Feels like forever + can you find them?

Hi friends!

It feels like forever since I have been able to write a proper post. Not having power for almost a week and not having internet/wifi at home for almost 2 weeks was not the most fun thing in the world, but we made it! But I’m happy to report that all of that has been restored, and life has returned to normal (phew)!

But let’s back up to last week…

The tornado that whipped through our area did a number on our property. It was pretty bad, but I try to remind myself that it could have been a lot worse.

One of the trees took out our playset –> Although we didn’t really use it (I was hoping our baby boy would one day hang out here) it’s pretty sad to see it looking in such a state.

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Joel was a champ and got to work cleaning everything up — chopping up trees and raking up the branches, leaves, twigs, and random debris that got strewn all over the lawn. It was hard work, and he was quite the trooper. He somehow doesn’t get overwhelmed with the magnitude of the task –> he says he breaks up the big job into smaller manageable “action items” so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. I think that is a good mindset for other things in life too πŸ™‚

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It drizzled all day long and his boots and clothes were completely soaked. He rigged up this contraption to help speed up the drying process. I tell ya, life without electricity is somethin else. It felt pretty similar to camping except not as fun hah.

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On one of the days last week a few friends came over to help. It’s true what they say –> many hands really do make light work. Being almost 9 months pregnant meant I wasn’t able to help out as much as I would have liked, but I tried to lend some good moral support and picked upΒ  pizza and drinks to help fuel their manual labor. There are 6 people in the photo below… can you find them all? πŸ™‚

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When there is no electricity, books come to the rescue! I finished The German GirlΒ –> it was my favorite book club pick to date. I was truly pulled into the story, so much so that I cried at some points! I love it when books can touch your heart so deeply.

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While engrossed in my book, I discovered the deliciousness of untoasted marshmallows. Normally I only have marshmallows toasted in smores, but I found they are pretty yummy untoasted on their own. My friend Rachel poked fun at me for eating what is essentially just sugar (hah), but I gotta say, it was tasty!

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Another book that I blazed through while the electricity was out:Β The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I have not seen the movie but I can confirm that the book is incredible. If you haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend picking it up. It is told through the eyes of a child, which lends a voice of innocence to a very dark time. I was thoroughly captivated by every word. Some parts of it made me cry! There’s nothing like a good book.

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Working from home gets a little more complicated when you don’t have electricity. Joel took a couple days off to work on the backyard but there were a few meetings he couldn’t reschedule, so we went over to the library parking lot where he could connect to their wifi and participate in one of his shorter meetings. Our library also has private rooms that he used for one or two of his longer conference calls too.

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Something else we did one night while the power was outΒ  –> we put a puzzle together! This puzzle was so much fun. It was easier than our other one that we did the last time we lost power (only 300 pieces as opposed to 1000). I wised up and used an LED flashlight instead of candles, which made seeing the pieces and colors much easier.

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Cooking at home in the dark did not sound appealing (plus we were itching to get out of the house) so we headed to Red Lobster for some eats. I almost never order shrimp — it’s not my favorite seafood… but for some reason the grilled shrimp skewers sounded good so I went with it. The broccoli and asparagus were pretty great too.

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We hung out at the library a lot to charge up our phones and laptops, and catch up on work stuff. I forgot my water at home bottle at home so stopped at the store to pick up a drink. A nice cold carton of coconut water sounded (and tasted) particularly delicious!

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Another one of our post-tornado dinners was at Longhorn Steakhouse — I got a strawberry and orange salad with grilled chicken. It was pretty darn good. I just realized that although we have gone to Longhorn multiple times, I have never actually had their steak. Joel ordered his steak medium rare but was disappointed when it came out medium. I feel like steak is hard to get perfect, right? He said maybe next time he should order it rare, then it will come out medium rare.

