Math (doesn’t) Stink! 

I cannot believe it is week 3 of the Virtual Curriculum Fair. Every week we have been touching on a different topic and this week it’s time to talk about my favorite (NOT) subject of all.
MATH!!!!!!
Did anyone else giggle just a bit? Or maybe you chuckled? Or groaned?

 

 

 

I admit this is not only my least favorite subject to teach but it’s also the one that I struggle with the most.
Of course we can’t just pretend that math doesn’t exist. We cannot skip over such an important topic. Soho do we make math something that our kids both understand and appreciate?

 

Especially when we don’t!?!?

 

I may have mentioned before how much we love to read!
Let me rephrase that. It’s how much I love to read. And my kids certainly don’t mind having time to paint or draw or build while I read aloud.

 

 

I believe that like all things when it comes to learning our kids need to see that what they are learning matters. And so even with math we try as much as we can, to bring it alive.

 

 

 

 

My oldest son is both a little magician and a little musician. And my younger three certainly enjoyed making their own music too! There are so many ways that we can use and practice our math skills while having fun doing magic tricks and making music!

 

 

 

We love playing games too! Some of our favorites are: Risk, A Ticket to Ride, Monopoly, Dominos….even games like Candyland and Monopoly can encourage our kids to have fun while learning at the same time. We are working with numbers and patterns in so many ways.

 

 

 

 

 

I often think about how much I just don’t like that. Some days I even think I am really good at it. But then I have one of those light bulb moments…. I realize that while I’m baking a cake I am doing now. Well my daughter and I are so we are doing needlepoint or crochet, we are also doing math.

 

 

Don’t be so often take for granted those simple little tasks that we engage in each day? How silly are we at times when we forget that there was so much learning that happens all around us every day. In so many things that we do.  I often have to remind myself slow down and to open my eyes. Because learning is all around us and there are so many opportunities that I fear we miss because we weren’t really looking.

 

 

I still cannot say that I like math. But when I have the right perspective I see how there is so much that we do each day that involves math. I cannot say that I always do, but certainly I always try, to see the opportunities around me and take hold of the learning that can happen in each of them.

 

 

I also strive to remind myself you guys each one of us is so very different. We are on our own Journey and learning takes time. My younger son Garden Atticus when he was five. He requested it and he used it diligently for so long. She loves numbers and now and they just naturally makes sense to him. My older son on the other hand struggles in so many ways to really understand and master even the most basic of mathematical concepts.

 

 

And it is here that we remember the greatest blessing of home education.  It is the ability to take our time and to let our children move forward as they are able. To encourage and inspire them!

 

 

Begin with Gratitude

I have been realizing lately that our home is lacking the thanks giving it ought to have.  

Perhaps it’s just the way it is as everyone settles in to a routine again after all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

But is that really just an excuse? Do we really want to have a home that isn’t full of a spirit of gratitude? And what happens to our families when that thankful spirit isn’t being kept in sight? 

I have been working through an online class, Focus & Align with Sarah MacKenzie. 
I just started it actually. And I admit to getting stuck almost immediately. You see there was a workbook that needed to be completed before the class began….
Begin with Gratitude it read….
This shouldn’t be so hard. To list each person in my family and something wonderful about them. And yet as much as I feel terrible saying it I really struggled with this.

Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love all four of my children and my husband too!

And yet when thinking of something wonderful about them what first came to mind?

And then I had to list three great things about our home. At a time when it seems like plenty of things in our little home are falling apart. All at once. I thought of all the issues in our bathroom needing repair. I thought of the patch of ceiling in our kitchen that is cracked and leaks. I thought of the marker and the fingerprints narwhals. And the spots in our hallway where the walls are an awful mess.  

What a grateful spirit, right? 

And then I thought of my oldest son who is so strong willed. So determined and so full of joy. I thought of my younger son who is my miniature handyman. He is so into all the details. And he helps with so much. My older daughter? How often I hear her singing and praising the Lord and dancing.  Her smile and her joy really warms up the room. And my littlest girl who just loves to cuddle and be held.

I thought of my husband who really work so hard so that our kids can play hockey. So that we can educate them at home. His dedication to God.  His gentle and patient spirit so unlike my own.

