Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is not my favorite holiday. I hate all the horror-movie type decorations, the monster movies, and the spiders and creepy-crawlies. There is one thing I like about the holiday: kids dressing up and trick-or-treating.

Here's our little clown!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cooking with Pinterest

I've been using Pinterest to help with meal planning. I also have found some fun things to try.
Today, I made homemade fruit snacks, using this recipe.

I used grape juice like the recipe suggested, and found a tiny-candies mold at Hobby Lobby.  I wasn't sure how many gummies 1/3 cup of juice would make, but it was more than I expected. I filled 48 of the spaces.
They cooled quicker than I expected, and came out very easily. I put them in a ziploc bag for storage, and the girls and I each sampled them. Emma liked them, Sophie... not so much. I thought they were ok, but they don't have a strong flavor. They're not bad, though.

For lunch today, I made this:
...with a variation. Instead of mixing salsa with the meat, I seasoned it with taco seasoning as if I was making regular tacos. I also used Target's store brand of biscuits, and they did fine. These turned out deliciously! A great weekend lunch.

For dinner later this week, I'm making this

Friday, October 28, 2011

The hard part

No one told me about the really hard part of being on the mom end of the parent/child relationship. It's one thing to see it portrayed on television and in movies, but completely different to experience it first-hand.

One day, your child is happy to see you, chatty about her day, asks about yours, talks about her friends, her dreams, her dramas. She likes to spend time with you, and it shows. Seemingly the next day, although in reality I'm sure it's a more gradual change, she barely speaks to you, gives monosyllabic answers to questions, spends more time in her room than with the family, and has to be threatened to get her to do the simplest of chores around the house (which she not too long ago begged for, by the way). Attempts at conversation are met with eye rolls, hugs aren't returned. Chatty, playful moments are less frequent.

I know it's all part of growing up, becoming independent, and normal steps along the process of turning from a child to an adult, but it still hurts. She's my first-born baby! We've always been so very close, and honestly, this new turn is killing me.

I guess the timing is what's so hard, too. I've been feeling older lately. I may be the youngest mom in her grade (apparently they did an in-class project with parent ages in 6th grade and she discovered this fact), but I feel like the stereotypical old mom trying to fit in with her teenager you see portrayed. My face is looking older, my hair is getting white strands and doing weird things, and I'm so very tired lately. Suddenly I've gone from being the "cool mom" to just "you're so out of touch I can only roll my eyes in response" mom. It's all weighing on me at once and I just don't know what to do about it.

To top it all off, Sophie's nearly two and is hitting toddlerhood full-force. She has her new bed, this weekend is her first "real" Halloween, and then Christmas and her birthday. I want to have all the fun little-kid experiences with her like I did with Emma - trips to the playground, picnics at the park, all the normal fun stuff. I don't want her to miss out on those, but I am worried Emma will feel left out, or that Sophie is getting more attention than she is, even though we did the same things with her. This is the down side to the age difference - they are just in different places, and it's nearly impossible to find an activity that they will both enjoy.

If anyone has this figured out, please share your wisdom with me. Maybe it's just the sudden change in weather, but I feel like I'm drowning in doubt over here. I need a life jacket!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I've finally found the sleepless mom stage with Sophie

On Sunday, we took down Sophie's crib and put together her toddler bed. She was very excited and loves her Big Girl Bed. However, she's not a fan of sleeping any more.

First she climbed in and covered up.

Then, she started tucking in all her toys!
She wouldn't nap in it that first day. Poor girl could barely keep her eyes open, and just when she was about to drift off she'd jump up and start bouncing with glee. Thank you, Big Sister, for teaching Sophie how to jump on the bed.  Finally I gave up.

Bedtime, night 1: Bath, teeth brushing, medicine, cuddles, and then to bed for story time. Apparently, also known as an hour of bed-jumping, kissing and hugging Mommy, kicking, feet on the wall, and apparating out of bed the second my back was turned and grabbing some toys. After an hour of this, I finally took her out to the couch and snuggled with her until she fell asleep. Up at 2:30, and slept with us the rest of the night.

Bedtime, night 2: Same as above, without the kisses and I didn't give in to the couch. We stayed in her room. Again, up at 2:30.

