Author Archive

The Time Of Our Lives

Update: Aaaand less than 12 hours later we’re back with an update on the bottom of the post for ya. Smooth, right?

Hey there! Long time no see.

The break has been great. Admittedly a little weird, but really reinvigorating. So we’re immensely thankful not only for your support and kind comments, but also for helping put words to some of the things that we had been feeling for some time. And while the last month hasn’t been enough time to fill in all of the blanks about our future (heck, when are life’s blanks ever clearly filled in?) it has made one thing pretty obvious to us: after seven awesome years of sharing our home and our life, it’s time for our next adventure.

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This blog has been a staple in our lives for 80+ months, tagging along for all but three months of our marriage and our entire existence as parents. So we thought it would be nearly impossible to click off that urge to over-share this past month (we expected our blogging spark to come back with a vengeance). But maybe it’s us getting older, the kids getting bigger, or a general shift in life priorities – but it actually felt just right. So this break has given us the clarity (and the guts, I guess) to move on… and hopefully move the needle on that life balance we’ve been talking about for so long.

We won’t go as far as to declare this the end of Young House Love or our blogging days. Who knows, maybe somewhere down the line (when the kids are both in school?) we’ll get that burning in our bellies again – perhaps here or in a completely different capacity. We don’t know what the future holds, but we know that the most amazing things have happened to us when we’ve stretched waaay out of our comfort zone – as much as that sounds like advice you’d find on an inspirational kitten poster.

We plan to keep the blog archives available for as long as we can, and will be freezing comments soon, but we won’t be completely dropping off the planet. Some completed product designs with Liberty Hardware and Shades of Light may pop up, and our second book will come out next October. Those folks have all been amazingly supportive of our decision, for which we’re incredibly thankful.

Speaking of which – “Thank you” doesn’t come close to expressing how grateful we are for getting to share our weird little world with you guys for so long. We have nothing but love and gratitude for this whole experience – and for you. (*This is probably where we should fade up on that Dirty Dancing song*)

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But let’s not say “goodbye” let’s just say “see you on another time.”

Peace, love, and ceramic animals,
John & Sherry

PS: We did randomly snap a few fresh photos for the House Tour page over the break (some of the rooms were pretty outdated). Feel free to give the dining room’s blue trim the side eye for us (yes, it’s still there!).

Update: The same few questions kept popping up in the comments (we just can’t quit you). As for the “what are your new jobs” thing, we’ve mentioned in a few previous posts that we left the door open in our past professions (advertising/copywriting/consulting), which we can do as freelancers from home a lot of the time, while switching off on the stay-at-home parent thing. We know things like the book and products we design are driven by this blog, so we can’t live off those or anything. Didn’t mean to be mysterious! As for the Facebook/Instagram questions, we’d love to pop up there from time to time to say hi. And we hope our blog archives will be up for a good long time (we use them to reference things like paint colors, so we’d never want to lose them!).

We’re also really sorry if this feels abrupt. We’ve made a few public attempts to wind down and gain balance over the years (like when we moved to this house and after Teddy’s birth) but they’ve always been at odds with our “all in” personalities, so it wasn’t until taking this break (yet another attempt to recalibrate) that we realized we felt closer to our goal. We debated lots of alternatives – drastically fewer posts / shorter posts / no comments – but nothing felt like the version of Young House Love we were excited to carry on with. And we tried to keep today’s post light and happy (the last one felt so heavy) since this truly is a moment of extreme gratitude, despite it being a difficult decision to make.

Flawless and graceful exit, eh? Right. So here we go. Ack, we suck at this! We will miss you!!

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Blogiversary III: You Asked, We Answered

Just like last year (here and here) we decided to answer as many random and personal questions from our Facebook & Twitter friends as we could in honor of this year’s blogiversary. With over 200 questions to choose from (you guys are curious!) we couldn’t tackle them all, but we did our best to answer a bunch. Here’s hoping we don’t sound as lame to you guys as we sound to ourselves.

Q: What is the weirdest question you have ever been asked? – Jessica

Sherry: Someone actually asked me while I was prego if I was a thong wearer. I assumed they were from the UK and replied that I wasn’t wearing flip-flops anymore because I needed more arch support. Turns out they weren’t talking about my feet (they commented again to clarify). I pled (and still plead) the fifth on that one.

