Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fortieth Step

This was a real natural day. I went on two hikes in Utah's Cache mountains, which are literally right around the corner from my brother and sister-in-law's beautiful house on the Logan River. We had a really nice time, even though they were slowing down some for me, at least in terms of mileage. I have noticed being more out of breath here due to the altitude, but I also know I'm pretty out of shape. :) The whole time I wanted to jump into the river, but it is deceptively cold and more like rapids right now due to the snow melting from the mountains--so I was barely able to walk through a shallow part for more than a few feet without my feet feeling like they were going to fall off. Here are some more pics:

We also went to a farmer's market,

fell off a mountain (lovely picture),

called some ducks,

sat and ate lunch on their deck overlooking the river,

ate at a yummy Mexican restaurant and then watched Nacho Libre. All in all, a great day on my vacation without kiddos! I do miss them though, and me sweet husband. Love you guys!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thirty-Ninth Step

Soooo this day was traveling to Utah, and I brought water on the plane and managed to not buy any waterbottles...was paranoid about not having enough with the plane dehydration on a 4-hour flight, but I think I did OK. One water bottle did leak, though, in the overhead bin, but it was enough to make a fellow passenger a little irked. Had to let it go, wasn't trying to ruin his day or anything. I didn't realize the hinge was leaky until that trip, and it's the only one I have for the way back too. So I will just keep it from the overhead bins and hope it doesn't wreak more havoc.

Besides being sure to get enough water, I added protein powder to my iced caramel macchiato, and it was good! A nice refreshing snack while I drove my cool rental car that I was very savvy at renting this time (last time I got duped about a couple things, but this time I was ready--they even tried to get me to take a minivan, which 1. I didn't need all that room and my brother who I was visiting would not approve 2. I drive all the time 3. I wanted a fun little car 4. Even though it would be a "free" upgrade, the gas would not be free!). So keep your wits about you at those places, I'm telling you. It was so nice to stop along the way and sit at Wendy's and listen to their folk music and have a burger w/o a bun and admire the mountains and not have to get ketchup or napkins or anything for anyone but me.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thirty-Eighth Step

Here we are, cooking some more...Number 38 was to make gluten-free banana bread to take to Uncle Mokey and Aunt Karin's house in Utah. It turned out very yummy! More like fluffy banana cake. It was probably the fluffiest thing I've ever made that was gluten-free. Off to bed--big day tomorrow!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thirty-Seventh Step

My step today was to keep working on the house of God chart...laminating away, and determining which side of the velcro to use on which part, etc. We have been using the laminated sheets for our circle time, without the chart or having them cut out, but the kids can't read anyway and don't seem to care. Charlie likes to hold the card with the verse and say, "No, I do it! I do it myself," and then says some random part of the verse. Which is still very cute and impressive. They both love the puppet part, since there's 4 puppets, mom, dad, girl and boy (one for each family member, out of the womb anyway). Charlie prayed once with us at the end, but since then he won't repeat after me when I pray like Clarissa does. This time I decided to give them a felt "fruit of the Spirit" whenever I saw them loving each other, being kind, good, gentle, etc. and then we counted the fruit in the basket at the end of the day and they got a surprise (which was shaved ice with snow cone syrup). Hey, can't be healthy all the time!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thirty-Sixth Step

I made some gluten-free cornbread for #36, from Carol Fenster. It was good! For some reason I liked it better last time I made it--I think the flour mix was fresher.

Liquid ingredients:
2 large eggs, room temp.
3/4 cup milk, room temp.
1/4 cup canola or other oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice

Dry ingredients:
1 cup gluten-free cornmeal
3/4 cup Carol's Sorghum Blend (just use whatever GF flours you like, a mix of oat and brown rice is good if you want to "brown it up")
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp salt

Grease an 8-inch square pan, and preheat oven to 350.
Beat the eggs for 30 seconds in medium bowl, then add rest of liquid ingredients and blend. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a small bowl and gradually beat into the liquid ingredients. Should be consistency of thick cake batter. Spread evenly in pan and bake 25-30 minutes until edges are lightly browned.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thirty-Fifth Step

