Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day....Award Day!

Friday....Friday....Friday.....it is Leap Day! How exciting. I am a little thrilled, as I am tired, and so ready for a 4 day weekend! woo hoo....lucky us. We have no plans, but I do hope to get out and have some fun in nature. We haven't been to the beach in AGES, so I am hoping to make a trip there, but...it may start raining tomorrow. We have had 4 great days without the constant raining, and I have been couped up at work. Now it will probably start raining and we'll be stuck inside. Cross your fingers for us. We'd appreciate it.

It is past time to celebrate some new awards. I am so very blessed with some really wonderful blogging friends. I appreciate each and everyone of you. My readers make my day.



Nearly a month ago, Jennifer bestowed upon me the Everyday Kindness award. Thank you Jennifer. This made my day.
I'd like to pass this on to some really kind bloggers:
-David at Authorblog
-Michelle at The Rocky Mountain Retreat




The sweet and wonderfulDeb passed along the faithfulness award. I appreciate this token of friendship very much.
I'd like to pass this award on to some really faithful readers of mine:
-My girl Holly
-My friend Laura at Sweet Awakenings.




Carolyn sweetly passed on this blogging friend award to me when she was recovering from an illness. There has been so much illness recently. Hugs to some of my blogging buddies who have been ill:

-Megan at SortaCrunchy
-Annd at An Eclectic Blog has a sick little one.



My girl JO, thinks I am a blogger of the world. Rock ON! This award originated HERE.
I'd like to pass this award on to some bloggers I know that live in different countries than I do:

-Suzy at Coping With Chaos
-Jenty at Jenty's Ramblings

And to all my other friends, BIG HUGS! I really appreciate all your support. I have two more awards that I will pass along next Friday. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Joys of Hide and Seek

Can I ask you a personal question? Do you play with your kids? If so....do you enjoy it? For me....it is a complicated question, with an even more complicated answer. Back in September, I revealed Sugar's SUPER POWER. I'd love to report that things have gotten better, but....sadly....Mama still doesn't have a clue. Sugar Bear still loves to dictate everything I say and do when we play, and I must go along with it or else we both end up in tears. Well....to be honest, I'll have to admit that it has gotten alittle better. I have worked really hard at honoring her need to be in charge of the play, and helping her understand that people don't like to be bossed around. She is working on it....in fact, we are both a work in progress.


For quite some time, one of Sugar Bear's favorite games has been Hide and Seek. It cracks me up how this game evolves for young children. In the beginning, she didn't really hide herself. She actually just hid her eyes and thought I couldn't see her. What a crack up. However, the "lazy mommy" in me enjoyed this stage. It took very little effort to be the hider or the seeker. She was equally happy if I just threw a blanket over my head to "hide." Easy Peasy!



Then came the stage in which the she actually told me where the hider should hide, and precisely how the seeker should look for them. Sugar Bear used to ALWAYS hide in the exact same spot, and I purposely looked in the same 4 spots before "finding" her. The seekers job was to narrate the looking. "Is she in the shower? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO....Is she in under the bed??? Nooooooooooooooooo.....Is she behind the door? Nooooooooooooooooooo...hmmmm where is she? Is she in the fridge? (okay....so not the real one, but the play one...don't worry...I would never encourage her to play in the fridge.).....Noooooooooooooooooo! Hmmmmm I know....she....might.....be......in....the....CLOSET!" That last word must be timed appropriately to coincide with the opening of the closet door. Much squealing and giggling would erupt. Now REPEAT.....like 15 times, until you want to poke your eye out. I enjoy this game for the first oh....two times, then after that, I am begging to be the Hider, and I try to sneak a magazine in with me. Sugar Bear is NOT impressed.



Recently, she has taken to requesting this game while we are outside. This is entirely new for her. I admit, I had a pretty hard time controlling my laughter the first time she asked me to play Hide and Seek outside. You see....we were practically in a flat grassy field with precisely ONE tree. She announced, "You go hide Mama! I'll crount! (not a typo)" I looked around, held back the laughter and said, "Uuummmmmm, and where do you propose I hide?" Sugar took a quick survey of the area, and waved her hand in the general direction of the flat grassy land, and said, "Just over there."



