June 27, 2010

We interrupt the regulary scheduled program...

BLOGGING temporarily PAUSED.
house overhaul- operation Philippines.
[i do believe i have enough crap excess to fill one whole island.]

garage [remember here]
book shelves [finished this]
craft room [i know!!!  amazing!!]
my closet [i can see clearly now, the rain is gone...]
master bedroom
professor's closet
kitchen cabinets
girls' room
little girls' room
boys' room
bathroom cupboards
linen closet
coat closet

i know i've tried to "organize" hundreds of times before...
and it's just a neverending story...
but this time it's different.
a leap not a step...
i can feel it in my bones.
big, big changes ahead...

ps.  i have a new friend, who just moved to lubbock.  
the other day she laughed at me and said, "you are so funny, you are always saying that things change your life."
and.  it's true.
i believe in being born again... and again... and again...
and this week.
i'm born again.  again.
my house is in the process of baptism by water and fire.
i believe we will both end up cleansed and sealed.

June 23, 2010

i teach free for my sister.

after eating my ice cream, and seeing my fabric laden craft room,
sweet josie, my adopted Philippine grandma, offered to teach me to make a pattern.
i kindly said, no thank you.
i just quilt.  and decorate. i don't sew.
she insisted.
after 2 weeks, and many chance meetings where she reminded me, "i'm waiting for your call"
we hooked up.
honestly, i had many things i would have rather been doing.
like CLEANING my craft room.
or finishing one of the hundreds of unfinished projects i already started.
NOT learning to make a pattern.
for a dress.
that i can't sew well.
[i know you think i can sew.  and i can.  but not really.  i got a sewing machine for my wedding, and i taught myself to sew straight.  quilts not clothes.  skirts with elastic waist bands.  halloween costumes yes.  prom dresses no.]
josie measured and drafted and taught me like the school teacher she is in her country.
her friend asked her how much she was charging me.
she said, "i teach free for my sister."

sweet, sweet teacher.
ungrateful student.
we spent 3 hours.
and made two pattern pieces.
a bodice for me and a bodice for leah.
she said, "i come back tomorrow at 2."

we spent hours talking and tracing and eventually cutting fabric.
josie made dresses without a pattern when she was 15.
she got married to a man who was always drunk, and never worked.
"if i didn't know how to sew, my babies would have starved." she explained.
first she sewed dresses and sold them at little neighborhood shops.
she eventually worked at or owned a tailor shop.
when people would come asking for a job she would use their scissors.
if they were sharp, she would consider them.
if they had no scissors, or their scissors were dull, she would send them away.
josie admired my gingher sewing scissors.
she had never used a pair so nice.
but, mine were dull.
i'm going to buy her a pair to take home.
josie has an electric sewing machine.
it only goes straight.
she teaches technology.
the people in her class learn on a peddle sewing machine.
i showed her my machine.
how i can make button holes.
and blind hems.
and ruffles.
i would give her my machine.
i would trade machines with her... if it were possible.
she is a tailor.
i make crafts.

during the 10 hours we have "sewed" together so far, josie has realized that i really don't know how to sew.
she is surprised.
i laugh and i'm a little embarrassed.
for me, and for america. 
i said, "You didn't believe me when i told you i didn't know how to sew clothes."
she said, "you have so much fabric, i thought you were a tailor."
i wish i could give her my fabric.
i went to the store and bought 7 yards of fabric for the dress she is helping me to make.
she said 3 yards would have been plenty.
i have a room full of fabric and i bought more.
that is what i do.
and i am ashamed.
most days i think i am poor.
josie says, "you are so lucky that you can stay home with your family.  you have a good husband."
yes.  i do.  i am.
i apologize for my messy sewing room and josie says not to worry.
but i can see she is confused.
once, as she fingers a quilt top that i have on my wall, she asks "why do you not finish this?"
i laugh.  actually, i have two of those quilt tops- one for me and one for my mom.
my mother didn't like it. so i stopped.  i want to finish it and give it to josie as a gift.
oh josie, i have hundreds of projects that i haven't finished.
i begin showing her all the quilts i have in process.
i am embarrassed.
i have too much.
and, still i cry because i can't buy my girls matching Gymboree dresses.
actually, i CAN buy them matching Gymboree dresses and i STILL cry.
i am so ungrateful.
i have a whole room full of unfinished matching dresses that i could make, for free, if i had the skills.

