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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Goodbye Kindy Days!

One week into the school holidays and I'm finally having some time to catch my breath.

Over the weekend, I took some time to upload some photos that had been sitting in my camera and came across some photos from the last day of school made me smile. The last day of school is traditionally a huge water play day for the whole school. Staff and helpers arrive early to fill over 10 pools, with one strategically placed under the playground slide, turning it into a water slide! It is one of the highlights of the kindy calendar. 

This year's edition was particularly poignant for us since it was Noey's last. The weather threatened and we woke to grey skies. I thought there was a chance that the whole event might have to be cancelled. But God heard our fervent prayers and the weather held out -- it was cloudy but fine. Perfect weather in fact outdoor water play. He truly provides.

Did the kids have a blast? You can bet they did! The teachers gamely got in the act too -- and got wet! 




There was a festive atmosphere about that morning as plenty of parents took time to hang out and help out. For most of us K2 parents, it was also a chance to catch some last photos and say our goodbyes. I braced myself, but I didn't feel as sad as I thought I would. Mostly because I knew I was still going to be coming to the school for another 3 more years for Mei, and I would still see a number of the mums whom I was fond of in the coming year. It was a morning to celebrate the end of school, and I think we all made the most of it.

It was only right at the end, when the kids had been dried, clothes changed and ice-creams eaten that it sank in for Noey. We were hanging around, ready to leave but not quite leaving yet when, in the midst of playing, he told his friend "I will miss you." His friend's mother couldn't help it -- she started tearing at the point. As for me, my heart ached for my little man, for friendships made, treasured, but which might have run their course. I am not the best at staying in touch with friends. Despite at times appearing gregarious, I can also be quite a recluse. I find it hard to ask people out, even people I know well. I just have a bad habit of over thinking everything -- whether it's the right day, whether the other person would enjoy the activity, whether it's too far away, too expensive, too cold, what the wet weather alternative should be, where we can eat… and then I become paralysed and I don't arrange anything. But for my kids, I know have tried, and must continue to try harder. 

The last day of school encapsulated what school has been for Noey these past four years. It has been a place for him to learn, grow and play (and enjoy little treats!). It has been a second family, a home away from home. Like all families, we don't always agree with everyone or all the decisions made, but I know that those in charge have the kids' interests at heart, and that their service is rendered unto God first then unto men. That is good enough for me.

And so, the first and last year EVER of my two kids being in the same school at the same time comes to a close. As Noey moves on, I can only place him in the Lord's hands and pray -- that he would find friends that he can love and trust and who have his back, be given teachers who care not only for his learning ability but his character and growth, just as he had here in kindy. Good bye kindy, you have been good to us and we will miss you.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sofzsleep Through The Night {Discount Code + Giveaway}

When bedtime rolls round and it's time to settle down to sleep, do you know what this family zeroing in on?

PILLOWS. (Ok, and mummy's elbow for Noey, if he could. Yes, he still tries to reach for it when he thinks I'm not paying attention!)

Noey has two, Mei has two, and the husband… well, he'd have five if I didn't object! Seriously, I'm not even kidding. 

So, as you can imagine, the family was incredibly excited to be given the new Sofzsleep Classic Latex Pillow. More pillowzzz! Everyone was eager to test it out and it quickly became one of the favourites. Here's why:


1. Great Support -- The chief reason that everyone gave the Sofzsleep Classic Latex Pillow the thumbs up was that it was great to sleep on! The pillow was low with a slight contour to the centre, making it comfortable for the kids as well as us adults. Offering the right amount of support, it was easy to fall asleep on and offered the right amount of neck support.

2. 100% Latex -- One of the reasons why the Sofzsleep Classic Latex Pillow offers such good support is because it is made of 100% certified latex. Latex has a natural elasticity and I love how it moulds to the shape of your head and yet springs back in shape once your head leaves the pillow. This latex pillow never needs fluffing and the material is cool and comfortable all night long.

3. Dust Mite Resistant -- Because the pillow is made from 100% premium grade latex, it is dust mite resistant, something that I really appreciate as a mum trying to keep my family safe and healthy. Latex also has natural anti-microbial properties, and is resistant to mould, mildew and fungus. 

