October 30, 2007

My Hydrangea

I love plants and I guess I got that from my parents who love to go to nurseries when we were young. My mom loved orchids while I love anything that has color. I remember getting all excited when I first saw the blue hydrangeas. This ball of blue tat is so pretty, I notice that I do love delphiniums too which is also blue. I guess living in Malaysia, I never got to see so many blue plants thus appreciating their beauty now.

3 years ago, I managed to buy 4 of this macrophyllas from Home Depot for $15 each. Yes, when I planted them, I did pray that I didn't kill them. To me $15 for a plant is alot of moolah. The location I planted was at the side of my house and it slopes. And I guess because of this, 2 of my plants bloomed right from the start but the 2 that is at the higher elevation didn't. This spring, I asked someone from the nursery why my plants wasn't blooming and he told me it is most probably because all the nutrients are flowing down to the 2 bottom plants. I did raise the bed up and this year, my 2 "problematic" plants started blooming.

I finally managed to take some photos of my hydrangeas. I had to wait for weeks as it was always windy. Yes, remember Chicago is Windy city so we do get our fair share of wind in the suburbs. Even when I took these photos, it was still windy and that's why I had to hold the flower.

Now, I've to go learn how to prune my Nikko Blue Hydrangea. I've already learnt how to make change this flower from pink to blue. Hopefully I don't over prune it that there will be no flowers next year. I'll keep you posted with my experiment on Hydrangeas.
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October 24, 2007

Kids and the Value of Money

Eversince Gilly was 4 years old, I've been slowly teaching her the value of money. I guess money will always be a factor for anyone of us. Its just hard for us to say NO to our adorable kids whenever they plead for a new toy. Its amazing too how they try to figure out what to do with their need for toys and money.

I remember when she started going to her classmates house to play, she would come home telling me that her friend has a walk-in closet and she wants one too. Another time when we drive by the single family houses, she tells me she wants a house that has 3 car garage. I've always told her that only daddy works so we can't afford a bigger house.

Then came the time when she would ask for a baby sister, mind you Greg was already 5 months old. She would keep asking and coming up with suggestions too, she would say her baby sister can wear her old baby clothes. Another time she told me that we could have a baby sister because she is not wearing anymore diapers, the baby could have her share of diapers. Everytime I would have to tell her "No, because only Daddy works we can't afford it". I asked if she wanted to go to daycare while I go work but she would have to stop her Ballet classes and preschool. So she knew mum working is a bad idea. Finally she came up with the cutest 4 year's old toddler logical suggestion... "Mummy, why don't you have more husbands. That way you have more money and we can have more babies". I could stop laughing while driving her from preschool. Note.. alot of times this topic would come up while to or from preschool. What a good suggestion.... More husbands = more money.. hahaha

Last week, Gilly was invited to a birthday party. I only had $10 in my wallet that day and I jokingly told her, "Gilly, you have more money in your wallet than I do, why don't you buy the present since you are the one invited". She had this serious look meaning she is thinking about it and she said "OK". So off we went to Target, as usual I found a gift that cost $20 and told her to look for some cute lip gloss as gifts as well. I saw this 3 lipgloss pack for $4.29 and picked out one, next thing I hear is Gilly pointing to this single lipstick pack and said "mummy, this one". I told her no, just buy the 3 pack one.. and then I hear this protest "Mummy, NO... this one cost only $2 while that one cost $4.29. This one is cheaper". I smiled and said "oh.. when mummy pays you just grab anything but when you pay.. $4.29 is expensive???" At the cash register, I was tickled to see her expression when the cashier told us "your total is $31.80", Gilly gave that pitiful sigh cos she had to dig out all her $40. I grin cos now I know my daughter knows the value of money. By the way, I did pay with my money but took hers and kept it aside. She still doesn't know I do intend to give it back to her. She did notice she didn't get back any change from her $40. When we walked out, I asked her if she knew how I always feel having to buy presents for all her birthday parties, she grabbed my finger and said "Yes, Mummy".

