About Me

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I am a Catholic wife and mother living in western New York State.

Meet the Family

  • DoorMan - Husband and Dad, extremely talented garage door guy
  • B - budding new media evangelist, avid reader, soccer lover, boy age 14
  • B - karate white belt and lover of Legos, boy age 8
  • MAB - me: wife, mom, homemaker, and more


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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Saints Meme

By now, you all know how much I love good memes. So, here goes:

1.First Saint you "met"?
St. Therese of Lisieux

2. Favorite Saint(s)?
Too many to list them all: The Blessed Mother, St. Anne, St. Therese, St. Bernard, St. Dermot, St. Jerome, St. Robert of Salzberg, St. William the Great, St. Patrick, St. John the Baptist.

3. Patron saint for the year?
Oops, I don't have one. Let's say... St. Francis, who seems to be a favorite of my boys.

4. Favorite book by a saint?
Story of a Soul by St. Therese

5. Saint book you are reading now?
A Treasured Love Story by Ven. Fulton Sheen (about St. Therese)

6. Favorite movie of a saint?
A Man for All Seasons

7. Favorite Autobiography/Biography of a saint?
Story of a Soul by St. Therese

8. Favorite novel/book of a saint?
Walled in Light (about St. Collette)

9. Saint (besides your favorites) you'd want to meet?
St. Thomas More, St. Cecilia, Bl. Teresa of Calcutta (I came close there)

10. Saint you look to for help?
St. Joseph and St. Anthony and St. Jude and St. Gerard

11.Favorite saint quote?
“Good folk find this indeed, that when they be at the divine service in the church, the more devoutly that they see such godly ceremonies observed, and the more solemnity that they see therein, the more devotion feel they themselves therewith in their own souls.”

-- St. Thomas More

12. Favorite Holy Card?
Too, too many to list them all. I do have the St. Gerard holy card my mother had when she was praying to have children. We both suffered from various forms of infertility, so it's gotten a lot of mileage. Luckily it is laminated!

13. Favorite story of a saint?
Good King Wenceslaus by Mary Reed Newland

14. If you could go anywhere on a pilgrimage to a saint's homeland, where would it be?

15. Any Blesseds or Venerables that you would like to become canonized?
Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
Ven. John Paul II
Ven. Loius Martin
Ven. Zelie Martin
Ven. Nelson Baker
Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman
Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha
Ven. Fulton Sheen

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Paper or Plastic Meme

If you HAD to choose one or the other would you choose...

1. Thai or Mexican

2. Bubble bath or back massage
Bubble bath

3. Boots or sandals

4. The 90% "pro-life" good chance or the 100% pro-life long shot?
The 100% long-shot. If we ALL chose him, he wouldn't BE a long-shot.

5. A cruise ship or a mountain cabin
Cruise ship

6. Rome or Paris

7. Ordinary or Extraordinary

8. Rosary or Stations

9. Surf or hang glide

10. Regal Cinemas or Netflix

11. Sweet or salty

12. Pen or pencil

13. How-to book or fantasy novel

14. Crossword or sudoku

15. Lose a leg or lose your sight

16. North or South

17. A power outage at home or a dead car battery at Costco
Power outage

18. Classic rock or country
Classic rock

19. Wool or linen

20. Lots of good friends or a few great friends
A few great friends

21. Soup or salad

22. Merlot or Chardonnay

23. Picasso or Da Vinci
Da Vinci

24. Charades or trivial pursuit
Trivial Pursuit

25. Evangelical Protestantism or Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judiasm

26. Stone age or dark age
Dark age

27. Steven Spielberg or Ken Burns

28. Thermopylae or Alamo

29. Big Foot or Loch Ness Monster
Loch Ness Monster

30. Babies or teenagers

31. Paper or Plastic?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Aquarium of Niagara

We had a field trip with another homeschooling family to the Aquarium of Niagara. It is a small aquarium and we were able to see it all, including the sea lion show, in about ninety minutes. Great fun was had by all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pro-Life Day

We will be celebrating Pro-Life Day here at home by:

  • Watching the EWTN coverage of the March for Life from DC (on streaming video over the internet: we don't have cable TV)
  • Reading Umbert the Unborn by Gary Cangemi
  • Observing today as a Day of Penance as requested by our bishops
  • Lighting a candle tonight at dinner in remembrance of the unborn
How are you observing this day in your homes?

  • Arch decided to make his own pro-life sign, like the marchers on TV. Of course, BamBam had to have one, too.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What Privileges Do You Have? Meme

From What Privileges Do You Have?, based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.)

