Family · Reviews


Monday, March 20, 2017

My family and I watched Disney’s Moana tonight. It was cute. The graphics were amazing and the music was superb, but I don’t agree with the message: be yourself, follow your heart, and everything will be fine. How sad is it that God’s world does not believe in its Creator? However, it won’t always be this way. One day He will come back and set all right. Oh, what a glorious day!

Redeeming Grace

Cross-Current Sunday March 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

T H E  C H U R C H  S E R V I C E

Before worship, Imani told me that Ian has now been asking his mom for weeks about when the next Cross-Current is. He likes it because we’re relational, much more than-

“Merge?” I volunteered, remembering my days at Fellowship Greenville.

“Yes,” she replied. “His youth-group thing.”

“So he’s coming tonight?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Imani confirmed.

After passing out the assigned bread, Imani and I headed back to our seats. Abi was volunteering in Grace Kids, so we were alone. “I’m going to make this awkward,” Imani warned. “Why does Noah not hang-out with you guys?”

“He does.” I finally said before failing to explain how Noah often goes on “let’s go socialize with various people” streaks (which I wish I would get; I am terrible at greeting visitors). “That’s not awkward,” I assured Imani. It was an honest question.

I believe Truth Seeker’s, the 12 to 14-year-old class, was the reason Isaac approached the little room off of the lobby where my family stores any leftover bread until after the service. “Hi!” I greeted, and he stopped in the doorway to converse. “How was Washington D.C?” I asked.

“It was great!” He replied before turning to answer someone else’s question.

I looked away seconds too late to realize the fate of the lidless bin of bread I had been removing from a stack of chairs. It fell and tipped, spilling bagged loaves onto the floor. I dropped to my knees and began fixing my mistake. Isaac did the same. 😅 😅

“That’s cool that you guys were there when it snowed,” I said, continuing our conversation as I stood up. “When we were there it was hot.”

A  D A Y  W I T H  A B I

After dropping off pastries at Snappy (where we got a car wash), delivering bread to Jackie at Costco (where we got gas), and eating lunch, Abi and I were finally free. I wanted to go on an adventure, but we began our afternoon by working on our bullet journal. By the time we had to leave, drinking tea, singing, and taking random quizzes were the only activities we were able to add to our list of afternoon accomplishments.

C R O S S  C U R R E N T

Youth Band practice was great. Imani and Hunter joined me on stage, and we got our own microphones. To test them, Mrs. Ballard had each of us sing a chorus and, let me just say, Imani can sing. Oh my word, her voice is beyond description. 😍

Mrs. Haskell, Ian, and their friend Devan arrived toward the end of practice. I waved to them from my place on stage, and Mrs. Haskell’s jaw hit the floor.

“You’ve gotten so…tall!” She told me a few minutes later. “I was trying not to say ‘big’ because that can come off a little wrong.” 😂 😂

I talked to her for several more minutes instead of joining the large group of youth who were conversing a few feet away.

Mrs. Haskell told me that, because of the expansion, Fellowship Greenville has grown to the point that it is too big for her and her family’s liking.

“You could come here!” I humorously volunteered. “It’s smaller, and your family is here, and you’d get free Panera every morning!”

She agreed with my points, but also mentioned that a few things are holding them back. Mrs. Haskell told me that they’re praying. I do hope that it is God’s will that they come here. It’d be nice to welcome new additions to our youth-group of 15 people. 😂

Worship was excellent, the message was swell, but game time was disgusting. We played Bean Boozled, an activity that forces you to consume Jelly Beans of every imaginable flavor. Earwax. Grass clippings. Everything. Yeah, it was gross. I got stinky socks and dead fish. 😖 😂 During snack time Abi and Ian continued to play Bean Boozled but added in a Rock, Paper, Scissors element. No one else wished to join them. 😂 😂

“Can I have a cinnamon roll?” Ian asked my mom during clean up and right before she began to pack up the leftover Panera sweets we had brought.

Of course, she said yes, but Ian continued eating the snacks he had already obtained, so I grabbed a napkin, wrapped up a cinnamon roll, and placed it on Ian’s plate.

“Oh, thanks,” he said. “You’re awesome.”

