Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Every Child Deserves Celebration, Not Just The First

We've all heard the "rule".  You're not supposed to have a baby shower for any baby other than your first.  It's considered rude, or tacky, or something like that.

I've never really understood this rule because it assumes two things:

A) People don't want to give you a gift for your new baby if you've already had one.
and
B) It's impossible for people to celebrate the birth of your new child without giving gifts.


The problem I have with this that I personally cannot resist giving gifts to my friends when they have new babies, whether that baby is their first, sixth or twentieth.  I mean, who among you can walk by the infant clothing section in any store and not stop and look for just a second.  It's miniature clothing people!  Furthermore, to bring a child into the world is an incomparable honor, and to have the opportunity (gift or no gift) to share in that joy with the ones I love is a thrill.

But the biggest problem I have with the rule is that when spoken in casual conversation without clarifying or putting into context, it flippantly makes the insinuation that the child-to-be is somehow not worth celebrating, because they're "just another one".


You can imagine that as mama to four girls, I ran into this quite a bit.  I suppose people are relaxing somewhat, much to Little Miss Etiquette's chagrin, because I did have showers for each of my girls.  But still, especially by my fourth I had a very hard time shaking the fear that people somehow felt that my Princess #4 deserved less of a celebration.

Pregnant mamas are already on an emotional roller coaster.  Not only is their body not their own, they are tired, bloated and constantly hungry.  They worry over things beyond their control, both concrete and abstract.  The health of the baby, the pain of delivery, how their first born will handle a new baby, how they will handle a new baby.  Will there be enough love to go around?


Ladies, if you have a friend who is pregnant with her second, sixth or twentieth baby, PLEASE do not add to her fears and let her wonder whether or not you feel her soon to be child is worth celebrating.

This is not necessarily a call to throw a full blown baby shower.  Celebrations do not have to be over the top.  Keep it simple, intimate and meaningful.  Here are a few ways that you can show love to your friends expecting another baby:

Host a Sip 'n See after the baby is born.  
Unlike the traditional shower that is held before the baby arrives, a Sip 'n See is perfect for the second baby because it is not held until the babe is in arms.  The main purpose is for friends and family to come and literally see the baby for the first time.  A coming out party if you will.  The host can serve beverages and light appetizers or finger foods, and no gifts are required.  It's just a chance for a community of friends to shower love on the newest member.


Collect donations for a money tree.  
Many times, when a family expands from 3 to 4 (or more), although many of the basics are already covered, there are some things they may find they need that they didn't when they only had one: like a double stroller for example.  Gear like that can be pricey, and sometimes rather than giving a 2nd time mom more onesies and blankets, a large cash sum or gift card might be more appreciated, so it can go towards what is really needed.  Taking donations from your circle of friends can be an easy way to show support, without having to go to the effort of organizing a big event.


Throw a diaper shower. 
This is always an appreciated favorite among moms.  With my first, I think I would have been a *teeny* bit disappointed if I only got diapers at my shower (yes, I know that's bratty.  haha), but when I had my third and my office surprised me with a diaper shower, I was overjoyed.  We didn't have to buy diapers for six months!  That's HUGE people!  A diaper shower can be a fun way to celebrate the birth of the baby, satisfy people's desire to bring a gift and yet still be practical and useful.   Just make sure you know whether or not mom is cloth diapering, so you can specify which sort of diaper to bring.


Organize meals.
By the time my fourth was born, this was my most appreciated gift.  Having hot, fresh meals provided to us for two weeks following her birth was a God send, especially since I was recovering from a difficult delivery.  Like the money tree, going this route does not require a big event, but does take some organization.  Luckily, there are websites to help with that.  CaringMeals.com allows you to coordinate and execute the delivery of meals to a postpartum family.


Most of us (especially mothers), I think, naturally believe that every child is worth celebrating.  But after the first, with busy lives of our own, I think it's sometimes easy to fall into the trap of taking another pregnancy in stride.  It's easy to fail to act.  We may have good intentions, but before you know it the baby is here and life goes on.  Be the friend that insists on showing it.  Take some initiative and shower love on babe and mama-to-be.  It will be much appreciated, I promise.

