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Monday, January 31, 2011

Times Tables the Fun Way

As a member of TOS Crew this year we have tried some excellent curriculum and we have had some fun things too. Times Alive from City Creek Press falls into both categories. Times Alive makes learning the 0-9 multiplications tables fun. I used this program with my 8 & 9 year old daughters, but my 6 year old loved the videos and some of the activities.

View other sample videos here.

The first thing to do in Times Alive is to take a pre-test with 48 multiplication problems, this test records the number answered correctly, a percentage score, and the time it takes to complete the test. The idea is to be able to improve your score and speed on the post-test. Amber took the pre-test and she got 40 correct, 83%, and a time of 5:46. On the post-test she got 48 correct, 100%, and a time of 3:38. She improved both her percentage and her time.

Times Alive Test
The fun part comes after the pre-test. There is a video to introduce each fact followed by songs, games, and coloring pages with progress checks thrown in to see how much the child is retaining.

This is the 4X4 story.

The stories that are used for each fact are very easy to remember. One day we pulled into a parking lot and my daughter saw a truck that it had 4X4 on the side. She got really excited and said "I get it, a 4X4 and you have to be 16 to get your licence, that's why they used that in Times Alive".

Activity for 3X3.

The kids like Times Alive for the fun videos and the catchy songs, I like it because they are actually remembering their multiplication facts, I just wish we would have had it years ago when my older children were learning theirs. I would recommend this program to anyone who is learning their times tables.

According to the City Creek Press website children recall 95% of their Times Tables using this fun and interactive learning method! Judy Liautaud first started Times Alive while operating a Sylvan Learning Center in Bountiful, Utah. She was determined to help her students learn math tables in a fun and meaningful way.

Times Alive CDRom can be purchased for your PC or MAC for $48.95. You can also purchase a CD, an audio books on CD, books, posters, and flashcards to go along with this program. They may be purchased separately or in bundles. Addition the Fun Way is another program from City Creek Press.

Stop over and see what other TOS Crew members thought of Times Alive here.

As a member of TOS Crew I received a free download of Times Alive to use with my children in exchange for my review of their product. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

$35.00 CSN Giveaway

I am thinking spring since it is suppose to get to 54º today in Nebraska and when I think of spring it reminds me of swinging. Did you know that you can buy a wooden swing set from CSN Stores?

The nice people at CSN are going to give you, one of my readers, $35.00 to spend at one of there 200+ stores. There are so many things you can buy there I wonder what you would chose. If I were shopping with free money I would probably pick something for my kitchen like this Paula Dean stoneware.
Or I might buy something for my scrapbook/school room, like this Letter Holder. I think I would use it to store the cards I make until I am ready to send them.

To enter the CSN Store giveaway first you must visit the CSN Stores and tell me what you would buy with your $35.00. Make sure you leave an email so I can notify the winner.

Additional Entries:
  • Follow me with Google Friend Connect or tell me you already do.
  • Follow me with Networked Blogs or tell me you already do.
  • Like CSN on Facebook.
  • Like CSN on Twitter.
  • For 3 entries repost this on your Blog, Facebook, Twitter.
You have until midnight February 4th to enter, I will use to chose a winner on Saturday, February 5th. You will have 48 hours to respond to my email or a new winner will be chosen.


PhotobucketWhen it comes to my kids they would probably all agree on one thing (except maybe Michael) Math is their least favorite subject in school. Ok, I will admit that part of that could be the teacher! Or wait my six year old seems to be really picking up the whole math thing faster than the others, so maybe it is because each child is different.

We were really excited to try TenMarks because I know that each of my kids learn differently and at different speeds. This Math program is taught at each child's level of understanding based on your states standards. The faster they get the concepts the faster they move through the program. The children have their own personal tutor, if they are working on a problem and they don't know how to complete it they can get instructions in the video segment. If they know how to work the problems but just need a little reminder there are also clues that can be viewed to help them along.

More videos about TenMarks are available here.

The teacher/parent and each student has their own login In the teacher login you have access to the child's reports, you can set rewards, pause your program if you are going on vacation, or you can customize their curriculum.

When the child logs in she can see what worksheet she needs to work on and how many worksheet need to be completed to earn a reward.

