Thursday, May 27, 2010


Hoping you are enjoying your week...we went to the pool yesterday morning and played hard!  Actually, Little People played hard while I enthusiastically soaked up my digital photography book... (along with some serious rays!) 

These kiddos absolutely, unequivocally, undeniably love life!!!!!

Wanted to share these  "motion pictures"  with you all!





And Stan just wanted to show you all how he can jump in....ready....set...


Nope!  No fancy photoshop on these....except new watermark.

Hoping you have good motion in your day today!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Porch

Driving home last night, coming down my street, my front porch with the white rocker came into view...and I felt home.   There is just something magical about summertime and a front porch. 

Up until my adult life, when I spread my wings and flew away, I lived in the same house.  My mom still is in that house...51 years now?  We had a large, open front that shouted, "You are welcome here!"

If you remember the hit t.v. show The Waltons, you should know my porch looked a lot like that.  We also had the same type of kitchen I thought we were related to the Waltons.

As a child, it seemed ginormous (as my little Ester says).  I'd set up shop...with my dolls or Barbies, and play all day long in the summertime.  And as the sun rays spread further and further across the porch, I'd shrink my castle into the shady spots and turn it  into an island hut...and would continue to play unperturbed.

It was a great place to have a lemonade stand or kool aid stand.  It showcased Mom's gorgeous white flower boxes that spanned the width of the porch.  The flowers would just cascade down and oh! they were always beautiful. The porch was for taking prom pictures, mother's day pictures, birthday pictures...

All  guests were greeted there with big smiles.

The front porch was a place to just be... where new babies and grand babies were welcomed... where Dad made his last exit from...

We always had a porch changed over the years from wicker to solid wood, it weathered, it even fell on a couple of occasions (after the contractor "rehung" it when the new siding was finished).  The swing holds soooo many memories. 

It was a place to just hang out as play hide and seek watch a thunderstorm in the warm summer have a parent listen to a teenage  "crisis" swing a baby into slumber...or up to some cloud of happiness and to see them smile while doing so. 

It was the place to watch all the cars driving initiation into the hobby of "people watching".

The porch swing held young love birds, on summer nights...until Dad or Mom knocked on the front window or turned on the porch light!

You could always read a good book while swinging on that swing...or sit and wait for "your ride" to pick you up.  Many serious discussions where held there...and funny ones as well.

Through the front window, I could see my parents sitting together, swinging together, Dad's arm around Mom's shoulder...

I can recall hearing the front door slam shut and knowing someone or something was happening on the front was a social center you could say.

Since then...I have had a front porch on three of my last four homes.   I have to have a porch, to put a swing or rocker on...a porch where I can live and breathe life...a place to be...where all my worries are washed away.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

You Had Me At Hello - An Adoption Story - Part 2

It took 13 hours of flying... over Canada, the North Pole, the Bering Strait, the International Date Line, and Siberia to safely reach Tokyo, Japan (without refueling), where we switched planes.  From there, it was another two hours of flying straight to Seoul, South Korea.

At one point, I remember asking David how long we had been in the air..."Six hours," he said, "...and we aren't even half way there."  The magnitude of the distance seemed unbelievable and yet, at the same time, the world seemed so much smaller than what I thought it was.

Once in Seoul, my fears were replaced with "mama bear - looking for baby cub - mode" .  We were so close to this little baby.  It was like one of those dreams where you need to get from point A... to point B... but you are stuck in mud... and you can barely  move...a little bit of anxiety kicked in you could say.

Over the course of a week, we were able to visit little Stan twice and for the rest of the time, we were encouraged to see Seoul and the countryside.  We did just that with as many of our senses that we could stomach!  We took tons of photos and video for Stan...for "someday".

We knew that God had played a huge hand in the adoption from the moment He wrote it onto our hearts when we were only engaged and discussed it.  Knowing that, we were still blown away to find that Stan was being raised by Catholic foster parents.

The population in the city of  Seoul is 10 million.  The Christian population makes up 29%, and of that, only 11% are Catholic Christians.  There are only a small number of foster parents (600?) and to have one that is Catholic ...well, you do the math!

The day before we left...before we were handed our little baby... the sickness hit again.  The share enormity of the undertaking was overwhelming.  We were taking this little baby, out of his birth country, away from his culture, to raise him ourselves.

