The Progression of a Reader

The love of reading is possibly the most important gift we can give our children. For those of you who read yesterday’s post, you already know that I think books are the single most important gifts to put under your tree (or included in your own cultural gift giving exchange) because that is how we share and teach the love of reading.

Regardless of how well we do our jobs as parents, we cannot possibly share all that the world has to offer. Even if we were able to do the impossible and share everything that we know, our knowledge is inherently restricted by our preferences, by the things that we like and dislike. Even as we encourage independence and finding your own path, our individualities are the first frame of reference for our children, the first boundaries that they are aware of.

Reading is a crucial way that children can broaden their own horizons beyond that of their parents, their families, their teachers, their communities, and their gatekeepers. By demonstrating and encouraging a love of reading, we help our children explore the world beyond their early borders, expand their understanding, and find their own passions. Thus, we give them an essential tool to finding their own paths.

Sounds good, but how do we demonstrate and encourage a love of reading? It seems like a fairly straightforward process but I am simply amazed at how often I hear things like “oh, my child doesn’t like books” or “my kid has no interest in reading”.

Interests and “likes” will come, go, re-emerge and depart again — likely many times throughout childhood. (Of course, this is true for reading, different foods, habits, toys, places, even people!) As with things of this nature, the key is persistence. We have to cultivate tenacity in the re-introduction of things that are good for them. Books are no exception.

Not only do we need to give them books, we need to read to them and with them. Make reading a special and fun bonding time. Allow them to pick out their own books, first at libraries then later at book stores.

We need to demonstrate our love of and appreciation for reading by reading and talking about what we read. Let your children see you reading (books are best, but any reading is better than none). Let them hear you talking about your reading.

There are so many ways to encourage reading. We’ve experimented with some. You might even say that we’ve made some progress. Our daughter is only 4 years old, but we’ve been reading to her since she was in utero. With contributions from our family and friends, we stocked her first book shelves before she was born. As you can see in the pics from yesterday’s timeline of reading and in the videos below, this child loves to read!

Video 1, About 8 months old — Of course, not reading and not really even looking at pictures but – here is the important part: getting familiar with books. And maybe chewing on books, too. That’s what “board books” are for!

Video 2, Not quite 1.5 years old (16 months) — Papa had read this story at least five times in one sitting, then I grabbed the camera for the final, super-fast read through. Definite interaction and understanding going on here. (That is the dryer noise in the background.)

Video 3, Two years old — Her “reading” the book I Love You Through and Through. Clearly familiar with books, this particular story, and the concept of reading to people as in “here, let me come read this to you”. (My heart is melting a little.)

Video 4, Two & half years old — Reading a Curious George book with Mama. Being read to, and then jumping in and ‘reading’ on her own (that starts about 2-3 minutes into video). Comprehension and serious memory exercise happening here. (Sounds of the sea in the background are a little loud.)

Video 5, Almost three years old — Reciting (or ‘reading’) from one of her favorite books of poems, Rhymes Around the World by Kay Chorao. She knows these rhymes because we have read them about a million times. She studies the pictures, associates them with the words, and then takes it out to the real world, as in “do you want to go ride in my wagon?” Well, hell yeah! Errr…wait, not supposed to curse…I mean “Why, yes! That would be lovely!”

Video 6, A little closer to three years old — Reciting/reading from A Cuddle for Little Duck by Claire Freedman. She asks for help to get started but obviously knows the story. (Please excuse our partially landscaped backyard!)

Video 7, Three years old — Reciting excerpts from Horton Hatches the Egg without the book to prompt her. See first clip of this post: Reciting Horton

These video clips are not the most magnificent recordings and sometimes show a little too much (uncombed hair! parents in their pajamas! not a perfectly kept house! a house without walls?!).  But perfect videos weren’t my intent when recording them. I share them now, with all our flaws, because I hope to inspire others to encourage a love of reading.(Plus my familia will most definitely enjoy the series!). I share this with thanks to all of our tribe, who taught us to love books and shared the gift of books with our child.

Lots of subjects that I just touched on here…plans to expand on those more in the near future. But to sum it all up…

I hope that our child’s love of reading lasts throughout her life. I hope this love of reading helps her to find her own path and her own passions. I hope her love of reading inspires others to find their own love of reading, growth, and exploration.

