My Little Ballerina: Nasreen’s First Ballet Lesson

This is her, “let me go meet the other kids face”! lol Annoyed at mommy taking pictures

My four year old daughter from the moment she could walk has stood on her tip toes. It is something that most people have noticed when they see her, because it is so peculiar. She runs and jumps all from the balls of her little feet. When we started considering sports and activity classes for her to take, ballet was at the top of our list. She loves to dance and has been drawn to ballet since she was very young, and her natural ability to walk on her tip toes was an added bonus.

It took some time to find the right program and timing that worked for our schedule, but I finally found the perfect class! She started last Saturday. On Friday night we went to the store and got her a leotard and tights and what I thought were ballet slippers. When we got home she was so excited to put them on. She looked so cute! Sadly the slippers that were in the section with the rest of the legitimate ballet stuff and were labels ballet slippers, were not authentic! They were more for play around the house then for dance. Luckily they had plenty of pairs for the kids to practice with at the studio.

Doing her stretches

In the morning I woke Nasreen up which did not take much effort at all, when I reminded her that today was her first ballet lesson! I did her hair in a little bun and she was so excited to look like a ballerina! The teacher is very warm, fun, energetic, and classically trained. The girls in the class, all four years old were, were all so sweet and inviting toward my daughter. When the teacher put on a pair of ballet slippers on Nasreen she told her to try them out by standing on the balls of her feet. Nasreen stood all the way on her toes and the ballet teacher was amazed, and told Nasreen that she had very strong toes! Nasreen blushed!

Sitting up nice and tall

The teacher led them in stretches and other exercises while teaching them the positions and forms. There was a focus on posture and maintaining a strong body. The teacher would go around and slid her finger down the kids spine reminding them to sit up straight and tall. The kids would laugh and sit up taller. I noticed that as Nasreen sat with the other girls that she looked like a ballerina. Her back was already so straight that she did not need to be reminded. Nasreen had so much fun and was not shy at all. When the class was over, Nasreen looked at me with the saddest face, and told me she did not want to leave yet. I reminded her that she will be coming back next week and this made her feel a bit better.

Since the class Nasreen puts on her ballet slippers all day and practices leaping and twirling around the house. I downloaded an illustration of the first 5 positions in ballet and she has been practicing them. It makes me so happy to see her enjoy herself and to use her natural energy and athletic nature for something so beautiful!

After the class I put a jumper over her leotard and tights and she asked me to take a photo of her, she was feeling so happy from her class!

Saying No to my Daughter: Teaching Delayed Gratification

Nasreen and her Special Easter Balloon

My daughter loves Helium balloons. There is just something wonderful and magical  about their bright colors and ability to fly that excites her so much. Whenever we would go into the grocery store she would see the helium balloons floating in the air and would get so excited! One day she asked, ” Mommy can I have a balloon”. She was so sweet and the balloon was only a couple of dollars. I thought to myself this would make her happy and it is something that I can afford. Why not get her that balloon. Then I remembered a study that I had read back in college about the effect of teaching delayed gratification. Teaching children the value of waiting for something rather than having their every whim and want fulfilled instantly. So I paused for a moment collected my thoughts and answered my smiling hopeful daughter. ” Nasreen today we are at the store shopping for food not for balloons”   Her smile disappeared! I continued, ” Balloons are for special times like birthdays or holidays.” Easter was coming in a few week so I asked her ” Would you like the Easter bunny to bring you a balloon with you basket.” Her smile returned instantly! “Yes” she replied.

For the next few weeks she talked about that balloon, and speculated what kind of balloon the Easter bunny was going to bring her. “Mommy will he bring me a red balloon or one with flowers?” She was so excited. At the grocery store she would look at the balloons and say “Mommy the Easter Bunny is going to bring me a pretty balloon!” She no longer asked me to buy her a balloon while at the store. She even told the store clerk all about her balloon coming from the Easter bunny. On Easter morning she ran from her room saw the helium balloon tied to her basket! She beamed with happiness! She loved that balloon more than anything else in her basket! She had waited for it, counted down the days, and this made it that much more special to her.

You might be thinking to yourself, it was just a balloon! Why make her wait so long?! 

