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One upon a time, long ago, where blue grass grew in Main Street America, and front porch swings were a safe place to watch life go by, I packed my bags, folded up my new cobalt blue comforter with Dogwood Rose colored flowers to go out in the world and, if not meet my destiny, then hunt it down like a terrior unleashed who finds the world so big that sometimes it is hard to figure which way to go.

My comforter was there through my college career, wrapped around me as I studied, worked on projects, or just needed a comfort moment.  In a college dorm room, bedding is the primary décor statement (wall décor second).  My Cobalt blue comforter with its Dogwood Rose colored flowers symbolized my boldness – no weak, thinned out blue pastel or wall flower pink – no – I was going to shape my future to my dreams – Cobalt blue spoke strength, determination, adventure.

Three years later, I stepped further into my future.  My spirit gentled.  My new comforter was Shabby Chic White with faint slashes of tea green and misty rose.  My fading Cobalt Blue comforter, now Carolina Blue found itself folded over a chair for cuddling on the couch or naps.

Until my son was born. The blue seemed to brighten with a renewed vitality. Thrown on the floor, it provided a soft place to fall. As morning wore on, sleepiness pulling both of us, we’d wrap the blue around and fall into the snuggly Kingdom of Nap.

When he turned 2, I decorated his Big Boy Room.  He picked out a Snoopy Quilt with a blue background for his Big Boy Bed.  During nap time one afternoon, when he was just 3, he dragged his blanket into my room, setting it on my bed.  “I think you should have this blanket, Mom.  It’s so much nicer.  I’ll let you have it,” he said as he slowly inched my fading into stone washed Corn Silk blue blanket over his shoulders and backed out of the room. “I’ll just take this one since you won’t be needing it now that you have my nice Snoopy blanket.”

And there began a back and forth, a sneak and take for a few years until it just stayed in his room, wrapped around him during sleep, snuggly time, movie time, and, yes, even spend the night time.  Time faded the blanket to periwinkle.  Not all the seams were there. That blanket went with him to college, all faded and full of memories. The pink had washed to a leached out white.

One day, he brought The Girl home, the girl who would be his wife.  They set a date.  Then, one Christmas, six months before the wedding, he came home with his blanket and left it behind. The faded blue blanket just lay there. . . . .

 Until one day, my 3rd son picked it up, wrapped it around himself, and wandered off with it to snuggle into sleep, watch a movie, or read, even on overnight sleepovers – terribly faded, terribly worn, terribly loved –

(I had to wrestle it away to take a picture).

More on the journey of the blue cotton blanket: Change Comes Quietly

and The Blanket Thief Strikes Again

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It’s just not Halloween without this post!
oldwomaninshoeI used to think moms with just sons were pretty scary, until I became one of those moms.
When you’re a mom with 5 sons, no matter how big, those boys gotta think you can still take them down-no matter who’s around.

You gotta be able to call their bluff.

One day, one of my sons walked through the kitchen on his way to his room buck naked after showering in my shower.  At the same time, the oldest one strolled into the kitchen in his boxers.  I’d had it. I was tired of all this male non-challent nakedness. There was a girl in the house after-all, even if she was just “Mom.”

I started un-buttoning my pants.  I said, “Well, if you can do it, I can, too.”  They high-tailed it out of the kitchen. I didn’t see a naked butt for about 6 months. I must have been pretty Scary-Mommy! (BTW, I only started unbuttoning my pants.  That’s all it took)

It gets pretty scary in the house when I do my “Mad Mad Madam Mim” immitation from The Sword and The Stone or the Lady in the Portrait from Harry Potter when she can just break a glass “Just with My Voice.” The threat to do those immitations in front of their friends pretty much makes them toe the line.

