August – September 2018

I’m working backwards to start with the most exciting update…Connor’s First Day of First Grade!!  (September 4, 2018 – Shelton Park Elementary School)

R: Morgan was so excited to finally pickup Connor after school!!

Experiencing a full day of first grade at the “big school” was definitely an adjustment! Connor loved it from the first day, and we are all pleased with his teacher and the school overall. Morgan and I are getting used to our newfound time together, although she still spends a good chunk of it napping. It’s bittersweet for me to lose so much time with Connor, but he is learning and thriving and comes home happy each day.  A big highlight for him was losing his second tooth while at school.  His “new friend” walked him to the clinic and he came home with a plastic tooth necklace containing his tooth.

On Monday of the second week of school, Hurricane Florence was threatening to hit our area hard enough that the schools decided to go ahead and close for the rest of the week. We decided not to take our chances and drove to Michelle’s on Tuesday night. She and her family were so gracious to take us in after we had just been there a week prior! The hurricane took a turn and didn’t bring any damaging wind or rain to our area after all, so we enjoyed our impromptu “vacation” and then drove home on Saturday.

What’s new with Morgan?

-She says EVERYTHING, even full sentences, although most people wouldn’t understand most of what she says!! Her words are not very discernible to the “naked ear,” but through context, signs, and being with her all the time, we are able to understand the majority of what she says.

-Morgan loves to sing, especially Baa Baa Black Sheep, the ABC’s, and Let it Go. (She starts singing the ABC’s anytime she sees letters or words!)

-We call the kids “Pete and Repeat.” I’m sure you can guess who is who!

Moving backwards to August:

Towards the end of summer, we enjoyed a visit from my dad and stepmom, and a family trip to Washington, DC followed by a few days with Aunt Michelle and her family.  In addition, Connor attended two short camps at his previous school, and lost two teeth!

Connor attended Vacation Bible School in July and a “Bug Camp” the week after Gram and Grandpa left. Both camps were at Bayside Presbyterian Church. He had fun, brought home lots of crafts, and enjoyed being with a few friends he knew from Kindergarten. Luckily for me, friends were able to drive him home each day while Morgan was at home napping!

Gram and Grandpa came for a visit in early August! We enjoyed a magic show at the library, celebrating Morgan’s birthday (again!), and Connor loved going to a Home Depot Kids workshop with them. Charlie and I had tickets to see Pentatonix while they were here, so we got to relax and enjoy an evening out while knowing the kids were safe and happy at home with their grandparents.


The middle of August was spent soaking up as much time as possible at the pool and playground. Morgan had a few days of swim class, and although she “swims” like crazy when we go to the pool with Connor, she wasn’t too thrilled about getting in the water during her class! Thankfully the instructors let Connor get in the water as well, so the time and effort to get there were made worth it by him being able to swim!

Connor lost his first tooth on August 21st! The adult tooth was already coming in behind the baby tooth before it was even loose, but the dentist said that’s fairly common.

Family trip to Washington, DC

Charlie took three weeks of leave, and during that time we took a trip to Washington, DC and also stopped at Aunt Michelle’s for a few days. He grew up in Northern Virginia, but I think we decided it had been 14 years since he had been back??


I had a little help packing!

Saturday, 8/25

We drove to DC through LOTS of traffic. Thankfully, the kids did really well in the car. Once we got close, we drove past Charlie’s old houses and elementary school. After a quick Chick-fil-A lunch, we drove the remaining half hour to our hotel in Alexandria. It was a nice 2-room suite, and Connor would have been happy staying there for the next four days!! We headed across the street to the metro station and made our way to Arlington National Cemetery. The weather was beautiful – sunny and in the 80s. We visited the grave of Charlie’s grandmother and grandfather, walked past the Vietnam helicopter pilot memorial, caught part of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and saw the Eternal Flame at the Kennedys’ graves. Morgan was completely happy hanging out in the stroller, and poor Connor was tired of walking! We left the cemetery around 6:00pm and made it back to the hotel. After eating dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, we finally made it through baths and got everyone to sleep by 9:30pm.

