Monday, January 30, 2017

{100 little things} January Review: Birth Order, No Spending & Movie Watching with the Kids

January felt like a soft start after the baby.  It felt good to peek back at the list and choose a few things to work on.  The newborn period can be hard for me and I often feel like I'm being pulled in a million directions.  100 Little Things, if you can believe it, helps me remember my interests and desires.  It's what self-care looks like for a crazy list-loving, curiosity-driven person like me.  So although I didn't get many tasks checked off, I'm still pleased with my progress.  I know I'll ramp up the finishes as the months go on and P gets older.
Current totals: 21 completed and 7 partial finishes

#4. Read The Birth Order Book.
This book was a recommendation from my cousin.  I'm not sure how "official" the science is, but it was definitely an interesting read and fun to think about my family and how they fit into the different roles.  I especially benefited from the sections about perfectionism.  #soguilty

#60.  Complete a 30-day walking streak.
Part of the Mutu System is walking every day.  Since it's way too cold outside and I can't get on the treadmill as frequently as I'd like (without talking to/threatening/freaking out at my toddler who's tempted to touch the moving machine!), I decided to just set the timer on my phone for 20 minutes and pace the house.  I'll check blogs on my phone, read a book or shush a fussy baby, but it was pretty easy to get this in!

#70. Complete a 30-day no spending challenge.
Mark and I decided to try this challenge in January as a way to kick-start our debt reduction and savings goals.  We have some big dreams and wanted to get started with a bang!  Our "rules" for the challenge were pretty simple: we designated a grocery budget, but committed to using up things we already had in the freezer and pantry.  Since Mark commutes and I drive the kids to school everyday, we also had a gas budget, but tried to stay close to home as much as we could.  Everything else was off-limits: no eating out, no impulse Amazon purchases, no coffee on the drive home, etc.  

Like life usually is, the result wasn't exactly as we planned.  We had hoped to be able to save a bunch of money to then put on our debt, but instead we received a handful of medical bills from P's birth.  We also had some sick kids (pink eye and colds) and a visit from the Orkin man.  Thankfully because of this challenge, we were able to pay them all right away instead of starting payment plans or charging them.  But no extra snowball money this month, which is a bit of a bummer.

BUT!  We also learned some great lessons and are excited to implement them in the months to come.  Turns out if you put something in your cart and then wait awhile, most of the time, you don't really need to buy it!  We've had many conversations about toys vs. experiences.  We've rediscovered the fun of cooking meals together.  All good things.

#1. Read 35 books. (14/35 read)
I was on a roll this month.  Six books completed: The Birth Order Book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, The Awakening of Miss Prim, Gift from the Sea, A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning, and Yes,Chef: A Memoir.

#19. Pray 5 novenas. (3/5 completed)
With our old house going on the market, we prayed the St. Joseph novena for his intercession.  

#54. Make a dent on the movies on Common Sense Media's "50 Movies Every Kid Should See before age 12" (at least 50%) (24/50 completed)
So close to finishing this one!  We watched: ET (typical 80's movie with tons of swearing), Hugo (we watched this after reading the book), and Song of the Sea.

#85. Create a postpartum wardrobe that makes me feel confident and not frumpy.
I got a small start on this with my Christmas money.  I purchased everything in my current size, no wishful thinking purchases!  Part of my 2017 goals is to purchase 75% through secondhand or ethical companies, so I found jeans and a few tops from and ThredUp, all with tags or in like new condition!  I also found a great pair of jeans with a birthday giftcard (thank you again, A & S!!) to Stitchfix.

