Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Christ is Risen, Alleluia!

Happy Easter, everyone! The “What I Wore Sunday” link up is on for tomorrow, so check back then for my Easter outfit.

We did do an Easter egg hunt with Stephen this morning since he’s too little for a whole basket full of candy. I just bought some plastic eggs and filled them with jelly beans and little chocolate bunnies, a perfect treat for a little toddler.

I "hid" the eggs around the living room.

I “hid” the eggs around the living room.

 

Stephen looked for them with a little bit of prompting from mom and dad.

Stephen looked for them with a little bit of prompting from mom and dad.

 

He found an egg!

He found an egg!

 

One egg had a cool rubbery chick. If you shake it hard, it lights up.

One egg had a cool rubbery chick. If you shake it hard, it lights up.

 

We tried one of the chocolate bunnies. He liked it!

We tried one of the chocolate bunnies. He liked it!

 

Then we made breakfast and got dressed and went to mass. We went to one of the parish’s outdoor masses so we wouldn’t have to worry about arriving an hour early just to get butt space in a pew at the church. It was an adventure that I will tell you about tomorrow.

P.S. Last night’s Easter Vigil was pretty darn good, but I will just say in all charity that I have heard the Exsultet sung more proficiently. The deacon gets credit for effort and I’m sure he practiced very hard, but the Exsultet is a strenuous chant and it does demand a lot from the singer. In many other ways the liturgy was truly beautiful.

 

 

 

 

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This is the Night!

Happy Holy Saturday! Tonight’s liturgy is absolutely hands-down my favorite liturgy of the entire year. We get to do all sorts of cool stuff that we don’t do any other time of the year:

a. Light a bonfire.

b. Process around holding little candles.

c. Sing songs in the dark.

d. Listen to up to seven readings taken from Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Romans, a Gospel, and maybe some other books I can’t remember off the top of my head.

e. Use lots and lots of incense, bells, candles, and holy water.

f. Sing the Litany of Saints and the Exsultet (Easter Proclamation).

As for the Exsultet, I just lovelovelove this piece of music. Tonight is the only time it is ever sung during the entire year. It is liturgically most appropriate for a priest or deacon to sing the Exsultet, but it can also be done by a lay person cantor. If the cantor is a lay person, they omit a small section of the text that should only be sung by clergy. The music is a cool chant that I don’t think comes around for any other music or prayers. So, it’s really special and such a treat to hear and to sing. I’ve been fortunate enough to sing it myself several times in my career as a church musician, and I just love it. I even got a little sad last year when the priest at the church where I worked was able and excited to sing it himself! I’m so happy that he wanted to do it, but I was sad that I didn’t get to!

The text pretty much says: tonight is really awesome because tonight is the night Jesus rose from the dead and saved all humanity, through his gift of love perfecting God’s covenant that was established with Adam. We are so excited about this night, that we made this huge candle to offer to God, with the help of the bees who produced the wax. This candle is a blazing torch that represents the glory of Christ among us and we hope it burns forever! Amen!

Here is a real excerpt from the text, taken from the beginning of the hymn:

“Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven, exult, let Angel ministers of God exult, let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph! Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness. Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice, arrayed with the lightning of his glory, let this holy building shake with joy, filled with the mighty voices of the peoples. Therefore, dearest friends, standing in the awesome glory of this holy light, invoke with me, I ask you, the mercy of God almighty, that he, who has been pleased to number me, though unworthy, among the Levites, may pour into me his light unshadowed, that I may sing this candle’s perfect praises.”

100_1447Tomorrow is Easter and I made us a special treat. It’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake from The New Best Recipe Cookbook by the folks at America’s Test Kitchen. I believe I did utter the words, “I’m never making this again! It’s too hard!” while I was assembling the cake, but when I tasted the o-so-yummy batter I may have revised my decision. I would just do a few things differently since I don’t have the straight sided tube pan the recipe asked for. I ended up going out to buy a pan, and I couldn’t find a tube pan! So I bought a large springform pan instead. I think that’s what made the assembly so tricky. You put some batter in the bottom, then a layer of streusel  then more batter, more streusel  more batter, the topping. The batter is so thick it wouldn’t really spread out over the streusel  It was frustrating, but I am confident the cake will taste amazing. It’s been taunting us all afternoon with its delicious aroma and toasty nutty appearance. I can’t wait.

