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Thursday, October 27, 2016

CrossTimber Review #hsreviews #name #namemeaning #CrossTimber #gift #personalizedgift

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
I love gift giving. It's so much fun to watch people open something that they absolutly love or something they really wanted. It seems like the older I get the harder it is to buy for certain people. Part of that is because we live about a thousand miles from our family and we aren't there on a day-to-day basis to see what they need. I already have a gift for my mom that I know she will love. Mom, if you are reading my blog you can stop here!! 

I received a Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse from CrossTimber to review and my girls and I had so much fun trying to decide what to get. 
Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
CrossTimber is a family run business owned by John and Katie Dehnart. It started 20 years ago when John and his sister first made a flyer for a local farmer. John started printing name cards when he took a drivers ed class at the local public school. After being made fun of he decided to research all the kids names and print them along with an encouraging meaning for each one on a name card. On the last day of class he passed them out and even the bullies were grateful. John then printed up 800 name cards to hand out whenever he met someone new. He eventually gave a name card to a girl named Katie and four years later she became his wife. 

John loves name meanings. He sent me the meaning of my name right away and was more than happy to look up all my kids names. I was having trouble deciding on what name to get on our plaque. I had John look up my mom and my mother-in-laws name also. Mike's mom is from Finland and her name is Riitta. John wanted to know how it was pronounced and he had a meaning for it also. I finally decided to get a plaque for my mom, Catrina. She is in charge of the women's ministry at her church and I thought it would look great in her office. 

Now that we knew what name we wanted it was pretty easy to choose a background. There are so many to choose from in the four catagories: Faith & Inspiration, Animals & Creatures, People & Relationships, and The Great Outdoors. I finally picked my favorite (I hope my mom likes it too) The Garden Bridge. After choosing my background there are frame choices directly below the image. There are four frame choices or you can choose to have a frame selected for you. You can also order just a print or an email of the print. I chose the antique brown frame featuring intricate scrollwork.

I love the way my name plaque turned out.  
My picture doesn't give it justice. The greens are much prettier in my name plaque than on my computer. I love the squiggly lines around the wording and the bridge seems so calm and peaceful. I think it complements Seeker of God's Perspective which is part of the meaning of Catrina. Our name plaque is 5X7 with a 7X9 recyced plastic frame.
CrossTimber also has other name products. You can get different sized name plaques, there are mugs, book marks, beautiful music boxes, and products with the names of God on them. 

CrossTimber 2016 giveaway
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Don't forget to stop over at the Crew Blog and read other reviews for CrossTimber. I read several of them and really enjoy learning what all the names mean. 
Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Middlebury Interactice Languages Spanish II Review #hsreviews #foreignlanguage #bilingualism #languagestudy

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

When our official school year started this year the first thing Delaney wanted to know was if we had a Spanish curriculum. I told her to hold on because one of her favorite review items would be coming up soon. She was over joyed when she received access to High School Spanish II (Grades 9-12) from Middlebury Interactive Languages.
Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
Middlebury Interactive Languages teach Spanish, French, Chinese, and German for grades K-12. The languages were developed by a group of linguistics and academia experts and teach by immersing the student in each language and culture. Real world situations are used to teach and the student can work at their own pace.
High School Spanish Year II is divided into two semesters. Both semesters are made up of 18 Units including a Midterm and Final Unit. Each Unit contains 5 lessons with quizzes and tests in each. There are lessons on reading and listening comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, history, and more.

When working through the course you can just work in order no matter what day you start or there is a calendar option if you start on the day you receive access and you follow a typical five-day school week schedule. The calendar option shows exactly what should be completed for each day. Every time you log in the lesson you are ready to work on is listed with the calendar lesson listed below to make it easy to know where you need to be. You may also navigate through the lessons in the table of contents.

