Just a first time mom writing about the randomness of life and how being mom is full of laughter, tears, fears and happiness. Living it out one gray hair at a time.

8 Years Goes Quicker Than You Think

This time of year is especially hard for me. Actually, it starts the end of September, fades, then comes back at the end of October. I’ve written a few times before about her on this blog. She was a HUGE influence on me, one of my biggest supporters and most of all, a second mother figure in my life. She was my Nanie.

Yesterday would have been her 89th birthday. I can hear her now, “Don’t you be telling people my age!” She was stubborn, caring, spoke her mind and even when it was 50 degrees outside, you could catch her in her jean shorts and canvas shoes. If she had her way she would be wearing those flip flops instead of the canvas. Her idea of a jacket was a short sleeved, button up shirt over her t-shirt. This would piss my mom off every time! 

She never got her driver’s license; she walked bare foot around the house and she was the most amazing cook. She made most everything from scratch and I can accredit her for most of my cooking knowledge. She taught me how to clean out a turkey for Thanksgiving. I can still, to this day, hear her laughing her infectious laugh as I stood there gagging with my hand up a turkey’s behind. Disgusting and could be the reason why I don’t really eat the turkey during the holiday festivities. It became to personal for me. She could also roll out pie crust perfectly AND get it into the pie dish flawlessly. I still can’t do this. I end up piecing it together in the dish.

I wish, more than anything, my daughter could have met her. My Nanie passed almost exactly 3 years before she was born. What’s funny is that my daughter posses a lot of my Nanie’s quirkiness.

My daughter is gullible, just like my Nanie. She hates socks and shoes. She attempts to wear a skirt when it’s 50 degrees outside. Getting a jacket on her most of the time is like pulling teeth. Speaks her mind. She is stubborn, but she also has a huge heart.

Years before she passed, my Nanie quilted a baby blanket and gave it to me. When asked why she was making a baby blanket now, her reply was, “If I’m not around, I want your child to have something from her great grandmother.” This blanket was the blanket my daughter came home from the hospital in and has been safely tucked away in my daughter’s closet since. I couldn’t bare for it to get ruined or stained, so it stays in a safe place. I have shown my daughter the blanket, a few months ago actually, and told her the story behind it. She felt special that someone she had never met loved her so much.

So, Nanie, it may have been 8 years since I’ve last seen you, but honestly there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about you. And I know is some way, you are watching over my daughter. It’s comforting to know that she has her own special guardian angel to keep her safe. I love you so very much. 

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Guest Post by Shannon Adams-Mercer: Bringing Those Dreams to Reality

I am so happy that my friend, Shannon, over at Radio Chick Reflections agreed to do another guest post for me. We live far apart from one another (California and Canada), but we get each other and subsequently share some of the same interests. One being writing and publishing our own books. Shannon has already self published one children’s book and is in the process of doing the same with her second! Go Shannon! And now, without further ado, Shannon over at Radio Chick Reflections:

 

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I’m honoured to do a guest post for my friend Tammie’s blog, The Graying Chronicles.  Although I haven’t met Tammie – we know each other through Twitter, and have bonded over our similar love for the Imagination Movers(!) – she has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and supporters as I’ve done something I really, really wanted to do:  write children’s books.

I’ve always been a big believer in having dreams and ambitions, and in finding a way to realize them.  The dreaming part is easy.  However, it’s not always easy to find a way to realize them, and, let’s be honest, life gets in the way.  It gets busy, and our passions get set aside and put on the shelf to collect dust while all our responsibilities are taken care of.  That most certainly happened to me.  I used to write a lot when I was younger.  In fact, I even went away to school to be a journalist.  But after I worked at a television station in Toronto, Ontario for a few years, I decided I wanted to do something different, and I ended up becoming a high school teacher.  And for the last 13 years that is what I have done, along with becoming a wife and a mom.

