Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Imagine from Google search - courtesy of Hello Friends! And Happy Memorial Day to all of you! We arrived home last evening from 3 nights and 4 days at Washington D.C. ... days full of laughs, surprises, and a number of emotional moments when I found myself brought to tears. Yes, DC was full of magical moments once again, and even among the crowds (and heat), I found shivers up my arm were just the start of it ...

While I'll probably have a few posts this week about the trip - there was one specific moment that I want to share with you today ... THIS day ... Memorial Day. For there is no better time than today to tell this story.

Saturday evening, PG and I joined two of our friends on an amazing "DC by Night" Tour, where we were brought from one monument to another, one memorial to another, by large tour bus. At each stop we were allowed to exit the bus and walk to the visiting site for a closer look. Our stops included the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, as well as the Korean and Vietnam Memorials. While each monument and memorial pays such deserved and necessary homage to the persons honored, it was the FDR, Vietnam and Korean memorials that brought flowing tears to my eyes, completely overcome with emotion.

While walking through the Vietnam Memorial, we experienced a moment I will never forget.

It was dark by this time (close to 9:30pm), and you could barely see the names on the wall. We walked slowly along, stopping regularly to say a prayer for the fallen soldiers. We'd pass people with flashlights here or there, and watch as they searched for a familar name. One particular area caught my interest, and PG and I stopped where a woman, around 60 years of age I would guess, stood with two park rangers. One park ranger had the flashlight shining on a soldiers name, and the woman was talking.

"He died in 2004. I filed 20 pounds of paperwork to petition to have his name added. When he came back from the war in 1969, he had lost both legs, the use of his right hand, and his right eye. But he didn't let that stop him ... he went on to counsel soldiers and help others ... my brother ... he's right here with his troop now."

By this time, a few others had gathered around us to listen to her story. I heard the ranger tell her how much she appreciated hearing this. "Yes," she continued. "You know, I reviewed all of his medical records and I kept seeing the name of this doctor who treated him. They had to pump tons of blood into him to save him. So, I found that doctor. I'm a librarian and I found that doctor and called him. He is an elderly gentleman now and he doesn't practice medicine any longer, of course. He didn't remember my brother, and of course he wouldn't because he probably worked on so many of the soldiers over there. I asked him, 'Did anyone ever thank you for what you did for our soldiers?' and he said, 'Well, no, ma'am. No one ever did.' And I said, 'Well, I thank you.' Yes, I did. I found that doctor and I thanked him."

She thanked him. For saving her brothers life. Amazing. "My brothers name was added just this week. I think it's in the perfect spot, don't you think?" she asked, touching the newly engraved letters. "I think it looks lovely," she said.

Many of those standing near had walked on. But this woman remained standing there, holding her fingers on her brothers name. Edward F. Miles. PG and I were now right next to her. I wanted to say so much, but all I could find inside of me was simply, "He's death wasn't for nothing. His name belongs here, and he will be remembered forever. Thank you so much for telling us his story... Happy Memorial Day." She let go of his name and hugged me. A stranger. And together, we honored her brother, who forty years ago was sent to a country to fight for freedom. Today, I thank him. I remember him. Mr. Edward F. Miles. And all the others who believe in freedom and who are brave enough to fight for it.

That is what Memorial Day is all about. Happy Memorial Day, dear friend.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


A little inspiration candy while I am gone this weekend, in honor of this upcoming e-course I will be starting upon my return:
Happy Saturday to all of you!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LIfe, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

(photo of the Lincoln Memorial taken by PG in 2008)

The bags are packed and I am ready! Tomorrow I'm heading to Washington, D.C., to join PG in a much anticipated visit to our Nation's Capitol, and I am SO excited. PG is there for work, and I am flying out to meet him tomorrow evening, where we will spend the next few days exploring as much of this historic city as we possibly can. We've never visited D.C. together before, and I can't wait. I visited Washington D.C. twice before, and each visit included at least one magical moment that sent shivers through me. I can't help but wonder what moments the next few days might bring.

I must have been around 17 years old the very first time I visited. I was traveling on summer vacation with my parents and my sister. We started that trip in Virigina, making stops at Monticello, Richmond and Williamsburg, and finally ended up in D.C. While I can't recall all of the trip (I was in the tail end of those rebellious teen years, you know, and I did have a "walk-man"!), I do remember the feeling of pride and honor that I felt to be an American. I vividly remember driving near the Capitol building one evening - it was already dark outside and the Capitol was lit up so beautifully against the dark night sky. As we got closer to the building, we could hear music playing. First softly, then louder and louder as we approached. To our surprise, there, on the steps of the Capitol, was an orchestra playing American Anthems. Right there on the steps. The Battle Hymn of the Republic, America the Beautiful, My Country Tis of Thee. I remember feeling so choked up at that moment. It felt like a dream.

The second time I went to DC was when my eldest brother, an attorney, was sworn in to argue cases at the Supreme Court level. My mom and I attended this ceremony, which must have been limited to about 50 or 75 attorneys. We sat in the court looking directly at the Supreme Court Justices (all of them), and watched as my brother received this amazing and special honor to argue cases at this level. The Supreme Court. Wow. Just saying it now sends a chill up my arm. I don't think I ever realized how hard my brother worked in his schooling and career until that very moment. I remember specifically seeing Justice Ruth Ginzberg. I remember thinking "You Go Girl!" It felt like a dream.

So, for the next few days I'll be off finding some more moments like these, in what I feel is one of the most important places in our nation. It doesn't matter to me what political party you follow or what your opinions may be of our leader or our government. The fact that you have your beliefs, I have mine, and we can still be friends, is exactly what makes living in this country so amazing. And I am proud to be an American. So very very proud.

As Memorial Day approaches, I'm certain I'll have many moments thinking about those men and women who gave their lives so that I could have mine. And I can't think of a better place to be, than Washington D.C.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness . . . " - Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Whatever you do this weekend, I hope it is a wonderful one for you! I'll be thinking of all of you, and hope to share some photos from our ADVENTURE with you next week. Go out and have some adventures yourself, ok???

p.s., Did I mention that the girls are staying home with Grandma, Grandma, Auntie and Uncle? And that PG and I are having dinner with friends of ours (GROWN UP FRIENDS) in DC on Friday evening? Did I mention that I actually went out and bought a cute little summer dress to wear for the dinner? And that I probably will have REALLY GROWN UP conversation about ... grown up things? SERIOUSLY!

p.s.s. Did I mention I was excited??