OK I am going to catch up: This step was finally planting the garden! And for a happy Memorial Day, going to the countryside to Robert's parents and sister's houses and letting the kids RUN some more! And fly kites. It was a fun time.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thirty-Fourth Step

This was a simple saving money step--instead of following the temptation to eat somewhere nice after church on Memorial weekend, we went home and ate leftovers. Well, full disclosure: Robert did stop by a pulled pork stand outside Kroger for a couple sandwiches' worth of meat, but they weren't open. I got behind in my posting, but was keeping track and writing in my head, and now that it's on paper, I see that this was a lame attempt! But anything we do to actually be frugal is a big deal for us. So case closed.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thirty-Third Step

This step was making granola, and also letting kids run for hours outside at a fun birthday party. Here's the granola recipe that I tried, thanks to Freida:
-Mix 3 cups oats with 1 tsp cinnamon (I doubled it, but will type out the original)
-Mix 1 tsp vanilla (I was doubling, so did 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp almond extract since I ran out of vanilla), 1/4 cup oil, and 1/2 cup honey.
-Pour mixture over oats and mix well. Pour on sprayed cookie sheet and bake at 300 for 20-25 minutes (don't stir while baking). Cool well before stirring. I also added a couple handfuls of almonds. Yum! Will probably try adding sunflower seeds, some butter, and maybe some Himalayan salt next time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thirty-Second Step

This step was to go to a chiropractor/naturopathic doctor for EDS (electro-dermal screening) testing. I needed a mini-check to see how the pregnancy was going, and had been having some tummy issues that I thought were from being gluten-ed but wanted to make sure there weren't other food allergies going on. Raw milk and eggs were fine, but I found out that I was as sensitive to gluten, barley, and corn as to high fructose corn syrup! And those were enough to make me messed up, but the thing that was sky-high was WHEAT. So my gluten sensitivity is trumped by an even bigger wheat allergy. I had suspected that maybe wheat was more the culprit, because cross-contamination and barley malt didn't seem to affect me as much (definitely wasn't celiac I didn't think), but any little exposure to wheat itself creates an awful reaction for a week. I won't go into detail, but feel free to ask me more if you are interested and dealing with food allergies yourself.

At the risk of sounding like Melman, I will continue. I also have an awful reaction to venison, which I narrowly avoided eating when someone had made sloppy joes with it and my husband thought to ask if it was deer meat (on my behalf). Phew. I would've been in the bathroom all night. Anyone ever heard of deer allergy? I think I'm allergic to goat too. Isn't that strange? Is game-y meat more acidic or something? How will I find answers asking random questions on my blog? Why do I just keep asking them expecting cyberspace to solve my problems?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thirty-First Step

It was Clarissa's last day of Thursday school for the year, so afterward we decided to go out with a bang by visiting the DENTIST for the first time. Clare wasn't too scared, but said she didn't want to go. I told her she'd like it, kind of crossing my heart and hoping she wouldn't get upset and gag and puke (sorry for the imagery). She did great though, and my step for today was to talk with the dentist, not get flouride treatment that day, but research it more and decide for the next visit. I have read so many contradicting things about it--that the ADA says it is not that beneficial, that Dr. Mercola says it's harmful, and this dentist said if they are on city water he has really seen a difference vs. well water (that the flouride in city water definitely helps in his opinion). But he doesn't recommend ingested supplements, just topical application through toothpaste and the treatments at the office. We use Tom's of Maine children's toothpaste, which doesn't have flouride, but if we were to use a flouride one he said only put a pea-sized amount on the toothbrush and to be careful that the kids don't ingest too much, like eat the whole tube etc. Anyway, Clare did great and last night said she wanted to go to the dentist again (instead of brushing her teeth herself). Plus she got a cool 3-sided highlighter (Charlie did too, just for being good moral support and not grabbing a single electronic tool).

