Small Playroom Update

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Where am I? How did I get here?

Summer is going AWESOME. But things got a lot a bit overwhelming, so I checked out last week. I've basically been doing super boring stuff around here anyway, like sorting broken crayons and mowing the grass, so there wasn't much to report anyway.

Today I wanted to post a few updated pictures of the playroom since the last time you saw it it looked like this and this.

Not a whole lot has changed, but I am hoping that is not the case for long!

We trekked to Ikea and picked up a few things, and a couple I am still waiting on to be delivered.

First, and most importantly for me, we finally got some more chairs for our play table that fit. That means I can now sit with them when we are working on things, and there is room for all three of them without them being on top of each other on the bench. We also got a sweet light to hang over their work space.
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We also picked up this shoe organizer. I honestly am not very hopeful that it will keep the shoes *that* organized, but if it could at least hide the chaos I am happy. Also, that space behind the door is really tiny, so it's slender design works great. I plan to put a mirror over it and make it an entry type space for us since that is typically the door we use.
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Here is the current toy organization situation. I am planning on moving one of those cubes into Owen's room, and I have two bookcases I ordered from Ikea that will flank either side of the remaining cube. I also plan to paint them, just not sure on color yet.
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This space I plan on turning into the kids' drop area. Where they put their backpacks and school papers, etc. If you look on top of the shoe organizer a few photos up, you will see multicolored dog butts. Those are hooks I bought in preparation of that. We thought they were funny.
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The dress up clothes will be moving to this corner. Pile-o-babies anyone? I plan on moving the kitchen outside and replacing it with a smaller one. The reason, is that I have been inspired by our outdoor playhouse building experience, and want to build them one indoors, too. Right above this space. Then underneath will be the pretend market/cafe space.
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Here's sort of the bigger picture of that
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So on my list:
Paint walls with black chalkboard paint (because I'm masochistic like that)
Repaint peeling trim
Paint light fixture hanging above play table... thinking yellow?
Build and paint bookshelves
Paint cube organizer
Create "drop" space for kids (not sure on all those details yet, but I have some ideas)
Find mirror for over the shoe organizer
Build and paint indoor playhouse
Make "Market" banner and "counters"
Find shelf to fit food and accessories
Build smaller kitchen
Find or sew fun pillows for papasan chairs
Find new rug for in front of door

And one last super quick update since we are talking about playhouses, we got a roof on the playhouse!
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We built the whole thing ourselves, but the roof had a lot of angles and "bird mouth cuts" and we are just not in the least bit experienced enough for all of that, so we hired someone. I know, such cheaters. But we felt like it was worth it to give them a shady place to play up there. I will hopefully be painting that bad boy soon too, so more to come!

Daily Summer Schedule

Monday, June 9, 2014

Summer is now in full swing, and our first entire week went fabulously. We are having so much fun!

Week before last, Lily, our oldest daughter, and I sat down in front of my Pinterest boards and came up with some of her favorite things she wanted to do. I split our "learning activities" into 4 categories.

Letters & Writing. Letters for our 3.5 year old, writing for our nearly 7 year old.

Numbers & Math. Again, one for the younger and one for the older.

Science Experiments. Basically anything fun and exciting and bonus points if it involves pretty colors or something exploding.

Art. Because well, I love art and what kid doesn't either? Express yo-self!

Then, because I do best with lots of guidelines, I put together this daily schedule. Now, it isn't exactly what we do everyday. Sometimes we'll have something in the morning, so our learning activities come later in the day. Some days Field Trip day is on Tuesday, and we go to the Library on Monday and Friday. But this is our basic structure and it's working super well. I made it so it could be a "free printable" of sorts, but mostly I just wanted to share what's working for us, and maybe help anyone out that might be looking and drawing a blank as to 'what to do all day?'. Also, below our schedule I posted all of the different activities we have for each category for the month, and any Pinterest links accordingly.

