An Explanation

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Dear Kids,

Last week was a tough week. For all of us. And even though LO said it was because she was sad about not getting picked for the 5th grade skit and HD said he felt sad about not having a job in the Kindergarten classroom (he’s out of work! the irony!), I’m sure you were all picking up on my own mood… a toxic combination of sadness, anger and fear that I was unsuccessfully trying to hide. While I would never intentionally cause you pain, I won’t apologize for these emotions. And now I would like to try to explain them.

You guys, I’m not political. You’ve probably never heard me talk about an election before, never mind shed tears about the results. But this one, this election where Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton to become President of the United States is much bigger than politics.

All of you have heard stories about both candidates; you’ve all come home from school repeating the things you’ve heard from your classmates. “Trump is mean… he wants to build a wall to keep people out!” “Hillary Clinton lied!” “They’re both terrible!”

When I shared my own opinions, it was with far more respect than Donald Trump deserves. “Well,” I would start hesitantly, “I just don’t really agree with a lot of the things Donald Trump plans to do. Hillary Clinton definitely has flaws, but I think I can overlook those flaws given Trump’s general disrespect for so many people.”

“Yeah, I hate him,” one of you said.

“We don’t ‘hate’ in our house,” another one of you replied.

“Can we hate him, Mom?” you asked.

“No. We can’t,” I said. (“Yes, we can!” I wanted to scream.)

And then he won. The results of this election shocked people. It seems very few people really expected him to win. But he did and now a lot of people are scared and sad. Yup, including me.

Maybe you’re too young to hear about the different levels of fear I’m experiencing in detail… fear of war, the use of nuclear weapons, ISIS and dangerous international relationships (what I like to think of as Top Tier Fear). Fear that millions of people will lose the ability to make decisions about their own bodies, marry the person they love, or come to this country seeking a better, safer life than one they’ve left behind. (Mid Tier Fear)*

*Smart people keep reassuring me with reminders of the checks and balances in our government (you’ll learn all about this someday… possibly from an animated TV cartoon like I did) and about how Trump is already backtracking on some of his campaign “promises.” At the same time, he’s hiring a lot of dangerous people to be his “helpers.” People who don’t believe that women should get to make decisions about their own body. People who deny that climate change is affecting our planet. People who are too inexperienced to be qualified to help the President of the United States (who, in this case, is also too inexperienced for the job). So unfortunately, the whole “checks and balances” argument isn’t THAT reassuring.

And last, and perhaps most importantly, there’s the Third Tier Fear, which I’ve come to think of as Our New Everyday Reality. A society divided. A rapid increase in hate crimes. What used to be a shadowy specter of bias and hate has emerged from the darkness and now walks proudly on our city streets and in our rural towns.

Young Muslim woman are being assaulted for wearing hijabs. Gay men are being attacked for holding hands. Swastikas are being painted on dorm buildings. Racial slurs are being thrown in the faces of black women. Threats of sexual assault are being hurled at white college students. All of this is happening with glee.

Kids, Donald Trump has dismissed and disrespected so many subsets of our population – Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants, veterans, the LGBT community, people with disabilities and women – that really only white men remain untouched by his poisonous forked-tongue.

And now an ugly subset of our population, who desperately want to act on their hate, feel emboldened and empowered to do so. This election has given them a green light to publicize and act on their bigotry with intimidation tactics and violent crimes that they may have been more inclined to hide previous to last week. They’ve interpreted Trump’s win as a permission slip to hate and hurt people.

This is why when I hear “It’s time to move on… why are you still so sad?” all I can think is, “Why are you not?”

This is also where my ignorance comes in… that ugly subset is so much bigger than I imagined. They were quieter before and the shield of the Bubble* prevented me from being disrupted by their noise.

*What’s the Bubble? Keep reading.

Maybe you’re too young to hear about the rage that I’m feeling. I won’t tell you that every time I think about Trump as the President, I have this vision of him grabbing the private parts of young women – because he’s done that you guys AND bragged about it – and in my head, they’re always girls who I know. My sisters’ and cousins’ and nieces’ and yes, my daughter’s, faces… and then I feel rage.

(HD, remember how just yesterday we talked about boys and girls having different private parts and how nobody should EVER touch ANY part of your body without your permission? Well, I don’t think anybody ever taught Donald Trump that rule.) 

There are young women all over the country who are being treated badly by boys on a regular basis. A lot of them think it could be worse, so they don’t tell anybody. Or they think, maybe I did something to deserve that bad treatment, so they don’t tell anybody. Some people try to tell these women “What’s happening or happened to you, is NOT YOUR FAULT. You need to speak up and you will be supported.” But now those women aren’t so sure. Who will support them? Surely not the people that just elected the guy who bragged about grabbing women’s bodies without their consent.

Do you see why that makes me so mad?

What do I tell you guys when you play Wrestle Baby? “NO MEANS NO and STOP MEANS STOP,” and “Your bodies belong to yourself and NO one else.” I don’t think anyone ever taught Donald Trump that rule either.

It’s very important to note that not ALL people who voted for Trump are racist or hateful. This is true. But remember the conversations we’ve had about bullying? About how standing by and doing nothing is just as harmful as bullying itself. That’s my problem with this election. Donald Trump is a bully. A lot of bullies voted for him and a lot of people that maybe aren’t bullies voted for him as well… but they just stood by and watched.

I read this comment online: “I know that if you voted for Trump, it doesn’t necessarily mean you openly hate people of other races/sexual orientations/nationalities/religions. But it DOES mean that you believe that whatever you have prioritized [finances, gun rights, whatever] is more important than the basic human rights of these people.”

Exactly.

Maybe you’re too young to understand why people voted for him.  

Simply put, a LOT of people in this country are desperate for a change. Some of them have lost their jobs and think Trump will help them find one. Some of them live in towns that are very poor and they think Trump will help fix that. Some of them think Hillary Clinton would take their guns away. Some of them simply hated Clinton so much, that Trump seemed like the better option. And some of them simply don’t like the way this country looks and sounds now – a colorful rainbow of people, speaking different languages and worshipping different Gods.