Bold the true statements.

1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college (Associates Degree)
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor (not as a child, though)
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
9. Were read children's books by a parent
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18.
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
16. Went to a private high school
17. Went to summer camp
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18. No, but I was a private math tutor while still in high school.
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
25. You had your own room as a child.
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
31. Went on a cruise with your family
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

Friday, January 18, 2008

My Price Book

At the beginning of every year I reevaluate my household budget. I try to estimate each of our expenses by category, and plan to stay within a reasonable monthly amount for a family of four. I only "pay" myself once a month. That is, I transfer money from DoorMan's business account and / or the saving account, into the account that I pay the ordinary expenses from. I am trying to reduce the amount of money I transfer in each month.

So it is at this time of the year that I generally break out my Price Book. I give full credit for the idea and format of my book to The Tightwad Gazette. I started my book back in 1997. Since then, I have pulled it out from time to time, used it once or twice, and put it away again. The last time I made entries was last January.

But now I am once again on a budget bender. On top of that, I am trying to eat healthier, make more things from scratch. And I am determined to reduce that darned grocery line on the budget. So today I brought it with me to the store, and used it! If I saw a sale, I looked it up to see if it was really a good price. I also noted down the price of real maple syrup (which I love - $13.69 a quart), so if we go maple sugaring in March, I can tell if syrup at the farm is a good value or not.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That Meme

HT Elizabeth.

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE ? The Blessed Mother, and her mother, Saint Anne.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? At Mass on January 1.











13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Strawberry (homemade in June).


15. RED OR PINK? Pink.



18. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? None! (See, I only wear skirts, and I don't wear shoes in the house.)

19. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Fresh-baked French bread with (real) butter, and Gingerbread Spice tea.

20. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? BamBam babbling on while he plays with his trucks at the table next to me.





25. HAIR COLOR? Brown.

26. EYE COLOR? Hazel.


28. FAVORITE FOOD? One? New York pizza. The actual real stuff, from New York.

29. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy endings, like Jane Austen's trademark "weddings all around."

30. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Persuasion on Masterpiece last Sunday.

31. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Green turtleneck with a purple sweater.



34. FAVORITE DESSERT? New York cheesecake (are you sensing a New York thing?)

35. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? We and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland.

36. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Laptops don't have mousepads.

37. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST NIGHT? I haven't watched broadcast TV since Sunday night (see #30, above).

38. FAVORITE SOUNDS? The Ave Maria (Schubert's) beautifully sung.

39. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Back in my rocker days, yes! Not anymore.



42. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Woodside, Queens, New York (aha!)

The Lovliness of Planning Fair...

... is up at Plainsong.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Personal Litany of Saints Meme

A list of the saints I regularly invoke (HT Robert).

  • Blessed Mother (especially under the titles of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Czestochowa)
  • St. Anne
  • St. Therese
  • St. Bernard
  • St. Stanislaus
  • St. Francis
  • St. Peter
  • St. Robert of Salzburg
  • St. John
  • St. Patrick
  • St. William the Great
  • St. Jerome
  • St. Rose of Lima
  • St. Pio of Pietrelcina
  • St. Dermot
  • St. Michael the Archangel
  • St. Gabriel the Archangel
  • St. Christopher

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


My family tree is one of my newer hobbies. I enjoy pouring over old documents and tracing our ancestors. Last year, I entered most of our family tree on Ancesrty.com. Well, this week I discovered a long-lost cousin, through Ancestry. She is actually a third cousin, and it was really she that discovered me. We share the same great-great-grandparents. We have emailed information back and forth. I have learned some information and was able to confirm some for her. She had actually met my grandmother, and been to her home years ago.

So, I am thinking of a genealogy theme, possible during the Easter recess. Arch has expressed and interest in the family tree, and I can have him write letters to all of the aunts and uncles asking for information.

The Strike Is Over

Actually, it didn't last much past lunch. Especially when DoorMan came home early and explained that there would be no rides to soccer, Blue Knights or homeschool co-op. About the only thing in walking distance for Arch is church, so he could still serve Mass, but he would have to walk in the cold.

And, you know, the next day was one of the most enjoyable days in memory. Everyone cooperated, and school work was done and we enjoyed a nature walk in the January Thaw.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Home Management Binder, Part III

Continuing where we left off last week..... Ah, the Lists tab. Some of you will say that it is crazy to have a tab for all of my lists. They should be filed in the appropriate sections. But that's not how I think. If it is a list, I put it here, unless it is really, really more functional elsewhere. Most of my lists are here. What are they?

