Sunday, May 30, 2010

Who am I?

"So, tell me about yourself."

I thought this was an easy question to answer. I'm Amelia's mom. And Steve's wife. I work a little bit in the advertising industry. I'm efficient. I'm reliable. That's who I am.

So, imagine my surprise when I got completely & utterly stumped by a follow-up question recently:

"Of course you're Amelia's mom. And Steve's wife. But, who is Julie? Tell me about YOU."

Huh.
Ummmmm...
Well, let's see...

You know what? I'm not sure I know. I want to be all things to all people. I want to be viewed as a success in all my various facets of life. I am the person everyone thinks I should be. Or at least I try my hardest to be; there are likely several ways I do not measure up in many people's eyes. I am human.

I am thrilled to be Amelia's mom. And Steve's wife. I am blessed in a million different ways. But maybe, just maybe, I should try to find the Julie in me again. If for no other reason than to answer that question.

So, can you answer it? Who are YOU?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tinkles and tickles

This:

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is what we call Amelia's "sticker chart". The chart lives in the bathroom next to Amelia's room. The chart is a fun space where Amelia can decorate with reward stickers when she (1) goes potty and (2) brushes her teeth. As you can see, she's doing really well with both!

We started with jellybeans as her potty reward. Convenient, given it was right around Easter and we had a cabinet full of them. When the jellybeans ran out, we gave her Skittles. Then we started having a timing issue when she'd decide to potty just after brushing her teeth. We didn't want to give her Skittles before bed if she had just cleaned those cute little pearly whites. So the sticker chart was born. It took a few days for Amelia to stop asking for Skittles, but now she is totally on board with the sticker reward system. "I tinkles, Mommy! I tinkles! Sticker?"

It works so well for her potty attempts, we decided to implement it for the other challenging task - brushing her teeth. She still fights tooth brushing now and again, but her willingness has definitely improved. The "tickle toothbrush" (as seen in this post) didn't hurt, either. Just look at all those stickers!

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(Disclaimer: This is a post-bath Amelia. Her hair really can be lovely.)

It's almost time to make a new chart.

I think filling up her first sticker chart deserves a big reward.

Time to go shopping!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

ESP (not the sixth sense kind)

In a post a few days back, I mentioned buying some magazines to support our niece & nephew in their school fundraising efforts. Travel + Leisure came in first, prompting my travel-related post and a trip down vacation memory lane.

I just received the other magazine, Scholastic Parent & Child. I think I will enjoy this subscription. They featured a few unique toys and some cute books that caught my eye (Pink Me Up and the Boochie game, to name one of each). It's always fun to find new gift and play ideas.

One article in this issue really caught my attention.

Titled, Halving It All, the article featured an interview with Amy and Marc Vachon, developers of a parenting philosophy called Equally Shared Parenting, or ESP. This FASCINATED me. It seems like these parents have truly found an ideal balance.

Paraphrased, ESP means both parents share everything equally. They both spend similar amounts of time with work, kid(s), chores, and whatever else may come their way. In this case, Marc and Amy both stepped back at work and they have an equal role in raising their young child. Marc asked for fewer work days and a slightly lower pay grade. Not an easy task for a man these days, where work, money, and moving up that invisible corporate ladder are looked upon as true measures of "success". But you know what? He is happy. His wife is happy. His child is happy. Doesn't that sound phenomenal?

Being intrigued by this idea and actually being able to do it... now that is another story.

There is no question Steve would stay home with Amelia if I had a job that would keep us at the same standard of living we've come to enjoy. He has none of those overly macho "I am the hunter & gatherer" rules. But I don't have a job like that. I've never had a job like that. Positions of that level are definitely available in my world, but they often come with frequent travel and crazy hours. Not something I'm willing to do at this point in time. And giving up my prominent role in the development of this sweet little girl? Hmmm. That is likely not something my control-freak personality would handle very well. Amelia is my job... right?

