Saturday, December 28, 2013

Last one

Hopefully this is the last post on the subject for a while. I just feel like I should wrap things up in my mind a little bit. Truth be told, I was proud of myself for how well I handled the news of my results. I think getting the news on the eve of my aunt's death really helped me see the blessing of knowledge...had my aunt known, she could very well be alive today. Then there was all the excitement of Christmas on my mind. Now with nothing distracting my mind, I've been feeling kind of gloomy.  I still see the blessing, but I also see the news for what it's worth. Anyways, hopefully this is the last post on the subject for a while. For now, I just want to put it out of my mind until April when I go in for my yearly MRI.

Monday, I met with the geneticist again, and it felt totally surreal hearing recommendations for plastic surgeons, and learning that I was being referred out to a high risk gynecologist from now on. It mostly felt like we were talking about someone else. After my appointment, Joel and I went out and had a nice lunch date at the Olive Garden, laughed and had a great little hour without the kids.

And then, two days ago, I wanted to find out how common the mutation is (about .003-.001% of the population) and I saw that that teeny portion of people makes up for about 10% of all breast cancer and 15% of ovarian, and that's when the reality set in. This news stinks. I think what's been bothering me the most, is the fear that this is going to define my life, or at the least that it will always be on my mind. I'm thinking that the news is fresh, so maybe it will take some time.(I won't even get into how knowing all three of my babies have a 50% chance of having it makes me feel. That is hands down the worst of all my feelings.  I just keep telling myself there's gonna be a cure or at least prevention for cancer in 20 years.) Mostly though, this news does not fit with my five year plan, or how I envisioned the future. The good, logical side of me, just keeps reminding myself that I never owned a second of my future, but the other side just wants to pout and cry that not everything is going to follow my schedule. I'm trying hard to trust in God through this all, and to see that not a single one of my plans was ever anything but a plan. Just a few minutes ago, I came across some words written by a beautiful woman of God, and she had this reminder in there....Contentment is defined as "not desiring something more or different; happy enough with what one has or is; satisfied." So I guess right now that is my goal-learning to be happy with what is or will be...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas to all...

What a difference a year makes!
 Christmas Eve we had our traditional dinner, watched Despicable Me 2, and the kids opened up their stockings and Christmas jammies.

 I was so excited for this Christmas knowing that all three kids would have fun, that I was the one who woke up at 5:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. :) Owen was really into unwrapping gifts this year. Sam and Allie had to move fast otherwise Owen was opening theirs.
Thought this was funny...Sam really wanted a Minecraft stuffed toy (from a video game) but at $30- -I decided I'd just make him one. Mine ended up being less than $4, but because I read measurements wrong, it ended up being waaaaaay bigger than it was supposed to be. Basically, his head was supposed to be the size of one of his feet. :P

My favorite find for Allie this year was some dollhouse furniture from Woodzeez.. If you know what I'm talking about, they're a lot like the Calico Creature stuff, but about half the price. Allie's been having a blast having her hairless Lego girls play in the bakery.


I thought this letter to Santa Sam wrote at school was sweet.

And finally, I tried to get some nice pictures of the kids, but it wasn't very successful. Here's only a few of the tries...:)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Well, I got my test brca test results back, and it's not good news. I'm positive for the gene mutation. Even though my chances were 50/50, I think that deep down I was expecting to be negative. I don't know why...maybe because I feel fine? Because things like this happen to other people? Because "the girls" have served me well over the years, and it's hard to see them as time bombs now? That being said when I started the process four months ago to find out, I decided that I was going to do as much research as possible, so that if the day came and I found out, I'd be ready. I didn't want to be frightened, confused, and overwhelmed all at once. Instead, I've had those feelings spread out over the past few months, and I'm pretty sure it did help prepare me for yesterday. One of the things I think that helped me the most was finding a support group on facebook. There are several "previvor" groups, and they're filled with women going through the same thing. \Not that you want someone else to go through this, but there is comfort in knowing others have been where you are at, and made it through to the other side.

The past few months while I've been studying, I've actually been really vague with Joel. I figured there was no need to worry him unnecessarily because there was a good chance everything would be okay. So I was nervous when we had a real talk about what the future is going to look like. But I married a keeper, and we're going to be okay. There was nothing I threw at him that he couldn't handle. Even the stuff that took me weeks to be okay with, he was just like "if that's what it takes to keep you safe, that's what we're going to do." What a blessing this man is to me.

