Friday, October 30, 2009

Back by popular demand....

The kids have been preparing for our 2nd Annual Halloween bash for the last few weeks, and tonight is finally the big night!  I wasn't going to do another party this year- it's already such a crazy time for us with 4 birthdays coming in the next month- but many of the neighbors were asking us if we would do it again as it was such fun last year!!  So, Emily has spent hours "building" walls for a haunted house and the others have been making posters and decorations, as well as planning games and prizes for the party.  For the last 3 days, my garage has become party central, and not only am I not allowed to park in there, but I can barely even walk through it, and someone always has a fit if the garage door gets opened up!!!  Here's how it looks now:


The black trash bags are the walls, and inside is a maze of twisting, turning hallways with scary things hanging down and places for people to hide!  And because it is so windy and nasty out today, we have decided to move the majority of the party inside.  Emily has been busy setting up tables in the remainder of the garage for all the food!


As bad as it looks now, we hope to have it done and ready to go by 6:30 pm- ugh!  But before that, we have a costume parade at Josh & Noah's school to attend, Noah & Allie have play rehearsal until about 5:30, and Sophie has to be picked up from basketball at 5pm.  We also have to make the punch and pick up some dry ice to go around the punch bowl...... wish us luck! 

We asked everyone to bring a treat or a snack to share, so here's my contribution to the food....


Yep, I got to bake and frost 48 cupcakes for the big event!


We are hopeful that this year will be as much fun as last year, and we look forward to doing it all again (?) next year!
I'll get pictures up of all the fun tomorrow ;-)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Epidurals- good or bad?!?!

I wanted to do a post about epidurals and get some feedback from what all of you out there think about them- best thing ever or no flippin' way! You see, up until baby #7, I had never had an epidural, and now that I've had the experience, I will never do it again!!! Here's my story:

Baby #1:
I was 21 years old, had no family around and was on my own. My husband and I took a natural childbirth class cuz that was the thing to do, and we pretty much decided we would try to go natural. At that point, I was more afraid of the epidural needle going in my back than I was of what my body was supposed to go through naturally ;-) I went into labor about 5 weeks early, and after 13 hours, Little Miss Allie joined our world. Although I had been given Stadol to take the edge off, I had resisted the epidural and things went pretty well. I was able to go completely on my own, and there was no induction of any kind (and no pitocin!) Of course, it was the worst pain I had ever experienced and my husband's hand was bent and broken when it was all over, but I DID IT!!! And that was with no one but Zack there to cheer me on! Now, if I could do it once, surely I could do it again....

Baby #2
Exactly one year and 26 days later, Miss Emily came screaming into our family after another 13 hours of labor, and still no epidural, but this time I had been given pitocin and the pain was more intense and more frequent than the first time through! Surely now I had obtained PRO status!

Baby #3
Sophie, our 3rd blessing, was the first baby that I probably should have had an epidural for! She came out weighing a whopping 8lbs. 13oz. and she came out with such force that I had third degree tearing you know where!!! It was still about a 12 hour labor, and I had been given pitocin once again to really get my labor going, but when it was time for pushing, she was out in ONE PUSH- major ouch! I always wonder if an epidural would have helped.....

Baby #4
Our first son! Josh was a completely induced labor- I had developed a hernia during the pregnancy and was in some pain and we were concerned about Josh being big. Well, even though my body may not have been ready for labor, I still managed to get through the induction plus another 14 hours of labor with no pain meds! Not only that, but Zack got to deliver baby Josh all on his own- the doctor had decided we pretty much knew what we were doing!

