Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lazy Days

I know posts are incredibly boring without pictures....however, I did not bring my computer so I can't download any of the pictures I have been taking!

I have gotten some great pictures of the boys outside. Today we took another tour of the Villages where we are staying. It's a retirement community made up of many "villages." There are town squares, recreation centers, pools, tons of stores, restaurants....everything! The best part (the boys think anyways) is that most people drive around in golf carts! My grandparents own one and we took a spin around the neighborhood last night for the first time. Zakkai was absolutely terrified at first and clutched my arms like a lifeline but soon relaxed slightly and enjoyed it.

Samuel has decided that we need to ride around in a golf cart "forever." :) We went to go feed ducks this afternoon before dinner. Tomorrow's agenda includes swimming and watching line dancing in the town square:)

Oh and the best part for me so far? Two words: Vacation Naps.

Monday, March 29, 2010

We're here!

We sailed across the Florida stateline yesterday...straight into a torrential downpour! Not quite the vacation start we were dreaming of:) We pulled over into the welcome center/rest stop to find many other cars of pale, ghostly people hoping for some sun from the Sunshine State. Thankfully, after a gloomy afternoon and morning this morning, it has finally cleared up.

I am sitting on my grandparent's lanai with the sun gently touching my own ghostly skin. The breeze is blowing and windchimes are singing softly in the backround. No sounds of traffic or sirens. No screaming children (mine don't count) or crazy people (well, not that I've seen yet...).

Pure peacefulness.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Vacation Driving!

6 o'clock in the morning
2 excited boys
1 car full of luggage
1 1/2 tanks of gas
3 movies
5 states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia)
7 bathroom breaks
12 hours of driving
2 tired parents
6 1/2 hours of driving left
1 hotel with some communication problems
8 hours of sleep tonight (hopefully)

= Vacation!!!

Whew! This is a lot of work! :) Will update when we arrive!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nicey and Peter Pan

I have a confession to make. You may laugh....but you'd better not! Ahem. I have a blanket. Why, everyone has a blanket, you say! Well, yes. But this blanket is....special. I have had this blanket since I was a baby. It's my Nicey. It's old and worn. It has cotton stuffing coming out of the corners and flecks of blue paint. The flowers are faded but it's mine.

So the thing about my blanket is that I sleep with it under my pillow and have since I can remember. The other day I pulled it out for some reason and it was laying on my bed and Zakkai spotted it. He asked what it was and I told him it was mine when I was little like him. He pulled it towards him and studied it and said, "It was yours when you were a little mommy?"


My Nicey. Don't judge me.
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On to Peter Pan. Samuel loves the Peter Pan story. They read it in school and since then he and a couple of friends have been playing Peter Pan on the playground, which really means they decide who is who and run around:)


Tonight Ben took Samuel to see the play "Peter Pan" at his school! Samuel was so excited and had such a good time!


This is right after they got back:) We read Peter Pan tonight, too. Ben asked the boys if they wanted to be like Peter Pan and never grow up. They agreed enthusiastically.

I may be in trouble.

Baby Day

Wow, did I ever have a busy day yesterday!! It was a day for babies, I guess! I became an auntie for the 7th time yesterday! My newest nephew Jacob Colby Traut was born just after noon!

Isn't he beautiful?! I can't wait to meet him! And then my friend who is trying to keep her 32 wker twins baking a little longer went into preterm labor and is in the hospital trying to hold it at bay. I watched her older kiddos from 4:45 til about 1am! You know when anyone heads to the hospital they will be there for hours and hours (and hours)so I came prepared with my glasses, snacks, books and my Snuggie. Have I mentioned how much I love my Snuggie? Great invention!

So I am greeting this morning with more babysitting, friends visiting and hopefully some packing for sunny Florida! I have a LOT to do in the next couple of days. I'd better run but I'll try to update later!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mr Cool

We just arrived home 1 1/2 hours ago from 2 1/2 hour eye appointments for the boys! Zakkai was recommended to go by his pediatrician and she said we mine as well take Samuel, too. Great fun!

