Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Back into the swing of things


So yeah, I needed a little break there from blogging, if only to feel like I could just sit and do nothing at the end of the day.  That has been wonderfully freeing for the last two weeks, but I've also found myself succumbing deeper and deeper into the throws of laziness and comfort eating after the kids bedtime.  Not to mention the fact that the number of Hallmark channel holiday movies I've watched is embarrassing   

In case you're wondering, Matchmaker Santa has so far been my favorite, search for it and set your DVR for some badly acted, mindless, yet addicting holiday romance!  This one stars Lacey Chabert a.k.a. Claudia from Party of Five as a sweet girl who of course owns her own bakery, because any girl who as a child likes to bake Christmas cookies with her mom will clearly go on to run her own successful store someday!  Don't let the opening flashback scene put you off, it's so painfully bad that I nearly changed the channel.  Here's an idea, start it and then use that first five minutes to go pour yourself a glass of wine and assemble your gift wrapping materials.

If Matchmaker Santa wets your appetite for more cheese, (as it did for me, because at this point I am RAVENOUS for sappy but not too sappy made-for-TV holiday movies, to the point of spending thirty precious child-free minutes the other night scrolling through upcoming Hallmark/Lifetime/ABC Family evening line-ups) then you might like Holiday Engagement, a fresh take on the classic tale of hiring a fake fiance to bring home for the holidays!  I kid, of course, but on second thought, I have seen a number of movies with fake fiance story-lines.  What is that about?

Moving on from my sad little hobby of watching crappy TV, to something even more random.  So I really love these candy cane leggings I saw on the Lands End site when I was doing some holiday shopping, super adorable and I would just love to lounge around the house in them sipping cocoa and watching, well, Hallmark movies of course.  But they are $50, for a pair of pants that you should probably not leave the house in.  That's just not right.

But the best part?

Look at how Lands End has styled these pants.


You have got to be kidding me.

They've got this girl in what are essentially draw-string pajama pants, wearing a t-shirt AND a chambray button-up TUCKED-IN to the pajama pants, and then they throw a giant wool slouchy cardigan sweater over it all.

Yeah, that looks super cozy.  Pshhhh.

I made these amazing 7-layer bars from Annie's Eats last night for a cookie exchange with friends on Friday, SO EXCITED!  I am totally geeked about the holidays this year, love every single thing about this season, even though I'm no where near done with my shopping.  That won't stress me out until the week before Christmas, so there's still plenty more time to procrastinate.

We are though, I think, doing a better job about not going overboard buying gifts for Gus this year.    However my attempt to buy just one thing for each kid in the categories of 1.) something to wear, 2.) something to play with, and 3.) something to read has been a major FAIL already.  (I was inspired by you Erin, and your want, need, wear, read gift-giving categories last year, and I TRIED, I swear! Sort of.  It was a half-assed attempt to control myself.)

It's just so hard because I love buying things and especially giving gifts SO MUCH.  But still, we're scaling back, and I think it's good.  Too many presents is just a waste of money, they fill up our house with clutter, and they make Gus kind of greedy and demanding, when one or two special, well-thought out things make him appreciative and excited.

Which kid sounds more fun to be around?  And which kid is learning the right things about what this holiday is about?

We all know the answer to those questions.


Oh, and as you can sort of see in the above picture, I've committed myself to painting the dining room very soon by painting a number of squares of different grays all over the room.  (Choosing paint colors is SO HARD!)  Also we currently have three different curtains hanging on the three windows in that room as I try to make a decision on paint.  In full disclosure, there are four more different cast-away curtains in a bag to be returned. I am trying so so hard to make some design decisions that I will be able to stick with for more than a few years, and consequently our dining room looks INSANE right now.  Eh.    

Friday, November 30, 2012


I will come out and say it, I am really glad this month is over.  While blogging everyday certainly can be rewarding, I love that I've captured pieces of pretty much every day this month, and I love the connections I've made with other women through their comments and just generally being more committed myself to commenting elsewhere... still, it hasn't come without its challenges.

I've found that I usually don't have the time to blog until after the kids are in bed, and some nights that is really late, depending on whether or not Gus has napped.

The thing is, that precious little time after bedtime and after the house has been picked up and the dishwasher has been ran, well it's the only real time I have to relax.  Quite literally, some days it's the first moment all day that I am truly able to SIT DOWN for more than five minutes.  Not to say blogging isn't relaxing, or cathartic, it is.  But when it feels like a chore because you HAVE to do it and you really don't WANT to do it it's not all that fun or relaxing.

