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Heger Family Farms

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Mom Stuff

Why 4H? 

4H is a club that I never knew about growing up.We had Girl Scouts on and off and I remember my grandma talking about Campfire Girls. But 4H… hmmm. Well, about seven years ago I began to discover all that it can offer. Yes- a lot of opportunities to do projects and raise and show livestock, but also opportunities to learn new things while gainig leadership and civic insight. 

So although the week before the county fair is stressful and filled with late nights and last minute painting, glueing and baking,  I enjoy all of it! Why? Mostly because it is  also filled with accomplishment, pride and memories! 

My daughter wrote the following article for a local paper and I think she was pretty spot on! 

4H: It’s for You and Me                                   by: Libby Heger

4H is a leadership club for youth ages 5-18 that provides an opportunity to learn new things and develop new skills. The 4 H’s stand for Head, Heart, Hands and Health. The focus of 4H is to better or improve the club, community, country and the world. I joined Kountry Kids 4H in Underwood when I was six years old. I got started because I wanted to learn more about agriculture and many of friends were joining too. I quickly learned that 4H was not only about agriculture but about developing skills in the areas of cooking, art, sewing, science, welding and wood working. 4H is also showing me how to be a leader and better communicator.

 

4H has a lot of opportunities for youth. Some of the opportunities I have taken advantage of include: camp, hippology club, Citizenship in Action, Tractor and ATV certification, livestock showing, communication arts, and static exhibits. Other areas I look forward to exploring are livestock and range judging. To me the benefits of being in 4H are learning new life skills, tips and tricks to things I already know to make them easier and more efficient, and completing new skill tasks. Being a 4H member can also help a person when applying for scholarships and continued training after high school graduation.

There are many activities that youth can choose to participate in and there is only so many hours in the day. Sometimes it can be hard to decide what clubs, teams and organizations to be part of. I know from experience that 4H is a club worthwhile and one I would highly recommend checking out! To find a club near you go to: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/mcleancountyextension/4h-and-youth

Autism: Through the Window

Emotions run high and often the question of “why?” enters the mind. The world of Autism is fascinating, it is frustrating, it is filled with promise!

autismBeing a parent of a child who seemed to be a typical child for the first 18-24 months, it was heart breaking when “little quirks” began to appear.  My child was content to do things or watch the same program for hours, he enjoyed being around adults, toe walked, was a VERY picky eater, black and white concrete thinker, easily overwhelmed and would melt down- crying, screaming and striking out. He was also extremely anxious. Amazingly even with all these struggles he still smiled, asked questions and woke each morning looking forward to the day.  I longed to hold my child, rock and enjoy his company instead of hold him for his own safety. I often told myself, “If I could just peek inside, see through the window”, maybe I would be able to understand and be a better parent.

I was a special education teacher and yet it wasn’t for many years that I understood what all was going on. Through the years we sought support: OT, PT, communication therapy, counseling and pharmaceutical interventions. I read a lot and observed. As the years progressed and with the help and support of amazing OT’s, PT’s, SLP’s and teachers we have made it to the final years of high school. I would have never imaged, but always hoped that we would get to this point. Truly today my child’s anxiety is manageable, eating habits improved, he has the ability to know his own needs and share them, think and function with less rigidity, and participate in “regular” activities with his peers and adults. I now cry for very different reasons. I am no longer scared for what the future holds- I am hopeful. I am not sad for what we have gone through- I have grown in understanding and compassion. I cry because my family and those around us have been blessed. It really is about deciding whether the cup is half full or half empty.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 9.08.33 AM
We’ll Get By (The Autism Song) Johnny Orr Band

Check out this amazing song and music video:                                                                       https://youtu.be/cBOSr7JK8OA?list=PL075BE3078E117E4C

As a parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum, I tell you keep the faith, be patient, do what is right for your child and family, and know that even when you feel there is no one else struggling like you are, that you truly are not alone! It is no a race to the end, but a journey. Love unconditionally and help them build and live THEIR dreams. The future is bright, the sunshine just may come from a little different direction than we expected!

Autism is not curable, it’s what I call curbable, moldable, shapable. A person will always have tendencies, it is part of who they are, but can learn to adapt their needs and understand the world around them.