My dear friends, did you have anyone who took the time to shower love on your second, third, etc. baby?  What experiences have you had with baby showers?  Any other ideas for celebrating a birth?

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Monday, January 30, 2012

What Would You Do?

At 8:45 pm on a Saturday evening, while putting away laundry, you hear some scuffling and voices outside.  You peek out your bedroom window (because hubs is working and you are a chicken) and you see 3 boys around the age of 10 dragging a huge box that probably was once home to a washing machine down the street.

15 minutes later, now 9:00 pm, you are just settling down on the couch to watch a little mindless TV when you hear some movement and whispers outside your front door.

Suddenly your doorbell rings.  Your dog starts freaking out.  You want to start freaking out.  You're a half scared, half pissed off because your kids have been asleep for an hour and now your dog won't shut up and some idiot has rung your doorbell at 9pm.

You look out the peep hole and what should you see but a huge box that probably was once home to a washing machine sitting on your front porch and it is suspiciously wiggly.


Do you:

A) Open the door as Cool Mom, knowing it's just 10 year old boys playing a prank.

B) Open the door as Mama Bear, knowing it's 9pm and 10 year old boys are playing a prank.

C) Ignore the box and go back to watching mindless TV, knowing it's 10 year old boys playing a prank.

I may or may not have gone for option B.  Ahem.


My dear friends, I've been feeling guilty all weekend for not being the "Cool Mom", but seriously?  9pm?  Not cool.  Anyway, would you do me a huge favor while you're here?  If you wouldn't mind popping over to Facebook by using that cute little Facebook button on the sidebar and "liking" my page, I would love ya to pieces.  If you're not aware, Google Friend Connect is disappearing for anyone not on Blogger very soon.  I use Blogger, but if you don't I'd hate to lose you!!  Facebook and Subscribing are great ways to not lose touch!  Thanks much!  Smooches!

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

When God Speaks, Listen

I wrote my last blog post about the 5 words that changed my life, and I didn't realize it at the time, but while I was typing what was on my heart, God was also preparing me to hear another word from Him.  Or rather, remind me.

Yesterday afternoon I was feeling a bit restless.  I had plenty of laundry to fold (thank you lice) and dishes to take care of, etc.  But I just didn't feel like doing any of it.  And as is the benefit of being your own boss, I decided to not do it.  I started to feel led to pick up my Bible and devotional book, My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  I'm embarrassed to say the last time I had bothered to open it.

A comment left on my last post led me to Matthew 6:33.  It's a familiar verse:

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

That's really what my last post was about, about seeking God, above anything else, even his will.

So I spent some time meditating on that scripture and the passages before it.  The famous "Do Not Worry" passages beginning in Matthew 6:25:

"That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life - whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear.  Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds.  They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  And why worry about your clothing?  Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.  They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.  Why do you have so little faith?  So don't worry about these things, saying 'what will we eat?  What will we drink?  What will we wear?'  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."

After some time in thought and prayer I turned to My Utmost, wondering what thoughts Mr. Chambers had for me that day.

It should come as no shock that the scripture that Chambers wrote about for January 27th was Matthew 6:25.  Further, the day before he wrote on Matthew 6:30.

God is so good and knows exactly what we need to hear when we need to hear it.

I've been through this book many many times, and in one of my passes through I underlined certain passages that stuck out to me.  This one particular paragraph, underlined years ago when I was just a college student,  jumped off the page at me like live wire:

"Consider the lilies of the field..." (6:28).  They grow where they are planted.  Many of us refuse to grow where God plants us.  Therefore, we don't take root anywhere.  Jesus said if we would obey the life of God within us, He would look after all other things.  Did Jesus Christ lie to us?  Are we experiencing the "much more" He promised?  If we are not, it is because we are not obeying the life God has given us and have cluttered our minds with confusing thoughts and worries.  How much time have we wasted asking God senseless questions while we should be absolutely free to concentrate on our service to Him?"