I think I’ll be able to post tomorrow but if I don’t make it, have a happy Easter!

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Okay Friday

stephen wearing apron

 

There is absolutely no reason for this picture. It’s just fairly recent and represents one of Stephen’s new hobbies. He adores “helping” me cook by putting on Jeremy’s apron and standing around the kitchen being grabby and underfoot. It’s actually very precious. I think he may need his own toddler sized apron in a cool masculine boy-child type fabric (hint, hint, grandma Kathy…. :-p)

So today being Good Friday and one of the most deeply penitential days of the liturgical year, I thought it would be a good day to wake up on the wrong side of the bed and put on my cranky pants. Seriously, I spent a great deal of the day feeling tired and emotionally fragile, with a headache and a short patience fuse. Blame it on being pregnant? Yes, I think I will. It didn’t help that Stephen woke up dark and early at 5:45am, then proceeded to spend most of the morning freaking out about who-knows-what. That weird howling he does is way more aggravating than actual crying with tears.

We went to the 12 noon liturgy for Good Friday and that was really the high point of the day. Stephen behaved remarkably well considering we got there 30 minutes early to get a family-sized space in a pew near the front, then the liturgy was almost 2 hours long. The Passion reading was very beautifully done. They did a sung version, with a deacon, the monsignor, and a cantor doing the solos. The choir sang metrical composed music for all the crowd speeches. I was very impressed. The clergy had wonderful singing voices, and stayed really in tune; they were even able to work around the occasional mistake and end up in the right place at the end of the phrase. Again, I was very impressed both from a professional musician’s point of view, and as a member of the assembly there for spiritual enrichment. I really enjoy all the chanting in the liturgy at this church. When we go to the mass that has the main choir, the assembly only sings one or two hymns, but the entire ordinary is chanted, and the dialogues, and even “the word of the lord” after each reading. So I never feel like I don’t get to sing enough. I have also appreciated the choir singing psalm settings by Joseph Gelineau. I haven’t heard those in a long time, and they are some of my favorite musical settings of the psalms.

We did a few random things today, working around the liturgy schedule. We finished putting in termination orders on our utilities. We also booked another night of accommodations for our road trip. And finally, we purchased a car-top carrier box off of Craigslist. We need to have a new key cut for the lock, and Jeremy needs to make some after-marked modifications so it will screw on to our roof rack, but it’s going to be a big help on our trip! Now we won’t have to stuff the back of the car so completely full, and we will even be able to take along a whole case of diapers so we won’t have to buy some on the road. I think it will be worth the price we paid, and then some.

Things are coming together. Tomorrow is Holy Saturday, and we actually hired a babysitter so Jeremy and I will go enjoy the Easter Vigil mass babyless. It’s going to be awesome!

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Spam Coffee

Okay, I’m doing something highly irregular here, but this is too good not to share. I have been getting the most awesome spam comments on my blog lately. This morning I found two spams that are both about coffee. I now present for your reading pleasure:

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They’re like post-modern poetry. Works of art.

You’re welcome.

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Grandmas Take Note: Cute Baby Alert

Today we did a bunch of cute stuff with Stephen. We cut his hair:

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He brushed it out real nice when we were done.

We also made wonderfully delicious sandwiches that I found on Pinterest. Roasted Strawberry, Brie, Dark chocolate sandwiches. We used goat cheese because that is what we had, and it was really good. I think brie would have been better, or some other mild cheese like havarti or monterey jack. Stephen adored his:

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Look at those lips! Chocolate sandwiches for dinner! Mommy and Daddy are really awesome! Except the truth is, I wanted these for myself. Stephen just got to benefit from my crazy craving. As a side note, my baby girl really liked the sandwich, too. She was moving around like crazy a few minutes after we finished eating.

