Author Archives: Toni

About Toni

Mom. Wife. Artist. I take care of the kids and pretend to clean sometimes. I can cook spagetti and I have never been arrested.

10 Things To Do Before Your First Baby

Listen up, first-time mommies-to-be: you’re gonna read a lot of articles written by a lot of people who have no more parenting experience than you’ll have in less than a year. It’s kind of adorable but mostly annoying to someone like me who’s been around the block 50 times but still scours the internet for advice on breast-feeding and sleep-training, only to find that the authors of half the articles on the line are writing off of 3 months’ worth of mothering.

Bless dem mommy bloggers’ precocious lil’ hearts.

They think they know.

Let me assure you, newbies: they do not know. And neither do you. And neither do I.

Accept this fact now. You will be unprepared for birth, for delivery, for motherhood. Just when you think you’ve got a plan, you don’t. (Read: Woman has 5 singletons and then BAM–twins.) I’ve been doing this for 22 years and i haven’t even scratched the surface of parenting knowledge yet. I don’t even know what I don’t know.

Cluelessness: love it, fear it, embrace it.

That’s lesson numero uno for you, free of charge. I’ll give you a few more tips that I’ve picked up, some from my own experiences but mostly from the ancient wisdom passed down from strong women who mommed-so-hard decades before I entered the game. We’ll just touch on some light and airy pregnancy “to-do’s” for now and I’ll follow up with information I gather on other stages as I figure it via school of hard knocks.

