The Interview

The Interview

I scan her from head to toe with my wondering eyes, while I half smile. My baby stands on my lap flirting with this soon-not-to-be stranger. Jaxon and her talk about her previous nanny experiences and I try really hard to detect any red flags. After an hour flies by, not one flag occupies my mind and my smile is big.

Mila’s soon-to-be nanny is a really cool 21 year-old, theatre major from Columbia University. As Jaxon’s work load grows by the minute, we both decided that for a total of nine hours a week, him and I will hold hands, walk to a coffee shop and pound some to-dos like we used to. April 16th, is our self imposed deadline to give our new company at least three half-days each week. For that to be as stressless as possible for my partner in crime, we need to get Invento tuned so we can start considering some acquisition offers.

Cool things that have happened since I last posted:

Spring has made its debut! And yesterday we wore t-shirts and strolled, alongside every other parent in the city, through Lincoln Park Zoo. As with every other parent of a >1 year0old, we too pushed some warm bodies out of the way so that our chunky little human could see some animals through panes of glass. A frantic waving of the hands and feet was all we were awaiting to confirm that “awwww, she saw it!”. We got that once, with the gorillas. Deer, camels, tigers and lions went unnoticed to our tired baby.

We have gotten a number of cool guests! Such as Jaxon’s mentor and our great friend Michael, our friends Allie and Jenna and Jax’s parents. I also got to spend an evening with my Ecuadorian theatre director Viviana and her daughter Nadia, who were in town touring with Vivi’s newest movie “No Robaras (a menos que sea necesario)”. The film got into Chicago’s Latin American film festival and it was pretty incredible, the audience reaction to the film was inspiring! I felt so fortunate to have worked with such a talented director and it definitely made me want to revisit acting.

This coming week, my sister will be in town! I am bouncing off the walls with excitement!

Okay, enough for now! Jacqueline will be coming shortly, Mila is napping, dogs are obsessing over squirrels – life is good! Now, back to work.

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Midnight Snuggle

Midnight Snuggle

Hey baby girl,
Yesterday night I was looking at the stars
Wondering what it is that I am doing wrong

See babe, I have tried it all
You have snuggled with a comforter
You have slept with just your sheet
And just in case, I have laid you with everything in between
And you still wake up

You have dreamed with just a onesie
And rested with pajama feet
I have tried long sleeve, short sleeve
With socks, no socks
And you still wake up

You have hung low without head support
You have tossed and turned on your own pillow
And just in case I have set you on my own pillow
And you still wake up

You have shared your crib with no one else
Snuggled close to mami and papi
Held two stuffed bunnies’ paws
And you still wake up

I have sang to you
I have read to you
I have hummed and I have shushed
And you still wake up

Hey baby girl, I think a lot
While holding you tight
Watching you dream
Wondering why it is that you cannot rest

You open your eyes and smile wide
I have no idea what you are feeling now
See, I have forgotten what being a baby feels like

I close my eyes and kiss your skin
I am ready for this midnight hug

cucu

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Food & Pregnancy

Food & Pregnancy

For all the mothers, mothers-to-be and for me in the future, I wanted to start writing some useful tips about pregnancy, breastfeeding and parenting in general, so that if we do end up having another child and as expected my memory fails, I can always look back at what was useful to me with Mila.

Okay so before you read any further, let me make it clear to everyone that this is just based on experience. I am not a doctor, nor midwife, I have a BS on public health and that’s about it. So, before you try anything that your intuition does not also dictate to follow, please consult with your health practitioner.

When I found out I was pregnant I had a tiny panic attack about my body. I, as many women, thought that the pregnancy would make me gain pounds that would be impossible to shed, mark my belly with lines that would make bikini wearing not longer an option and my boobs would lie lo by my belly button. Now, I am certain that none of the stated before is true. Granted there are many types of pregnancies. Nonetheless, I wanted to write down some of the things that helped me stay in somewhat control of my body. The tips are multiple, so I’ll start with eating through out pregnancy in this post and move one from there in the coming weeks (or whenever Mila naps and I don’t have a huge amount of work – I should say).