Friday, January 27, 2017

{around here} Week 4/52: Week of 1.23.17

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

feeling a bit beaten up and worn this week.  Some weeks are just rough!  Lots of medical bills are coming in from P's birth (thank goodness for the timing of this no-spend challenge!), I've been working hard on my exercise and diet only to have minimal results (so vain, but true), and we've been dealing with some behavioral issues with a few of the kids.  I think I'll need a little time alone this weekend to recharge and pump up for another week.    

discovering, after a few days of feeling nauseous, that I may have developed a sensitivity to dairy.  I had something similar happen after Sophie's birth, with eggs being the culprit.  (Apparently, hormonal changes related to pregnancy and child birth are to blame?)  I'm so bummed because I love cheese, ice cream and milk in my coffee and I definitely did my share of pouting, but oh well.  Mark found me some unsweetened coconut milk for my coffee and it's been a decent substitute.  

changing up my nutrition in an attempt to combat the baby blues.  I was pretty down two weeks ago, feeling very overwhelmed and sensitive to the kids' bickering.  Thankfully, it was the first (and only) real emotional trigger so far.  Since then, I've been researching all about postpartum hormones, which is so interesting!  I've added vitamin D to my supplements (since going outside in the winter, especially with a newborn, is difficult), drastically reduced my sugar intake and am diffusing a lot of citrus oils.  So far, so good.

laughing at TJ's latest "dance move", which looks a lot like downward dog with some booty shaking.

repeating this quote from Katrina Kenison when I get ahead of myself with dreams and plans: "May I practice with what I’m given, rather than wish for something else."

reading Yes, Chef and The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living.  I finished Gift from the Sea, which was a quick read with many nuggets of wisdom.  I also listened to my first Modern Mrs. Darcy podcast episode and was furiously jotting down titles...SO good!

loving on my sweet baby, who is almost 2 months old already!  He's plumping up, smiling and just starting to coo.  The big kids are all so smitten with him.  When a few of them are wound pretty tight and having a hard day, I pass him to their (willing!) arms and immediately, I watch the peace wash over them.  Babies are such blessings.

decluttering like a fool.  At about seven or eight weeks postpartum, I always tend to get a little crazy with our things and go on a huge cleaning spree.  This time's no exception!

watching Hugo with M after we both read the book.  We also watched A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix and will have to read those next.  It's so fun to have a big kid to read and share books!

Big White Farmhouse notes:
+ We just got in four varieties of Scatter Garden kits: Songbird Habitat, Butterfly Habitat, Honeybee and Fragrant Flowers.  I think they'd be so fun to do with kids!

SEE THE GOOD: a happy, positive or funny find
Kindness at the grocery store: I loved this!

RELIGIOUS TRUTH TO PONDER: a piece of my faith to think about or put into practice
"In the earthly liturgy we share in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle.  With all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with him in glory." (CCC 1090)

m: pasta and homemade meat sauce
t: taco tuesday
w: Jimbo's (part of our monthly supporting small business goal)
th: pork tenderloin, potatoes, asparagus
f: homemade pizza


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Monday, January 23, 2017

{year of slow} What's Saving My Life Right Now: A Peek into my Bullet Journal

I love when Modern Mrs. Darcy shares her lists of things that are saving her life right now.  The comments on those posts are also usually jam-packed with ideas and hacks, which I love.  Sometimes it's the small, ordinary things that have the greatest impact.  

Today I thought I'd share a new system I've been using (and LOVING) in my bullet journal/planner.  My big goal for 2017 is to significantly slow down, decide what's most important for me at this time in my life and do those things well.  Most of the things on this list could also be considered "self care", but I think they benefit my family as a whole too.      

The things I wanted to focus on are:
+ Consistent exercise, starting with the Mutu System and moving onto running and weights later on
+ Drinking more water
+ Reading everyday, at least 10 minutes but preferably more
+ Working on a yearly scrapbook project, similar to my 100 Day Extraordinary Ordinary Project from last fall
+ Reflecting on a section of the Catholic Catechism everyday
+ Keeping up on household chores instead of always feeling behind

So in short: exercise, water, reading, creativity, faith and homemaking.  Easy to write on paper, but how exactly could I implement that on a day-to-day basis?