Bedtime, night 3: Same as night 2, except I brought her crib soother back into her room and put it on the side rail of her bed. Down to 55 minutes this time! At 12:30 she fell out of bed, and I found her sitting on her floor confused-crying. I put her back in bed and she was asleep quickly. Then up at 3:30 and slept with us again.

We'll see what happens tonight. She's making slow progress! I know it will take some time for her to get used to the toddler bed, but I hope she does quickly! She was the good sleeper as a baby and still sleeps late on weekends. Thank goodness, because we both need to catch up!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tattoo Barbie - this is a bad influence...why?

There is a new Barbie on the market for collectors. Of course, even though this is a $50 doll and NOT marketed to children at all, it is the center of a controversy because it's "inappropriate" for children. Never mind that the website that sells it says "For adult collectors only" and it is not available from Mattel or any toy retailer - it says Barbie so it must be for little girls, right?

But what is so inappropriate? Here are things I've seen argued: pink hair, revealing clothes, and tattoos.
So what if she has pink hair? She is not the first Barbie with colored hair. I remember seeing them with blue or pink hair when I was a little girl. And guess what - some women dye their hair pink. So what? And as for her clothes - give me a break. A shoulder is showing. That is NOT revealing. she is completely covered otherwise. On the other hand, here is a set of Barbie clothes available right now at Toys R Us (a store that strongly markets to children):
Mini skirts. Halter tops. Low-cut necklines. Perfectly fine, but the Tokidoki Barbie is "too revealing." Right.

And finally, the tattoos. How in the world is this inappropriate? It's not like she has "F*** You" tattooed on her neck and shoulder, or anything obscene. She has the brand logo, some flowers, and a beautiful dragon on her back.
There is nothing "inappropriate" about this. Lots of strong, smart, successful, capable women have tattoos. Many of them are amazing women who are great role models for daughters. The fact that someone chooses this form of self-expression has nothing to do with inappropriateness.

Just for fun, here are some other "appropriate" Barbie clothes, also from Toys R Us.

So, makeup Barbie and hair extensions Barbie are okay, black bustiers and tiny dresses are okay, but not pink hair and a mostly-covered tattoo? Give me a break. If the doll wasn't sold out (and didn't cost $50!) the Tokidoki doll would be my daughter's first Barbie.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday rerun: "Don't say gay" bill passed the Senate - I wish this was a joke

Reruns aren't just for TV! I decided to repost this today It's one of my most-read posts on this blog. I first posted on April 25 of this year.
Last week, our relatively quiet state made national news when the Senate passed SB49, commonly referred to the "Don't say gay" bill. Senator Stacy Campfield of Knoxville introduced the bill, after failing six times as a member of the House of Representatives. This bill makes it illegal for any mention of anything other than heterosexuality to be mentioned in public schools in grades K-8.

On the surface, this doesn't seem like such a big deal. Who wants teachers to talk to kindergartners about sexuality period? Well, they don't. My oldest daughter attends a Tennessee public school, and they didn't have any discussions of sexual health until sixth grade. When I attended a Tennessee public school, it was seventh grade. Boys and girls are divided up, and the health teachers (women with girls, men with boys) discussed the basics of reproduction, what happens, things like that. Actually, nothing about "sex" or sexuality at all. I think the only mention was something along the lines of 'the sperm is introduced into the vagina.' The details are left up to the parents. My daughter informed me her class didn't even get that far along in the discussion.

I really don't think there is a widespread problem of teachers in our schools discussing sex, whether it's heterosexuality, homosexuality, or anything else, with their students. This bill is simply another example of Mr Campfield trying to make a name for himself and endear himself to his ultra-conservative supporters who, in my mind, would prefer to live in a time where dancing was immoral and women were not allowed out without an escort - and if they happened to be stuck outside after dark with a man, were forced to marry him out of "propriety."

We have a different reality, though. What about children of gay parents? Or who are themselves gay? If the legislation does somehow make it into law, what will happen to them? Many children who are dealing with the confusion turn to trusted teachers for help - but what will happen when the teachers are forbidden to tell them they are ok, and point them in the direction of organizations who can help them? And the children with two moms or two dads, who are perfectly healthy and happy and well-cared for - this just sends a not-so-subtle message that their families are wrong somehow.