I’m sure most of them didn’t want the election results to immediately cause an increase in hate crimes. Hopefully most of them wouldn’t intentionally bully a Muslim woman or a gay teenager. But guys, remember the whole standing by and doing nothing is just as harmful as bullying itself thing?

And now, because we elected this bully to be President, all of those victims are scared. Really, really scared. And THIS is why I’m still so sad.

Side note about sadness: I’ve been called “too sensitive” before. And “overly-emotional.” “Tender-hearted.” “Weak,” even. But what I’m realizing is this: if all of those things means that I feel things deeply, that I give a shit* about people, that I lean towards acceptance and take offense to those who don’t, than I’ll take those labels and wear them proudly. (Except weak – I won’t take that one… Because loving ALL people and standing up for ALL people is the opposite of weak.)

*Yes, I said a bad word. No, you may not.

Now you guys, I want to tell you about The Bubble in which we live. It’s not a Bubble you can see (that’d be cool, right?) but a metaphoric protective shield around our lives. It means the following:

We never struggle financially. We are – and always have been – guaranteed food on our table, vacations, many gifts under the Christmas tree and all of the other lavish things that money can buy. You guys need new sneakers? No problem. Let’s go online and pick them out. You guys want a new toy? Put it on your birthday list and it will almost definitely appear (as long as it’s not a living creature… sorry LO). The new clothes, the piles of gifts, the after-school activities, the fact that Mom doesn’t work outside the home… this is the Bubble.

We live in a community that is predominantly white. Your interactions with people of color are minimal; therefore the reality of racism in this country is foreign to you. I can talk until I’m out of breath about how we should treat ALL people with kindness and respect, regardless of any differences. But you haven’t had them many times to put those practices in action because the majority of your peers and adults in our community look the same as you do. This is the Bubble.

And the biggest problem with the Bubble, you guys, is that when you spend so much time INSIDE the Bubble, you start to feel like it’s your right to be there. That you’re entitled to all of those things that happen inside the bubble… all the luxuries, all the good stuff. But that is simply not true. We are not owed anything. (Especially in our case, where you guys and I live in the Bubble because Pop and Grammy and Daddy worked their butts off for many years to allow us to move in here.)

We just got lucky, you guys! The three of you, and me… we’re just plain lucky.

Outside of the Bubble, people are struggling to buy food for their families and some kids feel lucky to have any toys at all. Some children don’t see their parents that much because they’re working two jobs. Some kids feel nervous walking to school because they live in neighborhoods where there’s a lot of violence on the streets. Some kids wear special clothing or symbols of their religion and get made fun of – or worse – because of that. This is happening ALL OF THE TIME outside of the Bubble.

(Kids, lest you think the Bubble is impermeable, don’t. Just this week, I’ve learned about several hundred of our local high schoolers belonging to a FB group where racist and other offensive content was being shared. And I heard that there were chants of “Build that wall! Build that wall!” on one of the middle school buses. The Bubble isn’t a complete seal.)

So what do we do now? Good question.

In the Bubble, it’s very easy to complain and cry… and then go back to our nice, comfortable lives and kind of forget why we were so sad and angry.

But I’m going to really try to not do that this time. Because I see now that if I want YOU guys to stand up to the bullies, than I kind of have to do it, too.

So here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • I’ve donated money to Planned Parenthood, Together Rising, the Future Project, the ACLU, the Boys & Girls Club, The Center for Reproductive Rights and the NAACP. Some of them are recurring monthly donations.
  • I’ve joined online communities (both national and local) that promise to work together to take action against the assault on human rights.
  • I signed up to volunteer weekly at a school in a neighboring town helping less-privileged children with their reading and other schoolwork. And I’d really like to bring you guys with me… because it’s time to expose you guys to the world outside of the Bubble.
  • And lastly, I booked a hotel room for Inauguration weekend in Washington DC in hopes of participating in the Million Woman March to protest Donald Trump’s presidency. What good does marching do? It tells the world that so many of us are NOT OK with what’s happening in the US. It tells young women everywhere, immigrants, Muslims, and the LGBT community that so many of us are not OK with the way they’re being treated. It sends a message.

OK, wow this long. The last thing I want to say to you guys is this: The world is not perfect; people are not perfect. I think our country got this one wrong because too many people acted out of hate and fear. They prioritized CHANGE over WRONG.

The good news is this was extremely eye-opening for a lot of people, including me, so maybe some good come will come out it. I hope so.

I love you guys so much.
Mom

“Love is not a victory march. It’s a cold and broken Hallelujah.” – Leonard Cohen

 


I’ve always maintained that this blog is a way for me to document important moments of my kids’ childhoods, in my own way and voice. This post is just another example of that… a letter to my kids to explain my sadness. I understand that by putting this “out there” I’ve invited feedback, comments, etc. I welcome that. But I ask that should you feel inclined to comment, you do so respectfully. That’s kind of the whole point, right?

 

 

 

 

A Letter of Clarification: REVISITED

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So Facebook reminded me about this post, “A Letter of Clarification,” which I wrote three years ago this week. As I read it, I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that it actually could have been written TODAY.

Honestly, has NOTHING changed in three years??

Let’s take a closer look and break it down. Original post is normal copy… my CURRENT comments are (in the type that looks like this.) 


Dear Offspring,

It’s possible that, given my current state of caffeine-deprived and calorie-deficient, I’ve been slightly crankier than usual. But it’s for my long-term health, goddammit so I would hope you could support me here.

(This refers to the cleanse I was doing at the time. Obviously, I never made THAT mistake again. The fact that I am over-caffeinated these days is just about the only thing that’s really changed since this was written.)

