Category Archives: Tales of My Amazing Priests

Mistakes are Funny

I love my friends for many reasons. One of my very good friends has an awesome sense of humor and frequently makes me grin for hours thinking of our back-and-forth banter.

I usually get him and his housemates candy for Halloween. Since I can’t expect them to be any good at sharing… [I once brought a dozen donuts for the guys to share and gave them to my friend. He said, “Oh! 11 for me, and the other guys can split the remaining one!”] …I get them each their own plastic pumpkin filled with goodies.

And I spend hours — really, hours — separating all the candy into each pumpkin. Making sure that each guy gets exactly the same number of each candy as the other guys. Even down to color. Wouldn’t want there to be any fights because someone got 11 red and 9 yellow candies and someone else got 9 red and 11 yellow candies.

Because, obviously, they would be all fighting and pouting, or whatever. And we can’t have that.

But this year, I decided to offer a choice.

Me: And do you guys want tricks… or treats?
Him: Trucks

Clearly, this was just an autotext fail. Clearly. But it made me laugh for about 10 minutes straight. ๐Ÿ™‚

Me: Dump trucks? Pick up trucks? LOL!
Him: Yes

Hahahahahahaha!

I can do trucks. ๐Ÿ™‚ Watch me…. ๐Ÿ™‚

St. Ralph

Since I have a moment of free time, I’m browsing through some old e-mails and come across one with a question.

The situation is that I was hanging around outside the sacristy after Mass waiting for a friend of mine and overheard him (he’s a priest) speaking with a parishioner. I don’t pay attention really to these things, but it was quiet and I happened to hear the guy ask about prayers for an eye problems and mentioned St. Anthony.

My friend corrected him to St. Lucy, who is the patron saint of eye conditions.

Okay. But then I got to thinking… (Dangerous, right?)

I know nothing about horticulture, but I’d be happy to pray for the success of your garden.

Why NOT Anthony? I mean, sure, Lucy, but why exclude the guy? He might want different requests from time to time, you never know.

So, really, what we want to do is… have it as a Mass intention. That way all of the angels and saints will be interceding for your intention, no?

Just think of poor Ralph… sitting in heaven, no one asking him to intercede on their behalf. I bet Ralph goes over to Lucy and Anthony and helps with their lists.

That’s what I’d do… ๐Ÿ™‚

So… Now, I’m wondering…

*Is* there a St. Ralph?

Why, yes! There is! Check him out! ๐Ÿ™‚

And… just in case you were wondering… my friend told me that he’s sure that Ralph gets plenty of requests. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m Dying… What Does That Mean??

Every so often, there is a story that touches people so deeply, they share it with those around them. Which usually means that it’s in everyone’s Facebook feed or e-mail inbox and favorited on Pinterest and YouTube. This one is no exception. Today, it was the story of Zach Sobiech, a young man who died of osteosarcoma this weekend. But he lived amazingly, and that is what he will be remembered for. I watched the 22 minute long video of his story. And the music video to his song, “Clouds“. And the video that his friends and family made in response to his music video. They were beautiful.

I downloaded the song and played it over and over as I drove to church after work. It really made me cry.

It made me cry, because it made me think. I have a terminal illness. I have no idea how much longer I have to live. It’s not the dying that is upsetting, it’s the living. Am I living the way I ought? This young man clearly has touched thousands of people. What about me? Has my life “meant anything” to anyone?

What if it has not? What if I never really impacted anyone? What is it of me that will remain in people’s hearts after I am gone?

So, I cried.

I cried and I went into the church and I curled up on a bench in the Adoration space behind the tabernacle. I texted one of my best friends, “Do I make any difference?” I was grateful for the organ music being practiced in the church — this masked my sniffling and the way my breath catches as I try to hold the sobs in.

He texted me back, “Sounds like the evil one has your ear. The answer to your question is found by looking at a cross.”

OLGC Crucifix

Oh, the irony. I was sitting under a cross. Well, the church’s crucifix, to be precise, but that’s what he meant anyway.

I sat there, trying to understand. Trying to find the answer. What is it that he says about the cross? That you can know that you are loved because Jesus did *that* for *you*. That you are loved far more than you can ever imagine. That even if you were the only human on earth, He would still have become man and died for you. I have worth because I am made in the image and likeness of God.

This was helpful, but it wasn’t the main thrust of my upset. I know that God loves me, and that I have intrinsic dignity.

My crying let up, and I gave this all more thought. Why am I so upset? What is the problem?

I don’t think my life is making a difference or impacting anyone else.

Okay.

