Friday, January 30, 2015

Catch The Moment Week 4

Nurse Loves Farmer

This week was harsh. Upon our return from our family Whistler weekend, the girls came down with the crud that's being passed around to everyone. Finally on the day that they seemed to turn a corner I came down with a 24 hour stomach virus. THANKFULLY just 24 hours, because as you all know.. mama ain't got time to lay on the couch. To end the week in a grand finale, the husband has started to feel crummy too so let's just say that not only was there not much photography happening, you guys wouldn't really want to see what's going on at my house anyways. But here's the parts that were caught.

I love the journey of babyled weaning. My 10 month old will eat almost anything that you put in front of her, and sometimes only in a certain combination. Somehow vanilla greek yogurt was exactly what my butternut squash risotto was missing...

My husband turned 30! He tried to put on a brave face but I know that it's crawled under his skin a little bit ;) But hey, many people say that their 30's were the best decade of their life!

The following day was where I pulled out the big guns to help kick the cold that was percolating in our house. We had already gone through essential oil protocols, resorted to a few cough medicines, steam baths, you name it. I woke up early on Saturday morning and started making my family's traditional Polish chicken noodle soup - Rosół.  Rosół is ingrained in my heritage and the cure for all that ails you. Truth be told, everyone sipped it right up and we all started to get on the mend. 

 The following day was the birthday celebration with my in-laws, and we asked for a date day before the festivities. We hadn't seen a movie together since a few days before Penny was born and I have been really wanting to see American Sniper. This was the first movie I had seen about the war in Iraq, and with several military service members (include one who had served in Iraq) in my family I felt it was one I needed to see. Learning about Chris Kyle's story put a face on what our soldiers experience across the world. I have heard first hand stories and read news articles but perhaps this was more eye opening than any other way it had been presented to me before. The patriotism of this hero is inspiring and I wish I had been aware of his story before his passing.

Now, the tag for the name, 'Merica,' is because I seriously didn't realize just how big Coke cups are these days! I took the picture and posted it to instagram before heading into the movie. I guess I've been outside of the "real world" for such a long time that I didn't know that there are touch screen vending machines and cups the size of my head.

 I unearthed a final Kinder egg that was sent in our Christmas package from my parents in Germany.. it's like an ostrich Kinder egg!
I babywear all day every day, primarily in a soft structured carrier. I keep the Boba 4g in the car and the original Ergo at home. It's a work horse. It's comfortable but I wouldn't call it super snuggly. During these sick days, I decided to test out our Boba Wrap because the soft stretch sweatshirt material was comfy for both of us. It encouraged me to move slowly or to lay down and rest more often. Review will be up next week :)

Finally! The colds are over for the girls and my happy squishy baby has returned!

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#BabyCasing Photo Contest!

Who loves taking pictures of their babies? Silly question, we all do. 

In honor of National Newborn Photography Month,  Pish Posh Baby is holding a “Baby Casing Photo Contest.” Snap a pic of your gorgeous baby (or someone else's) in or on a suitcase (ala “baby-casing”). Use the hashtag #BabyCasing and you'll be entered to win our grand prize—your baby's pic on the back of 50 NYC buses! How fun is that?  Contest is open through January 31, 2015.  After that, stop back to vote for your favorite baby!  

Voting opens Feb 1!

Follow  Pish Posh Baby 

Next week I'll be sharing my review of the Boba Wrap, which you can find at Pish Posh Baby. 
Stay tuned!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Pish Posh Baby.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Vancouver Aquarium

