Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Ice cream for everyone... but me!

Some days are crazy.  Some days my kids are whining "I don't want to eat that again!"  Some days I rock it.  Like yesterday.  I picked up the kids and said "Mom made you ice cream and chocolate donates today!"  Yeah, they screamed like kids do when they see the ice cream truck turning the corner to their house.

So dessert last night was ice cream topped with chopped up donuts and melted fudge.  Morgan added some raspberries to hers too.

I found this amazing recipe for ice cream.  You can check it out here.  I borrowed a friends ice cream maker and it was awesome.  This looks like the closest model to the ice cream maker I used.  25 minutes is all it took to have coconut milk ice cream.  I made vanilla because the kids loved it and I didn't want to experiment on flavors... yet.

I also made donuts.  I used this recipe but didn't have a donut pan.  I have never liked extra kitchen appliances or gadgets as they are just clutter and I don't use them... until this past year!  I still don't want extra things tho so I decided to try my baby cakes maker before I ordered the donut pan or this donut maker.  So glad I did!  These turned out amazing in there.  I just filled the holes and cooked for 5 minutes.  Then I drizzled melted fudge on top for some "frosting."

For those of you that didn't see on my social media pages I found some ice cream in the store that my kids can eat!  It is called Screamin Brothers.  Right now it is only available in Canada.  They offer ice cream as well as fruit bars.  My kids love it!  They have them in small containers as well so that when we are on the road we can stop for ice cream in many grocery stores.  Now... they just need to start selling it in the states!

Spring is finally coming around here which has made my kids crazy for cold treats for some reason.  So another recipe I whipped up for them were "Marshmallow popsicles."  I basically just made a smoothie and put it in popsicle forms.  The "marshmallow" flavor was simply frozen bananas, coconut milk and a splash of maple syrup.  Blended and filled the the popsicles half full.  Then I made the same thing but added cocoa.  Blended and filled the popsicles all the way so that they had chocolate/marshmallow popsicles.  They loved them and they are so easy!

If you are wanting to change your eating habits but feel its so overwhelming... Ive been there.  I know exactly how you feel.  I am still making changes.  Just take one step at a time.  Make it your goal to start sliding the scale from processed and junk food to just a little bit more whole clean food.  You don't have to completely change your food in one week.  You will get a lot of resistance that way from your family as well as yourself.  One change at a time.  It's your life.  Your journey.  I am just here to show you what I have learned in hopes it helps you because you are worth it!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

You had me at Pancakes

Ok so I posted the other day that forming habits are amazing when it comes to your health and fitness journey.  I have an internal alarm clock that wakes me up every morning before my actual alarm clock goes off to work out.  Now I thought this was from habit but I got to thinking... it might be the pancakes waking me up!

Its a real smack in the face tho when I realize its a day that I don't get my pancakes!  I only get them 4 days out of the week at the moment (only after weight lifting).  They are sooo good.  Before I went to sleep last night I told my husband that I was dreaming of my pancakes that I don't get in the morning!

So you want a recipe now don't you?  Well of course I have one for you!  Now I started out with one pancake that included cottage cheese but really wanted to cut out the dairy so I altered the recipe.  The one with cottage cheese tasted much better but I loved both of them.  Then I found my latest obsession... Angel food pancakes!  Anyone else love Angel food cake batter?  OMG I could make a bowl of it and eat the batter.  All of it.  By myself.  I love it!

Original Protein Pancakes
1/3 C Old fashioned Oats
1/3 C egg whites
1/4 C Cottage Cheese
1/2 Scoop Protein Powder

I blended these in my Ninja shake bottle.  Spread some coconut oil on a pan and fried 2 pancakes.  Then I added 1/4 C Blueberries and 1.2 ounces of maple syrup to get the macros that I needed.

Adjusted Protein Pancakes
1/3 C egg whites
1/3 C Old fashioned Oats
1/2 Scoop protein powder

I blended these in my Ninja shake bottle.  Spread some coconut oil on a pan and fried 2 pancakes.  Then I added 1/4 C Blueberries and 1.2 ounces of maple syrup to get the macros that I needed.