After dinner we decided to take Stephen out for a spin in the red wagon. My parents brought this wagon to us back when Stephen was born and we’ve actually never used it before. We may have tried it once before when Stephen wasn’t quite ready, but he took to it like an old pro today!

Finally, just a couple quick updates on other things that are going on around the homestead today. I applied Holy Dirt to my tummy last night and I don’t know if there has been a miracle. That will be impossible to confirm before my next ultrasound in a few weeks. I will say, however, that my baby girl has been moving around a lot more vigorously since the dirt. Last night I had a horrible time trying to fall asleep because she was moving around so much. And today she was moving like crazy! Even Jeremy was able to feel her for several minutes in a row after dinner, and she kicked so hard he even had to say, “whoa!” I won’t say she’s been moving more often, just more vigorously. I haven’t noticed any other changes except, last night when I was having trouble falling asleep, I decided I was starving so I got up and had a small snack. I haven’t had to get up out of bed to eat so far during this pregnancy.

One more quick update. We did get my doctor to write a letter to the apartment managers in an effort to waive our termination fee for breaking the lease early. They said they would fax the letter to their superiors. Funny, I was under the impression that a letter from the doctor would definitely get the fee waived. But apparently they aren’t authorized to do it here; they have to send away to their superior. That’s fine, but they should have told us even a letter from the doctor wasn’t a sure thing. I know they are a business and they can’t just accomodate everyone who wants a discount, but I would have expected them to have a little more understanding for our situation. Hopefully they can find something more accommodating for our fees than a payment plan, which is all they’ve been able to offer us so far.

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Chimayo, New Mexico: Holy Dirt

Today we went to Chimayo, NM, a historic site of miraculous healings and the destination for thousands upon thousands of pilgrims each year. The legend is that Bernardo Abeyta, one of the first group of settlers to come to the area, saw flashes of light on the hillside. When he went to investigate, he found that they were coming out of the ground, so he began to dig with his hands. He uncovered a large crucifix buried in the ground! This crucifix still hangs in the small church known as El Santuario. The settlers attempted to relocate the crucifix to a nearby town on three separate occasions, but each time, the crucifix disappeared and was later found back in its hole on the hillside. So Abeyta asked for permission to build a chapel on the spot so the crucifix could stay in Chimayo. The image of Christ is known as Our Lord of Esquipulas, which is also the name of a depiction of Christ venerated in Guatemala. There seems to be several ideas as to how Abeyta came to know if the Guatemalan devotion and why he decided this crucifix in Chimayo would share the name.

100_1436Over the years, miraculous healings that occurred in Chimayo were no longer attributed to the crucifix, but to the dirt it was found in. El Santuario has a small room off the side of the building that contains el pocito, the well which contains the holy dirt. The oldest custom is to eat some dirt or dissolve it and drink, but there are notices everywhere saying you shouldn’t do that now! The recommended application is to rub some dirt on the part of your body that requires healing. There is a room near the well which contains racks and racks of crutches that people leave behind after being healed of their afflictions.

We decided to visit Chimayo on the advice of a friend who thought we might like a miracle. We will try anything for our baby girl! We got to El Santuario in time to slip in to mass late and stand at the back with the other latecomers. It was okay, because I guess that happens a lot and they were prepared to distribute communion to everyone. After mass, we followed the other people into the small room with the well of dirt, and Jeremy filled the little jar we had brought with us. Stephen got down to watch at the pit, then stood up and brushed off his hands. But he was still covered in dirt. Oh well. Then we put the dirt jar in the diaper bag and left El Santuario to go eat lunch. After lunch we went back to El Santuario to look around without the mobs of people who had been there for mass. We also visited the chapel of Santo Nino de Atocha. The Santo Nino has his own story that is totally independent from El Santuario and the holy dirt, but the two have become linked because they are both in Chimayo. We were there for the dirt, so I’ll leave it to you to read about the Santo Nino if you like.