Also, and this is a biggie, the evenings are when Dan and I can talk, and I've spent the better part of the last month ignoring him while he sits next to me on the couch.

Okay, this has to be one of my biggest annoyances of life with a 3 year-old.  He is just so demanding of our attention and some days it truly feels like there is no break.  We are always on duty.  A great example of this occurred one night about a month ago when Dan came home from work and we were trying to discuss ordering doors for our porch remodel (yes, I know, DOORS, such a thrilling conversation), and seriously, the kids were going CRAZY after just a few minutes.  Gus kept acting out, throwing toys, getting more and more amped up, clearly in an effort to get our attention.  And I realize, there are better times to talk about things like doors and remodeling projects than when Dan has just walked in the door and the kids are excited to see him and looking to make a connection with him, and blah blah blah.  I know all that, but it can just be so frustrating that we can't necessarily talk to each other freely when we're both sitting in the same room.      

We made the grave mistake of taking out the laptop so I could show Dan an example of something I was envisioning, and then that turned into more requests, more whining, more climbing all over us, "I want to play Curious George games.  Curious George games!!  Curious George games! Please mommy, please!?"  And then he was climbing all over us, trying to press buttons, kicking and tantruming, feet in our face, ARGH.

We finally threw up our hands and gave up when Dan just barely caught his cup of coffee mere moments before being swiped off the coffee table.

I'm sure I said something like, "FINE!  We won't talk to each other, I'm sorry we dared to discuss something in your presence that doesn't involve you and your never ending needs!"

Come to think about it, we still haven't gotten back to that conversation about doors.  Still no decision, or even discussion on the subject, in a whole month.

So my point is, this is why it's hard to blog everyday.  Something has to give, and while it's worth the sacrifice SOME days, I'm definitely over trying to do it everyday.

It's telling that my own bedtime has been pushed to almost 11:30 most nights, an hour later than it was a month ago.  Now that is just stupid, I'm barely getting any sleep as it is.

But I'm going to try my hardest not to disappear or even go back to blogging just once or twice a month, and the effort this last month was definitely worth it if I can improve on my track record there.

Onward to December!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Field trip

... in which my kids go to The Children's Museum and our nanny sends me crappy cell phone pictures at work.

And we all try to move on a bit from yesterday's scariness.






Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A long day


Today was scary.

At about 11:40 I got a call from our nanny.  She's out of breath, clearly stressed out, and I hear loud beeping in the background and a lot of screaming children.  They had just walked in the door from a morning outing and the smoke detector in the basement was going crazy..  The loud beeping noise was really upsetting the boys and she couldn't get it to stop, she had looked all over the house, there was no fire anywhere, no smoke...

She figured out how to disable it, actually ended up just having to pull the thing off the ceiling, and I figured we'd take a look at it when we got home.  Must have been some sort of malfunction with the battery.  Weird.

Twenty five minutes later, my brother and I are on our way to lunch, and I get another call from her.  She was cooking lunch in the kitchen and then another alarm started going off.  More screaming, panicking children, she's running all over the house and realizes it's upstairs in Gus's room.  The carbon monoxide detector in my little boy's room is going off.  The display says the air quality is unsafe.  She doesn't know what to do, what that means.  What should she do?

Oh my goodness, I was so terrified.

Get out, get out now.

All I could think of was my babies, and that they were in danger and I wasn't there and I felt so out of control.  Such a horrible feeling.

I gave her directions to my mom's house.  I told her to go there immediately, abandon lunch, get the eff out of there.  Dan or I would call the fire department or the gas company or whoever you're supposed to call, but she needed to make sure she and those children were safe.

She had just gotten Louie down for a nap.  God, just thinking about it.

Go get him.  Go wake him up.  My baby.

She called me when they were in the car on the way to my moms.  She had put the dog outside, she didn't know what to do with her but knew she shouldn't leave her there.

A twist of the knife.  I hadn't even thought about the dog.  Thank you so much.

Dan immediately went home and took care of things.  Sat in the car outside our house, waiting for the guy from the gas company.  They went in together to search for the leak, and the CO levels were through the roof, over 100.  Levels in the early 200's are deadly.

The scary thing is, they couldn't find the source.  The furnace is fine, the water heater, fine, the gas dryer, fine.

He tested levels all over the house, the carbon monoxide levels in the furnace room were actually less than other areas of the house.

This deadly, odorless gas, it was EVERYWHERE.  Even in the refrigerator and in our cupboards.  It's just, I can't wrap my mind around it.