  1. Do yourself a favor: while you are pregnant with your first child, even though you think you are *so busy* (you’re not) (at all), take some time and and savor this one thing: NAPS. Doze off as often as you can. Don’t even feel guilty about it. Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep. For the love of God, lay down. Put your feet up. Screw your husband and his incessant whining for things like dinner. Know what’s awesome about not having kids? You can eat dinner whenever and wherever you want, specifically after a nice long afternoon nap and before bedtime. YOU HAVE ZERO CHILDREN SCREAMING FOR CHICKEN NUGGETS. There is no one to get to softball practice or gymnastics or basketball or band concerts. You don’t have to spend 3 hours listening to a first-grader read through “Happy Effing Birthday Moon” for the 9,000th time. This is your moment! Seize it and get your snooze on.
  2. Take a shower, shave the legs, do your makeup and all the fun girly pampering things you probably don’t even realize you take for granted; do them regularly right up until you can’t reach past your knees. I remember once, before I had kids, I took a bath and shaved my legs and applied lotion all in one afternoon like I was Kevin McAlister. It was insane. I don’t even know what I’d do with that kind of free time anymore…probably get pregnant again.
  3. Get sick now: enjoy puking with no one climbing on your back. These days are numbered. Head cold? Cook some old-fashioned homemade chicken soup while nobody hangs on your leg, and then eat it without sharing. (Read also: take a nap.) Moan, sniffle, take enough pregnancy-safe meds to knock out a horse. Guess who doesn’t have to make sure the baby’s not gobbling used tissues? That’s you sister–you’re sick as hell but you’re free as a bird, and there’s a genuine beauty in not having to clean up someone else’s barf while you yourself are running a fever of 102.
  4. Go on all the dates: Dinner-and-movie your husband to death. Go eat fancy cheese in fancy clothes at fancy places. (That’s what people do, right?) Y’all, not everyone has the blessing of local and willing Meemaws and Pawpaws who beg to babysit little ones every other weekend so that you and the hubster can have some alone time. If you are one of those lucky people, then skip this paragraph–you might as well be in your diamond-encrusted 12-ft round bathtub aboard your private yacht in the Mediterranean Sea in my opinion, because that’s how luxurious I imagine free, trustworthy childcare for regular date nights must be. Half of my friends sent their kids to Grandma’s this past week for “grandparent time” before school starts. This is a concept beyond my comprehension, and I don’t even know what I’d do with that kind of free time…probably get pregnant again.
  5. Sit on your clean couch in your clean living room in your clean house, and just breathe deeply. Rest in knowing that you are capable of dusting once a week, even if it’ll be another 24 years before you experience that level of cleanliness again (or in my case, 40 years). If you want to clean the grout in your shower tiles with a toothbrush, now is the time. Same goes for big projects like, idk, putting in a stair rail or closing off gaping holes in walls leading to the attic (and certain death.)
  6. Murder your ear drums. Crank that Bone Thugs. Once baby gets here, anything above .01 decibels goes away. Plus you can’t risk your preschooler singing “Country Grammy” verbatim in public. Let the world know what awesome speakers you have before you’re blasting Kids’ Bop on the daily. You will never be this cool again. Never.
  7. Ditto for the adult programming: if you’re a tv watcher at all then I suggest getting your Office binge on yesterday, because Disney will straight up own your rear end once the kids come along. Curious about that new Netflix series? Check it out immediately, because the next episode of anything you watch is 95% guaranteed to make you feel like you’re having a bad acid trip at a mushroom festival (I’m looking at you, Sarah and Duck.) Anyone ever watch Rasta Mouse sober? It’s a thing that’ll happen to you, and you’ll just have to sit there and take it cause your kid loves it and you love your kid. Plus puppet mice with Jamaican accents are still a way better form of entertainment than blood curdling screams from a three-year-old.
  8. Go along with your bad touristy self: have you been meaning to go visit The Pioneer Woman’s shop in Pawhuska? Me neither–but I promise you, that will be one of the very last places I take kids under the age of 18. There are few things I hate more than dragging temperamental toddlers through aisles of breakables: A) diaper blowouts in public places, B) Newly-walking babies in ballpark stadiums, and C) Roadtrips lasting more than half an hour with infants who hate car seats. You wanna go somewhere? Get out now while you still can.
  9. A sugary word to the wise: eat a little junk food, but don’t go crazy ape. You hear the jokes about eating for two. You know ice cream and cheeseburger cravings are normal. It seems culturally acceptable and funny to be that pregnant woman plowing through a jar of Nutella (on her clean couch) but I assure you, it’s not a good idea. It’s fine to indulge…but from one gestational diabetic to another, it’s not ok to snarf pop tarts with a side of cherry coke for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ve had easy pregnancies and I’ve had rough pregnancies; by far my most enjoyable gestating months were the ones spent eating on the healthier side and remaining active. Beyond those testy first-trimester weeks of incessant queasiness, be un-ridiculous and drink water instead of soda, go easy on the coffee, and keep the sugary snacks to a minimum. This is not the time to declare “I can eat whatever I want” and then proceed to do so–your baby won’t get all the nutrients she needs, you’ll feel like crap, and it’ll take you forever to lose the baby weight (because it won’t be from the baby).
  10. That said, chillax about your weight. If you are making healthy choices and following your doctor’s advice, your body will do what it’s going to do, numbers on a scale be damned. My weight gains have been 35, 60, 20, 35, and 30 (and 20 so far in this twin pregnancy). I can’t tell you I’ve done a whole lot differently in each pregnancy (in that 60-pounder I ate well and exercised while working and going to school full time). Some postpartum periods sucked more than others, but be kind to yourself. Your body is doing some cool stuff–celebrate it! There are women who’d sacrifice anything to be your shoes, even if your shoes are flip flops cutting off circulation to your swelling pregnant cankles. Weight gain: a manageable and temporary side effect. Don’t freak out.

(Hey if your feet are swelling that bad tho, for real, call your doctor, drink some water without sharing, and take a nap on your clean couch.)


“purpose over preference”

That’s the bogus motto our church has adopted this past year. Purpose over preference.

What does that even mean? For a while we figured it mean something manageable like sucking it up when the worship band didn’t play “When Death Was Arrested”. Or maybe keeping our mouth shut when the church foyer was painted more of a mushroom color than than the griege we’re currently obsessed with.

I’m kind of kidding, because those things would never cause us to get our Sunday jeggings in a wad–but I did arrogantly believe that I was beyond such things I assumed the motto implied, because I’m so easily pleased, unconcerned with sanctuary aesthetics, and–dang it–just too good a Christian. Leave details to the professionals, I’m just here to get my worship on.

I love my church. I love the people. I love the preaching, and the worship, and the fellowship and basically ALL OF IT and I couldn’t see myself leaving, even though–yes–we’d gone through a great upheaval and changes were made and people left…in some ways, it felt like a bomb exploded and I didn’t even know what was happening until a year later and everything was different.

It felt like it was going to be a good different.

We grew up in that church when we committed to it in 2009. We were loved and treasured and discipled–hard. We were poured into continuously by some of the most wonderful, faithful people I’m sure I’ll ever meet.

