9

Show and Tell Surprise

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It had been a long winter at Northland Elementary School. There was a ban on recess until the worst of the snow storms had passed. Being inside was making everyone stir-crazy.

Ms. Beaver: That’s it for math today. Does anyone have any questions?

Pete Seal: Can we go outside after lunch?

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Ms. Beaver: You know we can’t Peter. The school says we can’t go out until the weather gets better.

Annie Fox: What does the weather have to do with anything? We’re northern animals. We live in the snow.

Ms. Beaver: It’s not really the snow. It’s that Brian Brown-Bear ran away during the first heavy snow of the season and no one knew he was gone until everyone got back inside. By the time they found him, he was asleep in his home den.

Jeffrey Otter: So what? Because he went home, no one can go out?

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Ms. Beaver: They’re afraid that someone might get lost or taken by a bad human, and we wouldn’t know in time to do anything.

The children groaned.

Billy Beaver: It’s only February! That means it’s forever until we can go out.

Ms. Beaver: Don’t be dramatic, Billy. It’s only during heavy snowfalls or storms that we can’t go outside.

Suzy Ermine: I’m bored.

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Ms. Beaver: I have an idea. Do you know what show-and-tell is?

The children shook their heads that they did not.

Ms. Beaver: Everybody brings in something special from home and tells the rest of the class about it.

Billy: What kind of stuff?

Ms. Beaver: It can be anything, really. Your favorite toy. Something from a hobby. Something that someone has given to you.

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Billy: Is there stuff we can’t bring?

Ms. Beaver: Anything that might offend or scare the rest of the class. And nothing dangerous.

Pete: No trophy kills, right?

Ms. Beaver: Definitely not.

Annie: When should we bring our things in?

Ms. Beaver: Why don’t we do it tomorrow? It’s still supposed to be storming and it will give us a nice break.

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The children were excited about the idea and talked about their ideas during lunch and after school. On the way home, three of the boys were bragging about who would bring in the best thing to show.

Egbert Bear: I think I’m going to show my collection of eagle feathers.

Joey Hare: Bert! She said no prey.

Egbert: They’re not prey. I pick them up off the ground.

Joey: Oh. I think I’ll bring in the empty nest I found. That’s a lot better than a bunch of feathers.

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Egbert: Is not! You probably don’t even know what kind of nest it is!

Joey: Is too!

Egbert: Is not! What about you, Mike?

Michael Moose had no idea what he was going to bring. He didn’t have anything as good as feathers or a nest. But he didn’t want to tell the guys that.

Mike: It’s a secret. But it’s tons better than either one of those.

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Next week: Will Mike find something special by the next day to show his class?

Pictures courtesy of Google Images

22

Snoops and Kommando: Famous British Kitties

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Hello. Snoops and Kommando Kitty here. Mom says she has something called a writer’s block. We really don’t know what she’s talking about since we haven’t seen any new blocks.

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At any rate, we looked through our files and thought that maybe you would like to hear about some famous kitties. There were quite a few to choose from, but somehow this list ended up being all British. (Mainly because some of the other kitties came to a sad end or were actually TV or Internet stars.) Or maybe the Brits keep better records of their cats.)

Some of these kitties lived a long time ago. Since we couldn’t get pictures of everyone, we decided that it would only be fair to not show anyone. (Besides, some of the pictures are licensed and we found out we can’t pay with mice.)

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Beerbohm – Beerbohm was the resident cat at the Globe Theatre in London (now the Gielgud Theatre). He loved to walk into dressing rooms and attack whatever props he could find. He also made himself at home on the stage, walking through many productions. As a sign of his popularity, he is the only cat to be given an obituary on the front page of the industry magazine The Stage.

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Crimean Tom – During the Crimean War, Sevastopol was under siege for a year. When the British and French troops finally liberated the city, the residents were starving. Tom had survived the war, looking well-fed and healthy. The soldiers followed Tom one day to a store room full of food. Tom had saved the food by eating the mice and rats that tried to eat it. The store of food kept the soldiers from starving. Tom returned to Britain with one of the soldiers.