What our days generally look like:
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Click HERE to print your own



Letters
1. Put alphabet flashcards in order
2. Salt Tray Writing. Pour salt in a tray and have them write with their finger letters or numbers in the salt.
3. Chalk & Spray bottles. Draw on a fence or sidewalk with chalk and then have them spray certain letters or numbers you call out.
4. Use upper and lower case alphabet flashcards to play a "memory" game
5. 'Write' letters in play dough
6. SesameStreet.org, PbsKids.org these are great and FREE!
7. Roll an alphabet die and color or paint which letters you land on
8. Use a q-tip to paint/trace letters onto paper
9. Put a print out with letters your are working on in plastic sheet protector and trace with dry erase marker
10. Play with magnetic letters. Example:Pull letters out of hat and name them as you stick them to a cookie sheet. Or this idea.
11. Build letters with blocks
12. Use water to draw on a chalk board and have your child 'trace' the water lines
13. Draw and cut out a large letter(s) from construction paper and then decorate with glitter, tissue paper, cereal etc.
14. Write letters on Easter eggs and have an Easter egg hunt. Have them say the letter as they find them.
15. Try and make the letter with your body. We have a great book that inspired this called
16. Make pages for an 'ABC' Book. Have your child write the letter and then color and paste a picture of something that starts with the sound. When you've done the whole alphabet, make them into a book with a hole punch and ribbon.

Writing
(A lot of these will be the same as Letters, just adjusted for age)
1. Write fan mail to celebrity of choice (we wrote to Selena Gomez). I wanted to write, 'Quit talking to that douche!' but I refrained.
2. Salt Tray writing vocabulary words. We started using these but any Google search of "1st/2nd/3rd vocabulary words" would work.
3. Chalk & spray bottles. Write a sentence and have them spray erase the subject noun, verb, adjective, etc. Or if they are just learning to read, write sight words and have them spray down the words you call out. The possibilities are endless
4. MobyMax.com This is hosted through her school but it looks like you can register for a free account regardless. She really loves this site and it has lots of subjects and great feedback the parents can check.
5. Spell vocab/spelling words in play dough
6. Write a story using a writing prompt. I don't have as many ideas for the "Writing" category because multiple days involve using writing prompts. Here are some I found via Pinterest that are super easy to print and use: Free Writing Prompts
7. Q-tip painting vocab and spelling words
8. Vocabulary prompt I found via Pinterest here
9. Spell words on your spelling list with magnetic letters
10.Write spelling list words on chalk board. Bonus if they make them artistic looking

Numbers
(A lot of these are the same as letters, just subbing in numbers and math concepts instead)
1. Sort color teddies into groups, count them, make patterns. Teddy activities can be found here
2. Chalk & Spray bottles again. This time identifying numbers, shapes, or spraying '2' of something, etc.
3. Put number flashcards 1-10, or even harder 1-20 in order
4. Print number sheets out and put in plastic sheet protectors. Trace with dry erase markers.
5. Number "memory" game with flashcards
6. Draw the head of a caterpillar, then make it's body with colored cotton balls arranged in a pattern
7. Count with pennies. Not only counting but early introduction to money and the names of coins.
8. Beads on pipe cleaners. Idea found here
9. Make cards (just cut pieces of paper) that have corresponding dots to written numerals. Count and match them.
10. Play 'How many blocks tall?' Let them pick an object and measure it using blocks.
11. Make a row of numbers, then underneath, draw columns and have your child stamp in the column for the amount written at the top
12. Color the shapes activity sheet found here This one isn't free, but it's only 50 cents.
13.  I also use the same websites, Sesamestreet.org and PBSKids.org for math, too

Math
1. Worksheets. This covers addition/subtraction, word problems, money, time, etc. While not exciting and hands on, my oldest loves to do 'homework' so these are great practice for her and cover a lot of bases for math practice over the summer. *affiliate link* These books are awesome.
2. Chalk and Spray bottles. This is a favorite here so we use it for everything. For the older ones, write multiple equations out, and then give them one answer. Have them spray erase the problem that the answer belongs to.
3. Count Money. Sort money, then ask them to give you a "x" amount. This can also be tailored in so many ways depending on the level of the child.
4. Pattern caterpillars. These can get pretty complex. Make those little noggins work!
5. Cut out shapes and have your child draw and then cut the shape into 'halves' 'thirds' 'fourths' etc.
6. Can you buy it? Give your child 'x' amount of money. Put toys in front of them with prices written on paper or stickers. Have them count to see if they could 'buy' the object or not.
7. Beads on pipe cleaners. Idea found here. For the older kids you can write equations at the top and have them put the answer in beads below.
8. Makes graphs. You can graph how many yellow, blue, and orange toys you find. Again, the possibilities are endless.

