Pirate’s Code: The Adventures of Mickey Matson. If You Live In Michigan And Have Kids – You MUST See This Movie!

If you’re from here, you get it.  Michigan flies under the radar sometimes as having a distinct ‘feel’ to it – but it’s there. Michigan-ness. 

It’s not often you get a surge of Michigan pride while watching a movie but it happened tonight. We had the priveledge (I don’t say that lightly) of attending the world premiere of the new movie Pirate’s Code: The Adventures of Mickey Matson.

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It was at a benefit for the Grand Rapids Public Museum (where the ‘Real Pirates’ exhibit is opening soon!) in the Meijer Theatre which locals will recall is where the Mighty Wurlitzer lives.  We sat down and the Wurlitzer was honking away while we waited for the show to begin which kicked off the evening nicely.

My kids are big “Spy Kids” fans and this movie was right in line with that.  The kids are the stars, the savers of the day – the ones with the plan to get everyone to safety.  The movie is very entertaining and kind of has two different story lines going on which eventually converge into quite a dramatic finish. There are pirates, and rocket shoes, and a mad scientist. It’s not rated; but I would put it at a high G or low PG.  There is nothing inuendo-ish or inappropriate in this movie at all.

After the movie we got to meet some of the cast.  They were all exceptionally nice, especially that Mickey Matson boy.  I understand he is from West Michigan, so that explains that.

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You’ll recognize some of these names of the actors:

  • Christopher Lloyd
  • Frank Collison
  • Tia Carrere
  • Kenton Duty
  • Savannah Jade
  • Francesca DeRosa
  • Derek Brandon

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During the movie you will also recognize cameo appearances from Biggby Coffee, Spectrum Health, and the U.S.S Silversides (that submarine in Muskegeon). It was filmed in Manistee. The producers are primarily from Michigan and brought a lot of our home state into the movie.  And speaking of Spectrum Health – 100% of the ticket sales for this movie at Celebration Cinema in Grand Rapids will be donated to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.  We are going this weekend; my kids want to see it again already!  I don’t know how long it will run for, so if you want to see it I would try and go soon.  Your kids will dig it – and you’ll be SO proud to be raising them in Michigan!

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It’s #FreakyFusion At Monster High!

This is a compensated post on behalf of Lunchbox and Monster High Freaky Fusion.

My daughter’s taste in toys never ceases to amaze me. Just when I think I have her figured out; she throws me a curve ball and starts asking about Monster High and the “Freaky Fusion” dolls.

Um, what? I had NO idea what she was talking about!

As with all things, I researched them to make sure they were appropriate (she’s 9) and while they are a little – different – they aren’t anything I’d be uncomfortable with her owning.They are high school ‘ghouls’ who attend Monster High (which looks like a haunted house).
 Its #FreakyFusion At Monster High!

These are the Newest Monster High Dolls…say hello to the newest students at Monster High #FreakyFusion. The ‘ghoulfriends’ are named Clawvenus™, Cleolei™, Dracubecca™ and Lagoonafire™.  Available at Walmart.com; they all have different personalities; and are a result of some type of genetic monster fusion.

  • Clawvenus™ is made up of Clawdeen Wolf® and Venus Mc Flytrap® – Clawvenus™ is “fiercely fusionable and ferociously beautiful.”
  • Cleolei™  is a fusion of the Mummy Cleo de Nile® with the werecat ancestry of Toralei®, Cleolei™.
  • Dracubecca™ has mixed Vampire heritage of Draculaura® with the Mad Scientist ancestry of Robecca Steam®, Dracubecca™ is scary sweet but still attached to rocket-powered boots.
  • Lagoonafire™ is a fusion of the Sea Monster Lagoona Blue® with the Chinese Dragon ancestry of Jinafire Long™ Lagoonafire™. She loves to surf and swim like she’s (literally) on fire.

The Monster High® Freaky Fusion™ ghouls are helping Frankie look for clues about her past and learn more about her family ‘scaritage’. They inadvertently set off a time machine that takes them back to the year 1814 where they meet Sparky, a misguided, teen scientist obsessed with the creation of life. Sparky follows Frankie back to modern day Monster High, causing a lab accident in which eight ghouls fuse into four new monsters.

Seems legit.  It makes as much sense as any of the toys/card games/video games my 11 year old son plays.  I just nod and pretend to understand. Anyone else have a kid who is a fan of Monster High? What else do I need to know?

