Thursday, December 10, 2015

Head In Bold

I personally love this quote by Les Brown and it never rings more true than at the closing of a year and the beginning of a new one. In the weeks to come we'll begin to (hopefully) hear resolutions and goals shared by our family and friends for the New Year. Some may even be taking huge leaps of faith on some grand ideas that could leave you feeling stagnant but don't be discouraged...even slow progress counts as progress.

Keep Your Nose To Your Own Road

The best thing to do is to keep your nose to the road that you are traveling. Take time to really do some introspecting to figure what you need to work on or would like to work on for the new year. Social Media has made it so easy for us to get caught up in the lives of others often causing us to feel like we aren't where we should be in our own lives. A sure fire way to kick that feeling is to set goals and intentions for yourself. If you haven't set or brainstormed any goals or resolutions, today is the day! You don't have to necessarily become President but something as small as getting more exercise or eating less red meat is a start.

Be Bold

Even just declaring that "this year is my year" and believing it with all your might raises your vibrations (or spirits, as some say) and sets you up for blessings. I say set some intentions and make them big and bold! I attended a seminar one year on the importance of living the life you want. The speaker instructed us to introspect and think about one great thing that we wanted to accomplish in life and then make 3 lists - they read: 3 days, 3 weeks, & 3 years; each with 3 things to be accomplished within that time to move us closer to that goal. I tried it and have used it from time to time when moving towards those goals that trigger fight or flight, or that run for the hills feeling.

Give Her A Black Eye

DON'T NEGLECT SETTING GOALS OUT OF FEAR!!! (Yes, I'm screaming here) Fearing that we won't or can't accomplish something, fearing that we'll hate ourselves after we fail to accomplish something, or fearing what other people will say is no way to live. It is the exactly opposite of being fruitful. Fear is the greatest weapon used against us and sadly, it's used against us by our own minds. It's been said that "your greatest enemy is that person staring back at you from the mirror". This year, shoot for the moon and give that scary chick the black eye she deserves.

Be Fruitful,

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Blessed In The Wait

This week we conclude our study of the book of Acts and I hope you were all able to take something away from it. In my reading I found that a section of the book lingers in my head, that is Acts 16:25-40. Let's take a look...
 25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
Let's pause here! I don't know about you guys but I would have taken that as a sign from God to RUUUNNNNN!!!! But they don't...
27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

I paused and sat there for a minute shaking my head and began to wonder, "Did Paul suppose the guard would be killed had they escaped?" "Did Paul just want his say in court, he was a Roman that was treated badly according to the law?""Was he afraid someone would snitch?" I couldn't believe they just sat there!
29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. 
Talk about conversion! 

I realized had Paul and Silas taken their opportunity to escape those people never would have been saved! That guard would have ended his life leaving his family devastated and possibly making Paul and Silas fugitives, accused of murder. I mean who would have believed those gates just flew open and that guard killed himself!

How many times have I done this in my life? 

Felt like "now is the time for action" and ended up screwing things up because I didn't wait for God's timing? Yes, it takes a lot of faith and patience but in the end we come out blessed beyond what we can even imagine. As I continued to read it states, Paul wanted his say in court he wanted to address his mistreatment as a fellow Roman to the judge. But look what God did...he took even that (what I would call a slightly selfish) moment and used it to bless a whole family and keep Paul and Silas with their good names.

At the end of this chapter, Paul has his say with the magistrates and he and Silas are released and sent away in peace. Again, not how it would have gone had they taken that chance to run earlier. It's important that the next time we see our chance to run, that we take a minute and pray, ask God for insight to really see the consequences of our actions!

