Preparing for Baby #2 {What we Plan to do Differently}

I started this blog when Miss M was 9 months old, so I didn't write anything about my pregnancy or her early days, weeks and months... so this time around it's nice to keep a record and share what's going on. I've got 3 "Preparing for Baby #2" post ideas my the good old drafts folder, and in particular I'm writing about what's different this time around.

Most parents are a tad more relaxed when it comes to second and subsequent pregnancies/babies, as we've been through it all before. Still a very exciting time - but different in so many ways. For me this time around, I'm still working at 34 weeks, when with Miss M (simply due to the school year and her due date being early March) I finished work/school at 28 weeks and had 12 weeks of absolutely luxury before she arrived - I watched the ENTIRE series of Greys Anatomy, went swimming regularly, took our dog Archer for daily walks, went shopping all the time and was always getting new baby girl outfits... A friend said to me "enjoy this time because you will never have it again!" and boy was she right.

So this brings me to the point of todays post - what will I (correction - we) will do differently with our second baby compared to Miss M. There's nothing too major, in general we're really happy with the parenting choices we made, I quickly learnt to ignore all the books and conflicting baby advice and followed my mummy intuition and do what we felt best for her and our family. But there's always such a thing as hindsight, so here are some things we think we'll do differently this time around.

Use a Capsule


With a toddler and a newborn a capsule just makes good sense to me (especially if it fits onto your pram). We just used a rear facing car seat with Miss M, and I could never get the car - cot transfer to happen, so quite often I would stay in the car to let her sleep once we got home, or hold her while she completed her nap. Don't think that's easy to achieve with a toddler in tow. The pram we used with Miss M didn't have a capsule either, just the bassinet attachment. So this time we've gone with the Steelcraft Agile + capsule we borrowed from my sister in law. Miss M hasn't liked or used a pram in quite sometime, so we're not going with the double, but thought the little skateboard attachment might be handy!

Choose a Child Care Centre closer to home


This is a tricky one we're deliberating with at the moment. When Miss M started Child Care, it was all a bit last minute due to my mum getting sick, so we just needed to get her in somewhere, and a colleague highly recommended the centre near school (30 mins from home). I've been so so happy with it, the high level or care and professionalism, how the staff take a genuine interest in Miss M and their learning programmes. I just can't spending a total of 2 hours driving there for her to keep going one or two days a week (I should also mention many friends with 2 kids have recommended keeping the older child in Child Care when the younger one comes along - it benefits everyone!). So now we are looking at a different centre closer to home (found one - walking distance, the most beautiful outdoor play area I have ever seen), but this means another change and transition for Miss M. Wish we had of had her in this centre from the beginning...

Embrace Online Shopping


I've tried online shopping before, but think that I'll give it another go when James goes back to work after we have the baby. Just another way to (hopefully) make our lives easier. Don't get me wrong, I still want to be able to get out of the house with the littlies, but I'm sure there are more exciting outings we can do other than the grocery shopping. 

Don't skim/skip the Chapter about Caesareans in the baby books


I made this mistake last time. I think in the back of our minds, first time expecting mother's know that a caesarean may just be how it all turns out in the end, but I didn't really study the books to know what to expect if this was the case (which it was). Thankfully, at the antenatal classes we had to 'act out' the whole caesarean operation - eg which medical people would be there, where they would be standing around you, what they may say to you and what you might hear. This certainly helped! I only wish someone had warned me about the agonising pain when you laugh post op!

Make the most of drive through coffee


The day Maccas announced that their Mc Cafe coffee was coming to drive throughs it made my day. If I can grab my coffee on the go without getting both kids out of the car = winning! And there's so many of these popping up around the place - aside from Maccas and On the Run servos.

Stress Less


Overall I think this is the main one. Second time parents have been through it all before, and even though all babies are different, you at least have some idea of what you're doing and it's not as scary and overwhelming. As I mentioned in my intro, I quickly learnt that the baby books weren't really helping me - and then when I read this article about all the conflicting advice from baby books and parenting experts (which I wish I had read before having her!) it really hit home!

Another awesome article about Baby #1 vs Baby #2 is from my friend Hayley over at Adelady. Good for a laugh and so true!

