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I own you.

23 Apr

I had posted a “quick” update awhile ago here, but I really wanted to explain our homestudy for those who have been asking. The homestudy is probably the most involved part of the adoption…so far.

The outside of our tiny 1188 sq. ft. condo. 

With our massive paperwork, Jeremy and I each had to write a 6-10 page autobiography on ourselves. It was tedious.

As our homestudy interviews approached, we spent some time talking to Lil’ B about adopting. To be honest, I really didn’t want to explain it to him so early at first. Mainly because, at 6 years old, he doesn’t have a concept of time yet and the Philippines program (which at that point, we were still in) is a 2+ year process. I didn’t want to tell him today that he might have a lil’ brother or sister, then it not happen for 2 years. But we knew the case worker would be asking Lil’ B some questions and we felt it was best to prepare him for it.  Lil’ B’s mom is well aware of us planning to adopt; we told her about it last summer and she has been very supportive with our decision. In fact, she even wrote one of our referral letters for us. ❤  I’m not sure how much she had been telling/explaining to Lil’ B, but I assume she might have said something to him.

One evening as Lil’ B and I were veggin’ on the couch, watching TV, some commercial about babies came on.
Out of nowhere, Lil’ B says. “I want a brother”
Me: “I know, hun. You know daddy and I are adopting a brother or sister, right?”
Lil’ B: “Yeah.”
Me: “Do you know what adoption means?”
Lil’ B: “That they don’t have an owner yet”

Owner. He said owner. Ohhh I laughed.

Me: (trying to contain my laugher) “Well…it means that those kids don’t have a family and we’re going to adopt a brother or sister and they will be apart of our family.”
Lil’ B: “Ohhh. I don’t want to know where babies come from.”
Me: (still laughing): Well, one day you’ll want to know”
Lil’ B: I don’t want to know where babies come from” (saying it a bit firmer)
Me: When you’re ready to know, you can come ask me, your dad or your mom.

Ohh…trying to explain it on a kids level…not easy!

When the case worker came to our house for a 3 hour interview. Yes…3 hours. She mainly asked us questions pertaining to our autobiographies; things that she just wanted to verify or have us elaborate more about. She asked us a lot about our relationships with our families and how our parents treated us growing up. Of course, she also asked Jeremy and I questions about each other; our personalities, our likes and dislikes and how we handle our anger. She asked Lil’ B about 2 or 3 questions; if he wanted to be a big brother, if he’d rather have a brother or sister, questions appropriate for a child to answer. And then Lil’ B gave her a tour of the house (which lasted a whole 5 minutes or less).

Spare room/Computer room…which will eventually be our new lil’ one’s room

After the homestudy interviews, the case worker writes a whole report on you. It pretty much lists everything anyone could ever know about you, your finances, your childhood, every school you ever went to, your family, your reasons to adopt…everything. Our report was about 14 pages long. No kidding.

AND that’s where we’re at now. We’re waiting for our agency to “re-write” our homestudy. Our original homestudy was specific to the Philippines, so now they have to take out any reference to the Philippines and replace it with Korea. Also the “Child Conditions” form (the hardest form to ever fill out; it lists just about every medical condition a person could be born with and we have to say if it’s something we can handle or not) is different for the Korea program than the Philippines, so we had to re-do that paperwork, since there is a section in the homestudy that lists what you are able to accept and handle medically. Once we receive our *new* homestudy, we fill out the I-600A form, send it in (with our homestudy)….and then we are on the wait list. woot, woot!

Anyone adopting read my blog? How did you explain to the kids in your family (whether they be sons, daughters, cousins, nieces, nephews or other) about your adoption?

Snapshot Sunday!

27 Mar

Rileigh, the cutest lil’ girl, who just turned 2!! Totally rockin’ out the shirt!
Thanks Rileigh (and Jess) for the support!
I do have a few extra toddler sized shirts, if anyone is interested. Just hit me up, nejireta04@yahoo.com.

Do you have an Adoption Rocks t-shirt?! I would love to see a photo of you in it!

Ni Hao Y'all

Updates!

22 Mar

Ohhh I know…it’s been waaay to long since I’ve updated everyone. Eeep! I do apologize for that! Lots have happened since I last posted an update. The good, the bad and the ugly.

The good.

