Category Archives: Kids

Invasion of the Body Snatchers


I wrote a post over a year ago on losing my identity as a mom as my kids grow to the ages where they won’t need me anymore.  Unfortunately, and little did I know at the time, that at a certain age, they stop caring, too.  About everything.  I can only hope that what everyone else is telling me – not to worry because it’s temporary – is true.
Nothing in this world drives me more crazy, and breaks my heart more, than seeing your intelligent, talented, beautiful child stop caring about the things that were once so important to him.
 
In this case, it’s school and his grades.  He just doesn’t care.  I’ve tried everything to motivate and encourage him…
“Your grades need to be good to play sports.”
“You need to play sports to afford your first choice in colleges.”
“You need to go to college to get a good job or make it to the NFL.”
“You need to get a good job to afford to live as you dream of living.”
The responses I get make me cringe…
“Well, you make me play too many sports anyway.  I never get a break.”
“I’ll just skip college and get a job like fill-in-the-blank did.”
“I will live with it if I don’t make it into the NFL.”
“I’ll just get a regular job and work my way up to make a lot of money like fill-in-the-blank does.”
I swear, people – Someone snatched my sweet, loving child and replaced him with a 14-year-old teenager who doesn’t care about crap.  Eugene’s had the adult, dude-to-dude conversation with him.  His teachers have had the caring adult conversation with him.  I’ve had the loving mom conversation with him.  Heck – I’ve even had the coming to Jesus talk with him.
 
Nothing.  Works.
 
His teachers continue to tell me that he’s a great kid with a brilliant mind, but he just doesn’t turn in his homework.  They assure me that they’re going through this with most of their male students, and that it’s just a phase.  They promise me my kid is normal and is just being lazy.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a normal kid.  I want an exceptional kid.  An above-average kid.  A kid who gives a damn.  I know Eugene wants and expects the same.  We have gone above and beyond to ensure we’ve given this child everything he needs to be an exceptional, amazing young man.  Are we abnormal parents to hold our kids to high expectations?  I’m curious to know if we’re the crazy ones, maybe. 
 
I’ve seen a slight change in the “normal teenager’s” attitude the last couple weeks, but unfortunately, with report cards coming out next week, it’s a little too late for that at this juncture.  I guess we can only try to start fresh next semester and hope whoever stole my sweet kid will drop him back off at our front door. 
 
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  On boys, on kids, on teenagers, on school, on your expectations, and on your experiences in parenting.  Please, please someone tell me we’re not alone in this invasion of the body snatchers.

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Holiday Magic


This post was inspired by Patience Brewster, a designer of adorable, whimsical Christmas ornaments and gifts, to reflect on my favorite holiday memory.

Twinkling lights

Festive carols

Cheerful smiles

Savory scents

Winter wonderlands

The magic of the holidays is something that can hardly be described adequately.  In fact, the pure magic and wonder of the Christmas season is something my family looks forward to every year.  With that anticipation comes our family traditions…

Ever since my sister and I were little girls, my family has put up the Christmas tree and decorated it the day after Thanksgiving.  On that Friday night, my parents would pull out the boxes of decorations and tree ornaments, my sister and me leaning over them to peek at the colorful treasures inside.  Mom and Dad would sit side-by-side on the couch, and Tracy and I would wait eagerly as they would hand us each one ornament at a time.  We would take each one and find the perfect spot for it on the lit tree.  As it got fuller with bulbs, bells, and little snowmen and Santas, we would study every empty branch for just the right spot for the next ornament until the entire tree was full of hanging memories.  It was then that my dad would take the star out of the box and, with perfect care, place it atop the glowing tree.  Tracy and I would “ooh” and “ahh” and stare at the beautiful tree until we would go to bed and eagerly count down the days until Santa’s visit.

Tracy (right) and me circa 1987

Now, my own kids toss and turn with excitement in the nights leading up to Christmas, but not until after they carry on our family’s tradition of decorating our tree the day after Thanksgiving.  After we go and pick out the perfect tree and wrap it in shimmering lights, Eugene and I sit beside each other on the couch, and Gerald, Ronald, Jeremy, and Emma take turns placing each ornament in its ideal spot on the tree.  Emma and Jeremy are in charge of the bottom branches since they’re too short to reach the top, and Ronald is in charge of the top.  Gerald, my perfectionist mini-me, is in charge of rearranging the bulbs and ornaments so they’re evenly spaced out and no one area of branches has more than another!  All four munchkins beg to eat “just one candy cane” each as they place them on the tree.  Finally, once all the decorations are on the tree, Eugene puts our beautiful angel on the top.  Just like Tracy and I did, our kids stare in wide-eyed awe at the finished product and begin their countdown until Christmas!