The next two group conversations were related to Kai and then Japan. “Speaking of Japan,” I began. “How is Kai settling in?” I asked.

“Good,” Ian replied before explaining how Kai is taking a gap year, but it’s more like the 12th and a half grade because he’s going to school.

“I wish they would make this a weekly thing,” Ian told me, referring to Cross-Current. He went on to say that he likes how it is small, therefore making my youth-group very relational. I could perceive that he really enjoys our church.

I told Abi about this later (when we were doing dishes in the church kitchen), and she expressed enthusiasm for how we are attracting people from Fellowship Greenville. 😎 😂

“Oh, look, you guys are matching!” Mr. Rawlings exclaimed, referring to Noah and me. Our two families were now the only ones in the building. “Can we take a picture?” He asked, pulling out his phone.

“Haydn’s matching, too!” I exclaimed.

Like Abi has mentioned multiple times before, it’s almost as if we have a Cross-Current uniform. 😂 😂

Family · Reviews

Beauty and the Beast

Friday, March 17, 2017

I admit that when I first watched the trailer for Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, I squealed. Overcome with excitement for this film, my inner Disney addict heartily encouraged my family that we should see it as soon as possible. “It could be Ansa’s late birthday present,” I suggested. Ansa was concerned for me, but my ploys must have had some effect because Mom and Dad took us to see the movie opening week. 😄

The film was fantastic. Just like in Cinderella, the producers made the plot more realistic and elaborated on the backstories of many characters. I love how they managed to do that while almost mirroring the animated movie so that the dialogue was very close to identical.

I laughed when Lumiere told Cogsworth “a broken clock is only right two times a day” and when the Beast struck Belle in the face with a snowball. Ouch! He has apparently never had a snowball fight with a girl before. 😂 I wish the producers would have extended that clip to include the Beast and Belle’s reactions to the incident. Unsurprisingly, I cried when the servants became antiques. Like Belle said, they didn’t deserve that. 😢

Overall, the film was amazing and left me craving adventure. Well done, Disney! You did it again!

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere / I want it more than I can tell / And for once it might be grand / To have someone understand / I want so much more than they’ve got planned” Emma Watson, Belle

Redeeming Grace

Potluck March 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

By the time I left Grace Kids, my church’s children’s ministry where I volunteer once a month, set up for the potluck was already underway so I was in the dark on my friends’ locations. That was a weird feeling, not knowing where they were. Of course, I found them towards the end of set up, and we sat together.

In the process of sitting down, I found myself alone because everyone else had yet to come to our table or they had run off to gain additional sustenance. In this moment of loneliness, Mr. Rawlings, who was fiddling with tech in the sound booth beside me, asked, “Abi, is this background music too loud?” He looked up and saw me. “Oh, Tristen. Sorry. I thought you were Abi ’cause she was sitting right there.” That’s not the first time someone has mistaken me for my best friend. 😂 😂

He re-asked his question to me, and I told him that the volume was good.

“I’ve noticed that people talk more when there’s background music.” Mr. Rawlings told me.

“I’ve noticed that, too!” I exclaimed.

Once everyone settled, our seating chart was this:













“Where are you going?” I mouthed to Imani, who was up and about to follow Maddi and Patricia out of the Multi-Purpose Room.

She began rotating her hands.

“You’re going fishing?” I guessed, confused.

She laughed but shook her head before beginning to spoon invisible food into her mouth.

“You’re going to get more food?” Abi and I asked, but Imani shook her head again.

It was then that I realized she could hear us. “Why don’t you just tell us?” I asked. “You can hear us, so we’ll be able to hear you.”

“Dessert.” Imani finally replied before watching our reactions and leaving.

Noah only caught part of this exchange and looked confused, so I replayed our “conversation” for him. When I re-enacted Imani’s hand motions, Noah jokingly volunteered, “That’s Wednesday. She’s going fishing on Wednesday.” 😂 😂

The cotton candy machine had been set up in the hallway, so my friends and I had cotton candy for dessert. The texture of this sweet reminded the Rawlings kids of the movie Trolls, so our conversation became several minutes of how weird the film is in addition to “it’s cool” and “you should see it” on repeat. 😂 😂

After clean up, Abi and I stepped out of the building to walk Imani to her car. Upon deciding that the three of us need to get together, we crossed the parking lot to pick flowers. Seconds later, Dad drove up, and I ran back to the lobby to get my stuff, which Haydn had left on the couch.

