Friday, February 26, 2010

Firefighter Hour

Everyone has been sick in our household this past week—everyone but me, that is. I'm simply exhausted. I don't know how I haven't been hit, but I'll gladly accept my fate. I'd also gladly accept a nap.

My daughter was nearing the end of her flu, so I was extra careful to make sure she was comfortable and sleeping peacefully. I was worried her lingering cough might keep her up. I could hear the boys, who were fine, playing peek-a-boo with each other in the baby's room. I love the way they interact and giggle together. Finally, I got them all to sleep and I crashed. Morning was coming quickly; we needed to get up early to pick my firefighter up at the station. I call it "firefighter hour," since so many vehicles on the road at that time of day have that unmistakable red emblem stuck to their back window—especially coming home, counter-current to the flow of morning traffic.

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I closed my eyes and took a long, deep, happy breath and hid under the covers. It felt nice not to be needed. That's one of my favorite moments of the night, when all the children are in bed and I think that maybe—just maybe—this will be the first night when no one wakes up till morning. And every night, I wake up to the baby crying over the monitor.

I woke up at around 12:30 a.m. as usual—but this time, it wasn't to the sound of my youngest waking up. I was tired, confused, and tried to focus on what it was I was hearing. Down the hall I could hear my three year old coughing and gasping. My ability to focus instantly sharpened and I listened more closely. This wasn't just a random coughing fit. He didn't sound right. I shot from my bed to his bed and tried to comfort him and calm him down.

I had heard of this type of coughing, but none of my children had ever been sick like this. I had never before actually witnessed this level of wheezing. He was scared. Eventually the coughing stopped and he started breathing a bit easier. His little heart was racing. His nostrils flared each time he breathed in, mouth open, but there were no retractions, his skin signs looked good, and he seemed to be getting enough air. Difficulty breathing for sure, but his breathing slowed and he appeared to be getting better. I gave him a quick dose of ibuprofen hoping that it would ease the pain that was causing him to panic, and possibly bring down any inflammation that might be causing his airway to constrict. It was a shot in the dark. I grabbed my phone to text my firefighter and see if he was up. He conveniently texted me before I could finish the letter, telling me he was just getting back from a small warehouse fire—he was up.

He was coughing on his end of the line, trying to get over the last of his own bout with the flu. I wanted to know if I should do anything further for our son. I thought my kiddo might need a breathing treatment, but I wanted his opinion before I woke up the firefighters at the local station. I told him what was going on, and as we talked, my little guy started coughing again. The baby heard the commotion and began crying in the background. Everyone was in panic mode except my daughter who, ironically, was the only one who slept through the night.

"Can you hear that? It doesn't sound normal."

"Yeah, I can hear it." There was worry in his voice. "Go to my desk and get my stethoscope."

He could hear the gasps for breath in between the coughing fits. He wished he were home to do a thorough assessment. Having a novice listen to lung sounds was as thorough as he was going to get for the moment. I got the stethoscope, thinking how nice it was that we happened to have one at home.

I put it on and tried to calm down my child so that I could hear clearly. He finally stopped coughing and crying, and settled his little blond head against my shoulder. I put the bell of the stethoscope to his chest where I hoped his lungs were. There was a higher pitched sound each time he exhaled.

"I'm not sure what I'm supposed to hear. Is it normal for the wheezing sound to be louder when he exhales than when he inhales?"

"Wheezing isn't normal."

"I know that—but does wheezing normally sound louder when exhaling? Is this what you would call wheezing?"

"...Wheezing isn't normal, he shouldn't be making that sound at all."

It was late, we were both exhausted, and I gave up trying to explain myself. We settled on the fact that he was, in fact wheezing.

His heart rate was still high, but slowing down. The ibuprofen started to kick in and I could tell that his throat was in less pain. His nostrils stopped flaring so much and I could see that he was breathing easier.

My fears eased, and so did my firefighter's. He went through a quick mental stock of all of the drugs we had at home that might help if needed. The epi shot in the fridge, for my husband's allergy to bee stings, was there if crap hit the fan. There was benadryl in the cabinet in case the difficulty breathing was caused by a histamine reaction. And, of course, there was a station of firefighters down the street who would have considered the call a valid one, even at that time of night. In fact, if it had been anyone else but me who was helping him assess our son over the phone, he would have told them to call 911 or go to urgent care. We decided that for the time being, he was okay. I was charged to keep an eye on him.

