Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hey Strangers!

Let me start by saying, if you're waiting on an email reply from me, it's coming.  I promise.  We've been so busy, out of town, and now dealing with strep.  :(

Did everyone have a good Memorial Day weekend?  We did!  (this was pre-strep)
We went to stay with JT's parents at their new house.  You may remember me blogging about The Farm.  Well, they no longer live there and Taz has named their new house "The Beach".  I guess because it's got a swimming pool.  It was a lot of fun!

My sister-in-law, Tracy, won this award at the school she works at.  Pretty special, huh?

My father-in-law has a hobby.  It's building trains cities.  The kids love this.


He actually made this tiny little picnic table with his own two hands.  And I mean, it's tiny folks.

My 4 year old neice introduced me to these.  Have y'all ever seen these?  They are little balls, but when they touch something magnetic, they pop out into little creatures!  They are adorable!

This is a very random post.

It's about to get even more random.

Since we're getting settled and I have more time to get back into blogging, I am going to start a series of series.  That's right.  It's a series within a series project.  Have I confused you yet?  :)

Here are some of the series I'm going to have in the upcoming months:

:: On Blogging ::
{how to write, grow, love your blog}

Now, I'm by no means an expert, but people ask, so I thought I'd share what I've learned over the past year.

:: On Homeschooling ::
{why I feel called to homeschool and some interesting facts}

Will we homeschool?  We're not 100% sure yet, but hopefully this little series will help.  So, for those of you who have been asking and waiting, here it comes!

:: On Encouraging Your Husband ::
{the power of prayer and affirmation in marriage}

Again, I'm by NO means an expert.  But, I get a lot of emails from women trusting me with struggles in their life and most of them struggle with the same things I have, so I'd like to share what I've learned recently.  Something that has changed my life, marriage and the way I look at it.

I have no idea which series I'm going to start with, so I need YOUR input.  Y'all are going to have to come out of hiding and COMMENT!!!!!  I know you're there peeps (I've got a very intense Stat Counter), so please give me your input and tell me which series you want first!  I know which one I want first.  :)

On another note, JT still hasn't found a job and we've been living here 3 months.  Please, please keep him in your prayers.  He's struggling with his purpose and calling and I pray that it's revealed to him soon.  Thank you so much!

Thanks so much for putting up with my random and sporadic posting!  I love y'all!


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Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Met Jon Acuff!

It's no secret around here that I'm a HUGE fan of Jon Acuff, from Stuff Christians Like.  He was in Birmingham promoting his new book, Quitter.  I have two words --- Get.It.   Today.  OK, that was three.

"Side Hugs" all around!
He was just as cool in person as he is on his blog!  And, I got to spend a great amount of time talking to his wife.  Super sweet family. 

I guess it's also no secret now that I want to write a book.  Well, since it is on my sidebar blurb.  I mine as well come out and say in right here in words on the blog.  ;)  I have had a five year goal.  A book written, not published, five years from January 1, 2011.  I love to write and have many drafts in my email...just words that came to mind.  Sometimes I go back and read a portion and don't even remember writing that or thinking that.  It's a God thing.  Part my story.  Part God working in my story.  All true.  But, I know that it will happen in God's perfect time.  I want my words to glorify Him. 

Jon advised giving myself, once I start actually putting a book together, 6 months.  He has good reasons, too.  But, I won't tell you those.....you'll have to go out and buy his book:

{click to buy on Amazon}

I will leave you with his message and autograph....and leave that story for another day. ;)


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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Serving & My Venture

Last week I told you about a process I was going through to serve on the 'Dream Team' at church.  Sunday night, I was interviewed, per say, to serve at the Dream Center.  (you can check it out by clicking)
As we were sitting there listening to all the different opportunities involved in the Dream Center, I was sure this is what area I'm meant to serve in....although last week, I was confused.  It's funny how God works and speaks and puts opportunities in your path.  I heard them talking about mentoring children, having Thursday night church services, etc. for underprivileged, and counseling pregnant teens.  That did it for me right there.  Never would I have thought I'd be serving that way.    Like I said, my number one calling is being a mother and the leader told me that by my spiritual gifts, the Dream Center would be a great place to start.  And, it is!  I'm so excited about serving there, especially with the pregnant teens.  It's all clear now.  Here I am, someone who knows their number one calling is to be a mother and I LOVE pregnancy and having babies.  Ummm, right up my alley!  :)  I look forward to sharing more about my experience here and will share more soon!  The summer sessions are about to start, so it may be a couple of weeks before I really get involved.

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Remember the twins I shot?  I was honored to be asked to design their birth announcement...