 

Choosing the right foods through out pregnancy:

Something that became extremely obvious to me from day 16, was that I needed to eat. Sometimes I would even have to eat every waking hour in an effort to ease the nausea and infinite emptiness in my stomach. At around week 4, I realized that the eating frenzy was not about to stop and that I should choose my snacking food wisely. It didn’t seem to make a difference if I ate fruits, vegetables, chips or candy. All I knew was that I was hungry and thirsty. So in a conscious decision, I decided to choose grapes as my snacking food. So, other than my three healthy meals a day, I would snack on mostly grapes. If I craved anything else healthy I would go ahead and eat it, but if I was just hungry I would pickup grapes. This ended up being a great decision, for it helped with the thirst too.

At around 12 weeks I didn’t need grapes anymore. The nauseas faded and I did not feel the need to have constant food in my belly. I continued with three healthy meals a day and two snacks. At around 28 weeks I once again started getting extremely hungry and thirsty. This time I was done with grapes and decided to try out watermelon. Between Jax and I we probably eat a watermelon a week, which would probably not be recommended for sugar levels, but it did not seem to affect us. After Mila was born, as if it were magic, the need for watermelon disappeared.

Six months passed after her birth before I ever had to look for another all day snack. As Mila grows my body works hard to produce enough milk to feed her and have enough energy to power my body through sleepless days. This time I chose carrots and it is working out perfectly. These last option is probably the healthiest of the three, nonetheless it did not sound appealing the last two times, which probably says something.

So mums-to-be, remember to eat because you will most likely need to. But remember to choose your food wisely. Although stretch marks do occur on some women that do not experience a lot of rapid weight gain, they for the most part appear when your skin stretches too fast, the baby is already working hard on making that a fact, so do not aid it – specially during the third trimester.

Throughout my pregnancy I did not experience any craving other than orange juice, which I drank a lot of. My guess is that if your diet is healthy and balanced and your body feels that it has all the nutrients needed for the baby, it will not ask you for odd foods. Nonetheless, if it does eat the food it requests, for it is looking for important vitamins. If you are craving unhealthy food, such as sugar, something high in salt or very fried, then you are probably missing some vitamin that is masked within that unhealthy desire. Think about what of that food is appealing to you. For example, if you are craving french fries, then maybe you need some healthy fats, which can be found in salmon.

As most pregnant ladies learn, there are an incredible amount of variation within pregnancies. Yet, we all derived from the same specie so the similarities outweigh the differences. Feel in control of your body during pregnancy, because you can be. Seven months into being a mom, I have met way more moms who have not experienced dramatic permanent changes to their body, than women that have.

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Only child?

Only child?

You have your head hanging off the bobby pillow as you gaze at the sky. I think you are tired, actually I know you are tired, but you are fighting to stay awake. At this moment, you should be taking a nap, actually at this moment we should both be taking naps.

There have been three instances since you’ve come to be that I have thought “should we ever have another child?”. The first came when you were a bean-sized little alien and I wanted to throw up every smell, color and taste that touched my senses. The second came when you were fighting your way through the birth canal and I was feeling like it is impossible for over-population to be a thing. The third, happened yesterday, when, you were feeling like a tooth was cutting through your gums at 6 pm, 8 pm, 10 pm, 12 am, 2 am , 4 am and 5:30 am and I was feeling like I have not slept in days. Actually I was feeling like other than for two days, I have not slept in seven months. I find it kind of ironic that my last post in Mangolandia was about how well you were dreaming throughout the night.

Fun fact baby girl, in baby yoga you have three little friends your age, not one has one single tooth, you my darling are pushing out the eight and I can already see that nine and ten are on their way. You weight 26 pounds of goodness and measure 27 inches. Two stories are often on repeat in mind. The first is about how your grandma Ellen had to tell your daddy at eight months that his night feedings had to come to an end, for she (like me) had not slept for all those months. The second features your grandpa Mark and how at one year of age, Grandma Laura had to set her 36 pound baby on the floor and ask him to start crawling, for she (not unlike me) could no longer carry him around.

