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Monday, June 29, 2009

bon voyage!

and away we go!

off to nantucket for the week, and back for a couple days before we leave for new york! and just to spice it up, we're leaving a day early! aaahhh! trying to leave on the day you're trying to pack is no easy task. and we're going to try to weasel our way on to a booked ferry! wahoo- talk about living on the edge! i have to hit the grocery store and find some time to run :) pray for me!

have a great week, everybody!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

i know you seen me on the video (true)

since i can't get blogger to upload videos for some reason (blast you, blogger!), i'm uploading them onto facebook. if any of you readers of mine are on facebook and haven't found me yet, friend me so you can watch. these videos are hilarious and adorable, and include:

  • elias playing the piano singing "glory God" and "red sox song" (for you, auntie kris). watch his star-quality as he tells me to clap and not to come "too close." just plain hilarious.

  • the release of ribbons the mouse and her four babies "into the wild"...some funny commentary on this one.

  • piper dancing to "boom boom pow" in the living room. shaking her booty booty. SO adorable.

hope you all have a fabulous weekend!
if you're local, check out the rummage sale going on at our church today from 8 to 2!

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Friday, June 26, 2009

big mistake. HUGE.

i'm a big music person. i don't know about every new band, and i'm not a snob about what's "good" or "what's not" but i do really just enjoy music. of all types. maybe even country, but i'm not sure on that yet. haven't given it a fair shot. so this is a question for any of you out there who listen to christian music.

i have a pastor's wife confession:

i only own one "christian" CD.

switchfoot. from 2003.

not because i think christian music is bad, but because i'm not sure it's good. i just don't know. and i need you to tell me. i feel like taste in music is as individual as fashion and style or food preferences. to each his own. if you like it, that's all that matters. i just want to know what you like, or what you think i'll like. because i'm not tech savvy, persay, i don't listen to free downloaded music constantly or have a lot of random music on my computer. i don't have an ipod and i don't even know how to download music without, like, getting arrested or something. the only music i stole was off nicks hard drive a while back ;) thanks, nick. but buying CD's is so expensive and, i don't know, old fashioned now or something. clearly i need some help.

here's where you come in. below is a list of some CD's i own or bands/musicians i enjoy (i'm across the board- jazz, hip hop, rock, i'm into whatever) and maybe you could give me some music suggestions?! i'm curious about the christian music arena, but if you're reading and you don't own any christian music either, then you can suggest any new music that you're listening to or just love in general. i'm always looking for suggestions.

yay! i'm excited already!

some of my faves: Adele, John Mayer, Coldplay, Ryan Adams, Kenna, Bright Eyes, Radiohead, James Morrison, Ben Harper, Gomez, Estelle, Rufus Wainwright, Feist, Mat Kearney, Citizen Cope, Kings of Leon, Amy Winehouse, Kanye West, The Fray, Augustana, Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists, Ray LaMontaigne, Regina Spektor, John Legend, Michael Buble, Live, Damian Rice, U2, Harry Connick Jr., Norah Jones, Jason Mraz, Jimi Hendrix, Pearl Jam, The Cranberries, Josh Kelley, RAtM, Beck, Dave Matthews Band, Snow Patrol, Jamie Cullum, Foo Fighters, Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake, MJ in his early days ;)...and the list goes on.

"without music life would be a mistake."
friedrich nietzsche


Thursday, June 25, 2009

ain't no sunshine

(remember this?)

this may be my fault. i might have jinxed it.

i put my air conditioners in a couple weeks ago...and it's been raining and grey ever since. and ever since i put my shade up in my kitchen window the sun has refused to shine. i have yet to actually USE this shade. it has not moved. there has yet to be any sunshine in my eyes.


it's JUNE.
almost JULY.

no sun presents a few problems. not including the fact that i am getting a little crazier every day.
  1. there are about a thousand mushrooms growing in my new patch of sod. awesome.
  2. miss piper is too big for all her warm clothes, so she's an a two or three outfit rotation, while all her pretty summer clothes hang in her closet. yuck.
  3. and elias, is DYING to go swimming/go outside/do anything that is not inside, and it's been so wet and rainy, i haven't been able to exercise him like he needs (does that make him sound like my pet, or something? ah well. it's true).