Sunday, 8/26

Our two-room suite was a blessing so that Morgan and I could get up and play while the boys slept. Connor slept until 8:15, which is completely unheard of! After breakfast at the hotel (which is always a highlight of any trip for Connor!), we took the metro and then walked to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. It was already hotter than yesterday and everyone was a sweaty mess all day! We managed to see the wall, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial, and Washington Monument without TOO much complaining from Connor. In his defense, it was a LOT of walking! Finally I carried Morgan in the Tula so that Connor could ride in the stroller. We walked across the street to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, which neither of us had seen before. While walking back and taking in views of the Jefferson Memorial across the water, Morgan fell a sleep for a sweaty nap.

We walked to the old Post Office Pavilion, which is now a Trump International Hotel. Charlie remembered a food court in the building and we were all hungry for lunch, but we quickly realized once we arrived that the food court no longer exists. We took the elevator to the top of the tower and enjoyed the beautiful views of DC. Our plan was to head to the Zoo next, but we still needed to find lunch. Meanwhile, several city blocks and metro stations near us had been blocked off because of a bomb threat, so we hopped on a bus to anther metro station. After stopping for Jimmy John’s sandwiches, we took the metro to the Zoo. In spite of the heat, we all enjoyed seeing elephants, otters, seals, pandas, and more.

After a long walk back to the metro (improved for Connor by slurping a frozen lemonade on the way) and a long metro ride to the hotel (during which we kept busy with activity books), we all took turns in the shower/bath and then had dinner. Charlie picked up dinner from a restaurant next door, and the kids thought it was pretty awesome to eat in the hotel room while watching Monsters University on TV. It’s the little things in life!

Monday, 8/27

Morgan must have wanted another adventure with me, so after she woke up at her usual 6:00am, we got dressed and went outside while the boys slept. We enjoyed watching buses, trains, people, and playing with empty coffee cups. After the boys woke up and we all had breakfast, we took the metro and then walked to the National Museum of Natural History. Morgan was already asleep in the stroller by the time we arrived! Connor was so excited to see the dinosaur exhibit, then was a little disappointed that there were only two large dinosaur skeletons. Charlie and I were impressed with all the animal exhibits.

After walking to the National Air and Space Museum, we had a quick lunch in the cafe before perusing the museum. Connor enjoyed it, and Morgan found enough to keep her content.

Connor had been asking nonstop about swimming at the hotel, and we finally had the chance. After arriving at our hotel and changing into swimsuits, we all went down to the pool only to hear the lifeguard say she was on lunch break for another fifteen minutes. After a snack in the hotel room, we headed down again to find many other people magically waiting there as well. We finally got to swim, and Connor had a blast, especially since he had Daddy to play with him the whole time! Next came baths, a delicious dinner that Charlie picked up from a nearby Mexican restaurant, and bedtime.


View of the Capitol

Tuesday, 8/28

Connor decided to join the early morning crew, so the three of us played outside the hotel while Charlie slept. After our usual breakfast and metro ride, we made our way to the International Spy Museum. Morgan enjoyed a cool, air-conditioned nap in the Tula while we all made our way through the museum. It was really neat, and Connor especially liked seeing James Bond’s Aston Martin with all of its spy features.

Morgan woke up as we left the museum and walked to the National Museum of American History. The kids enjoyed seeing lots of vehicles, and Morgan was in the mood to run around more than the last few days. Connor wanted to be her tour guide and show her everything. The highlight of the museum for me was seeing the original “Star Spangled Banner” flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write his famous lyrics.

We headed back to the hotel early to relax. I think everyone had finally hit the sightseeing wall!  After relaxing for a while, we took a walk and stopped at a few places, including a restaurant to have calzones for an early dinner.  Then we walked back for our last night at the hotel!

Early morning adventures outside the hotel while Daddy was sleeping

The original Batmobile at the Museum of American History and James Bond’s Aston Martin at the International Spy Museum

Wednesday, 8/29

Finally, everyone slept until 7:00am! After packing, eating breakfast, and checking out of the hotel, we hit the road for Aunt Michelle’s house. We stopped near Dulles Airport to visit the Udvar-Hazy Center, which is part of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Morgan napped while we wandered around and looked at the space shuttle and countless airplanes. It was a great museum! We had a quick lunch before finishing the drive to Michelle’s, which took longer than it should have due to detours and windy back roads. We arrived mid-afternoon and had time to play and relax before dinner, bath, and bed.