Angel Food Pancakes
3 egg whites
1/2 scoop protein powder
1/2 cream of tartar
6 drops stevia

This requires a little bit more work and the reason why I think that is I have to bring out my hand mixer but it is so worth it.  I beat the egg whites (they suggest doing this at room temperature but I do them cold because that requires a lot of thinking before my early morning workout) then add the rest of the ingredients and stir gently until it is all combined.  Now I have baked this in a glass bread pan that was greased with coconut oil at 350 for 16 minutes but this last weekend when I was stuck in a hotel I didn't have an oven but I was determined to have these so I tried frying them like I would an omelet.  Turned out great and it didn't take as long!  The oven version does give it a little bit more fluff and I am able to get the kids lunches ready when I have it in the oven so it will just depend on the morning as to how I will cook them.  Then of course I add my blueberries and syrup.  MMMMM soooo good!

Note: I have a vitamix and the ninja blender.  I find myself loving this blender more than the ninja!  So if you are like me and saving for a vitamin I suggest trying out this ninja first.  It is much cheaper and does just as good of a job as the vitamix.

A little random information for you on blueberries is that they provide the following healthy benefits:

1. High in Antioxidants (prevents against chronic disease, diabetes and cell damage)
2. Help Fight Cancer
3. Amp up weight loss (you want some now don't you ;)
4. Boost brain healthy (who doesn't want to win at the next trivia night?)
5. Alleviate inflammation (hello autoimmune diseases!)
6. Support digestion
7. Promote heart health

I often add blueberries to my children smoothies so they will reap from these benefits as well.  They are not a big fan of blueberries on their own but they eat them... they just don't know it ;)

(Source: Dr. Axe)

Why Wild vs Conventional?
Wild blueberries contains as least twice as many antioxidants than conventional.  Wild is smaller in size, sweeter and tangier.  I have not found wild blueberries fresh in my area but I have found them in the freezer section at most grocery stores.  Costco in Lethbridge carries a large bag of them but I have not found the wild ones in the Kalispell store.  

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Traveling + Healthy food + Kids

  • 3 Cups quick cooking oats (you can use old fashion if you want a chewier version)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C walnut butter (or choice of nut butter)
  • 3/4 C honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • Instructions: 
    1. Preheat oven to 325°
    2. Melt honey and walnut butter
    3. In a separate bowl mix oats, salt and cinnamon
    4. Add vanilla in honey and butter mixture
    5. Combine all ingredients
    6. Layout on a baking pan (I use natural wax paper)
    7. Bake for 10 minutes then toss
    8. Bake for another 5-10 minutes.  Watch carefully as it may burn if you let it bake too long.

    Wednesday, February 21, 2018

    Tips on competition prep (or just healthy eating) and traveling

    We have had to miss many weddings in the last 8 years.  There has always been something.  Like when my sister in law got married Ethan was in the NICU.  Yep we were able to leave.  Then there were things like my husbands job was intensely busy at the time of my cousins wedding last summer. There were about 8 other weddings that we missed.  So when I found out my cousin was engaged in December I was excited.  Then they planned the wedding for February!  What?!?  I knew I was going to be on a strict plan for competition so how the heck was I going to make it?  Not to mention my kids are still on a very strict eating plan.  I was determined not to let competition affect our life tho... so bring on the challenge!

    The night before we left I prepped.  And prepped.  It was work but so worth it. Here is what I prepped for myself.

    Chicken: I use my instant pot for chicken ALL of the time.  This is the instant pot I have and highly recommend it!  It's actually all I use for instant pot for these days!  I put enough chicken in there to last my meals for 5 days.  I cover them with water, throw some freeze dried garlic in there, close the lid and vent, push poultry (all this means is high pressure) and set to 10 minutes for frozen chicken or 7 minutes for fresh.  So easy.  Once it cools off a bit I measure 3 oz out and threw them in zip lock baggies.  My kids like chicken too so I made a few extra with a teriyaki sauce they like.

    Sweet potatoes:  Here is where I learned something.  So I cut my sweet potatoes using the pampered chef mandolin slicer (careful because this thing is sharp and if you don't use the guard you could end up in the ER like I did!)  I set it to 2 (when I am at home I have cut them on the 1 setting and air fried them with ground turkey meat and spinach for a taco salad).  (You can get the one I have from pampered chef here or this one looks awesome from amazon.) then measure out the sweet potatoes and stick them in baggies.  I should have cooked them first.  I don't mind eating them cold.  I was able to stop at truck stops an microwave my food but really I would prefer just to eat it cold and not have to use the truck stop.

