Friday, November 29, 2013

Attitude of Gratitude - 7 Quick Takes, Vol. 45

I fell off the 30 Days of Gratitude wagon somewhere around Day 20, but that is more a symptom of my ineptitude at updating my Facebook status regularly (which is really not very problematic) than needing a reality and thankfulness check. That said, here are my Thankful Thoughts. Linking up with Jen in the process.

1. I am thankful beautiful, growing family. I have a wonderful, amazing, Godly, supportive, loving husband who is also my best friends and the most amazing father I could have asked for for my children. I have a sweet, healthy little girl who is so full of vibrancy and life and a sense of adventure and fun that it's hard not to be completely taken in by her. I am waiting on a healthy baby boy, who I feel so blessed to be carrying, and who I know will fill our lives in ways that I cannot even imagine.

2. I am thankful for my extended family: my dad and sister and their people (and puppies for Clare to love on!) who love and support me unconditionally; for my aunts, uncle, cousins (and their kids), and two living grandmothers who I am so blessed to (mostly) live near and have real relationships with; all of Charles' family who, from the first time I met each of them, embraced me as one of their own.

3. I am thankful for friends: new, old, near, far, online, those I talk to every day, those I don't talk to often enough, those "pick up right where you left off" friends.

4. I am thankful for the gift of faith. I am thankful for Christ, His Sacrifice, His Church, His Sacraments. I am thankful for the 8 years I have been Catholic, for the chance to grow deeper in my faith, for the chance to raise my family in the Church, for countless blessings that have come into my life because of my faith.

5. I am thankful for all the stuff of life: a roof over my head, a warm place to sleep at night (and a cool one in the summer), for food security, for not having to worry about making ends meet. Not to mention all the first-world luxury stuff like getting to be a two car family, having my own washer and dryer, technology -- especially in the field of communications, etc.

6. I am thankful for opportunities. I am thankful for all the opportunities we have had this year for adventure, for travel, for family time, for new experiences, for chances to learn what I am made of. Mostly, I am thankful for the opportunities Charles has had, the rotations, the interviews, the opportunity to live his dreams and provide for his family at the same time. I am so eager to see what the new year will bring (but I guess that can wait 'til NYE).

7. I am thankful for the experiences I have had in life: education, travel, struggles, triumphs, sadness, joy. Each of those experiences has helped to make me the person I am today. My life is so rich and overflowing -- thus the overflowing heart today.

I am unbelievably blessed, beyond my wildest dreams. God has given to me abundantly and to Him I give all the glory.

Have a lovely, blessed weekend!

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mr. Turkey, Mr. Turkey, Big and Fat

Tomorrow is the day, people.

I can think of no better (unofficial) end to the liturgical year than giving thanks to God for the myriad blessings which he has bestowed on us in the last year (This year, I am feeling abundantly, overwhelmingly blessed, but I'll do that rambling tomorrow.), then pigging out harvest festival style. Twist my arm, why dontcha? Turkey? Cranberry? Mashed potatoes? Bread? Veggies? Bring. It. On.

Just (finally) posting some of the things I dream of creating, eating and owning:

-For the turkey, two years ago, I made the turkey out of Martha Stewart's Cooking School, and it was fab. Not to toot my own horn, but it was worth the bit of effort and was juicy and delicious. At the time, I was a few weeks pregnant with Clare . . . and the Friday after the Big Feast, BAM!, turkey aversion. But I got to enjoy that yummy bird the first time around at the very least.


-I've been looking for a chance to try these mashed potatoes from Ina Garten for something fancy and different. I will make it happen one of these days, and I will document the details.


-I prefer my holiday veggies somewhat straightforward: green beans cooked with bacon, corn, carrots with butter and brown sugar (my dad makes THE best boiled carrots -- they probably no longer qualify as veggies by the time he's done with them, but they are sooooooooo good). I'm happy to skip the casseroles and fancy sauces (though I'm happy to help make them disappear that way, too!).


-I'm trying this recipe for rolls this year -- pretty straightforward. I've said it before and I'll say it again, making (and eating) homemade bread it good for the soul.


