Twin Adventures

Twin girls now rule the house.

Toddler Beds

Just over a week ago we took the side rails off of the girls’ cribs. No real reason behind the change, it seemed like it was time for another “big step” and it was either this or potty training (not looking forward to that one). We didn’t experience either of the girls’ ever climbing out of their cribs or causing injury to themselves while they were sleeping. They have both been sleeping through the night since they were five months old and rarely cause any trouble when going down to sleep. Converting the cribs seemed like a good next step.

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We decided to go with the same technique we used when we originally did sleep training: Controlled Crying. Now, our girls are 18 months old so “crying” isn’t usually the right term to use but it was the same concept. We’d put the girls down after our bedtime routine, tuck them in and leave them be. We’d set a 10 minute timer and until it went off we didn’t go into the bedroom (with the exception of loud bangs or hurt crying). When the timer went off we’d head in and redistribute babies, blankets, soothers, and stuffed animals. Not a lot of attention was given; just a quick kiss and a firm “goodnight”. Even if they just hopped out of their beds before we reached the doorway, this was all that we did. No trying to get them to stay in their cribs, no talking to them. We wanted to make sure they knew that we meant business! Once or twice we tried sitting in the room with them and keeping them in their cribs but, as they do with most everything, they really enjoyed the attention!

Toddler Beds

Last night was our ninth night of no crib sides, and since we started the amount of trips we’ve had to make into Shula and Maretta’s bedroom has decreased every night. Shula seems to stay awake a little longer than Maretta does; each night the last one or two trips have been to put just Shula to bed. The amount of trips listed are any trips we made into the bedroom to restore order. They don’t include the original “tuck in” or when we poked our heads in to see if they were actually sleeping or just being quiet.

1st night: 7 trips

2nd night: 5 trips

3rd & 4th night: 4 trips each

 6th & 7th night: 3 trips each

8th & 9th night: 1 trip each

We definitely had to make some changes to their bedroom in order for this “being loose” to work! Any loose anything needed to be moved out of their room. Extra stuffed animals, loose clothing, shoes, etc. etc. In our house, the girls have the master bedroom so they also have access to an ensuite bathroom. Our creative solution for the time being is to prop their old crib side rails against the closet-style door so they can’t open it. A bit mickey-mouse but it works for now!

I’m really impressed with how Maretta and Shula are doing. I read about a lot of horror stories about parents having to go in upwards of thirty times to put their kids back down, and I thought “How’s it going to be with two of them?!”. And it wasn’t that bad. As with any other thing we’ve “taught” or “trained” them at… it just takes a slightly thought out plan and consistency! Always with consistency!

Extra Tidbit: I would highly recommend getting your little one(s) to sleep through the night before you convert their cribs or move them into toddler beds. Need help? See Sleeping with Twins.

 

Next Big Step? Potty Training…

 

ps. Don’t get excited.. not even thinking about potty training yet.

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Keeping Things Fair and Equal

Before I start today’s post, I’d just like apologize; it’s been almost a month since I’ve written a blog post! We sold our old business, moved two hours away, and bought a new business. It’s been a little crazy around here, especially with getting all of our safety measures at work up to code. And of course, unpacking and trying to make our new apartment feel like home. Now that we are settling back into a routine again, I’ll try and make my posts at least weekly!

 

After a couple of months of having twins, Anton and I always found ourselves wondering if we favoured one baby over the other. It felt like I always gravitated towards Shula and Anton towards Maretta. Perhaps we felt a closer connection because Maretta looks a fair bit like Anton, and Shula looks like me. We wanted both our girls to grow up with similar experiences and the same amount of love, attention, and face time from both parents. With this in mind we came up with, what we think is, a creative solution to make sure that neither girl was getting favoured over the other.

