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Frugal 4 - Week 2

This week has been really easy to save money ... Since I've been house bound for most of it. Agent M has been ill which has meant that i had to take time off college. That in itself is expensive as i have only one day off left. If he gets sick again and i have to take a day off after that its gonna cost me £93. That's an expensively stressful sick day!

Anyway, This week we have managed to hit the frugal 4 ... High Five!

  • Being off meant that i saved money on lunch this week. That's £8.40 that i have saved (£4.20 Thursday and Friday for a toastie, Juice and bag of crisps).
  • On the days i was in college i didn't have any coffee or juice from the vending machine like i usually do so there is a saving of £12.60.
  • We have managed to stretch the shopping out a bit more this week meaning I've managed to stretch a £95.70 shop over THREE WEEKS! I'm so chuffed with that. That takes my shopping down to £31.90 a week the last 3 weeks. That's a saving of £48.10 off my weekly food bill!
  • I did need to top up on a few things which cost £20 - Milk, Bread, Loo roll (24 rolls for £8), washing up liquid, sponges etc. but these are monthly top ups (bar the milk and bread) so that's a fiver a week for the month. Not too bad. I did however pick up a large pork joint that was £10 down to £3 and will do 2 meals of 3 servings so that's a hell of a saving! I'll be making Pulled Pork this week with half of it :)

This week i have saved £56.10 ... and added it to Agent M's birthday fund :)

My Week in Pics - 31/1/16

Its been a slow week in terms of photography in the house of Crafty. I've been stuck in front of a computer or my laptop all week or had my head under my pillow nursing a headache the rest of the time so photos have been scarce.

I have been keeping up with my #Project366 though ... Yay!

I'm on holiday in a week though so here's hoping the weather is better so i can get out and about and get some good snaps. This torrential rain and freezing wind is really getting me down.

From top left ...

  • Shabba isn't loving the early morning wake ups ... "6am mama? Are you for real?"
  • Looking at prices for going to Disneyland Paris for my 30th next year ... That ain't gonna happen unless we have a lotto win :(
  • Agent D turned up with a bag of Mini Eggs for me ... Such a darlin
  • Had a stressful week so my Friday night was all about distractions.
  • The only "Me" time i get during the week is when i go for a bath and set my Kindle up to read to me.
  • But look at this face ... I don't mind no me time when i get to spend my time with this wee man :)
  • He's such a polite boy too ... Gave me a wee thank you note for helping him with his homework ... I've definitely raised a good one :)

Silent Sunday - 31/1/16

How much technology is too much?

We lost our Internet for a few days recently and i swear Agent M acted like the world had just ended. He was almost panicking that he couldn't get on the Xbox or that we couldn't watch a film on Netflix that it made me wonder if technology was almost ruining him. Wanting to play a game is one thing but when i gave him other suggestions he just brushed them off, saying again that he wanted to play with is tablet or his Xbox, this was almost like an addiction. It got me thinking.

When i was younger technology was a treat. We had a Nintendo that was handed down from my big cousins and Santa brought me a Sega Mega drive one year for Christmas but gaming wasn't as big as it is now. At least it wasn't allowed to be in our house. No way we would have been allowed to sit on a console for hours on end and no way we would have wanted to. If the weather was tolerable then we would be out playing. Who needed Mario when we had 'Curby' and trees to climb, places to explore and perfume to make (flower petals and water were big in my day). Playing games was what you did when you were stuck in on a rainy day for a bit. I didn't get my first mobile phone till i started secondary school and its sole purpose was so that i could get in contact with my parents if something happened on the way to or from school.

Technology now is all about fast Internet speeds and playing the "IT" games before your mates. Its also almost expected that your kids have some form of technology. I've seen kids walking out of the junior side of the school building who pull high end mobile phones out of their pockets. Junior is ages 7 and below. Its weird seeing a 6 year old with a better phone that you. I know of people who have bought their toddlers their very own iPads and i know kids that can work a tablet or smartphone better than some adults.
Everyone is plugged in these days and with the rate that the technology industry is growing i wouldn't be surprised if they bring out the iWomb soon. Connect with foetus in utero and they can snap chat you their latest new development. Now that would be interesting!