The answer lies in the the Marshmallow Study! 

Here are some exerts from that study, a link to the source has been posted at the end

“In the 1960’s a Stanford University psychology researcher Michael Mischel, demonstrated how important self-discipline is to lifelong success.He started his longitudinal study by offering a group of 4-year-olds one marshmallow, but told them that if they could wait for him to return after running an errand, they could have two marshmallows. The “errand” took about fifteen to twenty minutes. The theory was that those children who could wait would demonstrate that they had the ability to delay gratification and control impulse.

“How important is your child’s ability to delay immediate gratification? (Very important.) Is self-discipline a predictor of a child’s success later in life? (Yes.) Can a child who does not know how to delay immediate gratification be taught this skill? (Absolutely.) About fourteen years later, when the children in the experiment graduated from high school, the Marshmallow Study revealed startling differences between the two groups: the children who waited and did not gobble up the single marshmallow, were more positive, self-motivating, persistent in the face of difficulties, and able to delay gratification in pursuit of their goals. They had developed the habits of successful adults. The habits, the centerpiece of which is delayed gratification, point to more thriving marriages, greater career satisfaction which leads to higher incomes, and better health. On the whole, the preschoolers who were able to wait for two marshmallows, over the course of their lives, have a lower BMI, lower rates of addiction, a lower divorce rate and higher SAT scores.!” (i)

Life is all about delayed gratification, here are just a few examples

School/College

Graduating from college is one of my greatest achievements

Many of us spend four years or more in college to reach a professional goal. Lets face it college is hard, we work hard and study hard. We give up free time with our friends and family! Learning new knowledge can be frustrating and difficult. Its alot easier to quit!   We delay our gratification for the hopes of a larger reward in the future! The dream of achieving a goal!

Saving Money

For those that want to buy a house, go on an expensive trip, or buy a new car we all know that you have to save ! You have to cut costs. This may be in the form of decreasing food bills, so eating at home instead of out. This could also mean forgoing the purchase of new clothes or other expenses! Saving money is hard, no one wants to go without the things we enjoy! The rewards can be great! Well worth the sacrifices! Many people in the United States run up credit cards because they do not save money or wait to make a purchase!

Marriage

Marriage is hard! There are good times but there are hard times as well. The United States has a divorce rate of  of 50%. I honestly believe that alot of divorce is related to individuals inability to see the future good through the difficult situation.

 Life is a series of difficult choices!

Are we willing to forgo something now to get something better at a later time. Will you wait for the second marshmallow or gobble up the one you have now ?

This is an important skill to teach our children. This ability to delay gratification will have lasting effectw on their entire lives. We may have the means and the desire to buy our kids whatever they want, but should we ?

Does it truly make them happy?

What does it teach them about life? 

Is it preparing them for the real world?

I have the means to buy my daughter a balloon every-time we go to the store. I choose to make her wait for a special occasion. I choose to teach her that THINGS are not what make us happy. I teach her that waiting is beneficial, and that it can yield a larger goal. It is hard to tell a child no! They get upset and cause a scene at a store. They may interrupt your chores with their whining. It is easier to give in, to say yes, to bribe them with things!

The reality is that children need to hear no. The world says no, alot! I choose to prepare my child for the future knowing that she can work towards a goal and that it does not need to be immediate.  That waiting can make it that much better! That waiting and working can turn a no into a yes! 

My Daughter’s Name

I remember the day that I found out I was having a baby girl! I had wanted a daughter since I could remember. I stared at that ultrasound picture and thought “OK now this is getting real” The planning could officially start!

The Sikh tradition is to wait until the day the baby is born and visit the Gurdwara where the Guru Granth Sahib ( Holy Book) is opened at random and the passage first letter becomes the child’s first letter of the name. This works in India because couples are given years to officially name their child. It is common for infants to go without names for months until the parents pick out the perfect one. In the United States you have to have the name legally recorded on the Birth Certificate before you leave the hospital. I was not prepared to name my child in one day! I knew it was going to take time!

I had lists of names that I had thought up since I was eight years old. They were all long, majestic, and historical. All the traditions that my four letter name was not. Names like Katherine, Alexandria, Guinevere, and Magdalena.