Our solution was to have “days”. Maretta Day and Shula Day. We alternate who’s day it is so that things are always even. On their Day, the “It” girl gets to be the favourite. Today, for instance, is Shula Day. She’ll get to wear clothes that are more girly colours (pinks, purples, reds) and her bottles and eating utensils for the day will be pink or purple. We keep this in mind whenever there is a colour choice to make throughout the day. The colour of soother that they get, stuffed animal colours, diaper cover colours, and… I think you get the picture. And, Maretta gets to have more boyish colours. Clothes will be blues, greens, yellows; as well as bowls, bottles, and cutlery. Just with the girly colours, the boyish colours will follow the same pattern throughout the day whenever there is a choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shula Day! Pink diaper cover, pink chair,                  Maretta Day! Pink outfit, and front seat  pink soother!                                                                                          of the stroller!

Whenever there is a choice, the It girl gets to go first. This particular part comes in to play a lot if there is only one parent home. Today I am at home by myself while Anton is at work, so Shula will be taken out of her crib first, and get to be changed first. During the day she’ll get a bottle first; as well as being given the first spoonful of food. When there are two of us at home, the It girl always gets Mommy. Today, once Anton is home from work, I’ll change and feed Shula and Anton will change and feed Maretta. It turns into a Shula and Mommy Day as well as a Maretta and Daddy Day.

The It girl gets all the best seating; she gets to sit in the front of the stroller and while in the car she gets to sit behind mommy (not sure why we came up with that one? I’m assuming they both see pretty much the same thing no matter if they’re sitting on the right or left side of the car). Whenever there is a choice of being in the front, or being in a spot with a “better” view, the It girl will get it!

Maretta Day! Shula waiting patiently for her turn…

I asked the other twin parents that I know if anyone else has a system or something like this and no one does. I think a lot of people, including moms of multiples, would be say that we’re overthinking it and being overly analytical with the whole thing. We could be, but Anton and I like to think that by doing things this way we are setting both of our little girls up to be equals. Neither one of us will show favouritism or be easier or tougher on either one. We want to make sure that both of them have the same amount of confidence and humility. We also think that by switching back and forth Shula and Maretta are both learning about sharing and taking turns. After doing the same things for a year, they both seem to understand that they’ll get taken care of, even if it isn’t right away. They may fuss every once in a while if they have to wait, but they know how things work.

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Better Weather Means…

As a kind of Part Two from my last post, I thought I would give an update as to how we’ve been spending our time lately. The girls are much more interactive and are more aware of their actions. These two things make for great and funny interactions, and make it more entertaining to do activities with them. It just so happen that we’ve been having some pretty awesome weather lately, so we’ve been heading outside.

Grass. Freshly mowed, poop-free, green green grass. In the middle of our three-building complex, there is a “club house” with a yard surrounding it. It is the perfect amount of space for the four of us to sit and play in. (Jimmie stays tied up on the concrete, so the grass remains poop-free!) The only unfortunate thing is… the girls don’t seem too fond of grass! It took us a good five minutes to convince Maretta to crawl along the grass, and another few minutes to convince Shula. Most of the time they sat with their hands up by their chest.. “Ewwww! What is that stuff?!” It was cute.

A few days later we went out to a park that was less poop-free then we would have liked. We had thought that the girls would warm up to the grass maybe another round of playtime, but it didn’t seem to change their opinion. They continued to sit with their hands up and remain in one place. Mind you, this grass was also a little brown and had some patches missing. Maybe Shula and Maretta are grass snobs? Only the greenest and freshest will do? If we don’t make it out to the grass (most days) we try and put the girls in their play yard on the balcony. Especially with the nice weather, we want to make sure that they are experiencing as much outdoor and indoor. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve been continuing with our evening walk; which is part of our Bedtime Routine. I’ve never appreciated Daylight Savings Time as much as I have this year. Although we’ve been doing our walk from the beginning, the fall and winter months bring a fairly dark evening. Lately when we head outside the sun is just setting behind the mountains, which is perfect because we can still enjoy daylight but don’t have to worry about too much sun in any eyes. I think that these evening walks every day really give the girls a good feel for what the outdoors are. It also gives them a chance to toughen up. We don’t usually bundle them up very much so they get a chance to experience the elements; wind, rain, snow, sun.

These days I am really looking forward to some first steps. I love taking them out in the stroller, but I am really excited to have all four of us walking around together.