Then, I get pretty SCARY MOMMY when I create visual lectures on relationships and stuff, like “You’re a Cake” and “Hubba Bubba” and “Are you Man Enough?”  And then I share them over S’Mores and Pizza when they bring  BFFS over or I get a chance to hang around their “girl” friends at soccer games or church. It’s so scary, they almost like it.

witchcatA truly SCARY MOMMY makes sure Santa stuffs stockings for the older sons with things like Payne’s Common Sense, Tocqueville’s Democracy in America or C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. However, for every Scary Mommy high moment, there is an equal Scary Mommy low moment, like when I reviewed every Def Leppard song with my son who disagreed that every Def Leppard song is about sex.  We were trying to eliminate the sin-with-a-good-beat music choices.  All Scary Mommy had to do was raise an eyebrow.  My son conceded victory, but Scary Mommy was rather red-faced. Def Leppart no longer blared at the house.

I am probably SCARY MOMMY when I lose my temper, my keys, and when I drive (not quite all at the same time).

SCARY MOMMY loves enough to risk pride, respect, and affection in order to be the mom my son’s need me to be. SCARY MOMMY can be meaner, but SCARY MOMMY gives Volcano kisses that slobber all over their cheeks, bear hugs that can lift the biggest one of them all off the ground, and say, “I’m sorry. I really missed it” when I handle mommy-ness wrong.

SCARY MOMMY has a pretty scary sense of humor.  When one son, whom we call “Bear” got in the car after soccer practice all cold and shivering, I asked him,” What’s the saddest sight in the whole wide world?”

“I don’t know. Your cooking?” he answered. I almost forgot my joke.

“A hairless bear shivering with cold,” I answered.  Now readers, you need to visualize that before you can truly appreciate the SCARY MOMMY humor.

momboysbarn.jpgThe boys would really think I was SCARY MOMMY if they knew what I was like without God in my life giving me the strength, the courage, the inspiration, the never-give-up-ness to believe in their innate goodness when it’s on sabitacal, to believe they are walking in God’s plan for their lives when it seems like every plan has been thrown away, to believe they have generous hearts when they are tight-fisted with their brothers, and to love passionately and unconditionally even when they don’t want to love me back.  SCARY MOMMY drops to her knees in prayer when life is scarier than she is!

SCARY MOMMY? Bring it on! Sometimes I just plain scare myself!

See also Socialism or Capitalism: Trick or Treat or Halloween is. . .

Wishing you a day of celebrating family!

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03-08-2009 04;28;20PMMy grandmother, Mary Edna, taught me  about strength. One bright sunny morning, she moved from grandmother to something closer and more powerful.

The sun was pouring through the big upstairs windows at her house. Spending the night at grandmother and grandfather’s house, drinking hot chocolate for breakfast-that was the life-except that morning, grandmother accidently put coffee in my milk instead of cocoa.

“Can I live here forever?” I asked. I asked it every time. We were upstairs straightening the beds when the phone rang, you know the 1968 phone ring. Grandmother answered, handing me the phone to talk to my mom.

“Can I live here forever?” I remember asking into the phone.

My mother said, “Yes.”

Wow! Talk about getting what you wish for! It left me speechless. I remember wandering downstairs, onto the front porch, swinging. The milkman came, leaving two bottles of milk in the milk box.

Mom, my brother, and I moved in a few weeks later. Morning hot chocolates stopped. We weren’t just grandchildren anymore. We were something. . . more.

There were times when I wondered how my grandfather could love such a woman. The older I got, the more I understood. You need strength to push through tough times. You need strength to make meager times rich. You need strength to have hope.

She could be sharp, judgmental, and an adherent to Amy Vanderbilt’s Book of Etiquette. Despite that, she made me feel beautiful on the inside. That’s what mattered most to me—that’s where I wanted to be beautiful.

I learned as I grew into a young woman the need to stand up for what I believed. If I didn’t, she could just roll right over me.

It terrified me to stand up to her. She could wield the look. Most people would just give up if she gave you the look. Deep inside, I knew I couldn’t give up. If I did, I would lose . . . .me. So I would stand up to her. . . and when there was nothing left to do, then I would just stand.

She respected that.

I learned that if I could stand up to her, I could stand up to anybody or for anything. A lot of shoe quaking is involved in the standing up to a seemingly greater than oneself. Sweaty palms, too, often followed sometimes by light-headed-ness, probably due to a lack of oxygen. Sometimes life requires moments like this, the standing-up-for-something-inside-of-ourselves moments. Moments where you can’t afford to stand down.