All this being said, there are still a lot of uncertainties. We have an appointment with the genetic counselor on Monday, so we'll see what our next step is. Even though I have an idea of what I'm going to do, nothing has actually been decided at this point. I don't know what my timeline is, but I know that I'm not going to rush into anything. While none of this is anything I would have chosen I feel pretty thankful right now. A few months ago I was sure that I was going to leave this to chance, hope for the best & get by off of self-exams. Knowing what I do now, I am so grateful I had a change of heart and got tested. Today is actually the six year anniversary of the passing of my Aunt Ivy, and I am so clearly reminded that I have been given a gift of foresight that others have not been as fortunate to have.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Monday I had my first ever trip to the emergency room with any of my kids. Owen stuck a bead high and tight in his nose. There was no way I was getting that baby out, so I let a professional handle it. That evening I was contemplating life, and how none of my other kids have ever done things like that, and I realized maybe that was because they never had the opportunity presented to them like the baby of the family has. So that got me thinking about other differences that I've noticed between parenting/life and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd child.

Coming home:
1st: With Sam, I felt like I was playing house. It was blissful. I went from working full time to being a stay at home mom, and it felt awesome getting to stay home. I made sure to sleep when baby slept, and had nothing to do during the day except take care of the baby. All was well in life.
2nd: Allie was definitely harder than Sam, but in general, I don't remember feeling too overwhelmed with her. Sam was still on a good schedule, so I got a nap just about every day while Sam played quietly in his room.
3rd: Owen's arrival is the clear winner on things being hard. We actually got out of the house a lot after he was born (thinking back, I'm impressed that I took all three kids to the pool at least once a week). It was more out of necessity though, because when we were out, I didn't have to worry about my messy house or the fact that Allie was watching her 12th episode of Barney for the day.

Mommy Paranoia:
1st: I had normal first time mom jitters with Sam. I remember checking the poor boys temperature all.the.time. Thankfully, he was born during the age of dial-up, so I was spared a lot of internet panic with him. I do remember putting him in his car seat and dragging him into the bathroom the first time I took a shower. New moms. Gotta love them. ;)
2nd: Two words: Web M.D.
3rd: By the time Owen rolled around, I figured out that for the most part there's not a lot doctors will do besides tell you to give Tylenol and keep an eye on them. I've decided to skip waiting in a cramped office for two hours to get that advice unless there is something really wrong.

Baby Food:
1st: I stuck to the age recommendations like his life depended on it.When he was one I panicked when my mom handed him a whole banana. I was still cutting each small slice into 8 teeny tiny pieces. I also remember Sam eating a lot of spaghettios.
2nd: With her, I made up for all the bad food choices I made with Sam. (ahem, spaghettios...). She never touched a drop of jarred baby food, and we had months worth of baby food stashed away in the freezer.
3rd: I made a few purees at the very beginning, but he pretty much ended up eating whatever we were having mushed and watered down. Where I knew every single food babies were supposed to avoid with Sam, I really don't remember worrying about it with Owen. 
Newborn Schedule
1st: If there was an award for sticking to a schedule, I would have won it with Sam. I literally set the alarm clock every night to make sure he ate every three hours (eventually our pediatrician told me that was a little crazy). I also made sure to put him to bed while he was still slightly awake, because the book I read said to.
2nd: A little vague on the details, but I stuck to a schedule that was rational. I still tried to put Allie to bed slightly awake, but ended up staying there and patting her on the back forever until she finally drifted off.
3rd: There was no schedule with Owen. We were on survival mode with that boy. He pretty much got fed any time he cried, and slept whenever he wanted. Because of Owen's colic, he was rocked to sleep every night, and I would take five minutes to lay him down so he wouldn't realize the transition, while praying fervently that he would stay asleep. I should have bought this:
"Official" Playgroups:
1st: We were at playgroup twice a week, every week.
2nd: Playgroup ended as soon as Allie started taking naps during playgroup time. She actually just started going to playgroup now that she's 4.
3rd: We've actually started going again recently, but honestly, I go because I can sit on a rocking chair while they're entertained with new toys to make sure my children are properly socialized.
1st: I read in a book that binkies cause trouble because babies drop them and then wake up to find them, so I actually worked to teach him how to suck his thumb. I firmly believed no child should have a binkie past the age of one.
2nd: Realizing I lucked out with Sam (he weaned himself from thumb sucking at 6 months) and went the binkie route with her. I learned a little humility when she still had the binkie at 19 months.
3rd: Poor Owen. One night at 5 months I lost his millionth binkie and decided it was time for him to do without because I was tired of making store runs for new ones.
1st: With Sam, we were living off of $9 an hour, so we saved money every way possible. One of those ways was buying Walmart brand diapers. I remember feeling pretty guilty since your bombarded with things like "baby deserves best" the second you get pregnant. I felt like a subpar mom because my baby got Walmart brand. Not the best...
2nd: I made up for being a horrible mother with Allie, and she wore Huggies.  
3rd: The novelty of buying expensive diapers wore off with baby after he got out of the teeny tiny newborn diapers. He gets Target brand, partly because they are better than WM ones, partly because I like having an excuse to go to Target, but mostly because they're half the price of the other ones. ( fyi, I do love Target brand wipes more than any other wipes)

