Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Easy Homemade Advent Calendar

So I ended up making the easiest homemade advent 'calendar' in the history of homemade advent calendars, and I am SUPER excited to start tomorrow! This is something I really wanted to start doing for Briony this year and while I suspect we may someday upgrade to a fancier + prettier system, I'm loving the SPIRIT of this one (and really, isn't that the most important thing?).

I found a colourful festive paperboard box that we already had in our house. Every morning at breakfast, Briony will get to open the box and there will be a note that describes something we'll do together as a family that day. No treats. Just quality time and memories. The few tiny presents I've included are all things for us to do together (and all less than $1.50... thank you again, Dollarama). All the notecards, stickers, markers, and packaging stuff were things we had on hand. I spent *very* little money making it, and I'm excited to see how it turns out!

The best part is that - because my health can be so very unpredictable - this plan is super adaptable. I can choose our activity the night before (or even the morning of) based on how I'm feeling. We've included a mix of high-energy and super-low-energy ideas, and I even kept a few blank cards on hand in case we come up with new ideas as we go. Of course, this would work well for ANY family because of schedules and weather and kids' moods and a million other perfectly normal variables.

Here's a sneak peek...

*You can check out a similar - but prettier - idea here (I copied some of the wording).

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Freelance Math

Getting to work mostly from home = THE BEST THING EVER

Always feeling like the new kid (who doesn't get any of the inside jokes or have any idea what's going on) every single time I work from the office = THE SUCK

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Monday, November 29, 2010


We found out this weekend that Jimmy Fallon has a pretty cool guest booked for the night we have tickets. An actor you *may* have heard of. His name is Ben Freaking Affleck. But really... It's no big deal.



One Moment With Briony

We just caught Briony being sneaky and starting to open a present from under the tree today... AND SO IT BEGINS.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pilgrim Potluck 2010

I think it all started when Emily + I lived together and had a late-night discussion about the fact that neither of us had ever made a 'real' turkey dinner before.

We decided to try it out for American Thanksgiving (because she's American) and we had a super successful, entirely lovely festive meal together. It was so much fun that we decided we'd do it again, but add friends. And when those friends asked what they could bring, it slowly evolved into a potluck style dinner. A few more friends were added (including Geoff whose mom is American and The Other Jeff who's part-American - to legitimize it a little more, hehe). Work schedules meant that it was easier to do it on a weekend, the Sunday closest to American Thanksgiving happens to be Grey Cup, and - well - here we are today, celebrating another Pilgrim Potluck.

It's our very own super-holiday and my most favourite time of the year :)

Our house is starting to smell like turkey and apple cider, and it will be filling up with friends and food over the next couple of hours. I can't wait. There is simply no better way to kick off the holiday season.

I'll try to remember to take some pictures to post later, but I'm guessing that - like usual - I'll get too wrapped up in enjoying the moment to think about picking up the camera.

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One Week

We'll be starting our descent into La Guardia in exactly one week from now. Oh my GOSH, am I ever excited... I've been doing little happy dances around the house - I just can't even contain myself :)


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Funny Face

The 'funny face' thing started a few months ago, but I believe this is the first photo we've managed to get. It's a pretty typical mealtime with Miss B.

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For anyone who ever asks why I don't do crafty things, here's your evidence. A few weeks ago, we painted mugs at MOMs group and I cautiously decided to go with one solid colour (with a tiny little heart inside the lip). What could go wrong, right? hehe

It should have been foolproof. And it ALMOST turned out great. But the end result was laughably bad...

I'm using it anyway. I'm convinced there's a lesson in there somewhere about trying new things, beauty in imperfection, or SOMETHING that's bound to leach into my tea and make me a better person :)


Obligatory Wall Art Photo

No childhood would be complete without one of these, right? :)

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Baking Day (in photos)

Last week, my mom and sister and I spent a day getting our Christmas baking started. We got two MEGA batches of cookies done - a minor miracle considering we had two toddlers 'helping' us all day :)

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Christmas at the Wrights

The only photo I managed to snag on our Christmas tree decorating day...

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Puppet Masters / Master of Disguise

For her birthday, Briony got a pile of animal hand puppets from Katie - and a fabulous Olivia themed dress up set from Amber. The result was a super funny 'playdate' with Geoff and Paul after dinner last weekend...

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Our Newest Family Member

Meet the newest member of the Wright family. Her name is Baby Bear and she is the result of a family birthday trip to Build a Bear (thanks in part to Palmer + Eloise for the great birthday gift card!).

