Sunday, July 9, 2017

Family Photo Time

As I told Ryan this morning, it's a lot of work being the family historian, especially since I'm no longer sitting around my house while babies nap and instead am spending most of my time supervising four children in large, deep bodies of water. Doesn't lend itself to blogging in *quite* the same way.

Let's begin with *last Saturday*, I am realizing now that I am looking through the pictures on my phone.

We had tickets to In The Heights, another of Lin Manuel's musicals. That was all I knew about it, but MAN it was amazing. Also amazing, because I am an overplanner and because I allow WAY too much time for things, we had almost two hours to kill after we dropped off the kids with our kid-free twenty-something friends who were crazy enough to babysit for the day (for seventeen bucks an hour and their love for large families of insane people). This meant that after we picked up our tickets we had plenty of time to walk over to a brewery for beer and lunch.

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Go see In The Heights. It was spectacular.

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Their car felt TINY after our pair of giant mom-cars.

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Sunday morning we woke up all relaxed and happy and spent a cozy morning reading the paper and coloring together (because Wes had lost TV for the whole family). It was so cozy! Until I got out of the shower and came downstairs to a disaster area.

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After that we went to my friend's new church to hear her first sermon. It is an incredible place and it made me so happy just to BE there, let alone see MY FRIEND up there in front.

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The kids loved it too. It has an awesome playground, a coloring station in the sanctuary, a Montessori-style Sunday School, AMAZING music, and Charley found a katydid.

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After church we had lunch with the pastor (HA) and some friends at the hippy grocery store with the playground, which is five minutes away. This place!

A loud collection of kids:

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Charley took James to the pond nearby and they came back muddy.

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Later we happened upon and destroyed a cantaloupe sample station.

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After lunch we went swimming in a spring-fed swimming hole downtown, which because it was Fourth of July weekend required some parking shenanigans. It was worth it and the boys spent most of the time on a SUPER janky-looking rope swing made of pallets, a piece of string, and a stick. Not pictured because I was busy treading water underneath waiting to rescue anyone who needed it. It was quite a workout.

Did a little errand running and swimming on Monday. The inevitable conclusion.

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I woke up cranky on Fourth of July and managed to get excited about the Cub Scout float.

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I mean, have you ever seen a more earnest Cub Scout?

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They sprayed the kids with water, which is always really fun (but I really wish they'd spray the kids with high quality health insurance!)

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We took the annual firetruck picture after the pancake breakfast.

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I fought through my ambivalence and used my woman-brain to host a pretty kick ass front yard cookout complete with a slip and slide and wading pool, old neighbors and new neighbors.

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And then we cleaned up and went to the city fireworks, because OOPS we moved to a neighborhood that doesn't allow fireworks. This was much cheaper and easier than our usual home fireworks, if you don't count the MASSIVE SCREAMING TANTRUMS that occurred after we told the kids.

I presciently bought movie tickets for the morning after the fireworks, which was GENIUS because for twenty bucks all my kids and two friends got to sit in a cool dark room for two hours NOT BITCHING ABOUT ANYTHING.

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If you sense that this post has taken a turn for the cynical YOU'D BE RIGHT. I think the Fourth tipped the kids over the edge. It's been one long train to fight-town ever since then. Also, Mary has not taken the transition from hyper-orderly, calm, quiet Montessori school to, well, an extended version of her home-life, well. Yesterday Charley played Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and Mary started screeching excitedly "THEY PLAY THIS AT MY SCHOOL! THIS IS MY SONG!!" I think she misses it.

Is there anything more pitiful (or infuriating) than a child bobbing in a pool/lake/river, SOBBING in a puddlejumper? I mean.

Couldn't manage to find Mary's shoes for Charley's therapy appointment, but we *did* find a tiara.

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Annnnd then she and James had a loud screaming fight over a plastic maze toy and had to be removed to the porch.

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This day started promisingly.

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And ended with cozy movie watching.

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But the middle was so stressful that I wounded up muttering swear words as I stomped up the stairs to bed at 8:30.

Saturday was a welcome relief for everyone because Ryan was home to break up all the fights between me and the children. Plus we had plans to go on a boat with some friends. THAT was some ridiculous fun.