The boys were really nervous going in and we had to promise them that they weren't going to get any shots or anything that would hurt them. Little did we know that they would have to get eye drops to dilate their pupils that stung! The optometrists "forgot" to warn us of that minor fact which resulted in some amazing screaming from Z and crying from S. Great fun. Oh did I say that already?

At least their eyes are good. They are both a bit far sighted but nothing that requires glasses. For now they are left with crazy looking eyes that hopefully will fade sometime tomorrow...They have to wear sunglasses in the sunlight and bright lights.

Without further ado, I give you Mr. and Mr. Cool.




Monday, March 22, 2010

Flashback

I was thinking today about random things, as I usually do, and was thinking about how big the boys are getting and realized that only 3 short (and long) years ago, Zakkai was a teeny tiny baby and Samuel was pretty much baby himself. The boys really like to hear stories about when they were "little" (as if they aren't now!).

Flow with me here for a minute and take a walk down memory lane....:)

March 2007: The beginning of brotherly love:)

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And here is one of our favorite simple recipes! The boys even gobble this up, which rates it an A in my book!

Three Beans and Sausage

1 lb smoked sausage, cut into 1 inch slices (sometimes I use turkey kielbasa)

1 can ea (16oz ea) of kidney beans, great northern beans and black beans; rinsed and drained

1/4 cup minced onion

1 cup water

1 can (8oz) tomato sauce

1 tsp chicken bouillon granules

1 tsp garlic powder

2-3 cups cooked Rice

Preparation:

1. In a 5-Qt crockpot, combine all ingredients except rice. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 4 1/2 hours or until heated through. Serve over rice!

*Sometimes I like to throw broccoli in towards the end to steam. Yum!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

When I saw this I thought..


*There is still a bit of babyness in that face even though he claims he's all big boy!
*There is orneriness, too!
*Usually that mouth is talking non-stop unless it is eating. Then there is some serious concentration:)
*He can take the un-messiest food and make it messy.
*He is doing fabulous with potty training! Only had one accident today (and a couple dribbles but they don't count, right?!)
*He can still scream with the best of 'em.
*He is very affectionate and sweet with us.

*He looks like a deer caught in the headlights!
*He also looks like he is pondering some nail-biting idea that rocked him to the core:)
*I wish I had eyelashes like this!
*This boy loves school and is disappointed on "home days." I'm not sure whether to be happy or sad about that...
*He is getting closer to 5 everyday and I'm not ready to face that!
*He is so routine oriented from his goodnight ritual to the way he gives kisses to how he saves his favorite bite of food for last. Sometimes I will wipe crumbs off the table only to find him bursting into tears because I wiped his special bite away:)
*He is always ready for a good tickle and giggle:)
When I saw these I thought, they are mine and I am blessed.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Today

So....

*I have no pictures b/c I keep forgetting to take some.

*It dropped 20 degrees from yesterday and snowed today. Yuck.

*Even the boys were upset. Samuel almost looked like he could cry, "Snow?! But it's not supposed to snow!!" It seems cruel.

*So we spent the whole day inside.

*Except for the 30 min that Ben took the boys out to return one of his library books. The boys leapt at the chance to escape, packed up bookbags of toys even though they were told repeatedly they didn't need them, got bundled up for the snowstorm and left.

*I got peace and quiet. For 30 minutes. It was nice.

*My husband is becoming obsessed with basketball. Darn that March Madness.

*In one week, we'll be over halfway to Florida! Must do laundry.....lots of laundry.

*Speaking of laundry, I found a Salvation Army Thrift Store yesterday and found some great stuff for the boys (mostly S) for the summer, and some shirts for Ben! And possibly a few things for me.....Aside from it being kind of crowded and dirty, I left happy.

*I read 1 1/2 books today. I'm looking for new authors. Suggestions?

*I secretly popped the balloons leftover from Z's party (2 weeks and going strong!) the other day, all except one and my crime wasn't discovered until today. Samuel was not happy with me. "Mommy! You shouldn't have done that! We love these balloons! We wanted to play with them forever!"

