A Pre-Haircut Orange
There's an orange and then there's an organic orange.

P.S. Prepare to be inundated with pictures... it's been far too long.
Growing Old
I must be getting older. Otherwise I would have been immensely embarrassed.

I was walking to my van through a busy parking lot, not really paying all that close attention to where I'm going. I knew the general vicinity of my van and had caught a glimpse of it while walking out of the store. But I was busy trying to fish my gloves out of my purse. A necessity with the air being negative bajillion degrees. I'm rather fond of my fingers in their unfrozen state.

I casually walk up to the door of a van, still pulling my gloves on, and got a weird feeling. I just knew this wasn't my van. Even though I hadn't really looked at it closely, I just knew. I nonchalantly walk around to the next van over, as if I meant to do that all along. I resisted the urge to look around, secretly hoping the owner wasn't the guy who walked out from the store behind me.

Yeah, I was embarrassed. But not humiliated, like I was when I did that as a teenager. I still remember it, probably because I actually tried to unlock the door.

Over and over again.
An All or Nothing Kind of Girl

We are having yet another snow storm in this fine state of Vermont. I growl about it but it is February after all. I should expect this.

To preface this re-accounting, I must tell you I have this quirky thing about me.... when I hear about a storm coming I panic a little. I must go to the store and stock up on six hundred and eighty seven eggs, twelve loaves of bread, twenty-seven gallons of milk, fifteen pounds of butter and enough snacks to feed an army. Just in case.

I'm so weird.

Here is where the problem developed. Daniel had to work late last night and my angel-girl who plays with Eve and Judah for a couple hours in the afternoon wasn't able to come.

You know where this is going, right?

Remember when I told you that I hadn't gone shopping with the three kids yet? The day that I had psyched myself up to go we had a snow storm? That I'm a wimp? Well, that is all history, baby....

I decided it was the night - I was going to do it. All three kids and I were going to conquer my fears together. Before I could wimp out I loaded them up in the van ( no small feat in and of itself!) and off we drove through the snow to get it done.

Before we got out to go and shop at the health food store I laid out the "plan." I'm going to choose to think that my "plan" wasn't a form of bribery but wisdom from above. Sounds good, right?! Okay, we'll roll with that. This is what I did: I explained that by their good behavior in the store they could earn a trip to the library. (You have to know I would not have taken them to the library if they had bad behavior. Just ask Daniel. I'm all about following through with what I've said. )

Happy screams all around!

In the store we went and they were angels. Seriously. This is the store that causes me to quiver in fear when I think of taking the kids in it. Small, narrow aisles; tons of low shelves perfect for curious hands to grab items from and usually I am buying eggs. All that spells: T-R-O-U-B-L-E. But Judah didn't grab one thing. The kids held hands the whole time and were very helpful.

Library trip earned.

Happy screams all around, again!

Next was the grocery store. And it was busy. Judah only took one thing off the shelf - a box of pasta. But, he put it right back - no stress. They did amazing again! It really helped to have them hold hands the whole time we were out of the van. That meant only one hand was free to preform mischief... cutting the chances of that happening in half! This time for their good behavior they earned a trip to the tiny grocery store down the road from our house. It is the store where we buy ice cream cones for their after dinner(If they have eaten well) ice cream dessert.

More happy screams!

So, in all I took the kids ( all three, remember!) to the health food store, the grocery store, the library, and the tiny grocery store. In a snow storm. Nothing like easing in, right! I thought about it later that evening and realized it was true to my all or nothing nature.

Go big or go home...

And I couldn't go home - I had twenty-five pounds of bananas to buy.
Blog Fotofest - Judah
Today I am taking part in the photo blogfest that Rachel of "Adventures of an American Mum" is putting on today. It's a sequence of three to five photos of your (or not your own) kids. Fun, don't you think! Join in if you'd like.

Icicles are made to be eaten... no matter where they come from!

Blog Fotofest - Eve

Pictures of Eve discovering a picture of..... Eve!

Craig's List

I've bought my first item off of Craig's List! Daniel saw me looking at the website the other night and groaned. Such little faith that man has in me! I was thrilled to find a wooden dollhouse. I have been wanting to give Eve one for awhile now but was being very picky.