But noooo, instead you guys are all “Mommy, this pizza is so delicious! Mommy, why aren’t YOU having ice cream? Mommy, aren’t you tired of smoothies and soup?”

Cruel. Just cruel. (They’re still cruel. Just in different ways.)

SABOTEURS!

Anyway, cranky or not, there are a few things I’d like to clarify as we move on in our life together:

You’re NEVER going to be “done sweeping” at 2:00am. 2:00am is the middle of sweeptime. If you wake up at 2:00, you should promptly remind yourself that Mommy and Daddy are still happily sweeping and you should be as well, AT LEAST until 7:00am. 7:00am is an acceptable awake time. (Although you know we’re suckers and we’ll give the iPad at 6:00.)

(This is still true. Just because you don’t call it “sweeping” anymore doesn’t make it any better when you wake up in the middle of the night and ask for a drink/tissue/hug/listening ear because you had a bad dream. In fact, it’s WORSE because you’re not as cute.)

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THEN: Cute even though I have to force them to smile

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NOW: Taking selfies on their own

You can have Cookie Crisp OR chocolate chip waffles. Not both. Do I look like a gigantic pushover to you? Wait, what? Cookie Crisp has less sugar than Cheerios? OK, nevermind. Mother of the Year! 

(I’m proud to say that we have moved onto blueberry waffles. Still have the Cookie Crisp though.)

I have brought you to the playground (you’re welcome)… but now you expect me to play with you, too? That’s why I had THREE of you. So I wouldn’t have to do that stuff.

(Still true, only now they want me to play Mastermind, freeze tag, Battleship, Hangman, Rummy 500, hide & seek, Skylanders, various invented sports brackets games that involve them asking “Which team do you like better, A or B?” and Solitaire. Yes, Solitaire. The card game that by definition is a game you play ALONE. They don’t get that. I’m all, WHAT DO YOU EVEN THINK SOLITAIRE MEANS???)

Do you think crying, “I want Daddy to put me to bed!” upsets me? Because it doesn’t. I want Daddy to put you to bed as well. (SAME.)

When I say “Knock it off!” I don’t mean it literally. (SAME.)

When I say “Now!” I do. (SAME.)

Pajamas can be worn at least three times before washing. Unless you’ve peed on them. Also, please don’t pee on your pajamas.

(Hey, you guys actually don’t pee in or on your pajamas so much anymore… good job!)

Underwear and socks need to be washed after one wearing. Yes, even if you haven’t peed on them. BECAUSE I’M THE MOM AND I SAID SO.

(Yeah, still true. Don’t pee on your clothes. Wear your underwear and socks once.)

Because I’m the Mom and I said so” is a perfectly acceptable answer to many questions despite what the newfangled parenting books say about respecting our kids and honest communication.* And yes, despite what you think now, you will absolutely say it to your own kids someday.

(*This is, and always will be, the most true statement ever.)

Whenever you yell, “I wish Amanda were here!” you should know, NO ONE wishes Amanda were here more than I do. Trust me.

(<sniff, sniff> We ALL wish Amanda were here now.)

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THEN: <sigh>

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NOW: <sob>

Throwing a fit when you lose a game is a surefire way to be sure no one will ever want to play games with you. Man up and shake hands.

(Why are we still working on this, guys? And by “guys,” I’m talking to one of you specifically. You know who you are.)

On the other hand, gloating when you’re winning is equally ugly. It’s a fine line between good-natured smack talk and unsportsmanlike conduct. Keeping your mouth shut is always a safe bet. (This kind of works in life in general as well.)

(See comment above. Also, “When in doubt, keep your mouth shut” will work really well as a life motto for your ENTIRE life.)

“Please put those dirty clothes in the laundry basket” means exactly what it says. Here are the things it doesn’t mean: throw the dirty clothes in the hallway outside the laundry room, throw the dirty clothes on the laundry room floor, put the dirty clothes over your head and walk around with zombie arms saying “WHERE IS THE LAUNDRY ROOM?” in a spooky voice.

(Somehow you’re still unclear about “Please put those dirty clothes in the laundry basket” means. And it’s way worse now that your uniforms are more plentiful and WAY smellier. C’mon, get on board here.)

Yes, I DO work. YOU are my work.

(Same times ten.)

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THEN: Doughnuts make them happy

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NOW: I don’t ALWAYS have to bribe them to smile anymore

No, you cannot have “all of the shoes that light-up.”

(OK, you’re not interested in light-up shoes anymore, but here’s a list of just some of the things that you can’t have “all of…” now: baseball cards, football cards, Pokemon cards, Wii games, stuffed animals, live animals, pieces of candy, bottles of Gatorade, my money.)

Yes, it is true that carrots help you see better.

(Still true.)

No, not by actually sticking them in your eyes.

(Still true. They also don’t help your hair grow faster if you put them on your head OR your ears “hear better” if you stick them in your ears.)

Even when you’re telling me that I’m mean and you don’t like me, I still love you.

(Will always and forever be true.)

But I’d like you more if you’d stop telling me that I’m mean and you don’t like me.

(Same. And Amen to that.)

Yours forever in the laundry room (I’m still in here),

Mom

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THEN: Little devils

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NOW: Bigger devils with more modern devil emoji faces

Back to School Night Review

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Dear KJ,

Since you couldn’t make it to K-2 Back-to-School Night last night, I wanted to debrief you on the highlights and share some pictures of what you missed.

I started in the Nib’s room. He’s right… his teacher IS, in fact, “THE. NICEST. TEACHER. EVER.” At least, right now she is. But then again, they’re only eight days in so he hasn’t pushed her to her limits yet.

The Nib left us a letter. At least, I assume when he wrote, “Dear Famili,” he was talking to you and me. Take a look…

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Honey, does this concern you at all? (I know I don’t ever call you Honey in real life, but for some reason, it seems appropriate here. Go with it.) Let’s break this down.

Aside from the general spelling and grammatical mistakes, of which there are PLENTY, I see a few other issues here:

“can you Look at my hope and Dream.”

