looked down, away from the chill, and pulled his jacket closer to himself. When he had left that morning, his mother had told him to wear a heavier coat. “It’s only autumn, Mom. I’ll be fine.” He had said. Besides, the past few days it hadn’t been cold. In fact, it had been almost balmy… but not today.

“Of course,” Leroy thought, holding his jacket tighter, “the one cold day had to be today.” He could just imagine the “I told you so” from his mother when he got home. Still, he walked further.

“Don’t forget to stop for cornmeal on the way home. I’m making cornbread with supper tonight.” Leroy’s mother’s voice echoed through his head once again. At least he had that to look forward to when he finally arrived home. Just the thought of warm chili and cornbread almost warmed him right up, even out in the cold.

“Cornmeal… cornmeal… cornmeal…” He repeated it over and over again to himself. Leroy didn’t want to forget… again. He didn’t want a reputation as “the one who always forgets.” He let out a chuckle; as if he didn’t have that reputation already.

Still, he walked.

“Tap, tap, tap, tap….” Leroy’s shoes hit the pavement one after the other. “Tap, tap, tap, click–” He stopped. Those weren’t his shoes. Those sounded like his mother’s Sunday heels; the ones she only wore on very special occasions. “Click, click, click…” Leroy listened awhile longer, then looked up. He saw a young girl, about his age, maybe a little older. She was wearing high heels–too high. She couldn’t walk very well in them. It was apparent that she had put on makeup that day, however, most of it was all over her cheeks by now, smeared by tears, apparently.

Red lipstick.
That was all that was left intact.

He stopped for a moment and watched her. She was looking down, so she couldn’t see him. He watched her take a few steps, then stop to wipe a tear from her eye, smearing her makeup even more. She took two, maybe three more steps, then collapsed onto the pavement. Before he even knew what was happening, Leroy ran to the girl and stooped down in front of her. “What am I doing?” he questioned himself, “Why did I stop?” It was as if something else, something outside himself had pushed him over there, and had set him in front of this stranger. He wished it hadn’t, but there was no going back now.

Leroy was good with people. In a few seconds, he could feel someone out and immediately know just what to say to them. It was different with this girl; he didn’t know what to say. All of the sudden, he was totally conscious of himself. He started to reach his hand out, but his arm felt as heavy as lead. Still, he pushed on. Leroy gently put his hand under this girl’s chin and lifted her head. Quietly, he asked, “Are you alright? I saw you fall.” He didn’t mention the fact that he had seen her crying… he didn’t want to embarrass her. He looked over his left shoulder and saw a bench along the sidewalk. “Do you want to go sit down?” He inquired, gently. When she didn’t respond, he stood up and held out his hand. “Here, come on.” The girl reached up and put her hand in his. Her hand was small, and her fingernails were painted red to match her lipstick. The hand was cold, Leroy noted, it felt like it hadn’t been warm in a very long time. He closed his hand around hers and pulled her up, still very gently. As she looked up, for the first time, he saw her eyes. They were the most beautiful eyes Leroy had ever seen. They were bright green, and they sparkled as the light reflected onto them, off of the cloudy sky. Once she was standing beside him, Leroy let go of her hand, took off his jacket, and draped it over her shoulders. He felt silly for thinking he was cold, not two minutes ago. Seeing this girl, dressed in business attire, not at all appropriate for the weather, he knew she needed that jacket more than he did.

Then, Leroy put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close to him. He hoped she wouldn’t think he was trying to take advantage of her, he was only trying to help her–to warm her up. She seemed to appreciate the gesture, and leaned into him. They were walking, slowly, carefully, and finally they reached the bench. They sat down, Leroy’s arm still around this strange girl, whom he had only just met. They sat in silence.

It could have been one minute. Five. Thirty. Leroy didn’t feel the silence. He sat with her. No words were necessary.
Finally, he turned to her, “Can I… um…” Leroy had never been one to struggle with his words, “can I pray with you?”

More time passed. He knew she had heard… or had she? He couldn’t tell.

Then, a tear. Two. Three. A flood of tears cascaded down this girl’s face. Hardly any makeup was left.

Red lipstick.
That was all that was left intact.

Finally, she nodded. Ever-so-slightly, she nodded. Leroy took a deep breath, and plunged in.
“Lord, I lift up this young lady to you today. I ask your shield over her, that she would know that whatever she is going through, whatever is happening in her life, it is all part of your plan. You might let your people bend, but you will never let us break. I know she might feel broken right now, but you work through broken people. Thank you, God, that you made her and you have a plan for her life. Stand by her, guide her, comfort her, protect her. Thank you…… amen.”