I get that technology is a great thing for development and i know that there are apps and games that can help teach your little ones valuable skills such as counting or colours but at what point does technology take over as a parent? Its really sad when i go out for lunch with Agent M and i see these parents sitting at tables with their kids and everyone of them have some form of technology in front of them. You're missing out on possible bonding time with the kids. I get that sometimes you need to reply to the work emails and i too have had to ask Agent M to wait a second while i reply to a client but i also make a point of keeping my phone out of my hand when we are eating together and i switch off the laptop when he's around so that we can talk and share in each others company.

His reaction to not going on his Xbox made me feel sad. He has a limit of 1 hour per day already and ALWAYS after homework but i think that perhaps when the warmer weather comes in that we should get out more in the fresh air and forget all about technology (with the exception of a camera to take snaps). I need to show him that there is more to life than fibre broadband and mine craft.

Till then I'm going to need to try and get him of the technology boobie for a bit. Maybe get him started on a new hobby.

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The Uncheshire WifeSuper Busy MUmMummy Do It

Silent Sunday - 24/1/16

My Week in Pics - 24/1/16

Its been 2 weeks since i posted my week in pics purely because the sh*t at college was just making me so stressed out and so irritated that i didn't have time to sit down and blog. Turns out that it all paid off though (the competition at least) as I placed 3rd in my category :)

This weekend though i have been enjoying some down time before the madness of the next semester starts and the bridal projects need to get done (I'm gonna need more coffee!). Part of which was getting my blog organised ... and clearing out my phone :)

Here is this weeks photos ... Enjoy :)

From top left ...

  • On route to the pool for Agent M's swimming lesson ... its awfully cold to be in the water but he loves it so I'll keep taking him.
  • The snow looks gorgeous 
  • My Queen Bee's lashes ... So pretty!
  • Selfie with Mama
  • Shabba sat staring at Agent M's photo for a good 10 minutes before i had to shout his name to bring him around ... was getting weird lol.
  • Agent M moved up a level in his swimming lessons ... Proud Mama
  • Making the tutu for my Queen Bee
  • A manicure fit for a Queen (Bee) lol
  • Agent M and Shabba having morning cuddles

Frugal 4 - Week 1

Last week really and truly violated my bank balance.

Honestly i sat starting at my savings account and my eyes started tearing up.

The competition unit for college really stung me and after coughing up £98.58 in total for everything from costume to make up, i was ready to cry into a pillow while eating my body weight in chocolate.

It did however pay off in a sense as i came 3rd for the 'Fantasy' category

Still though ... That is a hell of a lot of money that i couldn't really afford. A consequence of this is that i cant do my nail course which starts this Thursday and believe me when i say, I'm gutted over it. Still, that's life ...

And life ... It ain't cheap!

To try and counteract the spending (and build up the savings again), I'm going to try and do at least 4 frugal things each week. The money saved will go back into the pot and hopefully my back up/emergency fund will look a little better than the £1.03 it had at the beginning of the week.

My Frugal 4 this week were ...

  • I bought my college bus ticket online ... Rather than pay the £11.10 for a 7 day paper ticket, i bought a smart card ticket online for £10.80. Its only a 30p saving i know but its better than nothing.
  • I didn't buy any coffee at college this week. I normally get at least 2 cups per day which over 3 days is £9 on coffee ... I didn't buy any juice at college either, instead opting for the (strange tasting) water dispenser that's free of charge. That's another saving of £3.60 over the week.
  • We have been trying to save on the weekly shop ... taking it from around £80 to hopefully £40  week. Well on the 9th we went to Iceland and Lidl with the intention of stocking the freezer. In total we spent £95.70, however we haven't had to do a weekly shop since (other than bread and milk) so taking that one big shop, its worked out to around £48 for the each week. That's a saving of around £32 ... And our freezer is still well stocked so we might be able to stretch another week out of it!

  • I created a meal plan to go with what we now have in the freezer. Its meant that i know what to defrost the night before and we've not had to order in cause nothing was ready to eat. We even bought Chinese "take-away" from Iceland which worked out about quarter of the price of ordering in and we still got Sweet and Sour chicken for dinner :)

All in this week i saved nearly £45 which is pretty good!

Wonder how much i will be able to save come the summer?

Peaceful Friday

Today has been a good day, which is strange when you consider that Agent M was off school sick and I have been nursing a really sore head.