Does he only have one? That seems pretty non-aspirational for a 7-year old, doesn’t it?

“I Like auBut 2 GraD iS quit time”

So this answer was concerning to me. I mean, at first I thought he was saying that what he likes about second grade is “quitting time,” which would be worrisome for three reasons.

1. He sounds like factory worker from the late 50s… “It’s quittin’ time!”
2. His favorite part of the day should NOT be when school is over.
3. We ain’t raising no quitters!

OK, you’ve probably figured out by now that he means QUIET time. Do you feel better? I DON’T. You know why? Because this means our kid is a LIAR. He does NOT like to be quiet. EVER. There is no way that he likes “Qui(e)t time” and I can only assume he wrote that in attempt to suck up to his teacher.

If I had immediately read on to the next sentence, the whole quit/quiet confusion wouldn’t have happened because he immediately clarifies WHY he’s a fan of “qui(e)t time” …

“Becuse it’s rulacsig.”

DO YOU SEE THAT, BABE?? (Babe? I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s happening to me.) But I’m so happy!! He used the correct form of “IT’S!!” There are adults EVERYWHERE still effing that up and our 7-year old got it right! Sure, he misspelled 27% of the other words (sure, I needed Google to figure out that math), but he got ‘IT’S’ right!!

And he’s RIGHT, qui(e)t time IS rulacsig! (You got that last word, right?) I love qui(e)t time, too! Maybe he’s more like me than we thought!

(One quick note about his name… you don’t think he’s hiding gang symbols in that ‘A’ and ‘N,’ do you?)

OK, moving on. As instructed, I searched the room to Look at his hope and Dream.

So, there really is only one. And that one big Dream for this year is…..

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???? Where to begin. Let’s assume that says “to get better at typing.” I’m not saying that’s a BAD goal, but maybe he should be focusing on things a little bit more relevant to 2nd grade? Say, not putting capital letters in the middle of words? Or learning which direction the “q” and “p” face?

I will say, his illustration is awesome. Clearly, he’s looking to master the old-school “hunt-and-peck” method of typing, since he’s drawn only two large fingers on each hand doing all the work. He does have a nice smile on his face though, so maybe he finds tyqing very rulacsig. In which case, I guess we should support him.

The last thing to note in Nib’s class was the traditional self-portraits. You know how they do this at the beginning of each year?

(Remember how in LO’s Kindergarten class the directions CLEARLY stated, “Do NOT write your name on this! We want your parents to guess which one is you!” and then we found hers and there was her name, BIG and BOLD, right on the front? Good times.)

Well, here’s Nib’s.

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Let’s review the highlights of this piece:

  • The Trump-like orange spray tan
  • The ANGRY eyebrows
  • The, um… nose?
  • The razor-sharp shark teeth (note: scary shark teeth also appear on his best buddy T’s picture)
  • The one muscle-flexed arm (not to scale. I think.)

Go ahead, KJ, take a closer look and really soak it all in.

And just when I thought, “Oh, IT’S FINE… look how he drew those cute freckles!” I asked him about it:

Nib: Did you go to my class and see my stuff last night?
Me: Oh yes, I sure did. I really liked your self-portrait with the freckles! And T’s Dad and I liked the pointy teeth that you guys gave yourself.
Him: Oh yeah, our shark teeth! And did you see that mine are all full of cavities?

Because PLAIN shark teeth weren’t bad enough. His had to be DECAYING shark teeth.

In conclusion, by the end of year, Nib should be an excellent tyqer and our dental bills will be astronomical. Awesome.

After 30 minutes, I left Nib’s room to head to HD’s Kindergarten room… a land of rainbows and art and books and joy and play and woah, woah, woah… what’s this I see in the hallway?

HD’s class’ Hope & Dreams are posted on the bulletin board outside his room and I immediately see his:

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What on God’s Earth is this about? This is not my child. I am not raising ANY of my children to be overachieving MATH students. Did you have something to do with this? Where is the “I want to read as many books as possible!” or “I want to make a boatload of friends!” ? Hard math problems?? SERIOUSLY?

<sigh>

(Side note: as I head into the room, I see this on the door. HOW DID WE NOT GET HAIRCUTS BEFORE SCHOOL STARTED?!?)

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KJ, I also want to share HD’s self-portrait. It’s very cute. It’s very colorful. There are no shark teeth. But I am a little concerned that the skin tone says that he’s even more color blind than we already thought he was.

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Hmmm.

OK, so the last stop of the night was the courtyard where artwork from every student was displayed. It’s a beautiful sea of color and after some searching, in the dark, I located our boys’ pieces.

HD’s is cute:

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Nib’s is… this:

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Clearly, it’s another opportunity to express a goal. And it’s obvious that Nib wants to “get better” at something again… and it ISN’T typing this time. But I could NOT figure out what it was. And I tried. I really tried. But I gave in and asked him about this morning.

Let me type it out for you this way…

“I wish to Get BeDr at M-O-t-u-B-L/C a S-h-i-n.”

Got it now? Hint: It’s MORE freaking math. Another hint: the “X” border is a clue.

It says MULTIPLICATION. He, too, wants to get better at advanced math.

Where have I gone wrong? I feel like you and my brother are in some kind of parenting/uncle-ing cahoots to undermine me! Although, please take a minute to appreciate the time he took with those letters. That warms my heart.

So, that’s what you missed. All in all, I think it’s going to be a great year. Also, I wish those incredible teachers the very, very, very best of luck.

Later,
Me

PS. Boys, someday if/when you read this, you should know that this is all a joke. I mean, I DO find the typing dream to be interesting, but hey, typing is very important. Dad and I love you and we’ll be super proud of you whether or not you learn to type, do hard math problems, spell correctly or draw human teeth. xoxox Mom

Limping across the… starting line?

