Morgan is 5 months old!

December 30, 2016

It has been a busy month for Morgan! From watching her learn new skills to celebrating her first Christmas, we have enjoyed every moment with our precious family of four.

Charlie’s Holiday Party at work

Growth and Development
Morgan has been rolling from back to front for a month, but did not roll from front to back until yesterday!  She can really scoot around by arching her back and pushing with her feet while laying on her back. I can hardly leave her alone on the floor anymore! Sometimes while on her belly, Morgan tries to lift her hips up while moving her legs. She seems so eager to move, and I don’t remember Connor being like this. We might be in for it!

Morgan somehow moved over to Connor’s Lego set and broke it in half with her foot!

We have experienced the joyful sounds of true belly laughs this month. Her first one was in the bathtub after the soap bottle made a squirting sound. As I should have expected, Connor is the most successful at making Morgan laugh! There is nothing sweeter than watching Connor “perform” for Morgan so that she will laugh at him. She loves to “talk” and can get quite noisy and animated about it. Over the last few days she has started blowing lots of bubbles/raspberries.

There is nothing sweeter than seeing your children laugh together!

Morgan likes to grab anything within reach, especially her feet. One of her current favorite activities is sucking on her big toe.

Sleeping
Morgan goes to bed around 7:30pm and sleeps until around 7:00am, usually waking twice to nurse. Even though last month she was only waking once, I still can’t complain at all!

Her daytime naps have really consolidated this month. Morgan usually has 3-4 naps daily, and most of them are swaddled in her bed. For her short pre-dinner snooze, I like to just hold her on the couch and snuggle/nurse. I have been lucky this month that Charlie has been home from work early enough for me to relax with Morgan while he plays with Connor and helps get dinner ready.

Big Brother
Some comments never change from the previous month: “Connor still can’t seem to give Morgan enough hugs and kisses. He gets so frustrated when I ask him to stop if he tries to kiss her or hold her hand while she is sleeping!”

Connor had a Christmas concert at school on December 8th. Despite his serious demeanor throughout the performance, he says he had fun. Morgan decided it was bedtime and enjoyed sleeping through the concert. Connor’s favorite song was “Go, Tell It on the Mountain.” Leading up to Christmas, he and I loved to turn up Pentatonix’s version in the car and sing along!

This month we have been impressed by Connor’s ability to spell “Brokovich” and to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. He loves his teachers and is eager to go to school each day.

Christmas in Texas
We flew to Abilene on December 19th to spend 2.5 weeks with Charlie’s family. It has been a relaxing visit so far, and although we arrived on the coldest day they had seen in 6 years, it soon warmed up. Connor and I (and usually Morgan) have enjoyed plenty of time at the playground down the street and at the pond in the neighborhood. Connor loves spending time with his cousins and has asked every day when they are coming over.

Climbing the rocks at the miniature golf course with cousins Andrew and Aaron

Christmas Day brought lots of Legos, and Connor enjoyed building 3 large sets and a small set. Hopefully everything will fit into our suitcase when it’s time to go home!

Ready to open gifts with his cousins!


Enjoying time with Grandma and Granddad


Connor was busy building Legos after opening Christmas gifts!

Uncle Bill (Barbara’s brother) drove down from Parsons, KS on the 29th to spend a few days with everyone in Abilene. It was wonderful to see him and finally introduce Connor and Morgan to him.

It’s hard to believe that Christmas Day last year was when we surprised our families with the news of my pregnancy, and here we are this Christmas with our sweet 5-month-old Morgan Louise!

Bundled up for a cold day in Virginia


Morgan loves using her feet on the bouncer at Grandma and Granddad’s house. She also likes to grab the bar with her hands and pull herself up to a sitting position. She is growing up too quickly!

Morgan is 4 months old!

November 30, 2016

Growth and Development
At her 4-month checkup, Morgan weighed 14 lb 13 oz (75th percentile) and measured 24 inches (39th percentile). She loves to smile and “talk,” and we have even heard a few laughs!

While we were in Georgia for Thanksgiving, my Dad was the only person to witness Morgan’s first roll from back to front. Thankfully she did it again two days later so that several of us could see it! She worked so hard to heave herself over! Morgan has discovered her feet and loves to grab them as often as she can. She is also getting better at grabbing toys with her hands and bringing them to her mouth.