Posted in Parenting, Reading, Resources, Schooling | Leave a comment

The Best Gifts Under Your Tree?

Ahhhh, the holidays! Some of us are still scrambling for the perfect gift and most of us have a strange tendency to ignore the best gifts of all: BOOKS!

Why are books the best gifts?

Because the way to encourage your loved ones to read is to share books! Let them know that you read and that you value books SO MUCH that you picked out one (or more) very special book(s) just for them.

Because you need to share your love of books by letting people know that they are cool enough to be gifts. Chosen, wrapped and placed just for them. Books aren’t just cool enough, but maybe even the best damn gift ever. (Granted, it may take some of us years and years to reflect back and realize that reading Man’s Search for Meaning or Charlotte’s Web or The Power of One or any of a billion other books actually contributed to the formation of our very lives, but still.)

Because only we humans have the capacity to learn from others by reading! The only thing that differentiates those that can read and those who cannot is this: Reading! (The quote often attributed to Mark Twain is: “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”) So what are you waiting for?

Because we learn about the world by reading! We learn to know ourselves and others by reading. We learn about other parts of the world, other cultures, and other ideas that we might not otherwise have access to.

For now, here is a short list of some of my favorite children’s books:

This next one is NOT a book for children but a hilarious book for any adult that has ever tried (or plans to try) to get a kid to bed: Go The F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach.

I’ll be adding more books (including links to Spanish and bilingual versions) and organizing the lists soon. Please share your favorites with me in the comments below! Also check out my Resources page for more recommendations.

I hope that books find a way into your gift-giving scheme of things, for the holidays and throughout the year. Happy reading!


Posted in Family, Parenting, Reading, Resources, Schooling | 1 Comment

What can you do with your “cognitive surplus”?

I’m reading a fascinating book right now: Abundance — The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. It is easy to fall into the trap of doom and gloom that we are force-fed by mainstream media, especially if you are still watching TV for your daily programming. I just started the book and I have to say they have made some pretty compelling arguments so far. Obviously a full on book review would be premature at this point, but I was so intrigued with this concept that I simply must share it right now.

They present NYU professor Clay Shirky’s concept of “cognitive surplus”, which he defines as “the ability of the world’s population to volunteer and to contribute and collaborate on large, sometimes global projects.”

Here is the part that blew my mind:

“Wikipedia took one hundred million hours of volunteer time to create. How do we measure this relative to other uses of time? Well, TV watching, which is the largest use of time, takes two hundred billion hours every year – in the US along. To put this in perspective, we spend a Wikipedia with of time every weekend in the US watching advertisements alone. If were were to forgo our television for just one year, the world would have over a trillion hours of cognitive surplus to commit to share projects.”

— Clay Shirky

Holy cannoli!

Diamandis and Kotler follow up with this statement: “Imagine what we could do for the world’s grand challenges with a trillion hours of focused attention.”

In addition to this great read (Abundance by Diamonds and Kotler), here are a couple more resources: this TED talk by Shirky and this book Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers Into Collaborators also by Shirky. I have not yet watched or read those but they are now on my list.

Now go forth and imagine. If you’re feeling really frisky, go forth and do something!

And then, please tell me: What would you do? How would you help to improve the world? What did you do? How did you contribute to making the world a better place?

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The Best Gifts for Baby/Toddler Parents

As new parents, we are bombarded with stuff. The list of things that YOU HAVE TO HAVE seems endless. You may even fret about impeding your child’s development, lose sleep over the best fibers, or ponder for hours about the safety features of car seats and bassinets.

But one day, when your youngest is no longer a baby, you will think back on that period of frenzied spending sprees with a bit of amusement. In your new, relatively relaxed, non-diaper-changing/bottle-feeding/waking-five-times-a-night state, you will easily recall each of the bazillion items that you acquired for this parenthood game. More importantly, you will be able to tell anyone that asks your advice exactly which products you think are the best and why.

OK, maybe not. But at least you will remember a few of your FAVORITE things. There might even be a few items that were so awesome at making your life easier that you will proselytize these products to anyone who will listen. That is where I am today.