Our home is small and there is much that needs to be repaired. But there was no doubt that it is lived in. There is no doubt that learning and loving takes place inside. Certainly it’s not perfect but it is home.

In so many ways I have been blessed. In ways that, sadly, I sometimes forget. And perhaps that is why this course is such a blessing to me. It’s a reminder that and everything we need to start with an attitude of gratitude. We need to be mindful of those blessings which we have.

I came across this idea online. Really it’s perfect because it’s so important for our home and our family to hold on to gratitude. To begin each day speaking thanks giving. Too often I fear we take for granted those simple things. What a difference we can see in our lives if we just take a moment to say thank you Lord.

~~ BLOGGING THE ALPHABET ~~

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Being a part of the Homeschool Review Crew there are always some awesome opportunities to expand what we do on our blogs. This time around? Blogging through the Alphabet.

I did this last year and almost made it through the whole alphabet…sigh

 

I figure..why not do it again? Especially since I really need to blog more. May be this is the accountability I need?  Someone give a lil poke if I disappear…..LOL

 

So along with my friends from the Crew, Amanda from Hopkins Homeschool and Annette at A Net in Time, here we are starting out with, of course, the letter “A”.

 

Suffice to say, because I am so good at starting things…then starting more things…then getting distracted (look…squirrel…haha) and then finding more things to explore….I am really focusing on being ABLE.

 

There is something to be said for knowing what we can and cannot do. Our strengths.  Our weaknesses. Staying humble. Being teachable.

 

Surely we are always able. There is nothing that we cannot do, God willing.

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As we learn and as we grow in Christ, perhaps we need to step back now and then and cry out: “I do believe; help my unbelief”.

 

Because with faith we are always able. We have the victory; He has already prepared the way for us. We must simply have the faith (know that we are able. For “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23).

 

Let us never forget that we are ABLE.   ❤

 

 

 

 

 

Loving Languages Every Day

Welcome to the second week of the Virtual Curriculum Fair. I am so excited for this week because language is probably one of our favorite things. Whether we are reading, playing games, writing or learning another language there are so many ways to have fun, and learn, with languages! The possibilities are endless I tell you.

 

 

I always LOVED to read when I was younger. And its still what I would rather do than anything else. I have books everywhere (to my husband’s chagrin! Lol) and I still have a wishlist a mile long on Amazon. Maybe two miles long.  LOL

 

 

But with four kids ranging in age from 11 years to 20 months old, only one an independent reader and a very reluctant one at that, it seems a challenge to find time to really enjoy all those good books.  There are the classic ones I grew up on and then the new one that I see and hear about from others…..So many good reads. How can we possibly enjoy them all?

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I am convinced that the story formed childhood my parents gave me was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.”

– Sarah Clarkson, Caught Up in a Story (p. 6)

 

My mother instilled such a love of literature in me when I was little; I want that for my children. Even though I know my oldest may never love these books that line our home as dearly as I do, I know that he cherishes that time when I am reading aloud. And I love to hear him ask me, as he has come to do, when we are going to read together!

 

In fact I read the other day, at Simple Homeschool that:

“… if you read aloud for just five minutes a day (and not a minute more!), you will read more than 30 hours over the course of a year.”

 

 

That’s a lot of reading aloud! Thats all of the Chronicles of Narnia, David Copperfield, the whole collection of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, hundreds of picture books….I imagine all of the things that are learned from that time.  History, science, geography, grammar, art and music, languages…..Ah the languages…

 

 

Have I mentioned we even enjoy reading in foreign tongues? My oldest loves languages and has learned Chinese, Spanish, French…..Is still learning them. One our favorite ways to encourage learning is by reading books in those languages. When you read the right stuff, you are never just reading a story! ❤

 

 

read aloud every day

I have found a TON of inspiration at the Read Aloud Revival where there are so may great tools to help you become inspired and accountable to reading aloud every day with your children. Here you can find a wonderful guide to help you engage in conversation about whatever you happen to be reading! And for us there are always a variety of materials we are reading.

