Our Top 5 Tips for Disneyland – Important things to Pack

 

 

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In January we took our first Major family trip to Disneyland! We have only traveled to Toronto together and around Alberta. The Eyestones were finally going International. First off we didn’t tell the kids until 10 before. It was a big surprise on Christmas day. PS We didn’t get the reaction we had hoped. I had wrapped a giant box with Balloons and “Tickets”, plus some fun things to have. After a small Christmas gift opening, the “big” present from mom and dad being Disney T Shirts our kids seemed rather great Christmas Ok lets play with our toys. We then brought out the huge box, Dave’s parents were there, my family was on skype on the TV. The kids Were so excited by the giant box, it gave me high hopes. They tore into it, the balloons floated out and they scrounged around inside looking for something magical. I had Diana read on of the “tickets” and all she said was “It says we are going to Disneyland”. That was it, no whoops of joy no screaming, I’m the only one that was crying from happiness. Just a that’s cool attitude. As the days wore on though the excitement did build as the packing began. We learned some great things out of our trip and caught a travel bug. We still get asked at least once a week when we are going back. Amy has even graciously offered her allowance if it will help.

It was an AMAZING trip and even though we did have a few bumps in the road it was still amazing. Here is what I felt the top 5 things we packed aside from clothes and passports.

1. Costco Sized Tylenol and Advil for kids! Not to mention Gravol, cold medicine, and all the adult versions as well. We did everything crazy thing I could think of to keep from getting sick before we left. I had hoped the bright warm sun would help us avoid anything else but alas Day 2 brought on a week of sickness claiming some of us. Mark was the first to fall, he was fevered most of the week and ate very little. We kept him on a pretty regular routine of Advil and Tylenol every 3 hours to keep his spirits up. We did what we could in a day not pushing anyone and managed to get a great trip still. Dave fell about day 3-4, and David was just floating on the edge of having and not. The day we left Diana and I caught the virus, what I’m guessing to be influenza, we had fevers, coughs, chills, head aches and other cold like symptoms. Preparing myself as a local pharmacy really did save us. The only thing I ended up buying (very expense at the Hotel Store) was cold medicine for Dave. I mention Costco sized because when you have 4 little ones all taking the same kind just different dose levels you can go through them quick. I also had a few tablets too for the flight so I didn’t have to worry about liquids. 

2. Collapsible Water Bottles : A friend of mine suggested it and it was so great. We filled up at fountains and all took a drink then kept on going. Word to the wise though, if you can ask at the food vendors with the soda machines for that water. Water there tastes weird. Which brings me to my next point. 

3. Single Sized Drink Crystals : My mom and I  had found some Hawaiian punch ones at the Dollarama, I picked up a couple boxes. They did have the evil Aspartame in them but I figured if it kept the kids drinking lots it was worth it. When we left here it was -31C and arrived to +25C so I didn’t want to risk dehydration. Plus we didn’t know the water tasted weird so that really helped all of us. Saved lots of money too as most drinks in park at $4 and up! 

4. Suitcase full of Food: 3 of us cannot eat Gluten so it was very important for us to make sure to have plenty of snacks we could munch on while waiting in lines for rides and at water breaks. I brought pretty much everything, cereal, oatmeal, homemade granola bars, cranberries, fruit bars, raisins, babybel cheese (not a great idea) cookies we could eat and the list goes on. Next time I would tweak a few things, cookies and crackers etc had a high crumble factor. So I may reconsider those next time. We found the fruit bars the best! They were filling enough and easy to eat then toss the wrapper. Oatmeal was perfect for the mornings. We unfortunately had a hotel with no continental breakfast which I would have preferred, but due to family size and we had high hopes of using the water playground our hotel boasted about. So we had to think about eating breakfast before we left the hotel. I found out after that there was a hotel down the street with rooms we could have nicely fit, a store onsite (like ours), but featured the free breakfast meals. Next time. The kicker was a month before we left the hotel emailed us that their playground was due for its 5 year maintenance during our stay, but with a call to them I managed to get our Kids Suite (King sized bed, bunk beds and pull out couch) for 30% off to a lovely price of $167 a night. I thought that savings alone was worth not getting a breakfast, plus it was too close to the trip and in order to get a room that would fit us I had to book in August. Anyways back to food. Pack lots! The space will free up for the stuff you buy. Kids prefer snacking while there. We didn’t eat many sit down meals. Again park prices are insane for snack stuff. $2 a banana, so bring what you can that will help lighten the load and cost of eating there. 