My baby is not a baby anymore: she is already four years old! Instead of lamenting the passing of her baby years, I am creating a list of my favorite things to share with those sleep-deprived folks who are in or about to be in the thick of it.

Nambe Baby Set — I have to admit that when I first received these as a gift from a beloved co-worker, I rolled my eyes and said something like “Are you giving me the proverbial silver spoon?” Although this set is actually made of stainless steel and includes two spoons, plus a fork. We gave our daughter the little spoon when she was about 6 months old, when she first started eating something besides milk. She loved to play with and chew on the spoon during those months, although she didn’t start actually using it for its intended purpose until a bit later. The smaller spoon and fork are the perfect size for a baby/toddler to maneuver, all by themselves (that is the important part). It may be messy, but it really encourages independence when we allow them to feed themselves. (And they become competent self-feeders much earlier than the perpetually spoon-fed tots!) That said, there are times when spoon-feeding is a must, and the longer handled spoon is perfect for that. I particularly love that they are not coated in plastic (read: icky chemicals that wear down in the dishwasher and can be chewed off and ingested). Instead, they are made of lovely and durable stainless steel. We literally carried these utensils around with us, to restaurants, to grandparents’ and friends’ homes, on vacation, and around the world. Our daughter learned to feed herself with these lovely utensils. She still uses them, although now that she is a “big girl” they have been reconciled to only dessert or grapefruit spoons. These are some of the few things that I will not give away, but will keep forever as a reminder of my daughter’s early years.

Inglesina Fast Table Chair — This is the most perfect chair for dining with your little one pretty much anywhere! The Inglesina is your baby’s own personal travel chair. It folds down flat in its own travel bag for easy transport; and it is fast and easy to set up. The entire cloth seat comes off so you can throw it in the washing machine. It holds up to 37 pounds so you can get several years of use out of it. These are ideal for many restaurants, especially for squirmy babies who are sitting up but not stable or still enough to sit in a high chair or booster seat. They take up less room than a stroller and they can be attached to almost any flat, stable surface. Really nice for staying at the homes of friends & family (or AirBnB/VRBO houses) who don’t have high chairs; this chair is easily attached to many bar tops, counters and dining room tables. Thanks to the hostess at Chez Panisse for turning me onto the idea.

Nose Frida — Learning to blow your nose is a tricky thing to do. Thank goodness and thank those Scandinavians for this thing. You may think I’m off my rocker when you hear what this does: The Nose Frida lets you suck the snot out of your kid’s nose. Thus, it allows your kid to get better faster, you to get more sleep, and your whole family to be happier. Simply amazing! Absolutely essential. And don’t worry, it is totally hygienic thanks to these handy little filters they make. And – WHOA! – wait until you see what can come out of those little sinus cavities. It is OK if you think I am nuts…I do realize this sounds strange. Just wait until your baby/toddler can’t breath through their nose and those colds drag on for days or weeks because they don’t know how to blow their little noses and those old-school bulb aspirators are useless. Or you could wait even longer until the ear infections start. Then come back and read this blurb and click right here to buy your Nose Frida. You can thank me and the Swedish inventors later.

Ergobaby Original Baby Carrier and the Ergobaby Infant Insert — I shopped high and low for baby carriers and read for hours about the pros and cons of each. We used ours from a few months old to almost 3-years old. We walked all over the place with our daughter, and she loved being right up next to us. (This is a separate topic, worthy of separate post, but I think worth mentioning here: any on-your-body carrier, and this one especially, is soooooo much better than slinging baby around in a hand-held carseat. Think of the odd, jerky movements that babies are subjected to in those things. Incomparable!)

Moby Wrap Baby Carrier — As I mentioned above, I researched everywhere for the best baby carriers. The Moby Wrap was better for the early months and I like that you can more evenly distribute baby’s weight on your body: because it is a wrap, you can spread out the cloth instead of focusing weight on two narrow straps. And it was a bit more versatile than the Ergo.