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We finally got power back a couple days before my girlfriends and their husbands and kiddos arrived for Memorial Day Weekend. In total, we did not have electricity for 6 days, which is the longest I have not had power. Phew! My friends would have been fine “camping” in our house without power, but as the host, I was certainly glad to get electricity back.

Lydia and her baby Amani arrived first, then Evan and Kristi and their daughter, followed shortly by Amy and her 8 week old baby, Grace and Sang and their 1 year old boy, Rachel and Pete and their daughter Acacia, and lastly Colleen!

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I grew up with these girls, and we all went to the same boarding school in Kenya. Through the years our friendship has remained strong and I can’t imagine life without them. We try to get together annually for a reunion, and I’m tellin ya, I’m already looking forward to the next one! I’ll fill you in more on the weekend next time! πŸ™‚

What did you do over memorial day weekend? Have you ever lost power for longer than a couple days? Do you ever eat marshmallows untoasted?

 

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Rain and sun

Hi friends!

I can’t believe the holiday weekend is almost over – I sure wish I could slow time down on long weekends like this.

There is nothing more rejuvenating than some quality time with very good friends! We had such fun with these amazing people.

We did a lot of backyard fires, smores, staying up late talking, and watching the little kids get to know each other.

I love making memories with my girlfriends and their families! This weekend definitely goes down in the history books as a favorite.

Our internet was finally fixed today, which is a nice cherry on top of an already stellar weekend. It’s pretty great having wifi back up and running at home. Looking forward to writing a proper post when i get a few hours of sleep under my belt! πŸ™‚

They are here!

Hi friends!

Happy Friday! It’s a good one around here πŸ™‚

Despite still not having internet/wifi at home and writing this from my phone, I am a decidedly happy camper.

Why?

Because some of my favorite people on earth are here for the holiday weekend!

Lydia and her daughter Amani arrived yesterday afternoon, and shortly thereafter Kristi, Evan, and their kiddo rolled in.

Fun fact: Kristi and Evan went to the same college as Joel and me! We go way back πŸ™‚

Another fun fact: Kristi, Lydia, and I went to the same boarding school in Kenya! We grew up together.

We have more friends arriving today which we are all crazy excited about. I can’t wait for the house to be packed to the gills with awesome people.

More photos to come whenever Comcast gets our internet back up and running. For now, I hope you’re having an awesome Friday wherever you are!

Life after tornado

Hi friends!

We made it to Wednesday! By the way, I’m typing from my phone again – thanks for sticking with me! πŸ™‚

Thank you guys for your comments, messages, thoughts, and support — you are the best!

I finally uploaded a photo of what our back yard looked like after the tornado:

There were around 10 enormous trees lying all over the place. We are talking 50 foot tall oak trees.

I’m trying not to be stressed or worry too much about all that needs to be done. Joel has been working hard to chop up the trees that fell directly on the lawn (the ones father back will be dealt with later, not sure how just yet). We have had some help from friends, which we really and truly appreciate.

While there’s been a lot of progress, things are not totally back to normal yet. We still don’t have internet/wifi or cable. However, we DO have electricity and hot water, and that is quite a big deal to this pregnant gal. πŸ™‚

We feel super thankful that we were not hurt, and the baby is just fine. I found out yesterday that a couple people were killed in our town during the tornado. So sad and scary. It definitely puts everything into perspective.

That’s all for now! Thanks for bearing with me guys!

I am hoping our internet will be restored soon so that I can do a proper update.

I hope you are having an amazing day with lots of sunny skies where you are!

Tornado

Hi friends!

Just checking in to update you on the past week!

Remember that tornado warning I talked about in my last post, when we were down in Hershey? Turns out the tornado headed north and hit our town in Connecticut. 😦

Our neighbor told us that many trees had fallen, so even before we headed home we knew we didn’t have a great situation waiting for us.

When we got home, we were pretty shocked to see all the damage in the town. So many trees all over the place, and so many homes destroyed. Our neighbor had a huge tree come down on his roof, and since it was also raining (it rained for a couple days afterward), he has a lot of water damage inside his home.

