Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas to you and Happy New Year! I know...generic, but heartfelt!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

All about Fall

We try to visit daddy at the College on Friday's for lunch. This afternoon we stayed in town, joined some friends for dinner and took some pictures on the green. The leaves were fun and even though John was tired, he was a trooper. We're not adamant about him going to our college, but it would be a neat tradition.

Cutest Pumkin in the Patch, thanks to Gaga!

I couldn't resist including this one of our black cat, Binx, with our fall arrangement. We don't usually let the cats in, but when he scooted inside the door he went straight for this table.

~ ~ ~ ~
Take a look at this amazing edible-vegetable flower arrangement! My friend Erin made it for a baby shower we threw for our friend, Sara. Erin and her husband own a small deli and coffee shop and they cater...go here to see The Porch. And, the cake was made by a family member of another cute!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A post in pictures...

Helping daddy with the mini-barn

Barn before

Barn after

Finishing touches on my grandmothers chandelier

Fireplace after

Fireplace before



Bare walls

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Construction Cont'd

I have to begin this post with the fun stuff! Our little man is growing up! He's a full-fledged toddler, that is for sure! He is having a difficult time with "no," though we've noticed a nice difference in the past several weeks, praise the Lord! He screams at random times...for instance, we visited the Kinlaw Library yesterday at the College and some friends. Our dear friend, Sue, was keeping him occupied and he let out a long bloodcurdling scream to express his dislike at what she was doing - tickling and playing keep away with him. Yes, this toddler is not shy. He's a happy boy, as you can see in most of his pictures. But, he's beginning to throw a tantrum or two and stomp his feet in protest to our parenting. Keep it up, man! We are up for the challenge! And, the joys! Parenthood,'s the best of times and the worst of times!

Get ready for...

The foot. It's a regular visitor on the arm of the highchair.
And, he has 16+ teeth now! He's been working hard. Wait, we've all been working hard!

Now on to the title of this post...

First floor is finished

Second floor goes up

Porch is going in - our builder, Mark, (on right) has become a friend and has helped us with so many small finishing projects around the house. The opening that Charley, John, and Mark are standing in is the front door/french doors.

Walls on the first floor!

Friday, October 16, 2009


The Amazing Cucumber

This information was in The New York Times several weeks ago as part of their "Spotlight on the Home" series that highlighted creative and fanciful ways to solve common problems.

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!

6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explorers for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber will react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown to reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but it won't leave streaks and won't harm your fingers or fingernails while you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!

Don't know if all of these work! Haven't tried these tips, but what could be better than a straight-from-the-earth solution to many of life's woes! If you try something, let me know how it works for you! ~J


Our beautiful niece,
Kayla Joy Neal

She is the most perfect little girl I've ever seen! Blessings to her mommy and daddy!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Story of our Home

November 2009 ~ 11 months ago!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sesame, a shock, and sarcasm

Ok. Ok. Clearly, Lisa is the only sane one in the bunch. Sesame Street names are mommy's first preference as of 10 o'clock on Thursday morning. (By the way, did anyone notice that I said "happy Wednesday" on Tuesday's post!? Yikes.)

This post will be short as the 'rents are AGAIN coming into town. They are abusing their priviledges. I had no idea what retirement would do to/for them. But, it's evident they take great delight in traveling and particularly to see their grandson. With Charley working a lot I am thankful for them!

Gotta clean, clean, clean. The house has sorely lacked my touch for the past several days b/c all I can do is moan and groan while I nurse my weeping eyes, running nose and clogged head thanks to the ragweed and whatever else is lurking around outside.

Does anyone have the Sprout channel on their tv? It's nice. And, I like it a lot for John - we keep it on for company sometimes. But, I will be glad when, what I consider, the cheese of this period of my life is over. I try so hard to hold my sarcasm in around John b/c I've heard it's not all that healthy for babies :) If only an adult were around when the monster strikes me...
And, don't get me started on Barney.

Oh, I haven't told you what happened to me the other day! John and I decided to take a walk as we waited for our neighbor and the hens. John was strapped in his hiking backpack on my back. As I reached for the electric fence handle to open the gate I put my hand on the t-post that the gate is attached to...and, you guessed it, I got the shock of my life, literally. It was so powerful it took my breath away. I coughed and sputtered and then was as mad as a hornet. Thankfully John didn't feel a thing. He started mimicking my cough as soon as the crisis was over, though. It was kinda funny. I have learned my lesson...I won't ever hold on to the post as I open the gate again. I might refrain from opening the gate for the next several days. Yes, that's the best idea.