Thanks for reading and as always Be Fruitful!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Are You A Christian Tiger Mom?- Pt. 2

By Renee Jamerson

This week I finished reading Amy Chua's book, Battle Hymn of A Tiger Mom. If any of you remember, Chua's book gained notoriety due to her "strict" and sometimes seemly "authoritarian" parenting-style. Chua however, described herself as a typical Chinese mother...a "Tiger Mom". None of us are strangers to the stereotyping that occurs with people of Asian descent (mostly Chinese and Indian), of them being brainiacs and wiz kids. I began reading this book because I wanted to look into the stereotype for myself and (to be truthful) pick up some tip to help my children amazing grades for the upcoming school year. What I found was that besides traditional family beliefs, there was also the idea of training the child as opposed to raising the child (which according to Chua is a Western ideology). Many of the Asian familial and child rearing beliefs are founded on the ideas of Confucius' Chiao Shun (training) and Guan (govern and love). These concepts have been described as strict by a lot of parents others have viewed them as just a difference in culture.

This got me to thinking about what the bible had to say regarding a mother's attitude toward academic success for her children. Should I, as a Christian, be a "Tiger Mom"?

 For the first half of our list, check out Are You A Christian Tiger Mom?- Pt.1 with that said let's get into the second half of our list. 

7. When a child continues to disobey you, he/she deserves a spanking- Despite popular belief spanking is actually in the bible and is an acceptable discipline when administered with patience, control and explanation. There is actually a manual on the Focus On the Family website on how to administer a proper and biblical spanking. The book of Proverbs is full of scriptures on spanking.  

Biblical Support: "Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them"- Proverbs 13:24 

8. Mothers primarily express love by helping children succeed- I think this goes above with #7. You disciple out of love and the need to teach life lessons to help your child succeed. -see Proverbs 13:24

9. A mother's sole interest is in taking care of her child- While it is impossible for child-rearing to be your only interest, it should be one of your most important interest.

Biblical Support: "Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure to be busy at home..."- Titus 2:4-5

10. Child should be in the constant care of their mothers or family- We can only imagine the trouble an unattended child could get into or even the poor result in the life of a child not properly raised.

Biblical Support: "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."- Proverbs 29:15

11. Mothers should do everything for their child's education and make many sacrifices- Any parent knows that the decision to be someones mother or father is a huge responsibility that requires great sacrifice and selflessness. Little people depending on you night and day, your eyes the first to open and the last to close with no days off.

Biblical Support: The whole entire chapter of Proverbs 31. 

It looks like despite how "strict" the ideologies of traditional Asian child-rearing may seem it appears that Chiao Shun and Guan fall in line with God's idea of what a devoted mother should be...a Tiger! Anyone else feel a roar coming on?!? Being a parent is not easy but it sure does help when you at least have guidelines for what you're supposed to be doing. 

Stay Strong Mommas and as always Be Fruitful!

1 Chao, Ruth K. Beyond Parental Control and Authoritarian Parenting Style: Understanding Chinese Parenting through the Cultural Notion of Training. Child Development, 1994, 65, 1111-1119

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Are You A Christian Tiger Mom?- Pt.1

by Renee Jamerson

This week I finished reading Amy Chua's book, Battle Hymn of A Tiger Mom. If any of you remember, Chua's book gained notoriety due to her "strict" and sometimes seemly "authoritarian" parenting-style. Chua however, described herself as a typical Chinese mother...a "Tiger Mom". None of us are strangers to the stereotyping about people of Asian descent (mostly Chinese and Indian), being brainiacs and wiz kids. I began reading this book because I wanted to look into the stereotype for myself and (to be truthful) pick up some tips to help my children get amazing grades for this school year. What I found was that besides traditional family beliefs, there was also the idea of training the child as opposed to raising the child (which according to Chua is a Western ideology). Many of the Asian familial and child rearing beliefs are founded on the ideas of Confucius' Chiao Shun (training) and Guan (govern and love). These concepts have been described as strict by a lot of parents, while others have viewed them as just a difference in culture.

This got me to thinking about what the bible had to say regarding a mother's attitude toward academic success for her children. Should I, as a Christian, be a "Tiger Mom"?

 According to a study conducted by Ruth K. Chao of the University of California (1), there are 13 training items to this concept; with the exception of 2 (which involve parent/child co-sleeping) we will discuss 11 and how they correlate with the Bible.