In this level the instructions are primarily in Spanish, but there are bubbles in some places you can click on to get the instructions in English if you need them. Each lesson has warm up exercises where you can click on the pictures and hear the Spanish words, then the next section you can match the Spanish word to the correct picture. The Speaking lab gives a sentence. The student can read the sentence, listen to the sentence, and then record themselves speaking the sentence. That way they can replay it in their voice to hear how well it matches the correct audio.

There is also a grade book. In this portion you can see what type of assignment has been completed, the date it was taken, the grade, or view the assignment itself and you can see what was answered correctly or incorrectly.

Delaney has been using Spanish II. She has used Middlebury in the past for Spanish I and really wanted to continue using it. When she first started using Spanish II she was afraid it would be too hard. She was worried it would be too much grammar, but she is a word lover and she is really starting to enjoy it now. Sometimes she has to listen to the audio several times to understand what the native speaker is saying, but she has been doing better. While she works on a lesson she reads everything out loud and even though I don't speak Spanish it sounds like she is doing really well. She also maintains a journal where she writes any new vocabulary words or anything she thinks she will need to know later.

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High School Spanish II
Twitter @middinteractive
Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
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Homemade Doughnuts #yum #wordlesswednesday

The kids made homemade doughnuts and I made pumpkin marshmallow lattes!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Christmas Treasury Audio Stories Review #hsreviews #christmas #Audio #audiobook #digital #familymanministries

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

My favorite holiday is Christmas and even though we are having wonderful fall weather I am looking forward to the first big snowfall of winter. I can't wait to watch the big fluffy snowflakes fall and watch my kids play in it for hours at a time. Christmas will be here before I know it and we have already been listening to The Familyman's Christmas Treasury-Audio Collection. These audio files are available from The Familyman on CDs or Digital Downloads.

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews
The Familyman's Christmas Treasury is a collection of six audio Christmas stories. The stories reinforce the true meaning of Christmas and are told by master storyteller Jim Hodges. The six stories are:
  • Captain Chaos and The Manger Blaster~ This story is about a ten-year old boy that has a wild imagination. He is bored with the bible story of Christ's birth and adds to it while playing with the nativity. After being sent to his room he continues to make up stories and Captain Chaos burst through the wall and helps Jason get rid of the manger as he sees how life would be without it. 
  • Cootie McKay's Nativity~ Christmas almost didn't happen to this little town in 1956, but it turns into the best Christmas they ever had because of Cootie McKay.
  • The Stranger~ This story is about a thought. What if Jesus visited the little church. Not as himself, but as a homeless person? Would he be welcome?
  • The Bishop's Dream~ This story will introduce you to the origin of Santa Claus. A humble bishop who gave gifts to the poor as he told them stories of the Savior. Over time the legend of the gifts overshadowed the stories he told. 
  • Harold Grubbs and The Christmas Vest~ On the Sunday after Thanksgiving Isaac's dad would wear a Christmas vest that once belonged to Harold Grubbs. Harold used to be the meanest man in town until something happened.  
  • Gladys Remembers Christmas~ Gladys Higgins did not like Christmas almost as much as she hated her name. Gladys was named after her mother who had passed away when Gladys was six. Her father never remarried. Although he took care of the children's needs Gladys did not feel loved. Things changed after visiting an old house on a cold December day.
We also received:
  • The Secret of Snow Village~ This story was inspired by a collection of Christmas houses. There is so many things going on in the village it might seem to come to life while you aren't looking. What if the town came to life and contains a secret about Christmas?
  • It's Called Christmas~  What if people could come back to our time from the future? This story is about Christmas being erased and someone from the future coming back to remind us that Christmas is still Christmas. 

We received our collection as a digital download and The Bishop's Dream on CD. All the stories were written by Todd Wilson and read by Jim Hodges. Todd uses things that kids are interested in to draw them into the story and teach them a moral that can be understood by kids and adults. Jim has the perfect voice to be a storyteller, he is very easy to listen to.

