This is a STAGE in life… right?

I love my kids. I love my husband. I love my job. I love serving in my church. I love my family. I love my friends.

Easter 2017

Easter 2017 with Eric. Love this picture of us!

I love spending time with my kids and my husband. I don’t see my time I spend on my work outside of the normal working day as intrusive or excessive; I enjoy every minute of my job, even when some days the hours are long. I love serving in my church. I love and treasure the time I spend with my family. Unfortunately, not much is left for my friends.

As my time is being taken up more by my children’s events and activities, it leaves very little time for “friend time.” For me, if there is a conflict between my children’s events and activities, time with my husband and/or family time and an opportunity to spend it with my friends… it will always be kids, husband and family. Right now those conflicts are happening so much, I find myself disconnected from friends.

It’s my fault. However, I wouldn’t change the decision I have made to put my kids/ husband/family first. I have even seen it said that if you find your friendships fading it is because you have become self-absorbed or busy with your life, and not taken the time to invest in your friendships. I don’t disagree… but I can’t tell my kids I won’t be at their events, performances and moments. I also can’t tell my husband I would rather go out with the girls on a Saturday night after he has been traveling weeks at a time and wants to spend time with me.

So that brings me back to finding myself disconnected from friends. I don’t like that my friendships have grown apart, that I don’t have meaningful conversations with my friends on a frequent basis, or that I don’t get invited to fun nights out. That is on me.

So I ask myself, how do I fix that?

Well, you have to be a friend to have a friend, right? That requires time and investment, and I am right where I started. So I think I am resigning myself to the truth about this time in my life… it is a STAGE.

Kinder round up kris

Text from the parents of a family that Kritter gave a tour for Kindergarten Roundup. This is the school where he attends and I am the Assistant Principal.

I apologize to all my friends who may have assumed that I just didn’t want to be friends anymore because I never call… not true. I just am trying to stay one football game and musical performance ahead of my kiddos and still have a meaningful marriage.

I hope I don’t look back and regret that I didn’t make more effort to find the time for my friends. I do know I don’t regret a moment I have been present to treasure my husband or my kids.

It has been the surprise moments where I have chosen to be there for my kids that I have seen God work. Seen how they are growing up into amazing adults. They have also seen how their mom and dad love each other, because we spend what little time we have, together. So this STAGE… it won’t be long, and I am working on being content with that.

EmBug, age 14, Leading Youth Worship May 3rd, 2017

EmBug’s Top 14 of 2015

EmBug is our STAR, if there is a stage she is most at home, front and center. It’s not that she demands that attention off the stage, she’s actually very quick to disappear into a crowd, but when given an authentic stage, the audience, the script/song and the spotlight, she shines. Here are the top ways she “shined” in 2015.

Em techno expo 1514. February 26th EmBug presented twice at Techno Expo (Our School District’s Student Technology Showcase). She shared her Google Site of her Summer Reading Project and her group collaboration on Mechanical Energy.

13. Singing in any situation keeps EmBug’s spirits high and anyone else around her. Her rendition of “Don’t Rain on my Parade” in early March while doing the dishes entertained many when Kirsten posted on Facebook.

12. Performing as Dionysus, the main narrator, of the Greek Theater festival at her middle school at the end of March.greek festival em 2015

11. Performing at NISD Spring Solo and Ensemble and earning I’s in mid- April.Solo Ensemble Orchestra 15

10. Performing in her last concert with, the children’s performance choir, Cantare’ on April 30th.



9. It began in May and was an amazing experience, and still is. EmBug now sings with the FOTP Worship Band during youth and adult services on various occasions during worship services.

8. The end of 2014-15 School Year Awards EmBug earned Top PreAP 6th Grade Girl for Science and Top 6th Grade Girl Theater student.

6th grade EOY Awards EmBug

7. May 31st she competed in the National Guild Piano competition… our pianist earned a Superior Plus Rating (national standing). She performed 10 songs fully memorized and perfectly executed before a nationally certified judge.

National Piano Guild Awards 2015 EmBug.jpg

6. In June EmBug and Kirsten went on their first mission trip to Houston, Texas. The Houston Mission trip with Fellowship of the Parks (FOTP) Youth to the 5th Ward helping with Generation ONE was an amazing experience for both and are already making plans to participate in this year’s FOTP Youth Mission Trip.