I'm relieved now as I do notice she knows how to not just spend whatever money she has on silly Barbie dolls. It used to be a hard time when she has $5 and insist on buying a Barbie becos it cost $4.99. She knows now that is she keeps it and collect more money she can buy a better toy. She did frown when one day she was forced to take out more money to pay sales tax. Poor girl was given an early dose of Uncle Sam. Oh.. now I remember, we were at a nursery and this nursery sold this cute plant called Sensitivity plant. I recognized this plant and refused to pay $4 for it. I told her she could buy it with her own money and she did the next time we went to that nursery again. Reason why I didn't pay $4 for that plant was it was the Malaysian "Touch Me Not or Malu Malu". You know the one where you touch it and it will close its leaves... yes I wasn't going to pay $4 for a WEED. Gilly gladly brought out the $4 to only find out she had to pay a few more cents because of Uncle Sam. She sure wasn't happy with Uncle Sam.

I've also introduced her to donation, 2 weeks ago, she helped me fold all her brother's new clothes. I paid her $5 for that tasks. Before you start saying I'm crazy for paying her $5, let me explain that it was alot.. ALOT of new used clothes. It was 2 full loads of clothes to fold. Clothes that even me and her daddy didn't want to fold. She surprised me by folding all. Guess $5 does work wonders for now. Even when my hubby question my judgement.. I told him, "Look you didn't even want to fold it and she did, dont' you think she should get that $5?" He kept quiet. Back to donation, I gave her the money before we went to church and there was this envelope assigned for a Church in Africa, I asked her if she wanted to donate to this African church. She gave me the puzzled look and I told her how her $1 will help pay for alot of kids' food in Africa. She quickly said OK. then asked if $1 was enough. I told her we donate how much we think we can afford. Happily she put the $1 into the envelope and I could see she was proud when she put the envelope into the collection basket during Mass.

I guess every parent goes through the money factor with their kids. I hope I can bring up a child that will not abuse her credit card once she is in college. For now, I'm enjoying seeing my girl is trying to figure out how money works. Please free to let me know your experiences with your children about money.
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October 23, 2007

Win a Kiddix Computering Software from Momviews.net !!!

What is Kiddix?? Its an operating system that allows us parents to monitor our kids internet activities without having to worry about sickos out there preying on our children.

Here are the Kiddix Platform key benefits:
  • Kiddix is designed from the ground up with your family's needs and safety in mind. Kiddix provides for children ages 5-10 an entertaining environment which includes: a word processor, calendar, email, web browser, educational material, games, a separate account for each child, and a suite of innovative parental controls and monitoring tools. It is estimated that building a comparable system using traditional PC software would cost well over $700 and not include any games or educational material.
  • Kiddix is hassle free for parents - translation: Kiddix is simple to set up!
  • Kiddix is designed to keep your children secure. From day one we chose to base out software on Linux and open source software because the threat of viruses, malware, worms, and spyware is almost non-existent. This is compared to a traditional PC operating system, which has over 200,000 variants of malware attacking at the speed of the internet.
  • Kiddix creates a brick wall between your data and your children. Your child will not be able to access any files outside his or her own account inside the Kiddix Platform, making the system much more secure.
  • Kiddix can be installed on most PC's and next to your current operating system, so there is no need for extra hardware to be lying around.

Win a Kiddix Computing Software from Momviews.net. 2 winners will be chosen. Each at $75.00 Value
There are 2 easy steps and 2 easy ways to win:1) You simply make a unique post about
Kiddix and MomViews, in your own blog/site with a link back here at MomViews.net


1) Email 3 of your friends about this contest with a link back here and CC'd to momviews@gmail.com - Subject: Kiddix
2) At Momviews.net, you must comment below so they can be directed to your blog/sites and or expect an email from you.
Contest will run from Oct. 23 - 28th and a winner will be announced on Oct. 29th. Good luck!

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October 22, 2007

Lemongrass Chicken

Tomatoes in my garden are ripening and I dont know what to do with them. I've been making too much ABC soup until Greg is sick of it. I browsed thru Gertrude's blog and saw this tempting recipe and today, I plucked a few red chilies from the garden and tried out this recipe. Do check out her blog as she is very creative. I was amazed at her idea of using roti pratha to make something else.

We all loved it and because it wasn't hot enough, Gilly was able to enjoy the dish too.