After this weekend, I feel like I'm on a West Coast tour of Aquariums. In the last year, I've been to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Seattle Aquarium, Aquarium of the Pacific (post coming behind on this! We were there in October!) and now the Vancouver Aquarium. The only aquariums that I'm missing are Seaside Aquarium, Oregon Coast Aquarium, Monterey Bay, Morro Bay, Santa Monica and Cabrillo... Bucket list for 2016? ;)
So our weekend in Vancouver started off with a two night stay in Whistler. On Monday Adam had a meeting with a supplier in Vancouver so the girls and I spent that time at the Aquarium, which I haven't been to in about 15 years. I remember seeing the orca the last time I was there. In the emergence of the movie Blackfish (and my feelings towards cetacean capture in general), I was happy to learn that in the early 2000's Vancouver had created a bylaw preventing the Aquarium from displaying wild caught cetaceans and only obtain cetaceans from other facilities if they were born in captivity, captured before 1996 or were rescued and deemed un-releasable after this date (source). Since 2001 they haven't had an orca but currently have two belugas (one was the first conceived and born in a Canadian aquarium) and two rescued Pacific White Sided Dolphins. They do put on a show for both of these, but it's more of a walk through of their daily health check and training with a big emphasis on education of these animals. I whole heartedly agree that animals in general should have the freedom to be wild, but that's not the case every time and at the very least..I am thankful that institutions put forward the effort to education and conservationism. When I was younger, children would see the orcas and want to become trainers at Seaworld. Now this current generation will learn about these animals and hopefully want to be scientists who study them in the wild. 

My favorite part about aquariums is that the animals are always visible. Now that Penny is a toddler I take the time to stand in front of most of the tanks and talk to her about what's inside and have her describe as well. 

 My favorite animals to photograph are jelly fish!
Penny truly enjoyed the beluga show. She is too young to understand what the narrator was discussing, but it was so cool to see her finally realize that there is such a creature as a beluga (we sing the Baby Beluga song to her every night, since she was born). Penny kept shrieking "It's a BABY WOOOGA!" They did only one or two "tricks" but even as someone who has had an interest in whales all her life, I learned a lot! 
We also watched the dolphin show, which had a lot more acrobatics. Unfortunately..there's something about the dolphins jumping very high and the loud clap as they hit the water that just really upset Ruby. Poor baby just cried so hard whenever they did that! So we left the show early and I got a few very strange rude stares as we left. ? Sorry guys, yes I have to inconvenience you as I push through, my baby can't take it anymore. So strange.

Have you visited the Vancouver Aquarium?

See what zoos The Pierogie Mama has written about

Catch the moment: Week 3

Nurse Loves Farmer

Well, this week was all catch up because I didn't spend any time on the computer while on vacation (imagine that?!) and then the rest of the week was a battle between recovering from the explosion of post-vacation and the girls and I got the crud that's been passed around. But I did manage to take my "real" camera out more!

Squirt has come a long way with the kids. When Penny was born he kept his distance because rather than petting him, she preferred to yank his fur. With baby #2, I think he's learned that they're not all so bad and sometimes they make decent companions. Typically when I'm done cooking I lay the bowls, pots or pans on the floor and let him get a taste (and do a little dishwasher prep for me). This evening Ruby came over to check it out too, and he bravely stood his ground and allowed her to peer on while he cleaned up.

I took this picture because it was Ruby's first day of going into childcare at MOPs. Until now she's snuggled with me in the Boba and napped for most of the time. Nowadays she has little tolerance for the Boba if I'm just sitting down so she'd prefer to crawl. I decided that we were both ready for her to be in the care of MOPPETs while I got my mama break time. The girls were so darling that morning; Penny dressed herself (in a dress that I absolutely love and kind of wish they made it in my size) and I ended up putting Ruby into this little tunic dress that I remember Penny wearing a lot. As it turned out, poor Ruby had skipped her 20 minute power nap before MOPs and while she put in a good effort, this time was not meant to be so she returned to spend the rest of the morning with me. 

We finally took the getaway vacation that I have been whining longing for. Adam had a supplier meeting in Vancouver BC scheduled on a Monday, so we drove up the weekend leading up to it to Whistler and stayed at a great condo. It was located right by the Whistler walking trail and it was a less than 5 minute walk to the ski lifts and sledding. No skiing for us this time around, but it was so much fun to get to play in the snow multiple times in one weekend. Read more: Whistler weekend

I am not a football fan. I really can't even convince myself to jump on the Seahawks band wagon...yea, I've got Seattle pride and I understand it's a huge accomplishment. But to step up onto a soapbox for a moment, I *hate* it when teams are called "brave" or "heroes." Really? I'm going to quickly step off the box before I get into too much trouble and instead tell you about how we spent a part of our vacation having a quiet afternoon, warming up from a morning of sledding (and rain) to snuggle and watch the Seahawks win the NFC championship. Maybe it wouldn't have been my choice of what to watch on TV, but I'm blessed that we got to do it together. 