We hung in for three years after we moved twenty minutes away. When our kids went to a different school. Played for different sports teams. We stayed in our church. We learned. We grew. We served. We slipped. We learned some more. And we loved.

And God was with us.

And then something happened.

After finally feeling settled in our new house, we ventured out into our new community, and sometimes we even visited the church nearby, for our Wednesday night convenience after Lucy was born…and the people came.

They came to our house. They came out from behind haystacks. They popped up outta the cornfield. We met them at the ballpark, at the school, at the grocery store, and at the local diner.

Turns out, this family can make some friends when we put our minds to it–and also when we don’t put our minds to it. We just love people.

Children–ages 8 through 15–just materializin’ from thin air and showing up at our house, sitting at my table for Saturday morning pancakes, for fancy noodles on Tuesday afternoons; kickin’ back on my couch watching cartoons, thundering up and down my stairs, giggling, slamming the front door, climbing my trees, shooting me with Nerf bullets…and asking questions.

The questions! The earnest, genuine questions y’all!

For Christians committed to loving people and being the hands and feet of Jesus right where you’re at, these people and these children and those questions can only mean one thing: we were undeniably being called to make a huge change.

And even though I loved my church family in another town, and I loved the children’s programming and the worship and the preaching style, and even though I felt awkward and new at the church down the street, ultimately we are called to put God’s purpose over our personal preference.

The motto looks great on a t-shirt but real-life application is difficult to put it mildly. Leaving what’s comfortable to go anywhere new has not been as easy-breezy as I anticipated it to be, mainly because (shocker!) I am a sucker for my own comfort.

But you don’t pick a church because it’s comfortable. You don’t pick a church because the worship music is legitness, or that green carpet is so very plush, or your friends told you it was where you belonged.

You go to church to worship, and to bring glory to God. You honor Him by loving and serving others everywhere you go; I believe the most effective way to begin is to gather with other believers right in your back yard and to get after it together.

And so dadgummit here we are, at a teeny tiny church a mile from our house, where the teaching is sound and the wood paneling is on point; where people pray, Christ loves, and God moves–in the church building and throughout the little bitty town we call home.

We are exactly where we need to be.

Nest so hard

Captain’s Log, July 75th, 2018; Pregnancy No. 394, week 18:

We are experiencing summer within summer, and although today has been pleasant, the past few months in general have been long and hot and seemingly just as humid as a typical Pensacola July day, except without the beach.

I am simultaneously melting and ballooning in the heat.

The babies are awesome as of my regular doctor’s appointment yesterday. Still there, still alive and kickin’. We shall soon find out if we are having boys or girls or a boy and a girl. (My gut tells me we are having at least one girl.)

I took it upon myself today to clean out the attic after an arrangement was made with Merrick to temporarily store Christmas decorations in his closet. The transferring of said decorations to said closet should have been easy enough; however, upon further inspection of his room I discovered a massive trash collection no human should ever be exposed to. It was the stoff of nightmares and I went full “The Berenstain Bears and The Messy Room” on him, uncovering one fresh hell after another: stashes of broken sticks, disassembled trophies, acid-soaked batteries in acid-soaked remote controls that seemed to have no purpose in particular; gum wrappers, granola bar wrappers, tissues, loose beads of every shape and size–all of it, forcibly crammed into every crevice of every thing that had crevices…it was as if some kind of super-rat had been breeding and hoarding garbage treasures behind and underneath every piece of furniture. I don’t think I would’ve been more disturbed had I discovered a hidden cape of human skin.

I can still feel my pulse in my ears from the anxiety attack I had over this mess.

Three hours and four bags of trash later, I had a clean attic and a clean ten-year-old boy’s room. Please, prospective future daughters-in-law, know this: I am trying. I am trying for you. Heaven forbid you wind up with a husband who can’t fit a bicycle into your 3-car-garage much less a vehicle because it’s full to the brim with miscellaneous junk, and inhabited by rodents of unusual size. I am trying.

