Thursday, August 31, 2006

Maria's Self-Portrait


Maria drew this self-portrait while looking in the mirror. So is this the opposite of what how we see her? I think so! My first reaction when I saw it was how good it was and my second was that her part was on the wrong side!

We are headed up "Up North", as true Michiganders say, for a few days, so I'm hoping for a few days of fun with the family. Just when I was getting used to the pick-up-Maria routine, they go and give us a 4 day weekend.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Happy Birthday Marianna!!!

This is your present.

Do you remember this? You look so mad or intense about something, but in the full picture, you are holding up a pink sweater!! Does this look like a pink sweater pose? Well, I get a chuckle out of it every time I see it.

Now imagine if you lived here, we could go to lunch and I could bring a present for you in one of those little tissue paper bags of a knick knack you don't really need. Isn't this way more fun?

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The apple didn't fall far from the tree. Be nice to your mom on her b-day, Tiff!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What Can I Do to Make This Up?

Maria completed her first full day of high school today! Yay Maria! In all the excitement, her mother forgot to pick her up from school, and that is not even worthy of a picture.

Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for a child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! Isaiah 49:15

Finally, at about 3:10 pm, I began to wonder why I was having such a leisurely afternoon when I thought it was going to be a busy one. And as I was getting ready to leave for the cross country meet, I began to wonder where Maria was. It finally occurred to me that this year, oh yes, I have to pick her up from school.

Monday, August 28, 2006

First Day

I still remember like it was yesterday when Bridget was just 1 year old and we were sitting out at the bus stop waiting for Edward to come home from kindergarten. Filled with great expectation, we looked together eagerly to the north from where the bus would come. As it rounded the corner and headed the final one-tenth of a mile down the street, Bridget let out a big "Bussssss" and I have been puzzled ever since as to why she chose this as her first word to speak out loud.


Now Bridget is 11 years old and the bus which comes from the north is one of the fundamental properties of her existence. Imagine our shock then when the bus approached us from the south this morning! To add further to the delirium, she is the only one from the cul-de-sac getting on this year. In its hey-day, the bus had about 8 kids from our stop get on, and now she alone gets on as the others have all gone on to college or high school. In the picture above, she is taking it all in stride.

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Yes, even high school kids love to have their photo taken on the first day of school!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Canoeing to Church

This morning, after the prayer service, John discovered there was a park nearby where you could take a canoe out of the water. The Grand River flows right in front of our church and the park where we have our outdoor sevice. So John asked himself, how would Daniel Boone get to church? We put our canoe in about 1.5 miles upstream at Riverside Park at a little before 5pm and arrived at church by 5:40pm. As we paddled downstream, I saw how the light was dancing off of the water when you looked toward the sun and I thought what a blessing to see this.

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John getting ready to launch

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Doing the hard work in the back

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Approaching downtown.

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A new perspective on our band which was warming up.

The kids met us at the park in plenty of time for the 6 pm service. Pastor Henry talked about the Kingdom that will last forever, and we celebrated the Lord's Supper in the grassy park. We walked up to the pastor individually to take the bread & wine and I realized later my feet were bare like the original disciples.

And this is one of the great songs we sang:

Jesus Christ, I think upon Your sacrifice
You became nothing, poured out to death
Many times I've wondered at Your gift of life
And I'm at that place once again.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Got Milk?

Edward drinks a lot of milk in his captivating role as a growing teenage boy. Dr. H told him last week that as a runner, he should be drinking 4 glasses a day which further increases his motivation. So as in most households with kids, we go through a flowing river of this bovine extract. The kids quite often drink it with chocolate syrup which for Maria is a vital requirement for her to let it anywhere near her taste buds. Edward, more of a connoisseur, knows that certain foods, such as spaghetti, go best with white milk. In fact, we have a dinnertime song to that effect.