Lemongrass Chicken

Ingredients :

  • Half Chicken (wash and cut into bite size pieces)
  • 2 tbsp of turmeric powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 lemongrass - smash it with the back of your knife
  • 1/2 cut of coconut milk

Blended Ingredients :

  • 2 tomatoes
  • 5 red chillies
  • 1 big onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1" ginger

1) Marinate chicken with salt, pepper and turmeric powder for an hour.

2) Blend the blended ingredients and set aside.

3) Heat up some oil in the wok and brown the chicken on both side. It don't have to be cook. Dish out and set aside. Remove the oil and leave about 2 tablespoon in the wok.

4) Saute the blended ingredients until fragrant.

5) Add in the chicken and lemongrass and stir fry for a few minutes.

6) Add in the coconut milk and simmer until the dish is dry and chicken is cook.

7) Check seasoning and dish out.

8) Serve with warm rice

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October 10, 2007

My Neglected Baby

Koh Weng Shan, Shan as we all call him is my 1st baby. He is my 9 years old shih-tzu whom I've had since he was 12 weeks old. He was the one that was pampered for 2 years. He was groomed daily and got to go everywhere I went. He got to sleep on my bed and would jump to top of the backseat(where the speakers are located) whenever we went out in the car. Then came the day we brought Gilly back from the Hosp. Poor Shan was pushed aside for sometime. Now he wasn't allowed to get onto the bed as we feared he would eat baby Gilly. I didn't have any time to brush his hair anymore and we started getting him the "Puppy Cut". Gone are his long long lovely hair that got tied up. I think he likes it short, sometimes when I try tying his front hair, he does a funny dance and next thing I know the rubber-band is gone.

I sound so terrible neglecting this dog when my kids were babies. Funny thing is this dog has not blamed me for the "neglect". He has been a wonderful dog to my kids. My kids when they were babies had abused him but he never once growled or bit them. I've been very fortunate to have such a loving dog.

When Gilly used to cry in her crib, he would run to the doorway to see her then coming running into the kitchen to look at me, then run back to Gilly. He would go back and forth until I would go check on Gilly. Later when Gilly was in her Terrible 2, I would catch her pulling his beard and lifting him up. His front paws would be up in the air and he would just wriggle to free himself off her. He never yelp to say he was in pain nor did he growl.

I once caught Greg, when he was also 2, pulling Shan from one end of my foyer to the other (about 30 feet distance). Oh... I forgot to mentioned Greg was pulling him by his tail. And this Dog just let Greg have his fun. He just walked away the moment Greg let go off him. No... He has never bitten my kids.

He thinks he is getting a treat, that's why he is doing his "stand"

He has had this red ball since he was a few weeks old.

These few photos below were taken in sequence:
1) Greg is eyeing on the dog.

2)Greg is now touching the fur

3) Greg going for the kill...

No.. we quickly got the dog to sit up before any harm came to him and YES we did wash Greg's hand. Greg was about 10 mths old when this photo was taken.

What prompted me to blog about Shan was an incident that happened 2 days ago. From 10 am till 4pm, Shan was acting weird. He kept running into the kids' bathroom and I kept calling him out. Not only did he run into the bathroom, he would be sitting in the bathtub. Yes, weird. I concluded that he was telling me he wanted his bath. I do bath him about every 2 weeks even when I do send him to the groomer. So there I was thinking "wow my dog is so smart". hahaha.. Even when Gilly came home she notice Shan running into the bathtub and also thought he wanted a bath. I was busy doing 3 loads of laundry and at 4pm, with Gilly home we went down to get the last load. Only then Gilly notice that his drinking bottle was empty. hahaha.. all this while Shan wanted was WATER... and I guess in his doggie world, bathtub = water= thirsty. There goes my theory that my dog is smart.

I do have to admit he is very well trained. ahem ahem.. by me. Before the babies came, I had all the time in the world to train him. He does obey certain hand signals and I don't have to scream "sit" or "come here" or "stand". He doesn't run out of the door whenever he sees the door open. He doesn't go into our bedrooms and doesn't jump onto sofas as he knows he is not allowed to do so. Believe it or not, he used to pee and pooh on command. Hubby took over the duty of walking him for his "relieves' and didnt' bother using those commands. So Shan doesn't respond to those commands anymore. He is basically a bright, loving and adorable dog.