"this is good for you to learn," she explained. "you have 4 girls."
her girls were 18 before they had their first store bought dress.
i can't keep my house clean because i have too much stuff.  ??!!
oh america.

yesterday, josie left me with a little dress all cut out and ready to sew, for leah.
she assured me that it would only take me an hour to sew it.
i went to bed at 1am.
i really wanted to make her proud.
i am a kindergarten tailor.
the sleeves took me an hour.
i tried to do her homemade piping... and, it's ok, if you don't look close.
my machine got all messed up on my blind hem stitch, and i'm embarrassed for when she looks underneath
and wonders why i went around and around 100 times with my machine instead of just hemming it by hand.
and the buttonholes.
oh those stupid buttonholes.
i can make 500 perfect buttonholes on scrap fabric.
but EVERY TIME i try to make a buttonhole on the back of the dress that i have already spent 4 hours sewing...
the front looks fine, the back. like Cousin It.
i hate Cousin It.
i unpicked buttonholes twice.
i was embarrassed for me and america.
josie does all her buttonholes by hand.
her daughter remembers stitching buttonholes by hand when she was a little girl.
helping in her mother's dress shop.
laura engles worked in "town" for a summer stitching button holes.
i tried a buttonhole by hand.

i am a PRESCHOOL tailor.
my hand-sewn buttonhole is laughable.
but, more functional than my Cousin It machine buttonholes.
after hand-sewn number one.  i zigzag stitched number 2 and 3.  and they are better.
number 3 was perfect.  but too small, i had to rip it out and start again.
i had visions of josie coming to my house today and showing her 4 matching little girl dresses that i had made last night.
i tried on my own, to draft a pattern for anna.
my arm holes look like withered bananas.
i couldn't cut the fabric, because i'm not sure it would really function as a dress.
you know, i really want to make josie proud.
i want her to feel how grateful i am.
i want to learn this, so i have a skill that i could use to feed my family. 

i am humbled.
not in my sewing, in my excess.
in my selfish ingratitude, when i have so much.
so, so much.
when sweet josie offered to teach me to make patterns- she was offering to give me her greatest gift.
and.  i said "no thank you."
josie's daughter, edely, she works nights as a nurse.  she sends money home to her family.
so they can eat.
i complain.
because my cabinets are brown.

josie is an answer to prayer.
an answer i didn't even realize i needed.
my heart is changed.

i am humbled.
and grateful.
and determined to live simply and stay focused on what is REAL.
my life is real.
but not really.

June 22, 2010

boy scouts. that's plural.

 the professor boy scout and my oldest left yesterday for SCOUT CAMP.
oh how i miss them.
the professor is HAAA LAIR EEEEE OUS.
so funny.
he knows there is an award for the smallest pack at scout camp.
my boys won.
he spent 20 minutes explaining the ills of bringing a suitcase to scout camp.
duffels are ok.
[he does remember seeing boys with Addidas duffel bags at scout camp when he was growing up.
he'd think to himself... this is SCOUT CAMP, NOT SOCCER camp.]
but backpacks are the best.
[see that ugly army backpack he uses?  it has to stay in our bedroom... on the FLOOR, on his side of the bed... he doesn't want it to get DUSTY in the garage or the attic-- oh my.]
i had to hold him back from purchasing a new, steal rimmed, hiking backpack for jakob.
had he been a full fledged doctor, jakob would have been wearing a HIKING backpack.
they are going to swim at a lake...
in a town.
NOT hike mountains.
Good thing my boys have their HIKING BOOTS on.
for a 4 hour car ride.
in the bmw.
that doesn't have air conditioning.
i suggested they bring flip flops.
Flip Flops at SCOUT CAMP???!!!
(well, maybe for the showers- my boy scout consented)
he opted to leave them home- due to luggage restraints.
how i love these sweet boys.
for sure, i married the boy scout nerd.
i have a feeling he would have been wearing socks to his knees all week if he owned a pair.
jakob was SOO excited.
he told me 10 times about his "tender mercy"
finding a new pocket knife ON CLEARANCE at wal-mart for only $5.
he's certain it's just like Uncle Ben's
it could probably have cost $50...
jakob woke up at 5:30am.  he was hopping to get in the car... to be at the church by 9am.
sweet, sweet boy.
honestly, as they drove away i had tears in my eyes.
(maybe because they were taking my camera for a whole week)
how i will miss them.
how i pray they will be safe.
i KNOW their feet will be protected.

i watched this today.
the story of bottled water.

