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JDoyscher

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About JDoyscher

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Denver, CO
  • Interests
    papercrafting
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL

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  1. I agree completely! We were NOT at work and that is always good! I was so happy to see my pants again... 😛
  2. When you get to the day of the cruise the app will change completely. It will have a place at the bottom that says "I'm on board". When you click that it will give you the option of signing up for the $10 messaging. One note on that... I was sharing an account with my husband up until that point. In order to message each other, you will EACH need to have an account. It was easy for him to set it up at that point. I hope that helps!
  3. Day 8 – Sunday – Disembarkation Miami We had the continental breakfast delivery again. As we are waiting for it to arrive, I start getting dressed. My heart hits my feet when I realize that, somehow, in all the chaos of packing… my PANTS were packed. That’s right folks. It’s almost time to get off the ship and yours truly has NO PANTS. I start freaking out while hubby is showering. Looking under the bed and any in every cubby. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE… Nope. No pants. I am wearing a long, thin, see-through nightie. I do have a bra, a tshirt and a pair of socks. But.no.pants. Hubby comes out from the bathroom and there I am white as a sheet in a dead panic. He says “what do you MEAN you don’t have pants?” He asked what did they look like. I tell him they were jeans capris with ripped up legs. Now it’s his turn to go white as a sheet. Apparently, that looked like something I didn’t need so he remembers throwing them in one of the big suitcases. And, ladies and gents, that’s how I have no pants. I remember reading “funny” stories about how you should be extra, extra careful so you don’t get off the ship in pajamas. And now here I am. Without pants. Luckily, the underwear that I wore to bed the night prior were kind of girl boxers made of tshirt material. So, not as bad as bikinis or briefs. But they are still WAY shorter than anything I would ever wear in public. They are also bright purple (my tshirt is cobalt blue). I am a plus size gal who is often horrified at what other plus size women deem appropriate to wear in public. Hubby says nobody will notice – nobody will care, everyone just wants off the ship. I am in tears saying I will notice and OMG OMG OMG. He points at the terminal and tells me that I can get in the suitcase RIGHT OVER there and to calm down and suck it up. When our color is called we head out to the line. The VERY VERY long line. The line starts in the forward elevator lobby, loops around by the theater, goes through one side of O’Sheehans, through the first part of the casino, through the second part of the casino, back through O’Sheehans and finally off the ship. The whole time I am thinking “I AM IN MY UNDERWEAR. IN PUBLIC”. We get our luggage and I am, DELIGHTFULLY, reunited with my pants. And probably nobody cared the whole time (and if they did nobody said anything). Of course, it’s funny NOW! Probably a running joke with my husband for the remainder of my life.
  4. Day 7 – Saturday – Sea Day We were supposed to be swimming with dolphins today and snorkeling and buying souvenirs. But instead we wandered to O’Sheehans for breakfast. Again, service was crappy. We ordered some juice that never arrived. I ordered bacon and French toast. The bacon was about as hard as any bacon on earth, very very very overcooked. The French toast was small and had raisins in it (why??? I hate cooked raisins). We didn’t get coffee refills either. We spent some money at the ship-board shops. Then lazed around the thermal suite for a while. Hubby went to Wasabi for sushi. He said the service was extremely slow, they were not helpful in answering his menu-related questions and the slow service resulted in him not getting to eat a second round of items. I went to the buffet and it was decent. We had dinner at the Manhattan Room again (booked on the app). Had a great table at the very aft of the ship. I had a (you guessed it) Caesar salad, a New York strip (thin and sadly over cooked) and strawberry shortcake (probably the best shortcake I have ever had). Hubby had Cajun gumbo, Caesar salad, chicken and sausage pasta and a blueberry cheesecake. He said they were all great. Off we went for a second round at Howl at the Moon. Yikes. This time was not good at all. I think it was the crowd. The sing-alongs weren’t robust and people seemed not that into it. After 30 minutes we gave up and went back to Syd Norman’s Pour House. The band was, again, amazing. They mixed it up so it wasn’t the same set as earlier in the week. High energy, corny jokes, great music that everyone knows… a good time for sure. We set out our clothes for the next day and packed everything up. Definitely ready to go home. Missing our cats and our 20 year old son. Put out our bags before the 11 p.m. deadline and watched what the ship TV gods had in store for us.