Dan followed the gas man's instructions, turned off the furnace and water heater, opened every single window in the house, opened every cupboard, every place where it could hide.  He let the house air out, and then left to purchase carbon monoxide detectors for every single room in our home.  

The furnace was turned back on and each of our detectors read "0".  It's gone, and that is a relief, but we have no idea where it came from.  NO IDEA.

The gas man came back around 7:00 PM and walked through the house with Dan and my dad again, levels are fine.  He okay'd all the same appliances again, it's safe.  There's no reason this should have happened.

So why did it happen?  WHAT IN THE HELL?

It's just all so surreal.  One minute I'm going about my day at my run-of-the-mill office job, and in the next my family is in this terrifying life or death situation.

Our home was poisoning them.

Dan admitted tonight that he was probably in the house too long this afternoon, when he and the gas man first went in to get the readings and search for the leaks.  He didn't admit it to himself at the time, but in retrospect it felt like he was drunk.  He caught himself going 45 mph on the 30 mph road we live on.  He had a headache, felt sort of oddly clumsy, confused and slow, just out of sorts.

So scary.

And it's still scary because we don't know why this happened.  I'm just, so paranoid.  It makes no sense, I can't get comfortable in our home.  I accidentally woke Louie up earlier from a nap when I had to go in there and check on him, "just in case", which is sort of crazy because I can look at the multiple sensors throughout the house.  We're in the clear.  They all read "0", and if this happens again, they'll go off.  That's the point.


Who knows if this is over, but I'm here to tell you this, my own public service announcement:



Gus's room on our second level and the basement were the only rooms where we had them, and while I'm sooooo thankful that they were there, and both went off as they should have, we should have had more of them.  They should be throughout the house.

We'll see if I can sleep tonight.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The most well-rested member of our family


This one just sleeps.  No trouble at bedtime, no twirling of hair, no screaming for milk, no rocking back and forth in her crib, no begging for me to get her a rag to wipe her boogers, no tiptoeing out of her room.

She just sleeps.  

And I wish we could switch places for just one day.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Eating crow

First off, the tree is the perfect size.  It was pretty tall and thin, so Dan had to cut it down quite a bit at the bottom, but I will fully admit to being wrong about it being enormous.  I'm glad to be wrong, and am admitting it right here, so it can be documented forever.

There's a first time for everything. ;)

Second.  Whoa, this task is exhausting.  With or without kids, the whole process... getting the necessary furniture moved, unpacking the contents of four big blue plastic tubs, putting the tree up, making sure it's straight, the lights, the ornaments, the random kitschy stuff that you have no clue where to put... so much work.

Gus was not helpful, mostly just jumped around and looked at everything and got in our way.  I would ask him if he wanted to put something on the tree, and he'd say, "Yes, I do want to put that ornament on the tree," and then he would walk over to his dad and say, "Daddy, you put this on the tree?"

When do children start being helpful with this stuff?  I remember bitching and moaning something fierce as a teenager when it was time to decorate the tree, my parents would have to practically force me to participate.  (Ugh, teenage girls can be such little punks.)  But there must be some window in there where kids are truly excited to help out and make some memories while doing it, right?  Somewhere between the toddler/preschool and the teenage years there's a sweet spot of tradition-loving helpfulness.  Can't wait.

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Because who doesn't have a sequined dinosaur on their Christmas tree?

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This ornament has to be the best handmade ornament ever in the history of ridiculous handmade ornaments.  I mean, it's a freaking old-school diskette!  You know, we have no idea, that disk could be an old copy of O'Dell Lake, Number Munchers, or even Oregon Trail!  Now that is a thrilling thought!  

So hilarious.  Makes me giggle every year.  Came from Dan's stash of ornaments from growing up.

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We've come a long way baby.

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Gus has grown up so much in the past year, it's ridiculous, though I think this was a gift from my mom and this picture was taken quite a bit earlier than Christmas-time last year.

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We started the Elf on the Shelf tradition this year, like a number of our friends.  Gus named him Elvis.  Soooo random.  Yesterday he was hanging from a cabinet in our kitchen, and the day before that, upside down from a lantern in the dining room.  Tonight, we are tired, so we went literal.  Elvis, meet the shelf.

I decided this was the year, this was the year that we would stop using the old stockings from our childhood and really embraced the fact that we are GROWN UPS.  Like for real, we are the MOM and DAD.

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What a trip.  I will say, I specifically did not order the stocking with the angel on it, even though I liked it better than the tree on my "Mom" stocking.  I had this feeling like I had to save it just in case we have a daughter someday.  And then also, last minute before confirming the order, I changed Dan's from the reindeer to the nutcracker, figuring another little boy would prefer the reindeer.

