This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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Another moment

img_0878.pngHere we are, another moment I don’t want to forget. As usual, it’s way busier than I imagined, and I don’t know how I’ll slow down enough to imprint the whole thing on my heart and remember the details. Maybe writing a few things down will help. Yeah, I’ve been having that thought for the last two weeks and there’s never been a second to stop and write. This is how I find myself standing at the kitchen counter cooking dinner waiting for the washer to ding, shouting directions to the oldest child who is gathering her school supplies, and wondering how I came to have three children in three schools.

That’s the current situation. I’ve got three in three schools. I knew the day would come, but I thought it would just be one year, it will be two. That’s okay because the opportunity for the middle kid is amazing. He’s not only going to be attending a smaller school with a different pedagogical concept that his teachers are wildly excited about, but he’s going to be going to a school that his sister has NEVER attended. He’s been one step behind her his entire life. This is his first opportunity to do something different. Besides Scouts, and even that she has been involved with, he’s never had this chance.

But three kids in three schools! I knew there would be three schedules to juggle, three school lists to deal with, three locations to manage rides to. What I didn’t count on was the managing of three sets of personalities. Three administrations. Three sets of fellow parents. Three PTAs. Well, two PTAs and one PTSA. Yeah, and I lost my mind and volunteered to be Vice President of the PTSA. Vice President means next year I have to be President. I can do this. Sure, I can. But MAN, that’s another ball to juggle.

And elementary school!? I’m kinda over it. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am. The good friends I made when the big kids started, are all moving on to middle school, and I am, too, but there’s one foot still in elementary school because of the littlest Cucksey. He’s got FIVE years to go in elementary school. He deserves the same involvement and emotional commitment the other kids got. It’s just hard to maintain that level of excitement for fourteen years straight.

And this full time job thing? It’s great! It’s amazing! I LOVE what I’m doing, where I work, warts and all. But it is definitely complicating family life. The kids have mostly been troopers. The big kids have spent a lot of time unsupervised and the little guy goes to work with me. The grandparents have taken one or more on many occasions, and we’ve generally just limped along this summer without having to pay for any child care. That’s a blessing for sure. And now that school is starting, I’ve actually secured after-school care for the little guy from one of my very favorite families in the world. It’s gonna be fabulous. Thanks, Ray!

Yeah, this is a moment. I’ve been working full time since July, and things are going fairly well, but it’s controlled chaos. Tomorrow we add school back into the mix. Not just a dash, or a pinch of school. THREE DIFFERENT schools. I don’t know how things are going to turn out. I don’t know if we made the right choice to send the middle kid to Phoenix Middle. I don’t know if I can even keep up with it all. But we’re going to give it a go because that’s what you do, right? Plowing forward with confidence and prayers. That’s all I can do.

I’ve been writing as the kids ate dinner. I put a few more lines in after I tucked in the littlest guy. I cleaned up the kitchen and edited another paragraph. I’ve been working on this while going about the night before back-to-school things all evening. Now it’s nearly midnight and the kids are all quiet. The news is over and the late night comedians are going strong. I will turn out the light shortly and blink before it’s three or four o’clock in the morning, then suddenly the alarm will be going off at six.

This moment is passing before I can even record it. Tomorrow I will have an eighth grader, a seventh grader, and a second grader. Tomorrow will be a busy day at work, and then rushing around gathering children and feeding them, finding out how the first day went. I hope I’ll be able to take a second and breathe it in. If not, at least I’ve got this moment.


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Baseball, cookouts, and parades!

I could keep writing about my job, but you don’t really want to hear any of that, do you? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Nothing new. Nothing to report. I’ll update when there’s something to share.

Instead, let me tell you how awesome our weekend was. Someday when I’m old and my children don’t bring my grandchildren around often enough, when I complain about the poor quality of music on the radio, when I’m just crotchety, THIS will be the weekend I’ll look back on and smile. Memorial Day Weekend 2017 was definitely a high point for this whole family adventure.

Friday was an unexpected day off for me, and a planned vacation day for my husband, so we ran some errands and generally tried to prepare for the weekend. We ended the day with the most delicious steaks on the grill, and gin and tonics on the patio.