June 21, 2010

to kanariville.

nie reminded me of this video.
the professor reminded me of this story yesterday
i was lamenting and he was encouraging...
this time in our life will someday be a memory...

sometimes life is hard.
my life is grand.  perfect.  wonderful.  everything i've ever dreamed of.
and, it's hard.
especially as we struggle through this LAST year of graduate school...
with six kids.
i wonder if we can do it.
and i know we can do it.
honestly, it is hard.
my sweet husband bears the brunt of uncertainty, financial concerns and mega-intellectual stress.
on the front end of this journey i kind of laughed...
my "professor" had the most self confidence of anyone i'd ever known.
i didn't think that the rigors of grad school would ever touch him.
i was wrong.
he's struggled and i've struggled feeling his stress.
i remember days of yesterday... when we were so carefree... when work ended at 4:30 pm.
and i had a husband on saturday.
all day.
i remember a time when we just knew that if we tried to do what was right, it would all work out.
we know that now.
we just understand that "all work out" sometimes is the hard way.
and sometimes is the easy way.
and sometimes it will "all work out" some magical day in the future.
we still think it will be worth it in the end.
well, we HOPE it will be worth it.
one more year.
one dissertation.
one job offer.
one day at a time.

June 20, 2010

summer ideas- signature linen.

i saw this idea on home and family and knew i had to do it.  (go look at hers, it's so fun!)
we have a special linen table cloth.
when friends come over, we have them sign it and date it.
and then i stitch on top of their signature...
with my tiniest stitches.
while i'm watching netflix
(leave it to beaver, or brady bunch, wishing i had an ALICE.  really, i could be Mrs. Brady with Alice.)

when they come back, they just add a date!!
isn't that fun?!!
i LOVE pulling out my table cloth and remembering all my sweet friendships.
i only wish i had started this tradition when we were first married.
i have so many "ghost" signatures on my cloth.

come on over for dinner and become part of our friendly signature linen!! 

want to hear a funny story about this dinner??
these sweet friends are from the Philippians.
Edeley and Marlin, live here.  they are ADORABLE. 
Josie, Edely's mom (in the purple shirt) is just visiting.
this is her first time in America. she is also ADORABLE.
she is going to teach me to sew a dress.
we fed them american enchiladas.  :)
gave them their first experience with our life-defying trampoline
and made home-made ice cream.
josie makes ice cream in the Philippians.
it takes her at least 4 hours...
she mixes it up, then puts it in the freezer and takes it out to stir every 20 minutes till it's frozen.
oh, i taught her... this is an ice cream maker... it only takes 40 minutes.
"but does it get hard? does it freeze without the freezer?" she kept asking.
"Oh Yes!!" i insisted.
this is america.  home of the EASY way.  :)
her daughter said, "Mom, if you want, we can buy you an ice cream maker to take back with you."

so, fast forward 40 minutes.
we had the ice cream maker in our master bathroom because it is loud.
the professor kept going to check on it, he kept whispering to me that it was still pretty soft.
finally, i decided it was long enough, we could handle softer homemade ice cream over our brownies.
i used pioneer woman's recipe for vanilla ice cream... with a REAL vanilla bean. 
it looked just like Breyers.
well, Breyers soup.
not even a milkshake.
more soup.
Josie taught me, "Yes, it is good.  You just need to put it in the freezer."
i smiled.
this, i thought, is AMERICA in all her glory.

after they left, i re-read the recipe.
turns out that ON THE RECIPE, it says to use an ice cream maker and THEN freeze for 8 hours before serving.
next time, i'll read the fine print.
or... i'll bake her American Apple Pie.
with Pilsbury crust.
cause, after all folks, i'm a native.
no picture of the ice cream soup.  just look at a glass of milk.

June 19, 2010


i got a haircut.
and, i'm still snuffy.