Thankfully we did not have damage to our house at all, which is pretty incredible. However we had one large tree come down in the front yard and several big trees down in the back yard. A couple of them hit our shed and destroyed our playset, which is sad but not the end of the world by any means!

We’re so thankful that everyone we know is safe. I’m also pretty glad that we were out of town when the tornado struck — it would have been terrifying to be here.

The tornado took out power and phone lines so we didn’t have electricity for about a week. That was fun hah.

We finally got electricity restored last night (yay!) Which is a great relief. However we still do not have internet which has made updating the ol’ blog slightly challenging. Photos and more of an update to come soon when I’m not typing on my phone πŸ™‚

We’ve got a lot of work ahead to deal with the fallen trees on our property. I’m thankful that Joel knows what he’s doing — he’s been working hard! Also thankful for friends who are helping. There’s a long way to go, but progress is underway! πŸ™‚

That’s it for now! Thanks for understanding!

The sweetest place on earth

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Hi friends!

Hello hello hello from the sweetest place on earth, Hershey Pennsylvania!

We’re here on our last pre-baby trip – it’s hard to believe that the next time we take a trip we’ll have another little person in tow πŸ™‚

The drive down to Hershey was quite pleasant – the weather was perfect and we didn’t hit any major traffic issues over the 4 ish hour drive. Being the engineer that he is, Joel’s favorite part was seeing the progress that has been made on the new Tappan Zee Bridge. The new bridge is the taller white section (the old bridge is shorter and on the left). It is constructed in the same style as a bridge in southeast Houston that Joel would drive over every day on his way to work.

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The town of Hershey really lives up to its name! The roads bear names like Cocoa Avenue, Goodbar Court, Chocolate Ave, and Sweetbay Way. Even the street lamps were in the shape of chocolate kisses — this really is the sweetest place on earth πŸ™‚ The hotel gave us Hershey chocolate bars when we checked in, which made for a lovely welcome. Check out this gorgeous 4-way fireplace in the lobby. There’s nothing like a cackling fire to bump up the cozy level a few notches.

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We explored the area a little bit and hung out for a couple hours before grabbing dinner at the Hershey Grill. They brought out a some chocolate-flavored butter to go with our bread, which we thought it was very “Hershey” hah! Although the chocolate butter tasted good, we agreed that we prefer regular butter for bread.

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I went with chicken, cranberry rice, and mixed vegetables for my meal. When the food first came out I thought there were potatoes in the mix, but they turned out to be parsnips. I can’t remember the last time I had parsnips — they were yummy!

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After dinner we roamed around a bit and found a cute little gift shop. These chocolatey-flavored honey jars looked rather intriguing. We didn’t end up buying any but I am sure any of these flavors would be delicious on a piece of toast or drizzled over granola and yogurt!

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The fire looked seriously inviting so we parked ourselves in a couple comfortable armchairs to enjoy it. This was a gas fireplace, which I appreciated. While for outside nothing beats a wood fire, I love a gas fire for indoors. You get all of the warm cozy ambiance without any of that stale campfire smell seeping into your furniture/carpet. Win win. πŸ™‚

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We picked up a pack of Hershey cards at the gift shop and put them to good use playing a few rounds of blackjack. One of our annual traditions is to get a new game every Christmas, something we did not do last Christmas, so these cards count towards our yearly tradition πŸ™‚

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The following day dawned bright and early with watermelon for breakfast for yours truly. Side note: Joel cut up an entire watermelon for me before we left Connecticut, and we brought with us in a cooler –> what a guy! Our hotel fridge is stuffed with juicy watermelon and I am extremely happy that my pregnancy craving will be satisfied πŸ™‚

Joel had a meeting to go to, so while he was out I caught up on work for a bit. The day was way too beautiful to spend all of it indoors so I found a spot outside to sit and get some quality reading in. I made it halfway through The German Girl (here!) — I’m thoroughly enjoying the writing style and find myself genuinely intrigued by the characters and the story.