1. Children by nature are born good. - While some may say that no one is born good because we are all born sinners, this statement is referencing a child's way of thinking and seeing life.

Biblical support: "But Jesus said, Suffer little children and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven."- Matthew 19:14

2. Parents must begin training a child as soon as their ready- This one maybe a bit tricky because who's to say what is ready for anything. But I think its safe to say us parents kind of get a discernment for when our children are capable of learning new things and we should support that ability as soon as we see it.

Biblical support: If you remember correctly David was a young boy shepherding his father's sheep, he stood up to Goliath with great faith (1 Samuel 17). Jesus himself was a young boy of 12 years old when he stayed behind in Jerusalem to hear the teachers and then soon left to be about his father's business (Luke 2:41-52).

3. Children can improve in almost anything if they work hard- We are constantly called to practice righteousness throughout the bible, this just goes with the adage that "practice makes perfect" no matter what it is your practicing.

Biblical Support: "Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." -Phillipians 4:9

4. Mothers must train children to work very hard and be disciplined- Of course we all want well-behaved and responsible hard working children.

Biblical Support:  "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men" - Colossians 3:23

5. Mothers teach children by pointing out good behaviors in other people- I don't know about you but I do this all the time. Most of the time I use biblical figures as examples.

Biblical Support: Aside from the fact that Jesus referenced people from the Old Testament all the time. There are so many examples: need bravery (David), a lustful son (Samson), unconditional love (Jesus), Jealousy (Cain and Abel) and the list goes on and on.

6. The best way children learn how to behave is to be around adults- Let alone the fact that we all read about Never Never Land and the lost boys. Parental presence is all too necessary in the proper raising of a child, even Jesus needed a mother and teachers while he was here on earth.

Biblical Support: see again Luke 2:41-52

Who knew right?!? It's look like according to our list so far, those Tiger Moms maybe on to something...check back next week for the second half our list and your finally decision on whether you should be a Christian Tiger Mom!

Be Fruitful!

Chao, Ruth K. Beyond Parental Control and Authoritarian Parenting Style: Understanding Chinese Parenting through the Cultural Notion of Training. Child Development, 1994, 65, 1111-1119

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Back to School, Back to Reality

My timeline has been buzzing for the last couple of weeks with parents celebrating their children's first days to or back to school. I have a confession...every time I see one, I am filled with anxiety! This year I have 2 kids returning to school and 1 headed to Kindergarten, that gives me 3 kids in school and 1 toddler {biting nails}.

It started out as excitement, my bopsies ("Irish Twins") would finally be together (at least in the same school) and I would truly only have 1 "baby". The more I began to think of this upcoming school year I began to feel nervous. Thoughts like, How will I get through all of that homework? How will I every get anything done around the house during the week? What time will I have to cook dinner? What if one is struggling, while I'm trying to assist the other two? How will I keep the baby out of my hair long enough to assist the other three? On and on the thoughts came, until I could be a victim no longer! I headed over to the Board of Education website and began printing packets for the upcoming year, figuring this would give the girls a head start on the material they would be covering. I spoke about this briefly in my Mid-Summer Wind Down article. This eased my anxiety a little, then I realized what I needed was a plan of action!

My life saving tool when all seems awry is organization and structure, find it or build it. I began pulling my old schedules and Peek At The Weeks that I had used for the kids this past year and reworked them.  I recreated a general schedule for what my normal week would look like, what I expected the girls to do after-school and when; for this I used an hourly template with columns for each girl. Including everything from homework to snack. Doing this allowed me to see the available time slots that would be open after I got home from work. Since there is a column for me on the sheet, I was able to schedule in time for homework check, cooking, cleaning, bathing and hair care. I also found these great morning and bedtime routine door hangers (yes, it's amazing the things you can find online)!

