Saturday, November 27, 2010

Making a List . . . Checking it Twice

Actually, this hasn't really anything at all to do with old Santa's list, but it does have to do with Christmas, and it is . . . another list.

I am slowly (or rather quickly actually) turning into List Girl. List girl makes me think of Word Girl (and those of you who can suddenly sing -- to the right melody -- "Word up, it's Word Girl" are probably so happy right now). Word Girl is a PBS cartoon superhero (with an excellent vocabulary and a sidekick monkey). List girl doesn't maybe sound quite so heroine-ish as Word Girl, but certainly not villainous, and, even if List Girl did smack of villainy, it would be alright because this is the last list I am going to do until . . . FOR-EVER! (Disclaimer: strictly speaking, that is probably not true . . . or, even, . . . loosely speaking).

Anyway, upward and onward . . . or forward and . . . backward?? No. No. That can't be right. Forget I said anything. On to this Christmas List that I came across. (Where? I don't recall. I'm sure I stole it from someone . . . maybe one of you. In any case, I'd be most flattered if any of you would likewise steal it from me . . . or, back from me -- as the case may be.)

1. Eggnog or Hot Chocolate?
While I do purchase eggnog occasionally for my dear husband's enjoyment and can see why it might be a holiday treat that brings many of you a little cheer, I actually shudder and maybe even convulse a little at the thought of touching it to my own lips. I'm not sure why. It's probably delicious (bleck!). Actually, I think I do know why, and it might have something to do with my brother Aaron (maybe with sister Shannon's help) making homemade eggnog in the blender at home one summer when we were young. I don't recall much other than raw eggs swirling about, and something about walking down the street later still feeling very unhappy about the taste in my mouth. No no. No eggnog for me, thanks. I am, however, quite fond of hot chocolate. Sometimes I like minty kinds with a little whip cream.

2. Does Santa wrap the presents or leave them open under the tree?
When I first read this, I thought, "What kind of lunacy? Presents OPEN under the tree?" But I was just picturing a bunch of toys lying about all helter skelter with nary a bit of wrapping in site. When I thought about it further, I realized that, actually, we usually do leave a few presents unwrapped to add to the excitement of the Christmas morning scene. I still remember very clearly coming into my own living room when I was small to a glorious hand made (by my mother) barbie house -- decked out with fake snow and Christmas lights. It couldn't possibly have been as magical had it been all wrapped up. So, we usually have something sitting out for the kids to see right when they walk in, but most everything else is wrapped (which makes for some late night Christmas Eve's for Mike and I now that we have five little people to wrap for).

3. Colored lights or white?
You can't really go wrong with either. White lights are so classy and pretty and are actually what Mike and I have used throughout our Christmases together, but we always had colored lights growing up, and they do make me so happy and bring back such good memories that I think I will have to revolt against all my pretty white lights and do colored lights soon. I don't necessarily want to go spend the money to get enough new strands for all our decorating this year, but sometime we will need to invest in them and then maybe I'll do alternate years of white lights and colored lights. Abe and Goldie do have little trees in their rooms with colored lights, and it makes me happy to see. Maybe I'll just go buy one little strand to drape around our bedroom as well for this year.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Why no, but perhaps I should -- though, naturally, I will dispose of any and all mistletoe when my kids become teenagers with little teenage friends hanging about the house (in order to help curtail any funny business).

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Nearly always the day after Thanksgiving. It's a day off from school and feels like a fun holiday weekend activity. I used to be pretty strict about that being the day to start playing Christmas music as well, but this year I came home from a run one Saturday in early November to find Mike had turned it on for the girls and we haven't been able to stop listening to it since.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
Hmm. I don't know. I certainly enjoy good holiday eatin', but I can't particularly think of a favorite dish.

7. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
I think we have always given our kids a little gift on Christmas Eve. I can't remember for certain though. Growing up we always got new nightgowns made by my mom on Christmas Eve. In later years, we opened the family gift exchange gift (we'd draw names earlier in the season). I think I've given our kids pj's a few times. Last year Mike gave them all CD player alarm clocks to wake them on Christmas morning (or more to let them know how long they had to stay in bed). I wouldn't mind coming up with a theme for Christmas Eve gifts. I think it was my sister-in-law Kimberly who mentioned doing books as a Christmas Eve gift. I like that idea, or maybe an ornament (something Mike's sister Rebecca's family does on Christmas Eve).

8. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
Mike and I strung popcorn and cranberries our first Christmas together and those strands are still loosely holding up. We also hang red beads and gingerbread cookies. Our main ornaments are ones we borrowed from Mike's parents our first Christmas together and consist of red ball ornaments; red checked bows; and these darling little knitted santas, snowmen and carolers. We intended to borrow them just that year but have used them ever since so they have acquired quite a bit of sentimentality to them. I will add (for the benefit of any of Mike's family members who might also view these as happy and sentimental childhood ornaments) that I do realize they aren't actually ours and will return them should the day arise that just such a sacrifice be required. We also have a few odds-and-ends ornaments of the kind your kids make for you that must go on the tree each year.

9. Snow. Love it or hate it?
Oh, I know it is such a hassle to have around and dangerous for driving, and I don't love trying to load all my kids in a snow covered car on our way to school in the morning, but I can't get it out of my head that to dislike snow is somehow slightly evil. I always get excited by a snowfall (I've told you this might relate back to my childhood and my mother making us feel that any and all storms were cause for celebration).

10. Can you ice skate?
Oh, I think I went a few times when I was younger, and, I imagine, that after an hour or so I could manage to lumber about the rink with out falling . . . but that is the problem -- it would be lumbering, which is a word that one should never see in the same sentence as "ice skate." I would love if I'd been blessed with a little more gracefulness and coordination.

11. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Too hard. I do tend to make fudge a lot around this time of year, and I love my mom's hot fudge sauce with ice-cream. And, even though they are loads of work, the kids and I always make sugar cookies sometime in December.

12. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Another one that is too hard. There are tons of traditions that I recall happily from my own childhood. Mike and I have pulled some of our happiest childhood traditions over to our family and are still in the process of creating more of our own. I miss going to choose our tree at one of the local tree farms in WA, that was a fun tradition, but I love the little set of tiny Christmas drawers my kids get to open for each day of December to find what Christmas type activity we will do that day (watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, make gingerbread, let the girls do a Christmas dance for us, etc.). All the traditions will have to be a post in and of themselves, but it does make me happy to think of the things we are doing now becoming the things that my own kids remember fondly as "our" traditions when they are older.