Do you and your loved ones have any holiday traditions?  How did your traditions begin?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my internet friends and family!  This year, and always, please remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.  Love to you all.  xoxo


Time Flies


Why is it that when we’re at work the time just drags by, but when it comes to our kids it just flies?

As the school year winds down, I am flooded with emotions, which – I’m quite sure – every mom is.  We watch with disbelief as our babies become young men and women.  We reminisce about the past, and feel a complex mixture of emotions.  We long for their innocence and carefree spirits to return, yet we stand in awe of their newly-forming maturity and responsibility.

I still remember the day, 14 years ago, that Gerald was born.  He was a perfect little seven pound, fifteen ounce miracle.

And the day that Ronald, my baby boy, made his tiny six pound, thirteen ounce entry into our family…

And even still the time when, literally, overnight, I went from having only two kids to four!  Marrying Eugene and blending our families was both the greatest and most difficult thing we’ve ever done.

I get teary-eyed even now as I think of the day we took Gerald to meet his kindergarten teacher, Ronald following his every move through the classroom, wanting to be just like his big brother.  I just couldn’t believe that I had a child who was old enough for school already!

It’s bittersweet as I recall Ronald’s graduation from preschool, when he just couldn’t wait to start “big school” that fall.

As much as I’ve tried to slow down their rush to grow up, I have to admit that I’m fascinated and in awe of seeing their personalities develop and character build.

I’ve watched this year as my step-son’s focus has changed from that of an elementary schooler whose hardest decision in life is what snack to take for lunch to how to start choosing friends wisely.

And I’ve been simultaneously terrified and amazed at my step-daughter’s transition from a carefree tomboy to an actual, real little girl.  She’s begun stressing over what she should wear and how her hair looks.  Trying to calm Daddy down and keep him from having a nervous breakdown has been a chore for me in and of itself!

Ronald will be starting seventh grade in the fall, and if any of you have had a seventh grader, you know that means I’m in for a LOT of hard work, heartache, and a tremendous need for patience!  As is the case with most kids this age, he’s having to learn to balance school with popularity and a social life – all while being completely managed by out-of-control hormones, causing him to feel every range of emotions within a span of five minutes!

And finally, we move to Gerald… Gerald, who just attended his eighth grade dance.  With a girl!  Okay, now it’s my turn to have the nervous breakdown!  I still can’t believe that he starts high school in the fall.  While it’s terrifying to see him mature and become a man, I’m in complete awe of the maturity and responsibility he’s learning.  I’m learning what a fine line there is between being a disciplinarian and a confidante and friend.  And I’m seeing firsthand how difficult it is trying to balance on that line without falling too far to either side.  As parents, we can only hope and pray that we’re raising them to be responsible and be Godly young men and women who will make good decisions once they’re out of our sight.

So, parents, as this school year wraps up and our children continue to grow up far too quickly, know this:  You are not alone!  You are not the only parent who’s constantly wondering if you’re doing a good job with your kids, and you’re certainly not the only parent who’s terrified of failing.  Remember, we’re all doing the best we can with the tools we have.  And also remember – our kids love us.  They love us despite our rules and mistakes and uncertainty.

We all know how time flies as we watch our children grow up, so I’ll leave you with this – Cherish every second of being a parent… every second of the joys, the accomplishments, the milestones, and yes – even the fights, the arguments, and the trials.  We’ll never get another chance to raise our children, so keep doing the best you can, and treasure it even when you want to give up.  We all want to throw in the towel at times.  I can assure you that you’re not alone in that.  But let’s just choose to hold on to the time that we do have, even when it’s flying by.


Say What??!


I’ve added a new page to my blog – It’s called “Say What??!,” and it shares the very best of the best things that I’ve heard in my household.  Between the kids and the hubby, you never know what you’ll hear next.  Some of them are just too good not to share with you all!

https://aliciabenton.wordpress.com/say-what/


What Did You Just Say???