  • In December we finished the first part of our massive paperwork. Phew.
  • We also had our homestudy done in January and are homestudy approved! woot, woot!

The bad & ugly.
After 9 months of paperwork and a few thousand dollars into this, we found out that we will not be adopting from the Philippines after all.
Even though the first and main question I asked at our initial information meeting (back in June 2010) was about the religious requirements, it seems that after ALL this time, we won’t meet that requirement (Parent must demonstrate a relationship of at least 5 years with a religious or spiritual organization.). Our agency didn’t catch this until now. Now, after we’ve already had our minds and hearts set on the Philippines. Now, after we already are emotionally and financially invested. They did try to “fix” this; our agency sent our religious affiliation letter to the Philippines for pre-approval (before we got any farther in the process), but it seems that, even though the Philippines is okay with us and our letter (they really didn’t want to refuse a Filipino family a Filipino child), they don’t think it will pass the Inter-County Adoption Board (ICAB) since it is a requirement for the Philippines. And if the ICAB doesn’t approve, then our dossier would never make it to the Philippines, regardless. 😦
We are a little heart-broken. We were really looking forward to adopting from the Philippines and still being able to share that cultural background with our child.

Back to The good.

  • We have decided to continue our adoption journey and adopt from Korea!
  • Luckily, the $$ we spent up to date and most of the paperwork we’ve already done will transfer over to the Korea program.
  • There are MANY pros to us adopting from Korea:
  1.  No dossier! Once we are homestudy approved (which we already are), our homestudy gets sent to the agency in Korea, we send paperwork to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and we are on the wait list!
  2. This brings us to pro #2, shorter wait times! With the Philippines, we had an estimated 2 year wait. Korea’s average wait time is 1 year or less to receive a referral.
  3. We could bring home a younger child. The youngest we could adopt from the Philippines was 2 years old; we could get placed with a child as young as 7 months from Korea. I think we’re still going to aim for toddler age, but we’ll see. ;o)
  4.  One of my Besties is half-Korean. After talking to her on the phone, she seemed pretty excited for us and I am totally going to be expecting her to be the favorite “Auntie”. 😉

Summary:
We are not adopting from the Philippines anymore. 😦 BUT we will be adopting from Korea. AND that means we could have an addition to our family by this time next year! That also means that we need to get our arse in gear and fundraise! When adopting from the Philippines, we thought we had 2 years to raise and save money. Now it looks like we’ll need to save and raise a lot more, a lot sooner. So this is where I ask you to help out! If you haven’t scored one of our awesome “Adoption Rock’s” shirts, puuuulease do! I also have toddler sizes and totebags available. Or donate $1.50 and get an awesome sticker!

Zumbathon: The Budget Breakdown.

18 Feb

This post is intended for others who are fundraising. I feel as though our Zumbathon was a great success for us and while I was a bit flustered by the time the event came around, I would totally do it again; especially now that I know what to expect. This was my first time planning an event (other than our wedding) and it really took time some time…and great friends to pull it off.

Details about the event:
I honestly have no idea how many people came out for the event; somewhere between 40-50 people. We had 4 people who came just to support and to take advantage of the refreshments and adult beverages. Everyone else Zumba’d their toshies off. The event was 2 hours long, with 2-45 minutes Zumba “sessions” with a break in between. This gave people time to check out vendor tables (we had 2 vendors set-up tables at the event, Scentsy and a nutritional product table), participate in the raffles and hydrate. We pulled winners for the raffles at the end of the event. Food and drinks were available throughout the whole event.

Alright, now for the breakdown…

ZUMBA Instructor: Free
I must admit, it wasn’t my idea to have a Zumbathon, my friend, Audrey originally came up with the idea, since she is friends with a certified Zumba instructor. Cyndi, the zumba instructor, volunteered her time for the event and also gave us some info to help us start planning. I am very appreciative and grateful for her taking the time out to help us out! I took many photos during the event; I hope she’ll be able to use for future advertising for herself.

Venue: Free
First thing we had to book was the venue. Just like planning a wedding, we had to have dates in mind and check to see when the venue would be available. Cyndi was a great help in this department. She had suggested the local VFW and also the Purcell Friendship Hall. To be able to book the Purcell Friendship Hall, you had to either be alumni or an employee of Milton Hershey School. We booked this through Cyndi and Milton Hershey waived the rental fee, once they heard what the event was for. Yay! But I would suggest looking at  firehalls, VFWs and churches as possible venues. Make sure you venue can hold a minimum of 50 people.