13. Candy canes. Yum or yuck?
Like snow, it seems bordering sacrilege to say "yuck" to candy canes, but, truthfully, I am not a huge fan. I may end up having a small piece off one of my kids' candy canes here or there through out the year, but I would never just eat one as a treat of choice.

14. Favorite Christmas show?
I don't know that there is one Christmas show that I absolutely love. At my house, we always watched A Christmas Story and Holiday Inn (I need to watch that one again with Mike), but, if I had to choose only two that we could ever watch again at Christmas I'd probably have to go for A Charlie Brown Christmas and the old Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Number 20!

A picture of you with a loved one.
Easy Peasy. I love him:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Kids

"Wait!" You're thinking. "Hold everything!! You forgot number 20!" No no. Never fear. I didn't forget, but I am taking a small break from old listy list for a moment because, with all this talk about me (actually, I don't even remember what on earth I have been blathering on about for this list assignment, but I think it has probably mostly been about me), you have probably all nearly forgotten them:

Oh, and him:

Yes, my five little kids. They are cute. Bless them. Last night Abe made a giant "game fort" for them to play board games in. Not a bad "blizzard" night activity. There was some trouble initially when Penny was not expressly invited to be in the game fort, and, even after she was, there were a few tense moments when her feet seemed to . . . not so accidentally . . . mess up Daisy's game pieces. Still, all in all, they had a fun time, and I thought they were cute.

Here is a little random something or other about each one of them:

Abe: The other night after tucking Abe into bed, I asked him to tell me one thing he really wanted for Christmas. He pursed his lips and thought hard. He stretched his hands out in front of him and flexed and unflexed his fingers as he thought. Then, with utmost certainty he said, "I'd really like some brass knuckles." Well, there you have it, that's what he wants.
Daisy: Poor girl. She can be the very most dramatic -- particularly when it comes to weeping and wailing. She was sobbing away the other night about something or other. Later, I told Mike that I felt like she was just like an emotional new mother who had been up with her newborn all night and was now too tired to cope well with her world. And, sadly, that truthfully was what she was like. She shares a room with Penny, and Penny had woken her up multiple times the two or three nights previously to have Daisy help her go to the bathroom, etc. One night I heard Daisy up there helping flush the toilet, wash Penny's hands, and get her tucked back in bed. When I went up to see what was going on (having assumed that Penny or Daisy would call to me if Penny was up needing something in the night), Daisy just tiredly mumbled something about having to help Penny and then passed back out cold. In the morning she told me that Penny had gotten her up three times the night before. She'd even cleaned out Penny's little toddler toilet each time. Poor sweet girl. I asked her why she hadn't just called to me, and she just shrugged as if that hadn't occurred to her. She is like a little mother -- good at taking care of little ones and helping make dinner. When we went to her parent-teacher-conference a few weeks ago, her teacher praised her not only for working so hard and being so bright, but for being so "nurturing." She told me how she is careful not to exploit it, or create a dependency in Daisy's friend, but that she often takes advantage of Daisy's great ability to nurture and teach by having her help her friend when her friend struggles with assignments.
Goldie: She loves to keep everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING. She can hardly bare to throw away an empty little candy box. The other day I was telling her how it is important to throw some things away to keep our homes from getting too much clutter in them, etc. She said, "Like glue sticks, if the glue is all gone!" Then she told me proudly how she'd thrown away several empty glue stick containers at school. As I congratulated her, she added that she didn't throw the lids away though -- that way, if anyone ever lost a lid off of their glue stick, she'd have a spare lid right ready for them to use. "I have MILLIONS of lids!" She told me happily. Hmm. Well, the bottom portion of glue sticks is a start I guess . . .
Penny: If I ever get upset with Penny for anything she is doing, she will began to cry and cry. Often I will assume she is crying because I stopped her fun, but then she will make me feel horribly guilty when I tell her "no more crying" and she sobs, "but you're mad at me!" (At which point I have to quickly assure her I am not mad at her -- so much so that the point of any prior reprimand is probably erased). Anyway, she was saying the prayer at dinner last night and she said, "Please bless mom to be nice . . . and think I'm good." Is that not the saddest thing you've ever heard? What kind of a mother am I? She also added, which I liked (because you never know with my cooking), "Please bless us to eat dinner safely." Side note: I did tell her how I thought she was good multiple times last night.
Jesse: That kid! I really am not exaggerating that he is interested in absolutely nothing that it is alright for him to be interested in. I don't know how he knows which things are the worst possible things to play with, but he does, and those are the only things he likes. (Incidentally, he seems pretty clear about what things are not OK for others to be doing -- he is constantly telling other kids to "climb down!" if they are up on something or to "(s)top it" if they are doing anything troublesome or annoying. And yet . . . . Sigh. The other day he was very sick. He only had energy enough to rest in my arms or lie on a bean bag. Still, in the few tiny moments that he gathered enough strength to get up for a minute, he shattered two of my make-up compacts (and their contents) all over the floor AND broke our DVD player. Perhaps you might think that I shouldn't be writing these things about him -- that he'll feel bad reading them some day, but I think he will actually take great pleasure in, and get quite a kick out of, knowing what a little stinker he was -- particularly since I am sure he will grow into a most pleasant and charming young man because, despite the near constant disasters, he really is quite charming. When Mike and I were wondering at how some of the trouble we'd dealt with a few days ago from him was even possible, I had to add that he certainly was a likable little fellow. He doesn't whine or throw tantrums much. He's always as agreeable as a soul could be and will say, "OK, Mom," in the most conciliatory "yes, you're right" manner when you tell him he must stop something he is doing (like dumping buckets of water from the sink to the floor). Of course, he won't necessarily stop, but he seems to be very understanding as to why you wish he would. Likable little trouble maker.
Anywho, that's just a little something.

18 . . .19 . . .

