Babies galore!

June 12, 2015 at 9:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We’re hosting a nest of baby birds in our grill on the back porch. Feeling like we’ve got babies coming out the wazoo here!  Liam says he’s washing grass for his grass collection, lol.

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Liam’s Imaginary Frenemy

August 19, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Like many five-year-olds, Liam has a vivid imagination. And like many, he has an imaginary friend. Except his “friend” likes to bite and poop on people. Compulsively. Lucy, yes, this Lucy, can be quite obnoxious at times, despite all our attempts to train her. I’ve given up trying, instead playing along with her constant insults and threats to poop in my face. As we played tonight, I suddenly realized that Lucy is really just a rated-G version of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. 

Mother’s Day Weekend and More

May 13, 2014 at 10:33 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Friday Liam’s preschool hosted a little Mother’s Day tea. All the moms and grandmoms were invited for a song, a special present, and some refreshments at the end of the school day. As we sat in chairs, the kids all filed in. Liam, as always, was the smallest.

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They sang two cute little mother songs, both of which Liam refused to sing, as usual. But I did catch him counting to three on his fingers along with the kids in one song. I call that progress!

Then the teacher went down the line and asked each student to show their drawing of their mom and say when she looks her prettiest. Hilarious and adorable.

In case you missed it, he says, “When she has curly hair.”

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He even put me in my favorite color dress. I love it!

Then we were presented with a little gift that the kids made us. One by one the children delivered their little marigolds to their moms.

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And a little card that read, “I love you. Liam.” In red, naturally.

Here’s my flower.

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Feeling very special, indeed.

On Saturday my parents came up for the weekend. I picked up some steaks at my new favorite butcher shop, Sigs, which isn’t new at all, just new to me. Thanks to Tracy for recommending. Then I took Liam out to the downtown Wichita Farmer’s Market. We’ve been talking a lot about locally grown foods and eating healthier. Course, I then proceeded to buy him chocolate chip cookies because he was such a well-behaved boy. But I also got some asparagus, and a delicious homemade blueberry pie. 

That afternoon I took my parents to a mother’s day ice tea tasting at my favorite (and only, apparently) tea shop in Wichita, Chelmsford Tea. They had an assortment of refreshing ice teas to sample, and some delicious hors d’oeuvres. Bought my mom a lovely blue scented soy candle and a tea called “Garden of Eden” to make at home.

Mom admired the yellow roses that were in full bloom in my front garden. Through almost no effort on my part (I think I threw some fertilizer on there a month ago when I re-did the mulch), I had a ton of pretty blooms. So we made some cuttings for ourselves. James is all for free flowers…and a way to shut me up about him never buying me any!

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While we were at tea, James took Liam out to get me a mother’s day gift – a box of Godiva chocolates. So sweet!

Then it was time to grill. And just in time for a big rainstorm. sheesh.

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Thanks to James for the assist. Just as I went to flip the steaks over it started hailing. But by the time they were done, the rain had stopped. And by the time we sat down to enjoy our scrumptious filet mignons, the sun was shining. Oh, Kansas!

Mom and dad couldn’t leave Sunday without lunch at BJ’s. Specifically, their new Salted Caramel Pizookie for dessert. That lasted about 30 seconds before we licked the plate clean. Yum.

The rain continued Monday for Liam’s class field trip to Tanganyika Wildlife Park. Tracy and I rode down together, and you should have heard Amia and Liam chattering away in the back seat. Highly amusing when she tried to teach him I Spy, “Liam, here’s how you play. I spy something green. It was grass! Now your turn.” LOL.

The rain tapered off as we got there, but it remained stubbornly cold. We shivered our way to the giraffes, the rhinos, the pigmy hippo. Liam was pretty good about staying with the class. He even volunteered to feed the birds…until he realized what he was in for. He quickly passed the food to me before we walked inside the enclosure, and I was immediately swarmed with parrots. Liam, of course, wouldn’t pet them. Or get very close to them. But he laughed when a bird landed on my shoulder, and another on my hat. I wasn’t the only one getting swarmed.

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Bailey’s mom was making quite a ruckus, lol.