But I don't have conclusions about next time because I haven't done more research yet. Growing up I got flouride treatments and still had a ton of cavities (and just had my first crown/root canal a couple years ago), but the more I do my informal polling, the more I think that genetics play a big part in it. I floss everyday and definitely need to go every 6 months; my husband does NOT floss everyday and they gush about his great gums (I typed bums the first time, ha!) and teeth etc. and he only goes once a year. Not fair, but that's love and life in dental hygiene.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thirtieth Step

This was a hodge podge of items: bringing my grocery bags into the store (which sadly, I haven't remembered to do since my last step that involved remembering this), rescuing an iced latte cup from the trash, taking the recycling to the van to take tomorrow, trying to turn out lights, playing at the park, grilling out and taking a walk for family night, and eating greens from Mendy's garden. Generally being more mindful of my actions and thinking, "What can I post on the blog today??" Haha. A little guilty accountability never hurt anyone, did it??

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Twenty-Ninth Step

This step was to intentionally "do mommying" with another friend Mendy and I have started trying to get together each week and hang out, help each other with a project or two (depending on kid cooperation with said project), and share lunch. We had DELICIOUS BLT's; those sandwiches really struck a beautiful pregnancy chord with me and I told her it felt like I hadn't eaten in days. I definitely ate the leftovers from my kids' plates, that quintessential weight-loss no-no, but I will worry about that in 3 months. For now I am just gaining and gaining with no end in sight!! Anyway. We really had a wonderful time, and I hope that next time I can be more helpful! We did pick some lettuce and onions from the garden, and tried to involve the kids, but they were not terribly interested. I also sorted through a clothes bin and divided what would fit Eli vs. Charlie this summer & fall, and continued to work on the HOUSE scripture chart because Mendy has incredible craft supplies and a super-duper laminator, which she let me borrow.

Basically, I benefited in about 10 ways by the visit and kept Mendy from being as productive, probably. :) But it was good to talk and ruminate on home schooling and other issues that are still a bit esoterical, especially for Mendy with Eli being younger than Charlie even. I will probably start loosely teaching Clarissa this fall since she doesn't really have to start kindergarten until next fall; she has been really showing interest in reading and asking how to spell everything, what all the signs say etc. But I want to research curriculum and try some different things before having to KNOW what I'm doing. :) The home school curriculum share at church this week was very helpful, mostly in talking with other moms and hearing their different philosophies, fears, mistakes, successes, advice. They are brave women! I feel a bit insecure joining their ranks, but I will try. But GO COMMUNAL LIVING!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Twenty-Eighth Step

We went to the zoo with our MOPS group, and the 28th step was saving money and bringing our lunch and water, and saving plastic baggies that were clean enough (and repeatedly chasing off a goose because apparently Charlie is afraid of geese and was traumatized when the goose ate part of his crust on the ground). I also tried to carpool but the other mom decided to drive too at the last minute. Grandma got us a membership (thanks, Mom!), so we didn't have to pay for tickets or parking. So I ended up spending $10 total because we got ice cream at the very end, and then I stopped outside of the zoo at Planet Smoothie for a protein smoothie since the kids were the ones who got the ice cream. That smoothie hit the spot! Got a little too tired and too much sun, so needed some refreshment. The group was moving fast to try to see everything, and the kids were not sticking with me very well, but we managed to have a good time. :) It's a nice zoo; we had never been before except to see the Christmas lights.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Twenty-Seventh Step

Yesterday at church we sang a song about new babies, in honor of the baby dedication. We had written it after Charlie was born (I think it was afterward--there was no date, but I was talking about "my son" in it). It was fun. I've posted the words below. Please comment if you have any questions about my theology. :) I'm not questioning God's word, just saying what a deep mystery that this soul of this new baby is NOT new to God--he created it, this eternal soul is "out of time" in a sense, and someday He will make ALL THINGS truly new. But what closer glimpse of that day than in the newness of a newborn. It's the newest thing possible in this world that's fading...yet somehow still not NEW.

nothing new

nothing new
you have told me there’s
nothing new
you inform me
but these eyes
but these hands

nothing new
you have told me there’s
nothing new
under the sunbeams
but this nose
but these toes

We’ll follow our hearts now my son
We’ll open our eyes to the one
Oh, what can we do now you’re born
With these eyes
With these hands
With this mouth

nothing new
how can that be with
all these feelings
rushing through me
and these ears
can they hear