18. SOmetHinG SoMEoNe MaDE fOr YOu:

One of the fun things about having kids is that, just as soon as they get old enough, they start trying to pay you back all your years of sleepless nights and diaper changes by making you little crafty items and pictures and cards all of the time -- and it does go an awfully long way towards paying you back because you are so happy that you created a little being who could, in turn, creat such great little gifts. Here is a pencil jar that Goldie made for me in Kindergarten. It sits on our computer desk (oh alright . . . our computer fold-out table that really should be returned to Mike's parents . . .). I am quite fond of it (the pencil holder I mean. Of course, the table is lovely too).

19. SOmeTHinG INTereStINg OuTDsidE YoUr HomE:

The blizzard. What with it being a blizzard, I couldn't very well go scouting about for the other interesting things that might be out in my yard. This is interesting because while I live on a fairly busy street, it is not usually this busy; but cars were all slipping and stuck and being passed by other bolder cars.
Before long police lights were flashing. (And look, there is my own Mike coming home in our truck. I did talk him into leaving work early after all . . . and here he was coming back with warm stuff to throw in with the chickens just as the blizzard began).

I must be honest though. It really wasn't much of a blizzard. Blizzard shmizzard more like. Yes, it was very cold and windy, and I am quite relieved Mike wasn't driving on the freeway during it (and very happy he was home with me), but it had been talked about on the news all day as if it would be the storm to beat all storms -- the worst we'd had in at least seven years. Stores were crazy packed all day with everyone buying, not only Thanksgiving stuff, but food to hunker down for a day or two; events and classes and businesses were cancelling and closing. But it was really no worse than any cold snow storm. Respectable, sure; but it seems like if you want to be called a "blizzard" you've simply got to muster a little more fury. This morning I didn't even have to do more than turn the windshield wipers on to rid my windshield of snow. Blizzard. Pshaw.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

15, 16, 17! Getting Close to Done!

15. Something you are currently reading:
Well, it is quite the shame that I should be answering this question just now. It wouldn't be unheard of for just such a question to have found me at the ready with something of great interest to other potential readers. Sadly, I am momentarily in one of those lulls where I pick up a book here and there but find nothing that really sticks. I did grab this book in a moment of curiosity as I left my mother's house the other day. It is a children's book of sorts (though the writing is a bit older). From the cover alone you can tell it is from an age gone by, can't you? Still, the first 20 pages (which are all I have read) were charming enough. We shall see if it continues to be so or if it gets cast aside as well.

16. Your handwriting:
I tried to be honest here by finding a few things about the house that I had written before knowing it would be displayed for my blog readers to critique. I don't mind the look of my handwriting, but, I must admit that it does get a bit sloppy and quite difficult to decipher unless I am paying the strictest of attention. It might stem from my college days of note writing (sooo many notes to get down in so many classes), or perhaps it has something more to do with my ever being in a hurry. Either way, here are a few true little samples. Dear little handwriting. Sigh. You could do better.

17. Pets:
Pets you say? Well, what about them? Yes, I have them (you all know that). I thought perhaps I'd venture out to take their pictures so I could say, "Yes, I have pets. Here is what they were doing just now." But it is frighteningly cold, and, speaking of frightening, there is supposed to be a giant blizzard hitting here in a few hours, and I have called Mike no less than twice to see if he couldn't somehow leave work early to miss driving in it, but he doesn't think he can,and I don't like it one bit! I want us all bundled up safe and sound inside our own home -- together -- when it is blizzarding!

Nevertheless, here is a little pet business from last month when the chickens were pecking about freely for a moment.

Here Jesse actually tried to take a little ride on the chicken (the chicken was quite put out by this occurrence and my failure to stop it more quickly).

Here Jesse decided to throw the chickens a zucchini half . . . only he hit one with it . . . which, again, was an unhappy occurrence for the unlucky chicken.

The zucchini itself, once it wasn't grounded, did seem to give them some enjoyment.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

12, 13, 14

12. Something you own that has a lot of sentimental value:
I'm not an overly sentimental person. No. That sounds wrong. Maybe I am. I certainly place a lot of sentiment on things someone has thoughtfully given me and remember the smallest little things someone may have done for me. And I nearly always keep cards, letters and notes. I just am not one to keep little tiny souvenirs, etc. Even still, there were a number of things I could have used for this section on the list. Some of them were more readily at hand (the ones I chose) and others would have taken more unearthing.

Anyway, this little necklace was one Mike gave me several years ago for Christmas:
Not only do I love the simple necklace's look, but how could you not feel sentimental about a locket -- already filled with pictures of your precious ones? I do need to update it (as it contains only the three children who were a part of our family at the time Mike gave it to me). I'd like to put all my kids plus my husband. I just haven't tried to figure how to print such tiny pictures -- and Mike seems to have forgotten how he did it originally. I've worn this necklace a lot over the years, and it has spent a good deal of time entertaining the various toddlers who have sat on my lap opening and shutting it during many a sacrament meeting.

Next up -- this fleece sweatshirt:I've owned it for, let's see . . . nearly twelve years now! It don't know that it is current in fashion and it is certainly worn and stretched, but its sentiment is such that I can never part with it. It was a gift from Mike when we were dating. My sister worked at the Gap at the time, and I'd been there shopping during their "Friends and Family" discount day. I'd loved the sweatshirt but hadn't purchased it because it seemed a bit too expensive (even with the 30% discount). I don't recall how Mike knew I wanted it -- if we'd seen it one time shopping together or if I'd told him I'd sort of wanted to buy it but opted not to. All I know is that soon afterwards, he showed up with it as a gift for me. (And, imagine this, after seeing me typing this post, Mike happened to unearth the VERY receipt showing his purchase of this sweatshirt. Well, we can't very well throw that away now either, can we!)

Last thing for #12 -- This blanket that sits folded at the foot of my bed:
Originally, this was a totally different blanket -- composed of bright orange material on one side and big colorful patchwork squares on the other side. There were two of them (I don't know what's become of the other). My mom had made them for my older sisters' beds. Later, when they had become the blankets on the beds of two of us younger girls, the patchwork side was so frayed that a new blue checked back was added. (As seen in the above picture), but the colorful squares weren't totally forgotten. If I lifted the blanket towards the light of my bedroom window, I could see their remnants through the orange side. By the time I was in middle school, the orange side was so beat up that my mom took me to choose a sheet -- I remember that shopping trip with just the two of us and how excited I was to choose what I wanted and how ingenious I thought it was to use a sheet for the new side (I chose the lovely flower pattern you now see). We tied and sewed that on over the orange. We must have cut the orange off pretty well because none of it is visible, but through the now rather thin and worn checked side, you can still see the old colorful squares. I love this blanket. Not only because I slept with it so much of my growing up, but it reminds me of my mom and of her efforts to re-use and be thrifty to care for her eleven children.