*Aside from "forever", Samuel's newest favorite words that he must've learned at school are "prediction" and "distracting." He came home the other day and said, "Zakkai, let's make a prediction!" and then yesterday I heard him say, "Mommy, when Zakkai is talking to me, it is distracting me." Gotta love it!

*It's been one year now since I got a haircut. Just about the time Ben says, "I really like your hair long.." , I am suddenly hit with an urge to cut it off. Strange...

Well, that's all for tonight, folks! I try to take some pics for tomorrow!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Stubbornness

He insisted that they were on the right way.




Pure Stubbornness.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sunny Days

These sunshiny days are so welcome and refreshing! I looked out the window and thought, "No coats today, woohoo!", with it supposedly being 63 and all. Right. Whoever made up that temperature forgot to add in lake-effect wind:) Other than it being at least 10 degrees cooler, it was so nice to get outside and let the wild boys roam.

They have such a good time running and playing and laughing and soaking up the fresh air. The minute the sun peeps out and it is warm enough, about a bazillion children come out of the woodworks and congregate on our playground. It's a little overwhelming sometimes...

We are busy starting plans for our upcoming family vacation! Really looking forward to some much needed time away and hopefully some relaxation! I got the boys some sandals, swimming trunks and new baseball hats (I like to get them matching ones each year) and they spent the entire afternoon the other day, trying on their new gear and asking, "Is it Florida Day yet?!"

Any suggestions on entertaining two little boys on a 17 1/2 hour drive would be much appreciated! Florida sound great until I focus on the drive....and then I get scared. But then I think of the sun and my grandparents and swimming and it all sounds great again:) May this be the first vacation of many!!


Totally random picture that I found as I was about to post. I saw this house when Ben and I went away a couple summers ago and fell in love with it's unique charm! Maybe someday we will have a house of our own..

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

7 Years

I can probably count on 2 hands the pictures of just Ben and I in the past 7 years. Isn't that sad? We are so busy taking pictures of the boys or scenery that we forget to take pictures of the couple that started this family!:)

7 Years. We read once in a marriage book (yeah, housegroup!) that once you hit 10 years, you know everything and are basically marriage-pros. So, woohoo! 3 more years to go!

It's hard to believe so many years have passed. I think back to how very young, idealistic, and romantic we (okay, I) were and how a young couple thinks everything will be so wonderful all the time. And for awhile it feels that way! And then real life comes along. But the really great thing about when "real life" comes into your marriage, is that you can choose to allow it to separate you and fight it or you can use it to cling to each other and God and make your marriage deeper and more beautiful.

We don't have a perfect marriage. Be real people, no one does! But we have a great one. One that has been refined and will continue to be, by trials and hardships, joys and excitement, curveballs and blessings. Our friendship has only grown deeper and we can say with our whole hearts that we are best friends.

We snicker at each others jokes and try to make each other laugh. We get mad at each other and fight through it to the other side. We hug and kiss often to show our affection and love. We gripe about who left the dishes unwashed or who made us all late to church (I won't mention any names here but...). We learn how to forgive more quickly and more sincerely each time.

We make new memories all the time to add to our collections of cherished ones from the past 10 years. We dream about new memories to come and dust off the old ones. We've seen each other's ugliest sides and most beautiful sides. We've seen each other sick as dogs (well, me mostly) and half-dead after surgery, unkempt, poor as a church mouse. And yet here we are.


7 Years. I don't think I would've believed anyone who'd told me on my wedding day what my life would be like 7 years later. I wouldn't have know then what I know now, that all of the valleys and twists and turns and mountain peaks that we have faced together are what have encased this marriage with silver and gold. I wouldn't trade any day that we've been through.

So here's to marriage! I'm looking forward to at least 60 more years with my best friend! I love you, Ben!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weekend with my boys!

Weekends go by so fast, don't they? There is this feeling of freedom and excitement on Fridays and you have the whole weekend ahead of you.....and then 2 days later it's gone. It's always just enough to refresh for the week ahead though.

The boys have played SO well together this weekend! From cars to trains, building forts under their little table, riding bikes (in the house:), to Samuel helping Z go potty (yes, a story to come!), they have been buddies:) A nice change from the days they spend yelling at each other!