I stayed up the rest of the night, paranoid that I might miss something if I drifted off to sleep. I picked up the latest Dan Brown novel and started reading. My son, although breathing heavily and sleeping fitfully, slowly got better as the night progressed. The horizon began to glow and I felt the stress lessening. Soon, my firefighter would be home on his four day long break, and he could help shoulder the burden of watching over the children for the next few days.

Everyone got to stay in their pajamas and eat cookies on the way to pick up daddy from work that morning. I didn't care about nutrition; I wanted to make the trip as happy and non-agitated as I could, and a package of Oreo's did the trick. We all needed a little pampering after such a long stretch of days. The baby got hold of a cookie or two and was ecstatic. He was covered in chocolate mush and grinning ear to ear by the time we made it to the station.

My husband was relieved to see his son doing so well, and decided against giving him a quick breathing treatment there at the station. I felt the stress of the night being lifted from my shoulders as he drove us home. I drifted in and out of sleep among the sea of red tail lights and firefighter stickers.

Monday, February 22, 2010

How I know my son was born and raised in California

The other day, my 3 year old came out of his room wearing Christmas stockings on his hands and Mr. Potato Head's glasses.

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He declared that he was ready to go out in the snow.

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Someone needs to explain to him what going out in the snow really involves—what frozen air feels like on his eyes and cheeks. How it seeps into his clothing, exposing every square centimeter of under-protected skin. Someone needs to tell him how snow clumps into the crevices of his pants and forms ice chunks at the top of his boots and at the cuff of his gloves. How the warm air of inside burns his fingers when he comes back in.

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Yep, that'll do.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Re-worked living room

Thanks for the feedback! I decided to keep the lamps as they are for now and re-do the living room to incorporate the colors. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to keep the character of the original lamps, and avoid potentially botching up a paint job. So, here it is now:

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For comparison, here's the old version my living room:

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I headed to Ross and Target to pick up a few things to go with the new color scheme. They had some items that worked, but not quite what I was looking for. Maybe someday when I have a gazillion dollars I'll be able to go all out and buy exactly what I want.

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I couldn't find any pillows that I liked; the colors and patterns were all wrong. However, I stumbled upon this faux fur throw on clearance. I'm hoping to make some throw pillows out of it until I come up with a better pillow plan.

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My 3 year old saw it in the bag and thought I had brought a dog home. You can imagine his disappointment when he found out it was a blanket.

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I need to re-work the overhead hanging lights now that there are lamps in the corners. I'm thinking what I'll do is take one of the lamps for the nursery. Then I'll hang one of the overhead lights in the corner where the lamp used to be and put a big shade on it.

I'm happy with the changes for now. So are the kids (well, aside from the blanket not being a dog). And the husband. We'll see how long this version lasts!

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Update - the living room now matches quite nicely with the nursery! Check out the finished nursery in turquoise and brown.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Trying to decide what to do with these lamps...

Yesterday, these lovely mid-century style lamps arrived at our house. (More great items inherited from my guy's grandma!)

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(Sorry for the poor lighting—the only time I could get a moment of childless quiet to take pictures was at 6 in the morning.)

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My dilemma is—do I re-paint them? What do you think? I love the shape of them.

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I am thinking that this one, if not re-painted, would be perfect in the baby's room.



This one would go great in the living room,

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but it doesn't work with the color scheme. However, I could re-work the palette in there to go with the lamp. Or, I could paint over the blues and greens with black or dark brown, bringing the focus to the shape and textures, and it would fit right in.

What do you think?

Monday, February 15, 2010

One of THOSE nights.

When he called to give me the morning report, our conversation went something like this:

"How was your night? Did the kids sleep well?"

"No; I was up all night—I lost count after getting the baby for the fourth time. I'm exhausted."

"That sucks. Sorry to hear that."

"I'm going to need a nap today, for sure. How was your night?"

"It was terrible. I had to get up a bunch of times and the calls were perfectly spaced apart, so I didn't sleep either. I'm going to need a nap too."

(Mutual "UGH!")

There's no surer way to waste that day off sandwiched between two 24 hour shifts than by spending it trying to work in naps for both of us. On my end, it's totally worth the sleep deprivation. Restful nights are something I gladly—albeit unenthusiastically—gave up when I decided to have three children. They're cute, and they love me, and I love them. We have an understanding.

