Playing the Comparison Game

playing_comparisonsIs it a female thing; this need to compare ourselves to other people? While I am sure there are men who engage in such actions, I find this to be more prevalent in women. We weigh our curriculum, our routines, our households, our relationships, and more against someone else’s. Why do we do this?

Sometimes we are doing so simply to evaluate where we stand. Are we on the right path? Is there more we could be doing? At other times, if we are being honest with ourselves, we are filled with pride. How could they do that; don’t they know it’s not the best way to homeschool? Why would she do that; doesn’t she understand that is a major parenting mistake?

There are times when sharing our views is perfectly acceptable. When someone asks how we organize our day or which curriculum we like best, it can be fun to share ideas and compare how families differ in their preferences. If a person is needing moral council, we should share the will of Christ. Nor is it a concern if we are merely expressing our opinions or feelings; we have the freedom to do so. However, we need to be very careful that we are doing so with the right attitude. It can be all too easy to shift from sharing to downgrading. Instead of giving examples of what we do and explaining why we like it, we become condescending toward those who don’t do the same. We belittle those who are different from ourselves. I have heard this specific complaint mentioned numerous times. How sad!

We need to avoid the sin of pride. Pride prevents us from establishing good relationships and sharing Christ with others. We think our way is best and think less of those who aren’t doing the same. Apart from moral issues, we need to understand that our way of doing things is simply that; our way. It is not our job to convince people to our way of thinking, nor is our way the only way the job gets done.

To further complicate the problem, what are we teaching our children when they see us engage in this action? Instead of modeling a gracious spirit, one with a heart to edify and encourage, we are teaching them the art of pride.

In our daily conversations, we need to be careful how we conduct ourselves. Our pride can quickly get us into trouble and stumble others around us. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we are immune to this problem. In fact, sometimes, it’s just the opposite. Christians can too often be filled with self-righteousness and pride. When we do catch ourselves giving in to this temptation, we need to ask forgiveness and begin to change our ways. If we happen to be present when such a conversation is being held, we need to speak up! Graciously and humbly, we should counsel those given over to pride.

Sharing about our lives can be lots of fun and often helps others. Let’s share with grace and humility, with a desire to edify those around us. Anything else is just pride.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;”
~ Philippians 2:3

📢 Chime In!: Do you find it hard to speak up when you overhear a person being condescending?

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A Family Adventure in Creative Writing

family_writing_adventureAn online friend recently posted about a creative writing endeavor her family has begun. This reminded us of our own adventures, and all the fun we’ve had over the years. It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed Dante’s Wardrobe. But it looks like it might be time to take it out of the homeschooling closet, brush it off, and embark upon a new journey.

If you are looking for an exciting way to encourage creative writing, might I make a suggestion?

Part I: Introduction (A Writing Adventure)
Part III: My Alter Ego
Part IV: Mail Call
Part V: Head Games

Part VIII: Epilogue (Because You Asked)

I confess, we’ve put this on the back burner for the last few seasons. We’ve found other ways to incorporate creative writing in our learning routine. However, our friend has inspired us to give this another go.

This should be fun!

📢 Chime In!: Are you inspired by other homeschoolers? We’d love to hear what you’ve learned from online friends and how you incorporate their ideas into your homeschooling.

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Are We Giving Homeschooling Our Best?

giving_homeschooling_our_bestI have noticed a recent trend developing within our small world of homeschooling. When my children finish their spelling practice or their language arts lesson in a matter of minutes, I seriously have to wonder if they have absorbed anything at all. The necessity to rush through our day and “finish” can sometimes be our motivating factor, instead of taking the time to give it our best.

One of the blessings of homeschooling is that we have a very flexible routine and no time constraints. However, I don’t want to be so focused on getting to the end of our lessons, we miss the point entirely… the love of learning.

Since both my husband and I have noticed this trend we are taking measures to ensure its quick demise. If their work isn’t neat, due to rushing through, they are asked to please erase their work and do it neatly. If they finish a lesson very quickly, we review it together making sure they are truly understanding the material. If they get the work done, but the method could use some improvement, we work out the kinks.