I ran through the side door just as Ms. Jessica and the Rawlings family walked out the back door. “Bye, guys!” I called, and they waved.

Extended Family · My Sister

Family Reunion 2017

Sunday, March 5, 2017

After days on the road, my mom’s second oldest sister and her family arrived in Greenville, South Carolina. Due to Aunt Katherine’s health issues (which treat her better in cold weather), the Colbert family recently moved to Missouri. Because of this vast distance and Uncle Clay’s work schedule, visits from them tend to have years in between. Soon after they arrived, my mom’s side of the family gathered at Grandma’s house for dinner. It was so nice to reunite with these relatives!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

As is tradition, the week before, after, and of Ansa’s birthday, my family and I went on a Birthday Food Adventure. Thanks to previously collected coupons, we accumulated free food from Dunkin’ Donuts, Zaxby’s, Dairy Queen, Baskin Robbins, Culver’s, Barnes & Noble, and more. As always, my siblings and I were stuffed long before the to-go containers were cleared, so our fridge soon contained leftovers from restaurants all over town.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Everyone on my mom’s side of the family (except for the oldest cousins) gathered at my grandma’s house for dinner and to celebrate Ansa’s 11th birthday. Because I dislike being anywhere without something to do, I brought my collection of coloring pages and markers along with me. After dinner, the youngest cousins and I doodled in the front living room.

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I was astonished to find that Emira, the youngest Colbert child of only three years, was coloring within the lines better than anyone older than her. Her artwork could have been mistaken for an adult’s, that is until she filled in an egg with an orange marker. 😂 😂 That night, Madeline came home with us to sleep over with Ansa.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The next morning, Ansa and Madeline tried to make cake pops with the cake pop maker Ansa got for her birthday the day earlier. After a semi-successful attempt, the two played with Ansa’s Tsum Tsums before (literally) hanging out in Ansa’s ENO. Then everyone but me (who had homework to do) went to Brendan’s football game.

Afterward, everyone gathered at our house where we hung out until whoever left returned from Panera with the bread. My family and I helped our aunts, uncles, and cousins bag up as many bagels, loaves, and pastries they wished to consume before the cousins helped take down the birthday decorations.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

On the Colbert family’s final day in South Carolina, we went to Uncle John and Aunt Christina’s house. Uncle John took the cousins down to the creek where we redirected the water flow by building several dams and carving out multiple trenches. On our way back, we continued to swing on the tree swing as we had on the way down.

I had been recording a few turns, but when mine came along, I handed the camera off to Ansa. However, during our second time at the swing, someone (either Haydn or me) decided that I film while swinging and then pass the phone off to my brother as sort of a game.

“Oh my word, this was not a good idea!” I exclaimed the first time we tried it. I now only had one hand to hold onto the rope with, and so felt gravity’s pulls even more than I had before. “I am going to fall off,” I said. However, after the first few successful passes off to Haydn, I began to see the adrenaline as entertaining. Our game felt like something out of an action movie sequence.

When Haydn gave me a running push to start the second round, I almost mowed over Joel. Thankfully he moved very quickly, and I swung by convinced that “this is not at all safe.”

As I prepared to make the first handoff to Haydn, someone made a comment to which I somewhat laughed saying, “After I hit someone else.” Hadyn received the recording device, and in a fleeting second, I comprehended that his head was in line with the swing’s course of action. “WATCH OUT!” I shrieked. Screams filled the air, and suddenly Haydn was on the ground. The wooden plank I was sitting on had struck him in the shoulder. Praise the Lord for his reflexes! 😅 😅

Family · Friends

PJ Day 2017

Saturday, March 4, 2017

We met Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins at Bruster’s where my siblings and I got free ice-cream for showing up in our pajamas. We hung out for a few minutes before heading off to run a few errands. Our last stop was the Bruster’s near my grandma’s house. I remembered that location as our final stop on PJ Day last year, too. I had been exhausted from a sleepover with Abi and disappointed that we weren’t able to get ice-cream together. Next year. I had told myself. Next year. We see how that turned out. 😂 😂

Redeeming Grace

Thorns & Roses

Saturday, March 4, 2017

As Dad pulled into the upper parking lot around 8:30 AM, I noticed a line of workers beginning the church work day. My siblings and I were dropped off in the back where Mr. McCoon was weeding by himself. After saying goodbye to Dad (who planned to pick us up at 11:30), we exchanged greetings with Mr. McCoon and got to work.