; )

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Is It LIFE . . . or an ADVENTURE?

The other day driving home from work I listened to this really cool interview on NPR with Rev Gregory Boyle. I was so inspired by his story, and the calm manner in which he spoke found me focusing on each and every word he said. If you are not familiar with him, he is a Jesuit priest who started Homeboy Industries, a gang intervention program in East LA, which assists members who are looking for a way to leave the streets. To me, Rev Boyle is one remarkable human being.

He wrote this book: Tattoos on the Heart - The Power of Boundless Compassion, which I am going to add to my summer reading list. It's not the usual book I would select for my summer reading (which usually consists of historical fiction, or chick-flick books - you know, those books turned into chick flicks), but his story was so amazing that I want to learn more.

During the interview, the journalist asked if Rev Boyle ever thought this is what he would be doing in his life. He replied, ".... who knows what I thought this life would be when I began this adventure?" That line has been on my mind since last week. This Adventure. What a fantastic way to look at it ... LIFE, that is. As an adventure. I've been thinking alot about that. Am I living LIFE? Or am I living an ADVENTURE?

I decided ... hands down ... I AM LIVING AN ADVENTURE.

This week, I have many ADVENTURES going on:
  1. Designed my very first ever CUSTOM blog header and button for someone other than myself (Yippie!)
  2. Have been working 2 days in a non-air conditioned office in 90 degree weather (Yikes! Our Landlord has promised to have it fixed today! Keep your fingers crossed for me!)
  3. Am getting the hair cut to a new and fancy style ... time for a change (again!)
  4. Had a SURPRISE Birthday massage, pedicure and manicure
  5. Designed my "Get Our Of Crankville Free" cards
  6. Have been spending alot of time with this book (recommended by blog friend Les!)
  7. Sent a special Give-Away present to Anna - and had SO MUCH FUN putting it together
  8. Did Laundry (which was a big deal - since I've been on strike, you know!)
  9. Reminded a dear friend that "There is no age in the heart of true Friends!" ; )
  10. Am packing the bags for a wonderful adventure in Washington DC with PG (we are even going on a tour of the White House and the Capitol!!! What an adventure!!!)
So, I ask you ... what ADVENTURES are you LIVING this week?
I'd love to know!
(You can read the transcript from the NPR interview here: Fresh Air with Terry Gross - Interview with Rev Boyle)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

ME bad? YOU bad? .... huh?

Ok, call me crazy, but I can NOT get a handle on this whole "ME BAD" thing. Or is it "MY bad"? Oh, gees, I can't keep it straight. Is it ME or MY? THEE or THY?? Whatever.

One day last week, I came across four separate individuals who uttered the words, "MY BAD" to me. And let me tell you, they were not ALL hip Starbucks Barrista's who happened to goof up my coffee order (only 1 of them were.) The other three consisted of a Director at one of my client offices, a neighbor, and believe it or not - my mother-in-law. Seriously.

I am really puzzled by this whole figure of speech. In my own attempt at being hip (wait a minute - are people HIP anymore, or am I goofing that one up, too?), I have tried to say the famous "MY BAD" exclamation. However, I usually say "ME BAD", because for some reason in my brain "ME bad" sounds better than "MY bad". Don't you think? Oh, who knows...

Urban Dictionary defines "My bad" as a way of admitting a mistake, and apologizing for that mistake, without actually apologizing.

Hmmmm .... ok, call me cooky (Urban Dictionary defines "cooky" as someone you find to be a bit strange), but don't you think it's more appropriate to just say "I'm SORRY"?

Last week I felt like I was in the middle of some sort of Twilight Zone, and surrounded by only My Bad peeps (there, that sounded hip, didn't it?) Anyway, it was strange. What's even stranger is that when I googled "My Bad", I found some blogs and articles that date back to 2002. Some reference this term being around since the mid 90's. Seriously. Have I been under a rock??? And while I know I just passed a birthday ... it seems like the very first time that I truly just don't get it. Is this the beginning? Am I finally turning into my mother? Oh, dear.

MY Bad.

; )

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Day After

Thanks to all for the wonderful *bleep* wishes yesterday!

You are a wonderful group of people,
and I am blessed beyond words to call you my friends.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's my *bleep*day . . .

Well . . . today is . . . my birthday. Yes, it is. And please, no need to "birthday" comment. Really. You see, I'm not really a fan of birthdays. Crazy, huh? Me, the HAPPINESS girl, the one who looks for the good in everything, doesn't really like birthdays??? Well, let me clarify - I do like most birthdays. I just don't like my OWN. Hmmmm . . . what's this all about, huh? I guess it's the attention that comes with it - the song being sung - the blowing out of the candles (while everyone looks on, as if they know you'll NEVER be able to blow THOSE MANY CANDLES out in one breath). Maybe it's the whole aging process that has me in denial. So, if I boycott the birthdays ... then I'm still, what? 25?

I don't know when this change happened. I guess I just really believe that this day should be like every other day. Which means, THIS day should be a GREAT day. Not because I was born on this day. But because WE are ALIVE today ... you know? We have to celebrate ALL days. Yesterday, today and tomorrow. We have to laugh, we have to dream, we have to create, we have to enjoy, and we have to celebrate EACH day. So, today, let's just celebrate it for being another day. Right?

So, why did I even mention that it was my birthday? Well, I wasn't going to say anything - but last night Katie made me the funniest card that I had to share. If you read my recent The Strike of 2010 post from earlier this week, you'll understand why this card was just ... funny. If you haven't read that post, the cliff notes are pretty much this: I went on strike from loading the dishwasher, and from doing laundry, because my techniques when doing both tasks (according to my dear husband) leave room for improvement. Apparently my skills in those two duties are ... lacking. Seriously. So, I went on strike. The funny part is that this strike was pretty much only evident to myself and my dear blog friends, because I wrote about it here. So dear PG had no clue about my strike. My oldest and dearest daughter, Katie, was NOT privy to this strike information, either. I have not walked around the house holding a sign, nor have I rented one of those big blow up rats for my yard. None of it. So, according to dear Kate, I'm still participating in those duties. Which is evident by the card she handed me tonight:

Seriously. Funny ... but kind of strange too, don't you think? Katie is intuitive - always has been. But it's almost like she read my post from this week. And as I tucked her into bed for the night and turned to leave her room, she said, "Mommy? This doesn't have anything to do with your birthday present. But, could you tell me - do you really want that purple Glee CD?" "Oh, yes, honey. I really want that CD," I told her. "Oh, well, that's good. Good night, Mommy," she said.