Saturday morning I used the leftover ribeyes to make steak and eggs for everyone. Nothing like a massive dose of protein to fuel the troops for the day, right? The middle kid headed off to work on the parade float with his scout troop. We leisurely prepared for the afternoon and evening festivities. The littlest kid had a baseball game to kick off the season, complete with team pictures. Then we spent the evening at a neighbor’s cookout and then sipping beers around their fire pit while the kids from the neighborhood ran around and acted like a pack of kids loose on a summer night.

Sunday we took the dog for her first boarding adventure, then headed up to Cleveland to see the Indians play. We could not have had a better time. The kids were all well behaved, thoroughly enjoyed the game, and even the weather cooperated. At the end, Daddy took the littlest kid for a run around the bases! It’s hard to know which of them was most excited about that. The Indians won, 10-1! GO TRIBE!

Monday the weather was, again, PERFECT, and it’s time for the big Worthington Memorial Day Parade! This is truly one of my very favorite events of the year. Besides just being a wonderful way to remember the fallen heroes who make our cookouts and ballgames possible, I get to enjoy it on my own. Silly? Maybe, but I love it. All three kids and their dad march with scouts, so I get to wander the parade route looking for friends, taking pictures, and enjoying the scene. I love my town, and I love seeing so many different friends come out for the community event. I’m not scared to talk to strangers, either, so I did strike a few of those conversations, too. When it’s over, we meet at the Dairy Queen for ice cream. Can’t beat it!

After the parade, we headed to another favorite neighborhood family’s backyard for yet another cookout.

PhotoGrid_1496176226265Today, I’m back at work. Back to wondering how we’ll figure out the details of the summer. Back to wondering if I’ll have a job past June 30th. Today I’m harassing kids to do chores, thinking about dinner, looking for moments to throw in another load of laundry or empty the dishwasher. This weekend was glorious and I hope I can keep it’s feeling of family connectedness, community belonging, and pride in remembering why our nation is a wonderful place to live. I wish I could just wrap the whole thing up in a box to take out and hold when life gets too crazy. Maybe that’s a little of what I’m doing here.

 


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Progress

When I’ve used the term “progress” in blogging before, it was always with a specific, determined, defined goal. “Progress” toward my degree. “Progress” toward losing weight. “Progress” toward catching up with the laundry. This week I’ve been thinking about progress in a slightly different light. This week’s progress, or this month’s, even this year’s, has been less defined. There will always be intermediate goals along the way, milestones, other objectives to achieve, but all this progress is part of something bigger. The progress I’ve been paying attention to lately seems so much more a part of the over arching flow of our lives.

All that to bring me to pointing out how different life is than when I started this blog. I started blogging for several reasons. Most obviously, I started writing so I could record some of the swirling chaos of home life with three children. They were growing up quickly and I hoped to produce some record they could look back on and enjoy, something to help them remember things but also to see the events of their childhood through their mother’s eyes. I started writing because I wanted to share with whoever might be interested a little about how wonderful I think these young humans are, how it’s a delight and a struggle to be responsible for raising them, and maybe just a little how I just love to share my thoughts and opinions on stuff. The other reason I started writing, maybe the least obvious but still valid reason, is that I wanted to create a good sized web presence made up of absolutely innocuous but truthful information about who I am. That almost seems silly, I guess, but I knew that I would be looking for library employment at some point, and any employer worth working for would surely do a Google search for a candidate. Might as well give them something to read. Later, adding my ePortfolio and resume information was just icing.

When I started writing I had just begun Library School. I had two mid-elementary school children and a toddler who hadn’t even potty trained, yet. I had pretty well hit my stride with motherhood, but adding grad school had thrown things into chaos, and I still believed I could tackle things like getting into shape and overhauling my eating habits. Ups and downs, successes and failures for the whole household, and more than three years later, here we are. The oldest child is heading to middle school with the next on her heels. The youngest has finished kindergarten and is so excited about all things learning. I’ve finished my degree and landed a job I absolutely adore. I’d love to say I’d stay there indefinitely, but for the part-time thing. I’ve got to be full-time with benefits somewhere in a couple years. Still, this job closed the hole in my resume and I can’t even describe the amount of experience I’ve gained there. Not to mention what I hope to learn from our new director.