Last week, I got such a kick out of Ed when he went to the store for me and picked up some chocolate syrup. He said something like, Mom do you know they have strawberry? He said it in such a sweet naive sort of way that I could not resist picking some up for him the next time we went to the store. Another thing I got was a box of soy milk which you can keep in the cupboard until you open it. Before you go thinking we're all going vegan or something, I must add that I had a coupon for a free one, so I told the kids this was going to be our emergency stash of milk. Moo.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Relative Beauty

Last weekend when we were coming home, we drove by this beautiful field and I asked John to stop so I could take a picture. I always love to see those big spools of shredded wheat sitting out in the field that a farmer has devotedly rolled up. Combined with the green field, blue sky and puffy clouds, the scene could have come from a Jack & the Beanstalk or Little Red Hen picture book.

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John pulled over so I could take the picture but not without adding a snide remark about this being a case of "Ohio relative beauty." This does not really refer to my relatives in Ohio, per se. He grew up in California and travelled all over the west as a child where the beauty is BIG and what he means is that I can get carried away by such lesser beauty, if there is such a thing. He said there were people standing out on the porch with a what the heck look when I was taking the photo. Oh well.

Recently, I was telling my co-workers about how it is not out of the realm of possibility that we would move out west someday because we like it, and they were so wondering why I would leave the beauty of Michigan. Maybe this is just a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence. Don't worry Mom, we aren't moving. I'm just saying, I would be open to it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Motion Blur

This morning, I awoke at 4 am to the pleasant sounds of unexpected rain on the roof. It was sweet. I was looking forward to the day even if it was raining. At 6:00 am, I awoke again; this time to the smell of eggs and toast. Race day. John, the morning person around here, always makes eggs & toast for Edward on the day of a cross country race and this was going to be the first one of the season. It is also our tradition to have spaghetti the night before - all this in honor of the Runner's digestive system.

The big race started at 8:30 am over in East Grand Rapids. Bridget & I met John over at Manhattan Park where the race was held.

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The whole Sailor reserve team, girls & boys, meets for a pre-game huddle.

187 boys & 132 girls line up.

They're off!

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Edward goes by in a blur.

This course is probably one of the toughest around because of the many hills. I ran through the woods with John to mile marker one and took the blurry picture. Oy. Then, I ran up a steep hill through weeds to go to mile marker 2. I met Ed at the end of the race, 3.1 miles where he told me he had thrown up, the evidence of which was still on his face. This is also tradition, at least for the early races of the season and is not good for one's time, but he seems to outgrow it as the season goes on. I guess running up and down hills as hard as you can isn't easy on the stomach.

So then, as the excitement of the day continued, Bridget & I pulled out a whole produce department worth of weeds from our perennial garden this afternoon. I later realized I had forgotten to watch for poison ivy. Duh. So I took a shower to wash this invisible potential threat away; my eyes either itch or I'm tired. Then John told me he saw poison ivy today at the race which is why I mentioned walking through the weeds and the woods. What I'm trying to say is, stay tuned to see if I develop a rash. I will even take a picture. Oh yeah, I bet you're going to want to see that.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Study of Light

I took the following photos on our camping trip within about a 16 hour time frame. What is so amazing is how you can almost see the light even though light is not something you can see or understand; you see what it touches. God created light and then used it throughout the Bible as a metaphor for Himself.

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It was so cool how every time I came down over the dune, the landscape was new and different. Add to all this the sensations of warm sand and the breeze off the lake, the constant sound of the waves and good will, the scents of pine needles and campfires (and something coming out of the pit pots), the absolute strain of climbing my old body back up the dune, and it was all very stimulating. When I returned back to home and work (my life) on Monday, I felt plain. I was probably just tired. But I remember the Light.

Isaiah 60:19 The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.

Ephesians 5:14
13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

John 8:12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

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In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.

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The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world

Rev. 22:5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Another Blogger is Born?