Sleeping
Morgan goes to bed around 7:30pm and sleeps until around 7:00am, usually waking once to nurse. We are so relieved that Morgan has outgrown her evening “fussy time.” She still gets fussy when she’s tired (and who doesn’t?), but the daily hour of inconsolable crying has finally come to an end. She seems to prefer catnapping throughout the day instead of a few longer naps, but I can’t complain since she sleeps so well at night!

In between daytime naps, Morgan has long stretches of awake time. She loves to sit in her bouncy seat while watching whatever we are doing, or lay on her play mat while we are nearby. Morgan is obviously not sitting up yet, but she can spend a few minutes in her exersaucer or jumper with some help!

Big Brother
Connor still can’t seem to give Morgan enough hugs and kisses. He gets so frustrated when I ask him to stop if he tries to kiss her or hold her hand while she is sleeping!

Veterans Day Weekend at Aunt Michelle’s
We spent a 4-day weekend with Charlie’s sister and her family at their home near Richmond. On Saturday, we drove a little over an hour to Staunton, VA to see the Frontier Culture Museum. Connor loved running along the outdoor path to see the farms from Africa, England, Ireland, Germany, and America. One of the highlights was watching the blacksmith. It was an absolutely gorgeous Fall day, and Morgan snoozed through the whole visit! We relaxed and enjoyed a slower pace the rest of the weekend. Connor can’t get enough of playing outside with his cousins and uncle, and of course, riding the tractor!

Morgan is ready for a chilly day at the outdoor museum; Connor is trying out the old-fashioned shingle maker

Enjoying the beautiful Fall weather with Aunt Michelle

Thanksgiving in Georgia
As usual, we spent Thanksgiving with my family in Norcross. It was a full house all week, and Connor loved all the excitement. He played all day long with his cousins, and thankfully we had enough nice weather that he spent hours outside most days. We all helped put up lights outside on Friday, and on Saturday we walked to see the city’s Christmas parade. The 6 cousins also exchanged their Christmas gifts. Another highlight of the week was the baptism of our sweet Morgan Louise on Sunday. Since we don’t have a church home in Virginia, we were thrilled to have her baptized at the church in Norcross where we got married and to have many of our family members there with us.

Enjoying time with Grandma Penny and Uncle Jason

All 6 cousins with Great-Grandma

Helping cousins Claire, Ceci, and Aunt Kelly decorate Gram and Grandpa’s house

Morgan is 3 months old!

October 30, 2016

Growth and Development

Morgan is now sporting a double chin and plenty of leg rolls, and is wearing 3-month clothes. She is starting to grab things, but so far can only grip soft things like a burp cloth or her Minnie Mouse blankie toy. She often pulls them up into her face and then can’t push them away!

Gathering her toys

“Oops…now what do I do?”

Morgan loves to scoot backwards while laying on her back. She always ends up with her head crammed on one end when she’s on her changing pad, or if I lay her on the floor she can scoot completely off the blanket.

Morgan scooted off her blanket and headed straight for Connor’s Legos!

We see lots of smiles from Morgan, especially when Daddy is around. Connor gets so excited when she responds to him with a sound or smile, and he repeats whatever he just did over and over in hopes that he will get the same response. I love how her tone of voice changes when she “starts a conversation” with us, and Morgan loves it when we mimic her sounds back to her. She has more and more alert time where she is content to hang out in her bouncer, swing, or just in our arms.

Having a conversation with Connor

Sleeping
Morgan is still a reliable and consistent nighttime sleeper. She goes to bed between 7:30-8:00pm and usually wakes twice to nurse during the night. (There have been a few nights when she only wakes once!)  Her first morning nap has become predictable and consistent, but the rest of the day she usually catnaps here and there, usually only getting a long nap if I have her in the sling for a while. She sleeps in the Rock & Play sleeper at night, and I have started putting her in the crib for one or two of her naps each day.

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The best way to nap!