Baby Bjorn Potty Chair — These little potties are helpful for learning to potty. They are much less intimidating than climbing up to the big and kind of loud toilet. I suggest that every household have at least one of these, if not more. You should encourage your kids to sit on this and go potty at the same time you do. Monkey see, monkey do. They come in all colors. Most importantly, the bowl is removable so you can easily clean it after every use.

Squatty Potty — Once they are using the big potty, a step stool allows them to access the potty on their own. There are a million options out there, but the vast majority have this flaw: they are big, awkward and take up too much room. Mostly, they have straight edges so they don’t ‘hug’ the toilet. We stumbled upon the Squatty Potty in the most unlikely place and bought one for us parents to use, then we discovered that it actually serves two purposes: First, as intended by its designers to improve adult elimination (better bowl function & healthier gut…seriously!!); and second, as the PERFECT toddler-potty-step-stool. We love multitasking products. Because the Squatty Potty is made for use in front of the toilet, it has a curved edge so that it can be pushed back and ‘hug up’ to the toilet when not in use; and obviously, having more room in the bathroom is always a perk. They do offer plastic versions but we prefer the sturdy construction and prettier lines of the Adjustable Tao Bamboo model. Plus fast growing bamboo is one of the greenest construction materials available and this model is adjustable to either 7 inches or 9 inches.

I am not a big fan off too much stuff but these things were essential as far as I am concerned. They definitely made all of our lives better. Hope they do the same for you!

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Changes are coming!

I’ve been quiet for awhile because I have been trying to figure out what to do with this blog. You may recall that I started it ‘long ago’, back in April 2011, when we were expecting…and just barely! I was three months pregnant when we started this blog to share our progress with friends and family around the world.

This blog has served its purpose well. Our tribe has been able to follow our wanderings and missteps and everything in between. Along the way, we’ve picked up some followers. I don’t actually know any of these folks (although they sometimes send nice notes or polite messages) but I now know that there are people that I don’t know who are reading this blog, our blog, my blog. (Maybe now is good time to explain the way WordPress works: you can have limited blog, with few subscribers for free — and my actual ‘blood’ family exceeds the number of free subscribers, not even counting all the in-laws! — or you can go public and have unlimited readers with no password required. I chose the latter.)

Lately I have been wondering about things like ‘privacy’. I am much more concerned about my child’s privacy than my own. It’s not like I have the consent of my child to post all these pics of her. What if she grows up and prefers that her entire childhood hadn’t been broadcast out into the great, wide inter webs? What if she would rather have had more control over the amount of facial recognition data that available on her? What if she doesn’t want future friends/professors/employers to be able to easily find every little detail about her life? This is a fascinating topic that I think many people take for granted in our super-connected, social media world. If you’re interested in more in depth discussion and pontification, see bottom of this post for links.)

So what to do with all that? Shall I pull in my (our) parts and hide in my shell? Oh, wait, I’ve already laid it all out there, like a soft and exposed underbelly.

Shall I shut the whole thing down? But that seems lame and for some reason, I don’t want to go that route. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy on this blog.

I could make it ‘password only’ but that would make access difficult for some friends and family.

I’ve decided to keep this blog right here. Just like it has been. I am going to write more (because it is better than yoga or therapy). I’m also going to share more product reviews, more how-to’s, and I’m even writing my first eBook!

Here is what will change: I am going to shift the focal point of One Moore In The Oven away from our child and back to my life as a parent. Scroll up to the top of this page now and read the byline: Reflections on growing a person. That means my reflections, my perspective. Despite this shift, I think most of you won’t even notice the difference. Perhaps not surprisingly, the most popular posts I’ve written here are those with more commentary on parenting and all the related issues (as opposed the photo-updates). The main thing is that One Moore In The Oven will stay right here, almost the same as it ever was.

Of course, I will continue to document details of this simultaneously miraculous and mundane process of childhood and make (some of) them available to close friends and family. [FRIENDS/FAMILY TAKE NOTE: If you would like to see more details, get in touch with me to find out how to do that.] I just won’t be including as many pics of our daughter here, and definitely avoiding full/direct face photos.

Now, if you have stuck with me this far, congratulations! We now continue with a summary of late summer/fall pics to bring us almost up to the present moment of our current cold winter:

Interested in more details about our children’s privacy? Check out some of these links:

Thanks for reading One Moore In The Oven and for giving me a reason to write. Hope you stick around for some of the cool things coming up.

