Healthy Halloween Treats

It’s pretty hard to escape sugary treats for Halloween, but here are a few healthy and cute treats to try at home to balance your trick-or-treat indulgences:

Frankenstein Avocado Toast

How silly and fun are these Frankenstein Avocado Toasts!

Banana Ghost Pops

Banana Ghost Pops Recipe | Healthy Ideas for Kids

Deviled Eggs

64 Non-Candy Halloween Snack Ideas

Spooky Strawberries

Strawberry Ghosts @candiquik

Banana Monster Pops

Monster Banana Pops are the new Halloween treat.

Banana Ghosts and Clementine Pumpkins

Halloween Idea - Ghosts and Pumpkins  http://onelittleproject.com/banana-ghosts-and-clementine-pumpkins/:

Cheese Broomsticks

Witch's Broomstick Snacks ~ easy and fun:

Clementine Jack-O-Lanterns

jack o lantern clementines

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Mommy Monday – Introducing Food

Too corny? I think so, but we’ll give it a shot. For some reason I really like alliterations. I thought having a purpose to my posts might help me stick with it, even when things get crazy. Mommy Monday posts will be random thoughts and experiences while being a mom. I’ve got a whopping 8 months in so I’m an expert, right? Yeah, well, no, but I’m learning as I go and you can all join me in the process. So, without further ado, today marks the first “Mommy Monday” post.

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With my background in dietetics, I knew that breast milk was the best thing for Eli and I planned to breast feed exclusively for the first 6 months and  continue for at least a year (if my supply allowed – which is absolutely does – more on that some other time). Being super type-A, I started to read about introducing solids around 3 months so I’d be prepared. I was very interested in baby-led weaning (BLW) and decided that would be the route we would generally go. I didn’t want to waste money on baby food and who has time to puree everything? My skeptics talked about how Eli would choke on solids. So, I did a pubmed search to see if any studies were out there on BLW. Sure enough, a handful of studies exist. What is the consensus? Well, babies who followed BLW were no more likely to having choking or gagging episodes during the entire weaning process than those who were weaned using stages of solids. Yes, they tended to gag more than their age-matched peers (i.e. BLW kid getting chicken while the traditional kid got rice cereal – of course there is more gagging with chicken), BUT when the traditional kids finally got to solids, they gagged just as much as the BLW kids did previously. So the difference is just when the gagging happened (6 months vs 12 months old). Again, there was no difference in choking episodes, so BLW kids gagging earlier didn’t mean they choked more. They just learned how to handle solids sooner. What else did the studies find? Well, kids who did BLW were leaning, more in-tune with their hunger/satiety cues, and had a broader palate for food. Yes, yes, and yes! All things I hope for Eli. After all of this, I had no doubt that BLW would be the way to go for us.

Around 4 months, Eli was sitting up unassisted in his bumbo and started to take a lot  of interest in what we were eating. He would grab at everything and bring it to his mouth. It was obvious that he wanted to join in. So I realized that waiting to 6 months wasn’t appropriate – he was ready for solids at 4 months, regardless of what some book says. All kids are different and the key is to use the guidelines as guidelines and modify them as needed for the individual child. So Eli’s first food – a banana! He handled it so well. Take a look here. We offered him foods here and there, but nothing rigid. We decided it was more about him learning about new foods than getting his nutrition from them (he was still eating breast milk the rest of the time and growing well). There were some foods that scared me a bit and I decided it was best to do a modified version of BLW. He got some textured purees, like applesauce, and some solids. Sometimes we fed him, sometimes he used his food feeder, and other times he just used his 2 hands. 2014-11-24 18.18.50 2014-12-05 14.05.41

 

 

Around 6 months we decided to be more regular with his solids. We began offering him 3 meals a day and were trying a variety of foods. We offered mixed foods and didn’t follow the traditional “1 food for 3- 5 days” method. Yes, there was a chance he wouldn’t tolerate a food and we wouldn’t know what the cause was, but I was willing to take the risk. He was developing a very broad palate and absolutely loved food. Around 7 months he had the chewing (or gumming since he doesn’t have teeth) motion down. I was amazed watching him – how did he figure that out?!? I could give him a strip of toast or chicken and he could gum the whole thing down without gagging once. Amazing. I’ve taken pictures of Eli trying new foods over the past few months and plan to put  page together with all of these. In the meantime, here are a few to enjoy!2015-01-26 18.17.19 broccoli 2.13.15 tofu 2.12 (5)

 

Long Overdue Update

Wow – I can’t believe I haven’t posted for over 6 months! Where has the time gone? Oh yeah, being a mom, wife, and 4th year medical student. I have so much to update but I’ll keep it as short as possible.