Do we really want our state to draw attention for this? We, as a whole, have been bashed for a week now, and are made to look like backwards idiots, just because this one man and five others (it passed with a 6-3 vote) are putting their own careers ahead of the greater good. As one celebrity pointed out (validly) on Twitter, in Tennessee it is perfectly acceptable to bully a gay teen and call him or her derogatory names and slurs, but it would be illegal to show a gay teen where to get support and help.

And what is really ironic, when you consider that? The last line of the bill, which makes up the entirety of Section 2:

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

Oh, please.

You can read an article about this bill in the Knoxville News Sentinel here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

21 on the 21st

It's October 21! So today, you get 21 random bits of information from me. What's so special about October 21? Nothing, other than the fact that the idea occured to me in a dozing-off dream early this morning. So enjoy! I have no idea what bits of randomness will come out.

1. If you're Facebook friends with me, then you already know that Sophie did her first somersault last night. I wish I had grabbed my camera, I could tell what she was trying to do. But I honestly didn't think she'd get there yet! She did, though, and sat up and grinned so big, so proud of herself. It was great.

2. This week, I've worn shirts I haven't been able to wear in three years.

3. Yesterday was the first time I opened my laptop since last weekend.

4. Last night we watched Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed get married finally.

5. Their kids can really sing.

6. I was planning on making spaghetti and garlic bread for dinner last night. I wanted chicken and dumplings, but didn't want to take that long to cook. Browned some ground beef and we were out of spaghetti sauce! Not enough meat for tacos, so I thought I'd make some brown gravy and noodles and mix all together. Out of gravy mix, too. So, I cooked a box of macaroni and cheese and mixed it all together, and heated some vegetables. At that point I was just done trying.

7. Tonight I'm going to the grocery store.

8. My eyes were more green than blue yesterday. Not sure which color they are today. Yes, they change. The outer part of my irises is blue, the inner part is green, and sometimes one color is more dominant.

9. Emma's eyes were blue when she was little, then for a few years changed like mine do, but now they're all green. So far Sophie's are still solid blue.

10. I really need to get my car fixed. There is a hole in the muffler or something, and it is killing my gas mileage! Takes almost a quarter of a tank to get to work and back every day. Luckily I have a small tank.

11. I'm mostly over Angry Birds. I still play it, but I honestly don't care about achievements. That goes for any game - they're useless! And designed to make people want to play more. Instead, they annoy me and make me want to play less.

12. I can't wait to get The Sims 3 Pets, though. Although I hardly ever have time to play anymore.

13. My iPod just changed from Slick and Rose  (below) to Red Hot Chili Peppers.

14. I got my order of Bubcaps yesterday and am, I think, overly excited. Whoever invented this is genius! Sophie likes to play games and watch videos on my phone, but also loves the little button at the bottom. Unfortuantely, it also ends her game or video. So every few seconds, I have been getting a panicked "Mama!" because it disappeared. Then she'd push it again. And again. Totally defeating the purpose of giving me a few minutes to get something done. This is a simple rigid sticker that covers the home button so toddlers can't push it, but adults can. Brilliant!

15. Emma had the chance to test her sample of migraine medication yesterday. She missed another day of school wtih a headache. It did give her some relief, but didn't take it away completely. I don't know if this is the best relief she will get and to get the full prescription, or to try something else. This was supposed to be the best. I guess I'll know more after calling the neurologist's office.

16. Last weekend, we bought a tall bookcase for Sophie's room. She had two short cases for her books, and I wanted to replace one, put all her books on it, and use the other for toy storage. Her room is the smallest in the house, so we don't have extra floor space for more furniture. When my husband finished putting it together, we saw that it was bigger than my overloaded, overflowing living room bookcase, so I used the new one to replace that one, and put the smaller one in her room. The big one is still too small. I need another bookcase. Sophie's turned out great, though! the bottomm 3 1/2 shelves are books, and the rest are her toys. She can't reach them, but we can get them down for her and put them back for her when she's done. It works.