Of course, Briony INSISTED that she needed sunglasses. OF COURSE. If you've spent any in-person time with my daughter at all, you know she's usually seen in sunglasses - outdoors AND in :)

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Briony vs Curiosity

I'm not exactly sure when this started, but I find it hilarious...

Make video montages at www.OneTrueMedia.com

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Countdown to Christmas

I'm hoping to finish up our Advent Calendar this weekend. It's not going to pretty (not like Nicole's... HOLY MOLY, it's awesome!) but it will work - and we can worry about pretty next year :)

Instead of candy or chocolate, we'll be choosing a special family activity every day leading up to Christmas. Some of them will be Christmas-related, and some of them will just be about making memories together.

I have a pretty good list started, but I'd love to hear more ideas - things that you've done with your kids, things you remember from when you were a kid, things that you haven't tried but think are neat-o. Thanks in advance for your ideas! I can't wait to hear about your family traditions.

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Random Joy

Drinking an Eggnog Latte.

Listening to Christmas music.

Organizing stickers + colouring books + toddler craft supplies.

Sorting through Briony's artwork so we can 'close off' her Age One memories folder.

And just kind of generally loving my life in this moment.

I am oh so very grateful that our house is full of pink-and-purple glittery chaos, because that is exactly what helps to makes it a HOME. I'm admittedly emotional about having a two year old, but feeling so blessed that we've been able to enjoy two whole years of Briony already.


In Search of a Merry Christmas

Part of the Chronic Babe Blog Carnival. Click here to read the other submissions!

Every year around this time, I resolve to make this holiday season better than the last one. For me, ‘better’ is defined as simpler, more restful, more peaceful, less stressful, and just plain HAPPIER.

It’s an ongoing battle - one that’s intensified by my Type A personality, my extreme love of Christmas, and my chronic illnesses. Three years ago, I married a nurse with a completely ridiculous (and utterly unpredictable) holiday work schedule. Two years ago, we threw a baby into the mix.


It sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? But the good news is that I’m getting better every year. And the even better news is that I’m going to share some of my ‘little keys to success’ with you right now.

Plan ahead.
I can’t stress this one enough. The farther ahead you plan, the more options you have - and the better you can pace yourself. I’m doing more and more of my holiday shopping online and it’s awesome. I wrap it all a few gifts at a time during evenings when I’m feeling good - and by Christmas, it’s all done. Without some planning, I end up stressing myself out, which ends up making my chronic illnesses worse, which means that I don’t get anything done at all (or even if I do, I’m not enjoying it). It’s a lesson that was learned the hard way. More than once. But like I said, I’m getting better :)

Keep it simple.
A friend recently sent me a link to this article about the gifts we can give our children. It’s SO TRUE that my best holiday memories have nothing to do with gifts and everything to do with the people I love. Every year, we find new ways to streamline our holidays. This year, Geoff + I are taking a trip together and skipping a gift exchange. And I have a few friends who I plan special evenings out (or in) with in lieu of presents. The best part is that these ‘presence’ presents don’t have to happen right at Christmas. Schedule them for January and February, when you have the energy to really enjoy them.

Choose realistic priorities (and then say NO).
I’m never going to make it to every Christmas party and event. And not everyone will always understand why. You know what? I think I can finally say that it’s okay. My priority during this time is myself and my little family - my husband and my daughter. Everything and everyone else is a bonus.

Focus on people.
Look for ways to turn chores you are dreading into quality time with people you love. This year, I did a bunch of my grocery shopping with a friend. We hit up Starbucks first and had a blast. I do all of my holiday baking with others too - one day with my mom and my sister and one day with a friend. When the things on your ‘to do’ list become less about things and more about people, I promise they will start to feel less stressful.

Don’t get hung up on the details.
My family’s most memorable Christmas was actually the year we had to throw all our traditions out the window and were unexpectedly snowed in at a friend’s house. I think about that a lot when I’m stressing about everything that needs to get done - because there are actually very few things that NEED to get done.

Keep doing what’s working.
The holidays won’t be any fun for anyone if I end up flat in bed - or in the hospital. Now is the most important time to keep going with the diet, exercise, medication, sleep, and other plans that have been working for you.

Make healthy traditions.
Every year, I host a big American Thanksgiving dinner at our house (we’re Canadian but many people in our lives - including my husband - have strong American roots). Instead of stressing out about it, I make the turkey and everyone else brings different dishes for our potluck style feast. I love it. It has become my favourite holiday, no question. I stay away from traditions like tromping into the woods to cut down a Christmas tree - I won’t always be able to do things like that. But traditions that work even in the midst of a flare up? Yes, please.