Mr. Rawlings came out of the building a few minutes later. He greeted my siblings and me before informing us about the donuts, coffee, and hot chocolate in the lobby. When we did not jump up to get some, he gave us a few instructions about weeding before heading off.

It was cold, and I was glad that I had had the good sense to ask Alexa about the weather and wear double layers. I did not, however, have the good sense to take Mr. McCoon up on his offer to supply us with gloves. My hands were fine when he asked, but soon afterward they became sore from sifting through mulch for weed roots and numb from the cold. 😅 😅

Last night, when I was deciding what to wear, I had another one of those feelings. You know, the ones you sometimes have when you end up predicting the future. This time, I had a feeling that Abi was going to wear her black and red plaid top. You can only imagine my surprise when, a few minutes later, I glanced up to see Abi step out of the building wearing that exact top. 😱

I decided to inform my best friend of this oddity when she walked over. However, she did not. “Hey, Abi,” Mr. Rawlings began. “When you’re done go help Tristen.”

She stood by the door and took another bite out of her donut before stepping back inside. Okay. I thought. I’ll tell her later.

Finished with the section I was weeding, I joined Haydn in weeding the bed of rocks. I was telling him about my feeling come true when Mr. Rawlings walked by. “What’s that?” He asked, and I told him. “Wow,” He said. “It’s like your psychic.” Abi was soon by my side, and I filled her in.

Saying that he’d go over it with weed killer, Mr. Rawlings explained that my friends and I didn’t need to weed the rock patch. So we weeded around the corner and continued to work on the beds on either side of the smaller back door. This is where Sarah found us.

Hugs were exchanged before my now frozen fingers prompted me to ask about gloves. Ansa and I followed Sarah who supplied each of us with a pair. We put them on and returned to our work where I remained while Sarah and Ansa left to get donuts.

The two girls soon returned with treats for Abi, Haydn, and I which we ate before deciding to go in for our own break. I mostly went along because I needed to warm up my cold bitten fingers. After several minutes of rejuvenating (during which Abi made several runs to the kitchen only to come to the conclusion that we did not have any lids that fit our cups😂 😂), we returned to work.

Soon my friends and I had weeded around the corner and were working on the side of the building where our job title was changed to “diseased rose bush gatherers.” While a rose bush was being trimmed or pulled up, we gathered all the clippings from the beds and organized them into heaps along the curb. Noah (my best friend’s older brother) would then collect as many piles as possible into a little cart and carry them off to the central brush pile.

When it became apparent that he was not returning from one trip anytime soon, Mrs. Gina had Abi go fetch him. My best friend returned several minutes later riding in the back of Noah’s cart, fist stuck in the air, and a silly expression on her face. Mr. Rawlings laughed at the spectacle and poised a question to Noah who replied, “I don’t know, she just got in.” 😂 😂

Once out, Abi and I helped Noah pile the cart high with thorn ridden branches. To ensure that nothing would fall out, my best friend and I joined Noah on his short journey to the growing pile beside the trash cans. Abi began to commentate on how she had looked like George Washington crossing the Potomac River when she rode in the cart. “Yeah, except for the sun,” Noah said. 😂 😂

Back and forth we went hauling the remains of diseased rose bushes. At her father’s request, Abi left in search of a blower, but I stayed behind to form the next piles to be hauled away. Haydn later joined me with a rake to get the little pieces.

When Mr. Rawlings yanked out the last diseased rose bush (which he was doing by wrapping the shrub with a rope (which was attached to the Rawlings’ SUV) and driving off), Noah abandoned the cart to help Abi start the blower. I gathered up the last of the clippings while Mr. Roberts threw on the bush. I then took the handle of the cart in one hand and steadied its load with the other.

