Your guide to parenting in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts

Upcoming Meetups (via Meetup.com, join the Boston Dads Group to learn about upcoming get togethers. Send Mike a private message when you join!)

- Weekly meetups, Friday mornings at Providence Public Library's Cradles to Crayons program
- Wednesday, 1/18 at Renaissance Gymanastics Academy
- Wednesday, January 25th at Roger Williams Park Botanical Center

20161024_155718-e1483578349651It is my pleasure to introduce a new friend of Kidoinfo, Mike Malkoff, an educator and Downcity-dwelling, at-home dad to 22-month-old Eliana. Mike relocated to Providence with his family this past summer. Inspired by the myriad local kid-friendly community destinations and drawing from his past involvement in the Chicago Dads Group, Mike sees great potential for a network of Providence-area dads to connect with one another while exploring with their kids. We couldn't agree more! So we chatted with Mike to learn more about the inception of this idea, and while he was in the hot seat, got to know more about him with questions from our Home Work interview series.

Kidoinfo: Could you tell us a little about yourself and what brought you and your family to Providence?
Mike: I'm originally from New York City, but lived in Nashville and Chicago accompanying my wife through her medical training and then career as a neurologist.  I was an elementary school classroom teacher in all three cities, followed by training new teachers, and then running training events and sessions for cohorts of new teachers.  Now, I am focusing on training my most important student, the almost two-year-old Eliana!  My wife is an attending at Rhode Island Hospital and we live in Westminster Lofts in downtown Providence.  We moved here this past July, practically lived at the beach, and now enjoying all of the indoor and outdoor activities of winter in New England.

Kidoinfo: What do you see as the obstacles to dads building community?
Mike: There's a few here.  Though there are certainly more at-home dads than there were years ago, there's still a lot more weekday moms than dads out there.  In a smaller city like Providence, that means even fewer than a city like Chicago or New York.  However, I've actually been randomly meeting more at-home dads out at the library, music classes, and Renaissance Gymnastics than I met out in Chicago. It's a smaller and more close knit community so I see this as a huge advantage towards building a community of involved dads.  The potential is huge!  I also think that many dads don't even know how advantageous a community can be for dads and our kids.

highres_439111586Kidoinfo: What is your vision for bringing together dads spending time with their kids?
Mike: The Chicago Dads Group was an invaluable part of my start as an at-home dad.  Through first attending then organizing meetups I made lifelong friends who are highly involved dads like me.  We shared large and small victories, turned to each other for advice, or just simply vented when needed.  Our kids got to recognize and play with each other, which is a big plus for kids who don't have a regular daycare or preschool community.  We explored new parts of the city together and our wives became friends.  Each week we had events that had 6 or more dads and kids attending, in addition to dads’ nights out and big family picnics with over 60 families.  We even had sponsors for events with cool giveaways like free movies, car seats and baby carriers.  I hope to work with other dads nearby to build the same here...for me and for other new dads to have the same experiences I have.

Kidoinfo: How can dads get involved in the group and who is it for?
Mike: It's for all involved dads with kids of all ages, whether full-time at home with kids, part-time, work-from-home, or work outside of the home.  We plan weekday and weekend events.  We plan one-off events like nature hikes and meetups at play centers and weekly events like social hours and library hours.  Dads can attend events, propose events, and plan events.  We are part of the national City Dads Group, Boston Dads Group chapter.  The platform is Meetup.com.  You can go on the website and join the Boston Dads Group there.  You'll then start getting invitations for events from Boston to Providence and in between.  For example, there is a weekly meetup listing Friday morning at Providence Public Library's Cradles to Crayons program, and Wednesday, 1/18 at Renaissance Gymanastics Academy. Please also send me a private message when you join!

