Archive for January, 2009

POWER TO THE WRITER!

January 31, 2009

It’s been a week since I have written in my blog. It has been a busy week and I always wait for the PAWFECT inspiration. I love to write and I am comfortable with the written word but it always helps to have someone  or something inspire you.

After my trip to the inauguration I was very inspired by being an American and by all the wonderful people I met like Marie and Shirley.  The friendship and hopefulness was everywhere and I want to be sure I do my share to keep it coming. Lucky me I get inspiration on a daily basis—actually sometimes minute by minute from our Guests in our stores and on Buildabearville.com.  Maybe the best part of creating such a special company is the creativity it inspires in others. Everyday I am lucky enough to receive hundreds of ideas and suggestions to make our company and our special fun place, buildabearville, even better. I call them BEARY bright ideas and when received from a Guest on buildabearville.com I reward them with a virtual light bulb hat they can wear in BABV. This has become quite the status item.

It is all about the WE factor and how people can join together to have an even greater impact on the world. I call it 1+1=10! It is a magic formula—maybe not like Einstein’s E=mc2 but important to the well being of the world nonetheless. It is about partnership and free sharing of ideas to make something better and take the impact even farther. It’s what this country needs and what our world needs.

My inspiration just a few days ago was my friend on BABV, ZoeyGirlsRock327. Like me, she likes to read and she also likes to write. She wrote a book called Zoey and the Magical Bear and sent it to me to read. It is one of the best children’s books I have read and I have been smiling ever since. We have been emailing and I suggested she post the book on tikatok.com where so many kids have written books about their furry friends and my friend Sharon Kan, another person who inspires me, would help her get her book published….yes, printed and published. That is hard to do for anyone, let alone a child but it can all happen on http://www.buildabear.com/tikatok. You can see her first novel at:

Zoey and the Magical Bear    It is PAWSOME!!!

ZGR327 has become one of my special friends on buildabearville. While we have not met in person YET, we have exchanged emails and learned that we have a lot in common, like reading. She just finished reading Nancy Drew and  is now reading The Diary of Anne Frank and we were discussing how sad it is. I agree…very sad, but Anne inspired so many people by her beautiful writing in her diary.

Last April, I went to Amsterdam and visited the house where Anne was hidden and it is exactly as she describes it. After reading her book so many times I could probably have sketched it out blindfolded. After I read the book the first time when I was about 10, I started keeping a diary myself. It really mattered to me to be able to “talk to myself” about what was on my mind or in my heart. Sometimes when I was having a tough time at school or being a big sister I would just sit down and write out my feelings– it definitely made everything feel better 🙂  As I got older I jotted down my feelings about the world, my boyfriends, my job, my hopes and dreams…whatever was on my mind. Now that I think about it, I think that Anne Frank also inspired blogging which is basically a diary gone public. Anne would have loved blogging. She yearned to share her feelings with others to smile and sing and dance again in a free world. Instead she wrote to her hearts content so that others could someday better understand the hardships of war and the negative impact of bigotry and hatred.

Thanks Anne for being such a forward thinking young woman. The world wishes you were here but we appreciate all you have taught us about the power of the written word.

Maybe my friend Sharron Kan was inspired by Anne Frank too. I will have to ask her. She knows how important writing and creativity is and she has created a fabulous company and online phenomenon, Tikatok. Tikatok and BABW is a quintessential example of my 1+1=10 magic formula.  I was first introduced to Sharon by a mutual friend who teaches at Northwestern University. He had a feeling we would be great friends. We met and we instantly felt that we could work together to encourage children to read and write and to even be published authors. WOW!! Sharon has two daughters of her own and Leia is already a great writer and a great bear builder I might add!

 

For years people have been creating stories about their furry friends and sending them to me and asking could we publish them. Now with Tikatok I can send them there to write their story and even use our art and photos or they can draw and take their own photos and create a real book. Boy, I wish they had Tikatok when I was younger, it would have been my most fun thing to do.

 

A few weeks ago when ZGR327 wrote to me after making a furry friend at a BABW store she declared she wanted to work at BABW when she grew up. Last night after finishing her novel posting on tikatok, she declared, “I am going to be an author when I grow up.” I think an author who writes books about making bears would make us all BEARY happy!

