Tuesday, November 30, 2010

not awesome

You know what's NOT awesome?
When you wake your 7 year-old daughter up for school, she gives you a smile and says "Mom, my stomach hurts."
Then sprints to the toilet and pukes.
Nope...not awesome.
Not going to be a fun day....

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Is it bedtime yet?

It's been a long, fun-filled four days.
But we are beat tonight.

There was a certain little boy's 1st birthday celebration...

A trip to Santa's Castle in Storm Lake...

And more food eaten than I care to admit...

More tomorrow.
But as for tonight...I'm done.
Heading to bed soon.
Very very soon.
Much to be thankful for.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Live by those words...

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I love thanksgiving. Outside of the food, it's pretty simple. No gifts. No rushing around. Just being together. Genuine, simple thankfulness for the what we have been given.
So happy happy thanksgiving to all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

heading out

praying the roads are ok from here to cedar falls. we may stay there tonight and finish the trip tomorrow. hearing lots of bad things, but it sounds like maybe the main roads are ok?
i have a whole van packed solid with stuff.
ready to be out of here.
happy thanksgiving to all.
and welcome winter to muscatine....

The best part

Water For Christmas well in Gbeivonwea, Liberia. from charity: water (special donors) on Vimeo.

Not only when it pleases me...

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Enough about my personal journey

I just realize that most of you who read my blog regularly know me personally and would want to know the why and how behind all this. So now that I've explain THAT, on to the good stuff!


*The Adventure Project will tackle four campaigns a year. Each quarter they will tackle a poverty issue and provide a tangible way for people to engage in solutions.

*The Adventure Project will align with the best organizations tackling these global problems through innovative business strategies. All solutions will preserve dignity, spur economic growth (jobs), and save lives.

The Adventure Project believes we can end extreme poverty in our lifetime if we all give wisely.

There are a couple of ways you can be involved.

1. Support The Adventure Project and their partners/projects. You can donate, raise awareness, spread the word.
2. Join the TRIBE.
Follow them on Twitter. Find them on Facebook.

Today is the launch day. They have revealed their first project. The Coal Project. Go check it out. This is where everything I believe in collides. I LOVE IT. Directly from the website:

Every day, 3 billion people in developing countries are exposed to toxic smoke when preparing meals. Cooking on traditional stoves and open fires causes 1.9 million premature deaths annually, increases deforestation, and contributes to economic burden. Acute respiratory infections are the number one cause of death in children under five years-old, mainly caused by breathing in the smoke while their mother prepares meals. The smoke is equivalent to smoking to packs of cigarettes a day.

When we were in Guatemala, we saw this first hand. The effects of cooking in the home. Black tar all over everything. Paul and I couldn't stop talking about it. How horrible it was with all that smoke in the home and no ventilation. It was awful.

The solution? Charcoal-Efficient Stoves.
Each stove:
--Saves lives by reducing health risks
--Saves trees. Reducing fuel use by 50%, each stove saves 6 trees each year
--Increases a family's income by 20%

On top of that, the design, testing, production, sale, and distribution of the stove will create local jobs, spurring economic growth and opportunity.

Awesome, right?!?
I'm so excited about this. If you want to be part of The Coal Project, go HERE.


And here are the details!
First of all, the background of all this for me...personally.

I have always had a heart for the voiceless. Felt a need to advocate for those who could not do it themselves. It has been an aspect of who I am for as long as I can remember. Even as a child I remember "standing up" for those who were the underdog. And it has come through in the jobs I have held as an adult, the field I chose to pursue my degree in, the way I choose to spend my money as an adult and the way I raise my children today.
I believe that everyone has the right to a voice.
I am no better than the starving mother in Africa who will do anything to keep her children alive.
No better at all.

Over the course of the past several years, this has become even more apparent to me.
I traveled to Guatemala in 2007 and was able to witness extreme poverty for the first time in my life.
And it was heartbreaking.
I came home a different person. Completely broken and in a panic to align my life in a way that allowed me more freedom to come alongside those who were living a life I had never known.
And so it started.