We received our audio collection right before we headed off for vacation. We had an almost four hour car ride to the airport, so that gave us plenty of time to listen to them. My girls decided that The Secret of Snow Village is their favorite. Every year when we get our village houses out they play with all the people and create stories about them, so they could really relate to the story. 

Listening to these stories are a great way to spend family time. We listen to them in the car, while we are cleaning, or the girls will listen while they are drawing or crafting. 

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The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews
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Educeri Subscription Review #hsreviews #educeri #educhat #dataworks-ed

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews
I remember when we first started homeschooling and I had to find catalogs and call or mail order our textbooks. Things sure have changed and I'm pretty sure you can find everything you need to homeschool online. Lately we have been using the Educeri Lesson Subscription Service from Educeri .......Educeri a Division of DataWORKS.
Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews
Educeri Lesson Subscription Service offers over 1,000 teacher lesson plans for grades K-12. They cover Math, Science, English Language Arts, History, Art , P.E., Music, Spanish, and English Language Development. Each lesson is given as a power point demonstration including a hand-out that can be downloaded and printed. These lesson plans are ready to teach requiring minimal time to choose what you need.

The lesson plans are to be used as a supplement to your regular curriculum. I have homeschooled all five of my kids and they are all different. I can explain something to each one of them and there always seems to be one that just doesn't get it or one that needs some extra practice. That is why these lesson plans come in handy. It is another way to work on a topic without completely switching curriculum or searching every where to find a different way to teach the concept or to find additional practice.

There are several ways to search for the topic you need. You can search by grade level, subject, use the search bar, or just browse through the list. If you still can't find what you are looking for you can send them a message to see if they have it.

After choosing your topic to go through the power point you simply click on the arrows at the bottom of the screen. You can go forward or back to the previous screen. There is also a menu where you can go to a specific page without clicking through them all. A lot of the pages have fill in the blank questions and when you click to advance a page it will answer the first question in red. To get the next answer you simply click the forward arrow again until the page is filled in. There are also Marker Tools that you may use in the power point. At the top you have the choice of using a pen, highlighter, or eraser. The marks you make on the page will stay there until you click on the erase all choice or leave that topic.

My girls are learning Spanish. Alaina is still easy while she is working on mostly vocabulary. The other girls are in high school and their curriculum is getting harder. The first thing I searched for was Spanish lessons. There is only one lesson plan for Spanish and it is high school level. We also used some English Language Arts, and some Math. There are several topics covered in both of those subjects. The Math even includes some flashcard sets.

We started with the High School Spanish. I printed out the student handout and started looking at the power point with two of my girls. As soon as they figured out how to use the program they didn't want my help. They worked on it together to help their pronunciations. Next I went through the English Language Arts. I printed off the handouts for Use Colons and Use Correct Hyphenation for my high school girls and they went through those topics alone. Then I found Algebra topics for Amber. She is currently working on polynomials and I found a lesson on that too. For Alaina I asked her what she wanted to work on. She chose Identify the Author's Point of View and An Author's Argument for grade 7.

I really like that there are so many topics to choose from and they are very easy to locate one you are looking for. The explanations get right to the point to make it easy to understand. My older girls like how this is set up for the Spanish because they would read the slide and then they would answer each question. They could see if they were right or wrong before they answered the next question. They didn't mind filling in the handouts, but the subjects they worked on alone they thought there was way to much clicking of the mouse. This is a teacher resource and I'm sure it would work well for a group of children, but my girls are used to completing most of the work entirely on their own. Alaina liked picking something different and the colored graphics for each topic really appealed to her.

We did notice that there were a few pages that could not be made full screen. The problem we ran into with that was that some of the words were over top of the others or ran into a box they should not have been in.

My girls did get tired of using this. I explained to them that this is a supplement and wasn't intended to be used all the time. They did say they wouldn't mind working on more topics later just not too many in a row.