How can that be good you may wonder?

Well I'll tell you. I felt like a proper mummy again.
How silly does that sound. I know I am a proper mummy and I do everything that a mummy does but today it almost went back to basics. Just feeding and nurturing my child. 
He woke up this morning with a dodgy tummy and just wanted cuddles and since we needed to keep close to the bathroom, we spent the morning in mamas bed watching films.

And we talked.

We talked a lot

About all kinds of things. 

Some things I wanted to ask him, like how things have been going at school and how he feels he's doing with P4, and some things he wanted to talk to me about. We discussed the past ... how things made us feel and his interpretation of things that happened. We spoke about the future and what we would like to happen and what is going to happen with things like college and school.

I feel like I got a really good insight into the way his little mind works and although the conversations did take a strange turn (he asked me about contraception and blood diseases *eh?*) I could see that the way he was thinking was quite mature for an 8 year old.

I feel like today I got to know my son a little better. Without the pressures of college or the like on my mind, I felt like I was able to just be a mum today. To care for and converse with my child. I got to know things that are worrying him that i didn't know before and i got to put his mind at ease about things he was unsure about or scared of.

There was no rush to get ready to go somewhere or no emails and papers to work on. Just he and I together watching Small soldiers on Netflix while I occasionally rubbed his back, just being together.

What a lovely chilled out Friday its been.

Gratitude #3

This week has been really hard for me. Problems at college have been impacting my personal life and i haven't been the easiest person to get on with but i am very luck that i have a man that is understanding and willing to give me time to deal with how i feel. That man is Agent D.

I am very grateful to have Agent D in my life as he has made me feel loved and wanted when i didn't think it would be possible to trust another man again. He tries to look out for me and protect me and not only that he looks out for Agent M too. Even though he isn't his biological dad, he has taken on the role of dad and Agent M has flourished with him.

I know that we have had some rough times and no couple is perfect but to me he is amazing and i love him with all my heart.

I am grateful for every day that i get to say he is mine and i am his.

I am grateful for the love he gives Agent M and i.

I am grateful for everything about him.


I'm not even sure I should write this.
I'm not even sure what I'm going to write but I feel like I need an outlet and I feel like that is part of what what my blog is for me. An outlet. Be it creatively, as a parent and now as someone coming to terms with their mental health.
I feel deflated.
For a little while I have been feeling somewhat bullied by someone who is in a position of authority in my life and for the longest time I thought it was all in my head. I felt that this person couldn't possibly be this horrible. Perhaps it was all in my head.
Yeah, it must have been in my head.
I found out yesterday, much to my humiliation that no its actually not in my head and that this is really happening. Why my humiliation? Well you see it happened in front of an audience and only when the reaction was "why is she treating you like that?" "Oh my god are you OK?" "That's bang out of order", did I actually realise that this isn't OK. It's not how it should be and that I needed help.
That help didn't come and rather than get the resolution I desperately needed, my mental health became almost a scape goat. An excuse for why this was all my fault. "maybe you're too sensitive" "maybe this isn't the right time for you with you're anxiety" ... I felt like my very existence yesterday was an inconvenience.
When I tried to talk to Agent D about my feelings, he stormed out of my house in order to go confront this problem thinking he was standing up for me. In some ways I can see his logic but the full blown panic attack he then left me in to deal with alone in front of Agent M had just made me feel even more vulnerable.
I don't like feeling this weak. I don't like feeling worthless but in all honestly I feel like bundling my son up and disappearing for a while. Maybe running away to my mum. Maybe just locking the world away for us.
I tried to put it out of my mind last night. It didn't work. All I kept thinking about was how it all unfolded. I kept playing over in my head how hurt I was that her bully tactics were almost justified because she was in a position of authority and it's just her way. It was turned around on my saying it was maybe my mental health and that I was "sensitive".
I spent last night, tired and hurt and angry at myself. So much I wanted to say in hindsight. If it was just me then why have other people also complained about her for the exact same thing? Why have her peers, also in a position of authority also made complaints about her methods and attitude? Surely we can't all be "sensitive"?
And why the hell did I apologise to her!!
I'm kicking my ass mentally for that one. I apologised to the bully. What an idiot I am!
I have now been left with a decision.
do i stay or do i go?
Honestly I don't know what to do. I feel like I'm just going to be brow beaten and I have nowhere to turn but if I leave I'm giving up and I don't know if I can live with that.
All I know is I feel so hurt and vulnerable that I could shatter if the wind changed directions.
Right now I am watching my beautiful little boy do his swimming and has such a smile on his face that I feel I owe it to him to give him a happy mum in return .
I just don't know which decision will give him that.