Udvar-Hazy Center

We enjoyed the next few days relaxing at Michelle’s house. Connor always loves spending time with his aunt, uncle, and cousins. Unfortunately, his cousin Garrett is away at Virginia Tech, but he had a great time with Eric as usual! Morgan spent most of her time climbing up and down the stairs and trying to get into everything she isn’t supposed to instead of playing with toys. As much as I love spending time with family, it’s always nice to come back home to our babyproofed house!

We went to the Children’s Museum of Richmond while visiting Michelle

L:  Morgan couldn’t get enough of Blaze the cat while at Michelle’s house!                      R:  I tried to teach Morgan how to lay back and relax

On Sunday we drove home and mostly unpacked, then Connor and I went to a birthday party on Labor Day Monday while Charlie stayed home with Morgan. And just like that…it was time for school!

Here are a few extra pictures from these last two months:

On September 21st, we visited the Arc Gloria from Colombia while it was docked in Norfolk


Happy 2nd birthday, Morgan Louise!

Wasn’t it just yesterday that you were swaddled in our arms? Our lives were forever changed the moment we brought you home, and we can’t even imagine life without you. Your sweet, caring, and inquisitive personality is tempered with a bit of stubbornness and independence, and we wouldn’t change a single thing about you.

Connor is your best buddy and my heart swells when you greet each other in the morning or after an absence!  You two truly love playing together, and I certainly pray that continues as you both get older.  I can’t deny that there are tough moments when you wreck something he built, grab his toy or book, or when Connor plays a bit too wildly with you, but you two have a deep love for each other that shines above the fray.

Daddy is your other best buddy, and I can’t help but smile when I think about the sweet and tender bond you two have. There’s no excitement quite like Daddy coming home from work each evening, and I just love watching you run into his arms to hug and kiss him. I look forward to watching Daddy be your guiding light as you mature.

Between your countless signs and your attempt to “say” everything, we are usually able to understand what you are communicating to us. Your favorites toys are Paw Patrol, Duplo, LEGO minifigures, and animals. You love to eat, and I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that you won’t eat. Just last night you scarfed down Daddy’s homemade cabbage rolls, and kept asking for more sauerkraut.

After reminiscing about your brother’s sleep habits at this age, I am still surprised by how well you sleep…knock on wood! Most nights you sleep all the way through, and if you do wake up, we just snuggle in the glider and you go right back to sleep. Naptime is a consistent 2-ish hours. After weaning two months ago, Mommy is still the one you want to put you to sleep for bedtime and naptime, but I can’t complain!

On your actual birthday, our family of four had cupcakes and sang to you. We will celebrate your birthday again and open gifts later this week because Gram and Grandpa are coming to visit!

If you are interested, you can read about Morgan’s 1st birthday here or her birth story here.

Here are a few recent pictures and a video:


img_7227She wanted to wear knee pads to the playground!
img_7226 I don’t have a mini-me, but at least there is finally some resemblance!

Morgan is practicing “Baa Baa Black Sheep”…with a little help from Connor!

Summer update

Summer is upon us! Connor has been out of school since May 25, and we have been enjoying our summertime so far.


Our last day playing on the school playground after school. We spent practically every afternoon here!

First and last days of Kindergarten

Connor “graduated” from Kindergarten and will start first grade at the public school this Fall. He is currently NOT excited about that, and anytime I bring up the subject, he says he wants to “do homeschool.” I think he’s nervous about being in a new place with new people. There are only two friends that he knows from Kindergarten who will attend his new school. On the bright side, when someone at the pool last week asked Connor what school he goes to, he sounded proud and confident when he answered, “Shelton Park!” I suppose it’s a step in the right direction!

In other Connor news, he now wears glasses. We had no idea he had any vision problems until his annual checkup this year. Connor was really excited to wear glasses, but the novelty has worn off and he usually forgets to wear them if we don’t remind him!

Connor completed his spring soccer season a few weeks ago. He liked his coached and teammates and had a lot of fun.