And in this article I came across - a mum shares why she won't keep a list of things she'll do differently with baby number two. A different take on my post, but still a good read.

So whether you're a first time mum looking for advice, a second time mum getting ready like me I hope you've found this post useful. If you're a mum who's finished having kids and you have any advice about the change from one child to two - I'd love to hear!

Lauren x
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Christmas Craft with a CleverDIY Project Kit

We love art and craft in our house (well Miss M and I do) and we were so excited to receive this special little package in the post the other day... {gifted}

image source - Clever DIY Media Page

This is the CleverDIY Christmas Project Kit! CleverDIY is CleverPatch's new side project providing creative crafty solutions specifically for parents. Many teachers order their bulk craft products from CleverPatch (myself included), but the great thing with CleverDIY is that in this neat little box, you get all the things that you need for just those projects - not huge tubs of paint, glue, glitter which you'd never get through and would clutter up your cupboards at home. They've thought of everything!

"A back to basics approach to kids creativity"

The project kits cater for a variety of ages. Little tikes such as Miss M can work closely with their parents to paint and stick, 5-7 year olds may only need a little extra parent help, and 8-12 year olds can fly solo and be kept busy working independently.

The other great feature of CleverDIY is that you can subscribe and receive a new project every month or just purchase a single box (great birthday or Christmas present idea). You can also order extra craft items from their 'shop'.

Here's a little snap shot of our projects (some not quite complete yet). Looking forward to adding some of Miss M's decorations to the tree and putting the wreath on our door.


I've been so lucky to collaborate with CleverPatch in the past - here are two previous posts if you're looking for more arty and crafty ideas...

Art and Craft Ideas with CleverPatch
Clever Craft Ideas

Now, here's the exciting part, you have a chance to win a CleverDIY Christmas Project Kit for yourself! I'm hosting a huge Christmas giveaway - starting on Tuesday the 1st of December, and there are 7 prizes up for grabs over the week. So stay tuned for a blog post on Monday with all the details, and keep an eye on my Instagram and Facebook for when it all kicks off on Tuesday night.

So excited! (If you know me in the real world you'll here me exclaim with a little squeal) :)
Lauren x

{Thanks to the team at CleverDIY}
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Road Trip with A Toddler {One Year Later}

One year ago (almost to the day) we went on a road trip to Mount Gambier (South Australia) to spend time with family. This year we went again because my very clever brick laying brother built himself a house and got himself engaged to a great girl - so we decided to go while it's (relatively) easy before baby number 2 arrives.

I wrote about our previous trip last year... It was interesting to read back over these posts and compare what was different this time - most notable being our level of relaxation and not stressing about every little thing, but then again Miss M is a whole year older and there's a huge difference between one and a half and two and a half. So anyway, here's the previous posts from last year...

Road Trip with a Toddler - The Before

Road Trip with a Toddler - The After

So some main differences between then and now is that Miss M no longer naps - so we couldn't rely on her having a sleep for a chunk of the drive, and no more dummies and bottles to worry about! She packed her own backpack of toys, teddies and books (not all practical for the car, but for her to play with once we got there). Surprisingly this book is still one of her favourites, and keeps her busy for ages, so it came along again! She actually 'reads' books now to herself which is a bonus!


Minimal mess snacks were again a must - sandwiches, biscuits, muesli bars, water etc... and of course foolproof games and episodes of Ben & Holly and Peppa Pig on the iPhone. We made a deal with her that if she was playing games it was ok to hold, but for watching episodes we put it in the headrest.

A major difference this time was the toilet factor! She's been toilet trained for a couple of months now - but it was something we always had to keep in mind... No accidents luckily! My pregnant bladder needed frequent stops as well ;) Speaking of which...another struggle this trip was my 33 week belly in the way! Turning around to the back of the car or retrieving items from the floor was not easy let me tell you!

Miss M was old enough this time to teach her I spy, so that was fun, she loved it when she guessed it right (we did the colour version rather than the starting letter eg. "I spy with my little eye something the colour green" and gave her specific hints whether it was inside or outside of the car.)