Hugs,

Maxine

P.S. Let me know what you think about ZoeyGirslRock327 book! let me know if you decide to write one too. The more books written by kids the better the world will be.

WHAT A DAY!!

January 22, 2009

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The last few days have been exciting as we celebrated the inauguration of our new President but today was even more icing.

This morning at 6 AM ET Fortume Magazine announced it’s annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For and Build-A-Bear Workshop made the top 100!! This is HUGE. We have talked about this for years and we always read the annual list for inspiration from some of America’s largest companies. NOW we are part of that inspiration.

This is a huge honor for our associates as it is all about them. If I could have given them a gift that says, “you are the gold standard in providing a great place to work, ” this would be it.  We had a small celebration at BQ today–I think we were all in shock.

To all our Guests and Associates  (including our BQ pooches) world wide thanks for being part of our family. You make us proud.

Hugs to all,

Maxine

love_hugs_peace1

HISTORY IS MADE-BEAR-ACK STYLE

January 22, 2009

I am back home now and the inauguration and the last celebratory activities were indeed memorable. Time flew by but it will indeed be a memory for a lifetime.

It was really fun to share the experience with so many friends old and new and also all of my readers. Thanks for sending your comments.

Inauguration Day itself started early and went late so I did not get a chance to update you all. It was a crazy start to a day to be sure. gates were scheduled to be opened at 9 AM then 8 AM and then for those that were really nervous, 7 AM. I had purple tickets so GREAT location. After waiting in line for over 2 hrs my group decided to just watch via television. Our hotel was close to the Capital and just headed back. It was worth it. No regrets–we got to see it PAWFECTLY on TV.

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Maxine cuddled up with a crowd of thousands

I was quite moved by President Obama’s message and I agree, we all have to step up. This is a great call to action for our Huggable Heroes  to do even more than ever and I expect that our applications will soar this year as people are more aware than ever of the call to service.  Click here for more details :http://www.buildabear.com/aboutus/community/huggableheroes/default.aspxHere is a picture taken by my husband Bob.

Obama speaking and the upclose view

Obama speaking and the upclose view

After the ceremonies we all had lunch at the hotel and began to prepare for the Inaugural Balls. While we were having lunch at the hotel President and Mrs. Obama were in the Capital Rotunda having lunch much more formally. Sunday,  when we had our tour we saw the lunch tables being set. It was a great preview!

The Presidential banquet room before the event

The Presidential banquet room before the event

The Balls were mostly held at the Convention Center to save money and make it easier for The First Couple to visit. We went to the Midwestern Ball where Sheryl Crow performed and Barack and Michelle visited at around 11:30. Having met them before, we ducked out at about 11 PM . Pictures to come on the Ball 🙂

On Wednesday AM we left  DC to return home and begin the work the President has challenged us to do. I am energized and ready to go.I can’t help but think that all that we have done in the last few years–in fact the $20 + million we have donated to charities is just what our President is demanding, just MORE of it. Check our our new love.hugs.peace details and join the movement: http://www.buildabear.com/lovehugspeace/

Hugs,

Maxine the Cub Reporter

BEAR-ACKING History DAY #3

January 19, 2009
In less than 12 hours America will have a new President and then the real work begins. If DC is any indication of the love .hugs.peace  that is about to start than the world will be a much more PAWSOME place.love_hugs_peace

We had a nother fun-filled day from lunch with the major state leaders like Russ Carnahan and Charlie Dooley and then off to the Native American Museum that was truly amazing.

Bob Fox, Maxine and Charlie Dooley

Bob Fox, Maxine and Charlie Dooley

Here is one of my friends, Gail with the native dancers who were all so beautiul.

Gail and the beautiful Native American dancers

Gail and the beautiful Native American dancers

We all walked beack to the hotel for a little R&R before the St. Louis event with the Black Caucus that was hosted by Mike and Steve Roberts at F t House at GW University and later at th Renaissance M Hotel.

Maxine, Gail, Alicia and Hazel--happy but cold!

Maxine, Gail, Alicia and Hazel--happy but cold!

 

Believe it or not I ran into another former Cub Advisory, Richie Gallant who now goes to Vanderbilt University. Here we are with his friends, The Roberts kids at the Black Caucus event.