Sunday night we set off to check it out. And oh, what a lovely trip it was. Not really. The baby was screaming her head off, the kids were in high anticipation of our weekly Sunday night surprise, Daniel was having a terrible time finding the movie he had in mind for the kids, and it was getting really late. Oh, and did I mention we didn't have any definite directions? But it was so worth all the trouble.

One wooden dollhouse with an open floor plan - perfect. A huge bag of wooden furniture and wooden dolls - major bonus!! And I paid just fifty dollars for it. I was more than happy to buy it for that amount of money, but I did feel bad because the woman could have sold it for WAY more than that. The furniture itself is a treasure!

I am so looking forward to my girls playing with it. Heck, who am I kidding.... Judah will be playing with it just as much as Eve and Eliza.
My arms are shaky... My legs feel like rubber bands... My quads are in distress....

I just completed my first spinning class! It was a ton of fun. Totally intense and I really felt like I was exercising! I love that feeling - I think this might be just what I needed to lose the weight. I'll keep on walking but spinning is what is really going to kick my butt into shape. I detest being out of shape, I feel so yucky about myself. This is going to be a whole lot of work but I am at the point where I will do whatever it takes!

Daniel, being the wonderful husband that he is, watched the kids for me so I could go this morning. The hardest part of all this was getting out of bed. I really hate that part....
Two years later.... He's still Winnie the Pooh

Eve resting after lifting my new twenty pound kettlebell about fifteen times!

What a girl my Eve is. Incredibly complex, yet easy to delight. Eve, like most kids, thrives on routine; she loves doing the same thing over and over again, day after day. Eve asks me every morning: "So, what are we doing today, Mama?" She likes to be "in the know" - just like me. I must know ahead of time what my focus needs to be for the day. I like to be very informed; to plan, and be prepared. I have an intimate relationship with my lists. And I have discovered that Eve loves a good list, just like me. Now, when it comes to food... we are on completely different planets. She is her Daddy's girl straight through.

There is another thing we are very different in. Repetition. I hate it. She loves it. I don't read books more than once, and movies... I HATE re-watching a movie I've already seen. I refuse to do it. Music - eh, I'm okay with listening to the same song a couple times in a row, but then we need to move on. ( Frosty the Snowman - Mom?!)

But my girl... oh, my dear, dear girl. Eve has listened to the same Winnie the Pooh tape everyday for the last two years.

I kid you not.

Side A for rest time and Side B for bedtime. Without fail. There have been maybe three times that we have traveled without bringing the tape deck and tape with us. Other than that I've heard the narrator and his little bell that tinkles every single day. Twice.

May I remind you... for two years.

This has not been good for my mental health. But, Eve loves it so I've never said a word. Seriously though.... help a girl out! I really need to know that I am not the only one. Tell me about you or your kids... is there anything that must be done every day without fail? Let me know I am not alone....

Or am I? Perhaps Winnie has gotten to me after all.
Good Morning...
Well hello Saturday... You're looking mighty fine. So bright and cheery! We won't discuss the cold, frigid, tundra-ness of your temperature. Or your laziness... We certianly won't discuss that either. Oh, do we have happy plans for you, my dear Saturday! A long walk through the glittering, crunchy snow, a trip to get hair color, a few loads of laundry, and a date... That makes me excessively happy! A date!

You've been sweet so far...

A steaming cup of chocolate raspberry coffee, for Daniel.... I only get to smell. But oh, what a smell!

Hearty pancakes with loads of Vermont maple syrup.

Loving snuggles in mama and daddy's big bed.

Do treat us well today, Saturday. I have such high hopes for you.


He's finally saying his own name! We've been trying to have him say "Judah" for the longest time, but he'd only ever say "you". Now he says "Tu-tah". He's so proud of his accomplishment! Completely melts my heart.
Grandma Chips plus a P.S.

This beautiful woman did all... ALL my laundry. And she held the baby and did my dishes, played with Eve and Judah, vacuumed, prepared food and just loved on me.

And I love her.
I want to be her when I grow up.

P.S. That baby you see.... Yeah, she slept through the night last night. I didn't even panic when I woke up and realized it. I just laid there with a smile on my face.
Let the good times roll.
The End of the Photo Shoot

It wasn't, perhaps, the best day to try and wrangle five children into an Easter photo shoot. Tarrah and I did it anyways. The shoot didn't go so well. It was too bad; they were all quite cute in their matching outfits.
.... there were so many puddles to jump in.