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And then I spent the afternoon working at a coffeeshop and also getting some headspace while Ryan, refreshed from a week of professional work, helped James make the lemonade stand he's been dying to set up. James earned four dollars and was gifted a piece of apple pie from a neighbor who said he was "clever and brave."

On Tuesday afternoon we start our drive north and by Saturday we will BE IN MAINE! None of us can wait. It's so exciting. Just need to get through the next three days. Should be NBD.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Hell Hath No Fury

As I mentioned earlier that we went to church on Saturday night last week. That was because it was one friend's last sermon before she moves to another church (a church she will be lead pastor at. I am incredibly proud of her.) and also because another friend's kids were being baptized. It was a really lovely service and the kids' behavior was middling to good, so I call it a win. Usually after the service we spend a few minutes standing around talking to friends while the kids run willy nilly all over the rather large campus of the church doing things they will probably remember with a sigh in twenty years (once they hid under the stairs and screamed when people walked past them into the hallway and scared the pants off a few people. Memories).

We left rather abruptly because we were going to a reception for the friend whose kids were baptized and she had bought that really good chocolate cake from Costco, so I was eager to get there.

Mary told us, as we were pulling out of the parking lot, that she couldn't find her lovey, which she calls "Uh Oh". I figured it was in the car somewhere so we didn't turn around to get it.

Big. Mistake.

When we got home for bedtime we looked all over the car for it. I stupidly texted my friend to say we might have left it at her house and she spent an hour looking for it, totally exhausted. I texted another friend who works at church and told him that we might have left it behind somewhere in the sanctuary.

He responded forty-five minutes later with "I looked in the usher station, the sanctuary, the lost and found, and the welcome station. No luck, but I will keep trying!"

My village, you guys. They are the BEST.

Meanwhile, Mary was an emotional WRECK. When she hurt her tooth at the Concert in the Park she sobbed miserable bloody sobs into my shirt "I want Uh Oh! I only want Uh Oh." She reached a premenstrual teenager level of weepiness on Monday, crying over EVERY LITTLE THING.

She also couldn't sleep. She would stay up until ten thirty before collapsing from exhaustion then wake up an hour later. We tried to give her some other blankets that kind of FEEL like Uh Oh, but SHE KNOWS. She is practically FOUR.

I offered the kids a $5 reward for finding the OTHER Uh Oh which is lost somewhere in the house and Ryan and I spent one night crawling around the entire upstairs on hands and knees with flashlights, searching every possible nook and cranny. It looked exactly like the Watergate scene on Forest Gump.

Mary continued to teeter on the edge of a complete meltdown at all times. She was feisty and angry and snapped at all of us over the silliest things. It was like living with a tiny version of myself and it was exhausting. I started to mentally figure out if I could somehow SEW another Uh oh. And whether it would be appropriate to ask my sister's MIL to make her another one, even though she's already made her TWO.

Wednesday night we were driving home from swimming at a swimming hole all sun kissed and exhausted and happy when I overheard James tell Wes about how he had THROWN UH OH IN THE CHURCH BALCONY.

My head swiveled around like on the Exorcist and I looked him dead in the eye and asked him to repeat himself very slowly.

It landed in the balcony, he said, by the little wall with the metal fence.

I immediately texted this intel to the friend who works at the church and he responded within seconds.

"The playground side or the road side?"

I asked James. He had no idea what I was talking about.

"When you looked out the window while you were throwing Uh Oh, did you see a ROAD? Or a PLAYGROUND?" I said slowly, in a scary Tommy Lee Jones voice.

"Road. No. Playground. It was the playground."

I texted my friend back.

Minutes later I was forcing Charley to practice piano while Ryan read to James and Mary and Wes wrote a letter to his favorite YouTube stars when my phone chirped. It was a picture from my friend.

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The house ERUPTED into excitement. Ryan immediately jumped in the car to go get it. Mary stood at the door watching for him for nearly an hour. When he got home she ran around the upstairs yelling "UH OH! UH OH! UH OH! UH OH!" And once she had it she fell asleep for approximately sixteen hours.