Schedule time outs.
My calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas is already full of a few date nights, a massage, a hair appointment, a coffee date with friends, a couple of lazy family nights at home, and other things that make me happy - breaks in what could become a seriously overwhelming schedule. If I don’t plan ahead, these things don’t happen. And if these things don’t happen, I get sick.

I have a little reality check: NO ONE is going to think of these things for you. The holidays are stressful for everyone, and it’s up to YOU to make the changes you need to enjoy this season - and communicate them to the people around you.

I know that it sometimes makes you feel like the Grinch. Oh honey, I KNOW. But trust me that it’s all worth it to be able to celebrate a truly Merry Christmas.

HUGS. No go and be awesome :)

What kinds of things do you do to help make the holiday season happier?

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One Moment With Briony

Oh, Briony... One thing I hope we'll remember when you're all grown up and super embarrassed about this kind of thing is the fact that you were hilarious when you slept.

I'm honestly terrified to ever move her to a big girl bed because she practices some serious tai chi in her sleep. When Geoff and I check on her after she's asleep, we sometimes can't contain our laughter over the uncomfortable positions we find her in... And she is ALL over the place. We used to wonder what her dreams were about, but now that she's acquired the vocabulary to be able to tell us about it in the morning, we know that she's spent the night swimming with dolphins... hehe.

It makes me smile because - after housing her inside of me for nine (almost ten) months - those movements are as familiar to me as breathing and it's really no surprise at all :)

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Friday, November 26, 2010


It's been a stressful day of mouse hunting, with no success. I personally saw the little furry incarnation of evil probably 15 times this afternoon + evening. There are glue traps everywhere, but he's evading them like the world's tiniest ninja. So much for getting some better sleep tonight. SHUDDER.



Today was totally one of those days where I knew before I had even opened my eyes that things were unlikely to go well.

I had a terrible sleep and woke up in all kinds of pain - including a weird neck cramp that's contributing all kinds of joy. We had about 30 minutes to get out the door and headed in the direction of Briony's dance class. And our glue traps remained mouseless all night long. Argh.

I should have gone back to bed. I should have taken two minutes to take a deep breath and point myself in the direction of a good day. I should have stopped and had a cup of coffee + a cocktail of drugs. I should have done anything but get dressed and soldier stubbornly on, because that has only made it worse.

The end result has been a day where I feel like I've been sabotaging myself. It's been yucky. I'm counting down until it's over, and I seriously cannot wait to start over again tomorrow.

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Friday Smile

Gotta love high school students. This seriously made me laugh until we nearly experienced a tea-through-the-nose kind of situation here.


Thursday, November 25, 2010




Bucket List

I read this fascinating story today about a man who was told he had months to live, spent his life savings crossing things off his bucket list, and then found out he had been misdiagnosed.

I can't decide if that would be the best or worst possible thing to happen to a person.

What do you think? And what would you blow your savings on if you saw the end coming?


Thank You

Dear Dollarama

Thank you for having SO MUCH COOL STUFF for two year olds that costs practically nothing. I'm sorry for judging you so mercilessly in the past, because you're not as icky as I thought - and I just might end up owing you my sanity this winter.



Can You Help?

Siloam Mission here sent out a plea for help today. They've been serving way more meals than usual to Winnipeg's homeless and they're super low on supplies. We're going to be heading over there in the morning with some stuff. If you'd like to send anything along, just get it to our place before 8.30 am tomorrow morning. Thanks!

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010


So I'm going to apologize in advance because I feel like this might turn into a kind of rant.

And while I'm at it, I should maybe add an apology for putting a Britney song in your head.

Now that we've got all that out of the way, let's continue on with my post, shall we? Cool.

Um, whatever happened to being NICE, and speaking NICELY to other people? And what's up with all the complaining going on lately? Seriously. (And that was NOT a complaint about complainers, hehe.)

I love the interwebs. I love email, and blogging, and Facebook, and Twitter, and all that fun stuff for what it can do to connect people. I do NOT love how it gives people an instant platform to bitch about their lives.

I cannot believe how many emails I can get in a week that are just not NICE. It's not even the content of the message - it's just not bothering to think about how it's going to come across and not being willing to take the time to either (a) make sure it's worded the way you really truly intended to say it, or (b) pick up the phone or schedule a meeting and have a good old fashioned - friendly - chat about it.

And I cannot believe how many status updates I can scroll through in a day - or even an hour - that are kind of whiny or (worse) just plain passive aggressive. I am NOT innocent of this. But I try. I honestly do.