Even though we loved him to the ends of the world and back, he didn't know us, nor love us.  We smelled different.  We looked different.  We sounded different.  We were strangers and we were taking him away from everything he knew...everything that made him feel safe.

No matter how many classes we took and books we read, still we were not prepared for that moment...

I was afraid to let him let these beautiful people down that were entrusting him to us.  I prayed for courage.

These next pictures are of the morning we flew out.  It was 7am and raining.  It was so heart-warming to see little Stan so happy.  The moment was bittersweet for Mrs. Kim and myself.

As for me, even though I wanted to just hold him forever, I knew that I'd have that chance...forever.  I passed... in order for Mrs. Kim to privately love him while she could.

The agency has a lovely tradition of praying over each and every child that leaves with his new family and Stan received that lovely farewell prayer, too.

Their driver loaded us up in a van. I entered first followed by Mrs. Kim handing Stan to me and bowing to David.  David then got into the van at which point the staff bid little Chang Hoon farewell!  Mrs. Kim and I locked eyes and the look between us spoke volumes. 

And then we were off...


Not wanting to upset Stan during the ride to the airport, I kept him facing forward.  Only once he turned around to look at me and did a double take.  We held our cry? good...

I had the time to really check him over.  He smelled sooooo good.  Whatever Mrs. Kim was just heaven scented.  He was perfectly groomed, clean.  His little finger nails were meticulously manicured...not one speck of dirt in his little finger nails.  And he looked so healthy and adorable.  This woman took great pride in the care she provided for our son. 

At the airport, David was like a new groom/new father...nervous and trying ever-so-hard to show he had it together.  (And he did an awesome job escorting his little family home!)
Then we were called into security, to have ALL of our luggage checked...and that is when Stan grew fussy!   

Between Stan's needed nap time, a strange woman holding him - (who was fumbling for the paperwork that held his feeding/sleeping schedule) - and being hungry and confused, the small sniffling gradually grew into an awful, uncontrollable sob.  

The people at the terminal...oh! if you could have seen their faces.  Oh yeah!  You knew what was on their minds.  By the time we boarded, Stan was in full hysteria.  If I hadn't had any experience with children, my knees would have buckled from beneath me right then and there and I would have joined Stan in that sad moment.  

I was trying my hardest to comfort him when the IT happened...he vomited...full projectile... all over himself and me ...and I almost cried.  Those spare shirts that I packed in the carry-on for each of us?...well, I hadn't expected to use them that quickly! We had just started and had another 24 hours to go! 

But we made it!  We did okay!  Sadly, Stan cried himself to sleep in my arms where he slept until we arrived in Tokyo.  With a two hour lay-over and a plane switch we had just enough time for Stan to have his ignaural bath in an airport bathroom sink!  I washed Stan and myself in the bathroom sink and then all was good in the world...once again!  (The Asian airports were immaculate - something I was not use to seeing.)

Waking up in my arms...being gently washed and cleaned...being played with...I believe helped him calm down around us.  There were no more upsetting moments for him for the duration of the trip.  And we thanked God!

This picture is of Stan getting ready to take off from Tokyo on our way to Chicago.

We had requested bulk head seats.  Believe it or not...Stan slept on blankets on the floor...slept soundly to the hum and vibration of the engines...almost the entire trip.  (No one on the plane complained!)

After arriving back in the US,  I only panicked once, and that was when we went through customs...I had these awful images that we hadn't been given the proper paperwork that would allow him to enter the States.  But they did!  Whew!

The last and final leg...the one that seemed to take FOREVER was the flight to Springfield...where our other babies were waiting for us.

These are some pictures from the moment we stepped off the plane and walked through the gates...

And he was loved!

All of our wonderful friends were waiting for us with signs, balloons, and hugs & kisses.  For that moment in was truly heavenly!


Let me say that the adoption story isn't a fairytale.  Oh, it is so beautiful...but it has moments that are unbelievably difficult...moments that make you question yourself or what you just did.  There were many moments where Stan grieved his loss...which was everything he knew...all in Korea. 

You have to go in with eyes wide open.  You have to take the good along with the bad.