Ouch.

Senseless questions?  Uh yeah.  That would be me.  Right over here.

I believe that God is reminding me, sometimes daily, sometimes obviously, to grow where I am planted.  Not where I think I should be planted.  Not where I want to be planted.

Feeling the presence of Christ so near in that moment, I flipped through my journal, to the last thing I had written.  Another quote from Chambers, this time from August 10:

"God seems to plant His saints in the most useless places.  And then we say, 'God intends me to be here because I am so useful to Him.'  Yet Jesus never measured His life by how or where He was of greatest use.  God places His saints where they will bring the most glory to Him, and we are totally incapable of judging where that may be."

Ok God.  I'm listening.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

What If This Is It?

Way back, when hubs and I first got married (way, WAY back), we had really big plans.  What new couple doesn't, right?  We knew exactly where we were headed in the future, we felt God's calling on us and we were headed down that path, full steam ahead.  Confident in God's will and our willing hearts.

We knew God had called us to be missionaries, and we knew He was going to use us in a big way.


We did everything right:  schooling, experience, training.  All of it.  We had confirmation after confirmation of God's will in our lives.  We dotted all the i's and crossed every t.  It was only a matter of time.

And yet we found ourselves, 12 years later, a stay at home mom to four little girls and a retail manager.

Huh?

What happened?  Where did we go wrong?  Did we misunderstand God's will?


This was the question I asked over and over and over again for years.  As each door slammed in our faces and we slipped further still from our supposed "calling".  I harbored bitterness and anger.  Jealous of ones who fulfilled their dreams in front of our eyes, while we toiled away, in the in between time.  I felt abandoned, forgotten by God.  I struggled with the day to day reality of our life - each inconvenience created by hubs' decidedly secular job deepened the chasm that was growing between us.  I was being selfish, but I didn't see it that way.  I wanted what I wanted for our lives.  What I thought God wanted.


I was headed down a path of distrust and despair...


Until the day we received the biggest blow to our remaining thread of hope.  I love how God works that way.  Waiting until there is no hope, so that He can be our only hope.  Looking back on this moment, I know that if it had occurred at any other time, it would have been too easy to point to other things as the reason for my breakthrough.  My logic, or hubs' determination, or our sheer will to survive.  Anything could have claimed that glory.  But God waited to move until we had nothing left.  Because when there is no hope and yet you still have peace that passes understanding, you know where that came from.

It was that day, with wounds still fresh and stinging that God spoke to me clearly.


"What if this is it?"


What God?

"What if this is what I have planned for you?"


You mean this life?  The one we're currently slaves to?

"Yes.  What if this is it?  Could you be content in that?  In ME?"


But what about our calling?  We were so sure...

"Can you be content?"


But what about hubs?  He's worked so hard, poured years of his life into this calling...

"Will you be content?"


Will I be content?


Anyone CAN be content.  That's an ability each and every person on this earth possesses.  But, the choice, the WILL to be content, that's a different story.

I realized in that blinding moment that I was missing out on God's greatest gift in my life:  my life.

I had been so busy, certain of our path and frustrated at the detours, that I failed to see God's hand in the twisting road.  I was missing opportunities to fulfill God's calling in our life that very day, so determined to fit God into the little box I had created for our lives.  I was creating a pseudo-contentment in my life (and failing miserably), rather than turning to the One who could bring true, fulfilled contentment.

My life was changed in that instant.


When I was growing up, seeking God's will for your life was a hot topic.  Especially in college, when many life-altering decisions are made.  Should I date this guy? Is it God's will?  Should I go on this mission trip?  Is it God's will?  Should I change my major?  Is it God's will?


On the whole, I don't think it's a bad question to ask.  However, without realizing it, I allowed that question to be the Main Thing.  Searching for God's elusive will in my life.  And when hubs and I
"found it", because I had searched for it in that way, like it was a thing to be obtained, I mentally left very little wiggle room for God to do His work.