Q: Besides Burger and Clara, if you were stranded on a deserted island what 5 things each would you have to have? – Sara

Sherry: sunscreen, sunglasses, a never-ending supply of a chocolate covered bananas, a magical TV that gets reception, and a camera (because Clara and Burger would definitely do cute things worth catching).

John: a kayak (not necessarily for escaping, but for fun), Yahtzee, an iPod (or an iPhone if we got wireless service- you know, if the desert island is in AT&T’s network), lots of ice cold sweet tea, and a toothbrush.

Q: Would you ever leave Richmond? – Beth

Sherry: We adore Richmond and have zero desire to live anywhere else, but lately we’ve learned that we should never say never…

Q: Do you guys only eat organic? – Allison

Sherry: No way- we can down a box of Oreos like the best of them. We do our best to live a balanced life in general, so if we’re feeling full of junk food we might aim to eat healthy for the next few meals. But not only do we appreciate organic food when we can (and trips to the farmer’s market) we also eat generic grocery store fare along with the occasional junk food binge.

John: We’re human, we promise.

Q: How did you know the time was right to start a family? If you had any what were your “pre-baby” things to check off the list financially, personally, professionally before you decided to try? – MariaJose

Sherry: I don’t know. One morning we woke up and were ready. A few of our family members had recently had babies and we looked at them and thought “we could do that- let’s give it a whirl.”

John: I think there’s truth to the statement that if you waited until you checked off a bunch of things on a mental list to be ready, you’d never actually be ready.

Q: How many bambinos are you guys hoping for? – Stacy

Sherry: We definitely don’t have that mapped out very definitively. Some days we want a gaggle (we both grew up in houses with 4-5 kids) and other days we’re good with the idea of just one more.

John: Yeah, I’d say we know we’d like Clara to have at least one human sibling (no offense, Burger) but right now we’re so content / busy with one that we’re not making any plans beyond two at this point. And we’ll definitely wait a few years for a second (so no need for bump watch yet).

Q: Do you two ever fight or disagree on designs or purchases? – Susanna

John: Do we fight or disagree about things we want for the house? All the time! But if we don’t agree on something the rule is that we don’t get it.

Sherry: That way every item in our house is something we both agree that we need and want to purchase – so there’s no resentment like “ugh, there’s the chair that John made us buy that I hate.”

John: And I’m not stranger to breaking out the line “Do we really need that?” when it comes to a lot of Sherry’s suggested purchases. She relents, we save money, and our house isn’t full of impulse buys.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to? -Christine

John: Panic At The Disco, Fall Out Boy, Black Eyed Peas, Death Cab, Eminem, The Killers, Britney Spears, Lily Allen, The Ting Tings, Vampire Weekend, Lady Gaga, Glee soundtracks, we’re all over the place.

Q: Sherry, did you have any cravings when you were pregnant? – Erin

Sherry: Baked potatoes. John used to joke that I required three potato courses per day (yes, even for breakfast). I had morning sickness for over 100 days straight, so something heavy, bland, and starchy was all I could take. I couldn’t get enough of chocolate milk or lemonade in the end. And interestingly enough, onion rings made me instantly sick throughout my entire pregnancy. Even well past the morning sickness phase. I was basically allergic to them until I had Clara and now I can eat ‘em again.

Q: What do your neighbors think? -Stephanie

John: Well, one neighbor of ours is in her eighties, so we’re not sure she knows what a blog is. But some people in our area are onto us, so they’ll walk by and say things like: “love the new curtains!” which is always kind of funny.

Q: What goofy little quirks do each of you have that drives the other nuts? My hubby always leaves closet doors open and it drives me BANANAS! – Laura

John: I finally broke Sherry of her habit to leave dirty bowls and dishes on the counter above the dishwasher instead of just putting them in.

Sherry: Hey, in my defense that started when I was hugely pregnant and it was hard to bend over and load up the dishwasher. But admittedly I am able bodied again, so I’m glad to be back into the habit. John’s weird quirk would have to be “sneaking” candy at the store. I can’t really complain because it’s highly entertaining, but we’ll get home and unpack grocery store bags and I’ll find things like Double Stuff Oreos and some weird new candy (Skitttles Crazy Cores?) and I’ll look at John and he’ll sheepishly be all “how did those get in there?”