There was more silence after this, but, again, Leroy barely noticed. Slowly, the tears stopped. Slowly, this beautiful girl looked up. Slowly, she turned her head to look at Leroy. All of the sudden, he knew God had used him. He knew that there was a reason he had been there, on that street, at that time. Leroy had heard stories like this. Stories of people being in the right place at the right time… and that had just happened to him. He prayed a silent prayer, thanking God.

Then, he looked straight at this girl who he had just prayed over. Her makeup had been completely washed away by her tears, and as the sun peeked through the clouds, her eyes sparkled like the stars.

Red lipstick.

Leroy realized, then, that he still had his arm around her. As he pulled it away, she took his jacket off her shoulders, folded it gently, and placed it in Leroy’s hands. She took a deep breath, looked straight into his eyes, and finally, she spoke, “Thank you.” Her voice was like music. That was all that she said, but Leroy knew that she meant it.

Then, without another word, she leaned in, kissed him on the cheek, and stood up. Leroy watched her as she walked away, then he stood up and walked the opposite direction.

When he reached home, he walked into his house to see his mother in the kitchen. “Cornmeal!” He exclaimed aloud. I’m sorry, Mom, I’ll go back and get it.

“No, Leroy, don’t bother… there’s no time. Just go into bathroom and get washed up.”
“Alright. I’m really sorry, Mom.”

She glanced up, from her cooking, and looked at Leroy with an inquisitive expression.

“What is it, mom?”
She paused. “Um, nothing… we can talk about it later.

Leroy went into the bathroom, and, as he washed his hands, he looked in the mirror and understood his mother’s reaction. It was right there, on his left cheek.

Red lipstick.

Is Chivalry Extinct?

I have some things to say about chivalry. It’s something that used to be expected of the young men of the world, and wasn’t that nice? Wasn’t it just handy dandy when you could rely on a young man giving up his seat for you or holding a door open? Now I, personally, am not one to take advantage of my rights as a woman, but there is something to be said for a gentleman. In case you hadn’t figured it out, there is a story that I have for you about this.

Fall is upon us, and I have taken it upon myself to make the very most I possibly can of my favorite season. This means, as you might guess, pumpkin flavored everything. However, I learned yesterday that there was, sadly, a great lack of pumpkin in my household, so I also took it upon myself to drive to the store and get pumpkin. When I made this decision, my mother took it upon herself to give me our entire grocery list. I arrived safely at the store, only to find out that they had done a tremendously grand job of hiding their canned pumpkin. So well, in fact, that I found everything else on the list plus some, before I found the treasured cans of the orange vegetable. After I had acquired all of my groceries, I proceeded through the self-checkout and bagged everything in two bags. On my way out, I looked down at my bags and thought, “Hmmm, these are pretty heavy… they might break……….. NAH.” Then I said a little silent prayer that my bags would hold out at least until I got to the car. Sadly, right outside the automatic doors, both of my plastic grocery bags broke and all of their contents fell out; an applesauce bouncing a bit, the brownie mix boxes toppling out, and a can of pumpkin rolling treacherously close to the parking lot. This is where the gentleman part of my story comes in. You see, a young man walked by right after my bags broke, so I was full-on grovelling on the ground, trying to gather my groceries, while simultaneously trying to move out of the way of traffic. This guy walked around me, without giving me so much as a second glance. Exasperated, I evaluated the situation, and finally just decided that the best course of action was to gather my things in my arms as easily as possible. I had gotten almost everything… except the treasured pumpkin cans. This was when, OH GLORY, another young man came out, saw me sizing up a can of pumpkin with an armload of groceries and two broken plastic bags, and he knelt down, picked up the can, and handed it to me. “Thank you,” I said with more conviction than can be displayed through type. Before going, he asked, “Are you good?” “Yeah, I think so… thanks so much.” Then I walked to my car, dumped my armload of food, and returned for my second can of pumpkin, lying on the pavement.

Now I am sitting at home, watching The Incredibles, with fresh pumpkin chocolate muffins in the kitchen, and candy corn on the side table, and reassuring myself that, yes, chivalry is scarce in today’s society, but, no, it is not extinct.

–Gracie

To Be a Grown-Up

Every child has their moment. That moment, in the midst of a temper tantrum, where they scream at their parents: “I can’t wait until I’m a grown-up so I can do whatever I want!!!”

For me, I remember distinctly, as a young’n, thinking, “I can’t wait until I grow up, so I can chew gum whenever I want.” Little did I know that, not only would the opportunity to monitor my own gum chewing come sooner than later, but, also, that wasn’t even close to everything being a grown-up has to offer.

Now, as I approach my senior year of high school, and am still not by any means a “grown-up,” I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what the future has in store. Where will I go to college? What will I do for a living? Will I get married and have a family of my own? All of these are questions that I ask myself often. Still, the desire to be a grown-up comes in waves now. There are days, often, where the future is really very intimidating, and all I really desire is to crawl under my covers and return to those days of a nap per day and limited gum chewing.

