Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Halloween 2012

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{Review} Extreme Origami: Transforming Dollar Bills Into Priceless Works Of Art

Just in time for Halloween, are you ready to fold spiders and bats? Do you have money in your pocket, that just screams, "Fold me!?" Then this creative and amazing origami book is for you! I could not wait to open the hardcover Extreme Origami: Transforming Dollar Bills Into Priceless Works Of Art, and look at all of the awesome projects with full instructions.

Are you ready to take the Extreme Origami challenge?

Won Park's highly creative and intricate work has long been admired throughout the origami community. Despite the popularity of the form, only a relatively small number of talented, creative artist publish money folds, and Won Park is widely regarded as a leading master of this specialty. In Extreme Origami, Won Park uses U.S. dollars to create his amazing paper sculptures. The fiber content in currency adds strength to the paper and keeps it from tearing during the hundreds of little folds and bends required to make his intricate designs,

In this book, Won Park shares twenty dollar bill designs, each with step by-step instructions and diagrams illustrated by Marcio Noguchi. Models in the challenge include a Formula 1 race car, a toilet, a butterfly, a koi fish, a scorpion, a sea turtle, a fox, an ox, a marlin, a car, a praying mantis, a dragon, a spider, a stag beetle, a stegosaurus, a bat, Pegasus, a fighter jet, a battle tank, and a pig.

The author provides helpful tips for those with an intermediate skill level, which contains a list of basic tools needed to begin folding, The book also includes a glossary of origami Terms & Symbols the author uses in his designs.

"As with anything you do, origami - especially extreme origami - takes practice, lots of practice. If you are already an advanced folder, you are well prepared to take the Extreme Origami challenge offered by this book." - Won Park

Extreme Origami can be found on Amazon, and other major book retailers.

About the Author:
Won Park is an origami artist who has been practicing for more than 30 years, His specialty is folding paper currency from the United States and other countries. Always striving to take the art form to new extremes, he has created a wide range of very intricate and whimsical models. He currently resides in Honolulu, Hawaii.

*I was not compensated for this review, but sent a book for my personal review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

{Review} Chris Mann's Debut Album #Roads

I am so excited to share with you the debut album all "MannFans," have been waiting for! The long wait is over, and the debut album Roads is everything I hoped it would be; it is moving, uplifting, and romantic. Chris Mann, breaks out with "Roads," "Cuore," and "Falling," each unique with the clarity and artistry, that only Chris Mann fans know and love! Roads has an eclectic assortment of songs, ranging from Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind” and Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” to “Ave Maria” and Damien Rice’s “The Blowers’ Daughter,” featuring Christina Aguilera. The album Roads is available everywhere on October  30th, and join us as we applaud Chis Mann!

This time last year, Chris Mann faced his make-or-break moment. “I remember it was Halloween night and my blind audition for The Voice was just a few days away,” Mann recalls. “I was a nervous wreck. I went to The Voice with the hope of just making the show.”

What a difference a year makes. Now Mann is signed to Faircraft/Universal Republic, a new label formed by renowned producer/music executive Ron Fair. He’s also releasing his major label debut, Roads, a bold re-imagining of the classical-pop genre. The aptly-titled album represents the culmination of a long and challenging journey for this gifted and dedicated young artist, who’d been pushing forward against what had appeared to be overwhelming odds. 

After studying opera at Vanderbilt in Nashville, the Wichita, Kansas, native had spent years singing in clubs and auditioning for record labels without a nibble, until three years ago, when one classical label took a chance on him. Mann was working on what would have been his debut album when he was abruptly dropped, the victim of a wholesale regime change at the company. Devastated, he started working behind the scenes as a session singer on Glee, and occasionally getting on camera as a member of the fictional vocal group the Warblers. He was making a decent living, and for a while he managed to convince himself that it was what he should be doing with his career. 

“I never doubted my talent, but I had so many people not know what to do with me that I started to think I was weird,” Mann explains. “So I spent the next couple of years doing pop, until I realized I was wasting my time, and my voice, trying to dumb it down. I decided to go back to the genre I love—what I’d dedicated my whole life to learning how to do—classically based pop music.” 

When he strode onto a sound-stage at Sony Studios to perform Andrea Bocelli’s “Because We Believe” for his Voice audition, Mann was more nervous than he’d ever been before a performance. “It was a combination of knowing that this was bigger than anything I had ever done before and realizing that it could change my life,” he says. “I just sensed that that something different was gonna happen this time—something good.” 