Advertising: $14.64
People can’t come to the event if they don’t know about it! I designed and printed flyers from our home computer, but I also had 4×6 flyers made using clubflyers.com (my hubby uses them for show flyers). You can get 500 4×6 flyers for “free”, you just pay shipping. The catch is that they advertise their business on the other side of the flyer (see photo below). I made sure to give my friends stacks of the 4×6 flyers, so that they could hand out to their friends, family, co-workers, etc. Friends and I posted flyers printed on 8.5×11 paper at local businesses; ie. Turkey Hill (gas station), Sheetz, Starbucks, Panera Bread, Borders, local library, grocery stores…any place that has a bulletin board. We utilized the internet and emailed the flyer to friends (who then forwarded the flyer to their friends and co-workers), we facebooked and tweeted the event and I put it up on craigslist. I also had an ad run in the local Merchandiser/Community Courier (free). And somehow a friend (Meghan!) got our event announced on the radio.

Front and back of 4×6 flyers from Clubflyers.com. What you can’t see is the nice glossy cardstock; super professional looking.

Refreshments: $111.25
Besides having 2 dozen cupcakes donated by BeeBakes, which were sooo delish! A friend also donated 3 cases of beer.
We purchased most of the beverages from Sams Club, which included 2 cases of bottled water (36 bottles in a case, $3.98 a case) and 2 cases of 12oz bottles of Gatorade (24 bottles in a case, $9.88 a case). We also purchased 2 large bottles of wine, fruit trays, veggies, ranch dressing, crackers, pretzels, sausages, forks, plates and napkins. We purchased serving trays and tongs and cups (for the wine) from the dollar store. We ended up with leftover veggies, fruit and pretzels and also have PLENTY of plates and forks (purchased from Sams Club) to use at future events.

Raffles: $20.00
Almost everything we had to raffle off was donated. I really didn’t feel right asking for donations, considering we’re not a non-profit organization or anything, my friends really stepped up and took this task off my shoulders. Alex P., especially. She went to many businesses in the local area and got TONS of donations from them. I did purchase a $20 gift card to Tokyo Diner to go along with a sushi set that a friend (Audrey) had donated.
Some of the items we raffled off were:

  • Scensty Warmer (donated by Erica)
  • Sushi set w/Tokyo Diner gift card
  • Movie Night gift basket (included 2 DVDs and TONS of movie type snacks, donated by Erin)
  • Wine gift basket (included 2 bottles of wine, wine glasses, chocolates, donated by Culeen)
  • $25 Bath & Body Works gift card
  • $25 American Eagle gift card
  • $25 Victoria’s Secret gift card
  • $30 Great Escapes gift card
  • 2 bags of Mary Kay products (donated by Irene)

We ran the raffles by selling tickets ($1 for 3 or $5 for an arms length of tickets), we had boxes placed in front of each raffle item and the person would put their raffle ticket in the box of the raffles they wanted to win. At the end of the night, we had lil’ B pull a ticket from each box and announced the winner. I think they also call this a “Chinese Auction”. Once we were done announcing who won the raffles, we mixed ALL the raffle tickets together and pulled a few names for giveaways.
Items we gave away:

  • $10 Toys R Us gift certificate
  • $10 Quentin Tavern gift certificate
  • $10 Turkey Hill gift certificate
  • $10 Sheetz gift certificate
  • $10 A&M Pizza gift certificate

DJ: Free
Luckily I have a friend who DJs (Tony from ITI Pros) and he was nice enough to provide his services and sound system for us. As “payment”, we gave him some of the left over beer. ;o)

Bartender: Free
Due to regulations of the venue, we had to supply a “certified bartender” in order to serve alcoholic drinks. Alex J. came through and hooked us up with a great guy who also volunteered his services for the night. I did have a tip jar out for him, but at the end of the night he refused to take any form of payment (I tried!) or the tips. He donated his tips to us. Thank you.