Maxine and the Roberts Kids and Richie--former Cub Advisor

Maxine and the Roberts Kids and Richie--former Cub Advisor

I love that it is such a small world and when we all meet up a hug connects us. That’s what love.hugs.peace is all about!

We also saw our friends Jim and Susan Buford who just became grandparents to Jim III–another BABW Guest of cousre.

Mr. Buford, Maxine, Mr. Bond and Dr. Suggs

Mr. Buford, Maxine, Mr. Bond and Dr. Suggs

 

The BEST story of all though which gives me the most hope for the future is this: Bob and I were struggling to catch a cab when two ladies in an SUV stopped and offered us a ride. I would never do this under normal circumstances (nor would I suggest it to anyone either) but we were late and it was so crowded in DC. We get in the car and the two women, Marie and Shirley, guess what ? They were fromST. LOUIS and had driven over night to come to the inauguration. Now you are probably thinking everyone in DC must be from St. Louis but we know that isn’t true. The ladies were so wonderful and drove us all the way to our destination. We now have two new friends in St. Louis!

Tomorow is the big day, We have great seats–well not seats but places for our paws, in the purple section. We have to be there by 8 AM when the gates open. The event starts at 10:30 so we will be standing for a long time in the cold but it will be a day to remember. I will have my camera and my Kleenex as we witness an amazing day.

Hugs to all,

Maxine the  Cub Reporter

BEAR-ACKING HISTORY DAY #2

January 19, 2009

Today was a busy day in the nation’s capital. I started with breakfast with two young men , Michael and Chris, who are starting an educational not-for-profit to help kids in under served communitiesachieve success in college. They are definitely onto something!

For lunch we went to a special reception that was held by House of Representatives member Russ Carnahan from Missouri. It was held in the Longworth Building of the House in the Agriculture Committee room which has a great view of DC. Here I am with the Mayor Frances Slay from St. Louis and The Hon. Russ Carnahan.

Representative Carnahan, Maxine & Mayor Slay

Representative Carnahan, Maxine & Mayor Slay

There were lots of people from Missouri there to share in the fun. We had a great gathering and then went on a behind the scenes tour of the Capital and we say where the Post Inuaural lunch will be held too.

Maxine and Honest Abe

Maxine and Honest Abe

The tour was really amazing because we actually went into the House Chamber. It looks a lot smaller in real life than it does when they show meetings from there. They use these voting cards so it is fairly high tech. We are lucky to live in such a great country and have such open access to our leaders. It was also great to see the art collection fro high school students around the USA on display in the tunne between the two chambers.

The only bad news was the tour was longer than expected and so we did not get to the concert. I did get to watch Kurt Warner win their divison title so he will be going to the Super Bowl–YEAH KURT!

Tonight we had a reception at the hotel that was held by Senator McCaskill and the Missouri Democratic party that was quite nice. Lots of people and happy, smiling faces. I was surprised to see how many people came so far to celebrate with our new President.

Signing off for now and will show more tomorrow.

Hugs,

Maxine the Cub Reporter

BEAR-ACKING INTO HISTORY

January 18, 2009

We made it to DC. The plane was full of people excited to be witnessing history. There were tons of kids as well as many St. Louis and IL government officials on our plane. Including U.S. Representative Jerry Costello and his wife Georgia. Jerry represents Southern Illinois.

Arriving in DC was a piece of cake. Not nearly as hectic as they projected–at least not yet. But it is soooo cold. The best part is everyone is so friendly.  No sooner did I get to the hotel check in when I saw one of our Huggable Heroes from 2007-Zach Bonner. Zach was in town for the inauguration and saw a bear that looked beary familiar only to find, I was at the same hotel. It was a hug fest to be sure. Zach’s great charity he founded is The Little Red Wagon Foundation and he continues to do PAWSOME good all over the USA. Just a few weeks ago Zach was even on Good Morning America.  His Mom was also with him in DC but not his bear, Kansas 😦 Good news is Kansas is at home in Tampa staying warm and getting ready for the Super Bowl!

We got settled and then went with friends to a local restaurant-Charlie Palmer’s On Constitution Avenue. Many of the Senators and representatives eat here but tonight it was filled with lots of regular people like us and stars like Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, Tim McGraw. The food was delicious and afterwards the maitre d’ took us up to the roof for these great pictures. If we look cold–we were!