5. Once again our thespian tried out for our district’s Middle School Musical and earned a part in the play “High School Musical.” She played the role of “Cyndra”- a very mislead self-proclaimed “opera singer.” It was a thrill to see her and her fellow cast come alive and deliver an outstanding performance that rivaled college theater performances.

EmBug in HS Musical

4. This next mention can’t capture the hard work and determination that EmBug put into polishing her gift of singing. She started her 7th grade year in the 7th Grade Concert Girls Choir after trying out in the spring for Varsity Girls Choir and not making it. Her dyslexia has always required her to work harder and learn additional strategies to succeed at the highest level. At the tryouts the sight reading proved to be too much. Even though we thought that there was no chance to make it into the Varsity Choir in the fall, she worked all summer long to improve her sight reading skills. A change in staff in the choir department in August opened up the opportunity for an additional chance to try out and this time she made it into the Varsity Girls Choir with flying colors. However, the story doesn’t end there. She then determined that she would make the All Region Choir. In the midst of all preAP classes, piano lessons, musical practice, church volunteer work, youth group and family responsibilities she persevered and practiced. She tried out and made 4th Chair Second Soprano in the Highest All-Region Choir. A huge accomplishment for anyone but an even greater personal success for a 7th Grade girl who struggles with sight reading due to Dyslexia.

All Region Choir 15 EmBug.jpg

Lion With Wardrobe Fall 15.jpg

3. In the fall EmBug’s One Act Play class performed “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.” While she did not have a speaking part, she did enjoy imitating a deer. What was more impressive is that Kirsten successfully crafted a “deer-like” costume for her. We are not sure if this is one of EmBug’s top celebrations or Kirsten’s! ūüôā

EmBugs 13th Bday

2. Teenager in the House! This year EmBug crossed the threshold into “teenager.” She is never without a creative thought or idea. Her celebration with friends this year was no different. She planned the whole outing, having her friends take a timed trip to Goodwill with $15 to find items to dress like a Christmas symbol or character they pulled from a hat. Then the entourage was chauffeured by Mama Wilson to the Fort Worth Stockyards where they completed the Maze… made famous by the Reality TV Show “Amazing Race.” This was followed by a “selfie” treasure hunt challenge also planned by EmBug. The night ended by watching “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and eating pizza. There was no lack of giggling and it was a memorable night for all the girls.

1. This year we added a new tradition to our Christmas Eve. Embug helped as part of a Candlelight Choir during our church’s four Candlelight Christmas Eve Services. As she grows up her activities change. What an awesome opportunity to watch her use her gifts to bring joy to others. What was more exciting was the opportunity for EmBug and Kirsten to sing in the last service together.

EmBug and the Cat Sling

There are many other items we could include. The dance where she “Wobbled” her way out of her knee cap. Her Student Council and Fellowship of Christian Athletes leadership and participation. Her work with the 3 year-olds at Church on Sundays. Her culinary curiosity that has led to many a prepared meal for the family. Even her winning the FOTP Youth Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest might be worth mentioning, but seriously, at this point only the grandmothers are reading this and it has to stop somewhere! She is an amazing daughter and we are so looking forward to every day and what it will bring.

Here’s to another amazing year with EmBug!

Running the Race of Life…

Family Vacation to Gulf Shores June 2012

Family Vacation to Gulf Shores June 2012

I have hesitated for some time to write a post on running. Exercise for me is a necessary evil. If I could invent a way to get the benefits of exercise without actually doing the exercise… I would be happy, and rich. Lots of things come easy for me in the academic world, nothing comes easy for me in the physical activity world. I am awkward at best. Now that I have been running consistently for over two years, I think I am safe to tell my story. It looks like this may be a thing I stick with for a while.