Science Experiments
1. Sink or float? Exactly what it sounds like. Grab a pot and have your kids pick objects and guess. Can also make a graph out of this and kill two birds with one stone!
2. Baking soda and vinegar volcano. An oldie but goodie. Have shot glasses you'll probably never ever use again in your life? They make great inserts for the volcanoes to hold the baking soda.
3. Ivory Soap cloud. They thought is was SO cool. Instructions found here.
4. "Walking Water" Place water with food coloring into a glass and place the end of a paper towel into it. In an empty glass next to it, place the other end of the paper towel. The water will "walk" into the other glass. Works best if the glass of water is slightly higher that the empty one.
5. Sprout beans in bags. Put in a few beans and a slightly wet paper towel. Hang in a window and presto.This was a neat idea, too.
6. Grow rock crystals in eggs. I cannot wait to try this! Instructions found here. Yeah, we're gettin' a little Martha Stewart with it.
7. Make a rainbow jar. Add all different colored oils and liquids to make a rainbow in a jar. This is another really cool one. Find out how to make it here. Sidenote: PlaydoughtoPlato.com and PlayAtHomeMomLLC.com are two of my favorite learning sites
8. Make bouncy balls from borax and corn starch. Just make sure these stay away from little ones prone to try and eat them. Borax is no bueno! Recipe found here.
9. Write with 'invisible ink' using lemon juice. How to do it here.
10. Dancing Ooblek. Ok, this looks so awesome. I had no idea that something could be liquid when touched gently and hard when force was applied to it. Then you put it on top of a speaker and watch it dance to music. This blog has cool videos of it as well as instructions.
11. Transparent egg. Soak an egg in vinegar and the shell will disintegrate in a few days but leave the egg in tact.
12. Sparkly Rainbow Crystals. Found here
13. Shaving Cream Cloud. Put shaving cream over a glass of water, place food coloring drops on top and watch it "rain" into the water below.
14. Get an Ant Farm! We plan to order *affiliate link* this one
15. Exploding chalk. Again, anything with the explosions. Find it here.
16. Stab a water bag with pencils. I think they'll have the most fun pulling them out. This is so simple but I had never done this before, I got the idea here.

Art
(Tired yet?? hehe)
1. Tie-Dye snowflakes. This is a big hit because A) lots of color and B)OH MAH GAHHHHHH FROZEN!!!! I would never have thought of this for little hands to cut. Find it here.
2. Oil pastels and water colors. Color with oil pastels first and then watercolor over. Creates fun texture.*
3. Marble drawings. Put a piece of paper in the bottom of a box. Place a few drops of tempera paint and then a few marbles. Let the kids have at it moving and shaking the box creating their masterpiece as the marbles roll through the paint
4. Jackson Pollock Splat Art. I heart Jackson Pollock. If you don't know who he is, here's his wikipedia bio. His art is awesome. And it really does look like a little kid did it, so it's a win win.*
5. Tape painting. This is so many places I can't site the one that originally gave me the idea, but put tape on a canvas and let the kids paint. Once paint is tacky to touch, pull the tape and have a crazy negative space painting.*
6. Water color and salt. Again with the nifty textures.*
7. Kandinsky circles*
8. Potato prints. Cut a potato in half and use the raw end to carve any type of design, use it as a stamp in tempera paint.*
9. Nature rubbings. These are another favorite here. Put leaves, flowers anything under a piece of paper and rub the side of a crayon over it.
10. Bubble painting. Find it here.
11. Glue prints. Use glue to 'draw' a picture. Let it dry completely then paint over the paper. Place another paper on top and lift to reveal the 'print' from below.*
12. Make sculptures with tin foil.*
13. Multi-media collage. Get ALL the craft materials. Let them have at it.*
14. Fabrege Eggs. Blow out an egg (I will make scambled eggs with them!) and then paint them with nail polish or acrylic paint. Since these are typically not washable, this is best outside in old clothes.
15. Buttermilk chalk. Soak chalk in buttermilk and use them on black construction paper. Makes chalk really creamy.*
16. Still life drawing. Make it crazy, creative, whatever you want and let them try their hand at drawing it!
* Denotes that I found all of these ideas in *affiliate link* this book

So that's the plan for June. A lot of these I came up with off the top of my head. Things that I've seen our oldest do over the last few years in school, or things that we did back when I taught preschool, etc. It's been quite a few years though now, so I'm relying more and more on other blogs and especially Pinterest to jog my memory or give us new and fresh ideas.