So I guess I inadvertently admitted to myself that I definitely want a third kid someday, huh?!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

O Christmas Tree

As we do every year on the weekend following Thanksgiving, we ventured out of the city today to cut ourselves down the perfect green tree.  It's one of my favorite Christmas traditions, and this year was extra special because there is snow on the ground!  It's just not the same without snow.

Every year we listen to my mom as she waxes poetic about the merits of a balsam fir over a spruce.  She goes on and on as we wander the family-run tree farm, quite often mixing up her facts and backtracking, confusing herself about which ones you have to water more, which ones last longer, which ones have prickly needles.  

She and my dad are quite the pair, he is a little obsessive compulsive about tasks like this, searching in vain for the illusive perfect tree, with my mom on his heals nagging him to just pick something already, but then finding something to criticize about each tree that he stops to consider.  

I love that they each have their roles, and I love that they're the same every year.  

Just like how every year Dan and I arrive right away at the agreed-upon time, and then somehow have picked out our tree and feel like we've run a marathon with the toddler/baby managing that is going on by the time most of my relatives even arrive.  I'm married to a very punctual and practical man, so it's truly not a surprise that this happens, even though we're the only ones that have to get out of the house with little babies.  Plus, IT'S TRADITION! So I kind of find comfort in it even if it's annoying.   

Unlike my parents, Dan and I are a little more free-wheeling with the actual act of picking out a tree.  We wander around quite a bit, Dan follows me usually.  I pick out the first tree that looks mildly alright, Dan notices that an entire side of it is practically bare, so we move on.  Finally after much indecision I just randomly pick one and he chops it down and we are done.  Decision is made like that.  Quick and painless, no regrets.  

Unfortunately this haphazard method sometimes leads to us unwittingly picking out an enormous tree that takes up half our dining room.

Family Picture Outtake

Haphazard is also a pretty good word for this FAIL of a family picture.  I think any family with young kids can relate to what's going on here.  Don't worry, we did end up with one better than this.

So the giant tree problem.  Pretty much this happens every other year.  Two years ago, I complained throughout the month of December about the size of our tree, so last year I specifically went with the intent of NOT doing that, over-compensated, and we ended up with an itty-bitty one.  2010's tree could have birthed 2011's tree.  

It suited our needs just fine though, we were happy with our tiny, crooked tree.

Now today I went with little intention other than to make it quick and keep the children warm and happy, not to mention the pickings were somewhat slim for the balsam firs (clearly the ONLY way to go, you know, according to my mother).

Anyway we found one that looked, okay-ish, not too dead and dry on the inside (it was a really dry season this year, according to Mr. Kringlund), and I questioned Dan repeatedly, "Are you SURE it's not too big?  It looks really big?  Are you suuuuure?"

And he replied, "It always looks bigger before it's cut down and in the house."

And I just went with it, I was tired of pushing the stroller around and Gus was starting to wander a little too far from us.  But now as I sit here, I'm having the realization that he is bat-shit crazy, because in our experience the truth is the total opposite.  It is always going to look smaller out there in nature, hanging out with its tree friends.  Get it home and put it in a corner of your small house and it takes up half the freaking dining room.

So we'll see.  It's still tied up out in the yard, we'll be putting it up tomorrow and then we'll know who's right (me) and who's wrong (him).  I shouldn't be rooting for him to be wrong as much as I am, because that means we have to make room for a monstrosity, but on the other hand I really really like winning.  

So we'll see.

On to the pictures!

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Into the woods we go!

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Louie was such a happy camper throughout our outdoor adventure, despite the fact that he took a whole thirty-five minute nap in the morning, and then bitched from the second he woke up in his bed at home until the second we arrived at the tree farm two hours later.  ARGH!  I'm back to blaming teething again.

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Gus looks like such a kid here.  I bought that jacket for him around Christmas-time last year and it was so huge on him.

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And here is the chosen tree, it is looking very bare and dilapidated in these pictures.  And not all that big now.  Sooooo.... hmmm... we shall see.  I may be eating crow tomorrow.

A pretty good family shot though, right?  Gus is definitely doing his fake smile cheese-face and Louie looks mildly irritated, but I'm just sort of ecstatic that I actually asked someone to take our picture this year!

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Nathan and his boyfriend Eric came out and cut down their very own tree for their cute little Uptown apartment.  I think this is just awesome, and I'm so happy my brother is so happily settled down these days.

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Louie and Grandma.