“Everyone has a mountain to climb and autism has not been my mountain, it has been my opportunity for victory.” – Dani Bowman

What Does it All Mean?? Words, Sights & Experiences

Have you ever been reading along and felt like you totally understood and got the gist of what the words on the page were saying? Yep, I have too! But then you start talking with someone about what you read and they give you the look and probably a few comments expressing that you are out in left field and that what you thought you understood isn’t at all what they took away from the same piece. Yep, been there done that too!

So, how does one handle that situation and how does it come about? I am totally convinced that it is the  fault of three things either independent or comorbid with each other 1) lack of focus/ multi-tasking, 2) prior knowledge set, and perhaps what I blame the most 3) the miraculous brain that makes connections and assumptions without us even consciously knowing.

http-::mrslorber.weebly.com:
Source: Mrslorber.weebly,com
What exactly do I mean? Well, ….

  • Focus and multi-tasking: We, yes all of us, are always doing at least two things at once. We are focusing on one thing while trying to do another or trying to do two things while attempting to understand and/or listen, or we are really tuned in to one thing but the phone is ringing/ nose dripping/ radio buzzing/ or someone talking. There is always more than one thing happening! This also means that we often glance at words and assume what it says or means something.
  • Warning: This just kinda, sort of, well does connect to #3. We all have experiences. Not one of us processes each experience and set of information the same, nor have we been exposed to exactly the same experiences and information. We use these experiences to make meaning and create understanding of new situations, opportunities and information.
  • The Brain. What I can I say? It is awesome, miraculous and amazing. Sometimes it just does what it does. It can see words that “we think” are there but are really in all actuality different words. It assumes ( perhaps because of #1 or #2)  that something “says”, does or means one thing when it really is another. We skim over words and take in experiences superficially and thus the meaning we construct may not always be accurate.

So why do I write about all this? I write because as a mom, a consumer, teacher, and a farmer I need to be aware of these kind of scenarios. I need to make sure that I actually comprehend what is going on and know what I am doing, seeing, reading, experiencing etc. I figure if I need to, then a few others  probably do too.

Now, I bet you are thinking, “This is all fine and dandy, but what does she really mean?” Ok, ok. Here are some common examples….

Correlation vs. Causation. 

Correlation:  a tendency to vary together Causation:  a direct relation of cause and effect

Recommended vs. Restriction

Recommend: to advise or suggest Restriction: to stay within designated limits

Fact vs. Factoid

Fact: something that actually exists, reality, truth                                                          Factoid: Fun, false fact

Prohibit vs Outlaw

Prohibit: to forbid (by authority)       Outlaw: Exclude from the law

Guidelines vs. Directions

Guidelines: suggestion, framework, practice, indicator                              Directions: reference point, instruction, command

man-profile-visible-brain-confusion-human-full-wall-bricks-word-concept-illustration-psychology-43242926
Source: dreamstime.com
See, words can be confusing. We do, read, interpret within our constraints and biases. We all can do better at interpreting what is read, said, done, heard, and experienced.  It is easy to correlate something with another if given a direct and limited set of data. For example: Kids who play on the playground jungle gym get hurt.  It may be true, but how many? How often? What were the condition? Is it all kids? Are adults hurt to? Is it all jungle gyms? Can you really say that the jungle gym causes the children to get hurt or is there a simple correlation?  In another example, some would even venture to say that a certain food makes them sick. I ask, when do they get sick? How much do they eat? What are they eating with that food? Is it hot out? Has the stomach flu been going around? Are they on medications that interact with the food? Have they not eaten that food for a long time before they eat it and get sick? One may correlate the food item to a certain feeling or reaction, but without concrete evidence and eliminating all other possible influences causation cannot be made.