 

 

 

As my children get older I think it is especially important for us to read, every day, a bit on our own and a bit together.  There is nothing better either than seeing the four kids all curled up under a home made fort, together, with a pile of books. The older ones read to the younger, the younger learn to read as they enjoy story time. And then they read to their younger siblings.

 

 

 

Words are so important. I think of the scriptures which often remind us to be “slow to speak.” How we are reminded of the power of our words to give life or death. With language comes inspiration; a love for learning. It grows our curiosity and our imagination. When our children have these, in great strength too, there is nothing that they cannot learn.  Let us always seek to build them up!

 

 

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Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers

Loving Logic of English Essentials ~ A Review

English is one of those things I just love! And I love to teach it; my boys however do not enjoy it as much as I have always imagined they would. So there are some struggles we face when it comes to this area. But thankfully there are wonderful materials out there to help us all along, as we journey through home education together. My boys love science and so, being able to share a “science” of reading can sure bring lots more joy to our learning!

 

 

Logic of English was designed (simply put) to make it all make sense…my younger son loves because he is big on why. Why is it spelled this way and said that way? This program is a no nonsense approach  to reading and spelling as well as being multi sensory (works great with my night and day boys). As you teach the 74 basic phonograms and the 30 spelling rules…it all begins to make SO much more sense!

 

 

The Logic of English program consists of three materials:*Foundations: Complete Language Arts Curriculum for ages 4-7*Essentials: Spelling, Reading and Grammar for ages 7+*Handwriting: Cursive and Manuscript Handwriting InstructionThis review is meant to cover the Essentials: Logic of English Complete Set which includes:*Essentials Teacher’s Manual*Essentials Student Workbook (consumable)*Spelling Journal (consumable)*Basic Phonogram Flash Cards*Spelling Rule Flash Cards*Grammar Rule Flash Cards*Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards*Game Book*Manuscript (or Cursive) Game Cards*2nd Set of Manuscript (or Cursive) Game Cards Boldface*Quick Reference Chart

 

 

 

They also do have The Essentials Reader , this is a digital reader and was not included in our materials, which I stumbled across online. I have been considering getting this myself to go along with this; I do believe that reading is rather essential and think this would be a great addition to this set of materials as, the reading and writing could be a bit more intensive, in my opinion, with this program. I have to say one of my favorite things about this program is the fact that it is multi-level. That means that I can use it for both my younger son (7) and my older one too (11).

 

 

Each lesson has sections for A, B and C to strengthen and work at the level of each child using the program. And this program covers so much! There are fun games to play, there is reading and writing, spelling, grammar, vocabulary and phonics! I was totally impressed with the materials when they arrived. Surprised too. So much to do! In a good way of course. 🙂 We began immediately; I was so appreciative of the sample schedule they have available too. While we didn’t stick to it completely, I always appreciate having a little guide, at least when I am getting started with something new. And being that I was using this with both of my boys, it really helped me keep track of where each one was in the program. I am a huge fan of schedules, while at the same time, being a huge fan of teaching from a state of rest. Relaxed home education. That said, this schedule helped to keep us on track while at the same time, allowing us to take our time as we went through the lessons. My younger son particularly loved the games in this program and since he has struggled a lot with reading (he is my “why” boy) and phonics, we definitely wanted to take our time and have fun. Most days we completed the mini-lessons (maybe 20 minutes in the program) using flashcards and games that are a part of this program. There would be some simple teaching in one of three areas: Spelling, Phonograms and Grammar. There is also plenty of review built into this program so on those days that we just don’t seem to complete the whole lesson or in the case of a struggling learner, it is good to be able to catch those areas early and then go back and work a bit more on them together. Most of the time my younger son really enjoyed doing these lessons; there were days though (who doesn’t have them) where he just couldn’t make it through. But that’s okay because this program makes it easy to teach the lessons slowly. There were days too that he would practice phonograms on the App, this was a nice way to encourage learning on those days he just wasn’t up for a lesson (my daughter who is 5, uses the app as well and loves it!).