We began working towards aligning our personal lives with our world view.
We rearranged our priorities.
And a group of women and men here in town decided to start doing some projects to help those in need.
The plan was to do one a month.
To keep the suffering and struggle right in front of us so we did not forget. So we didn't caught up in our day to day lives and comforts and forget about those fighting to put food on the table or keeping their families alive.
It started with plumpy nut.
We raised money to buy plumpy nut to be distributed by UNICEF.
Our next project was back packs.
We collected back packs/pajamas/diapers/toothbrushes to stock our local foster care closet for children who were pulled from their homes and brought to foster homes with nothing.
And our next project?
Do I really need to link anything to remind you about water?
I think not.
And there we sat for a couple of years.
We became educated on water.
The more I learned about the water crisis, the more passionate I became.
I firmly believe the water changes everything for a family, a village, the world.

Through the process of learning about water, my eyes opened to a whole new world. Extreme poverty filled my mind and ways to eliminate it kept me up at night.
It just seemed to me that there had to be a way.
The gap is just so huge.
It seems like there are enough resources and enough need, and that somehow those things could be brought together in a way that is more than just a hand-out.
In a way that could help a whole community change from the inside out.
But if there was a way, I could not see it.

During these last few years my passion for the environment has grown as well.
Huge huge desire to preserve what has not already been destroyed.
To find a way to live healthy and care for the earth and its resources.
So many things I read began to link social justice and the environment.
It was becoming a common theme in what I was passionate about.
Be love. Care for the least of these. Caring for the earth benefits those on the other side of the world.
I think this has also come through in my blog regularly.
Two of the things I was most passionate about were coming together.
It has been exciting.

I have been sitting back thinking about how all of this has evolved and it's quite amazing.
A year ago Jody and my dad went to Africa with charity: water.
At that time, Jody met Becky Straw. And they clicked.
Both caring about restoring dignity and ending global poverty.
They stayed in contact and of course, their relationship evolved as well.

That brings us to the past few months.
I have listened as Jody began talking about social enterprise and partnering with effective social ventures that are already doing work on the ground and succeeding.
There has always seemed to be a gap between people who want to play a role in ending global poverty and finding a way to do that.
Always a question to whether or not we were doing it the right way. Always a belief that we could not throw money at a problem and solve it, but not a lot of avenues to take working towards internal change in a country.
Enter in Becky Straw. :)
Becky and Jody put their minds together and came up with a new way of looking at things.
Connecting regular people, like you and me, to some of the world's most effective social ventures.
They use a lot of big words and complicated ideas, but bring it down to a level that I can even understand. Which isn't easy. :)

So they decided to start a non-profit.
They began to build a TRIBE of people who felt strongly about these things.
And as of today, they are over 120 strong. People from around the world.
The Adventure Project became incorporated and last night held their first board meeting.
I had the honor of being part of that meeting and voting on issues that will affect the organization and how how things are done.
It was super exciting.
Today they are hitting the ground running.
And I am hoping that a few of you decide to hop on board.
It is going to be an amazing ride.

The mission statement for The Adventure Project:

A journey to end global poverty by supporting the world’s greatest social ventures.

How it will work:
1. Identify low-cost, high-impact solutions to some of the world's greatest challenges. Highlight one of these per quarter.
2. Align with the best organizations already tackling these problems. Organizations that believe in the value of "teaching others to fish". Helping them grow so they can achieve their vision.
3. Creating a TRIBE of people who share the vision and support the belief that we all deserve dignity. This tribe will champion the cause and educate others.

So exciting!!!

I'll be blogging later today about the first project.
I'm SO excited about it!
It brings together all of my passions into one.
I cannot wait to see this evolve even further.
If you are interested in being part of the Tribe, you can learn more about it HERE.
If you just want to learn more about The Adventure Project, you can read about it HERE.
It's awesome.
And I can't wait to get started!