The next issue that was causing me anxiety were the school supplies lists. Trying to eyeball and check-off items from 3 different lists with more than 20 items was causing me to lose my mind. Plus I was certain I didn't need to buy everything on them because I had extras from the year before. To tackle this problem I created a School Supply Inventory Sheet. I consolidated those three lists into one sheet containing the number of each item needed per child. I then pulled out every school supply in my house and the used item from last year and began to write in how many we had in stock. Finally, I was ready to search for deals and coupons. Updating the inventory sheet upon each purchase to reflect the newly stocked items. Creating this sheet made back to school shopping soooo much easier and kept me from overspending. It also gave me the clear mind I needed to comparison shop.

To some this may all seem complicated and like a lot of work but I prefer to work with an organized plan and like they say "failure to plan = a plan to fail".

Best of luck this school year and as always Be Fruitful!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mid-Summer Wind Down

We've reached the mid-point of Summer break and I can't help but think "wow this was quick!" I don't know if it was the realization that my girls still have to finish up their assigned projects or the realization that the time is approaching to cough over the bucks for uniforms (3 kids-worth this year) and school supplies...but IT'S AUGUST!!!

I guess it's time to settle back into school-mode, we've had a pretty full summer including a family reunion/vacation in Atlanta, tons of outdoor activities with family and friends and multiple trips to Brooklyn Bridge Park. If you haven't made your way down there yet your missing out! They've got Jane's Carousel (which is super cheap), a free pool, free skating (on certain days & times), basketball courts, volleyball courts, batting cages, a couple of sprinklers and tons of grass and wildlife. The best part is, they're not done...they are still building! This park is right on the waterfront and is absolutely refreshing for us New Yorkers. I think Central Park may have some competition here, Brooklyn Stand-up! (LOL) 

This month will definitely be a little calmer and consist of more prepping for the school year. I have already started my 2 oldest, as well as my incoming Kindergartener, on reviewing last years modules and getting a head start on the upcoming years curriculum. That is definitely a plus for the Common Core system. You can pretty much get your child's lessons online before they get it in class giving them a heads up and advantage. I got all of my girls' packets on, a site that links directly from the NYCDOE site, just look under their Common Core Library menu. My girls did great last year, especially with it being my first run at having more than one school-aged child, we worked our buns off trying to keep up with all the homework and assignments, so this year I am taking the proactive route, after all learning begins at home! 

Well that's my mid-summer synopsis! I hope you guys are enjoying yours as much.  

Be Fruitful,

Friday, June 5, 2015

Fruitful Organizing

I don't know about you guys but some of my biggest stresses in my week as a working mom comes from those unorganized or unexpected moments in my life. Nothing causes me to lose my sanity quicker than some impromptu issue popping up. While I know I can't plan everything in life there are great ways to give yourself at least a little room to maneuver when issues arise and I'd like to share some with you.

Here's are some of my weekly strategies to combat the insanity of pop-up issues:

Get Those Priorities in Check

I start off my week (usually on Sunday) by figuring out everything I have to do or think about for the week ahead. Of course as a Mom I feel my biggest responsibility is parenting so I finish each night by checking my kids' backpacks for any flyers or permission slips. I gather them all up on Sunday, along with our family planner, my cellphone and a fresh copy of my "Peek At The Week" (a handy tool I found for FREE on iHeart Organizing) and the process begins. I fill in our family planner with the dates of trips, school events, doctor's appts., work meetings and my Husbands meetings (that I know about in advance). I then do the same in my cellphone calendar, because this is the one I carry all the time and the family planner stays in the kitchen. By combining all these items I am able to spot any schedule conflicts and make adjustments or prepare to weather a storm. I then proceed to fill in the "Peek At the Week" which also includes a section for "To Do's", "Grocery List" and a meal planner. After I fill in the items that are most important and number them from highest to least important, I fill in my (as Stephen Covey calls them) my "Sharpen the Saw" items. The things for the week that I want to focus on physically, emotional/socially, spiritually and mentally just for me, as a person. This may seem like a lot but it helps me to keep balance and focus and allows me to squeeze in "me-time".