In late June 2012 I was sitting on a beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I had been on a journey to reach a certain goal weight for this trip, and for reasons I won’t elaborate on, I had missed that goal by a long shot!. Beyond trying to reach the goal for the trip, I had also wanted to reach this goal before my 40th birthday which was fast approaching. August 4th to be exact. Sitting on the beach I pulled out my weight loss app of choice and plugged in my goal and the time line. OUCH… there was no way it would happen… at least not the amount I wanted to lose in the time frame given. Especially if I was going to be healthy, not starve myself and be a good example of how to be healthy to my very impressionable nine and half year old daughter.

I was not happy… I was sliding into 40 over my desired weight and nothing to show on how I was fighting getting older with ferociousness. So, as I often do, I backed out of the weight loss app and proceeded to lose myself in the Facebook posts of the 100s of people I am “friends.” All while the little voice in my head kept whispering… “There has got to be something you can do. You can’t just give up.”¬† I had given myself the conciliatory resolution that I would still lose the weight, I just wouldn’t do it by my birthday. However, that didn’t seem to quiet the whisper.

Buddy Run PosterAnd then I saw it… “Buddy Run 5K.” A fundraiser for a runner’s family. Buddy Hopkins in the spring of this year, in my community, had been hit and killed while out doing a training run for a marathon. This 5K was in my community, helping a precious family and, wait for it, was scheduled for my 40th birthday.

So on that beach I made a decision, set a goal and most importantly contacted a friend to tell them what I planned to do. I was going to use the next five weeks to train myself to run a 5K. I was going to run and complete a 5K on my 40th birthday. To make sure I did, I signed up for the Buddy Run on that beach, called my friend Sherri Daniel to ask her to run it with me, and found a Couch to 5K app to keep me on pace.

I ran that race and since then over a dozen other 5Ks, some 10Ks a few 15Ks, 4 half marathons and 1 marathon.

At the Buddy Run 5K finish line with my running partner. This is the first of many races we would run together.

At the Buddy Run 5K finish line with my running partner. This is the first of many races we would run together.

I have learned that running is not easy for me. Although I run without stopping for many miles at a time, the first mile for me is as hard as the last mile. I do not get a runners high and lately my body has acclimated to the running where I no longer get the caloric burn benefit of running. But I keep doing it…

Why? Well, it reminds me of how something you can do over and over can continue to be a challenge. It helps keep me mindful of students where school and learning (in the traditional sense) is a challenge every day¬† and never gets easier. It also has shown me what a community that has all levels of skill can be like. The running community is very encouraging. From the fastest record breaking runner to the slowest wogger (walking/jogging) we all celebrate one another and our quest to finish the race set before us. It has been where I have formed some of my strongest friendships (you do actually talk a lot while running). It has given me the opportunity to connect with others through the IRun4 organization where I get to dedicate my runs to my buddy Abby whose physical limitations do not allow her to run. It has opened my eyes to see things in new ways… and frankly I like the fresher perspective.

A quick selfie with my two running buddies Traci Bear and Sherri Daniel at the Cowtown Half Marathon 2015. First race we have run right after an ice storm!

A quick selfie with my two running buddies Traci Bear and Sherri Daniel at the Cowtown Half Marathon 2015. First race we have run right after an ice storm!

What plans do I have next? Well I am not 100% but I would like to branch out beyond my community for races. I have learned that I prefer locally run races over nationally sponsored races. I also like races that benefit local non-profit programs and organizations. It is nice to bring benefit to something while doing something good for yourself at the same time.

If you run or have runs in your area… do you have one you recommend? Please share and if you have a link share that too.

20 Years and Counting…

FullSizeRender (2)Eric and  I celebrated our 20th anniversary back in July.  We have moved to 4 different towns during that time. Had 7 different addresses, and become parents. All that moving around and child rearing can result in some friendships becoming more distant, and even lose complete contact with wonderful people.

However, there are just some people you can’t lose… no matter the how much you move around. As luck would have it, they sometimes move in the same places. The Johnson’s are those people.

FullSizeRender (4)Eric and I met Bruce and Janice the summer we were engaged to be married in Ozark, Arkansas (our first community to reside in as a married couple). Once married we attended several events at their home. Janice taught me the finer art of garage sale-ing and showed me how to “Design on a Dime” before HGTV ever thought of it as a concept for a television show. To top it all off, my first year of teaching, I taught Janice’s oldest son Cody. Our lives were intricately woven.