4. Good Size -- This pillow is a comfortable standard size, which means it fits into all regular pillow cases. It also fits two cheeky tikes when they choose to!


Thank you Sofzsleep for more comfortable nights! For more information on Sofzsleep's latex pillows and beddings, do visit their website at www.sofzsleep.net and the Sofzsleep Facebook Page. Sofzsleep is also having a special promotion: from 22 Nov 2014 to 4 Jan 2015, get a 15% discount off all products by quoting "Life is in the Small Things"! Place your order through:

Pillows for the new year, anyone?


And we have a giveaway for all blog readers too with 1 SOFZSLEEP DESIGN PILLOW (full adult size, RRP: $118) to be won! Let the kids use this pillow or grab it for yourself! To enter this draw, you have to complete the following steps: 

1. Visit the Sofzsleep Facebook Page.

2. Visit the Life is in the Small Things Facebook Page

(While you're there, we would greatly appreciate it if you could like these pages!)

3. Comment on this Facebook photo telling me why you would like to win AND Tag a friend.

You have to complete ALL 3 STEPS to qualify so don't miss any out!

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to indicate that you've done the above. You can also get additional chances by completing the rest of the steps.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sofzsleep Giveaway

Terms & Conditions:

  • This giveaway ends on Fri 28 Nov 2014, 11.59pm and is open to Singapore residents only. 
  • Winners will be contacted using the contact particulars provided when entering this giveaway and will have 24 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. 
  • All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. 
  • To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (eg. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.

Good Luck!

* My pillow monsters gladly received the Sofzsleep Classic Pillow from Sofzsleep for the purposes of this review. All opinions remain our own.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Play, Learn and Explore with the Doctor For A Day App {Giveaway}

Since Noey recently declared his intention to be a doctor when he grows up, he was thrilled when I recently told him that I had just the thing for him to get started on his "training": the 'Doctor For A Day' app by Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital

Ok, this iPad-starved boy of mine would be thrilled play with any game on the iPad, but this game is one that I, at least, would be happy for him to be spending his screen time on.

Mount Elizabeth  DFAD App  FREE Children Game

The 'Doctor For A Day' App was developed by Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital following the overwhelming response to their 'Doctor For A Day' programme, and allows children to bring their role-playing experience back to their own homes. The first of its kind here, this edutainment application is filled with many learning opportunities to stimulate children's minds and rouse their curiosity about the medical profession. Better yet, children can earn points and unlock achievements while playing the games and exchange these for actual physical doctors' toys. 

Noey was certainly thrilled when I handed him to iPad to give it a go. I sat down next to him while he played and I confess there were times when I wanted to take it over and play on my own -- it's pretty fun! Here's what you can find on this app:

1. Doctor's Office -- Customise your very own doctor avatar to start. There are a whole host of options: you can choose the gender, skin colour, hair style, style of glasses (because all doctors wear glasses, yo. Must be the many years of hard studying...), and moustache (the girls get pretty hair accessories). You can also change the wallpaper for the room.  This is what Noey came up with. He's Dr Smith. Dr Smith earns tools for his doctor kit as he completes his tasks and Noey is just dying to get more stuff.

Mount Elizabeth Dr Smith

2. Little Surgeon -- Here the children are taken step by step through surgical procedures like a tumour removal surgery and a cataract surgery. They are taught to inject, incise, and suture, amongst other things. But first, don't forget to wash your hands! This game is easy enough for Mei to manage as well, which she does competently. 

Mount Elizabeth Operating Theatre

3. Anatomy Memory -- A memory game where you learn the part of the body at the same time. There are three levels of difficulty and as it gets harder, you get more cards and race against the clock to complete. We had quite a bit of fun with this one, and found ourselves racing against each other to get the fastest time after a while!

Mount Elizabeth Anatomy Memory

4. Pharmacy Panic -- Take on the role of the pharmacist and dish out the correct medicine to your patients, but do it quick before their patience runs out! This time based challenge was my favourite. It was panic indeed for us, especially in the hardest level where it got tricky trying to get all the medication right within the time period and before the patients got grumpy! It certainly trains your observation skills and accuracy.