One day after my first son was born, we gathered in the family room, my grandmother, aunt, mom, and I. Everyone was enjoying the baby. I got up and turned the corner to the kitchen when I hit on a chair my very sensitive part of the shin, that funnybone part that when knocked just the right when in the moment of busyness has nothing funny about it, just exquisite pain.

I cursed. Then I inwardly cursed again when the family room went stone quiet. I never cursed. At least, not until I started driving, and then only when I was driving. Then I got married, and the battle increased. Then I had a baby. However, these women in my family respected how I struggled never to curse.

I had a reputation that with the split-second shin hit was about to be torn to shreds. The silence screamed condemnation. I took a deep breath, and stuck my head around the corner, ready to take the lashing. There are times where it only takes one incident to destroy one’s reputation.

Scan6_2_0039_039Everyone was looking at grandmother, the great matriarch, waiting for the verdict, the censure. My character failure would be recalled again and again. Just like the one time I opened a Christmas present early and rewrapped it. A criminal just can’t keep a secret; they have to brag. Stupid me! You’d think I had done it every Christmas.

My grandmother looked them square in the eye, and said, “My mother always said there was a time and place to curse. I believe you just found it.”

The conversation turned. Not a word was ever said about the incident again. She had secured my dignity.

I miss her every day! I used the strength she instilled in me every day. With a house full of sons to raise, they can’t ever see you sweat! Toppling into a weepy puddle is just not an option—at least not in front of them.

It is hard balancing the two, a stick that won’t be broken and a gentle hand filled with compassion. I fail often; however, I cannot afford to give up. That dog-gone strength I built from standing up to her just won’t let me.

God replaced the loss of a father with a great gift—my grandmother who taught me to be strong.

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Around the Blogahood, neighbors are posting, well, favorite old posts – and, really, I just couldn’t resist – kind of like the favorite old stories you like to tell over and over again.  Or that often repeated joke that still makes you laugh? This post is an example of an idea rummaging around in my head for over 14 years – and blogging gave me the chance to pull it out and give it life. That is one of the beautiful things about the blogahood!

pipesmoking ladyWhen I am old, I will smoke a pipe with vanilla tobacco. By the time I am 85 years old, smoking a pipe of vanilla tobacco will not negatively affect my health. I will be too old to negatively influence my children, and my great grand children will remember me. There will be, I am sure, many things I will not want to do, but I think the hardest thing will be to resist the urge to speak to my children, my grandchildren, and my great grand children in Disney Language (Disneyese).

So that when my son says, “Mom, I was thinking . . . .”

I will not answer, “A dangerous past time, I’m sure”(Beauty and the Beast).

Nor will I respond to misplaced temper with, “…and most of all…Control your temper”(Beauty andthe Beast)

When somone askes me who the older gentleman is with my 10th grandson’s wife, I will not say, “The crazy old coot is belle’s father” (Beauty and the Beast).

No matter how temping, when my great grand-sons are whining about pulling some weeds, I will not say, like Grumpy from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, “A fine bunch of water lilies you turned out to be.”

Nor will I on any occasion sing to my sons, my grandsons, and my great grandsons about what kind of man they need to be:

“[men] BE A MAN
We must be swift as a coursing river
[men] BE A MAN
With all the force of a great typhoon
[men] BE A MAN
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon”(Mulan) -This one is going to be a hard one to resist!

Neither will I encourage the eating of lettuces: romaines, butterheads, radicchio, arugula or endive by saying, “Eating greens is a special treat, It makes long ears and great big feet. But it sure is awful stuff to eat”(Bambi).

And when my 2 year old great grand-daughter jabbers to me, in a language I cannot understand, I will not say, “Look, you’re really cute, but I can’t understand what you’re saying” (Finding Nemo).

Despite their good intentions, when my children try to wake me up at 5 a.m. to take me to the beach with them, I will not sound like Madam Mim, “I hate sunshine! I hate horrible, wholesome sunshine! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it, hate it, hate it!” and pull the covers back over my head (The Sword and the Stone).

Nor will I ask the tiny child rummaging through my candy box, “Who are You?” Catepillar from Alice in Wonderland (because I will know all their names).