Fast forward five years, Eric was transferred to Waco by his employer. We loved the little town of Ozark and the people we had met. However, we were headed to a new life in a new town. We figured our interactions would be few if any with the Johnson’s and the rest of our Ozark friends.

Fast forward six years, we left Waco (with one child and another on the way) and headed to a new opportunity in Dallas/Fort Worth. Three years after that I returned to teaching at Haslet Elementary in Northwest ISD. A year later I discovered Facebook. Through a former friend still in Ozark via Facebook we learned that Janice and Bruce were living in the very town I taught in, Haslet!

FullSizeRender_4Quickly we reconnected. We have been going to most of their New Year’s Parties and other social events since then. This year was no different… except now our children have come to expect this celebratory tradition.

FullSizeRender (3)Some paths only cross for a little while, others weave back and forth and by creative design are intricately woven. That is the path that has formed between the Johnson’s and the Wilson’s.

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What paths in your life have crossed the paths of others and become a part of your intricately woven life journey?

Ice Skating and The Stockyards

Only in Fort Worth, Texas can you take your kids to ice skate and see a cattle drive all in the same day.

On the Monday before Christmas with our good friends the Bear’s, we ventured out to ice skate at the Outdoor Panther Ice Rink (yes the high temperature was in the mid-50s) and then watch the Cattle Drive in the Stockyards. We also enjoyed a delicious lunch at the one and only Joe T. Garcia’s followed by the kids trying out the life sized maze off of Exchange Avenue near the stockyards and made famous by the “Amazing Race.”

Here is a few snapshots that was compiled into a flipagram for viewing pleasure.

Look for more updates from the holiday break to be posted soon…

“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”

FullSizeRender[1]By the time the last day of school before the holiday break starts most of us are ready.¬† Some of us are so haggard with events and parties we may even exclaim “I just want to poke my eyes out!” But God gave me a Christmas Baby, and he gave me the energy, stamina and creativity, I believe, to do both the holiday activities and Embug’s birthday with equal energy and excitement.

Lucky for me, Embug loves all things Christmas and I have given extra effort to keeping her birthday special in the mix of all the holiday hullabaloo. Even though I do everything to separate the events of Christmas and her birthday, it has become a natural process to integrate the themes of the season into her birthday.  This year was no exception.

This year my biggest challenge was not to keep it special for Embug… but to make it “cool” for my blossoming Tween. We’ve tried small intimate birthday celebrations and big “on site” birthday events. Either have had their set of challenges. Most of our difficulties lie in scheduling a time when there weren’t conflicts with everyone getting to her party due to parentals having holiday events of their own.

To try to plan for the least amount of conflict we planned for the evening on the last day of school. Most parentals have had their company or neighborhood parties and kids events are over. Now we just run into those that may be headed out of town for family holiday events or vacation.

The second challenge, which is a new one for us this year, is making it appealing for both boys and girls. This is where the collaboration between myself and Embug came into play. One of Embug’s favorite movies is “A Christmas Story.” Over the course of several discussions with her friends she discovered that this was not a well-watched Christmas movie by her peers. After she got over the initial indignation of the lack of Christmas culture, an idea arose. Embug and I devised a plan to have “A Christmas Story” Themed Birthday party.

Christmas Story Invite frontChristmas Story Invite BackThis party involved PJs (footie PJs preferred), BB Gun target practice with a Red Rider BB gun, fried rice and egg rolls in honor of the Chinese Restaurant where Ralphie’s family was relegated to after the Bumpus’ hounds destroyed the Christmas turkey, and a viewing of the Cult-Acclaimed “A Christmas Story.” What tween boy or girl would not enjoy this event?

 

 

The evening arrived and there was an excited buzz in our home.¬† The fried rice and egg rolls were a FullSizeRender[1]surprising hit and the party guests couldn’t get enough of the BB gun target practice. While some didn’t have quite the artistic appreciation for the movie, Embug was content in knowing she had passed on yet another nugget of Christmas culture to her friends.