TOTAL SPENT: $145.89
Zumbathon & Raffle Donations: $1162.00
TOTAL PROFIT (Spent – Donated): 1016.11

I hope this was helpful for anyone who plans of fundraising an event similar to this, if you have any questions, let me know…you can leave them in a comment below.

We just completed our homestudy (I will blog about soon, promise!); we plan to use this $$ for our UCIS paper work, Pre-file I-800A with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. We also still have to have Psych. evaluations done. Once we hear back from UCIS (and psych evals. are complete)…we send our dossier to the Philippines and we’re officially on the wait list! Yay! Paper work is almost done!

Zumbathon!

9 Feb

I didn’t advertise our next fundraiser on the blog; mainly because I don’t think anyone local really reads it. But on February 4th, we had a Zumbathon and it was fantastic.
Between being frazzled and the nerves of speaking into a mic, I forgot the most important thing…to thank specific people. So I’m gonna take the time to do it here. Better late than never. ;o)

First and foremost, I want to thank Cyndi. She volunteered her time and talents to host the zumbathon. She is a certified Zumba instructor and she literally kicked everyone’s arse. She also got us the awesome venue for our event. It was such a great space; perfect. Thanks again, Cyndi!

Many mahalos to Audrey! Besides the Zumbathon being Audrey’s idea in the first place, I really don’t think we could have pulled it off without her. She really was a lot of help in planning the event. Thank you Audrey! And thanks to Audrey’s mom, Karen, for volunteering at the door.

Thank you, Alex P.! We also had many raffles and a few giveaways at the event and Alex was the main reason why we had so many great things to giveaway.

Culeen and Erin also donated gift baskets to be raffled off. Erica from Scentsy donated a warmer and Irene from Mary Kay donated two gift bags to be raffled off, thank you all sooo much!

And thanks to Jess and Katie who managed the raffle table.

Thank you to Meghan! Who apparently got the event announced on 105.7! LoL. Love that girl!

I also want to thank BeeBakes for donating *super yummy* cupcakes and Tony from ITI Pros for donating his time and services by DJ-ing the event.

And of course, many thanks to everyone who came out! The event was sooo much fun because of you!

Now…photos! And a short video (provided by Debra Schell)

Thanks to Cyndi, we were able to secure a fantastic venue.

Jeremy and Lil’ B watching the fun from the 2nd floor.

Jeremy trying to get Lil’ B to dance.

The 2nd floor was also a great space for the kiddies to run around. Here are the lil’ ones chasing Jeremy. He’s such a kid magnet.

Shake that arse!

Tony from ITI Pros doing this thing.

Tony even joined in on the fun. I heard him him say, “That’s my song!” as he ran out on the dance floor! ;o)

Such a fun event; thanks again to everyone who came out!

Check out the video to see some of the live action:

Adoption Rocks Fundraiser!

3 Jan

I’m kicking off 2011 with our first fundraiser!!

Yes, I am totally biased and think our shirts are awesome!
They are pre-shrunk cotton (brand is Gildan). The logo is screen printed on. I currently have Medium, Large and X-Large available in Adult sizes. If there is a great interest in Youth or other Adult sizes, let me know and I’ll try to put another order in. In fact, I would luuuuurve to have to put another order in!!

$20 donation per shirt plus $3 for shipping. CLICK HERE TO ORDER
WordPress won’t let me set-up a check out link, so to order the shirts, you have to go here: CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Celebrating National Adoption Day!

22 Nov

Did you know that November is National Adoption Awareness  Month?! Welp, it is!!
Adoption.com offers a fantastic amount of information, complete with suggestions for ways your family can celebrate each of the thirty days in November.
National Adoption Awareness Month leads up to November 20th, the 11th anniversary of National Adoption Day, which is defined as a national day of celebration of adoptive families and an opportunity for courts to open their doors and finalize the adoptions of children from foster care.

To “celebrate”, our family has decided to take part of Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is run by the Salvation’s Purse. Last year they gave 8 million children shoe boxes filled with basic essentials and gifts for the each kid. Some of these kids have to share toothbrushes with their whole entire orphanage and have never owned a thing of their own. This is a great cause. One that really can change the morale of a child.

Watch this short video, it shows the impact much better than I could ever explain!