I made it to the pile without losing any cargo and was thankful for my quick discovery of what exactly one has to pull to detach the bucket from the wheels for unloading. I was just beginning to dump the brambles when Noah and Joshua ran over. Together, the three of us went to collect the branches Mrs. Gina was trimming off one of the only rose bushes we were keeping.

My next job was weeding the mulch bed around the sign with Ansa. This took a while. Abi and then Sarah came to help and then Sarah and Ansa left to help Mrs. Gina plant Pansies along the sidewalk.

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Abi and I went on to help mulch but were soon asked to haul off the last of the rose bushes. Abi tried pulling one by its roots, but we soon left in search of some gloves. Minutes later we were in the lobby where we found gloves and a tempting urge to take a break. One and a half donuts later, Noah walked in for some water which he went for after setting his gloves on the table. His dad traded Noah’s pair for his before Abi, who did not find her gloves next to mine, snatched Noah’s up and went out the door. “You can’t take those!” I said. “Those are his.” This had no effect on my best friend, so I followed her. “Sorry,” I told Noah before stepping outside.

Back at the remaining rose bushes, Abi grabbed one by its roots and headed off. I turned to the remaining shrub only to find, upon closer inspection, that my “bush” was actually two bushes and several clippings mushed together. I came to this realization right when Noah appeared. Understanding my dilemma, he volunteered his help which allowed the “bush” to make it from the upper parking lot to the brush pile in the lower parking lot in one piece.

While delivering another load of mulch to Haydn and Abi, I sliced my heel open by stepping on a palm tree branch. Once the mulch was unloaded, I sat down to examine the cut. Blood was trickling out at a steady rate, so I announced that I was going to get a Bandaid. “You don’t need a Bandaid!” Abi exclaimed. Okay, well I was at least going to stop the blood flow. That’s what I was doing in the lobby minutes later when Ansa came in to tell me that it was time to go.

My Sister

Ansa’s Bangs

During the end of February of 2017, my younger sister gave herself bangs. I first noticed them one night during bread pick up. Ansa had combed them to the side so that they blended with the rest of her hair, but one clump had been rustled, so it stuck up in a slightly noticeable way. I asked Ansa about it, but she brushed me away with an “I don’t know.”

The next day we went to the Biltmore house and, as we hung out around the fountain, my sister was accidentally brushed so that there was no doubt that her hair had been chopped. “Why’d you cut your hair?” I asked.

“I didn’t cut it.” She replied, but I could tell she was lying.

“Yes, you did.” I insisted.

“No, I didn’t.” This playful little argument went on, back and forth, but soon ended. I teased her about it here and there for the rest of the day, saying that I wanted to see her bangs combed down, but she would not oblige.

Back home, Ansa came into my room before she went to take her shower, so I asked again, “Why did you cut your bangs?”

I think she could then tell that she wasn’t in trouble, so she admitted, “I don’t know. I don’t like them.”

“Then why did you cut them?” I asked.

“I was drowsy and had a pair of scissors,” Ansa began. “So I cut them, and when I woke up, I realized how bad they looked, so I straightened them out.” I appreciated her honesty.

Top: March / Middle: July / Bottom: December

Ansa then brushed them out, and I agreed, they looked hideous. She looks really cute (barely recognizable), but the bangs looked grotesque. I told her I wanted to see how long they were when wet, so she returned after her shower with a comb in hand and bangs brushed down.

The trimmed hairs were only long enough to crown the top of Ansa’s forehead. I evenly spaced them out, but it made no difference. Trying to be optimistic, I told her that when they grow out some, they will be a decent length to wear in public. I asked her if had she wanted to try bangs, but Ansa declared that she hates them (which is what makes this whole situation very ironic). 😂 😂


America’s Largest Home

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I didn’t realize we hadn’t been to the Biltmore house in over two years. Because of how much my family and I have been traveling lately, Mom and Dad gave up the seasonal passes we once took advantage of. There was a time when you could find us at Biltmore once or twice a season. Because of this, my siblings and I were convinced that we could recreate the house in Minecraft from memory (that is until we toured the house (again) with this thought in mind). 😂 😂  Thanks to passes given to us by a former neighbor, we were able to visit once more.