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New Skills

First, I must apologize for not posting in what seems like forever. I don’t find much down time in between dealing with the girls. And, what little down time there is, there’s housework to catch up on and cuddles to be had with my man. I love posting, but when it’s between hanging out with Anton and writing a blog post… well, I think it’s obvious which one wins! To make up for my lack of writing, I’ll make sure to post today and tomorrow! Well.. I’ll try!!

Life is good the last while. The girls are learning new things every day. They’ll be ten months pretty soon… It’s crazy to think that there is only a couple more months before they turn one! They haven’t hit many big milestones lately but they are learning amazing skills. Small, but amazing nonetheless. The first one that comes to mind is their expanding knowledge of words. They don’t say much, but it’s fairly clear that they understand a lot of what Anton and I are saying to them. Here’s a few of the words they know…

  • Clap. You say clap and they clap. A new word and a new action.
  • Shake. I think this is one of the first “action” words they learnt. While holding one of their musical instruments, they’ll shake whatever they’re holding up and down. They looove that it produces a noise.
  • Hungry. When we are ready to feed them, all we have to do is sit down and say “Who’s hungry?!” and both girls come crawling over.

Just over the last few days, we’ve noticed that Maretta can stand all on her own; no support needed. Every once in a while she’ll let go of whatever piece of furniture she’s holding onto and stand unassisted for countable seconds (we’re talking about five or six whole seconds!) before she leans forward to grab on again. This morning we were forcing her to stand on her own and she did pretty well! Both girls show a lot of balance. Even though they are holding onto things while standing, it’s usually just with one hand or even just a finger. No big milestones such as walking or talking but the small things are just as amazing, especially since a lot of what’s been happening lately is brain work. You can really see that they are learning about their environment.

Bedtimes have become WAY easier. There was a period of time where it seemed like we were going backwards and losing control when bedtime came around. But, for about a week now the girls don’t make a peep once we put them down for bed. Most days, we put them down wide awake and we don’t need to go back into their bedroom. It’s great to know that all the work we’ve put into our bedtime routine and doing the same thing over and over and over and over has finally paid off!

As far as the rest of the night goes… /sigh. It’s hit and miss. We have figured out a system for our nights though. When they do wake up in the middle of the night first we’ll go in and do a soother check. Pop a soother back in and see if they settle down. We’ll give that five or so minutes before we head back in and do a diaper/teething check. We’ll change diapers and drug the babies up with Orajel and Tylenol. This doesn’t happen every night so we aren’t worried that they get it too often. Then we’ll head back to our room and see if they settle. If they don’t, after another five minutes, then it’s feeding time. Just small bottles, to tide them over until morning. Once we accepted that sometimes they needed a little more to eat things smoothed out. I think it was a bit hard for us to go back to doing a middle of the night feeding, since we really haven’t had to do that for six or seven months. We also have started keeping track of how our nights go (only for just over a week now). So far, it’s even. Just as many good nights as bad ones. Which make us feel a bit better that it’s not as bad as it seems sometimes!

The girls are still eating mostly formula and breastmilk, with three out of their five meals also including a solid of some kind. We don’t do much “table food”, we mostly stick to purees of varying textures. I’m heavily on the side of jarred food. Mostly for the convenience and if you manage to catch them on special, you can get a jar for 30-60 cents. One jar is one meal for both girls. So, at an average of .50 cents a meal.. can you argue with the cost?! We have started making our own baby food on occasion though. We bought an Oster hand blender and it is working really well for us. With most of the foods we’ve done, we boil or steam the veggies and then blend it up, add some water and maybe a bit of seasoning and it lasts us for a few days. So far we’ve done Carrots, Green Beans, Sweet Potatoes, Bananas, and Butternut Squash. Nothing too exciting, and I think a lot of people would say these are Beginner Stage foods but we aren’t in any rush to get them eating anything other than purees.

That’s a pretty decent update on the girls development. Our routine hasn’t changed much and it probably won’t until their first birthday. Stick around and tomorrow I’ll post another update on the things we’ve been up to.

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Aquarium Trip

A few weeks ago we went on our first real outing. We met up with Anton’s parents and headed out to the Vancouver Aquarium. I’ve wanted to go for a while, but between work and the lack of motivation to plan something it just hasn’t happened. So I finally checked hours, phoned to see when their least busy time was and called up the in-laws.