How to find a Good School
This whole school arena is completely new to me. Unfortunately for me, the complexity of finding a great school is elevated by the fact that we are moving into a completely new area. I don't even know where to start. I will have no friends to ask questions of - no contacts in the area. There is no networking available - and I am all about the networking, so I'm bit scared and feeling stressed!

Eve will be going to kindergarten this year( how is that even possible?!) What I want to know is.... how do I find a good school? What do I need to look for? What do I need to take into consideration? What questions should I be asking? Who should I be talking to?

I know many of you have navigated this area before and I need some advice. I need the tools so I can be proactive about the school search.

Love Notes

A months worth of love notes left on a bedpost every night.
From Mama to Eve....

I tell my kids all throughout the day that I love them. It's commonplace to hear Judah say eight, nine, ten times a day: "Mama, love you too" and really mean.... "love you, Mama."

He says this over and over until I answer him. If for some reason I can't right away, he gets insistent. Until I answer. He must get it through to me that he loves me, but just as much, he must hear that I love him also.

The other day I overheard Eve say to Judah:

"You know what?"

"I love you!"

"Did you know that?"

It was interesting to hear her say those words to Judah, because those are my words. I say that exact quote all the time. But, as I thought about it further, I wondered if they really feel loved. Do I show them I love them? Not just tell them?

It was good for me to work through that in my mind. I know they feel loved, but I think I could show them in even greater ways. More grace, more compassion. Not being so quick to speak but truly listening to the words they say to me.

Because love is an action, it needs to be fleshed out daily, in a thousand ways. I see love's work being accomplished in the most elementary of ways in Eliza's life. She is learning to love by being loved. Learning to feel comforted by the comfort she receives. Learning to smile from the smile she sees on my face.

The responsibilities rest heavy on my shoulders.

Motherhood is a daunting task at times.
The Verdict Is In....
... and it's not Minot. (We could just stop right now and I'd be happy for the rest of my days.)

I think I hear the angels singing. No. I am positive I hear the angels singing.

My stomach has been in knots for the last month, and the last few days have been spent in a perpetual state of nauseousness.

Anyone want to go sight some UFO's with me?

'Cause, we're headed to New Mexico!

Cannon AFB, here we come......

*Let me clarify... Cannon AFB was Daniel's first choice. And Daniel is my first choice, so I am happy because he is happy. I do not relish living in the middle of nowhere, but like Chris R. said: "it isn't recruiting." And, we are together... that has always been our motto. We've always said we can be happy as long as we are together. So, together we go to New Mexico. Happy as can be.
Valentine's Day Lovefest... With a Prize!
***The winner is Rachel from "The Adventures of an American Mum!" Congratulations to Rachel! Thanks for all the awesome participation - you made Valentine's Day extra special! I hope everyone enjoyed the blogfest as much as I did.

** Today was crazy for me! I have had a chance to read ONE post! I am planning on reading through your wonderful stories tomorrow morning - early before my kids get up. It was killing me to not be able to read through today.
You all are awesome - thanks so much for making this great! I am going to leave the voting open until 12 noon Saturday, February 16th. That way it gives everyone, who wants to, a chance to read through the list. Happy reading!

Welcome to the Valentine's Day "Lovefest!" hosted by yours truly. I am
glad you joined me in this! Each story here today is incredibly special and truly one of a kind. And I, for one, am so excited to read them all! Please do take the time to leave a comment when you stop by other's blogs. We all love comments and the warm, fuzzy feeling they give us! Besides, you may just make a new friend in the process.
Mr. Linky is at the bottom of this post. Enter your information as directed, that will make it easy for everyone to find you. ***After you've read the love stories, come back over here and leave me a comment voting for your favorite one. I have a $25 gift card to Victoria's Secret for the person with the story that receives the most votes. Yay! for new unmentionables! ( make sure I have a way to contact you, otherwise the prize will go to the runner up.)
Okay, here we go....

It all began the summer of '96. I was hanging out with my best friend Kristi as well as working at an ice cream shop. And I was in love. But not with Daniel. I was in love with "the guy", he was working for my dad and all I thought about.

