Growing Together


I spent a Summer in Hawaii one year working and saving money for the next year of school. I had a friend there named Kathy. It was the first week in Hawaii for both of us. We had just met each other, and we had both just met a Hawaiian named Kiki. Kiki invited us to a beach party, “a real Hawaiian one,” he said. It was on a Saturday afternoon, on a beach at the far side of the island. As I recall, the party had three distinct parts: Surfing, eating and dancing. My inclination was to watch all three. Her inclination was to do all three.
The joy of trying things and of new participation and new interest is a classic and significant joy. There is so much to do in the World, so many good things to try, 360 degrees of experience. Yet most of us eat the same narrow 10-degree sliver of pie over and over again, too afraid or inhibited (or sophisticated?) to try the other 350 degrees. Somewhere we have lost our grasp of the joy of basic confidence to try.
There are two kinds of basic fears in the World: Fear of getting hurt and fear of failure. Both kinds of fear apply to all facets of life. We fear failure physically, mentally, emotionally and socially, and we fear being hurt physically, emotionally and socially. Both fears are self-fulfilling. Physical fear often causes physical hurt, and fear of failing almost always causes failure.
Children are born with neither of these two fears; it is the learning of the fears that takes away the joy.

The Child’s Perspective

Our two-year-old Shawni came along to her older sister’s dancing class. We were watching the older sister and left the two-year-old sitting down the row of seats. I glanced over and saw her eyes growing wider. The next moment she was up, twirling, whirling, a two-year-old facsimile of modern dance. She wanted to try, to experience.
This is a joy to preserve, a joy that small children almost always have but they often lose early. (Think of the three-year-old afraid to touch the snow or the four-year-old too shy to meet new people.) The symptoms of the loss of this joy are the phrases we have all heard: “Oh, I can’t do it.” “Will you help me? I’m afraid.”
When did they lose it? Where do they leave it? Why? It is our fault. We fail to preserve it in three ways. First, in our preoccupation and “busyness,” we fail ourselves to experience new things and to manifest the joy that comes from them. Failure no.1: Lack of example.
Second, again in our involvement with “more important things,” we fail to praise and encourage their exploration. The encouragement could be verbal or, better yet, could be expressed by us learning from them, trying things with them. By criticising instead of praising, we build fear and rub out the continuing desire to try. A child performs an important experiment by pouring his milk into his soup, and we call him a mess. A child takes off his shoes to see how the grass feels, and we tell him, “That’s silly,” and doesn’t he know he will get dirty. Failure no.2: Criticism instead of praise.
Third, we often compare our children with each other or with other children, thus making them feel inferior. Johnny tries to run a race or improve on the piano and glows with the joy of trying until we say, “Say, that Jones boy sure is learning fast,” or “I wonder how the Smith girl got so good on the piano? She’s only had lessons for as long as Johnny.” Failure no.3: Discouragement by comparison or by overdone caution.

How To

Let children try things physically. Break down a trynd things with them. Climb a tree. Jump off a diving board. It will do you good and give verbal and nonverbal encouragement to your children’s physical confidence. Particularly, try things you are not good at. Let the children see that lack of skill is no reason for not trying.
The trick is to create a basically safe environment, rather than having to constantly warn about physical danger.
Fold a quilt or heavy blanket lengthwise to make a mat and let the children try various types of tumbling. Do a somersault or two yourself.
Win and keep the children’s trust. Children trust us until we violate their trust. A broken trust hurts them not only at the moment, but permanently, because it teaches fear of being hurt. Keep their trust by never lying, even a little. Don’t say, “The doctor won’t hurt you.” Don’t say you’ll spank them if they do it again and then not spank them when they do. Don’t tell them to tell the telephone caller you’re not at home. Don’t forget a promise. If they never learn to doubt you on small things, then they’ll never doubt your compliments to them, your advice to them, your love for them.
Encourage children to try new things. Look for and set up new experiences. When they ask for help, first say, “I’ll be here to help, but try it first.” Then praise the try as much or more than the success.
Praise the attempt and teach them that mistakes are okay. To praise the result when the result is not good violates the trust. But to praise the try, to compliment the effort–this sort of praise will bring about more tries and eventually more success. We thus teach that there is such a thing as successful failure: Failure from which we learn and grow. “It’s okay not be able to do it. It’s okay to miss, to fall down, to make a mistake. This is how we grow.”