So, today I turn 39. Yep ... 39. Wow. One more year, and I will no longer be considered in this group ...

Do you remember that show? When it came out, I was 16 years old. I remember thinking, "OMG, they are OLD. They have mortgages. They have kids that are running around screaming. They aren't really happy. They seem lost and miserable. That's 30?!?"

Boy oh boy, did I have it all wrong! 30 Something has been pretty awesome . . . and I have another whole year to finish it up!

So my wish for YOU today - make it a great day, nomatter what you do.

I know I will! ; )

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Love Hummus

As I sat at my desk eating lunch the other day (yes, yes, I know that it's a bad thing to do - but I'm moving on), I came to the realization that I love hummus. Really. I love hummus so much, that if I had to choose one thing that I would eat for the rest of my life, I actually think I would choose hummus. Isn't that crazy? Hummus would actually beat out cheesecake (that's so NOT me, to NOT choose cheesecake. But, seriously . . . hummus is that good!)

I think the first time I ate hummus was probably 11 years ago. My husband and I lived in a lovely little apartment in LaGrange, Illinois (I LOVE LaGrange. Not as much as I love hummus. But I do love LaGrange.) LaGrange is a darling little suburb of Chicago filled with homes rich in architecture and character. Our apartment was a dream come true (until a few months after moving in, when we were informed the building was sold and the apartments were going condo. That was a sad day in LaGrange!) Anyway, back to the hummus.

There was a charming little Greek restaurant not far from our apartment in LaGrange named Grapevine. PG and I visited Grapevine as often as we could. But not too often, as we were a newly married couple and $ was tight (it still is tight ... but not as tight as back then!) Anyway, back to the hummus.

PG and I would have dinner at Grapevine on those really special occasions (like April 15th of 1999, after mailing our income taxes for the first time as husband and wife). It was at Grapevine when I first tried hummus. I was hooked, immediately. Yes, I love hummus, and LaGrange, Grapevine, and my husband (but not in that order!)

So, as I sat working away (eating my hummus), thoughts of that place in time came to my mind. When our nights were carefree and when we could honestly focus on each other during a dinner conversation. Wow. PG and I are heading to Washington DC next week. He is going for work, and I am going for fun. When his work is done, he will join me in the fun, and I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to this trip. We need it bad. Our days have been hectic and way too crowded lately, and our connection has been majorly interrupted because of it. While we are still speaking the same language, lately we've had some misunderstood moments. That is never a good thing. So, I am really looking forward to our DC trip. Maybe while we are there we will find some hummus. Hmmm ... I love hummus.

What do you love? What takes you away to another place and time? Oooo - and what would YOU choose to eat for the rest of your life, if you could only choose 1 thing? I'd love to know.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

And the Winner Is . . .

Can I have a drumroll, please . . . .

Here is Anna's comment from the give-away post:

Wahooo to Anna!!!!!

Now, for the remaining commenters - I offer my utmost thanks and admiration for the kind words you left me! Please rest assure the selection process was fair and square (and the offer of baking cupcakes did not guarantee Anna the winning of the goodies ... although it was close ... it still did not seal the deal!) Here are a few photos from the selection process that occurred this morning:

It MUST begin with a jazzy bucket to place all the names in. Dearest Ella was our selector (in lovely pajama fashion this morning.) After a very quick dip in the bucket . . . And an even quicker opening of the paper . . .

We had our winner! CONGRATULATIONS, again, to our dear Frosted Petunias Friend!!!

(Anna, I hope you enjoy your gifts!)

Thanks again, EVERYONE, for participating in my Post 2-0-0 Give Away! I promise we'll be back with our regular and routine blog posts soon!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Strike of 2010

YOU KNOW … I am on Strike. Did I tell you? Yes I am. But I don’t think anyone knows it. I ask you – is it better to be on strike and NOT have anyone realize it? Or, is it worse? Hmmmm. . . I’ll have to ponder that one.

You see, it all started a few months ago, when my husband decided that I needed to attend his “How To Load a Dishwasher 101” class. What’s funny is that I didn’t even know he was certified to teach this class. But, low and behold, HE IS! So, one weekend morning I found myself standing in the kitchen watching him as he went through the ins and outs of loading the dishwasher. YOU KNOW, obviously the dishes will get much cleaner if you put them in this way,” he said. To which I really wanted to reply, “Well, obviously I DON’T KNOW, since I have to stand here for this lesson!” But, I didn’t say that. I stood there, biting my tongue, and watching him. He practically unloaded everything that I had placed in there the night before, and reloaded them to his liking. What’s even funnier is that I usually do that same thing after HE loads the dishwasher. I knew he was obviously frustrated with me, so it was at that time that I decided . . . that's IT! I’m on STRIKE. NO LONGER will I subject myself to his torture (ok, maybe I’m a little dramatic). But, I was seriously DONE with loading the dishwasher. So began “The Strike of 2010”!

Well, the dishwasher strike didn’t last very long. Because, quite frankly, I don’t like when there are dishes in the sink. So, I decided to suck it up and just be more aware of how I am loading the dishes (isn’t that good? How I am compromising? See, I get it. It’s all about the COMPROMISE, right?)


Well, all was fine, until last week . . . when I was forced to go on strike again. This time, it was not about the dishwasher. This time, was about the laundry. Yes, I am on strike and refuse to do the laundry. (I’m so bad, aren’t I?) You see, remember when I went to Crankville? Crankville was a rough couple weeks. I was not having fun. Life was not fun. LAUNDRY was not fun. So, what do you do when something isn’t fun? You FORGET it. You clearly don’t DO the NOT FUN thing. So, I didn’t. I’m not proud of it. But I was busy – I was in Crankville. I couldn’t do laundry in Crankville.

