Monthly Archives: March 2016

Giving Up

This seems to be a year of giving up things.

January 1st got kicked off by giving up Facebook. What a relief that has been. I’m three months into it, and I haven’t regretted it once.

A month ago the Lord convicted me that I was being frivolous with buying coffee at coffee shops. So that went too. (I still make coffee at home for a fraction of the price.) Again, I don’t regret it. I feel freedom.

And now I think it’s going to be my smartphone. I’ve been cogitating on this one for at least a year. I’ve been a smartphone user for 5 years and ironically I think I’m much dumber for it. More importantly though, I strongly feel the need to be 100% present for my children. I don’t mind if they see me reading a book or looking at a paper map (what’s that?!), but I’m not convinced that screen time for kids can be seen in a positive light. I want our family to be engaged in the present and with the world around us. And I don’t think that can happen when we are reliant on the constant beck and call of smartphones.

Smartphones are pretty magnificent, and everyone has one– so please know that of course I’m not judging you if you have a smartphone! It is probably due to my own lack of discipline that I need to forsake mine. Also, I’m just not sure if they’re a good thing for our family right now.

Speaking of being beckoned — Rachel is calling. Hope you have a great Wednesday!

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A Month of Hazard Lights

Instead of cleaning the kitchen, tonight I’m blogging.

My foggy brain is processing rather slowly after a day like today. And I’m so glad that not every day mirrors this one. We took our weekly trip to my parent’s property this morning. My sister and brother in law and their three kids are living there until they head back overseas in July. They’ll be gone for a long time after they leave (I think three years). We usually arrive mid-morning and my kids take naps (I set up the portable crib for Josh and Rachel sleeps in a swing I’m borrowing from a friend). We eat lunch together and sometime around 3 we pack everything up and head home.

This hour long trip to my parents is fun and there is always a lot going on between my kids and my sister’s kids. My parents usually have various things going on as well. But it is also usually just a really hard day for me. Hence the mention of hazard lights in the title. I think I’ve had to pull over (on the freeway, while traffic was slowly winding along) four times in the last three weeks to deal with screaming Rachel. Josh can take the screaming for about 25 minutes and then he’s done and starts screaming as well.

Today the trip home took 2 hours instead of 1, and Rachel screamed for most of it. I pulled over and changed her poopy diaper in my lap in the driver’s seat on the side of the freeway. She was calm for about 5 minutes (of course Josh screamed those 5 minutes she was quiet), but as soon as she went back into her car seat she went ballistic again.  When Josh started up too (this is well after he’s been given snacks, listening to Psalty music, and watching trains on my phone) I figured the safest thing to do was to put in my headphones and listen to music. Really loud music. I sort of feel bad about tuning out (no pun intended) but then again I don’t really have many options other than to GET HOME ASAP without killing everybody in the process. At the point the earbuds went in, there wasn’t a place to pull over or even exit the freeway due to road construction.

I tend to feel a little desperate during these screaming-saturated car trips. I’m sure it’s good for my character and I’ll be glad for that some day. But it also make me never want to leave my home ever again.

To fight discouragement I have to remind myself of what is true: My nephews will only be here for three more months. The frequency of these trips are temporary, and my kids will not always have the proclivity to scream like they’re being murdered the entire way. Nobody died in the process of traveling to and fro. Screaming for that long only fries my nerves for a few hours. The kids sleep better at night after all that vocal exercise. Chiefly, I’ll remember the good memories with my nephews long after today and long after they’ve returned overseas.

I had a mini meltdown after my hubby got home and we had a quiet moment alone. For all the screaming and needed hazard light use this past month, I still feel like time is quickly slipping by and we’re not getting to see them enough. I have to remember what an incredible blessing it is that my sister and I are so close that I’m sad when we don’t get to do life together as often as I’d like. And that my nephews are always so full of energy and fun topics.

And that they still think we’re cool.

Lord, thank you for my family and for relationships that I have always been blessed by.

My oldest nephew Noah happens to be a rock star when it comes to watching Josh.