When Stan asks about being in my tummy, we tell him that he grew like a flower in another lady's tummy...and was taken care of by the most loving couple.  We tell him that they took care of him till Mommy and Daddy could come and get him. 

No...Stan wasn't born from my tummy...he was born in our hearts...

We will receive many comments...not always good ones.   Being keenly aware of what Stan hears and more importantly, being keenly aware of what he hears in  our response is what needs to be focused on.

People will tell us how lucky he is.  We tend to think that we are the lucky, the blessed, to have him placed with us. 

Stan is at an age now where he is into telling people his adoption story...his version of his adoption story...and it goes something like this: "I was born in Korea.  I stayed there until my mom and dad could come and get me.  Then I got on a plane and puked!"  ...followed by him laughing and people looking at us with questionable expressions!

Will we ever adopt again?  Oh! that would be such a tremendous and welcomed gift...but it is in God's hands.  For now...we continue to thank Him for our little man.

Friday, May 21, 2010

You Had Me At Hello - An Adoption Story

This is just a glimpse into our son's adoption.  Lately we have had many  inquiries about adoption or have been in conversation centered around it.  Because of that,  I  have decided to share a small part of our story with you all.

On the Sunday night before Thanksgiving, November 20, 2005, ...7pm to be exact.... the phone call came... 

"Mrs. So-and-so, we have a referral for you...and it is a boy!"

I don't remember too much after that since I was floating up to the ceiling with happy gas and total joy.  What I do remember is receiving a brief report over the phone and without any hesitation, we accepted his referral with total though we had just given birth ...only in our hearts.

I do remember my face hurting from all the smiling.   I remember making all the phone calls to relatives, sharing our grand news with them, but I don't remember much else except floating...on a cloud...called #  Nine.

We had to wait until the next morning to see his little face...and this is the face we fell in love with...

Stan's picture was immediately scanned and emailed to EVERYONE we knew...and then copies were sent snail mail to EVERYONE we knew!  (Those poor people!)  The abundant joy that filled us from head to toe, the joy that filled every ounce of our being...words cannot describe.  What a wonderful way to celebrate that Thanksgiving!

The waiting period after that was the worst!  It was absolutely painful at times.  Imagine you left your child behind in another country and you know you will get him back, but not for four months.  You are told he is being well taken care of...but you have no way of seeing him, touching him, comforting him. 

Painful doesn't cover it.

And each day of waiting, we spiraled wildly out of control into the deepest depths of love.

I spent every single week in adoration praying for my little man, praying for the grace to withstand the time, praying for patience. 

We'd split adoration hour (30 min's each), one of us taking the girls out to the playground while the other stayed in the chapel.  On one particular day, while it was my turn to take adoration, I was sitting inside asking God,  "....just how much longer will it take..."  when in that same instant David came in, leaned down next to me, and whispered...

"Are you ready to go pick up your son..."

 In confusion, I flew around to look at him  and he said, "...they just called!" 

It was THE call of all calls  - the grand daddy of all calls that families wait for when adopting from overseas.

Needless to say, I didn't finish my rosary!  After a quick, respectful genuflect, I was running out of the church...and boy! was I crying tears of joy. I was in utter awe over how God had just spoken to the depths of my very soul I felt Him. 

There are only a few moments in my life when I physically felt Him that close to me, and that, my friends, was one of those moments. 

The day was Thursday, March 30, 2006, around 9:30am - to be exact! 

I had an idea of when our travel call would come, but not an exact date. 

We lived 120 miles from the closest relative and Dad was finishing up chemo but we had an army of homeschool friends and friends from church who helped us with the girls.  They were all angels and had been in line, waiting with us, for that call!  They  took charge and all was well with the world.

About 86 hours later, we were on our way to South Korea...

...and sitting on the plane in the pre-dawn hours of the morning, the sky was just turning the slightest shades of soft pink on the horizon...when we started taxing down the runway ...

... I suddenly felt scared and panicked....Am I crazy?!  What am I doing?!  I'm flying half way around the bring home another child...I'm leaving my girls and going so far away...we must be crazy?! I  felt like I wanted to jump out the emergency exit and roll all the way back to the comforts of my home.

 I felt reallyreally sick to my stomach with the reality of it all.

 And this was only the first leg in a three-part trip!

