The Brownells

The Brownells

More Pictures?

My phone won't let me post pictures on this blog, so I actually have to sit at a computer (which I do very rarely).....So, I post all of our pictures at

About Me

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I have a husband and a puppy. I love one and am obsessed with the other. I'll let you figure out which is which. I love my job, my house, my students, my cheerleaders, and my life. I guess you could say things are going pretty well... I teach high school English and coach cheer. Husband is a video game designer. Guess which one the future Brownell babies will think is cooler...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Enbrel Injection Site Reactions

I've now been on Enbrel for a month.  I've done 4 injections - the first 3 without any sort of reaction.  The needle is tiny and really doesn't even hurt when I do the injections.  The 4th injection, however, was a different story.  I not only had a crazy injection site reaction, but also got a terrible head cold.

I don't really blame the Enbrel for the head cold, I more blame the 300 disease filled teenagers that I come into contact with every day.  Several of my cheerleaders were sent home sick with the flu last week and I was basically starting a count-down to when I would get it.  I somehow avoided it, but got this dumb cold.  I'm going on day 10 of the cold, and even had to skip my injection last week because of the cold.  Keeping my fingers crossed that I can do the injection soon because my jaw is in a total freak-out right now!!!!

Anyway, the Enbrel site reaction is bad news.  Right after I did the injection, I had no reaction.  It wasn't until 36 hours later that I noticed a large red raised patch at the injection site.  It was hot and about 3" across.  My little sister is an Occupational Therapist at a hospital, so she sees weird things all the time.  I showed her, thinking she would be all "nah, that's no big deal," Instead, she suggested I see a doctor.  Yikes.
Day 2 - Post Enbrel Injection

We got home from the mall and I told my sister that I was going to draw a line around the reaction, so so I was sure it wasn't spreading.  I was a little bit concerned it might be an infection instead of a reaction.  When I lifted my skirt, I saw that now instead of just a reaction, I was also bruised.  The site reaction continued to grow outside of my lines (so I'm not really sure why I thought it was a good idea, because then I just looked like I couldn't trace the outside of the mark!)
Day 2 Enbrel Site Reaction
I called the Enbrel Nurse Hotline Support Thing and they walked me through all the legal crap.  Apparently a little bit over 30% of all Arthritis patients have a reaction.  They asked if I had a fever, if it was hot, if it was getting worse.  I had to answer yes to all 3.  She didn't seem concerned, so I wasn't concerned.

The next day I checked on it again.  The bruise was getting worse, but it wasn't NEARLY as hot as it was before!  Now it was just sore and really bruised.  I had to warn my dance class that I was, once again, crippled.  We do Yoga on Mondays, so my yoga poses were a little strange since my bruise was on the top of the my thigh.
Day 3 Enbrel Site Reaction
My head cold was super raging at this point.  Many of my students tried to send me home today.  I think they just wanted me to put on a movie and get a sub. haha.  I talked to a bunch of teachers today that suggested I go see my dr.  I was hacking up a lung and my leg looked a little bit scary.  I called my doctor and explained the symptoms and arranged to go in the next day.

Day 4 of Enbrel Site Reaction
This is what my leg looked like when I went to the doctor.  She seemed mildly concerned.  She said it was a pretty bad reaction and that usually, if someone is going to have a reaction, it takes place the 3rd or 4th injection.  No one told me that!!!!  Dr. wants me to try one more week and see what happens.  If I react all crazy again, then I will have to discontinue using it because clearly my body hates it.  I am going to do it again this week, but am a little bit nervous to say the least!

Day 12 Enbrel Site Reaction
It's now 12 days after I had a reaction to the Enbrel.  The bruise is almost gone (finally!).  I'm going to do the next shot tomorrow and really just keep my fingers crossed that I don't look like I punched myself in the leg this time!

Monday, October 8, 2012

I shoot myself every week.... AKA my road to taking Enbrel

I know I haven’t blogged in about a million years, but stuff got crazy this last year.  I started teaching dance at my high school instead of just English and cheer.  Then I decided, hey, I’ve got some free time, so I took on being a LINK crew coordinator too.  Then became the 10th grade facilitator for the English department.  Then we bought a house.  Then I started teaching a second level of dance.  Then my Arthritis took a total freak-out and I was pretty much immobile for a solid month.  You get the picture.  I am my mother’s daughter and I try to do way too many things at a time. It’s really a sickness.