13. The oldest thing you own:
To be honest, I'm not actually sure which of my possessions has the most years on it. It may be that something I have is much older than the two things I thought of here, but I don't know. I just thought of these items because they belonged to my grandma and so, must have been around for awhile anyway. They later became mine. My grandma loved jewelry and one Christmas let my sisters and I choose something from her jewelry drawer. I don't know that it's worth anything monetarily speaking, but I think it's pretty cool looking. The radio was something I got to keep from her house after she'd passed away. I just use it for a decoration, but it was a functioning radio at one point.

14. Something you are good at:
I used to lament the fact that I didn't have any obviously recognizable (at least to me) talents -- nothing I could readily display or perform. Even now, I will catch myself singing along to a song in the car and, just for a minute, imagining how impressive it would be if it were ME singing that song. I know, that's a nerdy thing to admit, but I would love to play an instrument incredibly well or be able to dance or sing or even ski amazingly; and wouldn't that be a fun way to answer number 14? By writing about my having played violin for the New York Philharmonic, or about being asked to sing at wedding receptions? Yes, that would be fun -- even if I could only a little bit do any of those things.
Still, as I've grown older, I have become more grateful for (and better at recognizing) the talents I do have. Some of them I didn't know I had because I'd never had a need for them until later life experiences called upon them; others, I simply had -- ungratefully -- never considered to be talents. For example, I still remember about five years ago when my sister Shannon said something to me about my having a "talent" for keeping things clean. At the time, thinking of talents more as the earlier things I'd mentioned, I scoffed and laughed, "Oh yah. Some talent. Psh." Since then however, and with the addition of more children to my home, I have come to appreciate that maybe that is something of a talent. Don't get me wrong. My house isn't sparkly clean and, at any given moment, there are several areas I would prefer remain unseen, but I do seem to be able to keep things fairly tidy. So, it is more things like that that I have started to try and view as my gifts or talents - the things that aren't maybe as deserving of an audience, but that are a skill all the same. I can't think of any more at this very moment to type, but you get the idea.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Numbers 9, 10 and 11

I have got to finish this darned list. It's fun and all, but it makes me feel like I can't blog anything else 'til it is finished, so I don't blog at all when I don't feel like list blogging. Yes, that is a new blogging term I just created. List blogging: A method of blogging where an individual (or group of individuals) post based upon specific assignments, lists of topics or questionnaires. List blogging. Oh, silly me. I must have thought I was doing a spelling bee for a minute (which is why I said "List blogging" again at the end). You've seen spelling bees haven't you? They'll answer like this: Abdicate. A-b-d-i-c-a-t-e. Abdicate. And now, of course, I am wanting to tell you all about the third grade humiliation of getting out on the simple word "tern" in my first and only spelling bee. Perhaps I would have asked for them to give me a definition had I known a bird called a "tern" existed. Alas, I did not know, so I, very hesitantly (hesitantly because I knew something could not be right -- them asking me such an easy word and all), spelled the good old U-turn kind of turn, "t-u-r-n," then I looked at them with nervously skeptical eyebrows knit and raised, and they sent me away.

BUT, I must press on! Spelling bee experiences are not on the list! Stick to the list, Nancy! Stick to it!

OK. Fine. See if I care. I think lists are fun anyway.

9. A Knicknack (or nick nack or knick knack or knick nack or nick knack . . . I'm not altogether sure):

When I saw that on the list, I thought it sounded so fun. I envisioned myself telling all about some clever and special little gadget. I didn't picture what that gadget was specifically, but I sort of had an overall impression of something opening and closing and seeming also slightly sentimental or, at least, charming.

However, when I went wandering about my house looking for this special little knicknack, I realized I have NO knicknacks. Even being slightly uncertain what traits classify an object as a knicknack, I was still able to see, clearly, that I had none.

I think I used to have a drawer full of things in my younger days that were knicknack-ish. But my new self (the self who is forever having a heart attack about all things clutter that inevitably exist in a household with children, etc.) must have become expert at non-knicknack-keeping. Too bad. Maybe there are some in a dusty box downstairs, but I don't want to search that hard all for the sake of this list.

So, these were the only things I kept seeing around that made me think, "knicknack," and they aren't even mine. Mike bought them for the kids one time. They have another little pal who is lying around here somewhere but couldn't be found for the photo shoot. You shake them a little and they clack away like they are happily jabbering.
10. Last Thing Purchased:

I'm not going to bother to take a picture of these. You can find them at your local grocers. It was some Luden's throat drops (cherry flavor). We've all had sore throats around here, and, to be honest, those Luden's drops don't seem to do a bit of good. But the Hall's (and other similar varieties) that actually seem to slightly medicate or tumble little vapors into your throat taste so awful that my kids won't take them for nothin'. I think the Luden's are so I can at least give them something at night for a little comforting placebo effect. They seem to think they need them.
11. Favorite Room in Your House:
That would easily be my little front room. I like the blue wall and the hardwood floors. Mostly I like that I have actually hung things in that room. I have a sad sad inability to ever ever hang a thing on my walls. I don't know what I am always waiting for. The perfect thing? The courage? I don't know, but truly my walls are as empty as any walls could ever possibly be -- save for this one room where some small burst of bravery or energy or whatever it is that makes people hang things must have once momentarily possessed me.P.S. Can I tell you all a little secret? I have been messing with a nice camera these days -- learning how to control my own settings and what not. One of the most exciting things I have recently began learning is to take a picture of something (you know, like a child) with bright light behind them with out them turning out all silhouettey and dark. While I have been learning to do it by exposing the subject correctly first and then keeping those settings for the broader picture, I was pleased to see what a little knowledge could do with even just a point and shoot camera in plain old full auto mode. I once took pictures to remember our first apartment by. Unfortunately it was the days before you could see what you'd done (pre-digital camera days). The fact that I'd taken them all in broad daylight with a sliding glass door in the background meant that all we have to remember our apartment by are a few detailless pics of very shadowy looking furniture and walls.