The afternoon that Adam had his meeting in Vancouver, he dropped us off at the Vancouver Aquarium so that the girls and I had something to do. I just love aquariums! I had not been to the Vancouver Aquarium in probably 15 years and much has changed. My favorite animal to photograph is always jellyfish and seeing Penny discover that a beluga whale is in fact a real creature (not just one we sing about) was pure magic. Read more: Vancouver Aquarium

These little hens of mine. I try not to get too gushy and put them up on an honorable pedestal, but really...these girls rock. When you think about what an intense and intricate process it is to create and lay an egg (almost daily), you can't help but be thankful for this seemingly simple gift that they give my family daily. Chickens are easy to keep and will surprise you with all the benefits they provide. I'd like to remember to take a page from their book; because a chicken lays an egg regardless of whether her day was crappy or awesome. Whether she got the extra attention or if she snagged a juicy worm. Without fail she'll still do her job and be sure that the whole world knows about it with her egg-song of triumph after.

This girl's imagination is at full speed. She loves to pretend and this time I caught this little conversation: "Come on little ducklings! Stay with your mama and you will be just fine. The daddies are at work but they will be home soon. Let's go swimming. The water is not too deep, it is just fine. Stay close to your sisters and your brothers."  more: A Penny for your thoughts

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Whistler family vacation

I've got a dormant monster inside of me. It's called wanderlust. I love to travel. Near or far, whatever it is I love seeing new places, eating new food and just seeing what else is out there. It's amazing to me how little we know of the great places so close to us. Wanderlust doesn't mean traveling across the globe. It's just being somewhere new.

Well, this past year has been a quiet year for us. It's been spent majorly focusing on this whole transition of one to two kids and the craziness that it ensues. We've also been cutting back on expenses in order to maintain staying a single income family and honestly that's way more important than vacations. Truly. However, sometimes we just need a change in pace.

The last few months I've been somewhat obviously hinting that I'd like to take a weekend getaway with just our family. "Oh look, did you see that That Mama Gretchen escaped to the coast?" Oh man, my husband got sooo tired of all my weekly updates of everyone's travel plans during the holidays. Well, it got the point across and last week he got invited to meet with a supplier for work in Vancouver, BC and he nonchalantly asked via email "hey, would you and the girls like to come up with me to Canada? ...We could make it a weekend in Whistler."

It wasn't even a minute later that I was on Air BnB looking up condos. I even found the perfect one that fit into our budget and right in the village. Alas, that didn't work out because of some kind of techno glitch and I was ready to throw in the towel because who has an available condo on the cheap on MLK Jr weekend. Then on my last ditch effort search I FOUND ONE. It was perfect! So I snapped it up and we prepared for our trip to the north. Squee!!!

We only live about 4 hours from Whistler and with all of our stops along the way (yay for Penny in taking her first long road trip in undies!!) we got there in about 6 hours. The border crossing was a breeze for us old pro's, took a stop for lunch and groceries and thoroughly enjoyed the drive out of Vancouver up to Whistler. My camera was packed away (!!) and my cell phone was dead (!!!!) so I couldn't document the absolutely gorgeous drive out there. We talked about going up again during the summer and hiking along the way.

We checked into our cozy little condo, which was at the Marquise and just across the street from the Whistler Walking Trail. A few minutes down this trail brought us to the back of the Whistler Fairmont, which is at the base of Wizard and Magic lifts. There was a bit of sledding behind the Fairmont but in the early evening when the lifts stopping running, many people came out to sled that part of the run.

The condo

We spent the next two days alternating between snow play and warming up in the condo. Unfortunately it poured rain all day on Sunday and that was the time that we decided to take the trail from the condo to Whistler Village. Normally it would be a 15 minute walk for an adult, but when you're pulling a sled with a toddler (who wants to get out half the time) and/or wearing a baby (both of you are bundled up in your snow gear), it takes like 45 minutes. Add that it was raining and creating huge puddles, and your toddler just LOVES puddles, which means their non-waterproof snowboots get soaked before you get to the village. Oh, and for some reason a ton of the restaurants and shops were closed! On a weekend during the winter season. So weird. But, we made it to Blenz for some coffee and cocoa, warmed up and started the trek home. Along the way, our brave all weather warrior passed out. Yes, those are pink gloves on her feet. We couldn't bear to put the wet boots and socks back on..
daily photo challenge for 2015
But no complaints here - it was exactly what this family needed. We are so project driven, between house renovations or whatever other project the hubs has going on, we very very rarely aren't "working" on a weekend. So it literally took us hopping the border to get a break.