You are playing with your bunny pajama feet now, you look at me stretch your hand out and squeak, followed by some bubbles and a grin. Okay, I’m convinced – there is simply nothing better than you.

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Goodbye night cuddles

Goodbye night cuddles

It was 1:56 am that I held you in my arms and watched you dream. Since I had picked you up from your crib five minutes before, I knew this would be one of the very last times we would cuddle after dark. A breath of excitement and nostalgia overpowered my mind as I observed how big you have gotten in these short six and a half months. Your legs were sprawled out, your head rested against my chest and your arms lay away from your body.

Yesterday I told your dad that another transition was on its way. I have been able to recognize all of your development transitions, for all you want to do in the days leading up to it is sleep and nurse. After each hibernation period you wake up with a new skill, such as grabbing toys, sitting up, craving food, turning around and now dreaming all night.

It was 1:50 am when I woke up thinking of you, 12:00 am had passed and not a peep came from the monitor. I rushed into your room, for SIDS often has the better part of my brain tied up and as usual, when I panic, I find you there sound asleep. You were half covered with blankets and I had to resist the temptation to cover you up again, instead I just watched you get comfortable with the blankets as you snoozed away. You kept on dreaming, so as to say goodbye to our night cuddles, I carried you into our meeting spot, we snuggled as I observed you closely. I laid you back down, still asleep, and went to hug dad. It was 7 am the next time we heard you.

Tomorrow, you and I are going to share our morning stretching routine with other mamas and babies at a yoga place. I get a feeling you will be crawling in no time.

This weekend we spent visiting your grandparents up in Wisconsin and grabbing your new two best friends, Yaku and Yana (who are not too delighted to be city dogs – of all their facets, farm, beach, winter and city – they most definitely prefer being winter dogs.). We had a lovely time up north as did we – eating waffles, drinking lots of tea, eating wonderful food and sleeping close to the cozy fire.

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Keeping Busy

Keeping Busy

Our last two days in Ecuador where awesome. Mila got to meet my Plaza family in a tea party, hang out with our friends in a help me watch the baby while we pack party and hug grandma lots of times before parting. (All of which photos have randomly disappeared from our camera!)

Since we got back we have been nonstop! Setting up the apartment, hosting awesome Willow who came to snuggle with Mila last weekend, organizing, consolidating and shrinking our current business and working hard to get our application in for TechStars, a seed accelerator for startups, within the next two weeks for our new project. Apart from playing with our tiny human being.

Below, some photos.

Mila – 6 months

Hola mi vida,

Next time you are in front of a mirror take a long stare at those front four teeth you have – they made their entrance into your beautiful smile this week. You have been six months for almost two weeks now! Daddy and mami had their 5 years and half anniversary just a week ago. We are back in Chicago now, after spending two weeks in Ecuador. There, you met about 200 people, all of them totally in love with you. You are now sitting up straight and starting to nibble some solids. You have your own room and actually use it, for it has been almost a month since you first slept in your crib.

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A week in the wilderness

A week in the wilderness

“I don’t think anyone will believe me” was my brother Antonio’s response when his mom asked him if he’ll tell his friends he met his niece this week, “I am just too young”. This week we spent it in Andean paradise, surrounded by absolutely wonderful company – my two younger brothers, Manuel (9) and Antonio (6), my dad and stepmom, Fernando and Carolina, and for a few days my sister and her boyfriend, Bernarda and Juan Pablo. It is not common for my dad to have all of his kids in one place, but Mila brought us all together for some hiking, Monopoly playing, pizza making and lots of laughing.

The last seven days we were enjoying Caro’s delicious carrot cake and company, watching my dad and Mila fall in love, building yet another trebuchet with my brothers and making our baby girl into a true adventurer in the Andes. Many memories come tied to these mountains, but the biggest and most important one is of time shared with our family. I am happy to say that we leave with the same sensation of fulfillment and happiness of the time spent together.

The next two days will be spent saying goodbye to our family and friends in Quito. Introducing Mila to yet another family group and trying to grasp all the excitement that awaits us home.