Drove all the way to school on Friday only to find out there was no school and they'd forgotten to tell most of us! I was a little frustrated to waste an hour of round trip driving time and gas but more importantly, Samuel was really sad and started to cry. It was so hard for him to figure out why we didn't have school. On the other hand, I am happy that he loves it so much he wants to go!!

And Mr. 'Tude here, has decided he's going to potty train himself! We back completely away from potty training him since it was a dismal failure and lo and behold, he has started going! He randomly decided this week to go when Samuel was going to go. He really likes to stand up and pee like a "big boy" and is so excited over the teeny tiny m&ms he gets, it's funny! Today he must've gone at least 5 times! S was very sweet about helping him wash his hands and cheering him on. Of course, his motivation may possibly have been that he wanted m&m's, too...but still! I'm hoping this keeps up b/c I do not want to buy him diapers anymore!!

Stay tuned tomorrow for a special Anniversary post:) I'm hoping to dig up a wedding picture, too!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bubble Bath and The Carpet of Many Colors

For a Bubble Bath:
Take one of these...

And add a couple of these....


And you get this....


And now we have no more shampoo. The end.
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The Carpet of Many Colors:

Zakkai worked very hard to do this:) Whoever said kids need toys?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring?

Spring? Is that you? Could it be that spring isn't a myth after all? Winter is not going to last forever? Long, long days of endless cold, wind, snow and hibernation over? Endless cycles of sickness and weariness?

I really really enjoyed my time outside today, spring. The sunshine, the warmth, the fresh breeze on my face. The children. Oh, did you see all the children outside enjoying you, spring? Please stay, I'm begging you! I was beginning to think you'd never come!

I'm promise I won't complain when it rains a lot and the grass is a mess of mud. I really won't mind, if you'd just hang around for awhile. The pure joy on those pale little faces running through the playground was priceless. The pure joy on my pale face was probably priceless, too.

Ah, spring! I missed you!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Samuel

My firstborn son, whom I held in my arms for hours, amazed at the precious gift of you.

Your smile is so genuine and beautiful (except when it's cheesy for cameras, of course:). You have such a sweet, tender heart and I really hope you never lose it.

You make the silliest faces and I have really been enjoying them lately:) And you love to laugh. Oh, your laugh. The sweetest giggle in the world! Your face beams when it is filled with joy and your daddy and I always comment to each other on how beautiful you are.


Daddy can make you laugh so easily! You come to him to be tickled over and over again, even while claiming you don't like it. We don't believe that anymore:) You look like Daddy so much and almost everyone agrees. You learn like him, you even bug your little brother just like he did. Drives me crazy but I know you love him so much. I guess it's just what big brothers do.

You often don't get the same attention from me as Zakkai does because you don't demand it in the same "loud" way. I have to make sure that I really pay attention to what you're saying because I know it makes you feel loved to be heard and valued. I value you, Samuel. I always want you to know that I love you.

You melted my heart when you asked me to sleep with you the whole night last night. I asked what daddy would do when I wasn't there to keep him warm and you made me laugh when you responded after a pause, "He can have Zakkai!" :) I love that you still want me to be close to you. You forgive easily and love easily. I laid there next to you for several minutes and traced your hairline with my finger. And my heart swelled.

With love for you.

You are precious, my Samuel.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Where am I?

I hear a burst of giggling from the boys room and a sweet little voice call, "Mooooooommmmy! Come find me!!"

I come in the boys room and at first scan find it empty.

Another round of giggles changes my first impression.

A peek beneath the train table reveals a nice surprise!

"It's Zakkai!!" he cries with glee and a smile to light up my days:)

Boys

Had a super busy day yesterday with not even a spare moment to sit down, let alone blog! I was so exhausted by the end of the night that by the time we got the boys in bed (really late!), I was in bed~before 9pm! Old. I'm getting old:)

Learned some sad news today that one of Ben's former professors from his bachelors and masters programs, passed away this weekend due to a virus that is deadly once it enters the brain. He left the school a few years ago to become the senior pastor of a church in columbus. There are many people mourning the loss of such a nice man!