So, could Steve and I both take mid-range jobs and work out this ESP thing? I don't know... maybe. Maybe, if we moved to a much smaller city where homes & various necessities didn't cost quite as much. Maybe where there was no state income tax. Maybe, if we tried really, really, really hard. Demolishing those traditional gender roles and taking two pay cuts is quite a frightening thought. I'm not sure we're brave enough.

I applaud the Vachon family who figured this out. And I'll keep this article in my mind for a long time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Off to summer camp

Amelia went to summer camp at her school today. The last day of school was last week, but we're lucky to have her in a facility that offers full-time and 12-month programs.

Summers off are really not an option, either for my sanity or for my job. So, off to summer camp we went. I was excited... until we got there.

The school was painfully quiet. Most classrooms were empty with the lights off. No music class to greet our ears with adorable songs and preschoolers playing musical instruments. Most of the artwork was removed from the bulletin boards because it was sent home last week.

Cue that sneaky little brute - mommy guilt.

While Amelia's little friends are home with their moms all summer, she will be at school two days each week. Like I said, home is not an option. Two days per week certainly isn't neglect. But I still can't help but feel bad. And really guilty. I guess I will just have to pack all of our summer fun into the at-home days. We'll cram in our hours at "three P's" - parks, playgrounds, and pools on Wednesdays and Fridays. Maybe some Mondays now and then too.

Amelia likes school. Hopefully camp will be just as fun. Maybe she won't even notice the silence.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another vote request!

Sorry, sorry, sorry... I have one more request for votes. Amelia is in the running for this week's Parent's Magazine photo contest. If she wins the week, she'll be entered in the big cover photo contest. At which point I will bombard everyone I know with vote requests. Over and over and over again until they crack.

Please click HERE to vote for Amelia's photo.
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I promise I am not becoming one of those baby modeling mamas. I just entered a few photos for fun. Making it to the weekly contest is a fun surprise. Exciting times!

And while you are in the clicking mood, please visit ParentsConnect and NOMINATE this blog. It's listed as Balancing Act: Three Moms In One.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Worn out from the weekend

I have blogger's block. I am worn out from a busy weekend yet again. I only have myself to blame. Because I am a work-from-home mommy, I find it very difficult to stay in the house on weekends. I am surrounded by these same walls day after day after day. So when the weekend comes, I tend to overlook my need to relax and give in to my need to get the heck out of here.

It doesn't help that 8 out of 10 activities we try to do with Amelia result in some kind of crying episode. This is going to be the longest year ever. And do not give me that "terrible twos don't end at age three" speech. I do not want to hear it. Fingers in ears, la la la la la la la.

So anyway, I am tired. I do apologize for the blogger's block today. I promise to perk up and find something interesting to say very soon. I foresee a big Dunkin Doughnuts mocha iced coffee in the morning.

In the meantime, here are a few pics to sum up our weekend:

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Amelia called them Mommy's "wedgie shoes"

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Steve worked hard to spruce up our front landscaping. Removed some bushes and added color. I may or may not be able to keep these alive. Wish me luck.


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Aunt Anne came over Saturday evening, bearing gifts. A rainbow feather boa from New Orleans and a bouncy light-up ball from Uncle Brian.
Simply FAB-U-LOUS.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dirt cakes and woodchip pies

Moms, if you spend any regular time with your kids at a playground, I bet you've noticed that there is an attraction even more compelling to little hands and feet than the colorful selection of slides, swings, and climbing walls.

Dirt.
Glorious, fascinating dirt.

Or woodchips.

I don't believe I have been to any of our area playgrounds and not witnessed a kid (or five) playing with the ground covering. And more often than not, they explain to passersby that what they are making is, in fact, some kind of food. Amelia helped one girl make a pizza out of woodchips last week. Today she took dirt from around the baseball field where Daddy was playing and made cupcakes on the bleachers.

When Amelia gets into her dirt projects, there is no convincing her to do anything else.

See those fun swings over there? "Not yet, Mommy. I cook."