As that all happened, my writing (and other things I had a passion for) stopped.  I didn’t think I had time for it, and I didn’t make time for it.  That changed at the beginning of this year.  I had seen Tammie writing blog posts for a blog hop called Ketchup With Us, and though I didn’t think I was good enough or prepared to participate, I saw the prompt for their first blog hop of the new year, and decided to write a post for my work blog (at a radio station – where I work part-time while on extended leave from teaching).  It was about goals for the new year.  And it got me thinking seriously about making the most of the time I have at home before the craziness of going back to my full-time teaching job starts again.  Most importantly, it forced me to write down what I wanted to do (with the spare time I had), and make a commitment to do it.

One of the things on that list was make time to follow my bliss.  Initially, it meant to start singing lessons again, after 14 years, and record a CD.  However, it quickly turned into writing a children’s book.  I already had an idea, based on some experiences I’ve had in adulthood in my job, and so I just wrote…and wrote…and wrote…Having two children who love books means I also have many, many books on my shelves here, and so I knew my idea was a different one, although it dealt with a topic that is commonplace:  bullying.  I thought about contacting a publisher, but I really had no idea how to do that:  Where do I go?  Who do I contact?  What do I send?  And, to be honest, I thought it would be just be my mom and me who would be buying the book, so I decided I would try to self-publish.  A former high school student of mine has recently self-published several novels (a whole different beast!), and so I got the idea from her and did some research.  I found the Blurb website, which allowed me to download a program called BookSmart, an incredibly easy program to use that has a good variety of text and picture layouts.

Self-publishing is great because you do have total control of everything, and you don’t have to wait on publishers and worry about rejection.  I am a sensitive person, and I know that if I was rejected by publishers I would feel terrible and unmotivated.  And my passion for writing would, once again, be put on the shelf to collect dust.  One negative about self-publishing, however, is that you have to do all of the promotion yourself.  If you’re hoping to sell thousands of copies of your book, you need to do a lot of work.  That wasn’t my goal.  I just wanted to have something that I created sitting on a bookshelf to show my kids.  It would be a symbol to them that you need to follow your dreams and make them happen.  And I had very low expectations (again, I thought it would be my mom and me buying a few copies and that would be it).  Fortunately we have social media to allow us to do our own promotion quickly and easily, and so I used Twitter and Facebook to announce to my friends and family that I had written a book.  And to my surprise, people bought it (including my cheerleader Tammie)!

Duck

Now I have just finished my second book (I actually wrote it months ago but needed an illustrator – another thing that can be a problem when you self-publish), and I have been trying to perfect it over the last few weeks so I can finally hit the “publish” button.

Sammy

I did shop this one around to a few publishers, via email only (I am a control freak and the thought of printing and sending manuscripts away without knowing what will happen to them was unsettling), but I got no responses.  If that had happened with my first book, I would have been disappointed and dejected.  With this one, that’s not the case.  Sure, it’s disappointing when you think you have a terrific idea and you want others to think the same but they don’t.  But it doesn’t mean I can’t complete my creation and put it out there for others to enjoy.  And that’s why I wanted to write children’s books.  I know that I have followed my bliss, I have created something I approve of, and I have written something my children will enjoy.  Now to get to that CD…

An Open Letter to My Daughter on Her 5th Birthday

Sunday will mark a pretty big milestone in our lives. My daughter will be turning 5! It really does seem like yesterday that I was holding that tiny body in my arms. Now, I can barely lift her since she is almost my height. She’s 46″ and I’m 5’3″; she definitely didn’t get her height from me. It’s strange, this looming 5 years old is hitting me a lot harder than 2-4. And as I sit here and type this, tears are already welling up in my eyes. I will try to get this post out before a tear drop hits my keyboard.

22 weeks

Dear Daughter,

It’s hard to believe that you will be turning 5! It seems like yesterday you were climbing up my rib cage in protest on the way to the hospital to have the c-section. It was a difficult road for you to be here with us. From infertility, to the fear of losing you when I was 3 months pregnant, to doctors wanting to do a procedure to turn you in the correct direction so that a c-section wouldn’t be necessary (which I opted to not do). Your dad and I used to put headphones on my belly and play different kinds of music for you. You seemed to like old country and My Morning Jacket.