On the other hand, I forgot to share some good news we learned last week (in case you missed it on FB!). Our compassion sponsor child, Daphka was found alive and uninjured!! She and her family have damage to their home but are okay. We were so relieved and excited to hear this! Thank you to anyone who prayed for her!

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The other day, Samuel was begging me to write his initials on his mouse that Grandma gave him because Zakkai has a matching one and they didn't want to mix them up. I was busy and asked him to wait just a moment but being Mr. Impatient, he went and found the permanent marker and tried to mark on mouse's tag by himself. He was very distraught when he accidentally made markings on mouse's rear and was informed they wouldn't come off. I finally convinced him, after many tears and pleadings to get a new mouse, that the marks were "scars" just like he has:)

Well the next day he snuck the permanent marker out again and decided to decorate his mouse a little more...

The thing was he had to get punished for disobeying and sneaking out the permanent marker (note to self: move permanent marker to safer place...) but he actually did a great job being artistic! As you can see, he outlined the pocket and the cuffs.
Samuel and his decorated mouse:) At least he didn't color on the walls like Zakkai...

Such a sweet smile from such an ornery little boy!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

3 Year Old Astronaut:)

Yesterday afternoon the Thomas manor was transformed into NASA's very own Mission Control:) The selected guests entered through a door marked with a "Welcome to Mission Control" sign and were handed a personalized mission training pass "badge" to wear:) Some of them eagerly put them around their necks and others looked at me like I was crazy. And maybe I am....

Immediately all astronaut trainees were enthralled with the blue balloons scattered around the floor. Seriously, if you ever want to entertain a young child who is bored, blow up a few balloons, grab a magazine and relax on the couch b/c they will be entertained for hours! I had Z's little friends decorate their own rocketships (a.k.a. big cardboard boxes:) with some star stickers. I wasn't sure how it would go over but they really had a blast decorating the boxes and then taking turns riding in them! There were seriously stars ALL over the floor:)

My wonderful, amazing, generous friend, Danielle, came over to help me set up before the party, saving me many gray hairs! She helped put together another little project for the little ones: little spaceships made out of styrofoam plates and bowls. They got to decorate those with more stars and coloring. Some friends chose to decorate theirs, others threw theirs on the floor (hey, whatever floats your boat!), while still others preferred to color on the black posterboard laid out on the small table.

The menu? Moon pizzas (the infamous homemade Thomas pizza:), Veggies: fire sticks (carrots), glow sticks (celery), and mini planets (olives, Fruit: cut-up Asteroids (oranges), some jiggly Alien stars (green jello!) and for dessert rocketship cake and patriotic cupcakes!!

It was a happy party:)


Friends decorating the "rocketships"


Heather taking a ride! She's such a sweet girl!

Graham decided to tak a ride, too:)

The birthday boy and his sweet brother eating some food. They were such good boys!
The cupcakes: big ones for the adventurous and mini ones for the "younger" crowd:)
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1~ Blast off!!
The kids were seriously clamoring for some cake and cupcakes. They were like those seagulls on Finding Nemo who say "mine! mine! mine!" except they were like, "Cake, cake, cake, cake!!"

My sweet boy who desperately wants it to be his birthday now so he can have a party, too:)

Z working hard on some chocolate cake! There was nary a peep from him til he licked his plate clean!

Opening his presents from his sweet friends!
It was worth every tiring moment to make such a special memory for my three year old big boy! Thankfully I have 4 months to recover until Samuel's birthday.......

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sneak Preview

So pooped tonight after the past 2 days so I thought I'd leave you with a sneak preview of Zakkai's smashing Astronaut Party!



More to come!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Debut

Introducing Zakkai Nathaniel on guitar:

video

Some things to note:

*You get to see Zakkai's intermittent "shy side" come out. When he plays guitar, he tells me to go back in the kitchen and Ben to go to the bedroom to study:)

*That horrendous crackling noise in the backround is Samuel crinkling a cereal bag.