Monday, November 18, 2013


Well, I have an answered prayer that saved me $500! :) My insurance approved my blood testing for the brca test. So in 2-3 weeks, I should have my answer. I think I will be on pins and needles every time my phone rings until then! I find the whole process absolutely amazing. Basically, my family has a specific strand of DNA that's missing that leaves us susceptible to breast & ovarian cancer (also an increased risk of skin & pancreatic cancer). So, the laboratory is going to be looking at my DNA to see if that teeny strand is missing. I'm fascinated with human anatomy/biology, so to me this is some incredible stuff. I can't get out of my mind how intricately God made each of us!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

all the little birdies...

I feel like I start every other post with this, but this week has been busy! Back in June, a friend of mine and I signed up to host a booth at a local craft fair for this Saturday. For now, I've got a facebook page:  As for how I got the name "All the Little Birdies" I happen to love birds, especially song birds and sparrows, plus I call my kids my little birdies. Anyways, on etsy I tried a several combinations of Little Birdies, and have a business page reserved with that name. We'll see though. What I would really, really love to do, is set up a sort of non-profit business-where every few months I'd find a family in need (medical crisis, adoption, ect...) and donate all the profits to them. Again, we'll see. It might not happen until all the kids go to school, but for now, that's my thought.
 So, since June, I've gotten a lot of stuff done, but this past week I've been busy putting the finishing touches on a lot of different things. I did have a problem where I kept changing directions on what I wanted to do. I first started out planning on making holiday banners like this:
I actually really like these, but for some reason, other than cutting out a million burlap triangles, I never made more than three.

Then I made this skirt for Annaleigh and loved it:
After making a few random skirts, I realized that it was a bad choice for a craft fair since I'd have to make a bunch of different sizes in hopes that the right person would want the right size. Since Allie's skirt cost me $10 in fabric, that was more money than I wanted to put into something I might not be able to sell. Making those to order is a much better option, in my opinion.
Finally, I had a friend do a craft fair, and she sold a total of ZERO items. :/ So, I decided whatever I made needed to be something useful, so that even if I sell nothing, I won't have 500 pot holders laying around. I kind of settled on aprons, crayon rolls, and baby items, since they're cheap to make & relatively quick, and I always have a baby shower to go to, or little kids to buy birthday gifts for. The nice thing about making your own stuff, is that you can give a nicer gift for the same amount of money, so that's good. I actually have a baby shower to go to an hour after the fair ends, and I know about 10 other pregnant women. Us military famlies know how to make them babies. ;)
So wish me luck! I'm really nervous about "debuting" my own stuff. Wish my husband luck, because this is definitely the longest he'll ever have had to go watching all three kids on his own.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I'm not sure if there is a better season than fall (besides Christmas, but that's not really a season, is it?). I love it!
  Here's my 30 second, $5 wreath I made for the door. Just a branch wreath with a few decorations shoved in. Maybe over the years I'll add to it, but for now I like the simplicity of it.
Fall also means boots and hot chocolate are back in!