My oldest nephew Noah happens to be a rock star when it comes to watching Josh.

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Rachel Turned 6 Months!

Rachel turned 6 months old a week ago!

I’m amazed that she’s gone from this:

Rachel Asay (53 of 113)

To this:

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I really love this age and stage. I know the moody toddler months are quickly approaching, so I am savoring this time while it lasts! Rachel is a little sweetheart (Josh was too at this age). She is our little smiley baby who likes to laugh. Occasionally she gets into a screaming mood and is not easily coaxed out of it (ahem… such as her 40 minute screaming stint on the way to Grandma and Grandpa’s last week) but for the most part she’s a pretty happy camper.

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What Rachel is up to these days:

She started solids two weeks ago! So far she’s had sweet potato, oatmeal with breast milk, and pears. Up until two days ago, she didn’t really like any of it. I think she’s finally coming around now to the idea of solid food and is opening up her mouth for a spoonful much more willingly.

She goes to the pediatrician this week for a check up and vaccines, so I don’t know her exact weight. I believe she is around 14.5 pounds. She wears 6 months clothes and size 3 diapers.

She is rolling and very close to sitting up! She sat up for about 5 seconds the other day before tipping over.

She loves to be near me, and will sometimes cry when I leave her. Thankfully she has been taking naps in the nursery at church without any problems.

She is a decent sleeper, although she is still swaddled at night and for naps unless she naps in the swing. She goes to bed around 7 pm and nurses 1-2 times in the night. She takes 2-3 long naps and a few cat naps during the day.

We love you Rachel Noelle!

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Josh is Two!

I can no longer say that I have “two under two.” And that is wonderful news!

Josh turned two last Thursday. We met up with my folks and my sister and her kids at a McDonald’s with a toddler play area for lunch. He had a blast playing with his cousins until he tripped and smashed his mouth. I didn’t see it happen (I was in line to order) but his mouth was full of blood and he was NOT a happy camper after that. He was pretty grumpy the rest of the day, but he enjoyed the number of special treats/allowances he received to celebrate his birthday. 🙂

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At McDonald's on his birthday. Thankfully his older cousin's weren't too ashamed to play with him in the toddler area!

At McDonald’s on his birthday. Thankfully his older cousin’s weren’t too ashamed to play with him in the toddler area!

Josh is thankfully over the flu. It took 9-10 days for him to regain his appetite and resume his normal eating. He lost some weight and his upper arms got so skinny! His appetite is very good now and the kid is making up for that lost weight quickly. I’m so thankful about that!

We had to reschedule Josh’s birthday party to next weekend, thanks to multiple family members of mine getting the stomach flu. And one of my nephews also had a fever of 103.5 F last week from a nasty virus as well. Lots of viruses making their rounds this winter!

And now for the latest on Josh. (I want to remember these details later on!)

Stats. Weight: 24# (I think he was down to 23# from the stomach flu — but was 25# prior to that.) Clothing size: 18 months pants fit his tummy but are getting a little short. 24 month pants are way too big around his tummy still. Shirts: Mostly 18 months. 24 months shirts fit but are baggy. Shoes: 6.

Sleeping habits. Josh goes to bed around 7 pm and sleeps until 6-7 am. I’m SO GLAD his 6 week long sleep regression has been over for at least a month now. That was brutal! He naps once a day for around 2-3 hours. He goes down anywhere from 11 am -1 pm. He still has a pacifier and hubby and I need to make decisions about when and how we’re going to wean him off of that. He loves his blankie and his bear, which are both a must for sleeping with. He hasn’t climbed out of his crib yet, so I’m planning on leaving him in the crib until that happens.

Food. Josh is a decent eater. He can be picky some days. I haven’t gotten very adventurous when it comes to giving him things like soup or other hard-to-get-into-your-mouth meals. I do let him eat yogurt out of the container though and that’s always pretty interesting. His favorite food is (hands down) the almighty fruit snack.