Baby #5
By now, I wasn't even considering epidurals anymore. I was beginning to learn that if I really relaxed and focused instead of tensing up and panting, I could get through the pain and actually speed up labor- all on my own! I was given pitocin once again and had my water broken "the rest of the way" (it already had a small tear which was why I was admitted). This was the first baby that I was able to sit in the tub and labor with, and I was able to completely relax. It's amazing how quickly your body can do the work if you let it. When I got in the tub, I was about 4cm dilated, but within 45 minutes and not very many contractions later, I was dilated to a 10 and ready to push! I was able to relax and "open" my cervix really well in the water, and instead of doing the "heeee, heeee, heeeee, heeeee" and panting breathing, I learned to breathe slowly and deeply through the ENTIRE thing! No tensing up my legs and no panicking- and WHAT a difference! The only problem with Noah's delivery was that he was facing up and the pushing was different than I was used to. My back hurt and I couldn't really feel the urge to push, so it was much harder to gauge what I needed to be doing. Fortunately, he was in the 7lb range and I was able to deliver w/o any intervention.

Baby #6
Mr. Matthew! Yes, he entered this world with a bang and is still going......!!! Matthew is the reason I had an epidural with #7- here's what happened:
At about a week before my due date, I went in the hospital with preeclampsia and was induced immediately. Although I was given pitocin and had to have my water broken to induce labor, I was still able to focus and "drop that baby down" pretty darn quick. I was completely relaxed until it was time to push, and that's when the trouble started! Matthew didn't want to come out, and after a couple of hours of pushing I could tell that those around me were beginning to get worried. I was given oxygen and a final chance to get him out, or it would be a c-section for sure! Fortunately, with the help of a vacuum, I was able to deliver him in the "nick of time!" As soon as he delivered, we discovered the reason for all the trouble- Matthew was born weighing 9lbs 40z, face up , and he had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck 3 times- God blessed me that day ;-) !!!!!! I have since decided that the fact that I am able to relax and drop the baby down so quickly may be the cause of my babies being born "face up." It's just a guess, but I'm thinking that they don't have time to rotate properly as they drop and that's why they end up "sunny-side up!" That and the fact that I have been induced and so the babies probably weren't in the proper position in the first place. But who knows........!

Baby #7
Well, as you can probably imagine, after my experience with #6, I was a little nervous about delivering #7. So nervous, in fact, that I seriously began contemplating an epidural! I had already had 2 babies in a row born face up, and I was convinced it would happen again. And my fears weren't eased any when I went to my final doctor's appt. and it was confirmed that baby Jake was facing the "wrong way!" So, when I was once again induced with pitocin and having my water broken, I decided to ignore my fear of the big needle and have the epidural. I was hoping that it would allow me the chance to calm down and not worry so much about the pushing that I was dreading! WRONG!!!!! The first thing to go wrong was that they didn't get it in on the first try- ugh! Then, on the second try, my normally-strong-been-through-everything-husband almost fainted and had to be taken to a seat!!!!! That didn't make me feel much better about the huge needle about to pierce my spinal column!!! But I stuck with it and it began to work, and, I must admit, it was fabulous for the first couple of hours (although I really did feel like I was cheating!)....... until it started to wear off!!! At first, I wasn't quite sure what was going on- I just kept feeling a kind of pinching in my lower groin- so by the time I alerted the nurse to what I thought was happening, it was too late. By the time someone finally got in my room to "dose" me up again, it was time to push! Well, I was none too happy! And not only that, but Baby Jake was still facing up and I got to endure back labor once again! Fortunately, I was able to push him out fairly quickly (just a couple of pushes thanks to my doctor who wouldn't let me rest and made me bear down in between the pushes even though it hurt like ----!!!)- he was another 7- pounder and it made a huge difference over a 9-pounder!

So, that's my story! What a ride it's been! And I'm actually excited to do it again- but this time...... NO EPIDURAL!!! Why bother?! I know I can do it and there is no unknown without the epidural. But with it, you just never know if it will work, if it will give you a headache (oh, I've heard horror stories about the headaches), if it will wear off, etc., etc., etc...... It figures that the ONE TIME I tried it, it didn't work- guess I needed to know that I could do it all on my own and I shouldn't worry! After all, I'm not really "on my own"- there's someone there looking out for me through the whole thing, and if I put my trust in HIM, I will make it through, just as HE intended!