I figured....what the heck...let's see what she does. As she turned and leaned into the tree to count, I walked about 30 feet away and crouched down in PLAIN view. She slowly counted to 12 (her favorite number), and then opened her eyes. She glanced in my direction, then quickly averted her eyes. My silly Sugar Bear proceed to hunt for me in the opposite direction. "Hmmmmmm...where is Mama? Where could she be?" I swallowed my laughter as she "pretended" to look for me. Oh what a blessing she is. I am one lucky lady. At that moment, I was reunited with the spirit of Hide and Seek. Even though she is Bossy....She is MY bossy girl, and I love her, and her innocence. Sigh....Life is Good.



I risked life and limb to snap these photos of her when I was supposed to be hiding. I couldn't help it! She was just too darn cute in her classic "Crounter" role. Couldn't you just eat her with a spoon? Oh and this was the first day I ever put her hair in a pony tail. I couldn't quit admiring her new look. She's a doll, if I say so myself.



Dang it.......she peeked.....I've been discovered. It appears that HIDING in plain sight is encourage, but taking pictures while hiding in plain sight is a No No! Gotta go....Have a nice day!
*** oh and don't forget I'm on Top Momma! CLICK HERE!!!!! You know you want to. Click it a few times in fact. I get a referral each time you click the link, and a click each time you click on Sugar's sweet photo. Isn't that fun? I can't think of a single thing I should be doing today other than clicking. Can you? ***

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Would You Just Stand Still??????


I'm back with another installment in "Corey's Photography Tutorials", and if you are interested in what I have covered so far, you can always find the other posts on my right hand sidebar.

Today, I'm hoping to cover a subject I have heard MANY requests for.....FAST MOVING SUBJECTS! So many parents lament the challenge of photographing fast moving toddlers. It seems that more often than not, we get some really interesting blurred photos, or tons of shots of the back of their heads as they run away. SIGH.....Kids!

It isn't easy....but it surely isn't impossible to photograph a very active child, especially if it is YOUR child. You have an advantage. You KNOW your child well. They KNOW you, and.....you are with them a great deal of time. All these things actually work in your favor when photographing any child, but especially the ones on the go.



First and foremost, like I said before, go to your manual. Find out which settings might work best for photographing a moving object. For point and shoot cameras, it might be the "sports" mode. When in "sports" mode though, you need to have enough light. Most "sports" modes don't allow flash, so it doesn't work well in low light situations. For DSLR's you might want to just make sure you have a shutter speed of 125 or more. The MORE the better. If Sugar is really moving a lot, I try not to go lower than 150 on the shutter speed. If you are scared to try the "Manual" mode, just go with the "Shutter Priority" mode, and set the shutter to 150, and start snapping. There are really too many different types of cameras for me to give any more specifics than that. Read your manual.

Another problem I see with fast moving subjects is photos appear to be out of focus. This is due to the fact that the camera lost track of your main subject. Depending on the type of camera you are using, and what focus mode you are in, focus can fall on the tree, and not your child. The child simply moved right out of the field of focus. It is important to read about how your camera focuses. You may be able to set it to a type of focus that constantly refocuses on a moving subject. Again....READ THE MANUAL. Yes....I know...I'm a broken record, and as some would say...NO FUN!

Besides getting your camera in the right mode, there are many techniques I recommend for getting the best photos of a moving subject. I am going to outline as many as I can here.



It is my belief that the Digital Age has really changed photography in a myriad of ways, and one of my favorites is the fact that you can take a billion pictures with relatively NO cost to you. With film, I used to take only a few photos at each event, as the film was spendy, and paying for the "messed-up" photos annoyed me. On average, I would take no more than 10 photos while at the park. NOW...with my digital...I take 100 AT LEAST! Yes, you read that right 100. I truly feel that when photographing fast moving subjects it is important to take lots and lots of photos, because invariably you will get the blurry ones. The more photos you take, the better the odds of getting a few good ones.



This day while Sugar Bear explored the world around her, (yes it is a different day than this one), I took a little over 100 photos. Of the 20 I took of her jumping into the puddles, only 5 were satisfactorily in focus. I had little trouble with blur, due to a nice high shutter speed, but my focus was off. Sometimes the puddle was in nice focus, and Sugar Bear was blurry. Frustrating, but if you take LOTS of photos....you will get some that work out, while you are practicing to find the right mode, and focus style. Practice a lot.