Mount Elizabeth Novena Pharmacy Panic

So, fun and educational? This certainly checks those boxes.

The rewards from playing with this app are real too, because from now till 12 noon on 25 November 2014, if you try your hand at the "Hard" level of Anatomy Memory and are among the top 400 players on the Leaderboard, you will receive a Golden Ticket to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital's upcoming Doctor For A Day programme! You can read about Noey's experience during the first run of Doctor For A Day last year here. So if you're keen to let your kids be a Doctor For A Day, here's some incentive to download the app and get cracking! The 'Doctor For A Day' app is available for download on all iOS tablets (not the iPhone) and Android smartphones and tablets here. Recommended for 4 to 8 year olds.

Mount Elizabeth DFAD


Thanks to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, we also have A PAIR OF TICKETS to their popular Doctor For A Day programme to giveaway! This pair of tickets is for the session on Saturday, 6 December 2014 at 3.40pm. (The programme runs for 90 minutes.) Do note that the child has to be between 5 to 10 years old to participate in the programme.

To enter this draw to win a pair of tickets, you have to complete the following steps:

1. Like the Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital Facebook Page

2. Like the Life is in the Small Things Facebook Page

3. Comment on this Facebook photo telling me the names of two of the games you can find in the Doctor For A Day app, AND Tag two friends to join the giveaway as well!

4. Leave a blog post comment here telling me what you like best about the Doctor For A Day app, and leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win.

You have to complete all 4 steps to qualify so don't miss any out! 

Terms & Conditions:

  • The child must be between 5 years to 10 years of age to participate in the Doctor For A Day programme.
  • This giveaway ends on Thurs 27 Nov 2014, 11.59pm and is open to Singapore residents only. 
  • Winners will be contacted using the contact particulars provided when entering this giveaway and will have 24 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. 
  • All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. 
  • To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (eg. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.

Good Luck!

Mount Elizabeth  DFAD App 1

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Getting In The Act with Act 3!

Let the wild rumpus start!


And so it did, on a Saturday morning a couple of weeks back when both Noey and I got to attend a drama workshop at Act 3 Drama Academy. Yes, you read that right. I rocked up with Noey on a Saturday morning expecting to be watching him have fun but instead found myself taken to a separate room with the other parents and given a short 30-minute session to allow us to experience first hand a taster of what a drama worship at Act 3 Drama Academy entails.

Frankly, I wasn't prepared do be participating in a drama workshop of my own -- it's been more than 20 years since I participated in an Act 3 workshop of my own! -- but I quickly warmed up to the idea as our instructor for the morning quickly put us at ease. We were put through a series of activities which the children would themselves be experiencing in their own group.

First, some Warm-Up Exercises to get us thinking, moving and using our voices.

Then we were encouraged to move around to develop our Spatial Awareness, not just of ourselves but also in relation to the use of space in the room. This saw us moving around creatively, alternately being led by different parts of our bodies like our noses, or our left leg!

Next, we were introduced to the concept of Tableau, where one uses one's body to create a still picture to represent a scene. First by ourselves, then in groups, we moved to music and froze in positions to represent a story. It was fun and funny too! 

Lastly we were given a taste of Improv, and yours truly was roped in to play an annoyed mother. Not something I'm unfamiliar with, thankfully! Together with Edmund (Edunloaded) as the Dad and Mark (Parenting with Purpose) as the rebellious teenage son, the scene involved us parents lecturing our son and we were free to come up with whatever we pleased. This was the trickiest segment since what do in your role is heavily dependent on your co-actors -- what they say and what they do.

I certainly learnt a lot from that short session!

Act3drama2Our improv scene.
(Thanks @olimomok for the pic!)

After we rounded up our session, we went to join the children in theirs. From the moment I walked in, I could tell that Noey had had a great time. They had been exploring the same elements of drama as we had, re-enacting Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are. We watched the children in some scenes and joined in for some others, and I could see that Noey was really in his element, eagerly volunteering for roles, contributing his ideas, and roaring his heart out. I loved watching how uninhibited he was and how much he got into it. 

