Stunt Hunt with Fruit Shoot

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Fruit Shoot. All opinions are 100% my own.

It’s not been the normal summer here in Pittsburgh – lots of cool weather and rainy weekends. That means my kids have been inside, responsible for being imaginative and play less with balls and bikes and more with games and stuffed animals.

This weekend, we took a break and let the kids have some outdoor play inside, removing the breakables and giving them a ball. Okay, we had a campaign to work on – the Fruit Shoot Have a Ball Stunt Hunt — but the kids were quite happy. With a six-pack of Fruit Shoot (a kids’ drink that has a new no-spill cap, perfect for children of all ages, and contains no fructose corn syrup) and a ball, I asked them to come up with something to play.

Quickly, my ‘lil leader, Ari, came up with Kick Bowling – she set up 4 Fruit Shoot bottles as though they were bowling pins and then kicked the ball toward them. It clicked, and the kids spent a good amount of time playing the game. We filmed the fun to enter in the Stunt Hunt (a video competition where you capture and share the exciting imagination of your child by filming a short video of your child’s tricks and stunts with a Fruit Shoot bottle and a ball of your choice), check it out:

Note – our official entry is still uploading. It’s taking longer than I expected, but I’ll update this when it’s done! 

There’s still a day to enter your own video – the entries are due tomorrow, and the judging ends Tuesday. All you need is your kids, a ball, some Fruit Shoot, and imaginations. There are instructions in this video to help get your juices going (and tasting the Fruit Shoot will help, too!).

Entered already? Comment here so we can check out your entry! Winning entries will be featured on the Fruit Shoot Stunt Hunt Have a Ball Winner’s page.

The First Days of Kindergarten

For Arianna, the “First Day of Kindergarten” spans this week as “The First Days of Kindergarten”.

Highlands has their kindergarteners start the first day with a “Get Acquainted Day” where half of the class attends an hour in the morning, the other in the afternoon. Arianna was excited to meet her teacher, see her classroom, and have her Daddy escort her to school. She picked out a full price outfit from The Children’s Place (I only ever shop with coupons, this is a big deal people) and took her annual first day photo.

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Admission time – Greg and I didn’t even know where her school was. Of course, we knew the name, just not the physical location. So, out came the GPS and off they went. (The school is 5 miles from our house in the opposite direction of my work – hopefully she’ll be cool with riding the bus.)

My first loves spent some time in the classroom, getting to know the teacher and the rules, filling out paperwork, and doing all the first day things moms are usually doing. Greg and Arianna don’t really look alike, and it’s rare for a dad to do these things, so I almost wish I’d been a fly on the wall to watch the interactions.

Sooner than I expected, she bounded back through the door and started telling me how happy she was to be in kindergarten, but that “it’s awkward not being six” – little does she know that most of her friends are five and will be for most of the year.

There was homework the first day, but my ‘lil artist breezed through it. She needed to draw a picture of how she felt about going to school – happy – and how her family felt – Dad and Mom overjoyed, ‘lil brother bawling. Evan is really struggling with this having to be a big boy thing – say a ‘lil prayer for Bubby that he’ll adjust easier than he has been this week.

Before bed (we’re now on a much earlier bedtime schedule), she set out clothes (no new ones because Mom just bought fall clothes and summer decided to return, oops) and kissed us goodnight. If I know my ‘lil nerd like I think I do, she dreamt of books and numbers, making friends, and arts and crafts.

Thursday morning, the whole family got up to celebrate her first “real” day – a half day – but the first time riding the bus and seeing all her new friends. Evan supported her by wearing her RAMS shirt and pausing for a photo by the door.

The #lilburghers on Arianna's first bus day

We walked to the bus stop – I was amazed at how many kids there are in our neighborhood and at the number of dads who brought their kids to the stop (go dads!!!). I wasn’t surprised that Arianna quickly went away from us and to a neighbor girl who is also starting kindergarten – taking her hand and being all up in her business about how excited she was to be going to school. The ‘lil girl is shy, I just pray Arianna doesn’t get the reputation for being too much and too friendly!