-My dream home will have a giant harvest table not too unlike this one. Bonus points if it is made with actual reclaimed wood (instead of courtesy of Crate & Barrel's mass-production elves).

Not exactly the dream but close enough -- via

-And I will serve my harvest feast on dishes like these:


or these:


or these:


Happy Turkey brining and basting!

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Friday, November 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 44

Joining Jen (and counting down 'til I can preorder the book, 'cause, you know, WOW!!!!)

1. It has been a (another?) crazy week 'round here. Between Charles' two interviews (plus dinners with yours truly), a trip to the OB for our ultrasound, Charles' test today, and all the regular stuff in life, it has flown. Ready for the weekend!

2. The exciting thing is that, for the first time since July, we have reached the end of another four week rotation and we do not have to go anywhere. No driving to some far off city to spend four weeks at a home that is not our own. No long trek to our actual home. No forcing a disgruntled, teething, sick of traveling toddler into a car seat. No subsisting on Subway, soda, and hotel breakfasts. Nope. Just time. Together. At home.

None of this. Thrilled, I tell you. Thrilled.

3. As as added bonus, it is raining buckets, and it's not supposed to let up anytime soon. As if I needed an excuse to keep the warm, pregnancy-safe beverages flowing today!

4. My mind has been swimming in a sea of blue this week, after our news! Besides mulling our potential name over (and over and over) -- I'm contemplating such very important child rearing questions as, "What do baby boys wear to Mass?" and "Should we get a baptism outfit with shorts or pants?" and "Is Clare more likely to smother him with a blanket, a doll, or a play feeding object?" In other words, I'm in love.

Soccer Star. Yes, that's a foot up there.

5. Baby names are a freakishly big deal in my weird world. I love them. Love. The best part of new babies, besides the baby, of course, is finding out what its name is. So naming my own kid feels like a big deal. I am thinking I'm not telling FB or the blog until he arrives. It just feels like more of an announcement that way. Because it needs an announcement? Weird, I know.

6. Liturgically speaking, this weekend is the kick-off to the one season I can do right. The feast of Christ the King of the Universe happens to be my Catholic birthday (when I was received into the Church and received the sacraments of First Eucharist and Confirmation). {As an aside, I really want to write a post (or a couple of posts) about my conversion, but I run into the problem of too much to say and too little substance. Meaning lots of rambling. I'll get there one day.} The last couple of years, I've celebrated Christ the King with breakfast after Mass and my favorite dinner. Then comes Advent. I love Advent! Love it! Then Christmas! More to love! It's the rest of the liturgical year when I fall off the horse. I make an effort at Lent and Easter, but I'm going to try to do better overall. Looking forward to reading Haley's book to help out -- food and the liturgical year. I can't think of a better combination.

7. I got nothing, so here's a totally unrelated picture to fill the gap.

16 months going on 16 years.

Have a lovely weekend!

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Some Ramdom Thoughts About Our Baby . . .


What's not to love about that little face?!?

We found out yesterday that we are expecting a squiggly, wiggly (emphasis on wiggly) baby boy. And he see seems to be healthy, so that's the truly good news.

We're over the moon, though I expect we would feel just as airborne if we had found out that he was a she, because we honestly, truly, not saying it with one tiny grain of salt, would have been thrilled either way. I think it's the whole babies-are-a-big-blessing thing. Combined with the, God willing, we're-not-done thing. And the it's-not-like-you-get-to-pick-anyway thing.

The big challenge has been agreeing on a boy's name that we both like and fits out exacting Catholic standards of both names being Saints' names. With one gazillion canonized Saints, you'd think it wouldn't be as hard as it is. We've got a tentative winner, but we're mulling it over for awhile before we make any firm decisions or announcements or the like.

If Clare had her way, his name would be Guppy Guppy. Or maybe Guppy Puppy if you really talk her into it. We think we can.