We flew from Springfield, IL to O'Hare first.  As we were sitting watching the really big birds coming in from some foreign land far, far away, I couldn't help but wonder... just how in 'tarnation we were going to make it from Chicago... to Tokyo... without refueling...hmmmm...

Well,  that thought certainly didn't help me relax!

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Prayers...Praying..both make up a huge part of my day.  It comes in many forms, prayer does; in silence; in spontaneity; in repetition; adoration; thanksgiving; penance, and petition.

I cannot imagine my life without it.  I'd be so empty. 

My favorite prayer is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  I was introduced to this beautiful, hope-filled prayer through Paul, a dear friend.   

My dad was a very spiritual man, a quiet spirituality filled him.  Even at death.  He was blessed with a happy death.  Unexpected as it was, sudden as it was, "unfair" as it was, he was blessed

Dad's name was Joseph, and he had such a strong bond with St. Joseph, the foster father of our Lord.  Dad  was given the gift to die at home, with dignity and grace, with all  nine children and his beloved wife at his side throughout his remaining was a happy death.

One of his wishes was to see us all go to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.  And because of our love and respect for Dad, we all went...that very moment. 

My eyes fill with tears as I recount that day...

It took one phone call to a priest and he opened up his office doors for each of at a time we went at a time we came out...filled with peace and hope and trust in Jesus.

We all stood in the crisp, autumn afternoon, with the sun rays filtering down through the billowy clouds.  The red and yellow leaves were swirling all around our feet as we waited in line, like school kids,  in our own personal silence.  We looked so sad, scared, and forlorn.  But oh! so determined because Dad knew how important that was for each of us.

And as God gave His only Son to us out of an act of love....Dad gave us this last gift of love, to always trust in Jesus' love and mercy and forgiveness.

It was that night that  Paul had introduced me to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, over the phone as I recounted the day's events.. that "miraculous" moment. 

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is that of trust and hope...for the dying..for the sinful...for all of us...those who exult themselves and those who deem themselves too lowly and all those who fall between the two. 

Jesus' love and forgiveness is for all.

In the past couple of days, my friend Trisha has been trying to get the word out of a new ministry she is involved in:

I wanted to share it here, for her, for you all.  Thank you, Trisha, for this ministry you are working so hard with.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's Summertime! is officially here in our home and today, we officially welcomed it!

And you know where we spent it...

  That's right!  We took a flying leap...

...and splashed right on in...

...laughing all the way!

What a great moment in a child's life...another rite of be out of school for the summer!

They have worked hard and deserve this time.  Today they could let loose and be care-free!

And what a glorious sound it is to hear  laughter and joy coming from children, at a swimming pool!

The sun shining down hard...the smell of suntan waters...sherbet colors...laughing, giggling, grinning kids...I love this time of year! 

And all the lady bugs, and Roley-polley bugs in the entire world love Texas because they know that a little boy named Stan will save each and every one of them from drowning in the pool. 

At this moment in time, all of their worries are washed they should be. (That goes for the little people AND the little bugs!)

For me?  Well, I have plans for another blog on the me and summer subject...but, I'll save it for another time.  Right now, today was about them turning another page in the book of life! 

P.S.   Chpt. 2 from the last blog...we did find bird poop in the car! Gross!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Have You Ever...

...woken your kids from a slumber in order for them to witness something beautiful that God created?  I rarely do, but lately, I've been trying real hard to keep my eyes open in order to capture all the beauty that I had been taking for granted. 

Last night, God provided me with yet another awesome just sit...and watch...and just be...

I was in my bed, the kiddos tucked asleep for a good 30 minutes, and it was getting late.  In the corner of my brain, I was seeing the flash of lightening.  There was fewer seconds in between each flash, coming more rapidly each time. 

I heard the distant rumble of thunder, the kind that tells you that a big storm is approaching.

And then it was all mixing together; the site and sounds of an impending storm.  The kind of storm that makes you set everything down, look at the weather map, and then watch out the the absolute beauty of it all, forming before your eyes. 

God was creating a masterpiece and the sky was the canvas.  ...and because of nightfall, this particular artwork was even more of a masterpiece.