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She has been cuddly and loving ever since. She gives us all two kisses and two hugs before we go to bed. She has not screamed at me once. Uh Oh is never leaving the house again.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

I know you've been waiting with bated breath for an update to my curtain post. Good news! I have a picture of the upstairs family room/game room/fun room/loft, whatever we're calling it.

TA DA!

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Every night this week (even without the curtains), we have ended up up there TOGETHER, reading books, doing puzzles, playing games. It's perfectly lovely and a little Leave it to Beaver, but I'm going with it. I'm just so glad we are using that room since it is about 50% of the reason we uprooted the whole family and moved.

Next step: take and print some pictures of the kids who are not Charley and Wes. James counted the pictures of him in the house the other day and it was embarrassing. Mary can't count yet, but there are approximately zero. #fourthbaby

Mary and I picked up that blue table to the right of the couch at a moving sale on Friday and I pieced together the lamp at Goodwill for four bucks, lest you think I have lost my knack for decorating on the cheap.

Also also, I bought that blue coffee table with the cool design painted on it at Salvation Army almost TWENTY YEARS AGO for my DORM ROOM. It was fifteen dollars. That felt like a big decision back then. I decorated my grown up family room based on a fifteen dollar Salvation Army table I bought before I could buy booze.

We went to church Saturday night this week, which left all of Sunday lovely and uncommitted, so we got to see how the other half lives. I started out the day with a long row while Ryan managed things at home. Then he texted me to say that they were all making deviled eggs together and having a fantastic (if weird) time, so I should stay downtown and have breakfast.

Which I did.

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All the best athletes chase their morning workout with a giant cinnamon roll.

And then we spent the afternoon de-funkifying the house, napping, and hanging up curtains, before heading back out for the Concert in the Park.

We would have stayed home because everyone was exhausted except that it was Big Band Night! We bribed them with hamburgers and fries and packed a cooler full of crackers, grapes, and beer. A good time was had by all. Even Mary, eventually, after she slipped on the dance floor (before the band had even started playing) and landed face first, causing her front tooth to start bleeding (the other front tooth, not the one that got hit by a doorknob a month ago and also started bleeding).

They usually dance the whole time we're there, but this time they alternated between lying on the blanket and going inside for drinks of water. But I think they had a good time.

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We love the Concert in the Park so freaking much. I mean, LOOK HOW PRETTY THE VIEW IS! And the music is so well done! It is the SYMPHONY. And the conductor was smiling beatifically at his wife, the jazz singer, the whole time she was singing "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered"! It is the best thing ever. It turns Ryan and me into sappy goofs every time and we always proclaim afterward that we will never ever live in another city ever and if we ever move again it will be to move closer in so we can go to even more of these things.

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There was a pretty rainstorm to watch from a comfortable distance.

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Kids can't walk down the normal part of the stairs. Fortunately this did not end with even more dental damage.

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The walk back to the car is always a scary adventure in herding a pack of free range suburb kids across busy streets. They're getting better.

One week of work left until it is SUMMER. I have a lot of junk to get done. Like a LOT. And I can't find my Yeti. It's like the freaking dark ages over here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It's curtains for you!

Ryan sent me out on Father's Day to go buy some curtains for the new house because the new house has unleashed my inner HGTV host (without the enviable toned arms and carpentry skills). Perhaps it's the effect of moving from a house that I'd spent nine years making cozy into a literal blank slate--wood floors, gray walls, no window-treatments to speak of. It's hard for me to not go out and buy a bunch of different color paint (the first house we bought together had so many different bold colors it looked like a Mexican restaurant, I was much more restrained on the last house--my green kitchen will still be my favorite ever). I am trying something new with this house: leaving the walls gray and adding color with things on the wall and now CURTAINS.

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I hung colorful stuff on the wall behind my desk and instantly felt about a thousand times better about this corner of the master bedroom. Also pictured: robin's egg blue curtains, the only curtains that exist in brick and mortar, apparently. Also also pictured: coffee mug, water glass, beer can.

I did not find any curtains I liked after three stores. Apparently, since all houses are now painted gray, all curtains must be either white or robin's egg blue. We already have blue curtains in three rooms, so these choices were unacceptable. And at Target, which has better selection, curtains are sold BY THE PANEL, which is infuriating and stupid and all that is wrong with the world.