And when that tiny child eats my last favorite piece of candy, I will not shout or even whisper, “Off with their heads,”(Alice in Wonderland).

When I ask my 4 year old great grandaughter what her name is because I am so old and have so many new names to remember, when she just stares mutely, terrified of the little old lady smoking a pipe with vanilla tobacco, I will not impertintly answer,”At least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then” (Alice in Wonderland).

I will not wish strangers, “A Very Happy Unbirthday”(Alice in Wonderland), and when my son tells me the doctor has ordered me to never eat ice cream again, I will not answer, “Never say Never whatever you do”(An American Tail).

When they asked, “What’s for dinner Great Grannydoodle?” I will not answser, “Kidney of a horse, liver of a cat, filling up the sausages with this and that” (00ps–Les Miserable, but it is one of my most favorite lines).

If my sons dared to ask, just because they are in their 50s and think they are old enough, “Why did you do it, Mom” when I visit and eat all their ice cream at 2 a.m. I will not say, “I’d like to make one thing quite clear: I never explain anything”(Mary Poppins).

When they fuss at me for having too much fun wrestling and pinning down the grandchildren and great grandchildren or jumping on the trampoline, I will not say, “Why do you have to spoil it? We have fun! I taught you to fly and to fight”(Peter Pan).
And when one of the little ones comes in, fussing that someone is not sharing, no matter how tempting, I will not say, “All you need is trust and a little bit of pixie dust” and then sprinkle glitter or baby powder on her hair. No, I will not do that.
Nor will I call all these children, big and small “Bilge Rats” for beating me at chess and checkers(Peter Pan).
No, I think when I am Old and Smoke a Pipe with Vanilla Tobacco, I will want to hold their tiny hands, or hug them close if they will let me (you know how children are), and I will say, “Let me pray a blessing prayer with you.” Or maybe I will tell them stories about how Jesus loved their parents, and grandparents, cousins – and how God answered prayers and loved unconditionally, faithfully. And, maybe, I will explain about being a son or daughter of the King – and what that means in His Kingdom!
Yes, I think that is what I will do!
 

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I think some of the greatest mom-son moments occur in the car – the front seat of the car.  When the government implemented laws that prevented my little guys from their turn in the front seat, I felt that family relationships declined. However, the other night my son and I had one of those moments – a moment where something just hung by a thread.

This particular son, the answer to a prayer, has been wrestling with God – or rather trying not to wrestle by pretending He wasn’t there. Faith can be shaken in two ways – by challenges that tear at the roots of our faith and by outside influences that try to talk you out of that faith.  For a teenager, that can be an shattering combination.  Then, just add rebellion to authority and like buttermilk and soda combined, you’ve got a mess on your hands.

‘I’m starting to believe again,” he said. “However, you guys just go overboard on this stuff.”

“Overboard?” I questioned. I said inside my head  Keep your mouth shut. Keep your mouth shut.  Emotions be gone! Just let him talk.  At least he’s talking.

“Yeah,” he said.  “You’ve got real life and you’ve got the Bible.  Not everything in the Bible applies to real life. You just can’t keep beating people over the head with the Bible and saying all your solutions are in the Bible.”

“But you can apply God’s Word to Everything,” I countered.  Calmly, trying to maneuver, say the right thing to someone I love so much – the thread could break so easily.

Man, oh man.  He’d been trying to persuade me a few weeks ago that I lived in a Polyanna world.  Bad things happened.  I didn’t have a clue about real life. He needed to tell my dad who walked out on us that one.

Raising children sometimes feels like a recipe mal-function – you set out to make a milk and ice cream shake and end up with a bottle of bourbon.  Where the bourbon came from, you don’t know – however, you know you invested in the milk and ice cream – Marble Slab ice cream, too- only the best.  How can it be possible to invest the best of your values into someone and have them regurgitate “oppposite day” values?

Maybe it’s like growing Zinnia’s.  It gets a little ugly before it gets pretty.

We were crusing down life’s highway. He kept talking, trying to persuade me.  Our exit came and I was pulling off when he said, “The Bible can’t be applied to everything in the world.  Like that sign there.”