Mann’s intuition was right. He killed it that day and was selected to be on Christina Aguilera’s team. "As the first serious classical singer on one of these shows, I couldn't believe it when I kept getting voted through, week after week. These people who kept voting for me were my fans—they gave me back my confidence and helped me find my true voice.”

After the series ended, Mann signed with Faircraft—serendipitous in that back in 1998 Fair, then senior vice-president of A&R for RCA Records, had signed, oversaw and supervised  Aguilera’s career. The decision was a no-brainer for both Mann and Fair. “Ron is a believer,” says Chris. “He has a passion for classical crossover music—he gets it.” Together, they immediately began conceptualizing of the album project—or projects, including a Wal-mart exclusive Christmas EP.

“I knew exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it, because I’d been preparing for this record for so long,” Mann points out. He called on an A-list crew of producers: Walter Afanasieff (Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey), Keith Thomas (Charlotte Church, Luther Vandross, Vanessa Williams), Marco Marinangeli (Josh Groban, Il Divo), Marius de Vries (Madonna, U2, Josh Groban) and Bleu (Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato),as well as arranger/conductor Joel McNeely (Seth McFarlane, various Disney soundtracks). 

“These guys are pros and they all speak the same language,” says Mann. “Still, it was amazing how smoothly and quickly it all went. We got 16 tracks—the album and the EP—done in six weeks. That’s because the vision was so clear.” 

Roads boasts a wildly eclectic assortment of songs, ranging from Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind” and Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” to “Ave Maria” and Damien Rice’s “The Blowers’ Daughter,” with the latter featuring a special guest appearance from Aguilera. About “The Blower’s Daughter” and singing with Chris, Aguilera says, “It's a beautiful song and I really respect the way he’s expressing himself on the album. Everything from his tone, to his richness, to his soulfulness comes through loud and clear.”

Mann co-wrote two songs, “Cuore,” based on Bach’s “Air on a G String,” and the contemporary ballad “Falling.” A widescreen take on Coldplay’s anthem “Viva La Vida”—which sounds like it was written expressly for Mann to sing—provides the album with an ecstatic climax. 

While Mann chose most of the material himself, it was Fair who instigated what would become the album’s centerpiece, hooking up with Paul Anka, who was so taken with Mann’s voice and story that he reworked “My Way” specifically for Chris. Anka tweaked the lyrics so that instead of being about a guy looking back, this new version is written from the point of view of a young man looking hopefully ahead—a notion central to the theme of Roads

That Anka would, for the first time ever, massage this Frank Sinatra-associated standard for him to sing meant a great deal to Mann, whose late grandfather had himself once headed to L.A.in an attempt to make it as a Sinatra-influenced crooner, only to shelve his dream, return to Kansas and start a family. “I was raised on Sinatra by my granddad, so I have a strong connection to him as I’m pursuing my own dream,” says Mann in a particularly emotional moment. “If he’d known that I’d one day be working with Paul Anka, and that I’d be recording the only other official version of ‘My Way,’ he would be so proud and excited. 

About Mann’s take on the classic song, Anka says, “"It’s uniquely special.  [Chris has] now established a whole new level.  [My Way] has a whole new life to it.  The arrangement is amazing." 

“‘My Way’ is the anchor of the album, but [lead single] ‘Roads’ is the cloth from which I want everything to be cut,” he continues. “It was given to me by Keith Thomas, who produced it, and I connected to it immediately. The concept is about how life can throw you a curve ball or it can change everything overnight, but either way you have to stay on this road and it will lead you home. That’s exactly how my road has been—a marathon that’s brought me to this new beginning.” 

Having realized one lifelong dream, Mann acknowledges there are more dreams still unfulfilled. “I would love to sing on an ancient amphitheater stage somewhere in Europe,” he says, “and I’ve always fantasized about winning a Grammy.  I can’t wait to see where this road I’ve been on for so long leads me next.”


 You can visit ChrisMannMusic.com for all of the latest news, and to view the latest videos!

To purchase this amazing album from Chris Mann, Roads can be found at iTunes or Amazon. Chris Mann can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Look for Home For Christmas, Chris Mann's Christmas EP sold at Wal-Mart!

*This is a review post from One2One Network. I was provided with a copy of the #Roads album and I am eligible for a prize drawing. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

We are bracing for Hurricane Sandy,  and want to let everyone know that we are not on the coast and not in direct danger. Our concerns are of flooding and the large trees that will fall; landing on homes, businesses and roadways. The last major storm knocked down trees and power lines, which took out power and road access for days. We are crossing our fingers, and hope there is minimal damage, and injures all up and down the East coast.

Thank you in advance to the fire departments, police, government agencies, military support, red cross, and utility workers that will support, restore, and assist those in need. 