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Love Art? Enjoy New Techniques! What Fun!

Most children love to experience colours on paper. Be it scribbling, using fingers or drawing amazing shapes, Sunbird students are no exception. Enjoy the snaps of them learning new applications.

Sunbird celebrated Subhashini’s birthday, and all students love her! Happy Birthday!

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Announcement: Communication with Your Child Seminar

Dear Parents and Friends

On Saturday, 28th of February, Sunbird is conducting a seminar, “Communication with your Child” for parents, caregivers and interested friends. Nine Keys to effective communication will be addressed.

Looking forward to see you! Your Sunbird Team

Venue: Sunbird Early Learning Centre

Time: 10 am to 12 noon

Entry: Free

Snacks and Refreshments will be served

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Nature Walk and Bird Watching

On a sunny Friday morning, with all students present, they packed their little bags and set off for the Kaikondrahalli lake. They took a leisurely walk around the lake, gazing into the trees to look for the nests of big birds, like the migratory stork. But they learned about many other birds that have made their home there. Kingfishers, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Purple Rumped Sunbird, Green Bee Eaters, etc fill the air with their chatter, lovely songs, flapping wings, and amazing diving acrobatics.. They all loved the connect to Nature!

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Recruiting Little Carpenters, Anyone?

Hello parents, you might be interested to know, that your youngsters may turn out to be very practical and ‘hands on’. This is what we thought, when they could not get enough of Mr. Anil of Hamsavardhan Design carpentry unit in Tavakere. He was able to enthuse them with interesting tools from hammers to circular saws, drills, planes and everything a carpenter needs. They learned how a ‘modular kitchen’ is made, picnic tables look like, etc. They learned how wood shavings come about and what is ‘saw dust’….. a truly memorable excursion! Thank you Mr. Anil for making it interesting and safe even for small ones!


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Enjoying Art

A little celebration for all the children who took part in a drawing and collage competition. Some drawings were very original! The students enjoy continued classes on various art applications. Here are a few pictures for fun.

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Continuing The Joy

It seems only fitting, in order to form the skills for Life, to further cement the importance of setting goals for these skills. Happy Reading!!


A speaker impressed me once with an uncommon answer to a common question. The question posed to him was, “With all you have to do, how do you look so relaxed?” (The boy who asked the question went on, partly for humour, partly for impact, to say that his father didn’t have nearly as much responsibility, yet always looked frazzled & tired.) The answer was, “Each week, on a certain day at a certain time, I spend some time alone, setting goals for the week. I follow the priorities of family first, others second, myself third. I set objectives in each area, & if time is too short to do all I want to do, I put my goals into priority order so that I know the most important ones will get done. Then I plan how, & write my plans into my weekly calendar book.”
Most anxiety comes from wondering where we should be or what we ought to be doing. Most joy comes from knowing both.