Did I mention that I was shopping at 2 pm without having had lunch? Possibly this colored my perception of the scale of the problem.

Instead of curtains I came home with two new tablecloths. Helpful.

Anyway, it all worked out because I went online Sunday night and dropped a quick two hundred dollars on curtains for Mary's room, Wes's room (both on the front of the house, so they really really need some curtains. Charley's room, which is on the first floor and front of the house, got curtains right away because he likes to read well into the night and you can see him from the street) the upstairs living room (what should we call this room? We vascilate between family room, other living room, upstairs living room, fun room, and game room), and the dining room (the DINING ROOM CURTAINS ARE MY FAVORITE. GAHSQUEE what is wrong with me?).

Mama needs some COLOR IN THE HOUSE.

They will all be delivered to my door on the twenty-second and I am waiting with breathless anticipation. Watch out, Ryan. Thursday night will be spent hanging curtain rods, swearing, and stress drinking pinot grigio.

Being this excited about home decor is a new experience for me because usually I like to make incremental improvements with items I buy from Goodwill or find on the curb. Thursday can't come fast enough!

That's a lot of words about curtains. What else have we been up to?

We went to our favorite swimming hole and it was just as great as I remember it. The kids bought giant jawbreakers for the occasion and we listened to Hamilton on the drive there and all of the sudden, as Charley said, "it feels like 2016 again"!

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I forgot how murky the water gets at the end of the day. Will try to remember to go early in the day next time.

Safety first chess happened.

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I took a picture of Millenial baby relaxing at the pool with some sparkling juice and some grape tomatoes, as you do.

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We rediscovered the simple joy of jamming a beer can between your bike frame and your back tire.

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Ryan and I went on a date on Saturday night, thanks to Kids' Night Out at church, which the kids think is just for them to have fun. We started with kimchi fries, had a beer and listened to a bluegrass band, and then went on a huge sweaty bike ride once it got "cooler". We went to our favorite hippie grocery store hangout place and heard a great soul band while we ate dessert. We were nearly late to pick up the kids because we were having such a great time. I really wish there was a babysitter I could have texted. We danced to one more song and then peeled out of the parking lot with fourteen minutes to spare, drove like maniacs, did the fifty yard dash from the parking lot, and arrived at nine ON THE DOT. BOOM. Date night fun maximization: achieved.

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Sweaty selfie!

And if you're wondering how the summer of no structure is going, I will leave you with Exhibit A and let you imagine the kind of morning that necessitated its creation.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

#summer

I've heard it's summer you guys. I mostly have noticed because it's hot outside and freezing inside my office (my new office, since I got involuntarily relocated from my other office a few weeks ago as they prepare to knock down the building). I've been spending a lot of time in there because it's summer research time until the end of June. The kids have been having a blast with a parade of wonderful babysitters who take them to playgrounds and the pool and splashpads and the library. They've had picnics and gone to Lego classes and watched a crapton of TV. #memories.

I can't wait to join them. Only 2.5 more weeks (of cramming about eight weeks of work in, should be NBD).

The summer reading program is MAGICAL. We have never filled out a reading log in our lives (our kids are readers and always have been and we just can't get it together to fill out the damned form every night, so I just explain all that to their teachers and so far they've been willing to deal with this small act of civil disobedience. Probably the crazed look I always have in my eyes.). But now that they know they can earn a pair of sunglasses or a coupon for an ice cream cone every time they read THREE HUNDRED MINUTES, they are OFF TO THE RACES.

Case in point: this morning. Wes has seventy-seven minutes to go before his first prize and he is determined to sneak them in before the sitter gets here at nine. Charley read a hundred and six minutes the evening we returned from signing them up for the program at the library.

Happening now, when they are usually fighting with me about what is an appropriate Netflix choice.

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I might have to get some trinkets from Oriental Trading and see what else they're willing to work for.

Wes has lost approximately all of his top front teeth in the last three months.

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The kids had an adorable birthday party for James's lovey the other night. Here they are playing Duck Duck Goose (as viewed from one of the tiny windows behind our stove which are basically the reason we bought this house).