I haven’t actually written about the job, have I? I was hired on at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, where I did my internship, as Public Services Librarian. It’s part-time, as I’ve said, but that has made for a bit smoother transition for our family to a two working parent model.

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A real sign for my office like a grown up!

Here we are at summer break. My kids will never all be in the same in the same school again. I’ll work some, hang out with kids some. I think it will be a great summer. I hope so!

There are some things that stay the same as we progress through these years. Parenting is dazzling and horrifying. Laundry is never completely caught up. Five people living in one house is an adventure. Children always need new shoes. We will probably never have a fully manicured lawn. I’ve made peace with all those things.

Let’s hope I can record a little more of the second half of 2016 than I did of the first half.


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Because it wasn’t going fast enough already?

Maybe my longest break in posting! It’s been a crazy summer, but it’s flown by. You probably know I did my internship this summer, at Hamma Library, Trinity Lutheran Seminary. I can’t even begin to tell you the things I learned there, but a lot of it is recorded in my e-portfolio. You can read about it there, if you like, and maybe down the road, I’ll write about some of the wonderful things I got out of the experience that didn’t fit in the portfolio.

So, the thing with doing an internship instead of taking a class or two online, is that it’s OUTSIDE THE HOUSE! I was committed to be somewhere other than at home for fifteen hours a week. Every week. All summer! And for FREE! The first problem this raises is that those three young humans living here had to be cared for. Also for FREE! Another mom in the neighborhood agreed to take my kids two days a week, while I took hers two days, and then they went with my parents on Fridays. A mostly winning arrangement for most involved. Mostly. It meant the kids spent time everyday with friends or their grandparents, even if they didn’t have the freedom to roam the neighborhood they might have hoped for. It meant I had extra kids here on the days I wasn’t “working” just like the other mom I was swapping with did. It meant everyday was a busy day. All summer. So, I dipped my toe, or my whole foot, into the world of the working mom.

20150819_074448Three days a week I got up and got ready for “work” took my kids to “dayare” and headed out. Two days a week slept a little later, took in a couple extra kids, and went to the library, the pool, or the grocery, broke up fights, monitored screen time, and served grilled cheese sandwiches. It was busy, and exhausting, and totally doable! That might have been the most shocking part. My house is a wreck, but the essentials got done. The laundry wasn’t always up to date, but nobody went more than a day or so without clean socks. Socks are totally overrated in the summer anyway.

And after I survived the internship summer, I turned around and realized school is starting and I’ve got a kindergartener, a fifth grader, and a sixth grader! How’d that happen? So, I think I can survive this working parent thing. I’m even excited about it. I don’t know what I’ll end up doing or where or what hours, but I can live. And now I know I’m going to have to be prepared for life to speed up a little more.

And THEN, I applied for graduation. For real.


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This Spring

I let all of March go by without a post. Not sure how that happened, but it probably had something to do with our even busier than usual schedule. My two hardest classes ever wrapped up in the middle of the month, a week after an extra workshop with one of my favorite professors. I was single parenting while the Daddy was traveling for work for a total of two weeks, and there are two more three-day trips to go. The kids had spring breaks (separately, since the preschool follows another district’s schedule), and then there was all the usual busy three-kid-household stuff going on.

So, there were big things and little things that happened in the last several weeks. Big things first, right?

The biggest news: Girlie took her First Communion on Thursday night. She was so excited. I was so proud of her. The instruction given at the church was pretty minimal, but she went through all the materials and then came to me with all her questions. She felt like the materials she was given were written for a bit younger audience, and I agreed, so we went right to the Luther’s Small Catechism. She read what Luther had to say and we discussed it at length. I am so proud of her blossoming faith. I am so thrilled to be able to share mine with her. She’s so smart and sweet. She works out her questions so carefully. Sometimes I can’t give her an answer, but she accepts that maybe sometimes the idea is to explore the question rather than find the definitive answer. When she stepped up and knelt at the Lord’s Table, surely no more humble or earnest heart has ever received the sacrament.

bThat Middle Kid is TEN! It’s astonishing to me how fast it’s going. Everyone said it would, you know it will, but there is no real preparation for the speed at which they grow. He was just a toddler and now he’s pushing his way toward teenhood. He makes me absolutely batty sometimes, but he’s the neatest ten-year-old I know and I can’t believe I get to be his mom.