How To

The joy of goal striving & achievement is like a diamond with many facets, each one a separate & distinct joy. There is the joy of knowing our long-range purpose, the joy of responsibility, the joy of shorter-range goals, the joy of causes & commitment, the joy of organisation & order, even the joy of failing occasionally & of sometimes making mistakes.
Understanding the concept of goals. A three- or four-year-old is capable of understanding the concept & nature of goals. Explain that a goal is “something good that we want & that we work for.”
Experiencing a goal. A three- or four-year-old can experience the joy of setting & achieving a simple goal. Ask the child if he can think of a goal for himself. Help him decide on one. It might be self-improvement: Learning to zip his coat, flush the toilet, or walk across the street safely. It might be solving a problem: Not getting so dirty at school or not sucking his thumb any more. It might be making a new friend or earning money to buy something special.
Write the goal down & put a big circle by it. Periodically, as the goal is achieved, let the child fill in part of the circle. (When the goal is half completed, the circle will be half filled in.)
Help the child develop a plan to meet his goal, such as asking the neighbours if they need work done, trying to zip his coat each night before he goes to bed, not kneeling down in the dirt, inviting a new child over to play, or putting his blanket away etc.
Praise the setting of the goal, praise the plan, praise every step the child takes toward the goal.
Feel the joy of setting goals & working together. These might be anything worthwhile, from reading a book to doing the Spring housecleaning together as a family. Involve the children. Write down the goal & plan it first together, go to work on it & then discuss the results of each phase–how you are going, how it makes you feel as each part is achieved.
1. Together, do the kinds of chores in which results are visible, such as pulling weeds, washing windows, raking leaves, or waxing the floor or car. Part of the joy comes from seeing the result.
2. Have family jobs & responsibilities for each family member. For example, a little child can be in charge of clearing off the dishes after Sunday dinner. Again, lavish praise on the child, saying, “Doesn’t that look nice?” Make a chart showing each family member’s responsibility, & discuss these responsibilities as a family.
Teach the law of the harvest. There is security in knowing you will reap what you plant. Teach this joy by actually sowing & actually reaping. Have a garden. Let the children plant, weed, water & harvest. Then use the example of the garden as a way to explain many things: How brushing the teeth grow up into the joy of no cavities, how kind deeds grow up into the joy of happy feelings, how selfish deeds grow up like weeds to choke the family.
Organisation & order. Have a good set of shelves in a child’s room. Help him organise his possessions, with a place for each item. Then give strong encouragement & praise as he keeps things in their places. The simple lessons of order in a child’s life will go a long way in building the critical, later-life skill of organising his thoughts & ideas.
Gather the children in the middle of the room on the floor & tell them you want to see if they know what two words mean. The first word is mess. Ask them what it means. Then talk about how unpleasant it is when things are messy & how easy it is to lose things when there is a mess.
Then tell them the next word is order. Explain to them that order is when there is no mess. Things are in their places, nothing is lost, everything is neat & clean & tidy. Talk for awhile about how nice order is & how bad mess is.
Then tell the children you are going to tell them a secret about order. It is an important secret, & they should remember it. Get them to lean very close so they can hear you whisper. Then say, “Things will always stay in order if you take only one plaything at a time & put it back in its place before you take another out.” Repeat this a couple of times.
The joy of mistakes & failure. Discuss your own failures. Show your children that you are not perfect, but that you accept your failings & try to learn from them. The key here is simple: Praise them as much when they fail as when they succeed. Praise the try, not the result.
Share some of your goals with your children. The fact that you are reading this book probably indicates that you have a goal of being a better parent. Why not share that goal with your children? Tell them that your goal is to be the best daddy or mommy, & that you need their help on your goal, that you want them to tell you how you can improve.

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Skills for Life

At the end of November, Sunbird held a seminar “Dare to Discipline” for the parents. Parents took many notes, as the topic is vast and there are many points that one may not deem important unless it comes alive in the day to day interaction. It was very encouraging to see parents follow up on the advice and it will certainly pay off in the long run.

One aspect that was brought out in the seminar was the importance of schedules and encouragement of work. Below are two small articles which help parents encourage their children to ‘work’. Please also look at the link given.

401 WAYS TO GET YOUR KIDS TO WORK AT HOME!By Bonnie McCullough & Susan Monson


By the time your children reach 18 years of age, they will have spent 32,234 hours under your guidance & training. Consider that it takes only 2,100 hours of classroom & outside study time to complete a bachelor’s degree in college, & half that time to learn some skilled trades. Your home has 16 times more teaching hours than does the university! What do you want to do with this time?

Think about your children walking out the door, on their own! We assume they can cope with the everyday challenges of living, but should we? We assume they know about basic household duties & maintenance, but do they? We assume they can efficiently prepare well-balanced, nutritious meals, but can they? We assume they have mastered some basic skills of orderliness with their personal belongings, but have they? We assume they will handle their earnings wisely, avoiding unnecessary debt, but will they? Too often parents let the chips fall where they may, hoping all will turn out for the best. Can we leave the basic teachings to chance?