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Faith – Faith had been adopted by the rector of St. Augustine church. During the London Blitz, she took her kitten, Panda, to the church basement. Every time Panda would go upstairs, Faith would bring him back to the basement. St. Augustine was near St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was destroyed (except the tower) by the Germans. The only creatures that survived the bombing were Faith and Panda. She was awarded a medal for courage by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Simon – Simon was a British kitty who lived on the HMs Amethyst during the Chinese Civil War. In 1949, the ship ran aground and was stuck for three months. Simon has been wounded by a shell blast, but continued to protect the human food by killing rats trying to eat it. He also kept morale up. He was awarded the PDSA Dickin medal for bravery. He is the only cat to have received this medal.

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Unsinkable Sam – When the German Battleship, Bismarck, was sunk by the British Navy, only 100+ men and one cat survived. The British HMS Cossack rescued the cat and named him Oscar. Unfortunately, the Cossack was torpedoed near Gibraltar. Oscar survived again and was renamed Unsinkable Sam. He was rescued by the HMS Ark Royal, which was torpedoed near Malta. After surviving three shipwrecks in six months, he was taken to Britain to live out his life on dry land in a seaman’s home.

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Wilberforce – Wilberforce was the Chief Mouser at No. 10 Downing St., the home of the British Prime Minister. No. 10 Downing St., is almost 300 years old, and has a number of resident rats and mice. The Chief Mouser is responsible for keeping the vermin under control. Wilberforce was considered to be a top-notch mouser. He has had the longest tenure to this point, serving every PM from Edward Heath to Margaret Thatcher.

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Wyatt’s Caterer – Sir Henry Wyatt was imprisoned by King Richard III. He made friends with a cat who brought him food (mainly birds, not rodents). Eventually Sir Henry was released by King Henry VII (who defeated Richard III in battle and took the throne). A memorial to Sir Henry credits the Caterer with his survival during his imprisonment.

These cats are pretty impressive. There are many other cats who have saved humans from fires, medical emergencies, and gas leaks in their homes. Cat are also emotional and therapy support animals. Our purrs are therapeutic. You can see why cats rule. (And we’re beautiful too.)

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21

Cat Forum: Valentine’s Day

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Snoops and Kommando here. Thank you for joining us for another edition of Cat Forum. As you may know, Friday is Valentine’s Day. Yep. Another day for humans to give presents to each other. As cats, we welcome presents any time. This year we’re giving the humans some ideas about special ways they can spend time with us.

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Kommando: I’m going to ask Mom to take us to a cat café.

Snoops: Why do you want that?

Kommando: I want to order a salmon steak.

Snoops: That’s not what a cat café is. They have people come in and look at cats, possibly to adopt them.

Kommando: That’s dumb. French cafes are for French people. Italian cafes are for Italian people. Why can’t cat cafes serve food to cats?

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Snoops: I don’t know. People are strange.

Kommando: That’s for sure. How about if she rents that “Cats” movie? It’s full of cats, right?

Snoops: Sort of. It’s a bunch of people dressed up like cats. And they sing.

Kommando: Do they really look like cats?

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Snoops: I don’t think so. They use human faces.

Kommando: That’s really creepy. What do you think we should do with Mom?

Snoops: I found this site called Elite Daily that has some ideas:

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Game Night – The human is supposed to spend the whole night playing with us. She’s even supposed to buy each of us a new toy.

Watch TV – We’re supposed to cuddle up with Mom and watch that big black screen in the corner of the living room. The people at Daily Elite recommend something called Planet Earth on Netflix. It seems like any show with a lot of animals in it might work.

Cat Treat Baking Party – The human is supposed to make fancy treats for us and then feed them to us. They recommend the human find recipes on YouTube under “Cat Treat Recipes.