About the attic: we have a small hallway that leads to a 6ft X 8ft room we call “the attic”, and that room leads to the “real” attic, the one with exposed framing and insulation and plywood gingerly placed atop beams; our plan for the time being is to put Lucy’s crib in the 6×8 room so that she can sleep peacefully by herself for a while longer. The rest of her belongings will go in Arbor’s ginormous closet since they will eventually share a room. It’s not much different from those years we stuck babies in our master bedroom closet, just to separate kids at night, and this will allow us to put the twins in the ex-Lucy’s room/ex-art studio downstairs, closer to us.

Mia is playing softball like I’ve never seen softball be played except for maybe the NFL, if the NFL was softball and populated by 14-17 year old girls. Ball is NO JOKE in Oklahoma. No joke at all, and I am still adjusting to that.

And also I am wondering if I will set Arbor marching down that road next year or if she might be more well-suited to a different sport, like mixed martial arts for example, or competitive screaming.

In this picture Arbor is scream-singing (in Merrick’s newly-cleaned room) and Lucy is blowing raspberries–a fun new talent of hers that usually results in me being covered in whole milk spit.

the big name post

A fair warning before we begin: this post is for the uber-name-nerds, for the excited mom friends who keep asking, and for the intensely curious acquaintances who care about 8%. If you don’t fall into one of these groups, leave now, cause it’s about to get boring.

We normally don’t pick names this early, but these choices just seem right. (Also we normally don’t reveal this early, but our tastes have wandered into some very strange territory–I’m not at all worried about name-stealin’ hooligans, at least not among the people I know of child-bearing age who live anywhere near me. And if there were anyone who would choose names this wacky, we’re meant to be best friends for life. Call me!)

Naming 7 children over the years has been, at times (read also: every time), maddening. We have a designated “naming chalkboard” that has seen its share of good and bad ideas throughout our marriage:

(Photo circa summer 2014.)

Dang baby daddy! Always having an opinion and digging in his heels! I think I’ve told the “Behind the Name” stories of my first five kiddos, so I’m excited to share about our very top picks for the next 2.

Let us delve.

For the Boys:

1. Duncan: Duncan’s been on our list since we began having children together. (Well, more realistically, probably since Caleb saw ‘Highlander’ long before I met him.) It means “dark warrior”, and was on our extremely short list for a son every time we thought we were having a son. (Which was only once–and Merrick won that round.) It’s classic, it’s Scottish, it’s not common but not made-up or weird. It’s our solid, hands-down, numero uno pick for a boy. Mainly so Caleb can introduce him to everyone as “Duncan McCl—, from the clan McCl—.” (I’d insert eye roll here, but I’m so in love with this name that I’m willing to put up with–nay, embrace all Highlander jokes we may encounter.)

2. Benjen: Our next choice for a boy is the ever-so GOT-sy Benjen. And yeah, I know I know I know. Don’t name your kid after a TV show. This was never my original intention, but then I came upon this killer pic while scopin’ Pinterest for wicked cool sci-fi baby names:

And I mean.

I’ve always loved the name Ben. And Caleb’s always shot down Benjamin. Call Benjen a compromise. Youngest son? Check! Plus the George R. R. Martin character is freakin’ bomb: dude is a no-limit soldier, a sworn protector of all the people in all the kingdoms, riding around in a cold, dark world surrounded by dead souls; dying himself, but fighting the good fight for the living til the bitter end. That’s just noble, y’all.

Runners up: There were no runners up. Caleb and I disagreed on every other boys’ names except these two. I wanted Calder somethin’ fierce, but I backed down with that when it looked like Caleb was thinking of dragging out Riddick again.

UPDATE: Caleb got a wild hair and suggested “Gideon”. I am not in disagreement. I tentatively place it on my list.

And For the Girls:

1. Endellion: This is a raaaarrre saint’s name that allegedly means “fire soul”. (At least it does according to my extensive two-second google search that turned up questionable results–but hey, it’s on some rando internet site so it must be true.) Is there anything cooler than “fire soul”? The answer is no, a thousand times no. Bonus: the saint that carried this name was a next-level forgiver–she brought back to life a man who was killed for killing her favorite horse, and since forgiveness has been my word of the last half-decade, it seemed fitting.

We would not be regularly addressing our little fire soul by her full name though; we toyed with nicknames Endie, Della, Ellie, and even Lio, but nothing seemed quite right until Caleb suggested Indie–a mellow contrast to the more formal Endellion. (Think Toni vs. Antoinette.)