I still remember when they brought you into this world. They announced to me, from behind the large, blue curtain, every single body part that brushed earth’s air for the first time; starting with your feet. And when you took your first breath of air and made your first cry, I can still remember the nurses commenting on how that was one of the loudest cries they have heard and that you were not happy that you were no longer in your cozy, warm mommy.

I had to wait a good hour before I could hold you in my arms, but once I did I knew that my whole world had changed and for the better.

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Emily

I never knew how much I could love somebody until I looked into that precious little face and every time you smiled, my heart would (and still does) melt into a million pieces.

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I am so very lucky to have you in my life. Sometimes I feel like I am not good enough for you. Like you deserve better. I know that I get too stressed sometimes and become more frustrated than I should be with you. Please know that I am working on this. I’m learning just as you are. I’m not always as together as I feel I should be for you and I know that you get upset now that I have to go back to work. Just know, that every second I am away I am thinking about you and no one could love you more than I do.

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You are an amazing girl! You are beautiful, funny, have a brilliant imagination, smart and one of the most forgiving and loving individuals I know.

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You are going to do some many great things one day. I know this because you are stubborn and determined. “No” is not in your vocabulary. Combine that with your loving nature and you are going to own the world once it’s your time to get out there.

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So, enjoy your day, my love. Know that you are loved by not just your mom and dad, but by so many others. We all can’t wait to see what you do in the years to come. I love you my little girl!

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So much for not letting a tear drop hit my keyboard before the end of the post. I’m lucky if I got to the end of the first sentence.

Ketchup #50 – Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye

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It’s so sad, and we knew this day was coming, that this is the last Ketchup With Us blog hop. I have to say, this hop was the VERY FIRST blog hop I ever participated in after setting up my blog over a year ago. These ladies, Mel and Michele, are putting that ketchup bottle on one last time. So if you want to get in on this momentous, yet sad event, then get’er done people! Let’s give them the send off they deserve! Hopefully, down the line they will pop up again with this fun and creative blog hop, but for now, let’s do them right and remember the funny and moving posts they have shared with us over the past few years. Below are some of my favs.

Mags First Tooth

Mel often writes about her adorable kiddos, hence the blog name with her littlest in the title. Mags is so stinkin’ adorable and in this Ketchup post with her little squeal over losing her first tooth, too precious.

Show your terrifying face

This was just a fun post and who doesn’t like a murderous ketchup bottle along with a terrified one.

B*$@% Resting Face

These women know how to work this face, even though their personalities are so opposite from it.

In Her Shoes

Ok, who wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of this adorable munchkin?

The time a rat licked Michele’s face

Yes, a rat did lick her face and she has the photo to prove it!

ODNT talks about Dean’s 1st day

I often like the posts when Michele talks about her growing kids. Much like her, during milestones I would much rather shove myself in a closet with cheese, chocolate and possibly wine (or beer) and cry it out in private, waiting for my child to just stop growing up and stay little.

Going head to head with time

Passing time stinks, especially when it comes to your children and them growing. This also reminds me of that very same Superbowl Michele took out the power at the stadium in New Orleans while playing the Twitter Superbowl party. Not literally… I think.

My favorite one that I’ve done: Our Terrified Faces

Anytime that I get to wrangle up my child and have her willing do a post with me is fun times. This kid is such a ham too. “Will you make me look like a vampire? I can pretend I’m going to bite you!” At least she didn’t really bite me, which is something I wouldn’t put passed her to do.

So, our dear Ketchup ladies, hopefully this isn’t goodbye, just and little bit of an extended break. It was fun. Thanks for inspiring creativity in my writing. (And I hope you don’t mind I borrowed and shared your pics.)

Pre-Kindergarten Mean Girls…They Do Exist

MeanGirls

 

As I dropped my daughter off at school today and watched her play in the play yard until it was time for them all to line up, I noticed something that made my heart drop, then angry. Let me give you a little bit of a back story.