On his end, however...

One would hope that he was kept up all night for valid reasons. You know, like putting out fires, using power tools to extricate people from traffic collisions, or bringing people back from the brink of death. Or to help people who are not able to help themselves. Not for life or death 2 a.m. emergencies like oh, say, a guy who felt like a piece of sand was stuck in his eye after having cataract surgery. Or for someone who was moderately hurting because she didn't refill her pain medication, and had been feeling said pain for the last TWO WEEKS. Why, out of that whole 14 day period, did she a: not refill her prescription, and b: not choose daylight hours to finally do something about it?

There has been a lot of discussion in the EMS bloggy world of late about crazy calls. In addition to the obvious reasons why not to call 911 at night when you don't have an actual emergency, might I add, it really puts a wrench in the family's plans when dad comes home from work exhausted from running BS calls all night.

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Ho Ho Lady, this one's for you.

I'm sure you thought that whole fifteen minutes of constipation after eating too many Ho Hos was life-threatening. Your horror must have felt real and justified, your fingers trembling as you dialed 911.

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There are other ways to solve the problem than waking my husband up in the middle of the night to come swear at you under his breath. You probably realized this as you were placed in some forsaken corner of the E.R. waiting room, forgotten about, then finally given a laxative that you could have gotten easier and quicker (and cheaper) if you had just driven yourself to the corner drug store.

If you're going to waste your tax dollars by abusing the 911 system, please do so during daylight hours, if you don't mind. I'd appreciate it—it would make my life a lot easier. It would probably make your life easier, too. Thanks.

Sincerely,
Katie

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope everyone had a great day and had someone to hug. Here's a few pictures of me and my valentine, a little over eleven years ago. I only have the 6x4 photographs that my generous and talented brother-in-law took of our wedding, so these are literally pictures I took of those photos. One of these days I want to take all of the negatives and have them converted to digital files.

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This is my firefighter with his two best friends growing up. It's one of my favorite pictures from the wedding because it perfectly captures him in story telling mode:

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This is the point where one might say something mushy. However, it would only come back to bite my probationary officer firefighter in the butt if anyone at the station got wind of it, so I'll spare him the embarrassment. :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dollar Store Challenge - Valentine's Day

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I wanted to see what I could do with $20 at the dollar store to decorate a table for a romantic evening for two. Here's the cast of characters:

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and here's what I came up with.

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See the strings that the hearts are on? I un-strung half of the scarf to get those. That took so long. Next time, I'm just going to buy yarn!!

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They didn't have candle holders for tapered candles, so I used a four-pack of shot glasses.

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I spent most of my budget on the place settings. I wanted to use real plates and glasses—the focus of the theme is dinner, after all. (I forgot to budget for silverware. Oops.)

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My verdict—eh, not bad for $20! It didn't come out quite like I had hoped, but I had fun doing it.

Surely there is someone out there who can come up with something better than this. What can you do with your dollar store finds? If you'd like to find out, please take pictures of the process and e-mail them to me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Firsts and randomness

There have been a lot of firsts going on around here. The baby finally learned to stand without holding on to something a week or so ago—one of those milestones that means very little to anyone besides his mom and dad. But we think it's cool!

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His first steps won't be too far behind. He's also about to pop out his first tooth. There's a little line of white on his lower gum. First tooth at around the same time as first steps, just like his older siblings. The other babies his age may be able to best him in a toothy biting match, but at least he'll be able to out-run them. I'm certain that 10-month-olds think about these things.

And just this morning, I think I won the first word contest—what do you think? He's been making mmm sounds at me all week. This will be my first win. The other two clearly said Dada before they said Mama.

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In other firsts, my 3 year old drew his first ever self-portrait.

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I'm fascinated by the beginnings of learning to draw—that moment when a child first connects the lines to make a circle and realizes that he can make it mean something.

Speaking of my middle child, this is his version of clean-up time:

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I now have socks scattered all over the upstairs. He had so much fun doing it, I couldn't tell him no.

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I've become fascinated by the idea of doing a regular dollar store challenge feature on my blog. I want to limit myself to twenty items, $20 (plus tax), and see what fanciful Valentine's Day decorating possibility I can come up with using only dollar store items. Anybody up for the challenge? Yes? No? Maybe? It may be just me, but if you do become as enamored with the idea as I am, please send me pictures of your space and I'd love to post them here.