Today, Cookie Monster will be driving the chicken tractor and Bert will be his co-pilot.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

With the house finally under a manageable workload, Charley and I are relaxing a little more these days. Last evening we spent a little time watching our new hens. The below pics are not ours, but they give a good idea of what our new hens look like. Names, anyone??? We aren't very original...I suggested "Big Red" and "Little Red" for the two red hens and Charley suggested "Stripey" for the black and white Barred Rock hen. Wow. Not our finest moments. So, any suggestions for names would be appreciated. We also have a Black Star, who guessed it, black, and a Buff Orpington, whose color is nude, like panty hose. She is very unoriginal in her appearance. Though, I'm sure God would disagree. And, upon further inspection, any chicken is anything but unoriginal in appearance. And, if we don't have suggestions from our loved ones, they will be named Faye, Laura, Bob and Leah :).

Barred Rock hen

Rhode Island Red hen

My son has cheese on his head. I think I'd better return to the land of motherhood.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mom Neal took this picture of John in the garden two weekends ago. He helped me yesterday as I mowed and trimmed and weeded. He is such a good helper. We've had to show him several times, however, that picking the tomatoes before they are ripe is a "no, no." (He likes to collect them like they are rocks.) The shadows are longer and darker these days and the sunsets even more beautiful. It's so cool in the mornings, too. 2/3 of the farm was mowed yesterday and my allergies are going HaYwIrE! But, I'm thankful that most of it is finally done!

Since we lost our two Buff Orpington hens to a fox last month, our neighbor volunteered to give us a few of her laying hens. The one Black Star hen that survived has been so funny the past several weeks. She stays close to the house and to the cats even though they have a love/hate relationship. Anytime she spots a human she runs to them. She likes for me to "pet" her on a regular basis and if I haven't she seeks me out and talks to me. She has all of these different noises that she makes - from a cluck to a thing she does with her throat that is so quiet that I have to listen carefully to hear her. She's a sweet girl. But, she's still a chicken :).

This weekend we spent some time making our "chicken tractor." Here is an example of one that gives a basic idea of our concept. Ours is square and larger, however.

We still need to attach wheels. But, this will work for now to hold the few hens that we do have. The eggs that our Black Star is laying are large. We think the hens from our neighbor will produce medium eggs since that is what the slightly smaller Buff's layed.

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

In the Garden...

My mom in law has been asking me to blog about our garden. So, here it goes...

Whoa. Let me first write a disclaimer. It wasn't a very good year, nor was it pretty. Hence, no pictures.

We grew swiss chard, cabbage, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, one bean plant that yielded exactly one bean, cantaloupe, watermelon, a raspberry bush, and a rhubarb plant. Oh, we also have strawberry plants, banana peppers and green peppers.

We did a no till garden this year. We hope to improve the soil each year without chemicals, etc. We killed the grass with layers of newspaper, then sowed in our seeds/plants. The soil has grown fescu grass (and weeds!) for the past 10 or so years. The soil isn't terrible, but it's not rich either.

We planted everything late, as in mid-to late June I think. We didn't have any rain the month of June and it was H.O.T. The months of July and August have brought lots of rain and a few mild weekends. On average, the sun has been hot when it's out and we've had temps in the 80's.

The pepper plants yielded well, but the fruits have been on the small side. The tomatoes are doing great now that they are established. The orange tomato plants are thriving and producing well. The swiss chard was great, but we've not kept it cut down so the leaves are too big. The small ones we cook with are delicious, though. The raspberry bush and the strawberry runners are well established and, though we'll end up moving them later, they are doing well in the plain ol' dirt! The cabbage has had sporadic bugs - mostly when the rain was here. We used organic chemicals and picked them off by hand. Our Black Star hen follows us around when we are outside and she loves the garden. Charley fed all of the juicy green bugs to her :). The cabbage
is not ready to harvest yet.

The herbs are doing really well and I'm going to move them to a small "kitchen garden" by the house when our landscaping is established, hopefully this fall.

Next year we hope to grow corn and maybe start some tomatoes early.

John is much more mobile now, at 18 months. He loves to "help" outside, although it's still so hot during the day to stay out too long. I'm looking forward to the cooler fall weather when we can plant outside together, etc. Although our front yard is level, for the most part, we still don't have grass to play in. So, we are looking forward to that soon!