  5. Day 6 – Friday – Sea Day We were on our way to breakfast in Taste and there was an announcement from the captain. Apparently, after we left Tortola the day before, we had to turn completely around in the middle of the night to do a medical evacuation all the way back to Puerto Rico. As a result, we are not going to Nassau. The disappointment was absolutely crushing! We had booked an excursion to snorkel and swim with dolphins in Nassau and were planning to buy all our family/friends souvenirs there as well. The entire vibe/attitude of the ship changed at this point. The line at Guest Services was a mile long. We overheard one lady SCREAMING at a crew member near the Atrium saying they need to hand out Valium to everyone because of how angry we are were. Well, she certainly needed one. Not that crewmember’s fault that we missed 2 ports, now was it? NO need for anyone to act like this. We heard later through the grapevine that the medical emergency was some guy who got really drunk and almost lost his eye in an “accident” of some kind. Not at all certain this is accurate. We had breakfast in Taste. I had eggs benedict (average) and hubby had eggs, potatoes and pastries. We spent the day being lazy in the thermal suite and in our cabin. The wind was out of our sails for sure. They delivered letters from the captain apologizing for missing both St. Thomas and Nassau. They gave everyone a $100 on board credit (per stateroom) and said that we could apply 20% of our cruise fare to the next cruise if taken within 2 years. Nice gesture. However, nobody wanted their shore excursions refunded or a hundred bucks. We just wanted to do the fun things that we signed up to do months ago when planning. I can say that we are conflicted about another cruise at the moment. I am sure we’ll be ok once the disappointment wears off. But for now… We had a dinner reservation at Cagneys (booked in advance online). Our server was Krypton (yep, that’s his actual name!) and he was attentive and amazing. The food was amazing. I had the thick cut bacon appetizer (drool-worthy), the wedge salad (a nice change from the Caesar), the prime rib (excellent) with a baked potato (I love baked potatoes) and mac n cheese (kind of dry) and the 7 layer chocolate cake (now THIS is a piece of cake – unbelievable). Hubby had the colossal shrimp, the wedge, the porterhouse and the 7 layer cake. We were booked for Burn the Floor (since the first one was cancelled) and had time to kill so we went to the casino. We ended up playing blackjack and skipping the show. Our dealers were entertaining and fun. Oh, and we were on a winning streak. We ended up playing until after midnight. Drink service was HORRIBLE. It was over an hour to get a drink after it was ordered – every single time. The cigarette smoke there is thick. However, if you want to play in the casino you should just know that going in and not complain about it.
  6. Day 5 – Thursday – Tortola We woke up to beautiful views of Tortola. It was early morning and we’d had the continental breakfast delivered again. Enjoyed our coffee on the balcony looking at the gorgeous water and green hillsides. We had originally booked the “Norman Island Snorkel” excursion but it had been cancelled 2 weeks before the cruise, so we opted for the “Relax at Long’s Bay Beef Island” excursion. We met at the end of the pier at 7:15 a.m. We got into an open-sided bus thing and off we went. The drive from the pier was about 30 minutes. Our driver, Elroy, was a bit of a rough driver – gunning the engine hard at the base of every hill and flying down the other side. After 30 minutes of ups and downs along the coast (great views), we crossed off of Tortola and on to Beef Island. This was an unpaved sand road. Once arrived, we had exactly 2 hours to spend there. We rented an umbrella and 2 chairs for $25 from a vendor on the sand. There were some tents with bars and small amounts of merchandise as well. They had Bob Marley playing at a reasonable volume. The water here… AMAZINGLY clear and the color was an unbelievable shade of aqua. We spent nearly the entire 2 hours in the water. It got deep fast, so maybe 20 feet out you were treading water. There was a big floating trampoline a bit farther out that, apparently, had no actual trampoline in the middle (broken) so it was a big donut really. We floated in the water and enjoyed the views and the white sand beach for about 2 hours while listening to Marley singing “Don’t worry about a thing…”. Sometimes there were small fish around your feet, especially if you kicked up the sand. The sky was blue with puffy clouds and it was incredible. After our 2 hours, we loaded back up into the bus and took the same roller coaster route back to the pier (and