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I was going to post this vent on Facebook but decided that I had much too much to say bitch about for a mere status update. Read it if you want. Or don’t. I just need to document the complete failure of our health shields in this house and the way we’re already limping and we’ve just crossed the STARTING line!

So, the Nib had impetigo a few weeks ago. Apparently, a LOT of kids had impetigo at the end of the summer, considering everyone I talk to says, “OH [insert name of their kid or someone they know] had impetigo, too! They think he/she caught it at [insert name of camp] here.”

Impetigo is a gross, extremely uncomfortable rash that spreads easily and according to the Nib, “…ITCHES SO MUCH AND HURTS SO MUCH… AT THE SAME TIME… OMG, THIS IS THE WORST!”

I guess it’s also somehow related to the strep virus because when HD started complaining about a sore throat last week, everyone was all, “Oh, it’s probably strep which he probably caught from Nib’s impetigo.”

HD rallied enough to make it to the first day of school because WHO MISSES THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN? But when he got off the bus and told me that it was “… his worst first day of Kindergarten EVER,” I wondered if maybe I made the wrong call by sending him. Hmmm.

Still, for the First Day of School we had a pretty good record: 3/3 made it!

Brought HD to the doctor that afternoon and even thought it LOOKED like strep and FELT like strep, it wasn’t strep. At first, I was really glad the strep test came back negative because I was feeling PRETTY BAD about being the Mom who sent her kid to the first day of Kindergarten with strep and possibly gave all the other brand new Kindergarteners strep as well. “OOPS, so sorry about bringing that infectious disease into the classroom on their very first day of school EVER!” So yeah, the negative strep test was good.

But THEN, the doctor put him on antibiotics anyway just in case and when HD was still complaining after three days, I was all “Geez, if this was strep, he’d be better by now… WTF?” (which in essence, was me saying, “Screw you, brand new Kindergarteners, I WISH it was an infectious disease,” which basically makes me the worst person in the world. #sorrynotsorrywishitwasstrep)

OK, so then HD missed the very SECOND day of Kindergarten, which isn’t nearly as bad as missing the first, but still not great, but whatever. Instead, we spent the the day together on the couch. RIGHT next to each other. Because that’s where he needed me to be. ALL DAY. Kind of sad, but also kind of awesome.

Second Day of School: 2/3

But guess what all-day cuddling with a kid with a virus leads to? YOU with a virus. And by “YOU,” I mean, “ME.” So yeah, I felt like crap by Friday night.

This is me catching the non-strep virus:

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Saturday morning, we all woke up slowly and felt… OK. Well, we really WANTED to feel OK because we had plans to see “School of Rock” and have dinner in NYC. HD seemed better, I was rallying… sooooo, we’re good to go!

Guess what… we’re NOT good to go. HD whimpered his way through the the first act and begged to go home. So I left with him at intermission leaving KJ to watch the second half of the show with Nib and LO, take them to dinner and then take the train home since I was taking the car.

First Half of “School of Rock:” 5/5
Second Half of “School of Rock” and Dinner: 3/5

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We’re ready to ROCK!

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I’m ready to GO HOME!

On Sunday, we were supposed to go to a big family BBQ at T&P’s. I really, really wanted to go, but as 2:00pm approached, I realized that it wasn’t going to happen for me. Grayson was also still borderline so he and I decided to stay home.

Family BBQ: 3/ … oh wait! Minutes before leaving, the Nib poked his own eye. Badly. He was screaming in pain, couldn’t open it, blah blah blah. We made a new plan, KJ will bring LO over to the BBQ and come back later to pick up the Nib and bring him to the party once he recovered.

OK, scratch that, Family BBQ: 2/5

Well, Nib never recovered. He spent most of the day blindly (literally) screaming in pain and yelling things like, “WHEN WILL THIS PAIN END? WILL I EVER FEEL NORMAL AGAIN? I CAN’T STAND IT!” That is not an exaggeration. I have it on video. I will not share it because there are some privacy lines that even I won’t cross.

This is what most of Sunday looked like:

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This is my “Yes, I will cuddle and love your sore throat and badly-poked eye selves and ignore my own failing health, BECAUSE I’M A MOM AND THAT’S WHAT WE DO AND NO, I’M NOT RESENTFUL AT ALL” face. 

A couple hours after KJ and LO left for the BBQ, I got a text from KJ: “LO is asleep on the couch; she was complaining of a bad headache. I’m going to wake her up and bring her home.” Oy. Kevin brought her home and we all went to bed.

Final Tally, Family BBQ: 0/5

Yesterday morning was off to a slow start, with multiple sore throats, one sore eye and one sore head but by early afternoon, things were looking up. Throats, eye and head were all feeling better… hallelujah! Being a stupid parent (again? really?), I decided LO and I could make it out to the store for school supplies and after about an hour, she started crying that her throat hurt. I tried to tell her NO, IT DOESN’T but she started to cry in Target. She spent the rest of the day in bed, had an extremely fitful night “sleep” and is home from school today.

Third Day of School: 2/5

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“I can’t actually eat these cough drops because my throat hurts too much but can I bring them to school tomorrow?” 

So that’s where we’re at. Apparently when I said, “Bring on the new school year… we’re ready for ya!” I was WRONG. I should have said, “I know you’re coming new school year, whether we’re ready or not. And you should know that we’re not really ready. I mean, some of us are, but some of us aren’t. So we’re going to ease into it. We’ll get a couple of us there each day until maybe mid-week, week two. Sound good, school year? Cool, thanks.”

New School Year: A zillion.
Us: Very, very little.

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PS. LO had the genius idea of freezing water in popsicle molds so that she could numb her sore throat without actually eating 20 popsicles. Is she the first person to think of this??