If you don't already, follow me on Pinterest HERE

Happy Monday! <3

InstaFriday

Friday, June 6, 2014

We have been thoroughly enjoying our first week of summer. So much so, that there were two posts I was hoping to get done this week and didn't. One was our summer schedule. I spent hours Sunday night putting together this whole June calendar only to seriously screw it up and not know how to fix it, and it doesn't print right. *Sigh*

I rethought the whole schedule idea though, but then I'd pretty much used up all my time making that damn calendar. It is however hanging in our kitchen, so all was not lost. It's just not internets material. (Ok but let's be honest, I'm pretty sure nothing on this blog is)

The other is my "State of the Hydrangea Address" because I know you've just been absolutely riveted on the edge of your seat since this post. *hint* They're alive. Mostly.

So until then, here are some shots, and couple that only went to my personal facebook, from Instagram over the last week...

We started off our summer with a bang. Bang = lots of shopping
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And no joke, this picture was taken less than 5 minutes later
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My night owl
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My oldest girl's first riding lesson (taken really far away with my phone so excuse the extreme blur)
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A very relaxing day with my wonderful stylists
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The hose is our best friend currently
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It's hard waking up from a nap after a morning of sun and water
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Gettin' our learn on
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My handsome boy (looking terrified-ly...that's not a word...at the car wash we are about to enter)
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He liked it once we were in there

If you don't already, follow me on Instagram here!

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Younique 3D Fiber lash review (from someone not selling them)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Have you heard about this new Younique 3D fiber lashes?

They've been all over my Facebook and then some. Being a somewhat lashless girl, any time I hear anything about thickening and/or lengthening lashes my ears perk up. I don't have the time or money for pro lash extensions, I don't feel comfortable with Latisse (which is also expensive), and putting a set of falsies on every time just isn't fun either.  I looked into them and this product guaranteed to give amazing lashes, and was supposed to be as easy as putting on a few extra coats of mascara, so for $30, I just had to know.

To apply them, you put them on after you put on your regular mascara. You apply a coat of their adhesive, which is basically another coat of mascara, then you apply a thin layer of the fibers. The fibers are really strange looking, they just look like little hairs all over the wand and I wasn't sure how it was going to work, but it does! Their promo stuff says they are green tea fibers which I thought was interesting. Then you apply a second coat of the adhesive type mascara to lock them into place. You can continue to add layers after that, but they do suggest using a lash brush, I'm assuming so it doesn't look like you have two tarantulas growing out of your face, but I don't have one so I can't say how much of a difference that would make, but I'm sure it would help some.

My only slight problem with them is if I apply them too heavily, they don't just "fall on my cheeks" like their promo stuff says. It feels like you have a bunch of junk in your eyes and then mine started to turn bright red and itch pretty bad. Nothing horrible, and it wasn't enough for me to even go wash them off, but if I was at a party, this would be no bueno
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And in case you need further explanation I made this super awesome awkward video you can watch if you'd like to see it in action (or just laugh at my up-nose shots, seriously you could make a drinking game out of it) P.S I talk SO much, sorry...and such an amazing thumbnail it randomly chose and won't let me change...


So first and foremost here are my peepers sans mascara:
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I know, yikes!

On Tuesday I curled my eyelashes and wore Benefit "They're Real!" mascara:
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On Wednesday I wore my normal Covergirl LashBlastLength mascara in the morning, but didn't curl because my 1.5 year old ran off with my curler and I couldn't find it anywhere:
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Then later in the afternoon (and the reason my eyeliner is now all wonky) I applied the Younique fiber lashes:
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And here are two shots that show when just one eye is done. Younique on left vs. Covergirl on right:
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Here they are rapid fire so you get a good comparison (sorry they are all different sizes, I am apparently not an editing pro of pictures either):
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While I was never able to achieve some crazy awesome results like some of the photos out there, I was really impressed and do plan on continuing to use the Younique lashes. They give me the same length I can get with Benefit mascara, but I get a whole lot more volume, too. I am also really impressed with how well they stay on through my work outs in the evenings, but then wash off really easily in the shower with just water and Cetaphil facial cleanser. Like they are all gone, no gunky residue at all, and even better, they have pretty minimal ingredients so I'm not worried about going blind the way I would putting other stuff on my eyes *cough*Latisse*cough*

So if you know someone selling these and you were on the fence, hopefully this will help you make a choice
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Ham & Cheese Slider Heaven

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's Monday! Hooray! Oh, no?