Kidoinfo: Let's learn more about you! Please describe a typical day.
Mike: Hmm, a typical day. I'd say I wake up, get some coffee going for me and my wife, then start making breakfast.  When Eliana wakes up, my wife usually wakes her up with a song, spends some time with her and leaves for work.  Then Elie and I have breakfast in PJs, and leave right after for our daily adventure! Depending on the day, this could be swim class, music class, library group program, gym, or park/beach/nature walk, weather permitting.  Then, we usually come home for lunch, then it's Eliana's nap time.  Naptime means laundry, other tasks, dinner prep.  Or realistically at times, just watching TV and taking a break after nine hours of go time.  Late afternoon, Eliana wakes up, my wife comes home and plays with her while I finish dinner, then dinnertime, bath, and bed.  Then, my wife and I will try to stay up a bit to read, watch a movie or just chill and have some tea...or wine or beer.   We've also been trying to give each other nights out, like to catch a movie or meet up with friends.

Kidoinfo: Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Mike:  Teaching Eliana to bring her plate and fork to the table, then put them in the dishwasher after the meal, teaching her how to put away her toys in the right place, teaching her how to put dinner prep scraps in a bowl...all of these little tasks not only engage her but save me time (and get things done before bedtime so that my time with my wife at night isn't all kid-related or cleaning tasks).

Kidoinfo: If you could give your past, pre-kid self any advice, what would it be?
Mike:  Movie dates!!! We enjoy bringing Eliana out for dinner, but movies are just not happening!

Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?
Mike:  I'm on a few dad Facebook groups that provide great tips when I need them or just let me know I'm not that only one struggling at times.

Kidoinfo: What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Mike:  We have waaaay too many "I need it!" kiddie products in general these days, but I love the NUK no-spill sippy cups with no straw.  Easy to clean, no cap needed, doesn't leak when tossed.

Kidoinfo: What is your favorite children's book or music CD?
Mike:  So many here!  Any book by Mo Willems, whether in the Cat The Cat, Elephant and Piggie, Knufflebunny, or "pigeon" series is awesome.  Super engaging for kids and amusing for adults.

Kidoinfo: What do you do with your kid on a rainy day?
Mike:  Renaissance Gymnastics Academy open play for toddlers has been a lifesaver!  Great value for monthly membership and Eliana is almost as happy there as the beach.

Kidoinfo: What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Mike:  Film, Arrival with Amy Adams.  I'm not really a sci-fi guy, but this movie transcended genre. Reading Les Miserables right now.  It really is an epic masterpiece and I'm three-quarters of the way through.  It has character, scene, and plot development as well as language on a whole new level than anything I've read before.

Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Mike:  1990s pro wrestling on the WWE network...why does it have to be on demand 24/7!!!

Kidoinfo: If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Mike:  Go to a coffee shop, order a giant mug of medium roast, and disappear into a book or magazine.

We hope to see this group continue to grow! If you are a dad or a know a dad who'd like to get involved, check out the Meetup group and drop in on an event.

 

There is a silver lining to the post-Halloween slump of chilly days and early nights: West Side Play Space (WSPS) is reopening its doors for a 4th year of play this November!

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West Side Play Space was founded by a group of parents on Providence’s West Side, transforming four classroom spaces in the former Asa Messer Elementary School Annex into a gathering space for play and community-building for kids 0-5 and their caregivers. The space includes a tumbling area, make believe/dress up area, reading nooks, and art supplies and projects. There also is a dedicated snack space, occasional special events, and opportunities for members to rent the space for birthday parties.

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So how does it work? Parents and registered caregivers can drop in anytime during weekday and weekend open play hours with their children. In keeping with the vision to foster community among families, West Side Play Space operates as a co-op. Families contribute $10/month plus one volunteer shift per month. There is also an option to try out the space by paying a $10 daily drop-in. WSPS is open to all, not just Providence residents.

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West Side Play Space is kicking off the 2016 November-April with a *free* Open House on Saturday, November 5 from 1:00 - 5:00pm for existing and prospective members as an opportunity to check out the space, enjoy some snacks and get to know the community.

This winter, look out for 3-week design mini-sessions offered to 6-9 year olds in collaboration with DownCity Design.