On both trips (there and back) we stopped at the Morning Loaf Bakery in Keith (about 3 hours from Adelaide and 2 hours from Mt Gambier) and is one of the states best known country bakeries. We liked the kids play room so much it was the perfect place to stop both times.

Morning Loaf Bakery - Keith

We had a fantastic time in the Mount including;

  • The Blue Lake
  • The Valley Lakes playground
  • A spot of shopping on the main street
  • Chilling out at my brother's new place
  • A great meal at the South Eastern Hotel (which had an awesome kids playground - we couldn't get Miss M out!)
  • and Miss M's highlight of the trip - the jumping pillow at the Blue Lake Tourist Park
  • plus some great quiet time back at our accommodation.
The Blue Lake

Awesome playground at the Valley Lakes

There was this moment on the trip, when all three of us were sitting around the table having ice creams. And all of a sudden it hit me - we are like a real little family! Miss M is like a little person now, a person who you have conversations with, share special moments, and she's so much easier and more compliant, it doesn't feel like hard work all - the - time. She can do what we do and enjoy those special holiday treats. We were making her childhood memories and it was happening right in front of me!

Well I think that's it for family travel for us for quite some time...I can't even imagine doing a trip with a toddler and a baby! Have you attempted it before? How did you survive?

Lauren x
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Meet Beth | Almost Posh

It's interview time again! Ah I love the kindness of the blogging world - and it's been so nice to welcome some lovely bloggers to share their stories and words of wisdom. Today we welcome Beth from Almost Posh. Fashion is one thing I haven't included on my blog before, so Beth's here to help us (I mean me) out! She has a daughter the same age as Miss M, is also from Adelaide and loves op-shopping!


Hi Beth!! 

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Have you always been an Adelaide girl? What do you love about Adelaide?


No, I’m actually from the country originally! Born in Port Augusta, I lived in Wirrabara and Gladstone in the mid-north of South Australia as a teen, then South Hedland in WA, Melbourne for few years and finally to Adelaide where I’ve been living since 2002. I love the compactness of Adelaide, the lower cost of living and the fact that I can live in a decent suburb less than 30 minutes from the city, beach and Barossa without having to sell my organs. The city is definitely getting more and more lively with new laneway bars and restaurants popping up every week and lots of interesting events happening. We just need a few of the international stores to pop up here (I’m looking at you, Sephora) and we’ll be golden.

Favourite kid friendly café/restaurant you can recommend?


There’s one near my place in Redwood Park called Soul Food Espresso. It has a gated toy area, loads of high chairs and is very kid-friendly. I always feel happier taking Miss L somewhere where a bit of noise isn’t going to cause a scene! They also do nice food which is obviously a plus. So many kid-friendly places are offset by rubbish food.

Tell us a bit about Miss L? What activities/toys does she love at the moment?


Gladly  She’s a chatty 2.5 year old with a large vocabulary, cheeky sense of humour and a strong will. She loves books, blocks, drawing, finding pairs in card games, the playground, swimming and making up her own games where she reenacts activities of the day with her toys. Currently she’s also enjoying Charlie & Lola, Bing, Sarah & Duck, Timmy Time and Pocoyo on the ABC 4 Kids iView app on the iPad.

Beth's Quote "Parent of the year" ;)

I was hoping you might share with us one or two ‘go-to’ mum comfy (but still a bit fashionable) outfits? I’m sure many of us mums just have the throw something together and try and wrangle a couple of kids out the door and head off for the day. 


No worries! Ain’t nobody got time for getting fancy on those mum work days, it’s way too hard to push a trolley in heels.

My go-to outfits in this kind of weather are

  1. A pair of pull-on print pants (elastic waist, I know you’re feeling me!), a plain tee and a pair of easy and comfortable flats. Throw a scarf or necklace on (dependent on the age of your kids as to practicality) to jazz it up a bit as required and you are good to go and 
  2. Jeans (high, comfortable waist, stretch), striped tee and white Converse.
And a ponytail. Always with the ponytail.



Favourite clothing shop?


I am all about the bargain so it’s hard to go past Savers and other op shops. I’m also quite fond of Kmart.

Tell us about some of the trendy (is trendy still a world?!? lol) fashion events you’ve attended recently?