Pictures Worth More than 1,000 Words

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Dear Kids,

Someday, when you’re reading this blog, you’ll notice that as the years went on, the time between posts stretched longer and longer. In the beginning, my goal was to post at least once a week. I would have liked to write more often, but I was just so tired, you guys. SO FREAKING TIRED. Not sure if you remember, but the three of you weren’t the biggest fans of sleeping. You didn’t (don’t) love going to bed. You didn’t (don’t) love staying in bed. You only loved (still love) getting OUT of bed. All the time. You’re a little bit better about it now, but just like with the boys’ aim while peeing, there’s always room for improvement.

These days, my schedule is looking more like one post per season. Yeah, that’s only four per year. (That’s right, MATH.) There are a few reasons for this slacking off, kids. (Not that I owe you guys any explanations… you have never adequately answered my question about why you need to wake up prior to six-oh-oh every single morning.)

First, you’re all getting older and more aware of social media. You say things like, “Are you going to put that on the Instagram?” (probably) or “Am I going to be famous since I’m on your nap blog?” (um, no). So, I do think twice about writing about your embarrassing behavior in a way that I didn’t when you were younger.

Second, I’m working on some other writing projects now. No, I don’t make any money for them. Did Daddy tell you to ask me that? I’m working on that project with Pop and I’ve been spending a lot of time on that. Yes, I know I only have about three pages written but writing is HARD and you know how long it takes to do hard things! Like really brushing your teeth (as opposed to the swiping method you guys prefer) or cleaning up the American Ninja Warrior Chopped: Team Matchbox vs. Team Hot Wheels set-up.

Third, books are awesome. And I really love to read them. That’s usually why I’m ignoring you guys! You guys should try the whole reading thing sometime. Something OTHER than the Cinnamon Toast Crunch box.

OK, some might call those excuses rather than reasons. Those are annoying people. Tomato, tomahto… let’s get out of it.

I saw something interesting in The New York Times the other day – or maybe it was on Facebook – either way, it was a challenge to parents to find ONE picture of your kid that best sums up his/her personality. Well. You guys probably know by now that I am the first one to jump down a rabbit hole of old photos. It’s just something I do. Dad plays golf and goes to Yankee games; Mom brunches with friends and looks through old photos. It’s important to have hobbies. So of course I was all, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Approximately 28½ hours later, I had narrowed it down to ten each. And then out of the ten, I chose ONE for each of you. Wanna see what I picked?

LO, you’re first. Here are the nine runners up:

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It’s no surprise that it’s basically a collage of you communing with nature and animals. (How did I get a girl so passionate about fishing? It still baffles me.) And of course I had to include that one of you with your brand new “boy haircut” (bottom row, middle photo) because that photo reminds me of the quiet confidence you’ve always had to not only be yourself, but to 100% own it.

And if I had to choose just one picture? THIS would be it:

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Geez, that picture makes me so happy. Energy. Enthusiasm. Exuberance. It’s all you.

LO, don’t ever listen to anybody that tells you you have to change – including me. I am definitely guilty of trying to quiet your spirit sometimes. I hope if and when you’re a Mom, you’ll understand the tricky balance between embracing your kid 100% while at the same time discouraging behavior not often well-received in the real world… for instance, using an outside voice in an inside restaurant.🙂

Let me be clear on one thing though: you are loved, unconditionally. Whether you are cheering on the soccer field (and I do mean, WHILE you are playing), shining on the “Guys & Dolls” stage or yelling across the library, I want you to really hear this: YOU ARE UNCONDITIONALLY LOVED. And you always will be.

NIB, you’re next. Here’s your collage of nine:

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Dude, you were a serious baby. Affectionate towards HD… and/or tackling him. Loving sports (and brackets) with your buddies. Mischievous grin. And that shot in the upper-right corner? That’s when you insisted on marching in our town’s Memorial Day parade with LO’s Daisy troop. You were two and a half years old and you walked the entire damn way because you were not going to miss out on that action.

Choosing your perfect photo was easy:

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LOOK AT THAT FACE!! Intense. Competitive. Strategic. You’re never as happy as you are during a “winning game.” The ONLY thing this picture doesn’t convey is your sensitivity. You can play tough guy as much as you want… we see your mushy inside! Hold onto it, bud… it will make you a better person, on and off the field.

OK, HD, you’re up. Top nine:

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For you, I picked pictures that capture your quiet focus and simple joy.”Meet the Cars” with Pop… two of your favorite things in one picture! That one in the bottom middle perfectly captures the face you make when I strongly encourage you to answer grown-ups when they ask you a question. The photo in the upper left reminds me of what a happy baby you were. You didn’t move until you were like a year old. And I mean, no crawling, no rolling, nothing. We’d put you down just like that with a bunch of toys and you’d still be there hours later. Of course you can be the silliest one of the bunch, but generally, you just want to do your thing. At home. Inside.

Your ONE picture is kind of predictable… I took it a few days ago, the morning after we got home from Ireland. This is what you do.

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You just play, imagination at work. I cannot wait to see where it takes you.

I’m pretty sure I WON that Photo Challenge, right Nib?

OK, so here we are in mid-August, facing the end of another great summer (I can hear LO screaming, “But I haven’t even had my birthday yet! Summer is not over!”). Nib, I’m sorry we didn’t get to cross “See Halimton” off the bucket list… but you were introduced to the formidable Lindsay Lohan when we watched The Parent Trap so I’d call this summer a success!

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In exactly three weeks (after LO’s big double digit birthday), all three of you will get on the SAME exact school bus and go to the SAME exact school for the first and last time ever. All three of you under one roof for the entire 2016-17 school year. I can’t wait. NO WRESTLE BABY IN THE HALLWAYS, you guys.

Let’s do big things this year. Let’s try new tricks on the playground and invite new friends to join us. Let’s learn new math facts and help Mom understand them, too. Let’s read all of the books! Let’s be kind and brave. Let’s work hard on the sports’ fields and let’s also be great on the sidelines. Let’s stand up for ourselves and for others. Let’s know when to sit still and when to stand up. Let’s use our voices when we need to speak and stay quiet when we need to listen. Let’s keep our hands to ourselves but share all the other good parts of ourselves. Let’s use our brains and our hearts equally. Let’s create art. Let’s talk to each other and connect and share and most importantly, let’s love.