17. I want to find a secondhand dresser and paint for her room, to use in place of her changing table. She's almost outgrown it, and I can always put the changing pad on the dresser for diaper changes until she's potty-trained. And it seems like she's getting closer to that point. She can take off her clothes and diaper, and tells us when she's gone in her diaper.

18. Although I don't remember how to potty-train a child.

19. I am so happy tomorrow is Saturday. I have been exhausted all week, and can't wait to sleep a little.

20. I have so many Twitter and Facebook friends into Doctor Who that I started watching it on Netflix to see what all the fuss was about. I love it now, too! I'm up to Season 5 already, the last one on instant-play. Season 6 is the current season, but sadly it's near the end and not many episodes are on OnDemand. I just might have to sign up for another month of Hulu in the near future...

21. I have 66 emails in my inbox. (How's that for random?)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Date night

Over the weekend, the girls went to their grandparents' house for Sophie's first sleepover, and my husband and I went out to celebrate our upcoming anniversary. We hadn't had a date night since Sophie was born! We ate dinner first since we were both hungry. We went to Wasabi, a Japanese restaurant. I had never been there before. I had teriyaki shrimp and scallops, and it was very good. After dinner we did a little shopping, and then went to our movie.

We watched The Big Year, with Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black. We had seen one commercial for the movie, and couldn't even remember what it was about. But, it had a great cast and didn't look like an annoyingly stupid movie, like many Owen Wilson or Jack Black movies can be. It is about three avid bird watchers trying to complete the American Birding Association's Big Year. The three men are in different stages in their lives. Jack Black's character is in his 30s, living with his parents and working in a job he hates after a divorce. Owen Wilson is on a third marriage, planning a baby with his wife, and the current record-holder of birds found during a Big Year. Steve Martin's character is retiring from the large corporation he started as a young man, leaving it a success but hounded by his underlings (for lack of a better word) to stay on longer. He and his wife have built a house in the mountians, and are leaving NYC for Colorado. He also recieves big news at the beginning of the movie.

We both enjoyed the movie. The scenery was amazing, and even though you'd never think a story about watching birds would be entertaining, it really was! It's about so much more than birds, though. Definitely worth watching.


I feel like I've been on an unplanned blogging hiatus! (Hopefully there is still someone out there reading...) I got over the "sinus infection from Hades" in time for my mother to have surgery, then stay in the hospital an extra day, and then have Emma stay at home with another migraine. Although luckily the medication from the neurologist did ease the pain. I am so happy that she gets relief now, no more laying in bed for two days suffering.

I did start a post over the weekend, but our router or something wasn't working properly so I couldn't finish it. Thank goodness for auto-saving! I'll finish it and get it published soon.

I did find out this week that Sophie makes an excellent hospital visitor. She had so much fun running all over the surgery waiting room, and playing with her Papa. She even made a friend with a little boy visiting his grandfather. Even though we were at the hospital from 9:30 that morning until 6 in the evening, she didn't get fussy or cranky or anything. She did, however, sleep all the way home. Since mom stayed in the hospital an extra night, after work yesterday I picked up the girls and brought them both for a visit. We ate dinner in my mom's room with her, and both girls were glad to see her. Her pain medication was wearing off, though, and she was tired, so we went home after eating. Today she gets to go home.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A boy with a dream

The day I found out I was pregnant, I discovered and joined a site called Babycenter. The community portion of the site has many different message board groups, and after Sophie was born a little early I ended up joining the board for January 2010 babies. Over time smaller groups of mothers got to know each other better, and share many details of our lives in support of each other.

Then almost exactly one year ago, October 12, 2010, everything changed for one mother in our little band of internet friends. Her older son, Ethan, had his first tonic-clonic seizure. Taryn, his mother, writes about that day in her blog here. He has been diagnosed with Doose syndrome, the most rare of childhood epilepsies.

Ethan has a dream, though. He wants to go to the beach. His parents want nothing more than to let him experience that, but just aren't financially able to travel from Colorado to California. Several other mothers in our merry band were talking, another one purchased a domain, and the website Feet in the Sand was born. The purpose is to get Ethan's story out there, and have a place to donate to the family so they can grant Ethan's only wish. I would like it to go beyond that goal, though. In just this one year of fighting his disease, the family already has over a million dollars in medical bills. Can you imagine? I'd love for the site to stay active long after Ethan gets his beach vacation to help out with their endless medical expenses.