There are so many things to choose from with the Educeri Subscription and will look different for every family. Make sure you stop over at the Homeschool Review Crew Blog to read other reviews.

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Educeri Lesson Subscription Service
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Monday, October 17, 2016

Applying For Another Year With The Homeschool Review Crew #hsreviews

It is that time of year again when the Homeschool Review Crew year is winding down. I have written 44 reviews this year and still have seven to complete by the middle of November and then we will take a break until the new year begins. 

There is a lot that still goes on while the Review Crew is not reviewing curriculum. The leaders will be choosing some members to bring back from this year, but they will also be looking at new people to add to the team. If you homeschool and have a blog you may want to apply
I have been part of the Homeschool Review Crew since 2010. My kids and I always want to reapply and I wanted to share with you why we love being a part of it. 

I like helping fellow homeschool families. Just today we attended a field trip with our local homeschool group and one of the moms told me they bought a math program that we reviewed and I had previously told her about. I am the treasurer of our local group and the library will give my name to people when they ask about homeschooling in our area. Those conversations easily turn to curriculum and after homeschooling for 21 years and reviewing homeschool curriculum for 6 I usually have some very good suggestions. 

Every year I ask my girls if they want to continue reviewing school items and their reply is always the same. They think it would be boring if we didn't add new things into our school year. Some of the items we review become my kids favorites and I would have never thought it would work for them. 

I also love how the being part of the Crew challenges me. I am normally a very quiet private person that wouldn't always give my opinion in a conversation. By writing my blog and reviewing curriculum I have opened up my home and school to share with everyone else. 
What being on the Crew means ...

Five Minute Friday Mail #fmf #amwriting

We were on vacation the last two weeks and I missed participating in the Five Minute Friday. I wasn't planning on doing this past Friday, but the word was perfect for me this time. Even though it is Monday I still wanted to write about my MAIL.

We were on vacation for eleven days. We visited family, spent one day at Sea World San Diego, went to the beach five times, and some other random things. It is always fun to go, but I always look forward to coming home. 

One thing that is always waiting for us when we get back is mail. We put a vacation hold on our newspaper, so the day we returned we had a pile of papers waiting for us. We also put a hold on our regular mail. And I very grateful for my neighbor who grabs any UPS or FedEx packages that arrive. 

This time there was a lot of junk mail, four review items, a birthday card for my oldest daughter, a few catalogs, magazines, sale adds, and of course a few bills. At least I already paid those through my bill pay. 

When we come home from a trip I always sort the mail beside the trash can. Sad to say, but most of what we get ends up there. 

That five minutes went by really fast. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy Review #hsreviews #christianfilmcamp #onlinefilmcamp

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}
It seems like we have more things in our home that are capable of taking pictures and videos now than ever before. Our phones, iPads, laptops, oh and our cameras & video cameras. We all use these devices, and my kids enjoy making movie clips, but they aren't always the best. By using the Online Christian Filmmakers Academy from Family Gravity Media, a division of Families For Christ Ministries, Inc. we have learned so much about making films and taking better pictures.

Every summer Ken and Zach Lawrence host a Christian Filmmakers Camp in Colorado. It is a hands-on filmmaker training by industry professionals. Students are taught technical aspects of film making and how to use the equipment. The camp is limited to twelve students who want to learn more about cinematography, lighting, camera operating, directing, sound design and film score composing. They started the camp because they were frustrated with the training programs they were finding to attend themselves. None of them were hands-on and were given to large audiences that just sat in attendance. They contacted an instructor and he had other families that wanted a small hands-on class, so Ken invited them all to their conference center in CO and have held a camp every year since then.
Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}
The Online Christian Filmmakers Academy was started so that the camp students could have more time for film making at camp if they already had the lecture portion before they came. They eventually opened it up to the general public.

The Online Christian Filmmakers Academy is divided into five modules and covers everything you need to know about creating a film including information about the equipment, lighting, and production.

