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Gift Guide for Star Wars Lovers & Gamers

The Child Animated Character | The Light Saber Collection | 3D Illusion Star Wars Night Light | The Child Plush | LEGO Advent Calendar | 5 pc. Bamboo Kitchen Utensil Set | R2D2 Popcorn Maker | Millennium Falcon Waffle Maker

*This post contains affiliate links where I make a small commission on qualified purchases at no cost to you. For full disclosure, read here.

Headstand with USB Charger | Blue Light Blocking Glasses | Throw Throw Burrito Board Game | Pokemon Battle Academy | I Paused My Game Hoodie | Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Controller

Got a Star Wars fan or a game enthusiast living in your house? I have both! We love family game nights and curling up to watch a Star Wars movie. Here are some great gift ideas for every age and stage of fandom. Some of these gift ideas may have come straight from my family’s wish list.

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of The Whatever Mom. Her family is totally into Star Wars for the special effects and laser beams.

Perfection Is Not a Place To Live

The other morning was really rough. My kids didn’t want to get out of bed and I was getting really impatient. I may have blown my top once or twice and barked some commands. Of course I always feel like a jerk after. In my defense motivating my one daughter out of bed in the morning can take up most of our morning routine. When she wakes up in a grumpy mood it makes the morning even harder.

What made this particular morning so rough was during our heated exchange she shouted back at me, “you just want everything to be perfect!” It literally caught me off guard. My kids can tell me they hate me and it rolls right off my back, but this hurt. I think it hurt because I work really hard to let go of expecting things to be perfect or pushing things to be perfect. I mean I only write a blog about letting go of perfection, so I MUST be an expert already right?

But she is right. Old habits die hard. I can’t escape how I am hard wired to be any more than she can escape her hatred of mornings. We have several home projects that need to be finished before winter; I have a house to manage and a few blogs to write each week, plus all that pesky meal planning and laundry to do. I try to stick to segmenting my time for each thing I need to manage. As a result I can seem a bit like a drill sergeant because I EXPECT this will get done in the exact amount of time I have allotted for it. That would be a symptom of perfection by the way.

If only life were that neat and tidy.

Last night I decided to loosen the reins a bit with our evening routine. I am also exhausted from the constant running around and finishing things, so I called it a make your own sandwich night for dinner, which seemed to make everyone happy. I know I was happy to not spend my time cooking something no one would eat! Then we put on some tunes and chatted through dinner.

After dinner my husband agreed to make the lunches while I sat down to play a board game with the kids. I am always rushing to make lunches and getting two kids showered – usually at the same time. So getting to take a break from that was simply amazing. My girls and I spent 30 minutes rolling in laughter because we just caught a case of the sillies. And it was exactly what we needed. You can’t script those moments and when my kids look back on their childhood they will remember it wasn’t perfect, but it did have perfect moments like this.

The night time routine was a little easier, no one kept fighting for more attention and both kids drifted off to sleep easier. Best of all there was zero yelling in the morning before school. It seems unplugging from the race to keep everything in order and on time was exactly what I needed to do. I can’t say I won’t get caught up in it again, because I am hard wired with a drive for perfection. But maybe now I can recognize it sooner and let go of it much quicker. That’s always my goal anyway.

It’s funny how when I think I’ve got this perfection thing licked, or under control, my kid will make sure to remind me that I’ve gone off the rails. Thanks for keeping me on track kid, and thanks for helping mommy grow!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents.  

11 Secret Sister Gifts $10 or Less

  • This post contains affiliate links where I make a small commission on qualified purchases at no cost to you. For full disclosure, read here.

A few years ago, a friend invited me to participate in a secret sister gift exchange. That’s where you sign up to send one gift to one other woman and you are supposed to receive 36 in return. Almost everyone worried it was a scam and backed out, but before that I received a couple of great gifts, not the intended 36 that the gift exchange boasts. Which if you do the math, it does not equal 36 gifts. But it is fun to send off (and receive) some good cheer!

This year I have been invited to at least a dozen of these secret sister gift exchanges. No one is worried it’s a scam anymore and it is pretty safe to do among friends and friends of friends on Facebook.