The thread strengthened. You know, sometimes God is so good – it makes you laugh. I looked at him, laughing and said, “Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and Give to God what is God’s.”

And my son who rarely smiles, broke into a smile.

Score one for Mom and the round to God!

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I asked my son, Faithful, a few years back what type of scarf he wanted me to knit.  He looked through a book and chose the hardest one because he wanted me to work hard for him.  Those of you with 14 year olds, maybe not your first son, but your second, might find them challenging, fraught with difficulty for both mother and son. It’s a stage, but some 14 year olds are like emotional fireworks while others are sparklers.  Still, either way, it is a tough time. 

While I knit this scarf, I noticed that working it was just as frustrating as being with my 14-year-old at times – the humor sustained me. My love for my son kept me unwavering in my doggish attempt to finish the scarf in time for Christmas.  I must admit, he secretly loves it, though he would never admit it.  I often find it neatly folded all by itself – which he does not do with his other clothes. 

I boasted in the interim (between then and now) that I needed to write “Ode to the Sock Scarf:  how like a 14-year-old you are.”  I thought now was the perfect time to tackle that task – and after researching the Ode – I must say, it is up there with the sock scarf, though not as time-consuming (as you may be able to tell).  The first two stanzas are constructed 75% according to structure.  The last stanza is not – because motherhood is often fluent, unstructured in our attempts to meet challenges and think out of the box.

If you notice, there is a prayer mixed in – because when I knit knitty things for special people, I always pray for them.

Ode to the Sock Scarf

How Like a 14-Year-Old You Are

I.

“A sock scarf, I want you to work hard for me”

The fourteen year old teen cleverly decided

Bravado brimming, carelessly deciding to torment his mommy

His ploy she saw but never chided the invited

“What scarf shall I craft you – I’ve made for your 4 brothers

But not yet you? –  A quality time love langauge gift  designed

To wrap a hug about my son, a colorful, warm mother

gift from a mother’s heart that loves blind

loves even 14-year-old grumpiness wrapped in nails arguing anything,

struggling, frustrating, trying to wriggle out of the cocoon and spread wings

II.

The scarf I started, tube first, heels and toes last

The tube, so easy, so simple, like little boy 2,4, 6, and 8

36 stitches divided evenly over 3 double point needles, so quickly past

Careful not to twist stitches, knit and pearl consistent, not trusting to fate

Grafting waste for heels, a holding place, almost ready, not quite

For grown up product able to fulfill the design created for

Decrease, increase, slip, slip knit, drop a stitch, not loose, not tight, 

Count, knit, pearl, discovering a dropped stitch, heaving a great sight over this labor

Shaping this scarf of my heart, unraveling, backing out, re-knitting boldly

Constantly questioning, “Am I doing this right?”

Waste yarn pulled out, time to knit the heels, the heels so 14-years-old

My job so close to completeness – yet the hardest part

III.

Slip stitches from one needle to another, right side facing

Knit one, pray for Godly friends;
knit two, pray for a heart that seeks Godly things;
pearl 3 his choices

Slip, Slip Stitch God planned his days before he was born

Increase his awareness of truth, decrease rebellion,

Slip Slip stitch, undo discontent
Knit two together for Faith

Pick up and knit 1 stitch between, knit, pearl, pray

2 rows at end of needle – graft stitches together

Grafting his heart to our Lord’s heart

Wrestling, frustration, repeat,
lost stitches searched

For, found and fixed, unravel, re-stitch, knit and pearl

Weaving prayers through tube, heal, and toe

Knitting in faith directions true, hoping in the end product,

Loving through the heel of 14 years old, crushed all but for faith

That God’s promises reign true, sore fingers, worn mind,

Questioning my actions, trying so hard to create

What the directions promised, the plan, wholeness and strength

Blindly working, knitting Faith, Hope and Love
Unconditional
I complete this Sock Scarf so like my 14-year-old

Permission granted from 14-year-old to use picture!

The Sock Scarf.  Scarves, a Knitter’s dozen. Published by XRX Books.