The child can see exactly how much of the program is completed by looking at their chart.
(My kids think it is really cool to check on their people every time they do TenMarks.)

On the progress report you can tell exactly what your child needs to work on and what they have mastered. Green is good, yellow means they need to work on that concept.

For $10 a month, $49 for 6 months, or $89 for a year your 3-10 grade child can use TenMarks for their core curriculum, extra help, or to keep the math concepts relevant during summer break from school. Teachers can have free limited access to TenMarks for their classrooms. Everyone can have a free trial to see if this math program is right for your child.

Stop over and see what other TOS Crew members thought of TenMarks.
As a member of TOS Crew I received a 6 month subscription to TenMarks to use with my children free of charge in exchange for my review.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Holman Bible Dictionary for Kids

My 9 year old daughter Amber loves dictionaries. A couple of years ago she spent her Christmas money on a new dictionary! She loves to find new words to see if we know the meaning. When we received the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids from Lifeway Christian Stores to review she immediately wanted to take a break from school so she could go to her room to read this new dictionary. That night when she was suppose to be going to sleep I caught her using her flashlight trying to read it. I don't like to discourage my kids from learning, so I let her stay up for a little while to enjoy this new book.

This dictionary is recommended for children ages 5-10 but it can be helpful to any age. I like to have a visual for my kids when we are studying the bible for our devotions or our history. In the last week we were talking about the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant, the photos of the Mercy Seat and the labeling of the tabernacle really make the stories in the Bible come alive for my kids.

The dictionary can also be used for more than looking at the pictures and reading the definitions, there are maps throughout and I love the charts. These charts can be used as a bible study themselves and I plan on going through them all with my kids & my Sunday School class. Some of them are Names of God, Names of Jesus, Parables of Jesus, Tools of The Bible, Animals of the Bible, and Jewish Festivals and Feasts. The one we really found useful is the Table of Weights and Measures In the Bible, my kids are very interested in how the money and measures in the bible time compare to today's.

Here is a Sample of pages 2 &3. You can look at pages 1-12 here.

Just by my kids looking through the dictionary has intrigued them to want to study their bibles more. Under the Purim entry there is a picture of "Hamen's Hats". The last time we had studied in depth on this subject my younger girls must have been to little (maybe not born yet) to remember making these cookies. We will being doing this very soon.

This hardcover dictionary is actually a Paper-Over-Board construction which means that there is a beautiful printed paper covering a board with no slip cover. This Holman Dictionary is published in August 2010 by B&H Publishing Group and can be purchased through Lifeway Christian stores for $14.99. It contains over 750 words with 500 colored pictures and maps and is recommended for children ages 5-10.

Publisher: B&H Publishing Group

Pub. Date: August 2010
Type: Hardcover
ISBN: 0805495312
Product No.: 005268545
Price: $14.99

I am very glad to have this reference book in our library and I am sure we will get years of use out of it for our home and the classes I teach at church.
Hop on over to see what other TOS Crew families thought about the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids.

As part of the TOS Crew I received my copy of The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids free of charge from Lifeway Christian Stores to use with my children in exchange for my review.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

An Award.....3 times!

Catherine over at Our Village is a Little Different awarded me the Stylish blogger Award and while I have been procrastinating about getting my blog up about it I have been awarded it by SisterT over at Tell'n It! and Jen at Adventures in Unsell Land.

Of course there is a catch to the award, I have 4 things to accomplish.