  • Introduction~ This section includes instructions on using the program and Ken & Zach Lawrence introduce themselves. 
  • Module 1 The Camera ~ There are six lessons and a quiz. Zach shows us camera equipment while he describes how it is used. He covers DSLRs, lenses,  
  • Module 2 Cinematography ~Fifteen lessons cover color temp, white balance, hard and soft light, types of light, lighting accessories, using lights, point lighting, painting with light, framing, outdoor light, depth of field, jibs and dollies, green screens, setting up an interview, final consideration, and a quiz.
  • Module 3 Sound~ Sound equipment, microphones, field recorders, location recording, ADR and Folley are covered in six lessons and then there is a quiz.
  • Module 4 Pre-Production~ Five lessons and a quiz cover the story, writing the screenplay, pre-production paper work, and assemble of the team. 
  • Module 5 Production~ The crew, set hierarchy, set etiquette, directing, the slate, and filming step-by-step are taught in six lessons followed by a quiz. 

The video lectures are given by Zach Lawrence. He explains everything you need to know and he demonstrates how the equipment is used and how everything works together. He also includes a lot of why things work or why you want to do it that way. Underneath the video you can ask questions relating to that particular lesson. Although we did not ask a questions other people using the program did ask questions and they were answered directly underneath for everyone to see in case you had the same questions.

The quizzes are just being added and should all be there soon. The questions show up in a little bubble and they are multiple choice. The answers are shown at the end of the quiz, so you knew which ones your missed.

I wanted my girls to go through this course because they are always taking pictures or short videos. Last year they videoed themselves acting out portions of their favorite movie. Delaney loves to speak other languages and she has written puppet shows all in Spanish and made her sisters act them out with her while I recorded them. Although they had a lot of fun, it would be nice if they were better quality and we could have sent them to the grandparents to enjoy. Their oldest sister loves to take pictures of landscape and wildlife. When she was still in our homeschool her electives always included photography, primarily books from the library. She just recently sold her first photographs to a dentist office. I know my kids hobbies can some day turn into more for them.

While we watched the equipment lessons we got out our DSLR camera and our lenses to see exactly what Zach was telling us. We already have a couple of lenses and some filters that he suggests using, but we had never used the video feature on our DSLR. My neighbor has a photography studio at her house and we went over to look at the lighting equipment she uses after watching the lighting lessons. Although she only takes still pictures of people she had a lot of the items we learned about in the course. My girls are looking forward to watching the module on Sound, because they all play instruments and sing and will record themselves once in awhile to hear how their song sounds.

We all went through the quiz together also. They remembered most of the answers right away, but there were a few they weren't sure on, but once they started discussing what Zach said they could remember most of them.

We may not be creating feature films, but this course is helping all of us even in our daily lives. While we were at the beach recently my girls were taking pictures with their devices and the DSLR camera. They were noticing things about lighting that they had just learned in those lessons. My husband wanted Delaney (age 14) to take his and my picture in the sunset with the water behind us with his phone. She asked him if he realized that we would be very dark in the picture and she proceeded to tell him all about lighting and cameras.

Ken and Zach Lawrence have been have been in the video production industry since 2004. This father and son have several productions including the feature films, DVD releases, TV series, documentaries, and short films. Ken is not only a certified Career Technical Education instructor in Audio/Video & film as well as a pastor, life coach, actor and Christian film producer. Zach has credentials working with the crew on various details. He wrote, produced, and directed the film In His Steps and produced the web series Indy Christian Review.

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Online Christian Filmmakers Academy is $299. I have a coupon code that is good until November 30th for $100. off. Just use the coupon code FALLCREW16

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}
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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

MyFreezEasy Review #hsreviews #freezeasy #freezermeals #5dollardinners #freezercooking Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
It doesn't matter who you are there are days when you do not have time to make dinner. When we are that busy we usually end up eating things that are not that good for us or we go out. A great way to avoid that is by using the MyFreezEasy meal plans, and with access to the Freezer Meal Plan Membership there is so much to choose from. 