Haha! We say “on trend” now, don’t you know. I was lucky enough to get media accreditation for the Adelaide Fashion Festival this year. I got to see a number of spectacular runway shows, take pics and write about them on Almost Posh. I also got to participate in the Blogger Style Challenge where I got to wear actual designer outfits and take photos in them, so much fun!

Tea or Coffee?


Both, really, depending on my mood! I usually like a coffee in the morning but a good cup of strong tea always hits the spot. Also like the occasional  peppermint tea to shake it up a bit.

Favourite bloggers?


I have loads but here are some very select highlights in random order . . .
Away From Blue, Beachstyle Mum, Fabulous and Fun Life, Fashionista In Suburbia, Faux Fuchsia, Kimba Likes, Smaggle, Sonia Styling, Styling Curvy, Styling You, Teacher Types (obvs), The Annoyed Thyroid, Eenie Meenie Miney Mum, Flat Bum Mum, Hair Romance, Handbag Mafia, Live Believe Relax, Loveface Beauty, Love That Lippie, Style and Shenanigans, The Fashionable Mum, The Illusive Femme, The Thud, The Style Within, Zo They Say

A mix of fashion, style, beauty, parenting real-talk and Important Issues which is pretty much how I roll.

Can you share your most popular post?


According to my analytics, my most popular post is this Throwback Thursday number that has been attacked by spambots but taking that out, I think it’s this one. About feet. Nice.

Favourite quote?



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You can find Beth here, here, here, here and here!

Thanks so much for your time Beth! Let's have a play date soon at Soul Food! :)
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15+ Educational Christmas Gift Ideas

Hello everyone!
Well if you follow me on Facebook and Instagram (you're awesome!) and you've probably heard that I've been selected by the wonderful online kids & babies shop Finlee and Me. It is such an exciting step for Teacher Types as I prepare to take a year maternity leave from teaching and want to take my blog further out into the interwebs... I've learnt that collaboration is the key to getting anywhere in the online world, and I'm so grateful to have established this partnership with Angela and her business.

What does that mean for you? Well I've got the inside scoop (if you like) on absolutely brilliant and unique toys and products for your children - most of which you can't get in regular shops. I can share the educational benefits and our personal play experiences too. All opinions are my own, and this is not a sponsored post, I will however always disclose if a product has been kindly gifted :)

So without further ado - here are my top 15 educations Christmas gift ideas all available from Finlee and Me! If you're thinking of starting your Christmas shopping and want to avoid the Westfields - why not buy online?

Amazing Alphabets


image source - Finlee and Me. Shop here

The alphabet is everywhere! And it's never too early to start. Most kids love puzzles - and if they're learning the alphabet at the same time it's win win! This wooden alphabet puzzle is beautiful quality and would be a great for kids 2-5 years of age. Number puzzle also available!

We have letters all over our house - a foamy alphabet in the bath and magnet letters on the fridge just to name a few. Providing a print rich environment and immersing your child in letters, words and language can work wonders for their early development. Half the fun for little hands is sticking these magnet letters on to the fridge, and it's a set of 52 meaning you get a full capital and lower case letters. These are a gift for my nephew this Christmas {gifted}

Shop here!

Image source - Finlee and Me. Shop here

You can never go wrong with books for Christmas pressies. Maybe you need an extra item or two, a stocking stuffer, or you're buying for someone else's child you don't really know all that well. The Alphablock book is a winner {gifted}. Little readers peek through the cut out capital letters to reveal the pictured behind. The Countablock Number book is also available at Finlee and Me.

Beautiful Blocks


image source - Finlee and Me. Shop here

How stunning are these pastel building blocks? There are other colours available but these are my favourites! I believe that blocks should be part of every play area both at home or school. They are what we call an open ended toy - and the possibilities are endless. It's amazing to see where your child's imagination will take them. 

The newest addition to our block bucket are these rainbow blocks {gifted}. Best played with near a window to get the dull visual effect of light pouring through the coloured blocks. Miss M and I enjoyed sorting by colour and then by shape, making towers and structures and as you can see - having a look through to see what the world would look like :)

Shop here

Grimms Rainbow


Grimms Rainbow Small - Shop Here

So you know how I can't resist a rainbow?? These are my all time favourite toy and product from Finlee and Me. If I could recommend just one present for your Christmas list it would be this. We have the small (pictured above along with the Grimms stacking cups) and it's just right for tiny little hands (1-3 year olds).