But still, more often than not, the future is an exciting place. Just this evening, as I walked home from my big sister’s first real show with real actors for a real job, I was struck again by that desire. That little voice, saying, “I can’t wait until I’m a grown-up!” This time, it wasn’t the desire to “do whatever I want,” necessarily, and definitely not the desire to chew gum all the live long day, but simply the desire to go off on my own. To have that independence that I’ve never experienced before. To live in my own home, have my own job, my own car, my own food. All this to say, I am immeasurably greatful for the blessed life God has given me so far, and the family I was born into… but not a day goes by when I don’t long to know what the future holds.

I think that’s something that’s really a privilege of a relationship with God. Because, thanks to Him, I don’t hold my own future. If I made my own plans for my own life, it would, quite frankly, suck. But He holds my life in the palm of His hand. This is something that I’ve recently found an awful lot of hope in: the fact that I don’t have to worry about tomorrow or the next day or the day after that, because my Heavenly Daddy has it all figured out. Just the other day, He showed me this verse:

1 Corinthians 2:9, “However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him—”

God has huge, AMAZING plans for me, and for you… and who knows? Maybe his plan for me involves all the chewing gum my little heart desires(:

–Gracie Isabella–

Books and I… ♫ So Happy Together ♫

So happy together…

This post is entirely dedicated to my newish-found love of books.

It’s no secret in my world that I have never been the bookworm of the family. My sister, the elder, has had a great love of books since before she could even read. She had a children’s bible, aptly titled “My First Bible,” about 1 1/2 or 2 inches thick, that my mother read to her as a young’n. Even though she couldn’t read it for herself, she had it memorized so perfectly that she would correct Mommy if she even replaced “Jonah” with “him” or forgot and “and” or “the.” It was a wee bit freakish.

I, on the other hand, was always the child who, during school story time (keep in mind, I’m homeschooled), was rolling on the floor and humming, trying to keep moving so I wouldn’t lose focus… while simultaneously still losing focus. Let me just throw out really quickly that nothing much has changed on that side of things. Cassie (the aforementioned elder sister) was the model child when it came to reading of any kind… when she was bored, she read. When I was bored I went something like:

Except imagine Elsa reading a book.

Except I also did that when Cassie was asleep.

Which explains why I was elbowing her ribcage during that scene.

Back on subject, though, I have, recently-ish discovered that books are actually pretty darn great. See, at first, I just liked the idea of books.

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The smell, the look, etc, you know. Then I thought about books I’ve read that I really liked, To Kill a Mickingbird, for instance, or The Giver. And I realized that, hey, I kind of like books. So I started reading them. And I started enjoying them. And it’s been great.

So books and I have been together for about a year or so now, and it’s going great so far. I’ve gone through about 10 this year (which is huge, considering my record before was about 2 a year [willingly]). We’ve learned when to spend some time apart, but, for the most part, it’s been smooth sailing.

I think books and I will be very happy together.

 

The Prodigal Son-Revisited

INSPIRATIONAL STORY TIME!!!

I’ve grown up in the Christian community and, therefore, have heard the story of the prodigal son about umpteen times. For those of you who don’t know this story, it’s a story that Jesus told about some kid who asked for his inheritance before his father died, then blew it all on parties and prostitutes. When he had fallen so low that he felt he could even stoop to eat pig slop, he finally decided to go home and ask his dad if he could live in his house as a servant. As he walked home, his father not only accepted him back, but ran to meet him halfway down the driveway (if they had driveways in the Bible), hugged him and kissed him, and threw a party for him.

gifpeanutbutter: a GIF directory for thousands of tumblr GIFs

And. That’s. What. God. Does. For. US. Yeah, I know right, BIG YAWN, eh? Just most powerful person in the universe accepts you ALWAYS. Pssshhhh no big deal. And you don’t have to do anything to deserve it. NOTHING. He accepts you, burdens and all, and runs to you so that you can’t even think about changing your mind. And not only that, but he also fights all your battles for you, so you don’t even have to fight once we accept His acceptance, you just have to run to him.

I don’t know about you, but I am imperfect. Even so, I am still accepted.

Like I said, I’ve been told this pretty much my whole life, but it wasn’t until the other day that it really became real to me. Because I turned my back on God. I spent my inheritance on things that were only for me… I didn’t listen to a word He said. And yet, He told me over and over and over and over and over again that I didn’t need to be enough for Him. That he was waiting for me to run into His arms. I didn’t listen at first… I thought I had to prove myself to Him… I thought I wasn’t good enough. But I didn’t have to be “good enough.” I can never be “good enough.” God accepts me just as I am.

I think that’s pretty dope.

–Gracie

 

“I don’t care.”