As her bus pulled up, there were no tears from her, dad, mom, or even ‘lil brother. I’ve known since this ‘lil girl was in my belly that she was a fighter, an independent girl on fire who is going to move mountains. I’m proud of her, and know that school is just the beginning of how she’s going to rock this world pink.

Experience Columbus: Zoombezi Bay

Disclaimer: In June, Experience Columbus sent my family and four other Pittsburgh Mom Blogger families on a weekend getaway to check out their city. We were compensated in the way of attraction passes and gift cards; however, this does not impact the views expressed in my recap posts (including this one). All opinions are my own (or my kids’ / husband’s). This post is from our personal follow – up trip to redeem our passes for the water park.

Back in June, we spent so much time enjoying the Columbus Zoo that we didn’t have enough time to take in the attached waterpark, Zoombezi Bay. Our family decided to make our own trip back to Columbus to check it out today.

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After we paid $8 for parking and another $8 for a locker (we got the regular size and were SHOVING our four towels, flip flops, and tees/shorts in), the rest of our day was spent enjoying the sun and water.

3 things I would have changed about today?
1. We would have brought the kids’ puddle jumpers. Not thinking, we left home without them. Zoombezi has life vests for infants to adults, but the selection was scarce. We actually took the last two toddler ones I saw hanging and it was barely noon.
2. We would have got there earlier. The Zoo opens at 9. We should have walked around in the cooler part of the day and saw the monkeys like Evan wanted. We didn’t, and he was sad. This is because Zoombezi opens at 10:30 and I let us be lazy with breakfast and getting there. Once we arrived at 11:30, it was almost 90 and I got heat exhausted quickly.  Arianna and I both had to break the news to our boys, we had to go head for the highway around 2:30.
3. I would have brought my underwater camera for some pictures…and could have hung the locker wristband on that. Sweet moments with the kids left uncaptured…and we lost our locker wristband twice. Luckily, we found them…but I don’t (want to) know what happens if you don’t find them. If you do not have it on when going to locker attendant, they do ask you to identify some things in your locker…keep something unique up front!

3 things I wouldn’t have changed about today?
1. Spending time with Evan in Baboon Lagoon.  This area, designed for 2-10 year olds, is full of fun splash zones, smaller slides, and a 2 foot deep pool area. Evan loved playing in the water that was just his size and speed. 
2. Circling the Roaring Rapids (lazy river) with the whole family. Shy of the fact that it has few soak zones, it was the best lazy river I’ve been on.  Evan loved the wave area!
3. Letting Greg take Arianna on water slides.  There were less “big kid” slides than I expected, and few accommodated her height, but those two had some good fun. I never would have rode the mat slide, but my ‘lil girl took that thing on all by herself (with daddy in the lane next to her). Evan says when he is five we all will ride it. Huh.

All in all, it was great to take another “tank trip” to Columbus. Our family loves the city and throughly enjoyed everything we did and everyone we met along the way. Thanks once again to experiencecolumbus.com for the memories!

Pausing Time

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Evan isn’t ready to grow up to be a bug boy just quite yet. He thinks if he hides his eyes, he will stop getting taller, that he will be pausing time. 

Bubby, we feel it too.

Pittsburgh Children’s Museum

Disclaimer: I was asked to review the item or service below in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

 

If you ask the kiddos behind this blog, they are owed a trip to The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. And rightfully so. It’s been awhile since our last visit, and let’s be honest, this summer hasn’t been all that outdoor play friendly. Well, they’ll be happy to know that this mama who loves deals has found out that the Children’s Museum has a great list of events that are at a discounted rate this month. The information below was shared with me by US Family Guide – a great resource for parents trying to raise happy kids! 

There’s lots of creative, fun and educational exhibits to explore throughout the Children’s Museum … in fact, Play Is On Sale! this Summer at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh! Enjoy Museum admission discounts* and giveaways every day of the week through August 29, 2014. 

Fantasy Weekends (Saturdays & Sundays)
All Museum visitors dressed in a costume relating to the weekend’s theme receive $3 off admission:
Dress like an Alien, Monster or Space Hero- August 16-17
Dress like an Animal – August 23-24

Member Mondays
Museum members park free (as space permits) and have a chance to win prizes.