I knew that when I married my Indian husband our cultures would be merged, but for some reason I totally neglected to think about the idea of our future child’s name. As we brainstormed names, we realized that the process was alot more complicated than it might first appear.

The traditional Punjabi names my husband suggested sounded so foreign to my ears. I could not even say most of the names correctly. I could not imagine calling my daughter any of these names. I knew my American family definitely could not say these names and we had to think about her future in American schools as well. I did not want her to be the kid that has to repeat her name ten times to have it pronounced correctly.

As we discussed Western name options, we ran into the same problems. My husband had no emotional connection with these foreign names and his family would not be able to pronounce the unfamiliar sound combinations. It was a frustrating process to be honest! We enlisted the help of our families. Both the American and the Punjabi sides of the family started to scour the internet, baby name books, and friends for name ideas.

The requirements for the name were;

1. Had to be properly pronounced by both sides of the family 

2. Had to have a nice meaning

3. Had to be unique, because face it she was going to be one unique little girl!

We must have looked at thousands of names! One day my sister in law sent me a list of names in an email. My husband and I looked at them together. We each had veto power over names, which meant that if one of us did not like it then it would not go through. We scanned the names, and my eye caught the name Nazarene. I said it out loud and I liked it! I loved it actually. My husband like it as well. That night we went online and talked to his family in India. We talked about that name, we all liked it. I was overjoyed we finally sound a name! We decided on a different spelling for a softer version that sounded more Punjabi.

My daughter’s name is Nasreen Kaur

A Nasreen Flower

Nasreen is a Persian name meaning “Wild Rose”  

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My Grandmother Rose

My Grandmother’s was named Rose. I loved her dearly. She was 4 “11 but had the personality of a women much taller. She grew up on a farm. She used to tell me this story of she stole her dads truck when she was just 8 years old! Her and her brother had to take turns steering and pushing on the break or gas because neither could do both at the same time! When I was a kid my grandmother was so fierce but so loving! I admired her strength and tenacity! This name and its meaning was like a tribute to that women I loved so much!

There have been some people that have been shocked that our daughter’s name is neither Punjabi or American, but Persian There was a time right after I had Nasreen that my husband actually wanted to change her name to something that was more traditionally Punjabi.  Some people had made hurtful comments about her “Muslim” name not being apart of the Sikh traditions. He was having second thoughts about our choice. We talked in great length and concluded that this was our daughter and we loved the name and did not care that others had comments.

Nasreen reading ” My First Kaur Book”

Nasreen’s middle name is Kaur. Which is the middle name given to all Sikh girls. It means “Princess” or “Always Pure”.  In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs gave the last name ‘Kaur’ to women and ‘Singh’ to the men ( meaning lion). This was intended to end the caste system and social stratification that was common in the Hindu traditions. Sikhs above all else believe in complete equality under God.  In Indian society, an individual’s name reveals his or her caste. Kaur and Singh were meant to unite all the people equally.  Kaur was also given to Sikh Women to establish an identity independent of their father or husband. 1503267_10202136197640572_800295199_n

There are some people who mispronounce Nasreen’s name, but most people get it right after we correct them once. It sounds just like it is spelled. 

Nasreen is four now and I believe she fully embodies her name. She is beautiful, strong, unique, passionate, resilient, and so loving. She stands out from both Punjabi kids and American kids because she is her own special kind of mix.

My Daughter’s Room

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My daughter’s room is the happiest place in the house

It is filled with light and colors

The toys beg to be played with

The walls tell a story of fun and learning

There are books filled with adventure

An easel telling the story of her mind

Her bed is a sanctuary of comfort and warmth

At night her room becomes a starry sky

This is HER place

A place to dream, to learn, to play

A place to feel safe

A place to grow

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My daughter’s room is my favorite place in the whole world

When I am invited into her space I feel her joy

It is an intoxicating feeling of potential and optimism

A feeling of love and creativity

I feel at peace in her room

It is here that I truly feel God

Not in a church, temple, or sanctuary

But in the bedroom of my daughter

I am surrounded by the warmth of the Lord’s embrace

It is my daughter’s pure soul the beckons the Lord here

I soak in the light and the love

I know that my daughter feels this as well

She emerges from her room

Facing the world

Ready to share her love

Her Light

Her mind

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The FROZEN Party!!!