Which lead to another question:

Does this matter?

I thought back to my original question: Do I make any difference?

Difference to who? To God? Well, I guess in some ways, the answer to that is yes and no. I mean, God doesn’t *need* anyone. But for some reason, He wants me. He willed me into existence, sustains me here and invites me into relationship with Him. To other people? I guess this is the real question.

Do I make any difference? It’s more of a material question than an existential one. I want my life to somehow positively benefit others. Does it? How can I do this more?

Is this the right thing to want?

I think most people want greatness for their lives. They want to live heroically and with integrity. To be someone others can look up to. To be a saint. I don’t think most people look at their life and decide, “Hey, I want to be mediocre and average.” And it can be good — motivating — to have lofty goals and to set your standards high.

But…

Does this mean that if you do *not* make some material contribution to the good of others that you’ve “failed” at life? Let’s look at some extreme examples. What about people who were born without proper mental faculties for whatever reason, or children who have died very young or before birth. Were their lives less “important” than, say Mother Teresa’s? Of course not. While it’s true that Mother Teresa did amazing things and touched millions of lives, this doesn’t mean that others’ lives are of lesser value.

God doesn’t grade us according to our utility. We just tend to grade ourselves this way.

Another question: How much of my angst is due to my own pridefulness in wanting to Do Great Things and be recognized?

A good question.

After all, if my life in any way positively benefits someone else, it’s actually God’s doing, really, and not mine.

And why am I being all judging about how my life is impacting others’? Isn’t this somewhat of a mystery anyway? Isn’t this what is going to be revealed to us at the end of time when we receive our final judgment? Perhaps I have a greater impact than I know, and am being silly about being upset about it now.

As I was sitting there, praying and contemplating all these things, I heard Mass begin. What? Mass? At 7 pm on a Tuesday? I quickly checked the parish calendar and saw that there was a Men’s Fellowship Mass. Oh. Well, I’m not a man, so I don’t think that I can attend this Mass. “No girls allowed” and all that. But I didn’t want to leave. So I participated from the other side of the tabernacle.

It was kind of hard to hear, since the speakers weren’t set up for my location and there were odd echoes and things. But what I did hear felt like the Mass was just for me. The first reading was from Sirach 2:1-11, which is going to be one of my readings at my funeral services. It’s about knowing that there’s going to be a trial, and to persevere. The rest of Mass was kind of like this. I absorbed more of the spirit of it, rather than the verbatim of the readings and homily. There will be trials and temptations. Keep fighting. God is faithful. Things I really needed to hear.

This Mass was such a blessing. I felt much better. Not just emotionally, either.

I left for home after Mass. On the way out, I passed by the sacristy. Both of my priests were in there de-vesting. My friend was the one who had presided at Mass tonight. When he saw me, he said, “I just said Mass for you. Hang in there, kiddo.”

By the time I got home, everything was different. My worries were gone. Not only that, but it was like I had a reinvigoration of my prayer life and relationship with God, also. I could say that it’s my innate resiliency, or the fact that I finally realized that I was worrying over nothing. But I know what it really is.

Grace.

Thanks be to God.

Clouds
by Zach Sobiech

Well I fell down, down, down
Into this dark and lonely hole
There was no one there to care about me anymore
And I needed a way to climb and grab a hold of the edge
You were sitting there holding a rope

And weโ€™ll go up, up, up
But Iโ€™ll fly a little higher
Weโ€™ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear
It wonโ€™t be long now, it wonโ€™t be long now

When I get back on land
Well Iโ€™ll never get my chance
Be ready to live and itโ€™ll be ripped right out of my hands
Maybe someday weโ€™ll take a little ride
Weโ€™ll go up, up, up and everything will be just fine

And weโ€™ll go up, up, up
But Iโ€™ll fly a little higher
Weโ€™ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear

It wonโ€™t be long now, it wonโ€™t be long now
If only I had a little bit more time
If only I had a little bit more time with you

We could go up, up, up
And take that little ride
And sit there holding hands
And everything would be just right
And maybe someday Iโ€™ll see you again
Weโ€™ll float up in the clouds and weโ€™ll never see the end

And weโ€™ll go up, up, up
But Iโ€™ll fly a little higher
Weโ€™ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
Up here my dear
It wonโ€™t be long now, it wonโ€™t be long now

Uniting Your Suffering to the Cross

This is perhaps a timely message for me, and for many others. Especially during this time of Lent when many of us are inflicting “mini-sufferings” upon ourselves, it is good to know that God can use all of this. The things that we take on upon ourselves for reasons of self-discipline and love of God, and those sufferings which God permits. These are never good, to be sure, and we should not be seeking them out, but our prayer in the time of suffering is particularly efficacious.