Also of note, as mentioned above, I finished my hardest semester to date. Digital Preservation and Cataloging I. I knew they would both be rough, and that taking them together would be an enormous challenge, but waiting to take one of them might have postponed graduation up to a year. Had to be done. I got an A- in Cataloging, but the grades are still pending in Digital Preservation. I really have no idea how it’s going to turn out. There were a lot of points left to be awarded. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a B, though it would be disappointing. However it turns out, I made some good friends in the group project work, which I didn’t expect. I hate group projects with a passion, but I got lucky this time. All three other members worked hard and got along well together.

So, that leaves an internship this summer and just one class (Foundations of Archives) in the fall. If all goes well, I’ll graduate in the middle of December. It’s so odd to think of being done. It will have been a full three years of work, but it seems like it’s all I’ve ever done. The Baby Bird doesn’t remember a time when Mommy wasn’t in school. Then, of course, it will be time to get a job!

The littlest kid is all registered for all-day kindergarten. Here in Worthington, half-day kindergarten is free, but full-day is available for a pretty reasonable fee. The curriculum is not expanded, but they get more time to spend on each learning target. The fee is by far the best value in childcare around here, and having him at the school with his big brother and sister is well worth it. The idea is that I’ll have a little more flexibility to get a job and work out additional childcare with him in full-day. It’s awarded by lottery, though, so it wasn’t a done deal until they drew names but we made the cut.

In lesser news, both big kids read and loved Harry Potter this winter. The girl is off on the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon series) and trying to get me to read it. I want to, but discretionary reading hours are so precious, you know? And the Middle kid passed along a series he read in school, Brian’s Saga, that I never read. I’m most of the way through the first one and it is a quick read, but I almost never sit down. I will get through them all, kids. I promise. Having more reading given to you by your kids is a problem I’m happy to have.

So, tomorrow is Easter. I want to write about Good Friday. I’m so filled with emotion every Good Friday, and I always feel the need to write about it. It doesn’t seem right to tack it onto the end of a catch-up kind of post, though, and I haven’t really worked out exactly what I’m trying to say this year. I just read this post, a sermon by a friend of Nadia Boltz-Weber, and it’s good. It’s really good. I gasped several times at the sheer truth it contains. It’s painful. Good Friday must be painful.

For today, I’ll get back to deviling eggs and layering pudding and bananas. There are clothes to be ironed and kids to be bathed. We cut the Baby’s curls off yesterday. They can grow back, but for a while I’ve been thinking that he looked like a big boy with a baby’s haircut. No more. One haircut and he looks like he grew up by two years. I can’t wait to get everyone all dressed up tomorrow and take their picture.


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The Sweet Spot

It doesn’t feel like a sweet spot. I’m swamped with homework, and laundry, and meal prep, and more daily drudgery than pre-Mom me thought was possible. These days, with all of that, are still a bit of a sweet spot.

Today, in 2015, we have no babies, no teenagers, and no aging parents requiring our care.

I registered the Baby Bird for kindergarten today. It’s the end of an era. It’s not like I didn’t see it coming, bit it’s still something to make me think. I’ve known it was coming, this whole Master’s Degree saga is a direct result of my knowing that it was coming. In the fall my baby will start school and I’ll complete my degree in December. Then I’ll have to get a real job.

So the last decade has been full of pregnancies and diapers, ABCs and 123s, learning to throw a ball and ride a bike, constant supervision, and minute-to-minute-in-the-trenches parenting. The next decade will bring a whole new set of challenges. Working mom life, learning to drive, teenagers, college choices, and more and more letting go. Our lives, our children’s lives, our parents’ lives will all look pretty different in the next decade.