Same goes for the terms recommendation and restriction. Being a farmer there are a lot of different items used in planting and caring for a crop. Each seed and care product has different guidelines and directions. Often we have training to help us understand them, to help ensure that we use the products with efficacy. Many times, the human side of a trainer comes out. They don’t want to lower the hammer too harshly and they choose words that are easier on the ears and the hearts of those in attendance. Two terms that are often interchanged are recommended and restriction. It is important to make sure that the correct word is used and it directly impacts the actions taken. Recommended says that one should or it is suggested that a certain product is used a particular way. Restricted means that a product is only allowed to be used a specific way. Many times the term recommended is used because it is easier to digest, but it can have detrimental consequences.  If the label on a product says that it is restricted to a certain use at a specified quantity, then that is what is meant. Ot is not a suggestion. It is a requirement. Our words and actions impact others and can impact the livelihoods of ourselves and neighbors.

Anyway, ultimately, I wanted to remind myself and the few others out there that often float on the surface and skim though experiences and materials they read, to think about what it is that is happening, what it is that they are reading, and to take time to question the information and opportunities that we are engrossed in.

Words are tricky and our experiences and brain create miraculous meaning… it’s time we become active and help our brain understand what is really being said, done, experienced!

It’s time to engage!

Laundry Soap: Clean Work

I have seen posts about homemade laundry soap on and off over the years. My sister made some a few years back and raved about it and how cheap it was. I just kind of brushed it off as something that “others” do and thought it was a lot of work and really not much of a savings.

Well, I received a container of homemade laundry soap and the recipe as a gift and decided to try it out. It did a nice job cleaning clothes. The clothes, even the farm work clothes came clean and smelled fresh! So what did I do? I made some…. how much? Well, a years worth plus ! Really, I really made that much and it all fit in a 5 gallon bucket!

IMG_9487Now I am sure you wonder, what ingredients were used, why I made so much and what the cost was etc. So I will break it down.

Single Batch Ingredients: 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda (Arm &Hammer), 1/4 cup Baking Soda, 2 cups shredded Zote bar soap.

IMG_9483Directions: place all ingredients in a food processors and blend until the Zote is “pulverized” or fine. Place in a storage container and get busy washing away!  Use 1 TBSP for small- average size loads, 2 TBSP for large or heavily soiled loads.

( Single batch does 68 loads. I made 24 batches)

 

 

Cost for 24 batches: 

Borax: $3.97/ box x 3 2/3 boxes = $14.56

Washing Soda: $3.97/ box x 3 2/3 boxes = $14.56

Baking Soda: $2.99

Zote: $1.49/ bar x 12 = $17.88

Total: 49.99 ( $2.08 per batch)

WOW!!!!!!

That means that I made enough soap for 1632 loads or 816 large or loads of farm clothes. At our house we have large washing machines that I take full advantage of so I use 2 TBSPs at a time. I figure that I do 12 loads laundry a week plus about 30 extra loads throughout the year. That equals 654 loads a year ( give or take) which gives me a “little bit” extra in the bucket! IMG_9490

So how does homemade laundry soap compare to others that are frequently purchased?

ALL Free and Clear Pods: 45 pod package = $8.19 = $.18 per pod or $.36 for large load

Target Up & Up Pods: 35 pod package = $5.99 = $.17 per pod or $.34 for large load

Tide Pods: 42 pod package= $11.99 = .$29 per pod or $.57 for large load

Tide Liquid: 96 load jug = $17.99= $19 per load or $.37 for large load

Tide Powder: 68 load box = $11.99 = $.17 per load or $.35 for large load

Homemade Soap: 68 load batch= $.03 per load or $.06 for large load.

Double Wow!

The decision was pretty easy for me that the switch when I crunched the numbers! If you can spare about 2 hours mixing a few simple ingredients together, you can save quite a bit of cash!

Time to get busy…. laundry is one of those things that never ends!

 

Laundry Soap: Clean Work

I have seen posts about homemade laundry soap on and off over the years. My sister made some a few years back and raved about it and how cheap it was. I just kind of brushed it off as something that “others” do and thought it was a lot of work and really not much of a savings.

Well, I received a container of homemade laundry soap and the recipe as a gift and decided to try it out. It did a nice job cleaning clothes. The clothes, even the farm work clothes came clean and smelled fresh! So what did I do? I made some…. how much? Well, a years worth plus ! Really, I really made that much and it all fit in a 5 gallon bucket!

IMG_9487Now I am sure you wonder, what ingredients were used, why I made so much and what the cost was etc. So I will break it down.