Embugs Birthday 2014FullSizeRender[1]

 

 

 

 

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While we didn’t have cake. Cake pops were all the rage with flavors of lemon, red velvet, vanilla and FullSizeRender_2[1]chocolate done in thFullSizeRender_4[1]e shapes of the “Frah-gee-lay” box, Target with the words “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”, lampshade from the “Leg Lamp Award”, and Ralphie “Bunny PJs” head.

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It was a success all the way through. I have the evidence to prove it, as over and over again Embug thanked me for a great party.

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I only have about 6 more years of birthday parties that I will be able to plan for her before she’s out on her own, and I realize that the next 6 years will probably be some of the most challenging parties to plan, but I am going to enjoy the success of this one.

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However, any and all suggestions for future parties are welcome!

Family, Football and Faith

It doesn’t happen every year, but we try as best we can to go to at least one home Razorback game in Fayetteville. With my sister now living in Farmington (a small country town near Fayetteville) and my parents in Little Rock, coming to a game is a family event, for the four of us and beyond.

We packed up the car and headed to Fayetteville this November for the last home game against Ole Miss. We drove up hopeful for a win, but the sting of loss with every home game we had been to the last few years in the back of our minds. With that the forecast was for 100% chance of rain with temperatures in the low 50s.

This was not a game for the faint-hearted. Only the committed need attend… and attend they did. Despite the rain the Hogs shutout the Ole Miss Rebels 30-0 to a nearly full Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Even better, we, as a family, were there to witness in person.

With my sister’s family and her kids with us at the game, we cheered on our Hogs with unbridled enthusiasm and joy. Being a Razorback has been a part of who I was a child, then attended the University where I received my Bachelor’s in Education. I even married a second generation Razorback.¬† The Hog blood runs deep.

It is no coincidence that are kids have aspirations to attend the University of Arkansas. While those future plans may not be realized, the memories and the love for the Razorbacks will continue. There is no doubt memories were made with this game, where this shutout with ranked Ole’ Miss was epic.

After the game on Saturday the kids went to¬† my sister’s to have cousin time, while Eric and I met up with one of my former students, Kelley Whitson and her boyfriend. We enjoyed amazing gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches at “Hammontrees.” Their homemade soups and their multitude of twists on the basic grilled cheese are incredible both in taste and creativity. After great conversation and sandwiches, we made our way down Dickson Street to check out the night life. We quickly became aware that we are no longer “night life” people. Plan B led us to our favorite college eatery, “Hugo’s.” There we had their famous grasshopper crepes. We wrapped the night with a walk on the Fayetteville Square already lit up for Christmas… complete with Christmas Razorbacks!

Hog Christmas Lights

The following day we enjoyed an early Thanksgiving dinner with my sister, her family and my parents that came up for the game from Little Rock. We had a great time reflecting on our blessings, laughing and eating delicious home-prepared food in my sister’s home. Food, family and faith… that’s what brings us together, connects us, and holds us together.¬† For that, I am thankful.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Crazy Hat Birthday Party

Kritterman wanted a crazy hat birthday party for his theme this year. ¬†Frankly it had me stumped. ¬†The first thing I did was do a full search on Pinterest. ¬†Lots of Dr. Seuss themed birthday ideas with the red white striped hat and lots or Halloween witch hat ideas… but epic fail on crazy hats. ¬†I, by nature, am not creative when it comes to an ORIGINAL idea. ¬†What I am decent at is being an #ideabandit and augmenting the idea to suit my ideas and needs.

Panic began to set in.  What am I going to do? Then it hit me.  What is the whole reason he wants a crazy hat themed party? To have fun and be silly with his friends.

So, then it was about focusing on him and his targeted goal. ¬†This involved getting his favorite cupcakes from Mugs Bakery. He doesn’t like just any cupcakes… this boy likes “Dark Chocolate Grenache Raspberry Filled Cupcakes.” Ordering sub sandwiches from the Walmart Deli (which was a deal: 6 foot long 2 meat, 1 cheese with lettuce, tomato, pickle, mustard and mayonaise for $32!), which was his request with Puff Cheetos and sliced watermelon. ¬†Finally, all I had left to plan was the main event. ¬†I decided to go with a game truck, but when I went online I discovered that they would set up a laser tag even on your property. ¬†I once again consulted the soon-to-be birthday boy what he would prefer. ¬† Hands down he chose the laser tag through a local affiliate of the Game Truck company.