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And Tracy didn’t even have any food. They were everywhere!

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Sweet little Amia feeding the birdies.

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And that’s as close as Liam would get. That smile of his cracks me up.

We spent the rest of our time with the kangaroos, the turtles, the bunnies, and the goats. I’m sure there was more, but we decided we’d be better off saving it for a warmer day. We stopped off at Starbucks for a hot beverage and some cake pops. Yay for field trips!

Spring Break 2014

March 21, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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James left for DC this week, so we thought it would be the perfect time for a Shaver invasion. I stocked up on wine and Liam waited by the window. Soon enough, Monday afternoon they pulled in the driveway. Let the chaos begin! Liam was just getting over a cold, so he was in rare form, screaming and crying every time Evie didn’t want to play with him. And Evie was in no mood for a whiny five-year-old. So the adults self-medicated while the children worked out their problems as best they could. The peace was tenuous at best. So we decided to CottonCandy2break out the cotton candy machine. Ahh, that got them in line. They dutifully waited their turn as I made one cotton candy flavor after another. We had five flavors to choose from, and I think we tried them all. When my arm got tired, Jill took over. I have to say, when James got this thing I was a bit dubious. But it was a huge hit! The next day it was all Evie could talk about, and we managed to put the kids off until after dinner again, requiring them to finish their veggies (or in Evie’s case, whatever she will deign to eat) And they all CottonCandy3lined up like little birds waiting for mama to give them a worm. No fighting, no whining. Everyone got the flavor they wanted and everyone waited their turn. Then sticky children got in the bath (Evie and Liam in the jacuzzi tub marveling at the “shooting bubbles!”), brushed teeth, and got to bed. We put Liam and Evie in his twin bed, which ultimately we regretted. Jill and I were trying our best to catch her up on Season 3 of Game of Thrones amid numerous interruptions. I finally had to just sit in there with them until they nodded off around 10:30. So the kids were especially cranky all the next day while Auntie Mandy nursed a hangover and what turned out to be an oncoming cold. My mom wasn’t feeling too well, either, so dad came up to Wichita on his own on Tuesday to witness the madness. Milo stuck to him like glue, the older children bickered, and I had to make another wine run.

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With the change of plans came a change of menu – instead of bland Shepard’s Pie, I decided to break out the spicy Chicken Tikka Masala for us three spicy food fiends. Yum yum! Then it was more cotton candy, sticky children in the bath, teeth brushed, sleeping arrangements rearranged so all the children slept separately, and we had some peace and quiet. Yes! Jill and I finished the last episode of Game of Thrones, and then we decided to introduce dad to Breaking Bad. I never get tired of watching that show!

The next day Jill had to return to her day job, so the Shavers bid us adieu. We briefly entertained the idea of keeping Evie so she could spend more time with Liam, but it was apparent that these cousins had had enough of each other. We’ll be seeing a lot of them in the coming month, so just as well. My cold was just setting in, so I was ready for a little peace and quiet, anyway. Amazing how much the volume dips when you subtract two children.

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So dad, Liam and I took a little field trip up to Hutchison. First stop, the Strataca, the Salt Mine Museum. During the safety video I got a little worried about the hard hat rule. Liam hates wearing hats. And he wasn’t too happy, but he seemed to accept that he was required to wear it. He spent the first 30 minutes complaining about it and messing with it, but then we got on the underground train, and all was good. IMG_2675The exhibits were pretty fascinating, though dad got to see more of those than I did. I had a five-year-old pulling me around as fast as he could toward the train. We were interested to learn that at 650 feet below the surface, we were actually beneath the aquifer that services the water supply for the entire area, even Derby. Liam and I talk at great length about the water cycle, so he thought that was cool. I was surprised to see a whole cache of movie props and costumes that are stored in the facility. We took another ride on a tram through some of the darker parts of the mine, learning more about the history, cave-ins, red salt, and how water seepage can make the purest variety of salt. Then we stopped and got to collect our own salt rocks. Liam wanted to stay on the tram, so I collected a little bag for him and a salt rock as big as my fist to shine up and display at home. By the time we made it back to the elevator, I felt like my skin was covered in a fine layer of salt dust. And we were ready to see some sunshine again. How do those miners do it, I tell ya!