Way too much of my time is going to avoiding toxic energy. I wish I were popular enough to get other people on board a Facebook Positivity Week, where no one is allowed to share anything that isn't AWESOME. Wouldn't that be amazing?

See? I TOTALLY SHOULD HAVE BEEN THIS PRINCESS. Then I could mandate s#!& like this ;)


Victory Over DeFEET

Oh yes. I JUST DID.


I learned something new this week. Something foot related, of course.

Know those fabulous boots that you're just dying to have but don't *quite* fit? YOU KNOW WHICH ONES I'M TALKING ABOUT. The ones that look FIERCE but require some serious blood, sweat, and tears to jam your calves into them.

Well, I bought them anyway. And then I took them to a good shoe repair place that *easily* stretched them out for me - just about a quarter inch and just the part of the boot that was extra-snug. They kept them for two days and charged me $15. And I could not be happier about it.

I had no idea that I could do that. And - assuming the boots you have your eye on are a decent quality leather - YOU CAN TOO.

(Is this common knowledge? My calves were significantly smaller before I became a mommy, so I guess I never really paid attention before.)


Monday, November 22, 2010

One Moment With Briony

Oh, the imagination we get to enjoy over here...

In the last couple of days, we've been treated to:
- A two year old who told me all about her 'adventure' when she went 'swimming with dolphins underwater' and also 'saw a shark'
- A two year old who sometimes pretends to be a puppy
- A two year old who today pretended to be a dinosaur
- A two year old who bit the straw of her sippy cup in between her teeth, swung the bottle back and forth, and declared that she was an elephant
- A two year old who stood up in her crib in the middle of the night and yelled - repeatedly - 'Briony wants COFFEE!'

This is all normal behaviour, right? :)

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Merry Christmas Baby

So it's officially Christmas here at the Wright residence.

The tree has been trimmed. The garland has been hung. The stockings are in storage for a little while longer because I can't even imagine how many times I'll need to tell Briony not to touch (hehe).

We started during Briony's nap on Saturday and finished after she woke up. On her way down the stairs, she stopped COLD as soon as the tree was within view. "Oh my GOOD-mess, Mama! It's a CHRISTMAS TREE!" This little scene has been repeated every single morning and every single afternoon - and her eyes are just as lit up and sparkly today as the first time. Awesomeness.

There is nothing in the world more magical than experiencing the holidays with a child. NOTHING. I thought that last year - with all its WOWs and WHOAs - was fun. But this is non-stop hilarity... She's excited about the snow, the tree, the lights, EVERYTHING. And she knows what it all is.

I put our Santa hat in with all her dress-up stuff yesterday and she found it immediately - "It's a CHRISTMAS HAT, Mama!"

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Better Days

This song has been rolling around my head today...

It's the first snowfall of the year - the absolute BEST part of living in Winnipeg. It's too beautiful for words.

It's today's news that my grandma is officially cancer-free. (I TOLD you to stop messing with the women in my life, Cancer. They're too strong for you. They will crush you like the snivelling little bitch you are.)

It's Katie being 'home' in Winnipeg again, and listening to Briony giggling her with upstairs. It feels like having part of our family back.

It's spending the week working on a client project that I am completely passionate about - a rare opportunity to actually do something good for the world through advertising.

It's FINALLY feeling like I just might beat this cold that's been hanging on so tightly.

The world just feels so fresh and new... I love it. I can't stop smiling today. I've missed this feeling of HOPE. It feels like the beginning of Christmas :)

And you ask me what I want this year
And I try to make this kind and clear
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days
Cause I don't need boxes wrapped in strings
And designer love and empty things
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight's the night the world begins again

I need someplace simple where we could live
And something only you can give
And thats faith and trust and peace while we're alive
And the one poor child who saved this world
And there's 10 million more who probably could
If we all just stopped and said a prayer for them

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight's the night the world begins again

I wish everyone was loved tonight
And somehow stop this endless fight
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight's the night the world begins again
Cause tonight's the night the world begins again

"Better Days" - Goo Goo Dolls

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Royal Disappointment

Want to hear something funny?

Yesterday, when the news broke that Prince William had officially proposed to Kate Middleton, I felt a tiny twinge of disappointment. It would appear that - somewhere buried deep in my psyche - there was a remnant of that old girlish dream of becoming a princess someday.

I'm willing to bet that I am NOT the only grown woman in the British Commonwealth who felt that this week. Though I'm realizing now that I am probably the only one admitting it ;)

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Briony Evangeline!

I can hardly believe that it's been two whole years since you joined our little family.