For older children - 4 and above, I'd recommend splurging and getting the large rainbow. There is just so much more they can do with more pieces. My blogger friend Nichole from You Clever Monkey has a fantastic post sharing 5 ways to play with this rainbow stacker. Have a look and you'll be inspired!

Grimms Rainbow Large - Shop Here

Imaginative + Pretend Play


Wooden Fruit Cutting Set - Shop here

For Christmas this year we're after some additions to Miss M's play kitchen. It's always a good idea to build on what you have instead of getting too much and over cluttering. Any good play kitchen isn't complete with out play food - so we got this wooden fruit cutting set {gifted}. It's so ideal for Miss M's age right now. She loves pretend play and I can just see her keeping busy cutting up the fruits and joining them back together, making meals for her teddies and dolls ('friends' she calls them)...

Family members are always asking for Christmas present ideas aren't they? Miss M's Nanna is getting her this cute as pie cash register to go with her play kitchen, play food, trolley, handbag etc... So much learning happens through play as young children act out their everyday life experience and make sense of the world around them.

Image source - Finlee and Me. Shop here

Invite a little magic into your child's bedroom or play room with these fairy doors. This product is on my wish list for when Miss M becomes a big sister, I think it'll be the perfect addition to her rainbow bedroom. The 'small world play' possibilities are endless with these little doors and accessories that come with it. Many parents say that these have helped their little ones stay in their own beds and sleep better through the night. Win win!
Image Source - Finlee and Me. Shop here (many colours available, pictured here with accessories sold separately)

Fine Motor & Music


Shop here!

Another fabulous Finlee and Me product is the Wooden Lock Activity Box {gifted}. If your little one is fascinated with keys, knobs, locks and latches, they'll be kept busy with this for ages! We have something similar for Miss M (I called it the Nuts 'n' bolts toddler board). But the lock box version is much smaller, more compact and you don't have to make it yourself! In this photo Miss M is giving it a little test run before we give it to her cousin for Christmas!

I've had my eye on this Melody Mix for a while now - I just think it's such a cool idea. So many musical instruments in one neat and tidy set! Young children LOVE music and noise and they can experiment with so many different sounds and actions with these instruments. Bang, scrape, tap, shake...fun, fun, fun!

Image Source - Finlee and Me. Shop here.

Activities for when you're on the go



Image Source - Finlee and Me. Shop here.

Ever heard of busy bags? They're an ingenious idea designed to keep toddlers busy when you're out and about and need something quiet, low mess and low fuss to keep them entertained (eg doctor's waiting rooms, flights, out to dinner etc). This fabric memory game is ideal! Playing independently, children can match up the pairs, or play with a partner.

Another easy to transport, busy bag type product are these drawing sets (many colours available). Velcro tabs make them easy for little hands to open and close. (Please note, note pad is included but crayons are not). What a nifty idea!

Image source - Finlee and Me. Shop here

Probably the quietest play product ever and one of my favourites are fuzzy felts. Numerous different scenes can be created with just one set and will encourage little imaginations, and best of all it's silent! There are so many other sets available at Finlee and Me, just follow the link under the image.

Image source - Finlee and Me. Shop here.

Well there you have it! What a huge list of ideas! I hope you've found something useful here, I tried to include products to suit a variety of budgets explaining their use in a variety of educational categories. There is so so much more at Finlee and Me that you just must have a browse around!

Who else has started their Christmas shopping early?

Lauren x
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Our 10 Favourite Alphabet Books

The Alphabet is such a huge part of a child's first year of school - and often those years leading up to it! I'm of the opinion that it's never too early to expose young children to the letters of the alphabet and quite often this is done through simple books.


If you've been a long time follower (THANK YOU!!!) and you'd probably remember some of these previous 'alphabet' themed posts...

  • Twenty Six Letters - 26 hands on ways to learn the 26 letters
  • Alphabet Collages - A great arty/crafty way to learn letter formation and words beginning with each letter.
  • Alphabet Sorting Box - Once letters are known, this is a fantastic activity idea!
  • Alphabet Pebbles - Simply fun to play with, or begin forming simple words using these alphabet pebbles.

