Sunday, 29 July 2012

Guest Post: Part Time Worker – Full Time Mummy

This wonderful Guest Post was created by the lovely Leanne over at My Little Life of Scrap.  It is a heartwarming blog that I thoroughly enjoy reading.

After a quick gander at her 'about' page I had to do a double take as I could tick off every single one of her roles, character traits and interests (bar photography) as my own.  Great minds clearly think alike and things like that!  It made me want to follow her blog and I'm sure you will too.

Part Time Worker – Full Time Mummy

When we started trying for a baby and even when we found out we were pregnant – the whole concept of returning to work was never discussed. I guess I had always assumed I would return. To be honest, money was a main reason. I don’t think we could get by on one income. Another reason is, and this is a hard one to say, I enjoy my job. I’m good at it. I enjoy the people I work with and (real mummy confession time) I enjoy being me, just me. However I had known that I did not want to return to work full time. I had worked with others in my job who had worked part time, and I felt that actually I wanted to be able to do both. To be a mummy and do my job.

I won’t lie to you. It is hard.
The three days I go to work, are a struggle in the mornings. I have to be organised from the night before (and organised even down to things like planning meals) I have to think ahead. I have to call in favours. I am tired. I have to wake up earlier than both the boys to get myself ready before sorting them out. By the time I get to work I have been up and awake for over 2 hours ( that is not taking into account the occasional 5am start M likes to throw into the mix, to keep me on my toes!) I have to deal with the guilt of dropping my child off at nursery when all he wants is cuddles from me. I have to enforce bedtimes (even though it means I only see M for an hour or so awake) I have to spend my evenings doing washing, packing bags, tidying, cooking and making lists ( as well as fitting in things like seeing the hubby, my hobbies and the occasional glass of wine in front of the TV).

But overall I don’t mind.

It gives me a focus. It gives me something else to talk about. It makes me feel useful (other than cook/cleaner/nappy changer…) It gives me social interaction, that is not centred around my child. It gives me the chance to enjoy a hot cup of tea or coffee. It gives me a lunch break. It gives me an income. It gives me a bit of self-worth and a knowledge that my brain is still doing something!!

And yes, I would probably Love to be a SAHM.

I would love to spend my days with my boy. Painting, playing, singing songs, watching him grow. I would love to have a tidy house, healthy home cooked meals for all every night, time to sit and be a homebody. I would love my husband to come home from work and dinner be ready (I have a stepford wife wannabe complex!)

But this is my life.

I am making the best of what I have. And what I have and do isn’t that bad.

I’m sure most of us could sit and wile away the days daydreaming of another life. But I have realised something. You have to start being thankful for the one you got.

Being a working mummy does not make me a bad mummy. It makes me, me.

Also I may add……

A day at home with Maxwell, makes me way more tired than a day at work. #fact

And ‘being at home’ does not mean I sit and do nothing – it is not a day’s holiday. It’s just I’m doing my real job. MUM.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Favourite Bath Toy of the Month!

I recently bought my daughter the Tomy Octopals Bath Toy as she was getting slightly bored with her existing selection of animals, cups and other water squirting bathroom floor wetters!

My only regret is not buying it sooner!  My daughter saw the box and couldn't wait to open it when she saw the picture of the brightly coloured characters.

The Octopals sit neatly on the 8 numbered 'tentacles' on the green base as it floats in the bath tub.   The little creatures themselves also float and stick to the side of the tub which caused great excitement when my little one discovered this.  The orange 'head' has a number of holes in it where water can spurt out of once it has been filled.

A few games that you can play with your little one:

  1. Line the Octopals up in number order (numbers are on the opposite side to their faces).
  2. See how quickly you can stick them to the side of the tub and then pull them off!
  3. Make a sequence of colours along the rim or sides of the bath.
  4. Match 2 colours together and group them next to each other.
  5. Put the Otopals back carefully onto the green base, matching them to the corresponding number on the base.
I have also created a list at Babyhuddle of my favourite bath toys and bath products.  Why not head over there and have a look for yourself?


"Organic Baby Bath Time Fun!" on Babyhuddle

Note: The Tomy Octopals Bath Toy was purchased directly by the Blogger.  All views are her own, completely honest and unbiased.