Maxine on top of the world...well, the DC world anyway!

Maxine on top of the world...well, the DC world anyway!

Maxine and Christina (Original member of Cub Advisors)

Maxine and Christina (Original member of Cub Advisors)

Sunday I have a meeting on public education and then off to a reception held by Russ Carnahan, our Representative from MO. We also get a backstage tour of the House. I can’t wait.

Stay tuned for more BEAR-acking news from the inauguration of our 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Hugs,

Maxine the Cub Reporter

Time for BEAR-ACK OBAMA

January 17, 2009

Saturday is the big day–I leave for Washington, DC and the inauguration of our new President, Barack Obama. I am excited to be witnessing this historic moment in history. Regardless of who you voted for, I think most Americans will be proud of this past election as it says through and through, THIS IS WHAT AMERICA STANDS FOR– the right for any hard working American even from simple means to achieve  their goals and in this case, the ultimate leadership position in our country.

My mother was a civil rights activitist in the 50’s and  60’s and she truly believed that all people are created equal. She would be excited to witness this day I am sure. Most of all she would be proud that I have such a strong interest in government and politics and that I understand the impact of this moment. She would also be proud that I have even met  Mr. Obama! Actually I have met many Presidents–Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush 41 and now Obama. WOW!! Whether you agree or disagree with anyone’s politics, it is an honor to meet a President. It is a very hard job and I believe they all try to do their best.

Maxine and Presidential Candidate Barack Obama- August 2008

Maxine and Presidential Candidate Barack Obama- August 2008

I wasn’t an Obama supporter at first but now that he is elected I intend to support him and do my best for our country. So far he has shown wise leadership, he is cool under pressure and he seems to genuinely understand people on main street. I think he will do a lot for K-12 public education. I pray that he has a very successful tenure as President and that he is able to bring our country out of this economic crisis.

I love DC and am excited to be visiting and participating in so many events for St. Louis, for Missouri and for the USA. I will be attending lot of events at historic places and I intend to take a lot of pictures and write about my experiences. It is my first inauguration and if all goes well, it won’t be my last.

Stay tuned for BEAR-aking news from the inauguration of  Barack (BEAR-ack ) Obama.

Hugs,

Maxine  the Cub Reporter

HUGGABLE HEROES–WE NEED MORE!!

January 16, 2009

As a child I always looked up to my elders. Lucky for me there were many great leaders in my community that I could look up to…people that I saw as my heroes.

I often speak about my teachers. They are definitely my heroes. Little did I know at the time how heroic they were. They were always there for us and they always seemed like partners with our parents keeping us on the straight and narrow. Teachers were clearly in charge.

My mom, Annie K as she was known to most,  was my first hero. Talk about being for the underdog–my Mom was surely that. She wanted to help everyone that needed it and in her short 56 years (she died when I was 21), she did just that. Mom was a community organizer extraordinaire having been trained in community service by Eleanor Roosevelt. My Mom had the incredible opportunity to be one of Mrs. R’s preferred traveling secretaries. I have wonderful pictures that show Mom and Eleanor at work that are awesome. At the First Lady’s knee my Mom developed a special interest in helping children with Down syndrome then called Mongoloidism. She collaborated to create a school in Miami–the Hope School, where children were differently- abled, NOT disabled!

My Mom and Dad were both first generation Americans and their first heroic act was that they wanted more for my sister and me than they had. While we never seemed to want for much, we definitely didn’t have everything but honestly, I can’t remember missing too much. That’s not because I had that much but because I had what mattered..a loving family, one dog, one bike, one Barbie doll , one very full library card, and one special bear, Teddy.

Now talking about one bear when I am the CEB of a teddy bear making company may seem like heresy but in those days, there were not so many stuffed animals to choose from. Teddy didn’t have a heart inside or any cool clothes or shoes–he always was bearfoot 🙂 but he had my love and undying friendship. While I lost Teddy when I was 10, I have been looking for him ever since. (Teddy’s lost story will be told another time)

Teddy was my hero. He listened to my tales of woe about being a big sister (it was no fun) and he had to help me rehearse my speeches and help me practice how I was going to “sell” something to my parents and he never complained.  He seemed to soak it up and allowed me to see what was right or wrong myself. He never disagreed–we were truly kindred spirits.