There are sooooo many alphabet picture books out there, and some are more educationally beneficial than others. So, in order of age appropriateness, here's my top 10 Alphabet Picture books.


Play School - Alphabet


The simplest Alphabet books for very young children are those with just one word for each letter, and board books with thick and sturdy pages are definitely best. Miss M loves these Play School books because she knows the show and toys so well, she even likes to look through the books while we watch the show!

AlphaBlock Book


This one is a new addition to our library {gifted} - but it's absolutely brilliant. Little readers peek through the cut out capital letters to reveal the picture behind. It's fantastic for them to guess what they think what will start with that letter. My newest favourite blogger Say Hello Jo featured this book as part of her FMS Photo a Day Challenge - so check her out if you'd like to see the inside of this beauty for yourself.

Available from Finlee and Me - click here to shop {brand rep}

There's also a matching Countablock Number Book available here: it's on my shopping list!

Hairy Maclary's a b c



Ah Hairy Maclary, a classic favourite! I love how the classics are brining out alphabet, number, colour and opposites books - they make such a great set and compliment the original so well as well known characters reappear. Again this is another simple one for toddlers and preschoolers because it's just one word per page. AND what's even better is each page shows the capital and lower case letter. Read my Lynley Dodd Author Study here

Eric Carle's A B C



Eric Carle is my all time favourite children's author (read my Author Study here), so this one had to be in my top 10. Every letter is presented with an animals, and it's also a lift the flap book making it more interactive and fun! As always Eric Carle's illustrations are beautiful - you'll want to read it over and over.

Alphaprints A B C



This one is great for all ages - and here's why! Yes each letter has just one animal, and the illustrations are cleverly created with textural fingerprints and everyday objects - so inviting to touch, making reading this book a sensory experience. But to take it further, there's extra text on each page which rhymes as it goes along
A is for Ant, munching lunch as it goes. B is for Bear, with a sweet round nose.

Eating the Alphabet



Apples to Zucchini, come take a look. Start eating your way through this alphabet book.

This is a popular one and may already be part of your home (and probably school/local) library. What a fantastic way to encourage healthy eating and learning at the same time. There's a glossary at the end of this book to explain each of the foods, and the watercolour images are gorgeous.

Dr. Suess's A B C



Another classic that had to be in my collection. Have a giggle with Dr Seuss and his crazy characters up to mischief as you read your way through the alphabet. Predictable repetition and a little bit silly, appropriate for all ages, but more so preschool-school age children.

A B C Animal Jamboree



I'm a huge fan of Giles Andreae's books and her ABC Animal Jamboree is a great addition to the collection. We're now moving to more school age appropriate books with several lines of text per letter, so 2-3 year olds may not have the attention span for this one. The pictures are bright and vibrant, some of which young readers may recognise from Giles Andreae's other books.

Elemenopee



I remember buying this pop up book back in my University days (more than 10 years ago now!) because it was so fun and clever. It's not your average one letter per page alphabet book, but the story of how the letters L M N O and P are fed up being strung all together into one word when children sing the alphabet song (hence the title). So they pack up and leave the alphabet frieze in the classroom...but reading and writing is quite difficult without them! This book was so well loved in my year one classroom back when I began teaching, that sadly I don't have it any more :(

Anamalia



Another fantastic one for 5 year olds and above is Anamalia. Graeme Base takes his readers on an adventure through the alphabet with the most intricate and detailed pictures. There is so much to find on just one page! Read my recent Graeme Base Author Study here at Childhood 101.

Make Your Own!

Ok so I'm admitting here that for about a year I've been meaning to make Miss M her own alphabet book just like this one, but it's been one of those projects I haven't gotten around to. The idea is that you take photos of everyday things familiar to your child - one for each letter of the Alphabet. Ok I'm going to set myself a goal to have this completed before baby number 2 arrives! (So that gives me about 8 weeks)... I love Artisan State for creating my own sturdy photo board books. They're quite affordable too - Miss M has a family one already :)

Any alphabet books you think I've missed from this list? Any favourites in your house hold?

Lauren
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