Anyhow, I decided to come back to blogging for 2 reasons.  1. Over the summer Andrew and I went to Cuba.  The US government still has the embargo against Cuba (which is insanity).  But we decided that we wanted to go to Cuba before the restrictions were lifted and Americans went and ruined their amazing culture.  Finding out travel information for a country that my country has not been able to visit in DECADES was really hard and I’d like to put my experience/information out there for anyone who is thinking of going (which I WHOLE HEARTEDLY suggest you do).  More on that later....
And 2. I recently started taking a new medication that I’ve had some strange reactions too and I just wanted to put that information out in the internet-world too.

So, the Arthritis.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have Arthritis.  I was diagnosed at 7 years old.  It’s kind of a thing I deal with, but don’t let it ruin/run my life.  Well, this summer my body decided it was going to be different.  At the tail end of our trip to Cuba, my right knee started to feel really stiff.  It wasn’t really anything new, but it was annoying.  Then, when we got home, it really started to go crazy.  It was so swollen that I was honestly worried about extreme joint damage and even being able to function in real life.  I sat with it elevated and ice on it, slamming Aleve like crazy, for days at a time.  I thought maybe if I ignored it, it would go away.  Great thinking, right?  It didn’t.  I called my Rheumatologist (of which I had not done for 3 years.  World’s greatest patient here) in a total panic.  I couldn’t walk.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t cheer.  I certainly couldn’t start teaching dance in a month!  I was totally freaking out.  I called the doctor and she didn’t have any appointments available for like a month.  Not going to work.  So, I told them that I was a teacher on summer break and would go sit in the waiting room all day if they thought they might be able to sneak me in at some point.  It only took about 3 hours of sitting one day and they took me.  PHEW!

My right knee exploded......
 Doctor appointment #1: She ran a series of blood work and my immune system was clearly doing some sort of tap dance.  That day she drained my knee and gave me a cortizone injection in both my knee and my thumb.  The knee draining was awesomely gross.  She had me lay back while she inserted a huge needle.  She asked me not to look.  I, of course, looked.  It was amazing.  My knee literally began deflating like a balloon. So cool.  I believe I yelled out “that’s disgusting.  Amazing, but disgusting.”  She instantly begged me not to look and said that she’s had patients pass out while she has the needle in their joints.  I assured her that I was a freak and wanted to watch.  I even asked if I could take a picture afterwards.  She may or may not have looked at me like I was deranged.  She told me to take it easy.

Sorry. I know this is gross.'s still pretty cool.  This is like 1/2 of what she took out.  My knee deflated like a balloon.  It was awesome!

Doctor appointment #2: SIX freaking days later I called the doctor in a panic.  My knee was literally more swollen than it had been before. We had some contractors in our house installing the sliding glass doors, and in broken English one asked me if I had seen a doctor because they were all talking and said my knee looked bad.  I was like a circus freak, making even contractors gasp in horror at the sight of my unsightly knee.  It was bad.  My amazing doctor fit me in the next day.  She asked if I had taken it easy, which I had to admit, I was for me.  A normal person with normal activities, not so much, but me - heck ya.  I had only done this elliptical bike machine one day for one hour.  Who knew that would anger the Arthritis Gods so much.  Well, except my Rheumatologist who sternly told me that was in fact NOT taking it easy.  oops.  This time she wanted to treat it a little bit more aggressively.  She not only drained my knee and gave me TWO injections of Cortizone, but also subscribed me Prednisone (a steroid) to try to calm my immune system.  I’ve done the Prednisone before for a few days at a time, but she put me on it for 5 weeks.  I got the worst stomach pains and the only thing that helped was eating.  I was a lazy eating machine for 5 weeks. AND to add insult to the chunky injury, I went on a cruise during week 5 of the steroids.  Come on!  I was already eating all the time.  Let’s just say my jeans fit VERY differently at the beginning of summer than they did at the end.  Very differently.  During this time, my knee felt stiff, but there was barely any swelling.   I was feeling amazing (besides the constant eating and the steroid-induced hot-flashes.  Dear god the hot flashes.  I was the only person complaining that Alaska was hot!!!!!)