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mike’s hard pink lemonade – a reminder to relax and slow down!

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for mike’s hard lemonade. I received a Circle K gift card to facilitate this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

I live on a lake now.  It’s a big deal to me, because even when the day is a bit on the crappy side; ‘going to the lake’ means walking out my back door.  I am almost fairly certain that relaxing and watching swans hang out and watching fish jump up while I have a drink and a snack will never, ever get old. Yesterday I swung by Circle K and picked up some mike’s ®  hard pink lemonade and fixin’s to make some snack mix, then kicked it on the back porch for a while.

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You have to grab these moments to just relax. It’s a hard lesson and one that I learn, and forget, and learn, and forget again. Moms always get the job of running around, keeping all of the parts moving, getting everyone where they need to be – with the various papers, sack lunches, appropriate footwear, and sports gear that our families need for all of their activities.  Sometimes we all just need to have a few moments just to relax and recharge. May I suggest a refreshing beverage?

Every year since 2009 mike’s ® releases its seasonal pink lemonade and it’s a good reminder to just take a few minutes for yourself and slow down.   The pink lemonade flavor is only available for a short while, and is part of a continuing effort to support the Breast Cancer Research Fund. They have already donated over a million dollars to the fund; and I have personally benefited from breast cancer research as have many of you.  October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month so it’s a win win; a relaxing moment for you and awareness raised for this important cause.

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The lemonade itself is sort of sweet and tart at the same time; and goes great with a salty crunchy snack mix.

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They use real lemons – but I am not entirely certain how they make them pink. I am certain that they make them tasty. We all need to take a little break once in a while. Join me and the other folks who are enjoying #mymikesmoment by following along on Facebook and Twitter!



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The Most Unlikely Golfers Attend The LPGA

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Today we had the great pleasure of joining in all the fun of tournament week at the Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft.  I was really excited to be invited, because the driving mission of the Meijer LPGA Classic tournament is focused on feeding the hungry, with all proceeds benefiting the Meijer Simply Give program, which, as you likely already know, replenishes the shelves of food pantries throughout the Midwest.

There are some fun events yet to come this week; check them out on the tournament’s ‘events’ page:

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The event we attended today was the Meijer LPGA Kids Day presented by Johnson & Johnson, where the kids were able to participate in a clinic with LPGA Tour pros.

Here’s the thing:

My kids don’t golf.

These are city kids. They have never been on a golf course, much less to a country club in their lives.  Maybelle was reluctant and grouchy at first, but rocked her outfit nonetheless; completely oblivious to all of the kids in polo shirts and long, tasteful shorts around her.

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There were different stations, grouped by age, where the kids were able to get some instruction from the pros and then give it their best shot which in both A.P. and Maybelle’s case was surprisingly good.

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Our hosts did an amazing job of making sure that all of the kids got a chance to take at least a few swings at each station before we shuffled off to the next one.

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When the clinic was over, we were shuttled over to yet another country club where we got to sit in the – grandstand? A big tent like thing with drinks and snacks, right on the 19th hole.  We had a shusher (given the fact that our tent like thing was filled with kids, we probably should have had a few) who told us when to zip it so the golfers could concentrate.  I tried to ask the shusher how much they would charge to come home with me so I could get some things done, but sadly, they were completely dedicated to their jobs on the course.

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When we decided it was time to move on and meander around the tournament for a while, A.P. was reluctant to join us.  Golf had really taken hold of him, and he was completely into the game.  Sounding like a 45 year old, he said “You know, I really enjoyed that” as we made our way back to the bus.

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I did too.  It’s fun to watch your kids discover something new and get interested in an activity that gets them outside and is not known for contact injuries or concussions.


My kids didn’t golf.

Thanks for hosting us today, Meijer. We love you (and your Simply Give program!) (and now; golf!).

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Guardians Of The Galaxy Review (Is It OK For Tweens, And Other Useless Commentary)

We are at the tween age; where eye rolls pepper conversations, but holding my hand is still not verboten. It’s hard to know when A.P. is ready, is not ready, or is already over most of the entertainment options available to us.