*I have no idea where that awful southern accent came from that slipped out of my mouth when I said, "This is Zakkai!" Then I had to roll with it and add some more so it wouldn't sound stupid! It didn't work...I'm usually much better with my southern accent. I blame it on my cold:)

All we need to do is get him singing and we've got the next Johnny Cash, right? I knew you'd think so!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Recipe Tuesday?

I've been wanting to share a few more recipes with you since I have found some good (and simple) ones recently! I might choose a day each week where I share a new one with you. Lucky you:) Like my wonderful friend "E" commented a few posts ago, over half the recipes I write down or save...okay, fine probably 70% are sweet and/or chocolatey but I will try to refrain myself from only sharing desserts and go for some healthy dinner stuff. Not quite as fun, but helpful nonetheless:) A ndI will also enlighten you with how I modified it and got the boys to eat it. No easy feat, I tell you!!



Tonight's meal:



Grilled Hawaiian Chicken and Pineapple Sandwiches




6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/4 " thick
1 cup Hawaiian style marinade
6 pineapple rings
6 slices provolone cheese
6 wheat sandwich rolls, sliced
6 tablespoons thousand island salad dressing
6 leaves romaine lettuce
6 slices tomato


Preparation:


1. Place chicken in resealable bag and pour in the marinade. Seal bag and marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour or up to overnight.


2. When ready to prepare, preheat oven to broil (or grill). Place sheet of foil over top oven rack. Place chicken pieces on foil and broil about 10 min, turning halfway through. About 5 min before chicken is done, put pineapple slices on rack and cook for 1-2 min each side.


3. Remove chicken from oven and place piece of cheese on top immediately to melt. Top with pineapple slice. Serve chicken on bun, toasted if desired, with lettuce and tomato. Spread dressing or ketchup on top bun and enjoy!


*This recipe called for onion rolls, I substituted wheat sandwich rolls


*The idea of Thousand Island freaked me out a bit so we substituted ketchup, which was really good!:)


*For the boys: I just cut up chicken instead of making it into a sandwich and served the pineapple slices, cheese, and tomato slices separately! Samuel ate a bun and Z (a.k.a. the bread-hater) had a tortilla. I served it with black beans as a side!


*Good meal; would make again!


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Other than eating food, we are back into routine again, continuing to heal physically and praying we don't catch anymore germs this week! I am getting ready for Z's post-poned Astronaut Party on Friday (will post pics!) which he is very excited about:) I get nervous planning parties, like I will be judged on how "cool" it is or something. Pretty silly to be worried about a 3 year old's party, isn't it? (Enter reassurement here).


I must say I am very thankful for my Mom Plan It Calendar (which I so lovingly get each Christmas from my MIL!!) during months like these.



This month is filled with appointments, parties, our 7th anniversary (Babysitting, anyone??) and our very first family vacation!! Woo hoo, March!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Reverse Psychology

We have a child with a strong-will. Stubborn. Tenacious. Assertive. Adorable. But that's beside the point. The point is: reverse psychology. Solves everything.


Mommy: "Zakkai, you need to eat some more of your dinner before you can have your orange."


Zakkai, who was happily eating only moments before, scowls and pushes away plate, "I don't want to eat my dinner!"


Mommy in moment of genius, "Zakkai, don't you dare eat anymore of that dinner! Don't you eat it! I mean it!"


Zakkai with feindish gleam on face, pulls dinner plate back and starts shoveling in food.

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Daddy: "Zakkai! Come here and show daddy your new toy!"


Zakkai runs in opposite direction with stubborn look on face. "I don't want to show you my toy!"


Mommy: "Zakkai, don't you dare show daddy that toy! He does not want to see your toy!"


Zakkai reverses direction and runs as fast as he can towards Ben, giggling and holds out his toy for inspection.

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Do you think reverse psychology will work when he's a teenager?
"Don't you dare come home early!"
or
"Make sure you do everything your friends are doing. I mean it!'
or
"Zakkai, you must grow your hair out in a long, shaggy fashion so you can't see out of one eye. I am serious! You may not cut your hair!"
Think it'll work?

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