Q: What are your cultural/ethnic backgrounds? – Patricia

JOHN: I’m half German (my grandfather came through Ellis Island – where his name was changed from Petrik to Petersik) and the other half is a mixture of Swedish, Swiss, and Irish.

SHERRY: I’m Italian (my mom’s full name is Diana Teresa DeCesare LaPadula) and Austrian (dad’s side).

Q: What do you think YHL readers would be most surprised to know / find out about one (or both!) of you? – Constance

Sherry: Performance anxiety. Ack, I can’t think of anything remotely interesting. Well, I was in a Dr. Pepper commercial once.

John: And I have an unhealthy obsession with Dr. Pepper. Oh and when I moved to NYC I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t get involved with anyone because I wanted to leave before I got attached and things got complicated. Good thing I tossed that idea out the window when I met Sherry and she was cool enough to move to Virginia with me.

Q: I’d like to know about some of your future career goals. How you set them and steps you are taking to achieve them. Do you have an ultimate desire? Or are you a more play it by ear type? – Christa

John: I’ve never been someone with a specific career masterplan- I just aim to earn enough to support my family and enjoy what I’m doing in the process. So I’d be happy doing some form of blogging or home improvement or even diving back into advertising at some point.

Sherry: I’ve always thought it would be fun to save up for a second property and fix it up and rent it. It’s definitely nothing we can do anytime soon, but it’s always in the back of my mind as a future possibility. John’s dad purchased a rental property for each of his four kids over a span of two decades and sold each one to help pay for college for each of them when they got older. I think that’s pretty darn cool.

Q: What were you guys like in HS/college? I’ve heard you mention that John was in the marching band (what did he play?), but what about you Sherry? I’m just so curious! – Lindsay

John: Yup, I was totally the band geek in high school. I played the French horn and was actually elected band council president my senior year. Not only was I captain of the geeks, I very proudly won the official title of “friendliest male in the band” a few years in a row. But I stopped playing when I got into college (where I “graduated” to slightly cooler fringe groups by joining an improv comedy group and a coed honor fraternity).

Sherry: I was the loud girl with blonde hair and fake nails. I’m from Jersey (born and raised, so it’s also where I went to hs) so I guess I can blame my environment for some of that but I’m also just your typical first child (type A, a smidge bossy, and way too enthusiastic for most people- especially in the morning). I was also on the swim team (I even went to states one year)  and I was obsessed with art (taking everything from ceramics to oil painting). Then I went off to college in NYC to study fine art (I actually have a Bachelor Of Fine Arts in advertising, which I switched into after two years of fine arts training since I worried that I wouldn’t make it as a starving artist). My hair was no longer blonde then but I was still definitely the loud girl. Still am actually.

Q: I just want to know if John ever does improv for Sherry (I used to be in his improv group in college). – Jamie

Sherry: John makes me laugh five times an hour. The snorting gaffawing kind of laughter. Much like I used to say back at work when we met in NYC: nobody knows how hilarious that John Petersik kid is. I seriously started a campaign at work about how that quiet tall account guy is the most hysterical person I’ve ever met in my life. His sarcastic one liners kill me. I love that he can make me shoot milk out of my nose on a near-daily basis.

Q: List 3 keys you consider to be essential for success in marriage. – Lissa

Sherry: Sense of humor, respect, flexibility.

John: Laughter, dialog, admiration.

Q: Who does the most cooking? Any favorite or go-to dishes?- Tracie

Sherry: John cooks 99.9% of the time. I’m a lucky lady. He makes this really good cold pasta with avocado and chicken and we also have a ton of dishes from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution since John is cooking his way through it  (like Julie and Julia, except it’s Jamie & John).

Q: Do you cook with as much gusto as you design? – Melinda

Sherry: I eat with gusto. I leave the cooking to John for the most part.

John: Definitely not. I stumble through the cooking thing, but I enjoy figuring things out and learning as I go. So I guess that approach is similar to our home improvement philosophy.

Q: Do the people who sold you your house follow the blog? It would be interesting to see what they say. -Evan

Sherry: The original owners of our house actually wrote to us and it was amazing.

John: Check out that post here.