This book will help focus attention on a workable plan for parents & children to follow in using those 32,234 teaching hours productively. It is not too late to start, no matter what the age of your child, although the methods & incentives may vary.

Setting the Goals

You may ask, “Do we as parents have the right to decide on the goals our children should achieve?” Our answer is yes, because once the parent establishes the parameters in which the child can safely act & develop skills for successfully meeting life’s challenges, then the child’s right to choose comes into play. The child usually does not have the maturity to set goals without these limits. Unfortunately, we usually give more careful planning to a two-week vacation than we do to the training of our children in the basic home living skills.

It is interesting to note that in a survey we took, asking 250 children about working at home, 97% felt they should work.

If you don’t decide on your goals, you’ll become like Alice in Wonderland, who was asked by the Cheshire Cat where she wanted “to get to”. When Alice answered that she didn’t “much care where,” he said, “Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”

101 ways to boost your child’s self esteem  by Alvin H. Price  supports the same idea, here is an excerpt:

Teach Your Child to Work

The child who knows how to work will be happier. He sees how he’s contributing to his family & to his world, & this makes him feel more valuable as a person.

Every young child wants to learn to work. They think it’s fun to do the things that Mom & Dad get to do. Take advantage of that willingness, but don’t give them more than they’re ready to do, & take the training slowly; you’ll have to expect a less-than-professional job for quite a while.

One thing that makes every child more willing to work is to have his mom or dad working beside him. This makes the job easier; everything seems to go smoother & faster.

Work is something everyone needs to learn to do. Teach it to your child consistently & enthusiastically, & he learns to be successful with work.

The following link puts skin on the idea and has wonderful tips of how you can encourage your child to help”

Snaps are taken from the November Seminar “Dare to Discipline” and special moments of ‘helping hands’ by peers during activities.



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new year and new prospects

Sunbird wishes its readers a very HAPPY NEW YEAR with good health, lots of fun and happiness with the children and growing together in Love!

“The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.”

Charles Kuralt


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Christmas with Sunbird

Sunbird sent all the little angels to the underprivileged at the Building Blocks Slum School and Nightingale Daycare Center to bring Cheer and gifts and a touch of Christmas. They also visited the Fire Brigade Brave Men with their dances and a little gift. The grand finale was the celebration with the parents at the Sunbird School with a yummy potluck…..


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Sunibird’s quote of the day

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.

Norman Vincent Peale

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Teaching Children Joy

Thanks to all the parents’ comments and interest in helping their children discover the many beauties of life. For all the enthusiastic storytellers, drama lovers, here is another episode. Have fun with this joy! Happy Imaginative Christmas!


The Child’s Perspective

I came in the back door one afternoon, quietly, getting home from work early. Before anyone heard me, I heard my two girls, ages five & four, in their bedroom.
“All right, I’ll be the doctor if you’ll be the nurse.”
“Now if we can get Barney (the dog) to stay under these covers, then he can be the sick guy.”
“Yeah, & this stick can be for the operation.” (I restrained my urge to defend the poor dog.)
“We’d better put the sick guy to sleep before the operation.”
“These can be the sleep pills.”
“Oh, but Barney won’t close his eyes. I better sing him a song–then he can stay awake & it won’t hurt. Oh sick guy, sick guy, you have a big, long tongue, we will do your operation, & you’ll look better & feel better too.”
Children’s minds are the most free, the most creative, the least bound by inhibition & tradition. Therefore, it’s easy to teach them creativity & imagination. Unfortunately, it is also dangerously easy to say, “That’s silly,” or “Grow up,” or “Quit imagining things.” It is an interesting paradox that the times when parents usually tell their children to be grown-up are the times when the children are having the most fun, feeling the most joy. Do we really want them to grow up, or would we do better to “grow down,” to be more like they are–more free, more imaginative, less inhibited?
A child who imagines will become an adult who creates, who solves problems with original thinking & with innovative solutions, who will see the less obvious, do the less common, find the more unusual.
Oh, how children love it when they find that their parents have imaginations! I went up to tuck the two little girls in bed one night after shoveling the snow from the front walk. I still had on my big, white furry coat, so I pulled the hood down over my face & announced myself as “Polar Bear,” come from the North Pole to tell a bedtime story. Since then, Polar Bear has had to come back once a month or so–alternating with other characters made up from very slight disguises & very big imaginations.