Let’s talk about the Superbowl. I go to a friend’s house to watch this event every year with no expectations whatsoever. In fact, I often don’t even know which teams are playing. However, I continue to take on this method each year, because it works very well for me. The past couple of years, I arrived at the scene of the action, and picked whichever team all of my friends were rooting for. Both times, that team won (I think…). This year, though, things went a little bit differently. You see, I flew out to Maui on the day that the Seahawks qualified for the Superbowl. In fact, I was on a plane out of Seattle during the game, so the captain was giving a play-by-play to all of us passengers throughout the game. Therefore, I really felt a special connection to this team. So problem solved! Now I can just have my own opinions! Right? Wrong.

From the Wednesday before the big game to the day of, I was constantly at battle with myself and one of my friends. You see, this friend’s hometown happens to be Denver, so her and her entire family, along with, as it seems, the majority of my youth group, were going Broncos. She had even managed to get people to the dark side who’s entire families were pro-Seahawk. UGH! Annoying.

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(DISCLAIMER: This friend I speak of is fabulous. Only I am allowed to speak of her this way. Read her blog. Seriously though, I love you, my dear!!!)

I then chose that I would put on a facade of “I don’t care” to avoid the flack that I would get otherwise, while still inwardly cheering for the Seahawks.

[SIDE NOTE] On Saturday I was talking to some other friends about the Superbowl, and one of them said that if someone asks you who you’re rooting for, you should just throw out a team from a different sport. Another friend proceeded to demonstrate, “Seattle Mariners!” he said, then, “Tiger Woods!!!” This brought me great joy.

Anywho, on game day, I dressed in a color-neutral outfit, and arrived at my friend’s home with my speech prepared:

The moment I entered the room, I was bombarded with a hoard of people all asking the same question: “Seahawks or Broncos???” However, I held my neutral ground and gave my simple answer… over… and over… and over… and… stinking… over. “I. Don’t. Care.” So I went through the entire game, watching to Seahawks POUND the Broncos, not uttering a single sound other than “I don’t care.” The only time I didn’t use my rehearsed response was once, when someone said something about enjoying watching football. I said, “It’s alright… but I prefer watching golf.” The only responses I received were those of, “Why?? Golf is boring!”, “*judging you*”, and “*silence*”.

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I decided that my best course of action would be to turn around and crawl back into my shell of “I don’t care.”

So I have chosen that this is a method that works well for me in various sports, to just not care, or to take a deep breath and keep silent about my opinions, unless I’m around those who share in my biases. I decided this is a good outlook.

Just kidding. I don’t keep silent about very many things. But you know what? I don’t care.

–Gracie

How I Survived November

It’s December, everyone… do you know what this means?

Well… it means a lot of things… but one of the things it means is that we survived November!!! 😀 *cyber five*

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I’ve come to you today (yes, late, I suppose… but still…) to give you an update on my November.

Over the month, I saw Ender’s Game,

Thor: The Dark World,

Thor: The Dark World (2013) Poster

Day of the Doctor,

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Catching Fire,

 

HUNGER GAMES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and Frozen.

And I’m going to see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug on Sunday night (more on that afterwards…). I am now much lower on Christmas funds than I was previously… but IT WAS WORTH IT!!!

What was my favorite, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Before I delve into this pit of biases and fandom wars, I would like to say that EVERY ONE of these movies was COMPLETELY worth my time. I adored them. All of them. So much. Having said that, here they are, listed in the order of my preference:

3- Thor: The Dark World/Ender’s Game (DON’T MAKE ME DECIDE)

2- Day of the Doctor/Catching Fire (PLEASE DON’T)

1-Frozen (don’t hurt me…)

So, like I said, I LOVED all of these, but I have to say Frozen edged the others out by just the tiniest bit of Disney magic. Now, here are my favorite things about each one (in order of appearance again):

Ender’s Game: I loved the acting in this. Asa Butterfield is one of my all-time favorite actors, and his performance in this film was wonderful, as was everybody’s. Also, the plot wasn’t lacking in anything. I was never bored.

Thor: Loki. That’s all. If you’ve seen it you will understand.

Day of the Doctor: Oh, y’know, just three doctors in one show, so much amazing… no big. All of it was just straight-up fabulous.

Catching Fire: Plot development and Jennifer Lawrence, and (as my dear friend, Wendy called them) the “Trifecta of Beautiful Men.” And the ending. OHHHH THE ENDING. Such perfection. Miss Lawrence, I salute you.

Frozen: THE MUSIC. I loved everything about this… it was all so Disney magical, like I said, but the music just made it all perfect. And Olaf… he was just always there at just the right time, wasn’t he? *SIGH*

 

That’s all I have to say. Excuse me now, while I let my emotions take a respite… at least until Sunday (:

— Princess Belle

Post Script: I killed a spider today… I’m pretty proud.