Fr. John was interviewed by Dr. Ralph Martin of Renewal Ministries on this topic. The video is just under a half hour long and is well worth watching.

Oh No He Didn’t!

Fr. JJ

I was innocently sitting in the back pew after Mass on Sunday, when Fr. JJ came in, headed straight for me, thwapped me upside the head with his Day Planner, and then ran away saying, “God told me to do it!”

I tried to swat him back with my bulletin, but it didn’t do very much.

Priests! I tells ya! ๐Ÿ™‚

We Have an Amazing, Personally Involved, God

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It’s amazing how God works in people’s lives sometimes…. This is what happened to me after work yesterday. I had a bit of time since I didn’t have to be in Troy until 7 pm for the Fisherman’s Net Charismatic Prayer Group meeting. I knew that my house was going to be sweltering, as I turn off the 2 little window A/C units that I have before going to work, and didn’t want to hang out there. So, I went to one of my favorite after-work hangouts: OLGC! ๐Ÿ™‚

I had the double intention of taking some pictures of the baptismal font, as an upcoming theme for my Project 52 group is Water. I spent the first little while sitting on the floor by the font playing with the holy water. Marinating in holy water HAS to be good for you, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ And the floor was nice and cool — I loved it.

Next, I took a “video tour” of the upper floor of the church. I’ll see if I can get the video uploaded somewhere soon (sometimes I have an issue with file size, but don’t do enough video work to warrant getting a professional account somewhere). Of course, this started out with taking pictures of everything, as that is what I do. ๐Ÿ™‚ And, yes, I took over 100 pictures…. LOL!

I still had about half an hour until I wanted to leave, so I pulled a book out of my backpack and sat back down by the font to read. A little while later a woman walking down the hall asked, “Is there anywhere in this church where you can light a candle?” Since I had seen it on my video tour, I replied, “Yeah, it’s down the hall by the Mary icon,” pointing. I kind of watched while she walked down the hall, and it looked like she was getting lost in the seating area. I called after her, “It’s all the way at the end of the hall!” Then, I got up, hopped over the river of holy water and went over to her.

As I started to walk her down to the mosaic of Mary and Jesus, I noticed that she seemed a little upset. I asked her if there was anything wrong, if there was anything that I could pray for, for her. She started crying and told me that she had lost her house. Not only that, but she was a nurse, currently out of work, and had been staying with a friend until recently. Her friend had told her sister that it wasn’t working out, so she not only felt abandoned — because she was no longer welcome there and had no place to go — but she felt additionally hurt that her friend couldn’t tell this to her directly, but spoke to her sister. She was getting a little disillusioned, starting to question where God was in all this and becoming weary of her burden.

I gave her a hug and asked her if she wanted me to pray with her right there, in front of Mary. She said yes, so I lit a candle for her, and we both knelt down. She asked if I would pray, so I prayed aloud for all of her needs. She wept. She said how happy she was that I was there, that she had asked me a question, and that God had brought the two of us together.

After we prayed, we started to walk back down the hallway. She let me know that she was there to meet with some people from the Knights of Columbus and that they had been putting her up in a local hotel. She said that she had spoken to Fr. John and that he had put her in contact with the Knights. She said that he seemed like a nice man, and that she hadn’t known that he was in charge of the radio station. We talked a little about the radio station and she asked when his show came on. I said I could look it up for her and we walked over to where my phone was.

On the way, she noted that she had given Fr. John 3 Miraculous medals. I stopped and kind of looked at her for a second.

A couple weeks ago, I was feeling particularly bad and had been spending lots of time after work at the church. On one of the days, I ran into Fr. John while I was there. He asked if I had a Miraculous medal. I did not. He said that a woman gave 3 to him and he had been praying about who to give them to.

“He gave one of them to me.” She looked at me, “You’re kidding!” She asked me a little of how I knew him. I didn’t share a lot, but did agree with her that it was good to pray for him, as he tends to keep himself pretty busy. ๐Ÿ™‚ I sat down to write down the times that his radio program, “Christ is the Answer,” aired, and she went to get her soda and said she would sit down apart from me, so as not to “bother me” any longer. She didn’t realize that I was writing down the show times for her.

It was about time for me to leave, so I took the paper over to her, where I had written the show times (as well as a personal note for her). She said, “When I see Fr. John next, I’ll have to ask him how he got so lucky to have you in his life!” I grinned and laughed, “You’ll have to ask him EXACTLY LIKE THAT!” Hahaha! ๐Ÿ™‚

God is amazing the way He brings people together, isn’t He? ๐Ÿ™‚

Please join me in praying for her.