And just to put all of this into perspective – I will tell you that we DID have clean clothes. All of us. Clean unders and overs. Clean socks and jammies. We had clean clothes. BUT, we also had a PILE of dirty clothes to be washed. And I do mean a PILE. I wasn’t worried. I’d get to them. But, evidently I wasn’t getting to them soon enough. This time, I found myself attending the “How to do Laundry 101” class, also taught by our beloved PG (yes, he is certified in THIS COURSE too!) YOU KNOW, the pile won’t look that big if you do all of the towels and linens and blankets first, and then do all the little stuff after that load!” (seriously) “Oh, really? I had never thought of that before,” I said, as I walked away … thus declaring to myself that I was official ON STRIKE from the laundry.

For the record – I DO realize how lucky I am that I have a husband who not only puts dirty dishes in the dishwasher, but who knows how to do the laundry. I count my blessings for him daily. What drove me to strike, however, was that I do load the dishwasher just fine (the dishes come out completely clean when I do it), and I do do laundry (I was the primary laundry person in our house until these new toys came home. And I swear he only does the laundry because these machines are a new electrical gadget for him that he can’t keep his hands off of!)

I also must mention that while I am on strike from doing the laundry - I have been folding the clothes and putting clothes away, so I’m still being a responsible member of our household. I guess I just need to COMPROMISE some more (there goes that word, again) and let go of some of the control, right? Hmmm … that might be exactly what I need to do. I guess that’s what this marriage thing is all about. And I think the most successful relationships are those built on compromising.

Ok . . . I give up. I’ll strike no more. But for now, I have some other things to work on, like my syllabus for a class I’m giving next week, called “How to get your spouse to Load the Dishwasher and Do the Laundry, so You can Blog -101" Any takers??? ; )

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The BIG 2-0-0 and a give-away!

(Insert Harry Carrey voice here) HOLY COW!!! This is it, friends. You guessed it. Post 200!

Can you believe it? 200 times I have managed to share some bit of "Leanne-ism" with you. 200+ times my heart has swelled with the support, respect, humor and kindness all of your comments (and friendships) have given me in return. Wow. Who would have thought that I would have not only started a blog -but found that contributing to it so regularly would become a part of my normal daily routine. In case you haven't been around for all 200, here are some of my favorites posts since the beginning:

I could have listed a few more, but I thought those will probably bore you enough! ;)

Now, to the reason you are REALLY here today . . . THE GIVE-AWAY!!!

This blog has never been a "give-away" kind of blog - and don't worry, I am NOT turning into one of those now. I guess when I was thinking about #200, I felt that I really wanted to do something for those of you who visit me regularly. This give-away is coming from my heart - and, even more importantly, from my very own hard-earned money. There are no sponsors or companies providing the loot. Just me. The reason I'm doing it? Because, quite frankly, I love you. For the spirit you give me, for the belief you have in me, for the support you provide - you are better than a good bra (and I mean that in the very best way possible! For Real!!!)

So, what is the give-away? Well, it starts with this . . .

A brand new (never even opened) DVD of Julie & Julia. Why this movie? you ask? Because, quite frankly - it's delightful. When I think of Delightful things, I think of 2 things 1) This movie and 2) ME (kidding! I'm fiesty today, aren't I?) But in all honesty - I love spreading good feelings around. I own this movie on DVD, yet every time I see it on my Cable Movie guide, I have to turn it on. It is lovely. Inspiring. Sweet. Amazing (seriously - I forgot this was Meryl Streep). I thought it would be a fun gift to give. If you have the movie already - please still enter to win (Pay It Forward, you know?)

But . . . THAT'S NOT ALL!!!! I am also including some other FUN things (yet to be determined). . . but WILL CERTAINLY include some "Get Out Of Crankville" cards that I have been working on (how fun is that??) I'll have some other inspirational things in there, too. Overall - it will be a fun little package.

DON'T you WANT IT????

All you have to do is leave me a comment and tell me 1 thing .... tell me 1 thing - that makes you HAPPY. That's all. You don't have to join me on Twitter, or Follow-Me on Facebook (or however all that goes!) You don't have to do the cha-cha or name your first and/or next born after me (although, I would be totally honored if you did!) All you have to do is just leave me a little comment (so I know you were here), and tell me what really truly makes you HAPPY.

You see, after being to Crankville and finally settling back into Happyville - I've come to admit - Happyville is MUCH nicer. From Chaos to Happiness. Yes, that's what it's all about to me, and that is what this blog has always been. So, tell me, what makes YOU happy. I'd love to know. I'm going to keep this post up for a few days - spread the word (tell your friends, and ask them to tell their friends, and so-on.) Encourage them to stop by this blog - tell them that they have missed one heck of a fun and inspirational ride the past 200 posts - and that if they get on board now, they could win a movie!! (The MOVIE will bring them all, don't you think? Hey - it's FREE! Maybe I should throw another movie into the mix. There's always MOONSTRUCK. Hmmmm . . . I'll have to ponder that one a bit longer.)

I'll annouce the winner in a few days (I have to research that whole "random" fancy schmancy computerized online way of selecting someone. Or, perhaps, I'll just throw all your names in a jar and have Katie and Ella pick one out! Yes, that's probably how I'll do it!) Until then . . . Thank you SO MUCH for being here for the past 200 posts. And here's to many many more celebrations, for all of us!

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Happyville Week

Just a few of the things that brought me out of Crankville this week, in no particular order. . .

Make-up day with Ella!

"Note Time!" with Katie. As she works hard on her spelling, I came up with this little game to play. We sit at the kitchen table and write notes back and forth. The only rules - NO talking. If you want to say something, you write it. Katie LOVES this, and this week we had lots of fun playing!

Finding great pictures that Ella takes while she has the camera (or "Cramria", as she calls it.) I love to see the world through her eyes.
Flying a kite day! I can't believe how big Katie is, and seeing Ella actually control the kite all by herself . . . amazing! But seeing the girls work together. *sigh*

When your child comes home from school and shows you what they wrote about you. To me, this is one of the sweetest parts of parenthood.

Flowers, from a dear husband, even when you didn't expect them.

Just a quick peek at part of our week.

Come back and visit me tomorrow, when I celebrate a milestone (blog post #2-0-0!!!) and have a CELEBRATION GIVE AWAY!!! (I KNOW! It's so exciting!)

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Believe it or not - this girl is WEAK!