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Checking Out The Great Big Toys R Us Book

It's that time of year! Time to start thinking about the holidays, and making a Christmas list. The boys look forward each year to flipping through, circling, and dreaming about The Big Great Toys R Us Book! The boys will not make a list for a few more weeks, but now that they have seen many of this season's new and exciting toys they have some great ideas! Thanks to last year's Great Big Toys R Us Book, my youngest only wanted a toy trash truck. I wonder what he will set his heart on this year?

The boys spent almost an hour, studying each page. They wanted to circle and clarify exactly what they liked. I was surprised by a few items, and had to laugh when my oldest son tried to tell me that, "Some boys play with dolls, but just call them action figures." I smiled when my youngest son picked out a guitar, as my mother saved my Christmas lists and I was his age when I asked for one as well! They finished  and then asked if "Buddy and Max," the elves helped take pictures of all these toys? I explained to them that these books are made here, and not at the North Pole. Amazing how much our elves have become a part of normal conversation! 

Do you use The Great Big Toys R Us Book, to help make your holiday lists? Do you tuck it away, and cross off things as you pick them up? Do you let your kids circle or mark the items they would like add to their lists? Is making a Christmas list in your house a big deal?

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

FREE Holiday Kids Clinics With Lowe's Build & Grow

The kids are very excited to see that a few of the holiday Lowe's Build & Grow Kids Clinics are now open for registration! These kid clinics are FREE, and you get a cool patch for completing the project! At your first project clinic you are given an apron and goggles, and as you complete your projects you can add the patches to the apron. My two boys look forward each year to the holiday series, and we sign up as soon as the clinics are announced and open for registration!
North's Sleigh - November 17th

Sandman's Plane - December 1st

Gingerbread House - December 8th

Of course the big excitement is the annual holiday train, that is a three week series in December. We haven't seen or heard yet about this year's train, but the kids are already asking if they will be building one again this year? Does your family take part in the Lowe's Build and Grow Kids Workshops? Have you built a holiday project together, like the holiday train?

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Friday, October 26, 2012

{Review} Trick Cavities & Treat Your Kids This Halloween!

Halloween is a much anticipated night for just about every candy loving child. But as children dream of skittles, snickers and starbursts; parents worry about the negative effects of all that candy on their children’s health, especially their teeth. Some families opt to hand out pretzels or raisins in lieu of candy, but let’s face it, that stuff just sits in the bottom of the pumpkin until the holidays – uneaten. 

This year, why not give kids something sweet to put in their mouths that will actually improve their oral health, by reducing the risk of tooth decay and dental cavities? SparX tiny bite-size fruit-flavored candies are a new sugar-free candy line is sweetened exclusively with all natural xylitol. Xylitol is an all natural sweetener derived from corn cobs, birch trees and other natural sources, and is similar to sugar in taste and texture, but with unique health benefits not found in other sweeteners. Xylitol contains 40 percent fewer calories than sugar, has a net carb level of only 0.4 per gram, and has minimal impact on blood-sugar levels, making it an appropriate sugar substitute for diabetics. Xylitol is absorbed slowly by the body, resulting in a low glycemic index of seven compared to sugars index of 83 (or higher).

You  can find the special Halloween Bag, ideal for trick-or-treaters, that contains 30 individually sealed packets of SparX candy in a variety of natural fruit flavors. They can be found at Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe, or select retailers nation wide. You can find SparX in three delicious varieties --natural berry, citrus, and fruit flavors. SparX can also be purchased online at www.xlear.com

SparX Candy made by Xlear, Inc. (pronounced “clear”) is just what health conscious parents have been craving -- a sweet, healthy treat that does not taste like a diet snack. With children consuming more sugar than ever before, there has been an alarming increase in a variety of related ailments; from tooth decay to obesity and diabetes. With this in mind, Xlear has developed a candy line that parents and health professionals will actually want children to eat. SparX Candy offers parents and kids sweet and delicious products without sugar, while delivering enough xylitol to have maximum health benefits to both teeth and body.

Xlear Inc., recognized as one of the leading manufacturers of xylitol products, is committed to providing consumers with the natural health benefits of xylitol.  Xlear Inc. prides themselves on manufacturing all natural products including SparX Candy, which are safe for people of all ages.

What is xylitol?
Pure xylitol is a white crystalline substance that looks and tastes like sugar. It is a naturally occurring 5-carbon sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables and produced in small amounts by the human body. It has the same sweetness as sugar (sucrose) but with 40% fewer calories and none of the negative tooth decay or insulin release effects on sugar. Xylitol also has a low glycemic index (7) and has little effect on blood sugar levels. Xylitol is recommended by dentists, medical doctors, periodontists, pediatricians, and many health organizations and health professionals worldwide as a sweetener for anyone concerned with dental health, upper respiratory health, and sugar consumption in general.  