Make it a habit to take the camera with you whenever you can. When going to the park, always take your camera. Play with your child, wear them out....then whip out the camera. They have to slow down sometime, right? ...well, at least some of them do. Basically, the more often you take photos the more likely you are to get the good shots. Your child will learn to ignore you and the camera, and it is then that you get the great shots.



Follow your subject, and just snap away. Start loving the shots of the BACK of them. Some of my favorite shots are from behind. I love feeling like I am seeing the world from her view. I think too often people worry over getting their face in the shot. This is not always ideal. A photo can capture the way your subject walks, and how they hold themselves. These memories are to be cherished as well.



Hold a conversation with them. Describe what they are doing, and show lots of interest. Direct them towards things you know will hold their attention. All children have things that interest them. As their parent, you have a pretty good idea what it is. Point out things for them to stop and look at, and quickly fire off some shots. If you are indoors, hand them something you know they will enjoy inspecting, and quickly take some shots. Most children will stop and investigate, for at least 30 seconds, something that catches their eye. Use that time wisely. Be ready....be prepared.



Here Sugar Bear was happily running down the road, when I said, "Hey Sugar! Where are the goats? I can't see them. Help!" She flipped around, and started pointing at them. I got at least 5 shots in before she moved on her way. The tip here is to be in position, have your settings ready BEFORE getting their attention. When Sugar turned around, I was already in a crouched position, and I had made sure my camera's settings were set. All I had to do was press the shutter. Be prepared! Get their attention at the last minute.



Moving subjects are a challenge. No one can deny that, but WE can do it. It just takes practice, and being prepared. You can do it.
Let's review:
1. Move in close.
2. Get down at their level.
3. Don't be too centered.
4. Play with tilt.
5. Showcase who they are.
6. Read your manual.
7. Don't be afraid to fill up your memory card.


THE END!

TEE HEE
*** oh and don't forget I'm on Top Momma! CLICK HERE!!!!! You know you want to. Click it a few times in fact. I get a referral each time you click the link, and a click each time you click on Sugar's sweet photo. Isn't that fun? I can't think of a single thing I should be doing today other than clicking. Can you? ***

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Feeling Random

Donetta tagged me with the "7 random things about me" meme. I have done this one.....quite awhile back, but I am in the mood....so here we go. However, I am choosing to do Seven Random Things about Sugar Bear.

Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.
Post “The Rules” on your blog.
Post seven weird or random facts about yourself on your blog.
Tag seven people and link to them.Comment on their blogs to let them know they’ve been tagged.

1. Sugar Bear was born with unusually large big toes. From that first day, I called them her "monkey toes." As she has aged, they have become more in proportion to the rest of her toes, though. I think that is a good thing.

2. Sugar Bear is an extended nurser. We are on our 38th month of Breast Feeding. WOW! I am trying to let her self ween.....it has been discussed by family that she will be nursing at the Senior PROM! Yes, I do get a lot of flack for this...but I'm okay with it. You Can Call Me A Freak If You Want To.

3. Sugar Bear has nearly 0% interest in Potty Training. ZERO! I always say she is too busy being brilliant to worry about silly things like Potty Training. tee hee....It is odd to me though, as she just over three. That is a bit old for a girl to not be Potty Trained. Oh well.......surely by her Senior PROM she'll be Potty Trained! wink...wink...

4. Sugar Bear isn't all that interested in what clothing she wears. She simply lets me choose for her, and rarely if ever has an opinion on certain items. If anything....she might request certain shoes. I'm enjoying this while it lasts.

5. There is not one single food that Sugar will eat 100% of the time. All though she eats a wide variety of foods in general, she will not always eat food I know she likes....not even ice cream or a cookie. She tends to only eat the food she is interested in that day. Often she only eats meat twice a week, but on those days....she'll eat a ton of it.

6. Sugar Bear LOVES to sing. She always has. She started actually singing "row row row your boat" when she was alittle over one year old. She has a good sense of rhythm, and can carry a tune. Recently, her capacity for learning a new song has increase dramatically. She will request to hear a certain song like 5 times in a row, and then she will have it down.