When I created BABW I wanted to celebrate heroes, in as many ways as possible. One idea I wanted to do from the start was honor kids who made a difference in their communities through volunteer work. In essence, nurture the next generation of social entrepreneurs–the next Annie K’s of this world. We launched our Huggable Hero program in 2004 and it is grown exponentially ever since.

Bailey, Rachel, Talia, Jenna, Whitten, William, Zach, Warner, Heather,Welland–there are nearly 50 young community leaders that we have honored since 2004 and I am proud to say that they are all my friends. You can read about each of them in detail at : http://www.buildabear.com/aboutus/community/huggableheroes/default.aspx

You know another cool thing about our heroes? They can all look up to President Elect Obama who started out as a community volunteer and see that volunteering is a direct path to leadership. While I believe that one day one of these wonderful children will be President of the USA, you don’t have to be the elected leader of the free world to make a huge contribution to human and bearkind. You can be just like you or me, diving into what we do with passion and determination to leave the world a little better than we found it.

Our 2009 Huggable Hero recruiting campaign starts tomorrow, January 16, and I have a feeling with all the buzz about helping our communities and country we will have the best class of winners yet. In fact Monday, January 19th is Martin Luther King Day but it has also been declared a National Day of Service. Be a hero in your own town and make a difference. It feels un-bear-lieveable to help others!

Please pass on the info about our Huggable Hero search. Every winner receives a $7500 scholarship and $2500 for their charity and in today’s world that can go a long way to making life a little brighter too.

By the way, you have all commented on Milford our CED and given me so many suggestions for a shed-less dog, thank you! Below is a picture of one of our hero dogs at BQ–Willie. Willie was trained to be a Companion Dog but developed arthritis and couldn’t fulfill all the tasks so he now helps us at BABW and believe me he earns his keep being a GREAT dog. Maybe we should add dog heroes to our search next year.

 

Willie always has a smile on his face and is ready to help anyone.

Willie always has a smile on his face and is ready to help anyone.

DON’T GIVE UP! IT’S ABOUT BEING KURT!

January 11, 2009

Today was half a work day and half a chill day. I had an IT touchbase in the AM and then lunch with Tina, our Chief Financial Bear and then did some errands. Tonight I met with a friend who is in town for some meetings and who I work with closely in public education. While he no longer lives in St. Louis, he is very connected here and returns often to support our urban school issues.

While he was over for dinner we were watching the AZ Cardinals play NC in the NFL playoffs and I was excited for the Cardinals. Not because I have any love lost for Bill Bidwell who took our beloved Cardinals to AZ a while back but because I have love and respect for Kurt Warner. Kurt is an amazing man who has a strong belief system rooted in God and doing the right thing. I am sure that ALL of us in St. Louis hope he wins the Super Bowl.

A few years ago after a difficult season and some injuries followed his Super Bowl win for the St. Louis Rams, Kurt was traded. St. Louisans were devasted because while Kurt’s injuries may have been a deficit in some ways, he was a team leader.  Missouri is the Show Me State and Kurt certainly showed us what a leader really is.   His sportsmanlike demeanor never allowed him to complain or place blame. If you ran into Kurt at the grocery store or at the gas station he would stop to say hi and sign autographs. His fans gave him energy and in turn he gave back his smile and his heart. He loved St. Louis and St. Louis loved him but in football it is about winning isn’t it???

When Kurt left, a spirit left the team that has yet to be replaced. Kurt returns from time to time to continue his local charitable efforts and to remind us that real leaders don’t give up–they keep on giving and trying and doing their best for a larger good, a legacy that will be remembered long after the last ball is thrown for a TD. It’s about training harder,  knowing what you don’t know and finding out–working harder but always being appreciative of what you have and helping others to reach their full potential. Being the team quarterback for your team, your class, your church group or whataver you may lead. Being Kurt so to speak. Kurt already has a Super Bowl ring . He doesn’t need another but he knows his long beleagured team mates need it. It will change how everyone looks at the AZ Cardinals. More important, it will change how the AZ Cardinals look at themselves.Who better to help them get there than Kurt.