Here's my solution:

Everyday, I write the same five/six (depending on the Mutu exercise) tasks down.  I also make a little water tracker to keep track of intake.  On the other half of that day's block, I'll add extra to-dos, like bills to pay or emails to write.  I can't tell you how much this has helped jump start habits, just by writing down the tasks.  The pull of checking items off the list is strong!  While I don't always complete ALL of the things everyday (mostly my Mutu Core...oops!), I have done much more than had I not kept myself accountable.  Big win!  

I think I've mentioned this before, but on the homekeeping front, these weekly printables from the Confident Mom are awesome.  I've been printing a month at a time and clipping them to the opposite side of my weekly planning layout.  I'm still figuring out how to accomplish all the things with a newborn (current status: not well), but I'm doing so much more than had I not had the help and direction.  Baby steps!

 Last thing!  We always seem to be out of something around here, but our no-spending challenge has shown me that we don't always need to purchase a replacement right.this.second.  So I've gotten in the habit of adding the items to the Jet app, but keeping them in my cart for awhile.  So, for example, if we're out of Corn Chex but still have Cheerios in the pantry, I'll add the Chex to Jet, but wait to buy until later.  It's really helpful for curbing impulse buys too.  

What's saving your life right now?  How are you creating habits to get your yearly goals going?  I'd love to learn what's working for you!


P.S. I use a big Leuchtturm1917 notebook for my bullet journal/planner.  It's great and seems to last forever!  I've had mine since last March and I'm only about halfway through the pages.

Friday, January 20, 2017

{around here} Week 3/52: Week of 1.16.17

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

enjoying having the boys home twice this week.    

discovering a rodent problem in the living room.  I was nursing the baby on the couch late Wednesday night and heard a weird scratching sound, but I couldn't figure out what it was.  The next morning, I checked behind the couch and sure enough, found the droppings.  ICK!  Thankfully, we think we caught it right away and the pest control people were able to come out the same day.  I think we all had major heebie-jeebies, hah!   

finishing The Awakening of Miss Prim.  Next book on the list: Gift from the Sea and from the library, I borrowed Yes, Chef to read on my phone during nursing sessions.  

reading a handful of great articles online that have given me a lot to think about:
Get Organized: Things To Throw Away  --> I'm in the middle of that overwhelmed "we have too much stuff!" craziness and ready to give away all the things!
My New Hobby? Making Creative Custom Flooring with FLOR Squares!  --> I don't really have a space for these, but I think the creativity aspect is so cool.  Maybe another house someday.
+ The candy diet  --> This was SO good.  

smiling at Sophie as she talks to the sun after dropping the boys off at school.  "The sun is following me, mama.  I think the sun likes me." "Oh hello sun.  I see you!"

listening to an awesome podcast episode called Cultivating your Mother Culture with Brandy Vencel.  I loved it so much and feel like I have already unconsciously been incorporating it in my own life.  (Starting my book list a few years ago is proof.)  I'm anxious to start reading more classics and maybe some philosophy?  I think I'm ready to push my reading boundaries a bit.

thinking about this quote from Charlotte Mason: “If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play!” 

loving my new boyfriend jeans!  I finally used a Stitch Fix gift card from my birthday (thank you A & S!) and these fit perfectly.  Feels so good to be in pants that button again.  #goodbyematernityjeans

completing the first week of Intensive workouts with the Mutu System.  They are essentially low-impact HIIT workouts, one circuit repeated three times, but oh man.  I'm so out of shape.  The squats!  The lunges!  I could barely walk up the stairs, haha!    

Big White Farmhouse notes:

+ We celebrated our third birthday with a big sale (20% off with the code MAKEAWISH - code works until Sunday night!) and are so excited to see how our business grows in 2017. 
+ I finally finished the shelving in the office! 
+ This week, I worked on ordering new products.  Always so fun, but nerve-wracking!  We've had spring-like weather lately, so my finds are all veering in that direction: tea towels, scatter garden kits and an awesome product for kids - all coming soon!