Favorite activities. Reading, reading, reading. Any books on trains or trucks is a huge hit with him. He also enjoys books by Cynthia Rylant (Poppleton) and other short story books. He loves playing with trucks or trains, and watching real trains go by on youtube. He asks to play outside frequently, and loves to color and play with beans or corn kernels.

Reading with Daddy. I have many, many photos of this.

Reading with Daddy.

New train set from Grandma and Grandpa! A big hit.

New train set from Grandma and Grandpa! A big hit.

"Please Mom, can I have your broom?"

“Please Mom, can I have your broom?”

Speech & Learning. His vocabulary has taken off in the last two months. Hooray– we can communicate better! He has too many words to count now. Lately he’s been using 3 word sentences (“It’s a train!”) and 2 word sentences (“Again, please.”) We’re working on colors and numbers. He gets part of the sequence of numbers between 1-10 correctly (“seven, eight, nine, ten!”). I think colors will take a little longer as he’s quite fixated on the color “Green” and guesses that every color is green. He learned his shapes pretty quickly, but sometimes mixes them up.

Potty Training. I’m not going to bother starting this until he’s closer to 3. He wears size 5 diapers, and has now for probably a year or so. I look forward to not changing poopy diapers on him in the future!

Last of all, this little guy loves snuggle time with his momma. Sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night and will screech for me. He’ll lays his head down on my shoulder and snuggles in my arms while I rock him for 3-5 minutes and put him back in his crib. Those are cherished moments, for sure. 😉

This morning. Kiddo has a mouth full of graham crackers.

This morning. Kiddo has a mouth full of graham crackers.

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This is from a few weeks ago, but I just got the pictures off of my SD card today. Love this one!

 

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{Low Budget} Mini Kitchen Reno

America seems to be captivated by the transformation of something ugly to something beautiful, and I think many would agree that it’s fun to watch the transformation take place. Lately we have been enjoying the show Fixer Upper — a show where an ugly, run down house gets transformed into a gorgeous magazine cover-worthy house in a matter of weeks (and for a seemingly too-small budget). Similarly, I like the challenge of finding ways of slowly transforming my own home for little cost.

Our house didn’t need much work when we bought it almost 4 years ago. It came with the standard 1990’s tile kitchen. I know people like to call it “contractor grade” as if that is sub par, but really it was fine. The cabinets were of good quality, and we had a tile counter top. I happen to like tile for a lot of reasons (durability, and water and heat resistant) but I hate dealing with grout, and specifically this grout. No matter how much I scrubbed and bleached (and scrubbed some more), it always looked really dirty. I always imagined bacteria growing like crazy in that grout.

The kitchen before we bought our home.

The kitchen before we bought our home.

This is a picture of a cake I made a long time ago, but you can see the gross grout. ;)

This is a picture of a cake I made a long time ago, but you can see the gross grout here. (I know, first world ‘problems.’)

We decided after much deliberation to get new counter tops. We took a year to save up for it — not that they were outrageously expensive, but we put our spare income toward necessities that might fail instead. More than once I felt conflicted about spending the money on a new counter top because we had perfectly fine working counter tops. It wasn’t a “need.” I was just tired of being grossed out by the dirty grout.

We finally decided to move forward on it and settled on a white/gray quartz counter top. We bought it at a granite outlet and the counter tops, back splash, demo and installation came to a total of around $2500. We did some shopping around, and that ended up being the best price by a long shot! Additionally, it only took a day for the entire process. Win!

Demo for counter top installation.

Demo for counter top installation.

New counter tops!

New counter tops, sink and faucet!

We also bought a new sink (ordered on amazon) and a faucet at Home Depot. Amazon made a mistake and sent up a much more expensive sink than what I had ordered. (And we got to keep it!) Hubby did the plumbing and got the sink and garbage disposal hooked up.

We bought new hardware and knobs for the cabinets and drawers. Hubby installed them. He also installed new hinges on all the cabinets. The hinges took him a couple of evenings to complete.

New drawer hardware.