  • List of Demands from my striking children. It's right up front so I can show it to DoorMan later.
  • Curricula 2008 - 2009 (my working list of homeschool resources for next school year)
  • Shopping List
  • Pantry List (a list of EVERYTHING I should have in my pantry / freezer)
  • Budget 2008
  • Reading Challenge Booklist
That's it. That's about all I have in my binder so far. The next tab is for Rooms, which is going to have a page for each room. I will be working on that this week. The rest of the tabs I am not happy with (name-wise) and they are mostly empty.

Thanks for coming on the tour!

On Strike

My children informed me that they have gone on strike.

Not really BamBam, because he is only three, and parrots back what Arch says. And he doesn't really have any chores anyway.

Arch informed me that he will no longer be doing his chores until his demands are met. What are they, you ask? Here we go:

  • Bedtime at 8:00 pm is too early
  • They do not want to clean up one toy before getting out another
  • They want to watch movies that their friends saw, which we will not allow
  • They want an equal vote in family matters
Now, I am proud to say that I did not bat an eye at this. I asked Arch to bring me the Baltimore Catechism, and I read to him the section on the fourth commandment.

"But, still ....." and on he went.

So, I noted down the list of demands, and calmly informed him that I would not prepare him any more meals until the end of the strike.

Right now, they are playing in their room. We'll see what happend when they get hungry.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

O, Planetary Convergence of Wonder?

In today's homily, Father ---- said that the Star of Bethlehem was no more than what astronomers believe now to be a convergence of two planets in the heavens.

Excuse me? And these planets lit up the whole sky, and moved and settled over a stable?

Why do people feel so compelled to attempt to ruin the wonder and awe of miracles with weak explanations of their "natural causes?"

Friday, January 04, 2008

Snow Unit

I'm in the mood for snow! Otherwise known as: if you can't beat it, learn from it. I am putting together a unit for us on snow this month. I have taken inspiration from the Snowflake Bentley unit at Home School Share. But, we won't be making a lapbook, and I've expanded it to include January weather as well. As I've said before, I like things just so.

Here are the books we checked out today for the unit. The temps are frigid here now, but we're having a warm-up next week, so we may cover the January Thaw first.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Home Management Binder, Part II

I know you are all on the edge of your seat to find out what is on the reverse of my weekly planner sheet. It is my menu plan for the week. Brilliant, I know. It is great to be able to just flip the page to see what I am supposed to be cooking. I designed the sheet myself, also in Word. It is basically a grid five columns wide by seven high. The left-most column has the names of the days of the week. Underneath, in teeny, tiny print are boxes for me to check off exchanges for what I eat. The rest of the columns are labeled Breakfast, Lunch, Tea and Dinner. And I just fill in the grid while I make my grocery list.

Today's menu:


  • Cereal
  • Bananas
  • Milk
  • Coffee
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Applesauce
  • Milk
  • Tea
  • Leftover goodies (Christmas cookies, cinnamon buns, etc.)
  • Polish sausage
  • Parsnips
  • Baked potatoes
  • Milk
  • Water
Now, I have one of these two-sided weekly sheets done up through the end of January. I'll do February's probably the last week of January.

Right after my current weekly sheet I have the boys' weekly homeschool record sheets. I take just the current sheet from each of their binders, so I have them easily at hand to make notes on as we go through the day. No more shuffling their binders open and closed all day. Anything to be filed I put in my calendar divider pocket and file at the end of the day (as part of my Afternoon Routine). Once again I am using forms from the prodigious Donna Young.

As an aside, for those of you interested in such things, I do not have a written lesson plan this year for Arch (grade 4). I have had them in the past, and they are a lot of work upfront, and I felt they quashed our spontaneity. So I am filling in the planning grid as we go. For BamBam, he is only three and I just note down any books he reads or art projects, etc. we do.

Back to the planner, after the two current homeschool record sheets, and the future weekly planner sheets, come the rest of the monthly dividers, waiting to be filled. That brings us to the end of the Calendar section.

The next section contains my Routines. The most important sheet is on top, laminated for durability. It contains my ten daily routines in detail. I formatted it to fit all on one page in Word, using three columns. The ten routines are:
  1. Morning
  2. Lauds
  3. Children's Morning
  4. Kitchen Morning
  5. Afternoon
  6. Vespers
  7. Children's Evening
  8. Kitchen Evening
  9. Bedtime
  10. Compline
I refer to this all day long. It is important that it is right behind the "Routines" tab and easy to open to.