I had unknowingly reduced God to the size of what my mind could imagine.


In that moment when God broke through my smallness and showed me his immeasurable greatness, I realized that it's not really about seeking God's will for my life.  My life is about seeking God.  Because when I step outside of my little box, and allow his fullness to infiltrate every part of my being; when I draw close to him out of love and devotion and awe rather than what He's going to do for me; when I seek Him and leave the rest; that's where true contentment lies.  That's where I find the fulfillment of His will in my life.  That's when I become fully useable by Him.

I am still a stay at home mom to four little girls.  Hubs is still a retail manager.  And we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are right where we need to be.  Because we are seeking Him, not "the call" we once felt was so important.  The rest will fall into place.  Maybe the way we once imagined.  But most likely not, because God has big plans.

What if this is it?




Bring it on.



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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oh How Pinteresting!

We all know about my obsession with Pinterest.

So let's get down to business, shall we?

Here are some of the latests things I've pinned on my boards.  You can click the Pinterest banner to the right to see all the other goodies I've found.  I love followers and I love to follow back!  The more you're connected, the more deliciousness you will discover!

Mama Shall Have a Retreat
Everyone who loves builder grade mirrors, raise their hands!  Yeah... I thought so.  What a brilliant fix, right?  I LOVE the shelving in the middle.  And the moulding at the top is such a nice touch.
From hometalk.com

Mama Shall Have Style
I am forever on the search for great mother's jewelry.  I'm not a huge necklace person, I tend to gravitate towards bracelets instead, but this caught my eye.  I really like the inscribed message and the setting of the stones.
From etsy.com

Mama Shall Have Babies... Lots of Babies
I am loving these upcycled dressers!  I'm really regretting getting rid of our old one now.  What a perfect idea for hanging dress up clothes or doll clothes.  So easy too, even a non DIYer like myself could pull this off.  I like the IKEA mirror on the side too.
From 4.bp.blogspot.com

 Mama Shall Have Parties
With four girls, we have serious birthday planning to do through out the year.  I love how simple this decoration is.  And CHEAP!  Dollar store hula hoop and crepe paper and you're set!  This may or may not be making an appearance at shindig for a certain soon to be 3 year old very soon!
From housingaforest.com

Mama Shall Have Organization
Sigh.  Organization is a unicorn for me I think.  BUT, if it were to exist, it probably would in this form. I love how uniform and simple these canisters are.  MUCH better than my current system of clothes pinning shut the brown sugar bag and stuffing it between the peanut butter and a bag of rice.
From justpleasedaspunch.blogspot.com

Mama Shall Eat Well
For an avocado lover, these look divine.  Avocado and cream cheese wrapped in a puff pastry and baked?  Come to mama.
From loveveggiesandyoga.com

Mama Shall Celebrate
I'm loving all the inspiration (ha!) that Pinterest is providing for holidays.  How adorable are these little Valentine's?  I've already got the idea and supplies for our Valentine's this year (thank you Pinterest), but I'm definitely keeping these in mind for the future!
From thirtyhandmadedays.com


I'm linking up today with the Vintage Apple.  Come join in the fun!  Grab a button and link up!


google


Happy Pinteresting!!
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Monday, January 23, 2012

IKEA Spice Racks As Bookshelves - Things I Learned

As you saw in the pics of my girls' redecorated room last week, we put Pinterest to good use by taking someone's brilliant idea of using IKEA spice racks as bookshelves.

I had been wanting a wall shelf of some sort for the girls' books, because up until this point we have used a standard bookshelf and the books always looked like this:


Ok wait.  Actually they never looked like that.  Clearly I cleaned before taking this picture.

ANYWAY.  Bottom line, I was sick and tired of books being haphazardly thrown every which way in that bookshelf and longed for the on the wall version like they sell at Pottery Barn Kids and Land of Nod.

But who has $400 for a bookshelf right?

Enter the brilliance of Pinterest and IKEA.  I had found my answer.