I remember the first time I met Daniel. It was a summer afternoon spent hanging with Kristi and our regular gang ... and then there he was. It was very much not love at first sight.
Fast forward a few months.... I couldn't stand this boy named Daniel. He was arrogant and cocky. And he was in love with me and didn't really hide it well. I was annoyed with his existence and not nice to him at all. Since Kristi was dating his best friend, the four of us were put in the same space somewhat frequently, and it really irked me. But, Daniel grew on me and I didn't even know it. I was still in love with "the guy." The guy who didn't even know I existed, but that was trivial to me. The idea of him was better than, well, him. I eventually apologized for my very immature behavior and we settled into an awkward friendship. We went through our junior and senior years in this manner.
But it all came to a head one hot summer day. Daniel told me he was leaving. He was joining the Air Force and he was leaving for good. My heart clenched. How could he be leaving?! I had become so use to his presence and his attentiveness to me. I couldn't imagine life without him around. Daniel took my address that evening and said he was going to write. I didn't believe him for a second. Now, I know better.
I went on vacation shortly after that night, a week in the Adirondack's with my grandparents. When my mom came to pick me and my brothers up she handed me a small bundle of letters. Daniel had written me three letters in one week. Written by flashlight during basic training. From that moment it all began. The letters flew through the mail with regular Sunday phone calls, made by pay phone, swiftly following. The funny thing is I was still in love with "the guy." But man, was Daniel persistent. He didn't let it bother him that I thought I was in love with another boy.
Daniel came home for a short visit with his parents between Basic training and Tech school. It was on a chilly April night that I remember standing in our driveway, leaning on his parents van and deciding with him to give this thing we had a try. I let "the guy" go and let my affections rest on this boy I had standing in front of me. His hands stuffed in the pockets of his too big leather jacket and forty pounds of cologne sprayed on his body. I still can remember that smell. We exchanged the most awkward hug known to man and he drove away.
The next time I saw Daniel was nearly two years later. There I was picking him up from the airport with the knowledge that he had a diamond ring somewhere in his luggage. A diamond ring meant for my finger. We had written an incredible amount of letters to each other, talked on the phone more than we should have, and come to the realization that we loved each other. We longed to be together more than I even knew was possible. Distance had become our enemy. But starting that night we had three weeks to be together. Breathing the same air.
Standing in that airport waiting... Oh, I thought I was going to puke. How was I going to merge the "phone and letters" Daniel with the "real life, standing in front of me, probably going to want to kiss me" Daniel. I was scared. And it showed. We lightly hugged and headed to my car. Our hands rested together as I drove, both of us feeling rather shy and clumsy with this in person thing.

But we figured it out. It took quite a few days, but we figured it out. Daniel proposed to me while kneeling in a mud puddle in front of the church we were planning to marry in. It was November 14th, 2000. He boarded an airplane back to Alaska two weeks later. I thought I was going to die. I couldn't even get out of bed. Nothing mattered but being with him. Miserable didn't even begin to describe how we felt. Our wedding wasn't planned to take place for another year... How we were going to survive? I remember waking up one early, early March morning to my mom sitting on the side of my bed saying, "I have a plan." Her plan instantly went into action. Our wedding was taking place in a short three months from that morning! June 10th couldn't arrive quickly enough for us.

Seven months after the miserable November morning that Daniel boarded the plane bound for Anchorage Alaska, he descended back into my arms. And we haven't looked back since.
Our marriage isn't perfect, but the love is great. We are incredibly suited for one another. I am still amazed that the fifteen year old boy who I couldn't stand is the man I am now completely crazy for. The one I have had three beautiful children with. The one who I love more deeply than I can even describe. Isn't funny how life ends up... Happy Valentine's Day to you all!

Who I Am

I am the woman with a baby always in my arms. May it be a four year, a two year, or a seven week old baby. My arms are always full. And my heart.... it overflows.

Who are you?
Fun Fingers

Because it is so boring to have just one color when you could have ten different colors.
The Big Leagues
Judah is a happy boy!

Mama let him use glitter glue for the first time. Finally! No more longing looks towards Eve while she uses the glitter.

Judah's joined the crafting big leagues... but don't even think about using the scissors, son.