Anywho, I wasn't doing anything fancy today -- not even using my good camera. I had just grabbed our tiny point and shoot camera to get pictures for this post, but that same thing was happening with the above photo by the window. So, I simply focused my camera on a darker corner away from the window, then, keeping the button held halfway down moved back to the picture by the window. Wa-lah! My furniture didn't turn to silhouettes since I'd fooled my camera into thinking I was taking a picture not into direct light. There. You can all do that now even if you know nothing and have a cheep camera. Isn't that fun?

Friday, November 12, 2010

#8 -- Something That Makes Me Happy

Mike being home on Thursday for Veteran's Day; he and Abe building a chicken coop together.I love to see Mike build things. Everything is so perfect and right and knowing how to do it all seems so clear to him. I'll show the finished product when it is . . . well, just that -- finished.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

#6 and #7

Another blog post brought to you by: Penny and Jesse Nap Time! Although, to be honest, I could use a tiny little nap myself just now . . . so, we'll see if this blog post gets completed or not. I liked killing three birds (figuratively speaking of course) with one little stone yesterday, so lets chisel this list I've foisted upon myself (and thereby all of you) down a little further!
#6 -- The things in your purse

Alright. Purse dumped out on bed. Photo taken. Some of the junk that was found thrown away. Here's what we've got (prior to junk removal -- for honesty's sake):
It would appear my purse isn't necessarily the happening place to be. There isn't a single little cute canister of breath mints or package of minty gum. There are no fancy lip balms or rhinestone key chains (the only reason that little eye makeup compact is even in there is because I just bought it at the store today and it seemed too small to warrant an entire bag).

There is, however, a package of popcorn attached to a frosty coupon (Marnie, I was actually going to return it to you whenever I saw you again). There also seems to be a number of wrappers and papers -- receipts and all those coupons they are always handing you with your receipt at the store (I'm glad we did this purse thing -- I'd forgotten about the free RedBox rental . . . which, for us, means it will only cost 3 dollars as opposed to 4 by the time we take it back). The wrappers. Well, I can't imagine that I ate something as zany as whatever kind of treat came out of that Zots wrapper. I must have picked up after one of my kids. The Russell Stover's chocolate covered marshmallow Santa though? Guilty. I love those little guys and they've been gone since last December! Also, I am glad to note that I have carefully been carrying my little anaphylaxis kit around in case I accidentally ingest a Brazil nut; however, I am sad to note that that particular kit is roughly eight years past its expiration date. (I do have a more recent one in my medicine cabinet however that is only several months past its due date). That's about it for old pursey purse. Oh wait, that little mouth covering Mickey Mouse thing. Nobody was really sick. Penny just nabbed it from the doctor's office one day and I felt sheepish to put something back in the box for others to use when her sticky little hands had been all over it.

#7 -- Nicknames you have

Everyone has a billion nicknames in my family (some shared) because my dad is a user of nicknames -- often wacky and bizarre nicknames. So, along with a few that my friends and sisters occasionally use, I have been called (among other things), "Nanny goat," "Nanny-go-vitus," "Nancy Pants," "Fancy Pants," "Smarty Pants," "Nank," "Nanners Bananners," and then, there are those that my dad fondly calls any of us at any given moment like, "Piddleatrope." (No. I don't know why either).
It is now Friday -- and this began on Tuesday -- so, apparently I didn't finish the job during their nap time; nor did I kill three birds with one stone -- only a measly two. Nevertheless, the third one (number 8) is now completed in a new post -- as you may have already noted.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Numbers 3, 4, and 5

Really I am pretty much just bypassing numbers three and four. Why, you ask? They are, quite simply, BORING me and I can't muster a post out of them! Look:

#3 -- Your short term goals for the month
I don't actually have any goals for the month, if you must know. Well, I did have one, I guess. It was to pull out all of my dying flowers and weeds from the front flower beds and put Halloween decorations away, and I did do those things. So . . . that's something. I suppose I could hurry and create some worthy goals for myself, but I don't really want to. So, farewell numero tres.

#4 --Something you've been proud of in the past few days
I must have been feeling very accomplished and motivated when I kept numbers 3 and 4 in the list to begin with. I don't know that I've done anything that I'm especially pleased with lately. Not that I am displeased, mind. I've just been doing normal run of the mill things. Although . . . I guess you can be proud of something that isn't about you, can't you! Well, I was proud of Goldie yesterday when she spent all day working on a story (perhaps more of a parody) called "The Three Big Wolves" and read it to my entire family at Sunday dinner. Yes, there was a "little bad pig" that came to try and eat the wolves.

Alright, #5, I will give you an honest effort -- The first ten songs that happen to play when your iPod is put on shuffle.

It's a miracle actually that I own an iPod. I am terrified of technology and scarcely ever to be found wanting the latest gadget. Yes, I loved when Mike got me my GPS running watch, and cell phones are lovely, but I get intimidated about figuring anything new out and I would have likely never thought to get an iPod because I would have thought, "Well, that would be silly, I don't generally walk around with headphones on anyway."

Luckily, Mike keeps me somewhat in the technology loop. When my foot first started having troubles last year, I decided to try some cycling/spinning classes. I quite liked them, but I occasionally complained to Mike that I could do a pretty darn good class my own self with much better music. Soo, naturally (and it is naturally if you know that my husband pays attention to any small thing that might ever make my life happier) Mike came home a few nights later with an iPod for me. Of course he had to show me how to download songs and use it, and initially I just created a little spinning playlist of upbeat songs to use for my own little personal cycling sessions. But before long I discovered how great having an iPod is (especially with our van -- bless it's heart -- having a nice plug in so we can listen to it there). It is so fun to just put all my music on there and create little playlists. I have a Sunday one and one for the little girls that has songs that are innocent and fun for them like Colbie Caillet's "Bubbly," etc. Then more of a kids' one with the things like Old MacDonald had a Farm. I love hearing a song I like on the radio and just being able to quickly put just that song on my iPod. It's been so fun. I feel like an old woman saying, "Why that crazy what's-it called iPod is just a dandy -- the things it can do!" Anywho, shuffle clicked and here were the first ten songs that happened to come up (the original person I saw who did this list actually put the little youtube videos of each song on here. Naturally I haven't the faintest idea how to do that, so if you actually care, you can, I'm sure, find them your own tiny self on youtube).