1.Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award

  • Thank You Catherine, Sister T, and Jen. You guys are great!
2.Share 7 things about yourself.
  1. I love to cook and try new recipes. If God had not blessed me with 5 wonderful children to stay home and raise I would own a restaurant/bakery. I still enjoy decorating cakes at home, but I would definitely add to my menu if I had a restaurant.
  2. My favorite color is dark purple, I like this color so much that the paint in my bedroom is called black raspberry and with walls so dark I could not leave my ceiling white so I painted it gold. I don't like the other rooms in my house to be that dark but I love the decor of my room.
  3. I was born and raised in Southern Indiana. The same county that my parents and grandparents are from. Sometimes I miss all the trees and the rolling green hills.
  4. I am in my early 40's but I remember my grandmother having a party line on her phone. My great grandmother had no running water, still used an outhouse, and a big wood cookstove, not because she had to but because she was not one for change. I loved going over to her house and she would cook on that big cookstove and we always wanted to be the one to draw the water from the well. I am so very glad to have gotten a glimpse of her lifestyle.
  5. I was a Law Enforcement Specialist in the Air Force so basically a cop. Most people find this hard to believe because I have a very different disposition now than I did then.
  6. I don't think I have ever mowed an entire yard. Growing up I remember having a riding lawn mower, but I don't remember actually using it. My husband likes to mow & he doesn't think I should have to so for the last 21 years he or the kids have always mowed. I have helped my kids get the mower started or maneuver around objects in the yard but that's it, and I'm ok with that!
  7. I like to stay up late. No matter how hard I try I can never make it to bed early, I have to many things I want to do. I really think that sleep is a waste of time but I guess God doesn't think so or I wouldn't have to sleep at all.
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers. Ok, I will try to find 15!
  1. Tumbleweed News
  2. ClarkClan Craziness
  3. Joy in the Journey
  4. A Teaching Heart
  5. Walking Home
  6. Discover Their Gifts
  7. Fun In the Sun
  8. Doxazo Prep
  9. Mrs. Mandy's Musings
  10. Kid Happenings
  11. The Three Amigos
  12. A Life Better Than I Deserve
  13. Training Children Up for Christ
  14. Path of Life Home and School
  15. Closing Time Blog
4.Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blog Walk Week 14

One thing I have really enjoyed about being on the TOS Crew this year is getting to know so many new people, and one way to get to know a person is by visiting their blog often. There are some Crew members blogs that I visit more than others, but eventually I would like to visit them all. One way to do this is by the Blog Walk, so join me this week and visit these 10 blogs and maybe we can meet some new people.
1. Clark Clan Craziness
2. Doxazo Prep Academy
3. My Elastic Life
4. Fun in the Sun
5. A Teaching Heart
6. Mindful Ramblings
7. Simple Thoughts
8. Joy in Our Journey
9. Crazy Homeschool Mama
10. Walking Home

Friday, January 21, 2011


Speekee is an online video series that teaches children Spanish. We received all 10 episodes as part of TOS Crew. We have never studied Spanish in our homeschool so the girls were really excited to try something new. While the video plays the Spanish words appear on the bottom of the screen which really helped in seeing exactly what they were saying and for learning to spell the words. Along with the video there are worksheets that can be printed to reinforce the words that were just taught. Alaina age 6 liked the videos, but had no interest in completing the worksheets. Amber age 9 and Delaney age 8 loved the videos and the worksheets. They would watch the videos over and over again and once they were finished with their worksheets they would make a list of all the Spanish words they knew from memory. In less than a month they could remember and spell over 60 words. They loved Speekee so much they wanted to make some videos with the new words they learned. Hope you enjoy them (and understand them).

El Mercado
(The Market)
My girls love to play restaurant & store all the time & they use this stool for the checkout. On the paper one side said abiento (open) and the other said cerrado (closed).

 Mas (more) & Menos (less)

In each episode Speekee takes the children (who speak Spanish) to a different place which are the park, cafe, a house, zoo, classroom, market, bus station, beach, garden, and a party. The first episode they go to the park and they show you different things there. During the show they only speak Spanish, the subtitles are in Spanish and English to reinforce the words being spoken. You can visit the Speekee Scheme of Work page to view what each lesson is about and the words they introduce. Each unit builds on the words previously learned. Speekee is intended for children ages 2-10, but I think anyone can learn from this format. On the website you may watch a little bit of the first episode at the park to get a feel for the shows content.

Speekee is located in the United Kingdom and they have wonderful customer service. We didn't experience any problems with the product but there were a few members of TOS Crew that wanted to watch Speekee through their Wii. They contacted customer service and they made it possible for us to do so.

Speekee can be watched online for $7.50 per month with the first 2 weeks free with no minimum amount of months required. The episodes are also available on DVD but they are produced in Europe and you would need a DVD player that is PAL compatible.