One exciting thing I found out on the camping trip was that a friend of mine from our church, Diana, just started a blog called Extra Grace Required. She is from Seattle and is the youngest of 4 daughters like my friend Lori from Massachussetts. And since I'm the oldest of 4 daughters, we have a bit of a unique connection there. Oh, and her dad is a Nether who landed in the 50's which is another resemblance we have. That's slang for Dutch immigrant if you don't know. So go check her blog out. Right now. It will be fun. Signed, The Oldest Sister Who Knows Better. JK!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Camping Genes

It turns out that Bridget didn't get enough of the camping experience. John asked her to set up the tent this afternoon to vacuum it out, and she happily complied since she loves the whole scene and she is a very good camper. (I know those genes come from her dad's side of the family, so don't go saying I never give him credit for any of the good genes in our kids.) She completed the process in about 45 minutes and much to John's surprise, even put on the rain fly, or whatever that thingy is called.

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Can't you just hear her saying, "Mom, is this really a bloggable moment?"

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She was this far after my 2 mile walk.

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She's a Winner!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Thank You for Loving Us

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Yes, John, Bridget & I made it home in one whole piece - actually better than before! You can put me down as a wilderness survivor now. We camped for about 24 hours in the Manistee National Forest north of Ludington, Michigan with about 28 people from our church in a rustic camp (ie. no plumbing or electricity). I have found if you are conservative in your drinking habits, you can get by with only having to use the pit pots twice in a 24 hour period.

We enjoyed the beauty, peace, and quiet of God's earth and great fellowship while we were there.

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Lake Michigan is spectacular!

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We had a great time together.

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Bridget's little head is in the above picture in the choppy waves. (There were 2 adults out there with her who must have been under water at the time.)

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The sunset. As romantic as watching the sunset sounds, you end up with about 12-15 bright sunspots in your eyes.

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The Campfire. This gives you the earthy smell.

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The music.

We sang praise songs around the campfire with 2 guitars, a mandolin, the djembe (jimbay). The drum beat had a mesmerizing effect, and I was sitting next to Diana, the one who sings the harmonies with the band. I don't think I ever actually sang a straight tune, but it was fun. Nobody took me up on the idea to come up with a new tune for Kum-bay-yah, but we didn't have to sing the old one, either. When Justin prayed, I remember he said, "Thank you for loving us," and I thought yes, thank you, thank you, I can't believe I get to be here.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Getting Bigger

So Edward & I were sitting here on a quiet Friday night. He has his first cross country race tomorrow for the season - it's a scrimmage - and I am anxiously awaiting my date with the pit pots. Edward went in the backyard to bat some balls up on the roof and I went out to take a few pictures. I wistfully (as wistful as I get - John says I have no sentimental bones in my body) recalled the hours upon hours when he would play out back with the neighbor boy, Teddy. This is true - Eddie & Teddy would play a baseball game they made up for hours and hours and hours, and then they got too big and started hitting the windows on the house and getting them stuck in the gutters around the roof, and that was the end of that. Now they are even bigger and doing high school sports and that is even more fun. So yay for getting bigger.

Earlier this week, I took Edward to the doctor for a physical since he missed the sports physical at school. The doctor told him to lay down on this table that must have been 3 feet long. Did I mention this is his pediatrician? He started doing his obligatory poking around in the abdomen which immediately caused Ed to start laughing to which Dr. H said something like, "Ever since you were a little guy, you couldn't handle the tactile sensation..." At least some things never change.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Happy Birthday Oma!

Today would have been Oma's 90th birthday here on the earth but I'm sure she is happy to be celebrating in heaven! She was born in 1916 in Bedum, The Netherlands, to Reinder & Trientje Zijl and came to the US when she was about 35. She became a widow at about my age (43) wow, and lived the whole 2nd half of her life as a widow. She owned a motel which was later flattened by a tornado, and then she lived in Florida for about 20 years. Her family was her life!

Mom at Ralph's

It was so much fun to go see her in Florida and she was always so excited to see us. I think that's where I learned to love little routines. She would make so much fun of them - whether it was going to Publix or having her pill parties with Swiss Miss pudding or watching the traffic go by. She had such a touchy digestive system and she ALWAYS worried about mine. I remember how she used to go on & on about how she liked brussel sprouts but she would feel miserable if she ate them.