Presbyteral Ordination 2012

I love ordination! I have such a heart for priests that this ranks perhaps as my second-favorite Mass of the year, right after the Chrism Mass. (Who doesn’t love having *hundreds* of priests renewing their vows?!?)

The other thing I love is that I get to go down to the cathedral where, invariably, I meet up with a lot of my friends and get a lot of hugs! ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, okay, back to the men! And my overabundant enthusiasm. ๐Ÿ™‚ I can neither confirm nor deny that I said something like, “Muahahahahaha! Your lives are about to be changed FOREVER!!!” prior to the start of the Mass. Or was that *during* the Mass?

No matter. I’m sure you are anxious for me to get to the photos! After all, this is what I do best, right? Take tons of pix? ๐Ÿ™‚ Click here if you want to see *all* the pictures.

Here is (transitional) Deacon Salvatore Palazzolo and Deacon Paul Snyder, processing in:
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The Altar: what it’s all about!
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Dcn. Mateja, with Dcn. Palazzolo and Dcn. Snyder in silhouette in the foreground:
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Dcn. Palazzolo:
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Dcn. Snyder:
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My priest, Fr. John, praying over the new Fr. Steven Mateja, who will be joining us at Our Lady of Good Counsel in July! ๐Ÿ™‚
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Another of my priests, Fr. Eric Fedewa, praying over Fr. Steve:
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And over Fr. Paul:
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My apologies to Fr. Sal, I was seated, yes in an aisle seat, but halfway to the back of the cathedral and didn’t have a clear line of sight to you! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Fr. Lee Acervo praying over Fr. Steve:
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The mothers of the new priests got to present the gifts to Archbishop Vigneron.
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Since this seems to be turning into a Fr. Steve post (as I had the best line of sight to him), I’ll continue with this theme…
Here’s where he gets hugged a lot. I think they call it the Fraternal Kiss. First, with Bishop Byrnes:
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Bishop Hanchon:
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Bishop Cepeda:
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Cardinal Maida:
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Msgr. Monforton:
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Fr. Steve Pullis:
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Fr. Lee Acervo:
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Incensing the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist!
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And the Recessional with the newly ordained Fr. Salvatore Palazzolo, Fr. Paul Snyder and Fr. Steven Mateja!!! YAY!
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Rollerskating with St. Anastasia

For our end-of-the-year Religious Education celebration, we rented out Skate World! I had wanted to go skating for quite a while and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go.

It was a lot of fun to be skating with the kids and other members of the parish.

Both Fr. Eric and Fr. JJ showed up (and showed us up!) at the rink.
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Fr. JJ out on the skating floor!DSCN2170

Fr. JJ claimed to not have been skating in quite a while, yet he was more than comfortable out there. Fr. Eric zoomed around the rink with ease, forwards and backwards, weaving in and out of little children. Towards the end of the night, I tried for my former practice of picking the fastest hot shot out there and passing him, but was unsuccessful — because I feared taking one of the kids out. ๐Ÿ™‚ As far as the kids go, both Fr. Eric and Fr. JJ helped the kids with their skating throughout the night. Or was it the kids holding them up??? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Fr. Eric and Fr. JJ each have a flock of kids to hold them up!

As for me, the first few laps were extremely painful and I had horrible foot cramps. But, thank God, these subsided and I was able to skate the rest of the evening (we were there for 2 hours) with only (mainly quadricep) muscle fatigue to deal with. Close to the end, Fr. JJ got this great idea for us to (in skates) pose for a picture while standing on one foot.

Fr. JJ and I, on skates, on one foot...

Do not worry! Neither one of us fell! At least at this time. Earlier, I was skating with Mya and she had crossed in front of me. I didn’t have time to correct her and we both went down. I was able to catch her as we fell, so she didn’t hit the floor. I had a hard time getting back to my feet again and fell a second time, before Dave helped me up. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was pleasantly surprised that neither fall really hurt. So much for my falling fear, eh? ๐Ÿ™‚

7 Quick Takes: Friday the 13th!

— 1 —

God’s grace has been enveloping me this week. I am in awe of the gifts that He gives me and the way in which his is protecting me from my own sinful nature and deformed will, so that my heart may be conformed more closely to His. I supposed I shouldn’t be *that* surprised, since I pray for this all the time, but seeing Him answer that prayer is simply amazing!