Hey, look - a doggie. Want to go see it? "No Mommy, stop! I cooking."

If I bought a square of land and filled it with nothing but with dirt and woodchips, would it become the coolest park around? Possibly. But if other kids are anything like mine, I can bet a wad of money that they'd take one look at it and ask a very simple question.

"But where are the swings?"

Sometimes you just can't win. I've come to accept this. (Sometimes.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A heartwarming mommy moment

After a very rough weekend of Amelia illness, 2-year molar teething (again!), and a 3-day hunger strike, I was thrilled to hear Amelia begin her day with chatter and giggles instead of tears. She ate breakfast and went to school happy. At school, she played on the playground, worked on some art, entertained her teachers with some dance moves, and ate all of her lunch. I thought I could not be happier with her positive turnaround since our nightmare of a weekend.

I was wrong. I could be happier... Amelia treated me to an extra-special mommy/daughter moment today. She filled my heart with joy.

Amelia wanted me to rock her to sleep at naptime.

I have not been able to rock my active, precocious girl to sleep in over a year. So when she demanded that I cuddle with her in the rocking chair and listen to music, I did it. We didn't talk. We didn't sing. We just sat together, her head on my shoulder, and rocked.

I feel the pull of my various responsibilities constantly. The working mom in me always wonders what's in my email inbox. The "perfect" mom in me is always worried about something - is she potty training fast enough, is she going to stop pushing other kids at school, is she hyperactive? Way too often, it is the happy mom who gets left behind. I'm a multi-tasker. I can check email while I watch the mac-n-cheese cooking on the stove and clap for Amelia after she sings me a song. I don't often let myself stop and truly immerse myself in a moment. There is always something else to be done.

Today, for 15 minutes, everything stopped. Thoughts of work left my brain. The pull of my email, my blog, and Facebook did not exist. The ongoing internal debate over when to take away Amelia's sleeping pacifier ceased. Amelia and I enjoyed our moment together.

And I was, 100%, without a doubt, happy.

If you have an infant and you're struggling with sleep deprivation, try to take a second and find the joy. Because too quickly, you won't be rocking that little one to sleep anymore. Unless one day they surprise you.

Today, I was happily surprised.

It really is an honor being nominated!

3MomsInOne was nominated for a Parent's Picks award on Nickelodeon's ParentsConnect website! Please stop by the "best parenting blog" page and click on my blog. Listed as Balancing Act: Three Moms In One:

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Here's the link:

www.parentsconnect.com/parents-picks/best-parenting-blogs


How exciting is this??? I'm about to pee my pants.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

2 years and 38 days

... since Amelia was born. And tonight, for the first time ever, we had an actual babysitter take care of her!

Amelia has stayed with my sister and brother-in-law several times. She's stayed with grandparents a few times as well. And she stayed with close friends twice. But we've never done the official babysitter thing. I feel a little lost and sad when I'm away from Amelia under general circumstances, but it was nerve-wracking to leave our home and our child to someone who is pretty much a complete stranger. Amelia and I met her for about 20 minutes a few weeks ago and she cares for neighbor children quite often. We knew she'd be great, but it was still a big, big step for us to take.

Steve and I went to a nearby Japanese steakhouse for dinner. It's a place we enjoy, but cannot go with Amelia. She is too afraid of the "HOT!" cooking surface. And the fire volcano would certainly terrify her. So we enjoyed our grown-up night out. And from what we hear, Amelia had an absolute blast with her new friend.

We have a babysitter! No more scrambling to figure out what to do if a last-minute work function comes up. WE HAVE A SITTER. Yay for us!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Travel magazine dreams & memories

We have two amazing nieces and an adorable nephew in Florida. Since all three are now in school and playing soccer, we often get fundraising emails from them. I definitely remember those days. We used to sell Sally Foster wrapping paper and overpriced boxes of candy. For high school band we sold Indian River fruit. So whenever a child comes to us with a fundraiser, I make a point to buy at least one item.