It’s gonna be a great year.

Love you the most,

Mom

 

Spin Cycle

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This post has nothing to do with kids or parenting. It’s about something that I actually find much more tedious and difficult… exercise. 

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My experience with Spin all started a few years ago when a (now close) friend started mentioning the “Tabata” spin classes she was loving. She is a crazy workoutaholic so I always made tons of fun of her for all of her various gym programs/group classes and also because who the hell ever heard of Tabata?

I was familiar with the spin craze of course; living in NYC in the early ‘aughts (you know that means the years between 2000-2010, right? Did I sound smart for using that term?), you couldn’t avoid the spin hype. The studios were as ubiquitous as Seattle-based coffee cafes. (Just guess which type of business I frequented more often.)

SoulCycle, Flywheel, and other indoor cycling studios (who all seemed to follow the “aspirational-word + bike-related word” naming formula), were popping up all over the city… but it was not something I was ever tempted to try. Mostly because there is NO exercise that I am ever tempted to try.

After we moved to the suburbs and my kids were in preschool, I met the aforementioned workoutaholic friend and after many months of my mocking her “Tabata habit” and of her encouraging me to try spinning, I FINALLY agreed to take my first class at a local studio called JoyRide.

The very next day, my friend sent me a two-page email explaining all the lingo, positions, bike set-up info, etc. and I wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into.

But I went anyway.

By the end of the class, my feet were numb, my whole lady-parts region hurt like holy hell, I couldn’t breath and I had almost thrown up six separate times. I was so far out of my comfort zone that the time had changed. And I loved it.

Well, I loved that I had done it. Like most of my experience with exercise, I loved it when it was over.

So why is spinning better than other forms of torture, like say, running, or Pilates? Well, first of all, it’s dark. Dark is good. Dark means I can’t see anyone, no one can see me and most importantly, I can’t see myself in the giant mirror at the front of the room. And second, the music is loud. Loud is good because it’s distracting and because no one can hear me gasping for breath. I think. I hope.

I got addicted to spinning, started going 4-5 times a week and thought, “Check me out, I’m an exerciser!”

And despite the fact that after about a year and a half, I got burnt out and took a few (ahem, eight) months off, I’m back now with a more balanced schedule and still love/hate going.

Let me walk you through MY experience of a spin class. It actually starts long before the class itself.

Sunday: The schedule becomes available for booking. I usually ignore the email knowing that if I wait long enough, many classes will fill up.

Side note: My IDEAL situation is when I get put on a wait list for a class, but never make it in. I feel like that totally counts as taking the class because it’s not my fault I didn’t get in. It’s best case scenario. (Worst case: you get the email shortly before the class starts saying, “Great news! You’ve made it off the wait list!” I hate that… my mind has already scheduled something else for that hour, usually involving baked goods and then I have to either bail and feel guilty or actually go and feel like I’m dying. Tough choice.)

Sunday/Monday: I sign up for 2-3 classes (and I actually show up for about half of them).

48 hours before the class: I start to dread it. I think of EVERY excuse in the book to try to avoid it – what if the school nurse is trying to reach me… all of my workout clothes are dirty… I should probably spend some time deleting junk mail… the potential excuse list goes on and on. Oh and if someone should just happen to invite me to have coffee at that time, I take it as a sign from God that I was just not meant to spin that day. Can’t argue with God.

Needless to say, it takes everything I’ve got to get myself there.

But sometimes I go.

I arrive at the studio, wearing yoga pants and a loose shirt. Because that’s what I wear to do ANY kind of workout. And I don’t even do yoga. I am usually the only person in the studio not wearing tight everything but tight’s not how I roll, so I’m good. The first few times I went, I was a little nervous that my wide leg yoga pants would get stuck in the bike wheel, causing me to jam my knee, fall off the bike, hit my head and end up with a concussion. But then I realized that THAT would be the PERFECT excuse to skip exercising for a while, so now I kind of always hope that happens.

As I wait for my class to begin, I feel extremely jealous of the sweaty people walking out from the previous class because they are done with the torture for the day and I’ve yet to begin. As I watch them leave, I get the vibe that most of them are even heading to Starbucks, so then I kind of hate them, too.

I change into my spin shoes, which I purchased because someone assured me that the classes would actually be much easier if I wore the specially-designed clip shoes. EASIER THAN WHAT? Walking through fire? You know what would REALLY be easier? NOT GOING TO SPIN CLASS.

OK, sorry.

So I’ve got my special shoes on, my water bottle is full, my yoga pant bottoms are flapping and I grab a towel, which would need to be beach-size to adequately contain the amount of sweat it’s about to absorb.

Time to head into the studio and find my bike.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about bike selection. Here are my criteria for the perfect bike:

  • Be as far away from the instructor as possible.
  • Be within the direct path of the breeze from one of the big oscillating fans. If I’m NOT feeling that breeze, then I AM passing out. It’s that simple.
  • Be 100% unable to see myself in the giant wall mirror behind the instructor. On those rare moments when they turn the lights up a little bit, I do NOT want to be catching glimpses of myself sweating profusely and gasping for breath.

So I find my bike, adjust the seat for minimum pain infliction and climb on.

The instructor… wait. This is probably the right time to mention that the instructors for the classes I usually take also happen to be good friends of mine. Meaning, in real life, I love them. But in that room, I sort of hate them. This is nothing that I don’t say to their faces, so we’re cool.

So the friend instructor starts with a “warm-up” song which usually lasts like 18 minutes and includes ALL the spin moves like first position and loops and jumps and second and figure 8s and core and third and hills and sprints and … I want to die.

Then she says something annoying like, “OK awesome! Now we’re all warmed up and ready to start, right?!?” and the class whoops and hollers and cheers and I really WANT to yell, “WARM-UP? Are you effing kidding me?” but I can’t catch my breath enough to say anything.