    Brussel Sprouts:  I used these for some of my veggies for meals.  I cooked them in the pampered chef steamer (you can click on that link or my friend Michelle can hook you up thru PC directly here)
    and measured them out to 1 cup and threw them in a baggie.  I then tossed seasoning on them and they were ready to go.  Again I don't mind eating these cold.

    Spinach: Other days I would just have tossed spinach in my chicken baggie.  When I would go to eat I would toss some spices or dressing on it and eat it out of the bag.  You could add veggies in here too but I did not.

    Dressing:  One of my new favorite dressings is this one from Braggs

    Steak: Some nights I get steak so I use the Schwans steak and blacken it.  I put a few seasonings on it and grill it on the oven for a few minutes followed by the oven at 350 until its done to my liking.  Usually about 8-10 minutes.  I then cut it up and measure it out and toss it in baggies.  I did spinach with with this too for a steak salad.

    Onions:  I love onions.  My husband hates them.  I stopped making them because he hated them so bad but he's drinking wine while I am on prep (and can't drink wine) so I am eating my dang onions!  I just simply slice them and put them in a pan with water.  The water ends up evaporating and cartelizing the onions a bit.  I tossed this into some of my chicken or steak bags as well.

    Protein shakes:  Love me some protein shakes!  I actually took my immersion blender because I needed something small (although I did travel with my instant pot lol).  This is the blender I have and love it!  Some meals I do a shake with a frozen banana (frozen is key!  it makes it so frothy and delicious!) but others its just a shake with water.  Here is one of my favorite protein shakes (I love the chocolate chip mint, chocolate peanut butter, vanilla ice cream, and banana.  I have heard chocolate raspberry is good too.)  I have also tried Ideal Lean.  I used to do a pumpkin spice one in the fall by mixing vanilla protein with a tablespoon of pumpkin, a bunch of pumpkin spice and sometimes a frozen banana.  So yummy!  Last spring I also did Her Whey blueberry muffin protein shake that was delicious too.  If you click this link you can get $10 off your order from  I have order Her Whey, the ISO Mutant shakes and amnicore amino acids in white grape (so good!)

    Apples:  I took an apple slicer like this one but I also took my apple dealer/corer/slicer.  I like to cut up my apple in the morning and throw it in a baggie with cinnamon or pumpkin spice.  It makes me feel more like a lady eating it this way vs a cow chowing on a whole apple lol.  Sometimes I use pineapple too.  I just cut it up fresh and measure it out into baggies.

    Almonds: I love dry roasted almonds!  I measure them out and throw them in a baggie.  Careful if you don't measure these because I don't know about you but I could eat 6 days worth of fat in just almonds!  I have also made almonds in the past where I put them in the crockpot with some olive oil and seasonings and warm them.  So good!

    Eggs: Some days I just have egg whites, some an egg mixed with egg whites.  I have found the easiest way to do this is use a muffin pan and measure them out in each compartment.  I put spinach and seasonings in them (onion powder, garlic powder, ground rosemary, ground thyme or flavor gods in everything or bacon.)  I then bake them until they are done.  Usually 350 for 30 minutes but I check on them towards the end.  Once they are cooled off I put two in a baggie for a meals serving.

    Oatmeal:  I decide how many days I am going to make of oatmeal and cook that amount on the stove (old fashioned is my favorite).  Once it is done I measure it out in equal parts in the muffin tins.  I then throw 1/2 TBSP walnut butter (did you know you can make your own nut butter and its super simple?) 1 tsp pumpkin, cinnamon and pumpkin spice.  Sometimes I add some liquid stevia drops in there too.  I then bake them usually for the same time as the eggs because if I do 3 days at a time I have 6 muffins of eggs and 6 muffins for oatmeal.  I put 2 in a baggie for each days serving.  Tip: for the eggs and oatmeal I use a silicone muffin pan like this one so I don't have to oil the compartments.

    Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    Get your sexy partner back

    Last January I started working out because I was scared.  Scared of what was to come with my son.  The school suggested he had cerebral palsy and once you start googling that it will scare a mom.  I was going to need strength for that journey.  What I didn't know is how my life changes would inspire those around me.  Especially my husband.  When I met my husband 12 years ago he was just getting back from deployment.  He was ripped.  He was also excited to be back to the states where he could order pizza when he wanted and we made sure to hit up all the local bars... in the city that has the most bars per capita LOL!  Well that catches up to anyone!

    So for Mother's Day I wanted Ashley Horner's ab workout, crux.  I really didn't want to buy it tho if I wasn't going to follow thru with it.  I also was hoping one day I might see my husbands abs that were there for the first week of dating!  So I asked if he would do it with me.  He hated doing abs but it was for Mothers Day so he said yes.  Thats when it all started.  Monday-Friday we did abs after the kids went to bed.  It was a new tradition.  If we missed a day we made up for it on the weekend but we stayed on track.

    When he started noticing the changes to my body from my dedication of working out 5-6 times a week and tracking my food he decided he wanted to take it a step further.  He started doing cardio and weight lifting.  With my son's diagnosis of Executive functioning disorder (found out it wasn't CP!) I started researching more into nutrition.  Everything I would find out I would later tell my husband about my findings.  He found it as interesting as I did.  He really started to take control of his own health and found himself 35 pounds lighter and feeling amazing.

    I've tried in the past to get him on board with working out and eating healthy but it never worked.  I wanted him to be around for the kids.  I didn't want to see his health slowly deteriorate and not be physically fit to do the things he wanted.  After losing the weight he did a few long hikes and mountain climbing with some friends (someone had to watch the kids so I stayed behind) and then we did a 17 mile hike in the Grand Tetons this summer while my Mom and Step Dad watched the kids.  That hike was full of amazing views but when we completed the hike the feeling of accomplishment was exhilarating.  Once my husband got active too we started pushing the kids.  Before my sons diagnosis we would have never attempted hikes with the kids as were afraid of many falls that could lead into discouragement or broken bones.  After we changed his diet tho we took the kids on many hikes as long as 6 miles.  They did amazing.  Now I'm not saying there wasn't any whining because there was.  We just got creative with them and offered them money or treats (screen time or doing something fun with us) if they found the most spider webs, or if they found a bunny, dear, bear etc there were points.  It helped get them interested and enjoying the trip.  How are our kids supposed to know if they like hiking if we don't take them more than once.  Being active is so beneficial for the whole family no matter what the age.  I have never heard anyone say "Geez I wish I was not so physically fit" or "Dang I wish I wouldn't have eaten all that healthy food."  We have one body.  One.  It is the vehicle that you have been given to do all the things that you want to do in life.  How do you want to cross the finish line?

    If you want others around you to be healthy don't nag.  Show them.  Inspire them.  Be the example.  Don't point fingers telling them they need to exercise or eat different foods.  Cook healthy foods.  Purchase healthy foods to have in the house.  Invite them to workout with you.  Don't be discouraged if they do their own thing.  It may take awhile.  Keep taking care of you and show them how great it feels to take care of yourself.  It will pay off!

    Check out this transformation of my hubs!  Photo on the left was October 2016 in Vegas.  Photo on the right was last week in Wisconsin.

    Wednesday, January 24, 2018

    Don't Give Up On Your Concerns

    I have all of Ethan's doctor reports at the house.  I have had to go thru them several times looking for one thing or another.  Do you know what I see repeated in there over and over again is "Mom has concern about child being constipated.  Mom is concerned with possible food allergies."  Do you know that I found a journal that I had started 6 years ago logging all of his food and his reactions?  Do you want to know what the result was to those concerns?  Nothing.  Oh wait... they suggested MiraLax.  I got so furious when I read these.  I recall these moments.  The moments of knowing something is wrong with my child but that no one would listen to my concerns.  They felt that I was over reacting.  Sure lady you had a baby at 26 weeks but he if fine now.  Just calm down.

    Eventually I gave in.  I calmed down for my own sanity sake.  I stopped worrying.  Just going with the flow.  Trying to be like any other mom out there.  I refused to give him MiraLax because I had a gut feeling that would not be good for him.  Which now there are reports out stating just that.  Check it out here.  The thing that kills me tho is that I refused to give him that yet I still fed him gold fish crackers, m&ms,  mac & cheese, captain crunch and fruit snacks to name a few.  I read on the internet that these were horrible things for your child but I got to the point of telling myself "just be like all the other moms." Now there is nothing wrong with any other mom I know.  I am not saying that.  But my gut feeling knew that there was an issue with food with my child but because no one heard me out I finally gave in.  Until now.  6 years later.