On Monday, when Adam had his meeting with his supplier, he dropped us girls off at the Vancouver Aquarium so that we'd have something to do while he was busy. Read more about our Vancouver Aquarium adventure tomorrow!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Same outfit, two babies.

This is one of my favorite parts of having two girls almost exactly two years apart. Their birthdays are a week apart and sometimes I'm able to get Ruby into the same clothes that Penny was wearing at that same age. It's a little tough; Penny is such a petite gal and Ruby is a little above average. For example, Penny wore this adorable bear outfit from 10 - 13 months. Ruby is 10 1/2 months old and probably won't wear this same outfit again.

Penny, December 2012
Ruby, January 2015

Friday, January 16, 2015

Catch the moment 365: Week 2

Nurse Loves Farmer
This working out the kinks. Ideally I would love to take these pictures with my dslr, but the phone is just handy to capture the small daily moments that catch my attention. 
So perhaps this year, instead of capturing my day with an artistic eye, 
it'll just be a straight forward / this is my life / unedited glimpse. Follow along with my year.

My favorite Christmas present was my 10" cast iron skillet. I've ditched my non-sticks and have taken the cast iron dive. Totally loving it. I will never bake corn bread any other way, ever again.

This little miss turned 10 months old today! I can't believe how time as flown by.

The one time this week where I was able to grab my camera to take a picture. Even though we have conversations about missing naps = grumpiness, and she agrees that both mama and Penny are no fun when we're grumpy. But some days naps don't happen and after enough sassiness, she was requested to stay on the couch until her attitude improves. "Go away, Mama!" "I'm so tired of you!" "I am so disobedient." "Oh, COME ON mom!" This is a 2 year old. She claps her hands very aggressively when she is upset.  Motherhood is not always fun, easy, and sometimes it is a truly thankless job. Sometimes you get that glare and you feel like the worst person ever.

 The following day was Sunday and I managed to convince Adam to take a break from a shop project to go for a quick family walk. It had been raining and we finally got a sunny break. Penny loves to jump in puddles! It's so funny to see her do it because it wasn't too long ago where she didn't know how to jump yet.
 I'm all about food hacks. We don't go out to eat often and if I can figure out the ingredients, I will try to make my own version at home. Mama Chia pouches are one of my splurges if I'm at the grocery store and hungry. A couple weeks ago I snagged a few bags of organic Chia at Grocery Outlet and started jelling it in the jar. Except I left it on the counter for a couple days and forgot.. so when I opened it up, let's just say that this batch of jelled chia went to the chickens. Trying again this week!
 Today we visited a friend in Bellevue, which was also a 10 minute drive from Adam's work. So after a morning of playtime, we visited him for lunch. Then I realized that it was nap time and it would be less than 30 minutes before we get home. But that's enough time for the kids to fall asleep on the ride home, and they haven't been transferring well. So I took the long way home and enjoyed the sunshine as I drove through our valley.
We watched Cinderella for the first time last week and one of the scenes that stuck out in Penny's mind was when Cinderelly was feeding the barnyard animals by throwing cracked corn. So I picked up a bag at the local farm store and this is Penny's chore after her nap each day.

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Cloth is Cool! Planet Wise & FuzziBunz giveaway

This post was originally part of the Cloth is Cool giveaway hop.

In just a few days I'll be teaching my first Cloth Diapering 101 class at my local consignment store, Grow With Me Boutique. Over two dozen mamas have signed up and I am so excited to share about the benefits of cloth diapering as well as connect with local mamas. In addition to the information that I'll be providing and my reviews of my favorite cloth diapers that I've gotten to try over the (almost) 3 years, I'll be sharing samples and giving away a few fabulous prizes. Stay tuned for a recap of that event, I am so excited!