So, if you are wondering what to include in your gifting, I created list of affordable gift ideas for $10 or less. You can ship directly to your secret sister today!

100 Inspirational quote Cards | A fun wine glass | Bath bombs or shower soothers | Cozy Christmas socks | Christmas ornament | Holiday kitchen towels | Hand sanitizer | Stationary with a really nice pen | Amazon gift card | Warm gloves | Gratitude Sticky Notes

These are all easy, allergy friendly ideas. You won’t have to worry about personal diets, food sensitivities, alcohol/coffee preferences. They are super cute and easy to pair with other embellishments. The best part of this gift exchange is how much fun it is! So, keep spreading the joy!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of the The Whatever Mom. Her mission is to help other parents let go of perfection and embrace the messier parts of parenting.

Picky Eater Solutions: How to Minimize the Fight

Many of you know by now, I have two very picky eaters. There was a day I could feed them anything without a problem. Suddenly, they decided food wasn’t exciting anymore. They began limiting themselves to the familiar favorites of macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.

Before kids, I was not a meal planner nor spent hours prepping ahead. I love the joy of cooking and spontaneously creating a meal from ingredients I’ve tossed together. I love sampling the food combos I’ve dreamed up. Unless it is made entirely of cheese, my kids could care less about my craftiness in the kitchen. So, over the years I’ve learned to push passed my frustration with their picky habits. I’ve realized the main focus is getting food into the belly. Not just any food, but nutritious food. So, how do I get nutritious food into such picky eaters? Here are some lessons I’ve learned over the years.

1. PICK YOUR BATTLES: If you are tired of missing out on meals because your entire time is spent fighting a kid to eat, let it go. If that means prepping a smaller side dish that your kid will eat, then do it if it works for you. To me that is easier than missing my own meal to focus on a battle I am not going to win. I let my kids eat boxed mac and cheese and stir in a couple spoonful’s of squash or cauliflower puree. It makes them happy to eat what they love and it makes me happy they are getting extra nutrition.

I like this hidden veggie mac and cheese recipe from My Fussy Eater.

2. FOCUS ON NUTRITION: Often as parents we get caught up in subscribing to the clean plate club. But this doesn’t help kids understand their hunger cues. Portion sizes vary widely for kids, some enjoy larger portions than others. I try to make sure what I am serving is so packed with nutrition that even if they take two bites, it counts for something. I have become the queen of concealing veggies in my kids’ favorite foods.

My picky eaters don’t even notice the spinach in these Secret Ingredient Pistachio Muffins from Making Thyme for Health.

3. GET THEM INVOVLED WITH FOOD: My kids may turn their noses up to sitting at a table with a full meal before them, but they will nibble all day long on familiar favorites. I encourage them to make their own foods by putting out a sandwich bar or a “picky” tray filled with proteins and nourishment like cold cuts, devilled eggs, hummus and veggies, fruit and dip, etc. It makes things easier for me and we all win when our bellies are full.

Related post: Moms to Kids Everywhere, Make Your Own Damned Sandwiches

4. CHANGE THE WAY YOU CELEBRATE WITH FOOD: Before kids, the only meal planning I did was around the holidays. I created a menu combining my and my husbands favorites from childhood. All I had to do was pull out the recipes and go shopping. But my kids really aren’t into stuffing and Ambrosia Salad. If your kid isn’t into your favorite holiday meals, move your celebration to the meal they love the most. Make a special breakfast, or lunch and enjoy a less stressful experience. You can still enjoy the traditional foods you love at dinner and let them eat smaller portions or something they will stay at the table for. Memories of being at the table together without a war will mean more to them in the future than whether or not they finished the dreaded peas.

We make this Dublin Coddle for St. Patrick’s Day from Fit Slow Cooker Queen. My kids just pick out the parts they will eat.

5. USE COMPASSION: Some kids have anxiety around food, or sensory disorders, they will stick to the foods they know are familiar. Ultimately, it was this discovery in my own kids that made it easier to accept there are times I need to make two different dinners. The old school technique of forcing kids to eat, DOES NOT work for kids with anxiety, or sensory issues. It only forces them to become more rigid with their choices. It can really do more harm than good.