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pipesmoking ladyWhen I am old, I will smoke a pipe with vanilla tobacco.  By the time I am 85 years old, smoking a pipe of vanilla tobacco will not negatively affect my health.  I will be too old to negatively influence my children, and my great grand children will remember me.  There will be, I am sure, many things I will not want to do, but I think the hardest thing will be to resist the urge to speak to my children, my grandchildren, and my great grand children in Disney Language (Disneyese).

So that when my son says, “Mom, I was thinking . . . .”

I will not answer, “A dangerous past time, I’m sure”(Beauty and the Beast).

 Nor will I respond to misplaced temper with, “…and most of all…Control your temper”(Beauty andthe Beast)

When somone askes me who the older gentleman is with my 10th grandson’s wife, I will not say, “The crazy old coot is belle’s father” (Beauty and the Beast).

No matter how temping, when my great grand-sons are whining about pulling some weeds, I will not say, like Grumpy from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, “A fine bunch of water lilies you turned out to be.”

Nor will I on any occasion sing to my sons, my grandsons, and my great grandsons about what kind of man they need to be:

“[men] BE A MAN
We must be swift as a coursing river
[men] BE A MAN
With all the force of a great typhoon
[men] BE A MAN
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon”(Mulan) -This one is going to be a hard one to resist!

Neither will I encourage the eating of lettuces:  romaines, butterheads, radicchio, arugula or endive by saying, “Eating greens is a special treat, It makes long ears and great big feet. But it sure is awful stuff to eat”(Bambi).

And when my 2 year old great grand-daughter jabbers to me, in a language I cannot understand, I will not say, “Look, you’re really cute, but I can’t understand what you’re saying” (Finding Nemo).

Despite their good intentions, when my children try to wake me up at 5 a.m. to take me to the beach with them, I will not sound like Madam Mim, “I  hate sunshine! I hate horrible, wholesome sunshine! I hate it! I hate it! I hate, hate, hate!” and pull the covers back over my head (The Sword and the Stone).

Nor will I ask the tiny child rummaging through my candy box, “Who are You?” Catepillar from Alice in Wonderland (because I will know all their names).

And when that tiny child eats my last favorite piece of candy, I will not shout or even whisper, “Off with their heads,”(Alice in Wonderland).

When I ask my 4 year old great grandaughter what her name is because I am so old and have so many new names to remember, when she just stares mutely, terrified of the little old lady smoking a pipe with vanilla tobacco, I will not impertintly answer,”At least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then” (Alice in Wonderland).

I will not wish strangers, “A Very Happy Unbirthday”(Alice in Wonderland), and when my son tells me the doctor has ordered me to never eat ice cream again, I will not answer, “Never say Never whatever you do”(An American Tail).

When they asked, “What’s for dinner Great Grannydoodle?” I will not answser, “Kidney of a horse, liver of a cat, filling up the sausages with this and that” (00ps–Les Miserable, but it is one of my most favorite lines).

If my sons dared to ask, just because they are in their 50s and think they are old enough, “Why did you do it, Mom” when I visit and eat all their ice cream at 2 a.m.  I will not say, “I’d like to make one thing quite clear: I never explain anything”(Mary Poppins).

When they fuss at me for having too much fun wrestling and pinning  down the grandchildren and great grandchildren or jumping on the trampoline, I will not say, “Why do you have to spoil it? We have fun! I taught you to fly and to fight”(Peter Pan).
And when one of the little ones comes in, fussing that someone is not sharing, no matter how tempting, I will not say, “All you need is trust and a little bit of pixie dust” and then sprinkle glitter or baby powder on her hair.  No, I will not do that.
Nor will I call all these children, big and small “Bilge Rats” for beating me at chess and checkers(Peter Pan).
No, I think when I am Old and Smoke a Pipe with Vanilla Tobacco, I will want to hold their tiny hands, or hug them close if they will let me (you know how children are), and I will say, “Let me pray a blessing prayer with you.” Or maybe I will tell them stories about how Jesus loved their parents, and grandparents, cousins – and how God answered prayers and loved unconditionally, faithfully.  And, maybe, I will explain about being a son or daughter of the King – and what that means in His Kingdom!
Yes, I think that is what I will do!
 
 
 

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