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While I was sitting outside, the sky suddenly went from clear to dark, and a Severe Weather Alert beeped on my phone –> TORNADO warning! The beautiful day abruptly turned into a pretty crazy situation and sent everyone scurrying back indoors. The wind and rain that pummeled the area was nuts!

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Joel was still in his meeting when the tornado warning happened, and he texted me to go inside and stay away from windows. Eek! He suggested hanging out in the lobby, which sounded good to me, so I headed over to continue reading my book by the fire while the wind howled outside.

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While hanging out by the fire, I grabbed a hot chocolate. In the process, I discovered something pretty major…

I have officially reached a very important pregnancy milestone –> TABLE BELLY! πŸ™‚ I may or may not have sent this photo to my family and friends πŸ™‚

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Later that evening, we decided to get dinner at The Forebay, quite the fancy lil spot. Everything looked decidedly lux and the atmosphere felt nice and relaxed.

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Our server brought some salted breadsticks and a mustardy dip to our table to start out. Joel also opted for their soup of the day, which was a red pepper bisque topped with duck confit.

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He also got the mussels appetizer. I thought about trying one but couldn’t quite “get there”. Are you a mussels fan? Joel loves them but I just can’t get on board…

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He got a pork chop with creamed spinach for his meal, and I went with salmon for mine. I enjoyed the salmon, asparagus, and turnips but was not impressed by the orangey sauce underneath. I also didn’t particularly love the very odd mashed potatoes (they seemed strangely translucent and plasticky?). I ate pretty much everything except the mashed potatoes but I gotta say I was slightly disappointed, especially considering how pricey everything was –> overall I give this dish a 3/10.

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Joel closed out his meal with a coffee and a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. I don’t know how he can drink coffee at dinner time, I would be awake all night. I was way too full to indulge in dessert, but if I could fit anything else in my stomach I would have gone with something chocolatey (we are in Chocolate Town, after all!) like the molten lava cake… πŸ™‚

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We hung out playing Rummy for a while before calling it a night. The last time I played Rummy was my birthday weekend back in January. I sure do love a good game of Rummy. πŸ™‚

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Have you ever visited Hershey? Are you a fan of mussels? Do you get tornadoes where you live?

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Grill Life + Connecticut’s Best Tacos

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Hi friends!

Happy Monday! We’ve had a busy past several days… let’s jump right in!

On Thursday we went on a tour of the hospital’s labor/delivery unit, and also their maternity unit. It was super helpful and makes us feel comfortable with the entire process. If you are having a baby at some point in the future, you should definitely sign up for a tour!

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We also assembled and test-drove our stroller! My parents got the Chicco Bravo Trio travel system for us as a shower gift (find it here!) –> Kristi suggested that I make sure I can steer the stroller one-handed to make sure it’s easy to maneuver, and that’s what I did. We also installed the carseat and made sure we knew how to get it from the car to stroller and vice versa.

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The weather was perfect, so we ate on the patio. As you can see, my water bottle rarely leaves my side.

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Joel made this rock wall and path next to our shed πŸ™‚ He also put some grass on there which is now starting to grow. This used to be just shrubs but it looks so much nicer now.

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Our college friends (they are married and have a toddler and a baby) were driving through Connecticut on their way to Boston, so they stopped in for dinner. It was the perfect opportunity to get the grill going for the first time this season. This was my first corn on the cob of the year and it was g.o.o.d. It was lovely catching up with our friends and hearing all about their new endeavors.

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Later that night, our smallgroup came over and we collectively decided to sit outside in order to soak in the beautiful day.

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It was Ro’s birthday so Jamie brought over a cake πŸ™‚

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Lee brought a gorgeous fruit salad –> strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, and watermelon (you can guess what was my fave part hah). It felt pretty stellar to eat my number 1 food in front of a fire, surrounded by some super amazing people.