The Plan

Going out with twins requires a bit of planning, especially with our routine. We decided that the best plan of action would be to do the first feeding at home (7:00am) and then get everything ready and hit the road. Prep time plus the drive would fill up the chunk between the first two feedings. The drive there would also give the girls ample room for “nap time”. By the time we got to the Aquarium it would be Brunch time (10:30am). That would give us three hours before the next time the girls needed to eat. We figured that would be more than enough time to spend at the Aquarium. Then we would feed them lunch (2pm) and hit the road to go home. And once again, giving the girls their naps. The car ride would be a bit longer than what they would usually nap for; hopefully that would make up for the nap that they’d miss during the visit.

To be prepared, we decided to bring both our Snuglis’ and our stroller. We figured we would mostly carry them around in the Snuglis’ but didn’t want to be caught needing the stroller and not having it. In the end it was nice to have both. Anton’s dad pushed the stroller around (what a man!) and the girls were more than happy to be up with Mommy and Daddy. Near the end of the afternoon, the adults sat down to grab something to eat and that’s where the stroller came in handy. One doesn’t realize how much work it is to eat food while you’ve got another person strapped to your front!

The Execution

You will be amazed to know… everything worked out perfectly! The girls were very co-operative for all of their meals, including the ones we did in the car. We managed to not hit any kind of rush hour traffic or road construction (very common in our Lower Mainland). We didn’t forget anything at home and the girls managed to push through the entire visit in a good mood; even though they missed out on a nap!

The attention span of an eight month old is not very long, so we didn’t spend a lot of time in one place. But, Shula seemed to get a kick out of the Sea Otter swimming laps around his pool and Maretta really enjoyed all the colourful fish going around in circles. We walked through the Amazon, listening to parrots screech and getting wet from all the mist. Coulda sworn Shula had just had a bath judging by how wet her hair had gotten!  Both girls liked watching the Pygmy Marmosets (dwarf monkeys) jump across their trees.

By the end of our afternoon Maretta and Shula were both looking pretty worn out from all the excitement (and lack of nap). They never got cranky though… all smiles and happy the whole time we were out. It’s hard not to brag about it, but our girls are perfect little monsters. I’m not sure if they ever made one unhappy noise! The six of us all really enjoyed ourselves and I think that going to the Aquarium will definitely be a regular thing. It’ll be nice, as the girls get older, to see them get more out of the shows and attractions.

Maybe it’ll become a “tradition” to go the Aquarium with all the grandparents!

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Sleeping with Twins

Sleep.

We all need it. It’s the fuel that drives us forward. Sleeping gives our bodies and minds a chance to recharge and reset. You’re screwed if you don’t get enough sleep.

Enter Twins.

We’re all screwed.

Nah, it’s not that bad.

Let’s start from the beginning.

The first two nights of having twins in our lives were horrible. Anton and I did not sleep, at all, for the first night. The second night we both got scattered sleep. It was crazy. After those first couple of nights we managed. Our angels were up throughout the night as you would expect most newborns to be up. Every couple or few hours to have a change and a feed. We knew this was how it was going to be and had already accepted that we were going to new-parent zombies for a while. Keeping these expectations in mind we were pleasantly surprised.

By the time the girls were three months old they were sleeping through the night. Any time that they happened to wake up all it took was a quick pat on the back and replacing a soother and they were good to go. It didn’t take long for Anton and I to get back into the habit of having a full nights sleep (meaning between five and eight hours). It was nice. We quickly learned that a small dose of Orajel and/or Infant Tylenol was a lifesaver for what may or may not have been teething.

It was like this for a good three or four months and then… something changed…

We decided to try the girls on a somewhat different schedule (Broken Schedule). And they started waking up in the night. And couldn’t seem to be calmed or soothed unless they wound up back in our arms which usually ended up back in our big bed. It wasn’t working for us. I love my babies, but co-sleeping is not for me.

So I bought some books:

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins In my opinion… garbage. There wasn’t much that focused on twins. It seemed to be the original version of the book but with a paragraph about twins every once in a while. I found a lot of what was said to be common sense, or something I’d already figured out. Possibly would have been a better read if I had read it while pregnant, before the girls were around.