our garden, on the other hand, will probably be a jungle by the time we get back from vacation. look at the bright side, right?! wait a minute...what does bright look like?

i need to be get a move on with packing and gearing up for vacation. and i swear i need vitamin D to be productive and get excited.
is anyone else like that?

for now, i am just waiting for the sun to come out. like annie or something. since pastor's wives don't have any more pull with God when it comes to weather, i guess i'll just have to be patient ;)

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

i have this problem

i prepare for vacation in weird ways.

like yesterday, taking every folder of pictures on my computer, organizing them by year, and copying them ALL onto my external hard drive.


because that is helpful.

or like monday, going through every drawer and the closet organizing, washing, and/or re-folding/hanging every article of clothing i own. then proceeding to filter out winter clothes, put them in rubbermaid containers, make a pile for donations, a pile for consignment, a pile for pregnant friends...

i get this disorder (that must be what it is) from my mother, actually. when the house would be messy, and we'd be expecting company, the first things she'd do would be something crazy like pulling all the linens out of the linen closet to sort, or all the tupperware from the cabinets to organize.

but i really have to STOP doing things that DO NOT help me get ready for vacation.

seriously...what is WRONG with me?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

when you ask for a trim...

i love lilacs.

although their life is short-lived, it is deliciously fragrant and beautiful...and enjoyed immensely by yours truly. much to my delight two years ago, i realized our home is full of lilac trees. or are they bushes? it remains to be seen, because the previous owner was a structural engineer, not a gardener. cool for the addition he put on the house. not cool for the rest of the grounds.

i'm no expert on plants, trees, flowers, and the like. i only aspire to be. i read and research when it comes to these things, because i am very aware that my thumb is not green. even if green is my favorite color.

enter: my dad, ray, one night last week. he had stopped by to see the backyard (that post is coming soon, too) and since my dad is a project kind of guy (apple didn't fall far from the tree, eh?), and i mentioned pruning the tremendously overgrown tree, seen here below, he offered to help dave (read: he thinks he is the only one who knows how to do things "right" so he inserted himself into the project quickly. especially because it involved chainsaws, and he loves chainsaws).

this is my lilac tree on the right.
actually, this was my lilac tree.

things seem to be going well. branches are being trimmed, i'm getting excited about shaping the tree better so i can reach the blooms and see some new growth...

eli's helping his "gp" (of course, he needed his own hand saw and ladder to work on the maple tree)...we're having a splendid good time (leave me alone, i get really excited when projects get started AND finished).

my dad's got his american flag bandanna, dead limbs are dropping, i am well pleased with the progress...

piper's loving it. nothing like a loud chainsaw and branches crashing to the ground. haha, she's hilarious...

"mom- this is NUTS!"

and then...

i take piper inside to start dinner, and when i come back out to check on the of the branches i had wanted trimmed had been cut off, so my lilac tree looked ridiculous. i had to have them take the tree all the way down to 3 feet. so instead of my 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 pruning approach...

i ended up with what is considered a hard prune:

there she is, in all her glory.
it's like when you go to the hairdresser for a trim, and she cuts off 10 inches. not exactly what you asked for.

luckily my husband and father were gracious with me when i berated them for destroying my tree. i don't know what got into me. i mean, it's a will grow back.

it's just going to take a few years.
ohhhh lordy.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

happy father's day, love.

dave always gets embarrassed when i write gushy or complimentary things about him in my blog. since i'm in love with him, and he's the most amazing man i know, not writing complimentary and gushy things proves difficult.

since today is father's day, i can get away with writing about him. so i'm going to. and he can't stop me!

dear husband,
i'll try to keep this relatively brief, but you make it impossible. as my partner in this life, i honestly feel privileged to be raising kids along side you. before we were even dating, i knew you'd be a great dad. it's one of the things that attracted me most to you. you just have "it"...whatever that "it" is. and that "it" is something very special- more of a gift than a talent or a skill.