Motherhood

Let me start by saying Eli is absolutely amazing and I truly love being a mom (most days). This wasn’t the case at the beginning and now I am realizing that I’m not alone in that feeling. I didn’t cry when Eli was born or feel an overwhelming sense of love for him the second I saw his face. Don’t get me wrong, I loved him and he was beautiful, but it wasn’t much different than what I felt when I saw another friend’s beautiful new baby. I wondered when this would change and honestly, it was probably around 3 or 4 months when he really started to be interactive. The first few months were OK. I was tired from never sleeping more than 2 hours at a stretch, but I was getting the hang of things. I really wanted to go back to work and thought about starting back a few weeks early. I missed the mental stimulation of medical school rotations and needed a break from baby. I decided to hang in there and went back after 10 weeks, as originally planned. Going back was the best thing for our relationship. It made me realize how much I did love him and left me looking forward to our evenings together.

As the weeks passed by I became amazed at how much he changed. By 3-4 months he was sitting up in a bumbo and grabbing at our food and trying to feed himself. We decided to let him taste a few things around 4 months, even though I originally planned to wait until 6 months. He was developmentally ready, so I reminded myself that books and recommendations are guidelines that need to be tailored to the child, not the other way around. By 5 month he was sitting up unassisted and loving his food feeder. He was babbling up a storm and really turning into a little boy. He took his first flight at 5 months and did OK. By 6 months he was trying to stand on his own (while holding something) and really started to love his solids. By 7 months he was able to pull himself up to stand and was trying to figure out the whole crawling thing (thankfully he hasn’t figured it out yet!). He officially loved food by this point – a lot – and figured out chewing, despite having no teeth yet. He will be 8 months in a few days and it looks like crawling will likely happen in the next few weeks -eek!

He is one of the happiest babies I have ever met and I am so incredibly in love with him. We were able to spend a lot of time together these past few months because I am wrapping up rotations and have some time off. I am so grateful for our time together! Looking back, I’d rather have started back at work after 6 weeks if it meant I could have 4 more weeks with him now. He finished day care in December and has been home with me, my mom, or J over the past few months. J is going to be a stay-at-home dad starting in April and is so excited about it. He knows it won’t be a walk in the park, but he is looking forward to really getting to bond with Eli.

 

Med School

I am so grateful I finished my board exam before Eli was born, because baby brain is for real. Sleep deprivation does some crazy things – one thing in particular is loss of word-finding ability. I can’t begin to count the number of times I couldn’t think of simple, everyday words. Going back to work was an adjustment – if I couldn’t think of the word cardboard how was I going to take care of sick patients with pneumonia?? After a few weeks I got back into the swing of things and it started to improve. Even now I still have trouble recalling things, but I just look it up and study  harder. Thankfully the year is wrapping up and I haven’t had many tests. In fact, I just finished my last exam of medical school and only have one 4 week rotation left (for the month of April)! Where has the last 4 years gone??

After med school there is this thing called residency. It’s sorta a big deal. Most of 4th year is spent applying and interviewing for residency. I have decided to go into family medicine with the intention of practicing full spectrum FM (outpatient, inpatient, and deliveries – you know, the way all doctors used to be). These jobs are a little hard to find, which means the residencies are also hard to find. I had specific criteria for what I was looking or and ended up interviewing at 9 programs in Wisconsin and Colorado. I have found my dream program and next week (March 20th) I will find out if they liked me as much as I liked them. The way residency match works is I rank the programs I like and the programs rank all the people they like. Then this fancy computer program looks at all of the lists across the world and puts you in your best possible match. On March 20th, I will open a white envelope at 11am and find out where I will spend the next 3 years. It’s pretty exciting and I can’t wait to find out!