{front}
 {back}

With that, now would be a good time to tell you about my little venture...the project I told you I was working on.  Since cdm photography + photojournalism offers Christmas cards every year, and I've always offered birth announcement, I decided to just go ahead and create a little company where I offer certain designs.  I will still do custom work for anyone, but will offer certain designs that your pictures/info can be dropped into upon ordering!  I will also offer cupcake toppers since I've had so many people ask me if I would do theirs.  I decided to do this, then at the last minute decided to offer blog designs, too!  That was an after thought, but since starting this venture it seems to be the only thing I've gotten orders for!  Ha!  But, it could have something to do with the fact I haven't uploaded the card or topper designs.  :)

So, without further ado, here is my new little venture.  Not much there yet, but it's a start:

:: cdm designs ::
It will debut on this blog very soon!

 
Thanks for all your sweet comments this past week.  And, thanks for always checking on me.

xoxo

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Friday, May 20, 2011

It's The Weekend!

I'm so glad it's the weekend.  John Taylor has been making us all pancakes on Saturday morning and I've started looking forward to 'pancake morning'!

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I'm inserting my memory scripture this week here:
Ephesians 2:10
For we are God's handiwork, created in Jesus Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Please say a prayer for us this weekend, as I attend the next class on how I may serve at our church.  Pray for John Taylor, he is struggling on life stuff --- finding a job, his life's purpose, his calling.

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I can get pretty passionate about parenting....Just never here on the blog.  But, this post really just hit the nail on the head and I wanted to share it.  Do y'all know Pete Wilson?  If you don't, get to know him!  Ha!  He's the pastor at Cross Point in Nashville.  He wrote the book Plan B, which I can't wait to read.  Anyway, great post on the pressure on small children to be older than they are....to be excelling in things that are not age appropriate.  I feel so strong about this --- toddlers loosing their toddlerhood, which means children loosing their childhood.  If the most formative years are spent with pressure, what does this mean for their future?  Enough from me --- READ THE POST!  It's great!

TGIF, everyone!  What are your plans for the weekend?

xoxo

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

fun post :: birthdays are coming up

If you count 12 weeks as "coming up", then my children have birthdays coming up.  Their birthdays are two weeks apart and they are during football season, so I like to start planning reaaaaallllly early.  :)

Last year, I had separate birthday parties.  It was her FIRST birthday, so I wanted her birthday party to be special and really girly.  You can see a full post about her party HERE.  I knew it was probably one of the last parties I could do what I wanted before he started asking me for more themed parties, like Lighting McQueen.  So....naturally, with it being the start of football season, he had a football/tailgate party.  You can see a full post about it HERE.

I love to throw parties and it can get out of hand.  So, considering we don't know what the state's of JT's employment will be (and I like to plan ahead) then I'm going to combine the birthday celebrations into one party.  I think it can be done in a cute, tasteful way.  :)  I think this will also be better for our traveling family --- they won't have to travel here twice in such a short amount of time! 
I was torn between a neutral party that was divided by colors to show the boy/girl side of things.  But, I wanted it to be fun for the kids, too.  Since my kids (Taz especially and he's the oldest and understands about parties more) are really into Woody and Jessi from Toy Story, I decided to do a cowboy/cowgirl theme and use the colors of Woody and Jessi.  Here are some pictures I found in blog land that are inspiring me.  And, I have a few ideas of my own.  :)
(1)
How adorable are those handmade horses?!  And, I want to find hats like that!
(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

(6)

(7)
How cute are these!  They look like Jessi's hat!

(8)
Love this burlap banner.  This would make a cute decoration without the letters, even!

(9)

(10)

(11)
My kids would go crazy over this cake!  And, we have the Woody doll just like this.  Not Jessi though....sadly, THIS happened to her and I haven't been able to find another one just like it.

(12)

(13)

What do y'all think?  I think I'm pretty set on the "theme", but I'm open to other suggestions that would be suitable for a boy/girl party.  I'm all out of ideas!
image sources
1 :: 2 :: 3 :: 4 :: 5 :: 6 :: 7 :: 8 :: 9 :: 10 :: 11 :: 12 :: 13

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Monday, May 16, 2011

spiritual gifts + scripture

There are life things I have always felted called to do.  My number one calling is to be a mother.  Not only to be a mother, but to shepard my children's hearts toward the Kingdom of God.  I've known this since I was old enough to know what a calling (and a mother) was!  But, I have dreams too.  There is a difference, right?  A difference, but a connection....

"God often reveals to us what he wants to do with us, in our desires, in our dreams,
but especially, in our personal time with him" 
~Daniel G.