Our house has an overabundance of candy...

and pumpkin flavored everything!
It's also the time of my anniversary which we celebrated by eating at the Cheesecake Factory and playing laser tag. I was pretty proud of my awesome score until Joel reminded me that we were playing against a bunch of 8 year olds. Four hours of fun for the two of us. :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I had what was turning into a rather depressing post on marriage, but I decided to just summarize all of it with this: This year-as I go into my tenth year of marriage-more than ever, I am grateful that I found one of the good ones. Grateful that God put me on the path that led me to him. Grateful that through all the years, my husband has remained a man that has made being married to him easy. Grateful that he has lovingly showed me over the years that not all men are scoundrels. Grateful that I have learned that you can trust another person. So very, very grateful for all I have.
aaaaand....grateful that we've almost reached ten years! We're (okay, actually, it's all me. Joel doesn't think that it will actually work out, and he doesn't know the budget I've set. haha!) anyways, we're planning a second honeymoon type thing for our tenth. :D We still have rather large details to work out (ahem, childcare...) but we've got Rome & Hawaii as possible destinations. This is happening. So excited!


Friday, October 25, 2013

heavy weight

I wrote this blog post a few months ago, and quickly took it down. I wasn't ready to share this at that point. However over time, I've become more and more certain of my decision, and having met women who are willing to share things like this, become less afraid of what may come....
The main reason I took it down was twofold. On one side I didn't want to hear judgmental comments (and TRUST me, you look into the subject, and you will hear plenty of people voicing their ignorant thoughts). And second, and I say this kindly, but I don't want to be flooded with advice. Advice like, raise your ph levels, lower your ph levels, don't eat corn, don't live in a house that's been treated with fire-retardant wood (seriously) do this, don't do that....while I do believe most advice comes from a good heart the truth is it can be obnoxious and ill-timed. Also, with something like this on the line, I really don't plan on taking advice that someone found in an interesting article over what my doctor is telling me. Maybe that's ignorant in their opinion, but it's my life.

So, kind of a weighty subject today..and kind of a controversial one to some people. I've decided to have genetic testing done to see if I carry the brca mutation (basically, the breast cancer gene). Cancer in my family strikes young, and hard...I've lost two aunts in the past six years (who both got breast cancer in their early 40's), had an uncle get diagnosed with breast cancer, and recently learned that I had a 2nd cousin who passed away at 40 from ovarian cancer. I went and spoke with a counselor two or three years back, but at that point, I wasn't ready to contemplate it on any serious level. I figured I'd just take extra precautions by watching myself more carefully, and assume that my chances of cancer were very high. Anyways, I think that now that I am done having babies, and the rest of my life is ahead of me, the future and it's risks seem so much more real to me.

I didn't think making this decision would feel like anything, but man, it does. It feels scary! All of a sudden my future won't be nearly as hypothetical. I'll either be able to able to breathe a sigh of relief that me and my children are safe (obviously, I'll still have all the "normal" risks a person faces), or I'll have to make some life changing choices.Basically, the reason for this is that if I have the gene, I have a lifetime chance of 85% of getting breast cancer, and 20% for ovarian. Not great numbers. My only "real" choice will be preventative double mastectomy and oophorectomy (removal of ovaries). At this point (ask me again if I get bad news, haha) I've decided that worse case scenario, that is exactly what I will have done. I would rather not have to live (or quite frankly, die) with "what if..." later on. Also, we have military insurance, and as much as people like to complain about it, if I'm deemed a high enough risk, they'll pay for everything. Surgery, reconstruction, and medical leave for Joel. I guess I don't really have to explain why that's so big, but to just have that opportunity is far, far more than most people have. It's an incredible blessing, and one that we might not always have. Finally, I have the support of my husband. I know he doesn't really know what the full scope of surgery/recovery will be like (I know I don't know either), but I know not every man would support something that drastic. That will put my chances down to something very low (like 1-2%). The only other option is taking Tamoxifen for five years, and that still leaves me at 65%.