Then the class “officially” starts (whatever) and well, torture and hell and yada, yada, yada. AND it gets even hellier when I realize that I’m apparently the only one that is suppressing anger and hatred towards my friend instructor.

Every one else is “WooHoo”ing as if someone just brought in a pitcher of Margaritas. (For the record, that NEVER happens. Nobody EVER brings a pitcher of Margaritas into the spin room. Would that be so hard Spin management? Rocks/salt. Just saying.)

If people could hear all the thoughts in my head during the class, I probably wouldn’t be allowed back. Hell, I might be arrested. It’s not unusual for me to think such things as, “I wish one of these bikes would spontaneously combust and catch on fire so we would have to evacuate.”

 

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Here’s some insight into what goes on in my brain during that 50 minutes:

Friend Instructor says: How you guys doing out there!
Everyone else: WOOHOO! Awesome!
Me: Like I’m going to DIE, thanks for asking. (In my head. Can’t breathe.)

Friend Instructor: You guys look AMAZING!
Everyone else: WOOHOO!
Me: That’s an enormous lie. (In my head. Dying.)

Friend Instructor: Let’s get on the beat now… 1-2, 1-2, 1-2!
Everyone else: WOOHOO!
Me: On the beat? Are you kidding? F-U, F-U, F-U! (In my hea… you get it.)

I just don’t understand why everyone is so HAPPY in there? Why are they CHEERING? How can they BREATHE??

So after what feels like four hours, friend instructor announces “You’re done! You guys did it! Amazing job!”

But guess what… it’s another LIE.

Because then she says, “So pick up your weights… we’re going to do some quick arms. Get your elbows up and lift, lift, lift…” At this point, the friend instructor gets off the bike to demonstrate the arm workout in the front of the class.

Basically, she does various shoulder, bicep and tricep arm exercises with zero pauses for about six minutes, or 6,429 reps whichever comes first. My shoulders start to vibrate and ache about five reps in so you can see how THIS is going down.

I power through as many as I can (eight) and then I do what I’m sure everyone else is doing… I wait until the friend instructor looks the other way and then I rest. I’m SURE she has no idea that I’m doing about 1/3 of the reps she’s doing! HAHA!*

*My instructor friends have assured me that they do, in fact, know that I’m doing about 1/3 of the reps that they’re doing. That’s annoying.

At some point, the torture ends.

WITHOUT A DOUBT, MY FAVORITE PART OF ANY DAY THAT I SPIN IS THAT MOMENT WHEN THE FRIEND INSTRUCTOR SAYS, “YOU DID IT! YOU’RE DONE.” It’s like I’ve been released from a prison where everyone except me is bummed to be leaving. So weird.

Approximately five minutes after I leave, I start to feel awesome and healthy and happy. So I sign up again… and start to dread it immediately. And then I love it.

The cycle continues (pun very much intended).

Ride on, people. But you don’t have to be so freaking happy about it.

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Come on now. 

 

 


*I feel compelled to add, for my local friends, that this post (obviously) exaggerates the truth except the part about how much I hate exercise and the parts where I describe how I feel like I’m dying during class and how happy I feel when it’s over and… so OK, maybe there is a lot of truth here. But in reality, JoyRide is an amazing place. The owners have created a warm, welcoming environment and the instructors are nothing short of supportive, motivating and inspiring… which I do appreciate when I’m not too busy trying not to die.🙂

 

It Can Be Both

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Being a Mom is hard.

Because of the whole, you know…

labor pains

sleepless nights

poop explosions

laundry

ear infections

meltdowns

“I do it myself!”

potty training

“NO!”

laundry

“She started it!”

3 am vomiting

“What’s for dinner?”

carpools

laundry

bullying

“Mooooom, I neeeeeeed you!”

Sharpees

“What does God look like?”

tags and seams

“Ewwww… I hate [whatever you made for dinner]!”

mean girls

“Where’s my uniform/library book/other shoe/snack?”

sleepless nights

ER visits

laundry

“I need it by tomorrow.”

pink eye

homework

“Can’t you just do it?”

LICE

“He took my toy/cookie/shirt/diary!”

driving lessons

“You’re the meanest Mom, EVER!”

The Talk

“Mom, I have to tell you something…”

laundry

peer pressure

“I didn’t make the team.”

curfews

just say NO

sleepless nights

“I need you.”

“I don’t need you.”

college tours

goodbyes

 

The list goes on and on… and of course it doesn’t end when they leave for college.

The kids change. The worries change with them.

Kids & worries are shape shifters.

Everything looks different over time but the basic concerns are ALWAYS some form of “Am I doing this right?” and/or “Will they be OK?”

It doesn’t seem like too much to ask for them to just be OK. But it’s huge. So we worry. And it’s exhausting.

Being a Mom is hard.

But then.

Then you have one of those moments – moments – when you’re just looking at your kid – maybe he is sleeping peacefully with his little butt in the air or maybe is stepping on a school bus for the first time or he’s helping his brother read or she is shining on a stage or she’s holding up a worm she “caught” or he’s flying around the bases in his first Little League game or she’s crying because her best friend doesn’t want to be her best friend anymore or he’s saying “I love ya, Ma,” or it could be that he is simply eating a bowl of cereal (for dinner. because, well, you know… cooking is also hard and exhausting) – and your breath catches because in that moment, WOW this kid is so beautiful and special!

How did it happen? How did I get so lucky?

And you realize that you have no idea if you’re doing it right, but so far, they’re OK so you must be doing SOMETHING right. Yay you!

So yeah, being a Mom is hard. And yeah, we’re so lucky to have the job.

It’s hard. And we’re lucky.

It’s both. It can be both.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the exhausted, lucky Moms out there. 

 

Here are some of my moments, some that made me feel exhausted and some that made me feel lucky…
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