Speekee logo
Head on over to TOS Crew blog and see what other members thought about SPEEKEE.
As a member of TOS Crew we recieved Speekee free of charge to use with my children in exchange for my review.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Peter and the Wolf

The story of Peter and the Wolf really comes to life in Maestro Classics. This well known story is told with Music by Sergei Prokofiev and performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The Narration by Yadu gives you a vivid picture of the story in your mind and the music makes you feel as if you were in the story. While we listened my girls wanted to act out the parts as the story progressed. When we listened in the car the girls pretended to play the instrument that they heard. The CD is not only for entertainment purposes but also has a section that talks about Sergei Prokofiev's life and his symphonies.

The Maestro Classics are for children 5 and up but our entire family enjoyed Peter and the Wolf. My husband was never required to take music in school nor has he had any music instruction what so ever and he really enjoyed this program and realized that symphonic music can tell a story and show feelings. After listening my kids wanted to pursue other information on symphonies. Amber is wanting to look up other composers and wants to find some music to play on the piano.

Maestro Classics gives Three Major Benefits of the Stories in Music Series, they are:

  1. "To expand listening horizons."-This new series of recordings introduces young people to an orchestra's magical sounds and awe-inspiring power, and helps them understand that music can be dramatic, can paint pictures, and is often filled with humor.
  2. "To hone listening skills and accumulate musical memories."-The musical discussions will sharpen listening skills of children and adults alike, the discussion of the story will promote conversation about human values, and the musical work will leave each listener whistling a new tune.
  3. "To encourage adults and children to listen to music together."-The very young will listen for the story, the slightly older child will enjoy the music, and the adult will be surprised how much he/she has learned.
As a member of TOS Crew I received Peter and the Wolf from Maestro Classics along with our CD we received a 24 page beautifully illustrated booklet that contains the music for Peter's Tune, puzzles and articles on instruments, the composer, conductor,  narrator, and producer.

Some of the other recordings available from Maestro Classic are The Tortoise and the Hare, Swan Lake, Casey at Bat, you can see a complete listing on their website. They may be purchased for $16.98 or right now they have a promotional code to get 3 titles for $45.00. Some of them also come in gift sets. If you visit their website you can listen to different selections while you look around.
Read how other TOS Crew members enjoyed Peter and the Wolf.
As a member of TOS Crew I received Peter and the Wolf free of charge to use with my children in exchange for my review.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Getting It All Done

"If you work and homeschool, how do you juggle?" is the question for the Blog Cruise this week. All of us who have chosen to stay home to take care of our families and to educate our children at home work a lot of hours, but some of us have chosen to also have a job or work from home. I started decorating cakes in 1991 when our oldest child was about 9 months old. I had separated from the Air Force to be a stay at home mom and I started decorating cakes for something to do. We were stationed in Japan and a friend of mine was selling birthday cakes on base, when they got their orders to leave she gave all of her customers my name and it has just grown from there.

I decorate cakes and cookies for any occasions and some months are busier than others. Most people don't get married in the winter so there are months that I only have sheet cakes, cupcakes, and cookie orders. During this time we have school 5 days a week and try to get as much accomplished as we can. Mondays are a little hectic because that is the day most people call to order cakes for the weekend or to set up a time to come over to look at wedding cake pictures and have a cake tasting. When I have a wedding on Saturday I schedule all my cake tastings during the week. The phone calls and cake tastings make our school day a little longer. The kids either have a break during this time, work on some independent lessons or read books. When I have a wedding or big weekends like graduation, I need all day Friday to decorate so we have those days off from school. During those 4 day school weeks I will bake while we are doing school on Thursday, that means a lot of interruptions but we can get our work done while the cakes are in the oven. This also means I have to get all of the house cleaning, laundry and shopping done at the beginning of the week. If I need to deliver a cake I try to schedule it while we are going out anyway, with piano lessons, soccer, basketball, softball and now 4H for three kids, we are gone a lot. I try to decorate after school but sometimes I need to work in the morning and we have school later in the day. I have become very good at rearranging our schedule to fit it all in.