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The Details:

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flier with text merged 2016In celebration of WHO/UNICEF World Breastfeeding Week, the Rhode Island Breastfeeding Coalition is hosting the 4th annual Born to Breastfeed event at Roger Williams Park Zoo. This event invites the community for a unique opportunity to explore the zoo by night and makes  breastfeeding information and other family health resources available. In addition to the zoo exhibits and dozens of vendors, there will be music, performances, raffles, concessions, and more!

The Rhode Island Breastfeeding Coalition is a non-profit coalition of community organizations and groups dedicated to supporting breastfeeding in Rhode Island. By hosting events to promote breastfeeding best practices, RIBC hopes to increase rates of breastfeeding in the state and improve the health and well-being of Rhode Island women and children.

The RIBC website is brimming with breastfeeding information for families including local resources and groups for support, and details about state laws for breastfeeding in public and in the workplace.

The Details:

 

 

11039153_10205066684239121_30935655782435110_nJoin us today as we meet one of my favorite local Moms, Jamie Glowacki, an energetic, acrobatic, entrepreneur who happens to be a potty-training ninja! I first met Jamie when she opened up a kid consignment shop years ago in Hope Artiste Village before moving the shop to Hope Street and then selling the business (this amazing shop is still mom-owned, renamed Hope Returns) so Jamie could pursue new projects. She has never ceased to amaze me how she juggles parenthood and work, managing to find her own sense of balance amidst all of her creative endeavors. - Anisa


Briefly describe your business here…

Jamie: I am the author of Oh Crap! Potty Training, published by Touchstone, Simon and Schuster June 2016. I also consult with parents, run a Potty Coach business, and do a lot of public speaking about poop. A dubious honor, to be sure.

Kidoinfo: What inspired you to start your business?

Jamie: Oh Crap started very organically out of need. I can honestly say I never wanted to be a potty trainer when I grew up. I was a social worker in San Francisco and taught parenting classes. Part of this was teaching potty training. Fast forward many years and I had my son, moved to RI, and potty trained him at 22 months. My mom friends were shocked and amazed! I literally started holding potty parties at my house, walking my friends through the process. Then I started classes, which sold out and were in high demand. I decided to write all the information down and realized I had a book. So I put it on-line on the WORST website known to man and it started selling. I owned a local store at the time and potty training consulting took over my time. A few pediatricians used the book in their waiting rooms and BAM. I was on the map. I had to sell my other business in order to keep up with the potty training. It’s been my full time job ever since. Earlier this year, in a whirlwind of beautiful crazy, I made an incredible book deal with Simon and Schuster and the rest is potty history.

FullSizeRender-6Kidoinfo: How do you balance work and family?

Jamie: I think balance isn’t an end goal. As a former acrobat and current hand-stander-doer, I know balance is, at it’s core, fleeting. So I have no illusion of maintaining it.

The best and worst part of my business is that I work mostly from home. I also homeschool. And I’m also a single mom. When I first started homeschooling, I struggled with making time to do all I needed AND all he needed. Then one day it hit me: include my son in my business! He helps make my Youtube and Facebook videos; learning how to edit and add music. He loves giving a kid opinion to clients who are struggling and he helps me with the finances, which is great for homeschool math.

Kidoinfo: Please describe a typical day.

Jamie: I get up at 5 to do my writing and social media planning. I’m super grateful my son is now old enough to stay home alone for a couple of hours so I can hit a 6:30am yoga class or the gym. Bad things happen if I don’t move my body. I usually have a few networking meetings in the morning via phone or skype. Then we do Pascal’s sit down work. Most of the mid-day is spent with homeschool friends at either a class, field trip, or an outing. I schedule clients and working with the other Oh Crap experts in the late afternoon. I go to bed ridiculously early. I get more done in the early morning so I have to sleep sometime.

Kidoinfo: Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?

Jamie:
My biggest one right now is no multitasking. I find that I actually expand time when I do one thing at a time with my full attention. Everything gets done so much faster with so much less frustration.

Kidoinfo: If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?