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Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm part of the ADVENTURE

And beyond excited about it.
Details tomorrow.
If you just cannot wait, email me and we'll chat.
Can't wait to share!!
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I am officially on the sub list.
Ready to start getting calls next week.
I agreed to sub anything grades K-12.
Not sure about high school. I remember high school. Scary place.
:) kidding.
I went and looked in my closet after I got off the phone with the person responsible for coordinating all subs and I was a little concerned.
I don't think I can wear sweats to sub.
Or ripped jeans.
Or ratty sweatshirts.
Not sure how I'm going to deal with that.
Anyway, YEAH! I'm pretty excited about this new phase of my life!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I think I'm behind

I've been told I haven't been blogging as much lately.
And I think that just might be my new norm. I've been kind of busy. :)
But I have had plans for a post about BECKY...because I visited her and her new baby last week.
And then Lisa and family were here this weekend. And I did not take a single picture.
But I had plans about a post about that, too.
And then suddenly it was supper time and bath time and I had to give the DOG a bath, which takes like an hour at least.
And then kids had to get put to bed and I needed to take a shower because I gave the dog a bath and on and on and on.
Tomorrow I have been planning another big post about a super exciting project that I'm going to be a small part of. I can't wait for that.
So I'm very very behind.
Not sure if I'll catch up.
Exciting things coming though. Lots of exciting things.
And seriously...thanksgiving is this week?? Crazy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

friday night date night

can i get a "WOOT WOOT"?!?!
we have a sitter.
and a plan.
if you are interested, we will be hitting Ardon Creek Winery for some wine tasting and snacks. they have a heated tent set up and a bonfire! 6-9pm tonight.
doesn't that sound fun??
i'm excited.
we don't get out alone together very often. so this should be a good time.
hooray for date night.
and for my awesome husband.
happy friday!!

Water Shop Resurrected

It's BACK!
The Water for Christmas Etsy shop is "opening its doors" again in a couple weeks!
If you are interested in being a part of stocking the shop, click over to Meg's blog for details!
If you just want to shop, keep your eyes open and we'll announce when it's up and ready to go!
And I will not be responsible for it this year, so it makes it extra sweet for me! I just get to shop there! :)
Trust me...there are going to be some great things available. I can't wait!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monkey Joes and an ice cream sundae

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donut cake anyone?

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Some pics from Ayla's birthday celebration

I don't think I ever posted any of these.
She was SO cute!!
Here she is sportin' some of her loot.
A purse, a watch, a necklace and new twinkle toes.

We had the group celebration for Macy, Lani and Ayla earlier and there were cupcakes.
Then we had Lani's birthday and donuts in the morning and cupcakes at night.
Our neighbors have been awesome and have brought us lots-o-sweets.
And we had a donut cake on the morning of Ayla's birthday.
So by the time her evening celebration arrived, I was SO sick of sweets that I just couldn't do it.
I could not make another cake.
So I stopped at Hy-Vee and ordered a 6 inch cake.
They slapped on a few princess rings and viola.
One happy girl (and a pretty happy mommy, too!)

We got Ayla an orange blanket. It's just like Brigg and Lani's and she was ecstatic.

Paul got her (a much cheaper version of) the "i love you" sign language necklace.
She was quite proud of that as well.

Gosh do we love her!
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Monday, November 15, 2010

another monday

lots of running around today.
ayla was crabby from about 10 minutes after she opened her eyes until bedtime.
with a few fleeting moments of joy in there. but trust me, they were few and far between.
i find that interesting because i TOO had a rough attitude day. i hate that.
it's not typical for me and i hope my attitude is all cleared up by morning!
made some homemade bread tonight. it was the first time since we moved in. actually, the first time since the week before we moved out of oakland drive. so 2 months almost exactly. it felt good and smelled better.
BOTH of our cars are in the garage. that's something to write home about.
ran into our realtor today. love her. was so happy to be able to tell her how much we love our new location. and after hearing about how terrible the market continues to be, we are reminded how thankful we should be that we actually got our house sold at all.
paul has 2 inspections this week. another big deal. it's been a while. so again, thankful for work.
i received an email from the Board of Educational Examiners. my sub license was officially printed TODAY and i should be receiving it in a week or so. mixed feelings about heading back to work, but mostly i am excited. i miss the classroom.
it's nice and quiet around here tonight. kids are fast asleep. paul is working in his "office" on his report. dog is laying at his feet. and i am sipping a peppermint mocha decaf...reading.
feeling pretty darn blessed. and hopeful for the days ahead. just one of those reflective nights.
winter is arriving.
and it's nice not to feel the wind gusts coming through our walls. :)
and the sun set on another monday....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