Learn More at Anxious Toddler.

Do you have a picky eater? How do you plan for meals?

The Coffee Cleanse I’d Rather Forget

This post contains affiliate links. If you use to make a purchase, I make a small commission.

Let me tell you about that time I tried to replace my morning coffee with a hot lemon water cleanse. Not only did it make me dizzy and exhausted, but I literally forgot I have children. (Disclaimer: No children were harmed during this cleansing process).

Several weeks ago, I was feeling tired and run down and I thought my coffee addiction might be the culprit of my insomnia. I read article after article with cures and tinctures when I landed on an article written by an “expert,” that suggested coffee was messing with my blood sugar and cortisol levels (that’s a stress hormone). This expert also suggested removing coffee and replacing it with hot lemon water every morning for “increased energy and vitality.”  

It was all lies.

The first day I was tired, but I made it through my day convinced this little coffee detox might just work.

The second day, I was so tired I fell asleep around 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon. I woke up two hours later completely unaware that I had dozed off.

The third day, I was yawning so much, tears were streaming down my face. It looked like I was crying for help and I could barely keep my head up. I finally took a nap.

The fourth day, I was driving along minding my own business and enjoying some tunes when I heard my kid from the backseat yell out how much she LOVES this song! I freaked out! I completely forgot I had a child in the car with me. I forgot I was the parent on duty! That’s how foggy my brain had become after just 4 days without coffee!

The fifth day, I gave up. I brewed a pot of coffee first thing in the morning and drank it fat. My energy returned and the brain fog lifted. I could remember words and I knew where my kids were the whole day.

Click photo to be redirected to Reverie Coffee

I had no idea how much my brain function depends on caffeine.  My morning coffee is literally the fluid holding my mind and body connection together. A mom who runs on coffee. Shocking right? I was supposed to replace my morning coffee with hot lemon water for 14 days. I bailed on day 5 and I jumped back on the coffee wagon.

Right when I jumped back on that wagon, I discovered a small coffee roasting company and sampled some of their flavored coffees. I tried three flavors, Dark Chocolate Cherry, French Toast and Maple Bacon. MAPLE. BACON. (Do I even need to tell you how good this is?). You could say, this is the coffee that saved me.

Maple Bacon colab w/ Soukup Farms

I have tried A LOT of fancy syrups and creamers in my coffee, but I am always disappointed because I end up with a chemical after taste, or a bad reaction to the amount of sugar or additives. All three of these delicious flavors are gluten and dairy free, vegan and no sugar added, yet very flavorful. Even my 9-year-old was sipping off my morning brew and telling me how good it is.

After poking around the website, I find that Reverie Coffee is a woman owned business, the coffee is roasted in small batches and they partner with local charities each moth to give back. It is 100% arabica beans that are sustainably grown. It checks off the boxes that make me feel better about a product. And did I mention it tastes really good?

In fact, I love it so much I asked for a reader discount for all of you to give it a try! Go to Take Me to Reverie fill your cart and use code WHATEVERMOM for 20% off your order! If you love the coffee you ordered, there is a subscription service available. That means the magic beans just show up at your door without you having to remember to order them!

If you love (and depend on) coffee as much as I do, you are going to LOVE Reverie coffee!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, freelance writer and certified coffee addict. She will stop at nothing to find the perfect soothing cup of coffee to start her morning.

Tips for a Sensory Friendly Halloween

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Halloween can be overwhelming to anyone with sensory processing disorder (SPD). If you haven’t heard of this particular disorder before, you are not alone. Most people do not know what it is until their own child is diagnosed. The difficulty is that even with a diagnosis, you as a parent may struggle to understand your child’s sensory triggers.

According to the website Understood.org, children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) “may be oversensitive or undersensitive to the world around them. When the brain receives information, it gives meaning to even the smallest bits of information. Keeping all that information organized and responding appropriately is challenging for them.”