I also loved how engaging and animated the instructors were, and how there were no right or wrong answers, or right or wrong ways to doing things. We were all free to express ourselves and boy, did we have a lot of fun doing that!

Act3drama3Max sending the wild things away.

Act3drama4Noey here is Max, waving goodbye to the wild things as he sails for home.

Act3drama5Let the wild rumpus start!

The instructor later told me that she found Noey really creative and that she really enjoyed having him in the class. I think I'd overlooked how much of a creative spirit my little man is till it came rushing out at me that morning. Perhaps that ability of his to turn on the tears at will would come in useful for something after all! I think drama is something we would be exploring more of in time to come.

If you're interested to in exploring drama with your kids too, Act 3 Drama Academy has a series of exciting Holiday Workshops this November and December for children from ages 2 years (with accompanying parent) right up to 15 years. These workshops are based on water-inspired classics such as The Snail and The Whale by Julia Donaldson (for 3 to 4 year olds), How The Whale Got His Throat by Rudyard Kipling (for 5 to 7 year olds). Promising to be highly interactive, these workshops seeks to encourage children to think creatively, verbalise their thoughts as well as discover and develop their sensory skills, as well as broaden their imagination. Do check out the following links for more details:

Thanks for a wonderful morning of discovery, Act 3!

Act 3 Drama Academy
126 Cairnhill Road
ONE-TWO-SIX Cairnhill Arts Centre
Tel: +65 6735 9986
Web: www.act3international.com.sg 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Orchard Parade Hotel Family Staycation

I love me a good staycation, especially one which the whole family is able to enjoy.

A couple of weeks back we had the opportunity to check out (or rather, check-in into) Orchard Parade Hotel to experience their Family Staycation Package on behalf of TheSmartLocal.com and it was a welcome break for all of us. I have a soft spot for this hotel since it was here, albeit in its previous incarnation as Ming Court Hotel, that my parents celebrated their wedding banquet nearly 40 years ago. Considering how constructions is a constant in Singapore, it delights me whenever I am able to find and hold on to a piece of the past. This hotel is one of those pieces of my family history.

OPH1Orchard Parade Hotel.

Of course, while the building still stands, the hotel itself is very different. Renovations over the years have kept the hotel current and it continues to draw visitors keen to take advantage of its location at right at the entrance to Orchard Road, our country's most famous shopping street.

 OPH2Bright and airy lounge area.

So this hotel might be one of the stalwarts around, but we quickly discovered that one advantage that an older hotel has over some of the newer ones is: Room Size. We were booked into a Family Room and were quite bowled over by the size of it when we first entered. At 50-60sqm, it was HUGE! Even with a king bed and super single, there was still plenty of room for a sitting area and a small dining table. I reckon it's the size of a suite in some of the newer hotels. There was also a balcony (though there wasn't much of a view) and a good sized bathroom with a bathtub and separate shower. It was very comfortable, and the child-friendly touches, from the towel animals on the bed, to the craft packs that the kids received, to the child crockery and utensils were made us feel right at home.

OPH4The very large Family Room. There's a balcony beyond the curtains too!

OPH5Plastic bowls and cups for the kids

OPH7Getting bunny to sit straight...

OPH8So happy to see this doggie!

OPH6Getting into the craft packs they found waiting for them. I was really pleased to have this table, which sits 4, for the kids to colour and draw at, and eat their snacks.

One of the highlights of our stay was the pottery painting session that is included as part of the Family Staycation Package. In the heat of the mid-afternoon, we were more than happy to be ushered into the air-conditioned activity room, but were even more excited to find that a whole playroom set up for some family fun. The kids were instantly drawn to the cartoons being screened, and balloons and a large version of aeroplane chess to play. And on one side, a table set up for some painting fun. The kids were given a clay cupcake-shaped container and guided to use acrylic paints to design and decorate their own. When they were done, the cupcakes were left out to dry, after which we could bring them home. Mei in particular was very chuffed with her handiwork and has been using the container for her accessory odds and ends.

OPH9The playroom!