Clearly I'm getting ahead of myself, I haven't had the test done and it will probably be several months until I get them. I have a 50/50 chance of good or bad news, but I think planning & researching has helped calm me, even if it makes it slightly more frightening since it makes the whole situation more "real." Since making the choice, I've spoken with a geneticist, and I'm supposed to have twice yearly clinical breast exams, and an MRI and mammogram done once a year.  So far, I've had the mammogram, which wasn't bad. Maybe a little awkward, but if you've gone through childbirth, you've been in much more "awkward" situations, haha! The worst part for me was that I forgot to shave and your not supposed to wear deodorant, so I felt kinda icky.

This past week has really reminded me that I am making the right choice. Two days ago was the second anniversary of the passing of my aunt from breast cancer. Three days ago, my cousin (this aunts daughter) found out she has the mutation. Please keep my family in your prayers. There has been a lot of suffering the last few years. I was so hoping that the cancer would stop in my generation, but so far three of my four cousins who have been tested have the gene, so the cycle continues.

I'm going to leave you all with a link. Never before have I ever seen something that describes cancer so clearly through in particular reminds me so much of my aunt. It is extremely moving, so if your sensitive just be aware, because it definitely made me cry...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gifts That Give

I'm on my annual hunt for Christmas gifts! Lately, I've been trying to find gifts that are not only beautiful and thoughtful, but ones that support a good cause. I'm a Walmart/Target/bargain shopper, but it feels a million times better knowing that the money we're spending is actually helping an individual rather than a corporation. So. Today's Gifts That Give is from:

International Sanctuary

To get the info yourself, you can click >>here but basically everything is done by a survivor from human trafficking...from the product being handmade (they're paid 100% above fair wage) down to the person putting the item in a box and shipping it to you. Not only do they help women and children in India, but also people who were rescued in America as well. So, so awesome!!

Here are a few of my favorites!
Key Grey Necklace ($20)


Vintage Rose Blue Necklace ($35)

Sunset Pearl Necklace ($25)

Infinity Silver Bracelet ($20)

Aztec Brass Earrings ($20)

Metallic Mix Coasters ($12) and these Ring of Fire Coasters ($12)

Pretty, huh!? Be sure to check out International Sanctuary and tell me which piece is your favorite!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

respect, babies

Oh man, I have a new found respect for babies & kids in general. Ear infections are no joke. No wonder the poor things are so miserable. I'm miserable. I've even spent a good deal of yesterday and today crying, so no wonder they do so much of that. I almost started crying at the doctors office today cause she spent so long talking about my symptoms when all I wanted was a prescription... Along with the ear infection, I've got a massive migraine. I've had small migraines before, but nothing like this. C-section aside, this is easily the most pain I've ever been in. For the first time, I understand how people o.d. on pain pills. I've got enough sense and understanding of biology not to do that, but I was tempted to take a handful of tylenol. I even called Joel and asked him to come home early from work today, which is the first time I've ever done that. I'm also pretty disappointed cause all the migraine pills I came home with really just take the edge off, and only for a little while. :/

Anyways. Whiny, whiny. Besides whine about my life on my blog, a few highlights from today:

I've turned to my ultimate comfort food-a baked potato with a little too much butter and salt, and way too much pepper.
And bought two new owl hats for Allie since I couldn't decide on just one...

(how could I resist!? I got Owen the bottom right one and it's so cute)
Stopped at Walmart on the way home from the doctor so the kids could pick out a lunchable as a reward for being so good (Owen and Allie were truly amazing-their best behavior ever. A  gift from God right there). I joined in on the fun. :P

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

finding peace

Over a month since my last post! I guess nothing new has really happened-just the busyness of life. Actually, that's not entirely true. The last three months have kind of been rough ones, and on one side it felt like a sham to come post here about how great life is going-look at us! we're such a happy apple-picking family!- but on the other, it's hard to open up about our struggles-especially the kinds that aren't major-the kinds we hide from everyone besides our family. I've recently discovered that Christians far too often put on a perfect front, and I've been trying to be more honest. I feel like God has been working on my heart a lot this past month.