June 18, 2010

summer ideas- berries!!

don't you love berries in the summer?
fresh berries in the grocery store all year round makes me proud to be an american...
and proud to live in the 21st century.
when we lived in Michigan, we could pick our own raspberries... it was magical.
here in texas, not so much.
but, we do love to buy berries...
and eat them.
i make fruit salad once a week.
fresh pineapple, strawberries, blueberries and a little bit of splenda.

and strawberry shortcake with fresh cream.
 but my FAVORITE, FAVORITE berry thing this summer has been...
this blackberry/blueberry cobbler from Pioneer Woman.

Some people call it cup-a, cup-a, cup-a.
This is the EASY recipe.
1 stick of butter
1 c. milk
1c. sugar (plus 1/4 c. to sprinkle on top)
1c. flour
1 pint of berries.

I melt the butter in a pie tin while the oven is preheating to 350*.
Then I pour most of the butter into the batter and mix it up before i pour the batter into the pie tin.
Don't forget to sprinkle the sugar on top before you bake.

350* for an hour.

oh my gosh.  this is SOOO good.
once i doubled the recipe and poured it into an 8x8 pan.
it was still divine, but i REALLY love the consistency of the pie pan cobbler.
next time, i think i'll double the recipe and pour it into 2 pie tins.
try this.
sooo good. sooo easy and very summer.
ps.  i'm sick.
fever, sweaty, stuffy nose, sick.
who gets sick in the SUMMER?
i'm kinda mad... cause i was having a GREAT summer.
i keep telling myself this is just a speed bump, not a dead end...
tomorrow i'll be feeling better.

June 16, 2010

summer ideas- sculpy.

ellie wanted to learn sculpture this summer.
we started with play doh.
we got some books about making bowls with clay- this was not the sculpture she wanted.
we got some books about sculpy figurines.
to ellie, this was real "sculpture"

sculpy was on sale for 50% off last week-- i had 7 dollars so i bought 6 colors. (about $1.15 each.)
JoAnn's had a multi pack of Sculpy for $18.
i may go back with a 50% off coupon and get some more.

i picked an easy bird from our sculpy book...
i forced everyone to make one.
(not physically, i just said they had to make a bird.  even if some wanted to play Wii and some wanted to make Santa Claus.)
i told them the bird was SMALL.
i read the book out loud step by step, "figuring it out" with them.
[It's so important for moms to show kids that they don't know how to do it either-- so important in creating independent kids.]
We all worked together, and EVERYONE loved it.
especially me.

so fun.

June 15, 2010

summer ideas- origami.

10 reasons why i LOVE origami.
1. it's free.
2. it requires thought.
3. all you need is paper and directions.
4. you make things that you can play with after.
5. it inspires creativity and confidence.
6. it is quick.
7. when you learn how to do it, you can teach others.
8. it's really cool.
9. it's good for boys and girls, young and old.
10. when your done, you can throw it away!!
and a bonus...
11. it builds teamwork!!

we love origami made out of dollars.
origami from the internet and origami books.
(just google origami for some fun sites.)

at the library, drew was so smart.
he got a book of cool origami, and a reference book of folds.
so, when the cool origami books says, "make a valley fold" he just looks up "valley fold" in his reference book to figure out what that means.
so fun!

my kids like making wallets, jumping frogs, biting fish and rabbits with ears that flap.
(we got the directions from books... but i'm sure you could google any of these and find great directions.)
we also LOVE this book on paper airplanes.
ellie won the paper airplane contest in her school.
we rock at paper airplanes.
paper airplanes are American origami.

give it a try!!
so fun.

note to parents-- let the kids figure it out by themselves.  at first, they will say they can't, it's too hard, they don't know how.  IF you sit down with them, act like you don't know what to do either.  (HA!  sometimes you don't have to try too hard to act dumb.)  Read the directions and say things like "Hmm.  What do you think they mean?"  Start slowly folding your paper in directions that you think is right and wait for THEM to say, "Hey!!  I get it... maybe we should do it like this..."  Use words like, "What do you think?" and "Hmm, this is a little tricky."  "Maybe it means..."  The trick is to teach THEM to problem solve on their own, not to look at you for directions.

IF they learn to figure it out on their own, they will spend HOURS doing origami by themselves while you fold laundry or read The Thief.

IF you do it for them, then YOU will have to spend hours doing it with them.  
Just a thought.