Single Batch Ingredients: 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda (Arm &Hammer), 1/4 cup Baking Soda, 2 cups shredded (use cheese grater) Zote bar soap.

IMG_9483Directions: place all ingredients in a food processors and blend until the Zote is “pulverized” or fine. Place in a storage container and get busy washing away!  Use 1 TBSP for small- average size loads, 2 TBSP for large or heavily soiled loads.

( Single batch does 68 loads. I made 24 batches)

 

 

Cost for 24 batches: 

Borax: $3.97/ box x 3 2/3 boxes = $14.56

Washing Soda: $3.97/ box x 3 2/3 boxes = $14.56

Baking Soda: $2.99

Zote: $1.49/ bar x 12 = $17.88

Total: 49.99 ( $2.08 per batch)

WOW!!!!!!

That means that I made enough soap for 1632 loads or 816 large or loads of farm clothes. At our house we have large washing machines that I take full advantage of so I use 2 TBSPs at a time. I figure that I do 12 loads laundry a week plus about 30 extra loads throughout the year. That equals 654 loads a year ( give or take) which gives me a “little bit” extra in the bucket! IMG_9490

So how does homemade laundry soap compare to others that are frequently purchased?

ALL Free and Clear Pods: 45 pod package = $8.19 = $.18 per pod or $.36 for large load

Target Up & Up Pods: 35 pod package = $5.99 = $.17 per pod or $.34 for large load

Tide Pods: 42 pod package= $11.99 = .$29 per pod or $.57 for large load

Tide Liquid: 96 load jug = $17.99= $19 per load or $.37 for large load

Tide Powder: 68 load box = $11.99 = $.17 per load or $.35 for large load

Homemade Soap: 68 load batch= $.03 per load or $.06 for large load.

Double Wow!

The decision was pretty easy for me that the switch when I crunched the numbers! If you can spare about 2 hours mixing a few simple ingredients together, you can save quite a bit of cash!

Time to get busy…. laundry is one of those things that never ends!

 

Baking the Day Away

It is no secret that I like to cook and despise cleaning up after myself! Well, last week I had foot surgery and my mom came to visit and help a bit. You may be thinking, She didn’t. She didn’t make her mom clean up after her. She is almost 40 after all! No, I didn’t make my mom clean up after me, but she did allow me to make a mess along side her and volunteered to clean up so I could literally put my feet up.

I made several things…IMG_9354

  •  Apple Strawberry Rhubarb pie ( top left)
  • Peanut Butter Cranberry Chocolate Chip Granola ( bars which became crumble) ( top Right)
  • Cinnamon Logs ( bottom left)
  • Pizza Dough – for breakfast pizza

These were all amazing! But the best was this bread (bottom right) that my mom has been sending pictures of for months… Bread? Really? Come on- Yes, Bread! IMG_9363

It is like an artisan bread- soft center with firm, yet chewable crust!

What makes it so amazing is that there isn’t sugar or salt? Well, there is a bit of sweetness -100% ND honey!

But really, it is the texture and natural flavors all working together that make it terrific and what will now be my “go to” recipe! Besides there being a great recipe, the secret is using a seasoned cast iron pan with a lid!

So here we go….

7 Grain Bread

FullSizeRender_1Ingredients:   3 cups bread flour, 1 cup multi-grain cereal ( I used Bob’s 5 Grain Hot Cereal), 1/3-1/2 c. flax, 1 3/4 tsp salt, 2 c. room temp water, 3 Tbs pure honey, 1 tsp instant yeast.

Supplies: 3-5 qt Cast iron pan with lid, parchment paper

Directions: Step 1) Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add honey to warm water and stir until mixed together. Step 2) Slowly add water solution to dry ingredients, mix well. ( It will be sloppy and loose). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Step 3) Flour counter to roll dough in to coat outer layer.  Cut parchment paper big enough to sit in and cover most of the inside of cast iron pot. When hour is done, take dough out of bowl and shape into round “ball”. Roll in flour on counter to coat outside layer. Place on parchment paper and lower into cast iron pot. Trim off any parchment paper that extends above the top of the pot. Cover with lid. Step 4) Bake at 425 degrees for 30 mins, remove cover and bake for 5-12 mins to get crust to turn a deep golden brown. Check ever couple minutes after the first five. Step 5) Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Lift from pan using parchment paper.