With all of the rain, the squash and zucchini have not done well. In fact, they began to produce and then bugs or too much rain demolished them. The plants are green, but there is no fruit.

On a final note...we picked our first watermelon too early! It was so sweet, though. Just not red and ripe! We have 4 or so more to harvest. We're waiting until the last possible minute to harvest them, though! And, the same goes for the canteloupe.

The best 'lope we've had this summer has been from Mom Neal's garden stand in Wheaton, IL. It was so delicious...and HUGE.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I never thought I'd be one of those crazy parents that thought their child was the most beautiful, most talented, most intelligent...but, alas, I do. I think he's amazing in every way.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday Tales

After having gone through all the hell that the joke that is called the Foster system could possibly provide, I find that watching re-runs of the show The Guardian is quite helpful in defining our countries' way of dealing with child neglect and abuse. I watched an episode yesterday, eager to escape into tv-land.

The feeling that I come away with after watching The Guardian is much like how a guy walks away from a movie like 300 (I think that's the name), tough, re-energized, feeling like he can take on the world. (At least that's what I think I've gathered from my husband and brother-in-law.) By the way, I just felt exhausted mentally and emotionally after watching 300. But, that's another tale.

Back to yesterday...I came away from this particular episode thankful beyond words that our family of 3 is so blessed with two sets of grandparents that love us more than we could even imagine. (I have 18 months of love for my child under my belt, they have more than 30 years.Wow.) We feel success, self-confidence, humility and so much more because of the love that those 4 people show us. And, that's not to mention our extended families who lavish love on us, too. Daily, I think about the 7 little ones that we brought into our home over the course of the 4 years that we were part of the foster system. I cannot begin to imagine the lack of love that I experience that is so prevalent in their lives. I am thankful for my God - that He gave me the kind of life that so many dream about. And, we are so grateful and thankful for the people that love us enough to care for us so openly and tangibly.

Okay. Climbing down off my soapbox now.

The past month has been a welcome relief from the anguish of hammering and loud construction. My folks were here several weeks ago, Charley's folks were here this past weekend and my folks (newly retired! Yay!) will be back again this weekend! The painting, gardening, cleaning, babysitting and so much more has been my saving grace. The dads worked on window trim, window sills, etc. while the moms loved on John, made dinners, cleaned up dinners, and painted, painted, painted. Amidst all of that we have made numerous trips to the garden to gather cucumbers, a few now-ripe tomatoes, some herbs, swiss chard, etc.

We have had so much rain this season that our squash, zucchini, etc. are not producing.

Charley makes yummy swiss chard...sauteed in a little olive oil with onion, garlic, and red cooking wine.

We are gathering eggs daily from our hens. Hmmm....let me amend that...we are now down to 1 hen, our Black Star. She is currently forlornly clucking at me from the front porch step. We tried free-range without fencing...we locked our hens up at night though. However, our 2 Buff hens who were so sweet, have now met their Maker by means of a sly fox. He sits in wait in the woods several yards from the house, and when the hens go take their afternoon siesta in the shade, he strikes. Our neighbor told Charley to stake down our one remaining chicken and put me on the front porch with our gun and wait for the fox to re-appear. Mmmm...not likely going to happen, that scenario. We'll have to envision that one in our imagination.

So, we are down to one hen. She is lonely. Our other neighbor said she's scaling back on her laying hens and will give us a few to replace our girls. We really couldn't keep up with the eggs that our 3 girls were laying, though! We hope to be able to give away or sell our excess in the future.

And, I need to mention that we have kittens. Yep, 5 babies were born about 4 weeks ago. They are in a box on our front porch where their mother cares for them so lovingly. It's been sweet to watch John interact with them. He is not afraid nor his he too rough. He is an amazing child and this mother is so proud that he is my son!

As fun as this rambling fingers are tired. I'll sign off now.

I'll leave you with a few images of guess who!? Shoe shopping...

I pray for each of you daily!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Watermelons, Elephants and Cucumbers, Oh My!

Still happy after a long day at the zoo!

The 4th was great this year...we caught up with some old friends and Charley's folks were in town for the weekend. John is below eating his first watermelon with daddy. He's 17 months old this month! He's a pro at walking and is beginning to talk, too. He said, "Mama, I love you" several Sundays ago. My heart sang. He loves to say "hi" to everyone and blows kisses at strangers. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet.

Our first cucumber of the season!
And, you can peak at the dining room behind the boys!