1. Ope, that can't count. I don't even know that song or what its doing on here. I'll put what it should have been instead (cheater). It should have been "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry. I listen to that sweet little song all the time lately. I tend to treat songs like I do food cravings -- I listen to one over and over til anyone near might lose their minds, then I discard it for something new. The last one was Dierks Bentley's "Draw Me a Map" that my sister Megan introduced me to (along with his version of U2's "Pride" that Shannon introduced me to).

2. "I'd be Lying" by Greg Laswell. I really love this song. As far as mainstream music goes, I usually prefer kind of mellow stuff like old Greg Laswell. Plus, this is the first song I downloaded and put on my little cycling mix, so I always listen to it as my warm up song (and now I can't really ever hear it without feeling like I'm riding a bike).

3. "Whenever/Wherever" -- Shakira. Well, one can hardly have an exercise playlist with no Shakira, can they? And, to my credit, I didn't realize she mentioned certain parts of her body being "small and humble" for a long time as I first only had a copy of the Spanish version.

4. "Boa Sorte" -- Vanessa da Mata and Ben Harper. My niece introduced me to this song. It took a few listens, but then I was hooked. It's mostly in Portuguese I think? Mike has quite a few songs we often listen to that are in Spanish and sometimes I like them just great despite having no idea what they are singing about. He always makes us listen to Esta Vida which he thinks is the happiest song ever to exist.

5. "Sweet Dreams" -- Jewel. Oh, that's a fun one to have come up. Jewel has such a pretty voice, but some of her old songs I used to listen to have lyrics that are . . . kind of lame-o, but this Sweet Dreams song is actually off of my little kids' playlist. It's from her lullaby album that I just bought by the diapers in Wal-Mart once. I quite love it for me and my little ones to listen to.

6. "Take Me for Longing" -- Alison Kraus. Not my favorite of her songs, but a fun one all the same. In general you can't not like Alison Kraus -- and have you noticed how nearly every famous country singer always has a song featuring Alison Kraus?

7. "Tonight" Lykki Li. Kind of odd little sound to some of Lykki's songs, but I like this one all the same.

8. "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" -- Chris Rice. From my Sunday playlist. I also have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir version of this song, AND, a version by another gospel singer (whose name escapes me at present). It was written in the 18th century by a Methodist pastor at only age 22. It is really one of my favorite religious songs.

9. "Breakdown" by Jack Johnson. Another example of the more mellow mainstream that I like. I don't really know that you can go too wrong with Jack Johnson. And, my kids even enjoy his Curious George soundtrack songs.

10. "The Climb" -- yes, that would be by Miley Cyrus. Leave me alone. It's a sweet little song and my girls like it on their playlist (even though Abe doesn't like it because he said it makes him feel sad). I also like a little Taylor Swift. What of it? (Although, it does seem a little wrong when I hear Penny singing "I'm not a princess, I'm not a fairytale." I realize she has the words a little wrong there, but a three year old should be singing about BEING a princess. What have I done?

11. Oh, did I just type "11" -- I was supposed to stop at 10. Too bad. I've already clicked on the next song and The Wailin' Jennys' "Long Time Traveller" came up and I love the Wailin' Jennys.

There. Done. Three birds with one little stone.

Friday, November 5, 2010

#2 -- A Picture of Somewhere You've Been

Since I mentioned Israel yesterday, I thought I'd put a picture or two from there as the "place I've been". I don't have a scanner so these are actually photos taken OF my photos -- with out my having even bothered to take them out from behind the plastic of the album they were in. So, basically, they are just awful. Still, they will give you some small idea of the amazingness of being there. I remember Rabbi Rosen telling us something during one of our first classes with him about Jerusalem being the navel of the world . . . which sounds a little odd until you realize he was explaining it as the city which the umbilical chord from heaven connects straight to. It is really just impossible to be there with out feeling overwhelmed by spiritual history. So so much stuff in such a small area. I nearly wanted to cry looking though these photos, and then, of course, I had to go pull out the journal I kept while I was there. I can't really believe that little stay-close-to-home-homebody me managed to have that experience.

Here is the Nabatean Treasury carved right into the mountain side. This wasn't actually in Israel at all, rather in Petra, Jordan. Petra has been described as "A rose red city half as old as time." And, you may recognize the treasury from Indiana Jones! It was definitely one of the coolest places we got to go to. Also here I am at the Dome of the Rock. It is in the "Old City" which is the walled in area of Jerusalem -- and while you can see it from nearly anywhere at all in Jerusalem, my friends and I wandered around the old city forever trying to figure how to actually get to it. At last these cool little Palestinian kids showed us the way.

The few weeks we spent in Galilee were, I think, about everyones favorite part of the semester. Here is a little picture I took as we hung out along the shore one evening. Tiberias was across the sea and I still have such a perfect image in my mind of the long triangle of lights from the city of Tiberias we would begin to see as night set in along the shore of Galilee. Also, here I am with my roommates at the top of Mt. Sinai in Sinai, Egypt where we all hiked at about 2:00 am so we could be up there to see the sunrise. We watched so many sunrises and sunsets during our time there that I think those peaceful moments were the cause of my eyeglass prescription doubling before I returned home.

Here was all stopped at some cool sand dunes on our way home from Sinai (by "home" I mean: back to the Jerusalem center -- which really was home to us).

Speaking of the Jerusalem center. Possibly there is no place more perfectly located and situated and more all around gorgeous. I can't believe that I spent several months with these views constantly greeting my eyes from pretty much every room in the center. Just sitting in the chapel there for one hour as you overlooked the entire city was enough to make you want to weep for joy at the experience!

And now, for my own pleasure, a few random sentences from my Israel journal:

"It will be at least another 12 hours before we are anywhere near Tel Aviv."

"Jet lag is awful. I have slept about eight hours in three days."

"I love sacrament meeting in our chapel. Today our choir sang, 'There is a Green Hill Near at Hand'."

". . . then we exchanged some money and went into the old city."

"He asked if he should put it in the backpack so no one would steal it. I just laughed, 'no one will steal our water.' . . . we reached Damascus gate . . . next thing I know, this little old lady on the street has the water."

". . . went out on a run and there was this cool Bedouin Sheepherder with about 20 goats behind him."

"I went to the Israeli museum today. The Dead Sea Scrolls are there. It is HUGE. I saw maybe 1/3rd of everything."