Jamie:
Do it. Whatever it is in your heart, don’t make excuses, do it. Do it now. There’s endless excuses that are just fear in disguise. Make the mistakes, fix it as you go, and don’t worry at all of what anyone thinks of you.

Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?

Jamie: Currently, other women who speak their full truth and do it with kindness.

Kidoinfo: What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?

Jamie: My cordless Dyson vacuum cleaner. How lame is that?

Kidoinfo: What is your favorite children's book or music CD?

Jamie: Jack Johnson, Curious George soundtrack. It’s so not annoying, I can still listen to it and sing along.

Kidoinfo: What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?

Jamie: Play in puddles and mud.

Kidoinfo: What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?

Jamie: Chef. A fun film about following your dream, the incredible power of social media, and connecting with your kid(s). All rolled up with some outstanding actors.

IMG_0088Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Jamie: When the first season of the Serial podcast came out, I got a babysitter, so I could walk for hours listening to it.

Kidoinfo: If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?

Jamie: More yoga.

Kidoinfo: Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and a mother?

Jamie: We were at Impact Skatepark for homeschool hours and my phone kept ringing. I ignored it for 3 times and then realized someone was really trying to reach me. It was the producer of a radio show that I was scheduled to give a live (and long) interview. I wrote it down wrong in the calendar. I called him back from inside the bathroom with 30 seconds to spare before going live. And I did the interview in the bathroom with my hand cupped over the mouth to eat up the bathroom sound. Yep. That’s a typical dual mom-business person story. Although, in hindsight, the bathroom stall isn’t all that odd when you’re a professional potty trainer.

Kidoinfo: What is next for you and your business?

Jamie: So many exciting things! We are working on a series of children’s books for potty training, each addressing some of the major problems families run into. We also working on a songs to accompany those books. There’s all different styles of learning, so we’re trying to help families with better tools for potty training. I’m also working with two therapists on a parenting program centered around grounded parenting through the noise of the internet.

Home Work: Lessons from Work-at-Home Parents. This series of Kidoinfo interviews with parents look at how they manage to squeeze in work time at home (whether working for someone else or running their own business) along with juggling kids, home life, and childcare (or lack of it).

What is Developmental Screening?

The first five years of your child’s life are the most important years for physical, emotional, and cognitive development. The more you know about their development, the more you can help them get the best possible start. It’s also important to be aware if there are any delays in development, because the earlier delays are identified, the sooner they can be addressed.

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Developmental screenings are time-sensitive tests to see if your child’s development is on track (or reaching developmental milestones). Each screening is a short test to be sure your child is learning and doing basic things when they should. The doctor should screen (or test) your child at 9, 18, and 30 months, which usually involves answering questions on a short questionnaire. At ages 3, 4 and 5, your school district conducts screenings through a program called Child Outreach.

If your child’s doctor does not regularly screen your child, or you are not sure if they do, be sure to ask for about screenings at your next visit. There may be a need for additional screenings if your child was a preterm birth, had a low birth-weight, or for other reasons that may put them at high risk for developmental problems.

Find out more about developmental screening and milestones by visiting the Exceed Family Page.

Brought to you by Exceed, the Rhode Island Department of Education, and the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Exceed is RI’s Early Childhood Commitment. Rhode Island’s Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge Grant initiative is called Exceed. It supports the children of Rhode Island to achieve new heights in their learning. RI’s statewide partners are committed ensuring every child in our state truly Exceeds!

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Don't be alarmed! We will NOT be discussing bootcamps, marathons or one armed push-ups in the following article! We will however, talk about the mind-bogglingly difficult process of getting up and moving again after you have a baby.

Exercise! Whether that means a walk around the block, a yoga class, whatever your thing, it provides us with a wonderful dose of endorphins, a precious piece of soul-nourishing time and makes us feel so much better about ourselves. And yet, like a frustrated but happy hamster, we get stuck in this wheel of making it happen. We get energy when we workout, we need energy to workout, we don't have energy with a new baby, and round and round we go! I get it! Having a shower most days is a huge personal triumph and adding something else onto our daily lists can be overwhelming.  As with so many aspects of parenting, society imposes unrealistic pressures - presenting us with images of Moms who seem to get their pre-baby bodies back so quickly after giving birth.  If you worked out before having children, the need to return to those glory days as well as regaining some identity, can also be an additional dose of self-pressure. Getting back to your former self takes time, patience and sometimes a bit of letting go.