T-Shirt Tuesdays
Free Museum t-shirt to the first 200 children visiting the Museum

Weather Wednesdays
Child admission for children 2 and up is based on that day’s forecasted high temperature for Pittsburgh, PA, by the National Weather Service, as forecasted at 5:00 pm the previous day. e.g. 73 degrees = $7 child admission, 87 degrees = $8 child admission, etc.

If purchasing tickets online, use code WEATHER when checking out to receive the discount!

Throwback Thursdays
Child admission = $7 – the child admission price in 2004 when we opened the expanded Museum.

If purchasing tickets online, use code THROWBACK when checking out to receive the discount

Hot Dog Friday
A free hot dog to the first 500 children visiting the Museum

*Play Is On Sale admission discounts (Weather Wednesdays, Throwback Thursdays and Fantasy Weekends) cannot be combined with other admission discounts.

Hours
10:00 am – 5:00 pm Every Day
Our Studio and MAKESHOP close at 4:30 pm daily.

Latest Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh Deals can be found at Pittsburgh Kids Guide
Get more details about the Children’s Musuem here!

My Pink Bubble

It’s a Saturday morning. The kids are spending an overdue weekend with their Pappy and Unca Jack. Greg is sleeping. The sun rose at 6:26 and I’ve been wide awake with the dogs ever since. I just told a friend that I was not sleeping on my couch but busy making my dreams come true.

And these are the kind of dreams that require me to be up in the stillness. They require me to be listening for God’s voice within the quiet. They require me to work on relationships with my family and friends. And yes, they require me to set goals and not stop until I meet them.

You see, three weekends ago, I was waking up in Columbus. It was time to leave the city that had me in my pink bubble for three full days of learning, growing, and celebrating. I was there for the Thirty-One National Conference. Yup, I am a bag lady and sell bags have a passion for helping other women have fun, became strong, and lead purposeful lives. This became very clear to me between speakers, tears, hugs, and 52 pages of notes. 

As I showered that morning, I literally watched pink wash off of me and down the drain. I cried. No way was I going to let leaving Columbus and heading back to my “9 to 5″ (ha ha ha) burst my pink bubble and take away from me the things I got in return from this wonderful company that I am a consultant for. Things like…

  • Meeting new friends from across the Eastern US. I especially appreciate the ladies I spent a lot of time with. We laughed, we cried, we supported each other, we made a ‘lil family. I am eternally grateful for what you all brought to the table (quite literally) and did to build each other up. Next year, I’ll bring more tissues.

 

  • Singing praise and worship songs with the founder’s husband and his band. 15,000 women singing together is a beautiful thing. I got to actually worship in a way I only really do when I go back to the beach – standing, raising my hand to His glory, and singing songs like Mighty To Save (the youtube link is not of Scott and the band, but it is still an excellent song). Crying. Realizing that God has been in this all along – something I knew, but now I know.

 

  • Learning how much my Resting Place family means to me. This community that we have is full of Women on Fire, living each day with love in our hearts (thank you to Debbie Phillips for your stories on Super Day, I have your book in hand).

 

  • Being encouraged to dream bigger because I AM VERY WORTH IT by Lisa Harper, a HILARIOUS woman of faith who not only rocked leather pants but is an incredible mama to her daughter from Haiti. It made me realize even more how much of a precious gift Arianna is to me and strengthened our relationship in the time since I came home. (More on that another day.)

 

  • Hearing how fellow consultants became successful by dropping that baggage when their pink box arrived on their doorstep. Hearing about mountaintop moments from Beth Wyatt brought me to tears and helped me want to drop the crap of my past and move onward and upward.

 

  • Being told that I needed to really start living fearless and own my story (hello, blog readers, this is good things for you) while evolving to reach my highest potential. When I sat down for Robin Fisher Roffer’s session, I was worried it was going to be all about marketing but hoo buddy was I wrong. (She’s the CEO of Big Fish Marketing but delivered us a power-packed speech on how to drop the dancing bear behavior. PROUDLY, I had a session with my boss yesterday to ask him to CALL ME OUT when I am being the dancing bear. Step one of taking of my mask, complete.)