"Today a bunch of us headed to Joffa gate where you can get up on the old city walls and walk around."

"After class today, I took off with Jeff and Dave to look for Hezekiah's tunnel. We didn't find it."

"Luckily Shibon (an old city store owner) gave us a ride home."

". . . and then down into the valley of Elah where David slew Goliath."

"I seriously cannot stay awake at all in my classes."

"I am sitting in my room right now with Sarah listening to a tape I made."

"I wish I could write all I'm learning in Isaiah."

"Today we got to press grapes in the wine press up in the Bible Garden."

"Dr. Nazzal took us to the Dome of the Rock and the Alaqsa mosque."

"Dr. Nazzal brought the men who do the call to prayer here for us. It was cool to listen closely to that strange singing and praying that I've only heard floating above Jerusalem."

"After that they had a traditional Ramadan feast with us."

" . . . took our class to the West Bank. . . . 21 refugee camps. . . . Next we went to the Palestinian "Birzeit" University."

"Arabs are so hospitable. We came up to talk to them, but they immediately insisted on getting us drinks saying, 'You are our guests.'"

"Visited the tel of Old Testament Jericho."

" . . . we were going to walk the Via Delerosa, but their were no English tours today . . . wandered into the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. . . . little stone steps that never stopped curving around up to the top of the church past where the cathedral bells were."

"Sarah S. and I woke up at 5:20 am . . . went to Mea Shearim to buy shabbot bread."

". . . one or two other boys began singing -- more and more male voices from my class joined in. I suddenly started smiling and almost laughing -- it was just so good and happy. They were loudly singing, 'Ye Elders of Israel.'"

"Went to Aladdin's today (the money changer). . . . He told us he's the most honest crook there is."

"It's Rosh Hashanah so lots is closed."

"We also went to Mt. Nebo. . . . I liked looking over towards the Jordan river like Moses did - seeing the promised land after 40 years of wandering."

"Sarah S. and I hiked with Jason up to the 'high spot' where the altar for sacrifice was."
" . . . So I pleaded, 'No! No! I love that one!' He said, 'Oh! But you are breaking my heart!' I just took it gently from his hand and laughed, 'I'm not breaking your heart.' He just smiled and I gave him one deniro."
" . . . bunch of us left at 7:30 to go hear the Israel philharmonic play."
"Security called our buses, but they took forever to get back."
"We noticed they'd given us new curtains -- so we cheered some more and made someone come take a picture . . ."
"He just kept saying, 'Think how lucky you are! Not only are you a member of the church, but out of the millions of members, you got to come here!'"
". . . we had a simulated 'Seder' or Passover dinner with Rabbi Rosen."
". . . then we went to The Monastery of the Cross. It was probably my favorite church that we've visited so far. . . . just two old guys and a 15 year old boy. He spoke a tiny bit of English, but they really only spoke Russian. I think the only thing they knew how to say was 'No entry' if we headed towards somewhere we couldn't go."
"We went first of all to Masada. . . . climbed up the Roman siege ramp."
". . . the Dead Sea. . . . I was so funny to just sit there and completely float."
"W spoke a little Arabic with the owner of Lana's then we came back and played a round of chess on my new set."
"I just spent the entire morning right outside of our room snorkeling along the coral reef of the Red Sea!"
"Strange hiking up Sinai in the dark. There were camels everywhere and occasional huts selling things."
"We are now back at our little home here at the center. I love it here. I loved as we got near the view I had of Jerusalem. It truly is a city on a hill."
"We had the choir do a beautiful song -- Mendelssohn (sp?) from 'Elijah' -- 'He Watching Over Us.'"
"We went to Shepherd's field to retell the Christmas story . . . hill was sloped and covered with rocks and shrubs, and the entire time we looked past two hills with Bethlehem nestled between them. . . . There were actually sheep across the valley walking down a little slope. You could hear them bleating distantly and an occasional sheep bell. . . . It was so perfect it makes me want to cry."
"He hugged Jason and kissed him on the cheek and did the same to each of us, then he just crouched and beamed at us -- I wasn't really sure what we were to do. The store owner came and said something and the guy left. . . . he still seemed pretty cheery. . . ."
"Driving in tonight, I looked at the Sea of Galilee and I felt like crying just for a brief second. . . to think my Savior really walked on, knew, and loved these shores."
"Mt of Beatitudes . . . Caupernaum . . . Chorazin. We headed to Tiberias after that."
". . . a number of tourists were killed in Egypt . . . tourists fleeing out of Egypt . . . everyone has been speculating about what will happen . . . tonight we found out from Pres. Evans that no, we are not going. . . . I won't go see the pyramids, etc. When will I ever again get to Egypt?"
"Today is Thanksgiving."
". . . went to Nain which is where Christ brought back to life a widow woman's only son."
"I am on an airplane right now at the tail end of a 13.5 hour flight from Tel Aviv to New York."
Well! That was certainly long and yet still missing roughly 100 trillion of the adventures. Sigh. what a cool adventure.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bad Foot, Happy, Etc.

I am in such a pleasant and happy mood right now. I'm not sure why. My darn foot has been bringing me down. It was clear last December that this plantar fasciitis set in. I took a month off, but had already paid and signed up for a spring marathon and had to start trying to train a little. My foot couldn't take it though, so I had to forget the marathon (and the non-refundable entrance fee) and try to be patient and content with just minimal running.

That worked alright until April when it got terrible again. So . . . I pretty much stopped running til about August. But it hasn't felt good starting in again. Now we are getting close to a year! Is this going to stay with me forever? I really really wanted to sign up for another marathon that will be full probably in another month. Plus, I have a running partner!! Ever since not living close to my older sister Amy, I have mostly run alone. I've gone with groups here and there, but it has just never really worked with times I could go, etc. Now I run with a friend in my ward who is perfect for me! She runs my pace (maybe even faster -- which I like), she is super likable, and, I think could be coerced into training for something like a marathon with me (which would make those long runs so much more enjoyable!), alas, I am a minimalist runner at present.

A few weeks ago I gave in and paid for custom made insoles (basically orthotics -- with a cooler name), but they haven't helped at all. I just went and saw Mr. Orthotic (actually his name is Ben) again today. He messed around with the insert a little more and told me to wear them constantly for the next few weeks. He told me it has been months and months since he's had a case he couldn't help and that he wasn't big on letting me break his track record. We'll see.