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Courtesy of my brother Manuel:

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In between paradises

In between paradises

There was silence in the car, I was sitting next to Jaxon who was steering us through the Andes while we talked about life. For the first time since we first crossed from Florida to Wisconsin, Mila dreamed away in her car seat. 40 minutes of snoozing passed and we got worried, for she was breaking a record. I turned around and double checked that she was breathing, anxiously the father awaited a postive response, “she is babe”, we both sighed and melted away in our conversation. 1 hour and 20 minutes passed and she was still quiet, “Jax I think we should stop the car and make sure she is breathing”. We stopped the car and I poked her – she moved, we looked at each other with huge smiles and held hands the rest of the way to Zuleta.

The last two days have been spent absorbing as much as we can of this Andean paradise. We left Cumbaya, from my mom and Tommy’s gorgeously designed and decorated home to my dad and Caro’s small paradise in the middle of an amphitheater of native beauty. Mila has been quite literarily laughing out loud with el GRANDpa (my dad) and Jaxon has spent hours playing and building stuff with my brothers.

Less than a year has gone by since we packed La Casita, yet with a baby and two moves under our belt it feels like years have flown by. We are endlessly thankful to have so much joy and beauty in our life.

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Dear Fairy Godmothers:

Dear Fairy Godmothers:

Today Mila’s eye was caught by a glittery cape hanging loosely on what she thought to be a stranger. With a skeptical look and an extended hand she reached to touch this shinny and strange thing, only to be surprised by a hug and kiss attack, from who she would later learn was her master Fairy Godmother – Julia. Dressed in a beautiful flowery dress, a pink cape and a tiara was my mom’s best friend from childhood, who had been anxiously waiting for more than a year to hold our baby girl. One by one, the fairies made their entrance into the room. And with a two exceptions, all of my mom’s best friends from school where standing in our living room.

Champagne in hand they each read Mila a health/empowerment-wish that each had written to her, as they proclaimed themselves her fairies who will always keep her safe. As tears streamed down our faces with sweet memories of the past and thoughts of the future, powerful words were read and each “little” fairy doll was placed in a bag for safe travels to Chicago, where they will keep an eye on Mila.

These past days both Jax and I are reminded of how much we love each of our families’ communities and how fortunate we feel to have so much love around. My mom has arranged multiple gorgeous get togethers with family and friends and Mila has met more than 100 people in a couple short days. We still have to do something with our same-generation friends and try to squeeze enough time with everyone into the next 10 days.

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Hola Ecuador

Hola Ecuador

The view from the air looking down on Quito was a different one, no longer were we landing in the middle of an ocean of lights, but rather flying into the East of the city to touch down in the new airport. As I peeked out the window to admire the barely lit Andes, I held my sleeping baby tight, I was landing in Ecuador like I had never before, as a changed woman. Walking out of the airport, I held my baby high and proud to be her mother and eager to exposuse her to the altitude, the fruits, the music, the cold, the people – my history.

I love this mountainous country and boy do I love the sweet and familiar scent of my mom’s perfume. I am enriched by Ecuador’s diversity and overwhelmed by its flavors. Being here remind me of how much I miss my sister’s sense of humor, my dad’s overwhelming energy, my mom’s touch and  the warm feelings that invade my stomach when having my family around.

I am eternally thankful to be able to be here and experience this with the two people I love the most.

 

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Moved in!

Moved in!

I can truly say that this week has been the most exhausting of my life. Between a baby that wakes up close to 5 times a night, the move to our new house, our marketing clients, the delivery and design of the two biggest websites we have ever worked on and the start of our new venture, we have had little time to sleep, think or eat.

In general moving does not have to be such a hassle, but the fact that we are leaving for Ecuador in less than a week has us striving to tie all loose ends so that we can enjoy our time there. Once we come back, we would like to focus a lot of our “work” time on the new project, as we slowly organize our transition from one business to another.