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Biking, Building, and Balloons

Where have we been, you may be wondering? I don’t have anything exciting to report except that we’ve been here all along, up to our usual activities. OK, maybe a few kind of new things: Someone turned four years old! And her parents are having more and more of those “look at this amazing person! how is she already four?” moments every day. We are in awe.

So, here are some pics (and a video!) of some of our recent activities, including oh-so-timely pics from TODAY!

Mia is now riding her no-pedal bike like a pro, and picks up her feet quite often. She has gotten so good and confident cruising around the neighborhood that we decided to try it out in the foothills last weekend. She totally rocked it out! We did a 1+ mile loop (about 1.2 miles) that started out narrow and hilly and the last stretch was wide with a gentle downhill slope. She did all the climbs without a single complaint! We even had some rain — which is frequent during the Southwest Monsoon Season and a strong El Nino year, to boot — and still no complaints! She got going pretty fast on several reaches of the last leg — see video for clip of that. And about 2 minutes after that video (minutes before we arrived back to the car), she had a little fall. I have to say it was another “perfect injury“, providing a good scare but only superficial injury — see later pics for scratches on her right forehead. You’ll be pleased to hear that the helmet did its job and absorbed most of the impact. We were back on the bike the same week and her scratches have almost healed (5 days later). We’ll be mountain biking again soon!

[Side note for those of you who haven’t heard of a “strider” bike: It is a bike without pedals. The idea is that pedals just get in their way when they are learning. Without the pedals they can push themselves along and, only when THE CHILD is ready, they start to lift up their feet. They do it instinctively, without the adult coaching or instructing them. Once they find their balance, then you get a bike with pedals. Skip the training wheels altogether! It is super cool to watch.]

Her building skills are improving all the time. We are still thoroughly enjoying our Brio Builder set and recently acquired a few new building things including a magnetic set of blocks and a Lego snow sled set. She will just walk up and announce “I want to build XYZ. Will you help me?” For the pics below, she wanted to build a house. It was a little tricky because this particular set is more for build vehicles (cars, planes, etc.) but we pulled it off. Even if we did have to de-construct some of our earlier vehicles. The Lego Snow Sled contraption was a birthday gift from a boy, whose parent apologized for giving us a “toy for a boy.” I said something like “Girls like to build things, too!” and made a point of telling them how much she liked it. Indeed, she is asking for more. Right this moment she just asked me to build a wagon. So I need to wrap this up…Anyway, I was amazed at her ability to follow the pictorial instructions on the Lego set (which is allegedly for kids 6 and up). I had to help with a few of the teeny, tiny parts that were even difficult for me to snap into place but she did most of it herself. And I continue to be amazed at her ability to figure things out, use the tools, and problem solve. Check out the pics below to see a strong, smart person: biking, walking, and building like a girl.


We spent this morning at the Special Shapes Rodeo of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We saw the Dawn Patrol balloons lift off while we were walking in and got there just in time to see the two lead balloons inflate and take off (the two red and white balloons carrying US Flags in pics below). It was brutal to get up a 4:30 AM and sit in traffic but just look at that happy face in the pics below and you’ll probably agree it was worth it. (Still…thank goodness it is only once a year!) 

Can you guess what one of my favorite things about these pics? These are GENUINE smiles not the “learned, this-is-my-camera-smile” smiles. Of course those happen a lot, they are just more difficult to capture.

Those last two pics give you an idea of the scale of the event. And this wasn’t even one of the Mass Ascensions. And it was a Friday. You may also have noticed two of the many international balloons: Taiwan and Ciudad de Mexico. The pics never fully capture the magic of this event but hopefully you’ll get a little idea.

Hope everyone enjoyed the Fall Equinox and the soon-to-follow Super Moon and Lunar Eclipse! Happy Fall! 

Posted in Family, Hiking & Walking, Parenting, Schooling, Science | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There Are No Phone Calls in My World

The boss has declared: “There are no phone calls in my world.”