Please visit Taryn's blog, and then visit Feet in the Sand, and donate any amount, large or small, to this family. And spread the word. Share the links with your friends. They really need the support and encouragement right now.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Insert witty blog title here

I apologize for my blog silence this week. My husband and I both caught the sinus infection from Hades this week and it's kicking my butt. Especially since in grown-up world, life still goes on. Work, making dinner, cleaning up, taking care of dogs and cat and baby - nothing goes away just because I feel like my head is about to explode. So by the time I've come home and fed everyone, there isn't enough left in me to write anything.

On a positive note, today was Emma's neurologist appointment. Her CT scan was normal, the tests he did in the office were normal, and she officially has basic, classic migraines. Nothing more serious or unusual. And the best part - he gave her a migraine-specific medication to try so she'll finally have some relief! The hardest part has been watching her suffer, knowing there was nothing I could do to take her pain away. She has samples now, but if it works next time she has a migraine, he'll give her a full prescription. I'm so relieved.

This weekend will be a big milestone - Sophie's first overnight with her grandparents (and big sister). Emma is very excited, planning out everything. I'm.... nervous. Not because I don't think she'll be fine, but it's her first time away! I wonder how she'll handle it. I wonder how I'll handle it! Although it will be easier since we'll be busy. House painting during the day, date night at night. Next week is our anniversary so we're going out while the girls are away. We haven't had a date night in ages!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just another random Monday

Did you realize today is a holiday? I had forgotten until I tried to go to the bank. Closed. Em is on Fall Break, so she was out of school regardless. I'm working today, my husband is working today, so I just forgot! Bet I'll still check the mail when I get home today. I do every time.

I don't have a lot to write about today, but I didn't post all weekend and I have all this energy for some reason. The double mocha cappuccino I just had maybe? (Sugar free, only 50 calories!) I just want to write SOMETHING. I really feel like working on my shelved NaNoWriMo project - I'm finally getting more of the story in my head. I was stuck for a while. I'm afraid it will have to stay shelved for a while, though, at least until Sophie is a bit older and less attached. Not that I'm looking forward to those days; I know I will miss it when she's grown, especially knowing that she is our last baby, but it really makes it hard to get things done sometimes!

I did get started on a project this weekend that I've been dying to work on. I can't say what it is yet, since it will be a Christmas present and the recipient just might read this, but I've had fun planning it. I was so excited to get the base coat of paint done so I can do the decorating. Even if I did get a cut on my fingertip - ouch!

Thursday is neurologist day for Emma. I just hope we get some answers! Although at this point, I don't have much hope for that. As long as we can find some relief for her pain when she DOES get the headaches, I'll be happy. And we're seeing a doctor in a practice we're familiar with. One of his partners was Sophie's neurologist when she was a newborn, and I met this new doctor during that stay, also. He was very nice, sat in the room and chatted with me for a few minutes. I know he won't remember since that was 20 months ago, and I don't actually remember what he looked like. Guess I'll find out soon!

And the most random thought for today - I found a bottle of bubbles in my purse, one of the tiny party-favor size bottles. I'm sure I put it there at some point to entertain Sophie and forgot about it. But what a random thing to find!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Of dragons and tattoos

I'm late to the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" club I know, but I recently read the first book and loved it. It's such a captivating story, with so many things to keep the reader's interest. And unpredictable - I hate when books like this follow a cookie-cutter formula.

I had purchased the first book, but have had a hard time finding the second one, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. (Yes, I know I can order it, but I have such fun finding books in real stores. Instant gratification and all that.) Last weekend, I found the third, The Girl who Played with Fire, at our local library and checked it out.

I finished the book on my lunch break today. As I read the last paragraph, I hoped desperately the author would soon release a fourth book. I HAD to know what happened next! Did Lisbeth live or die? What happens now that the quest that defined her life is over? Does she let herself love? What about Erika and the magazine?