    I still don't have an answer as to everything that is going on in my baby's belly but I do know that we are finally started down the right road to find our answer AND solution.  I can't say that I have found a perfect doctor yet but I have found some that I won't be going back to.  When I told his pediatrician that the Neurologist recommended no red dye, sugar or processed foods he responded with "Why no red dye?"  Excuse me?  This was almost a year ago at the beginning of me starting my research to find out how I can help my child.  Red dye is listed everywhere online as a concern.  Canada has it banned and the US will be banning it in 2020 (just because we need to give companies time to figure out their products without it *eye roll*.)  If a pediatrician doesn't know this is a concern he is not the right pediatrician for me.  I have kept many doctors on their toes over the last year.  Several of them have told me that I am very well informed and involved in my sons care more than most parents.  Hmmm I will take that as a compliment although I know it probably made their job a little tougher lol.  I will not sit back down and do what I am told.  There is an answer and I will find it.  Don't give up the fight!

    Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    That's IT!

    After cleaning up our diet I was still watching Ethan very closely to catch any changes in anything.  We bought a camper so that we could still do our outdoor adventures and be able to cook our own foods easily.  Labor day weekend we had a birthday party to go to.  I fed the kids before as I knew they wouldn't be able to eat much at the party.   Of course once all the kids were eating tho my kids wanted to eat too.  Dang!  I didn't bring anything with!  So I did see that they had a hamburger patty that I could give Ethan with ketchup.  He had 2 bites and then left his seat to play.  Very shortly after we noticed he was having a reaction.  This reaction was scary.  He was wild.  He couldn't focus.  He just wanted to run and was so excited.  It is hard to put into words.  We were in the middle of the woods and it was getting dark out.  We were scared that he would go into the woods and we wouldn't find him!  We didn't know what caused the reaction.  The next day we headed to Banff to camp for a few days.  We made most of our food but then ordered at restaurants a few times.  When ordering for the kids we just tried to stay away from mac & cheese, bread and fries.  He was still having a reaction.  I couldn't figure it out.  So finally I said I don't care if insurance covers an E-95 Food panel blood test or not.  I am over it.  So we took him in and that was another game changer.  (We took him to a naturopath in Kalispell that mailed the blood to Meridian Valley in WA.)  It came back stating that Ethan had sensitivities to: beef, buffalo, eggs, duck eggs, flax, almond and whey.  Well geez.  That stinks.  I didn't even know you could be sensitive to BEEF!  So we immediately cut those foods out.  We saw less reactions and when we did I could usually connect it to something he ate that had one of those foods in it and I just missed it.  One of the few cons to this test is that if you haven't eaten a food for awhile it won't show up as a food sensitivity.  The fact that buffalo and duck egg showed up on his test still has me confused as we have not ate those.

    Now 6 months later as I write this I know that there is more to this.  I still don't have a solution but I have read that if a leaky gut is the issue the E-95 food panel results will be thrown off.  Another thing to consider is with this test we did solve the problem.  The problem still exists.  I am suspecting more food sensitivities that I can not pin point.  The next big question is what is going on this kids gut?!?

    The Diagnosis

    In November 2016 the school told us they thought that Ethan has cerebral palsy, dyslexia and a blind spot.  I was overwhelmed to say the least.  The school said they were going to do some tests and let us know.  By Christmas break they had not done anything so we decided to take him to his doctors to find out more.  His eye doctor said he didn't think that he had a blind spot but gave him glasses to keep the school happy (um thank you for that $400 total cost just to keep the school happy!)  We then took him to his pediatrician and he suggested we see a neurologist.  In the meantime we were researching online.  What does this mean for him and his future?  Well researching anything online can make you go crazy!  We found things like he could get worse.  He might lose muscle tone (he barely had any!)  He might not be functional on his own.  It was crazy just waiting to get answers and get into the appointments at all!  At this point I decided I needed to be a stronger mom.  Physically.  What would happen if it was just me and the kids and something happened to him?  It's up to me.  So I decided to add weights to my workouts.