7. Sugar Bear is one of those children that wakes up in a great mood. Every morning, her eyes just blink open, and a smile is on her face. Even if I have to wake her, she just sits up and starts yacking about the day ahead. This morning, I heard through the baby monitor a little voice singing a song. She just made it up as she went...."its a beautiful day....it is a good day....what a nice day...."

GOSH....I LOVE THIS KID! Life is good!

Now....if you are reading this....and want to play along...go right ahead.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Photo Hunters~ Wooden

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


This week was refreshingly easy. Wood is everywhere. While on a recent puddle jumpin walk with my darling Sugar, I took the time to snap a few different perspectives of a WOODEN fence post. I love wooden fences, and old, falling apart fence posts.







Thank you for coming by my blog this week. I look forward to hunting around to see all the pictures this weekend. Have a great day.

*** oh and don't forget I'm on Top Momma! CLICK HERE!!!!! You know you want to. Click it a few times in fact. I get a referral each time you click the link, and a click each time you click on Sugar's sweet photo. Isn't that fun? I can't think of a single thing I should be doing today other than clicking. Can you? ***

Thursday, February 21, 2008

N....Is For Naughty or NICE?



You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance. ~Franklin P. Jones

Recently I have run across several discussions on Toddler Tantrums. Lis Garrett posted a lovely article on her blog, that really got me thinking about this subject. Then The Nap Warden reached out for advice. Reading comments on such posts intrigues me. I am forever amazed at the vast difference in parenting there is out there. The different techniques out there opens my eyes and gives me a chance to reflect on my own parenting style and try to articulate why I do the things I do.



One of my favorite questions for other parents is "WHY?" Yeah, I know....it isn't like they never hear that question from their children. However, I enjoy challenging people to articulate WHY they are parenting the way they are parenting. Often, I find, that parents stumble around at a loss for explaining their line of thinking. I am not saying that folks aren't thinking when they are parenting. I am saying that often we just don't know WHY we are doing things they way we are. Maybe it is just how they have seen it done....or how they were parented. Maybe they are just trying out things they have read about. Possibly they are just going with their gut. Any case.....it is always advisable to take a step back, and really think about WHY. In this....we must truely analyze who we are, and who we want to be.

I'd like to share one of the most inspirational quotes I have read in a long...long time.

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher

WOW! Read it again.

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher

Oh my yes.....that says so much. It touches my heart. I see the relevance of it in our world. As non-judgmental as I TRY to be, I often fall short when I see children being treated without empathy. Young children are just like you and me. Their body runs the full range of emotions. Each day they may feel happy one minute, and extremely discouraged the next. We are not born knowing how to express emotion. It is through interacting with adults that children learn how to identify emotion, and how to appropriately express those feelings.



As a parent, I find that when I consistently handle my daughter with the care all humans deserve, and empathize with her challenges, I come the closest to getting it right. I believe that most of our difficulties are based on the fact that she is a normal human being with the full gamut of emotion, and it is MY job to help her successfully deal with those emotions. It is MY job to take her by the hand and lead her in the right direction.



I parent by the golden rule. I treat Sugar as I would like to be treated. To achieve this, I have had to dig deep and identify my own feelings.

-I do NOT like to get in trouble for things I didn't even know was wrong. Children are not born knowing the rules. They must learn right from wrong from others. It is OUR job to successfully lead children in the right direction. I try to think of how I would feel if I entered a new job, and no one told me what I was supposed to do. I was just let loose on the job, and then suddenly without warning I was reprimanded for the things I did incorrectly. I try not to inflict such confusion on my child. I set clear boundaries, and steadily work at making sure she understands them. Most young children will not get it right away. It is through consistent follow thru on the parents part, that they begin to understand and follow the rules. It is my belief that the majority of the time, children WANT to do the right thing. They may have impulses and desires that are inappropriate, but that is due to their developmental age....NOT because they WANT to be bad.