We went on a short trip to the Cincinnati Zoo one Saturday and had a blast! We saw elephants, spotted a few giraffes, and of course people watched all day long. He couldn't take his eyes off the crowds. He had fun walking some of the time and interacting with other little ones his age.

The above pic makes it seem as if John is an amazing walker when in fact, he's wobbly like every other toddler...but, he does love to be a big boy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Free, but not easy

A month and a little bit later finds me sitting in my brand new kitchen typing on my long lost computer. Little man is down for a nap, the builders (who are now part of our family :) are outside on a break from working on the side porch, and I finally have a phone line! Yep, I'm crawling along on my free j*uno dial-up, but it's better than being stuck without any access to the world! I will, of course, post again today! Yes, because I can! But, I can't wait to tool around online and see what I've missed after being away too long. Can't wait to post pictures later and catch up with everyone! Love to all!


Sunday, May 31, 2009


So far we have managed create an entire house thanks to the help of friends and family. Little man is a zombie; he's so tired. We are still running on adrenaline today, this last Sunday in May. Don't have much time to write, as we are still doing last minute hauling trips today, cleaning and then unpacking. John's first night in his new home was not stellar. It rained cats and dogs, but first the lightning and thunder woke all of us at midnight. We are hoping to sleep better tonite! It's a beautiful day here today and we're almost finished with this chapter in our lives. We are so content with the peacefulness at the farm. Speaking of peacefulness, we'll not have internet right away...or cable, or phone! So, it will be a quiet week or two until we are able to join the 21st century again. Can't wait to post pictures of all that has happened in the last month!

Love to all and happy summer!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


The Canonization

by John Donne

For God's sake hold your tongue, and let me love ;
Or chide my palsy, or my gout ;
My five gray hairs, or ruin'd fortune flout ;
With wealth your state, your mind with arts improve ;
Take you a course, get you a place,
Observe his Honour, or his Grace ;
Or the king's real, or his stamp'd face
Contemplate ; what you will, approve,
So you will let me love.

Alas ! alas ! who's injured by my love?
What merchant's ships have my sighs drown'd?
Who says my tears have overflow'd his ground?
When did my colds a forward spring remove?
When did the heats which my veins fill
Add one more to the plaguy bill?
Soldiers find wars, and lawyers find out still
Litigious men, which quarrels move,
Though she and I do love.

Call's what you will, we are made such by love ;
Call her one, me another fly,
We're tapers too, and at our own cost die,
And we in us find th' eagle and the dove.
The phoenix riddle hath more wit
By us ; we two being one, are it ;
So, to one neutral thing both sexes fit.
We die and rise the same, and prove
Mysterious by this love.

We can die by it, if not live by love,
And if unfit for tomb or hearse
Our legend be, it will be fit for verse ;
And if no piece of chronicle we prove,
We'll build in sonnets pretty rooms ;
As well a well-wrought urn becomes
The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs,
And by these hymns, all shall approve
Us canonized for love ;

And thus invoke us, "You, whom reverend love
Made one another's hermitage ;
You, to whom love was peace, that now is rage ;
Who did the whole world's soul contract, and drove
Into the glasses of your eyes ;
So made such mirrors, and such spies,
That they did all to you epitomize—
Countries, towns, courts beg from above
A pattern of your love."

My English professor in college would scoff at the description at W*ikipedia, but it's a blunt analysis. I never thought I would enjoy deciphering poetry. Life has a funny way of turning the tables, doesn't it?

And, at this point I am reading your mind..."what is she thinking posting poetry when we want a glimpse into the house?!" Ha! Here's a little tidbit...

Wait for it.

You guessed it! We picked out kitchen cabinetry several weeks ago and it's scheduled to arrive the first week of May. Yikes, that's soon. My husbands folks were down all last week to help us with drywalling, etc. I can't believe we are to the point where we are sanding and priming! The end is in sight! Now, if we can all make it through this last month we're in the clear. That's a big I.F. Reinforcement will arrive in the form of my mom in a couple of weeks. "I think we can, I think we can, I think we can..."