In the meantime, as always I love to spread the fluffy love on The Pierogie Mama. For this giveaway I've partnered with Anne from Zephyr Hill, who is another amazing cloth diaper education resource. She's graciously sponsored the prizes for this giveaway - so be sure to check out her blog and read up on her reviews too!

The prize pack that you can enter to win today is a Fuzzibunz (size small), which fits 7 to 30 pounds in "Caribbean" - value $19.95 as well as a Planet Wise Wet/Dry bag - color "Silver Scroll" - (12x5x15.5) - value $20.99.
This giveaway has ended.

Disclosure: The Pierogie Mama is not responsible for prize shipment.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Catch the moment 365: Week 1

Nurse Loves Farmer

Welcome to my first try at a picture challenge! I will be taking a photo a day (well, ideally..) and posting it daily on my instagram account (#pierogie365) and weekly on the blog.

This week I just didn't have it together. I'm working out the kinks. Instead of just finding a random moment of my day and take a picture of it, I'll be starting to look for inspirations and themes. 

Another viewing of Frozen.

The girls have been taking baths together for a couple months now 
and it's so adorable seeing them play together. 

Couldn't help but snap this picture. Matching tutu dresses and fox leggings from DoodlePants (get 15% off with code PIEROGIE15)

Stay tuned for next week and I promise that the photos will be less blurry and more consistent!

Catch up on previous weeks: 
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Ruby: 10 months

It's been a loooooooooooong time since I've A) sat down to write a blog post dedicated to Ruby and B) wrote in her baby book. Upon a quick blog search, it looks like the last time I checked in on her was at 6 months.

Well, a lot has happened since then.

Namely, crawling. Standing. Pulling up. Eating solids (which started at the 6 month mark, much to my trepidation).

This past week I was reminded that I need to update something somewhere about her, to put it down someplace besides my memory because that just doesn't work. The term "preggy brain" suggests that after your pregnancy is complete that you get your normally functioning brain back, but no - it gets worse, especially after 2 kids. So call my mind a jigsaw puzzle and don't laugh that I need to take a picture of the grocery list that I write on my fridge because I know I'd lose the list somewhere along the way to the store, but the chances of me losing my phone is slim to none. Knock on wood.

Back to Ruby. See what I mean about this brain?

This boisterous little being, who I thought was going to be a fairly chill girl who goes along for the ride, is now making her presence and desires quite known. Until lately I had to spend a lot of my time making sure that she is "protected" from her sister's over exuberant love and found out one day that sometimes, when Penny decides it's appropriate to sit on her sister like a horse, rather that finding Ruby distraught with her face pushed into the carpet, she is actually kind of bouncing for Penny and laughing along with her. Huh.

And then there's the times, like tonight, where they are in the bath together and Penny snatches the washrag from Ruby that she had been happily flailing around, Ruby screams bloody murder to alert me. And then she gives warning shrieks to Penny if her hands get too close again.

This mama heart of mine is so full of love for this girl.

She claps, does this cute tongue wiggle thing (which Penny exclaims, each and every time, "such a tiny little tongue!") and has started to wave. At her 9 month well child she was 19 lbs 3 oz (66%'ile) and 28.25" tall (71 %'ile). In comparison, her sister was 18 lbs and considerably shorter at this age. She crawls with her belly off the ground and I anticipate that the walker will become more than a stationary toy for her shortly. She normally wakes up around 6am, is ready for a 20 minute snooze around 8:30 or 9 and goes down for a long nap at noon (the same time as Penny). The evenings get a little dicey because she wants to nap around 4, but instead I try to have dinner around 5 and baths at 6 with her bedtime as close to 7.

A few big changes have happened this week and it makes me realize that while I am reveling in this rolly polly, squishy, round baby, she is all too quickly growing up. Firstly she's moving up to Penny's previous convertible car seat, a Britax Pavilion. She (and her 34 month sister) are still rear-facing.