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Build a Cat Fort – The human is supposed to get boxes from work or packages that come to the house. Then the night before Valentine’s Day, they secretly build a fort to surprise us with on Valentine’s Day.

Cook a Special Dinner for Two – The human makes a dinner that we like. Then we sit down at a special table and eat it.

Dance Around to Our Favorite Songs – She finds recordings of our favorite songs and then we dance together.

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Kommando: I don’t know. A couple of them sound a little weird.

Snoops: You’re right. I’m not sure any of them would work for us. I can’t see game night really working out. You hog all the toys.

Kommando: I can’t help it if I’m better at it.

Snoops: Whatever. Mom never has the TV on. I’m not sure she knows how to use it.

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Kommando: We could get our fur-less brother to set it up. Dad used to use it.

Snoops: If that’s what they want us to watch, forget it.

Kommando: I think our shows wouldn’t have so many people in them.

Snoops: I don’t see the point in the cat treat baking party or building a fort. They both sound pawsome, but I don’t see where we get to spend time with Mom.

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Kommando: I agree. The dinner for two sounds good. But I want to be with Mom, not at a special dinner.

Snoops: I’m not sure how it’s different from when Mom shares her dinner with us.

Kommando: True. I hate the idea of a dance party. I don’t want Mom dancing around with me in her arms. And I don’t have favorite songs; I don’t like music.

Snoops: So what should we do with Mom on Valentine’s Day?

Kommando: I like the idea of an extra-long nap with her on the bed warmer.

Snoops: Great idea!

Pictures courtesy of Google Images

25

Who’s Our New Neighbor? – Part 3

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Where we are: Calico Corners has welcomed a meerkat construction company from Africa to the neighborhood. They have brought over their lion financial/legal team to finalize the paperwork. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

The lions have hit a few roadblocks that no one in Africa had mentioned. They met with the meerkats to discuss things.

Leonard Lion: Mikki, were you aware that the broker had you buy property that’s not in the desert?

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Mikki: It did seem odd that we had to request that the lawn be taken out. Usually you need to have it added. So, where are we?

Leonard: It’s a place called the Midwest.

Marcel Meerkat: What’s it mid-west of?

Leona Lion: No one really seemed to know.

Mikki: They have nice dirt to burrow in. It may not be a problem to work here.

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Leonard: The dirt isn’t the problem. It’s the weather. It gets really cold here.

Leona: And it snows.

Giselle: It gets cold in the desert at night. But what’s snow?

Mikki: It’s white stuff. It looks pretty, but it’s like fluffy frozen rain.

Maria Meerkat: We can’t live in that! We’ll freeze.

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Giselle: It does explain why the cats here have such thick, fluffy coats.

Maria: And houses.

Mikki: So how long does this snow last?

Leona: It could be up to 4 months.

Mikki: That’s not good.

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The meerkats looked at each other. No one said anything. Finally, Giselle broke the silence.

Giselle: Let’s go talk to the cats.

Everyone gathered, and Mikki explained the situation. Oddly, Cielle didn’t seem surprised.

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Cielle: I’d been wondering what you were going to do in the winter. Then when the lions asked me about the weather, I realized no one had told you about winter.

Tammy: Oh, you poor things! No one told you about the cold?

Leonard: Unfortunately, no.

Mikki: It looks like we’ll have to return to Africa. I hate to say that because we’ve come to love all of you.

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Everyone looked distressed, even the lions.

Cielle: I had an idea, if you’re interested.

Mikki: Definitely.

Cielle: My family has several businesses and there are lots of air ducts and other small passageways to maintain. You could work for us when it’s too cold to construct.

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The meerkats huddled together and chattered excitedly.

Mikki: We would like to take you up on your very kind offer. We can learn to sleep inside for that time.

The lions still looked dejected.

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Leonard: I guess it’s time for us to go.