But I'm really curious to get your thoughts and experiences with the whole "labor" thing! Be sure to leave a comment and tell me what you think about epidurals!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New pictures!

New pictures up on my photoblog- check them out here!

Prayers for Stellan!!

I was shocked this morning to find Mckmama's blog post- Stellan is back in the PICU and is intubated with really no warning at all!!! Please check out her blog for all the details and join me in prayer- that's where my heart will be today!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Award for me?!

Hey all, I was just honored with a fun award from a sweet reader named Somer- be sure you check out her blog and tell her "hi!"- and now I get to join in the fun!! This award requires me to tell you all 10 HONEST things about myself and then pass it on to others, so, if you're ready, here's my 10:


1) I love to drive fast, and although I try not to go too far over the speed limit, I really think of driving as a sport and put all my energy into it- just ask my kids! I will tell you that I have NO speeding tickets ;-)


2) I am a total neat freak-most of you know that about me already- but I'm much more relaxed now than I was in my twenties! It can be both a blessing and a curse!


3) I have a very rare eye disease called pars planitis that was discovered when I was about 10 yrs old. I have seen many, many specialists all over the country for this disease, and although it has stopped from getting worse, it is still something that I deal with in my daily life. One of the worst things that has happened because of it was that I developed a cataract and had to have surgery about 12 years ago!


4) I LOVE photography- and if you haven't already, be sure you check out my photoblog!!


5) I am an Army brat (that means that my dad was in the Army when I was growing up!)!


6) I have lived in both The Netherlands and Germany.


7) I make all the kids beds every day, and it's usually the first thing I do in the morning! I've even stopped to make beds on my way to the hospital while in labor as well as before we all go downstairs on Christmas morning!!


8) I am incredibly organized, and if I say I will do something, it's done!! I keep sticky notes all over and I do things as soon as they need to be done- I try to never procrastinate!


9) I have a very strong sense of right and wrong, and I don't like it when people break the rules- there is no gray in my book (not always a good thing!).


10) I am 38 years old, and I will turn 39 in January. I was 20 years old when I got married and 21 when my first baby was born- weird huh?!





Ok, well, I hope I didn't tell you guys too much that you already knew! It's hard when you have a blog cuz you put so much of your life out there on a daily basis- well, at least I do ;-)





And now, I get to nominate 7 blogs that I enjoy, so here they are:



1) Raising Olives



2) Moms the Word



3) The Williams Family Blog



4) Alabama Slacker Mama



5) The Never Done Farm



6) Grasshopper Viewpoints

7) More than Enough

And here, dear winners of the Honest Scrap Award, are the rules!!!

* In a new post, thank the person for the award and link back to their blog.

*Share 10 honest things about yourself.

*Present the award to 7 other blogs you enjoy.

*Tell those 7 people they have been awarded.

That's it! Thanks again Somer- it's always an honor to be recognized!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

What it takes.....

Every year, I struggle to get the PERFECT Christmas card picture, and every year I swear that the NEXT year will be different!!! Well, this year is no exception ;-) I've always dreaded Christmas card pictures because it's the one time of year that so many of our friends and family get to see how we've changed, and I always feel so much pressure to get a great shot. And, as you can imagine, with each additional child, the process gets harder and harder- from picking out clothes to picking out the perfect spot to getting all the kids to sit still long enough to get the shot! Yesterday was my first attempt at getting the shot, and it looks like it won't be my last ;-) Here's what I go through.......

Well, that's a nice start, but we're short 5 kids! Let's see what happens when we add them in....


Feeling sorry for me yet?! Oh, and the dog just had to be part of the chaos as well....

The picture quality isn't very good because I uploaded them through blogger instead of copying them and pasting them, but I didn't really care because they're all so bad anyway!
Oh, and BTW, this is just a VERY few of the pictures I took- there were many, many more!
Ok, maybe a new postion?!
Great, except we're missing Matthew.....