Gratitude #2

This week's gratitude is all about my everything ... Agent M

Honestly I don't think I could put into words how much I love that boy. Unless you have a child yourself you just can't understand the feelings you have for your baby.

Nothing he can do will ever change how I feel about him and everything he does fills me with so much pride that I feel like I could burst.

He's my reason for everything i do. I went back to college so i can make a better life for us, I am always thinking on how i can make his life better and in return that will make my life better as when he is happy, it makes me happier.

As he's getting older and older I can kind of see the type of adult he will be. He is so polite and well mannered that I know I have nothing to worry about when he's older.

Don't get me wrong, having such a great kid almost guarantees that he will be a difficult teenager but even when he's slamming my doors and swearing at me (though I can't picture that to be fair) I will still love him more than anything.

He's just my perfect little boy and i love him with my whole being. I am grateful everyday for him and that i get to be his mummy.

My Week in Photos - 10/1/16

Oft i don't know about where you live but here in Ayrshire its FREEZING! I mean literally ... We've had ice and snow this weekend which almost brought the roads and rail to a total standstill.

Lucky for us that no-one we know got into any accidents and we all managed to stay upright (although Agent M almost slid off the pavement on our way to swimming lessons). Sunday was spent in the house with the heating on with jammies and dressing gowns on cause it was too wet and cold to go out.

This week was back to our routine too. Agent D was back at work earlier in the week and Agent M and i went back to School/College on Thursday. It was nice to be back into our routine and i even managed to get an assessment passed on my first day back :)

Very happy :)

From the top left ...

  • Agent M wrapping up nice and warm cause its way to cold
  • Sitting in bed knitting squares for my blanket ... Its definitely going to come in handy!
  • My style for a total look assessment - Daenerys from Game of Thrones
  • Having a hot chocolate with Mama after swimming lessons
  • Snow scene outside college
  • How gorgeous is the sky ... beautiful blue with the bare branches
  • A treat for Agent M and i before we went back to school/College was a wee trip to Burger King.

Financial Goals for 2016

It's been a week of 2016 and I've been thinking about money a lot. My aim is to save money and become debt free but that's not going to be achieved in 2016. It's going to take me at least 4 years to become debt free so rather than leave it up in the air I have decided to make some financial goals for this year.

When I think about this year and what I want to do, the first thing that pops into mind is that I would like to learn to drive. This would be big for me as it would allow me to take on more clients if I wasn't relying in public transport. I could branch out to other areas that before would cost too much in bus fares which would in the long term make us money.

I would love to go on holiday abroad. Neither of the agents have been outside the UK so it would be great if we could go on a wee break to say Spain on France *cough Disney cough*. Wherever we end up going we will all need passports, new clothes etc. which all costs a lot of money.

In terms of making money I would love to take more night classes on nails and maybe a make up course to complement my hairdressing qualifications but again, although these courses will allow me to make money, I first need to be able to pay for the courses.

It's ironic how the best ways for me to make money involve me having to spend a lot of it first.

So back to the goals for 2016 ...

This year I'm going to try to do the following
  • Put past £15 per week in order to build some savings. That would give me £780 by the end of the year. That could be a nice little second hand car to run around in (provided i learnt to drive).
  • Continue to make payments as agreed with companies I owe money too so that I am on the road to being debt free. 
  • Stop wasting money on things like coffees, buying lunch at college or the odd magazine (though that's a once in blue moon thing anyway). It's just money down the drain that I don't need to spend and could be better served elsewhere like a nice family day out together .
  • When i get a £2 coin, I'm going to put it past in a jar. Its a rarity that i get a £2 coin so its not like I'm going to put £20 away that i need. I might not miss £2 every now and again and come the end of the year i could have a nice little pot of money that can be used to get a new winter coat or a pair of boots.
  • I'm going to save 20% of the profit i get from clients and add it to the savings pot on top of the £15 a week. I might manage a grand if i get enough clients by 2017 which would be one ticked off my 101 things in 1001 days.
  • Get my food shop down to under £60 a week. Recently our shopping as been anywhere between £60 and £90 which i just ridiculous. Most of that gets wasted too because when i get in I'm too tired to cook so we order in. I'm going to try not to do that any more cause I'm just throwing the money away at this point.