This year, we supported Kaitlyn & Connor by buying magazines for their school fundraiser. Steve picked Travel + Leisure and I picked a parenting magazine (I can't remember which one). The first issue of T+L came in yesterday. I was excited to look at it. Gorgeous photos and fun vacation ideas. But with every page I flipped, it became more and more apparent that these are not vacations I'll be going on any time soon. As long as Amelia travels with us (and she always will), we will probably be limited to parks, beaches, and Disney World. African safari cruises? Um, nope. A train tour through Alaska? Yeah... not so much. But it's nice to look and dream.

Steve reminded me that we've been very lucky to visit some of the picturesque places pre-Amelia.

The breathtaking Canadian Rockies:

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Quaint towns in Maine:
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Yosemite in California:
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And my personal favorite, the inspiring beaches of Hawaii:
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Amelia made it to Europe at 11 months old. Maybe she'll be a world traveler again with us one day.

Just not during the terrible twos.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our school photos never looked this nice

Amelia's preschool obtained a professional portrait photographer to take the school photos this year. Gone are the days of cheesy fake library or paint-splattered paper backgrounds. Gone are the furry white pedestals to sit on and the funky ladders to lean against. That's what we had to endure in my day. Maybe that still exists in the middle and high schools? Luckily, I have several years before I find out.

The photographer wanted to take all the school photos outdoors in morning light. And they turned out beautiful! I knew Amelia was gorgeous, but this photo makes those sparkly blue eyes come alive. I bought the rights to the image, but it deserves a big shout-out. Thank you, Shelli Allen Photography!!!!

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Please check out Shelli's website HERE.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A pilgrim? Or a pilgrim lawyer?

We've been trying to grow Amelia's hair out. Recently, I've realized that she looks similar to the shaggy dog in the Roadrunner cartoons. You know, the one that cannot see because of all the hair in his face? That's our girl.

We rely on hairbows to pin those crazy bangs back, but this is not always practical or successful with a child of Amelia's, um, enthusiasm. She is a wild and crazy girl with very little time to stop and get her hair fixed.

Tonight as she was eating dinner, contained nicely by the straps of her high chair, I gave in to my inner nagging. I got out the scissors and cut her some bangs! Of course she moved and the bangs got a little crooked. With another snip here and another snip there, they were acceptable. Maybe a little too short, but at least the child can see. And her extensive hairbow collection can now live to its full potential in the accessory world. No longer necessity.

Steve says "it looks okay... for a pilgrim." I'm not sure what this lovely male-perspective hair critique actually means, but it doesn't really matter. The hair will grow back quickly. I bet we're going to love her new look before that time even comes.

You can see the haircut in this new video. Amelia has a future as a trial lawyer, I think. Although she'll have to stop making up her own language. Maybe this is pilgrim speak? Hee hee.

video

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ouch. Ugh. Hmmm....

OK, ladies. I have to ask - do you suffer from foot, leg, and back pain every single day? I am always sore. Always achy. And pretty much always tired.

Amelia is a very tall girl and over 30 pounds already. I try to limit how much I carry her, but she wants me to hold her at least a couple times a day. Plus the up & down, in & out of the car seat. And when she has the face-plant-on-the-floor tantrums, trying to pick her up again is a major feat. That girl can really fight when she wants to! So I understand (and expect) occasional fatigue and aches.

But am I supposed to hurt all the time? Is this just a symptom of having a 2-year old around? Am I one of those people whose feet went nuts after pregnancy? Am I destined to fall into a long and loving relationship with muscle relaxers?

I have no idea. I am not sure I am normal.

Just thought I'd ask.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy double special day to me!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies out there. I get a double celebration today. Not only is it my second year as a mom to my spunky little girl, it is also my birthday. Although a friend of mine swears I am 29 again (this way she can be 29 as well - we're the same age), I am firmly planted in my 30s for a while. Exactly 8 more years, to be exact. Not too bad, I suppose.