    While waiting for 2 months to get into the neurologist I got his medical history from his original pediatrician.  We had done an MRI when he was almost 2.  They didn't find anything concerning.  So when we finally got into the neurologist he basically said the same thing.  Nothing concerning here but then recommended we see a neuropsychologist in Missoula.  Another 2 month wait.  This was killing me.  So CP didn't seem like it was going to be a part of our life but what was going to be?!?  It was getting bad.  He had broken his arm twice in 6 months both times were gentle falls that you wouldn't think would cause a break.  He was constantly tripping and falling.  He had to be reminded 20 times that he needed to get dressed for school in the morning.  His conversations were not engaging.  He was obsessing over things such as pokemon and would only talk about that for weeks.  He would talk about his birthday party plans which were 11 months away.  There was something going on but what?  We have asked the doctors since he was born if there was anything for concern but nothing came up other than "well he was a preemie this is normal."

    Finally in April 2017 we got a diagnosis.  What he had was Executive Functioning Disorder (EFD).  It was explained to us that autism, ADHD and EFD had many similarities.  EFD is all about the frontal lobe of the brain.  It is where we organize thoughts and process information.  He then told us that if we didn't start to make changes now he may fall into the ADHD or autism category.  OK... so now what?!  He told us to start on an athletes diet basically.  High protein, high complex carbs, low simple carbs, no red dye, and no processed foods.  He also stated that we should start giving him Barleans Omegas.  This is the one Ethan liked and this is the one Morgan liked.  He did not recommend doing gluten or dairy free but that we could if we really wanted to.

    After 2 weeks of this diet change we saw a huge difference!  He was not falling anymore!  This got me thinking about how he must have felt.  He was able to walk but his body was not allowing him to because of the foods that were in his body!  That had to be so frustrating!  He was also able to focus more.  This was noticed in school but also in the mornings getting ready for school.  I didn't have to remind him to get dressed.  He got up, got dressed, and came out for breakfast.  Simple things that I take for granted with my daughter.  He also stopped having tantrums!  I don't know when it started but when he would get upset it was hard to calm him down.  I found myself at a loss for words and just prayed that my husband would be home soon to help me.  The other thing I noticed from this change was I had less messes to clean up around the toilet.  I don't know what was going on when he was using the bathroom but I am pretty sure he would lose focus of what he was doing and end up missing the toilet... a lot!  Speaking of toilet.... we had another good thing happen in that department.  Ever since Ethan was eating solid foods he was constipated.  Bad.  The doctors suggested giving him Myralax.  I refused.  Looking back I think geez I refused to give him Myralax because it is so bad for him yet I would make him sit at the table util he ate all of his macaroni and cheese (which was not making him feel good or nourish his little body in the least bit.)  We did have success with wild orange and ginger oils diluted with coconut oil in a roller bottle on his belly but what I really wanted was for him to have soft stools and have a routine visit to the bathroom!  Well that happened!  All of this from a small change in the diet.

    Our big things to eat at this time of our lives was natural PB and organic jelly sandwiches on a whole wheat bread with lots of seeds (including flax), whole wheat tortilla shells with organic lunch meat and cheese, the whole wheat shells with taco meat and the shells with tomato sauce and cheese (for pizza).  Those were our "go to's."  We also found Lara bars to be a good on the go snack.  Those were our "go to's."

    I would love to hear anyones stories about making changes to their families diets lifestyles.  This stuff interests me more than you know!  Sharing stories is the best way to get more information regarding the health of our loved ones!

    About Me

    This blog started as a hobby for many reasons. It later became a way to keep the family up to date on our micro preemie baby, Ethan. Now as Ethan is nearing the 8 year mark with a little sister of 5 years I am finding a new reason to document on this blog.

    Last year we were told by the school that Ethan had cerebral palsy, a blindspot and dyslexia. That is what started it all. I started taking him to doctors to find out what was going on and why this hasn't been discovered before now. In April 2017 we were told that he has executive functioning disorder. What the heck is EFD I thought?!?! After the doctor explaining it to us he basically said that if we don't start making changes now he could fall into the ADHD or possibly the autism category. Ok... so now what? What can we do?!? Well this blog is my way of documenting it all not only for me but also to help others find their way thru similar situations.

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