I think that these goal are manageable and with any luck by the time the new year rolls around i will be a bit better off and wont have to try and scrape together change to get a carton of milk :(

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Why you should always check your bills!

I think it's kind of funny (possibly ironic) that in the week I'm starting to look at becoming more frugal ... I get a bill though that's alot higher than expected (and agreed).

I get text notifications when things like my mobile phone bill or my Sky bill has been produced and I usually just ignore it as it's the same each month (or there about if I've had to call an 08 number like the Tax office for example) but the text message I received from Sky had me seeing red. The message told me that not only was my new bill ready to view but it was £31.40 this month.

Hell no!

I haven't called any numbers from my landline (which I only have as I need it to get Internet access) and my Internet is unlimited so I definitely couldn't have go over ... so I went online and looked at my bill.

They had added all this extra stuff to my package that not only I didn't ask for but I cannot use.

Sky+ ... they have offered it to me free for 6 months then it's "only £10 per month" ... yeah I agree it's a great deal and when I called about it, I did agree with the agent that it's a bargain. 

Except that I cancelled sky during the summer for a reason. It's rubbish! There were no programmes that I wanted to watch and at the time my bill was sitting round about £70 a month. As soon as my 24 month contract was up I was out of there and my sky box went out too (to the bin). 

I don't watch a lot of TV, I don't have time ... but when I do get to watch it (like over the holidays) it's  DVD's, Netflix or Amazon prime I watch. I don't even have normal TV channels like BBC or Channel 4 as i don't have an aerial and no FreeView box ... That's how much i don't watch TV!

I don't have an agreement with or have been sponsored to say this, it is my own opinion but I think that both Prime and Netflix are way better value for entertainment. 

Netflix starts from £5.99 a month and has loads of films, TV shows, stand up and documentaries. You can have more than one user which is why it's better value for me as my mum has let me on her account so I can binge watch 'How I met your mother' for free. 

Prime as well is better value. I get it for £40 a year as I am a student which means not only do I get next day delivery on loads of stuff, back up to Amazon cloud for photos, rent kindle books free and films/TV shows free on instant video but now they have introduced prime music (which I've yet to have a look at) so that £40 I paid (the equivalent to a coffee a month) has more than justified itself to me. On Prime you can 'rent' titles too ... think blockbuster but you can stay in your jammies when you wanna get a film.

Anyway back to Sky ... They have changed their products so that I've now been moved onto a 'pay as you call' tariff and added on a 'evening and weekend calls' package (that I didn't ask for) so I can make "free calls" (on a landlines I don't use). I couldn't quite understand how the calls were "free" when I was paying in advance for this add on but the man on the phone didn't quite get where I was coming from. 

Bottom line my contract that was agreed in the beginning would be £26.40 (line rental and fibre broadband) had a blinged up makeover to £31.40. 

Now some people might be thinking "it's only a fiver" but it's not really. That fiver means quite a bit when your a student and it soon adds up. If I let it go, that fiver will be £60 over the year. 

That would have paid for my year of Prime (that I actually use) plus left £20 over. £60 is a lot to spend on something I not only didn't want but won't use.

The man I spoke to assures me that my account will be amended and that my bill will be £27.40 from now on (line rental went up a pound I'm told) and with any luck it's going to have been changed in time for the bill coming out next week otherwise that's more money i need to find as ill end up with a bank charge.

The point to this post/moan is that I need to start checking my bills! 

I just took it that the amount we agreed to would be the amount taken (unless i went over) but apparently contracts are allowed to be changed as they see fit ... Who knew! 

From now on I'll be looking at every one of my bills and who knows, i might save some pennies. I've already saved £60 a year by the looks of it.

Bouncy Balls

As you know we have a rainy day craft box that i regularly top up. There are a few kits in it as well as some materials that can be used to make other things ... Pompoms, googly eyes, pens, paints etc.