Only damn setback now is that he doesn't get hugs from me anymore nor is he allowed to lick me. 2 years ago, I found out I was allergic to him. That explained alot about the bumps that I get whenever he licks my hands and legs. I do give him a pat here and there but I've to make sure I wash my hands right away. That also explained why I'm always congested. The day I found out I was allergic to my Dog, I told myself that Shan is family and I do not get rid of family. I just know now on certain days where pollen content is High to take anti-histamine.

If anyone who is thinking of getting a dog and are planning to have babies anytime soon or have small kids now. Think of getting a Shih Tzu. They just have a sweet personality that they will do well with your babies.

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October 8, 2007

Kuih Bingka Ubi

I found this recipe from Lily Ng's blog. Tried it a few times and my family loves it. I'm surprise my hubby likes it alot as he usually doesn't care too much for our Malaysian kuihs. I made this kuih last weekend for Sunday's After Mass fellowship. A fellow Malaysian who just joined our church had volunteered to cook curry chicken and bak kut teh. Feeling bad, I thought maybe I'll make some snacks. To my surprise, the mainly Chinese church members who mainly comes from Hong Kong and China loved the Kuih Bingka and even asked for the recipe. Here is a photo of it, I kept a few pieces for my neighbor to try and he loved it too.

Like what Lily said, in USA its easy to make because we have frozen cassava and canned coconut milk. Here is the recipe:

1 lb grated tapioca(cassava)
1 cup sugar
1 cup coconut cream and 1 tbsp for glazing
1 stick (4 ozs) butter
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt

1) Grease a 6" x 6" square tin.
2) Preheat oven at 375 F
3) Mix all the ingredients in a large glass bowl and microwave on high 1 minute at a time until mixture is thick.
4) Pour into greased tin and bake for 30 minutes.
5) Glaze the top with 1 tbsp of coconut cream and broil/grill until brown.
6) Cool before cutting into pieces.

Note: if you use frozen cassava, remember to squeeze the water before mixing in Step 3.

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October 4, 2007

Being Thankful

** ADDing ** Today is October 4th, 2007, exactly one year ago, I lost my baby who was only 11 weeks old. Baby Drew as I call him/her, would have been born April 30, 2007 if he/she was strong. God has plans for Baby Drew and my loving Grannies would take good care of my baby for me. Baby, you are in my mind everyday. We all love and miss you.***

A week ago, I received my latest Reader's Digest and I put it in its usual spot, next to my throne. Yes I consider it my light reading and its funny how I still manage to finish it before the next subscription arrives. I read it page to page and this month's was just as enlightening as last month's articles. Until I came to one article written by Deborah Norville... and no it wasn't about celebrity gossips that I usually connect this writer to. I was surprise at how her article impacted me. It was about being thankful. Two simple but powerful words.. "THANK YOU".

We often take things for granted. Our lives, our spouses, our kids, our parents, etc. Sometimes when we get that sinful "self-pity", we think the whole world is against us or when we see our friends driving a lexus and us in our beat up car... We must remember how lucky our lives are and be thankful for what we have.

When I read her article, I understood what she was writing about. I've experienced a few hard hits in my life where even at my lowest point, I told God that I trust that he has a plan for me and I'm just holding on until the rough ride is over. I always believe when one door slams hard at you, another opens for you. Was it hard to say Thank You for that experience?? It was, but I've learnt when you are grateful for what you have, you are a happier person.

There are days when money is a big issue for us. Being a single income family, I guess alot of us find it hard to do many things except pay for the house mortgage, car payments, utility bills, food for the family, and children's classes. There are days, I long to fly back home to visit my parents and see my one nephew that I've yet to meet. There are days where I see my gfs going on a shopping sprees and not having to worry about $$$. Sometimes I'm guilty of feeling self-pity but you know what... I realize I'm lucky to have a loving husband who helps me out alot with the kids. He is the one that will wake up middle of the night to go check on the kids. He is the one that will make sure the kids have enough to eat when we are at a party. He is the one that will walk away from his group of friends to let our kids have a blast of their time playing something while I get to chat with some friends. For that.. money isn't everything. I would not trade anything for him. Although sometimes I want to kick his butt for watching TV all the time hahahahaha... Ling, if you are reading this... Thank You.