some real scary moments where I thought I was going to get pitched out the side of the bus down a cliff and into the ocean). Got some great pictures of the Breakaway in port and excellent coastal pictures. They let us off at a shopping area called Pier Park. There was the obligatory diamond store as well as some smaller shops selling t shirts, souvenirs, bags, dresses, trinkets. After a bit of shopping we headed back to the boat to shower. After showing and hanging up our wet stuff, we headed to O’Sheehans for lunch. Service was slow and crappy. Drinks never came. I got the wrong food (ordered a nachos and a hot dog, got a nachos and burger), hubby had with wings (said they were as good as Buffalo Wild Wings) and a burger. This was the first of the sucky service experiences at O’Sheehans. The problem here is that it is SEVERELY understaffed. We played Deal or No Deal in the Atrium (cost was $25/each). Fun time for sure but we weren’t winners. A few thoughts on the Atrium… there is always something going on here. Some things we caught: cake decorating, lip sync battle, trivia games, battle of the sexes, a guy playing guitar/singing, dance classes, origami folding, movies, presentations on the art, future cruise destinations. The seating is very comfortable but is also limited and not at all sufficient to handle all the people in the area. If you go up one floor to O’Sheehans, you can sit at a barstool along the railing and have a good view. But it’s also hard to get those seats as well. I don’t know that we “planned” to do anything here. It was more like walking by and saying “hey, that looks interesting”. We spent a bit of time on the Waterfront. This is the outside of deck 8. There are comfy places to sit and it’s not crowded and there’s no loud music. We got some gelato which was an extra charge but very good. I had white chocolate and hubby had chocolate. Both were great. We had reservations to see Velvet that night. There was an upcharge (could not use specialty dining) of $29.99 per person. When we arrived, we were told that there was a set dinner menu. It took FOREVER to get drinks. We were seated at a long table with 8 other people. They had all been served appetizers and we waited for 15 minutes watching them eat. The appetizer, when it came, was prosciutto with a tomato/mozzarella salad. Quite tasty. The main course was surf and turf. This was a small steak (decently good) with shrimp (don’t eat seafood so I traded mine with hubby for some of his potatoes) and broccoli. Dessert was a trio of things. One small red velvet cupcake (yum), one small piece of the aforementioned and already-disliked flourless chocolate cake and a little flan thing (meh). We thought the show was awful. Maybe we were in the minority here, but the storyline (if you could call it that) was hard to follow. The “acrobatics” that were promised were limited to a couple who did acrobatics from a rope/strap from the ceiling. They were good and fun to watch. The rest of it, not so much. It was disco music and there was quite a bit of it that I did not know. I also never thought I would hear someone play “Stayin Alive” on a ukulele. We were just not impressed at all.
  7. Day 4 - Wednesday – Puerto Rico AGAIN We were awakened by a knock at the door with our breakfast selections. Continental breakfast selections are free along with a thermal carafe of coffee. You just fill out the paper (in the front of your room service menu) and put it out by 4 a.m. You can get an omelet as well but you pay the $7.95 convenience charge. Hubby brought in the tray and the moment he set it down there was an announcement from the captain. Apparently, we were STILL in Puerto Rico. (Which we would have seen had we gotten to opening the curtain.) Due to Tropical Storm Karen we would NOT be going to St. Thomas. The disappointment was HUGE!! But it’s the weather so what can you do? It’s hurricane season after all and this was the risk we took. We decided to go back to bed. Got up later and the coffee was still hot and had our pastries and fruit. We did not get back off the ship in San Juan. It was miserable raining and HUMID so we decided to have a chill day. We heard later that the port in St. Thomas was actually closed and that’s why we didn’t go. We played Bingo in the Breakaway Theater (cost extra… $98 for two of us) and won nothing. We headed up to the pool deck in search of some sun. The music here is always too loud and not our style (we aren’t into rap or hip hop.) Despite trying we could not find any available loungers. We saw two and got excited, got settled and realized we were right smack next to the smoking area glass. After 10 minutes it was too much, and we gave up. We hung out in the cabin the rest of the