OPH12Balloon hats

OPH10Trying out a jumbo sized-aeroplane chess game.

OPH13Happy to be painting!

OPH14Concentrating on their task.

OPH15Painting on the chocolate chips.

OPH11The completed cupcakes!

Of course, no hotel stay is complete with a swim, so we had to squeeze that in too.

OPH16The pool area.

OPH17My water baby!

We had to zip off for Noey's graduation ceremony before returning for the night. I teased Noey that the stay was graduation gift to which he asked why we couldn't stay a further night. Perhaps another time, son!

The article I wrote for TheSmartLocal.com is out -- you can read it here: Orchard Parade Hotel - Gigantic Family Staycation Rooms. Click over for more details and package rates.

Thank you Orchard Parade Hotel for your hospitality and for making our stay a memorable one!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Riotous Fun at A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare's Globe

"The course of true love never did run smooth."

And how it did indeed run riot in this absolutely stellar production of A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare's Globe Theatre!

I felt a tingle of excitement from the moment the actors stepped out on stage in their renaissance costumes and I continued to be riveted throughout this madcap, highly inventive staging of one of Shakespeare's most beloved plays. A Midsummer Night's Dream is a comedy and indeed we were kept laughing as this comedy of errors unfolded. 

Commanding the stage were West End stars Janie Dee and Aden Gillet in their double roles as Titania/Hippolyta and Oberon/Thesus whose strong performances really drew the audience into the story. You could feel that perceptible discontentment they had with each other, which led Oberon to play a trick on Titania by bewitching her, causing her to fall in love with the ass-headed Bottom. In this regard, the portrayal of the fairy folk as they were as earthy woodland creatures with antlers and skins, was a surprise, but one that was appropriate to convey the raw, sensual nature of the woods and also Titania's attraction for Bottom. 


The four Athenian lovers were delightfully young and their love for the object of their desires appropriately and shallow. This was brought to life by richly comedic performances, causing it not to be too difficult to imagine Lysander's and Demetrius' overnight turn of heart from Hermia to Helena. 


But the biggest laughs were reserved for the rude mechanicals, whose earnestness shone through even as they fumbled through their preparations for the staging of their play. Their final play-within-a-play of Pyramus and Thisby had the whole audience hooting with laughter, with the actors all crammed on a stage which was far too small, sinking their feet into unreliable floor boards that required urgent repairs even as the show had to go on. 


It was a lot fun. What I loved best of all is that this production made us fall in love with Shakespeare again and admire the sheer genius of his writing. All the lines which I worked so hard to memorise, all that clever use imagery and word play that my teenage self slaved over picking out of the script, they jumped out at me as I watched this show. Shakespeare, like music, is best heard and experienced than read. Then only do you truly experience the magic.

I had high expectations for this production and I was blown away. This is A Midsummer Night's Dream as you would probably have experienced it during Shakespeare's time (with a couple of funny local touches thrown in)! The last show is tomorrow. Please don't miss this!

A Midsummer Night's Dream is now on and runs only till the last show on Sun 16 Nov, 3pm. Click here for more ticketing information.

*We were invited to watch this show for the purpose of this review. All opinions remain authentically our own.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The K2 Graduation and Year-End Concert Milestone

These past few weeks has been tough for my mummy heart. 

First there was this: 


Yes, folks, I've got a (kindy) graduate on my hands.

For the first time his school decided to have a separate graduation ceremony for the K2s, so instead of receiving their certificates at the annual school concert, the little graduands got to have their own ceremony. I really appreciated the effort made by the school to do this. It meant two events (this graduation and the school concert), an additional set of rehearsals and two weekends spent in school for the teachers, but it meant that there was more time to celebrate these children at this milestone in their lives.

The programme for the night was a surprise for the parents, something Noey was very gleeful about. But my son can't keep a secret for long, and by and by, I came to realise that the children had been working on art work and a little sharing about what they wanted to be when they grew up. So what was his ambition? I'll tell you in a moment!