*We were sent samples of SparX for review purposes prior to Halloween; all shared opinions are my own.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

{Review} Disney On Ice presents Rockin' Ever After

Disney On Ice presents Rockin' Ever After! at the 1st Mariner Arena
October 24th-28th

Jam to a Scottish jig as a group of royal contenders from the latest Disney/Pixar film, Brave, competes to win the heart of headstrong, sharp-shooting Merida, making her ice debut! Experience a show-stopping performance as Sebastian breaks out of his shell for one night only to make waves with Ariel.  A chorus of harmless hooligans from Tangled unleashes musical mayhem when they get a visit from the sassy and spirited Rapunzel and her charming ally Flynn.  And, get your feet moving as the Beast and his castle's enchanted entourage take center stage in a spectacular show for Belle. It will be a rockin' remix of royalty when Disney On Ice brings this superstar line-up to Baltimore! 

We arrived early for a very special opportunity to meet Mickey Mouse and Merida, before Disney On Ice presents Rockin' Ever After! One of my boys were very excited to meet Mickey Mouse, and the youngest thought the idea of meeting someone new was scary. My oldest son walked right up to Mickey Mouse and gave him a high five! I loved the spunk and personality of Merida, of Brave, as she and I pretended to shoot bows and arrows. She then gave me a high five and said "Way to go mom!" I have not had the chance to have one on one time, with Disney characters, so this was a moment I will never forget!

We found our seats, and noted that our seats were amazing. (Just for fun I walked all the way to the upper seats, and noted that there wasn't a bad seat in the Arena!) While we waited we listened and danced along with familiar Disney songs. Rockin' Ever After Opening Night was just moments away! The moment my youngest son saw Mickey and Minnie Mouse, he squealed with delight, and started clapping to the music. Donald and Goofy, joined in on the fun, and he shouted "Disney friends," as if they were long lost friends! Mickey Mouse was our host for the evening, and opened the show with "Hey Mickey You're So Fine," as only he can! 

The next part of the show featured the Little Mermaid, Princess Ariel! Flounder and all of the sea creatures in their bright costumes were lively and you couldn't help but dance right along with them! I have always been a fan of Sebastian, and loved that once again he had to go looking for Ariel! The singing of "Under The Sea," was awesome, as the whole ensemble seemed to be on the ice, dancing away! With the finding of Prince Eric at the surface of the water, Ariel seeks out Ursala for help. Ursala's cave, and Ariel's transition to a human was amazing, you will not be disappointed! 

Rapunzel and Flynn, of Tangled, weaved the story of the towers and a frying pan plays a huge part of the story! Maximus the horse was very impressive, and gave much comedy relief while on the ice! Take any cheesy thought of a two person horse costume out the window, as two people are ice skating and moving flawlessly together to play Maximus! The lighting of the lanterns is a beautiful and meaningful part of the story of Rapunzel, and one you wont want to miss!

Merida made her ice skating debut after a short intermission! She was my boys favorite part of the show, as they met her in person! With a bow and arrow, she displays strength and confidence worthy of a Scottish Princess, when she tells the world she will be deciding her own fate. Each of her suitors fails to impress her, and she instead picks up her own bow and arrow! I cannot wait for the Brave DVD to be released so that we can watch it again, at home! Merida, is a Princess who knows what she wants, and nothing will stop her from being free!

Belle and the enchanted characters from Beauty and the Beast, wrap up the show! I love Lumiere, and Mrs. Pots, and they help close out the show, as the dishes sing and entertain "With Be Our Guest!" Princess Belle and the Beast, find love and break the enchanted spell with a kiss of true love. The  entire cast joins them on the ice for a grand finale, and will leave you wanting to cry "Encore!"

Be prepared for dancing, big lights, impressive feats on ice, an amazing musical score, and insight into the many Disney characters we have come to know and love! There are numerous souvenirs, photo opportunities, face painting, and a night your Prince or Princess will never forget! My family loved Disney On Ice presents Rockin' Ever After, and have already asked if they can see it again. My boys are new to the world of princesses, but they are now open to the idea of finally sitting down and watching Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, Brave, or The Little Mermaid, now that they know that there is so much more to the story! Disney On Ice presents Rockin' Ever After, was a magical night that we were able to share as a family, and one we will never forget!