2. Olivet: Oh, this precious name has so much going for it. “Olive tree” or “grove of olive trees” were the listed meanings, but I will forever associate Olivet with peace, and the place where Jesus gave The Sermon on the Mount. (The most important sermon that lays out everything I am or want to be as a Christian.) Cute nickname Ollie won Caleb over in an instant, *although I am not opposed to calling her “Olive”, just sayin’.*

Runner-ups: I pitched Bernadette and Galilee so hard; the hubster was having none of it. I did get Caleb to say that Sunshine and trusty ole Annabelle were possible contenders. I confess my love of nature names and old lady names and obscure saints’ names (identity crisis much?) but I don’t solidly fall into any of those categories when it comes to actually figuring out what to call a human daughter.

You can tell I’ve had way too much fun with my new typography app. You can also tell that I’m not about choosing a name given to every other basic baby in the country. You will be shocked to know that it took zero convincing on my part for Caleb to come around to these picks. I was gonna to create an elaborate power point presentation and make my case and go to war over these faves. But he loved them from day 1.

So we will roll them around in our brains for a bit and see how they feel.

Middle names, though? It is likely one of us will die.

Pregnancy 394, week 60

I realize it’s a little early on to make these sort of grand exaggerations, but here I am Braxton-Hicks-ing my way through week 17 and I’m just starting to question what I’ve done. I’m glad the God of the Universe decides when and where to plant babies–pregnancy surely wasn’t a mistake–but the God of the Universe doesn’t hang out in my kitchen making me shrimp po’boys with remoulade sauce, so I’m starving and fake-contracting and starving.

Next week we find out if the twins are boys or girls or boy-girl, and I’m dead from the suspense. DEAD.

I’ve been freaking out over the logistics of breastfeeding two babies at a time and trying to calculate exactly how much sleep I’ll be able to squeeze in after December, when I’ll be parenting so hard 2 newborns and an eighteen-month old and a four year old; plus trying to manage a ten year old boy whose math homework will officially be beyond me, and a ninth grader who talks faster than the speed of sound can carry words to my ears. Should we hire help? Can I even do this? How do people do this?

How. Do. They. Do. It. How.

Last week my best friend from high school came through Oklahoma on a cross-country road trip with his son. Lemme tell you about Brian: there has never been a more faithful ride-or-die friend in the history of mankind (unless you count Samwise Gamgee but he’s a hobbit so it’d be a little unfair.) It was Brian who came over everyday after school and helped me take care of Cheyenne/eat all my parents’ food. It was Brian that helped me get a D in Trigonometry. It was Brian that sat by me at lunch, walked me to class, drove me home from school, and stuck by me even when I couldn’t do cool stuff like go to parties or football games. It was Brian that made life during high school bearable.

And it was so wonderful to see him again after ten years, and meet one of his little boys for the first time. Even more wonderful was the fact that my family loves and appreciates him and his family as much as I do.

Other than that it’s been a relatively quiet five days around here–we’re smack dab in the middle of church camp week, so Arbor and Lucy are my faithful companions while Mia and Merrick run around in the mountains of Oklahoma living my best life today.

Caleb has been swamped with work and school stuff and projects and home repairs–we roughed it this past Sunday without water due to a minor leak that turned into a major leak in our well pump. He spent the majority of that 105 degree day bent over in a mud hole trying to fix the problem. I cannot say enough times how much I love that man, not because of how hard he works or how much he sacrifices for us, but because he is just so darn cool and funny and dashing and he’s just my best friend in the wide world.

Also, I be getting worked up and emotional about stuff.

I love that guy.

the amazing expanding me

I’ve had a lot of askings as to how I am doing these days, so I’ll begin by saying this: I am healthy.

But it’s bad.

It’s so, so bad.

Twin pregnancy week 16: I’m already toting a medium-sized watermelon. I’m out of breath. My hips crack when I walk or when I shift my weight laying down in bed. I’m getting hot flashes for crying out loud, and I’m no longer just constantly nauseous–I’m throwing up a few times a week for fun, with bouts of wicked acid reflux in between to keep things unpredictable. Massive headaches are a thing. Exhaustion doesn’t begin to describe how tired I am between the hours of 7 am and 9 pm. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m sleepy while I am sleeping.