Some kids never notice the feeling of a tag inside their shirt, or the seam inside their socks. But there are kids who are so distracted by this sensation that they can cry or scream, or even become aggressive. One in twenty children live with some varying degree of sensory processing disorder. Navigating daily life can be a struggle, let alone while wearing an itchy costume in a crowded, loud setting.

After speaking with other moms whose kiddos have SPD, I can share some really great tips. The most important thing is, do not force your child beyond their limits. Halloween activities are for their enjoyment and it is OK to let them enjoy activities in their own way. If your child can only handle wearing a small piece of their costume, or no costume at all, let that be enough.

PRO MOM TIPS

  • Select a costume that is mask free, or does not require face paint.
  • Let your kids use their own familiar clothing as part of their costume to help them enjoy dressing up.
  • For kids with auditory sensory issues, using noise cancelling headphones works great.
  • For kids who are sensitive to bright lights, start your trick or treat night as early as possible and take advantage of the day light.
  • If your child tires easily map out a short route, or bring along a wagon to let them take a break. And again, it’s OK if you cut your time short and head back home early.
  • Skip the costumes and make your kiddo feel included with fun family coordinated themed set of t-shirts. Use a small, personalization business like Mom Squad Creations to print up your matching shirts and you’ll be ready to head out together.

PRO TIPS

  • Avoid a meltdown by keeping your child informed of timing of events.
  • Host a small gathering in your home for your child’s comfort.
  • Trick or treat on streets with sidewalks to lesson anxiety.
  • Get creative in how your child participates. Nothing is set in stone. Instead of bobbing for apples, maybe your child can stack apples in a bucket.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Being a parent of a child with sensory issues can feel overwhelming, but imagine being the child who is struggling to process so much sensory information at once. It can provoke a lot of anxiety not knowing what is happening next.
  • Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Gina Bergdall suggests allowing your child to carry a fidget toy. This will allow them a constructive “place to focus their anxiety on.” Bergdall also shares these tips provided by the American Occupational Therapy Association. 
  • Pick only a few places to trick or treat and review that plan with your child before hand so they know what to expect.

If your child is overly sensitive to crowds or noises, there are no rules mandating they go trick or treating. You can make some really amazing traditions right at home. Bake and decorate treats, have a fun meal together, or make some popcorn and settle in for a movie. There is no wrong way to participate in Halloween! 

If this Halloween looks different than the way other families are celebrating, that’s OK. Embrace your unique traditions! If your child is comfortable at home watching Halloween specials and eating popcorn, join them! Deciding to follow their lead helps them feel capable and less stressed.

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. Her spookiest Halloween decoration is an empty coffee pot. *shudder*

Get Ready for the Tooth Fairy with These Easy DIY Tooth Fairy Giving Bags

diytooth-fairy-bags
Post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission if you purchase through the links.

Would you believe me if I told you that I used to work as a craft blogger? True story! Someone paid me to share the really lazy crafts I made each week with my kids. Turns out moms want easy crafts, preferably without glitter. And there are some moms who can’t resist a cute DIY.

I shared in my moms only group this week that I use these simple little DIY baggies to automate our tooth fairy giving. I made six at once and I keep 4 of the baggies pre-filled at all times so the tooth fairy never misses a stop! The other 2 bags I leave empty, one for each kiddo to collect their fallen teeth and leave under the pillow. Once they are asleep, I just swap out for the pre-filled baggie.

This system has worked for me for several years. It especially came in handy during the COVID quarantine when businesses closed. I couldn’t get the usual chocolate coins, or the gold dollar coin our tooth fairy traditionally leaves behind. Thankfully, I was already ahead of myself with this easy system. You can read my original post here, or scroll below for the step by step directions.

tooth-fairy-bags

Here’s what you’ll need: (Makes 4 bags)

6 Medium organza gift bags (you can find at the dollar store)

1 Piece of white felt

Download a tooth shape to trace

12 Googly eyes

School glue

8 inches of string or yarn

Wax paper

*Optional pink paint for rosy cheeks

I found the tooth shape online and printed it out to trace and cut the felt shapes for all six bags.