Nominated for a Liebster Award? Little ol' me?!

As I was looking through my mentions on Twitter I came across a Tweet from the fabulous Life and Bows.  I clicked on the link and was taken to her blog post showing the Liebster Award that she had been nominated for.

The Liebster award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

What is a Liebster Award and what does the word mean?
Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.  All the things that you look for in a blog I guess?  Well, things that I look for anyway!

I have only been blogging in earnest since January 2012.  I never quite realised how many talented individuals there are in the world, all bringing their unique styles, personal touches and creative flair to this every expanding blogosphere.  It has opened my eyes to so many different things as well as changed my ill-informed options on certain topics.  So, thank you fellow bloggers for letting me share your lives with you, educating me and helping me fined a rewarding creative release.

Here are the rules for receiving this award:

  1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
  2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer. 
  3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
  4. Go to their pages and tell them.
  5. No tag backs!

Well, so, what do you want to know about me?
  1. I am originally from South Africa.
  2. I've lived in the UK for nearly 8 years (15 October will be the precise date).
  3. I have dual citizenship and am both Proudly South African and Proudly British.
  4. I came all the way from South Africa only to meet and marry another South African!
  5. I adore dark chocolate, love white chocolate and have a soft spot for Cadbury's Crunchies.
  6. I prefer to go out for a delicious meal with friends and enjoy a fabulous bottle of white than going out on the lash (sign of my age?!).  Red wine is not just for winter...
  7. I am double jointed in both of my thumbs and can bend the top digit backwards at a 90 degree angle.
  8. I can count on both hands the number of clothes I have bought for myself since having my daughter.
  9. I could happily sit on the couch all day watching a Twilight movie marathon.
  10. I know the words to most of the theme tunes of the kids programmes.
  11. I know the names of most of the ridiculous characters on some of the more bizarre kids programmes.
My answers to the questions I was given

1. What inspires you to write your blog?
My daughter, mostly.  Being a parent has brought so much more meaning to our lives and shown me just how wonderful this world can be.

2. Where is your dream place to live?
I would love to return to my home country of South Africa, to live happily (and safely) ever after with my family and friends in my beautiful hot country.  If that doesn't ever transpire, anywhere with a beach and 6/7 months of hot weather per year would do.

3. What is your hidden talent?
Do I have one?  I can play the piano, am good at needlework.  I don't know.  I just do things and don't really think about whether it's different or if I'm talented at it?

4. If you could be a superhero, who would you be?
The invisible (wo)man!  Does that count as a superhero??!

5. What is your favourite thing that you own?
My Kindle.  It can take me to far away places and I can get lost in it for hours, all for the price of roughly £5 per eBook.  Fab!  

6. If you could be doing anything right now what would it be?
I would love to be sitting down and relaxing not only with my husband, but with my sister, nephew and my parents in Cape Town, having an ice cold glass of vino. 

7. What is your ultimate favourite book and why?
Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coehlo.  

8. Do you have a great morning routine, and what is it?
Waking up and getting out of the door on time is great enough for me!

9. If you could change anything about yourself what would it be?
Nothing.  I'm by no means perfect, but I'm happy the way I am.

10. What is your favourite childhood memory?
Shared birthday parties with my sister.  We are 2 years apart and 6 days apart in the month.

11. Name something that you have done that improved your health.
I gave up smoking about 5 or 6 years ago.
Now onto the last part. Here are the wonderful people that I am tagging for this wonderful award and the 11 questions that I chose to ask. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you have to say.  Tweet me once you have finished!
Here are your questions that I've created for you!  They are all based around my own personal interests.

  1. What is your favourite blog post that you have composed?
  2. Once you have your blog post topic, how long does it take you to create and finish it?
  3. What is your biggest achievement/proudest moment?
  4. What is your favourite food?
  5. When you travel, do you stay away from the local food or try experience everything you can?
  6. Mac or PC?!
  7. Kindle or real, paper books?
  8. Do you have a favourite quote or personal mantra?
  9. If you were an animal, what would you be?
  10. What is your favourite room in your home?
  11. If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing that you did?