I've been meeting with a lady who I already admire greatly.  She is counseling/mentoring me.  She is teaching me ways I can become a part of our church and encourage others. She is teaching me about our marriage and about life.  About how the enemy tries to come in a destroy. 

Let me just enter a side note right here.  I'm seeing this pop up everywhere!  Totally God reinterating this back into my heart because....well....I must have forgotten.  Just yesterday, Pastor Chris noted how we may be feeling spiritually attacked.  That's because either A. something big and good is going on in our lives or B. something big or good is about to go on in our lives.  So true!

Anyway, back to my meetings.  I decided after our first encounter, that I wanted to do Discovery 301 (Put on by our church, it's a test to help reveal your spiritual gifts and guide you in the right direction to serve at our church).  She asked what my strengths were in... what my passions were... what my talents were... what I dreamed of
doing.

So, Sunday night, I attended Discovery 301. 

And the results were surprising. 

Going into this "test", I dreamed of being on the prayer team.  To be able to pray over the services.  After all, I feel I've grown by leaps and bounds in my spiritual praying and it seems I don't go an hour without praying!  Above that, I dreamed of being part of the worship team.  After all, I spent 12 years in voice lessons every week and I feel I have a gift to share.  Let's just forget about the fact that I do have stage fright.... I DO have a gift.  Ahem.

So, what did my spiritual gifts test reveal?  So, I was in church and had to answer honestly!  :)  I have to pray this week over how I want to serve.  So, I need your help!  I was tied for these gifts:

APOSTLESHIP
The divine strength or ability to pioneer new churches and ministries through planting, overseeing, and training.  {Acts 15:22-35, 1 Cor 12:28, 2 Cor 12:12, Gal 2:7-10, Eph 4:11-14}

DISCERNMENT
The divine strength or ability to spiritually identify falsehood and to distinguish between right and wrong motives and situations. {Matt 16:22-23, Acts 5:1-11, 16:16-18, 1 Cor 12:10, 1 John 4:1-6}

EXHORTATION
The divine strength or ability to encourage others through the written or spoken word and Biblical truths.  {Acts 14:22, Romans 12:8, 1 Tim 4:13, Heb 10:24-25}

FAITH
The divine  strength or ability to believe in God for unseen supernatural results in every arena of life.  {Acts 11:22-24, Romans 4:18-21, 1 Cor 12:9, Heb 11}

MERCY
The divine strength or ability to feel empathy and to care for those who are hurting in any way.  {Matt 9:35-36, Mark 9:41, Romans 12:8, 1 Thess 5:14}

Ok, the first one just blows my mind because....well, that's another post for another day.  But, all of these I do feel to be true.  Some more than others.  If you know me out there, what do you think?  I want to know from an outsider what my gifts seem to be.  This may help.

I also wanted to ask you to please pray for me this week.  I will be reading and meditation over all these verses that go along with each gift that my test revealed.  I want to serve in an area where God can use me the most!


With that being said, my memory verse for this week is:

Ephesians 2:10
"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." [NIV]

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." [KJV]

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." [ESV]

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Faves

These aren't all from this past week.  Some are from weeks past.  I just haven't posted my faves in a while and these are too good not to share!

Step away from the parent book :: by Emily :: The Long View
AMEN!  LOVE this post!  If you only read one post this year, it should be this one!  I admire Emily so much and I'm so proud to call her my friend (my in real life, Mississippi friend!)

Swivel-Sweeping-Gadget-Thing? :: by Angie :: (in)courage
Could SO relate to this post.

The miserable god :: by Jon :: Stuff Christians Like
As always, his posts are great.

the importance of leaving and cleaving :: by Jill :: Keeping Hearts at Home
I wish my husabnd and I knew of Jill and read this post when we first got married!  Love this! 

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pretty Picture :: Entry


This photo has been sitting on my desktop for so long.  I think this entry way is beautiful!  I'm cleaning on my desktop and trashing files I no longer need.  Wanted to file this away in my home inspiration before trashing. 

Sorry, I no longer remember the source.

Happy Thursday!


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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Projects, Life & Projects

Howdy hey!  Lots to share with you, so I'm gonna just get right to it.

Thanks for all that have checked on us.  We're doing good.  Just spending as much time as I can with my little babies and trying to get adjusted to our life here.  It's going good.  And, no, JT has not found a j.o.b. yet.  Still looking.  A little frustrating for both of us (I'm sure more for him), and we're just trying so hard to remember to surrender to Him.  With that being said, I can honestly say that I'm seeing so clearly now why God placed us back here.  It's amazing how much we've grown as a couple and as adults and parents since moving.  Everything DOES work out for the best.  Of course it's still stressful that we have hardly any income coming in.  Of course we're behind on bills.  Of course there is tension in our house due to our circumstances.  But, I can honestly say that my life has never been more full and more Christ centered.  I look forward to growing more....