Knowing it was safe, I quickly grabbed my camera and woke up the three girls.  I asked them if they wanted to watch something beautiful...they jumped at the chance...half asleep.

From the driveway, their interest quickly peaked.  I could tell by the way they went from semi-lying on the drive to sitting up...their silence spoke volumes...with each passing moment, they were witnessing the making of a HUGE, (and I have to say beautiful),  thunderstorm....and I knew they understood the beauty and awe of God at work.  He was creating right before their eyes. 

And these are the photos I took.  I used my night setting hoping it would turn out.  I did not have time to grab my tripod, but I somewhat was able to pull it off.

It was soooo beautiful.  We just sat.  We just let time be...

This morning, my dear Sally finished her last quarter test for the 5th grade.  Way to go, Sally!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not-So-Cool Compliment

Mabel: "Mom, when you were my age, did you think your mommy was gross?"

David: (Total choke and laugh)

Me: "Actually, No.  Why do you ask?  Do you think your mommy is gross?!"      

David: (Outrageous laughter)

Mabel: With a forced, innocent look..."Noooooo."

Me:  "Hmmm..., BUT I thought my daddy was!" 

(Actually not, just trying to get back at David).

Mabel:  Feeling safer and grinning wildly, "Me, too!"

Followed by everyone laughing now!


The ladies were at Le Madeleine's last night.  I've never been there before.  It was very nice and I would recommend it for a ladies get-together.

It was a French cafe' - type restaurant.

Definitely a chick place to eat!

Thanks Trisha, for setting the night up for the ladies.


I've been meaning to post this picture.  My mom brought these down as a gift for me.  Aren't they the cutest little set of salt 'n pepper shakers you have ever seen?

I love them, Mom!  Thanks again!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Flashback to Coolness!

Stan and I were heading to the post office when Oh What a Night came on the radio.  In a split second I was in a time machine heading back to 1975...

I was six years old and I loved this song....lyrics - TOtally inappropriate for a six year old...but it rocked!

I envisioned myself at the local roller skating rink... THE coolest place to be growing up...(where I was from at least).  If you were hip, you were on four wheels attached to a boot, trying your hardest not to fall down in front of that cute, freckled-face, missing- two- front- teeth boy that you had a crush on forEVER.  The same boy who never seemed to pay any attention to you.

There were high-waisted jeans with bell-bottoms and micro-plastic belts to boot!  And to be the coolest, you didn't rent skates, baby, you owned skates!

For me, owning skates was something that happened when the coolness of it was almost worn off!  I was always behind the times a bit. 

I received my first pair of new skates when  I turned 9 years old.  I still remember the look and smell of them.  Gorgeous!  They were white boots with kelly-green wheels made from the perfect ball-bearings so they felt like you were skating on butter.  And to top it all off, I had kelly-green pom-poms perched ever-so-cutely on my toes!  Oh yeah, baby...that was cool! (back then!)

But my sister, Mary (3 yrs. my senior), was the epitome of coolness...of smoothness!  She was in 6th grade when she earned the privilege of skating at the rink on a Friday night...Oh!  How I envied her!  It was like a rite-of-passage for kids back then - to skate... on a Friday night... at the rink... without a grown up there. (Sigh......)

On those Friday nights, I recall sitting on her bed with my legs dangling through the foot board, watching her every move, memorizing it in my brain, as she prepared herself for a night of skating. 

She had Michael Jackson (pre-surgery Michael Jackson) playing on her record player.  Her hair was cut and styled like Farrah Fawcett (I think all girls did back then...the ones that age..Ha!)  She always wore this sapphire-blue, satin shirt and to top it off, she had a clear, plastic, micro-belt that was filled inside with some tinfoil-type material.  I'd just sit there, in awe, daydreaming about that being me someday...Sweeeeet!

I think by the time I was allowed to skate on a Friday night, it wasn't cool anymore.  Par for the course I suppose.

Fast -forward to tonight...I am going out with the moms from our Ave Maria group.  It isn't a roller-skating rink, but we still have a good time.  We meet the same night each month.  There are 30 of us in all and those who can make it,..well, we always have a good time when we do meet.

I'll have this tune playing in my head as I primp...and I'll have a little girl trying on my shoes or looking through my closet...and a couple of compliments, hopefully, the kind of compliments that make you feel like the epitome of COOLNESS!
And Mabel...she thinks she is all that since she finished up First Grade today!  Sweeeeet!