Nasreen was dressed like Anna in Frozen from the Coronation scene

 

The long awaited day had come, Nasreen’s Frozen themed birthday party!! We prepared for a month for this special day, collecting things slowly over time. We hosted the party where my mom lives, their community has a club house space that was perfect for the party. On Friday work we drove two hours to my moms, and once there we started immediately to unpack and decorate the space. We were up until 1 am getting everything just right. My husband and I had alot of fun creating this special area for the party.

I was so lucky that my boss from my job as a school photographer let me borrow a winter background, that they use for dance photos. It looked so amazing in setting and the pictures were just gorgeous! The whole place looked so beautiful. All of the planning and decorating turned out so well, and my husband and I were quite happy with the results. 

In the morning my mom and I both ran around town picking up last minute food and party items. When we came back it was time for the cooking!!! I had prepared much of the food ahead of time and froze the dishes. We had lasagna, filled pasta with pesto sauce, homemade macaroni and cheese, garlic bread, salad, chanas ( garbanzo beans) and rice. Everything was vegetarian, so that no one was left out of any of of the dishes. We had so many things to heat and only one oven so logistically it was a challenge.We were still cooking when the guests started to arrive. Luckily it only took us another fifteen minutes. The cooking was done at my moms, and was brought over to the party area. Finally we got all the food done and driven over to the party! From then on my mom and I were completely part of the party. It was important to me that no one was left behind, I wanted the food done and the rest of the party free to enjoy.

making tiaras

When the kids started to come, I started them on a craft project to make tiaras and crowns. They were made of foam and decorated with foam stickers. My niece Anya was a great help, she is ten so she assisted all the younger kids. The kids had alot of fun with and enjoyed putting their own style into the crowns.

Can she get any cuter

Once the food arrived everyone ate. The kids of course were too excited to sit and eat, so I took individual photos of the kids in front of the snow background.

My moms gift to Nasreen was she hired an actress from an awesome company to come and be Elsa from Frozen. From the moment she arrived the kids were so excited! She was completely in character and referred to me as the queen of this castle. She never once broke character, she was Elsa! The kids were all star struck. Nasreen became very shy. The truth is my daughter gets quite overwhelmed with too much attention, she needs the time to process and warm up to people. The actress was quite patient thought and was so sweet.

dance lessons

Reading her story!

The snow queen sat down and told the children a story and they all got to sing, ” Let it go” . The kids all loved this, and many of them got very into character! Then there was a dance lesson! It was great to see the kids all dance together. Nasreen warmed up to her pretty fast and told her all about how she loved Elsa and Anna. She told elsa about each of her friends! it was really cute.

face painting

Elsa then did face painting! The kids all got very excited about this and each waited to patiently for their turn. Nasreen had a red flower painted on her face.

One very happy Elsa fan

The Birthday girl with Elsa

Then it was time for pictures with the queen! The kids loved taking photos and came back many times to give Elsa hugs! Elsa siad a sweet good bye and off she went back to her castle.

The kids then played the games I had planned. I had gone to the store and got one prize for each kids. Things like puzzles and paint sets. I decided this instead of candy, God knows they had enough sugar. First the kids played frozen themed bowling! The kids all had alot of fun and they got quite competitive! I love watching all these kids get so excited about throwing the ball. It was harder then it looked. 

Pin the nose on Olaf

Next was pin the nose on the Olaf! My husband drew the Olaf that morning, and did a pretty good job.  The kids had fun trying to get closest to where the nose should be!

Prizes!

Musical chairs

Next was musical chairs to frozen themed music.Now this one might have been to much for 4 year olds! There was one kid that had their seat accidentally pulled out from under them, that ended in tears. Nasreen cried when she was out. Several kids kept going around the chair even after they were out! It was all too funny! Each child got one prize and they had alot of fun picking it out!

The cake!

Next was the cake. I had made the Frozen themed cake a day before the party and it came out nice despite my lack of tools. It even survived the two hour car trip.

cake in the face

blowing out the candles

Everyone sang happy birthday and Nasreen glowed! She blew out the candle and helped cut the cake. Daddy as is his tradition every year, put cake on Nasreen’ face and she was mad! but just for a minute lol.