On the very first day of school, my daughter tried to make friends with this little girl. Everything seemed to be fine and normal, or at least what I could tell looking through my tear filled eyes. When she came home that night she didn’t really say much, which is normal with her. Like I’ve said before, school seems to be a type of secret society. Parents aren’t cool enough to know what goes on.

The next day, I dropped her off and watched a little bit and I noticed that when my daughter was trying to play with the little girl she made friends with the first day, this other girl (which I will be calling Punk #1 from now on in this post) came up and took the little girl away. My daughter, being the overly friendly child that she is tried to follow them. By this point, it was time for them all to line up and go inside. When I came to pick her up, all the kids were outside picking up the blocks and other toys so that they could go back inside the classroom and get ready to come home. 

My daughter finished cleaning and lined up with the rest of the kids, wedging herself next to the first friend that she had made. Then I saw Punk #1 stand between my daughter and the little girl. Some words were exchanged, which I was unable to hear, then I saw my daughter put her hands on her hips, step up to Punk #1 and say something. I can only imagine that it was some type of protest towards Punk #1 because the amount of sassiness coming off my child at that time was larger than herself. A small part of me was saying, “What the heck is she doing?” A much bigger part of me said, “Yeah, that’s right. Stand up for yourself. Mama’s proud!” It’s nice to know that my kid is strong willed and won’t let anyone push her around. So not like her mama, and I am extremely proud of her for having that confidence within herself. When she came out of class and I walked her to the car, I asked her what was going on. She was surprised to know that I had seen the whole thing go down because she didn’t know I was standing there at the fence watching. She shrugged it off at first, but as the night went on she told me what had happened.

Punk #1 flat out told my daughter that the little girl was her friend and that my daughter could no longer be friends with that girl. My solution, why not ask if you ALL can be friends? Apparently, my daughter had already tried that to which Punk #1 replied, “No!” 

Next day, little girl doesn’t want to be friends with my daughter anymore, but Punk #1 is being…nice? Hmm…something seems fishy to this mom. Did my child seriously just skip elementary school and middle school all together and go straight into high school? Apparently, Punk #1 doesn’t know what she wants and changed her mind at the end of the day and doesn’t want to be friends anymore. I can ALMOST see why my husband wanted a boy at this point. I try to explain to my daughter that maybe she should go make some NEW friends and leave these girls alone, but she is stubborn.

So, start week 2 of school. Today I dropped her off and watched her play before line up. Then I saw the other 2 little girls (Punk #1 included in that) run to the play structure. They see my daughter, give a distasteful look, and run to the other side of the play structure. My daughter stood there for a second and watched them, then turned around to me, ran to me and gave me a hug. She seemed okay, but my heart dropped a little. Then she ran off and played with a little boy, who wasn’t in her class. I stood there watching my daughter and then eyeing those 2 little girls. I could feel Mama Bear trying to emerge, but then I look at my daughter and she seems happy, so I suppress those feelings. 

Then I see Punk #1, with the little girl (now named Punk #2) climb up some bars to where my daughter is standing at the top. Punk #1 sees my daughter, who was seemingly not paying attention to their presence, and Punk #1 stops. Punk #2 says, “Why aren’t you going up?” to which Punk #1 replies, “Emily is there. Climb down.” My daughter didn’t hear any of this, she was too busy playing with the little boy, but mama heard ALL of it. What’s worse is that Punk #1 has recruited 2 more girls to her group. So all the girls climbed down and ran off.

Being the over sensitive person that I am, I teared up while walking back to my car. My daughter seems okay, not angry or upset, so I don’t feel I should say anything to her teacher. It is just upsetting to see 4 and 5 year old kids act this way. I would think that they are too young to develop this kind of negativity towards others on their own. Especially when my kid, who is super loving and friendly, just wants to be friends with everyone. 

I guess all I can do is ask her open ended questions at the end of the day and make sure that she is okay. I know this won’t be the last time this happens, it’s only the beginning. 

What do you do when you see this happen to your own kids? Especially at such a young age. 