Then, I happened to read the author blurb on the back of the book jacket. The author died shortly after submitting the three manuscripts, six years ago. How horrible! Of course it's always a tragedy when the world loses an artistic soul, but there simply had to be more to this story. The characters aren't finished telling us about themselves yet!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's the little things

Spontaneous baby kisses mid-slide

Unexpected goodnight cuddles from teen daughter

Finding my yogurt is still in the fridge at work at the end of the day

FaceTime chatting with traveling husband

Cat sleeping somewhere other than on my body or my pillow

Lunch with a friend

Red and gold leaves

Warm sweaters

The smell of apples

Garlic & herb cheese biscuits

A visit to the park

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Where do you want to go?

A while back, I purchased an ebook from Kind Over Matter called Spin Your Story: 200 emotionally-charged writing prompts to stir your soul. While perusing the pages tonight, I saw this question: Where do you want to go? Also this week, Emma found this piece saved on my computer and read it. She strongly encouraged me to finish the story - as in "Oh my goodness Mom you NEED to finish that! I NEED to know what happens next!"

So where do I want to go? I want to write more. I want to finish that story. I want to finish another one I'm working on.I want to make time in the day to DO SOMETHING. I don't know how or when, but that is my goal.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Writing break

Instead of using the website I've used for the other writing break posts, I'm using my Writer's Toolbox. I'll pull a first-line stick randomly and write  until I run out of ideas. Enjoy!

After only two months, Helen decided to become an exotic dancer She had been waitressing at the bar since April, and was barely making enough to pay her rent, much less tuition. She saw how much the dancers were taking home each night - what she brought home in a week. It was the end of June; classes started in six weeks. Going home was not an option. Her father made that clear when she told him she wanted to be an environmental lobbyist instead of working in the family's business. She understood his sacrifices, and was proud of the success he made of the company after inheriting the nearly-bankrupt company from his short-sighted father. She just wanted something different. She wanted to make a difference.

Helen sighed, and finished adding up her tips. She said goodbye to the bartender who was wiping down the bar, and the busboy who was sweeping under the last of the tables to be vacated. Sometimes, the men will hang around, hoping to have a chance to talk to the dancers they fall in lust with during a three minute performance and want to spend the rest of their lives with. Otto, the owner, was smart when he made a separate, concealed exit for the dancers. The pathetic men never had a chance. There was a strict no touching, no talking policy between dancers and patrons, and Radimir, the giant Russian bouncer, enforced it very thoroughly. Helen had no fear of that aspect of the dancing job.

Otto had asked her when she was hired if she was interested in dancing, as she had the figure. She remembered her reaction: her face turned bright red and she was speechless, until she was finally able to get out a squeaky "no." Necessity is a mind-changer, though, and the pay increase is a huge draw. She sent Otto a text as she was leaving for the night. "Reconsidered dancing idea. Offer still open? Call me tomorrow." She hesitated for a second, then pressed send.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Current favorite book for babies

While we were downtown Saturday, I took Sophie to the library for her first (non-infant) visit. She loved sitting on the bean bags or at the tables and looking at all the books! We checked out two to bring home, and one I just love.
I was reading this book to Sophie, and love how inclusive it is! There are babies of every size, shape, and race. There are babies eating from bottles and breastfeeding. There are babies in strollers, wagons, and slings. There are babies with a mommy and daddy, babies with two mommies, and babies with two daddies. There are babies with multiracial families. There are babies being cared for by parents and grandparents.

The only message of this book is that babies are loved, no matter what they look like or what kind of family they have. It's a beautiful message.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Downtown Festival

We had so much fun today! Our town had a street festival, blocking off 3 blocks downtown. There was an antique car show, vendors, a band, bouncy things for the kids, and a chalk walk. Emma was entered in the chalk drawing competition so we were there early. After she drew for a while, we went to a downtown restaurant we'd been wanting to try for a bit of lunch. Sophie & I shared a pumpkin scone with cinnamon cream cheese icing, and Em had a cheeseburger. We shopped around the booths, and went back for some finishing touches on her drawing. There are many talented artists in our community! At 3, the winners were announced. Emma didn't win, but she did a great job. I'm glad I wasn't judging today!

Some pictures from the afternoon:

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