A xx

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Guest Post: Roots and Wings

Roots and Wings
by Linda A. Janssen

Years ago when my children were five and nine, we were visiting a friend's house for a family barbeque. As I was ducking into the powder room, a linen wall hanging in the nearby hallway caught my eye.
At the top was an embroidered oak tree, with thick branches of all sizes; strong roots grew deeply below the ground. Several birds in vibrant shades of blue and red sat perched in the upper branches. A particularly glorious yellow bird was caught in mid-flight, its open wings spanning the air as it glided away from the tree.
But what stopped me in my tracks was the embroidered poem beneath the tree:
For you, my child, I wish two things: to give you roots and give you wings
To say these words resonated with me is an understatement. The words struck an immediate chord in my heart. I experienced such a moment of clarity that I knew, truly knew, that they captured the essence of parenting.
I searched the wall covering for the author's name but only found 'Anonymous'.
'Do you happen to know who wrote that poem in your hallway?' I asked my friend later that day.  'It's really beautiful.'
'I wish I did, but I don't,' she replied, shaking her head. 'My aunt saw it somewhere and loved it so much that she immediately embroidered it for me as a baby gift when I had my first child.'
I've since done some research, with various versions attributed to Jonas Salk and Hodding Carter, among others. Another source credits a similar version as a Chinese proverb. I can't say for sure who wrote these words; I just know that they touch people deeply.
 Ever since I've done my best to raise my children 'with roots and wings'. I believe we ground them by modeling in daily life the values we hold dear, instilling in them a sense of home and familial connection. This gives them the roots to feel secure in knowing who they are and from where they come.
We also do well to prepare them to find their own path in life; when we encourage them on that journey, they leave the family nest safe in the knowledge that they are loved. Knowing that we, as parents, offer a safe harbor of emotional support, gives our children the priceless gifts of confidence and freedom to make their own way in the world.
Over time I've come to believe that emotional resilience – the psychological ability to adapt to the significant challenges, misfortunes and set-backs life throws our way, while maintaining or being able to return to a positive view of oneself during and after such turmoil – is absolutely essential. This is true not only for those living overseas, but for everyone.
Between the roots and wings, we foster a sense of resilience in our children. We help them learn to weather missteps, adversity, and difficult events that may occur, moving beyond such hardships with insight, new perspectives, strength and grace. 
Ten years have passed since that chance encounter with the words that would shape my parenting credo. My children are now 15 and 19, and in many ways life and parenting have become more challenging. In that time we've moved – successfully – twice. Both moves were opportunities that presented themselves somewhat unexpectedly, yet ended up being for the best. The first was within the US, and my children learned to make new friends and explore new interests.
The latter move three years ago took us even further – literally and figuratively. My husband, an adult Third Culture Kid who spent his middle and high school years growing up in Italy, was offered a position with an international organization in The Hague, Netherlands.
With good intentions, our best efforts and a few trying times along the way, we have all come to appreciate our new life in a different country and culture, and the insights and opportunities it has afforded us. In many ways it has brought us closer together; when you're adjusting to a new place, making new friends and learning new ways of doing things, you come to understand that 'home' is really the people you care about and who care about you rather than a physical structure or particular place.
I know that many of All-in-One Mum's faithful readers have young children at home. I don't pretend to know more about parenting simply because my children are older. But keeping in mind the 'roots and wings' approach, I would like to share a few observations I've made along the way.  And yes, sometimes they were in hindsight, but that's alright.
  • It isn't what you know, it's what you feel.
Having your children share what they've learned can make for lively and educational conversations. But also encourage them to express their feelings. You can't necessarily change how you feel, but you can control how you behave. A big part of growing up is figuring out who they are.  They will grow into their truest self if they are able to identify and express their feelings, and conduct themselves accordingly.
  • Teens need you more than they may admit.
Your reassuring presence gives them a safe place within which to make sense of their shifting social world, and helping avoid unwanted peer pressure and situations that could lead to trouble.
  • It isn't what you do, it's what you do together.
Eating meals together regularly is important to help them feel grounded and connected; doing things together also allows you to learn more about their interests and the challenges they face in school and social life. Developing and maintaining rituals together as a family helps remind your children they're not alone but rather part of something bigger.
  • It all goes by too quickly.
Cherish every moment, not simply the happy or fun ones but also the more challenging and difficult ones. They tend to pass, and they all matter.