5. Rain Ponchos: This was something we didn’t actually use but it was a great insurance. We found them all at the Dollarama for cheap $1.25. It was great and probably would have cost us a ton if we needed them. We found that out the hard way on a trip to the Toronto Zoo in August. It was like $4 a coat and they were pretty much fancy garbage bags. We tucked them away when we got home for the next time we go somewhere. It was a cost I didn’t want to have to endure. Thankfully it was sunny and nice the whole time we were there. 

The next time we go back all of these things will be on my list again. They saved us time and lots of money. There are some things you cannot prepare for, these were just easy ones we found that helped us out a lot. When you have 6 people traveling those little things can really add up. We didn’t plan on using a stroller, but with Mark sick we rented just one to make the walking lighter on him and David, they took turns and the other got piggy backs sometimes. I wouldn’t have packed one on the chance he needed it too much bulk traveling and it wasn’t a terrible rental fee in the end. 

Heather

 

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Dear Diary

Awhile ago I had posted on my facebook wall that I had found my old diaries. I asked friends and family what should I do with them. After reading The Joy of Less I have been picking at each room, drawer, cupboard, closet, nook and cranny to clear our house of the debris we have let accumulate and rob us of that clean space. Some things I have easily let go of, others I knew had a firm place in our home always. When it came to my old Diaries it was hard. I had started writing in them when I was 8 years old, even without them I have always remembered what my first entry was, how my dad had gone fishing and caught a Chinook. It was complete with a crayon picture as well. I knew what many of those pages from there on were about. Some pages told of the sibling rivalry I had with Aja, I only ever seemed to write when I wasn’t happy with her. Some pages told of first crushes, sometimes I used names others codes I had come up with my girl friends like Freezer boy etc. Many pages told of heart ache and break, of the boys I once had faith in that left me standing there alone, of the boy I had first given my whole heart to and didn’t work out (Love isn’t all you need). The last pages told of my journey west and the big move I made and the start of my life with my husband. Funny how just when life was getting interesting (at least for my kids to look back on) is when I stopped writing. I thought long and hard about whether to keep these relics. About the secrets my kids would one day find when they read them (hopefully after I was gone), I worried about the person they might have thought me to be and if I wanted them knowing those things about me. Some it was just fluff and silly, but some of it was my soul. I also thought about the period where I didn’t write (I have started to write again slowly over the last year and a bit), where it would have been good for them to know and read. To know of the struggles I faced as a young mother, how it wasn’t always easy for me. How I felt with my depression and anxiety, that maybe one day the would see me as something more. 

I decided to put that decision on hold. Many of my friends made great suggestions, some keep ideas and some to toss. I figured I knew where they were and that I had many other things to clean up and could revisit them. Well this past week I embarked on the task of sorting my old pen pal letters. It was seeing these and sorting through them that gave me a clear answer. I couldn’t part with these things. I wanted my kids to see my old letters and use them to piece together parts of me, and that even though reading some things in my Diary might make them squirm (I do believe the S E X word is mentioned in there a few times), it is still part of me. I don’t see me handing them over willingly to them, but one day becoming a discovery to help bond them together. For them to laugh over and learn new things. So safely tucked away in a box they will remain. 