Now, I'm obsessively considering what to do with a boy's room when we move Mr. Man into a nursery sometime this summer. Meaning I've got gobs of time to consider it. But I'm extraordinarily picky when it comes to nursery bedding. All I use are sheets (readily available) and a crib skirt (needle in a haystack or part of a large set), and I'm not interested in spending gobs of money on a bedding set I won't use and whose pieces I don't love anyway. And did I mention that I'm not a fan of baby blue? It's fine for clothes, but I don't think I could stand a baby blue room when there are so many other colors out there! So, basically I will spend too much time browsing crib skirts online trying to find the perfect item that may or may not exist. I finally found a darling pink gingham crib skirt for Clare/any future girls who get our crib. Who knows?!? Maybe lightening will strike twice.

Enough rambling . . . I've got online window shopping to do!!

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Friday, November 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 43

Writer's block = Blegh. I'm just putting it out there.

I sat down at least three times this week to compose a post about actual thoughts in my head, but somehow none of them even so much as began to come out right. as a result, I'm turning some of my incomplete post thoughts into my 7QT. As always, linking up with the fabulous (and conference hosting) Jen.

1. Charles was out of town on the interview trail all week. I wanted to write about the challenges of having him out of town without coming off as complaining. It's challenging, as anyone who's ever had a spouse away can attest, for any number of reasons. If dinner would make itself and land on the table at a preappointed time, things would be going pretty smoothly indeed. That said, I can't say I'm not counting down until his flight arrives.

2. I marvel at Clare's growth and development. I think so many parents think their kids are brilliant because they marvel at how much a little person can learn so quickly and how much they change in the blink of an eye. I know I've marveled at her vocabulary explosion any number of times, but it just doesn't cease to amaze me. I'm also in awe of her mimicking. The other day, she "sunscreened" her baby after I got her ready to head to the park. I realize these are developmentally normal, but to this first time mom, they are mind boggling!

3. I am now 20 weeks pregnant. Half-way, give or take. It is unbelievably amazing and unbelievably surreal to carry a little miracle. I'm extra excited to have our anatomy scan this week. I pray everything looks good, and hope we find out if our little bundle of joy (and sleepless nights) is a boy or a girl.

4. I had lots of little opportunities this week to reflect on the culture of death and how deeply it has seeped into our culture at large, but my thoughts are still rambling. Something might still be coming, but in the mean time, it's still a pass. Maybe God wants me to ponder more and "have the answer" less.

5. I'm lamenting the fact that I don't have Grace's knack for the hilarious retell of the ridiculous things my kid does. Strangely, this is one area where I really am better in person. Or maybe it's easier when my audience truly gets how crazy my kiddo is. Regardless, that is the main reason my blog is void of Clare's craziest antics. *sad face*

Relaxing and enjoying some tea at my cousin's house.

6. I have every.single.intention of linking up with Cari (even with her temporary MIA-ness) to talk about Thanksgiving, as I dream about turkey and stuffing and sides and family and food and gratitude. My first attempt at a draft was an exceedingly incoherent nightmare, so I'm hoping to get something pulled together for next week.

7. One goal that has long been deep in my heart is helping my family really live and celebrate the liturgical year. It's something that I'm truly passionate about and want to have as part of my family's life rhythm. Since neither Charles nor I grew up doing this beyond basic celebrations, Advent and Lent, etc., it's a slow process of incorporation. It's something I want to do more and more in the coming (liturgical) year, so I hope to write quite a bit about our journey in the coming months. 

Have a lovely weekend!

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

5 Favorites, Vol. 22

Linking up with Hallie to share some of my favorites, with even less rhyme or reason than normal, this week:

1.Technology -- It's a perpetual favorite, but still  . . . . We're in the middle of Week 1 of 2 Crazy Weeks, and, even with Charles across the country, knowing that he's a cell phone call, a silly text message conversation, spur of the moment selfie, or FaceTime session away makes it all the easier.


2. Peanut Butter & Honey -- Toasted PB and honey has been my breakfast of choice for about a week. It doesn't hold me over all morning (what does these days?), but it is quick, easy, tasty, and I can convince myself that the PB gives me much-needed protein.