Kids say the darndest things, right?  Well where do they get those darndest things from?

TV?  Sure.

Friends?  Definitely.

Adults who are supposed to be role models?  Wait, what??

This is exactly where my kids have heard some of my most-hated words… from adults who are supposed to be role models in their lives.

Regardless of where they hear some of the words I just can’t stand, the fact remains that they are bound to hear them from someone at some time, right?  That doesn’t mean that I have to like it, though.

Here’s a list of some of those words that just make my skin crawl:

1. Titties

Ugh, I hate that word.  And I also think that no child should ever utter it.  So where have my kids heard this word so many times that they now think it’s acceptable to use?  From one of their sperm donor’s relatives.  And no, this relative is not a man, believe it or not.  SHE is a SHE.  And she always refers to what I affectionately call boobies as titties.  Does that word not gross you out as much as it does me?  I don’t know what exactly bothers me about it, but I just hate it, and it’s now considered a curse word in our house.

2. Piss

Why on earth can’t people just call it pee?  While my boys don’t say this word because it, too, is considered a bad word, they have heard it many times by a supposed role model.  Who, you ask?  One of their football coaches, of all people.  We were recently at practice, and the coach told the team to “Hurry up and get this play off.  [So-and-so] has to piss.”  Are you serious right now?  These boys were 10 and 11 years old.  Why is that word acceptable for them to hear?  I was immediately grossed out and, not to mention, a little embarrassed that they were subjected to that word.

3. Gayeee

Unfortunately, this word is heard by kids on a pretty consistent basis by their peers.  And no, they don’t mean it in any way whatsoever that relates to a person’s sexuality.  Instead, they use it to refer to something “stupid,” if you will.  I know they don’t mean any ill-will by it, but I still can’t stand it.  Thanks, Señor Chang.  Thanks a lot.

4. Shut the F…ront Door!

Sadly, my boys don’t only hear this crap.  Ronald says this crap.  All.  The.  Time.  It drives me crazy.  He heard it from a family friend who says it on a pretty regular basis, thinking he’s funny.  He’s not.

5. Mixed Breed

What?!  Did you really just list that, Alicia?  Why, yes.  Yes, I did.  It actually wasn’t that long ago that one of my kids actually heard these words come out of someone’s mouth.  We were at Gerald’s basketball try-outs, and the mom of one of the other kids trying out actually said to me (after she realized which boy was mine), “Oh, you know, I’ve always said those people who’ve mixed breeds have the prettiest kids.”

WTF, lady – Are you kidding me?!  Guys, seriously, I couldn’t even believe she had just let that crap come out of her mouth.  Not to mention, my other kid was sitting right beside me when she did.  In fact, that’s the only reason I felt the need to restrain myself from going postal on her.  [Sigh…Some people…      

6. Douchebag

Who under the sun would say this word in front of her children and lead them to believe this is acceptable to say?  Okay, never mind.  That “role model” would be me, and yes – I admit – I’ve actually called my kid a douchebag before.  Here’s why.  Probably not the best example, huh?

That’s when I use the ever famous…

“Do as I say and not as I do.”

So, parents, what do you think?  Am I overreacting?  Are these words that I shouldn’t really despise and not really care so much that my kids are hearing or, possibly, saying?

I’d love to hear what the “bad words that aren’t really bad words” are in your houses.  Weigh in!


Losing My Identity


At one time, I was Teen Mom to a beautiful, brown-eyed, curly haired little boy.  He changed my whole world and showed me a love that I didn’t know existed inside my young, calloused heart.  He constantly wanted to be in my arms, which was quite okay with me.

Then, I was New Mom to a second precious, brown-eyed little boy.  How my heart didn’t explode from an overflowing love, I’ll never know.  He, too, wanted nothing more than to snuggle on my chest and would cry when I put him down.

I soon became Mommy to these two rambunctious balls of energy.  In fact, that was every other word out of their mouths.  Oh, how they needed me for everything – pouring cereal, tying shoes, reaching the top shelf in their closets to pull down their favorite teddy bears.

Then, as they started school, I was Momma.  But even with my change of title, they still needed me.  At this point, they were impressed with my knowledge of times tables and the water cycle.  They were both so proud to show me off to their friends as they held my hand tightly down the hallway to their classrooms.