To make the face, I cut the string into two inch pieces and glued to the felt, next I glued on the eyes. If you’d like cute little pink cheeks, dip a pencil eraser, small dowel, or the end of a round paint brush  (whatever you have on hand) into the pink paint and apply at the ends of the smile. Allow time for the glue to dry before attaching the tooth shape to the bag.

Since you are working with an organza bag the glue will seep through and make a mess. If you cut a small square of wax paper to fit inside the bag it will keep the glue from sealing the bag closed.

Begin by inserting the wax paper into the bag before applying the felt shaped tooth. Once the tooth is on the baggie, wait a few minutes before removing the wax paper. Then, hang the open bag to dry. You can leave it at the end of a chopstick, a pencil or paint brush to keep the bag open while it dries. Allow the glue to dry overnight and before filling with treats.

We fill our bags with one gold dollar coin and five chocolate coins. Nothing fancy. I have heard of parents giving their kids $5 per tooth, or $20 for the first tooth and some parents put together an entire basket of gifts. Whatever works. I just know that having twins means double the magic and double the tooth fairy money. So keeping some pre-filled bags between payouts means I won’t be caught off guard the night a tooth falls out.

Do you go all out for the tooth fairy, or do you keep it simple?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She likes to keep expectations low by avoiding craft projects that involve any real crafting. Follow along with her daily posts on Facebook.

6 Easy Trick or Treat Alternatives

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This year, trick or treat may look and feel a bit different. Many parents are rethinking ways to enjoy the candy filled spooky season without creating a super spreader event. Even my own family is working on a COVID friendly treat distribution. But, what if you aren’t totally feeling the traditional walking door to door for candy?

Here are 6 easy alternatives to trick our treating:

CANDY HUNT

Make the kids work a little harder this year for their stash of candy. Hide some clues around the back yard that will lead them to a mega trove of treats.

GLOW IN THE DARK CANDY HUNT

Put a few treats in a clear bag and add in one glow stick. Hide the treat bags in the back yard after dark (or around the house and turn off the lights). Turn on the spooky sounds and let the kids follow the light for their Halloween sweets.

DRIVE BY TRICK OR TREAT

This is especially great if you live in a more remote area and normally do not get a lot of trick or treaters. Set up a table of pre-packaged, store bought treats and invite your friends to drive by to pick up a treat from you personally. It’s like the birthday parades that were fashionable in the spring, only everyone else gets a take home treat.

HOLIDAY DRIVE BY

If trick or treat is completely banned in your area, you can provide a little eye candy for passersby. Decorate the yard with lights and spooky décor. Encourage folks to drive by to take in the sights.

HOST A VIRTUAL PARTY

If social distance is keeping you apart from friends and loved ones, dial up a Zoom conference to create a virtual Halloween party! Put together a fun “scare package” of crafts and treats to drop off at someone’s door before meeting on Zoom. Then, kids can show off their costumes, craft together and turn up some Halloween tunes for a dance off.

HOST A SOCIALLY DISTANT PARTY

If you have a yard or park area large enough for kids to stay spread out and stay at a healthy distance away from each other, there’s no harm in hosting. Keep it small, encourage masks and hand out prepackaged treats. It’s really smart to stay cautious, so no one will hold it against you if you take temps or offer hand sanitizer at the event. A lot of kids are struggling right now without in-person social connections. This will definitely keep the traditional Halloween fun alive and give kids a little boost of joy.

Are you changing the way you trick or treat on Halloween? I’d love to know how!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She writes about the challenges in her motherhood, like how to keep her kids at a socially acceptable distance while trying to work from home.

Halloween Recipe Round up

Halloween is a fun tradition for many families, including my own. My kids are always excited to show off their costumes to our closest neighbors and spend time walking door to door with their friends. But before we head out, I want to make sure their tummies are full and they have enough energy to make it through the neighborhood.

I’ve rounded up some of our quickest and most favorite Halloween dinner ideas. When my kids were just toddlers, these fun recipes were also a fun holiday themed activity and eating our creepy morsels was part of the fun.

MUMMY DOGS from Home Made Interest are super easy and super fun!