Saturday evening rolled by and it was a huge crowd that had gathered to watch sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, grandsons and granddaughters graduate for the first time. I was bubbling with excitement for my little man. I was not going to cry, I told myself. I didn't, but when I watched the pre-ceremony slide show with pictures of the children as wee little 3 years olds in Pre-Nursery, I did start to feel a little emotional. Where have all the chubby little faces gone??

Thankfully when the ceremony started, I felt nothing but pride and gladness over how far my little man had come. The same emotional little boy who took four weeks to stop crying and who still makes the most interesting observations came home with the "Most Reflective" award. The teachers gave each and every child an award for the character trait they had most exemplified. I thought a lot of them were spot on, including Noey's. 

After they received their certificates, the children stood on stage and proudly declared their ambitions for the future. Lots of them brought smiles to the faces of those watching. There was a little boy who wanted to be the President of Singapore, and another wanted to be "a boss like my father because I want to tell people what to do". A little girl wanted to be a teacher and come back to their kindy "so that I can teach children like me!". There was one little girl who wanted to be a Mummy because she loves children. I liked that. Her mummy is a SAHM and I think it's a testament to her time spent with her kids that her daughter wants to be a mummy too.

As for Noey, this is what he told everyone: "When I grow up, I want to be a doctor because I want to find a cure for the Ebola virus!" There was quite a roar of approval and amusement after he said that! Well, I hope that the cure for the Ebola virus is found way before then, but I love my little man's big dream and how it's really so him -- to pick up on a current issue, to be worried about a natural calamity and to want to do research! "I want to be a doctor-scientist," he has told me, and was delighted to find out that there was indeed such a thing. I'm sure his grandparents would be totally chuffed if he did decide to become a doctor! Perhaps he can fulfil their dreams in this respect the way I never did.


No sooner had I caught my breath after the graduation ceremony, then this and this happened:


The annual concert, and with two to watch this time! Mei performing in her first-ever performance, and Noey in his last. That day, I really felt it -- that ache as you watch your babies step out into their own. Still your babies but in so many ways, babies no longer. I was a bundle of emo-ness, I tell you.

The concert, it was great. The sessions take turns to perform their plays in English and Chinese, so Noey and Mei's play was in Chinese this year. Entitled "大微的故事", it told the tale of David and his anointing by Samuel. The second session performed the story of David and Goliath. Each year, the performances by each of the classes is cleverly woven into the story. The Pre-Nursery and Nursery children will perform group dance items and join in the group singing while the K1 and K2 children will be given roles and speaking parts in addition to group performances. In getting this to stage, the children have a lot to learn, from lines to songs, especially when it's in Chinese!

Mei and her classmates were little sheep dancing to 耶和华是我的牧者 and it was, as it always is with the youngest class, endearingly chaotic. I've seen her rehearse this dance a million times at home but on stage, Mei was excited but shy, hesitant to really get into it. Watching her reminded me that she is a wee one yet. More self-conscious than her brother, she isn't as comfortable on stage but I know she will come into her own in time to come. I loved seeing her up there. And in that adorable costume! Better yet that it was handmade by the teacher and children themselves. The headgear is made from an old white t-shirt with the front cut open and the sleeves tied to create ears. The kids then worked on sticking cotton wool on a piece of paper that was stuck to the top of their heads. It was so creative and the kids all looked so cute in it.

Noey's role was that of one David's brothers (Ozem) and while he only had a couple of lines, I thought he pulled them off flawlessly. No credit to me -- his teacher taught him! My offers to help him learn his lines were waved away impatiently. The most impressive part is that his teacher managed to teach the entire K2 class to recite Psalm 23, yes the whole Psalm, in Chinese! "So that they will carry the Word with them," said his principal when I commented on this while speaking to her after the concert.

Her words really reminded me of what we had prayed for when we chose to place Noey in this kindergarten -- that he (and now his sister too) would learn not just how to read and write, but also the word of God. To not just be prepared for Primary One but to be prepared for life with the proper grounding in Christian values, the school complementing what we teach at home. As I look back on how he's grown over the past four years, not just in stature but in maturity and understanding, I know he has been blessed by being here.

In a few days it will be the last day of kindy and after that, P1 orientation. Dear Lord, let my mummy heart hold out!


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