New drawer hardware.

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Around this time hubby replaced the blinds in the kitchen window because the old ones had a broken slat and it was difficult to open the window with the way they had been installed.

I thought about painting the cabinets a gray/blue color. I dithered over the colors for about a month. I was pregnant with Rachel at the time and just thought I was indecisive due to being pregnant. (Turns out I’m just terrible with paint colors.) My friends and family cast their votes for which color they liked best.

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Feeling blue about blues. All I can say is, thank goodness hardware stores sell paint samples!

But after looking at the colors for a month, I painted it back to white. I didn’t really love any of the colors, and didn’t feel like spending more money on paint samples I probably wouldn’t like anyhow. Better to be safe than sorry, I figured. Plus, I was pretty pregnant then and lacking the energy to paint the entire kitchen (that’s probably the real reason I painted it back to white).

Rachel was born, and the kitchen stayed the same for around 6 months. Then, Josh got the stomach flu and threw up on one of the kitchen rugs. I threw both the kitchen rugs into the washer, and dried them on the lowest heat setting. Big mistake. They fell apart, so badly that I had to vacuum out the dryer. Oops.

For my birthday, my mom got me new kitchen rugs to replace the ones I had ruined in the dryer. Then, while I was out grocery shopping at walmart one morning, I spent $4.97 for a yard of fabric I liked to make new curtains (I had made the previous ones for $3).

New curtains and paint colors (take 1).

New curtains and paint colors (take 1).

We had thought about getting a marble tile back splash done in the kitchen a while back but we had two estimates done and it was looking expensive. Additionally, tiling the window was going to be a problem. So we scrapped that idea and I decided to paint the walls instead. Much cheaper!

Once again, choosing a paint color took me way too long. I would head to the hardware store hoping to get a light gray sample of paint, and return home with some other color. It took me several tries.

Paint color take 2,

Paint color take 2.

Maybe I like this paint color? No, not really.

Take 3. Maybe I like this paint color? No, not really. (It looked purple most of the time and clashed with the counter top.)

Choosing a paint color would have been even more painful if my cousin hadn’t said “Why don’t you try Benjamin’s Moore’s Revere Pewter paint color?” She had the same color in her home and sent me a few pictures of it. I was immediately sold as the color was exactly what I had been looking for! Home Depot matches this exact color with Behr paint in a sample container for $3.47. It took a little more than one paint sample to paint the entire kitchen.

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The finished product. (Please excuse bibs, cutting boards, sippy cups, etc…)

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So there you have it: A mini reno done on the cheap!

 

 

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Stomach Flu

Josh is on day 6 after the stomach flu and is back up to about 50%. His recovery has been much slower than I had anticipated, and he still won’t eat much. Hubby even went to McDonald’s yesterday and brought him a kid’s meal in hopes that he’d eat more than his usual bite or two. He completely rejected a McFlurry and chicken nuggets, but ate fries and apples. It was a win in my book.
And… now I’ve got the stomach flu. My sister and Dad came down with it last night. So much for sanitizing the house.

We’re having loads of fun.

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Stomach Flu & Booger Beans

We had one day to recover from Disneyland and then BAM! The stomach flu hit.

Until now, we were novices in the flu department. Josh is the only one who has it (so far), poor little guy. He hasn’t been able to keep much of anything down for over 36 hours. Thankfully there’s no diarrhea and he only has a slight fever. But I’ve never seen him so sad and pathetic looking. I’ll be so glad when he’s feeling better.

I’ve been puked on 5 times. I found myself amazed that even though barf was completely covering my legs and running down my socks, I was near tears because I just wanted my little guy to feel better. Ah, motherhood. It’s so hard to watch your child suffer, even when you know it’s only temporary.

On a side note, has anyone noticed that every clear-liquid related food item you’re supposed to give your vomiting child is a really bright color? (Jello, Pedialyte, popsicles, Gatorade, etc.) Our carpet has taken a beating, and I’m still trying to get red stains out of it!