-I do NOT like to be yelled at. In fact, when I am yelled at, I shut down. I can't not listen, or learn in this situation. I have fear, and anger. It is especially hurtful when someone I love and trust yells at me. Knowing this about myself, I apply it to my dealings with Sugar. 99% of the time I refrain from raising my voice. If safety is involved, I may shout out to get attention, but other than that, I use a normal tone of voice. I like being able to get down at her level and say, "Oh my....You are yelling. Remember....we don't yell. Mama doesn't yell at you....and you don't yell at me. Can you tell Mama in your normal voice?"

-I do NOT like to be physically hurt. I know this is touching on a really tough subject, but I am simply stating WHY I chose not to physically discipline MY child. I try to imagine what my world would be like if every time I made a mistake someone hit me. I don't care if they had warned me....or if it was unexpected, I would be so fearful. I am certain I would NOT work in a job where the boss had the right to hit me every time I messed up. We can all agree that it isn't a healthy relationship if my partner has the right to hit me if I forget to take the garbage out. I am fairly certain that respect isn't garnered by physical punishment. Fear should not be mistaken for respect. I respect hundreds of people who never laid a hand on me. Knowing this about myself, I practice a "hands off" parenting style, even when safety is involved. I am ever mindful of the message I am sending my child. I believe ALL humans have the right to be free of physical violence. (Please know, that I am respectful of other parenting choice, but it won't stop me from asking you WHY, and hoping that you can articulate your answer.)

-I do NOT like being completely without choice. Seriously....can you imagine having NO control of your life? I can not. I like having choices. I don't always have all the choices, but it is nice to have some. I parent keeping this in mind. I may not be able to let Sugar choose when bedtime is....but she certainly can decided which jammies she gets to wear. I make it a habit of offering her a choice as often as possible, so she has a greater sense of control. "Would you like to put your shoes or your coat on first before we go?" "Do you want the blue or the red cup?" "Do you want to brush your teeth or take a bath first?" "Which book would you like me to read?" The possibilities are endless. Then when something comes up, that just isn't a choice I say, "I can hear that you don't want to take a nap right now, but this is just not a choice. It is nap time. How about AFTER your nap, you can choose which game we are going to play?" I always try to offer a replacement choice.

-I do NOT like it when my feelings are disregarded. When I say, "I'm sad!", I certainly don't want to hear, "I don't care!" When I am frustrated, it doesn't help to be ignored. Often if someone can just empathize with me....it helps. Keeping this in mind, I ALWAYS acknowledge Sugar's feelings. It is perfectly okay for her to be angry, frustrated, sad, happy, or excited. She just may not be expressing it appropriately. I acknowledge her feelings, let her know if the way she is expressing it is okay or not, and offer an alternative if needed. "Oh dear, Sugar...I can see you are very disappointed. You don't want to leave the park. It is okay to be sad about it, but remember we don't yell at each other. Maybe when we get to the car, you can snuggle your blanket for a bit. That might make you feel better." or "Sugar....I see that you are very angry at mommy. I am sorry that you can not watch another episode of Dora right now, but you can not hit. Remember we have a rule about NO hurting. Can you use your words and tell mama how you are feeling?" I believe it is okay for her to say, "I am mad at YOU!" as long as she isn't yelling it at me. I then say, "Yes, I can see you are mad. Sometimes we just get mad at each other, but that is okay. We still love each other. Maybe we can come up with something that will make you feel better." I do NOT give in. She does not get to do whatever it was that started the anger, but I am not opposed to helping her feel better. Don't we like others to try to make us feel better when we are upset? You'd be surprised how quickly some children feel better about things when they are sure you understand them.

On a whole, I practice the whole "reward good behavior and prevent misbehavior" technique. Most parents understand and practice the first part of that statement, but the last half is often misunderstood. I like to believe that I parent using a good Offense. I do my very best to stay in tuned to my child, and predict her feelings and moods. As Lis stated, when Sugar is tired, or hungry she is more likely to have a meltdown. Knowing this, I go into it prepared to prevent the tantrum. Instead of saying, "it is time for bath" when I know she is likely to get upset, I say, "Sugar! When we jump in the bath right now,do you want to play Ice Cream Shop or bubble beards first?" She is tricked into focusing on the exciting things she will get to play, and totally forgets that she really didn't feel like taking a bath in the first place. This technique sets the child up for success....and isn't that what it is all about?