I don't know if anyone else is like this, but I have to psych myself up to make actual meals, usually by Wednesday I'm prepared to thaw meat. (Ha, let's be honest some weeks even that doesn't happen and it's just a regular mac n' cheese and PB&J free for all around here)

But Monday nights, or nights that we have things going on and we need something quick, these are absolute perfection. It takes me less than ten minutes to throw together and only 12 in the oven. Yes, 20 minutes start to finish and you have a hot, ooey gooey, scrumdidilyumptious dinner, neighbor.

This recipe comes from my mother-in-law. It was originally done on croissants for a baby shower; these are a slight variation I've come to over the last three years.

Ingredients:
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Now I'd love to say that I use hunks of pork from a pasture raised, humanely slaughtered hog from a neighboring farm, but you know, sometimes Hormel from the neighboring grocery store is about as good as it gets. You also need some good Havarti cheese, it's kind of hard to see, sorry! You'll also need some slider buns (Pepperidge farm potato buns are my favorite but I've also seen people use Hawaiian sweet rolls I think)A stick of butter, onion powder or real onion if you're feeling fancy, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, and poppy seeds.

First, set your oven to 350*
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Then, stick the bottom halves of the rolls in a 9x12 pan, the 9x12 seems to fit a dozen just about perfectly.
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Now, lay a slice or 12 of ham on each on, then start topping with the Havarti cheese. This is all to your specifications. I like to use one slice of ham and about a half slice of square Havarti cheese. But it's whatever makes your boat float. You can also use any kind of cheese, provolone is another good option.
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Put the tops back on
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Then channel your inner Paula Deen and put you a stick-o-buttah in a bowl
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Melt that butter and prepare to add deliciousness
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Then add the onion. I use about 1 tsp. I really think I am allergic to onion, I can hardly peel and chop one in half before it looks like I just saw a Sarah McLachlan SPCA commercial, so I opt for powder when I'm cheating and don't feel like dealing with that, but the little bits of onion are awfully yummy on top. For real onion, I use about a half of one.
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Then add your "What's-this-here" sauce, about 1 tsp. to the bowl
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Then comes 2 tbsp yellow mustard
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Then comes 1 tbsp of poppy seeds in the baby carriage
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Then swirl it all around and pour it over the tops of the sandwiches in your pan. My big girl wanted to help. And that lone sandwich? That's for my allergy baby.
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Then cover those babies with foil
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You can then stick them in the fridge for a while to let the butter soak in a bit, and you can even let them sit overnight, making this a great make ahead sandwich for parties. But ain't nobody got time for that, so I just stick 'em straight in the oven at 350*

Set your timer for 10 minutes
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After 10 minutes, remove the foil and leave sandwiches in for just 2 more minutes. Why did I set the timer for just 2 minutes? Why do cows lie down before it rains? There are some things the universe just isn't meant to understand
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Bring those out and try and get your paws on one before they all disappear.
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Ahhhh. Heaven on a plate. That fine dinnerware? It's the paper tartan azul collection by H-E-B.
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GET IN MAH BELLY!
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Seriously though, if you need a quick dinner tonight, your family will love these.


Ingredients:
-12 or more slider buns, your choice.
-Sliced honey or smoked ham in a package or from the deli
-8ish slices of Havarti cheese
-1 stick of butter
-1 tsp onion powder, or half an onion
-1 tsp worestechire sauce
-2 tbsp. yellow mustard
-1 tbsp. poppy seed

To make:
-Preheat oven to 350*
-Put ham and cheese in buns and put in 9x12 pan
-Melt butter in bowl
-Add in onion, woresteschire sauce, mustard, and poppy seed
-Pour over sandwiches
-Cover in foil
-Bake for 10 min
-Uncover
-Bake for two more
-Heaven for your tastebuds



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