Napping in the sling while helping Connor with his shower, and catching a quick snooze on the Boppy pillow

Big Brother
Connor is enjoying school! He has a couple friends from last year that he still loves to play with, and has made a few new friends this year. We stay after school to play outside with them each day as we take advantage of the nice weather.

Connor loves being a big brother. Morgan receives plenty of hugs and kisses, and we are still working on Connor understanding his size and strength compared to his baby sister!

Early in the month, Connor had a school field trip to Taylor Farms. Morgan and I went with him, and we enjoyed a hayride, seeing farm animals, choosing a pumpkin, and playing with friends.



Connor earned a medal for finishing a 6-week basketball program!   Charlie always went with him each week, but Morgan and I tagged along for the final night.


And finally, two more favorite photos of our beautiful little lady this month!

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Morgan is 2 months old!

September 30, 2016

Growth & Development 
Our little lady is filling out more and more each day. First it was her cheeks, and now the baby fat has made its way to her legs. She is 12.2 lb (86th percentile), 23″ long (72nd percentile), and is wearing 0-3 month clothes. Morgan holds her head up fairly well, and she loves to push with her strong legs.  An exciting development this month is that Morgan seems to be smiling in reaction to us (mostly Daddy, of course)!

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Sleeping
Knock on wood, Morgan is still quite a reliable nighttime sleeper. She likes to go to bed at 9:00pm no matter how tired and fussy she is during the hours beforehand. She generally starts with a long stretch of 4-6 hours, and then has shorter stretches until the morning. Morgan’s naps are usually on me in the sling during the day while I continue on with Connor, cooking, laundry, etc. We recently discovered that she falls or stays asleep pretty easily in her bouncy seat. Morgan sleeps a lot between mid-morning and mid-afternoon, but outside of that she gives us some alert time to interact with her. The evening often brings an hour or so of “fussy time” and I usually take her out for a walk in the sling to calm her down.

Big Brother
Connor started school on September 7 and it has been smooth sailing for him! He was anxious all summer about going 4 days per week this year, but as soon as he started the first day, he was back in the groove. His first new friend that I heard about is a girl named Willow. She loves to play tag and hide and seek, plus she has a Frozen backpack…so it’s no wonder they were fast friends.

Connor loves to make up songs to sing to Morgan or sing along with me as I sing “You Are My Sunshine.” He jumps at the chance to throw away her dirty diapers or to help give her a bath, and still loves to hug and kiss her.

First day of school photos

Visitors and Adventures
My dad and stepmom visited from September 2-6. Connor enjoyed his first time fishing (in the lake by our house), and Charlie caught a fish with Connor’s Paw Patrol fishing pole! Charlie was gone the first 3 days my parents were here because he flew to Kansas for his Aunt Judy’s funeral. I was glad he was able to attend, and it worked out well that I had help from my dad and stepmom while he was gone. Once my parents left, Charlie went back to work (for the first time in a month), Connor started school, and we settled into our “new normal.”

Snoozing with Grandpa

Connor wasn’t sure he wanted to be anywhere near the fish!

We spent a weekend with Charlie’s sister and her family, and it was Morgan’s first time meeting any of her cousins! While staying at their house for the weekend, we made a side-trip to a Lego Fest near Richmond for part of the day. It wasn’t as huge and impressive as we had anticipated, but we still had a good time.

Ready to watch his Lego car race

Morgan is 1 month old!

August 30, 2016

Growth
It seems impossible, but Morgan is over 9 pounds already! Her newborn clothes and diapers still fit, but it won’t be long before we have to move up. Her cheeks have filled out a lot! Morgan’s neck is getting stronger each day and we love to see her lift up her head while laying on our chest.

Look how much those cheeks have filled out!  (August 29 on top; August 13 on bottom)

Showing off her neck muscles

Sleeping
Morgan still sleeps well…thank goodness!  Her alert times are definitely occurring more often and lasting longer, and we enjoy looking at her beautiful deep blue eyes while they are open. She sleeps anywhere from 2.5 to 5 hours at a time throughout the night. During the day, her naps aren’t quite as long as they used to be (especially if we lay her down), but she will sleep 2-3 hours while being held or carried in the sling.  Morgan has been extremely fussy in the evenings this past week.  She acts like she wants to nurse, but gets frustrated with the milk because she’s not actually hungry.  Usually a walk outside calms her down and helps her fall asleep.