 

Other Stuff

I have been spending too much time on facebook. I justify it by saying that I am showing family members pictures of Eli, when really I’m just wasting time I don’t have to waste (which has to come from somewhere, so it probably comes from more important things like sleep, exercise, and family). So, I am thinking about giving up the facebook thing all together and just updating this blog more often. We’ll see if that happens. If it does, you all have lots of cute baby pictures to look forward to 🙂 Here’s a great one to tide you over:

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Elijah’s Nursery

I’ve posted before many times about DIY home projects we’ve done. I think this room was the most fun of all. Take a look at Elijah’s Wilderness Themed Nursery.

nursery - front

View from the doorway

right wall with books and painting

Wilderness wall with book shelves and “Elijah’s House” painting

decal, chair, toy chest

Nursing corner with the super comfy new chair

blanket ladder

Handmade blanket ladder with blankets and bears from our childhood. The clock was made by my grandpa. The cradle was made by my dad.

front-left view

View of the changing table/dresser my husband refinished. I made the mobile with birds. My husband and I made the hanging shelf (which we still need to decorate). The wooden items on the shelves my grandpa made.

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Left side of the room.

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Bird Mobile I made for over the changing table.

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Decal with Elijah’s pictures, bird house, and handmade toy chest.

rocking chair

Rocking chair my J stripped and stained and I upholstered. It was intended to go in the corner of the nursery where the recliner is but after 1 night of feedings it was moved to the living room and we purchased the recliner.

shelf

Floating shelf my husband and I made. We still need to decorate this. We will use some of the handmade wood items from my grandpa.

Meet the newest addition to our family!

7.20.14Elijah James was born on July 17th at 6:13pm. He was 6 pounds 7 ounces and 18.75″ long.  He was 2 weeks early, but that was when he decided he was ready to come. My water broke at 9 am that morning, while I was at work. Note to all pregnant women – be sure to wear black pants to work when your due date is approaching!

The labor and deliver went smoothly. Honestly, I would do 10 deliveries over 1 pregnancy. I am positive that being physically fit played a role in this. Little Elijah did have a triple nuchal cord, which is very rare (0.5% of all births), but thankfully there were not complications from this after he was given some oxygen.

I’m nursing and was very lucky that my milk came in by day 2. He latched on his first attempt after birth, which is also very lucky. He’s a natural 🙂 We went home after 36 hours and quickly began adjusting the new routine (well, lack there of).  Bailey didn’t realize there was a new addition, but Bandit noticed right away. The first day he was extremely jealous and gave us the cold shoulder. Then he realized if he warmed up to Elijah, he’d get more attention to. Now he sleeps under Elijah’s cradle and tries to sit on my lap when I nurse. I think they will become best buds in a few months.

During his first week home we had his newborn pictures taken. They turned out great. Feel free to take a look here.

He is now 2 weeks old and has been doing great. He had some issues with gas that made him extremely fussy. I thought he was in a lot of pain, but it turns out that he was likely just frustrated that he couldn’t get the gas out. He has been starting to do much better with this.

At his 2 week appointment he had already gained 1 pound from his birth weight! In case you aren’t familiar with baby weight gain goals here is a summary – all babies lose some weight in the hospital b/c the mom’s milk isn’t in yet. Elijah was down to 6 pounds 2 ounces at discharge. Two days later babies go in for a weight and color check (to see if they are jaundiced) with the goal of <10% total weight loss from birth. Our little eating machine had actually gained 1/2 ounce from his discharge weight, so he was on the right track. At the 2 week appointment the goal is to be back to birth weight. Elijah is already an overachiever and decided to gain not only 5 ounces, but an addition 16 ounces…in just 10 days. Needless to say I feel that all I am doing is nursing and changing dirty diapers, haha.

Surprisingly, I have been adjusting well to the lack of sleep. I get 1-2 hours at a time during the night. I usually get 3-4 of these naps in so it is  total of 5-6 hours per night. I usually am pretty awake all day but occasionally take a nap sometime after 3pm when I start to crash. So far so good, but I am sure this will start to wear on me. Let’s hope he is one of those magical babies that sleeps through the night after a month or two.

 

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I never had a chance to post my 3rd trimester bump pictures, so here they are:

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Week 28

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Week 29

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Week 30

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Week 31

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Week 32

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Week 33

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Week 35

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Week 36

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Week 37 – mowing the lawn with the Reel Mower!

afterlight

Week 37.5

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Week 38

2nd Trimester Update

Second trimester has come and gone…2 weeks ago already! I have been busier than ever (hence the lack of posts), but have been feeling well. Around 20 weeks the nausea ended – yes! and then returned – no 😦 and then left for the most part – I’ll take it. Around week 20 we also found out that we will be having a little boy! We don’t have the name officially picked yet, but we have a few in mind. We are keeping them a secret and will decide once we see him.