Draw Near to God 

We all know what they say about cleanliness and it's really true. I find I have more time to focus on my relationship with God if I have less to do around my house. Managing a home of 6 people can be quite challenging, especially when 4 of those people are under the age of 12!  But I do try to implement some basic rules that I learned over time.
     A. Involve the kids- while it would be great to be supermom and not have to feel like I'm depending on others for help the reality is, we all have a responsibility to keep our home clean! I was able to find great age-appropriate chore charts for my little ones, even down to the 3 year old. Throughout the week they have basic chores that keep our home "maintained" until the weekend, when we can really get down to the nitty-gritty of things like the laundry and bathrooms (which thank goodness can wait a little since we don't have aiming issues).

     B. Don't sleep on dishes - I try not to go to sleep with dishes in the sink or trash in the house. I know, it can be sucky having to wash dishes after dinner and being at work all day but it is much better than having them pile up!

     C. Monthly Cleaning Calendar- I found a great gem on The Peaceful Mom that breaks down a schedule for cleaning household items such as appliances and upholstery into certain days. It is a really great way to get to everything in your house evenly without spending all day Saturday cleaning like Rosie the Robot.

     D. Bless Others- It's always a good idea to hand-down or donate winter clothes you know your children won't be able to use or fit next year. This is usually when my family experiences the "sweater wars". Every girl has that one sweater they just can't part with and little girls are no different. While it's usually rough for them to let go in the end it benefits us all.

Love You, Mind, Body & Soul

Mind, Body and Soul- Another great thing about spring is that it's a time of blooming and rejuvenating. This spring I decided to start my mornings out with 15 minutes of yoga and I have to admit it has really given me a jump-start to my day.  It's a great time to detox and clean out our systems and prepare for lighter eating with the hot weather soon approaching. I also make it a point to examine myself for any old built-up emotions and get 'em out or over, whether via journaling or meditation and prayer, It's great to detox yourself of old feelings and welcome optimism and freshness!

As always Be Fruitful!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Making Those Sibling Bonds Rock Solid

As I'm sure you all witnessed, last week was National Sibling Day and I truly enjoyed seeing all of the pic collages of my friends and family with their siblings. It's really great when you see that a parent has done an exceptional job forging strong family ties.  I know as a Mother, nothing would give me more peace than knowing after I'm gone my children are there for each other through thick and thin! (Smile)

That's why Hubby and I work so hard to keep our daughters engaging with each other. My oldest is 10 and the youngest is 3 and that to me is a pretty big age gap, so here are some ideas we came up with to encourage interaction among our tribe.

1.) Room Assignments- We have 4 girls, so we paired our oldest up with "babygirl". My oldest was struggling with the big sister role and sort of became detached, so we placed these 2 together as roomies and bang, love connection...I mean who can resist a cute 3yo in the middle of the night spooked from a bad dream? This also encouraged teamwork as they are both responsible for keeping their room clean. My oldest has established a leadership role in their relationship and is viewed as almost a second mother of sorts to "babygirl", because if for some reason I am unavailable at babygirls call big sister steps in in a flash.

2.) Homework Help- Since I am currently a working mom, my oldest is responsible for helping the sister under her with her homework. The same goes for the set of littles; the older little is responsible for helping babygirl with her afterschool assignment. After their time together I step in and review the work and have them explain their answers to make sure no "extra help" was given.

3.) Chores- My girls have chores beyond making their beds and cleaning their rooms. They help with laundry, setting the table and cleaning common areas of our home. This instills the idea that they are responsible for each other. If one is in charge of socks they are in charge of everyone's socks.

4.) Games- We love to play team video games (ie. Michael Jackson, Dance Revolution or Kinect Adventures). My girls are competitive by nature so any chance they get to team up and give a beat down (in play, of course) they're ready for action. We also play board games, which is a great way to teach the littles about patience and taking turns. I mean think about it nothing ruins a sibling bond (or any relationship for that matter) faster than selfishness.