i'm excited about this

ok...so we are pretty much unpacked.
a few boxes left in the house to empty out...but nothing major.
garage is cleaned out! my car is parked in there right now.
kayaks and bikes are hanging from the ceiling.
paul has been working in there for 3 days. he's so DONE.
but my favorite part about all of this is that i have a shelf that needs to be hung in the laundry room and guess what!
i have no doubt that it will get hung this week.
i don't know if you understand the significance of that.
in our old house if i had a shelf that needed to be hung in the laundry room, it probably just wouldn't happen. because honestly, a shelf hanging in the laundry room would be so far down on the TO DO list, that it wouldn't even register.
living in an old old house comes with a HUGE to do list. big big projects. not just a little paint here and a small shelf there. nope. the projects might take a month or at least a couple weeks.
and we have NONE of those here.
so hanging a shelf in the laundry room is NUMERO UNO on our to do list.
and that, my friends, is so very exciting to me today.

Wine to Water 2010

Last night was the 2nd Annual Wine to Water event in Davenport.
The guys stayed home with the kids and mom and I made it a girls night.
I wore high heels.
And lipstick.
And a little braid in my hair.
It was a big deal. :)

We went out to dinner and then hit the event where much wine was consumed by me.
And 2 Africas were purchased by mom.
This was not one of them...but was beautiful and a high seller.
It is by Naomi, whom we all have learned is an amazing artist.
She shipped it to me and it got here with 24 hours to spare.
So happy it did.

The event took place in the same space as last year.
People mingled and bid and helped hundreds of people they will never meet in Liberia.
Pretty cool.

Tesi, the woman of the hour.
She put the party together again this year and did a short presentation.
Plus, she looked super cute.

And there was no Muscatine event this year and I must say, I was very relaxed about that.
Actually, with the lack of Muscatine event to worry about and the comsumption of wine, I may have been overly relaxed. :)
But it was fun.
I don't have totals yet, but I can tell you that over $2000 was raised alone on Woodfire Grill auction items.
Pretty amazing.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010


whew...half way through the week.
amazing sunrise this morning. i need to enjoy those more often. it was beautiful.
another gorgeous day is forecast for today. 70 degrees and perfect.
if you are from here, you understand how exciting this is for us midwestern-ers.
we all know the months of yuck are coming. so we certainly know how to enjoy these perfect fall days!
ayla and i have big plans to work out in the garden and finish some things up out there. i was talking to a friend yesterday and she said, "it is hilarious that you are working out in this garden while you are surrounded by boxes inside."
and it may not make sense to you. but once the cold comes, it is here for a lot of months. there is NO working in the garden until march at the VERY earliest. and this is a big project that we don't want to be just starting as the ground is thawing.
the boxes will wait. trust me. i know they will wait. they have been waiting for a month. :)
so today it's a day of working outside.
love it.
love this weather.
feeling so thankful today....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


we are heading to monkey joes with mom to meet jennie and tate.
ayla is very excited. brigg and lani were not. they LOVE monkey joes.
but they need to get an education. :)
so it's monkey joes, lani's piano lessons and then dinner and gifts tonight.
ayla requested mac-n-cheese. i'm getting fancy with homemade mac-n-cheese and we'll have some chicken, too, because for some of us, we need a little variety.
i ordered a 6-inch cake from the grocery store with princess rings on it. $6.47 :)...saving me lots of time. i made the donut cake this morning. ha!
lani and brigg we very excited to get up a little early to sing to ayla. lani carried her to her donut cake just like brigg carried her last week. it was cute.
off to monkey joes.
and to enjoy what looks to be our last beautiful day for a while.
gosh...3 years. that's nuts. (i teared up when i gave her a hug this morning and said, "ayla! you are THREE!" seriously, it's kind of sad!)