afternoon. We read and napped and ordered lunch from room service. There is a flat charge of $7.95 for this. I had a very yummy BLT with chips and flourless chocolate cake (never thought I’d say a bad word about chocolate cake but I was not a fan). Hubby had a Caesar salad with salmon and a cheesecake. He said both were amazing. Here’s where I’ll tell you about the selections on the ship’s TV. You have the safety channel, the please-buy-these-expensive-diamonds channel, the ship’s navigation channel (helpful to see the course of the ship, size of waves, weather forecast), the camera view from the front of the ship, the TV channel and the movies channel. The TV channel was apparently controlled by someone who randomly chose what was on. Sometimes you’d get a whole episode of something (shows we had never seen such as Mom, American Housewife and Superstore plus Big Bang Theory) and sometimes you’d be 10 minutes in and suddenly it was something else like a cartoon (Doc McStuffins or Paw Patrol). Completely unpredictable. The movie channel showed previews in long blocks. Then you’d get a random choice like Miss Bala, Marwen, Ant Man, Greenbook). There is a pay per view channel that had some selections for $10 each. We didn’t bother. We ate dinner at the Manhattan Club (reservation made from the NCL app). You should also dress more nicely here as well. I had the cheesy mashed potato croquettes (very good), a Caesar salad (now a running joke because we’d eaten so many), the chicken cordon bleu (very good) and a mocha cake (delicious) for dessert. Hubby had a Caesar salad, fish – snapper (yes, again) and an apple tart (he says was good). The Burn the Floor Dancers did some dancing with the band which was fun. Off we went to see Rock of Ages. This was a great show. Definitely racy and risqué. I would not bring kids in here (though someone a few rows up had a toddler – WHY?). The story was easy to follow, it was really funny, and the music was amazing. I highly recommend this! We were tired so we decided to hit the comedy show and relax. The comedian we saw (Ahmed Bharoocha) was just not funny. We stayed the whole set anyway and decided we were tired and headed off to bed. After the show we went to the buffet for some late night snacks and then off to bed. We had a 7:15 a.m. meeting time in Tortola the next morning.
  8. Day 3 -Tuesday– Puerto Rico Arrived in Puerto Rico right about the same time that Tropical Storm Karen did. Disembarking was easy and quick. San Juan was bracing for the storm so there was not much to actually do. All the shore excursions had been cancelled. We wandered in and out of small shops which, for the most part, had the exact same items in them. It was also about 100 degrees and nearly 100% humidity. It was raining off and on. We spend a couple hours wandering around. Seemed the only place that had any action was Senor Frogs. Most all places were shuttered, some with signs saying, “Closed for Karen”. It was easy getting back on the ship. Puerto Rico was not originally on our itinerary when we booked the cruise in January. It was added in May. It was the port we were the least excited about. We went to Moderno for dinner (reservation booked online in advance). We have been to Brazilian Steakhouses before (we love Texas de Brazil). The salad bar/buffet had amazing options. Our waiter here was Harold. He was just delightful. He told us how he works 8 months straight on the ship with no days off so he can support his family in the Philippines. It was cool to learn that he’d been with NCL for over 10 years. He was singing to himself as he cleared plates. We tried most of the meats that were offered. The sirloin and the flank steak were favorites. The sides of mashed potatoes (yum), buttered rice (yum), black beans, sautéed mushrooms (yum) and the little cheese rolls (take them away because I can’t stop eating them). The fried yucca was weird. We ate too much and didn’t have dessert. Reviews say the meat was too salty here but I did not think so. After dinner, we went to guest services to see if we could make a change to our Cagney’s reservation. While there, we learned that some of the shore excursions in St. Thomas (next day’s port) had been cancelled due to low water visibility. Ours wasn’t listed so we were happy. We went back to Syd Norman’s and caught the tail end of karaoke and then hung out and listened to the band for a bit. We wanted to make it an early night since we had St. Thomas the next morning. Got back to our cabin and saw that we had a phone message. Our BOSS Underwater adventure had been cancelled in St. Thomas. We selected and booked a shopping/sightseeing excursion from the NCL app and turned in for the night in anticipation of a fun day in St. Thomas.