During 2nd trimester I finished up my stent in family medicine, completed my internal medicine rotation, and started my general surgery rotation. I went from being 99% sure I’d do ob/gyn to considering family medicine to loving internal medicine. Right now I am pretty sure I’ll end up as a hospitalist after doing an internal medicine residency. However, there is still hope for family medicine – I have 4 weeks of family medicine coming up at the end of June, during which time I am hoping I’ll make my final decision. While I loved ob/gyn during the rotation, I think it was just the first rotation that got me excited about being a doctor and not actually what I want to do forever. I am in the middle of my surgery rotation and while it is fun and interesting, I don’t think I want to be a surgeon, so it has  made ob/gyn less of desire as well. But, things can change and we’ll see what the next few months bring. I have 4 weeks of surgery left (cardiothoracic and plastic surgery) followed by 4 weeks for family medicine and hopefully 2 weeks off before baby comes. In the next month I have 2 big clinical exams (i.e. standardized patients) and 2 big multiple choice exams (surgery shelf and step 2 CK board exam). I am not sure how I’ll do it, but I’ve realized not worrying about that part makes it much easier – it will all work out in the end and I’ll do what I need to do to get there. The best part – when baby comes I can spend all of my time with him 🙂 and hopefully it will make the transition to parenthood a little easier.

So, on to the pictures. At the start of 2nd trimester I thought I was HUGE. Then each week passed and I realized how much huger I was becoming. Looking back it  makes me laugh to see what I thought was “such a big bump” at the time. Take a look to see how much he has grown:

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Week 14

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Week 15

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Week 16

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Week 17

week 18

Week 18 – Before we visited the ice caves!

Week 19

Week 19

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Week 20 – It’s a boy!!

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Week 21 – my first maternity outfit!

Week 22 (14)

Week 22 – Go Badgers!!

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Week 23 – WMS Annual Meeting and Presidential Scholar Awards Banquet

Week 24 (2)

Week 24

Week 25 (9)

Week 25

week 26 (3)

Week 26 – Internal medicine shelf exam day

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Week 27

Sunday Food Prep

sunday food prep

Sundays are busy days at our house. J  cleans (could I be any luckier?!) while I cook up a storm in the kitchen. During rotations I just don’t have time to cook during the week. And if I do have time, I really don’t want to slave away in the kitchen after a 10-12 hour day. Here is an example of what we eat for the week:

Back Left – Salads

  • Fresh lettuce washed and chopped, ready to eat
  • Celery sticks, washed and trimmed
  • Cucumbers and Tomatoes, washed and diced, ready for salads

Front Left – snacks

Center – Breakfast and Lunch

  • Roasted mixed vegetables with wheat pasta and balsamic vinegar. Roasted veggies are so easy – just throw them in a large pan, toss with olive oil and spices, and roast at 425F for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning.
  • Egg Bakes – the easiest way to get a vegetable serving in before 7am

Back Right – Dinner

  • Crock pot chili, half for this week and for the freezer for a week when I don’t want to cook 😉

Front Right – Dessert

  • Black bean brownies, because pregnant women love chocolate and desserts…and since I’m a dietitian I will feel less guilty if I know they are full of nutritious black beans.

 

 

Crock Pot Chicken Masala

Back in 2007 I spent a month in India for a “HIV/AIDS and public health challenges” volunteer experience. It was absolutely amazing. We were completely immersed in the culture, which scared the crap out of me at first. I flew alone – for the first time alone and the first time ever on a plane for more than 3 hours. It was a 26 hour non-stop flight. I arrived at the Delhi airport, surrounded by a language I had never heard before (Hindi). My ride was no where to be found and I had no idea how to figure out how to contact him/her. Thankfully a half hour later I found them. And they didn’t speak English. They were employees of the NGO that my non-profit was affiliated with. They weren’t dressed very nice, but were nice to me. I couldn’t help but feel a little skeptical about the situation. Before we left the airport I tried to call my parents and J to let them know I arrived safely. My phone disconnected me 3 times and they were, of course, worried something happened to me. Thankfully it stayed connected long enough to hear I was OK and that they should call J to tell him I was safe. I then went with the two Indian men I had just met to an old van. Yes, one of those creepy vans without side windows. They loaded my luggage up for me and I sat alone in the backseat without a seat belt (because they don’t use those in India). I was honestly so scared that I might not make it through the night, but I knew I had to trust that everything would be fine. The ride was an experience I will never forget. It was my first glimpse into the chaos of Delhi driving. When we were at stop lights, children and women begged at our car (just like you may have seen on Slumdog Millionaire). I had never seen anything like this. We finally drove down a dark ally, my heart racing, and arrived at my hostel. The hostel keeper didn’t speak English, of course, and my two other travel partners hadn’t arrived yet, of course. The women at the hostel were very nice and helped me get settled into the room we (the 3 girls) would share. I was so scared and had no idea what was going to happen next. After I fell asleep there was a loud pounding at the door – it was my travel partners (but my mind went to the worst possible scenario, of course).