Reading all the beautiful cards!

She then sat and opened up gifts! She received so many wonderful gifts! Her Cousin Anya helped her open and read all the cards. She received many thoughtful and beautiful gifts. The kids all loved delivering the gift to her at the front.

My favorite part of the party was being able to see everyone together in one place. Friends and family that had heard of each other, finally got to meet and have their kids play together. My brother and sister in law drove all the way from Los Angles ( 8 hours) with their 4 year old twins and 10 year old daughter. Then there was my co-worker/ friend with her two daughters. My mentor from my teenage years with her son. My cousin and her sons. My step sister and her daughter, our good friends and their daughter Deya, and aunts and uncles and grandparents. My mom who made it all possible and step dad. It was so wonderful to see everyone enjoying the food, and watching  the kids having fun! All the planning and all the work was worth it when I saw this much joy!

 

The cake post!  https://mymasalalife.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/sneak-peak-at-the-cake/

Thank God Nasreen did not cancel her party! Watch this post! https://mymasalalife.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/my-three-year-old-wants-to-cancel-her-party/

A Very Special Birthday Shared With a Friend

Nasreen in the ball pit

December 8th was my daughter Nasreen’s 4th Birthday. As is the custom in our family we stayed up at night to talk to our family in India via Skype. Since the time difference is 12+ hours, its morning in India when it is night here. Nasreen talked to her Pua ( aunt) and BG (grandmother) and opened the gifts they sent from India. She first opened a beautiful 3 dimensional card depicting a carnival, which she loved. She then opened some beautiful clothes, including a new Punjabi Suit. She was also allowed to opened up a gift from us, her special Frozen themed dress for her party on Saturday. She tried on the dress and walked regally around the house proclaiming her royal status. She is quite the actress. She was a very happy girl. The dress is a guarded secret until the party!

It was a Monday morning so daddy had to go to work. I woke Nasreen up at 9 am singing happy birthday! She woke up very happy and excited for the day! Nasreen loves to feel special. She is often heard saying, “I’m Nasreen and I’m special”. She really is.  I got her ready for the day, we had some breakfast, and then off we went to pick up Nasreen’s best friend Deya.

best friends

Deya and Nasreen are 9 months apart, Nasreen is the elder one. They have been close since birth. Deya’s dad has been friends with my husband since their time in India together. They both came from India to study in California and both settled here. I met him and his wife when GC and I started dating. We all became fast friends. I consider Deya’s Mom one of my closest friends. We were lucky to both have beautiful girls close in age and were there for each other pregnancies. The girls are very much like cousins.

I picked Deya up and off we went! The first thing we did was meet Santa at the Mall. It was a Monday morning so the mall was very quiet. The girls were excited but as they got close to santa Nasreen started to get scared. She hid behind me and said she did not want to go see Santa! We all walked over to a nearby bench and sat down and talked. I gave her a pep talk to get her excited again about sitting and talking with Santa. After a few minutes both girls were ready to see Santa! It was wonderful there was no line. Santa stood up from his seat and greeted the girls! He was a very tall man and a little imposing even to me.

Santa doing a magic trick

Santas face cracks me up

He told them that he was going to do a magic trick. Now it was Deyas turn to get scared. Nasreen walked over to see the magic trick but Deya stayed behind. I held her hand and we walked together. He did a trick were he made crayons disappear! Both girls looked amazed. He then made them reappear!

He was a really nice Santa. When it was time for the photo they were both very comfortable and happy! They smiled so sweetly. Afterwards Santa told them what kind of cookies he liked and told them to remember to be good for their mom. He thought the girls were sisters.  He talked to them for quite a while. The honest truth is this was not the most handsome Santa I had ever seen. He has the weirdest smile, his eyes were squinted and eye brows all funny! He may have looked weird but he was one of the nicest I had met!

filling their toys

After Santa, we went to Build a Bear! For those unfamiliar with this store, the children pick out stuffed soft toys (bears, cats, dogs ). They then get a heart to sew into the bear. They take the unstuffed toy to a special machine that stuffs the animal. The child get to step on petal to make the stuffing come out so that they are helping to fill their toy. The attendant then tells them to take the small heart and warm it up, make it beat, give it a kiss and the kids put it in the toy. The worker then sews up the animal. The kids then take their toys for a “bath”, then pick out clothes and accessories. They also make the birth certificate.