Fast forward to pick up time. All parents line up against the fence, feeling much like a prison yard, and watch our children walk out of the classroom in a single file line. My daughter always has the biggest smile on her face when she spots me. The arms beginning waving and her little voice yells out, “Hi Mama!” It always makes me so happy to see her after that long 3 1/2 hour break from one another. Today, though, after she yells “Hi Mama!” I quickly noticed she was wedged between Punks #1 & #2. She looks at me and yells, “We’re friends now! She’s not mean anymore!” Oy! Seriously?!?

As we walk to the car, my daughter says good-bye to which Punk #1 replies, “Bye Best Friend!” Ex-squeeze me? So I look to my daughter and ask her what exactly happened and she told me this:

Today the teacher talked to all of us and said that she wants us ALL to be friendly with one another and to be friends. So then (Punk #1) came up to me and said that she was sorry for being so mean to me and wants to be friends now!

Hmm…interesting. Did the teacher see what I saw? She was watching the kids on the playground when I was. 

Whatever the case may be, I’ve still got my eyes on those girls. There is no doubt that my daughter can take care of herself. I guess it’s more for myself to make sure she is okay. It hurts to see your kid alienated from others. I’m just glad, for now, things seem to be copacetic. We’ll see what next week, tomorrow for that matter, brings. 

Guest Post by Eli Pacheco of Coach Daddy :Why Parental Texting is a !@#%!

I am so very lucky to have some amazing individuals guest post for me. Let me tell ya this one, you guys, are going to LOVE. He is a brilliant writer, a soccer coach and a dad. Go check out his blog at Coach Daddy. Without further ado, please welcome Coach Daddy himself, Eli Pacheco!

Why Parental Texting is a !@#%!

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/totoro_zine/6421616685/">Francisco Javier Argel</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>

Photo Credit: Francisco Javier Argel – Flickr.com

Kids and their smartphones … don’t get me started. Things were different, back in my day.

When I discussed topics for my guest post with Tammie, I suggested kids and the text phenomenon. Tammie has a few years to reach this milestone. Or should I say test of your holy fortitude.

I get to foster my kids’ journey through technology and communication. To trick them into thinking I will know if they Google something anything racy. Or Snap Chat with the wrong boys.

I get to do this on a mobile screen the size of half a graham cracker with keyboard letters no bigger than chocolate chips.

I get to do this with a possum’s eyesight and fingers not intended by God to tickle ivories, let alone type on smartphones. (I’ll confirm myself as a curmudgeon 17 times in this post. That’s 11 already, I’m sure.)

Forget degree of difficulty. The smartphone text concept (and any typing on smartphones) is flawed. It’s a menace to society. How? Let me count the ways.

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/justard/14217451220/">Just Ard</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Photo Credit: Just Ard – flickr.com

1.     Texting rewards kids for coming close

Seriously, try and type something AND GET NEARLY EVERY LETTER WRONG AND THE AUTO CORRECT WILL SAVE YOUR ASS. Unfortunately, it won’t even save one butt cheek during a school spelling test.

Or college application.

Or food stamp application.

This exploited weakness will perplex a kid if she gets on an archaic beast such as a computer keyboard.

My first typewriter was cold and metal and unforgiving. It smelled strongly of typewriter ribbon. It exclaimed every keystroke with a “wham!” It came in a horrifically immobile carrying case the size of an overstuffed raccoon. Roughly.

If I typed something wrong – it was wrong. And it was a job for correction tape. For every.single.letter.

I loved that typewriter. Did I mention that?

 <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/superic/14482958021/">Eric Willis (superic)</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Photo Credit: Eric Willis (supereric) – Flickr.com

2.     BAE, HBU, and POS (which doesn’t stand for what we thought it did)

As if auto correct and other butt-saving processes weren’t enough, kids have a generation of acronyms. Acronyms aren’t the kids’ invention, of course. Even my parents knew what TCOB meant. (Do you?)