In the blink of an eye, you've transformed from the prettiest baby girl I had ever laid eyes on to this magnificent creature who creates nonstop chaos in our home on a daily basis. Your natural state is smiling, laughing, and being silly - and we love all the giggles you've brought into our lives. You are kind and always looking for ways to share your happiness and fun with others. You are thoughtful and careful. You are cautious around strangers but quick to shower the people you love with hugs and kisses and snuggles. You speak your mind and have strong opinions, but you get over your disappointment quickly. You love colouring and play-doh and going for walks outside. You are very aware of your feelings and a great communicator. You love to read and learn, and you constantly surprise us by knowing letters, numbers, colours, shapes, and words that NO ONE TAUGHT YOU. You are full of music from your head to your toes and it just spills out of you.

You are magic, filling spaces we didn't even know we had with so much joy and love it's a wonder the world can contain us.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Sick as a Dog

I've been trying to just push through and deal with this without any whining or unnecessary drama, but I QUIT. This is Day Six of The Cold/Flu From HELL and I'm sooo sick of it.

I managed to power through the most essential birthday things this weekend, but it took everything I had. And now it's Monday. And I feel just a lousy as I did last week - maybe a little more lousy just because my ribs hurt so much from coughing.

As always, I went to bed last night optimistic about what today would be like - praying that I would be healthy, that magical elves would come and finish all my work during the night, and (for good measure) that I'd wake up looking like Scarlett Johanssen.

Boy, was I disappointed.

So my first meeting of the day has already been cancelled. My lunch plans have been postponed. My tea is brewing and I have two client deadlines to hit before noon today. And I think I've already set a record for Most Gooey Substances To Exit A Human's Head this morning (but I STILL CAN'T BREATHE).



Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Geoff!

I can no longer say or write 'Geoff' without hearing Briony yelling it in my head... hehe.

My husband turned 36 today. Is it wrong that this was kind of funny to me? It just sounds so very grown-up... And I suppose we are :)

Last night, we went out for dinner and watched a movie with Emily + Paul, which was *technically* Geoff's birthday celebration. Today, we had a lovely, low-key family day that started with pancakes and ended with a moonlight walk to Starbucks.

I love this guy. And I feel lucky to be sharing this life with him. He is every bit the wonderful husband and father I knew he'd be when I first got to know him, and he's still my favourite person to hang out with. He's the person responsible for most of the fun in this family and he takes *such* good care of his girls. We are so lucky.

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One Moment With Briony

Last night, I had one of those mommy moments that is difficult to put into words.

When Geoff, Emily, Paul, and I got back to our place after dinner yesterday, Briony wasn't quite sleeping. Her sixth sense kicked in and she started fussing the second I was swapped in for Grandma + Grandpa.

I went upstairs and scooped her up out of her crib, and we sat down together in the rocking chair in her room. She immediately cuddled up against me and made one of those super awesome completely-content-and-falling-asleep baby noises, patting me with her hand as she nodded off.

I couldn't move.

Rather, I didn't want to move.

We sat and rocked for a long, long time - Briony sleeping and Mama soaking in every single moment because I am painfully aware that my baby is not really a baby anymore. I just sat there looking down at her eyelashes and smelling her hair and listening to her breathe.

It was one of those moments that was extraordinary in its ordinary-ness, that you know you'll remember forever.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Very Olivia Birthday

It was a birthday fit for a pig. A rather FABULOUS pig named Olivia. And an equally fabulous little girl named Briony who's been a part of our little family for two years now - two magnificent, adventure-filled years.

On Saturday morning, a collection of friends and family helped us celebrate two whole years with Briony. Here's all the photographic evidence...

And here come the details...

I went a little overboard with some of the detail photos + info here because I know how incredibly difficult it was to find good Olivia birthday party ideas online. Hopefully some other mom of some other Olivia-loving kid out there will find this someday and breathe a sigh of relief :)

My friend Amber designed the email invitations.

The cake was made by Erin at Sweet Serindipity Cakes.

The Olivia plates, napkins, and foil balloons were ordered from BirthdayExpress.com (awesome site, by the way... practically everything we needed came in a box delivered to our house).

Olivia colouring pages were free to download and were a hit with our littlest guests.

We picked up containers of red play-doh at Toys R Us and used the toys that Briony already had to set up a little play-doh table for the kids.

The kids went home with balloons + treat bags.

We managed to find lots of great Olivia stickers for the treat bags on eBay and added red play-doh, star studded bouncy balls, and red lollipops. The clear bags were also from BirthdayExpress.com and Michael's had lots of PERFECT red and white ribbon options to finish them off.

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