Elliptical Machines 

Doctor Appointment #3: But why did I need to go a third time if I was feeling great?  Well, here’s where the new medicine started.  I stopped taking the Prednisone on Saturday, and by Monday (the FIRST day of school), my knee was a giant Elephant Man status knee.  Commence the freaking out again.  I thought “I can do this,” then I attempted to climb the stairs to my classroom for the first time since June and started freaking out all over again.  The dance/cheer teacher cannot be asking to take the elevator.  It was pretty much my worst-case-first day of school scenario.  Cut to me calling the doctor yet again in a panic.  She couldn’t see me for a week, so I wore long skirts as to not alarm the natives.  It was a LOOOONG and PAINFUL swollen knee week.  When I finally went to see the dr., she decided she wanted to put me on an immuno-suppresive called Enbrel.  It is a weekly self-injectable, which isn’t the best, but it’s not the worst.  I had been on Remicaid a few years back and that was a monthly 4 hour infusion, so a quick weekly injection trumps that. I couldn’t start it this day though, because I had a raging head cold (stupid teenagers already got me sick!)

Doctor Appointment #4: Went to get first injection today and even brought my 6 month old TB test results like a good patient.  The doctor asked “did you go anywhere this summer that you might’ve contracted TB?”  I looked at her sheepishly and had to admit to going to Cuba.  They were literally having a Cholera outbreak when we were there.  Freaking Cholera.  Who gets that anymore. more delay in getting new medicines since I had to get a TB test.

Doctor Appointment #5: Got TB test read and it was negative (phew!  I was actually a little bit nervous with all the summer travel).  I did my first injection and had no problems.  I'm using the Enbrel Sure Click needle, so it's minimally scary!  We will see if it’ll work.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mirrors for my Dance Room

Hi blog followers. I realize that I havent posted since tue beginning of the school year, but that's because I have had an insane year! I coach cheerleading an it's football season, so that takes up most of my time. And I'm teaching 10th grade English, which I love, but it takes so much time. AND I'm teaching ELD, which takes endless energy. And then, I'm teaching 1 section of a brand new dance class. It's SO MUCH fun, but so much work!

Anyway, the point of this post is to beg. Unfortunately the state of public eduarion is that we don't get any money for anything. I started the dance class on the grass. 2 girls were stung by bees. I was given an empty room, so I'm trying to turn it into a "dance studio". I got some posters from dance stores to put on the walls and bought some shelves and a speaker. Now I need mirror but have exactly $zero to pay for it. I've set up a way to allow anyone to help out. Pretty please? With sugar on top and some low-income-dancers? :)

Thank you in advance! Spread the word!!! These are amazing kids who deserve te chance to dance dance dance!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Welcome back to School....

So apparently, I don't post when I'm in school. 

School started last week.  :/ I'm super tired, and a little overwhelmed.  I'm teaching 1-10th Grade English class, 2-ELD 3 classes, 1-Dance class, and 1-Cheer class.  I feel a little spoiled with my schedule, and I ACTUALLY HAVE A CONFERENCE PERIOD this year! yipee!  I have accomplished SO MUCH during my first few conference periods. It's amazing.

The first few days of school kind of suck.  I don't know anyone's name, so when they act like butt-heads, I have to point and or just let it slide.  Once I learn everyone's name, it'll be a lot easier.  Can't wait!

Here's a little taste of the first day of school:
Swastika or field hockey sticks.  You tell me?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

End of Summer Village Party!

I've blogged about the Village Parties before.  They are beyond amazing.  It's like going to a club, but in my complex and the food is free.  Best. Club. Ever.

This time, the passed appetizers were AMAZING. They were doing "deconstructed" versions of all sorts of foods.  And everything was on sticks.  It was so cute and so clever.  At one point I was literally hunting down one of the waiters for the corn dog.  That makes me sound like a crazy person, but OMG it was ridiculously amazing.

On the left is a deconstructed "chicken and waffle."  These were Andrew's favorite, though he looks pre-ty happy with the corn dog on the right!

Here Andrew models a "Potato Tornado" (fried potato on a stick) and a "pastrami sandwhich (complete with mustard and pastrami) yummmm!