June 14, 2010

summer ideas- go to the library.

how i love the library.
especially if we go armed with a purpose.
in the car on the way to the library we thought about the types of books we were looking for.
jakob is working on his boy scout reading merit badge.
the kids each have goals they want to do this summer.

the girls had the sweet librarian scouring the library for them, and the boys and i spent time navigating the card catalog.
(Lily was in her stroller with me, and Leah spent 20 minutes collecting a MOUNTAIN of books in the kids section-- no worries, before we left the big kids each learned how to re-shelf children's books.)

we found books to read for fun.
and, books on growing things, origami, sculpture (sculpy)... etc.
i put a big basket on my family room table to hold all the books.
we LOVE to read them all day.
(I think it's funny that you can see PTA on the label for this basket-- yup.  my pta basket is empty and full of SUMMER books.  perfect.)

i got The Theif, by Megan Turner Whalen.
(thanks for the recommendation!!)
loved it.
SOOO good.
i have to go today to get the next one in the series.
how i love the library.

June 11, 2010

June 10, 2010

lions and tigers and book ratings... oh my!

Turns out I'm all FIRED UP about BOOK RATINGS.
Shannon Hale, and LDS author, who i love, has been talking a lot about book morals, on her blog- Squeetus.

I've commented on almost every entry.
LONG comments.
PASSIONATE comments.
turns out, i REALLY disagree with her on this topic.
(even though i still love her books)

and, i REALLY feel like we should have RATINGS on books.
and, i'm READY to start a rally.

Let's all meet in Washington, DC... with banners... and cupcakes.
Beautiful cupcakes full of BUGS or dog food, and hand them to every cute child we see.
And see if they take a bite.
And then tell the mothers that they should have tasted EVERY cupcake BEFORE they let their child eat it.
That's what all these people say,
"If parents are concerned they should read every book before their kid does." 
That's crap.
Even super-home schoolin'-mother-of one's can't possible read every book before their child does...
unless her kid doesn't love to read...
or go to the library...
or, she reads all day and never does her dishes...
Should we have to TASTE everything our kid eats before he eats it to know whether or not it is full of poison.
NOPE.  That's why we have LABELS.
oh so important.
with information we can CHOOSE.

One of the authors that Shannon had comment said "most toddlers will select a reasonably balanced diet if you give them the choice."  and "[speaking as a grown-up who learned early on to avoid like the plague any book with the word 'poignant' on the jacket.  Nothing signified adult content like 'poignant.']"
most kids would eat CRAP if they could.
ESPECIALLY if the people who SOLD the crap could put a nice cover on it that said it was VEGGIES...
or FRUIT snacks (but that's a topic for another day).

and, there has got to be a better way to teach our children to avoid pornographic books than telling them to look for the word POIGNANT.
that illustrates EXACTLY what is wrong with the system.
we CAN'T CHOOSE for ourselves, because we DON'T KNOW what is in the book unless we READ IT.
labels are GREAT.
Book RATINGS would work.
No, they wouldn't be PERFECT.  But, they would work.
I let my kid play Lego Star Wars even if it there is a VIOLENCE caution on it.
in fact, i would TEACH my kids the smutty stuff in Shakespeare to get them to read it.
(yes, that's why i love shakespeare... but don't tell anyone.)
knowing what is in a book does not LIMIT us, it only give us more information to USE when we CHOOSE.

in my HUMBLE opinion.
This is the comment i wrote on her blog today.  OH!  I'm pretty passionate about this subject...

Readers have the right to be INFORMED. We have the right to know what is in the book, BEFORE we buy it or read it. In this country, you can't even feed your child a TWINKIE without knowing the ingredients. KNOWING what is in a book does not change the book at all. It allows us to have informed decisions when choosing. WE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO SPEND HOURS OF OUR TIME TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHETHER A BOOK IS SOMETHING WE WANT TO READ.
Why is it that we allow PUBLISHERS and MARKETING experts to appeal to us and our children without any regulations?

Ratings do not censor, ratings INFORM. I am an adult. EVERY TIME I go to the library I am frustrated. I don't want to waste my time reading a book that is full of bad language and sex scenes. And, I CAN'T TELL from the cover what is really in the book.

I was at the library today and talked to a librarian. They have a hard time BUYING books, because all they have to go by is the summary from the publisher and the book reviews. !!???