The heart of our Father above
Who made all your fingers with love
Oh, what can we do now my son
With these hands
With this heart
With this hope

Praising you
I dream of the day when he’s
Praising you
Oh Lord, let it be so
With these hands
With this mouth
With this heart

Hallelujah you’ll make
All things new
Someday soon, Lord
But first the child
Receive the child
You sent your child
To save this child

p.s. Sharing songs is a step for me, so please don't pilfer or pass it on via e-mail. Feel free to share the blog address in an e-mail though. Thanks!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Twenty-Sixth Step

Well, yesterday started out with a meeting at church and then a MOPS tea, so I was an independent bird all morning. Then I came home and Robert had taken the kids on a couple errands, so I was kind of wandering around wondering what to do and ended up having a quiet time, straightening up and putting away laundry. At first being in the house alone was like a solo mia party, but then it kind of lost its luster the longer the family was gone and I didn't know when they were returning. I sort of started to feel left out! Strange, because if I knew exactly how much time I had to work with I probably would have used it more effectively, or at least whooped it up more. Anyway, the Saturday activities after naptime were


and stickers

(which is a mixed bag for me, because they love it, but it's shocking how fast they can go through $5 of stickers, and without adding any original marker-ing or coloring, the pictures are so impersonal)

making gluten-free pizza

(a real treat for me, since we can't order out! Robert liked it, but I didn't think the hamburger we used was as tasty as using sausage. The crust turned out well though!)

and cuddling with daddy on the couch while watching Nim's Island

which is really cute (fast-forwarding the lost-at-sea and stormy parts).

So today my step was to enjoy my family and realize that time alone isn't always what it's cut up to be. After 4 hours of being gone in the morning, I was ready to see my family again, and coming home to an empty house was exhilarating and peaceful at first, but all of us together--the little people, the bulging-belly momma and the tall man--are what really make it a home.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Twenty-Fifth Step

Step 25, I'm alive...I think I'll count NOT giving the kids enough baths as a RNM step, because it's very granola and nitty-gritty (literally). Henceforth, I publicly proclaim that I am delaying the increased bath schedule that spring strongly suggests and summer duly requires. I have composed a poem in honor of this accomplishment.

I lean forward to kiss your schnookie head
And get a whiff of grass instead
not the clean-cut freshly mow-en kind
But the day-old rained-on grass you find
stuck to the edge of my tennis shoe
In fact, that also smells like you
along with running, and the sun
such a fascinating combination
how can I wash it away you ask
when nature's offering takes to task
the fight t'would take most every day
to keep you bathed and clean to stay
so i'll just lean over you once more
and welcome nature through my door

Friday, May 15, 2009

Twenty-Fourth Step

So this is the story of "Little Fly" (Clarissa named him) continued...when Robert got home from praise team, Little Fly was lying down outside the box and was not moving. Yes, Little Fly had died in the 2 hours that Robert was gone! We know that was too fast to starve to death, due to his big fat belly, and he had enough feathers that 65-degree weather wouldn't have killed him. In the fledgling stage, they can be out on their own for 2 or 3 days before they fly, with their moms kind of looking out for them and caring for them. So he wouldn't have needed the warmth of the nest at this stage. It was a sad revelation for all of us, and we still don't know the exact cause of death. A cat could have played with him; if he did fall down a long way from the nest he could have had some kind of internal injuries or bleeding or even a brain injury; or could he have died from the shock of it all and not having his mommy? 

I felt grieved, but also guilty--did we do the wrong thing? Should we have brought him in and put a heating pad under the box? Gotten some food into him? The info online made it sound like the best thing for them is to let their mommy find them, and we were not expecting him to go so fast. I think there were other issues going on, but it was hard to tell. He was really lethargic and disoriented, and didn't seem like himself--not that I have known too many baby birds. 

But I tried to give him to God, and cried some, and the questions I was asking God were, "Did you see him when he died, Lord? Did he somehow sense you were there with him?" I know He sees the sparrow fall, but does the sparrow sense Him at all? I grieved too over not having a pet, and how, if we went that route, I was excited to have the kids involved in helping feed him, learn about him, etc. I am sad they don't have any animals to know and learn about and care for. But the times I've tried indoor cats (which I grew up with) were very frustrating in my own household, especially since I'm not the greatest with cleaning, on any kind of schedule anyway. Right now at least, cleaning is on a very "this is getting grimy," as-needed basis. But shouldn't the joy and comfort that animals bring me outweigh the mess and inconvenience? 