And Allie was laughing so hard that her mascara started to run!
But then, miracle of miracles, one of the trouble-makers fell asleep.....
So we bribed Matthew (the other trouble-maker), and then tried another pose.....
Unfortunately, by then, Noah had decided that he was not happy, and he wouldn't do anything but glare at the camera.....
But then, some of the kiddos decided to pretend like they were sleeping, and that was fun.....

This was one of the better shots, but it's not what I'm going to use!

Nope, I have decided to try again at the farm this Wednesday! Time for a change of scenery!!! Wish me luck.......
I was hoping if I showed you all what it takes to get that perfect shot, maybe you would appreciate my Christmas card just a little more this year ;-)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Catchin' up...

Boy, am I droppin' the ball or what?! Not only have I not been updating my own blog as much lately, but I haven't been checking in with the blogs that I normally enjoy reading either! Somewhere between pumpkin patches, planning for the kids big Halloween party next weekend, photo shoots, birthday shopping, entertaining, dentist appts, doctor appts, soccer games, and all activities that represent "the fall season" for our family (oh yeah, and my really sick kiddos with 105 degree temps!), I have had to let some things go! I just keep telling myself that, come January, I will once again be bored to tears......sigh, who am I kidding?!?! But I should be back to my normal blogging schedule by then ;-)

I did get some great news this week, and I'm excited to share it! The sonogram that I had on Tuesday was actually done as part of a test to determine my risk for having a baby with Down's Syndrome and Trisomy 13 or 18. It's part of what's called a "triple screen," and it involves a sonogram to measure the fluid at the base of the baby's neck and a blood test (my blood)- done at the same time to calculate my risk. So, while we were excited to see our little one, we were actually there for a much bigger reason! And on Friday, I got the phone call with my results, and here's what they told me:
*chances of me having a baby with Down's Syndrome based strictly on my age (this is before the actual test results): 1/108
*my actual risk based on the test results: 1/2141
*chances of me having a baby with Trisomy 13 or 18 based on my age only: 1/187
*my actual risk based on the test results: 1/3721
YAY!!!!!!!! Both great results, and I am thrilled- not that I was ever worried or anything....!

So, in light of these great results, I decided it was high time I get a picture up of my growing belly, and here it is.....


It's growing every day!

Now, on another note, check out what we had for dinner tonight.....

How cute is that?! The one above is before we cooked it, and the one below is all done!
We love Papa John's take-n-bake pizza, and they are doing these special jack-o-lantern pizzas this week- how fun!

Another fun thing I got to do this week was host our neighborhood book club- and the best part was getting to make all the yummy foods that I love but my family won't eat!! One of my all-time favorites is veggie pizza.....
...and while it's called "pizza," it's actually uncooked (except for the bottom crust) and it has a cream cheese layer and then a salsa layer instead of a pizza sauce. It's topped off with lots of fresh veggies, including radishes, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green pepper and alfalfa sprouts, and then some shredded cheddar- yummy! My sweet dishes consisted of chocolate-cherry cookies, oreo balls and something called "The Great Pumpkin Desert!"
I threw in a spinach cheese dip and some sausage-cheese balls, and it was on.....!!
But it's simply not book club until you bring out the wine! Although I have never developed a taste for wine (or beer for that matter!), I am happy to have it on hand for everyone else! Actually, I had NO CLUE what kind of wine to get, but thankfully, my husband is slightly more cultured than I am, and he took care of it for me ;-)
I love to entertain, and while I don't get the chance to do it very often, I look forward to more dinner parties and get-togethers in the future.
For now, I am happy to enjoy looking at this.....


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hello in there.....

FINALLY! Here's baby......enjoy!

Where's that baby?!?!