100_1438I didn’t apply the dirt right at El Santuario for a few reasons. First, I wanted to do it right, by following some of the rules for receiving an indulgence. I wanted to receive communion and go to confession and be prayerful about it. I missed my chance to go to confession before we left this morning, so I didn’t want to do the dirt. Also, how prayerful could I really be in a tiny room surrounded by lots of strangers? Second, I wore a dress today. There was no possible way to apply dirt to my tummy without being indecent, unless I went to the ladies’ room and that is even less prayerful than anything else. So, I’m going to do it tonight after I finish this post. I went to confession this evening, and received communion earlier today at El Santuario. I can be prayerful in my own home.

I am praying for a miracle, but I am aware that healing for my baby girl may not be God’s plan. If my daughter is healed, who’s to say it was because of the holy dirt? We have been praying so much besides, and so many other people have been praying with us, and faith is absolutely stronger than any physical article. I do have faith that this dirt from Chimayo has healed hundreds; I saw the crutches and read the testimonials. I will apply this dirt to my tummy with faith that it can heal my daughter.

Unfortunately, if there is an instant miraculous cure, I won’t know it! My next ultrasound is in three weeks. Oh well.100_1440

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Oh Baby

For part one of my baby’s story, click here.

Today we had another follow up ultrasound and visit with the doctor about our sweet little girl. It looks like the ventriculomegaly is progressing very slowly since the last time, but still progressing. Three weeks ago the ventricle measured about 11 mm and today it measured about 12.4 mm or something near there. The doc said a normal measurement for a baby of her gestational age would be about 8 or 9 mm, and the condition isn’t classified as “severe” until the ventricles are swollen to at least 15 mm.

Also in new news, her tummy appears to be measuring small compared to everything else, but no one could tell me what that signifies. The doc said the placenta and umbilical cord look fine so the issue is internal with the baby.

For the good news of the visit, though my girl is pretty small, she is tracking a growth curve! She is growing at a normal rate, just starting out small. This is a change from my hulking gigantor first born who debuted at 8 lb 15 oz. My baby currently weighs in at 1 lb 5 oz, which does seem small for just over 26 weeks, but at least she is growing.

Also in good news, the blood test scan for infections came back negative! That is a huge relief since it seemed like that would be the worst possible outcome based on what the doc said at our last visit. So that just leaves some other genetic issue that they can’t test for, just because there are so many possibilities and they can’t test for everything.

We even got some really good pictures of her, even though she wasn’t being very cooperative.

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She pretty much constantly had her hands up in front of her face. “Go away and leave me alone. Stop prodding me with that wand.”

And they did a cool 4-D image:

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There she is! Isn’t she precious? It looks like she has hair, but the technician said there’s not as much hair as it looks; it’s more of a blurring at the edge of the frame. She is moving around a lot in utero and I am gaining weight slowly. I wish some of it would go to her! Jeremy and I were joking about what foods I should eat to help my little girl bulk up. We decided it would probably be raw broccoli and pickles, two of my absolutely least favorite foods. Unfortunately, the nurse practitioner I spoke with said there’s really nothing I can do to help my baby gain weight. Oh well, I guess I won’t have to choke down all that broccoli after all.

 

Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us.

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What I Wore Sunday: March 24 Palm Sunday

Once again I’m joining the link up at Fine Line and Purple.

Happy Palm Sunday! Today we heard the account of Jesus’ passion and death from the Gospel of St. Luke. One line stuck out for me when we were listening: when Jesus meets the women who are mourning along the way to Calvary, he tells them not to weep for him but instead for themselves and for their children, for indeed, “the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.'” Maybe as a pregnant lady this speaks to me, and also as a lady involved in the pro-life movement, and also as a lady who stands against the cultural norm by choosing to give up my career in order to stay home and rear children. This line from Luke’s Gospel seems to be referring to a time that is now upon us. Women are no longer valued for their ability to nurture and bring forth life, but instead for their contributions to industry and business. Women have long fought to be equal to men, but along the way, something of what makes women sacred and special has been given up. Truly, I think we are in a time where women are often applauded for not succumbing to the oppression of having kids and raising a family. Maybe this isn’t quite the way Jesus’s speech to the mourning women should be read, but that is how it struck me today as I was sitting in the pew, pregnant and entertaining my active toddler.