The benefits of exercising before, during and after pregnancy are amazing. Increased energy, fewer aches and pains and improved self esteem are among just a few. And yet, we often find this re-aquaintance with our post-baby bodies, one of the hardest parts about re-starting exercise. Why won't my body react when I want it to? Why does this exercise feel so hard now? Why do I pee the moment I move an inch off the floor? Remember, working out comes in many forms and it's all about moving your body, shifting energy and being kind to yourself.

Here are a few tips before resuming exercise:

Exercises with your baby
Finding the time to workout with a new baby can be really tricky.  Here are some easy exercises that you can do with your baby at home.

* Low Plank - elbows under your shoulders, feet together, body in one level line. Modification: drop knees to ground. Hold for 15 seconds and increase time daily.
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* Cat stretches - hands under your shoulders, knees under hips. Round upper back and then flatten back. Repeat. Modification: Make fists if you have sore wrists.
IMG_7134* Baby Press - lie down on your back, knees bent, feet on floor.  Hold your baby over your chest and press them down towards your chest and up into the air.  Head and shoulders stay on the floor. Try 10-20 reps, rest and repeat 3-4 times.
IMG_7141* Squat - holding your baby in the middle of your body, legs are wide and feet facing 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock, weight in your heels.  Sit down into your heels, stand up and squeeze bum as you do so.
IMG_7147* Baby on thighs - twists or lean backs.  Heels into floor, neck neutral, either lean back and then up OR twist to one side and then the other.  For a higher level, lift your heels off the floor.
IMG_7137* Child's Pose - such a great end of the day hip/low back opener.  Baby can be right on the floor between your arms. Open your knees up wide and rest body onto thighs.  Hold for 30 seconds or longer if you can.
IMG_7136* Baby bicep curls - Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Shoulders rolled back, tummy tucked in. Hold your baby sideways in your arms. Roll her towards your chest and then down towards your hips. Keep your elbows tucked in. Repeat.
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Photo Credits: Suzanne Cadge, Catherine Lea

4-30-2014 1-29-00 PMReprinted with Permission, COHI, 2014

Imagine if your mother had been alone or without the necessary supplies to bring you safely into this world. Honor your mom this holiday with a donation that will help another mother and baby survive their delivery. Circle of Health International (COHI) is partnering with Maternova to create a unique crowd-funding supply drive on Crowdrise. You get to choose a donation amount that will provide life-saving tools from Matrenova that will be sent to COHI to use for the next disaster response effort. COHI will mail your mom a Mother’s Day card on your behalf letting her know that you've made this life giving supply purchase in her name. Flowers will wilt but a mother's love never fades…

View this Mother’s Day gift giving opportunity that will truly save a life here: http://www.crowdrise.com/MothersDaycohi

Funded by Providence mom and entrepreneur Meg Wirth, Maternova, is a pioneering e-commerce marketplace for technologies and innovations addressing maternal and newborn health. They focus on providing effective, low-cost tools to health workers and non-profits in low-resource settings.

The stark danger of childbirth
- One woman dies every 90 seconds....in the context of trying to give life
- In a country like Niger, this means 1 in 7 women will die 'a maternal death'
- Worldwide, each year approximately 326,000 women die 'a maternal death'
- And each year 1 million children are left motherless due to maternal death
- Each generation we lose 10 million women to maternal death
An estimated additional 350,000 midwives are needed worldwide to ensure universal coverage

What are the causes of death?
- postpartum hemorrhage (massive bleeding)
- obstructed labor (no access to a needed c-section)
- eclampsia (seizures that end in coma and death)
- infection or sepsis (unsafe abortion)

**source: Maternova

COHI helps mommas and babies in the toughest areas of the world and you can too! Don’t let a child grow up without its mother.