one of the things i love the most is your willingness to participate in raising our kids. there are no tasks you consider "mine" because i'm the mother. there is no area of interest when it comes to raising kids that you aren't interested in. you want what's best for your kids, and you want to read about/talk about/find out about whatever those best things are. parenting to you (and with you) is exciting and joyful. it's a relief to a mom, knowing that she has someone who's got her back, who will step in and give her a break, who will take a turn, who is always involved and invested.

on top of all that, you're fun and playful, and you really enjoy spending time with your kids. it's so amazing to watch you with elias and piper. the way they adore you makes me adore you even more. i love listening from the other room as you and elias sword fight or play chess. and i love how every time piper sees you she reaches for you and snuggles up into your chest. i love how you enjoy teaching them new things, and i am in awe of your patience with them. i especially love how you've taught elias to compliment my cooking and tell me i look pretty. he'll make a great husband and father some day because of you :)

so for every story you read, every skill you impart, every teaching moment, every game of baseball, every venture out fishing, every peek-a-boo, every paino lesson, every tickle-tackle, every snuggle, kiss, and hug, i am forever grateful. not only that my children know you, but that they are fortunate enough to have your genes and be raised by you. you are man i respect greatly and love deeply. and i know our children will feel the same.

happy father's day, handsome. i hope you enjoy today as much as we all enjoy you.
xo, mama, jason bay/elias, and pipski

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

updates, edition 3: our vacation

dave and i differ on this point, actually, but i don't believe that you can "vacation" with children. if you're somewhere with kids, i think the correct terminology is a "trip" or an "adventure"...but not a vacation. vacations are relaxing, responsibility-free time where you don't have to pack your entire life up just to go and try to live it more inconveniently some place else.

don't mistake my realism for dread, however. it's a lot of work to go on vacation, don't get me wrong, but i LIVE for time alone with my little family, and getting away from the hum-drum every day. and one of my resolutions was to be more adventurous, no? :) so although it can seem overwhelming to me at points when i think of the amount of packing and logistics to consider, i truly am excited to get away with my love and loves.

whether you have a family or not, i'm sure you're quite aware that vacations are expensive. understatement of the century, right. especially when you're taking two kids and need that much more space to vacation in. it's not exactly in the budget to rent a house somewhere for most people. but this year, we are blessed to be vacationing in nantucket. for those of you who know anything about nantucket, this island is not a place i ever thought i'd be able to take my family on vacation (it's kind of "posh" or something). a day trip, maybe, but for a week? yeah right. but through another local pastor, we were introduced to the ozias', who let pastors and their families come and stay with them on the island for free.

man, some people really have big hearts, huh?

it's really an amazing blessing to not have to pay to lodge for a week (who says lodge?), never mind that we are lodging on the adorably quaint and insanely beautiful island of nantucket. blessed.

so we'll be on the island for a week, back home for a few days, then off to lake taghkanic in new york with dave's folks to spend a week in a cabin for some more rustic living. the kids are going to have a blast! and i'm really excited that dave's family, who are out in indiana and chicago, will have a chance for some stratton kid saturation. a little piper and elias can go a long way :)

and now it's crunch time. i won't bore you with my extensive list of things i need to find/buy/finish/locate/pack/organize before we can go. but i will tell you i'm going to miss writing to you while i'm gone. i'm not sure i'm going to be able to be away and not write for that long! i may have a couple blogs to fire as i'm away, one for piper's one year birthday, and a couple videos (if i can ever get them to upload, what the heck!), but i'll be on the beach or in the woods for a good while. i'm looking forward to it. it has the potential to be a lot of fun. we'll just have to see. don't worry- you'll be the first to know ;)

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


today i realized, not for the first time, however, that i am habitually and characteristically overzealous about "do-ing" and "working." i am literally on the verge of incapable of just sitting still. people always remark at how thin i am (which begs the question 'why are people so obsessed with weight?' but whatever, that's a blog for another day), and although i have my father to thank for a very fast metabolism, the real reason he and i (and many others i'm sure)are so thin is because we have a problem. and the problem is that we insist on always go-go-going and have a really hard time sit-sit-sitting.