Linda A. Janssen is a writer and expat living in The Hague, Netherlands with her husband and two teens.  She blogs at and is finishing a book on the importance of emotional resilience in expat life to be published later this year.
[Image credit: digitalart, portfolio 2280,]

Sunday, 15 July 2012

What the Rice Krispies Did Next

Rice Krispies remind me of childhood.  Happy mornings (and sometimes lunches) spent with my ear hovering over my bowl listening to snapping, crackling and popping!

My toddler daughter also loves Rice Krispies which she fondly refers to as 'Krispies' and recently entered the Britmums Colour Me In Rice Krispies Competition.  She loved being creative with the fabulous pens that we were sent to make her masterpiece so I thought, why not be creative with the Rice Krispies too?  So, cue Rice Krispie cookies!

This is the recipe that I used...
45g butter
300g marshmallows
180g Rice Krispies

I prepared the Rice Krispie cookie mix while my daughter was having her afternoon nap.

Melt the butter in a bowl over a pot of boiling water on the stove (bain marie).  Once melted, add the marshmallows and stir them in with the butter as they melt.  Depending on the size of your bowl, you may want to add them in stages.

Once the mix is completely melted, remove from the heat and add in the Rice Krispies and mix until fully coated with the marshmallow mix.  It's best to add them a bit at a time.   It probably took about 20 minutes to measure and make the mixture.

I brushed the sides of the moulds that I had chosen with a small amount of melted butter then spooned small amounts of mix into the shapes.  I originally thought it would be nice (and pretty) to make stars and hearts...all girly and things like that.  Well, it wasn't that easy to mould them into the little silicone shapes that I had, so I scrapped that idea and improvised.  Cookie cutter moulds are far easier to use as their sides are firm.

My daughter woke up from her nap about an hour later which was perfect timing to let the cookies firm up and set.  Little one was very excited to decorate her Rice Krispie cookie treats!

I melted chocolate and helped her to layer it on the cookies.  She then chose either sprinkles, flowers or Smarties to decorate her treats with while I used decorative icing tubes to attempt to draw clothes and other things.  We had a fun mommy and daughter afternoon being creative and messy!

Of course, little one had to taste test one of her treats.  I had become so carried away that I didn't even realise what time it was (5.30 p.m.) and then half way through her treat I tried to persuade her to put it in the fridge for dessert (seriously, who was I kidding).  Anyway, I like to think that a light and healthy summery dinner made up for her having dessert as a main meal...


Colour Me In Rice Krispies

Last Thursday I received a rather large box of Rice Krispies from BritMums.  Included in my parcel was a fabulous Bumper Colouring Case from WH Smith which was made up of 58  pens, pencils, glitter glues and markers for my daughter to use to decorate the famous Rice Krispies characters on the front of the box.

I made the fateful mistake of showing her the colouring case just before we were about to head out the door to nursery.  I couldn't get it out of her tiny hands for want of trying!  

So, thinking on my feet, I grabbed my daughter with pens in tow as well as the box of Rice Krispies and headed out the door.  I decided that dealing with a toddler melt down on a Friday morning really wasn't top on my agenda and that she could do with a lesson in sharing, so why not let her take the pens and Rice Krispies to nursery and colour it in there with her friends?

Well, it was a big hit!  The children loved it and her key workers (aka wonderful and amazing nursery staff) also got involved.  End result?  A brightly coloured Rice Krispies box created with a variety of pens and glues by extremely talented 2 and 3 year olds!  Also, my daughter was happy to share with her friends so she had fun and learnt a valuable life lesson at the same time.

My daughter's beautiful team work entry is for the BritMums #ColourMeInRK competition, sponsored by Kellogg's.  If her entry is chosen the prize will be given to her nursery.


P.S.  Head over here to see what the Rice Krispies did next!

Guest Post: The Juggling Act

Yet another wonderful contribution to this months Guest Post from the fabulous Beautiful Clusters of Life, showing us working mums that you really and truly can make it work.  Please take the time to read her truly inspirational blog.