He clearly enjoyed the food.
Then we began the dancing.  I like to think of myself as a dance machine.  When I was in my early 20s I hated going dancing at a club.  I grew up dancing, so I felt weird without choreography.  Though, I would have probably felt weirder WITH choreography at a club. ha.  It took me a while to grow into my dance-machine-status, but now I'm on the dance floor until the very last song (with the exception of running off for corn-dogs).

haha. It looks like he dances like a zombie.
They  totally fill the floor  with smoke!
Obligatory sweaty dance picture

I clearly learned 2 VERY IMPORTANT lessons tonight.  1. I take a lot of pictures of my husband and of food and 2. if we take a picture together, it should CLEARLY be taken BEFORE the dancing!!!!

Becoming a Lady Who Lunches..

Though my lunches are rapidly coming to an end.  Summer is almost over BOOOOOOOOO!

Because my mom is an aide at a school, we get to hang during the summers.  Monday I had to head out to Laguna Beach to pick up Andrew's new glasses ('cause that's how we roll - eye doctors on the beach!), so I invited my mom for a day at the beach.

We decided to hit up Crystal Cove in Newport/Laguna area.  There are times when I COULDN'T LOVE So Cal more, and today was one of those days!  The area down on the beach is so cute - there are a bunch of little 1920's cottages that you can rent and there is one restaurant- The Beachcomber.  The day was fab and delish!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Welcome to the Club

Much to his chagrin, the husband has officially joined the coolest club around - the 4 eyes club!  I have been a faithful member of said club for over a decade.  I've worn glasses for so long and so regularly that I think I look weird without them (16 year old me would be MORTIFIED at that thought!!!).  I think Andrew looks very cute (always), but it's going to take me a minute to get used to it.  Getting old sucks!

Recycling in California

Andrew and I have been recycling plastic water bottles for about a year.  I even have a separate trash can for them.  The husband is like a giant fish tank that cannot never be filled.  He will literally drink 5 bottles of water every night.  Why not drink out of the sink, like a normal person, you ask?  Well, because Andrew says the water tastes funny.  We used to have filtered water in our fridge, but now our fridge doesn't have one, so it's just FILLED with bottled water.  Since we are paying a few cents for every bottle that we buy, we decided to start recycling them.  We've done it a few times, but every time we get like $ it was SO not worth it!  This time, Andrew said he wanted to wait until we had a bunch, and oh boy did we.....
Good thing the seats go down in the Prius!

We seriously looked like hobos carrying all of our bags downstairs.  I've been BEGGING to take them for WEEKS.  I was losing my mind with all these bags in the office closet.  Losing. My.  Mind.

So after all the work of collecting, bagging, storing, and taking it to the recycling plant, we made $19.37.  Worth it?
At least he's a cute hobo!

PS - At the recycling place TWO DIFFERENT Mexican men (that were there recycling) asked us if we were selling our dog?  Is this something normal that people do?  "I'm going to recycle today and maybe make some extra money by selling the family pet???"

Monday, August 15, 2011

Las Vegas Bachelorette Party

Not mine.  I've been married for years.  This was for a girl that I have literally known 20 years.  It BLOWS my mind to be able to say that about anyone, but it's true.  20 years.  Insane.  We used to dance together when we were little and she has a sister my sister's age, and another sister that is my brother's age (we used to always secretly hope that the 2 youngest would get married so we could be in-laws!).  So, Jessica is headed down the aisle, and we were headed to Vegas.

I've been to Vegas DOZENS of times.  It's only a 3.5ish hour drive from So Cal and husband is a poker player.  I've gone with just Andrew, I've gone with other couples, I've gone with friends.....but I have NEVER gone with just girls.  I was a little nervous since the only time I have been without Andrew was for a convention for work (with my sister) like 5 years ago.  I'm not much of a "girls-girl" so I was interested to see how it would go with them.  I love 4 of them (the bride, her 2 sisters, and my sister), but didn't know the other 3.  Also, I was the oldest and the only married I was worried about being fat and old.  Normal girl concerns........But, it went GREAT!
I'm not sure what's up with the demon eyes.  
I was told by my dear sister that I didn't have anything "Vegas-appropriate" to wear.  I'm a teacher, I wear teacher clothes.  On the weekends I wear knee-length skirts & dresses.  So I was on the hunt for something kind of whore-ish.  I think I succeeded (and then proceeded to spend quite a bit of time pulling down the skirt.....)