The purpose in forcing our children to slow down isn’t to raise perfectionists – although that could be a danger, if the wrong methods are applied – but rather to teach them the art of a job well done. We want our children to learn that all we do should be done to the best of our ability. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right! Even something as simple as spelling should be done with our utmost effort. There is no area of our lives this discipline shouldn’t apply.

The danger here could be that set a standard for my children and tell them what their best is. That would be wrong. My children need to be shown what can be done and then allowed to do their best. Their best isn’t going to be what I can do. Their best might not even be what their siblings can do. No, their best is just that, their best.

When their best is done, no judgement is passed and no lecture follows. They did all they could; their best. No one can ask more than that.

I will add… While they did give their best, that doesn’t mean I will not continue to have them practice until their best gets better. I should also mention there is a danger in teaching children that doing their best always brings reward. There is something wrong with giving a child a trophy for 10th place. Yes, do your best, but if you want an award, keep working until you earn it! More on that another day…

Even I, as an adult, have much room for improvement in many areas. I want my children to learn to not only do their best, but push themselves to do better. Their best needs to be self-motivated and continual. Through daily practice and goal setting, we are teaching our children to never stop growing and learning.

Our children still feel the occasional desire to rush through practice work or a chore, but they are getting better. They are coming to realize rushing through does not pay. Mom is only going to make you do it over.

With time, I hope our children will learn that all things worth doing, should be done to the best of their ability. Perhaps this will also teach them to carefully choose what to be involved in and how much work will go into their decisions.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;”
~ Colossians 3:23

📢 Chime In!: How do you prevent work being poorly done due to hurrying?

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When Disobedience Becomes A Homeschooling Challenge

when_disobedience_becomes_challengeHomeschooling can be a challenge. There are routines to be established, decisions regarding curriculum – or non-curriculum – to be made, discovering how to best help our children learn, and more. The one challenge we don’t need is our children’s lack of obedience.

As any parent will tell you, when a child chooses to be disobedient, life becomes stressful and downright unpleasant. Now, try taking that disobedient child and make them sit through a learning session, on any topic! It’s enough to make one shudder in fear or erupt like an active volcano. Life with a disobedient child is a struggle.

While my OCD nature balks at the idea of stopping all learning to deal with this issue, it usually is the best. When the obstacle of disobedience is removed, our learning day runs more smoothly and everyone is better off.

How does one go about removing the barrier of disobedience and restoring their children to a right relationship within the family and with God?

Pray – As always, all things should start in prayer. Pray first, act second.

Is This Really Disobedience? – We need to determine if this is an act of disobedience. Sometimes our children are not trying to rebel, but are merely attempting to communicate something important or express their personalities. Before we enact justice, we need to determine whether the situation calls for it.

Identify The Problem – If this is an act of rebellion, we need to determine from where the problem stems. Is my child looking for attention? Is there a need which is not being met? Did they not get enough sleep, need some food, or perhaps this is a character issue?

Work Through the Problem – Depending on the situation, we will need to determine the best course of action. My child might just need a few minutes of exercise to get back on the right track. I might need to feed them a meal, make them take a nap, or something more serious. If this is a matter of character training, I will pray about how they should be disciplined and discuss the situation with my husband.

Train, Train, Train – Repetition is good for a developing mind, this is true. However, it doesn’t hurt us oldie-but-goodies either! We need to train ourselves to identify a toxic situation before it becomes a full-blown mess; diffusing the situation early on, if we can. For the littles, we need to train them out of bad character and into good; this means lots of practice! We teach them to identify when they need something and how to communicate this need. We disciple and train for character as often as possible.

Tie Strings – It is just as important to make sure we are reestablishing the relationship with our children as it is for us to train them into right behavior. Training without affection and re-bonding with the disciplinarian leads to further disobedience in the future. Our children need to know we do these things because we love them, not because we are dictators trying to rule their lives with an iron fist. As our children are working through their struggles, we need to constantly be offering encouragement and opportunities for affection. They need to see we love them even when they are disobedient; helping them every step of the way.