in our couples group, we are going through "breaking free" by beth moore. she talks about the "captivity of activity" in the context of oppression and things we hide behind as Christians. and although i never intentionally hide in activity, i still feel like i am much more comfortable with projects and things to do. let's face it, as a mom, there's literally ALWAYS an overwhelming amount of things TO do, aren't there? and if we're being really honest, don't we kind of like being able to hide behind our kids schedules or their needs?

the thing is, being busy is a choice.

my husband reminds me of this frequently. he'll whisk me away from whatever i'm doing just to sit. and it almost takes someone physically removing me from what i'm doing. whether it's washing the floor on my hands and knees at 10:00pm or raking up zillions of rocks, sometimes you just need to take a minute and be still. nothing is going anywhere. trust me, that food on the floor under the highchair? it's gonna be riiighhttt there waiting for you. and those dishes and that laundry and those errands and that email and that phone call? they'll be waiting too.

i think i struggle with knowing that there is much value in stillness, and putting that knowledge into practice. knowing what i know and doing what i know is sometime where i get tripped up. it's hard for me to be still. i have a lot of energy and i thrive of "getting things done" but those are called excuses. the more i live, the more i realize that certain things can wait, and certain things have weight. it's really a question of what's important.

dave always says that you can see what things you value by seeing where you spend the most time. i spend a great deal of time with my children and my husband...but how much time do i spend with Jesus? how much time do i spend in stillness? how much value do i place on knowing what God wants for me? how much time am i actually LISTENING instead of TALKING? these are the questions that matter most.

so instead of raking up the zillions of rocks this morning (zillions is not an overstatement, by the way) i decided to clean out the kids pool (okay, sort of still a task, but it was full of sand) and let them splash for a bit. and then i made lunch and we all ate on the porch together. and i'll tell you this much- that was FAR more satisfying than raking rocks. because you all know that while you try to do and do, your kids make it impossible because of their needs/wants/demands, and if you're anything like me, you get really aggravated and frustrated at them, and then NO ONE is happy. especially YOU.

so i'm working on my expectations still, being a go-go-go type of mom, and working on how to be genuinely satisfied with accomplishing absolutely nothing. because with Christ, that is very possible. God does not value what we value, and although there are many things in our lives that have to get done, we can do those things with love and purpose, as if we're doing them for Jesus himself, OR we can just do-do-do it all by ourselves, and quickly notice that our efforts go unnoticed, unblessed, and are mostly stressed. no rhyming intended.

there will always be things to do, but there won't always be people to do it for. and there is much more value in stillness than in busyness, isn't there?

so...still busy?

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"gotcha last"

so this morning, as i made my tea and waited for the clothes in the dryer to fluff, elias wanted to play chase. so we run around for a clip, but he had a fair amount of unwritten rules (such as "don't actually ever get me") and was whining when i would break them (i'm working on my mind reading skills), so i decided to teach him a new game.

when i was younger, my mom would play "gotcha last" with me, my brother, and my sister. the basic premise is tag, but in one room, and more along the lines of artful dodging, because you have only a small space.

so i introduce "gotcha last" to elias and he's cracking up as he dips and dodges, smacking me and giggling. and in true eli form, what does he do?

he opens the kitchen drawer and pulls out a knife.

talk about upping the ante, huh? albeit a plastic kids knife (yes, from ikea), i was fascinated by my child's response to grab a knife. to elias, knives are "swords" and he thinks that in all scenarios, swords are the answer (maybe it's time to lay off the prince philip?).

soo typical that my e-man would get a little west side story with my innocent game of gotcha last. no big surprise there.

i just adore boys. their logic never ceases to amaze and enthrall me.
but i think me and e probably need to have a little chat about the 'knives are the answer' thing...