Choose from any of the Gift Card amounts below available on our Crowdrise campaign page: http://www.crowdrise.com/MothersDaycohi

ec8a0da30420501dce791a4256aaa582Having become a new parent for the second time recently, I had conveniently forgotten how long it takes to do regular, day to day tasks. The last 9 months were also spent frantically de-cluttering our family nest and it would be over my new jiggly bits that I would allow more gear, gadgets and fluffy rabbits to take over this minimal mothership!  You see as nice as one more onesie or blanket would be, what we new parents really need is time!

Below are some ideas for time-giving gifts - hope you enjoy and share with other new parents (they will think you are fabulous - honestly)!

1.  Dinner.  If you are not able to take over dinner yourself, how about a gift card to a local eatery, preferably one with takeout or delivery.

2. Booze, Drinkies, A Tipple, A Wee Tot!  However you call it, an occasional libation has brought much relief to this frazzled Mama.  Bottles located on Providence's East Side offers free same day delivery on orders over $75 or a $9 delivery charge.

3.  Cleaning Service.  This can be a true luxury for a lot of new parents as well as a total sanity-saver.  A local Providence friend uses the Merry Maids company and really likes them.

Photo Credit: Pinterest4.  Laundry and lots of it!  There is definitely an untapped market for a machine that can either hang laundry out on the line or transfer it from washer to drier!  In lieu of this invention, check out My Laundry Hamper who will collect and deliver laundry to your door. If your new parent pal uses cloth diapers, then check out local companies, Mama Blu and Mama Earth.

5.  Errand Runner. Task Rabbit is a new site that came to my attention when a friend needed her large couch moving.  She posted the job on the site and the next day two charming and much-muscled fellas helped her move said couch for a low price.  Task Rabbit is great for new parents as they handle everything from taking your pets to the vet, going on an Ikea run or mowing the lawn.

6.  Walking the dog.  As a Mama of two fur babies, walking the dog is one thing that, in the initial stages of parenthood is unfortunately way down the list. Ruffin Wranglers offers amazing door to door doggie excursions. Peace Dogs Canine Care offers great dog walking for your pooch (401 429 3647).

Photo Credit: Ruffin Wranglers7.  Grocery shopping.  Groceries delivered to your door at a time that suits you is available from Wholefoods, Eastside Marketplace, Peapod and Monroe Dairy.  All of these stores offer online shopping which eliminates the overwhelming job of getting oneself presentable and out of the door with a new baby.

8. Your time, if you can spare it. If you are able to give some of your own time to a new parent then this is the best option in my book. Free to you and providing your pal with not only a few minutes to take a shower, throw in some laundry or take a nap, but also a much needed adult chat.

Photo Credits: Clock (Pinterest), Laundry (Pinterest), Dog (Ruffin Wranglers)

These days it's more common to have twins because of increased use of IVF and women having children at a later age.  Teachers, coaches, families, and friends spend more time around multiples now, but may be unsure of how to deal with the unique situations that may arise with siblings the same age. Although these tips are geared for families with multiples, they may also be useful in parenting siblings of different ages.

Is a teary drop off at preschool our problem or the kids? What? You mean it could be us (the parents)? In my work, and as a mom, I have found that during most of the difficult transitions and changes it is about me having a hard time letting go of control.

mother_and_child_holding_hands-t2No denying the fact that our kids will get older each year and each year we will have to let them go–and grow–a little at a time. In the beginning of their precious lives, we are in control of every drop they eat and every muscle they move. As preschool or daycare enters the picture, losing control becomes our greatest hurdle. Once we get our emotions in check (and understand we are not alone) we can find ways to make it easier and healthier for our kids to transition into preschool.

What can I guarantee, if you say a quick confident goodbye even if you feel torn up inside? Your child will gain trust in you and he/she will grow in confidence each day. Remember leaving with a smile gives a nonverbal message that you and I will be OK. Then call a friend and cry over your coffee cup, like I did.

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