I read an article recently (12/15)  in the New Yorker written by Malcolm Gladwell who compared the training and selecting of quarterbacks to the training and selecting of teachers. The gist of the article is that not all successful college quarterbacks will be successful in the NFL and neither will all newly minted teachers be able to teach. Why isn’t the same rigor applied to hiring teachers as is used in drafting NFL quarterbacks? Isn’t the education of children at least as important has having a winning quarterback? I vote yes but I would qualify–it must be a teacher like Kurt Warner–one who knows how to handle the ups and downs and doesn’t moan about what tools they don’t have  or that other teachers make more. A teacher that takes accountability for their actions and has an intellectual curiosity to be the BEST teacher, classroom quarterback if you will, that they can be. There are a lot of similarities to be sure. The world needs more Kurt Warners–be they teachers, parents, community volunteers, lawyers, doctors or quarterbacks. It means someone who puts others (like the classroom children) before themselves and NEVER GIVES UP!

Kurt, thanks for being who you are. St. Louis is proud to know you. We will be cheering for you to win the Super Bowl and I won’t give up on public education here in St. Louis. I will be Kurt for our urban children.

Hugs,

Maxine

WOOF! WOOF! WEDNESDAY

January 8, 2009

I can’t believe it is January 7th already! Things are pretty quiet in our stores as most of the kids have gone back to school. Hopefully this weekend they will be out in droves as we launch our newest Bearemy’s Kennel Pal dog, Jack Russell Terrier. Dog launches are very popular especially since the opening of the movie Marley and Me and later this month there will be the cool movie, Hotel for Dogs. I can’t wait to see it.

 

One of the most important reasons our dogs are so popular besides being so BEARY cute is that they give back! Whenever we sell a BKP dog, We contribute a portion of the sale to a fund to help domestic pets—like dogs and cats. We donate to shelters, to animal rescue centers and to animals in distress like when the hurricane displaced so many dogs and cats. Animal groups from all over contact us with a grant proposal and because of the money we have from the sale of the dogs, we can say YES!!

 

At BABW and BABV we have always known how important pooches are. We actually have lots of dogs that come to work everyday at World BearQuarters in St. Louis. We have known for a long time that a dog lick can make a hectic day a lot better. There is Milford ( a one-of-a-kind), Willie (black lab), Smash (pug), Tucker (mixed heritage)  Mocha (little fluff ball) and Nina (shi tzu). Willie is a former companion dog . Milford is the oldest at nearly 8, 56 in dog years and Nina is the youngest.

 

Milf has the official title of Chief Executive Dawg (CED) and he even has business cards. One of his main responsibilities is to send a welcome letter to all new pooches who come to BABW. You know, how not to bark or beg and that all dogs must stay with their owners…the usual. All the new dogs appreciate knowing the rules so they can come daily. Milf sheds a lot –he wants us to know he has been by to see us! We have a local pet grooming salon that comes and does a pick up and takes dogs to the doggie spa every month. They all come back fresh and happy and with a new seasonally appropriate bandana. Sometimes I get to walk the dogs. Like on Monday Milford looked at me with those sad eyes and I know he was asking me to take him out. It was about 11 AM and time for his morning constitutional. Little did I know that he just wanted to go for a stroll. We are in an office park with lots of grass and Milf enjoys the cooler days. He walked and walked. He had little concern for the meeting I was missing. Maybe that was it—he was saying. “Max, take a break. Come with me and smell the grass. It is yummy too.”  Milford is BEARY wise.

 

Have you seen Marley and Me? I did and I loved it. It reminds me of so many dogs that I have loved through the years. Speaking of love and dogs. I hope the Obama girls get a dog soon. I know they will love it. I think now they will have lots of help to walk it. I have a doghouse but no dog yet. I want one who doesn’t shed…any ideas for me?

 

I can’t wait to see Hotel For Dogs. I am going to make my Jack, the Jack Russell and take him with me to the movie. I do that sometimes and people sometimes look at me funny but I know they are just jealous! Especially the ones who are by themselvesJ When I see it, I will let you know what I think.

 

January is going to be a very fun month. I am even going to the inauguration of President Obama in Washington, DC. I am so excited because I will be witnessing history and also I will get to visit stores in the DC area.

 

Well, gotta go. Tomorrow is another busy day in the life of a CEB. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

 

Hugs,

 

Maxine and Milf

CEB & CED

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is when he was just a pupster!

This is when he was just a pupster!