My panic turned to peace.  This was going to be a great crazy hat birthday party after all.

I had Kritter fill out the invitations (post cards provided by Game Truck) and he added for every attendee to wear a crazy hat.

I did forget a few things along the way. ¬†Balloons, matching plates and napkins for cute birthday decor for whatever reason escaped my to do list. ¬†Did it ruin anything? ¬†You decide…

It turned out to be a great party. The Game Truck Laser Tag was amazing (Eric, my husband was very impressed and gave them a generous tip). ¬†Kritter loved the sub sandwiches and cupcakes. ¬†Was it a crazy hat birthday party? ¬†If you ask him, it was. ¬†Did he have a great time having fun and being silly? 100%… MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

You want proof? ¬†Here’s a video slide show capturing some of the fun:

Moral to the story: Focus on the fun, don’t stress the details and don’t let Pinterest rob your joy. ¬†Simple and silly is always better than cute and matching.

Goodbye, Dear Jan…

Today I woke.  Convinced myself that running while it was thundering outside may result in a lightning strike, and attempted to rest.  Unsuccessful, I did what many do once they wake up, check my Facebook feed.  There it was, Jan had left this world to join her Heavenly Father.  Free from cancer, sin and the other perils of this sinful world.  I must have been holding my breath, because I gasped for air and then quietly let the tears fall.

I am happy she is no longer suffering, but selfishly I want her here.

Mostly because I want the time I wasted when she was here to fix all the missed birthdays, opportunities to visit with her, and a second go around at being a better friend.  Be the friend she was to me.  I know she forgave my absent minded, busy, self-focused excuses, but now I am left with forgiving myself.

Jan was the first real friend I had when I moved to Waco.¬† From the Facebook posts I have read, I am not the only one she was the “Welcome Wagon” to Waco.¬† She was the one who brought me to a church family at Columbus Avenue, when I was struggling to find a church home.¬† As we became closer, she was my walking partner, craft/stamper partner in crime, and mentor.

Jan showed me how blessed it is to be a mother and wife.¬† She modeled how to “make” memories with her family and “make” cinnamon candy at Christmas.

  Gohring cinnamon candy Gohring friends and family

When my own mother and family were too far away for holidays and baby showers, she eagerly jumped in to provide those moments.

Gohring2 Gohring 1  Gohring couples

Christmas with Jan her Family and Eric and I

Gohring baby shower

Jan as lead hostess at my Baby Shower for my first born

Jan never missed a moment to foster, develop and deepen relationships with others.¬† She would talk with you all night and then make you pancackes in the morning… she never left a heart or tummy empty at her home.

There were very few that came in to see me when I was still in my delivery “garb” when I had Embug.¬† With her there was no question she should be there.¬† For a scared first time mom, her hugs and words of reassurance were all I needed.

Gohring Ems birth

I wish I could say I did the same for her. She was amazing.  Unlimitless love, devotion and friendship.

It was evident not only in her, but her children.  Steve(her husband) and Jan loved each other and their kids ferociously.  Their kids loved everyone around them as well.

gohring and em

Scott (Jan’s¬†youngest)¬†holding Embug under Jan’s watchful eye.

The service is Saturday.¬† It will be a tearful, yet joyful celebration of Jan’s life and her new life in Heaven.¬† I know many will miss her, I definitely will.¬† What I will mourn, though, are the moments I did not take, and the opportunities I let slip by to do as Jan did, and live a life of ferocious, intentional¬†and passionate love for others.

I am so thankful for the brief time that I had the blessing of being in Jan’s life.¬† She taught me so many lessons about motherhood, marriage, friendship and crafting, yes, crafting.

On Saturday, Jan’s family has asked us to bring purple handmade cards with our sentiments inside.¬† I have been hanging on to the one below for some time… card gohring

Why? I am not sure.¬† I wish I had already sent it to her and had no purple card, but had to make a new one.¬† I have some time to think about what I will write inside, but as of now… I have no idea what to say.¬† I just keep thinking of what should have been said before¬†my dear friend Jan¬†was no longer here.

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