Heather

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Quickie

Now that I have your attention. Quickie in our house (well my husband’s secondary definition anyways) is Quiche. Some how the way I write it on our menu board it looks like Quickie to him. He always makes jokes about how I’m having Quickie’s without him, who else am I expecting for dinner, etc. But yes Quiche is one of those meals I always cook when he is working days. Tonight was Quickie night. It is one of those lazy meals I can whip up and the kids devour. I have now formal recipe I follow, simply a bunch of eggs (until I think I have lots enough), a splash or two of milk, and whatever I have laying around to add. Sometimes it is spinach, ham and cheese, or ham and cheese or spinach and cheese. Sometimes I add peppers. Tonight I added Quinoa, which meant I had to use my two pie plates and cook one without. Wee David and I ate the Quinoa one (he loves the stuff), the other 3 won’t touch it with a pole (much like their father). It is a surprisingly filling meal for them all. We pass the ketchup around the table (a trait Diana picked up from my Dad, ketchup and eggs… who knew) and share an easy dinner together. I have a few meals like this that I can just throw together for when Dave is working. In our Gluten filled days it used to be scones and jam, I would make a huge batch of them on a Friday or Saturday when Dave was working and we would just eat that with a bit of fruit thrown in and around until Monday. I miss those days as I have yet to find a good gluten free scone recipe. Other favorites are my homemade Mac and Cheese (this has been my meal since I was 13), and I’m talking fresh cheese sauce too. It was one I made for a family I babysat for every Wednesday. 

Growing up my mom didn’t like to cook. It isn’t a secret, if feeding us was as easy as opening a can of something she would have done that. I mean that nicely mom. Which is why I learned to cook young. We could only eat Shake and Bake chicken or Pork Medallions so much. But I’d have to say if dad was away her go to meal for us was soft boiled eggs and toast cut into soldiers. My dad was easy and he didn’t mind cooking to much, pretty much the reigning king of Spaghetti. Yes though when mom was away Aja and I had him convinced to take us to McDonalds. 

What is your “Quickie” meal? 

Heather

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Sick of Winter – Or Sick All Winter?

This has gotten to have been one of the longest winter’s we have had. We had record snowfalls at the start of the season and then long cold days. We have dropped to temperatures in the -30 range more often then I care to think about. If we aren’t hovering around that point we have been between -15 and -25. The everyone still stays inside zone. While I am a firm believer in the you get yourself dressed for the weather and you still try to enjoy it, that still is not easy with 2 three year olds. It has felt like each time the weather looks to warm up enough where little people can get outside and enjoy some fresh air, we get sick. When we are not sick the temperature plummets and it is cold beyond all reason for going outside. Needless to say other than the odd viruses we have had going through our house this season we have also had a major case of cabin fever. Strange enough it wasn’t until the last week that we had our first run of stomach flu go through the house. Our Amy came barging into the bathroom one night (which has a joined pocket door to our room, where our bed sits next to and is always open at night) and proceeds to decorate the floor with copious amounts of hot dogs and hot chocolate (I do apologize, and yet I don’t as I will be the one not eating those for a VERY long time and I was the one to have to clean it up). Dave came in and I was like Shoot! He asked what, I said we had almost made the year without puke. He thought for a second and declared I was right (which I am often). I hadn’t said anything because I thought if I had bragged or told anyone I would doom myself to that terrible fate. A year has not gone by since I was pregnant with Amy where we haven’t been attacked by that terrible virus. So strangely enough we have had many other things strike us down. Disneyland was the start of a cold/sinus infection onslaught, which was when the first case of hives presented itself. We had other smaller colds here and there. The boys and Amy all got hit with Hand Foot and Mouth disease over a 2 week period. Second case of hives like symptoms. Then with this last stomach creation we have also had weird hives as well, lasting just over a week. Mark is their current victim. It has been hard to tell when they will strike but at any given point of the day he starts to get the raised red bumps and swelling. As quickly as they come they go too. David started with them, and we think Amy had the same virus as well since Mark was also sick that night too.    

With all that said I am ready for spring and sunshine and getting outside. Thankfully this last weekend was just that, very warm outside (lots of melting) so we headed out and went hiking and geocaching both days for a couple hours. 

So over the last few months I have learned many things when it comes to illnesses. I have a small stock pile of things on hand now as staples for virus season. I wanted to share them with you, for new and seasoned moms alike. 

1. Tylenol & Advil – Get the big bottles, like Costco sized and several bottles! Especially if have a big family like ours, those little dinky bottle don’t go far and if you may be held hostage for a few weeks you don’t want to run out of that during an important point. During Disneyland we alternated between the two for a few days with Mark to keep him going and have some fun during our trip. 