SEE THE GOOD: a happy, positive or funny find

"I felt it after my first baby, when I felt like I had to prove to myself that motherhood was not going to ‘change me’. (hahahaha) I felt it after my second baby, when I felt I had to prove that I could control two boys and still retain my girly self. (hahahhaha) I felt it after my third baby, because clearly I just had my third baby and people expect you to go downhill from there. (hahahaha) But, by my 4th baby, I didn’t feel it. I felt the most secure in my motherhood, my marriage, my life– I felt like I didn’t have anything more to prove with my body. At this point, I made the purposeful decision that postpartum body shaming was not going to influence my thoughts and decisions this time around."

RELIGIOUS TRUTH TO PONDER: a piece of my faith to think about or put into practice

In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, "but as what it really is, the word of God."  "In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them." (CCC 104)

m: white chicken chili
t: mini shepherd's pies (used homemade pie crust and fresh mashed potatoes)
w: creamy chicken and asparagus pasta 
th: Pepperoni Pizza Rollups & Mozzarella Bites that we tried through BzzAgent #GotItFree
f: chicken fried rice


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Monday, January 16, 2017

{family} Patrick's Birth Story

I've never written a birth story before!  The births of my first five were far from exciting: a few inductions, always an epidural, a few pushes and a healthy baby at the end.  But Patrick...oh boy.  His birth was an adventure and after reflecting on it for a few weeks now, I'm writing it down so I don't forget.


A little back story... Throughout the entire pregnancy, I had consistently "slightly higher than normal" blood pressure.  I Googled myself into a scared stupor, but my doctors were very vigilant and assured me that there was nothing to worry about yet.  As I began my weekly visits at the end, my blood pressure fluctuated a bit higher and there was more talk of possible preeclampsia.  I had a blood screening done and thankfully, all of the preeclampsia markers were normal.  The only factor that concerned my doctors was my declining platelet counts, so we decided that the best course of action would be to induce right after I hit 39 weeks.  She also put me on as much bed rest as I could manage, which really put a damper on my crazy lady last minute nesting spree, hah!  It was a good lesson on surrender.  My prayer during that week was one that St. Gianna Molla said: "Whatever God wants."  

On induction day, we arrived at the hospital right at 7:30.  I was excited and nervous and all the feelings you have on labor and delivery day.  I changed into my gown and got in bed.  The first snag of the day was the nurse's inability to find a good vein to put my IV in.  I have never had a problem with this in the past!  She actually blew a vessel on my right hand (resulting in a HUGE bruise lasting for weeks) but finally was able to find a good one on the opposite hand. 

At 8:30, I was started on just an itty bit of Pitocin and contractions started right away.  When I was checked a few days earlier, I was already 4cm and 75% effaced, so my doctor knew it wouldn't take much to get things going.  She broke my water around 9:30 and contractions quickly picked up in intensity.  I labored for about 45 minutes to make sure things were steady before asking for an epidural.  And 30 minutes later...

Probably the scariest experience of my life!  I should preface this by saying that I'm a big fan of epidurals and have a five for five track record.  But this time around, nothing seemed to go according to plan.  The anesthesiologist had trouble placing it in my back, audibly mumbling, "Hmmm" multiple times.  Not words you want to hear, haha!  I was sweating profusely and my pulse and blood pressure were through the roof.  When she finally finished, I expected the instant feeling of relief wasn't there.  The anesthesiologist asked if I felt the tingling in my legs and when I said I didn't, all she could say was, "Interesting."  

The rest of the morning is one big blur.  Short story: the epidural did not work.  They continually upped my dosage and even put me in the princess position (??) to help push the medicine to my legs, but nothing helped.  In hindsight, they think I was progressing so quickly that the epidural couldn't keep up.  So essentially, I had my first sort-of natural birth!  It was disconcerting, especially when I was expecting that epidural, but I kept praying "Whatever God wants" through each contraction...and then quickly adding, "But God, if you want to get that epidural to work, I'm totally good with that too."  A saint I am not, haha.) 

Thankfully, I progressed quickly.  I felt pressure, pushed three times (holy ring of fire!!) and he was out!