We have been getting into the swing of our summer routine, which includes morning swim lessons, one-on-one time for Connor and me while Morgan naps, afternoon pool or playground time, then two worn out kiddos watching a show while I get dinner ready. It’s rare during the school year for Connor and me to have time with just the two of us, so we have been trying to enjoy our opportunities this summer while Morgan naps. We spent the first week playing Monopoly every day, and lately we have been building Legos in his room.

Connor and Morgan are both turning into little fish! Last summer’s big accomplishment was for Connor to put his head all the way underwater, and this summer he really hit the ground running and has made a lot of progress. He is having a blast “swimming” on his own in the shallow end without floaties. Morgan wears a Puddle Jumper and was pretty hesitant the first time we went to the pool, but now she just jumps right in!

Morgan has grown up so much in the last few months. She is “talking” all the time! She says many, many words – in her own way – but between context clues and her signs we can usually understand what she is saying. She has been saying Mama and Dada for a while, but in April she added “Ah-nah!” for Connor, and finally last month started saying “Ah-nan!” for Morgan. She likes to do a “roll call” and calls out each of our names, waiting for us to say “here!” Morgan loves her brother and Daddy, books, LEGO minifigures, and Paw Patrol toys. (Oh, who am I kidding…she loves the Paw Patrol show, too.)

There were two big changes for Morgan last month. We converted her crib into a toddler bed because she was starting to climb, and I decided to bite the bullet and wean her at the same time. She has always nursed to sleep while rocking in the glider, so being able to actually lay with her in the toddler bed gave me an opportunity to create a new bedtime routine. Weaning her was bittersweet, but she actually transitioned really well. She has gone through phases of various bedtime shenanigans as I attempt to master a new routine, and every week seems to be a new adventure. First it was asking to go potty every five minutes and stuffing her stuffed animals behind the crib bumper. After we got over that hump, she spent several nights screaming for a Paw Patrol bandaid for her week-old boo-boo that had already healed. Her latest shenanigan is needing two pairs of socks – one for her feet and one for her hands. We are also running the gamut of ways to fall asleep: laying next to each other in her bed, laying on top of me in her bed, being held while I stand up, laying across my lap while rocking in the glider…or on Daddy’s lap in front of the TV because she wouldn’t go down for a nap. (Oh, and she sleeps through the night, while her brother still ends up in our bed most nights!)

Grandma Penny and Oma’s visit
My mom and grandma spent a week with us at the end of April/beginning of May. It was such a wonderful week, and we didn’t want to see them go! Many memories were made that will not be forgotten. Morgan was saying “Ah-ma” for Oma and signing “Penny” by the first day they were here, and she still “talks” about them. They got to see Connor’s spring program, and we also attended a performance of the Virginia International Military Tattoo.


Oma brought the best activity books for Connor!


Grandma Penny and Connor always read the Knuffle Bunny books when they are together

Reading and puzzles with Grandma Penny

Here are a few pictures before Connor’s spring program: 


Here are a few more pictures from the last two months:


Enjoying a lemon slice outside Dockside while we wait for our dinner with Grandma Penny and Oma


Copying Fozzie Bear’s tongue


Riding the train at the Zoo on Mother’s Day


These two really love spending time together. I hope it lasts!

Visiting the farm animals at a library event


Happy 6th Birthday, Connor!

We just can’t believe the ways you have grown this past year! You are such a clever little boy with so much enthusiasm and zest for life. There is never a dull moment in our house! You still love Legos like crazy, but you also love playing with your little sister. I think you have found your partner in crime!

Kindergarten has been lots of fun for you, and we absolutely love hearing you read. We hope that you will always continue to find as much joy in books as you do now! You have made many friends this year, and I know it will be difficult to start first grade in a new school next year with new faces. Your outgoing and friendly spirit will help you make new friends.

This year, we had a party at the playground near our house. Several friends from school came, as well as two friends from last year’s class, and a few Army friends as well. It was a sunny and hot day. Everyone had a great time!

Lego Ninjago cupcakes, and Lego head marshmallow pop favors

Your birthday was on a Monday this year.  Daddy came downstairs early before work so that you could open your last two gifts, which were Lego sets, of course.  I had to setup for a MOPS meeting before school, and you always help me.  Since it was your birthday, I offered for you to have a Chick-fil-a breakfast while I setup, and you gladly accepted.  (But you still helped me setup anyway!)  Pretty much all of your time outside of school today was spent building your new Lego sets.