Q: Sherry, you always dress so cute! What are your favorite clothing brands?- Candice

Sherry: You’re too nice. I’m definitely no Sarah Jessica Parker, but to answer your question: cheap stuff! Nearly everything I own is from Target, Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic Outlet, or DSW. This girl loves a deal.

Q: What is your absolute favorite movie ever? – Andrea

Sherry: For some crazy reason I fell in love with Zombieland when I saw it right after we had Clara (that angel slept right through it). So unless it was one of those weird prego-hormone things I would have to say it’s my current fave movie ever (if I watch it again and hate it, that might explain why).

John: The movies I can watch over and over again are quirky improv movies like Waiting For Guffman and Wet Hot American Summer.

Q: Is there anything regarding your personal redecorating or DIY projects that you look back on and think “what was I thinking?” or “what that ugly?!” – Keighley

John: Um, our whole house in 2006 (check out this video to see what we mean). Seriously.

Sherry: We look at the terrible layout and the all-over-the-place color scheme and thank our lucky stars that we kept evolving our house and experimenting with different layouts and colors and styles until we got closer to something that made us smile every time we came in the door.

Q: With all the work you all do… and with Clara now… are you able to find chill time together? Date night? What do you do to keep the spark alive? – Michelle

Sherry: Maybe house projects keep the spark alive? Because there’s not much else going on these days between blogging, DIYing, and caring for Clara. But we’re loving it. I guess the key is just doing things that you enjoy together to keep the spark alive. So even if that’s painting instead of enjoying a fancy meal, whatever works, right?

John: Though we do enjoy a casual “date night” a few nights a week after Clara falls asleep at 8-ish when we spend a couple hours watching TV and eating ice cream on the couch. Okay, maybe I’m the only one with the ice cream.

Q: How did the chair in Clara’s room work out for you? -Teresa

Sherry: Thankfully it’s very comfy! Admittedly I nurse all over the house, but it’s one of the places that I do it often, and it’s nice.

John: I also read to Clara every night in that chair as part of her bedtime routine. We’re definitely happy with it.

Q: Since you both work with each other from home, do you ever get tired of each other as “co-workers”? – Emily

Sherry: Sometimes we’ll realize that that other person is acting a bit fried so I’ll say “John, why don’t you go for a run?” which is code for “you’re acting a little cranky-pants so go have some me-time and hopefully you’ll come back refreshed.”

John: Yeah or I’ll recommend that Sherry take a shower or go for a walk or do something else that’ll snap her out of her stress-ball self sometimes.

Sherry: The key is trying to have a sense of humor about things and getting some me-time in there when you can.

Q: Do you guys ever fight/argue/get mad at each other? You both seem so in sync about everything it is hard to imagine. – Betty

John: Um, Sherry’s Italian… and from Jersey. Let’s just say that she has a “distinct” way of making her voice heard. She calls it being passionate. Sometimes I call it shouting.

Sherry: John’s the level headed, less prone to scream one. But he can definitely get his sulk on when he’s mad. He’ll just clam up and you can practically see the steam coming off of him.

John: We can both get peeved like the best of them, but we try to remember that we’re on the same team and we’re working towards the same goal- so more often than not we’re mad at the situation, not each other. And it’s all forgotten about a minute later.

Q: I’m just wandering do you ever feel inadequate? If so, how do you deal with those feelings? – Polina

Sherry: Sure, there are definitely moments where we feel like we’re not doing things fast enough or well enough (whether that’s due to our own self scrutiny or to something that someone else has said). But at the end of the day, we can usually pull ourselves out of that funk by reminding ourselves that there are probably people who like us too much and people who dislike us too much, and we’re most likely somewhere in the middle.

John: In the end it’s really all about enjoying each other’s company and loving what we’re doing each day. Because we’ve learned that it’s impossible to expect that everyone who reads our blog will love every post or project. So it all comes down to being happy with who we are and what we’re doing.

Q: I read you don’t spend a lot of money eating out. How do you do it when you go out with other couples or friends? Or receive invitations? Do you say no? I find it difficult when it comes to saving money and doing things with other people. – Judith

Sherry: We invite people over our house for a meal instead (spaghetti is seriously like a dollar a person and a big spaghetti dinner with friends is so fun).

John: It’s also nice because it starts a cycle where we can just go back-and-forth to each other’s houses instead of having to go out all of the time.