In the parlance of our three-year old, this basically means that ALL of our attention should be on her and HER ALONE. And that means ALL THE TIME, thank you very much. As if anything or anyone else matters more than her…Geez! Just hang up the phone and give me your attention! Right now!

Note that even if the child is playing happily on her own before any offending phone call begins, that is besides the point. Whatever she was doing is now done (boring, unimportant, completely forgotten). The single and urgent goal is to END ALL OUTSIDE COMMUNICATION except that which directly involves her. Attempts to temporarily placate her with some sort of “Just a minute, please” or “Yes, I hear you and I will be there in two minutes” are interpreted as an egregious assault to her rightful place as the center of the universe.

Like so many things with parenting, this is something that makes me wonder if I/we are too soft or too indulging. Please tell me this is typical behavior for a three-year old. Only a phase, right?

This may sound totally ridiculous, but I swear that our dogs did the same thing! They didn’t like it when I was on the phone either. Seriously, they’d be asleep or lounging somewhere comfy, totally content, then once I’d get on the phone, they’d start pacing around my feet, “talking” to me and requesting attention.

Here are some pics of the boss, who is usually delightful, despite the periodic — ok, she’s 3! — frequent edicts.

Yep, I’m only half-way kidding about her being the boss.


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Summer Silliness

Ah…the glorious days of summer continue!

It had been pretty warm for a while here, even getting up into the 100’s for several days. Of course, it is especially fun to play with the hose when it is so warm (which often leads to the silliness shown above).

Despite the heat, we still enjoy our outside time even without water:

There is never a shortage of things to do…

Our nap schedule remains in a transitional period: sometimes we nap, sometimes we don’t. We try to keep bedtime around 8:00 to 8:30 but it certainly varies, and gets later during the summer. It seems perfectly reasonable to not want to go to sleep while it is still light outside so bedtime is later around the summer solstice. On no-nap days, this might happen at 6:00 PM (but it is a rare occasion):

Falling asleep at the table at 6 PM!

Falling asleep at the table at 6 PM!

The rains have picked up again and temperatures have dropped. It has been downright chilly in the evenings and mornings. Aaron wore a vest on his early morning walk today and I wore long sleeves and long pants….in July! Today at 7:15 AM, it was 59 degrees.

All the rain means we get to look for snails. We spend lots of time observing them. Then we try to return them to their original location (sorry snails for derailing your snail expeditions).

Happy summer!


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The Perfect Injury

Life gives us lessons. We, as parents, wait patiently for the lessons to happen (both for us, the parents, and for our wee ones). Last week, we had the perfect injury.

Wait…you don’t know what a “perfect injury” is? That means you don’t have children. Or that you haven’t had your own perfect bruising.

The perfect injury is just enough to scare you, just enough to teach you how gravity feels, just enough to provide a concrete (pun intended) example of what is too fast or too much. Our perfect injury involved a tricycle moving a little bit too fast. Hello GRAVITY with a bit of SPEED.

When it happened, I picked her up immediately. There was a lot of blood. So I stuck my fingers into her mouth to check her teeth. They were good. So we walked home.

It was a long three blocks but we made it back home, got some ice, and continued the loving care. Within two days, the swelling was gone and now you can’t even tell.

This is the "what?!?" face

This is the “what?!?” face

We know and we remember. These lessons are better than a million reminders from Mama or Papa to “be careful”. This is the perfect injury: it teaches you a lesson.

Posted in Family, Mia, Schooling | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Simple Things

Laundry on a clothesline makes me happy.

I’m not sure why. Maybe it triggers happy childhood moments? Maybe it reminds me of our Yelapa days, when we hung most of our laundry out to dry (including our personal clothes and linens for 8 guest houses)? Maybe it is remembering my many moments putting cloth diapers out to dry? Maybe it is just the quasi-trance inducing, zen-like moments of hanging anything out on a clothesline?

We have the perfect clothesline in our tiny backyard: it is retractable, which makes it even better. Do you remember this from way back when:

Thanks to life for giving us an old dryer so we had to use the sun for a little while…until a new machine came in. The new machine is fancy and all….but, I think I like the sun better.

Oh wait, watch and/or smell the sky….it is about to rain…I’ll go grab everything and throw it in the fancy new machine.


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