The second and definitely bigger change is that she is now taking naps and starting the evening in the pack n play. We are a bed sharing family; Penny slept with us until she was 18 months old and I never saw use in buying an actual crib. When Penny was around the same age I started transitioning her to daytime naps in the pack n play because I typically don't nap with the kids and there comes a time where they silently wake up and start crawling away from their spot in the middle of the bed and run the risk of falling. As a long term bed sharing family we've taken all of the necessary precautions by putting the mattress on the floor and exercise as much caution as possible, but at this age it makes the most sense to me to put her in a pack n play when I don't sleep with her.

This was almost a heart wrenching decision for me. For some reason I had a lot of guilt in this on the first day that I made the switch. I wasn't sure why, because I transitioned Penny to napping in the pack n play at this age too. However, as another example of how Ruby is different from her sister, Ruby loves sleeping in it. I nurse her down for her nap, stand up and rock her for a minute and lay her down. She usually rolls over onto her side or tummy, gives a little sigh and is off to lala land. Her sister required patting, shushing, singing and sneaking out. I have to admit, I feel so much better knowing that she doesn't feel abandoned!

She's already got a "dada" and "mama" down, we're working on finding something that she can call Penny.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Off Roading and Sledding up Foss River Road

We live right in the corridor of a lot of great snow just north of Seattle. Within an hour we have access to a ski resort and if we go a little further east we can visit Leavenworth, a quaint little Bavarian replica town (where we took our babymoon last year!). Even though we're so close to the mountains, our town is only about 70 feet above sea level and don't get very much snow (if any at all). So a little bit of a road trip is in order when we want to go sledding!

Our family tradition has been to go sledding at the start of the new year and the last two years we've kind of struck out with our sledding locations. The first year we checked out Stevens Pass, but there isn't a designated sledding area and the parking lot isn't that much fun. Leavenworth reportedly has one for older kids, but I think there is a height requirement. Last month we drove up Foss River Road outside of Skykomish to chop down our Christmas tree and we knew it would be a great sledding location within a few weeks!

A word of advice - this was mild off-roading conditions. Vehicles with street tires are not recommended to go up this road when it's snowy!  During snowy conditions as a bare minimum we recommend an AWD/4 wheel drive vehicle, with all terrain or mud terrain tires. Bring a set of chains (and any other recovery gear you might have) in case you get stuck, because we did! Thankfully this was considered "fun" for the husbands, so the mamas and kids started sledding while the dads put their off road recovery skills to use. Always travel with a secondary vehicle in case yours get stuck. There's no cell service up there.

My husband's new hobby is quickly becoming off roading in our 3/4 ton Duramax Suburban. This past summer we took our first family-of-four camping trip and teamed up with friends to drive the WADBR (which is an off roading trail that runs from southern Washington to northern Washington) and this month he was excited to get to take our rig out into to snow. Our Suburban has mud terrains and our friends joined us with their 2006 Ram 2500, with a Cummins Turbo Diesel and All Terrain tires

Not too long after switching to the gravel road it became very icy and both vehicles started to slip and slide. We threw down some gravel to gain traction and headed up a little more. The trail quickly becomes switch backs and soon you will see a short cut that connects two switch backs and is the perfect sledding hill. That's where we stopped. A few weeks ago when we had come up this same road it was still mud and rocks we had driven up that short cut. This weekend it was packed snow and was a perfect sled run. So we decided to chain up the trucks to make life a little easier for us and played in the snow for a couple hours. 
PS, did you notice that Penny is wearing a tutu? This girl cracks me up!  She lives in tutus! I got her dressed in her snowsuit, got started on Ruby and found that Penny had somehow procured a tutu - in the car. This girl will always make me laugh!

The snow condition was perfect for making snowmen, angels and sledding. The two toddlers, both aged 2 years 9 months, had a blast and absolutely loved the sled hill. Even Ruby loved snowflakes on her nose and eyelashes (one of her favorite things!) and enjoyed a ride in the infant sled. At first we thought the sled hill might be too long and fast for the toddlers, but even when they took a tumble half way down they got back on the disc and finished up!

Directions: Head east on highway 2 towards Skykomish (about 45 minutes). Stop at the Skykomish Ranger Station (74920 Stevens Pass Highway, Skykomish, WA 98288) to get a map. Continue headed east and turn right on Foss River Road. Follow the signs to Tonga ridge, FS 6830. Keep headed up until you find a decent sledding hill!


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