And she had some great ways of saying things like they really were. She could have been the one who originated the saying, "If you aren't Dutch, you aren't much." For instance, she warned John before we got married that I was only 1/2 Dutch and she said it was so sad how that gets diluted. And one time when she was lamenting the fact that she had ever left the Netherlands, my mom reminded her that her 2 sons would never have met her & Aunt Michaela, and she sighed, "There would have been others..."

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And she was the best knitter I have ever known!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I Just Found Out I'll Be Camping With Pit Pots

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Sometimes these are out in the woods.

Today John & I helped our church host a picnic for the North Monroe Business Association. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and I had the enjoyable assignment of handing out soft ice cream sandwiches to people sitting beneath the beating sun. I was in full-swing salesman mode with the ice cream sandwiches since I pretty much believe in them and I was doing so well, I ran out of them.

Next, I was charged with distributing these dubious little packages with a "Fairly Odd Parents" theme that said something about strawberry and lemon ice and gum, but I could not quite ascertain what they were exactly. But because I was already in full mode, I handed out a LOT of them. When it was over, Justin gave me a taste of his, and it was something you would only like if you were a little kid because it was of an unidentifiable sickly sweet flavor. And here I had handed out about a billion of them to all the sensible business people of North Monroe. I'm sure they are all hoping I'll be back next year.

After I left, John signed us up for the church camp-out this weekend - we can only go on Saturday Night. John asked Pastor Amy if the camping was rustic and she said yes, there are vault toilets which is just a more sophisticated way to say pit pots. John told her he would wait until we were on the road to camping before he told me, but then he must have thought it wise to warn me ahead of time. Now I have a few days to consider this.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Running Some More

Hope I don't sound like a broken record... what's a record?

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Bridget ran at a track with John last night and ran a personal record of 9:15 in the mile. As she was running, yes, I became so inspired in a Chariots of Fire sort of way and I broke out in a little trot behind them. Bridget said to her Dad, "Do you hear that loud clop behind us? That's mom, in her sandals, with her camera around her neck." I guess I'll stick with photography.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Bridgie's Dream Come True

She got to run her mile with Eddie Saturday night! Yay Bridge.

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Coming in the Home Stretch

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Holland, Michigan

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Beach, Blue Water, Blue Sky

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Channel, Lighthouse, Sailboats

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Kids, Sailboats, Horizon

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Girls, Clear Water, Paddle Ball

Sing it to the tune of Raindrops on Roses... Just kidding. It was a beautiful afternoon though filled with a lot of favorite things.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Homerun Kitty

This morning, we got up bright and early to watch Edward run in the Homerun 5K over at Whitecaps Stadium. He seemed to be quite a bit better, but one never knows. We were greeted at the park by a balloon animal-making clown, and I felt so sorry for him because he had to be a clown so early in the morning! He came walking up to us and asked Ed what kind of animal he likes. "Kitty," I offered. So the clown made Ed a kitty as I chatted with him. When my kids were younger, they would have all been scared of the clown, so I'm used to doing the talking. He made me a flower bracelet in exchange.

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Yes Andrea, that's a shadow of me taking his picture. I put that here for you!

Edward ran the race, but disappointingly, the prednazone he is on for his poison ivy was giving him severe nausea. He just missed getting a medal for his age group, so he settled for the balloon kitty today.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Pass the Calamine Lotion

Whenever I see a fleshy, bloody type injury or rash or bodily discomfort of any sort, I have pains that start tingling around my knees and shoot up my thigh really fast but they don't really hurt. They are probably some sort of sympathy pain. Strange, I know. Yesterday, I suffered a new type of sympathy pain - which I would like to call Psychosomatic Poison Ivy. Though Edward is looking better today and scratching less, I feel itchy all over!

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Leo, preventing bedsores and hence, shooting pains

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Costly Romp in the Clover

Yesterday, Edward's eyes were looking puffy and he had a bit of a rash on his legs. It looked somewhat like poison ivy so I gave him some Benadryl and he used Ivy Dry. He seemed a bit better last evening and he went out and ran 8 miles.