2. Gingerale – Always a favorite for soothing upset tummies. I buy it in bottles usually around the 750ml mark, just enough to sip over a couple days and not let a huge bottle go flat. 

3. Benadryl – As I have learned this year not just for allergies. Hives can occur with lots of different viruses and no one wants to feel itchy, scratchy and swollen. 

4. Soup broth mixes – Because we don’t eat gluten I just keep a jar of the dry mix or the Knorr gel packs. They nicely make a broth for the sickies, and then I can either add what I want to it or leave it simply as broth. 

5. Bread – I try to keep a loaf of sour dough in the freezer (for the boys and I) and regular bread (for the girls and Dave) just to help those who are hungry but need to start light with a piece of toast. 

6. Laundry Soap – Stomach flu or not, I try to wash sheets and blankets a little more often with colds, etc going through the house just to try to limit the spread and you don’t want to run out during an important time. 

7. Lysol – I am not a chemical girl, it is one of the only ones I have. Toilet cleaner that sticks to the bowl is the other. But when sniffles and sickness strikes I do like to have some that I can dilute with water to help kill the germs. 

8. Movies – This is when we have the most of our screen time happen. It is the easiest way for me to still manage the house and the healthy ones. 

9. Popsicles – These are a nice treat for the sickies, they find it fun and I at least know they are getting some fluids. 

10. Jello – Another treat item that I know they like and are at least eating something. 

I’m sure I could think of more things but these are the ones we go to the most. 

What are you preferred things to keep on hand while dealing with viruses in your house?

Heather 

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My addiction…

I am getting so close to being done our purge. I am down to Main floor which includes living room, kitchen and 2 large closets, both our bathrooms, and basement storage space. I have a little bit of sorting left in regards to my craft stuff and the girls, but that may be a work as I go project. During this process though I have uncovered an addiction I have. Office Supplies, predominately note books. There is just something about crisp clean pages ready for writing that calls to me. I have found so many half used, brand new and long forgotten note books. I made a small pile (and by small I mean what I could quickly gather in 5 minutes) to show you just the tip of the ice berg. 

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The sad part is I am trying to impart this addiction on my kids. They recently all got a new one in their stockings because they were Disney themed for our recent trip to Disneyland. I remember my husband asking me about them and why. I justified it with the fact that Diana would need to record her trip daily for school and well the other 3 could use theirs to colour in. I’m sure Amy uses hers to draw in the boys haven’t touched theirs at all, and I know for a fact Diana is using hers to plan out the paintings she is planning on creating and selling to our family and friends. She got this idea after being in our local Art Gallery. We hope that our family and friends won’t mind purchasing a $5 canvas painting from her to help support her desire to make money to buy a real painting from the gallery. 

With my addiction to stationary supplies it is no wonder August (Back to School) is my favorite time of the year. I fawn over the Staples flyers and the deals $0.25 a note book, or $0.80 for a pack of 4! Surely the kids will need these in school one day. I have a stock pile of other things they will one day need too, practical stuff like lined paper and erasers. 

Among my note books though I did find a massive supply of dried up gel pens to go with my black paged note books from College, because I did think it was cool to use those things. Plus it was more fun to study notes in bright glittery colours. I soon found though after having kids that dark memo pads for gel pens are a bad idea. I recall hearing Diana from the downstairs bathroom saying Uh Oh, over and over. Only to find her near the toilet placing the pages in and out of the water, dripping inky black and purple water everywhere. My grout has never been white since. 

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For now I guess I’m going to have to restrain myself and use up what I have, since we are trying to simplify life and the contents of our home. Or I could go out and buy some new coloured pens and make endless lists of things, just because. Who am I kidding, I have 4 kids, most my lists I do try to create end up as someone else’s creative outlet and them I am stuck trying to decipher what I wrote through their doodles.

What is your addiction? Would you be surprised if you had to stack or line it all up and face the truth?