 

 

 

 

 

With my oldest son we really enjoyed the more advanced level built into this program; grammar concepts and mechanics, latin & greek morphemes and of course reading, spelling and writing too. This new edition also includes morphemes (for level C learners) and this is a fun learning opportunity for my oldest (who loves languages) to learn about the words borrowed from other languages and then learn how to apply the roots in both spelling and vocabulary lessons. I was especially pleased with the placement tests, pre-lessons (to help fill in the blanks; get everyone up to speed), and a Spelling Journal to help keep track and master those commonly misspelled words. This was a great help to my oldest son (although lessons went a bit long for my short attention, kinetic learning boy) and really helped us to see where we needed to really focus. And I admit there were time were we had to go back, quite a bit, to cover material at a lower level. Thankfully this program makes it easy to do just that. Can I say this has also really inspired him in writing and cursive?

As a momma of four children, I do love that Essentials includes 3 levels of instruction in each volume!  Thus it can be used with multiple children at a number of stages, you can customize the program for each child, and use it again too to go deeper in understanding!  For me, this is a big advantage. It is flexible while at the same time clearly laid out for you, to make it easy to use!

The lessons are broken into five days of teaching:

Day 1: Essential Concepts: Phonograms, Exploring Sounds, Spelling Rules.

Day 2: Building Words: Spelling Journal, Spelling Analysis (spelling lists for A, B or C)

Day 3: Words in Context:  Grammar and Dictation

Day 4: Words in Action: Vocabulary, Dictation, Composition, Reading

Day 5: Check Your Understanding: Review

 

 

 

There is always something new being learned, so its never a dull moment and at the same time each lesson is a building block, advancing our children in a slow and steady way towards mastery of the material. My younger son will attest to the fact that, with games like Phonogram Tic Tac Toe and Spelling Snap!, its really tons of fun to learn! This program is perfect anyone who is looking for a more classical approach to teaching English, and also I definitely encourage this for those kids, like my own, who need to know “why”. With a younger son who just struggles with the phonics approach, this has been quite a blessing to him. This is not simple, it is also not independent. But it is so well put together, you really don’t need to know much at all yourself to be able to teach. The lessons are all clearly laid out and very easy to understand. As a lover of English, I love being able to just sit down with the books and get to it. Plus, I learned quite a bit from this program myself.Lifelong learning 🙂    To learn more about Essentials: Logic of English Complete Set, visit the Logic of English website with several online teacher training videos so you can see what a lesson looks like.  For those who are overwhelmed by all of this, these videos will really help you to make sense of it all while also inspiring and invigorating you! You can also take a tour of the program, download sample materials and check out their levels and placement so your children start in just the right place.

Connecting ~~~ Five Minute Friday

For the last few days I have been really considering what it means to be connected. To belong.

It’s so hard sometimes. Slowing down. Remembering to put those blinders on so that we take the time to connect with someone.  

Which led led me to wonder as I read this morning do my children truly feel connected like they belong in our family and in our home?

We are also different. It’s what makes us all so precious. The unique likes and dislikes. The experiences but we have had. These are all things which make us who we are.

Do we Embrace those as opportunities? Or do we try to stay near to those who are similar to us? Can we stop and take the time to try to connect and make those people outside feel more like they belong?

I think of in the scriptures how God says we are all one body in Christ. Regardless of our differences the Lord is the one who fits us together. Each of us having a unique God-ordained purpose.

I think of my and it was such a gentle and soft-spoken woman. She was a peacemaker. She was never one to say an unkind word but she was always there to encourage and support.  Whenever my children and I visited we were always greeted with smiles.  She may have had very little in the way of stuff but she made you feel like you belonged. 

It’s that gentle and meek spirit. It’s showing the love of God to others. As the Lord has loved us so we are known by the love we show to another.

It’s about connecting. It’s about knowing that we belong. In our family and in our home and even in our community. In all the turmoil and in all the insanity in this world isn’t now the perfect time to reach out and make those connections?

The Beginner’s Bible ~ Review Crew Time

I cannot believe it is 2017!  Last year sure went by fast but how excited I am to share with you the very first review of the year from the Homeschool Review Crew. Zonderkidz was so kind as to bless us with a copy of The Beginner’s Bible. What a wonderful way to start the year – with these priceless stories from the Word of God!