It's been an exciting week in our happy home. Our Katie Girl has had some great moments, while her dear old Mom has had to come to terms with the fact that, yes, I am a weakling. Truly. Deeply. Weak. As a mom, there really is a great deal that I can handle. I can mend the cuts, bumps and bruises of two adventurous girls, I can tend to bee stings and splinters, and I can make most ouchies and boo boos feel better with just some good ol'fashioned TLC. However, there is one thing that I just CAN'T handle. You see, when it comes to my child loosing her teeth ... this Momma goes weak. Really bad weak. Like, the kind that makes you want to just lay your little ol' head down on the floor and not wake up until it's all over.

I don't know how I got this way. Meeting me now, you would never have guessed that about 18 years ago I worked as a monitor technician in a step-down cardiac unit of a hospital. You would never have guessed that it would have been me who read the heart monitors and determined when a patients ticker wasn't working up to par. You'd probably be surprised to learn that I was strongly encouraged to become a nurse by a very well respected Neurologist and Cardiologist. And you'd never believe that, for a very brief moment, I actually thought about going into nursing (VERY brief, mind you.) Well, that was all me . . . way back when.

Right now, I wonder if that time in my life was really just an episode of ER or something. I can't believe I ever had that job. Seriously, because I honestly and truthfully have a really hard time with the whole tooth thing. And our 6 year old (almost 7) Katie, is right at that age when these teeth seem to be dropping like flies. Earlier this week, PG assisted her in the removal of one extremely loose tooth. (As I patiently waited in another room of our house for the result.) I mean, just the thought is enough to require some smelling sauce, for real.

I thought we were good for a few days. Katie hadn't mentioned any more loose teeth in that mouth of hers. All was good in the house tonight. PG wasn't home yet, but the birds were singing. Dinner was well received and both girls ate ALL their broccoli and chicken (even second helpings on the veggies for Katie, YEA!). So, when she asked if she could have a little something for dessert, I was happy to say yes. I tried to recommend maybe a baked apple, some banana and yogurt, or perhaps a frozen fruit bar. But Katie had other plans. "Mom ... I can't get my mind off of the chocolate," she said, and I immediately remembered that about a week ago, a nice young boy came to the door selling candy bars for his baseball team. Those candy bars have been in the freezer since that day. Undisturbed and unopened. "Mom, do you think I could have just one little piece of chocolate?" she asked. And, since I understand the strong need for chocolate every once in a while, I agreed. We decided that perhaps two tiny little rectangles of chocolate bar would be simply the BEST DESSERT EVER and she sat at the table with these little pieces on her plate like they were gold. (Believe it or not, Ella decided on a fruit bar! Good Girl Ellie!!)

I warned Katie to let the chocolate pieces come to room temperature for a minute before she bite into them, but having chocolate in front of you and NOT devouring it is WAY too much of a challenge (I totally get that). So, she took one bite of the frozen chocolate and .... bam! "MOM!!! MY TOOTH IS LOOSE!!! I HAVE ANOTHER TOOTH LOOSE!!!! LOOK!!!" Uh-oh.

Now, you would think this would be OK, right? I mean, all I have to do is LOOK. She is not asking me to surgically remove the tooth. She is not asking for a consultation on the status of the tooth. She just wants me to look at it. Quickly. Just look. I can do this, I can do this...oh, dear... if I faint, would it be better to fall towards the pantry or would I be better to fall near the dishwasher? Which direction should I turn my body so that my fall won't hurt too badly? Hmmmm .... "MOM, LOOK!!!!" she yells, interrupting my plans.

So, I look. Yes, I did. I almost died. But I did it. I almost died, because that darn little thing was so loose, that my darling daughter was able flick the tooth back and forth with her tongue as if it was waving to me and saying "Hello Lady!!! How you doing?" I screamed. Ella laughed hysterically. And Katie kept the tooth waving at me.

"AHHHHHHHHH!!! Katie!!!! STOP waving your tooth at me!!!!" I yelled. Which, of course, encouraged both her and Ella to laugh even MORE hysterically than before. This carried on for a good 5 minutes before I insisted she STOP. Seriously. My stomach felt like I was flying backwards on the biggest roller coaster ride, yet it looked like my feet were right on the ground. She must have known I was going to loose it, because Katie did stop waving that tooth at me. Whew. I am glad that is over.

About an hour later, the tooth fell out. All on it's own. And after a little note to the tooth fairy, and a wish for a big-girl tooth to follow soon, Katie was tucked in bed and dreaming happy dreams and my stomach has finally calmed down. I am so glad that the only people I have to be a nurse to, are those right here in my home. Here, I think I can handle it. (Wait . . . how many of these teeth will fall out? I better research that.) Yes, I am a weakling. And that's just the way it is. ;-)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Little Birdies and Me

It's raining pretty heavily in Chicago today. Most of the patio furniture has blown over, and the large swing we have in our backyard has found a relaxing spot up against the fence. We are doing some new landscaping in the front of our home, so the new lilac bushes and weigela bushes are soaking in all of the rain and feeling right at home in their new surroundings.

Crankville is in the distance. Not quite out of site - but close. Nothing like a good solid rain day to wash away the blues. PG is on his way to Las Vegas for work. Just a quick day trip there and back. The girls are settled in with their daily school and Grandma routines, and I am on my way to the dungeon (again! I know!!!) It's good. It's all good. I'm feeling a calmness over my spirit today. There is something so comforting about rain. Cleansing. Settling.

Did I ever tell you about where this LOVE of birds comes from?

My Dad liked to watch birds. He wasn't a "Binocular Bird Watching" kind of guy, but he still appreciated a good bird when he saw one. My parents had a lovely tree in the backyard of my childhood home, and it was regularly visited by cardinals. I can't rememer what kind of tree it was, but often you would see a cardinal perched from it's top branches ... singing it's little heart out. My Dad just loved to watch and listen to that cardinal for as long as the bird would let him. He would often call me outside with him to watch a bird, and we would stand there side by side, as the bird would serenade the sweetest song in the world to us. Those were always good days, good moments, with Dad. Calm and peaceful. I'd give anything for a moment like that again.

It seems like whenever I visit Crankville, it's not long when thoughts of my Dad and these little birds come to surface. And it is usually during those periods that I pray for a sign, some kind of sign, that Dad is still with me. That I'm not alone. And that everything is ok. That everything is GOOD.