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Yesterday James had an appointment with the allergist which unexpectedly (should not have been unexpected) resulted in him being tested for allergies. He got thirty-six scratches on his back and eight shots in his right shoulder. Then I bought him this giant ice cream cone. When he got home, he proclaimed it "the best doctor's appointment EVER".

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Speaking of James, a couple of days ago he and I were sitting out front and he wanted to play with some kids. I told him that I saw a family with a bunch of boys on the next culdesac over and suggested he ride his bike the fifty feet down the trail to see if they were out. When he hadn't returned in twenty minutes, I sent Wes after him. When Wes still hadn't come back ten minutes after that, I sent Charley. Then Mary and I walked down the trail to see if we could find them. Wes was coming up the trail the opposite direction and told me he had searched the playground too and hadn't found him. There were no kids out on the street anywhere and James still hadn't checked in. At the forty-five minute mark I freaked out and called Ryan, who ended up finding him playing on the next street over, but on the other end from where I had looked. Ryan told him he had to go home and check in and then I followed him back on my bike to meet the mom. She told me "He saw my son's bike on the driveway and knocked on the door and when I opened it he said 'My mom told me to go find some kids to play with.'"

Fortunately she thought this was awesome and exchanged numbers instead of calling the police. We had a nice conversation and she invited us over for a future dinner, saying "You guys seem really normal. I need more normal people in my life."

Normal for us: I could only find three clean towels Monday night so James and Mary had to share.

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Still reading.

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They've stopped reading now and now they're having a huge fight because Wes licked James's foot. Charley's still asleep.

Gotta get ready for work. Bah.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

3.0

Birthday 3.0, as we're calling it--because Birthday 1.0 included hyper-vigilance over a wheezing child, a botched movie outing, canceled date plans, and an hour late Chinese food order--was on Tuesday last week and it did NOT disappoint. Birthday 2.0, if you are wondering, is the day I bought myself a beautiful lunch and a slice of pie at work and then treated myself to a half hour on the rowing machine in the afternoon.

My wonderful friends and I went out to celebrate my twelfth birthday in style, by going out for pizza, beer, and rainbow cake, and then going rollerskating. The pizza place was super crowded and I spotted an open table and ran to get it only to meet up with some forty something male privilege type who put his sunglasses down on my table in a most infuriatingly casual way. I said, slightly too forcefully, "Come on, man! It's my birthday!" but he stood his ground. Fortunately the family next to that table was also leaving so he got to sit elbow to elbow with us and our rainbow cake and boozy oversharing for the rest of the evening. CHECK. MATE.

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The dude in the red shirt learned a lot about *that scene* between Frank Underwood, Meachem, and Claire. You know which one I mean.


My friend Kelly drove my minivan from dinner to the rink, because reasons.

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I pointed out that I was pretty sure I hadn't picked up my back medication on my way to my real twelfth birthday!

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Ladies' fast skate occurred right after we arrived at the rink and Kelly and I were feeling competitive. I had to sit down halfway through because my twelve year old self didn't skate after drinking two beers and eating half a pizza.

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We skated for three hours and just before we left my friend Vicki asked them to play some Paula Abdul for me. The hipster DJ made a snotty remark, but did it anyway (#grownuppower) and I made my last few laps around the rink to "Straight Up", having the TIME of my LIFE. Ryan took the kids to camp the next morning and I was BELTING IT OUT by myself in my empty house.

Friday night we went to my friend's daughter's senior viola recital, which was downtown at a church. The recital was breathtaking. It was such a treat. Charley and Wes both yelled "ENCORE!" when it was over. Mary (and Ryan) missed most of the second half because she was being really obnoxious, but managed to rally for the reception afterward and eat three cupcakes and a handful of cheese. Later we walked out of the church and Mary sighed and said dreamily "That was a fun party!"

When we got out to the street to head to the car, we realized that the ROT Rally, a huge gathering of leather and spike-clad motorcycle drivers, was happening right outside. It's just the type of usually fine, but sometimes not so wholesome event you want to stumble upon with your four children at nine thirty at night.

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Two of many, MANY motorcycles.

Today after church we took a picnic to the hippie grocery store for some coffee and playground. Two minutes after I took this serene, gloaty picture Wes and Mary got into a cat fight inside the playhouse and had to be extricated. #karma

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