Taj

After that moment the trip improved greatly. One of the girls spoke Hindi, which made all the difference. Our experience was amazing. We were immersed into India. Working and living in conditions similar to those of the lower-middle class of India (which would be poor in the US). We worked with homeless children, men dying of HIV/AIDS who were disowned from their families, young boys who were already addicted to drugs, amputees who lost limbs from drug use, women who had been abused, and so many more amazing people. This was an experience I will never forget. I went from being scared to death of a country to not wanting to leave. I still hope to go back someday and experience India all over again.

loving her new glasses

A woman in Old Delhi who just was fitted for these new glasses

teaching English in the village

Teaching English in a Village

india-child in slums

A young boy in the slums of old Delhi

nutrition classes for eye healt

Nutrition classes in the slums of Old Delhi for eye health

 

During our time there we ate a lot of traditional Indian food. We usually ate whatever was prepared for the people we were serving, so there was tons of dal with rice and nann. We often ate with our hands. The food was absolutely delicious. I ate the best mango I have ever had in my life  – so ripe I could peel it with my hands. I fell in love with paneer and kheer (and probably put on a few pound because of it). Occasionally we’d venture out and eat at a local restaurant, which was always amazing. I only made the mistake of getting something too spicy once the entire month, was a pretty good success. 

thewhole group

Since being home, I have tried to make Indian dishes occasionally. The cumin, chai, cinnamon, and masala spices bring back memories instantly. A friend of mine made us Chicken Tikka Masala when I stayed with her in Madison a few months ago. It was so easy and SO delicious. I made this for J a few weeks ago and he loved it too. I served it with the very Indian side dish of green beans, haha, but it needed a vegetable! If I were doing it again I would add raisins to give it a touch of sweetness.

chicken masala

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
(unfortunately I don’t know the source of this recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 24-oz chicken breast or thighs (1.5 pounds)
  • 1/2 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup basmati or long-grain rice
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (or plain non-fat yogurt if you want a non-fat option)

Directions

  1. In a 4 or 6qt slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste, and masala. Place the chicken on top, cover, and cook on low for 7-8 hours (or high for 3-4 hours).
  2. In a small bowl, toss the cucumber and cilantro with lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Prepare the rice before serving.
  4. Just before serving, stir the cream into the masala. Serve over rice with cucumber relish.

Tangled Twigs and Twine

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In the midst of the craziness called life, I have taken up a new hobby. I should probably be studying to figure out how to save people’s lives, but instead, I am crafting. I guess even doctors need to take breaks once and a while.

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For Christmas I made wire wrapped necklaces for a number of my friends any family. I was surprised how impressed they were with my “skills” and was told by a few I should consider selling them. I had a free weekend, brainstormed my plan, and decided to give it a try. And with that, Tangled Twigs and Twine was born.

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The necklaces are all handmade by me – not someone I pay or someone overseas.

They are bird nests of beads wrapped in wire.

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They come with 3 different size beads, with the final product measuring just under 1″ to about 1 1/4.”

They are sold with or without an 18″ 1mm chain.

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My most favorite part of all is the packaging. The paper mache box is hand stamped with the cutest birds on a twig. The box is filled with “nest” material for the necklace to rest on. I hope you love them as much as I do. Please head over to my shop and take a look!

First Trimester Has Come and Gone

Last Thursday I wrapped up my first trimester and entered week 14 of pregnancy. Despite the less than pleasant effects of pregnancy, time has been flying by. Thankfully the last two days I’ve been feeling much better, with only an hour of nausea here and there. I think things are starting to look up 🙂 Here are some pictures of my progress:

(I decided I don’t need my belly floating around the internet, so I removed my “starting point” picture. Maybe I’ll have a before and after comparison next fall/winter)

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Week 8

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Week 8

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Week 10

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Week 10

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Week 12

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Week 13

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Week 14

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Week 14