Completely changing the subject to much more civilized topics, Josh shoved a bean up his nose the other day. He loves his tub of beans (that has measuring cups and plastic containers to scoop with inside) and begs every day to let us play with them. He stopped putting them in his mouth a long time ago, so I am usually happy to oblige. He played with the beans around noon one day, and after his bath that evening I noticed a booger of unusually large size up his nostril. I got a q-tip (which he hates) and tried to coax the booger out. I was rather perplexed when it didn’t work. I ran to get a bulb syringe and used that next. I became suspicious that something was amiss when Josh started to cry at my rather aggressive bulb suctioning. Suddenly, I realized that this was no booger up his nostril. I yelled for my husband to come right away while I ran off again and got tweezers. Hubby pinned down Josh’s arms while I applied pressure to the top of Josh’s nostril and used tweezers to clamp onto the booger of usually large size– and out popped a PINTO BEAN! All I can say is: No more independent play time when it comes to beans for a very.long.time. and I’m grateful we avoided the ER on this one.

I hope I have thoroughly grossed you out tonight by discussing barf and boogers of unusually large size.

You’re welcome!

 

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We Survived Disneyland With 2 Under 2!

I know, I know. With a title like that, I sound like a privileged brat who doesn’t notice the blessing that’s right under her nose. I mean, how many people are dying to a) Just have children (that was us not that long ago), or, B) be able to afford a trip to Disneyland?

I’m grateful, truly I am. That being said, taking two such young children to Disneyland is no piece of cake. I wrote out some tips below for taking small children to Disneyland that I want to remember in the future. And maybe if you’ve got little kids and are planning a similar trip, this post will be a blessing to you too!

1. In all seriousness: Consider delaying your trip. If your children are like ours — both under 2 years old — then I suggest waiting a year or two. We went to Disneyland because my sister and her family are here for a short time in the U.S. and we didn’t want to miss out on a family vacation with them before their kids are all grown up. That is the ONLY reason we went. We didn’t plan this trip for our kiddos (sorry, kids). At their age and stage, smaller scale trips (like to a train museum or a pumpkin patch) are much more their speed.

2. You’re still reading, so I’m guessing this means you’re convinced you need a trip to Disneyland. That’s great! Now you need to decide if you want to drive or fly. Both of our kids are prone to crying/screaming in the car. Our littlest is 5 months old and nurses every 2.5-3 hours except at night. So 8-9 hours (not including needing to stop and nurse Rachel) of driving to Disneyland seemed like a terrible idea. If your kid loves the car, then by all means– drive! Driving all night is also an option because the kids are sleeping, but probably not a safe option for us. We chose the more expensive route and decided to fly and rent a car. This became stressful when we realized we’d have to bring: 2 port a cribs, 1 double stroller, 2 car seats, 1-2 diaper bags, plus all of our clothes/diapers/burp clothes/sippy cups, toiletries, etc. We spent a LOT of time on the TSA and Jet Blue websites trying to figure out what was allowed as far as liquids, and what wasn’t included in our plane fare (we had to pay $20 to check a bag that was 1 inch too large to be a carry-on). Most airlines have special allowances for babies/toddlers so be sure to check that out.

3. If you fly, have a plan for getting through security with all your items and children. I got picked by TSA for a full pat down (yay, me) and both kids were crying at the time. If we hadn’t had help, my husband would have had to go through security with all our luggage, stroller (which they wanted collapsed) and our upset children while I was away not enjoying the pat down. With help it was still a stressful situation. Without help, I probably would have had my own personal meltdown.

Miracles do happen: Neither child cried on the plane and both fell asleep on the return flight!

Miracles do happen: Neither child cried on the plane and both fell asleep on the return flight!