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Look at this lovely (dead) creature I found in the garden. I saved him so that my daughter could inspect him under her microscope.

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I didn't know where to put him, so for now he's hanging out in a cup in one of my kitchen cabinets. I leave him there as a reminder to all of his live buggy friends that death awaits them if they even so much as THINK about entering my house. So far, it's worked pretty well. I haven't seen a creepy crawly thing in here in quite a while.

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And finally, I was given a blog award from one of my bloggy friends, Clare and Gary!

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That's a first for me, too. Lots of firsts in this post. Thanks, Clare! You should all go to her site and read her seven things about herself—she has a great "how I met my husband" story. So, here's how it works. I'm supposed to tell you 7 things about me, and then nominate 7 other blogs that I love.

Seven Things...

1. I've never been snow skiing.

2. My ring tone is the theme song for "Days of our Lives."

3. I've never had a cold headache from drinking a Slurpee too fast, and neither has my husband. It's how we knew we were meant to be together forever.

4. I love being by myself with no obligations on a rainy day.

5. I had a terrible mommy moment when I first got my double stroller. I hadn't used it until my daughter started school, so I wasn't used to the way it works. I loaded the two boys in, rolled out the front door, and got to the top of the driveway when I realized I had forgotten to lock the door. I put on the break on the stroller and turned to lock the door. While fidgeting with the lock, I was startled by the sound of the baby's bottle falling out of the stroller onto the street. Apparently, I hadn't pushed the break down far enough, and the stroller had careened down the driveway and out into the street. The bumpy ride made the bottle fall out. Thankfully, the kids were fine. There were no cars going past. I ran to get them and sheepishly said something awkward to my neighbor across the street, who witness my bad mommy moment. I've been hyper-vigilant about the breaks on that stroller ever since.

6. I don't mind doing the laundry; it's the dishes I loathe.

7. If I had to pick my favorite beverage on the planet, it would be orange juice. I salivate when I pass it at the grocery store.

Ok. Now for the hard part—I have to pick ONLY seven of my bloggy friends to pass the award on to. (Which reminds me, my blog link list is in dire need of updating.)

Here are a few of my favorite bloggers:

1. To start the list, a recent find: Pretty Shiny Sparkly. It's pretty, shiny, AND sparkly.

2. Hydrant Girl--you go, girl! I laugh when I read your blog and am inspired to get up and do something useful with my time.

3. Wife.Mom.Nurse. There's some real tear-jerkers there. And beautiful moments, too.

4. And let's not forget Wife.Mom.Nurse's firefighter hubby— Switch 2 Plan B. Because all former English teachers become firefighters, right? Don't those two professions just go together? Ok, maybe not. But it makes for a well-written firefighter blog!

5. Mrs. Lukie at Sarah Says... Sarah says lots of fun and interesting things!

6. A Firefighter's Wife. She's got loads of experience with six children, loves her family, and loves Christ. And I love reading her blog.

7. Last but not least, there's this guy who I really like who has this blog called Firefighter Paramedic Stories. He tells it like it is. Some stories are odd, some are sad, some are the brunt of a joke, and some have no real ending at all since he doesn't always get to see how the story ends.

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Okay, I think that's about all the randomness I've got in me for one day! I hope you all have a fabulous Tuesday.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Knife winner!

Out of the 24 commenters (26 minus comments by myself and my firefighter), the winner is:

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#5, Mrs. McFadden! Congratulations!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

DIY Dresser

Every time I finish a do-it-yourself project, I swear I will never attempt another—ever. I watch HGTV and they make it look so easy and quick. Then I start in on a project myself, and two days later, I'm still working on my "two hour" project.

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I thought painting this old beat-up dresser, of nearly burned my house down fame, and putting on new pulls would be fairly straight forward. Just a quick buff with a fine grit sandpaper to give the paint something to stick to, fill in the old holes and drill some new ones, a coat of spray paint, and voila—old dresser becomes contemporary again.

I gathered my tools: several sheets of sandpaper in varying grits, glossy black spray paint, rags for wiping off dust, a dropcloth, a drill, and all the bits I would need. I shooed the kids to their father on the other side of the door and locked myself in. I turned on Pandora, opened every window, and got to work.