Only a few years later, I got another title change to Mom.  I may have still been able to help with homework, but other than that, my knowledge base started to decrease.  I became much like a banker, wherein I was really only needed to fund whatever outing was planned without me.  At least I still got hugs and kisses after our bedtime prayers.

Now, as my youngest brown-eyed baby enters middle school, my label has been shortened to only Ma.  I’m not allowed in the school anymore, except for awards ceremonies and conferences.  I know that tomorrow, as I drop them off outside the school doors for the start of another school year, I’ll be lucky to even get a sideways glance, much less that hug or kiss that keeps me going.

Photo by Leslie Dobbe Photography

Photo by Leslie Dobbe Photography

Who will I be now?  Who am I if I’m not needed anymore?  What is left of me?

As I slowly lose my boys to life, I realize that I’m also losing myself.

 


15 Things the Girls Who Like My Son Need to Know


First, let me make this very clear to you before I go any further.  I don’t like you.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I have a few more things I need you to know.

1. You are only 13.  That means you need to act like you’re only 13.

2. You don’t need to wear shorts that show off your hoo-hah.  That should be a well-kept secret until you’re at least in college and preferably married.

3. You are a lady.  Watch your mouth, and sound like one, too.  Cursing every other word doesn’t make you sound cool.  It makes you sound trashy.

4. Your duckface is ugly.  Stop posting it all over Facebook.

5. You do not need to be using your phone in the middle of the night.  Only whores need to do that, and hopefully you are not a whore yet.

6. Do not text my son anything relating to what you’d like to do to him.  Because I promise you – your daddy will not like hearing about it.

7. You need to stop posting pictures in those shirts where your boobies are nearly popping out.  Please, for the sake of all things good and holy, save something for prom night.

8. If you ask my son to go to the movies with you, you better plan on answering a 50-question test when you get home, regarding every single aspect of the movie.  Including the last 30 seconds.

9. I know my son’s passwords… to everything.  Phone, Facebook, Instagram, e-mail, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Linked in, Pinterest, everything.  Just keep that in mind.

10. I know how to aim and shoot a weapon.  Pretty well, in fact.  Daddies aren’t the only ones with shotguns.  Again, just a little something to keep in mind.

11. I will meet your parents before you ever step foot out of your house with my son.  And I will have their phone number programmed in my phone.

12. Remember, I will share all pictures you send to my son on my public Facebook page if I need to.

13. Smart girls are more attractive than stupid hussies.  Don’t play dumb.  It’s not cute.

14. If you ever come over to “study” with my son, you’d better believe that all you will be doing is studying.  And I will damn sure quiz you, so be prepared.

15. Getting pregnant will never be a retirement plan, so don’t even think about it.  It will never be your ticket out of your home town.  If you want him to stay with you forever, then just be a damn good girlfriend.  When you’re both 20.  Not 13.

Every trifling heifer who is constantly texting, calling, and messaging my 13-year-old son needs to read and understand this list first.  And then, after each one of them is sure she understands it, she needs to come meet me – to my face – and introduce herself like a lady with proper manners and grammar.  I just want to make sure they all know up front what to expect…

And now – just for gits and shiggles – these are some of the actual text messages I’ve received from said 13-year-old son.  Enjoy!


Operation Lose the ‘Fro


As I’ve mentioned before, Ronald (my 11-year-old) is fiercely independent and doesn’t care a bit about what others think of him.

As such, he has been growing his hair for over a year-and-a-half, in what I consider an attempt to have a record-breaking afro – and is pretty darn close, if you ask me…

Exhibit A:

Pretty big, right?  [That’s what she said!]

At any given time, you may find food in there.  Or sticks.  Or maybe even a pencil.

It’s really that big.

Okay, so he took this to heart... Source: caimay

Okay, so he took this to heart…
Source: caimay

Anyway, as the new school year approaches and football season begins, I (being the mean mom that I am) told him that he must get his hair cut before school starts.  I refuse to buy a new football helmet just so it fits over his ‘fro, when his helmet from last year fits perfectly fine over his non-‘fro head.

After a ton bit of reluctance, he agreed, as long as I took him to a specific place to get it cut.  So I did, and none of the ladies in there could believe how long his hair was!  They couldn’t believe he wanted it cut.  Probably because he didn’t.  Like a champ, though, he hopped up in the chair and let her begin to cut!