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4. Which leads me to this: BRING HELP! This is of utmost importance. Invite your family or friends to come along and give you a hand. My parents and little sister flew with us both directions (I asked for this specifically). And although we walked to the parks alone, we were almost always quickly joined by various family members. I don’t know how we would have managed without their help. I’m not kidding. At one point my husband was in line somewhere in the park buying us breakfast, and I was at the entrance of Toon Town nursing Rachel on a bench and verbally talking with Josh to encourage him to stay near me. He was obeying for the most part, but it wasn’t a good situation. Thankfully, a Disneyland worker came up and voluntarily stayed nearby to help corral Josh until my family members arrived.

Grandparents are the best to have along on a trip to Disneyland!

Grandparents are the best to have along on a trip to Disneyland!

5. Have low expectations. My goal was to do half days at the parks. On the first day we went for the morning and then came back to the house for naps mid-day. We returned for a couple of hours in the evening and Josh suddenly snapped and had an epic meltdown– which is crazy high-pitched screaming for 10 minutes (it’s never fun when strangers are shielding their ears from the screaming). We learned from that experience, and the next day we just went for a couple of hours in the morning. Josh had a blast playing at the house and Rachel napped well. After the kids went to bed, my mom graciously baby sat and hubby and I went back for a few hours to enjoy some rides.

 

Hubby and I having fun (sans our children) one evening.

Hubby and I having fun (sans our children) one evening.

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6. Take a good stroller. There’s a ton of walking involved on trips like these, such as: Getting to your gate at the airport, walking from the hotel or house to the park (our walk was 1.7 miles each way), and not to mention walking around the parks. Bring a stroller that has reclining seats so that your children can nap in it. We took a double Bob stroller and never had to collapse it once while at the parks. Don’t be afraid to take your nice, expensive stroller. There are expensive strollers everywhere you look at Disneyland! They are also parked everywhere unattended while people go on rides. Just bring your valuables with you.

(On a side note, Disneyland does rent single strollers for $15/day. We opted not to go that route because we would have had to rent two strollers, they don’t recline, and the word on the street was that they’re hard and uncomfortable.)

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7. Have your diaper bag situation down to an exact science. Hubby and I did. We each took a back pack, and each of us had a ziplock bag with wipes, ointment and diapers for both children. We weren’t sure if we’d always be together at any given point in time, so we were both prepared to change diapers. In my backpack I also had my wallet, spare change of clothes for Rachel, burp cloths, two lightweight large blankets (for swaddling/shade), hats for both kids, spare pacifiers (for meltdowns), snacks galore, sippy cup, nursing cover, sunblock, and water for me. If you’re looking for a nice diaper bag that’s also a backpack, here’s the one I have (and recommend!).

8. Avoid rides with long lines at all costs. For an almost two year old, waiting in line is equivalent to getting your teeth pulled. Stick with rides that have a 5 minute wait time!

9. Download the Glympse and the Disneyland app before you go (both free). I hadn’t heard about Glympse before this trip, but it’s is basically using your phone as a tracking device (when you decide to share your location) so that you and your family members can see where the other is at at any given time. Obviously not everyone wanted to go on toddler rides, so we split up a lot. It was easy to tell when a ride was over or if a person was still waiting in line using the app. The Disneyland app was invaluable because it had live wait times for each ride in both parks. Great information to know before making a trek across the park!

10. Review rides before you go. Make sure they are appropriate for your baby/toddler. I literally watched YouTube videos of rides before we went, because several toddler rides at Disneyland have scary themes! If they don’t have scary content, they are at a minimum very loud and overstimulating. Rachel cried during The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at one point because it was scary and loud for her (Josh did okay). Both did fine on It’s a Small World. Our kids don’t have much exposure to TV (Rachel has none) so we definitely took that into consideration when choosing what rides they could go on.

On the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

On the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

It's a Small World.

It’s a Small World.

11. Even if you’re like us and your child has had a meltdown before even entering the park, try to recover and have an upbeat attitude (not something I’m gifted at). Look around and realize that children are melting down everywhere, at all times of the day. You’re not alone, and you’re not the only crazy one to take such little children to Disneyland. (All I had to do was just be thankful that I wasn’t pregnant at the time, because that would have made the trip about 100x harder!) Perspective is everything.  🙂

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