Parenting a disobedient child is indeed a struggle. Being a homeschooling parent with a disobedient child simply magnifies the situation. Take the time to defuse the situation, getting to the heart of the matter before the day gets out of hand. With this obstacle out-of-the-way, our day will proceed more smoothly. Who doesn’t like that?

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
~ Ephesians 6:1-3

📢 Chime In!: When your child is disobedient, what measures do you take to get things back on track?

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Helping Our Children Manage Change

helping_our_children_manage_changeEvery once in a while, our family goes through major changes. It doesn’t happen often and we try to keep changes to a minimum, but, on occasion, something needs to give. There have been times I have had to change our homeschooling methods or curriculum. We have changed our church, our homeschooling group, our set of friends, and, at one point, almost moved out-of-state!

Our kids, like most others, do not always handle change well. They become anxious, moody, fearful, sad, obstinate, or clingy when life goes out of balance. It is our responsibility to help our children overcome their fear and accept this new area of their lives. While each child needs to be comforted in their own way, there are a few tried-and-true helps for everyone:

We try to make ourselves available to them. No matter the change, I want to make sure they are with me through it all. Our children are encouraged to share input and thoughts; they know we are doing this together.

We talk about the changes we are going through. I am honest about my fears, anxiety, and excitement. This helps them to know they are not alone and we are going through this as a team.

We let them know they are free to talk about their worries. My kids need to know I am here to listen to their concerns and there is nothing they can’t tell me.

We help them prepare for what is ahead. We discuss expectations, encourage one another, and prepare as best as we able for the coming changes.

We try to keep everything else normal. I try not to overwhelm them with too many changes at once. (e.g. If we are changing curriculum, we keep everything else about our day normal.) This keeps life a little more stable and gives them less to worry about.

We try to keep a positive attitude about the situation. It helps my kids when I get excited about the change and I show them how much they have to look forward to.

We try to make sure they are keeping healthy. This may sound funny, but it is vital. Kids get anxious about change, which can make them sick. It helps if I keep my kids on a regular diet; making sure they get exercise and plenty of rest.

Change can be a good thing. For children, it can also be scary. How we handle change, and make ourselves available to our family is vital. May the Lord help us embrace whatever change He is bringing our way, giving Him all glory and honor through the transition.

If you’re struggling with last-minute changes in your routine, – Don’t you just love when that happens? – it might be the Lord asking you to be Open to Change. Or, perhaps, curriculum isn’t working according to plan and you need a complete overhaul? May THIS article encourage you to take a breath, seek the Lord in all things, and give Him glory through the madness.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
~ Jeremiah 29:11

📢 Chime In!: How does your family handle life changing situations?

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Fire Prevention Week!

“Think of fire before it starts.”

fire_prevention_weekIt’s Fire Prevention Week! Time for the fun and lessons to begin. Join us as we explore exciting ways to teach our children the importance of identifying problem situations, what to do in the event of fires, and how we can support our local fire stations.

Identify ‘Hot Spots’ in the Home – Fire prevention goes well beyond not playing with matches. Our children need to learn how to identify ‘hot spots’ in our home. Stove tops, overloaded outlets, fabric covered lamps, broken cords, and more are all trouble areas. It’s important our children learn to identify problematic situations and work towards a solution.

Create a Family Plan – Do our children know what to do in the event of a fire in our home? Learning how to put out fires is key. Now is the perfect time to show our children where smoke detectors are placed in our home, where they can locate fire extinguishers, and what to do if a kitchen fire starts. Let’s make a family plan – escape route – should we experience a house fire, clearly establishing paths of exit and a designated meet up spot.

Stop, Drop, and Roll – This was huge when I was a kid. We will teach our children what to do in the event they should catch fire.