How To

The old stand-by: Liberal encouragement. Give enormous encouragement for the slightest show of creativity–from building with blocks to drawing a picture. Watch as though a masterpiece were being unveiled. Sometimes encouragement involves more than just words. It may involve providing reams of scratch paper for the three-year-old to make pictures on.
The other old stand-by: Being a child with them. When they imagine, we imagine. Play in the mud with them, for a change. Don’t inhibit through restricting any more than is absolutely necessary.
Making things. Don’t buy things ready-made when you can buy kits or make them from scratch. Think of ways to make musical instruments (rhythm blocks, scrapers) & other simple, useful things.
1. Save old dresses, shoes & hats in a box or chest for dress-up clothes. What treasures they can be to an active imagination!
2. Pretend that inanimate objects & body parts can talk: Food that wants to be in the tummy, toys that want to be played with, ears that want to be washed.
Solving problems. Play the “How else could we have done that?” game. Examples: How could we get a chair over here without carrying it? (Tie a rope on it & drag it.) How could we get a marble from under the sofa? (With a stick.) How could we keep the tablecloth down at a picnic on a windy day? (With rocks.) How could we carry many things at once? (In pockets, in a box.)
Creating through the ear. Sing together. Children can sing simple harmony parts early if helped properly.
Creating through the eye. Bring out crayons, tempera paints & watercolour markers, & paint together as a family. Praise each painting as unique & good, none better than the other. Provide the medium, let the children use their own ideas.
The bulletin board. We’ve dubbed our bulletin board “The Mommy-Daddy Proud Board.” Our children’s drawings & colourings & creations of all kinds stay up until new ones take their place, at which point they come down & go directly into the scrapbook. Children, like all artists, need appreciation & praise to fuel their creative fires.

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Year End Celebrations

At the beginning of this month, we celebrated Norah’s fourth birthday with lots of games and fun! It was a great little break from all the practising the students had been doing for the last four weeks. For the theme of the month we chose December as the month of giving. All parents contributed to give fifty blankets to older and underprivileged folks. Enjoy the pics of the pre-Christmas season.

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Teaching Children Joy

Thanks to all the parents, who attended the Dare to Discipline seminar. As for the ones who could not make it, here is a wonderful how to article in our series ‘Teaching Children Joy.’ Happy follow up!


“Train up a child in the way he should go: & when he is old, he will not depart from it.”–Proverbs 22:6

The Child’s Perspective

Romping out of the fruit store, our four-year-old Saren, just learning to count money, discovered she had been given change for fifty cents rather than a quarter. Initial excitement: “I’ve got more money than when I came, & the fruit.” Then conscience: “I’d better give it back to the man.” Then the real joy as she came back out of the store: “Daddy, he said he wishes everyone was honest like me!” There is true joy in simple, voluntary obedience to moral law.
That story reminds me of another time, another store, another child–Saren’s father. I was eight years old & buying my first bicycle. I had $25 saved up from Grandma’s gifts & from collecting & returning coat hangers & pop bottles. In the store were two used bikes for $25, one a red Schwinn & one a silver Silverchief. I couldn’t choose. First I wanted one, then the other. My wise father took me back out to the car, found a large, white sheet of paper, & drew a line down the center. “Let’s list the reasons for the red bike in one column & the reasons for the silver bike in the other,” he said. I did. I remember the thrill of thinking in a way I had never thought before. When the list was done, the silver bike was selected. (After all, no one else had one like it.) I kept that bike for ten years, & the memory of the joy of deciding on it never dimmed.
There is tremendous joy & satisfaction in learning that things are governed by laws. Psychologists tell us that small children usually believe that their desires control circumstances & cause things to happen. The time when a three- or four-year-old realises that this is not the case, that things happen independently of his wants, can be very traumatic. Or, if he is being taught about laws in a positive, constructive way, it can be a time of real awakening joy.
Children need to be given the latitude to make their own decisions. They will make some wrong ones, but will learn, with our help, from the consequences. While they are young, the decisions & their consequences will not be weighty enough to do permanent damage. And by the time decisions become important, they will know how to make them.