Big Brother
Connor is definitely getting used to having Morgan in our family. He has learned to be gentle with his hugs and kisses, and he insists on finding out “what’s wrong with her” whenever she cries. He loves to make up songs to sing to her.  Connor is also getting used to Morgan’s nighttime grunts and other noises, so he isn’t waking up as often during the night.  Connor has been extraordinarily patient during Morgan’s toughest moments. Whether it’s a car ride with her crying or her evening fussy time, Connor seems to sense that I am dealing with enough at the moment and he just quietly waits for the moment to pass.

School starts for Connor next week! He told Charlie’s mom last week that he “doesn’t want to go,” so we will see what happens…



Visitors
Charlie’s parents were here for the past week. We enjoyed time relaxing at home, and took trips to the Military Aviation Museum, Nauticus Museum/USS Wisconsin, and Mariners’ Museum. Charlie’s sister Michelle and her husband made a spontaneous trip last weekend (from their home near Richmond) to see us for a few hours. Michelle had surgery recently, and she was devastated that she couldn’t come visit immediately after Morgan’s birth due to her recovery. Michelle was so excited to finally meet Morgan and enjoyed lots of snuggles while she was here.

Here are two more of my favorite photos from this month:

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Hanging out in the pouch sling

Fuzzy hair after a bath

Morgan’s Birth Story & 2-week Update

Morgan Louise Brokovich

July 30, 2016
8:12am
6 lb 5 oz, 20 in

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After a surprising and quick delivery with Connor (which you can read about here), I had been praying the last few weeks that this baby would give us enough warning to get safely to the hospital. Thankfully, that was in her plans!

I woke up around 4:00am on Saturday, July 30 feeling contractions. (I was 38 weeks and 3 days.) The contractions were not particularly intense, and were about 8-10 minutes apart. We had a false alarm about 10 days earlier, which helped me realize that these contractions were the real thing. I decided to get up, drink some water, and take a shower and see if the contractions continued, which they did. I woke Charlie and he got ready while I called our neighbors, who we had already arranged to take care of Connor when the time came. They have two kids ages 4 and almost 6, and Connor always has fun with them. It was so comforting to know that he was in good hands while we focused on welcoming our new baby into the world.

We drove to the hospital and were placed in a Labor & Delivery triage room. A nurse hooked up the external fetal monitor, and once she saw that everything looked fine, she left us for a while. She came back around 7:30am to check my cervix, and I was 4cm dilated and 70% effaced. She was starting to explain that I was right on the borderline of active labor when my water suddenly broke. We knew from experience with Connor that I would probably deliver quickly now that my water had broken. The nurse started putting in my IV. Although I didn’t want any routine fluids, I was supposed to have antibiotics 4 hours before delivery because I was positive for Group B Strep. I was pretty sure that we didn’t have 4 hours before delivery, but I didn’t argue!

While the nurse was working on my IV, our room was suddenly filled with a doctor, nurses, and an anesthesiologist explaining that the baby’s heart rate had dropped too low after my water broke, and if it didn’t come back up we would have to do an emergency C-section. My mind was spinning as we tried to process what was happening, but thankfully a nurse suggested that I turn over onto my hands and knees to see if that would relieve enough pressure on the baby to allow her heart rate to come back up. (The cord had wrapped itself pretty tightly around her body when she dropped down after my water broke.) After I changed positions, the baby’s heart rate soon came up high enough that we were out of the woods for an emergency C-section. We were so relieved! The doctor checked my cervix again and I was 6cm.

The doctor and nurses wheeled me down the hall to a delivery room, then helped me move over to the delivery bed. The doctor checked me again, and I was just about fully dilated. The contractions were coming quickly, and I could feel the baby moving down with each one. Within moments, the doctor said my cervix was completely thinned out and that I could bear down when I felt the need. Over the next couple of contractions, all of which came quickly, her head came out and then there she was! Morgan was born 45 minutes after my water broke.