 

  • Falling even more in love with my family thanks to Leigh Anne Tuohy. Sure, her family’s story became a movie (there are rare moments when I do in fact cheer for the Ravens, and now the Titans). Sure, she did one small thing that turned a kid’s life around. Sure, she told us we have the power to rock the world just by giving (because it will change you forever). Sure, she took a moment to favorite my tweet with my favorite quote of her whole session. But, it was that quote that made me realize how amazing my family is, even when there are people prompt me to write (and recently re-share) posts like this one because they are evil and ignorant.

 

  • My hand cramped while writing down all of Bridget Brennan’s tips about Why She Buys (yeah, her book of the same title is also in hand) but in the end the big takeaway of 8 pages of notes was because of the relationship, which has since made me really look to the relationships I have in my life and what ones I needed to water (and not just so I can sell them a bag, a shake, or a blog review).

 

  • And the best moment? Texting furiously with my husband about how much I love him. Not only did he spend four nights alone with the kids, handled two house showings, and had to hear about all the nitty gritty details of this conference, but he supported and encouraged me throughout the weekend. He put the icing on the cake when I texted him about how Cindy & Scott were basically giving me free marriage counseling in the final session. yup, happy marriages need counseling sometimes, too. You see, I am driven and on the path like Cindy and sometimes I need Greg (like Cindy needs Scott) to make me play in the grass (and my job, per Greg, is to keep him out of the weeds). So. Much. Love.

 

Oh, you came here hoping my recap would spill secrets about how Thirty-One became 17th largest Direct Sales company in the world that also happens to be the leader in fastest growing companies lead by a woman (can I get a WHOOP-WHOOP for the FABULOUS Cindy Monroe?)? Oh, you came here to hear me spill secrets about the new fall line that launches on September 1? Oh, you came here to find photos of all the free gifts that I got as part of the company’s mission to Celebrate, Encourage, and Reward women? Well, you are not going to find that here. You can, however, join my Facebook group if you are addicted to these products (like I am) and want to strengthen a relationship with me over there.  We can talk shop all day any day there. Here, all you’ll find is a bunch of smiles, hugs, and moments that made the three days spent in my pink bubble more than worth it.

Brandee & Me (I am so happy to have this woman in my life!!!)

 

Just a few of my new sisters.

 

 

Hot Designs Nail Art Pens

Disclaimer: I was asked to review the item or service below in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

In June, Arianna joined me for a girls’ day out which included pedicures. The girl is obsessed, but our piggy bank simply cannot support the obsession. When I found out about Get Hot Looks’ Hot Designs Nail Art Pens, I was certain this was going to cure the issue…and (hallelujah), I was right.

Hot Designs Nail Art Pens

The kit we received had 3 pens, each with 2 colors, a design tip, and a paint brush (for full color application). The colors were basic – black, white, blue, red, green, and pink – however, the possibilities were endless when it came to what we could do with them. Because I am a visual artist, I followed the picture instructions that came with the pens and gave myself two designs. I worked quickly because Arianna was about to wake up and I knew I’d be discovered and her demand a design herself. Practice (and patience) with these pens makes perfect. 

My first two are not something to hang in a museum (or to enter in the Got Hot Looks’ Summer Giveaway contest to win a $250 Target Giftcard), but they worked for me!

Before starting to design on Arianna’s nails, I decided to test taking off the polish. It was thicker than the polish I am used to (the base is just one coat!), so I wanted to see how hard it was going to be to take off if I messed up. The polish got a little gummy, but was otherwise just like taking off any other polish.

Next up, it was Mommy & Me time with Arianna. Her pedicure is well worn, but she loves it (and will ’til the very end), so we focused on her fingers. She wanted a ladybug, a disco ball, some dots, and her initials. I believe that I delivered! Her hands are still very tiny, so instead, head over to my Instagram and check out this video that I took while using the pens. :)

We were impressed, and cannot wait to try out some more designs. The Hot Designs Nail Art Pens are definitely going to become part of our beauty regimen, and we’d love to hear that you’ve given them a try, too! You can find out more about these pens at GetHotLooks.com  / Facebook / Twitter  / pick up your own (suggested retail value is $14.95). OR, you can take a chance to get a set for yourself for FREE right here on the blog. What do you say? Ready to Create hot, fun and unique designs on your nails right at home? Let’s go.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

A little side note about shipping…The pens arrived on my doorstep on a hot day – the delivery driver had no idea that there was a fragile substance inside, so they got a little warm on the porch. I was VERY glad this didn’t hinder our fun or make the paint in the pens act any differently than expected. 