A Bit About the Author
Mommy to a 1 year old boy and a 2 year old girl.  A business woman.  A opinionated wife.  Balancing life as a mogul &mommy by day ... and great social life by night!

The Juggling Act

It’s a norm in Singapore to actually have both parents working while their children are in child care in  or a lot of enrichment classes (whereby the maid would have been instructed to take them to).

The education system in Singapore is OVERLY competitive. Kids are expected to be able to recognise letters & numbers at the age of 2. Somehow being parents in Singapore, you do have a lot of pressure of balancing your children’s life.

I believe in my kids being kids. I do want them to be an all-rounder and to have a chance to enjoy their childhood & not having their memories of growing up only being contained in classrooms.

While I expose my children to whatever experience they can have, I also need to make sure that they are kept abreast to the level of education standards in Singapore. The greatest fear for all mothers is that their children feeling left out or demotivated when they are so behind in their studies compared to the “rat-race” kids.

While it’s a lifestyle to have both parents at work & leave their kids to their maids, I didn’t like the idea at all. I’m not saying what others are doing are wrong, it’s just that I’m a bit eccentric. I’ve come this far to (finally) be blessed with my 2 babies that I refused to have them raised by anyone else except me. I am not ruling out school.

The tricky part is I also run my own advertising company. Being the boss, I have my own office which has transformed from being an elite looking office to an office with a cot & a playpen in it.  I was never meant to have children (long story). So when suddenly I was given this chance, I wasn’t sure what I have to give up to make this work. In the end, I decided not to give up anything & to embrace this new additional role. I see it as a promotion!

Being the boss, you do not enjoy maternity leave or delivery leave. I was working till the last hour before the doctor told me to get rid of my lap top & start pushing! And right after delivery, I was on my lap top again 2 hours later. Yeah, I am a workaholic. But that didn’t just stay with my professional life. I am also a ‘workaholic’ with my children.

When I only had my 1st, she came to the office with me.  She played in the playpen while I was working. It makes sense now why god makes women able to multi task. I would be reading an email and if my daughter calls for me, I would stop reading, attend to her and would be able to resume my reading after she has been attended to.

She loves watching me work and soon, my employee had to create a mock cheque so that she has cheques to sign too while mommy was busy signing the company’s cheques for the month!
While I am in meetings, I would either take her to my mom’s place for that few hours or if it’s a very short meeting, I would just let her play in her playpen and make sure my admin staff has an eye on her.

Since having children, I break my working hours into several parts. My daughter slept from 9:30 till 11 am. I would work full steam at that allotted time slot. She would wake up at 11:30 am. I would go for an early lunch, play with her, talk to her & give all my attention to her. Then I would drive back to the office at 2:30 pm, which would be her second nap. I would again work full steam or attend to meetings till 4 pm when she was expected to wake up. Again, I would play with her, attend to her, stimulating her brain. I do surprise myself on how much energy I suddenly have for my children.

My husband would pick her up at 6pm and they would have daddy daughter time till it’s 7:30 when we have dinner. My husband would have fed her at 6:45 pm. Following our dinner, we put her to bed at 8 pm.

Usually I would retreat to my home office from 8 till 9:30 pm. My husband is a partner in a huge global company & therefore he needs to work just as much as I do so we would both end up in our home office.

At 9:30, we would stop and give ourselves some quality time together. We usually go to bed at 11:30 p.m.  Since I have the children & work during the day, my husband insisted on doing the night shift. Hey, I’m not complaining! ;)

Then we have our 2nd shortly after!  My daughter was only 16 months when my son was born. At 18 months, we put my daughter in a playgroup for 3 hours every day. That gives me half a day with only one child in the office. My son took over her routine in the office.

At lunchtime, I would pick my daughter up & spend time with both children till they both fall asleep at 2:30 p.m. I would usually take them home & work from home from 2:30 – 4p.m

I would be all hyped again to keep the kids with different “projects” everyday till it’s 7 when daddy comes home & take over. By then I usually wonder why I didn’t have children when I was younger & full of energy!!! All those energy just gone on dancing & partying at that time. :)

No change for the evenings except that nowadays daddy would take them both for a shower before reading them some books. I would then take one of them to bed while my husband takes the other one…. Of course we have a ceremony of goodnight kissing all around before that parting.