The gluteous maximus?  Doing much better today, thank you very much!
I hope you have a bit of that coolness in your step this week!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Little Girl Dreams

I've always wanted to be a mother.  As far back into my childhood that I can remember, I always was a my dolls, my Barbies, my little baby brothers...I would dream and wish and create my life in the future and it always lead to being a mother (that and a beautician!) 

Around the age of 4 or 5, I remember receiving Baby Alive for Christmas.  I was so excited because she would eat "real" baby food and "poop" it out in a diaper.  She would crawl and coo, too.  My childhood house was a big, old house where all the bedrooms upstairs had HUGE walk-in closets (enormous in the eyes of a child).  I would set up shop in my bedroom closet: a real, child-size, wooden table and chairs, play dishes and sink, baby buggy, bottles and booties,  and baby play house inside my  real house. 

And as I grew, my "children" grew in numbers.  I had all the names picked out and imagined that this is exactly how my life would become in 20 years...

And as the years passed, my imagination took on other roles and boy! did my dolls change.  I had taken it upon myself to be self-taught in the art of cosmetology.  I was a hair dresser!  A beautician!  My dolls took on new appearances with new hair-do's:  some received hair cuts, some had their plastic hair melted by the curling iron cemented with hair spray.  How many curling irons I must have ruined of my older sisters!  Some dolls received make-up consults with my mom's Avon samples that the Avon lady always left for the girls in the house. I loved those samples!  (And no, my mom never wore make-up...I think Miss Avon Lady was always hoping she'd purchase more than what she did.)

And then life continued to happen.  I grew up.  I stopped playing with dolls but my motherly dreams never faded. 

There were a couple of Mother's Days where I longed to be a mother...and hadn't been blessed yet, yearning for my time to come.  There were a couple of Mother's Days where I didn't want to attend Mass because of the losses that I suffered  and I couldn't bear to endure the heart ache of watching the other mothers deservedly stand up after Mass to receive a special blessing.

God had plans for me..I had to wait, be patient, and endure losses....and now I'm a mother to these four little people who are such a blessing to me!  And time keeps marching on.... way too quickly! They are growing faster than I would prefer and I have no control over it...except to continue to enjoy all the beauty that they bring into my life...for that moment, for that day.  They are my childhood dreams come true!

My girls have their own special dreams that they are weaving in their imaginations.  They love to play with baby dolls, American Girl dolls or Barbies, to "mother" their little brother, and Sally is even starting to be a mother's helper  by watching a little boy down the street. 

And on the really, good days, where there is a "love-fest" amongst them...the kind that make David and I scratch our heads and wonder why they are getting along so well?... those days just wrap up my childhood dreams of motherhood in the prettiest of gift wraps and top it off with a big, fancy bow! 

This weekend, was low-key...Saturday was a day for time at the park and walks around the neighborhood.  Stan and Mabel decided that they would raid the costume bin and dress up as brother and sister:

a.k.a. Princess Leah and Luke Skywalker...I was corrected when I called Stan Darth Vader. Sorry, the black threw me off!

I told you they have their own special imaginations!

And I would like to know why little people do not get up early, on their own, when you need them to?!  We barely made 8am Mass.  They were all snug in their beds, sound asleep, but were troopers when I asked them to quickly dress, brush their hair, and get into the van.  Stan was another story.  He can be an angry elf, a south pole elf, like me, when he is woken up too early.  Yikes!

The weather turned unseasonably cool and the sky threatened rain all day.  So our plans for the beach and picnic were scrapped.  The kids had their own back-up plan and it turned out to be so much fun.  We hit the bowling alley...

And afterward, remember that turkey story from the other night?  Well, it ended up being absolutely delicious!  Well done, David! 

Mabel lovingly prepared my snack while I took a siesta on the couch...
isn't that the sweetest?! (apple, golden raisins, chocolate teddy grahams, and princess fruit snacks.)

So I end with a big happy mother's day wish to all of you: Mom, Mother-in-law, my sisters and sisters-in-law and all of my are truly all blessings and add so much beauty to this world.  May you continue to live out your childhood dreams of motherhood!


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