How To

Teach children to distinguish between situations governed by law & those governed by decision.
1. Make up stories that ask, “What should we do?” (Is there a law that tells him, or does he make a decision?)
2. Tell a story about a home without any rules. What happens? Is the family happy? (The story could also be about a school without rules.)
Expect & demand “cheerful obedience.” Teach children that “cheerful obedience” means to say, “Yes, Mommy” or “Yes, Daddy” & to obey immediately whenever they are told to do or not to do something. This may seem arbitrary or militaristic, but children inherently love discipline–it gives them a feeling of security that is otherwise unavailable. Always say “please” to children so that they feel your respect & love. Make “please” a trigger word by teaching them that whenever they hear it, they should say, “Yes, Mommy” & obey. When they do not respond quickly, just say the words “cheerful obedience” to remind them to say, “Yes, Mommy.”
Children should know that they have the right to ask why, but that cheerful obedience (with the “Yes, Mommy”) is expected right after the “why” answer is given.
Design frequent opportunities to make decisions. Let the children choose the bedtime story, have two kinds or colours of juice to choose from, etc.
Tell stories about wise or foolish decisions you have made & what the consequences were. Reinforce & discuss the consequences of decision. “What will happen if you do that?” “Will that make your sister happy or sad?”
Teach the principle of apologising. Children should learn that through genuine apology they can avoid punishment. Teach children the beauty of saying they are sorry to each other. We have learned in our family that when one child teases or hurts another in some way, a simple form of apology can restore good feelings much faster than punishment. We remind the guilty child, “You’d better apologise.” The process for our children consists of three things: (1) A hug for the other child; (2) a request, “Will you forgive me?” & (3) “I’ll try not to ever do that again.” (Editor: This depends on the degree of hurt, of course. Punishment would be appropriate if it was serious & intentional.)

The Family Laws Chart

One of the most memorable evenings we have ever spent together as a family was the night we agreed to the “family laws.” We had prepared a framed piece of heavy poster board & put a nail in the wall to hang it on, & then we explained to Saren (four) & Shawni (three) that this was to be a list of our family laws.
“What are some laws for our family that, if we keep them, will make us happier?”
“Don’t hit other little girls.”
“Don’t plug in plugs.”
“Don’t ruin things that are not for ruining.”
“Say the magic words (please, thank you, excuse me).”
We had to help with some that they didn’t think of:
“Stay in bed when put there.”
“Sit down in the back seat when riding in the car.”
“Always sit while holding the baby.”
“Don’t go into the road unless holding Mommy’s or Daddy’s hand.”
“Mind without backtalk.” (Saren added a clarification: “But we can ask why!”)
We really didn’t realise, at the time, what a help the list would be. Rather quickly the children grasped the idea that they were obeying the laws that they had helped decide on, laws that would make our family happier.
Some time later, we decided as a family which punishments should go with which laws. On some laws, we decided that one warning should be given before a punishment would be required. We voted on each punishment & wrote it on the “family laws board.”

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Of Games, Pets and Places

In November, Sunbird’s children enjoyed a feast of interesting delights! They learned about a wonderful pet called Zaggi, who came and visited at Play on their day out. They got to touch him (he is very, very friendly) and find out what care for dogs is very important. Zaggi also showed off some tricks!
The little ones also learned about a new country, Switzerland, and what the kids there are up to. They found out, that they do many things just like them, and play funny games, like jumping “elastics” and skipping under the rope. Of course they learned about cheese and chocolate and got to taste one in the end!
Sunbird also celebrated the birthday of Mili and Arnav, who shared his goodies with the peers! Wishing both of them a great year ahead.

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