Roasted Sticky Chicken
I really love Costco. As if you didn't already know that. And I really, really love Costco's whole chickens. Great price, great packaging (no leaks) and you get two! But, there is one thing I hate about those chickens... the giblets aren't bagged. I have to reach in the cavity (yuck - what a gross word) and pull out the "stuff". I hate the "stuff". It skeeves me way out. I had to do it twice today because I was roasting two chickens.
Which brings me to my point... a recipe. Not only is this a really delicious roasted chicken, the broth you can make from the leftovers is amazing. The best ever. You'll never taste such delicious chicken soup as you will made from a leftover roasted sticky chicken. Let me just clarify - there is nothing sticky about this chicken. Yet, sticky is part of the name. Weird, huh! Anyways... here is the recipe:

Roasted Sticky Chicken


2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 large onion, quartered

Clean one whole chicken. Rub spices on the inside and outside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity (again, gross!) with onions. Roast uncovered at 250 degrees for 5 hours. Baste a few times during the cooking.

The prep time is like 5 minutes. It goes together SO quickly. I love that - I don't have time to mess around with complicated meals right now.

And I know, it takes 5 hours to cook, but that's the secret. I am doing mine at 300 degrees for 4 hours today because I didn't get it in early enough. But don't go higher than 300 degrees. It won't work. This is a great meal if you need to bring food to a friend because you can make two together - one for you and one for them.
Oh, and the smell that fills your house is worth every minute of those five hours.

Bon Appetit!


Valentine's Day Blogfest
You didn't think I had forgotten, did you? I hope you all are still on board for our lovefest because I am excited to read your unique love stories! And.... I'm really excited for Valentine's Day because I got Daniel the best card EVER. Okay, cards. I just couldn't pick one. They were both so good. Really, it doesn't take much to amuse me. Besides, I completely love this holiday! (I think it's all the red. You know how I feel about the color red! )

I hope to be able to make this incredible logo work as a button for you to grab and put on your respective blogs... maybe by tonight Daniel will have it figured out; I am exceedingly computer illiterate and I don't have a clue with that sort of thing. Isn't Brittany from 4 Little Men awesome?! She created this logo for me, which was incredibly generous seeing how she's got four boys and a husband to care for.

The idea of the lovefest is this.... On Valentine's day write your version of how you met your beloved along with as many pictures as you can find. The pictures are the best part after all! Come on over here Thursday morning, I will have a Mr. Linky up by 6 a.m. for you to add your blog to. That will make it super easy for everyone to find your story! Feel free to spread the word on your personal blog before then if you wish - I would love to be glued to the computer all afternoon reading your beautiful love stories.

Happy almost Valentine's Day!
The Weekend
Waiting for cute children to fill their empty spaces and laughter to fill the air

I just have to tell you - I hate not blogging. I am always thinking of things I want to write but the time... it is indeed fleeting and I have children and a husband who get real vocal if I don't pay them enough attention.

What in the world have we been up to? Life!

I love looking at pine trees with their winter coats on. I find them to be stunning.

I was able to walk with just Eliza on Friday, it was wonderful. I needed the silence that comes from the snow and no little voices asking me questions. It was an hour that brightened up my whole day. Our computer monitor up and died last week so that facilitated a trip to Costco on Friday night. The roads have been terrible but Daniel is an excellent driver. It was really great to get out of the house, but even better to have a monitor I could actually use again. It sure puts a damper on computer usage to not be able to see your screen!

Saturday morning Daniel and I took the kids to the library downtown, they were having a special Valentine's day craft time for the kids. I figured since we hadn't really left the house all week - except Eve for pre-school - that it would be nice to go and do something fun. Plus, let's be honest... someone else cleaning up the after craft time mess is highly desirable, to me at least. It was a really great time watching our kids be creative.

Judah was in awe of all the books the library had. It was beautiful... tall, tall ceilings, huge windows, art, sculptures, and wide open spaces. Just as a library should be.

Saturday night we went to go watch our friend Sam, who is a firefighter, play in a basketball game of firefighters verses the policemen. We love going to the games! And the best part was we won... hurray for the firemen!The kids had an absolute blast climbing up and down the bleachers, running around the gym and playing ring around the rosey. Needless to say, they absolutely crashed when we got back home.