Play theFireman Says” Game – Consumer Safety has graciously offered a fun game for us and our readers! Play “Fireman Says” and learn even more tips for preventing fire by reading their Fire Safety Guide.

Visit A Local Fire Department – Field trip time! Now is the perfect opportunity to visit our local fire department. Our firemen are experts and love to share with children. For added fun, we might consider combining our field trip with a home ec lesson and make a treat for our firefighters.

Peruse These Fire Safety Websites – 

  • Brandon Gaille – A neat article on 50 great fire safety campaign slogans – including the opening slogan of today’s post  – along with a helpful fire prevention poster provided by Nationwide and NFPA. Great stuff!
  • Consumer Safety – Our friends at Consumer Safety want to help you prevent home fires. Play the “Fireman Says” game, and read additional tips provided.
  • FWP Kids (Sparky) – An excellent resource for children. Here you’ll find games, fire safety stories, activity sheets, videos, printables, and more!
  • NFPA – The official site for the National Fire Protection Association, this website is key in teaching fire prevention. You’ll especially enjoy their classroom materials and resources, including Sparky’s Schoolhouse.
  • Smokey Bear – While Fire Prevention Week focuses mainly on keeping our homes and family safe, it would be remiss if we failed to mention visiting this website. Fire safety extends beyond the walls of our home. Caring for our community is a necessity.

All week long, look for these and other helpful links for Fire Prevention Week on our Facebook Page and other social media platforms. We’ll be sharing more of our plans for teaching and learning about fire safety with our children.

A special thank you to our friends at Consumer Safety for sharing their fun game, “Fireman Says”, with us and our readers. Your support of Fire Prevention Week is much appreciated. We enjoyed playing the game, and sharing these resources with our friends!

“In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety.”
~ Psalm 4:8

📢 Chime In!: Which resources are you using for Fire Prevention Week? Please share!

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Teaching Curriculum vs. Teaching Children

teaching_curriuculum_vs_teaching_childrenWhy isn’t she moving faster? Doesn’t she understand I want her to get through the material in the next half hour! I really want to get through this part of our day so we can move on to other things. It really shouldn’t take this long. Then, the Lord hits me full on… Am I teaching the curriculum or teaching my child? Oops; guilty as charged!

I think, sometimes, we homeschool parents can get caught up in the wonderful resources we have available to us. We ooh and aah over new-found books, get excited about special projects, and store up on awesome resources. In all our enthusiasm, I wonder if we have completely forgotten why we do what we do.

Are we getting caught up in buying resources which seem wonderful, and pushing our children through the motions, without bothering to ask ourselves if this is helping our children actually learn or – though learning is taking place – they are enjoying the learning process?

Heaven forbid I force my children through hours of lessons every single day just so I can say I finished a book we purchased. Lord help me if I am pushing my kids to finish material in a certain amount of time simply because I have other plans for the day.

Now, don’t get me wrong. In our learning, we most certainly have a wide arrangement of resources available to us and I highly recommend using them to the fullest. However, I need to be careful the resources are being used as a help and not as the driving force behind my children’s education.

Ultimately, I don’t want my children to simply learn how to finish a book (although that is a good skill to be learned). I want my children to love learning! I need my children to fully understand the world in which they live and the impact the Lord wants them to make in their own sphere of His creation.

The books, games, projects, and field trips we have before us can be used wonderfully in each of our learning endeavors. However, I want to be careful of how I am putting them to use. At the end of the day, if the only thing my kids did was push through a stack of paperwork so I can say we were productive, I have failed in my job. Getting through the books isn’t the goal! The goal is to teach my children, to reach their hearts, to minister to their souls, and to encourage a love of learning.

I need to make sure I am teaching my children and not merely the curriculum!

“All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.”

~ Isaiah 54:13

📢 Chime In!: Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a lesson and suddenly realized this is not working? How did you redirect your learning to be more productive for your children?

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Cooking With the Kids – Soup Season

soup_seasonIt’s officially fall. Which, in our house, means soup’s on! There’s nothing better than a hot bowl of your favorite soup on a cool evening, served with a hunk of freshly baked bread. This week, we thought we’d share some of our favorites, along with a family classic we can’t do without.