Now for the part you’ve been waiting for, my church clothes! I know you just sit in your homes all week, biting your nails in anticipation of seeing what I wore to mass each Sunday. Well, wait no longer!

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Stephen finally consented to be a part of the photo taking. Also, guess what? This photo was taken with our real, actual camera! We finally dug it up and located all the appropriate cords and power chargers.

Scarf: I wanted to wear my scarf with the red design for Palm Sunday. Nerd.

Shirt: From Goodwill. The tag has been cut out of the shirt; suspicious, I know. I really like the embroidered detail around the neck line.

Skirt: Look, that skirt sure looks like the same skirt I wore last week, but it’s not. I promise that is not the same exact skirt I wore last week but with a different shirt and different shoes. I don’t just wear the same skirt to mass two weeks in a row. Who even does that? Not me. I never would.

Boots: J.C. Penny from like two years ago. The toes are super scuffed. I need to replace them but I just wuv dem so veddy veddy much.

Now for something completely different, today happens to be National Corn Dog Day! WooHoo! If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’m trying to observe some of these national food days. Today to celebrate, Jeremy took his motorcycle over to Wienerschnizel to get some corn dogs. They have a special two-for-one price just today, so hurry over! Plus they’re doing this contest right now called Cash In On A Corndog where you can win prizes printed on your corn dog stick. Or you get a code to enter online and try to win. Today we won two free corn dogs on our sticks! And some dud codes, but two free corn dogs! What a prize!

How did you celebrate your Palm Sunday?

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Spring Cleaning?

We are really trying to do away with many things in our home. We made a “dejunking checklist” and put each room down, plus the various closets and sub-areas like the files. Today we were really busy with “dejunking” and we have made some good progress. We have finished with the storage unit, the bookshelves, our walk-in closet, the bedroom except for the file cabinet and office supplies, the closet in Stephen’s room, and…um…that’s it. It seemed like we did a lot but the place still looks super full! That’s the problem we’ve been having, though. We have been super busy getting ready to move this whole week and we can only cross off like two things on our to-do list! We’ve taken two loads of stuff to the Goodwill, as well as thrown away a bunch of stuff that is only good for trash. But we still need to finish the kitchen (a biggie), the bathroom cupboards, the laundry closet, the file cabinet and office supplies, and the hall closet.

We also found a buyer for our piano! That is huge, too, because we really didn’t want to move it across the country again. I’m sad to see it go because I enjoyed having a real piano, but the reality is it will take a ton of real estate in a U-box, plus we have to hire pro piano movers on each end to get it out of our second floor apartment, then into my parent’s split-level. We have decided to wait until we get our own place again before buying another cheap used piano. There are dozens listed on Craigslist all the time, so I don’t think it will be hard to replace when the time comes.

In other news, despite our efforts to get stuff out of our home, we did bring something home today. Stephen has been pining for one of those ride-on plastic car things. Ever since we visited a friends house and Stephen spent practically the entire time there perched on the plastic car, we have known we had to get him one of his own. We went to a second-hand mother-to-be/kids store and I looked for maternity dresses and Jeremy test-drove plastic ride-on cars with Stephen. They picked out a good one; it looks like a bi-plane and has a Mickey Mouse on the front. There are shape sorter holes in the body, but no shapes; that’s fine because we have a shape sorter toy already and I think the shapes will transfer. The lights and sound don’t work because the battery compartment is grody, but Jeremy will clean it at some point and have it working like new. Stephen doesn’t mind; he is happy as a clam with his slightly broken second-hand plastic ride-on Mickey Bi-plane.