The doctor put her on my chest immediately, and we were overwhelmed with joy to see our precious Morgan Louise for the first time. Once the cord stopped pulsing, Charlie cut it. Unfortunately, my repairs after delivery were more painful than the delivery itself. From what the doctor said, I had two tears that weren’t severe, but the location made one of them extremely painful to repair and required a catheter temporarily in place while the doctor was stitching. I’m grateful that I had Morgan on my chest throughout the repairs so that I could at least attempt to focus on her instead of the discomfort.

Once my stitches were finished, it was finally just Charlie, Morgan, and me for a little while. Charlie had already called our immediate family to let them know the good news. After about an hour, a nurse came to weigh and measure Morgan and give her a bath. Charlie watched and took pictures while another nurse helped me get cleaned up. It was probably about 3 hours after Morgan was born that we moved to a room in the Mother-Baby unit. Charlie stayed with us until late afternoon, then went home to be with Connor and wait for my mom, who drove up from Atlanta after Charlie told her about the birth.

Because I had been positive for Group B Strep and didn’t get the antibiotics before delivery, we had to stay 48 hours so that the pediatricians could keep an eye on Morgan. It felt like a long time, but I’m glad it wasn’t 72 hours like it was with Connor, which was for the same reason. Morgan latched on decently and nursed a bit during the first hour after birth, but the rest of the day and pretty much until the next morning she was incredibly sleepy. The pediatrician wanted to check her blood sugar by doing a heel prick before 3 of her feedings, but she was just so sleepy that it was hard to get her to latch on at all after getting her sugar checked. (I was told during this pregnancy that I did not have gestational diabetes, but when the pediatrician looked back at my lab results from the 3-hour glucose test, he felt like I should have actually been diagnosed with it, so that’s why he wanted to go ahead and check Morgan’s sugars.) Thankfully each reading was normal, although it was no fun to have her heel pricked so many times.

The day after Morgan’s birth, Charlie brought Connor and my mom to visit us at the hospital. I wanted to make sure that I had Morgan settled in her bassinet when they arrived so that I could focus on greeting Connor (after our first night apart ever), but after giving me a quick hug he just wanted to see and hold his baby sister! After some bonding time, we left Connor in the hospital room with my mom while Charlie, Morgan, and I went to a required discharge class down the hall.

Morgan and I were beyond ready to go home the next morning! Charlie came to pick us up and it was wonderful coming home to Connor and my mom. Morgan took a long nap in her bassinet after we got home, and I was grateful for the chance to focus on Connor. Overall it has been a fairly smooth transition for him so far, but we certainly had a few tough moments the first couple of days at home. Charlie took time off on top of his paternity leave, so he will be home during the entire month of August! His parents are coming to visit later this month, and my dad and stepmom are planning to visit soon as well.

Morgan Louise, we are so blessed to have you in our lives!

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Morgan’s 2-week update (August 13)
Morgan is 2 weeks old today!  Time has flown by and we have enjoyed every moment with our little girl.

Growth
Morgan’s 2-week checkup isn’t until later this week. At her 4-day checkup she was on track to regain her birth weight in no time. She is still wearing newborn-size clothes and diapers. Although Morgan hasn’t appeared to have put on any fat on her little arms and legs, we have seen a big change in her face

Sleeping
Morgan has slept like a champ since the day she was born. At night she has one long stretch between 4-5.5 hours, and outside of that she sleeps 2-3 hours at a time throughout the night and day. She generally has an alert period in the morning and sometimes again in the late afternoon. Of course she loves to sleep in our arms, but she also has no problem sleeping in her bassinet, car seat, or while being carried in the ring sling. I am amazed at how easily we can transfer her while she continues to sleep (from our arms to her bassinet, in and out of the car seat, etc.), and I hope that continues!  So far, Morgan can sleep through any amount of noise. The day we brought her home we started right in with digging through Lego containers, using the Vitamix, and vacuuming.

“Sleep when the baby sleeps” doesn’t work as well with a 4-year-old in the house!  I am so grateful for Morgan’s long stretches of sleep at night, but I can’t take advantage of her final morning stretch because Connor is up early and ready to play. Charlie and I have been staying up late watching the Olympics, so once they are over, I will be able to go to sleep earlier and make up for the morning sleep I’m missing out on!