Speaking of sleep, the pregnancy dreams are vivid and sick. There are always wolf cubs involved, and I seem to wind up with a really cool zipper pouch where a c-section was performed. (Low-key bummed that an actual kangaroo-style zipper pouch is probably not an option.)

I’m so afraid of how stupid big and immobile I’m going to get over the next 4 months. My doctor wants to get these babies out by the second week of December; I can already tell my body will be in complete agreeance with that time frame, and I will have me all seven of my children in my arms well before Christmas Day.

All that said, I’m in good spirits (though the look on my face would suggest otherwise) and the thought of welcoming two healthy little babies into our lives keeps me going, mentally, while burping through my tears on the couch.

And nobody’s a better husband than Caleb, who is thoughtful, attentive, and caring, times two.

Names have been all but officially etched in stone; I expected a lot more pushback on some of my choices but as it turns out, my husband has acquired way cooler tastes over the last 14 years of having children together, and while I still couldn’t get him to embrace Bernadette and Dorothy, I’m pretty happy with what we’ve settled on. (Other names included in the cut list are as follows: Thora, Daisy, Margo, and Cordelia; Hamish, Dominic, and Calder on the boy’s side.) (Caleb finally stopped suggesting Riddick and I couldn’t be happier.)

Sweet times

Nursing a pretty massive late-night-fireworks hangover today so bear with me.

These summer days are great. Arbor hangs out in her underwear from sun up to…sun up. Her hair is permanently tangled and when I try to brush it, she states indignantly “This is ME!” (Same as when I ask her to put on clothes.) She’s a wild spirit, strong-willed and ferocious and I’m fast losing the ability to manage her in general. Summer is made for kids like this; she has a sprinkler, sidewalk chalk, popsicles, and a living room full of toys. She roams freely between the house and the porch and the front yard and her favorite climbing tree–no cold weather to stop her, no coats or shoes to worry about. It’s good to be Arbor Joy.

Lucy is the perfect child. I cannot describe her any other way. She’s cool and calm and smiley and cuddly; she takes naps and sleeps 12 hours straight at night. She eats everything I make for her. She gives slobbery kisses whenever the mood strikes her. She babbles and shrieks. She is a bit adventurous and climb-y, but this is nothing we can’t handle and the big kids are a humongous help when it comes to keeping an eye on the little ones.

Merrick is an antsy little ten-year-old. He’s forever designing/inventing/constructing/DE-constructing, and I can’t keep him out of the tools (that he’s probably not supposed to use). As much as I hate the inevitable messes that come with these projects, I admire his energy and I marvel at his creativity. He’s the kindest, most gentle and patient little boy I’ve ever known, and that’s not just mom-bragging; I’m in actual awe of his superior big-brothering skills.

Mia stays fairly busy with softball, and workouts, and church camps and get-togethers with friends, and texting her friends, and being lost in her music. She’s so tall and strong and beautiful that I can hardly believe she belongs to me–that she is the same sparkly-eyed little preschooler climbing trees in her Mary Janes and camo shorts just last week.

I’m nothing except utterly exhausted these days. There is no Toni anymore, only a factory running on fumes to turn food into babies. I’ve become completely anti-social: too tired to leave the couch, too much in a brain fog to carry on a conversation lasting longer than five minutes. I experience a number of incredibly uncomfortable twin pregnancy symptoms, and I’m happy to deal with all of them and more as long as the babies are alive and growing–which they are.

Pregnancy this time around, though, to be clear: it’s physically hard. Having a baby at 24 is infinitely different than having one (or two) at 38. My body is already working double time on producing those wonderful hormones that loosen your hips and wreck your back, according to my doctor. Five full-term pregnancies under my belt and all my parts are like “oh, this again? I’m on it.” So here I am just barely entering the second trimester yet feeling (and looking–yes, looking) at least six months along.

We should find out the answer to the big question at our next ultrasound within the month. On daughters vs sons, I have zero preference–losing babies will do that to you. We have names chosen in any case, and plans for their nursery, and a switch on the horizon for Lucy (upstairs she goes–an official big-girl move).

I want to burn these days into my memory. Part of me wishes these kids would stay this way forever; the other part of me knows there are exciting things to come for each of them as they grow older, and I look forward to that. Our family has changed so much over the past fourteen years, and it continues to do so. I love it, I’m thankful for it, and I’m ready to embrace the next chapter.

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