Robert always had outside animals, which part of me still doesn't see the point of since I think I would just say Hi in passing and gingerly pet or pet while thinking, "This dog is so gross; I'm washing my hands first thing when I get inside." Or they smell like skunk, or get loose, or bark obsessively, or get bad ticks or worms. I don't know, indoor pets seem to have so much more personality and become more a part of the family. 

But pardon me, we are grieving Little Fly. We held a little funeral for him and buried him under our garden, with the kids both crying by the end--Clarissa real crying and Charlie fake crying, mostly because he wanted to pet it some more (we used gloves). Clare prayed to see the birdie again in heaven, and we prayed for God to take care of him. She was really sobbing though, and saying she wanted to make him a birdhouse and hold him...but I said he was hurt and he's not hurting now so that's a good thing, and we can make a birdhouse for a different birdie. It was hard to teach her about dying and grieving (she learned the words "buried" and "funeral") and to know that all I could do was hold her. By the time she went to bed, she said "Sweet birdie, in the yard dead," and I knew at least that she got it. She is so tender, and I have trouble having patience with her sensitivity sometimes, but definitely not in the life and death of Little Fly.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Twenty-Third Step

Well, I am still conflicted about this step, which seemed very exciting and heroic at first. Clarissa said, "Mom, there's a really fat bird in the yard!" and when I went to look, realized it was a baby bird hopping along. We went out to look and it barely moved even though we were 3 feet away, and it would seem to be sleeping between hopping as if exhausted. When it hopped over to the alley (with some breaks in between), I decided to go get a box (the "house of God" box was handy), line it with newspaper, and see if it would hop in. I didn't want it to get run over!

So he fluttered a little when I approached and maybe went a foot off the ground but landed with his wings out. They didn't look strange or injured, just like he wasn't able to really fly yet. But I scooped him into the box when he fluttered up, and he seemed to really relax (it was a windy, rainy day) and fell into a good sleep with his head tucked around into his back feathers. BTW, he was fully-feathered and extremely plump, so he did not seem to urgently need warmth or a meal. 

Robert got home soon after I "rescued" him from the alley, and I called my mom who has raised a few robins in her day. I remember as a girl the smell of baby meat and feeding some birds who had hatched from eggs with a dropper thing. But these birds we raised were not fledglings who had left the nest; they had no feathers and needed to be in a yogurt maker incubator etc. This little bird was clearly older and about ready to fly, even if he had taken off/fallen out prematurely. We looked for the nest, but could not find any sign of it. Our tree is so tall, we wouldn't have been able to get him back in it anyway. We put a tee shirt over the box so he wouldn't try to fly out the top and hurt himself.

Meanwhile, Robert looked online and found some info about what to do in this kind of situation. He said that the bird's mom probably hadn't abandoned it, and she needs to be able to find it visually (not just hear it chirping). So we decided to turn the box on its side so the little bird could hop out if he wanted to, and the mom could see him if she was looking for it. Or he could stay in there if it liked the shelter from the wind. I had to leave to take the kids to see my mom graduate from a program, but before Robert left for praise team, the birdie was hopping around under our tree, at least safe from the rain. 

Here is another webpage about caring for baby birds and how usually the best thing to do is to leave them alone. I didn't read this, of course, until I had already intervened. On the other hand, I know that the alley was not a safe place for him, and there are plenty of cats roaming around in our neighborhood, so I'm not sure he would have been safe hopping around like a sitting duck. Hmm, somehow that analogy doesn't work. But the mom came back to look for him, and I wanted to yell, "He's over here, momma!" Clarissa got to see him sleeping in the box, later naming him "Little Fly," but we couldn't find any worms for him in our garden before we left. Robert and I were going to decide later that night what to do if the momma didn't find him. To be can listen to the CD "You are My Little Bird" by Elizabeth Mitchell in the meantime. It is a sweet children's album.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Twenty-Second Step