Bed Timing Meh. Not worth the money I paid for it. Not a horrible read; will probably come in handy as their sleep patterns change throughout growth spurts and different developmental states.

Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems Haven’t gotten all the way through this one yet, but it seems alright. From my previous bit of research I did while pregnant, I had a feeling I was going to agree with what Dr. Ferber had to say. We use the controlled crying method, which Dr. Ferber stands behind, and it has worked out really well for us.

I was rash. I shouldn’t have bought any books. That’s what a library is for! But, I was fed up with things not working the way I wanted them to (I know, I know…) and I was bound and determined to make things work. And in the process, try to figure out how “baby sleep” works. The great kicker is.. after I bought my books and started reading them, the girls went back to sleeping through the night. I feel a bit like I never even gave the girls a chance to work it out. I dismissed the idea that Anton and I could do it on our own.

Which is ridiculous; because we can. And considering how little I got out of the books, we did. It turns out; the girls weren’t sleeping through the night because we had

A) messed with their schedule. DON’T MESS WITH THE SCHEDULE!

and B) they were both cutting a new tooth.

Why aren’t these things obvious in the heat of the moment? Why is hindsight 20/20?

Mommy’s Tips for a Better Bedtime

  • Small Additions during the Day.

No naps after 5pm. Lots of exercise (tummytime) during the day.

  • Small Additions at Bedtime.

Baby Einstein Lullaby Classics on repeat (all night). heater up to 19°c during the night. soothers (and stand-by soothers). lowered voices and dimmed/minimal lighting.

  • Bedtime Routine.

Ours is: Short walk (five minutes for the dog to pee), bath time (one baby at a time. daddy with one, mommy with the other), quiet play time-NO LOUD PLAY (rolling around the floor while mommy and daddy finish making bottles and get a couple of glasses of water; no more than five minutes), bottles, cuddle time (5-10min. minimal interaction), down in their cribs (we do separate cribs)

It’s not “Crying It Out”. I would highly recommend it. We do fifteen minute intervals. Because we implemented this type of sleep training, we didn’t need to go in and soothe our babies at all tonight. Or the night before. Make sure your support system is going to help you. It’s hard to go at it alone. It helps to be able to tag out and take a breather.

  • MOST IMPORTANT TIP!

It can be a painful ride, but your little ones need to learn to self-soothe. Try your best to put them down while they’re drowsy; not after they’ve fallen asleep. We cheat sometimes. If they fall asleep in our arms, we don’t wake them up just to put them down. But we do try to put them down before they fall asleep.

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Broken Schedule

Finding the best schedule to accommodate two growing girls can be somewhat difficult. We’ve been on a schedule pretty much since the girls were born. It didn’t make too much sense to Anton and I to be completely baby-led because we knew, inevitably, that would lead to them being on different time-lines. Something we certainly didn’t want. Our schedules have worked out pretty well for us. It does seem like we are constantly doing something baby related, but then… we did have twins right?!

After the first few weeks or the first month, we’ve followed a eat-play-sleep routine. Girls wake up, we feed them, we do tummy time or assorted other activities and then nap time. The only real difference throughout the last seven months has been how frequently their feedings are. We’ve gone from somewhat on demand, to about every two hours, to about every three hours. Every three hours has been the standard for the majority of the time; probably four or five months.

At our six month check-up, when we were discussing our feeding schedule, our doctor referred to what we were doing as “grazing”. Which is “one-hundred percent Ok”. I have complete trust in my doctor; he’s been my doctor since the day I was born and has never steered me wrong. So I want it to be on record that what we did was not because I didn’t believe what he had to say. He mentioned grazing, and I took that as meaning that most other six months old are eating less frequently. I decided to take out one of our feedings. Down to four. It seemed to work okay… for a little while.

To make up for the loss of one feeding, we tried to give them an extra 20-30mls per feeding. It seemed that although we were feeding them fewer times throughout the day, they were actually eating less at each meal. Not ideal, but we wanted to stick with it to see if the girls just needed to adjust their intake. The only good things that came out of our change was the extra spare time Anton and I had between feedings, and the girls were taking naps that were a little longer. It quickly went downhill and we found ourselves with cranky babies that were no longer sleeping through the night. In fact, we had a few of the worst nights we’ve had since we brought the babies home. It had been so long since we’d fed them during the night, it didn’t occur to us that they were waking up because they were hungry.