Then this morning, he called me at work and told me he could hardly open his eyes. Now he never complains about anything - he runs 10 miles in 10 below temperature, runs up 200 foot dunes and runs 10 K in 95% humidity and NEVER misses school. So I knew it must be bad. I asked him if he could breathe. I called my mother-in-law. I left work and went right home to see it and what I discovered was confluent red edematous papules with edema and scattered crusts. In laymen's terms, he looked like an oval-shaped bowl of reddish oatmeal with 2 black eyelash slits for eyes and hair coming out of the top! His neck, chest, stomach & legs were covered, too. So we went to the doctor, she looked him over sympathetically, prescribed a 2 week dosage of prednisone, and checked his eyesight which was still better than 20/20 though a bit foggy.

Who has time to remember "leaves of 3, leave them be" when one is looking for one's golf ball in the weeds?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Yesterday, the girls & I went to a 6 hour worship retreat with our pastors and a few other people from our church. It was held at one of their neighbor's house who had an indoor pool, so the girls mostly swam and listened while we talked. We swam a little too, but I have sort of become one of those mothers who does not like to get her hair wet. Sad, I know. During this time, we also went through a very unique process of coming up with the worship theme for the next several months.

We wrote words on cards, talked about the words, grouped the words, narrowed down the words, thought about the words while we ate supper, decided on the best word, and then branched out on this one word. This is a good opportunity to hear what people are thinking and to get to know them better. The word we chose was "unplugged." After talking about it some more, we went to different stations to write down stories, images, bible verses or ideas that went along with this word. The main idea behind "unplugged" is that we can be so plugged in to the noise of our culture (ipods, cell phones, TV, IM) but we should first plug in to God's Word.

As I thought about it more today, I realized that "unplugged" would correspond to the discipline of silence or solitude, where, as Dallas Willard says, one takes body & soul out of the circuits of sin and finds a new habitual orientation in the Kingdom. I think it's a pretty good metaphor. Bridget told me the other day that she likes this church because it's easy to understand and I was amazed at all the different things the girls recalled from our time there.

John said he missed a bloggable moment yesterday when he didn't have a camera so I will have to describe it to you in words. He took Edward to a Tiger game with 2 of his friends and in the 9th inning when the Tigers were losing, the boys put their "Rally Caps" on and clapped. A rally cap is your regular hat put on inside out and backwards. The Tigers still lost.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Quest to Columbus

If you are new to this blog, trust me, it's not always so corny. Summer is long and we are all ready for school to begin.

Once upon a time, there were 2 Wolverine princesses, both nick-named Nellie, but in true reality, they were Princess Maria and Princess Bridget. They had heard all their life about the great rivalry between the kingdoms of the Buckeye and the Wolverine. They didn't know anything about football, but they decided to go to the land of the Buckeye to see what was so great. The history of their quest has been recorded heretofore in this travelogue.

Upon their arrival in the land of the Buckeye, they were invited to tea with the Queen GrandMum and one of her Pages. The Queen GrandMum sent them on a quest to Columbus for there they were to seek the Holy Grail. Here the princesses would discover what was so truly great about this land.


They were first reacquainted with some of their blood kin and had to spend time frolicking with the puppies.

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And they frolicked until the puppies grew tired whereupon they stuck their feet in the moat and rested with the puppies on their laps.

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But soon they grew anxious to move on with their quest, so they joined hands with the blood kin and jumped the moat into the Velvet Castle.

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Here they were greeted by their long lost Aunt Mary, who was the Queen of Sunbury. She thought she had an idea where the grail might be so she took them into the great castle with the great water wheel.

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First, she fed them since they were hungry from their journey thus far.

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While they were eating, Princess Bridget picked up the bright object lying nearby. "Could it be?" she inquired.

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Princess Maria took the object. "Yes, it is this, the Holy Grail. Thank you, Aunt Mary-Queen of Sunbury and Queen GrandMum!"

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The End.