Creative Bioscience Part 2

Disclaimer: I was asked to review the item or service below in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

A few weeks back, I shared with you some details on some weight loss supplements and promised a follow-up. To be honest, life happened, and I forgot to circle back and share. Kids – it happens as you get  older. Anyways.

There were two products I wanted to have some more time with, if you recall:

I was also sent a bottle of the rcc 1234 which is a 4-day rapid colon cleanse. We’ll be going to Aruba very soon, and I haven’t been feeling quite myself, so this might be an option I include after the holiday weekend to feel back to my normal self. It’s to be used to supplement any part of your diet, so I am expecting it to go smoothly with my current plan.

And finally, I was sent the eac 1234, an energy and appetite control supplement. I am most excited about this one because it’s one I feel strongly that it’s okay to take.

The rcc 1234: I used to not think that cleanses were all that okay, but my mind has changed. You see, there are times and places when it makes sense…just don’t you go and think a cleanse that’s just a pill or just drinks is going to cut it for you. Sometimes, we really do need cleaned out. If you feel like you just need to get back on track, the rcc 1234 could be an option to consider. Be prepared to spend 4 days feeling a little “off” – c’mon, it’s ridding itself of years of toxins and gunk, you should feel a little different. Be sure to check with your doctor before considering this (or any other cleanse).

–> Results? Weight loss was minimal for me (~1 pound). I’ve been on a 3-year journey to get to the point I am, so my body has pretty much been ridding of toxins for a while. My results do not mean there wouldn’t be changes you’d notice if you tried.

The eac 1234: Upon reading a little bit more about this product, I found it has a laxative included. Sorry to divulge here, but I don’t need to add that to my already looser than normal system (see 3 years of eating healthy). Initially, I was pumped to test out the energy and appetite suppression, but the laxative factor made me nervous. A few days in, I did notice more energy without the jitters, but stick by the fact that I much prefer natural energy boosters (like exercise) to give me what I need.

–> Results? No noted weight loss, I think my stomach is much adjusted to my caloric intake (been plateauing for months), but this didn’t cause a drop.

Conclusion

I get it that there are people who need help with weight loss via supplements – this product could very well work for someone who needs it. While I enjoyed getting to test, my original thoughts were confirmed — MY body relies on veggies, lean meats, and exercise to make big changes. That’s MY reality, so if this is a product you think you’d like to try, visit creativebioscience.com and talk to your doctor to make the best decision for you.

Source: creativebioscience.com

Healthy Fried Green Tomatoes

Remember the other night when I really wanted to share with you the post about our dinner? Thanks for holding out on me, because I think you will find it worth it. I present…

Healthy Fried Green Tomatoes

These were a hit in my family, and hopefully you’ll take a half an hour out of your summer and give them a try, too. For the record, I stress again that they were a hit because Greg did not like tomatoes at all when I met him. So much so, I couldn’t hold them down when I was pregnant with Evan. And I love tomatoes, y’all. (Have you met my other kid who plants cherry tomatoes just so she can eat them all summer long?) So trust me on the tomatoes. Here’s what I need you to do.

1. Take the family shopping. Truth be told, I much prefer the selection at our local Farmer’s Market to anything I’ve seen when it comes to green tomatoes. The harder, the better. Kudos to you if you are a gardener and have some handy. This mama just doesn’t have time for that! 

2. Slice the tomatoes sort of thick – about 3/8″ thick. We sliced up 2 to make plenty for our family of four.

3. Dip the slices in egg whites.

4. Dip the slices in a mixture of breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, onion seasoning, and garlic seasoning with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar.

5. Place the slices on a cookie sheet that you’ve sprayed with EVOO spray.

6. Pop them in a 425 degree oven for about 16 minutes, flipping them over at the half way point.

While you are waiting, you might as well prep some bacon and turn them into BLT’s. They are just fine to eat by themselves or with a little bit of tomato sauce on top, but there’s something magical about adding them to bacon, lettuce, and some cheese (bonus points if you can find “Thunderjack” at your local grocery store). Put them on wheat bread, and enjoy as we did.