3. Shipment Tracking -- There is nothing better than watching your package inch across the United States, from some obscure warehouse in Nowheresville, IL to the truck for delivery. It's like the Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve, but for grown-ups who like Amazon.


4. Water -- Because Lil Bean is thirsty. Except when s/he is hungry. Plus, Clare says, "wahwehr" which is pretty much the most adorable thing. Until she spills my water all over the coffee table. #neverhappened.


5. Inappropriate hastage usage -- I used to be very against, but it has suddenly grown on me (see #4, above). I dunno. I have a Twitter account, but I mostly only follow people on it. I have never, ever actually tweeted. I don't know if I ever will. But somehow, they seem like the perfect tool to make your point. Again, I dunno. But that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.


Happy Wednesday!

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Monday, November 11, 2013

This is Real Life

This morning, I saw someone mention being in their 30s and waiting for their real life to start. It reminded me of something that I'm sure I've mentioned before. We need to live in the present.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't look forward to things to come or save for your dream/forever house or whatever. Remember the past. Learn from it. Strive for Heaven.

I'm saying that if you spend too much time dreaming about Mr. Right, putting it off until you finish school/get that raise/win the lottery, wait until life is going according to plan, whatever, then you're going to be disappointed.

This, yes this, is real life.

The crying baby. The disastrous trip to the park. The broccoli on the floor while I had the audacity to finish eating my own dinner. The baby hugs. The baby kicks. The moments that make you laugh until you cry.

It's messy (often literally). It's beautiful. It's complicated. It's real. It's life.

Gratuitous baby picture

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Friday, November 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 42

Joining Jen -- thanks as always for hosting us!

1. Today is Charles' last day of "work" for 2013. It was the last day of his neurology rotation, and the rest of the semester is "off" for residency interviews. He spent the morning in the hospital, and was free to go when they finished up there, which was before lunch. Crazy! How is the year almost over?

2. I reflect again and again (and so probably mention again and again) the surreality of passing time. On one hand, you just live day by day. Time passes. Things happen. It seems natural that kids grow, new ones come about, milestones that once seems impossibly far away come and go. Then you stop and think. Hold on! Wait! What?!?!!? How is Clare so big? How am I already 19 weeks pregnant? How is neurology over? How it is interview season? How did we get here? What happened?

19 weeks, deceptive shirt -- I am not this small in the bump department

3. Charles also happens to be fighting a cold, so he's snuggled up on the other side of the couch playing Risk on his phone. He enjoys trying out new strategies on the phone, because the games go so quickly with the computer aspect. This means I'll never, ever play against him at Risk again. It was already rare, because "World Domination" too often equals "hurt feelings," but this is the nail in the coffin. I have no hope at ever winning ever again.


4. Poor Clare has been cutting molars for weeks now. She was only occasionally crabby (but very drooly) for the cutting of most of her other teeth, but molars, man. Molars have been awful. One has been fully emerged for a couple of weeks now, and I can feel parts of the other three when I manage to get a (clean) finger in her mouth to check her gums. Poor kiddo. Hopefully, it will be over soon.

5. I'm pleased to report, if only for myself and my sanity, that Clare seems to have passed her 'rip pages out of every book upon impact' phase, and has now firmly placed herself in the column of "my daughter" by flipping idly through the pages of any book she gets her hands on. She is also sitting still through longer books, which makes me happy. I'd much rather read Hop on Pop once than I love You Through and Through 50 times. She still likes her shorter board books, but at least I get some reprieve now and then. I'm pretty sure all parents can relate. Still counting down the days until we can reasonably read chapter books. That's 16 months, right?!?

6. I know it's already all over Facebook/the webz, but I really enjoyed this piece on the American Girls dolls. I've been saddened by the retirement of the original historical dolls and the rise of the "modern girls" dolls. Business and blah blah blah . . . but the historical dolls were my heart. I had Kirsten, who looked nothing like me, but whose stories I loved. I read the catalogue cover to cover, even though it rarely changed. I read all the books, checking them out from the library way after I was the age to read them. I love the history section at the back of the book. I'm a history B.A. with a reading problem, what can I say? I think the lack of historical perspective and passion for reading among (obviously not all) kids is saddening. I have lots of semi-articlate thoughts that could amount to several terrible, rambling blog posts, so I'll just leave it at that.