While there are many recipes for Tortilla Soup available, here is our family’s take on the classic. Fall wouldn’t be fall without it:

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1/4-1/2 chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Handful of cilantro, chopped
2-3 tbsp. Better than Bouillon Chicken
1 can Campbell’s Nacho Cheese Soup (for cheesier/thicker soup add extra can)
chopped, defrosted, boneless, skinless chicken meat (about 3 thighs)
2 green mexican squash (or zucchini) chopped wide

Flour tortillas (sliced into strips, fried on the side)
Cacique Brand Mexican cheese (queso fresco) crumbled up
Fresh Salsa


In a large crock pot, add all ingredients for tortilla soup. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until meat is falling apart. Serve with garnishes. Enjoy!

Due to the cooler weather we are experiencing, it’s time to delve into the world of soup. Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup, along with freshly made Sourdough bread, and Disneyland’s Loaded Baked Potato Soup are a few others which make the rotation.

I am loving these huge pots of soup. They are a cinch to make and they last for days! There is nothing quite like a good pot of something delicious to warm your soul on a cold, fall evening.

~ Matthew 4:4

📢 Chime In!: Do you have a favorite soup that you like to make? Please share!

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Our September Reads


September was lovely. We have had more going on this year than we’ve had in several, and enjoying every minute. No matter how busy we are we always find time, both together and individually, to read great books. This month was no exception.

Three of these books were included in Our Morning Basket. A couple of others were personal reads for mom. One was a suggestion from a fellow homeschooling family and friend. Here’s a rundown of the books we enjoyed during the month of September:

  1. Owls in the Family (Farley Mowat) – Farley Mowat’s funniest book tells the adventures of Wol and Weeps, two owls from Saskatchewan who shape up a whole neighborhood  turn a house topsy-turvy, and outsmart Mutt, the dog hero of The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be.
    Read for our monthly book club, Owls in the Family was not as amusing or funny as we’d hoped it would be. It was heartwarming and cute, however. This was a short read and not unenjoyable, but not one we’d be likely to read again.
  2. The Family Under the Bridge (Natalie Savage Carlson) – This is the delightfully warm and enjoyable story of an old Parisian named Armand, who relished his solitary life. Children, he said, were like starlings, and one was better off without them.
    But the children who lived under the bridge recognized a true friend when they met one, even if the friend seemed a trifle unwilling at the start.
    This book was part of our morning basket as well, included because I’d seen it on Read Aloud Revival and thought we too would give it a shot. The story was fairly short, and an easy read. While very simple, the story was appealing and sweet. There’s no great action, adventure, or emotional roller coasters thrown in. But, you’ll find it to be a character building story and worth your time.
  3. Questions God Asks (Israel Wayne) – Why would God ask anyone a question? We ask questions when we don’t understand. Yet, the Creator of the universe who spoke all that we see into being asks questions. Unimaginable power and wisdom are already His. As strange as it may seem to us, the Bible is filled with questions God asks. He is not the one who needs answers – these questions help us to understand both God and ourselves.
    As always, Mr. Wayne never disappoints. While this book was intended for personal devotion, I couldn’t wait to share this with our children. Thus, this became our morning’s devotional for the month. A blessing through and through. But, what else would we expect?
  4. Mouseheart (Lisa Fiedler) – The Warriors series meets Redwall in this first book in an epic animal adventure series set in the subway tunnels of Brooklyn. Hopper is just an ordinary pet shop mouse before he escapes. Soon he finds himself below the bustling streets of Brooklyn, deep within the untamed tangles of transit tunnels, and in Atlantia, a glorious utopian rat civilization.
    Suggested by our friends and fellow homeschoolers, Gratia Veritas Lumen, this was a fun read. While this wasn’t part of Our Morning Basket, several of us took our turn reading. It was cute. We can’t wait to read the next two books in the series.
  5. How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare (Ken Ludwig) In How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, acclaimed playwright Ken Ludwig provides the tools you need to instill an understanding, and a love, of Shakespeare’s works in your children, and to have fun together along the way.
    This book has been on my list for the single reason that I wanted to see if there is anything missing from our study of Shakespeare. I am happy to say there isn’t. Whew! A great book and highly recommended for those struggling in this area. It’s filled with great ideas and helpful tips.
  6. The Shakespeare Book (DK Publishing) – Learn more about the work of William Shakespeare with The Shakespeare Book, packed full of infographics, inspirational quotes, character guides, and more bonus material that illuminates the bard’s work, from Shakespeare plays like Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and As You Like It, to his best-loved sonnets, and even obscure lost works. Every comedy, tragedy, history, and poem of Shakespeare’s is collected here in this comprehensive guide.
    Part of a series published by DK Publishing, The Shakespeare Book is incredible. Every. Single. Shakespeare. Play. Covered thoroughly and completely. Everything you could ever want to know about the history of the play, the play itself, the circumstances surrounding the play, the era the play was written for, and more. Want to know if there’s a movie adaptation? Yeah, it’s in there, too.
    Thus far in the series, I’ve read The Movie Book and The Sherlock Holmes Book; both were fantastic. I don’t know that I’d recommend all books in this series. Their coverage in The Religions Book might be a bit sketchy, but several are definitely worth a look.