The outfit was Jenna approved  though she was upset that I was wearing wedge heels instead of spiky heels.  I figured if my legs (which haven't seen the light of day in a skirt in YEARS) were going to be out, then my feet were going to be comfortable!  The craziest part of it is that my skirt was not even CLOSE to the shortest in our group!!!!

We spent time at the pool at the Venetian, time at Tao Beach Club dancing, A LOT of time getting ready, eating, hanging out, going to dinner, drinking, and then dancing at The Bank at the Bellagio.  We even had table-service at The Bank.  I was a dance machine, until I had to start playing mom to all the drunk youngin's.

The ONLY negative was the incredible lack of sleep. They all drove out Friday, but Jenna didn't want to take the day off of work. So, we drove out Saturday morning (got up at 6:30 am). We didn't go to bed until 4:30 am the next morning (after a full day of drinking, and a full night of drinking and dancing).  Jenna took a nap, but I'm not a good nap person.  THEN, I got up at 7 am to start the drive home (I didn't want to sit in traffic.  Last time Jenna went it took her 7 hours to get home and I was unwilling to do that!).  So I slept about 2.5 hours in 36 hours. The drive home seemed to take forever since I was SO tired!  I took a 1 hour nap when I got home, but Andrew was actually home for once, so I didn't want to waste that time together!  I finally went to bed at 11 pm last night and woke up at 9 am totally rested.  phew!

It was my shortest trip to Vegas (a little less than 24 hours), my first trip with just girls and my first trip dressed like I'm 21.  For that many firsts, it had to be a good time! :)

Obligatory Sweaty club picture
 *All my pictures suck.  The pictures on one of the girls' camera are WAY better, but I'm impatient and didn't wait....

Working a Food Bank

I grew up in a family that volunteers for everything.  From working grad-night, volunteering at various events, working carnivals, volunteering time, to even dressing up as Clifford the Big Red Dog.  I have done them all.  Even the husband has been gently nudged (or forced...) to join in the family volunteering.  My parents are the kind of people that still are actively involved in the boy scout troop that my brother "graduated" from 4 years ago.  They're sort of crazy people.

My mom has been trying to get me to join the same charity group as her for years.  I'm just too busy during the school year, but Andrew has been working so much, that I think another activity would be I've been seriously pondering it and am attending some of their events.

Thursday night my mom and I went to a food bank to sort food.

It was pretty much back breaking work, but I got to hang out with my mom, catch up with a HS friend, AND help out people that need the help.  I'm just one step closer to being a woman who lunches and does philanthropy work.  I'm becoming my mother....

AntiGravity Yoga

Last week I took this class with my friend, Megan.
I'm pretty sure I looked exactly like these ladies....
and not at all awkward or man-ish...

This was TOTALLY my favorite pose.  It felt so good.  I kept
 putting my hands on the floor though, cause my brain kept freaking out.
  I don't think it enjoyed being upside quite as much as I did....
Obviously those last 2 pictures aren't my own, I couldn't exactly get a self portrait while we were doing it.  And, let's be honest, I didn't look ANYTHING like those women.  I'm sure I was all red-faced with messy hair and sweatpants.  Luckily I had to take off my glasses to do these poses, so I literally couldn't see what I looked like.  phew!

Here's what the studio looks like:
Best use of a giant warehouse!
At first I was more than a little nervous about the putting-my-whole-body-weight-in-a-fabric-hammock-then-hanging-upside-down business, but they assured me that I would be fine.  Megan had taken the class 3 times before and also assured me that I would not be on my face at anytime during the class.  I trusted them (and rightly so, there was never any floor-to-face-time....)

So it's like yoga in a hammock.  It was a pretty good yoga like workout, with some minor cardio at the end.  I was REALLY feeling it for the next few days.  The ONLY thing that I didn't like was the bruised-like-feeling on my pelvis for the next few days (from, you know, the just my pelvis holding up my whole body business...) But it was a super fun class to take with a friend! :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How's your Day?

Cause here's how my Tuesday ended:

She's OK, but fell straight on her back from about 7 feet up.  She complained of back pain, and you don't mess with back pain....