7. Charles is off interviewing most of next week, so I anticipate lots of evenings of "turn on the tube and knock out a blog post." Get excited. In the mean time, prayers for safe travels and good health are always appreciated. :)

Have a lovely weekend!

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What We're Reading Wednesday -- Vol. 2

I don't link to WWRW often, because I feel like I've been slogging through the same couple of books (or Goodnight Moon) for-ev-er. I'm a terrible reader in that if it's something I should read, something edifying or real literature or whatever . . . slog. When it is something light and easy (YA fiction, holla!), I'm negligent in my other life duties as I tear through the pages. What I need is balance.


Anyway, yesterday I woke up to a hot, cranky baby with a tick of a cough and runny nose. Bye bye plans to run errands. Hello day at home with a sick baby (who seems to be on the mend today, thank God!). During the course of my day at home, I actually saw some TV commercials. I rarely watch/pay attention to commercials, but it tends to happen when I'm holding a clingy baby. And in a move that would appall my former self, I'm totally disconnected from pretty much all entertainment "news" media. Life is better that way. For sure.

But . . . it meant that I was disconnected enough to somehow NOT know that there is a movie version of The Book Thief coming out at Thanksgiving.

No, wait, I didn't express that right. There is a movie version of The Book Thief coming out at Thanksgiving!!!!111!!!eleventy!!!1!


So, I dusted it off to give it a quick reread so that I can properly assess how much they butcher the book when I get around to seeing the movie. We rarely see movies, but somehow, there are two movies Charles and I HAVE to see coming out around Turkey Day. (Catching Fire being the other one -- what was that I said about YA fiction? But in my defense he loved the first movie and wants to see the 2nd.)

I have something of a love/hate relationship with The Book Thief. I taught it to both my 9th graders and 12th graders the year before Clare was born. Nothing ever went over well with the seniors. My freshmen, though? Perfect book for them. Kids that age always seem to be super interested in the Holocaust, and I think this book provides an interesting take on it. There are lots of avenues for discussion and lots of literary stuff to learn about.

But oh my gosh, does it drag at times.

In the end, everything comes together beautifully and makes sense and most of the dragging bits seem a lot more necessary. But getting there the first time, for me, wasn't easy. It really is better on reread. I'd recommend it with someone to discuss the book with for advanced/mature junior high through 9th grade and (technically) independently for anyone else. There is some harsh language and violence (it is about WWII, after all), and a touch of non-sexual nudity. None of it is particularly gratuitous, more literary in nature. There are definitely themes that are best unpacked and discussed. It is not a book I would hand a kid and say, "Go to! Have fun!"

Anyway, I'm sure the movie will be a disaster (they've already appeared to change the narrator -- HELLO!!! major issue right there!!!), but I've given so much of my life to reading the darn thing. Rereading it. Re-rereading it. Writing quizzes. Grading quizzes. Discussion. Papers. Life of a teacher stuff, that I have to see it. And I have to reread/skim it, because this (semi-spoiler, I guess. But I don't know if you can actually glean anything from it):
I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race -- that rarely do I simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and glorious and its words and stories so damning and brilliant. (Zusak 550)
gets me every time.

Happy Reading!

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Growth Curve -- Medical Mondays

It's over. The Great Adventure known as "away rotations," that is.

As grateful as I was to come home. As many ups and downs (and, let's be honest, there were more ups than downs) as we had along the way. As overjoyed as I am to know that, a few weeks from now I will not, in fact, be packing and cleaning and driving 12+ hours to some destination. As crazy as it sounds, I was a little bit sad for it to be over.

In addition to fun, adventure, family time, I learned a lot about myself along the way. I think it's the first step of the residency growth curve -- one I think my whole family will experience in our own ways.