Well, that turned out to be the problem. We decided on Friday to go back to our original schedule. Anton started up with it again on Saturday. And since then.. it has been so much better. Maretta and Shula have both slept every night since then. Not so much crankiness in the evening and their naps during the day are going fine.

Really need to learn to just do what we do, and not worry so much about what the “norm” is. However, saying that, I have ordered some sleep books. I’m hoping it’ll give me some insight into the different methods and if there are any good tips that we haven’t heard of yet. Sleep itself will have to be a whole other post to itself!

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A Day in the Life; Four-month twins.

As follows is a typical day. Sometimes Anton and I are home together, sometimes I’m at work, sometimes he’s at work. There are days where we go see Grandparents or the whole day loses its’ routine for some unknown reason. But, we try to stay on the same flexible schedule every day.

Another smiley baby in the morning!

Smiley baby first thing in the morning!

630am Adults wake up and do the morning thing. I pull out the breast pump, Anton drinks coffee.

7am Babies wake up and get changed and fed.

730/8am Learning time. We go through one category of our spectacular flash cards; letters, numbers, family faces, food, or animals

830am Up Time. Our own term… we put the girls into their Snuglis and do chores. Gets us working and gives the girls some time to be stretched out.

9am Walkees. The girls are loaded up into their stroller and we take Jimmie out for his morning pee. This also results the girls falling asleep in the stroller for their morning nap. After the girls go down, it’s also pump time for me.

Jimmie!

10am Girls wake up and we restart the cycle. Change and feed.

1030/11am Learning time. This time, we use a different category of flashcards.

1130am More up time. Each “up time” usually means a different chore type. Kitchen chores first time around; laundry chores for the second round.

12pm Nap time once more! Pump time once again as well!

1pm Time to wake the babies up! Another round of diapers and bottles.

130/2pm Afternoon walkees. Jimmie goes for another pee and the girls get some fresh air. If Anton went to work, we meet him outside the apartment building.

230pm Another round of chores to go through and some cuddle and/or Learning time.

3pm Girls go back into their cribs for their afternoon nap. I pump. And then we usually play a computer game/watch some tv while the girls sleep.

4pm Change, feed.

430/5pm This is usually our “flex” time. We cuddle, do flashcards, watch Tv, I usually grab my breast pump again. Depends on how much motivation we’ve got going on.

530pm Wii Time! Anton and I each put on a baby and we play Wii games. Table tennis, basketball, frisbee, swords play, etc.

6pm Well, usually this is nap time again, but that seems to becoming less so. The girls do not seem very interested in nap time in the evening. So.. until further notice, this is… Quiet time? We’ve been having the girls join us in the living room but not being too interactive with them. We’ll see what happens with this time frame over the next couple of weeks.

7pm  This is when the evening begins! Between 7 and 715 we rouse the girls and change their diapers. We strap them on in the Snuglis and go for our last walk of the day. It works really well for us. Jimmie gets his last bathroom break and the chilly weather wakes the little ones up and works up a bit of an appetite.

Bath Time!

730/745pm Dinner time! The last pair of bottles before bed!

8pm Bath Time! Anton gets our bath ready while I undress the girls. Each girl gets a turn and while Anton bathes the second one, I dry and dress the first one. Then while I dry and dress the second one, Anton dumps and rinses the bath.

815pm Massage and cuddle time. The girls looove to get a massage after their bath. Head to their toes, nice and gentle.

830pm Finally… Bed time! Our girls aren’t too bad about going down for bed. Some nights are worse than others but all in all, not too many complaints.

For the most part, we don’t get up during the night. Maybe once every few days, but mostly just to give one of the girls a soother or a quick back rub. Each day follows the same schedule, but can change. We may start a cycle a half hour later or take a nap right after a meal instead of doing Up Time first. But, it seems that the babies have learnt the routine, and love the routine!

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