she's 3

and hilarious.
and smart.
and beautiful.
and spunky.
and sweet.
and difficult.
and passionate.
and determined.
and one.of.a.kind.

oh my goodness do we ever love her!
our biggest surprise that we had no clue we needed.
3 years ago today we welcomed ayla into this world.
8lb 12 oz of dark-haired spunk.
i could see it in her eyes from day one.
they just sparkled.

she was a biter.
she was a hitter.
she was a screamer.
never one to be "redirected".
she challenged our parenting from about 6 months on.
she was not about to let us believe we had it figured out.
i remember at one point paul looked at me and said, "i think we really need to get help. we have no idea how to handle this."
and it was true.
it is still true.

today she is quick to get angry, but even quicker to forgive and forget.
she's been known to say, "mommy, you're mean."
and literally 10 seconds later follow with, "mommy, i love you."
she still leaves me baffled on a daily basis. :)
we love that about her.

so today she is three and my heart nearly bursts everytime i look at her or squeeze her or hear her throw out something witty.
she's been "2 1/2" since about november 20, 2009.
she's been waiting for this day for months.
we cannot wait to celebrate ayla.
all that she is and all that she's becoming.

we love you ayla with everything that we are.
we pray that god continues to reveal himself to us in new and different ways through you.
you are our surprise blessing and we cannot imagine life without you.
happy birthday ayla lyn. happy happy birthday.
you are three.
finally. :)

today i interviewed ayla.
i will leave you with her responses.
(she might be the only 3 year-old i've ever known who genuinely gave appropriate responses. hysterical.)

color: pink
food: "mac-n-cheese"
book: chicka chicka boom boom
drink: nilk
game: dora memory
sports team: hawkeyes!! (yes, we fully believe in brainwashing)
thing to do outdoors: camp and make marshmallows
animal: puppies
candy: m-n-ms
cartoon: analise (barbie as the princess and the pauper)
thing to do with mom: pack (oh my...we need to get this move FINISHED)
thing to do with dad: drive and play outside
thing to do with brigg: play
thing to do with lani: play
thing to do with willow: pet her
song: butterflies fly away (yes...as in miley cyrus...party in the usa)

what do you want for your birthday? presents and a trampoline
how old are you? 2 1/2
how old is mom? 3 (ok...not ALL answers were appropriate)
who is your best friend? noah and evan (they lived next to us for 4 wks before we moved out of oakland house. weird!)
if you could go on vacation anywhere, where would you go? church

sweet, funny, energetic ayla...we love you.
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Monday, November 8, 2010


i forgot to mention what i was doing while paul was working his butt off in the garden...

i figure, if nothing else, my children will be well-rounded.
they will understand and value the importance of both
a. working hard...manual labor.
b. sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying the moment.
equally important in my book. :)

and seriously, i tried helping and i thought my back was going to break.
i have some PTSS after by back surgery a few years ago.
but trust me, i too will be working very hard come next year and the garden needs weeding.
and i'll be fine with paul sitting back, drinking a beer, laughing at me.
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Progress on the garden yesterday.