And, I shouldn't be all complaints. I love to run and feel discouraged when I can't (especially when everyone I know seems to be doing big races, etc.), but some good has come of this. I've learned to try other things -- like spinning classes, weights, etc. that I've really enjoyed; and I think I will implement cross training into my routines even when I can run with ease. BUT! What does that have to do with anything?


I was just at that orthotic appointment today, which I mentioned only because I am feeling so un-bummed and happy despite orthotic-messed-up-foot day! It was nice visiting with my sister Amy after my appointment (she let Jesse and Penny come over while I went), and that made me happy. The weather is nice. I just got tickets in the mail to go to the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Concert and I LOVE Christmas music about as much as I love anything. It just feels like a happy day. And, that makes me want to let laundry sit while I do things I enjoy (which, at the moment includes typing this and that). So here I am! The above was all simply an introduction. Only . . . such a long introduction that maybe I'll just type whatever else I am going to type in an entire new post. Alright. New post.

A Blogging List and 15 Things About ME!

Alright, so what do I want to type about? Well, just little fun stuff. I came across a list the other day -- a list of 30 things to be typed about for 30 days of blogging. Well, heaven knows I won't actually blog 30 consistent days, and, to be honest some of the ideas were bleh. But, I did jot down 20 of them that seemed fun-ish. So, not necessarily consistently, but perhaps I will blog these 20 things.

Here's the list:
1. A recent picture and 15 interesting things about yourself
2. A picture of somewhere you've been
3. Your short term goals for the month
4. Something you've been proud of in the past few days
5. Put your i-pod on shuffle and list the first ten songs that play
6. The things you find in your purse
7. Nicknames you have
8. A picture of something that makes you happy
9. A nick knack
10. The last thing you purchased
11. Your favorite room in the house
12. Something you own that has a lot of sentimental value
13. The oldest thing you own
14. Something you are good at
15. Something you are currently reading
16. A picture of your handwriting
17. Pets
18. Something someone made for you
19. Something interesting outside your house
20. Picture of you with loved one(s)

Well. Let's go ahead and try number one. You know I have tried time and time again (and failed) with this "making lists of fun or clever or strange or interesting things about yourself" business. But, I think I can do it today! I'm ready! Bring it on. Let's go. OK.

Oh yes, first, a recent picture of myself. How 'bout these:

Now that will lead us to number one:
1. Those pictures -- they reminded me of something about me. I look much better in pictures than in real life. That's all good and well. I like pictures, but it's a little sad to know the real me doesn't quite measure up to the photos. Odd.

2. I am quite claustrophobic. I really feel uncomfortable to be in any small space. Even the back seat of a car that doesn't have back doors makes me feel a little panicky. When I was little I didn't know there was a word for the panicked sensation I would get if someone was squishing me someplace tight so I would just begin crying out, "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" Which wasn't really true, but was the best I knew to explain what was happening.

3. I am a thousand times more likely to fold a batch of laundry happily if it is a load of darks. They always seem to have more easily foldable things in them.

4. I get asked if I am a volleyball or basketball player on a regular basis.

5. I was a phone call away from pursuing a PhD in Neurobiology. I'd applied, sent all my letters of recommendation, taken the GRE, been interviewed by two professors who had both agreed to take me on (you have to have a professor agree to be your "mentor" to oversee your work if you go on to graduate school in Biology). I merely had to let them know my decision. Mike and I had been discussing it but hadn't decided anything for certain. The graduate school I'd attend was an hour away from where Mike was currently enrolled. I was working full time and wouldn't be able to keep my job, etc. The day I found out I was pregnant with Abe, Mike came home from school and, before I could tell him the news, he told me to go ahead and call one of the professors -- that we'd move up there and maybe he'd transfer schools. Then I told him our baby news and, with the excitement of our first baby and knowing I'd want to be home with him, my PhD plans dissolved pretty quickly. I wasn't at all disappointed, but I occasionally look back and wonder about life had I gone down that path. I can't imagine having accomplished it having kids, but it would have been something that I would have really enjoyed.

6. I really prefer 2% milk -- which I know disturbs some.

7. I'm always a little happier when I am driving a standard. It's all we ever had growing up and it makes me feel extra in control.

8. I had a pet frog for a few weeks when I was little. When it's cage got too smelly, I graciously freed the frog in a small rain puddle. I'm sure he survived to live a long and happy life of freedom . . .

9. My fingernails are rarely (if ever) painted, but my toenails always are.

10. I can't bare the thought of mixing egg whites "until stiff peaks form." I have tried several times and I am certain no stiff peaks ever planned on forming! Which means, sadly, that I will likely never make truly great waffles. Ooh, but that leads me to number 11 --

11. I love waffles but have a difficult time eating a pancake even though they are about the same thing. Is it the texture?

12. I was pretty much the queen of 5th grade. I don't know why, but it's true. Kids flocked to me. Friends adored me. Everyone wept when I was chosen only to portray Lady Capulet in the 5th grade play of Romeo and Juliet when surely its success depended on my being Juliet. Alright, there was no weeping about that, but I have to say I was pretty darn big time in 5th grade. I have never re-attained that glory.

13. I knew I wanted to go spend a semester in Jerusalem when I was only 12. I don't recall if that was when the church built the Jerusalem center or how I even knew about it, but I wrote in my journal how I wanted to go there someday and planned on it from that time 'til age 20 when I finally did go.

14. I don't enjoy seeing any scary movie or even slightly scary image ever. They stay with me for a very long time and make me feel like bad spirits are hanging around me. When we were first married, Mike would occasionally have me watch a slightly scary show with him. Now, he knows it disturbs me so much that he actually covers my eyes if a scary face pops up in a commercial!

15. When Mike and I broke up, we had been sitting on my front porch talking in the cold for so long that when I came in I suddenly realized my feet were nearing frost bitten stage. I sat in my room rubbing my frozen feet and crying and crying (over Mike, not my feet!) 'til I finally fell asleep -- only to wake up in the morning and cry and cry again. I'm really glad I married him.

Well, that was actually quite fun. But my "doing what ever I please" has come to an end. That laundry really does need folded . . . and it's a big batch of whites. Booo.
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