Mummy Dogs is an easy Halloween recipe

MUMMY PIZZA from “Cents”able Mama uses store bought ingredients to make this fun dinner fast!

BAKED QUESADILLAS from That Fit Fam are perfect for your little cheese lover! Serve with some carrot sticks or an apple sauce pouch for a quick meal before heading out the door.

Halloween shaped baked quesadillas

SWEET AND SOUR BAT WINGS from Sprinkles and Sprouts. How spooky are these?? Marinate overnight in the fridge and put in the oven in time for your pre-treat dinner.

close up on the wing tip of a black chicken wing on a grey plate

If you have time to make all of these at once you’ll have a variety of fun things to offer the kids before heading out for candy. We usually don’t serve a dessert since we know we are going to eat a bunch of candy as soon as we get home. Happy treating!

What’s your favorite Halloween recipe to make?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She spends most of her time making food her kids won’t eat and fantasizing about how a beach vacation where naps are required. You can find her at The Whatever Mom on Facebook and on Instagram. For more recipe ideas, follow her on Pinterest.

Creating a Healthy Home Fragrance for Fall

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Before kids I had a major candle addiction that typically peaked as the Fall season began. I love all the scents of autumn and anything with a warm cinnamon or a hearty clove smell had to be in my collection. Those famous little spices warm my home and soul as the temperature begins to drop. Once I had babies, I learned how unhealthy burning candles can be for indoor air quality, not to mention how anxious I felt leaving an open flame for tiny exploring hands to find. Since then, I’ve discovered healthier ways to bring those seasonal scents into my home without all the toxins and worry.

Here are my favorite ways to bring the smell off fall safely into my home:

Oil diffuse

ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSER

You can use an electric oil diffuser without any worry of heat, flame or burning. Simply fill the with water and add in a few drops of your favorite essential oil. One of my favorites to diffuse during the fall and winter months is Germ Away Organic Essential Oil Blend by Three Sister’s Herbals. The antiviral properties of thieves oil help purify the air and won’t leave behind toxic chemicals. Plus, it is made with clove and cinnamon, two traditional fall scents. I also love to use it in my ceramic wax warmer. I add one TBSP of coconut oil ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 5-10 drops of Germ Away Oil. The light of the tealight candle adds ambiance and warmth as it diffuses the protective elements of thieves oil into the air. You can use this same recipe in an electric wax warmer to avoid the open flame around little ones. Be sure to keep it far enough out of reach the kiddos can’t pull it down.

I also use the Germ Away Hand and Surface Essential Oil spray to wipe down high touch surfaces like light switches, doorknobs, faucet handles and countertops. It safely adds a scent of fall to my home while keeping germs at bay. And because it safe to use around babies and animals, I can hand this job off to one of the kiddos without any worries.

LIGHT A FIRE

Nothing feels warmer or more soothing in the fall than a crackling fire. Unfortunately, I do not have a fireplace in my home, but I have found a way to recreate the scent and feel of a warm fire, without an actual fire. A friend of mine gifted me Palo Santo sticks to burn like incense in my home. The scent made by this tiny stick of wood is as comforting as any fire. Simply light it, let it burn for 30 seconds before blowing it out and leaving to sit in a fire safe dish (I use a ceramic saucer). This burns cleaner than store bought incense which can be full of chemicals and respiratory irritants, plus there is no open flame to worry about. You can use other wood sticks like cedar, hickory, and pine to fill your home with that feeling and scent of a warm fire.

DRINK TEA

I find that a simple cup of chai tea (which uses cinnamon and cardamom) elicits a feeling of warmth and coziness. Other flavors I love are cinnamon apple, pumpkin spice, citrus and cinnamon spice, and cranberry. The health benefits of drinking tea are well documented but stopping long enough to enjoy a cup of tea is a great way to relax. Simply allowing your tea to steep a few minutes before drinking will surround you with a familiar fall fragrance.

How do you fill your home with the smells of the season?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, coffee addict and freelance writer. She will write about almost anything you want her to for a small fee. Just check out her about me section to find out how to hire her.

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