MyFreezEasy is set up to prepare 10-12 meals to put in the freezer in one hour. There are eight different meal plans each month to choose from or you can create your own by using recipes from eighteen different categories. There is also a video library where you can watch This Month's Meal Assembly Video. 
If you choose a monthly menu plan you can choose from:
  • Traditional Meal Plan
  • Gluten-Free Meal Plan
  • Slow Cooker Meal Plan
  • Clean Eats Meal Plan
  • 20 Meals Plan
  • All Chicken Meals Plan
  • All Ground Beef Meals Plan
  • All Pork Chops Meals Plan Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
Once you have a plan selected and if you are happy with each recipe you can print out everything you need from one place. Once you hit print you will have the recipes, shopping lists, and assembly of the meals all in one place. Each recipe shows the ingredients and cooking instructions for a single meal and the assemble prep direction for two meals. There is a shopping list for each recipe and there is one that is divided up by store categories. Lastly there are instructions for any pre-cooking and chopping instructions and the assembly instructions. There are also labels that you can print to attach to each recipe. They include the recipe name and cooking instructions. 
If there are recipes you would like to swap in your meal plan you can pick them up in the small box at the right and move them to the big box on the left. Then you can do the opposite with recipes you want to add to the meal plan. Drag them from the left side to the small box on the side. You will do the same thing if you create your own menu plan. 

The recipes are listed to serve 4, but before you print or save the instructions for your menu you can change the serving size to 2, 6, or 8 servings. 

If you decide to create your own meal plan you can choose from different categories. The recipes are divided by meat, cooking method, or special diet. Some of the recipes are included in more than one category. The meal plans do not contain any sides you may want to add to your meal. 
This Month's Meal Assembly Video is about an hour long and Erin shows you how to prepare and assemble the recipes for this month. If you chose to make a specialized meal plan there are shorter video segments for each individual meal plan with highlights specifically for that menu.

There are a lot of recipes to choose from, so even if you have picky eaters you can find something everyone will like. There are recipes for macaroni, chicken, fish, crock pot meals, oriental dishes, Mexican recipes, and more. Most of the recipes are stored in the freezer in gallon baggies, but there are some that use disposable 9X13 pans. 

My 11 year old daughter Alaina was having the most fun with this. She loves selecting recipes that she wants to make. She didn't have any problems adding and removing the recipes from the MyFreezEasy Meal Plan Box. I love that the shopping list is printed by store categories. It makes it very easy to see what we need to purchase and to shop once we get there. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
Preparing the recipes actually took us longer than an hour, but that is because Alaina was helping. I'm pretty sure I could get them all done in that amount of time. My whole family has liked everything that we have made so far and the Honey Sesame Chicken has been the over all favorite. It is so nice having dinners in the freezer that need very little time to cook. 

I love being able to choose recipes by meat type. We buy a whole cow once a year, so we always have beef on hand. We also like chicken, so it's great to know exactly how much chicken we need to buy to get use through the next time we shop. 
Honey Sesame Chicken

Erin Chase started MyFreezEasy. She does all the planning, prepares the menus, and records all the videos. This is designed to make meal preparation quick and simple. With that being said she uses a lot of prepackaged items. She uses canned beans, canned sauces, and precooked chicken. I do not normally shop and cook this way, I try to make everything from scratch that is possible. It is easy to adapt her recipes to fit our life style, but it does take a little longer. It has been nice having this this time of year, because I have been canning so many things from our garden and it's nice to just be able to pull dinner out of the freezer and have it ready even though I have a mess in the kitchen with other things. 

No matter what your lifestyle is like or how much you like cooking you can follow these recipes and these meal plans. My 11 year old has been planning our meals for the last month and it has added a variety to what we normally eat. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

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