giving their toys a “bath”

admiring their new toys

The girls had a blast! Nasreen picked out a bear, and Deya a Dog. Nasreen named hers Rose Red, from a play she saw recently. Deya named hers Jojo which is a name she gives to most stuffed animals. The girls picked out matching minney mouse dresses for the toys. They both enjoyed the process of stuffing their animal and both girls were very sweet about placing the heart in just the right place! Build a Bear definitely lived up to my expectations.

fun at lunch

We then headed out to find some lunch. Nasreen wanted French fries and Chicken nuggets and Deya wanted a burrito. I wanted to be the nice mom today so we found a restaurant for Nasreens food. The meal came and we took it with us to get Deyas bean and cheese burrito at another restaurant. It was a little extra work but I was happy that both kids were happy! They both actually ate well which was nice!

dumping the balls!

loading the cannon

” ball angles”

After lunch we headed to place called Wacky Tacky. I had never been there but I had seen it online. It is an indoor play area. When we got there and paid both girls were overwhelmed by all the exciting things they saw! Its hard to explain the magic of the place. There is one section that is all about these foam balls. It looks a bit like an arena. In the center there are hundreds of these foam balls. The kids can scoop them up and take them to the higher levels to place in air cannons to shoot at each other. They can also be put in this suction tube that brings the ball to this container on the celing. You can see the whole process through clear tubes! the balls collect there until you push a button on the wall and the balls all fall down on you! The kids loved this part. There is also a large air cannon that shoot 10 or more balls at a time! The kids had such a blast!

Another part of this place housed a kid’s obstacle courses and a very fast large slide with bumps in it that gave the kids a thrill. The two girls had such a good time in the balls. At one point Deya and Nasreen decided to go to the slide. Nasreen had fun and went down fast. Deya who is younger got scared and would not go down. This is a large slide, like 20 feet up through a whole obstacle course that gets smaller and smaller. I made my way up to Deya having a bit of a panick attack in the confined area! I could hear her crying saying ” Auny Auny” ( her way of saying aunty). Finally I reached her and we went  down together. The rest of the time we stayed in the ball area!

After a couple of hours it was time to leave! the girls begged for more time, which I extended and extended but we had to go. On the way home both girls completely passed in their seats.

yummy cake

Daddy Nasreen and Deya!

Once home I whipped up the whip cream frosting and frosted the cake. Nasreen’s daddy came home and finally got to wish Nasreen a happy Birthday! We lit the candles and sang happy birthday and the girl both got to help cut the cake. Deya and Nasreen both loved doing the Indian tradition of feeding each other the cake! The cake turned out well. It was a strawberry cake with strawberry filling with whipped cream topping. We then got ready and left for Deyas house.

There we had a wonderful meal of Barbecued chicken prepared by the boys and Shahi Paneer made by my friend.Everything was so yummy. My friend made another small cake and we all sang happy birthday and the girls shared the honor of blowing out the candles.

Nasreens new map

Nasreen opened gifts from her aunty and uncle. As always she got wonderful gifts, a beautiful pink scooter, a cloth world map with felt velcro peices for animals and country names, and frozen jewelry and frozen art stuff.

Deya and Nasreen blowing out the candles!

We had a great time and went home that night feeling so happy! I had a wonderful time with the two kids. They have their moments of fighting but they really are great friends. I am so glad that we all have such wonderful friends. Now to prepare for the Frozen Party!

I love these two girls

Happy 4th Birthday

Today my sweet daughter Nasreen turns 4! I can not believe how the time has passed so quickly. You are so truly special to your Daddy and Mommy. To all your aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, and grandparents both here and in India. You are one very loved little girl.

For her birthday we are spending the entire day with her best friend. On Saturday she is having a party for all her family and friends.

I hate to see her grow up so fast but I love seeing her achieve new things! We are very proud of our sweet but very opinionated girl!

12/8/10

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1 year old

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2 years old

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3 years old

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4 years old