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football and basketball

i've not taken many pics the past couple of weeks outside of brenda's visit and the posed ones of the kids.
i downloaded some this morning and this is what i found.
football and basketball.
last week i took the kids to the muscatine football game in cedar falls.
before the game we met lisa and macy at peppers for supper.
the girls sat at a table by themselves and chatted for and hour and half.
it was fun!

we enjoyed the game together even though the muskies ended up getting beat.
lani took lots of pics.
thought this one was pretty good...

and then this weekend brigg had his first basketball tournament.
they played 3 games.
they got beat three games.
but they had a blast out there...

they had only practiced about 4 times together, so i'm sure there will be much improvement this year.
but as for this weekend, it was a bit painful to watch. :)
by the 3rd game it was a little less painful, so that's good.

it was a gorgeous weekend and we spent all of sunday working outside.
paul got the last of our things moved out of my parents' storage unit and into our garage.
so we FINALLY have everything we own at our house.
now we need to go through it and get it all into the house...or the trash.
looks like we have 3 really beautiful days ahead of us before it starts cooling off.

tomorrow ayla turns three.
seems like it was yesterday, yet she acts like she's 17.
we are anxious to celebrate her.
there will be another donut cake and balloons. and this will be the first year that she "gets" it, i think.
so lots going on this week.
and for a few more days i love iowa in the fall.
but after that my love will slowly disappear and by january i will be searching online job placement sites for jobs anywhere except iowa.
by february i will probably have my house on the market and be dead set on moving south.
it's a give and take here, i tell ya.
but for today i will enjoy.
happy monday.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Working on the garden

Ayla was a big big help...
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the weekend

brigg has a basketball tournament today. i sent he and paul on their way this morning. the girls and i are staying back and heading over for the 2nd game. just didn't think we would make it the FULL day.
we'll be leaving just as the hawkeye game is starting. darn it! but it'll be fun watching brigg play and paul coach.
it's supposed to be GORGEOUS weather this weekend. 60 or so. we have plans to finish up our garden so it's ready to go in the spring. we are putting in 5 raised beds...each 10ft x 4ft and a brick walkway around each bed. i'm so excited about this! paul worked his butt off getting those bricks to this house. they were free, but we had to haul them first from the city parking lot to our storage and then from the storage to the house. i'm talking hundreds of bricks. the kids even helped. it was not fun. but now that he is getting them down, i'm so happy we did it. (or more like HE did it.) it's going to look great.
in other news...lani and ayla are doing great sharing a room. actually, the past 3 days they have woke up in the same bed together. somehow ayla finds her way to lani. so sweet.
paul, lani, ayla and i all watched Princess Diaries together last night. they are growing up. so fun and so sad all at the same time.

so hello weekend...so glad you are finally here!

Friday, November 5, 2010

couple fun things

1. we hired piano movers to get our piano moved in the house. it's been in the garage since the day we moved in. the kids started back to lessons this week and we knew it was time to get it moved in. they did it in about 10 minutes flat. that's nuts. and so worth the payment!

2. i am trying out a free online recipe organizer, storage. it's totally fun. i have lots of my recipes stored in a file in my email labeled "recipes". but it's becoming a bit full and i have a hard time sorting. so i can copy and paste the recipes in this organizer and then i can add the ingredients to my shopping list. i've only added about 4 recipes so far, but i think i'm going to love it. might make my meal planning easier. if you want to check it out, go to http://onetsp.com/

3. lots of unpacking happened yesterday. lots of boxes emptied. and it's about time. geez...we've been here a month on monday. wow. that's kind of embarrassing that it's taken that long to get things unpacked. and we still have lots in the garage to move in.

4. it's friday. and that's just fun in itself. happy weekend to all!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

this parenting gig is not for the faint of heart...

one minute you are wondering if you are ever going to get them potty trained and the next minute he is asking you what sperm is.
for real.
knock me over with a grain of salt.
and then like that, their innocence is gone forever.
oh...and the look on their face when they realize how they were created. well, let's just say i have no idea how i am going to explain this two more times to the girls.
the older i get, the more i am aware of my lack of parenting abilities. if anyone actually knows what the heck they are doing, could you please fill me in?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

24 hours

We had a very short 24 hours with Brenda and the boys on Sunday/Monday.
We squeezed in lots of lovin' though!
The girls could not get enough of Boone.
(neither could i!!)
And we had so much fun with Bode around, too.
Can't wait til we see them at Christmas!

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