Ring around the rosey, pockets full of posey....

Ashes, ashes we all fall down!

My beautiful, beautiful Eliza. I finally caught her smile on camera. She is talking and smiling so much now. She is such a ray of sunshine in my life.

Do you see her dimple? I live to see that dimple...

Sunday was our day to recoup. We hung out and chilled except for a trip to the health food store to purchase Eve's prize. Eve had reached the candy reward (half-way) part of her good behavior chart. She picked out some chocolate, of course. I love seeing her achieve a goal. She was completely thrilled with herself. We have such great kids. A couple of them tend to be a little on the stinky side at times, but pretty great and totally cute.

All in all it was a really nice weekend.

But, I missed you!

A princess must never be without a parasol

or her best friend

I decided a few days ago that I was going on an exercise streak. I shamelessly stole the idea from this lady; I really needed to do something to keep myself motivated. Okay, so I would only have to look in the mirror to be really motivated, but I'm avoiding that shiny object hanging in nearly every room of our house.
My adopted motto when I lost the weight from being pregnant with Judah was "Eat less, move more". It still rings true even if I don't really like it. I found it so easy last time to lose the weight, once I decided I was going to, that is. It was April which meant semi-warm weather making the walking with the kids thing super easy. I just put them in the stroller with plenty of snacks and off we went. Not so easy this time. I've been walking at the gym or outside and last night started doing Crossfit with Daniel.

I am extremely determined, I refuse to be in the position I found myself in after I had Judah. I don't know if it was a thyroid problem or just me, but this time is different. I am exercising and most certianly eating differently and with much more discretion - well, except for my animal cookies downfall. I really love them. I'm trying to convince myself that a grapefruit would be just as satisfying. It hasn't worked yet.

I know a lot of you are trying to lose weight as well, so tell me - what are you doing for exercise and how much weight do you intend to lose. (highly personal, I know!!)
I'll start... I've already told you my exercise choices: pilates, walking, or Crossfit. And my weight to lose: 17 pounds. (much better than the 50 pounds I lost last time!)

C'mon, don't be shy. I need some accountability partners or those animal crackers may get the best of me!
Sisters, sisters
There were never such devoted sisters

All kinds of weather, we stick together
The same in the rain and sun
Two different faces,
but in tight places
We think and we act as one

Those who've seen us
Know that not a thing could come between us

I love being able to say "my daughters" or use the word "sisters" when referring to Eve and Eliza. I have two brothers so I never had the joy of having a sister. And to be entirely truthful, I never wanted one. I liked having my own room, being the only granddaughter and daughter, and not having to share. Pretty selfish, I know. But now how my tune has changed. I wish all the time that I had a sister. I love my friends and I love my mom, but I just know there is something special about having a sister to share life with. I am thrilled that my girls will have this. And I sincerely hope that the four year age difference has no ill effect on the closeness of their relationship. I am looking forward to watching my girls grow up together...... just as long as it's not too quickly.
Two Slices of Banana
Two little slices of banana stand in the way of Eve and her afternoon snack. The rule around here is this: You can choose to eat your meal and have a snack later or you can choose to not finish your meal and miss out on snack.

This rule works good for us but sometimes, like today, I have to shake my head at the logic of my children. Eve could have eaten those two pieces of banana in one bite, but she chose not to. And I have to stick to my guns.

She's such a silly, silly girl at times.

It's good that our kids learn to make their own choices, and it's also good for our kids to see how those choices directly affect them. This consistent real life learning, in a loving home, may start out small but over the years will translate into great life lessons. The consequences of their choices are minor today, in ten years they may not be so minor, but the love will still be the same.

Two stinkin' slices of banana...
Go Figure
I have taken the three kids out by myself on a few occasions, such as AWANA and to preschool, but never to the grocery store. This morning, at an hour far to early to be deciding rational things, I determined that today was the day. I was taking the kids to the health food store. I needed zinc -we are all out and I tend to get a little panicky when I find myself in that dark, dark place. All was well until Daniel asked me if I had seen outside yet. I looked and saw this:

And this:

The roads... not conducive to traveling or hauling three small children in and out of vehicles. I am totally bummed. I had really psyched myself up and decided I could do this! I guess it will have to wait for another day.

It is gorgeous though, isn't it?
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