There are still many shows left to see before October 28th:
Visit www.ticketmaster.com or call 800-745-3000 and use promo code 6GROOTS to save $6, when you order or purchase your tickets!


 *Valid ALL performances. NOT valid on Front Row or VIP seats. Limit 6 tickets per order. No Double Discounts. Additional fees may apply.

*I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre—Show events. Even though I receive these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.
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Vlogging Mommies - Your Best Costume As A Child

The Vlogging Mommies are talking about Halloween Costumes! This week we are talking about your favorite Halloween Costumes as a child. Did your parents create amazing costumes for you? Was there a costume you really wanted? What costume stands out as being the best one you ever wore as a kid?

Join in on the fun, and tell us all about your best Halloween costume as a child!

Next week we are talking about your dream career! What did you want to be when you "grew up?" Are you in your dream career or job now? Were you in school forever to make that happen? If you could make a career change, would you?

Join in on the fun, and comment below! See you next Thursday!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dining With Dad

Mikey and Daddy headed to school very early, to have breakfast together in the cafeteria, before school started. We did not know what to expect once they arrived, but we crossed our fingers! The guys were very happy to find lots of fruit and donuts. Mikey was so excited, and reminded Daddy to pictures as Mommy and little brother were unable to go. 

Thank you Mike for going into work late, so that you could share this special opportunity with our Kindergartner. I am thankful and honored to know how much you value this time with Mikey. I know that there were students that did not have "Dads" there today, and I know it meant the world to our son.
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Wordless Wednesday - Fall Walk

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Disney On Ice presents Rockin' Ever After! October 24th-28th

Disney On Ice presents Rockin' Ever After! at the 1st Mariner Arena
October 24th-28th

Jam to a Scottish jig as a group of royal contenders from the latest Disney/Pixar film, Brave, competes to win the heart of headstrong, sharp-shooting Merida, making her ice debut! Experience a show-stopping performance as Sebastian breaks out of his shell for one night only to make waves with Ariel.  A chorus of harmless hooligans from Tangled unleashes musical mayhem when they get a visit from the sassy and spirited Rapunzel and her charming ally Flynn.  And, get your feet moving as the Beast and his castle's enchanted entourage take center stage in a spectacular show for Belle. It will be a rockin' remix of royalty when Disney On Ice brings this superstar line-up to Baltimore! 


Visit www.ticketmaster.com or call 800-745-3000 and use promo code 6GROOTS to save $6
 *Valid ALL performances. NOT valid on Front Row or VIP seats. Limit 6 tickets per order. No Double Discounts. Additional fees may apply.

*I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre—Show events. Even though I receive these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

BOO! For You, with Disney Junior {Halloween}

My three year old loves Disney Junior, and has loved watching the new Halloween episodes of his favorite shows, as part of  "BOO! For You." He did not make a peep as he watched Handy Manny and Doc McStuffins special Halloween episodes! I loved seeing his excitement, when watched each show with awe and wonder!

If you have a little one, check out Disney Junior, "BOO For You," this Friday! 

What has been your child's favorite Halloween show to watch in October? Does your little one love Jake and The Neverland Pirates or Mickey Mouse Club House? I love that Disney Junior "BOO For You," is not scary and I do not have to worry about what my three year old is watching!

*This is not a compensated or sponsored post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Big Pumpkins

We are very excited about Halloween, and dined at a local restaurant that had three really large pumpkins as you entered the front door. The boys wanted to know how on Earth they grew to be that large? Mikey asked if they could be carved or eaten? Funny enough Ryan just wanted to see what was on the inside, and said the seeds must be huge!

Then we stopped by our local grocery store and encountered another HUGE pumpkin. The poor thing was misshapen but one of the largest pumpkins I have ever seen! As we were staring at the pumpkin, the store manager approached and pointed to a sign "Guest the weight of the pumpkin, and WIN!" Of course I was intrigued  and started talking to the boys about how much it might weigh, and how big it was. Mikey guessed 800 pounds, Ryan said it weighed as much as a a baby elephant, and I threw out a whopping 1,200 pounds. My quick thinking husband, looked at the manager and asked what happens if you win? How do you get it home? How did they get it into the store? Needless to say the store manager laughed, and said "You win, its yours, and you get to wrestle it home." So, although we loved the idea of a huge pumpkin to decorate with, climb on, or cut open to explore the number of seeds...we do not own a fork lift! We did not enter our guesses on the little slips of paper, but certainly enjoyed seeing another huge pumpkin. Good luck to the winner, as I would love to know how much it really weighed!

What is the largest pumpkin you have seen? Know anyone who has grown a monster sized pumpkin? What would you do with a huge pumpkin at your house?
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