I wasn’t sure about Guardians of The Galaxy, which opened today. I hate action movies, personally, but thought A.P. might like it.  He’s kind of a rule follower; so since the movie is PG 13  we talked before we even decided to go about what he might hear and that there may be some inappropriate language. We were able to attend a screening last week and in my professional, mother of a tween opinion; this movie is fine for almost 11 year old boys. The swear words are not the worst of the worst and there are maybe 5 or 6 total.  That’s an estimate.  I didn’t count, but it wasn’t excessive. If you don’t want your kids to see movies with any swearing, skip this one.  There were some ‘adult’ jokes, but out of the side of my 3D glasses I snuck a few peeks and they seemed to have flown right over his head.

The movie is REALLY funny, in a snarky way. It mocks the superhero genre a little bit, but not so much that it’s a parody. I do not generally laugh out loud during movies, more like a little chuckle. I had some pretty good belly laughs going during this one. *Disclaimer: I also thought “Dude, Where’s My Car” and “I Love You Man” were hysterical so you might want to take that into consideration.

The best thing about this movie though is the soundtrack.  It is THE BEST.  The main character has an old school Sony Walkman and listens to something called “Awesome Mix”.  It’s this great 70′s lineup.  I don’t want to share the list with you because the element of surprise when the songs hit is absolutely perfect but just be on standby to start rockin‘ out.

The movie is about friendship and forgiveness.  And saving the galaxy, but mostly friendship and forgiveness.

As far as the actual story, I don’t know; blah blah blah something about a stone that is good, or bad, or something and the good guys want it. Or maybe the bad guys want it. Yeah, the bad guys want it and they will destroy the galaxy with it. So they fight and fly around in spaceships and it is SO SWEET in 3D. Obviously not having the foggiest idea of what the story line in no way impedes the enjoyment of the movie.

Here is a trailer, but I would really recommend seeing it in 3D. I usually do not like 3D movies because they make me feel like I am going to barf. There was none of that; it’s the perfect movie for 3D and I saw A.P. trying to subtly reach his hands out and ‘catch’ things a couple of times.

Have I helped you? Have I confused you? Do you want to hear me sing 70′s songs? You’re in luck – I take requests!


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New Year’s Resolutions, Coupon Savings, Healthy Essentials, And A Twitter Party!

disclosure2 New Years Resolutions, Coupon Savings, Healthy Essentials, And A Twitter Party!

JJ1 New Years Resolutions, Coupon Savings, Healthy Essentials, And A Twitter Party!
Have you given up on your New Year’s Resolutions yet? I haven’t – but that’s because I didn’t actually make any.  If I had, rest assured I would likely be failing miserably by now.  Most people, normal people, tend to make resolutions about health.  Are you one of them? One of those normal people? Well good.  If you sign up on the Johnson & Johnson HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® site in January, you can get over $45 in coupons.
It’s like a two-for-one deal if you also resolved to save money.

It’s somewhat unlikely that you made a resolution to attend more Twitter parties, but if you did I am TOTALLY going to make your day.  Even if you didn’t; you should really hang out at this one. It’s a Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies Twitter party to talk about HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® for the New Year, resolutions, family wellness and how to score great deals on health and hygiene products
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Here is what you need to know:

When: Tuesday, January 14, 1 p.m. ET

Hashtag: #Moms4JNJConsumer

Prizes: They will randomly award 15 prizes throughout the party, from all eligible correct responses to trivia questions. Each prize includes an assortment of Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® products with an estimated retail value of $50.

Prize Eligibility: No purchase necessary. Entrants must be legal residents of the 50 United States + D.C. 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited.

Hosts: @theMotherhood, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann, @TheMotherhood25

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My Little Angel

This post is sponsored by The Breakfast Project. I did receive compensation for sharing my story, however, all opinions are my own. 

My little girl stood in the kitchen waiting for me to pin up her hair and get her tights on.  This is a big day, not just for her, but for all of us.  I was not raised in a church but I am bringing up my son and daughter in the Catholic faith tradition.  Maybelle is going to be an angel in the Christmas pageant at our church.  Her big brother is just as excited for the event as she is. He has on his best outfit and has tucked a napkin in his shirt collar and has set the table for himself and his sister to have milk and cereal.

She reminds me of my sister when we were little.  He reminds me of myself – the older sibling looking out for the younger one, trying to help them stay calm.  She has the pre-performance jitters and doesn’t want to eat her breakfast. Fortunately I can get her to drink some milk on the ride to the church, and I know she’ll be fine with a little protein to keep her energy up.  One 8 ounce glass of milk has more protein than an egg! We were in good shape for the show.