But the fun didn't stop there!  Immediately after delivery, he was very quiet.  They discovered that he had had the cord wrapped around his neck as well as two fairly tight knots.  The nurses quickly whisked him away to the warming bed and I was in a weird haze of relief and confusion.   (His 1 minute APGAR score was 4/10)  After what felt like forever, he finally cried, pinked up and was able to nurse.  We left the hospital with a perfectly healthy baby 24 hours later.  

As I reflected on the entire pregnancy and the adventure-filled birth, I came to believe that my blood pressure problems were all part of a plan to save my son's life.  We had so many doctors and nurses tell us how critical it was to have him arrive just at that time and because of the cord knots, how quickly we could have lost him.  We don't always see past the next step but this experience has shown me how critical it is to trust.  I mean, REALLY trust in Him who loves me and sees the entire picture when I only see a sliver.  Patrick is, without a doubt, my proof.  

Pitocin started 8:30am, birth at 1:18pm

Friday, January 13, 2017

{around here} Week 2/52: Week of 1.9.17

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been: 

feeling out of practice photographing our everyday life.  How quickly that happens!  I often have a baby in my arms and with my phone set aside (I'm really really working on this goal this year!), the camera is getting dusty on the shelf and no pictures are being taken.  Hoping to be better in the future.

surviving Week Two of our No-Spend Challenge.  It's been very eye-opening for me how impulsively we purchase things.  If I ran out of one specific cereal (regardless of the fact that we still had two or three more in the pantry), I'd order a couple more on Jet.  If I made it to dinnertime only to discover the meat had gone bad, we'd just order out.  So many bad habits!  It's been such a good lesson in true need vs. want.

using a new app called Favado to see what's on sale at the nearby grocery stores.  Mark and I love it!

listening to Fountain of Carrots' episode with Blythe (SO good!) and a new find similar to Serial, In the Dark.

putting our first house on the market!  We've been renting it out since we moved four years ago and finally decided it was time to sell.  Prayers and crossed fingers it sells quickly.

finishing The Invention of Hugo Cabret and working through The Awakening of Miss Prim.  I've also been reading The Littlest Family's Big Day, which was Sophie's Epiphany book this year.  The story is so sweet and I love the illustrations.

Big White Farmhouse notes:
+ I took a little "maternity leave"/break from social media, but I'm getting ready to come back to celebrate our third birthday!
+ Lots of new products have been arriving this week, including a gorgeous berry basket recipe box and more menu notepads.  My favorite is the Summer Blooms notepad - the quote on top goes so well with my word of the year.  Might need to keep one for myself!


SEE THE GOOD: a happy, positive or funny find
Mark and I will definitely be volunteering in something like this when our babies are grown.

RELIGIOUS TRUTH TO PONDER: a piece of my faith to think about or put into practice
The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness.  This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it.  (CCC 1718)

th: leftovers
f: homemade pizza


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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

{currently} 20 Things I Love: A Gratitude Journal vol.10

I've recently heard about the concept of "hygge" and have been trying to incorporate it into my days.  I loved how this blogger described it: "Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish word that is a feeling or mood that comes taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments more meaningful, beautiful or special. Whether it’s making coffee a verb by creating a ritual of making it then lingering over a cup to a cosy evening in with friends to the simple act of lighting a candle with every meal. Hygge is being aware of a good moment whether it’s simple or special."  This list was inspired by that.

waking up to freshly fallen snow
playing cards with Mark by the Netflix "fireplace"
our little space heater
a book in my hand instead of a phone (still a work in progress, but better!)
when P smiles in his sleep
the smell of uplifting citrus oils in the diffuser
M's help making lunches in the morning
"Those who leave everything in God's hands will eventually see God's hands in everything."
my new slippers
the boys' rosy pink cheeks when they come home from school
clementines by the dozens
piping hot coffee in my favorite mug
stew in the slow cooker that makes the kitchen smell delicious
the quilt my grandmother made us as a wedding gift
early evening candlelight
pacing the hallway with a baby in my arms
baking chocolate chip cookies with Sophia
my go-to infinity scarf knit by a friend
J in his favorite Ninja Turtle pajamas (which are just a little too small)
falling into our cozy bed after another exhausting day

Friday, January 6, 2017

{around here} Week 1/52: Week of 1.2.17 - Round Three!