The drive to Biltmore (which I completed) was one hour to our traditional Zaxby’s lunch stop and 50 minutes from there to our parking spot in Deer Park. It was not as hard as I expected. Dad introduced me to Cruise Control which is pretty much the coolest feature ever. My stiffening legs were very grateful.

We walked through the house in which costumes from movie adaptations of books George Vanderbilt (the founder of Biltmore) read were being displayed, like a few that have been worn by Keira Knightley and Robert Downey Jr. themselves. How cool is that? Let me just say, a lot of actors are a whole lot shorter than they appear to be in their movies. 😂 😂

Dad drove from Deer Park to the Gardens parking (where we waited for Mom to find a tree) and from there to Antler Village. Sometime during this journey, a squirrel dashed across the road and Dad (being Dad) announced the creature’s presence before pretending to run over it. Ansa, a lover of all things, screamed in protest. “Don’t you dare destroy God’s beautiful creation!” She declared.

We all laughed along with Dad who exclaimed. “She drew the God card on us!” Oh, my. 😂 😂

It was in Antler Village that we came across the most prominent change of all: a new hotel. It is huge and so has changed the face of Antler Village, which is what caused us to feel very disorientated. On top of the that, the winery is being wholly rethought (part of it already has been). Of course, this made Ansa, who dislikes change and loves tradition, very displeased. I personally fancy how they’re redoing the winery. It looks very modern. However, I do not like how the new hotel butts up against Antler Village. I feel like it takes away from the outdoorsy theme, making the area look more like a little city rather than an organic, environment-friendly village. Oh, well.

After playing several rounds of bingo, my family and I left the Antler Village parking lot at 8:05 PM. I drove for a straight hour and 30 minutes until I reached our garage. Exhausted from this much needed (according to Dad) escape from the house, everyone headed straight for bed. Thank you, Mrs. Amy, for the opportunity to visit this familiar, but different place!

Greer Middle College

Bad Luck

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

As usual, I was barely halfway through my college test when students began to finish and leave. Another quarter of my examination later, I heard someone on crutches exit the room. I only paused for a moment to note that I did not recall anyone in my Sociology class being on crutches before turning my thoughts back to my work. I was the last person to finish the test, so I walked back to “the high school,” as Ms. Chidester refers to GMC, alone.

Becca and Jared Christopher were sitting at a picnic table on the deck when I arrived. Propped up next to Jared was a pair of crutches. Of course, I sat down and had them tell me the whole story.

Apparently, the Christopher family was renovating their house and Jared, whom Becca often refers to as a “dingus,” 😂 😂 was walking around barefoot. As luck would have it, he stepped on a nail that went through the sole of his left foot and came within a centimeter of striking his bone. Jared was taken to the hospital to get the spike removed, which the doctor did in addition to hitting a nerve which is what put Jared on crutches. Poor guy. 😂 😂

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Becca was convinced that Jared’s nail incident happened because, a week before the event, he had used crutches just for fun despite this action being bad luck. Poor, Jared. His injured foot was so swollen he couldn’t even put his shoe on. Thanks to the crutches, Jared’s arms are receiving one big workout, the effects of which prompted a rest break halfway back from college.

Becca, Jared, and I paused at the top of the stairs where Madelene, Haley, and Emma (who were on their way to Greenville Tech) met us. Becca filled Emma in on why Jared was on crutches, and Madelene suggested that we get a golf cart. “Everybody pitch in a few dollars,” she said.

I thought Madelene was referring to us as “everybody.”

“No,” she explained as she followed Haley and Emma up the hill toward “the college.” “I meant the school.”

“Oh, well, if we do, that let’s get a subway or something,” I said. “Or those things they have at Disney. What are they called?” I was referring to a Monorail.

“Or a hang-glider!” Madelene exclaimed.

“Or a zip-line!” I proposed. “That would be fun! Just attach it to our roof,” I said, motioning toward our building-to-be. “And bring it down to Greenville Tech.” Becca and Jared liked this idea, and we all agreed that a zip-line would be a lot of fun. 😂 😂

The three of us paused again under the carport so, by the time we stepped onto the deck, the third bell was about to ring. Because of this, Becca and Jared headed straight to class while I went to sign in. “Don’t trip, Jared!” I called after them. He didn’t. 😂 😂