Eating
Nursing has definitely been easier the second time around. We established a good latch after a couple days, and my milk started coming in the day we came home from the hospital. Morgan often falls asleep while nursing, but doesn’t stay latched on after falling asleep like Connor did at this stage.

Big Brother
Connor loves his baby sister!  She has made the transition easy on us by sleeping long stretches and letting us put her down to sleep so that we can still focus on Connor.  He likes to hug her, kiss her, and look at her “bright eyes” when they are actually open. He gets upset first thing in the morning when he isn’t allowed to hug Morgan because she is still sleeping peacefully!  Connor refers to her as “my baby,” and also likes to include her as a character in all of his (constant) role-playing.

This week, my friend Melissa offered to pick Connor up and keep him for the day. He had a blast playing with her two kids, and meanwhile Charlie and I had a much-needed nap with Morgan, a lunch date, then relaxed on the couch snuggling with Morgan and watching the Olympics.

Connor starts 4-year-old preschool after Labor Day and is nervous about going 4 days each week (9:30-1:00)  instead of just 2 days like last year.  I hope he will enjoy the time being out of the house and having fun with friends!

Visitors
We were so lucky to have several meals brought to us by friends throughout our first 2 weeks at home with Morgan. It was such a relief to not worry about cooking!  Connor was spoiled with many “big brother gifts” from friends and family…and a few from us, too. My mom was here the first week after Morgan’s birth, and Charlie’s parents will be here in a week. Another special visitor was my German teacher!  She was visiting the states and spent a week in Virginia Beach with another family that we had been stationed with in Germany.

Adventures
Morgan has slept through every outing we have taken so far:  playground, library, Target, lunch at a restaurant, and the commissary.

August 5

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August 8

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August 8

Auf Wiedersehen, liebe Deutschland…

Wow, what an incredible 3 years. I can’t even begin to express how blessed I feel to have spent this time in Germany. We have explored as much of Europe as we could, created relationships with my German relatives, and watched Connor grow up in this amazing country. If it weren’t for family back in the states, I think we would be perfectly happy to stay!

On the other hand, we are ready to live closer to our families in the United States. It’s time for Connor to create experiences and memories with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. For the next 3 years, Charlie will be the clarinet instructor at the Army School of Music in Little Creek, Virginia. We are thrilled about the opportunity, as well as the chance to be stationed with old friends!

Here are some thoughts about leaving Germany and returning to the United States:

I will miss…
-our German relatives
-our landlord, Inge, who was like another Oma to Connor
-our friendly German neighbors
-Connor’s gym and music classes
-traveling all over Europe
-asking Connor where we are going when he pretends to drive me somewhere and hearing answers like, “Luxembourg!”
-going on a typical walk in beautiful Hochspeyer and seeing chickens, horses, goats, deer, trains, and tractors
-fresh bread from the bakery
-family-owned restaurants and delicious food
-seeing people enjoying the outdoors with their families on Sundays and holidays
-my German class, teacher, and classmates
-having such a small trash bin because almost everything is picked up from our house for recycling
-Christmas markets (and Glühwein!)

I can’t wait to…
-live closer to family
-pay for gas at the pump
-have a dishwasher and closets
-plug anything in without worrying about voltage or watts
-use a clothes dryer that doesn’t take 2 hours

And lastly, a few photos as we prepare to leave Germany:

Spending time with Nina on our last visit to Hirrlingen

Our last Musikgarten class with Frau Baum (L to R:  Adam, Connor, David, James, Henry)

Playing in the roll of cardboard while the movers pack!

Uh oh, I hope Connor doesn’t get shipped with the couch!

Last gym class…a welcome break after watching the movers pack all day (Connor and his teacher, Ingrid)

Playing in the empty house before heading to the airport

Passed out for a nap after finding out that our flight was delayed 24 hours…So thankful we still had our house and air mattresses to come home to for the night! (He’s wearing his 1FCK soccer jersey from our landlord)

More adventures in our empty house…He was getting all the “materials” to make “meatloaf batter.”

This was the first day in our house, wearing an outfit our landlord gave as a housewarming gift. Those thighs!!  (August 2012)

We will never forget the memories we have created here. Tschüss!

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