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We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Cosmosphere geeking out to space stuff. An impressive museum, ranking in my mind up there with Smithsonian Air & Space and the Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral. I wish Liam would take more of an interest, but he instead sped through, dragging me along as I tried my best to glance at all the cool stuff. We made a stop at the lunar lander and waited for grandpa to catch up. I did get to see a cool moon rock. And Jim Lovell’s space suit from Apollo 13. And a video of the moon landing. After an emergency stop at the snack shop, dad and Liam snapped this hilarious photo at kiosk in the lobby. Liam still had his hat hair.

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We ended the evening with a gut-busting trip to Strouds, and the food was even better this time because I was ravenous. I find it hilarious that dad and I tend to order the same thing whenever we eat out. This time it was chicken fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and ice tea. And let’s not forget a cinnamon roll. Our appetites must be genetic. Yum!

Thursday grandpa tagged along to tumbling class. The teacher gave the kids some time for free play, so Liam showed off his balance beam skills.

After indulging in a sea salt and caramel Pazookie at BJ’s (divine!), we headed for The World Treasures Museum. They were hosting some sort of a military event there, so it was more crowded than I’ve ever seen it. As usual, Liam led me around, hardly glancing at the exhibits. We rode the elevator 30 times. And took the back stairs about half a dozen. We kept finding and losing grandpa, who wanted to read every plaque on the wall. Mr. Whiny Pants cut him a bit short, so we’ll have to go back another time so he can properly tour the first floor.

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Back home we broke out a souvenir from the salt mine that grandpa picked up for the grandkids: a tree that grows colored salt. He carefully mixed the formula and poured it into the tray. And then Liam managed to knock it over, doh! But we saved it, and as the afternoon wore on, it kept getting fuzzier and fuzzier. By bedtime it was a full-fledged pink tree. Very cool!

More whining and crying ensued the next morning when we tried to go out for breakfast and Liam didn’t get to finish his cartoons. I think poor grandpa, who seemed to have the same cold I did, was ready to get back to his peaceful, quiet house. I wish I could have gone with him! Perhaps next weekend, when I’m planning a short trip up to KC to see Divergent with mom and Jill, we’ll all be over our colds and everyone will be a better mood. Or we might be dropping off the grandkids at the orphanage!

Sledding with a Friend (and Sushi Lunch)

February 12, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Yesterday I met with Tracy for sushi lunch without the kids. It was wonderful! She admitted to never trying raw fish, that she’d only ever gotten the cooked or vegetarian sushi at the Dillons. But she was totally game. So we, um, ordered this.

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This arrived after our Edemamme appetizer (another first for her, yum!) and a plate of raw sea bass in a ginger sauce that the chef sent over. I love this place – the chef is always sending over goodies. Tracy gamely tried the sea bass. I was so proud. Needless to say we were astounded by the size of our boat, especially for the price. But the sushi was all excellent, and we ended up taking enough home for each of us to have another meal.

After school, we decided to take the kids sledding at the high school. Liam couldn’t wait to show Amia his favorite sledding hill. They insisted on riding together, with very cute results.

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The kids had enough momentum to clunk right into a chain link fence, and because the hill dipped up a bit at the end, they’d start to slide back. It was hilarious! Tracy got Amia to help her bring the sled up the hill, and the next thing I know, Liam is insisting he help, too. This from the kid who patently REFUSED to bring the sled up on his own when I sledded with him last time. Amia is a good influence!

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Look at my boy, doing it all by himself! So glad he’s made a friend.

We headed back to my house at my suggestion to play the Kinect. I didn’t realize until I queued up the video game that Tracy thought I meant a board game. She was like, “Motion sensor video games? When did this happen?!” She cracks me up. Amia and Liam had a blast. And Liam was much better when Amia had to go, probably because he was wrapped up in popping bubbles and river rafting.

I’ll leave you with this cute video of the kids on the sled:

Bathtub Fun

January 30, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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So of course what he was doing originally was way cuter than the video I managed to shoot. Liam’s been really into baths every night, and his favorite “bath toy” is this pink tub that we use to store the actual toys. I came in to check on him, and he was scooting around in it, calling it his “submarine.” Getting quite imaginative these days.