  9. Day 2 – Monday - Sea Day We got up lazily on day 2 as we had a couple’s massage appointment at 1:30 p.m. We went to the breakfast buffet at Moderno (free). It was run of the mill buffet stuff. Most notable thing was that the orange juice seemed really watered down. We went and hung out in the thermal suite as we waited for our massage. Couple notes about the thermal suite: The men’s locker room connects to the suite, but the women’s does not (should be the other way round in my opinion). It’s also fairly warm in there. I don’t know how people can lay on the heated loungers for very long in there! The pool is really great and so are the bubbles – it’s like you are an ingredient in a wonderful people soup. The salt room was great for dealing with congestion and cooler than the other spaces in the suite. No children under 18 in here so YAY. They sell passes to the thermal suite – the number of passes is supposed to be limited and the cost is cheaper to book online ahead of time. If you want a place with no kids and amazing views (you are at the very front of the ship, just over the bridge so you have the same view as the captain.) Once in the massage suite, we were told that it was a 75 minute massage. We were sure we’d booked 50 minutes. They argued with us and told us we had to pay for 75. We decided “whatever” and had the 75 minutes. As far as massages go it was middle of the road. We selected hot stone and that is always a good choice. After the massage we got dressed and the therapists came back in. SERIOUSLY hard sell here. They attempted to sell us everything from body brushes to detox supplements to weight loss plans. They gave us the bill and it was $470 for the massage including the tip (we didn’t buy any of the upsells). Bit pricey, but hey we were on vacation. We spent a bit more time in the thermal suite before heading back to the cabin to shower and get dressed for dinner. We ended up in Savor. I had bruschetta (very good), sliced roast beef (decent) and Boston crème pie (yummy). Hubby had a Caesar salad (good), the pork chop (great) and a scoop of chocolate ice cream. We were supposed to see Burn the Floor but an announcement told us that they were “unable to produce” the show that night. We headed into Syd Norman’s Pour House. Night started with Karaoke. We don’t sing but we were entertained by (most) of the people. After Karaoke, it was the Pour House Band. This was HANDS DOWN the best entertainment venue on the ship. Seating was comfortable and the band was awesome. They switched up between lead singers often, so it was never the same person. They played songs mostly form the 80’s but also some 70’s. Servers did a decent job of getting drinks to you in a timely fashion. Super fun night!
  10. Day one – Sunday – Embarkation in Miami We flew in from Denver on Saturday morning. It was extremely windy and POURING rain the entire time. It started to clear a bit as we headed towards the port in our Uber. We stayed at the Royal Palms resort in Miami Beach but could not access the beach due to the weather. The breakfast buffet here is excellent! We did make it out into the rain and found a cool cat cafe and had some coffee and cuddles. Embarkation was really smooth and easy! Yes, there were lines but they were well organized and moved very quickly. One note here if you are traveling with a passport card (vs. a passport book) they will have you sign a waiver. The waiver states that if you get left off the ship in any port then you are basically screwed since your passport card is not good for air travel. We signed up for the $10/device messaging on the NCL app. This came in extremely handy. Not only could we message each other when we got separated, but the app showed what we had booked as well as everything going on and the times/locations so you could change up your plans on the fly. Worth the ten bucks in my opinion. You could easily find something going on. We ate lunch in Taste. I had the chicken nachos (yummy), a burger (meh) and an orange chocolate mousse (OMG YES!). Hubby had the Caesar salad (good), the fried chicken (meh) and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The service was good, and we were glad that we had taken the advice to avoid the Garden Café on embarkation day. We did the tour of the spa. We were in a spa balcony cabin, so we already had access to the thermal suite. The spa is just a hard sell at every opportunity and the tour is a classic case of this. The upselling is nothing short of aggressive. Last cruise hubby won a massage – no such luck this time. We did book a couple’s massage while there as this was out 10 year anniversary trip. After the spa tour, we headed up to deck 15 for sail away. It was overcast and a bit rainy. Had some yummy frozen daiquiris and chilled out until we were out of port. Then we headed off to the cabin to unpack. We were happily surprised to see how much storage was in our cabin. We were able to put everything away without junk all over the place. The closet was decently sized (hangers were a pain in the butt) and there was storage in the cabinets and two big drawers under the couch. Our large suitcases fit well under the bed. We used one of the empty suitcases