Our new place is pretty cute. Located in Andersonville, Chicago, this house that we now call home sits in one of the most diverse streets I have ever had the fortune to live in. To our right lives a gay couple, to our left an African American family, two houses East lies a gorgeous, very modern, LEAD-certified, built by a very successful, single woman and environmental consultant and a Latino/a non-profit restaurant that uses all proceeds to make food for shelters lies at the end of the street. Jax met all these people while working on bringing our whole trailer up to our 2nd story apartment.

The street is also plagued with people walking their beautiful dogs. Very friendly neighbors also share our roof, in the first floor apartment and made Jaxon coffee while he hauled our stuff around in snow and 5 degree weather. Our second story place is what people here call a “Chicago Bungalow” style home, three bedroom, one bathroom, a living room, dining room, kitchen and porch. We are about 7 block away from Lake Michigan and 2 away from the incredibly cute downtown of Andersonville.

Below some photos I snapped in a flash.

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A week in the city and the birth of our new venture

A week in the city and the birth of our new venture

Seven days have already passed since we put on winter boots. This week, we have been staying with the most incredible hosts we could have asked for, our friends Delna and Aaron. They have welcomed us into their gorgeous home and made us feel way too comfortable! So comfortable that at times I felt we were slacking on our house search.

Equipped with authentic, warm chai lattes, we managed to find a house, formalize the birth of our new venture, and get lots of work done in our current company. We have also learned a ton about Chicago real estate, Indian cuisine and (way too complicated) board games. We are forever grateful to Aaron and Delna for these past seven days, for we have not only shared a roof but are also about to start a new business together.

The birth of the new venture:

For over five years I have been used to hearing a version of the following words “Babe, I have an idea” leave my husband’s mouth. At the beginning I would get all excited by his idea and start planning our next business out with every thought he had. With the years and his advice, I learned that not all such ventures need to be pursued. So since then, we follow some and let others go – Jax’s inks them down and we move on.

About 5 months ago, Jax’s thought about a biometric payment company he wanted to start. He hopped out of the shower and told me about it, wrote it down and we continued our life. A couple of days later we were walking in the beach and the idea resurfaced, then in the kitchen, in the car, super market and finally one night in our hot tub we decided that we should pursue this venture.

After buckets of hours of research, Jax and I decided that pursuing this experiment with Aaron and Delna was the right choice. I might even step a bit down and focus on something else that has been in my mind (other than baby m) – a book… a book idea!

Delna has started to document this venture. Visit her blog The 25/8 for juicy details to come.

Below, some photos of the last few days -

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My tiny love – 5m and Chicago

My tiny love – 5m and Chicago

My tiny love:

My eyes are closing, yet I promised my heart I would write you some thoughts tonight. Five times you have crossed this country pretty baby, a 24-hour driving saga for every month of your life. This last drive took you away from your sandy beach and into a winter storm. For three days straight you have explored the windy city and its homes and stolen more smiles in a single shop than ever before. You now lay next to me, dreaming. Apart from mami y papi, everything has changed around you, yet you keep gifting us your endless smile. Moving is never easy baby, but we can truly say that you recharge our dreams with your giggles. You are starting to turn now and seem to grow used to the teething pain, for you are on the way to popping out your second tooth.

It wont be long before you start eating solids and you can hardly wait for it. You are extremely curious of whatever food we put in our mouths. At night you and I cuddle and although your night-time eating schedule seems more active, I am sure that one day it will just click and you’ll dream without interruptions.

Thank you Mila, from the bottom of our hearts, for being such a trooper. We are already impressed at how well you handle changes. As I always say, wherever daddy and Mila are is home, you seem to agree with me.

Te amamos. Felices 5 meses linda.

 

Chicago:

We arrived three days ago to Chicago. We parked the trailer that holds 8 months’ worth of our possessions at our friends, Delna and Aaaron’s, place and have been nesting in their guest room ever since. We have hopped around looking at beautiful neighborhoods and have once again fallen in love with the city. Our friend Delna, has not only welcomed us to her home but has accompanied us to see apartments and has taught us lots about Chicago real estate.

After exploring the beautiful neighborhoods of the city, we have fallen in love with Andersonville, we crave its proximity to the endless lake, love its sense of community and beautiful shops. We are trying to find a place in the area, but if we do not, we will not be too sad, because we have four other favorite neighborhoods as well.