Tammy: Actually, we’ve been talking. You two are very kind. We were wrong to be afraid of you. You’re welcome to stay if you’d like. If there’s no company job, you can be security. No one else knows how sweet you both are.

The lions looked at Mikki.

Mikki: Of course. There’s plenty of room for all of us in the house.

The cats all clapped and cheered. And they all lived happily ever after in Calico Corners.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images

12

Who’s Our New Neighbor? – Part 2

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Where we are: There’s a new family moving into Calico Corners and they sound a little strange. They have a lot of children and requested that the lawn be replaced with extra dirt. You can see Part 1 here.

The family moved in a few weeks later. The next day, several residents went to Cielle Calico’s office. Cielle had been expecting them ever since he learned more about the new residents.

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Cielle: Good morning, all. It’s nice to see everyone so bright and early.

Sammy: Good morning, Cielle. You sold that house to a family of lions.

Tammy: It looks like they brought their own prey. It’s disgusting.

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Frankie: I’m not sending my kids to school with lion cubs. What if the cubs get hungry?

Sammy: What about us? We’ll probably be next after they run out of what they brought.

The cats all began to talk at the same time. There were even some growls.

Cielle: Please calm down everyone! I did not sell the house to lions. You should know me better than that.

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Sammy: So why are they living in the house?

Cielle: That’s just temporary. They’ll only be here for a few weeks to finalize the paperwork for the new business.

Tammy: Who did you sell the house to?

Cielle: Mikki Meerkat, the owner of MM Construction.

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The cats looked confused.

Morrie: What’s a meerkat?

Cielle: They’re the other animals you saw.

Morrie: Those skinny things? They don’t look like any cat I’ve ever seen. They did tunnels and sleep in them.

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Cielle: They’re not cats. They’re more like weasels. They’re very nice. You should go introduce yourselves.

Morrie: Maybe tomorrow. I need to think about this.

The other cats nodded in agreement.

Later that day, Tammy’s two kittens came racing home from school.

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Abby: Mom, guess what happened at school today.

Before Tammy had a chance to answer, Andy broke in:

Andy: We got new students today. But they’re not regular cats. They’re meerkats.

Abby: And meerkats aren’t really cats at all. They’re totally pawsome! They can stand on their back legs and look around.

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Andy: And they make tunnels! Can we invite them over?

Tammy: Not until I meet their parents.

Abby: Can we all go over there now?

Tammy: It’s not polite to just show up at someone’s front door.

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Andy: But, Mom. The parents are really nice. They dropped their kids off at school and stayed to talk to us. They speak pretty good Cat, too.

Abby: Please, Mom?

Tammy: Let me call over there and invite the family for dinner.

Abby and Andy: Thank you!

Andy: By the way, their favorite food is beetles.

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Tammy: Oh. I wonder where you buy those?

Mikki and Giselle Meerkat came over with their three pups. Abby and Andy were right; they were extremely nice and told wonderful stories about living in Africa. The kids had a great time. Tammy promised they would do it again soon.

Tammy spread the word to the other cats about the great time they’d had with the Meerkats. She organized a welcome party for the entire clan. Before long, the Meerkats were part of the group.

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Next week: Did everyone live happily ever after?

Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

25

Who’s Our New Neighbor?

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Everyone was excited in Calico Corners, an exclusive subdivision of mainly executives in the food industry. It sounded like they finally had a buyer for the Foster property. It had been empty since Suzy Moggy-Foster had been reassigned to the research facility in Paraguay.

It was unusual for the house to still be on the market since it was an extremely desirable location, and houses often sold before they could be listed on the market. Many cats wondered if it had something to do with Suzy’s rather odd hobby of breeding and selling muskrats.

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Suzy’s replacement was an outsider who really didn’t understand the business. Luckily, he and the company decided it wasn’t working out before he had bought a house. They had no idea who would hire a Rottweiler to be lead taste tester over a team of cats.