I orginally heard about Operation Christmas Child from Debi, The Jenkins’ Journey to Ethiopia Adoption. She wrote this great post about Oksana, a young woman adopted from Russia who’s life changed and she had sooo much hope, just from a lil’ shoe box filled with “goodies”. Basically, what you do is get a shoe box (making it “purty” is optional) and fill it will basic essentials (like soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.) and some extra treats, like toys, school supplies, etc.

I think that this organization is doing amazing things and wanted to contribute. Originally I had plans for me and Lil’ B (my step-son) to put together a couple boxes, but he had the gotten the flu, so he ended up staying at his mom’s house this weekend. Instead, Jeremy and I took the time out this weekend to put together two boxes to donate to this great cause.

It really was a lot of fun to go through the toy aisle and pick out some great stuff for the kids. Jeremy had a blast! We definitely spent a lot of time playing with the toys, ourselves. ;o)

Jeremy and I ended up each doing a box. He did a box for a boy and I did a box for a girl.

The cool thing that OCC does is they can provide you a tracking number to put on your box and you can follow your box. How cool is it that you actually get to find out what country your box goes to.

We found a local drop off spot for the boxes at a church right in our town. They collect shoe boxes from all the local churches. They said they usually get over 3000 boxes each year! Amazing!

It really was a lot of fun and knowing that it might brighten up someone’s day makes it even better. Jeremy and I decided that we’re going to start a family tradition of participating with the awesome event every year.

A sticker for my efforts!

The evil step-mom.

9 Nov

Step-son and I rockin’ the matching PJs.

I’m gonna start this post by saying that our homestudy class was great. It was a wealth of information. We met some awesome people who are also in the adoption process and we got some of questions answered that we had about our upcoming paperwork. That being said, there was one itty bitty thing that kinda bothered me during the course…

This class was very heavy on stating that our “adoptive children” are not our adoptive children but our children. Period. They are not our kids that were adoptive and brought into our family. They are 100% our kids. And I totally could not agree more. There is no difference in love that I will have for my kids, adoptive or not. So while they repeated this throughout the 8 hour class (well, we were only there for 5.5 hours, due to car issues), at one point they sorda made me feel like less of a parent because I am a step-mother and not a biological mother.

At one point in the class we were discussing parenting and it was then realized that Jeremy was the only one in the class that currently had a child. There was a joke made that because he is the only one in the class that is already a parent, that he was the expert of the class in parenting. This led to multiple questions about parenting and what he does to parent his son being asked of him. And only him. No one looked my way or asked me how it is to parent a step-son or what I do to love and/or discipline him. I just felt that was a bit hypocritical of them to emphasis that as adoptive parents, we are no less of parents than the ones who gave birth to them, but then later they made me feel like that because I am a step-mom.

My step-son is 6 years old. I have been in his life since he was 1. I have been active in his live for 5 of the 6 years he has been alive. As far as he can remember, I have always been around.

Photo by Redheaded Ninja

I love him as though he were my own biological child. I don’t treat him any different than I would if he were “100%” mine. I love him. I also am probably the main disciplinary parent out of his 3 (mom, dad and me) parents. Let me re-phrase that, I am the strictest out of his 3 parents. He listens to me (as much as a 6 year old will). He hugs, loves and cuddles with me. I kiss his boo boos. I tell him when he’s doing something wrong. I read to him and quiz him on spelling words. I try to make him eat foods that he doesn’t want to eat, because I know they are good for him. I take him to the park and the library. I bath, feed him and tuck him in at night. I love him.

Maybe I over-read into their lack of awareness. Maybe I’m being too sensitive about it.
I just want to state that I am no less of parent just because I am a step-mom.

The Adoption Process

12 Oct

 

I’ve had quite a few friends ask me what’s involved in the adoption process. I thought it would just be easier to write it all down for you*.
Hopefully I will be able to quickly check all these items off the list!

First there is the initial application. For our agency, it’s called the “fact sheet”. Or what I like to refer to as the application before the application. Once our agency receives this, they send us a packet to “finish” our application. The paperwork and documents required to complete our application will be used in our Homestudy and Dossier later, so a lot of the paperwork that we are to complete now, is for our packets later.

Alright, ready to see the loooong list?