St. Louis

I learned (or learned more deeply):

***The value of simple living. Yes, I can wear the same 5-7 outfits for a month. Yes, I can fit a month's worth of clothing in a suitcase. Yes, I can pack the essentials for a family of 3 into the trunk of a sedan. It is truly eye-opening to realize how much you don't need, even if those things are nice to have.

***How to be even more careful with meal planning and smart grocery shopping. I've long been a meal planner, but I took it to a new, no-waste level when we were on the road. I didn't want anything left at the end of 4 weeks. As a result, my grocery bills were consistently lower than they are at home. Admittedly, home shopping includes more non-grocery items and more "stock up on sale" items, but I am trying to shop smarter. And clean out the pantry, full of half-used junk.

Denver (fine, Vail)

***The value of getting out of the house -- to play, to go for a walk, to run errands, whatever. Because we only had one car, I had to get creative with getting out of the house. I can definitely see how my mood changes when I'm cooped up too long. I might be an introverted stay at home mom, but I can't stay in the home all day every day.

***The value of getting out of the house -- to explore, to experience, to do. At home, it is easy to get bogged down with chores, to-do lists, obligations, expectations, ruts, etc. On the road, we were committed to maximizing our weekends -- trying new restaurants, being tourists, seeing family, getting out to see what a new city had to offer. We had so much fun. So much fun. I think that is what made the experience so wonderful and memorable for me. I hope to incorporate it more into our "real" lives, both here and wherever we land in the new (medical) year.

***That we really, truly will be okay wherever we land. Now, I'm not just saying it. I know it.


{Linking up with Your Doctor's Wife, From a Doctor's Wife, and D-Isis for Medical Mondays!}


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Friday, November 1, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 41

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary.

1. We are dealing with some serious Halloween Hangover in this neck of the woods. Too much fun, too little sleep. And Clare didn't even consume any candy for us to blame it on. She was, however, a rock star trick-or-treater. She held our hands to toddle up to the candy-passers (we only hit driveway people, since she is so little), chose a piece of candy, expertly dropped it into her puppy bucket (courtesy of her cousins -- ie my cousin's kids -- confused yet?), turned, and toddled off to the next house.

2. Requisite Halloween photo-dump:

We decided to keep the puppy, even though we'd vowed not to get a dog for awhile.

3. Not surprisingly, in spite of a fun Halloween, I am super-dee-duper excited for Thanksgiving and Advent and Christmas. As an added bonus, Charles has some "down time" during interview season (read: November and December), so when he's not darting off to one interview or another we'll get some extra family time in. As an added, added bonus, we have our anatomy scan in mid-November, so in addition to getting to see Lil Bean, and hopefully finding out that s/he is healthy, we'll super hopefully get to find out if it is a Boy Bean or a Girl Bean.

4. I would love the experience of being Team Green and not finding out the gender of some future little one, if God so blesses us, but that is so not happening this go 'round. I'm feeling all kinds of crazy impatient curiosity about whether Lil Bean is a boy or a girl. Every time I fully convince myself it's a boy, something makes me change my mind and think pink. With Clare, I was really, really sure she was a girl, so not having that intuition is a new experience for me. We will be over the moon excited either way (A son! A sister for Clare!), but I'm ants-in-my-pants itching with curiosity that killed the cat or something. This probably means Lil Beany will feel shy and not let us know. Alas.

5. I may or may not be anxiously awaiting Charles' earlyish return home so that I can run a couple of quick errands and get my first red cup of the year. I may not give into big consumerism, but little consumerism clearly has my name all over it (or at least it will once I give said name to a barista!).


6. Talk about 1st World Problems: I was going to take care of some other computer business while I worked on my 7QT post, only to realize it required me to sign into 2 different Google accounts, which my computer gets a little trippy over, so I have to actually focus enough to complete one task at a time. Like a productive person or something.

7. I know this has been passed around the webz of the world-wide variety at least one million times (at least in Catholic circles), but it is too wonderful not to post again. Happy All Saints Day! All you holy men and women, pray for us.

Have a lovely weekend!

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