We love you to the moon and back! We are so lucky to be your Mommy and Daddy!

Here is a look back at Connor’s previous birthday photos:


2012 (Colorado Springs)


2013 (Germany)


2014 (Germany)


2015 (Germany)


2016 (Virginia Beach)


2017 (Virginia Beach)

Spring update

We kicked off spring break by spending Easter weekend with Aunt Michelle, Uncle Brock, and Eric. Thankfully it was warm enough to play outside! We also had an early birthday “celebration” for Connor while we were together. Connor enjoyed eating breakfast on Aunt Michelle’s special birthday plate, followed by cupcakes and opening two new LEGO sets. Connor loved having some LEGO-building time with his cousin Eric. The highlight of the weekend for Morgan was exploring outside and constantly searching for the cat. She “told” me over and over, through a combination of signs and sounds, that the “orange cat was sleeping under the truck.” After a nice Easter lunch, we drove home and the kids found their Easter baskets.

Connor helped Uncle Brock spread mulch.  Morgan “helped” load the wheelbarrow, and couldn’t get enough of the cat!

The kids and I enjoyed a beautiful and peaceful walk around Aunt Michelle’s property on Easter morning.

On Monday of spring break, Connor, Morgan, and I met his friend Willow at Cloud9, an indoor trampoline park. We all had a blast jumping for an hour, and then Connor went with Willow to Chuck E. Cheese to play and have lunch, followed by more playing at her house. Meanwhile, Morgan and I enjoyed some quiet time at home, followed by a much-needed trip to the grocery store. Connor had a blast spending time with Willow all day, and he was exhausted!

The rest of spring break was much more low-key. We played at a few playgrounds, relaxed at home, and went to an opera performance of The Three Billy Goats Gruff at the library.

What’s new with Morgan?

-21 months old

-Canine teeth are cutting through

-Uses the potty sometimes

-Says Mama, Dada, and uh-oh

-Uses many, many signs to communicate with us

-Echoes lots of vocal sounds

-Can’t get enough of her brother, and copies EVERYTHING he does

-Climbs all over the house and playground

-Loves dogs, books, playing outside, coloring, and helping to empty the dishwasher

-Starting to get a stubborn streak and wants to do things herself, like buckling her car seat or high chair, or putting on clothes

Here are a few more pictures from the past two months:


A young Charlie being held by his older brother, Jeff. I love seeing how much Morgan looks like Charlie!

Top:  Can you tell she put on her own shirt?

Bottom:  Loading up her basket at the Children’s Museum, and feeding her animals as we empty the dishwasher

Lining up her monster trucks, and coloring the Paw Patrol pups

And here are the two sweet siblings who can’t get enough of each other!  I sure hope it lasts!

February 2018

Where has the time gone? It has been about two months since my last update on the kiddos, and it’s unbelievable to look back and see how much they have both grown and developed in that short amount of time! They both keep us busy and there is certainly never a dull moment.

We enjoyed the Christmas holiday in Virginia with Charlie’s parents, sister, and her family. After a few days at his sister’s house, Charlie’s parents spent a week with us as well. That week was stretched out even further after we got slammed with a foot of snow and their flight home was cancelled! Connor loved playing in the snow, but poor Morgan couldn’t even walk in it because it was so deep. It stayed below freezing for several days, which meant nothing melted and we didn’t go to school for almost a week!

Reading with Granddad

Coloring with Grandma


Connor loves kindergarten and I am blown away by his developing reading and math skills. His teachers are wonderful and we are so happy with his school. It will be bittersweet to attend a different school next year. Connor and his class hosted a sweet Valentine’s Breakfast for families on Friday, and he is looking forward to his class party and card exchange next week.

Connor loved having Morgan in his classroom for his Valentine’s Breakfast!

Our little man is still as active as ever, and can be found creating obstacle courses with the couch cushions or playing tag daily! Thankfully he has a slower mode as well, and loves to read with us. His current favorite book series are Captain Underpants, Dog Man, and Magic Tree House.

Speaking of active…Miss Morgan is 18 months old and full of energy and personality! She is still quite the little climber, and cannot be easily deterred from scaling any obstacles in the house. She officially “runs” now, and Connor loves to try and play tag with her. At the playground, she loves to climb on the equipment and swing on her belly.