There are ratings on movies, video games and detailed labels on food... i don't see that parents or schools are censoring uncontrollably just because we know the rating. Twinkies are still on the shelf! And MANY kids are allowed to play M-Mature games.

People are smart. When given the necessary information, we can choose for ourselves. My children are smart... they can go to a school library and choose for themselves IF the information is available to them. Letting them know that a certain book contains bad language and partial nudity doesn't limit their ability to choose. It strengthens it. Information is POWERFUL.

We can tell the difference between nudity in a Dr. Suess book, implied sexuality in Shakespeare, and detailed sex in a Harlequin. Ratings are smart too... N for brief nudity, N+ for graphic nudity, S for mild sexual situations, S+ for explicit sexual situations. Ratings don't limit choice. Ratings just give us more input to choose with.

As consumers, we have a RIGHT to know what we are reading BEFORE we buy it, BEFORE we hand it to our children, BEFORE we get 30 pages in.
Book RATINGS are long overdue.

hah! i really had no idea how passionate i am about this issue until i started commenting on your blogs.

i love books.
i hate being deceived into reading something i would never knowingly choose.
i want the choice.
i want my children to have the choice what they read and what they do not read.
the problem is, without ratings, all they have is a cover designed by a publisher to SELL.
that is deceptive.
the end.
of my book.

summer ideas- make a rainbow.

i love oil pastels.
they're the best.
messier than regular crayola, but oh so vibrant.
i love oil pastels on paper and on canvas.
it's not hard for me to trash crayon pictures... but i f ind myself attached to every single oil pastel picture.
i love them.
especially when i have a 6 year old...

who still does her skies up.
and a 8 year old...

who just started sprinkling the sky all around.
child development--
love it.

June 09, 2010


summer ideas- trampoline suds

my friend bliss gave me this great idea... 
water + soap + trampoline = sudsy fun
on monday jakob had a friend over, ellie was still recouping from too much fun, and my little girls are down with ear infections...
and, my house is SMALL.
i remembered bliss and sent my big kids outside with a bottle of palmolive and a hose.
yes.  i realize my trampoline with no net and no pads and 4 kids jumping and soap and water
MAY appear a bit white trash unsafe to some.
so, try at your own risk.
jakob says, it's best when you squirt lots of soap and just use a little water...
so fun.

June 08, 2010

summer ideas- play the penny in a flower game.

penny in a flower
or penny in FLOUR...
so fun.
get a cup, put a penny in it, fill it with flour, pack it down (like a sand castle), flip it over onto a plate.
tap the cup a few times with a knife before you pull the cup off and TAH DAH!!

everyone takes turn slicing strips off the flour until the penny falls.

the person who makes the penny fall must retrieve it with their mouth.

so fun!!

want some more games you can play with your kids- for free??  read this post i wrote on family games!!

summer ideas- make homemade ice cream!

you might have an ice cream maker in your attic... and not even know it.

get it out, dust it off, buy some half n half, whipping cream, ice, rock salt (or Kosher salt if you can't find rock salt), and berries.
go ahead and buy extra-- so you'll have to make ice cream a couple times!...
and, so you'll have cream to pour over fresh peaches.

i think i have an unhealthy addiction to peaches and cream.  it started in my childhood.  i can still remember my aunt mill making peaches and cream for her and my mother- no kids allowed.
so, when summertime comes, i just have to put my kids to bed and indulge in my very own bowl full of peaches covered with a tiny bit of sugar, and cream or fat free half n half, depending on my self control.
no kids allowed.

back to ice cream.
pick a great recipe-- i tried Pioneer Woman's Blackberry Ice Cream... double this recipe, it didn't fill my ice cream maker...

making ice cream is not that hard...
if you tell your kids in the morning that you're going to have homemade ice cream for dessert, they spend the whole day in frosty anticipation.
it's worth the wait.

i ruined the recipe because i didn't double it, and at the end i just poured tons of whipping cream in so we'd have enough...
our ice cream kinda tasted like whipped cream.
but... i did find a REAL vanilla bean to try this vanilla recipe...
oh, the joys of creation.

ps- my friend maggie says on the ranch they used to make vanilla ice cream and eat it with pretzels.
kinda like french fries dipped in a frosty...

don't have an ice cream maker???  try making slushies in the freezer, again this recipe from the pioneer woman looks FABULOUS!!
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