This week is a big week for me.  I am working on a little "project" of my own that I plan to share with you soon.  It's something I've thought about doing for so long, but never had the time to get it going.  It's finally coming to life and I'm excited about it.  Along with that, I'm taking some huge steps this week to grow as a wife, mother and Christian.  I am excited and nervous about these things, so your prayers would be appreciated!  Thanks!  :)

On another note, wanted to let you know that Kiwi Wood Werks is open and taking orders.  We just delivered a custom [HUGE] mirror to our assistant pastor and it's beautiful!  I plan to go over to their beautiful home and take photos of it this week....so, I will be sure to post!

What's been going on in our household?  Well, the norm.....you know, Buzz and Woody action on the kitchen counter.



My son has the BIGGEST imagination these days!  Ever since my mother-in-law played Buzz & Woody on the kitchen counter when she was here last week, Taz wants me to reenact this scene daily.  The stove is hot lava and Woody looses his hat.  But, Buzz saves the day.....

I went around the house and took these pictures one afternoon.  Taz starts playing and then moves on to something else, leaving everything set up.  Am I the only mom out there that gets this heart warming feeling when you find toys in the sweetest arrangements around the house?  I can't describe this feeling.....But, it makes my heart smile and weep at the same time.  These days won't be around forever. 


I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes I just can't bear to move them.  I don't want to mess up what he worked so hard on.....especially if it's a train city or car line up.  :)


With that being said, I had to share this one:


This is Liz's play kitchen sink....with a sponge from my kitchen.  One day, Taz went and got this from under the kitchen sink and put it in this spot.  Just like I do at the big girl sink.  :)  When someone comes over, I toss it IN the play sink, so it can't be seen.  I don't know why, it just looks ugly to me sitting there.  The next day, it's right back in it's spot.  So sweet!  I also saw him pretending to pour the doll some milk out of the play fridge.  He walked over to the hand towel hanging on the play oven and wiped off the bottle before giving it to dolly!  Something I do every.single.day. when I poor my kids milk or juice.  :)

Besides having a big imagination, my son is WAY too smart.  I tried to hide the You Tube app on my phone and he found it in a folder!  He also figured out how to take a picture with my phone and I have lots of shots such as this:


Bless him.

Besides watching You Tube on my phone, my children LOVE to watch their picture montages I've made of their pictures each year (which I'm behind on)....


Isn't that so funny!

I'm also behind on updating the scripture memory page.  So many different Bible verses are being placed in front of me right now and they are so fitting.  I just can't even begin to explain to y'all.  Hopefully one day soon, I can find the words to do so.  But, for now it's been nice to take a little break from blogging and emails.  You know, not let it take over.  It's amazing how much you can grow as a person when you replace something with something else.  Not really what I wanted to do lately, but felt a tug and a calling to do so.  It was totally worth it.

For Mother's Day, I got to have the day off!  I slept in and JT made me pancakes for breakfast!  I then went to the bookstore.  BY MYSELF!  I drank a mocha and read the Royal Wedding Edition of People.  It was fun.....until I got the call.  JT remained so calm.  He calmly told me that Taz had just vomited everywhere!  He has never gotten sick like that and I'm almost glad I wasn't home to see it. 

I took these pictures weeks ago and never shared them.  Life is blooming all around now.  It was just starting then.....



Next big project on JT's list --- a custom built in for our TV, etc.  It will be in our den, in the corner and will look something like this:



So excited for him to start!  Well, mostly because the TV is currently on my night stand and the kids keep pushing buttons!

If you're still reading, thank you.  :)  You must my BFF!  No, really, you must be my BFF because only she would read all this.  Good night.

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

"Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children. "
 ~William Makepeace Thackeray




I want to wish every mother a wonderful, blessed mother's day!  I'm sure I don't have to explain how wonderful it is to be a mommy.  There are so many wonderful mothers in my life that I look up to and who have made an impact on me.  I only hope I can be half as great of a mother as they are....

To my mom...
If I had to describe you in one word, it would be strong.  No, determined.  No, smart.  :)
You are truly my rock, mom, and I want to learn everything I can from you.  I never want to take you for granted and want to soak in every bit of you.  You are so grounded and I'm constantly impressed with your unconditional love for us, your patience, your forgiveness and your understanding.  I love you, Mom!