This morning I sat drinking my coffee and looking out our front window at the new landscaping area. The new plants are in and the ground is prepared for the new rock (which was supposed to come today, however I think it will be delayed due to the weather.) All of a sudden, as I gazed lazily out on the lawn, a little cardinal came and landed right in the middle of a muddy area. Right there, in front of me. The birdie wasn't singing, but was busily searching for a worm at a happy little pace. And it made me smile.

Thank you, little bird, for always being just what I need. Even on a rainy day. And thanks, Dad, for being there too.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Holy Cow! Holy Cow! HOLY COW!!!!

Ok, so you know we all have those days (or weeks, or even longer) when we are feeling pretty low? When we get disappointed in ourselves and wonder "what the heck am I doing?" When, at a glance at our life, we have it pretty wonderful. Yet something inside is still not right?

I've been feeling that way the past week or so. I mean, you know I've been visiting Crankville, and I thought good and hard about getting an apartment there (blog friend Bossy Betty told me she once had an apartment there - and I thought that was a pretty clever idea), but I decided to opt out of the apartment hunt. Maybe an overnight stay in a Crankton Inn will do. I'll ponder that for a few days. . .

But today, things starting feeling a little better. One bird sang . . . and sometimes that is all you need. One little bird (oh, and that two hour nap didn't hurt, either.) Today is Mother's Day (SIDE BAR: Happy Mother's day to ALL OF YOU. Both the Mother's and the Non-Mother's - because I guarantee that even if you are not a mom, you have, at some point in your life, hugged a child or put a bandaid on someone who needed it, and therefore you gave the love that all Mothers give.) Today was really a lovely day which started with a lovely brunch for our family, followed by a day of what I really needed . . . REST. Let me tell you, it was pretty perfect.

Then, this evening, it was a like a whole family of birds came to sing their songs to me when I sat at the computer and opened my email to read this lovely little message from Shutter Sisters . . .

You know Kelly Rae Roberts, right? I mean, I just wrote about her inspiration just last week here . . . oh, and then I wrote about her here, when I purchased her book . . . yes, I actually said she was the next best thing since sliced bread. I said it. I meant it. I stand by it.

Last week, Shutter Sisters (do you know Shutter Sisters? It's absolutely the most amazingly gifted, talented, creative and inspiring photographers you could ever imagine! You MUST visit them here) was giving away a spot in Kelly Rae's upcoming e-course called "Flying Lessons - Tips & Tricks to help your creative business soar". All you had to do was enter a comment on the Shutter Sisters post. I left a comment, and then it completely left my mind (because, you know, space is tight there). And because I usually don't win at give-aways. It's ok - I'm actually not being dramatic - I win at LOTS in life (marriage, kids, happiness), but give-aways haven't been my claim to fame.

Until now.

And let me tell you - if I am going to win something . . . THIS is the SOMETHING to win.

Because I need it . . . BAD.

I have spent my life in that "what the heck am I doing?" stage. I've had those million dollar ideas, but never took the step. I never knew how to start. And in between, I let life take me away from that dream. Now, I can learn and create, and see where this adventure takes me.

HOLY COW!!!!! THANK YOU Shutter Sisters. THANK YOU Kelly Rae Roberts. THANK YOU followers - for always believing in me. I'd like to thank the Academy and Members of the Hollywood Foreign Press (oh, wait . . . sorry . . . I just always wanted to say that.) But, seriously, tonight I feel pretty happy. Really happy.

Do you hear them? Do you hear the birds singing? I don't think there are birds in Crankville, do you?


Friday, May 7, 2010

Wanted: one "Get-out-of Crankville" card

I'm in Crankville this week. You know Crankville, don't you? The place where patience took a turn, and left you to plunging on towards a big ol'pile of . . . oh, I don't know what. The place where everything said to you by another living person makes you angry. The place where the sight of even a beautiful flower might frustrate you - because you know even the beautiful flower has a problem and needs something from you. Crankville is . . . awful.

The other day, I made Ella cry. I know. I KNOW. I am not proud, not for one second, of that. I was frustrated and trying to get dinner on the table. Ella wanted to help. I was making a caprese salad, Ella wanted to wash the basil. I asked her not to grab the basil, because I didn't want it all washed. She grabbed all of it and proceeded to dump it in a soapy sink. I was frustrated and angry. Really. I moved her off of her stool, and tried to reach into the soapy sink to find the basil between the soap suds, muttering, "I just need to go for a walk and get out of here for a while" under my breath. Ella heard me, and immediately started to cry. "NO, Mommy. I don't want you to go. You are my Mommy." I knelt down and hugged her for a long time. I cried. Then she looked at me like I was crazy. No, I'm not crazy. I'm just in Crankville.

I hate Crankville.

Last night, I cried after PG laughed at something I said (that was not meant to be funny). I cried. I know, after hearing myself say what I said, that it probably sounded funny to him. But, I didn't mean for it to be. I was serious. He laughed. And I cried. You know when you sometimes feel like your spirit is just being crushed? I felt that way. I feel bad about what happened. He feels worse. Now we are both kind of in Crankville.

Augh, I hate Crankville.

Today, I told the girls I had to use the bathroom and I would be right back. I went up to our master bath, and within SECONDS both girls were fighting and screaming at one another. I SCREAMED for both of them to STOP, and sat there thinking, "I am 38 years old. I can't even go to the bathroom in peace. This is not fun." I quickly came out to find them fighting over a plastic toy cash register. Ella had big crocodile tears, and Katie was pouting. I was angry. Yes, Crankville.

I really hate Crankville.

Mother's Day is just days away. And all I really want is quiet. So, tonight I am going to put the Ipod on REAL LOUD, and listen to my meditation CD that Kiki sent me months back. And I'm going to try and catch the next train out of Crankville. Because, I hate to be blunt, but Crankville kinda sucks. (Original "Get out of Jail Free" card - Hasbro, Inc - circa 1935.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Who is Inspiring YOU?