Sonogram pictures have taken a back seat to fevers and vomitting children, but I WILL get them up later today! Unfortunately, they need to be scanned into my computer, and that's one thing I don't know how to do, so I have to have Allie do it. She happens to be the only one in school today (all the others are out due to parent-teacher conference week, and she will have tomorrow off), and I will have a house full of kids while I'm trying to get ready for my neighborhood book club tonight, which I am hosting. And two of the kids have dentist appts. this afternoon. And we have a broken toilet handle. And we have two broken cupboard doors that need new hinges. My handyman said he'd try to come home a little early to fix the broken items, so I'm hopeful...... Wish me luck ;-) Oh, and it's raining...........!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fw: Difference between a Cold and H1N1 Flu

Ok everyone- I know this post won't show up all the way across,

but I'm going to put it up anyway because you can get the general

idea with what you can see. It's from an email that my mom sent me,

and it's very helpful!





This is a very good thing to know!



Know the Difference between a Cold and H1N1 Flu Symptoms:



Symptom


Cold


H1N1 Flu


Fever


Fever is rare




Temperatures of 100°F or higher for 3 to 4 days




Coughing


A hacking (mucus-producing) cough is often present




A dry cough is usually present




Aches


Slight body aches and pains




Severe aches and pains




Stuffy Nose


Stuffy nose is commonly present and typically resolves spontaneously within a week




Stuffy nose is not commonly present




Chills


Chills are uncommon




Chills occur in 60% of cases




Tiredness


Tiredness is fairly mild




Tiredness is moderate to severe




Sneezing


Sneezing is common




Sneezing is not common




Sudden Symptoms


Symptoms tend to develop over a few days




Rapid onset within 3-6 hours with sudden symptoms of high fever - muscle aches - shortness of breath - tight chest




Headache


Headaches are fairly mild




Headache occur in 80% of cases




Sore Throat


Sore throat is commonly present




Sore throat is not commonly present




Chest Discomfort


Chest discomfort is mild to moderate




Chest discomfort is often severe




The only way to stop the epidemic is to spread the awareness.





Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just a Tuesday.....

Well, I had planned to get the sonogram pics up of the baby today, but then life happened! It's been quite a day. The original agenda was a doctor appointment for Allie at 10:45, my sonogram at 1pm and then two back-to-back parent/teacher conferences for the boys starting at 4:40pm. I wasn't even one hour into my day when that whole plan took a turn....

It started when I went to wake up the boys and Noah was burning hot with a fever. Fortunately, since Emily is home for the year, I was able to leave him home and not drag him along with me. The second "crimp" in my plan came just as I was preparing to leave to head over to Allie's doctor appointment. I got a phone call from Allie's doctor's nurse, and she said that the doctor did not want us to come in and see her, but instead head over to see the endocrinologist at 1pm. Lovely, that was when my sonogram was supposed to be! Needless to say, I was not happy. We have been waiting for 3 weeks to hear from our endocrinologist since his initial diagnosis, but we haven't heard a word! And in that time, Allie has had some really awful symptoms that have made her miserable and kept her out of school. My plan was to see Allie's regular pediatrician today and possibly get some pain meds or something to hold Allie over until she can get started on the new meds that we were expecting the endocrinologist to prescribe. After several phone calls, we were able to set up an appointment with the endo doc for 2:30, and our 10:45 was cancelled.

I packed up Jacob and Matthew in the car, and along with Allie, we headed out to meet Zack for lunch before my sonogram. By the time my sono was over, I had two crabby, fussy, little boys, and one more doctor appointment to get through. I was very happy to have Zack go with me to talk to Allie's endo doc, but I was even more happy to have the extra set of hands along to pin down the screaming, snot-nosed, exhausted little terrors that I call my children. Ugh, it was AWFUL!!! But fortunately, by the time it was over, we had a new plan for Allie's care, and a slightly better understanding of the issues.