 

 

 

 

This is just beautiful: The Beginner’s Bible was first published in 1989 and has been updated recently in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of The Beginner’s Bible – there is now new three-dimensional art.  Amazing! Eye catching. Inspiring!  This Bible contains over 90 Bible Stories for our younger children to enjoy as they learn and grow in the Word. This is recommended for read aloud time with children ages 4-6 or for children 6-8 to read independently. We have done both since my 5 year old daughter is learning to read and my younger son, who is 7, is still struggling with reading and what better way to grow and gain confidence than reading God’s Word? 🙂

 

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When this first arrived, shortly before the holidays, my oldest son ( he is 11) instantly remembered his own copy from long ago. I am not sure what happened to it honestly but we were amazed at how beautiful and bright and big this new version of one of our favorites was! And my younger son was excited and eager to “read the Bible” himself.

 

 

 

It wasn’t long before I found him curled up, in my bed, with this book. I admit that I was a bit worried this would be too taxing for him (some really big words in there) but if he didn’t stick with it. I listened as he struggled and sounded out what he could, slowly and patiently working through every word.

 

 

Even my daughter enjoyed spending time in this book! We would often sit and read the stories together. Some times we would just talk; she loved the images within this book and there were so many amazing conversations we had because of the vividness and liveliness of the pages within. Its amazing what the little ones understand, and how they see think, when we take the time to listen to what they have to say. God’s word is truly precious – so simple even a child can understand it and love it!

 

 

I love too that there are a bunch of fun resources offered to go along with this:

 

 

 

What a wonderful way to introduce your little ones to the Word of God! And in a way that really brings it to life.

 

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What To Do

I have been thinking a lot in the last 2 days. Planning so many things for my family for my homeschool and even for myself.

I tend to overcomplicate things. I know I know that I can at times be someone who turns that molehill into a Giant Mountain. And I am trying to be more aware of my perspective on things. After all isn’t it true that anything which causes us to pray is truly a blessing?

Regardless there are those days when no matter how we try and how well-intentioned we are we just can’t get it done. And so I came across a lovely list that inspired me to make the one I am sharing here. For those days when we feel like we just can’t get it done here are just a few simple things. They do not take much time but they are sure to change our perspective and our attitude and then bless us and those who are around us.  

  1. Let us talk more. And I don’t mean just talking to be heard or to say something. Let us truly talk with wisdom. Let us seek to build relationships more. Let us take time to learn of and from one another.
  2. Let’s think before we eat or drink anything. Can we seek this year to feed our body in a way that is pleasing to the Lord?
  3. What does exercise our body and our mind. Perhaps we can take a walk about the house or play catch outside with our children. Is it too cold? How about some jumping jacks or my kids favorite a Nerf war.
  4. Read the Bible every day. My daughter used to come home from church singing a song that said read your Bible and pray everyday and you will grow. 
  5. We all have at least one relationship we could improve on. I think of my oldest son. Let us dedicate ourselves to taking the time to build and strengthen that one relationship. Just one.
  6. Organize something. Most days our house looks like something exploded. I look at my kitchen counter today and it’s just one thing but today it is that one thing I will organize.
  7. Devote yourself to listening. Not just smiling and nodding when someone talks at you but truly listening. Encourage someone and Inspire them by listening to what they have to say.
  8. Learn one new skill. I want to learn how to sew and crochet and knit. I want to learn guitar and I want to read some of those old classic books. I really want to learn Hebrew. Today of all those things just choose one and enjoy.
  9. Smile more and laugh a bit too. As one who is very introverted I tend to forget that if I do not show my joy I am the only one who knows. And aren’t we to be full of the joy of the Lord? Isn’t it supposed to be that joy and that love that draws others to seeing Jesus in us?
  10. List one thing each day that you are thankful for. Again it’s just one thing. Today I am thankful for the life within me.

Some days it really does feel impossible. As I write this it’s almost noon and we have not really gotten much done formally. There’s reading and writing and math to be done. There are bible verses to be said and there are meals to plan. 