One of the things I am most enjoying about blogland (in addition to the many new friends I am making from all over the country), is the inspiration I feel after a few short minutes spent with a creative blog. And let's face it . . . there are thousands of absolutely BRILLIANT and creative people out there. Luckily, I reap the benefits from so many of them, for I visit their sites like a dried up sponge and stay until I've soaked up as much creative juices as possible. I feel refreshed and energized after seeing what others are doing in their days. I feel motivated and strong. I feel like . . . ME. Not the me who is tired and overworked, not the me who has a pile of laundry and an empty gallon of milk in the fridge. I feel like the ME I want to be deep down. I feel like the ME I always thought I would be. And I believe . . . in ME. Ah, now there's a whole therapy session in there somewhere - but we'll save that for another day.

There are two specific blogs that have been inspiring me so much the past few weeks. Kelly Rae Roberts and Frosted Petunias. I encourage you to take a little side trip over to their spaces soon - especially if you are in need of some creative fuel. Kelly Rae is just the next best thing since sliced bread. Her energy is SOOOOO good - you can feel it bounce off the screen the minute you get to her site. Her art is so lovely, her characters so dreamlike, and their messages so positive and uplifting. She is just brilliant! Oooooo, and Anna at Frosted Petunias has such whimsical charm to everything that she touches ... a visit to her blog is like a quick trip to Oz (or Tomatoland, as she likes to call it.) I triple LOVE this lady and this blog!!!

Visiting both Kelly Rae and Anna's blogs, and soaking in their creativity, has sooo inspired me this Mother's Day, as I sat down to create a few little scrapbooks for the 3 Grandma's of our family (my Mom, my Mother-in-Law, and my other Mother-in-Law.) I find my own style changing and becoming more romantic than it ever was before (which is so weird to me).

Here are just a few photos of the album I made for Phil's step-mom, Rita. I can show you these now, because I just gave Rita her present this evening. (The others will have to wait until Sunday for their books!)

The actual book has a few more pages than what I've shown here. But, the style/papers/colors are pretty much carried throughout the whole thing.

Ahhhh . . . a day of creating is so good for my soul!

Is anything or anyone inspiring YOU lately? I'd LOVE to know!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I Love Days Off!!!!

Don't you love when you can spend time, CREATING, on the computer? I DO!!!

This may actually be the OFFICIAL "From Chaos Comes Happiness" blog . . . for a while!!! It's still a work in progress (a couple things I'm working on, like adding other site buttons.)

Special THANKS to all those who commented on my button color/design at the end of last week!! YOU ARE WONDERFUL and I SO APPRECIATE your thoughts! Since so many people like PINK - I decided to throw that into the background of the page. I'm loving Adobe Illustrator. I feel like a kid again . . . except I've replace paper and crayons with the computer . . . so amazing.

Thanks for taking a look at the new "look". OOoooooo - and here is my new blog button (blue background, flowers, AND coffee, of course!!!!):

Feel free to grab the html for the button on the sidebar scroll to the right. I am not a computer girl - so figuring this one out was a painstaking process . . . I lost count of how many hours it took. But, YIPPIE!!!! It works! (And, yes, even I am surprised!!!)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Jack Bauer and some Random Thinking Moments

I’ve been up to my elbows in a special project for work this week. Augh. I don’t like when life responsibilities take me away from blog life. Bummer. But, you know me. Even when work is involved – I still have a good story to tell. Without telling you the boring specifics, I have to share a bit of this experience with you. You’ll soon see this has really very little to do with work, itself, and has mostly to do with me and this happy chaos I live.

I’ve spent the past few work days pulling files at the office of one of our clients . . . in a dungeon. OK, so it’s not really a dungeon. It’s a basement in a good size office building. It’s a relatively new building, so fortunately the basement hasn’t become the ‘catch all’ that most office building basements become. This one is clean and orderly – but still, a basement in a building (concrete blocks and spiders to prove it!). It kind of has a warehouse feeling to it. When I first arrived to this space Friday of last week, the manager (who really is a lovely lady) had set up a nice little desk for me to work at … up against a wall … with my back to whoever was (or was not) entering. As soon as the manager left, I quickly turned my desk around so I could see who was behind me at all times. I mean, I watch 24 (one of those tradeoffs with the husband – I watch one of his programs with him, and he’ll watch one of mine with me. So . . . he sits through GLEE!! Which, by the way, I think he silently LOVES!) Anyway, as I said, I watch 24 . . . I know that a warehouse/storage area is a MAJOR CATASTROPHE in the life of Jack Bauer. I was ready for . . . anything.

I spent much of Friday going through boxes and boxes of files from 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and scanning scanning scanning away documents that are needed for my company. And while I’m lifting, searching, scanning . . . well, you know how this mind of mine works. That random thinking starts . . .

I start thinking what Jack Bauer would do if something happened in a setting like this. I prepare, in my mind, what I would do if Mr. Scary Bad Guy came in and wanted my files (which, for a reality check, would NOT happen), but you know . . . the mind just takes over. I case the room out (in between scans) and imagine how I could hide on a shelf here or jump over that stack of boxes there (yes, I actually think I can jump over boxes). I would definitely push a shelving unit down on that Mr. Scary Bad Guy. I would grab my gun (oh, wait, I don’t have a gun!) . . . ok, I would grab my stapler, and this would be my weapon. Yes, the Jack Bauer in me would come out.

Or, I could just hand the Mr. Scary Bad Guy a stack of papers and make him sort through them – because those damn paper cuts hurt worse than anything! So, my mind leaves Jack Bauer and 24, and travels to paper cut land. After a project like this, my hands look like they’ve been to hell and back. Isn’t it so frustrating? Those TINY LITTLE paper cuts hurt almost as much as giving birth. Seriously. Good thing I brought a box of band-aids with me.

Wait! I could give Mr. Scary Bad Guy a big ol’stack of papers that have one of those thick, nasty rubber bands around them that always manages to SNAP the minute you start to take the rubber band off. You know … SNAP!!!! Owwwwieee, those are PAINFUL! I should have brought gloves with me, like gardening gloves, to protect my hands. Yes, I should have done that.