Now that my children are getting older I don't have as many interruptions while I am working so it doesn't take me as many hours, but I usually don't get much sleep on Friday night. I really liked when my teenagers were still at home, they would come home from work or bring their friends over and hang out in the kitchen with me, we had a lot of good conversations in the wee hours of the morning. Now I use that quiet time to communicate with God, reflect on things, or lately I have been listening to the Expo To Go recordings. I also have a very supportive husband, he understands how much work I put into our school and my business. If he is home when I am working he very willing helps out. He doesn't teach school or decorate cakes, but he will do my dishes and clean up after me. It is such a blessing to deliver a wedding cake and come home to a clean kitchen.

With everything that goes on around our house it can get a little crazy sometimes but we get it all done. I think it has been very good for my kids, they have learned how to decorate, deliver, and set up large cakes and it has taught them to work hard and to go above and beyond what is expected of them in all that they do even when they don't feel like it.

If you would like to see more pictures of my cakes you can on my website Lisa Cays Cakes or my Facebook Fan Page.
You can read what other TOS Crew members have to say on The Blog Cruise here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blog Walk

It has been awhile since I went on a blog walk of the other members of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. So this week I will be walking inside and visiting these ten blogs to see what they are doing. Would you like to join me?
1. Learning Legacy
2. The Blessings Pour Out
3. Taylor's Mark Orthodox Academy
4. A Day in the Life
5. Pecan Prairie
6. Musing Grace
7. Milk and Honey Mommy
8. Adventures in Unsell Land!
9. Modest Mama
10. Orange Marmalade Mama

Friday, January 14, 2011

School/Craft/Scrapbook Room

My wonderful husband went to Menards yesterday and bought some countertop for our school/craft/scrapbooking room. I am so excited! He knew he was going to get called out to work sometime yesterday evening so he used temporary legs to hold it up because he knew I would want it up right away. We are planning on putting some shelves on each end and possibly in the corner for support. I want to put up some shelves and or pegs of some sort on the wall to hold some of our scrapbooking tools and embellishments. If any of you have any ideas or pictures of your school/craft/scrapbook areas I would love for you to share your ideas of what you have done or would like to do with your area.

I can't wait to get some shelves up to get all of our scrapbooking and craft supplies organized.

Check out my room now updated 4/22/2011.

I linked my blog post to Friday Remodelaholic. Stop on over and see what other people are busy doing.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Our School Year

In our homeschool we try to stick to the traditional school year as far as months go. We enjoy having the summer months off so we can attend several church camps. I usually plan for a 4 day school week for academics and the fifth day we like to work on our electives such as art, crafts, home economics, extra reading or to catch up on a day we have taken off. My husband is on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week, so we cannot really plan our days off according to his schedule, we just take a random day off here and there. I also decorate wedding cakes and if it is a very detailed or large cake I really need Friday to work on it. I have never been an early person, so we start school at 9:00 and work until we are finished with what I have planned. I know our schedule would never work for families who have a set work schedule but it works for us.

Easy Classical

Easy Classical is dedicated to excellence in classical education. They provide schedules, writing guides, copybooks, and geography curriculum.

Easy Classical schedules break down a full year curriculum into daily assignments. The schedules are structured around the recommendations of Susan Wise Bauerʼs book The Well-trained Mind: a Guide to Classical Education at Home.

As a member of the TOS Crew I was given the Early Modern History (Explorers to 1820) Schedule to view. I received the schedule, an instruction sheet, an icon sheet, 36 week-long, day by day schedules and other forms and helps that can be copied to use with your children. This schedule takes you through the Explorers, 13 Colonies, Colonial America, Road to Independence, and the Revolution. There is a list of History, Writing, and Geography Resources to be used along with a list of scheduled read aloud books, free time reading and picture books for the year. On the Easy Classical website they have a list of where the books can be purchased or to check libraries in your area for availability. I did a search for most of the books on the list and there are a few at our local library.

The schedule is very easy to read, there is a shopping list for the first week at the beginning and then at the end of each week schedule there is a shopping list at the bottom for the next week. There are icons to indicate when you should do an activity, and comprehension questions for each week. The reading is scheduled on Monday to introduce the topic for the week. This may be a little to much reading for one day, but could easily be changed. They tell you in the schedule directions that it is good to change things to fit your family.