One thing that was in the box was this Bouncy Balls kit by Galt that Agent M had been desperate to try out. So i finally caved and let him get messy one afternoon ... and so much fun was had :)

The kit contains everything you need to make 2 large balls or 8 small ones ... Both moulds are included (and reusable) as well as 8 packets of the special powder.

 This kit was relatively easy for Agent M to do himself with me assisting by cutting the packets and reminding him to tap the mould when he forgot.

The balls are created by pouring the powders into the mould till its full ... tapping in between colour changes to make sure there are no spaces/holes in the ball. You could make the balls all one colour if you wanted to (8 packets would make 8 solid coloured balls) but Agent M wanted to make some multicoloured balls so i let him take the lead.

Once the mould was filled to the top you you need to place it in a jug of cold water for a minute or so to set. Once the time has passed you need to leave it another minute to fully harden and then you can pull apart the mould.

The finished balls are really cool and since you are mixing the colours, no two balls are the same. Agent M was very proud of himself and had a great time bouncing them around the house (till i started to freak out he was gonna smash something lol)

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Gratitude #1

Last year I tried to do a gratitude list each week and it was going well until my depression decided to kick my butt and my gratitude became "I managed to get dressed today" or "only cried twice today" ... not something I necessary felt grateful for to be honest.

But I'm wanting to start actively trying to improve my mood and with any luck my mental health will improve too. 

Rather than trying to find 3 things I'm grateful for each week though I have decided to focus on one thing a week. That way if things start to get me down again I can just focus on my one thing and hopefully I can pull myself together a little faster.

This week I am grateful that I am in the position mentally to start 2016 smiling. 

The last couple of months I wasn't doing so great and it really impacted not only my mental health but it started to effect me physically too. I was being sick for no reason I could think and my whole body started to ache. I was exhausted to the point that I was taking Agent M to school, coming home and sleeping, getting up to pick him up and trying hard to make it till he went to bed and then I would too ... I also damaged my neck/arm around the same time so being given strong pain killers didn't exactly help this sleeping my life away phase.

Things at home became affected too. Agent M noticed a big difference in my moods and actually out right asked me why I seemed so sad. It was hard trying to explain to an 8 year old how depression works bit thanks to the glory that is Disney's inside out, I think he was able to grasp why mummy was "acting strange".
It became an eye opener for Agent D too, who I don't think th the 2 years we have been together has ever experienced such a darkness with me. I am forever grateful that we pulled through that as there were a few rough weeks where I wasn't sure we were gonna make it.

I'm not going to say that I'm all better now as I have been dealing with this for a most 9 years now and I am only now beginning to accept that this is part of who I am. I have given up on the fairytale notion that I'm going to get better. Depression is like the herpes of the brain, you can clear the symptoms but the virus is always gonna be there so now I'm am trying to work out how to deal with it as part of who I am rather than hide it away like a dirty secret.
My name is Sarah-Jane and I have a mental illness.

But I am here. I made it and I matter.

With any luck 2016 will be the year that I finally learn to accept this as part of me and I'll be grateful for every day I have to do so.

Hugs xxx

Silent Sunday - 3/1/16

My Week in Photos - 3/1/16

Its been a lovely quiet week here now that the madness of Christmas is over and New Year was quiet and relaxing :)

How was your festive season? I'll just be glad when we get back into our routine and i can get on with the mountain of assessments i have coming up.

Since I'm loving taking photos, I'm going to try and do #Project366 this year but I'll still be joining in with my week in photo posts ... Many of these are taken in the same day so it would be sad not to share them :)

Top Left ...

  • Playing Cars 2 Guess Who with Agent M ... He's much better at it than me lol
  • Built up his Minecraft Lego set that his Gran and Aunt bought him for Christmas
  • Joining up the 5 sets he has, he's created a whole Minecraft world.
  • Downloaded some books for my Kindle to keep me going ... Lots of James Herbert for mama
  • A coating of snow on Hogmany ... which unfortunately lead to a 6 car accident in front of our house ... Not fun to see :( This was taken before then.
  • Pizza for dinner cause i couldn't handle another night of leftovers and i was fed up cooking 
  • Agent D getting right into a game on the PS4 ... Isn't he handsome.
  • Agent D and Shabba curling up in bed while we watch some TV