Today is a lesson in glad-itude...Lord, today I am glad that my kids call sneezes "bless you's;" I am glad that I can still fit in some :) of my maternity pants, I am glad that the weather is staying warmer and our clothes are almost switched out (thanks again for your help, Mendy!); I am glad that Clare has a little body that works well and jumps and tumbles and moves at gymnastics; I am glad that Charlie ate all his lunch and seems to be starting a growth spurt after his sister finished one; I am glad that we have a HOME group to come fellowship at our house; I am glad that we had circle time again and it wasn't just a one-shot-deal; I am glad that there are 11 wks left until we meet our baby.

I am glad that my husband has an idea for a beautiful backyard patio, that we can have creative ideas and work on them, that our van is a palatial vehicle that I can't believe we actually drive around in and own (so much space! Like an apartment! We never had one growing up), that we made our house payment this month, that we could pay our midwife a chunk of money for the birth, that God can show us how to live sufficiently on $50 until Robert gets paid in 9 days, that God will grow our faith. I am glad that God alone is sufficient for us, that He will meet our every need. This is a day to rejoice and be glad! I am glad because He has made me glad.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Twenty-First Step

Step 21 was our first circle time: me and the kids sitting on a blanket on our hardwood floor talking about the Bible. I came up with a theme for us--the house of God--and have a cool acronym for H.O.U.S.E. to expand on it. When I finish my chart I'll take a picture of it or something, but it's not done yet. I have a lot of laminating to do!

Then we drew about our house and God's house, and decorated a box to be God's house. We also talked about how we want our house to be full of joy, peace, love, you name it (currently it is filled with sleeping kids and soon-to-be-sleeping mom). And the "house of God" box is filled with all of Clare's "little guys." Charlie was so cute saying, "hon-ow" (honor) and "ex-o-dus" and even "pwo-longed." "Honor your father and mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you" (Exodus 20:12). There are verses for each part of the acronym that we'll learn gradually. I have them repeat after me and it's just so stinkin' cute.

I think I was underestimating how much the schnookers could handle in terms of Bible teaching--this is so much more fun than just reading their little children's Bible! And to have them looking up at me expectantly and liking the attention and the "newness" of it--it's really fun. We also did a role play with our mommy, daddy, Clare and Charlie puppets about obeying and sharing and playing well together, with lots of hugs and kisses too. Charlie couldn't get it that the puppet was supposed to be him, though, so the mommy & daddy puppets made sure to hug & kiss him along with his puppet.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Twentieth Step

So for Mother's Day proper, R & B had a much-needed date and nature walk for our marital health (R is hubby, B is me). After an enlightening journey into Star Trek past and too much soda (blech--we were both dizzy!), we went to an arboretum and "walked it off." It was where R proposed, so B wanted to walk past our picnicking spot almost exactly 7 years ago (May 5, 2002). It was just a patch of grass, but the whole place means so much to us because it was the start of our lifelong commitment and our zany adventures. We know the schnarboretum well and are always looking for new varieties of conifers, because we are addicted to conifers. You'd be amazed at how many we've fit on our little lot. And we still want a hemlock, and a couple arborvitaes. Ah well, it's not a bad addiction to have, since we don't have the money to indulge it. Thanks to C & D for watching the kids!! p.s. You didn't hear it from me, but THE REAL SPOCK makes an appearance in Star was like seeing a long-lost uncle. I felt that fond of him.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Nineteenth Step

Whoa, I got behind here. Step 19 was a fun one. In honor of Mother's Day weekend and spring planting fever, RAZ, CharChar, Clare and I went to a local garden center and picked out some sweet annuals, perennials, boxwoods, herbs, and a hanging basket. And most at 20% off! Plus I had a $10 off coupon that was like 3 years old but with no expiration date, they had to take it still. Woo hoo! If only all of life had no expiration date. It will be like that in heaven I guess. 

Oh, and we planted (almost) everything the same day! Kind of a small miracle for us. Still need to till up/plant our garden and figure out where the boxwoods are going. See below for more pics. 

More Photos from Nineteenth Step

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