— 2 —

Garden of Gethsemane

The most beautiful sight of the week has to have been the sight of my priest praying, prostrate, in front of the empty tabernacle on Holy Thursday evening. I stumbled upon this scene by accident, but it took my breath away. I couldn’t help but think of our Lord in the garden of Gethsemane, praying to the point of sweating blood — for us. To see my priest doing the same thing… What else could I do, but to be one of the apostles? So, I stayed some distance away and prayed (I *didn’t* sleep!). I prayed for him and for our parish, but I also spent quite a bit of time in prayer just to the Father. If he was praying in the place of Jesus, as an alter Christi, then I wanted to unite my prayers to theirs (his and His). I prayed at a bunch of altars of repose that evening, and I participated (as best I could) in many wonderful liturgies and events during Holy Week, but none captured my heart so much as those few quiet minutes of prayer in the garden.

— 3 —

Just a little bit of medical irony this week…. I had my follow-up appointment with my Pulmonary Medicine/Critical Care doctor yesterday. I was tachycardic, my blood pressure (instead of the nice 106/70 that it was last time) was 131/91, and my O2 sats had dropped from 99 to 93 (although the nurse, after trying a couple different fingers, saw it blip up to 95 momentarily and back down to the 93 it had been for about 5 minutes and recorded the 95).

So, even though my numbers were worse, apparently I was “good enough,” because he walked in and said that “healthy people can’t stay,” and told me that if I continued to do as well as I have been, I can stay out of the clinic until NEXT YEAR! ๐Ÿ™‚

— 4 —

Wall of Books

Hi! My name is Jenn, and I am a book addict. I recognized this truth about myself this morning as I was walking in the dawn light to my parish’s library to return a book. Typically, I run up book fines like crazy, but I am trying very hard, at this library anyway, to return my books on time. Nevermind the fact that I am currently reading something like 40 books. Or that I already have 2 other books checked out from this library, one on loan from the book exchange at work, about 7 checked out from the library at my other parish and several books at my house which I haven’t finished. Nevermind all that. Because when I stepped into the library this morning, aware that I was there not 12 hours previously (and I read 2 books at that time), I had the urge to check out yet another book

— 5 —

Writer’s Block… Who would have thought that it would happen on a 7 Quick Takes??? I know that a lot of things have happened this week, but when the time comes to put them into a blog post, I end up staring at the computer screen for an uncomfortable period of time. Does this ever happen to you, too?

I have been thinking that it might be helpful to keep some Sticky Notes on me, so that I can write myself a reminder during the week to prepare for Fridays…

— 6 —

Is it odd that in this highly digital age, having several computers and a smartphone, that I am still enamored of Sticky Notes? I have them everywhere in my house, in my books, in my purse… And, even though I have a Kindle, for books which are not purely for pleasure-reading (which is most of the books that I read these days), I prefer to have a physical book in hand. I used to be very anal about keeping my books looking as pristine as possible, but it seems like I have entered the phase in my life where I want to underline or highlight things which strike me and am enjoying the idea of having books which look “lived in.”

— 7 —

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Speaking of Addictions…. I also seem to have a love for photography, which is perhaps not surprising to those of you who know me. I used to instruct photography. Probably the most useful Christmas present which I have received lately is a small point-n-shoot digital camera that my parents got me. I had mentioned wanting to get a small camera which I could keep in my purse, so that I always have one on hand.

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So, I now have a small, purple Nikon that I take with me everywhere. Granted, it’s a point-n-shoot, with all of the weaknesses of such a camera (which is occasionally frustrating), but the ability to take photos at any time is so awesome! Like yesterday, while I was visiting the parish library, and happened to notice all of the flowers… ๐Ÿ™‚ Photos will be coming… As soon as I get home where I can download them! For now, you can see a few I took with my phone (the day before, when I had left my purse in the car… while visiting (again) the parish library… ๐Ÿ™‚

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

How to Make an Easter Basket for Priests

Making an Easter basket for priests is a very involved process…. One to be undertaken only after serious prayer and reflection, with love, charity and God’s grace! ๐Ÿ™‚

1. Start with a boy-colored basket.
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2. Add boy-colored, non-sparkly Easter basket grass.
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3. Add golf balls (or other sports-related items).
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4. Add carrot shaped plastic Easter eggs, which will contain verses of Scripture and prayers.
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5. CANDY! (In this case, Mary Janes becausewe are going retro)
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6. More CANDY! (Again, retro lemon drops because I know they will get a boatload of chocolate)
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7. Make sure everyone gets an identical serving. We don’t want any fighting, after all! ๐Ÿ˜‰
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