We have been taking photos with the iPhone. The big camera’s charger is in a box (due to my lack of forward thinking). So more photos will come once we begin to unpack.

 

For now we will continue to laugh, eat excellent food and kill zombies with Aaron and Delna.

PS: Chicago friends, once we settle down in our new home, your phones and inboxes will start ringing!

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Goodbye Saint Augustine (for now)

Goodbye Saint Augustine (for now)

Goodbye Saint Augustine. Our time was short, yet as sweet as it could be. We leave you with great sorrow and happiness to have walked your streets, played in your sand, surfed your waves and mingled with your beautiful people!

Almost exactly a year ago, we were 2 months pregnant and talking about our possible birthing spots. When it dawned on us that we could welcome Mila anywhere in the world, we began to narrow it down. “It needs to be in between both our families” Jaxon said, “And near the ocean” I added – somewhere warm, easy to live in, with a progressive community, fun for people to visit and cheap access for loved ones. Once we were done, we thought we would have to give some of our requirements up, for such place could not exist. Nonetheless, after days of research, we found this gorgeous city.

Throughout our time here, not only have all of our requirements been exceeded, but so many other incredible things were added. We met a truly amazing community of friends, who not only shared our interests, but also were having kids. We were welcomed to an amazing street of neighbors as well, which we will dearly miss. We got to walk through some of the oldest streets in the United States and feel like we were somewhere in an European village. We had a 15 mile long beach as our backyard and got to have a home birth surrounded by loving midwives and friends.

Oh Saint Augustine! We will miss you dearly! But as our very good friend Katie once said “Those who do not stay here for at least 5 years, always come back”. We surely will.

Thank you to all of our friends! We did not get a chance to give you each a hug, but know that we take you in our heart and that you have a new home in Chicago craving that you visit!

After a week of packing, we finally left our house on Mila’s 5 -month little birthday, two days later than we wanted, but leaving all knots tied. We now rest in a hotel near Nashville and expect to arrive in Chicago tomorrow afternoon – ready for house hunting.

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The rats won this fight! Chicago here we come

The rats won this fight! Chicago here we come

As many of you know, we are taking off for Chicago 4 months (too) early. Long story short – when we arrived home, to Florida, from Wisconsin, we encountered what we thought was a minor rat problem in our house. Exterminators were called, traps were set and life went on.

Two days later we were running out the door because a toxic burned rat pee smell was pouring out of every vent in our house. Mila was woken up from her nap as we sought refuge from the cold weather in our car. After 30 min of shutting down all of the vents and having the doors and windows wide open, the smell was still unbearable.

We called our super nice landlord and told him our situation. After an option searching conversation, he pretty much said that we were free to go (aka lease contract was broken) if we wanted to. As we learned from pest control, the problem in the house was serious because the constructors of our beautiful rental in St. Augustine did not finish sealing the bottom of the bathroom’s floor, leaving access to insides of the walls. A combination of the cold weather and lack of dogs around meant that a multiplying family of rats was moving in and refused to share – or I guess we were reluctant to make our home a duplex.

The solution was going to be a lot of trapping, sealing of holes and then various types of gas treatments pumped through the ventilation. As good vegetarians, we did not want to be here for the rat massacre or breath all of the fumes that await them.

The last two days have been crazy! We have had to sell our Prius, pack up our house, change tickets to Ecuador, look for a house in Chicago, take care of a teething baby that is barely sleeping, put a hitch on our car, move our hot tub BACK down off the porch and try to enjoy our last days next to the sea. All of this while trying to keep our cool about the zombie-like experience we have had with our new neighbors, who are desperate to chew through anything to get to our food – (soap really).

Tentatively we will leave Monday morning for the 17 hour drive. There were some talks about Mila and I flying, but I have decided against it. It will be good to have that time to process our next steps. Mila’s teething stage has her craving my undivided attention, so she will get lots of that in the car.

Florida’s weather is absolutely lovely, making it so hard to leave!! But such is life.

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