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TheΒ exact moment we wrapped up our discussion for the night it started raining, so everyone said their goodbyes and scampered back to their cars.

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Friday morning dawned bright and early with a bowl of leftover fruit salad. The blueberries were perfection and made my entire day.

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While getting ready for the day, I dropped this blush and it crashed onto the bathroom floor. I thought FOR SURE it was broken… but it somehow survived the fall. Phew! I got this trial size a over a year ago and am happy that it is still going strong.

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I left work early to head to the grocery store to pick up more grill stuff (we had my nephew Peter over for dinner) and a few random essentials. While perusing the produce section, I got all excited when I saw the below box thinking it was clementines. It was not. Just a friendly PSA: mandarins are not clementines.

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I also spotted this “baby pineapple” –> anyone tried this? Does it taste like regular pineapple? It sure was cute! πŸ™‚

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My grocery store finally restocked these frozen Greek yogurt bars so I grabbed a box. These things are so darn good.

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It was really good to see Peter πŸ™‚ I still can’t believe how old he is… he just finished his freshman year of college –> I still remember when he was born!

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He gave us some Kenyan tea. This stuff is amazing. If you get a chance, you should try it – you will not be disappointed.

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We grilled up some burgers and caught up on life. It was nice to hear updates on everything Peter is working on at school, and his plans for the summer. πŸ™‚

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Next came smores –> I like my marshmallows slightly brown on the outside and nice and gooey on the inside. When they are perfectly toasted like that, they are pretty delicious on their own without the chocolate or graham cracker πŸ™‚

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Joel and Peter then played a couple rounds of ping pong. Peter is quite good and came close to beating Joel. I wonder when Joel will experience losing a game of ping pong hah.

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Saturday breakfast involved (surprise) watermelon. Joel knows how to pick the perfect watermelon. He needs to teach me his ways because I always pick ones that aren’t ripe yet.

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We ran a few errands including picking up some ScotchgardΒ for our patio cushions. I don’t normally apply scotchgard to our indoor furniture but I am sure it would help to prevent stains.

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After errands, Joel did some yard work and I caught up on some research. Before we knew it, it was time to head over to Senor Panchos for Ro’s birthday dinner! We all got to sing happy birthday and the servers brought out a big fancy sombrero for her to wear πŸ™‚

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My meal consisted of mix-and-match street tacos: tilapia (center), chicken (left), and steak (right). I ate the tilapia and steak tacos for dinner and then polished off the chicken taco for lunch the next day. The mango salsa on the tilapia was way too incredible and I had to order another side of it to put on my other 2 tacos. These have got to be the best tacos I have had in Connecticut, and I can’t wait to go back for more πŸ™‚

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Sunday was Mothers Day! It started off with church in the morning, followed by a panera lunch with a few friends. Somehow Mike, Natasha, Bridgette and Garrett did not make it into the photo!??

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I stuck with my tried and true Panera favorite: the chicken frontega sandwich. This sandwich is the bomb dot com. Joel opted for his regular steak and arugula sandwich and some broccoli cheddar soup.

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After lunch, more errands were run. A few blooms were spotted outside the grocery store –> I love this time of year and all the colors of life.

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Our Mother’s Day celebration continued with a dinner date at Zaroka. Such a super cute Indian restaurant!

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I can confirm their food is the tastiest! Their portions are also rather generous, which meant we had plenty left over for later. It was a nice little date night and a great first mother’s day for me! Can’t wait until our little guy is here and can participate in the celebration too πŸ™‚

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That’s it from me! I hope your week is off to an INCREDIBLE start, and that you have some sunny skies where you are. πŸ˜€

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What did you do over the weekend? What’s your favorite way to celebrate the moms in your life? When you grill corn on the cob, do you boil it first?

*This content uses referral links. Read my disclosure policy for more info.

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