Liam Turns Five

January 6, 2014 at 5:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Let me just say here that my parents are amazing. Liam and I arrived at my mom’s on Friday, and I expected we’d have to bake a cake and plan Liam’s fifth birthday party for Saturday afternoon. But they’d taken care of nearly everything: baked this adorable cake, constructed a cardboard treasure chest with presents inside, and thought up the idea for a little treasure hunt for the kids. All we had to do was come up with some simple clues. Wonderful! We decided to keep this party small – just Evie and Milo and us grownups.

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While Liam and Evie played in the dollhouse (decorated for Christmas, even!), mom wrote down some clues to lead them throughout the house and to the laundry room where we’d hidden the treasure chest. But first, cake! And trick candles, apparently.

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Now for the treasure hunt! My mom had marked an “X” on her bookshelf and we told the kids to look all over the living room for it. A game of “warmer, colder” was in order. Ah ha, there it is!

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From there the clues led to the bathroom (Where would a pirate park his ship?), to a mirror in one bedroom, to my black boots in another bedroom, and finally “where would a pirate wash his clothes?” Ta-da!

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Inside were giant gold doubloons that Evie had made, and some other treasure in the form of presents. James and I brought a couple of other presents. A globe from Aunt Jill (which he promptly opened and set aside), and an Imaginext castle from daddy. Just like Christmas, all present-opening ceased until he could play with the castle. So all of the cousins moved to the living room and stormed the castle with all the little guys. Later Liam opened his “5” shirts that my mom made (both long and short sleeved) and a puzzle pattern box that she and dad made, similar to the one I played with as a kid, which was modeled after one my mom played with as a kid.

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The rest of the weekend was spent playing on their matching LeapPad Ultras. One of the cool features of this high-tech preschool ipad is that they can play some games together when they’re in the same room. They can text message each other, and their little pets can interact. Very cute.

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That evening, Evie drew a little picture illustrating the day they’d had. It says, “Me and my cousin had a birthday with cake. Liam wore his 5 shirt!” You’ll see she even included Liam’s dog Lucy and her little black dog that she carries around everywhere.

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On Sunday mom, dad and I took the two older kids to the Toy & Miniature Museum. Mom read that they’d be closing for renovation soon, so we wanted to be sure to see it. The kids raced through in record time, then spent the next hour or so playing with the little dollhouse-sized dogs mom bought for them in the gift shop. As usual, Liam was more interested in where the stairs and elevators went than the actual exhibits.

Jill showed me this cool new app that creates slide-show photos, so in case you didn’t see it come through email or facebook, enjoy the other photos we shot of Liam’s birthday weekend.

Christmas 2013

December 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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With snow still on the ground from last weekend’s storm, we counted this as one of Wichita’s rare white Christmases. On Christmas Eve we let Liam open his annual Christmas ornament, Dusty Crophopper from the Planes movie, complete with spinning propeller.

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Then we let him pick one other present to open.

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A guess-the-Disney-character-stuck-to-your-forehead game from Uncle Chris, Aunt Ann, Brady and Devin. We had to play it immediately. Lots of family fun! And sexy photos.

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But then we’d created a monster. He wanted to open all the gifts from the aunts and uncles. He’d had a stomach bug since Monday, laid around with a fever all day Tuesday, and we felt so sorry for our poor little guy, so we obliged. We’re such suckers.

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From Great Aunt Barb, Scotty and Ashley. He also got some games from his Aunt Kim and Aunt Jill. Our game pile has gotten seriously high. We love games in this house!

Then it was off to bed. Liam was just starting to eat regular foods again, and in our rush to get him to bed, we completely forgot to set out milk and cookies for Santa. But after the Christmas Eve Assembly From Hell, “Santa” helped herself right out of the cookie jar while watching Die Hard until midnight.