But it’s all good. I wouldn’t change it. It’s going fast and I just want to take a minute to look around and take it in. I want to remember that this IS a sweet spot.

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#DearGirlieBird #BirthdayGirl #TweenYears

Dear Girlie Bird,

Sweet girl, you are turning eleven. ELEVEN! It’s not typically thought of as a milestone year, but in these years, they all feel like milestones. Maybe even more so than in the 4-9 years. I look back on each birthday and the first few are so distinct, and though I can remember each one individually when I try, they run together for a few years, but the last couple are as distinct as the first few.

fall 19When you were born I remember praying every single minute that I could be an adequate mother for you. I prayed I could just be enough. Not because “just enough” was all I wanted to be. Like most new moms, I wanted to be Super Mom. I wanted to be perfect. But from the first second, I knew I wouldn’t be perfect. No parent is perfect, and I never harbored any illusion that I would be the exception. That’s not to say that I wasn’t certain I could do better than some other moms out there, but I knew I would screw up some things. But I kept praying, “Dear Lord, please let me get this right, or at least mostly right. Let me be the best mom I’m capable of being. Let me protect her safety, her spirit, her heart, and her intellect. Let me teach her about You, about herself, about the world. Let me be a little bit of the mother she deserves.”

It was nearly a panicked feeling. I was confident I could get through those newborn days. I knew I could clean up any blow out, power through breastfeeding or be okay with switching to bottles, tolerate the sleep deprivation. I was totally confident in my ability to get through those first few days, months, even years. I remember your grandmother and my aunts praising me for being “such a good mother” in those early days and I laughed. I had no trouble remembering to keep you in a t-shirt, make sure there was always extra socks in the bag, or researching car seats. That was the easy part! Diapers are nothing, but the hard part was out there. The hard part was a decade or so away. I would go to bed and say my prayers and break into cold sweats thinking about what was ahead. Babyhood was easy, but what about when she can talk, and think, and get into real trouble? What about when she starts asking questions, making her own friends, having opinions? What about when she isn’t pacified by a kiss and a popsicle?

And here we are. You are your own person. You are an amazing, beautiful, caring, sweet, brilliant, kind, courageous, awesome person! You blow me away with who you are. I can’t believe I know you, much less get to be your mother. I still feel so inadequate for the task, but I know that loving you, praying for both of us, and following my heart will get us through the next few years. I don’t know what those years will hold, but I know I’m just as committed to getting through them as the day your were born. And just as scared. I’m going to screw some of it up. You’re going to screw up. I will always forgive you, and I hope you can forgive me.

You have made me so much prouder than I ever imagined. I am proud of how you think, who you are, and the even the people you choose to spend your time with. I pray that you will always make such wonderful choices in friends. The group you have surrounded yourself with at school is as smart and funny as you are, and they appreciate your most wonderful qualities. I trust them to be loyal and solid friends to you for a long time. I’m proud of them, too.

These next few years are going to be so full of changes and challenges. So many things will change and develop. I am thrilled to be able to witness this transformation that has already begun. You are not a little girl anymore. You’re well on your way to becoming a wonderful young woman. Every day brings a little more maturity and a little less of that little girl. It is not going to be a smooth ride all the way. There are going to be times when you feel like the world is ending. You will hate me a little, probably more than a few times. I can take it. I promise that nothing I ever do will be motivated by anything but love for you and your brothers. I promise that every decision your dad and I make through the rest of your lives will be based on what’s best for you three, for our family. It’s an easy promise for me to make because we don’t know how to do anything else. Even when we get it wrong, and we will get it wrong sometimes, you can know that we will do what we really believe is best for our children.

I guess I’ve rambled on enough for now. You’re ELEVEN! Happy Birthday, sweet Girlie Bird. I love you so much. You are the baby that made me a mommy, you made us more than a couple but a family. You are my only daughter and I can’t imagine a more amazing one. You are the fourth generation of a first born daughter, and I have no idea what that means, but it’s pretty cool, right?

I love you, baby.