You’re welcome.

And yes, Greg and I head upstairs to watch Fried Green Tomatoes when we were done. After he shared this photo to Facebook, of course. :)

Fried_Green_Tomatoes

#SIMPLEGiving Starts Young

Disclosure: Below is information that was provided to me about the SIMPLEGiving  program. I chose to participate on behalf of Champions for Kids and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

Did you know that 16 million American children live in poverty? Many of these kids don’t have reliable access to the nutritious snacks that help them thrive and succeed both academically and socially.

This fact glared me in the face as I read the email from TheMotherhood asking my family to participate in a Champions for Kids / Dole Game Day Great #SIMPLEGiving Blog Tour and Twitter Party. Let me be for real, hunger is real and I didn’t need an email to tell me that but I did need to take a moment and remember this.

You see, there are kids on our street that run off the 3:12 school bus to empty homes. There’s no one home to ask them if they’ve had a good day. No one home to celebrate the challenges they overcame. No one home to help them power through 5 pages of homework. No one home to provide a healthy snack to fuel them to be thrivers. This breaks my heart, but there is something we can do to help out. 

Here’s what The Motherhood had to share with me:

Throughout the month of August, Champions for Kids is partnering with Dole to encourage community projects across the country benefiting children in need. Called SIMPLE Service Projects, the idea is to host or organize an event to collect snack foods that you would then donate to a local organization that serves children in need, such as a food pantry, after-school program or daycare center.

As our SIMPLE Service Project, my family and I will be collecting snack foods (single servings of non-perishable items – the healthier, the better) to donate to our local food bank so that the kids on our street don’t have to go hungry. We’re a family of snackers, and I am 100% certain it’s why we have the health we do. Always fueling our bodies to be thrivers. I can’t imagine how the ‘lil ones who come home hungry after a long day of school must feel having to wait until dad or mom gets home at 6 or 7 to get dinner started. And I don’t want to miss an opportunity to help out. We’ll be having a “Fire Pit Friday” this week, inviting our family and friends (hey, that’s you!) to join us and get some fresh air – all we ask in exchange is that you bring a snack food donation. We have a goal to fill up 10 of these totes – and I’d love to see the look on the kids’ eyes if we can make it happen.

We’ve always believed that giving starts young – and this drive is no different. The kids don’t really get it when I tell them there are hungry kids all around us, kids without snacks to give them the energy the need to run and play or the brain power to count to 10. Yet, they have giving hearts and know that it’s our duty to help others out when we have a ‘lil extra. (How awesome is it that Champions for Kids agrees, “Helping others does not have to come in large doses. Champions for Kids seeks to ignite generational change by fostering a ‘habit of giving’ among youth and parents in America.”?!?! Love, love, love this.

Hopefully we’ll see you  on Friday with some snacks. I promise chocolate and hugs in return.

Want to help out? Comment below and I’ll be in touch with more details. 

Can’t make it but want to have your own SIMPLE Service Project? Visit Champions for Kids for more information and to share the project you take on for the cause in your life. Share with us, too! 

Coming to the event and not sure what to bring? Here are some suggestions from Dole: 

  • Dole offers a number of terrific, portable and nutritious snacks perfect for game day, including Dole Fruit Bowls and Dole Fruit Squish’ems.
  • Dole Fruit Squish’ems squeezable fruit pouches are a delicious and nutritious snack that is just a fun squeeze away. Fruit Squish’ems gives parents an easy way to get more fruit/healthy snacks into their kids’ diets. Each pouch contains 1 Full Serving of All Natural Fruit that has 60 calories and contains 20% daily value of vitamin C. Dole Fruit Squish’ems is made with Fresh Apples only from the USA and have no High Fructose Corn Syrup or any artificial flavors.
  • Dole Fruit Bowls come in many varieties, including fruit in 100% juice, fruit packed in gel, or fruit with no sugar added. Dole offers lots of choices, such as pineapple, tropical fruit, pears, peaches, apples and more, so there is something for every taste.
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