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Monday, June 15, 2009

ikea is for lovers

i just have to say for the record that i love ikea. LOVE. everything is so inexpensive, and since dave actually enjoys putting things together, it's the perfect place for us to shop!

there were a few things i've been searching for at target and walmart with no success, so dave and i took the kids for a little road trip up to see if we could locate any of these elusive goods. and did i ever!

be forewarned: it doesn't take much to get me excited. so don't continue reading unless things like finding awesome chair pads excite you...

the curtain below is called "lill" and piper already had these amazing gauzy wonders draped on her window. but they're so sheer, the air conditioner blows them all around, so i wanted something a little heavier to give her window some weight, and get a two rod curtain look going. enter: "matilda" (above), a fab addition to her lill's. it's hard to see the detail on them, but you'll get to see them up close when i post again about her nursery. it's coming. promise.

and here are the chair pads i mentioned. we have an farm table-type dining set, and the chairs hurt my butt. i am not big on 80's looking chair pads with ruffles or anything i'm going to have to tie in a bow 5795038 times. so i found this chic, black, modern, tailored little number (ie, i don't have to worry about it looking gross or getting dirty) and the bonus? it velcros. they fit PERFECTLY on our chairs. i could die they're so perfect. (listen- i warned you...)

and one of the most exciting finds on our ikea excursion was this fabric pull curtain. and it's wide enough to adorn the oddly sized kitchen window i gaze out each day as i wash dishes and prep dinner. you see, the sun sets in our backyard, which is delightful, but rather warm and bright when it summertime and 6:00. so this is a nice addition. my hunky handyman is going to install them today. now, if i could only get the sun to shine...

and just for fun, i love their kids plastic dinnerware. our friends ian and elya bought elias the forks, knives, and spoons a while back when he was too big for baby sized silverware, but too small for our silverware, and he LOVES them. heck, i love them. so we added some plates and cups to go with bowls and fks set. perfection for $1.99.

so ikea, i love you. thank you for selling affordable and adorable goods.
i'm thinking, maybe you're awesome because you're swedish. just a thought ;)


Thursday, June 11, 2009

updates, edition 2: our backyard

the amount of dirt in my backyard is literally overwhelming. and so is trying to write about it or post pictures about it, really, because there have been 10 wheelers in and out of my backyard constantly, and the project itself is ever-evolving, almost 3 years in the making, and it's JUST epic. but i WANT to. because if it's going to consume my life, it's going to have to consume at least a few minutes of yours. it's only fair ;)

yesterday was our last load of dirt, and at some point (soon, i hope!), an operator is going to hop back on the bulldozer in my backyard and do some smoothing, again, but for the last time. in the past few weeks, i've just realized God is so good! he really cares about us, and provides for our needs, whether our needs are dirt or rest or wisdom. it's encouraging to see him work in the everyday things. like seeing how he's orchestrated hundreds of yards of dirt being trucked from quincy (why? ask my dad, right kris?) for free, and a company who has for some reason cut us an AMAZING deal on a bulldozer, and are allowing us to pay them back as slowly as we want. WHO does that?!

we've been trying to get rid of the cliff in our backyard for 2 and a half years, until recently, we'd collected dirt slowly. it's really not a pretty sight to look at every day when your washing dishes. but i have been trying to be patient and not so "results" driven. and FINALLY! *angels singing* we have enough dirt. and it's A LOT of dirt.

truthfully, the very thought of having not only a flat-ish backyard, but one that may have's altogether too much. i'm elated to not have my son digging in mud and dirt constantly, though he will be bummed, and i'm really going to love walking around without shoes on.

and that's a really really abbreviated version of what's been happening at the stratton construction site. it's exciting, and noisy, and dirty, and inconvenient, but AWESOME.

and now, a trip from 2006 to present:

here is our backyard when we moved in. you'll notice trees (all of which are gone), and behind that fence is a 25 foot drop was like having 2 seperate backyards.
yup, we cut these trees down, too. still burning the wood in our wood stove, too, which is sweet. they were ugly and grubby, so i was glad to see them go last year.

another angle

here is what the yard looked like about 2 weeks ago. still a little yard to speak of...

and here it is now. juuuusssttt dirt. and yes, that's elias on top of that pile.

my yard is closing in!

a view from further back in the yard (that's a little bit of the back of our house on the left)...

and here i am almost to the back of our property (notice how low i am. and yes, that's all you can see of our entire house)

a little perspective from the room above the garage into the backyard

(this was after they flattened the first piles. now there is that much dirt and more...again!)