Early Modern History (Explorers to 1820) Schedule teaches most subjects for K-6 grade and can be purchased from Easy Classical for $35.95 for the notebook version or $29.95 for the digital version. 

You can see what TOS Crew members thought of the Early Modern History Schedule at the Crew Blog.
As a member of TOS Crew I received the Early Modern History (Explorers to 1820) free of charge to view in exchange for my review.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Snow Ice Cream

We have about 6 inches of snow today and it is suppose to keep snowing until sometime tomorrow. With so much snow we had to make Snow Ice Cream. It is so good and easy you will want to make some for yourself, the girls are taking some for youth group treats tonight at church.

Snow Ice Cream
1 quart of cream
3 Cups of sugar
2 Tablespoons vanilla
2 1/2 gallons of fresh clean snow

Mix the cream, sugar, and vanilla together and then stir in snow until it is stiff and frozen.

Our Christmas break is officially over. My husband has been on vacation this week, he goes back to work tomorrow and we will start school back up. We didn't go out of town for vacation we just stayed home and relaxed and caught up on some things that needed to be done around the house. Last weekend, my friends and I got together and scrapbooked. My friend from CO came up (she is a demonstrator for The Angel Company) so I had a party & earned some awesome stuff. I can't wait for it to get here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Math Facts Now

We use a lot of speed drills in our homeschool, so we were really excited about this review. It is a downloaded speed drill program that is worked directly on the computer. Each child has their own user name and you create the lessons. The program is math facts only, there are no games or graphics that can sometimes be a distraction to the child. Math Facts Now can be used with all of your children for one price of $15.95.

I used this program with all three of my girls ages 6, 8, & 9. We all loved it! I will definitely suggest this program to my friends whether their children are taught at home or school. Some times my 8 & 9 year old like to do several speed drills a day.  While using Math Facts Now they don't have to wait for me to get them another drill printed or to set the timer if I am working with their younger sister on her school work. I have never had my kids do speed drills in the first grade, but Alaina really likes using Math Facts Now and usually asks if she can do another one. Although we have our own copy machine this will save a lot of money on paper and toner over time. The girls also loved the reward that was given after completing the worksheet, I usually gave them time to read something of their choice.

First you set up each child's user name and then you assign the worksheets. When setting up the worksheets  you first chose the type of problems you would like to drill: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, or Division. After choosing the kind of problems you can select what number facts to work on. For example if you want your child to work on the multiplication facts you will chose Multiplication first and depending on their level you may chose each set of facts separately, combine a few or select all the facts. Your selections for each worksheet are saved and can be completed over and over again by the student with different facts showing up each time.

As the parent you chose the amount of time the student has to answer each problem, how many times they need to re-enter a missed problem, and how many problems they need to get correct to finish the lesson. You may also chose to give your child a reward for finishing their worksheet. If you answer your math fact correctly it will go onto the next question, if you miss the problem you will have to type out the whole problem how many ever times that was chosen when setting up the worksheet. If the problem was answered correctly but to slowly it will tell the child that they had the correct answer, but that they were to slow and they will have to type out the problem the same amount of times as if they had missed it. Once the lesson is completed you can view and print the child's results. It will show how long it took to complete the lesson, total incorrect, total answered to slow and the average amount of time taken on each problem.

You may also view or print each child's total progress. This report shows all the lessons taken, how much time was spent completing the lesson, number of problems completed, the percentage of right and wrong answers, and the percentage of time spent on each problem.

Math Facts Now may be purchased and downloaded here for $15.95. Or if you would like to order a CD Rom it is also $15.95 plus $3.95 shipping and handling. You may also check out the free trial here. This company is very easy to work with, when we first received this product we had to assign at least 50 problems per worksheet. Some of the other members of the TOS Crew thought this was to many for their children and they have now changed the minimum number of problems to 5.

System Requirements: Runs on Windows 2000, ME, XP, Vista and Windows 7. 4.5 Mb of free hard drive space required.
You may read other Crew member reviews here.

As a member of the TOS Crew I received Math Facts Now free to use in our homeschool in exchange for my honest review of their product.
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