October’s stack of books is ready to go! I think mom might be more excited than the kids. But no surprise there! Prayerfully the kids will enjoy the selections coming, and the memories will keep on building.

📢 Chime In!: If you could own one exotic pet, which would it be?

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Is Negativity Becoming a Habit?

is_negativity_becoming_habitHave you ever been around a group of people that seem to do nothing but complain? They aren’t trying to find a solution, they aren’t trying to get to the bottom of a problem. They are complaining. While we all need to vent from time-to-time, what happens when the venting isn’t just release, but constant negativity and complaints?

It is all too easy to let our emotions take over and our judgement fly out the window. We allow ourselves to wallow in our situation. An especially important side effect to our constant grumbling, is that soon our children begin to take notice. They observe we having nothing good to say; not about them, our spouse, our house, or our life situation.

Soon, our children begin to see life through our negative lens. They start to bellyache about their situation. They, too, begin to complain their days away, wading in their troubles.

What if, instead, we tried to accentuate the positive in every situation. What if we chose to be more like Pollyanna and play the “Glad Game“. Hypothetically speaking, what if we handled situations more like this:

  • No, my car isn’t working right now. But, you know, the Lord is using this situation to teach me patience. It hasn’t been easy, but we’re getting there.
  • My daughter is struggling with arithmetic right now. I know she is really smart, we just need to keep working on different ways to do our homeschooling. I am sure, with time, we’ll figure it out!
  • Things has been really difficult with my husband out of work right now. We are praying for him though and we know something good is going to come along. For now, we are just trying to be more careful with our budget and learn to be resourceful.

See the difference? Yes, I could complain my car is in the shop again and my life is being inconvenienced. I could complain I have tried explaining the same topic to my daughter, again and again, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get it. Yes, I could vent my frustrations about how my husband still hasn’t found work and I hate things being so tight. But is that the best solution?

Is my constant negativity going to make the car get fixed, my daughter learn faster, or help my husband get a job? No! Trust me when I say, our complaining is a pain… very literally. It hurts the hearts of those who hear our complaints and it hurts us to dwell on them.

When my children hear me complain about them, their hearts are injured. When my husband hears me complain about our situation, it hurts him. When I continually focus on the negative, I am hurting my own peace of mind.

While I have not, by any means, conquered this area completely; I am very happy to say I am intentionally trying to win out. I am choosing to downplay the negative and choosing to focus on the good. It might be hard to find, but every situation has a silver lining.

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning,”
~ Philippians 2:14

📢 Chime In!: Do you find yourself focusing on the negative aspects of life? What helps you to refocus and accentuate the positive?

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