To my mother-in-law...
If you're reading, I want you to know how much I adore your strength.  You are such a strong woman.  I'm continually amazed at how you take care of everyone around you.  You are an amazing cook and your home is so welcoming.  To me, you'll always be the woman who can do everything.  And, without complaining!  I admire that in you.  Thanks for everything you've done for us.  We love you!

There are so many other amazing moms in my life, I couldn't possibly name them all!  I want to wish my sister and sister-in-law's a Happy Mother's Day, too!  I am so blessed to be friends with such beautiful, thoughtful, funny, genuine women.  I admire and love all of you!

XOXO

to read last year's mother's day post, click here
{it's so good, should have just reposted it}

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

House Project Progress

I've been dying to show y'all some pictures, but I feel I hyped it up and it's not going to be that big of deal.  These are small things that make a big difference in my mind.

First, remember the laundry room closet?  Here it is now:





I plan on keeping the baskets on the top shelf.  One holds cleaning rags and old dish towels, one my Shark attachments and pads, & one art supplies for projects at the kitchen table.  I have bought some cheap-o fabric at Walmart and plan on making a gathered curtain to hang right underneath the top shelf, covering all the cleaning supplies, etc. on the bottom shelf.  Will show finished pics soon!

Next, we have the dreaded 10 foot bar!  Here is a before picture:


I wish I had a better one, but don't.  Here's the deal in case you missed it before.  That's our kitchen back there.  This picture was taken in the den.  The bar was inbetween the kitchen and den.  It was 10 feet long and built too high.  We tried 3 different kinds of bar stools and none worked.  So, it was never used as a "bar" and became a catch all area.  The main problem I wanted to fix was that wall of the den could not be used for anything.  Not only that, the over-hang of the bar cut off about 5 feet of the den.  Our den is small, so that's a big deal!  Here are the afters:




JT took the bar off and gave it a more finished look by added wood and trim.  Now, it's a half wall!  We plan to use this wall as soon as we get our new sofa and arrange the den in a different way!  Everyone that walks in says it makes the room so much bigger!  Exactly what we were trying to accomplish!

This last project, I mentioned, but don't have 'before' pictures.  It's the tiny hall closet in between my children's rooms.  There is also a bathroom across the hall from this closet.  Since the kids' rooms are small and I'm using the closets for toy storage, the hall closet is now their clothes closet!  JT painted the inside the same color as hallway and built shelves:






We have all their hanging clothes in our master (walk-in) closet.  I love it this way because I only have to go to one place to put up all the hanging clothes and one closet to put up all their PJ's, underwear, socks, etc!  It saves a lot of time and it so much easier.  It's also great because I can just step out into the hallway and grab diaper, pull-up & PJ's when they are in the bathtub!  I put a laundry bin in the bottom of the closet for dirty clothes.  The larger bins came from Lowe's and the smaller ones from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Can't wait to show you more projects!


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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Praise You In This Storm

Everyone in Alabama is coming together to start the clean up process due to the disaster.  But, it seems it's going to take a very long time to rebuild.   We got to see parts of Birmingham that were completely destroyed and I can't tell you in words how it felt to actually be there looking at the scene.  So much different than seeing it in pictures. 

A feeling of sickness came over me and hasn't gone away in days.  Since seeing just a glimpse of some of the destruction, I can't seem to function normally in my every day life.  My heart aches.  And, we were basically untouched by it all.  I can't do everyday simple tasks without thinking about how some can't ever do those things again because they've lost everything.  I can't sit in my comfortable, clean house and eat a warm meal without feeling undeserving in a way.....

Every time I look in the eyes of my children who are safe and sound, tears start to come.  I think of those who lost their children or loved ones.  I sit on the floor playing with my kids and their toys and try to imagine what it would be like to explain to my 3 and 1 year olds that their stuff is gone.  How could I even explain that there is no more house in front of them?  What internal damage would the actual trauma from the storm going overhead do to them?  Oh, the long road ahead for those people and babies who were caught in the storm.  Prayers are the first thing they need from us.

In church this morning, one of our Pastors spoke of the question WHY?  I have struggled with that for days.  Why some and not others?  He made a good point.  Even if someone could answer that question, it wouldn't help the situation at hand.  The question now should be WHAT NEXT?

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.


I'm so proud to be a part of such a wonderful church that has helped the victims so much.  Please visit THE WEBSITE for an updated list of supplies needed and some indescribable pictures, like the ones below:

{all images from Church Of The Highlands website}

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I wanted to also share this slide show that a friend of mine posted on Facebook.  Amazing and touching. The aerial shots take my breath away.  Hope it inspires you to help in some small way. 


Romans 8:38-39
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.


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