  • Service Agreement – signed and notarized
  • Fee Policy – signed
  • Hague Training form (I’ll get into this later)
  • Financial Statement – notarized. This is where we explain our financial background, income, debts, insurance, etc. This gets submitted with a signed and notarized copy of our most recent 1040 income tax form.
  • Medical Examination Report – Jeremy, my step-son and I must each get examined by a physician. For Jeremy and I, this includes an urinalysis, TB testing, blood work, etc…
  • Photographs – Photos will be sent to the overseas agency with our dossier.
    We must include: 1- 8×10 photo of Jeremy and I, 1 photos of us and step-son, photos of extended family, 2 photos of outside of our home, photos of the inside of our home.
  • Letter from employer – Must include current position, annual salary, length of time with the company in current position and a statement addressing job security (must obtain 2 copies with signatures).
  • Certified copies of birth certificates
  • Certified copies of marriage certificate
  • Reference letters – Must be completed by 4 people who are not related to us. These references are confidential and the forms are sent directly to the agency by our reference. More references will be needed when we get to our dossier.
  • Risks in Intercountry Adoption paperwork – signed
  • Philosophy and Policy on Discipline – signed
  • Civil Rights Compliance – signed
  • Child Conditions Form – This has to be one of the hardest forms to fill out. It lists just about every birth defect a child could have (from asthma to mental retardation) and we have to go through it and list if we are capable of providing for this child (mentally, physically and financially) or not.
  • Autobiography – Jeremy and I each have to write our own autobiography. Must be 6-10 pages long. Yikes!!
  • Child Abuse background check
  • Criminal background check
  • FBI fingerprint check
  • Pre-file I-800A with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services

Did I mention this is for just our application (although some paperwork will also be used for our dossier)? The agency recommends that we complete ALL documents within 60 days of our face sheet. Yup, 2 months. Talk about pressure! This is just the first step! I haven’t gotten into the social worker meetings (that is for the Homestudy) or the dossier packet.

The dossier package of documents is compiled and submitted to the Intercountry Adoption Board. Its is the way that they get to know us. Once it is approved, they will use the information within to match us to our child. Including much of the information on the list above, we will also need for our dossier:

  • Psychological evaluations
  • Character reference from a religious leader
  • Character reference from community member
  • Application Form for Intercounty Adoption

And then we wait. This could easily take up to 24 months of waiting. Maybe more, maybe less.

Once we get the anticapated call with a referral, we then finish filing our I-800 application, finalize travel plans and fly to the Philippines to pick up our lil’ one.

So, for all my friends who have been asking how the process is going, it’s going. And it will be going for awhile.

*Please note that every country and agency is different, so my paperwork requirements might differ from others.

“Can’t you have your “own” kids?”

5 Oct

People seem to have one of two reactions when you tell them you’re adopting. They are either super ecstatic and excited for you or they look at you sideways with sympathy. The second reaction is usually followed by, “Can’t you have kids of your own?”. This gets a lil’ frustrating and, to be honest, a bit tiresome to explain. Since when is it okay to ask about a person’s sex life?

Well, to clear the air, I’m going to put it all out there. Yes, Jeremy and I did try the ol’ natural way to have kiddies. We tried for a year and a half. Somewhere within the year, I did have an abnormal pap and had the LEEP procedure done (if you don’t know what it is, google it). Although that really shouldn’t have too much of an effect on my fertility. Jeremy and I both got checked out. My tubes are clear and he has over 52 million swimmers. There is no obvious reason why we shouldn’t be able to have biological kids. Did we try long enough? Who determines what is long enough to create a baby? Could we have tried longer? For sure! But I didn’t want to, we WANTED to pursue adoption. Adoption is NOT a last resort for us. We had talked about adopting before we were even married, before we were even trying to have kids. We were either going to adopt now or later, so what difference does it make if we do it now, rather than 3 years from now?  We are young and have plenty of time to try for more kiddies later.

I feel like every time I come across someone who doesn’t understand why we didn’t try “harder” to have biological kids, I have to convince them that this is something we really want to do. Don’t get me wrong, I know people are curious and I welcome the questions, but please don’t give me pity looks when I tell you we are adopting. I get it, not everyone understands adoption or the want to adopt. Adoption is not for everyone, but just because you don’t understand why we want this, doesn’t mean you should feel sorry for us. This is something we are excited about, no pity needed!

::steppingoffmysoapbox::

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