Heather 

 

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I Wish I had Known – Wedding Registry

OK so we have been maintaining our household purge. I have completed the kids rooms, upstairs hall closet, 95% of our bedroom and our full wall bookcase. For us that is a lot so far. We have taken several boxes to the goodwill and sold quite a bit online as well. In all of this though I have muttered and thought to myself so many time I wish I had known, seeing the things we didn’t use or weren’t favourites. Things we thought, OH that looks neat, won’t that be fun, and wow it will do so much for us. Well obviously showing up in the donation box means it wasn’t any of those things. I have thought that it would have been nice for someone to stop me and say wait a minute and think it through, you don’t need that, in 2 years you won’t use that at all. So I am taking the liberty and creating a few of those lists. This first one is starting back where it all began with us, our wedding registry. Because let’s face it for a good portion of the population this is the first place you get loads of gifts and cash. Any money you have worked to earn has mostly been spent to build up your meager dwelling, get you on your feet, perhaps buy a car.

Here is my list of things you don’t want to register for:

1. Fondue pot – Let’s face it too many of us come up with grand plans of fondue parties with our friends, but it never happens. I think I used mine maybe 3 times in the near 10 years we have been married.

2. Fun Kitchen Appliances – Like the fondue pot the dessert makers, snack makers and can all but clean up gadgets seem exciting and fun and you will use it so many times. Let go of that idea you won’t, don’t waste good money on something you will regret later on that can go towards something durable and more expensive.

3. Glassware – You might be curious on this one, because we all need serving dishes, cups, plates etc. But I caution you to really think these ones through. Don’t just pick out glasses for 8 in every style, because you want to feel like your new married life is like Sex and The City, or you cannot serve a drink in anything other than a Beer Mug. Trust me it won’t matter. The plates won’t matter either, the bowl the chips are served in no one cares. So think this on through again pick something nicer more expensive you can slowly build at over the years. I love my Fiesta ware. I wish I had started with it, rather than whatever I could point that little gun at. Over the years I now have a unique colour collection of pieces that look fun on the table for formal company yet durable and sturdy for every day use and I don’t freak out when my 3 year olds help carry the plates to the table. The funny thing is now our friends just help themselves to what every cups in the cupboard and don’t care what they drink out of. I have only 3 wine glasses (the 4th was broken) for those who really like a wine glass, and my mother.

Now I’m going to switch gears a little and talk about some great things to ask for. Things we really did enjoy. The first thing you need to remember is your registry is personal to you and what you like. We asked for somethings people thought were a little crazy, but they have been our most used items.

1. Towels – Always great, just don’t ask for too many! I would say starting with 6 Large bath, some hand towels and face cloths to match. You will change your towels some day and not having too many to begin with will make it easier if you want to buy new ones when you repaint the bathroom or when the old ones become tired and worn.

2. Sheet sets – Same reasons as a towel, always handy. Again only 3 sets at the most. Honestly I put the same ones back on the bed once I’ve washed them, so we don’t often dip into the extra ones. They provide a nice change or something for the blow up guest bed.

3. Vacuum – A REALLY GOOD ONE! Like a Dyson. Save up some gift cards, cash and invest in something built to last. Our third vacuum was finally a Dyson and it has been worth it. It has already out lived the one we got for our wedding and the other we had before that one. 

4. Kitchen Appliances – I’m not talking the Margartiaville, or toasters. I am talking really good, money well spent things like Kitchen Aid mixers (if you enjoy baking), food processors, or that really heavy duty it costs a lot appliance you have had your eye on. Save up the gift cards and cash for it. Or register and maybe a few people will go together on one. 

5. House Down Payment – Sounds lame, but it is the one investment you will get a return back on. You will want to live in a house of your own far sooner than needing piles of meaning less trinkets. I only wish we had done this. We had a down payment saving up already though and used some of the money we got at our wedding for furniture (which is good and bad, depends again on how you choose to spend and what you buy, think long term). 

6. Camping Gear – This was the one that people weren’t sure about with us. But we needed lots of these items to build up our camping supplies and got most of it at our wedding. We use all those items we got still (except our tent, we had to upgrade with the twins arrival), many are still in great condition. 

 

So if you are on the verge of a wedding, heading to one or even moving out on your own. Think long term. How long before you have to replace XYZ, is it really going to be a worth while investment, is it better to save up and get what you really want and know will outlast anything? We didn’t ask ourselves alot of those questions and now most of those silly or poorly built items are long gone in our house. We all need to work at learning to live with a little less and working hard to get what we really want. It will be so  much more appreciated and loved when we do. Dave and I have slowly been learning that lesson and made a promise to ourselves these last few years, we don’t buy or renovate anything half way, we save up and get quality so we can enjoy it longer. 