While all households are different and may not contain as many children, it is still very important to have strong sibling bonds. As my Momma has said time and time again "when Momma and Daddy are gone you guys are all each other have!" In all retrospect,
a friend maybe able to loan you a dollar but a sister can give you an organ!(Smile)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

10 Inspiring Children's Books

by Ruth Krauss
This book is one of my personal favorites. A great read on faith in the face of doubt in embodies the plot of the James 5:7.

by Ruth Krauss
Another great read by Ruth Krauss, it's about spreading your wings and learning to fly.

by Keiko Kasza
The book is about a little bird who finds love and a Mommy in the most unusual being.

by Peter Reynolds
Another personal favorite here! Ish is a great book about self-confidence. A story about a little brother draws a picture not so appealing to his older brother.

by Maria Dismondy
This book is another good read on self-confidence and forging ahead in the face of bullying.

by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
A book about valuing your the "U" in unique. In this story spoon overlooks his uniqueness to glorify the greats of being a fork or knife.

by Katherine Battersby
The story is about a bunny with funny social skills that finally has a chance to help others out!

by Shel Silverstein
A great read and lesson on appreciation and valuing the environment

by Leslie Helakoski
Yet another absolute favorite of mine! Woolbur is a story about a little lamb that refuses to conform. His wool is a mess and he could care less as he lives his life by his own beliefs.

by Helen Lester
This book is another about blazing your own path despite what is considered to be popular opinion.

With this great line up I'm sure your child will fall in love with a couple of them just as my little ones have!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Get The Best Return With Your Tax-Return

It's that time of year again, time to pay the piper and I've spotted multiple posts in my news feed lately regarding people's anticipation of their recently received or impending tax returns ($$)! Many of them joking about their once again "hood rich" status. For those of you not privy to this term, it's the state of mind when you have a large sum of money just long enough to look the part of nouveau riche to only end up "broke" in no time (at least that's my definition).

For those of you looking to make the most of your tax return in a responsible way, I have some suggestions that I have actually partaken in myself.

Tip 1- For those living Paycheck to Paycheck- Try taking your return and getting ahead on some of your fixed expenses (ie. an expense that costs the same every month) such as rent, car payments or life insurance. You'll see that by eliminating some of the pressure from bills and allocating a set amount you can put to the side monthly you actually end up with more money for the fun stuff.

Tip 2- For those with kiddies- Unfortunately, I know tons of parents out there that see that extra dough (child earned credit) as some form of payment for taking care of their kids throughout the year.  I suggest you do the smart thing and invest it in your child's future. College is only expected to become more expensive and the job market more competitive. Another option is to put it aside for an extracurricular activity that your child may want to engage in. Certain activities like ballet, football and gymnastics can really break your pocketbooks if your not prepared when your little one gives you those puss in boots eyes because she wants to be a "ballerina princess".

Tip 3- Think Long-term- If you've been getting by fine on your paychecks put it towards an asset. Who says you have to be married before you entertain the idea of owning a home or even an apartment. You'd be surprised how fast you could own something in just 4-5 years of stashing those returns. Another option is stock. You don't have to be Jane Wall Street to invest in a brand that you are loyal to, especially with sites like E-Trade. While you probably won't become Warren Buffet you'd be surprised that your money can grow if you make a good choice. If your not the risky kind you could always stick it in a retirement plan, after all who knows where Social Security is bound to end up.

Tip 4- Make it worth the loss- If you must spend your money on something fun I say make it an experience and take that dream vacation.

While I'm no Financial Expert, I do know from experience that these tips definitely won't leave you with buyer's remorse or even have you saying "if I had that money again...I would..." 3 months from now. So spend wisely or don't spend at all and as always...

Be Fruitful!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Grab A Copy!

(Released February 2015)

Our 1st "Must-Have" for Winter 2015 is "For Girls Like You!" Devotional book for Tweens by Wynter Pitts, Founder of "For Girls Like You" Magazine & Resources for Girls.  Pitts' online magazine is a hit with young Christian girls and her new book has been endorsed by both Bible Teacher Priscilla Shirer and Candace Cameron Bure, so far! I'm definitely going to grab a copy for my Young Lady!
For info on "For Girls Like You!" check out and don't forget to suggest it to a young lady in your life!

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