Behind this, I have a laminated copy of my boys' morning and evening routines. The original is posted on the white board in the dining room. It is a detail of what they should accomplish at the beginning and end of the day. Arch has a few chores (making beds, recyclables, carpet sweeping) which he should do without being reminded. The rest of it is prayers, hygiene, dressing.

Next is an overview of what our day (mine and the boys') should look like, with approximate times for general things. I looked at scheduling my life ala MOTH or A Mother's Rule of Life. Those clock-intensive systems overwhelm me and I get discouraged. But, I do see the value of having just a one sheet summary of what we could be doing when.

The next page is Arch's daily schedule by subject. This is one area where being time-sensitive is important, or else subjects can get out of control. It lists which subjects we should be covering when. We do not stick to this unbendingly. If we are done with grammar at 9:30 instead of 9:45, we move on. I do try not to go over the allotted time for each subject without a good reason. This schedule keeps us on course. I have some notes for BamBam on the right of the page. But, again, he is only three. We do not stick to anything with him. I got the ideas for the class times on it from Mater Amabilis.

And so we have reached the end of the Routines tab. Fun stuff, huh? You'll have to check in tomorrow for the exciting chapter on my Lists tab.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Reading Challenge

This is my first time doing a year-long reading challenge. I love, love to read. I have no idea if I'll finish, but it never hurts to try!

My list of categories and books (a work in progress):


  1. Don Quixote
  2. The Three Musketeers
  3. The Divine Comedy
  4. The Canterbury Tales
  5. Middlemarch
  6. A Journal of the Plague Year
  7. Pygmalion
  8. Bleak House
  1. The Woman in White
  2. The Tale of Hawthorn House
  3. The Railway Detective
  4. Murder on the Celtic
  5. The Frost Fair
  6. Miss Seeton Draws the Line
  7. Death of Corinne
  8. Death of a Garage Sale Newbie
Book Club (TBA)
My library has a book club in the spring and fall, usually 5 titles each time. The spring ones will be announced soon, the fall ones not until around August or September. I plan on reading at least eight of them, whatever they are.

  1. Back to Basics
  2. Storey's Basic Country Skills
  3. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
  4. Fast Food Nation
  5. The Self-Sufficient Life
  6. Five Acres and Independence
  7. Root Cellaring
  8. Barnyard in Your Backyard
Biography & Memoir
  1. Christmas Remembered
  2. The Life of James Cardinal Gibbons
  3. The Life of Christ (Sheen)
  4. The Last Days of Socrates
  5. The Journey that Saved Curious George
  6. The King's Good Servant, but God's First
  7. Characters of the Reformation
  8. Witness to Hope
Spiritual & Religion
  1. Introduction to the Bible
  2. St. Therese, a Treasured Love Story
  3. Introduction to the Devout Life
  4. The King, Crucified and Risen
  5. Fatima, the Great Sign
  6. The Wonder of Guadalupe
  7. Saints and Other Powerful Women in the Church
  8. Jesus of Nazareth (Benedict XVI)
  1. How the Irish Saved Civilization
  2. The Old World's Gifts to the New (finished 1/4/08)
  3. Empire State Catholics
  4. Great Heresies
  5. The Histories (Herodotus)
  6. Bible History
  7. The Story of the Church
  8. Iron Fleet: the Great Lakes in World War II
Home Education (Theory, Methods)
  1. Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home (finished 1/7/08)
  2. A Thomas Jefferson Education
  3. We and Our Children
  4. The Trivium
  5. Climbing Parnassus
  6. The Devil Knows Latin
  7. A Charlotte Mason Eduation
  8. For the Children's Sake

Home Management Binder

We are having a cold snap. Wind chills are around zero. The sliding doors on my minivan won't open. It is cold.

It is also a good time to dust off my Home Management Binder. I have been giving it a makeover for the past few days, in the spirit of the New Year. I have taken inspiration from one of my favorite bloggers, Dawn.

I have tried very hard to stick to my routines, and I am being rewarded by a feeling of accomplishment. Now, I don't get every single thing done every single day, but I do feel like I am getting things done. I like that feeling. I am hoping that I can continue to keep on top of my routines.

I use a 1" three-ring binder as my main binder. I bought one with the clear pockets on the outside to insert covers. I use scrapbook paper cut down to size inserted into the pockets to make it pretty. The paper can easily be changed out for different seasons or moods. I just retired my Santa Claus postage stamp paper and switched it for a very pale filigree watercolor pattern. There is no title or writing at all on the outside of my binder. I know what it is.