It had been four months and the neighbors were really hoping someone would buy it. It was annoying to have those real estate people in the neighborhood. And some of their client cats tromped through the gardens as if they owned the place. Those cats would never fit in at Calico Corners.

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Now it looked like it had been sold to someone. Cielle Calico, heiress to the family who had started the company, told the head of the private school, Tracie Tuxie, to expect some new students. Cielle wasn’t sure how many, but probably 10-12.

The cats were appalled. What type of cat family had that many kittens? Didn’t they know it was bad manners to have more than one litter with all the overpopulation issues? In fact, some couples were choosing not to have kittens at all.

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At the homeowners’ association meeting, the cats wanted answers.

Tammy Tabby: Is it true that you finally sold the Foster house?

Cielle: Yes, we did. And they’re lovely animals.

Sammy Shorthair: What do they do?

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Cielle: The tom owns a construction business and he’s opening a branch here.

Frankie Forest: What breed of cat are they?

Cielle: I’m not really sure. I’m working with a broker.

Frankie: Well, where are they coming from?

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Cielle: Somewhere in Africa.

Tammy: Wow. That’s a long way. It will be exciting to have such interesting neighbors.

Sammy: I can guarantee that they’ll have short fur like me. When are they moving in.?

Cielle: As soon as we have their property ready.

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Tammy: What are you doing to it?

Cielle hesitated.

Cielle: We’re taking out all of the grass and bringing in extra dirt.

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Frankie: What? We don’t want that in our neighborhood. Do you have any idea what that’s going to look like? It’ll ruin the appeal of the entire subdivision.

Morrie Manx: That’s for sure. Exactly what type of cats are these?

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Next week: The new neighbors move in.

 Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

20

Cat Forum: New Year’s Resolutions

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Greetings fellow felines and assorted others. Snoops and Kommando Kitty here. The is our first opportunity to tell you about our New Year’s resolutions. We decided to make joint resolutions this year. So, here they are:

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We resolve not to fight so much.

Kommando: You mean you won’t lick my neck only to chomp on it?

Snoops: I have to make sure it’s clean. And it’s not like I can actually get to the skin through all that thick fur. Besides, I think it’s more directed at you hiding out and then attacking me.

Kommando: I do not hide out.

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Snoops: What do you call running in from another room or behind a box?

Kommando: Strategic placement of my body.

Snoops: Grrr.

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We resolve not to eat each other’s food.

Kommando: Yeah. No more snarfing my canned food.

Snoops: I do not snarf your food.

Kommando: I’ve seen you do it.

Snoops: I don’t touch your food until you’ve left the room. Besides you do the same thing.

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Kommando: I still think you get more than your share.

Snoops: What about you? I wait at the kibble dish or the water fountain while someone fills it, and as soon as you hear the sound of them being refilled you run in and push me out of the way.

Kommando: I’m just trying to protect you from being poisoned. You should thank me.

Snoops: Thank you? Mom is not going to poison us. You’re just being rude.

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We resolve not to fight over Mom.

Snoops: Meaning that you will not step on me or push me out of the way to get next to Mom.

Kommando: She’s MY human.

Snoops: She belongs to both of us.

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Kommando: Nope. Don’t you remember? Your humans were Dad and the blond girl. My humans were Mom and blondie’s brother. It was all Kommando, all the time for Mom. You can’t blame me because you ran out of humans and mine are both still here.

Snoops: That’s just mean. Mom said that she’s the primary human for both of us.

Kommando: It doesn’t mean that I don’t get first cuddles.

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Snoops: Lucky Mom goes out of her way to make sure I get enough pets and cuddles.

Kommando: Grrr.

Snoops: Was there anything else?

Kommando: No. I think apart from those things, we’re pretty much perfect.

Snoops: I agree. Let’s take a nap.

Kommando: Sounds good to me.

All pictures (except us) courtesy of Google Images