We also have the first leg of our road trip confirmed and well on the way with the second leg. It’s going to be awesome!

That’s all the news from the home front for today. Hopefully it wasn’t too boring!

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The Road Trip, Man. It’s Gonna Be Epic

First, before we get started on today’s post, here is a gratuitous picture of my cat:

sashimi in toy box

 

Stephen had pulled out every toy that is usually stored in that compartment of his shelving, and the cat moved right in.

Okay, now for the post.

We are in full swing planning our move and how we’re going to get all of us, all of our stuff, and the cat to Ohio with the least amount of fuss. We’ve got the stuff worked out, at least. U-haul offers this service called “U-boxes” that you can rent instead of a truck. They deliver these shipping containers to you, you fill them with your stuff, then they truck them to wherever you need them to go. The containers are stored in a U-haul warehouse until you want them delivered, then U-haul delivers them. Of course, it is a little cheaper if you go to the warehouse on each end and tow your own containers. You can also tow your own containers across the country, if that’s what you want to do. We are having them delivered, and it is a huge relief to have that all sorted.

As for the cat, we know we will have to send him to Ohio with airplane shipping. That’s how he got to New Mexico. It was a pain, but there are precious few options for animals. No way can he come in the car with us. I just hope he doesn’t wig out too badly when my parents collect him and we aren’t around. And then take him to their house wherein resides a large black dog and another prickly kitty.

As for us, we are planning to take the “scenic route” from New Mexico to Ohio. The quickest route would be to head up through Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, then to Ohio, but why take the quickest route when you can take a longer one? We actually have friends all over the country because we’ve lived in many different places and our friends have moved around as much as we have. We plan to go North to Denver and stay a couple days, stop over in Virginia Dale, CO to visit the Abbey of St. Walburga where Jeremy lived for a couple years, then head up to Billings and stay a few days there. Then it’s East through North Dakota where we have a friend in Richardton at Assumption Abbey. On to St. Cloud, Minnesota where we plan to stay a couple days visiting friends from our Grad School days. From there we’ll continue East, stopping in Milwaukee where we plan to stay in the area a couple days visiting friends. There’s a neat pilgrimage site near there, too, called Holy Hill. Then we go down around the Great Lakes hitting Chicago where we have a couple friends77777[<–from the cat standing on the keyboard]. From there we make the final push East to Ohio. We plan to stop briefly in the Toledo area to catch our breath with some of my extended family before taking the last leg home to beautiful Cuyahoga Falls.

Whew. It’s going to take about two weeks for a total of 2,600 miles. Plus the short side trips and any in-town driving. By the time we get to Ohio, Stephen won’t even remember what it’s like to sleep in a crib. We plan to take some books to read aloud to each other, and a wide variety of car seat activities for the munchkin. Luckily, the way we’re figuring the trip so far, we don’t have very many days where we’ll be on the road for more than 5 hours a day. That’s still a lot, I know, and I’m sure Stephen will start to protest long before we arrive at our destination. But I am hopeful too because we have lots of overnights where we’ll just be hanging around town visiting, so our trip will be broken up. I think the longest leg we have planned so far is the push from Richardton to St. Cloud, and even that is only around 6 hours, maybe a bit more. It will be hard, but it sure beats the alternatives

1. Just getting there as quickly as possible and having a cranky baby plus missing the opportunity to visit friends.

OR

2. Taking three weeks to do the trip with the added cost of more overnights in hotels and the added pain in the butt (literally) of being in the car for so long and still getting the cranky baby.

The main thing I’m really praying for at this point is for my doctor to say it’s okay for me to take a leisurely road trip. I know I’m probably at risk for premature delivery, but there has been no indication so far that that is going to happen soon. I have an appointment on Monday when I’ll ask about it, but I’m really hoping he doesn’t tell me I have to fly to Ohio. That will throw the hugest wrench in our plans. Hoping, hoping, hoping….

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