Right inside the front cover I have a sticker collection. It is eventually supposed to look like a collage of stickers. I am adding to it slowly. It all started when I put a "this book belongs to" sticker there.

I am still working on my cover page, awaiting inspiration. I am using a clear poly pocket for my cover page, as I am sure it will get a lot of wear and tear every time the binder is opened. Behind it, I inserted a full-page picture of Our Lady of Fatima given to my by my aunt.

Now we come to the dividers. I am not 100% happy with them. They are poly pocket dividers, see-through, multicolored in a set of eight. I got them at Office Max, but they have discontinued them. I like that the dividers have tabs wide enough to stick out past my papers, and the pockets (two on each divider) are nice for stuffing thing in to file later. I don't love that they are multi-colored. I wish they were all clear. I also have not come up with a satisfactory set of names for all of the tabs. The first four are set, but the others are in flux. Good old white-out pen!

The first tab is the "Calendar" section. This is the most active section in my binder.

Right now, in one of the pockets I have Arch's religion quiz from this morning to be filed in his school binder, and the other pocket has materials I printed off today for a unit study on Snowflake Bentley I am planning to do this month.

Next is a year-at-a-glance calendar I printed from Donna Young. I will use this to record my monthly cycles, confession and anything else I think of.

After that (still inside the overall "Calendar" tab) are monthly tabbed dividers, starting with January.

The first thing we come to inside January is a clear poly pocket containing a Mary Engelbreit Home Sweet Home print on the front, and a January liturgical calendar on the back. I cut the calendar page from the ones they give out at church. This whole poly pocket is changeable / moveable. At the end of January I will throw away the January liturgical calendar and replace it with the February, and move it to the front of the February tab.

Next is a January 2008 planning sheet, again from Donna Young. I use it to jot down events and topics we will engage in January. There is one for each month. Here is what I have jotted down for January:

  • The Holy Name of Jesus
  • Mary, the Mother of God
  • North American saints (Sts. Elizabeth Ann Seton, John Neuamnn, Andre Bessette and Marguerite Bourgeoys)
  • Christmastide: Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord
  • Respect Life
  • Conversion of St. Paul
  • St. Thomas Aquinas
  • St. John Bosco
  • Christian Unity
  • Mom's birthday
  • Snowflake Bentley
  • January Thaw
Next we come to the workhorse of my day, my weekly planner sheets. There is one for each week. I designed it myself in Word, but I got the main idea from Motivated Moms. I do purchase their planner, but I use it to fill in my own weekly planner sheets with items from their chore list. I have to have things just so, you see.

The front of each sheet has seven boxes across the top, pre-filled with the days of the week (Sunday first). I fill in the date, and any significant liturgical or family event, or appointment. I use colored pens to match the liturgical color for feast days. I also just ordered calendar stickers from Motherhood Press, but they haven't come yet. I will use them in the squares in lieu of writing. Below the boxes, on the left-hand side is a narrow column entitled "Daily Checklist." Each item on the daily checklist is actually a routine (which I have written out in detail in another section). When the routing is completed, a box is checked. There are 15 routines listed, and each has seven little check boxes below it (one for each day of the week). The main column on the page has specific tasks listed for each day of the week. This is where weekly, monthly, and seasonal tasks, "to do" items, and chores from Motivated Moms are written. Some items I do every week are pre-filled under the appropriate day. There are also blank lines every day to add items.

For instance, today has:

  • sewing and mending
  • laundry
  • menu plan and shopping list for next week
  • pick up prescriptions
  • call train manufacturer re: warranty
  • call Mary re: playdate
  • Clean top shelf of fridge
  • Clean shadow box in hall
  • Clean combs and brushes
  • Invoicing
  • Past due reminder
  • Pay advertising bill
  • Mail books
That's about all I can cover for now. Tune in tomorrow for the exciting reverse side of this planner page.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Foods of the Season

New Year's Eve and Day have certain traditional foods in our family:

  • Herring in cream sauce
  • Pigs in blankets
  • Water chestnuts wrapped in bacon
  • Eggnog
  • Irish Cream
We are also having a pork roast with parsnips and baked potatoes. I made fresh cinnamon buns with cranberries and almonds for breakfast this morning.

I love the foods of the season!

A Fresh Start in a New Year

I have blogged on and off for over a year. I have decided to start fresh, with this one blog for all of my thought and experiences which I want to share. I hope you find some profit in the things I will share. May God Bless You and Yours.

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