Every day I juggle my work & kids. May be very stressful at times but I’m loving it. They give me a greater meaning to life. And a separate goal which is so priceless that I’m glad god gives me a chance to experience.

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

So, you think you have an interesting caption?  Let me know.  Leave a comment.


Saturday Is Caption Day

Friday, 13 July 2012

Reader Appreciation...It Does Exist!

Oh my goodness!  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the fabulous lady behind Little Magic Beans nominated me for a Reader Appreciation Award.  I honestly never set out to blog for any other reason other than I enjoy to write, so thank you for this!
I did try and trace it back to see where it stated and about 5 minutes down the line I got a bit sidetracked by all the open windows of the fabulous blogs I'd hopped across.  Definitely well worth giving it a go and, if anyone knows where this originated, please let me know!

So, here are the rules for this award:

  1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog.
  2. Answer the questions below for fun, if you want to.
  3. Nominate 10 to 12 blogs that you enjoy, or you pick the number.  I'm opting for the latter.
  4. Pay it forward: Provide your nominees with a link to your blog post and comment on their blog to let them know they've been included and invited to participate.
  5. Pay the love back with gratitude and a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you.

What's your favourite colour?

Green, without a doubt.  I have a mojito green wall in my kitchen, sage green walls in my bedroom, green throws on my couch, green clothes and yes, my eyes are green too!  

Being green with envy isn't something that I'm in favour of though.  Green makes me think of lush green grass which them reminds me of summer and that automatically means long, hot days (well, in South Africa it does) and that makes me happy.

What is your favourite animal?

I'm not sure if I have one to be honest?  We have a family cat called Snickers who is the most friendly and loving little fur creature you could ever meet.  I'm not too keen on amphibians and birds.

What is your favourite non-alcoholic drink?

Hmmm...Appletizer, as it comes in a green bottle and it's South African.  

Facebook or Twitter?

I'm a Twitter convert.  Facebook seems a bit amateur and I'm not that keen on sharing all my photos anymore.  I don't really care what you had for breakfast and if you've broken up with someone and are plotting your revenge, you are better off keeping it to yourself or for your therapist.  FYI.  Use it, don't use it.

Do you prefer giving or getting presents?

I love giving presents.  Finding something that I know or think someone will like and seeing them open it and the joy it brings makes me ridiculously happy.  It feels like I've served a purpose.  Yes, I do like getting gifts but I'm the type of person that gets flustered when I'm given a complement and can be slightly taken aback when given gifts out of the blue.  A psychologist would have a lovely time with me...

Favourite day of the week?

Thursday!  It's the one day that I have my daughter all to myself.  I'm starting to work 2 Thursdays a month because the business is getting very busy (very, very exciting times!).  I worked a 5 day week this week and honestly can't wait for my daughter to wake up tomorrow so we can spend quality time together.

Favourite flower?

Stargazer Lilies.  Absolutely gorgeous.  They smell like heaven.

What is your passion?

Well, it used to be food.  I'm a qualified chef and ironically barely cook anymore which is a real shame.  When I do bake or cook I go into a world of my own; totally at peace with everything around me.  I can't really explain it.  I think it's because I like order.  When I cook I measure everything out and it's all in orderly bowls for me to combine in varying stages to make my creation.  I'm also happy opening the fridge and challenging myself to make something (anything!) from what I have in front of me.

I also love to write.  Using my blog as a creative outlet at the end of a busy day or week helps me keep the balance in my life that I so badly need to maintain.  Reading other blogs and being exposed to such an amazing variety of talent is exciting, refreshing, inspiring, eye-opening and enlightening.

Both cooking and writing are extremely cathartic.

I know that this isn't exactly everyone's bag but I'm going to nominate a few people regardless.  Please don't feel obliged to take part.  I did nominate you for a reason though, so we can just leave it at that!

And my nominees are, and in no particular order (I picked felt like a good number) ...

Missing Sleep @missingsleep
This Mummy Loves @Mummy_loves
Mellow Mummy @jumblyMummy
Ready, Steady, Mummy @NatGourley

Time for you to share the love, ladies!


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