as a hamper for dirty clothes. We took the advice to bring magnetic hooks. Those little buggers were an amazing idea. They held up all our papers (Freestyle Daily, etc.) We also used them to hold up wet swimwear, hats, lanyards, etc. The walls and the ceilings are all metal so they stick to everything. I got a set of 20 from Amazon for about $10. They were tiny when they arrived but held like champs! We were in cabin 14704 which is a spa balcony. We were on the same level as the bridge and only 3 cabins back from the front. Made it impossible to see where the ship was headed because of the bridge sticking out but this didn’t bother us. Hubby is afraid of heights and thought this might be an issue, but he was good on the balcony and didn’t have any issues. This was a VERY quiet cabin. With only a few cabins ahead of us at the end of the hall the foot traffic was very limited. We never met or even saw our cabin steward. If we wanted ice at turn down, we simply left a note for him/her. No towel animals or snacks or anything extra whatsoever. Just the basics. We got ready to head out to our dinner reservation at Le Bistro (booked online in advance). You do need to dress nicely to dine there. I wore a maxi dress and hubby wore a short sleeve button down shirt and long pants. The food was amazing! I had the French onion soup (YUM), the filet (tender and delicious) and the dessert fondue (it was all fruit for dipping… would have like some pound cake or marshmallows or something). Hubby tried escargot (yummy), sea bass (he liked it) and the profiteroles (yummy with ice cream in the middle). After dinner we went across to Headliners where Howl at the Moon was playing. This was SUPER fun! There were 3 guys playing the piano and drums. They traded out for breaks. They were really good. The crowd was fun, everyone was singing along, and the vibe was great. The only bummer there is that the chairs are all hard made of wood. Your butt will get numb if you stay for a while. It was worth it. Very high energy in there! They played everything from American Pie to Copperhead Road to Paradise by the Dashboard Light. They were very versatile and could do just about any song well. You just filled out a little ticket with the song you wanted and put it up on one of the pianos. It seemed that if you put some cash or a shot of booze with your request ticket they’d get to it a lot sooner. We were there until it closed down and they never did play my request (My Sharona by the Knack). The waves were big – over 18 feet for a lot of the evening and night due to the dissipating Hurricane Jerry as it moved away. Lots of rocking and lots of having to use the handrails. They closed all the outer decks for safety reasons. The bed was much firmer than we like so we had some rough mornings until we got some stretching done. The room also had quite a lot of light (we like it as dark as possible). The culprit seemed to be the lights on the thermostat. Wish I had a piece of masking tape on hand to cover it! But the room was always blissfully cool when it was hot and humid outside and we never had to fiddle with the thermostat.
  11. I thought I would share my (long) review of the Breakaway trip we just returned from. Sadly, we did not go to either St. Thomas (Tropical Storm Karen) or Nassau (due to having to turn around in the middle of the night due a medical evacuation to Puerto Rico). More about THAT in my entries below. Hubby and I are both 47 and are from Denver, CO. We were on our 10 year anniversary cruise. Our only other cruise was on the NCL Star to Alaska for our honeymoon. The Breakaway was massive compared to the Star. In the end I think we preferred the smaller ship. I will warn you that we are not lay-in-the-sun-and-get-a-tan kinds of people. So if you’re looking for a solid review of the pool deck this probably isn’t for you! We started out in a BC category cabin on deck 11. I bid on the Upgrade Advantage and won the upgrade to B9 which has the thermal spa access. My total bid was $125 per person and I put it in as soon as I received the email notification. I was notified 32 days out from sailing that I had been upgraded. Was a great deal because that’s about half the cost to pay for the thermal suite access. I’ll post one part/day at a time so this isn’t one marathon post. Feel free to ask questions… I’ll answer as best I can. I do highly recommend reading all the way through to the last day’s post. You’ll get a good laugh at my expense.
  12. LOL! I'm not sure who is more excited for this vacation... us or him! 🙂
  13. I called Sprint and it's a whopping $60 A DAY! I think the social media plan will be the best option.
  14. I saw that the NCL app can be used for messaging and that there is a $10 fee per phone. Each of the phones needs the app. My question is whether this would work with someone NOT on the cruise as an easy way of contact. Leaving our 20 year old son alone at home and wondering if he had the app and we paid the $10 if that would work? Seems unlikely but you just never know! The kid is super responsible but I'm still his (paranoid) mother. 🙂
  15. Thank you! That seems like great news.
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