In a nutshell, Allie MAY or MAY NOT have a small tumor on her pituitary gland (a prolactinoma), but whether she does or does not, it's too small to treat at this point and the doctor only wants to monitor it for a few years. Instead, her doc has decided that Allie is likely the victim of very screwed up hormones, possibly due to her age and an immature "female" system or maybe due to endometriosis! Both of those were options that we had considered months ago when this all began- so I guess we're back to where we started!! There's really no way to know the exact answer at this point, but the treatment is going to be the same no matter what the cause- back on the "birth control" or what I choose to call "hormome" pills! And again with the idea of stopping her cycle so that all of her incredibly awful symptoms go away and she can finally get some relief! Fortunately, she may get some relief really quickly now, but unfortunately, it seems as though we may be in this for a long time without knowing the exact issue. My only concern was that we have already been down this road once before, and no matter how high up we went on horomone levels, Allie's symptoms never went away, or even decreased for that matter, nor did her cycle regulate or stop (as was the hope). The endocrinologist assured me, however, that the new med that Allie will take is completely different and will have the desired effect. I'll let you know......... forgive my doubt!

So, back to our crazy schedule..... by the time we arrived home, it was about 4pm. Matthew and Jacob had fallen asleep and Noah was asleep on the couch. I asked Emily how long Noah had been asleep, and she said that he had been on the couch since lunch. I immediately went over and felt his forehead, and was worried when it felt really hot. A quick test with the head thermometer confirmed it- he had a fever of 105.4!!! I took it 3x and got the same reading each time, so I grabbed the oral thermometer and it read 104.3! I took that one again and, when it didn't change, I immediately put in a call to our pediatrician. I was thankful that I had made dinner in the morning before leaving the house and it was ready to pop in the oven!

By that point, we needed to leave for our conferences, so we left all the boys with Emily and strict instructions to watch Noah carefully while we waited for a call back from the doc. We are so thankful that Allie is driving now, as she was able to pick up Sophie from basketball practice at 4:30!

While we were at our conferences, I received a call from the peds office, and the thought was to simply watch Noah for a couple of days and just keep careful track of his symptoms while alternating motrin and tylenol- just a nasty virus! I had Sophie at urgent care last night for similar symptoms, and she tested strep-free, so I guess it is just a virus. Funny, all this after we just got the H1N1 vaccine!!! Go figure.....!

In the end, we were thrilled to have (1)good conferences, (2)a step in the right direction for Allie's care, and (3)a sweet introduction for a father to his new little one- yes, we did get to see baby #8 today, and it was fabulous (despite the screaming toddlers!)! And he or she was saluting us and waving and kicking and bopping around- what a treat!!!!!!!!!!! So, tomorrow, when life is a bit less hectic- although I DO have to go to the grocery store (ugh!)- I will try to get the pictures of our little sweetie up for all to see! It was funny because Zack told me that he was really checking to see if he could tell the gender of baby #8- oh brother, it's gonna be a long 27 weeks......!!!!!!!

Pumpkins and mazes!

We spent this past Sunday at a Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze with some good friends! We started doing corn mazes when we lived in Montana, and have been doing them for the last 5 years- guess it's a tradition now ;-) We like to try different mazes each year, and this year's was nice, but we found it a little boring. The adjoining Pumpkin Patch, on the other hand, was lots of fun and had some great activities for the kids! Here's some of our day:

_MG_4097

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Every time I get a good picture of Jacob lately, he somehow manages to have food all over his face! And my new lens picks up every little morsel.....!
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YUM! Dirty face and runny nose! Too bad, this might have been frame-worthy ;-)
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And lately, whenever I manage to get The Gang to sit in one place so I can snap a quick shot, Matthew always seems to be looking the OTHER direction.....
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....anywhere but at me.... !_MG_4107
In this one, he's not even visible....
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Oh, there he is, looking the other way!!!!!
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Josh is easy! He looks, smiles and he has a clean face!!!
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Hey, that's better!
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Miss Sophie!
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Allie and good friend Mitch discovered the duck races, and they were very competitive....
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go ducks, goooooooooo!!!!
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I love that our teenagers still act like they're five ;-)
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The "middle-kids" found a really cool jumping pillow....
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It was a huge orange jumping "thingy" that formed a big bubble on the ground!
_MG_4180

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It was windy and cool, but we had a great day- wonder where we'll go next year.......?!

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I'm on my way for a sonogram this afternoon- so excited! Zack will be there as well, and he can't wait to meet his new little one ;-) I should have a picture to share by tomorrow!!

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