Your Mommy, Bird


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Twas the day before Thanksgiving…

Yeah, this is what I come up with when I don’t want to be writing for school. Here’s a little dream I had this Thanksgiving Eve. Enjoy!

Twas the day ‘fore Thanksgiving
And all through the land,
The people were scurrying to come up with a plan.
The news was on non-stop, crying violence and pain;
In hopes that folks could find victims to blame.
The stores were all busy, and tempers flew hot;
While visions appeared of deals to be got!
And kiddies in their pjs and I in my sweats;
Had just sipped the cocoa, as good as it gets!
When down in the basement arose such a ruckus,
I sprang from the couch to see what fuss is.
Off to the staircase I flew like a goof,
The kids were sure fighting and now I had proof!
The toys and the junk in the unfinished space,
Gave the illusion of mayhem, not a thing in its place!
When what to my screen weary eyes did appear?
But a clean little corner of holiday cheer.
With a sweet little cherub, so funny and cute,
And his brother and sister, both smart and astute.
They stood up and picked up and gathered the stuff,
The dolls and the robots, the cars; all enough!
To donate, to sell, to throw away, or just pitch,
They want it cleaned out and they just don’t care which!
To the top of the bookshelf, to the back of the trunk!
Now clean it up, sweep it up, pick up the junk!
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
When they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky;
So to the job, these children now turned,
With the dusting and sorting, oh my, they had learned!
And then in a twinkling, I felt such great joy.
They’d each like to donate a favorite toy!
As I sucked in my breath and felt ready to praise
Up the staircase they hurried, these children I’d raised.
They were dressed all in fleece, from their head to their feet
And the oldest’s top and bottom would just not quite meet.
A bin full of toys they were pulling behind,
And they looked like sweet elves, but still didn’t mind.
Their eyes, how they twinkled, their giggles, how funny!
They squeals were like music, their smiles so sunny!
The sweet little creatures moved as quick as the light
And they cleaned out the basement so nicely that night!
The piles of their toys that they knew they’d not need
Were just sitting and ready to be their good deed.
They’d sorted them carefully, marking by age
The dollies, the puzzles, that Minecraft game rage.
They were jolly and sleepy and sweetly alive
And I teared up when I saw them and tried not to cry.
A rub of their eyes, and a twist of their heads,
Soon gave me to know it was near time for beds.
I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work
I loaded the toys, they’d worked hard, I can’t shirk!
And driving to Goodwill as fast as I could,
I thought how I’d never believed that they would
Realize all their blessings and give something back.
But I must remember and not give them flack!
And I heard them but whisper as they started to doze:
“Happy Thanksgiving, Mom!”
They’re good kids, I suppose!

 


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A late night #TBT

Just thinking about how fast time goes by. Can’t believe this little girl is as tall as my chin, and this boy is right behind her. The littlest guy is almost two years older than the boy in this picture.


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I could complain…

I could whine about how I got nothing done this week in the way of basement cleaning and pre-holiday deep cleaning. I could whine about my headache, or how whiny the kids are, or how I’ve been running non-stop since my feet hit the ground this morning. I could complain about the huge amount of laundry my husband is about to bring home from his week away (though, in fairness, he’ll do most of it himself), or the gear that he will spread out for two days while he carefully packs it away for next year. I could moan about how I really have to wash the dishes before I put them in the dishwasher because the dishwasher stinks and we had potato soup so everything will be covered with potato starch.

I’m not going to, though. I’m just not. The house will get clean and Christmas will come either way. The kids are going to bed before long, and they’ll be fine. Part of their whininess is that they got flu vaccines today and I’m much more comfortable about the beginning of flu season. I’ve got a decent working washer and dryer so the laundry will get done and I don’t even have to haul it anywhere to do it.  All that gear will get packed neatly into a corner of the basement and my husband will not leave for eight days in a row again for another year. We had a wonderful, warm, comforting soup for dinner.

And it might be too early to decorate, but it’s not to early to drag out my favorite Christmas mug for a cup of coffee to try and ease my headache with caffeine. Just can’t forget that life is good.

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