I told you all a while ago that I had been feeling pretty awful physically wise (mostly in July). I don't know about you, but grumpy me is not the kindest me (ask anyone who's known me while pregnant, haha!). I felt a lot of impatience, frustration, and even anger about...I don't know, it felt like about everything! The thing is, sin is sin, and I haven't ever seen an exception clause in the Bible that excuses you when you have a headache. The other thing about sin is that the more you practice it, the more it becomes a part of who you are. So even once I started to feel better,  I was still acting out in impatience far far too much. It seemed like any little thing would put me in a bad mood..I was yelling at everybody, and the kids were hearing "hurry up" about twenty times a day. I don't know why it is that sometimes we treat the people we love the most, the worst. :/ 

And then all the following happened in the space of a week or two...I've been in two different Bible studies, and one week the chapter asked what "home" meant to us. My definition was peace and security. I felt pretty convicted that my home was currently not a place of peace! In fact, lately my definition of life was chaos. At the other study, they were talking about patience, and how impatience stems from thinking that what we're doing (or want to be doing) is more important than anything else. We were sitting at dinner one night, and Joel mentioned some things that to me pointed exactly to the fact that he was feeling the un-peace of life. There were other things sprinkled throughout, but when Sam came home with the Bible verse to memorize: God is not a God of disorder but of peace. I actually laughed when I saw that! It's like, okay God! I hear you!!

The other side of the chaos is that lately I've had a lot of side projects going on. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but in my case I was choosing these projects over things like laundry and housework. You can guess what the results of that were! Not only does having a messy house feel chaotic, but it also makes me grumpy, so it was a compounding situation. Last of all, I've had a prayer on my heart for the past five years. Sort of a "if it's Your will God, I'm ready" kind of thing. I've always felt that my answer was "not now" but I felt very strongly that when I prayed about it a little while back I was getting a no. And not a "no" because God has other plans, but a no because our family couldn't handle it because of choices I was making. That hurt!

God is good though. He has helped me sort out my priorities and get me back on a track that I should be on. The first day of working on myself, I decided to write down every single thing that made me feel frustrated, how I felt, how I acted, and what the reality of the situation was. Doing that has made reacting in impatience and frustration a much more conscience act rather than just a reaction. It also helped me find triggers-like being rushed in the mornings.  Now everyone gets up earlier than before, so there is plenty of time. Extra projects have taken a sideline, which has given me more time to get things done. There have been other things going on as well, but these have been the big ones. So! That is where September went!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Busy busy

Joel's parents came to visit for two days, and that was a huge blessing to me. On my side of the family, it has always been up to me to travel with the kids if we wanted to see anybody. Because of this, I rarely get to see my family. It's been one of the biggest struggles I've faced since Joel's joined the military. There is a lot of guilt, pressure, and sadness. Anyways, to have them travel 24 hours round trip just to visit for two days was amazing. Sam and Allie cried a lot when the fun ended, but while  my heart hurt for them, it also made me happy knowing that even though their grandparents live all the way in France, there is a lot of love between them!
We also went raspberry picking twice this month. We got 12.5 pounds of delicious organic, pesticide free berries at a fraction of store prices! Yum! We ate our fill of them, and the rest are tucked away in the freezer for another day.

Sam started school again. Probably because I still have two at home, but the school year is a hundred times more hectic than summer. Got to follow schedules and wake up at specific times. He and Allie also hung out a lot this summer, which I loved and was really great for them, but now Allie misses her pal. But we do have the first week down with no casualties. Joel is gone for all of this week though, so we'll see how we manage. It's only been two days, but it's making me cringe a lot about the thought of a future deployment. I guess we'll cross that bridge when it comes...
I finally finished my kitchen table project. So glad that's done with!
Because now I can get onto my other projects. One of which currently looks like this:

and after that (well, probably before, we'll see) comes this $10 gem I picked up at a yard sale. Suuuuper excited about this find!

Joel starts his masters work again in September and is also refereeing kids soccer this fall, so it doesn't seem like things are slowing down for a while. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

New and improved

Here's our new bedroom. :) A little bit of an improvement from the last post I think!

I got lucky and found four white curtain panels at Goodwill for only $2 each. Just the small change of adding curtains made a big difference in the room.

No more wonky drawers for me!

Joel's. This thing is taller than me!

So there it is! I'm really happy with the choice we made. I was dead set on getting black furniture, but since painting the kitchen table, and having a lot of black in the living room, I'm glad we went with brown. Very grateful that we were able to find something so nice in our budget. It was worth packing all those boxes with a newborn even if I never want to do that again.
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