Steve and Amelia decorated Mother's Day and birthday cards for me this morning. I was not allowed to go downstairs for a little while, so I finally got around to painting my toenails a funky & bright hot pink. Summer toes!


My cards were adorable and quite decorative. Amelia insisted on using not only stickers, but also markers and animal stamps (using the purple stamp pad, of course). And just before we all got some breakfast in our bellies, Steve and Amelia left the room, coming back downstairs with a gift bag. Amelia proudly handed it to me, saying so matter-of-factly, "this Mommy's."


Amelia and Steve bought me a Nook! A Nook is Barnes & Noble's version of the Kindle - an ebook reader. Check it out RIGHT HERE. Steve thought I needed a gadget. He's been a little obsessed with his iPhone lately, and I've been fighting jealousy since I only have an old cell phone that Amelia recently dunked in the toilet. The Nook should be fun. With an upcoming vacation on our horizon, I look forward to traveling with a slightly lighter bag. Thanks, honey!!!


Amelia hasn't been the nicest girl so far today. Her attitude has gone downhill since her art efforts this morning. We have our fingers crossed that a nap will bring her back to us, smiling and ready to be sweet again.


Have a great day today, mommies! Parenting is a tough job. But a great one too.

Friday, May 7, 2010

It is official!

I purchased my own URL for the blog! You can now officially find me at 3MomsInOne.com

In honor of my new URL, I figured I should think about my original thoughts behind this blog. I am still a work-in-progress. I'm still working, still stressing about "the rules" of mommyhood, and still ocassionally wondering about my own identity. I am happy, yes. But I'll never say this is easy. Rewarding at times? ABSOLUTELY. Easy? Um... not for me, anyway.

The past two weeks have been extremely busy from a work perspective. The great news is that we received client approval on some media buys, and I've been working to get those set up. We really work with fantastic clients, and I'm happy to be part of this little agency again.

However, I think Amelia is feeling a bit pushed aside due to my workload lately. Her "Mommy working - again!" comment really cut into my heart and let the mommy guilt pour in. But I know she is fine. Amelia loves school. She is blessed to have me home with her on Mondays and Fridays, as well as afternoons the rest of the work week. And weekends are a blast because we have DADDY TIME! Steve always makes our weekends fun.

Working from home is convenient. It is sometimes difficult. And many times, working from home is hilarious.

Here are my Top 5 Work-From-Home Scenes You Wouldn't See in an Office:

1. I have been known to flatten out play-doh with the left hand, while manipulating the computer/emailing with the other. Multi-tasking at it's best!

2. I have attended conference calls in my bedroom, wearing pajamas.

3. There is often something sitting on my lap (or feet) while I work. Either a 30-pound kid or a 18-pound cat. One sits nicely and sleeps... guess which one?

4. The background music at my "office" is not easy-listening radio or Muzak. It is a cacophony of talking stuffed animals, plastic toys that make noise, and ongoing 2-year-old chatter.

5. At least two emails have gone out from my work email address that were not written by me. That garbled message of letters and spaces? That was my "assistant", Amelia.

Gotta keep smiling. Life is just fine.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

The "Amelia-ism" of the day

Amelia is in a phase where humor is everything. She is funny. She thinks the cat is funny. Daddy is super-duper funny. Today, Amelia was listing everyone and everything she thinks is funny:

"Daddy funny."
"Claude (our cat) funny."
"Bear-bear (stuffed animal) funny."
"Pickles - funny!"
"Cat show funny."
"Jeff (a neighbor) funny. Funny doggies."

So I asked her - is Mommy funny?

And my bright-eyed little girl looked at me, thought about it for just a second, and replied...

"No. Mommy working. Again."

I'm so sad!!! I want to be funny too! I think this calls for a fun Friday morning activity tomorrow. No work for me!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In for trouble at age ten? I'm not so sure.

Yahoo.com flashed an article in front of my eyes today on their homepage. One I could not help but reading right away:

More TV For Toddlers Equals School Trouble Later

The article discusses a recent study that looked at TV viewership among 2-1/2 and 4-1/2-year-old children, then checked in with their teachers and doctors once they turned 10 years old.