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How to Store my DVDs

It has literally been years since we purchased a DVD, but Andrew used to be a crazy person that bought every movie that he ever liked.  The challenge was finding a place to keep all the DVDs.  Problem solved with our mildly obsessive same-furniture-in-every-room habit.

Notice the dog bed --- it's so fancy
We keep the dog's leash in the striped box on the shelf.  If I even look at it.....Maximus goes crazy!!!!

Precious Little Package

BEST NEWS EVER!  Ok, maybe not the best, but really good news! I got the best package in the mail.  I posted a week ago about my closet/shoe box debacle.  I was literally thinking of purging some shoes (since I clearly know that I won't stop buying shoes....), and was very concerned

So, anyhow, I got this box today (ordered from some sort of organizing website) and

THEY HAD THE OLD STYLE!!!  YIPPPEEEEEE!!! Now I have 6 more, but am actually thinking of ordering more.  Is 6 boxes enough for all of eternity?  I can't decide how many more to buy.  Oh 1st world problems....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cheer Fundraiser

The money thing for the whole state of California is actually beginning to cause me to lose sleep.  I am lucky enough, that money isn't a regular concern at home.  We live comfortably and I don't really stress about day-to-day expenses.  My cheer team's finances, on the other hand, is going to literally kill me.

The ACLU recently settled a case in CA where they stipulated that schools can no longer charge for an activity or sport.  They can merely request donations.  Now, this lawsuit began when 2 cheer parents from a low income school sued about a decade ago.  The idea was that by asking for donations, sports would be opened up to all kids.  Sounds like a great plan.  BUT, what they forgot about is the fact that the low income kids won't make the donations (not because they don't want to, but rather that they can't), so it just TOTALLY screws the low-income kids out of everything kids at other schools have.  This year my kids didn't get to go to cheer camp, don't have uniforms, briefs, heck they don't even have cheer shoes.  Now my low-income kids are going to feel even worse when we play against a team with decked-out cheerleaders who aren't affected by this new law (since their parents will glady make the "donations")  It's just really widened the chasm.....

Now, I know this sounds like I'm just sitting around whining about my poor, poor students.  Well, I agree, that is what I'm doing.  Although I do this while we do a ton of fundraising.  We've made about $10,000 just this summer alone.  The unfortunate thing about that is that that just barely paid off what we spent last year.  Apparently I would make a horrible accountant.  Actually it's because the girls all signed a contract promising to pay last year, but then several got wind of this new law and decided they didn't have to pay.  But, they had already gone to camp, ridden the buses, competed, etc.  The money was already spent and now they don't have to pay it back.  I think this is actually just teaching the kids a HORRIBLE lesson.  You can get stuff for free........

We have done tons of car washes, sold candy, sold cookie dough, sold snacks at school, sold newspaper subscriptions, sold pies, run a firework booth.....I'm out of ideas!  We have asked literally every business in Westminster for donations, but we get the "in this economy...." kind of reaction.  I have had a family member offer to buy poms for my girls, and that seriously took off a lot of pressure.  My sister and I are going to make bows this weekend, but that's another cost for me.  And remember, I VOLUNTEER to coach.  It costs me THOUSANDS of dollars every year to volunteer.  What the heck???  We have to pay for buses to and from football & basketball games (it's district policy that they can't get themselves there, but then ZERO funds are provided to cover the thousands of dollars that we have to pay for the school buses...arg!).  This whole thing may drive me over the edge!

I mean, what kind of world do we live in where a teacher, who already doesn't make that much money, is sent one of these every summer?  I mean, ya, we get the summers off, but we surely don't get paid for them!
Yes, teachers buy MOST of the stuff your kids use in the classroom......

Anyway, if anyone actually does read this and
1. knows a company that is just SEARCHING for something to donate to (for the tax write-off)
2. knows a really rich person who is just SEARCHING for something to donate to (for the tax write-off)
3. Knows of an amazing fundraiser that I haven't thought of yet....
please let me know!!!!!

Go to to see their adorable faces!

I'm not above working, begging, pleading, and am getting close to being ready for stealing.  OK, not yet, but almost. Help!

(and for those of you that are sick of hearing me whine, sorry!!!!! and, thank you for listening!) :)

The Brownells

The Brownells