My parents, I've never appreciated my parents until the day I became one. I then understood my mom more. I remember I wrote her a nice card thanking her. I wrote every word from my heart and alamak... she thought I bought the card from Hallmark. I'm sad that I don't get to see them that often and knowing they are getting older makes it harder for me when I can't get to be with them. I'm so grateful that now with the modern technology, I get to call them on SKYPE at a cheaper price. Mom, sometimes we have our misunderstandings but know your words are powerful to me. I may not see eye to eye with you but alot of times, they do help me. Thanks MOM... Daddy hates to flying but would make himself fly all the way to Chicago just to see my kids. Dad, knowing everytime an opportunity comes for you to go somewhere, you always say "No, I rather go visit my grandkids in Chicago". Whenever I hear that... it shows me how much you love me and my kids. Thanks Dad.

My brother and sisters... You know how much I appreciate you guys. Clara is like a Santa Claus to my two kids. Whenever they see a box delivered.. even when its not from her.. They think its from their E.E. Your visit to Chicago was the highlight of our year. We love having you here and wish you would move here. Even when our kids fight, it may be stressful but I'm glad to see them have their fights cos its part of them bonding. Edwin, the calls that you make to us.. even just for a chat means the whole world. You checking on us once in a while and always thinking of the kids.... Thank you. Ian, my brother in law and Jennifer, my sister in law, Thank You for being wonderful in laws especially to my parents. Your respect and love for my parents means alot to me. I know how miserable some parents are when their in laws treat them badly and you both have been good to my parents.

I've been blessed with many friends. Some friendships as old as I am... You know who you are and I thank you for being my friends. Your friendship not only means during good times but also when I'm down. You guys put up alot with me and know that you are always in my mind. Your opinions have always made me a better person. Being a stubborn friend, I may not see eye to eye with you sometimes but even when you think your words don't mean a thing, they are at the back of my mind and slowly I would see what you mean. You, my friends do not force your opinions on me but they do influence me and for that, Thank You. Some "friends", that I've stopped putting priority, you will always be in my heart and prayers. You may not hear from me anymore but that does not mean I've forgotten you. I just can not deal with you and your negativities anymore. I need to put you aside as we have nothing in common anymore. Somehow you keep showing me an ugly side of you that I refuse to let cloud my days. I do not hate you nor despise you. I just hope one day you will be happy. I do Thank You for the years of happy friendship we have.

My recent trip back to Iowa, I found out that my old lady boss passed away. When I left my job, I left on bad terms. She listened to a new person who was suppose to be my new boss. He told her untruthful things about me not knowing he had to get rid of me because I knew he wasn't qualified for the job. Imagine a bed-truck drive without even an undergraduate degree being a director of IT?? I shared an office room with him and discovered his incompetence but he was smart in playing politics and convince lady boss to rid of me. She did that as she was blinded by this person and even believe him when he told her me and the system administrator are putting virus into the computer network. Actual truth was the system administrator was helping me out at the library computer, we where working on y resume as I was out of a job. I needed his help as I knew alot of technical things but didn't know how to write them into a resume. Now.. why would a system administrator want to put virus into a network where he would have to correct later???

Lady boss didn't realize that.. she was too blind. Oh Well.. I never went back to the office until I heard that joker was fired and escorted out by security a year later. By then I was married and Gilly was a year old, we went into my old office and I walked into her room to say Hi to her. She had that "guilty don't know what to say" look on her. She tried to say something and I knew being a 70 year old lady, it was hard for her to apologize. I quickly told her, "Mrs Kimball, don't worry about it. I am grateful for what had happened. Because of you, I have my family. Because of you, I was forced to move to Chicago to look for a job. Because of you, I got to see this wonderful guy more often and we got to date and I'm now married to him. Because of what you did, I now have a daughter. I have no bitterness over what you did. I'm grateful for how my life has turned." The expression on her face was one where a tonne of weight had lifted from her. We hugged and it felt good. It was nice to hear her tell Gilly "Here, this butterfly is from Grandma Kimball". I got to see her one more time and I'm glad we made our peace. I hope she has a good time up there now.