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

easing back into blogging.  I'm still in the thick of sleep-deprived delirium, but hopefully I'll be able to make relative sense.    

getting back into a routine after Christmas break.  Having a baby at the beginning of December really made the whole month a blur.  It was so nice to have the big boys home, but difficult too.  Since they have been in school, I've noticed that it takes a few days for them to remember how to play and enjoy being around each other again.  The first week was rough with the bickering and fighting, but they finally found their groove at week two...juuust in time to go back to school.  

celebrating one month with baby P!  He has such a pleasant personality and we are all so in love with him.  We joke that little babies are like fireplaces - you can just stare and watch them for hours!  

loving all of the goals people are hoping to achieve in 2017.  So inspiring!  It's my first true test in SLOW, though - I want to try everything!  Reading a book from every state?  Sounds fun!  Running 2017 miles in 2017?  Sounds hard but a good challenge!  Trying a new creative outlet every month?  I'd love that!...and on and on.  Instead, I've been jotting down my favorites for future 100 Little Things lists and sticking to my own plan.  One thing at a time.      

trying out a new household cleaning/organizing routine with the help of The Confident Mom's Household Planner (it's free!).  I like how she has the tasks already laid out for me - no extra thinking, I just check off the boxes.

starting a 12-week program with the Mutu System in the hopes of healing myself a bit after all of these pregnancies.  I actually did a "soft start" last week and love it already!  So excited to heal my diastasis recti and not pee every time I jump, run or sneeze!
(P.S. The Mutu System is 15% off through January 15 if you're interested too)

reading The Birth Order Book and getting ready to start The Invention of Hugo Cabret with M.

playing cards with Mark after the kids go to bed.  Queen of Spades is our current favorite. 

Big White Farmhouse notes:
+ New shelving is going up in the office!  I love the change and hope to finish up this weekend.  
+ Lots of work behind the scenes reordering products we sold during Christmas, including more succulent planters (LOVE these!) and menu planning notepads (perfect for getting back into the dinner planning groove).
+ I've also been putting a ton of products in our sale section - trying to make room for all of the new finds to come! (Use the coupon code BWFNEWYEAR for an extra 10% off!)

SEE THE GOOD: a happy, positive or funny find 
I stumbled onto Milk&Hannah Photo on Instagram and was instantly touched by her work.  Probably because P's birth experience is still so fresh, I found her photographs so beautiful and vulnerable.  I truly believe that giving birth is one of the most supernatural experiences of my life.

RELIGIOUS TRUTH TO PONDER: a piece of my faith to think about or put into practice
"I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is your true head, and that you are one of his members.  He belongs to you as the head belongs to its members; all that is his is yours; his spirit, his heart, his body and soul, and all his faculties.  You must make use of all these as of your own, to serve, praise, love and glorify God.  You belong to him, as members belong to their head.  And so he longs for you to use all that is in you, as if it were his own, for the service and glory of the Father." -St. John Eudes

m: pasta and homemade meat sauce, salad
t: Taco Tuesday
w: leftovers
th: pork loin, brussel sprouts
f: Epiphany - french onion meatballs, mashed potatoes, salad


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Monday, January 2, 2017

{year of slow} Some Goals for January

Things to Look Forward To
- one month with our sweet baby!
- embarking on a month of no-spending
- (hopefully!) waking up to fresh snow 
- beginning to start the healing process with the MuTu System

Things to Work On
- upgrades to the Big White Farmhouse office (all purchased before the No-Spend Challenge!)

- reading the first few books for the Popsugar Reading Challenge
- thank you notes
- adding more vegetables to my meals

Things to Think About
- a pie to bake

- a documentary to watch
- a new project to combine creativity with daily gratitude
- "Keeping up is easier than catching up"
- a way to say thank you to our mailman
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