If I see all that we have not done I certainly can wind up feeling down and out. And I could send the rest of the day beating myself up for all but has not yet been accomplished.

Or I can change my mind and I can see how the children all got breakfast enderal freshly showered and dressed. They are playing quite nicely together too. All of this has allowed me a bit of extra time with in the word of God. This is also allowed me to help and support my cousin a bit more as his mother my aunt recently passed away. Being that my family is not a close-knit one I can count my blessings that I have this opportunity to be present for my cousin. And we can enjoy remembering together.

It can be so easy to get down on ourselves and have to throw up our hands and quit. But we must remember ho again and again we are told within the Bible to Rejoice always. To pray continually. To dedicate ourselves to God’s way and to be always full of thanks giving. 

Loving the Moment! 

Its a new year! So many things to be excited for right?  I am especially excited to be a part of this. The Virtual Curriculum Fair. Whether you are new to homeschool or have a couple years under your belt this is truly a wonderful treat.  A homeschool convention….but you can stay in your jammies. Hehe

The one thing I love most about home education is also the one thing that I struggle with the most when it comes to home education. Can I hear an amen?

I love how free we can be. Here in Wisconsin there are very little requirements so we really do have so much freedom when it comes to learning at home with our children.
The challenge comes in not allowing ourselves to become overwhelmed or controlled. by all the good stuff that’s out there!

 

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Our first year or two as home educators we stuck to a very strict schedule. We got our curriculum in the mail every year (Love My Father’s World).  And while it was a wonderful program and I still use some of their materials to this day, at the same time it was stressful trying to keep up some days. Especially as I went from having one child to two and then three and then four!

 

 

As the years have gone by we have gone from box curriculum to classical schooling, Charlotte Mason style, unschooling and delight led learning. All of these are wonderful ways to encourage and inspire a love of learning in our children. And as each one of my for gets older and their needs change it is good to have so many different options out there. Again that is one of my favorite things about home education!

 

 

As we have grown and progressed Through the Years I have learned and I’m still learning how to use those materials we do invest in without thumb controlling our learning.  I have learned to slow down and worry less. It truly has been an exercise in my faith.  Most importantly I have learned to teach from a state of rest.

 

 

 

In the last few days I have pondered and prayed over what are home education ought to look like in the coming year. And if I have prayed again and again God has placed in my mind the value of rest and the value of mastery.  So this year as we slow down I’m focusing on living and loving and learning together as a family. I am focusing on stronger relationships and building greater character within my children ( and myself too)!

 

 

 

We will still do math drills and we will still do copywork each day.  We will study together and memorize from the Bible the Book of Acts.  We will read together draw and paint.  My girls and I will spend more time baking and learning to sew.  My boys will spend more time on coding. We will draw our way around the world.  We will do all kinds of crazy experiments and handicrafts.  We will write poetry and make music and go for a walk exploring God’s creation.

 

 

 

We will not be bound by a schedule or curriculum. Instead of worrying about staying on track instead we will learn together in a state of rest. We will not be afraid to take a day off to go to the museum or to explore a local park.  We will strive to have more conversation about what we are learning together.

 

 

 

 

For my oldest son I seek to become more of a mentor and less of a teacher. To inspire him instead of require of him.  In an attempt to encourage him to learn a bit more independently and to become a bit more responsible for his time we are setting goals. We are making a roadmap. In this way see how making his own video game or his own app really is possible by breaking it down into simple steps.

 

 

 

There’s so much for our kids to learn and aren’t kids naturally curious and eager to learn?  I think of the many things that I have learned simply by having the time to explore them on my own.  And I know that this is something that my children can getting a great deal from. Therefore in the year to come they shall have more time to really explore their own interests. And who knows what could happen when they are given time to find those fires within!

 

 

 

 

It has always been my goal to inspire my children to see learning as something that is life-long. And for them to see the great value and the opportunities that surround them everyday.  Because learning isn’t something that only happens for 12 years and it isn’t something that we can just fit in the hours of 9 and noon.  Learning is a blessing and a joy. It is a lifelong pursuit.. ❤

 

 

 

As you begin your New Year going home education be sure to take your time and enjoy the journey!

 

 

 

 

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