Morgan has her own “secret lab,” as Connor likes to call it. There is an end table and chair by the window where she brings all her new and exciting objects to further investigate and play with. I usually lose a cup or Tupperware container every morning as she “helps” empty the dishwasher and I find it later on her table, filled with small animal figures or play food.

Our little lady has been learning and developing like crazy. Her latest trick is peeing on the potty! I decided to get out the small potty just to use before bath time, but her interest took off from there. For about two days I felt like I couldn’t get her OFF the potty because she was so interested. Thankfully the novelty has worn off, so when she asks to go (by using the sign for “pee”), she just sits for a minute and does her business (or doesn’t), and then she’s ready to get down and move on with our day.

My favorite moments these days are hearing Connor constantly talk about his sister to other people when we are out, and hearing Morgan’s shrieks of delight when she sees Connor. I hope these two continue their close bond as they grow!

Here are a few more pictures from the last two months:


Morgan wearing a dress that my mom smocked for me when I was almost 2 years old!

My little exercise buddy

Enjoying the beautiful weather!

Does she look guilty?  She pulled a bag of bread off the kitchen counter and brought it to her “secret lab.”

Enjoying the beautiful weather!

These kids can’t get enough of their Daddy

I love when I catch her reading on her own!

We enjoyed a family day at the Aquarium


Getting ready to head to school for the Valentine’s Breakfast

Happy Holidays from Virginia Beach!

Happy Holidays from Virginia Beach!

What a blessed year it has been in our household. Life is certainly busier these days with two active kiddos in the house, but we wouldn’t change a thing. Watching the relationship blossom between Connor and Morgan has been such a joy! We can hardly go anywhere without Connor announcing, “This is my little sister! Her name is Morgan!” She reciprocates his excitement by shrieking with delight whenever Connor enters the room.

Connor turned 5 in April and is thriving in Kindergarten. I’m so pleased that we decided to keep him at Bayside Presbyterian, where he has been for the past two years. He goes everyday from 9:30-1:00. His teachers are fantastic, and he is learning so much! Connor loves trying to read everything he sees. We stay after school for about an hour each day to play on the playground with friends. (Morgan looks forward to this playtime as much as Connor does!) When we aren’t at school, Connor enjoys reading Captain Underpants with Mommy or Daddy, building/playing with all the couch cushions, pillows, and blankets, and of course he still loves building LEGOs. Connor participated in both a Spring and Fall soccer league this year, which was a fun experience for him.

Morgan is growing too quickly! She is approaching 17 months old and has quite the little personality. Morgan loves to put on shoes and clothes, enjoys looking at books (especially with animals), dances anytime she hears music, mimics many sounds, and uses around 50 signs to communicate. Her new favorite activity (besides climbing on everything) is helping Connor and Mommy empty the dishwasher every morning. She carries handfuls of silverware to the drawer and dumps them in, and hands plates to Connor. To celebrate this holiday season, Morgan enthusiastically sings “La la la!” anytime she hears Deck the Halls.

Charlie enjoys his teaching position at the Army School of Music. He was promoted to Sergeant First Class earlier this year, earned his Senior Instructor badge, and also attended the Army Senior Leadership Course. Charlie was fortunate to have several travel and performance opportunities this past year as well. He traveled to Wisconsin to perform at a national convention with his faculty woodwind quintet, assisted Army band liaisons with recruiting at ClarinetFest in Florida, and also filled in with the TRADOC Band from Fort Eustis for their holiday performances. A highlight of Charlie’s year was spending Homecoming weekend at the University of South Carolina and participating in the alumni band.

I am grateful that I have the privilege of staying home with the kids. When I’m not busy playing tag with Connor or pulling Morgan down from her latest climbing feat, I keep busy with a few other tasks as well. I volunteer as the Family Readiness Group leader for Charlie’s unit, and I am also working a few hours as the childcare coordinator for two different groups that meet at the church where Connor goes to school.  In May, Morgan and I flew to Buffalo to spend a short weekend with four of my friends from college.  It was amazing to catch up after all these years, and introduce our little ones to each other.

We wish you health and happiness during this holiday season. Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!


Charlie, Ashley, Connor, & Morgan

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