The angel costumes were very pretty!  And just like how each child is different, each costume was different.  My little angel had put pink and purple sparkles on her wings and had fancy white shoes to wear.  She made a pin for me wear with some of her sparkles.  It is our her way of creating a little mother-daughter connection so she can feel secure during the play.

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We arrived at the church and I could tell she was getting excited and feeling great!  The kids were in the hall near the sanctuary putting on their wings and the last details of their costumes.  They stood in line for the Christian Education teacher to put some blush and glitter on their faces, and to give them a last-minute confidence pep talk.  My daughter ran up to her other little angel friends.  Some were glittery, some fluffy, some shiny, some tall, some small.  But they all had on feathery, milky white wings and looked adorable.

Showtime!  My husband stood at the end of the pew crouched down with his video camera.  He wanted to catch every detail of the pageant.

The performance went very well and the kids received a standing ovation which was initiated by my, son who clapped and cheered the loudest.  After the performance was over he gave her a bouquet of flowers and said in big-brother style, “Good job.”

She was proud.  We all were proud!

 I’m thankful to the Protein Fight Club for sponsoring this post. Milk is a great way for kids to get the protein and other nutrients they need to be angels, shepherds, wise men – or whatever the day brings. Find out more and keep up with the Protein Fight Club on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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First The Cow Eats The Grass, That’s How Milk Gets In Your Glass {Cookbook and Cuisinart Panini Maker Giveaway!}

The United Diary Industry of Michigan provided me with a farm tour and thank you gifts for sharing this information with you and will fulfill the winner’s prize.  

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I’ve taken my kids to Dairy Discovery at Swiss Lane farms many, many times.  It’s an amazing opportunity for them to get up close and personal with an actual cow.
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But before a few weeks ago; I had never gone by myself.  And that’s probably legit; I mean – what would a grown up do there? Well, for one a grown up could feed a baby cow with a giant baby bottle and not have to let their kids do it.

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Or eat a fancy panini lunch.

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Or go on a hayride.

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Or check out the latest in milking technology; an automated milker the cows can visit whenever they feel like it because they get a special, healthy snack when they go.  I laughed so hard when Annie Link, the calf manager and event organizer told us that one cow loved the treats so much she visited the milker 24 times in one day.  They had to dial back a little on her treats; but I totally identified with her.  I like a good treat myself.  I AM WITH YOU, TREAT-LOVING COW!

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Or talk about CAFOs. (The needle screeches across the record… WHAT?!)

Yeah I said it. CAFOs.  The image in my mind was of sick, miserable animals being fed sawdust.  You too? Even though I had been to Dairy Discovery several times I never thought of it as a CAFO.  But this fourth generation, constantly innovating, public educating dairy farm is exactly that.  A Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. And you know what? These cows aren’t grass-fed like the title of this post implies.  I know that bothers some people and personally, I prefer to eat meat from grass fed cows but these are dairy cows.  They are fed with a special mix of food that keeps them (and their milk) healthy.  If you take a multi-vitamin and try to eat a balanced diet; you’ll understand.

If part of your healthy diet includes cheese, you may be a fan of my little friend, the panini maker.  It is what makes grilled cheese an actual dinner instead of a lunch pretending to be something it’s not.  Pair it with a cookbook about amazing sandwiches and you are ON FIRE, my friend. As luck and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan would have it – I am actually giving away both a Cuisinart Panini Maker, a cookbook, a cooler bag, and an apron! You can enter below – good luck!

Enter here. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Are You Curious – Like Curious George?

My good friend and first blogging buddy Just Jilly has a ‘thing’ for Curious George, so I asked her to share some new information about the cute little monkey with you.

disclosure: This post is sponsored by PBS Kids, but all content and opinions are my own

Ten years into this parenting gig, and I have now used the television to babysit three different kids. I’m sure there is a better way to phrase that, but you’re a mom. Let’s just keep it real.

The shows my four year old watches are very different than the shows my ten year old watched. I didn’t realize how quickly cartoons come and go until I had kids. Actually I should have remembered from my own childhood (Snorks anyone?). But it still always surprises me when the shows one of my kids couldn’t get enough of are gone when my next kid gets to the same age.

The other problem is finding shows that my ten year old will tolerate that are still appropriate for a four year old. They are few and far between. This can make a Saturday morning more than a little bit challenging.