Additions: 1 c. dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, herbs ( rosemary, thyme, sage) , cinnamon, dried apricots, dried apples, raisins… possibilities are endless!

Enjoy!

“Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”                                                                                                                                               –Mark Twain

Oh… Christmas Cookie

I LOVE to cook and despise cleaning up! Sometimes I get a wild hair and start cooking and baking away, not knowing if anything I end up with in the end will be good or if anyone will be around to eat it.

So what do I do in the cooking department for holiday baking? Well, it seems that I don’t do much. No real good excuses except that spontaneous cooking is much more my style and December always seems to be busy with little time for spontaneity. I do know though that I depend on almond bark! Almost everything can be coated or drizzled with it and if sprinkled or rolled in embellishments such as candy cane pieces, nuts, mini marshmallows and candy, it looks and taste scrumptious.

I also do make bars – often coloring the batter so that it is more festive. But cut-outs…. oh those cut outs… I just really struggle with them. They drive me crazy because my type A, controlling and perfectionistic personality causes me to have an quasi- panic attack. So cutouts in moderation are a must!

Last week when most of the kids at our house went downhill skiing the youngest and I were at home. She wanted to cook. So, I figured this was the perfect time for cut-outs. We made one batch of dough, cut and cooked, and then she decorated. Well, WE decorated. For you see, she still likes mom’s help when things start to get a little messy. It was a win-win for us both!

But I didn’t have any other holiday “baking” done. I hadn’t even made chocolate covered pretzels- boy was I behind! It was quiet and I had a little helper, so I figured that last Saturday was the day to try something new. With the sugar cookie recipe on the counter and my creative rarely follow a recipe cooking style in tow, I set to work. I switched out 1 stick of butter for a package of cream cheese, added a little almond extract and a bit of extra flour. They dough was tasty! So I rolled them into balls, used a cup with a grid pattern on the bottom and squashed them into what looked to be mini-pancakes and baked them for a bit…img_8147

When they were done cooking, they were a bit dull in color so an almond glaze went on top… then they were finished!

Easy, basic ingredients, tasty and enjoyed by many…. Next time I will split the dough and add color to each section. Then the cookie tray will be even more merry and bright!

 

Recipe: 

Dough: 3 1/2 half flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 cup white sugar, 1 stick butter, 1- 8 oz pkg cream cheese, 1 egg, 1 TBSP milk, 1 TBSP almond extract

Glaze: 4 TBSP powered sugar, 1 TBSP water ( or about) and a Tsp of Almond Extract. Mix until smooth and drizzle/ spread thin layer over top of cookies.

Preheat over to 350. Measure and mix dry ingredients- set aside. Mix butter, sugar,egg, milk, almond extract until smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients until mixed well and a ball of dough is formed. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Place parchment paper on cookie sheet. Roll dough into 1-2 inch balls, flatten and bake for about 7 minutes. They will be pale in color, check bottom- slightly golden is perfect!

Let sit for 2-5 minutes.

Add glaze and eat!

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Card Fiasco

So it is that time of year. The time of year that Christmas cards need to be addressed and I need to decide whether or not to write a letter to accompany it. I have to think about who  is going to get cards and who is not. Who has our family fallen out of touch with or, quite honestly, who can I skip if I run short. The trick is identifying that forgiving friend that is ok with a texted picture of the card and those who won’t even know they didn’t receive one.screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-9-30-28-pm

But the letter…that is the hardest part. With seven of us in the house I have to be fairly concise. I take a bit of time to reflect on the past year and feel like we haven’t done anything “out of the ordinary”. I pause to think about what others would want to hear and some of the things my kids and family have done. Finding the balance between sharing and bragging can be hard. Having a letter that doesn’t sounds like we live in a constant chaos and have too many different schedules is hard too. And heaven forbid I even consider saying something like, “As 2016 wraps up and 2017 kicks off, we couldn’t be happier that there will be able people required to go back to work, fossil fuels will regain vitality- drill and mine baby, drill and mine, and we are thrilled to know taxes will become more equitable and US companies will be returning to the US in order to make America great again.”  Who wants to hear about politics in a Christmas letter?!