So.  Now what?  Well, it was a labor of love getting those little spice racks from this:


to this:


Here are a few tips and ideas I picked up along the way.

1.  Each spice rack requires assembly with little to no instruction, which I understand is the norm for IKEA.  Fortunately, these were pretty much a no brainer, even for a non DIYer like myself.  Mobilize your troops and get to work.  Most of it is pretty simple, even for the littlest of fingers.


2.  Proper DIYers would probably have painted every part first, before assembly.  I was too impatient and I'm happy to report you cannot tell that these were painted after the fact at all.  I also did not bother putting any sort of lacquer or poly on these, nor did I sand them.  So far the paint has held up well to the wear and tear.  If you want a more polished finish you might add this step, but I didn't find it necessary.  I just slapped regular old room paint (the same paint we used on the furniture) on the racks with those cheapy foam craft brushes you can get at Hobby Lobby.  It took 2-3 coats.  2 for the shelves, 1 for my fingers.


3.  If you notice in that picture with Princess #4 putting in the shims, the racks come with standard wall hanging pieces already attached.  Hubs and I knew that books would be heavier than spices (obviously) so we knew regular old nails wouldn't work.  We bought drywall anchors like the ones below.  Now here's the big tip:  THESE DO NOT WORK.  After 4 racks fell under the weight of the books, stripping the hole in the wall in the process, we trekked back to Home Depot and picked up the hardcore metal butterfly anchors.  I didn't get a pic of them, unfortunately, but you will need them.  Especially if you're going to be housing heavy board books.


4.  Make sure you do your measurements and mark exactly where you want your racks to hang - ALL of them, before drilling your first hole.  This was difficult for us since we were hanging so many and trying to keep them centered and evenly spaced.  One thing we didn't consider too carefully was how high we were going.  My little princesses can't reach the top books without a step stool, which I would have rather prevented had I paid better attention.


Overall I'm really pleased with how this project turned out.  Like I mentioned before, the paint has held up well, as have the racks themselves.  Since using the metal butterfly anchors we haven't had any fall off the wall.  They don't hold quite as many books as I was thinking they would and I would actually like to add a few more to an adjacent wall, should I ever work up the energy to take this on again.  In all we used 13 racks.  We hung 9 on the main "book wall".


Then we also put two on the wall by Princess #1 and Princess #2's beds, just so they'd have some space that's reserved just for their own books.



Hopefully, if you're considering trying this anytime soon, these lessons I learned will help you out some.  I'd love to see pics of your completed project, so when you're done be sure to let me know!


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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Leave It To Hubs

Today so did not go the way I had planned.   I'll spare you the sordid details and instead just say one word:

Lice.

Uh huh.

*sob* *sob* *sob*

But before I was so RUDELY interrupted from my mindless Saturday morning perusing of Pinterest, I actually got a little crafty.

I'm sure if you have one eye and spend any time on the internet, you've noticed that subway art is all the rage these days.  I love it when I stumble upon freebies given away by some blogger with a golden heart. It makes my life so much easier.

But sometimes I can't find what I'm looking for downloadable for free.  And it's cool that people want to make money.  But I'm cheap.  So I decided to try my hand at making one myself.

My very favorite quote is by Victor Hugo, of the Les Miserables fame.  I have yet to see any subway art made using that particular quote.  AND, I have a blank space on my bathroom wall right above my toilet. So in my mind, I was going to make my own subway art, frame it and voila - free wall decoration.

OK, so are you ready to see it?
Ok.  Not as great as some of the ones I've seen on Pinterest, but not bad either right?  I was pretty darn pleased with myself.

So tonight, after dealing with the aforementioned hell on earth lice, I eagerly showed hubs my creation.

He read it through silently, while I described where I intended to hang it on the wall.  Then he repeated outloud:

"'Laboriously accomplished your daily task....'  you're putting this above the toilet?  The TOILET?"

BOYS.  *shaking head*


My dear friends, I do hope that you A) never ever have to deal with lice and B) have a boy in your house to keep things lively.  And keep you from placing quotes above the toilet that might be construed inappropriately.