potential...that's what i see!

this is all we have left to play on. it's hilarious. or depressing. depends on the day...

and the sky's the limit! i can't wait for it to be DONE! some day i'm going to be able to see the house from the back of the yard! YAY!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

updates, edition 1: cutie patooties

edition 1: cutie patooties

let's begin the updates with my favorites- bird (pip) and fish (elias). they're both doing great, both as lively as they ever were, and keeping me on my toes like a stinking ballerina. these are the latest with what they're up to and into:

elias has been cleared by his GI specialist to potty train, and he has already pooped on the potty a few times and even pees on the potty all on his own...well, when he thinks of it. elias was pretty much born independent, and he'll waltz in and be like "mum, i peed on the potty" just like "oh, by the way...". he cracks me up. but i think i'm mostly the one holding him back with this whole ordeal. i'm not very good at even remembering to remind him, so his pull-ups would be much drier if i would pay attention. we're making progress, but slowly. he already got his "goggles and morkel for cooba gyving" for his first poop in the potty. because seriously, this was the kid who cried and got sick and had a belly like a rock constantly, so we've made a lot of progress. i'm beyond proud of him and i am trying to make sure i tread lightly with potty training so we don't end up where we started a year ago.

besides potty training, he's just a hilarious little human, and i just like having him around. A LOT. we just talk and play and i really really ENJOY him. the things that come out of his precious mouth kill me. like the other day in the grocery store when he slapped my butt. i turned around, a bit shocked (as the stock boy stared) and said "what, are you hitting me?!" and he says "no mum, daddy do's that to you all the time." !!!! i almost died. indeed, he does elias. but we're married. so classic elias. he's a hoot. and a love.

piper. let's see, where to begin. well, she's shaping up to be a reallll feisty one, and that's the understatement of the century. i don't know if i should be afraid of her but i think maybe i ought to be. this girl doesn't hesitate to let her opinion be known. little fits of terror, anger and wrath that quickly turn to happy and playful. scaaa-rryyy. i think naming her glory after her grandma gloria was more fitting than i ever could have imagined...because she is one saucy italiana.

right now crawls faster than i can walk, and stands at everything she can, cruising about to get where she needs to go. she falls all the time on her face because she crawls too fast, and i catch her climbing the stairs much too frequently. she can get up them if i am there to spot, so we're onto gates gates and more gates to prevent nutty p from any more falls. she's bled far more than elias has in 3 years, which makes me think maybe she got the bartlett clumsiness. sorry, piper. at least you got my eyes ;) but she really is a snuggly little bug, despite all her fierce and demanding self, so it's hard to stay frustrated with her. she's too smiley and silly. which reminds me, her favorite new things include sticking her tongue out and putting her hand over her mouth like an american indian. that and dancing. she always moves to the beat. she's wild. i think that's the best word for her. she's wild and crazy.

with that, here are some pics of my love doves. enjoy!

mama and piper sunbathing...or maybe shadebathing?

miss p and her ruffle bum. BIG fan.

girl time!

it's still up in the air whether this bird will also be a fish.

you all remember my search for a new baby doll. well, meet option #3, better known as "ruby" (on the right)! i named her ruby because i love that name, and dave hates it so much he won't even let me name a dog ruby. so since piper is too little, i'm calling her ruby until piper has an opinion. funny thing is piper actually couldn't care less about ruby, she like the other little dolly in this picture better. little dolly remains unnamed, but elias calls her piper glory. i mean, i love that name, too, but it could get a little confusing. so i love ruby for piper. and i love her like i'm 10 years old. sooo, maybe i do need to spring for a third. this is getting embarrassing.

isn't she just adorable. (is that weird, since she's not real? see, i'm not kidding, i took pictures of her like she's my daughter...)

and a close-up

here's the kids the other night trying to out-eat each other. hilarious. and one hot mess.

and here's my little pippa-doodlebug.

i also have a couple ah-dorable videos, but they simply would NOT upload, so i'll try them again later. they'll be worth the wait :)

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