Kids have dumb ones, though. Heard of BAE? My girls use it. It stands for “Before Anyone Else.” I think it’s a term of endearment, and I also think they use it on more than one kid. So everyone can tie for first.

Reminds me of the time I finished tied for second in a handsome contest.

Everyone else tied for first.

(Oh, and HBU means “how ’bout you?” POS is “parent over shoulder,” not “piece of …” well, you know.)

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marknye/8241325991/">Mark Nye, ClubofHumanBeings.com</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Photo Credit: Mark Nye (Club of Human Beings) – Flickr.com

3.     Parental naiveté can be used to your advantage

Parents – dads, especially – aren’t expected to be adept at all this smartphone jive. Or know anything about anything to do with technology or even basic intelligence.

You know how everyone in the courtroom dismisses Matlock as an old, clueless bumpkin? Then, what happens by the end of the episode?

Matlock cracks the case (and the witness) with down-home country charm. Aw, shucks.

With dads, there’s no down-home country charm. All we’re armed with is fatherly cluelessness. When I want the girls to do something other than play on their devices, I tell them, “Tell your friends BBYL.”

Cue the eye rolls and angry glares. Even I know BBYL means absolutely nothing, but ticks them off to satisfying levels for a dad like me.

It might sound cruel. It might feel petty. But it’s just one fight on the great technological battleground all parents must endure.

Dad might struggle to tap a screen to text, but he knows the power of annoyance.

BAE, even.

technology quote

When he’s not chasing ambulances with his children inside or waxing poetic about frozen fish, Eli Pacheco writes the blog Coach Daddy. Follow him on Google Plus, Pinterest, and Twitter.

And Off She Goes…

Today was the first day of school for my little girl. She is now a transitional kindergartner. How terrifying is that? You don’t realize how fast time really goes until you hit those major milestones. It really feels like just yesterday I was holding that fragile, little baby girl in my arms. It also makes me realize how I take our time together for granted sometimes. Now more than ever since I returned to work. Yes, the work portion is very part time, but still it makes a difference when you are a SAHM for a year. Now, I am an overly emotional person. I wear my heart right out there on my sleeve. But really, after watching her walk off into her classroom, it really does feel like a sort of emptiness in my heart that I really can’t describe.

My daughter also showed these same type of emotions the night before I returned to work. She cried for almost 2 hours and all I could really understand between her sobs were, “Mama, please don’t go!” I tried not to cry with her, especially while I could feel my heart breaking. Trying to explain the whole situation as to why you needed to go back to work is never easy, especially to a 4 year old that doesn’t completely understand. All she hears is that mommy won’t be home all the time with her anymore. At least, for the time being, I will be working while she is in school. I will be able to drop her off and pick her up. So hopefully, this works out so that she won’t even really notice I’m gone. 

Sure we butt heads, A LOT, when we are together all day every day, but I guess that’s what moms and daughters do. She is a strong willed kid, nothing like what I was like when I was her age, so I have a difficult time trying to parent a child that is the opposite of me. I did, however, marry a strong willed man, so you would think I would be use to the characteristics after 10 years. I guess it’s different being married to one and having to parent one. All a learning process.

The plus side to having a strong willed kiddo, is that she was big and brave as she walked into her classroom. All smiles and waving to mom and dad saying “Bye!” I couldn’t be more proud of her. Me, on the other hand, cried like a baby all the way back to my car and then some. She was in preschool last year, so you would think this drop off would be easier. Nope. Like I said, I’m an emotional person. Leaving my baby with others, whom I don’t know, isn’t easy for me. There’s kind of a big difference between private (which is where she was last year) and public (where she is now) schools. It’s just a different environment. I’m not saying one is better than the other. I went to public school and I turned out okay, or at least I’d like to think so. The important thing to remember is that no matter what school she goes to, the teachers are there to protect her. The world, now, is a scary place and I just have to put my faith in those individuals that she will be with every day that they will keep her safe. 

So, as I watch my little walk off into her 2nd year of school and impatiently wait for her to get out, a little piece of my heart will be missing. They grow so quickly.

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