Friday, April 17, 2009


Today was better...much better. Library reading time with little man and several of his friends, then Kroger for some yummy foods, then lunch with 2 special friends. Not finished yet! Then on to the farm to enjoy the beautiful day (with a little insulation dust floating around too) and my family. Needless to say my boy and I were wiped o.u.t. We came home, ate, and fell into bed. Totally made up for yesterday!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


So, I don't journal, though I probably should. You'll say the same after reading what I have to say next. Two facts: first, my personality type is an INFJ, & second, certain personality traits just come with my genes. Therefore I have accepted several facts about myself. It takes me a little while to process some things. I think I've come a long way in defeating the ugly monster in me that wants to lash out when I'm hit with something that I just can't deal a bad driver in front of me, or an instant change in plans that life throws my way. And, I have accepted the fact that I am a loner. I just like my privacy, my alone time (which I can't have too much of), and I have had none of that since becoming a mommy. Now, please don't read into that. It is what it is. I love mommyhood. But, I cherich (and I know we all do) those several hours in the evening after I've put little man to bed. I can do what I'm doing now, blog. Or, I can surf on the www. Or I can veg in front of the tv. Or, I can sit on the porch in the cool evening and read a good book. It takes so much for me to break the silence and call a friend. BUT, I'm always so glad to talk to a dear friend and laugh and commiserate on life. I just don't do it enough. (I can hear you all groaning in acknowledgment. Hush.)
On to my point. Today I could not deal. First, my coffee pot acted up. It kept shutting off mid-brew! What!? Oh. Back up. FIRST, I woke up at 3am to little man crying b/c he was hungry. 14 months. Need I say more? Oh, ok, I will b/c maybe I need to vent a little. He's teething - can't see or feel any teeth after 3 or 4 weeks of this contstant drool. He's becoming "the man." Or, so he thinks. It's cute and a point. After awhile I'm over it. He's become bored with his toys. (I spent all of yesterdays naptime rearranging and organizing his toys so that it would be like Christmas morning. He was excited for an afternoon and evening. Now he's over the excitement. Geesh.) His eating likes/dislikes are changing. And, while it's new and neat for both of us at times, it's maddening for mommy at other times. I think that's it. Back to my morning. I came downstairs to dirty dishes that both hubs and I had left in the sink overnight. Ick. I am trying SO hard not to do that since becoming a mommy! (You know, the whole do as I say, don't do as I do thing I'd love to beat. Yeah right.) Then, my boy was so cranky today! He was tired at least a whole hour before his morning nap. But, I can't risk putting him down b/c if I don't time it just right he'll stay awake crying. Bless his heart. No, wait, bless mine. I had to go get my blood drawn today for my 6 month thyroid check-up. And, lo and behold I arrive (at John's afternoon naptime) and discover that my dr. has ordered a 10 hour fast for blood work, cholesterol, etc. My hubs made the appt. for me and failed to mention the fasting part. I was not pleased. I spoke calmly, but firmly to the receptionist and told her in no uncertain terms that I have never had to fast in all my years of having yearly check-ups. I then called my husband to ask him if anyone had mentioned fasting on the phone when he made the appointment. Silence. Then, "oh, you're going to kill me." Yep. I returned to the receptionist to appologize for my husbands gross error. She had already sent the dr. out by this time. We agreed to check cholesterol another time. Yeah. THEN, I arrived at the blood bank. (It was a new blonde chick. She was ok. Nice, I'll give her that.) As I left the office I smelled something suspiciously like a dirty diaper. Wonder who that could be? So, we pulled over and stopped to change. Laura, are you sure you are ready for motherhood?! Little man had had the BIGGEST #2 I have ever seen. It soaked his pants, his shirt, all the way down his leg and onto the stroller. I just stared. I was in shock! I've never had anything like that happen (in public)! And, I've stopped carrying a change of clothes (we were only gone from the house for an hour and a half!) b/c he's so GOOD and never has accidents! This. Is. My. Day. By the way...there wasn't a changing area in any of the bathrooms so the lap was it. And, I thought I WAS totally grossed out. The socks ended up with some grossness on them. So, my boy was naked for a large part of the ride through the medical building. Before we went outside I bundled him up in his sweater and my sweatshirt. Cute.

Another little gem from the day: the lady behind our apartment likes to walk her dog in OUR backyard. Yes, folks, you guessed it...she walks him for the sole purpose of going to the pottty. I asked her to please pick up her dog's poo, as our children (many) play in OUR backyard. She meandured on back to her home, dog in tow, and eventually came back with a plastic bag. Ick.

So, are you thinking right now that I should begin to journal? You don't want to hear any more of this type of thing, do you?! I don't blame you. I wouldn't either.

As Scarlett always said, "Tomorrow's another day."
It can't come soon enough.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

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