"Every additional weekly hour of television at 29 months corresponded to a 7 percent drop in classroom attention and a 6 percent drop in math skills, researchers found."

I have no doubt that the research was conduced with a solid methodology by very smart people. I'm sure the results came out as reported. But I have a strong suspicion that there could be much, much more to the story.

These articles are always written with a tone of finality that gets on my nerves. A tone of black & white, right & wrong, case closed. Life just isn't like that. And neither is research, when it's conducted on human beings. There are so many factors involved. Correlation does not always equal causation... right? I know someone taught me that in high school.

I would love to see stats on some of these other factors. Did the high-TV viewership kids have more propensity to watch programming that wasn't appropriate or non-educational? Did they sit still eating chips while watching their shows?

I wonder if there is another, more influential, correlation. What is the parenting like in the high-TV households? Did the children watch more TV in lieu of adult interaction? Did the parents choose to push their children towards television instead of getting on the floor and playing a game? Or reading books?

Amelia watches television. A lot, according to most experts. The Disney Channel is on in the morning during breakfast and while I pack her lunch for school (if it's a school day). She may watch a 30-minute show before naptime - usually Super WHY from PBS or a Disney Channel show we've saved on our DVR. And when it's time for me to cook dinner, she watches something age-appropriate and non-violent for up to an hour. Does that add up to 2 hours a day? Yep. Maybe even 2-1/2. But Amelia is up on her feet, often jumping along with the character on TV. She doesn't sit still and snack while watching. She loves her books, and spends just as much time reading books as she does watching our magical 50-inch cartoon box. Often, she grabs a book while the show is on, deciding to tell me about the animals or colors on the pages instead. She is advanced for her age, already counting to twelve, singing her entire ABCs, and speaking in sentences often up to 7 words in length.

Most importantly, Amelia gets a ton of one-on-one time with me and Daddy. She knows she is well-loved and safe. She knows that we want her to learn and will always take pride in her abilities and new-found efforts.

Maybe I'll eat my words in 8 more years. I certainly hope not...

I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I think she'll turn out just fine.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Country roads...

The metro Alanta area offers a little of everything. We have city life, culture, and rush-hour traffic. But within some fairly short drives, we also have forests, hiking, lakes, and farms. Here are the photos from our morning at the farm. My city girl had a great time. And she's still talking about riding the horse.

Yee haw!

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hindsight...

Yeah, hindsight really is 20/20. Why is it I can't figure out that my child is sick until after she's completely freaked out on me? We always manage to plan some big, tiring event when she's sick. And we realize afterwards that maybe it wasn't the best day for such an adventure.

Today we went to a miniature animals farm. Did you have any idea that all farm animals come in miniature? Pygmy goats, tiny pigs, Shetland ponies, little llamas, and teeny tiny chickens. Pretty cool. Amelia loved seeing all the animals from the other side of the fence. Not so much when they could physically touch her. She was very proud of herself for petting a small cow and she loved the little ponies. At the end of our tour, we convinced Amelia to go on a pony ride! She was unsure at first, then ended up loving it. Actually begged for more when it was over. Pics to come in the next day or so.

So the morning went great. As we were all finishing up our lunch, however, Amelia's demeanor began to take a turn. She ended up crying, somewhat hysterically, for nearly two hours. She could not get to sleep and seemed to be in pain. Luckily, my sister is in the medical field and was able to check Amelia's ears with the "ear thingy" (hmm, guess I should have asked what it is called). She has an ear infection in one ear. And possibly a sore throat.

So now some things make sense. Her reduced appetite this morning. Sleeping in for the past two mornings. Begging to go to bed during the day and refusing book-reading time at night. She's been sick. Or getting sick, anyway.

I wish I had known sooner. But even though we wore her down a bit more than we should have, I know she will come out of this illness with some exciting memories of our mini-farm adventure.
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