I also should have brought a weight lifter with me (mind traveling again). Yes, I could use a strong weight lifter to help me with those boxes. You know, I’m beginning to think that those little 5 lb. weights I’ve been using when dancin’ with Richard Simmons and “Sweatin’ to the oldies”, aren’t really doing much for me here. My arms are KILLING me as I lift these boxes. They are legal size boxes that are FULL, to the max, with papers. So, they have got to be 50 or 60 pounds each (seriously). When I first tried to get one of the boxes off of the top shelf on Friday, I didn’t realize how heavy they were … let me set the scene for you: Imagine, if you will, me, standing on a stool, pulling a box off of the top shelf, and only then realizing I couldn’t lift it. However, I managed to slide it enough off of the shelf to balance it nicely ON MY HEAD. So I stood there, on the stool, with a 50 lb. legal box of documents on my head, thinking, “Oh My Lord, please don’t send the Mr. Scary Bad Guy in right now . . . because my stapler is all the way over on my desk and I’ve got this damn box on my head and I can’t move right now!!!!” I think I stood with this box on my head for a good 3 minutes, until I realized that I had 2 choices: 1) I could try to slide it back on the shelf, or 2) I could just drop it to the ground and pray that the box would survive the fall (and hope that the contents of the box would not get too messed up.) I decided to slide the box back on the shelf, where it remained, until a nice, strong, IT guy happened to come by (because, you know, IT guys are the only type who hangs around in office basements).

The IT guy, I think his name was Nick, asked me what I did wrong to get stuck working in the dungeon. (Which is so funny to me, because that’s exactly what I wondered.) We then laughed and decided that I must have been REAL bad in a past life. He offers to get the boxes down for me, so I will survive this gig without too much physical damage (there are, after all, the paper cuts I have to live through.) I accept his offer, graciously, and retreat to my table … stapler nearby.

So, there you have it. Just a little story about what I’ve been doing this week. I’m not quite finished with my project – and rumor has it I’ll have more things to scan in the weeks ahead. I think I need to take a break from watching 24 while I’m working here. Maybe I should tune into “Dancing with the Stars”. Oh, wait … maybe not. I don’t think Nick the IT guy wants to do the Cha-Cha or Waltz while pulling boxes for me. Maybe I need to turn the TV off all together, and perhaps just pick up some 10 lb. weights to work on my upper body strength. Yes, that’s a good plan, don’t you think?

What have you been doing this week? Any Random Thinking Moments in your life? I’d love to know!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Yes, Your Honor, I am GUILTY."

And that is where it stands right now, until I can state my case in court. "What court?" you ask? Well, the Court of Katherine and Ella (and pretty much the only court that really matters in this house.)

"What are the charges?" you ask?

Me . . . Leanne . . . Wife and Mother . . . is hereby GUILTY. . . of MISSING the Ice Cream Man. Seriously.

Missing the Ice Cream Man is pretty much the "be all to end all" on a warm spring night in our neighborhood. Missing the Ice Cream Man is like missing Christmas. Seriously. These are serious charges.

For the record - I would love an opportunity to state my case to you, my faithful blog friend. The evening started out really quite lovely. Katie was playing with her friends outside, and I was locked up inside (I say "locked up" because, in an effort to beat these spring allergies, we decided to close all the windows and doors and put the good ol'fashioned air conditioner on. And let me tell you - it was the best decision we made! My eyes were no longer RED today, and just a lovely shade of light PINK, and my sneezes were to a minimum. So, I think we are on the right path. I digress . . . back to my case . . . )

So, Katie was outside playing, and quickly ran inside the house screaming, "MOM!!!! ICE CREAM MAN!!! ICE CREAM MAN!!!!!! ICE CREAM MAAAANNNNNN!!!!" I JUMPED into action, grabbing the first bill out of PG's wallet I could get my fingers on (a $20 . . . SCORE! Looks like Momma's keeping the change!) and ran outside following Katie. Behind me, little Ella followed yelling, "MOMMY!! I WANT ICE CREAM, TOOOO!!!"

We met up with a pack of about 5 other neighborhood kids and parents on the corner. We looked left, we looked right. We saw nothing. No white ice cream truck, no music playing. Nothing. About 5 minutes passed, and still, nothing. At this point, the parents (who were all barefoot or in white socks, because none of us had time to step into shoes when the announcement that Mr. Good Humor was in the neighborhood) were comparing notes. Which child was witness to the truck originally? Who actually saw it turning into the subdivision? Did anyone see which way it went? Are we sure the Ice Cream man is even here? Hmmmm . . . this is getting suspicious.

After about 10 more minutes of patiently waiting for the ICM himself, a number of us (parents) decided we would return to whatever part of life we were enjoying before the kids interrupted us. I realized that I had left a full plate of dinner on the kitchen table (because, you know, the mom is the last to eat.) So, I decided that I would head back to the house and finish dinner. I was certain that the ICM did not turn into the neighborhood, and that perhaps one of the kids thought they heard him, when in fact they did not. I convinced Katie and Ella that he wasn't there. And the three of us went back inside.

About 10 minutes later . . . the doorbell rang. Katie, who ran to open the door, saw it first. And that was NOT good. The person at the door was one of our neighbors, dropping something off for me. But on the street behind her, was the Ice Cream Man . . . pulling away from our block. Katie ran outside and immediately saw what seemed like 100 kids standing around, licking away at their yummy goodies. (Ok, so it was only about 5 kids . . . but when you've been waiting months for this Ice Cream Man to return, the whole thing was exaggerated a little.)

"Oh, s***!" I thought. I can't believe I missed him.

I felt awful. I mean . . . do you remember when you were a child and heard those Ice Cream truck bells ringing? That was the sound of summer. And even though you could buy a whole box of those ice cream bars from the grocery store for the price this man is selling one bar for, there's still something about getting that first ice cream treat of the season from the Ice Cream man. There's just nothing like it.

I put my hand around Katie's shoulder and promised we'd go out and get Ice Cream. She nodded her head in agreement, but I knew she felt bad. And I felt bad, too.

We turned to walk back into the house, when we heard our dear neighbor and friend, Kevin, yell, "HEY!! I BOUGHT ONE FOR KATIE AND ELLA!"

Katie looked up at me, and in that moment . . . life was oh-so WONDERFUL!!!

Katie turned and ran to get the ice cream, and I felt those darn tears starting to form in my eyes. Although this time they were not Allergy tears. They were tears of great appreciation for having dear neighbors who realize how important that first Ice Cream of the season is to a little girl, and her Mom.

Case Closed. And tomorrow . . . I'm buying a six-pack for Mr. Kevin. He deserves it!
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