Children are born, and placed into our arms. It is our mission to embrace them, honor them, respect them, teach them, and love them. It isn't easy, but they are counting on us to do the right thing. You decided what is right for you, and yours.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday~ Cousins























For more Wordless Wednesday go HERE and HERE!

*** oh and don't forget I'm on Top Momma! CLICK HERE!!!!! You know you want to. Click it a few times in fact. I get a referral each time you click the link, and a click each time you click on Sugar's sweet photo. Isn't that fun? I can't think of a single thing I should be doing today other than clicking. Can you? ***

Monday, February 18, 2008

Puddle Jumper~ Part Two

As I discussed last week, mud and mud puddles are considered REQUIRED curriculum here in our household. In our hour or so we spent with said puddles we covered MANY subjects: Science, Math, Language, Art.....and Physical Development. One of my many topics of interest through my work, in Early Childhood Development, is Physical Activity for young children. In the last year, I have attended 3 separate trainings designed to help increase the physical activity offered in Preschool Programs. Being the ever dedicated mother, I have taken much of this information to heart, and have applied my knowledge to mine and Sugar's life.



Four days a week, Sugar spends 9 hours in a Home Daycare/Preschool. Though I love her provider, and know Sugar is well taken care of, a major concern is the amount of physical activity provided during the rainy months. I am certain that Sugar falls quite short of the suggested HOUR of ORGANIZED physical activity each day. To make up for this shortage, I try to spend ½ hour each evening MOVING with my girl. We have some great movement CD's with interactive songs. We dance, and follow the singing instructions. It took a month or so for Sugar to really buy into it....but now she requests certain songs. Our hearts get to pumping, and our smiles brighten. I have no doubt it is not only good for our bodies....but wonderful for our souls.



You may be wondering what all this has to do with our puddle jumping excursion besides the obvious. Granted....going for a walk, and jumping into puddles is considered physical activity, but I take it a whole step further. I believe whole heartedly, that the earlier young children master body movement, the more proficient they will be in the future. I also believe that learning to move your body builds the brain connections you will need to do anything from Reading to Mathematics. With this in mind, I don't just observe Sugar playing in the puddles, I participate.



I model different movements for Sugar to follow. I challenge her to move her body in different ways. We work on balance, bending, stretching, hopping, jumping, leaping, running, walking, galloping, tip-toeing, throwing and so on. It is a blast, and I feel good that I am not only improving her health in the present, but I am increasing her chances of excelling in the future. It all makes sense......and it is FUN!



Here she is working on balance, and bending. To encourage this, I suggested picking up rocks to throw in the puddle. I even pointed out certain rocks to give her different opportunities to reach and lean.



At the same time, obviously, we worked on throwing and tossing. We discussed the difference between an overhand throw, and an underhand toss. It was interesting to see the difference in her accuracy using each technique.





Needless to say, the jumping skills are easily encouraged when puddles are present. However, I find that Sugar still struggles with a TRUE jump. She finds it very difficult to have both her feet leave the ground at the same time, and land together as well. Hopping, which requires holding one foot off the ground, then hopping up into the air with the other foot, while landing on the same foot is equally difficult. It is a whole lot easier for her to Leap. She projects her body off of one foot, while landing on the other foot. This is by far her preferred method when attempting to launch herself OVER puddles.



To encourage her to work on all types of jumping, leaping and hopping, I call out different ideas as she is playing. She likes to be challenged! "Hey Sugar! Show mama how you can leap OVER that big puddle over there!" She gladly obliges.



She loves to Leap....



LOVES.IT.SO.MUCH!



"Hey Sugar....how about leaping INTO the puddle!"



To get her to actually JUMP, I often encourage running, then jumping INTO the puddle. If I suggest the run...to get the BIGGEST splash, she is all for it, and actually comes fairly close to a TRUE jump. It is a work in progress.



All attempts require celebration though...and for that I am always available. I can whoop and holler with the best of them. It is lovely to know that along with the leg muscles...our facial muscles are getting a workout as well. Go Sugar!



"RINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG..." The bell has rung. This concludes another successful day in Puddle Jumping 101. Please join us next week for Hide and Seek 102. See you there!

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