Q: What is something each of you can’t let go from your past or childhood and refuse to get rid of? – Dan

John: Embarrassingly enough, I have a baby blanket with sheep on it from when I was little that I’m still kind of attached to. So I did the logical thing and handed it down to my son Burger. It’s now Burger’s blankie in his crate and I loves that it’s still around (better yet, it’s an heirloom- ha).

Sherry: I have these ridiculous tiny saddle shoes from when I was 1 or 2 and I just can’t part with them so they’re in a box in my closet. Maybe someday Clara will wear them or we’ll make some cute art with them for her nursery.

Q:  If you won the lottery (I’m talking 20 million or so) would you move into a mansion? And would you still remain as focused on saving money as you are now? – Maky

John: We’d probably buy five other charming old modestly sized houses that we could makeover for the blog and then rent out. That would totally be our idea of a good time.

Sherry: And we’d still deal hunt and scrimp wherever we could. I honestly think that our parents have ingrained that behavior into who we are- so even with 20 million big ones we’d still be tiling our own bathroom (with clearance tile). Because as sick as it sounds, that makes us happy.

Q: If I walked into your house right now, how messy would it be? – Sarah

John: Honestly it would be a three out of ten on a scale from clean to messy.

Sherry: When we’re in the middle of a project it can totally get to an 11, as in embarrassingly chaotic. But since we’re selling our house we’re trying to keep it together.

Q: What was the first concert you each ever went to….and what was the last concert you were at? – Nichole

Sherry: First- The Warped Tour in 8th grade (with Eminem, the Black Eyed Peas, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit) Last- Panic At The Disco or Rooney. Can’t remember.

John: First: Tricia Yearwood (with my mom and my godmother in 6th grade). Last- Panic At The Disco or Rooney. I can’t remember either.

Q: What are your most embarrassing moments? – Alison

Sherry: Honestly, it’s when we get recognized around town. We just have to apologize to anyone who has come up and talked to us because we’re so embarrassingly awkward. We always joke that it’s a major let down to meet us because we’re total dorks in person.

John: The person who approaches us always has something so nice to say about our house or our blog and we just stand there like “uh…thanks… so….”. It’s not like we can comment about that person’s blog or that person’s latest DIY project (since they know all about us but we don’t know anything about them). So it’s weird.

Sherry: And I’m a gets-beet-red type of person, so it’s just a big ridiculously awkward mess. So sorry we’re not cooler! It’s unfortunate.

John: Oh and I fainted at work once. Onto my boss. I basically bounced off of her chest and landed in her lap and then rolled onto the floor.

Sherry: It was epic. I was working there too (we met at work) and I nearly died laughing when I heard about it (after learning that John was ok of course).

Q: Has having Clara changed your relationship with Burger? If so, how? And was that a surprise to you? – Heather

John: We honestly wondered if we would bond well with Clara during the whole time Sherry was pregnant because Burger would do something cute we would say “this baby better be pretty darn adorable to compete with this little guy.”

Sherry: Thankfully Clara came along and she was pretty darn adorable and then some. So we’re happy to report that we love both the beanette and Burger like crazy. They’re a huge part of our family and we’re so thankful for each of them.

Q: What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you as a result of your fame? – Amber

Sherry: Does hearing you refer to “our fame” count? That’s pretty strange to us. Tom Cruise is famous. We’re just two random bloggers.

John: But it is trippy to see pictures of our house in international magazines, especially with a foreign language around them. To think that people across the globe are looking at photos of our four walls is actually kind of mind blowing.

Q: What is the one thing that you always have the other do, because you dislike the task so much? -Emily

Sherry: John changes around 90% of the diapers, not because I hate it but because he sweetly made a deal that if I’m in charge of imports (feeding Clara) the least he can do is be in charge of exports (changing her). Love him for that.

John: Sherry’s the present wrapper/gift manager of the house. I remember birthdays for the most part, but she’s definitely in charge of making the presents that we pick up look festive.

Q: Was your transition to parenthood easier or more difficult than you expected? What were your expectations like before Clara came and looking back do you think they were high (setting you up for frustration) or low (setting you up for happiness)? – Sarah

John: People told us when Clara was born that we wouldn’t know what day it was and that we’d forget to eat and drink and we’d basically be zombies so I think we were pleasantly surprised.