I deeply believe that Christmas cards and letters should be filled with uplifting light-hearted highlights, stories and experiences – not politics or a written temper-tantrum and pout session.

As I await for my cards to arrive, with an unknown delivery status due to 2 weeks of crazy winter weather here in North Dakota, I sit down to write the letter that I have decided I need to write. But, as my fingers tap on the computer keys I will keep these 5 rules in mind:

  1. Keep Christ in Christmas and focus on our blessings!
  2. Share something school and extra-curricular related for each child!
  3. Share one family highlight!
  4. Keep it short and sweet!
  5. No politics!

So I ask that as you sit down to design cards or write letters think about what you really want to share and what is the most important, what sustains you from minute to minute, day to day and week to week. Keep some guidelines in mind and have some fun!

Merry Christmas to all (and because I don’t have cards to stuff and computer is about to run out of battery) to all a good night!

 

A Bag of Beans and More….

As I started making chili the other night, I wish I had taken a few minutes to soak some our farm raised Pinto Beans before heading off to work. I didn’t, so I used canned beans. Then I got to thinking, Beans…. who eats pinto, black, kidney, and white beans?  I always thought that beans were a sign of economic status- aka poverty. Meal kits and food baskets from food pantries and government food programs always provide and push eating them because they were cheep and nutritious- right? Is this true or my thoughts based on ignorance? And what are a bag of beans saying today?

fullsizerender-14
Pinto Beans

My thoughts then traveled through various memories. I reflected on the years when I was starting school. I remember money being tight. I remember my mom making some of our clothes and hand making Valentine’s – (how embarrassing). Often we ate scrambled hamburger and buttered noodles or a consisting of a canned soup, rice and a meat. I remember having pea soup made from a bag of 59 cent split peas, a bit of chicken broth, and a bay leaf. I remember swapping clothes with relatives and the “new to us” items.  During the same time I know that we received free or reduced lunch and I had to tell my teacher once that I couldn’t the pay the $3.50 field trip fee. Times were tight and tough. So, why do I share this back story? Because these experiences of homemade, a bags of beans and peas, and second-hand items still exist, but in many cases they carry very different meaning and value today than 30 years ago.

My thoughts then traveled through various memories. I reflected on the years when I was starting school. I remember money being tight. I remember my mom making some of our clothes and hand making Valentine’s – (how embarrassing). Often we ate scrambled hamburger and buttered noodles or a hotdish consisting of a canned soup, rice and a meat. I remember having pea soup made from a bag of 59 cent split peas, a bit of chicken broth, and a bay leaf. I remember swapping clothes with relatives and the “new to us” items.  During the same time I know that we received free or reduced lunch and I had to tell my teacher once that I couldn’t the pay the $3.50 field trip fee. Times were tight and tough. So, why do I share this back story? Because these experiences of homemade, a bags of beans and peas, and second-hand items still exist, but in many cases they carry very different meaning and value today than 30 years ago.

img_7546Trends have made the idea of homemade and rustic fashionable. Beans have become the alternate protein and highlighted in high-end restaurants and magazines. Online rummage sales and second-hand stores are popping up all the time. Fads and trends made popular with the influence of a few with people with some previlence of social status have made my experience of the less fortunate or financial challenged into the best “new” practices.

So, what do I think? I think the trend is great! Why? It encourages support for products that often went to the way side. It encourages creativity. It looks at options and provides variety. It can help people save money and potentially reduced stigma for the scenarios and people who have lived in the darkness of being less fortunate or going trough tough times.

Depite what I see as the cutain in which I hid behind and was emabarrassed of I see an open door of new chances. I have embraced this. I am working to help my children embrace this and help others see that what was doesn’t always have to be and some trends and fads are fabulous opportunities to break free! img_7542
Take time and visit a local second-hand store. Look up a quick bean recipes ( hint: many freezer meals include beans!). Have you thought of making your own halloween costume or birthday cards? A little bit of homemade and refurbished shows love and interest. Give it a try! Besides isn’t saving a few bucks, using your imagination and spending time with family making a few things something we can all do a little more of?

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