When I read this article in Reader's Digest, it all made sense because I went thru bad times and said there will be good out of this. And I now have some silly article to validate that being Thankful does help you in your life.

Do try reading it when you can ..
here is the link. http://www.rd.com/content/the-new-science-of-being-thankful/
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October 2, 2007

Busy Busy Busy but Busy with What???

I've been very quiet for hmm... a long long time. I feel so guilty when I look at my blog and notice its still the same mooncake entry. hahaha. I guess my regular interest readers must be wondering if I'm alive or busy or sick as I've not breathe a word here.

I've to admit that I can't seem to find time to do everything. At the end of a Friday night, I'll look back at my week and wondered what I've produced. I'm shy to say... NOTHING!!!!

Yes, I did take the kids out on a rainy day on Sept 25th for them to walk around with their lantern. Nobody burnt their lantern as I was smart this time to use Playdoh to hold their candles. The kids got to only walk for 15 minutes as that was about the window period of dryness. Poor kids... its ok... we will save the rest of the lanterns for next year. Some of the kids didn't get to walk with us as they thought it would rain the whole time. I do have their photos but have not uploaded them. Will do so if they are any good.

I'm just basically the "Secretary of Transportation" these days.

Mondays, I send Greg to school for his 2 hour session, then I'm busy cooking dinner for Monday and Tuesday because I teach piano on Tuesday.

Tuesday, I run around doing errands and when Gilly gets home, I only have 15 minutes to deal with her snack and homework. Then my student arrives, by the time I'm done with 3 students, its dinner time and also check on Gilly's homework.

Wednesday is when I drive Greg to his Pre-school and later his Speech therapy and in between I'm cooking dinner. Then when Gilly gets home she has to snack and finish her homework before I drive her for her cartooning class. In 2 weeks her cartooning class ends and her Brownies begins. Yes she is a Brownie, just like I was during Primary school days.

Thursday is when I get to "relax" abit but that is when I try to catch up with housework and dinners for Thursday and Friday. Sigh... if only I can afford Molly Maid... dream lah....

Friday... that is where Greg has preschool then when Gilly comes home she dashed up to change to her ballet outfit and we rush out for Ballet.. and when we come home, I bring home another student for piano lessons. Then dinner.. that is when if I don't cook on Thursday, we just eat chinese fried rice. Chinese restaurant in my place is basically chop suey.. so we only order Fried rice and Singapore noodles.

Now... see when I look back at my week, it seems like I didnt' do anything or rather there is nothing to show of my "productivity". Yes, some of you are laughing thinking of me teaching piano. Alot of us went through hell during our young days preparing for the ABRSM and I guess my years of youth torture has paid off abit. I do enjoy teaching the few girls that I have. I don't charge alot as I do have my 2 kutus upstairs while I teach. I do not like the fact my kids have to stay in my room while I teach and decided to not take in anymore students. Occasionally my student will hear me scream at my kids to "SHUT UP" while I teach. Hey.. other places charges $15 per 30 minutes session so they are getting a deal. Its nice teaching these kids and knowing I'm not terrorizing them like how my teacher did to me. It took my college Professor to show me playing piano in a different light.

I notice cooking seem to be something that I have to do all the time. No wonder I'm so bulat.. haha

My 2 kutus are now fighting even more. Sometimes I wonder what I can do to lessen it. My boy has learnt to sit on his sister when they fight. He grunts alot now when he is angry and I just got 3 minutes of it this evening when I told him no more butter cake. Anyone with any good ideas?

Oh.. Gilly did come home with her 1st progress report and she did get all As. Since the C fiasco, she now gets scared if she gets a B. Am I asking too much? I've been asking myself this question alot these days. I don't want to push my kid too much. She has gotten used to her regular school schedule. I do have a timetable printed to help her remember what to do. At least now its all words. I remember during her early Kindergarten days, I had to use clipart pictures to represent, school bus or breakfast or bedtime stories.

The show "House" is starting and I guess I'll keep you posted with my activities later.. perhaps tomorrow??
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