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I have to admit, this sort of gives me the tingles, my manly husband with our big ole Christmas tree propped up on his shoulder, pulling his child in a sled.  Despite the fact that he's wearing a horribly ugly white knit cap that I hate, there's just no way around it.  Sexaaay.

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Wrap it up.

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Behind Louie in the distance you can see the tiny little log cabin where the Kringlunds serve their customers homemade spritz cookies, hot apple cider, and popcorn popped over a wood stove.  It is there that they catch up with my grandparents on what's new over the last year with our family, new babies, deaths, you know, the big stuff.

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Oh boy, these two are trouble.

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Louie has pretty much decided he is a toddler these days.  He wants to hang with the big boys, do what they're doing, open and close doors, vroom cars across the room, play chase.  It has just happened so fast, I love his crazy spirit so much but sort of wish he could stay a baby a little longer.  That just doesn't seem likely.

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Pure joy.

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Here we are, warming up in the cabin.  See Dan in the window outside?  He caught Louie's eye and had to come make faces at him.

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That's Gus and my grandpa.  Mrs. Kringlund added to her little wooden box of toys this year, which helped contain his wild energy in this little space a little bit longer than usual.

The cookies helped as well.

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I'm dying. Is he three or fourteen?

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Until next year...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Quiet Weekend

It's been a quiet weekend around these parts, I suppose as quiet as it gets with two little boys.  When I say quiet, I guess I mean we've mostly been at home.  While others out there braved the mall and stood in lines for deals on blue-ray disks, we've been playing with what feels like every single toy we already own.

At times I've been so completely bored to the point of pissing and moaning to Dan about our lameness, but then there have been so many laughs, so many hyper crazy games that involve racing around the house and tackling and jumping and screaming, so much brotherly rowdiness, it's worth the moments in between where I'm all, "I need to get out of this damn house and be with all those people out there participating in commercialism!"

Seems like we hang out on the kitchen floor a lot.  What is that about?

I just really hate feeling trapped by two nap-times, there's literally a period of time of about 1-2 hours after Louie's morning nap to get out of the house and do something before we need to get home for lunch, then it's afternoon nap, lather, rinse, repeat.  Truly, that is one of the most difficult things about life with a baby.  I wouldn't say Dan and I are the kind of people who are total slaves to some schedule, but things sure go smoother if we take some consideration in planning our day.  It certainly is more enjoyable to be around a well-rested Louie than a crabby, cranky, tired Louie.
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Countless attempts to get a good picture with the boys (whilst eating one of the delicious cookies Dan made).
They are so cooperative.

Anyway, I exaggerate.  We did get out of the house. 

Not only did we go to a furniture store yesterday to look at couches (thrilling blog material I tell you), on a whim (Dan hates whims) last night we had dinner with my parents at the Chinese place down the street.  And today we ran an errand with the boys during our 1 1/2 hour window, and then tonight after they were in bed my parents came over so we could get out for a few hours to do some Christmas shopping.

Wow.  Seriously, this was SO NICE.  

It sounds crazy, but I can't remember the last time Dan and I were able to go out shopping together without the kids.  We just don't do it, usually it's one of us getting out on our own.  

Anyway, felt like old times.  Felt like the old Dan and Alicia.  It's funny how you can take something so simple for granted, something so mundane that we used to do all the time before Gus and Louie.  To be able to discuss things and make purchasing decisions that don't feel like they're under duress because the children are freaking out or demanding something or running away.

It was nice.

We checked off a good portion of our list in just two hours and we had fun doing it.  And tomorrow is Sunday, still the weekend, and we're off to cut down our Christmas tree.  Super fun, just wish it was going to be warmer.    

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012


For families on both sides that are so large that they need tables like this one on a day like today.  (I ran out of energy half way through the day and didn't get any pictures of our second dinner with my family, but believe me, the table was just as large.)

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For pecan pie and gravy and real homemade cranberry sauce.

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For a husband who wrangles my boys so I can have a glass of wine with my aunts.

For this whole gaggle of cousins that Gus and Louie get to grow up with.

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For grandma and her endless stash of Moo Jr.'s (or Moon June Junes as Gus calls them).

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For the Vietnamese egg rolls at every one of my family's gatherings.  (Gus pounded two of them down his throat and then climbed under the table.  While I should have been really annoyed (err... MORE annoyed), I was thankful that he at least ate something today other than pie and ice cream and candy.)

For freaky MN weather that gave us a Thanksgiving that started out at 60 degrees, then slowly got colder throughout the day...


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...and ended with snow on the ground.

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For sweatpants.

For four more days at home with my boys.

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Happy Thanksgiving!