First, I meticulously removed the contents of each drawer and laid it out in a grid on my bed. That way, I could just plop everything back into the appropriate drawer at the end of the day after the paint had spent a good long time drying. Then, I removed the hardware on the first drawer, sanded it down, and gave it a test coat of paint. So far, so good—it went quick. I just wanted to see what it would look like.

That's when I noticed that the old pulls had left oval-shaped dents in the wood. (As an aside, I had to look up the definition of "pulls" for my firefighter before he believed me that that's what the drawer handles are called. We spend a lot of time proving things to each other. All in good fun—especially when I'm right!)

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The glossy paint amplified the grooves in my test run drawer. All of the drawers would need to be thoroughly sanded down in that spot to make a flush surface. Small hiccup, I thought, since I needed to fill the old holes and would be sanding down that area anyway. The filler only takes an hour to set. Not that much of a delay.

Then I filled the holes, only to realize that the plastic-based filler takes a lot of elbow grease to sand down. Then I ended up gouging some of the holes in my over-zealous sanding and had to repeat the process. Then I sprayed the drawers. They came out great, a few of them just needed a touch-up. I was already about 4 hours behind schedule at this point.

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After fixing those few drawers, I realized that the sheen on the surface was speckled because I had sprayed the touch-up coat only where it was needed, instead of across the whole surface of the wood. So, another complete coat went on. Then I realized that the drawers that had two coats had a different sheen than the drawers that only had one coat.

Clearly, this was going to take more than one day. I swiped all of my carefully laid out piles off of the bed in frustration and called it a night.

After taking the morning away from the drawers, I came back to them. I started spraying the drawers that needed a second coat.

But something was wrong—the paint wasn't going on smooth. For some reason, the surface was buckling. The drawer would have to dry and be sanded for another attempt. In the meantime, I lightly sanded the next drawer—not enough to take the first coat of paint off, just enough to take the sheen off of the surface—and sprayed that one.

Again, the paint started buckling as it dried.

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Argh! The dry first coat of paint was the problem. I looked at the label more closely, and sure enough, it told me that if I wanted a second coat, it had to be applied within an hour or so of the first one. But sanding all of those drawers down to the wood was going to take more time and effort than the dresser was worth.

At this point, I gave up. So, now I have drawers with three different sheens—the less glossy drawers that only have one coat, the smooth, nice-looking drawers that have two coats that were applied properly, and a few drawers that look like crocodile skin.

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Don't even get me started on what it took to drill (and re-drill) holes for the pulls. I had to call in my firefighter to help drill the new ones in the curvy surface of the drawers. For some reason, even with both of us working on it, template for the holes and all, we couldn't get the openings to consistently line up correctly with the pulls.

It was two in the morning of the second day before we had everything drilled and painted. In all, my two hour project took about 12 hours between the two of us.

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At least it looks pretty—as long as you don't stand too close!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A giveaway—anyone want a santoku knife?

Well, I guess it's true what they say—never bring a zester to a knife match!

Thanks to the generous folks at CSN, I am happy to be able to send one of my readers this fine chopping instrument.

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Here's the skinny on the knife:
This asian styled knife features a broad blade and especially sharp cutting edge. The all around winner of the asian kitchen can be used threefold: for preparing meat, fish, and also vegetables. All santoku knives by J.A. Henckels have a fine-polished razor edge that gives them their typical sharpness. The hollow edge is ideal for extra thin cutting.

Features:

* Precision, stamped construction for durability through the full length of the knife
* High quality, German stainless steel blades are durable, stain and rust resistant
* Black, satin-finished polypropylene handles with triple rivets
* Fully visible tang construction provides proper balance
* Handwash recommended
* Lifetime warranty against defects in material and or craftsmanship


To enter the contest, all you have to do is reply to this post.

Do you hand wash your knives, or stick them in the dishwasher?

I used to hand wash them meticulously. But lately, I've decided that our relationship would be much better off if I put them in with the rest of the dishes and save myself some time and effort. Sorry, knives.

Entries will be allowed until 8 a.m. on Monday, the 8th, at which point I'll choose a random winner and announce it here. The winner will then be contacted if you have an email address associated with your post. If not, the winner can contact me at firewifekatie@gmail.com and we can get the knife on it's way.

Any takers?
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