The next morning, Liam woke us up at a very reasonable hour, and whispered in my ear at my bedside, “Santa brought me a trampoline.” Indeed. So daddy and I tromped down the stairs to see the monstrosity. I asked him if he wanted to jump on it, but he wanted to check out what was under the tree first. Fair enough. First stockings…

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Then onto the big stuff. He got a soccer and hockey goal from Grandpa Bob, something he may appreciate more in the spring, but we could still set it up in the basement. Clothes, books, games…about three or four presents in, he decided he was sick of ripping paper and asked daddy to open the rest. This kid is so lazy! Finally, we got to the piece de’ resistance. A Discovery Toys Marble Track. The thing he asked Santa for, both in his adorable letter (a crayon drawing of a marble track) and in person at his preschool. At that point, all present opening ceased, and we were instructed to assemble it at once, please.

IMG_2506After awhile, we convinced him it was time to open the rest of the presents, and he discovered another big-ticket item, a LeapPad Ultra from Grandpa Mark and Grandma Julie. His very own iPad, he says! And he had a healthy stack of games and accessories from his MaMa and PaPa to get him started. Sweet.

I kept seeing all of these wonderful portraits of kids with their presents on Facebook, so I asked Liam to pose with his favorite gift. He replied, “I’m too busy playing!” So this was the best I got.

IMG_2503And this was a hilarious find at the Exploration Place gift shop, a quote from Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. >>>

It was just us this Christmas, so we spent the rest of the morning on the phone with all the relatives. We were able to FaceTime with Jill, my parents and James’ parents. Such a nice change to be able to show them all of Liam’s gifts instead of simply describing them. Of course, Liam had little interest in talking with anyone. Except for Evie. We got to see all of her and Milo’s gifts, too.  Evie especially liked seeing my festive toes. This girl loves nail polish.

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Then, in between playing all of Liam’s new games, watching him jump on the trampoline (finally!), helping him build new marble tracks, and figuring out all the cool features on his new LeapPad, James and I cooked a big Christmas dinner. But first, mango chutney, mmmmm…

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As the afternoon wore on, James did more of the playing and I did more of the cooking. I’m not sure who had the hardest job. We had another Turducken Roll from Thanksgiving, and we decided to apply the tips we’d learned from the last time to make it juicier. I also made stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce (jellied, of course) and pecan pie. All of our favorites (save for James and the green bean casserole. More for me!) Oh, and some Malbec for me. Can’t forget the wine!

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It may not look like much, but it was more than enough. I didn’t even have room for pie. The Turducken turned out a lot moister, though James and I decided perhaps this particular dish isn’t really for us. We prefer our meat boneless and skinless, and this had way too much skin and dark meat for our liking. But we were able to pick out the choicest parts and enjoy those, at least. I took the rest and ground it with some mayo for a tasty sandwich spread. James did all the dishes with much grumbling (thanks, dear!), and Liam watched A Christmas Story for the first time. He liked parts of it, though he’s a little young to truly enjoy it yet.

Moving right along, it’s Liam’s birthday tomorrow! And my very excited five-year-old and I will be driving to my mom’s house to celebrate with his cousins. (James is coming, too, of course. But separately so we can stay until Monday.) We’re planning a little pirate party for him on Saturday, his first themed party yet! Mom and I are planning a little treasure hunt cake for him, and we might come up with a game or two. We didn’t invite any friends this time – it’s a hard time of year to get everyone together, and I was concerned with overwhelming him with too many guests, anyway. But I’m sure Milo and Evie will happily liven up the party. Wish us luck!

More sledding fun

December 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I got these adorable videos this afternoon. Y’know, after our hot chocolate and lunch respite. First, he had me pull him around the yard like a train conductor. I was getting quite a workout! Apparently, every time he got off the sled, so was he.

Next we went back to the high school for some sledding fun.

Channeling Mr. Wizard

November 20, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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While Liam was at school today the Turduckens for Thanksgiving arrived at our doorstep packed in dry ice. Dry ice, cool. I think I remember a Mr. Wizard episode where they poured water over a bowl of dry ice and watched it vaporize into carbon dioxide. So after school Liam and I recreated it in our driveway. I can’t wait until Liam’s old enough to watch Mr. Wizard. For now, this “cool” experiment will suffice.

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