PS.  In the dawn of fresh light I feel compelled to add that this whole blog post was possible last night because hubs demanded I sit at the computer and play around while he vacuumed all the carpets and furniture for me.  He's really a gem, that one.  


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Comparisons: Four, Five, Six Months

It's been awhile since I pulled out my sister comparison collages, so I thought I'd share a few more, just for fun.

I think it's funnier to compare my hairstyles here.  These pictures were taken at each of the girls' dedication services.  3 states, 4 cities, 4 churches, 4 pastors.  We've been blessed with such wonderful church families, and I'm grateful that we had the opportunity to dedicate each daughter to the Lord. 
4 months old - in the neglect-a-saucer.  Loved that thing.  So much we had to replace it by the time #3 came around.

5 months - ah the age of drool, and spit bubbles.  

6 months - aaaaaand...  we're sitting up!  I love this tripod baby stage.  And what's with all the serious looks?  Must be tough work.

I compared newborn photos up through 3 months of age earlier this past year, if you want to check those out.  And as always, if you do a comparison post, I'd love to see!  Link back to this post and let me know!

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Maybe She's Born With It

Does Sephora sell Fotoshop by AdobĂ©??  I have a gift card...



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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Your Patience Has Paid Off

If you're new to following The Planet Pink, then you are lucky.  Because the poor souls that have been reading my blog for awhile have been kept waiting 7 long months for this day.  Now I'm not so bold as to think it's been on their minds every day for the last 7 months, but then again I am pretty awesome, so what do I know?

OK, so without further ado, here are the much anticipated AFTER pictures of our Great Room Switch 2011.  We decided to switch rooms with our princesses, and here is the result (bear with me, there are scads of photos):

(oh.  And also.  I am not a photographer.  So if the pics are over exposed, blurry, blinding, or any other sort of wrong, you have my apologies.  One of these days I should learn how to use my camera.  But it seems like that's what everyone's doing.  I want to be different.  So bad pics it is.  Haha.)

I love this quote and it seemed so appropriate for a "book wall".  The decal was purchased from Amazon.com and was super easy to apply.
If there ever was a question of whether or not Pinterest is worth the time,  this wall should put that doubt to rest.  This wall makes me want to cry every time I walk by I love it so much.  Seriously.  Is that weird?  These are the famed IKEA spice racks.  $3.99 each.  We bought and painted 13.  The nine you see here and 4 that we have on the wall by the girls' bunk beds.

*swoon*

Where the sleeping happens.  Or the giggling.  I use that term sleeping loosely.  If you remember the before pictures, these bunk beds were white.  I knew I wanted them to be a fun color, but wow was painting them a pain!  I never want to paint furniture again.  Princess #3 and Princess #4 sleep on those mattresses under the bunk.  We just pull them out at night.  It's not a long term solution, but at least for the short term everyone has a place to sleep and we didn't have to spend any money, since we already had the bunks and the mattresses.

The lone bare wall.  What to do?  What to do?

Just had to look at the book wall again.  Hobby Lobby was my go to place for finding decorations on the cheap.  I love that they run 50% off sales constantly.

This dresser is so yummy in this color and I adore the lanterns - again, Hobby Lobby 50% off.

I'm telling you, I love it.

Don't ask how long it took for us to hang these suckers.

Another Pinterest win: the built-ins with the color.  I should just say, this room brought to you by Pinterest.


So there you have it.  In the end I am super pleased.  I have not yet regretted moving into the smaller bedroom so that our girls can have room to play.  And surprisingly, having all 4 in one room hasn't been a nightmare (yet).  I know that we won't be able to have the girls in one room forever, but for right now it works.  


I'm happy that instead of being dissatisfied with the size of our house and foolishly rushing out to buy a bigger one, we're being good stewards and maximizing the space we do have.  In doing this switch we essentially added an extra room, which now has become our office. We were able to do the switch on the cheap, and have come out ahead in space.  I'd say that's a win!


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