Heather

Please remember these are all my personal views. What we each enjoy and want is up to us. Some people enjoy having less in their life and others want to enjoy things in the moment. These are just things I wish I had been told or considered to save myself the hassle now. 

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Small Changes – Big Impact

Since September I have been back teaching Brownies with Girl Guides of Canada. I love the enthusiasm they have. They are all such sponges ready to soak up anything I tell them. Well most nights they are, since they are 7 & 8 and some nights we are just silly. 

Recently my girls and I talked about Water Conservation. It got me thinking just how much our experiments showed us, and how we all should look at making small changes to create a big impact. I told the girls that the future starts with them, they are the voice that will make the changes. Sure lots of people like me can make changes but the more of us that start younger and share the better. We can hope that by changing the minds of our younger generation we can influence the minds of our older generations. I reminded them of the scene in Pocahontas when Grandmother Willow puts the ripple in the water, how she showed them how one small ripple gets gradually bigger, but that someone had to start the ripple, and that was the 13 girls in front of me. They needed to start making ripples and be heard. 

Our main experiment that evening was to simply show how much water we waste brushing out teeth. As a good Brown Owl I brought my toothbrush and a measuring cup. We did the experiment twice, once with the tap on full and once with the tap on slow. I instructed the girls to help me by singing Happy Birthday and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, together they would give me the recommended time I needed to get a proper teeth brushing. This whole time I let the tap run. The girls were unimpressed at first, even when my 8 cup measuring cup over flowed. We figured I used about 10-12 cups of water that time. Big deal right. Tawny Owl and I quickly showed them how much that little bit of water could mean, it could have been a nice pitcher of juice to share, filled a pot for some pasta, and if we added it all up twice a day, for a year, we could have used that much water to fill a swimming pool. Once they heard that they were impressed. Just one person in a year wastes enough water to fill a swimming pool! I bet everyone of those girls wishes she had a pool to swim in during the summer, or has heard No we need to conserve water so no sprinkler today. That is just one person, think of how much water goes down the drain during a year for a family of 4 or more! Freshwater that we drink daily and use without thinking is a limited resource and we are very fortunate to live in a country were we have access to such. 

You may think my experiment hasn’t had much impact, I beg to differ. Even on the slow test we learned we wasted about 1 cup of water, that 1 cup still adds up. Combined with your cities population or your countries that is a lot of water! Every day since that experiment I have notice my own daughter not only taking care to keep the taps off, using a cup, all things we practiced to begin with, but she now also hums those 2 tunes while she brushes. If she has just made that small change, how many of those other girls have. How many of them when home to tell their parents what they learned, bossed around a few siblings to be more mindful. How many of you will now find yourself thinking about that water that just goes down the drain. 

Small changes, like turning off the tap for 2 minutes while you brush can make a big impact. So can many other things you do if you simply take the time to think of the things you enjoy daily or take for granted and find ways to make small changes. What if rather than start your car, let it warm up, and drive the 5 minutes to your local coffee place, you dressed for the weather and enjoyed a nice walk. I bet that the walk will do more for your spirits than the $2 coffee you buy. Unless you live in the sticks no one is usually more than a few blocks away from a coffee shop. How about walking over to your local grocer and picking up a few things again instead of driving. Rolling your eyes now, stop and think about it, I once walked the 15 minutes to our Superstore to buy the 10KG bag of flour I needed and walked all the way back with it. Why put all those CO2 emissions in the air to pick up one item or 10 small items. If they aren’t too heavy take that time to walk and pick them up. Pick a night of the week to power down and play a board game or read a book. I’m sure we can all remember how to set up solitaire with real cards. We live in an age where everything is so accessible and easy now. That doesn’t mean we have to use it all. All I ask is that you take a look at your life and house, to see if there is not one small thing you can change. You could start a new ripple, and your story of your small thing could inspire others.

Feel free to comment and share the small changes you have made.

Heather 

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