Sherry: We definitely hit the jackpot since she’s such an amazing sleeper, but in general it has been a really nice transition to parenthood. So far it hasn’t felt like anything we can’t handle, so we’re loving the fact that we have Clara around. And thankfully Burger has adjusted really well too (which is something else we worried about) so we have to say that we’re really appreciating how things are going right now.

Q: What shows do you guys watch? Other than HGTV and decor stuff? Any reality shows or weekly dramas that catch your attention? – Katie

Sherry: Flipping Out, Housewives Of DC & NJ (since they’re both of our “hometowns”), Glee, Top Chef, 30 Rock, The Office, Saturday Night Live, America’s Next Top Model, and Grey’s Anatomy- there’s nothing like good TV after a long day of DIYing.

Q: Do you ever have a bad day? Things over at YHL always seem perfect. – Heather

Sherry: Yes, we have bad days all the time.

John: Things definitely aren’t perfect over here. We’re just do our best to be positive people, so we try not to whine and complain too much- especially since our blog is about home improvement and decor (which explains why we don’t chronicle the annoying things that might happen behind the scenes, like when five posts magically delete themselves). We do love sharing when projects don’t exactly go as planned, just because we like to remind people that we’re not immune to those pitfalls either (check out a few obstacles and flops here, here, and here).

Sherry: We try to maintain a sense of humor around here and remind ourselves that we’re not saving the world so we don’t take things too seriously (which always results in more stress and crying). In fact one of my mantras is: it’s just a blog.

Q: If you could go back to the last weeks/days/months right before Clara was born, what would you tell yourself? Do you have any regrets/recommendations about how you used your last few weeks as a childless couple? -Sarah

Sherry: John was actually out to lunch on his last day of work when I went into labor. I literally called him as he was finishing up his burrito and he ran out, grabbed me, we sped over to the hospital, and a few hours later we were holding our baby girl. We had planned to have a big celebration (go out to dinner and really soak up the whole that-was-your-last-day-of-work-and-now-you’re-going-to-be-a-full-time-daddy-and-blogger thing but instead we were celebrating the birth of our bean.

John: So if we could go back maybe we’d make Thursday my last day of work so we could still have time to soak all of that in. Although it was really exciting to have it all happen that way on Friday, so honestly we probably wouldn’t change a thing.

Q: Will you homeschool, do public, or private? – Priscilla

Sherry: We plan to send our kiddos off to public school. I attended a private school until 6th grade (Montessori) and then went public while John went to public schools from day one. He even got into a magnet high school (Thomas Jefferson in Alexandria, VA- which was public). So although private school is definitely something we can appreciate, we have a ton of confidence in the public school system.

John: And who knows, Clara might follow in her dorky dad’s footsteps and get into some magnet public school someday too.

Q: What’s next on the list of things you guys want to do to green-ify your life? – Jennifer

John: I want a bat box.

Sherry: And a bee box. Is that what it’s called? We want to encourage bats and bees to pollinate and eat mosquitoes and do their thing.

John: And when we move, we definitely want to look into the possibility of using these (thanks to Meghan for telling us about them).

Q: Do you exercise? How do you stay so fit? – Anne

Sherry: Right now my exercise routine consists of carrying Clara around, going on long walks around the neighborhood every night, and nursing (which burns a pretty surprising amount of calories). I’ve never been a gym rat or very into exercise in general so I just do my best to watch what I eat if my pants feel tight. Or I get bigger pants. That works too.

John: I gave up my gym membership when I left my job downtown, but I still sneak in a morning run when I can and I have a 10K coming up soon.

Q: Would you ever travel without Burger? – Julia

Sherry: Well he came with us on our honeymoon to Alaska so we’re thinking it’s fair to say that we don’t like to leave home without him. Or Clara for that matter. We’re a four-pack. Although if something came up and we knew Burger would be happier at home than with us (he does love hanging with Grammy and TomTom…) I think we’d consider leaving him behind. We just want him to be happy. And not chew up our pillows out of spite. Ha!

Whew. So there you have a plethora of questions and answers. I hope you grabbed a Coke in the middle there when you found yourself falling asleep. Admittedly we’re not as interesting as some people think…

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