But one that never fails, is Curious George. Something about that cute little monkey is timeless I guess. It has been around for all three of my kids and is as popular as ever. In fact, when we are at Universal Studios this summer, Curious George and the man with the yellow hat were some of the most popular characters we met.

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So in our house, we are all excited about the upcoming Curious George Halloween special, Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest. It premieres Monday, October 28th on PBS Kids (check your local station for times). Halloween is a dicey time when it comes to shows, because I never know if shows will take the scary thing too far. But I can always trust PBS and that little monkey to get it exactly right.

 Jill Anderson moved to Grand Rapids from Chicago in 2005, and while she refuses to point at her palm to show people where she lives, she is happy to call Grand Rapids her home. The author of Just Jilly, she is a stay at home mom of three children who, along with her devoted husband, have all gotten sucked into her little internet hobby. They all probably wish she would exercise a bit more discretion as she shares their life’s ups, downs and in-betweens with anyone willing to read it. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook as well. 

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UVA – It’s Not Just A Southern College Anymore!

This post is sponsored by The Motherhood and The Vision Council.  All opinions are my own.

As many of you know, I went to the University of Georgia. Where it is hot. And sunny. Very, very sunny. Remembering to wear sunglasses there is not a problem, because squinting is unattractive and causes wrinkles.

Or so they said.

When I hear “UVA”, I think we are talking about the University of Virginia.  A fine school. Not as fine as UGA, of course, but still. It will do.

Last week I listened to a briefing about eye safety at a very appropriate time; World Sight Day.  Yes, it is a real thing and yes, it matters. A lot. They told us that 40% of adults don’t wear eye protection in the sun.  I am mediocre about it now that I live in Michigan, but my (Arizona Boy) husband is fastidious.  He insists that he needs $100 sunglasses to protect his eyes.  I barely need $100 anything, so I just wear cheap ones, lose them, get more cheap ones, and repeat.  Our kids have inherited my sunglass losing habit and are equally mediocre in the eye protection department.  There is NO WAY I am buying them $100 sunglasses just to lose!

During the briefing, it clicked for me that UV rays were not just UV rays.  They are UVA and UVB rays, and they aren’t talking about the University of Virginia.  Rays are actually RADIATION.

I know.  I should have realized it, but I didn’t.  All of a sudden I too wanted $100 sunglasses for myself and my kids.  The Vision Council offered some ways to protect your eyes.  You know. FROM RADIATION.

  • Always wear UV protective sunglasses
  • Look for a sticker or label indicating UVA/UVB protection
  • Buy from a credible source (This would not include a street vendor in Chicago’s Chinatown, in case you were wondering.  I checked.)
  • Choose a pair that you like, and that are comfortable
  • Keep sunglasses accessible
  • Don’t lose them. (OK that tip is actually just from me, but still – important; yes?)

The kids and I set out to find some sunglasses.  Thankfully, one thing they also covered in the briefing was that price wasn’t a huge factor.  There are some very expensive sunglasses that do not protect your eyes from RADIATION, and some inexpensive ones that do.  UVA/UVB protection is what you’re looking for:

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The kids found some with UVA/UVB protection that were ‘awesome’ and comfortable.  I felt like a Good Mom for teaching them what to look for when buying sunglasses.  It was a win all around.

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The briefing also covered the importance of routine eye exams, which I am fantastic about and my husband is terrible about.  And this, my friends, is why God gave us two parents.

Eventually all of your eye care needs will be covered by one or the other.

Another thing I hadn’t thought much about was how overall health affects your vision.  Bad news for those of us trying to justify a fairly lazy existence – maintaining a healthy lifestyle also helps to maintain healthy vision:

  • Eat dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach, and foods with omega-3 fatty acids
  • Maintain a healthy weight, which reduces your risk of diabetes, which can lead to diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma
  • Keep your blood pressure under control because hypertension is linked to eye disease
  • Exercise, because people with active lifestyles are 70% less like to develop AMD
  • Quit smoking, because it can cause AMD, cataracts and optic nerve damage
  • Wash your hands to avoid risk of eye infection
The briefing was really enlightening (I am refusing to say ‘eye opening’) and I’m happy to share what I learned.  If you want to know more about vision health and diseases, check out The Vision Council. If you want to know more about low vision, (vision impairment) a great website explains it. There are some great sunglass options here, and if you need an eye care provider take a look at Think About Your Eyes.


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