I have to admit, I was nervous for the poor kid!  All these months of loving his huge hair, and he finally agreed to butcher it!  After a few minutes passed, I walked around the corner to take a peek at the progress, and this is what I saw:

How amazing is that?!  He could pretty much pass for Kid of Kid & Play.

SEE??? Source: Egypt Said So.com

SEE???
Source: Egypt Said So.com

I laughed, the ladies were laughing, and even my little man was laughing!  I must say that I was impressed with the lady’s ability to lighten the mood a little, knowing full well that she was partly responsible for ruining the child’s life!  I asked him if we could keep it that way, and he laughed some more.

A little while later, when the lady had finished up, Ronald came around the corner, and I saw my handsome little man’s face again!  He looked years older, reminding me that one day soon I won’t be able to threaten him until he gets his hair cut anymore.  We all loved his hair and oohed and aahed over what a gentleman he looked like.  He ate it up and loved all the attention.

On the way home, as he looked at himself over and over again in the mirror, he actually said, “Wow, Mom. I really like it. I think I might keep it this way from now on.”  I was one happy mama!

Operation Lose the Fro: SUCCESS!!! 



The Boys of Fall


Photo by Alicia Benton Photography

Photo by Alicia Benton Photography

He peered through the holes in his face mask and looked up into the bleachers. There they were – his whole family – beaming with pride at their star athlete. Okay, maybe he wasn’t a star yet. But he would be someday. He just knew it.

Photo by Alicia Benton Photography

Photo by Alicia Benton Photography

He heard the whistle blow, and he knew that this last play would determine the entire game. They were down by six, and a single last-second touchdown would seal the championship for him and his teammates.

He could feel the pressure. He could no longer hear the crowd of parents, grandparents, and siblings screaming their names, but could only hear his own heart pounding out of his chest.  Ba-boom.  Ba-boom.  Ba-boom.

He knew the team was counting on him. He couldn’t let them down. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and called his snap count. He felt the ball fall perfectly between his fingers. There was nothing like that feeling of the pigskin about to leave his hands and sail across the field.

He dropped back three steps, just like he did perfectly in practice every day. He caught a glimpse of his receiver at the exact spot on the field where he needed to be. This was it. The moment they had prepared for all season.

Photo by Alicia Benton Photography

Photo by Alicia Benton Photography

He cocked his arm back, took one last deep breath, and let the ball sail to its perfectly calculated place on the far-end of the field. The crowd fell silent. No one dared to blink. Even the players seemed to be in a trance as they watched the ball near its target.

It glided through the air and began its descent like a perfectly aimed missile. Only that’s when he noticed… It wasn’t quite perfect. It was a little too far past his eagerly waiting receiver. The crowd knew it, too. Everyone’s shoulders seemed to slump.

He could barely stand to watch as the ball landed only feet behind his receiver, thumping loudly to the turf. He heard the buzzer sound, signaling that the game was over. That the season was over. He had let his teammates down.

Photo by Alicia Benton Photography

Photo by Alicia Benton Photography

Dreading his walk of shame to the locker room, he put his head down, utterly defeated. How would he face his teammates now? He just couldn’t believe it. He practiced that exact play so many times that he was sure he could make the pass in his sleep.

As he headed back to the locker room, he thought about the irony of his refusal to look away from the very ground that caught his pass. He began rewinding the play in his mind just as he felt a hand grab his shoulder.

Sure he was going to be reamed by his coach or a teammate, he looked up slowly, fearing what was about to come. To his surprise, however, his entire team stood behind him, heads held high. He could barely keep his emotions in when it happened.

They hoisted him up on their shoulders and walked him the rest of the way to the locker room. They showered him with “good tries” and “we’ll get it next years.” He had never been so proud to be part of a team.

He knew that, at that very moment, they were more than just teammates.

They were brothers.

Photo by Alicia Benton Photography

Photo by Alicia Benton Photography


Things We Couldn’t Live Without Growing Up


I was a child of the 80s, and here’s what my sister and I couldn’t live without:

1. Furbies

Y’all, I swear my sister interacted with her Furbie so much, she taught the damn thing Spanish!

Source: Babble

Source: Babble

2. Puffalumps

This is the exact one I had!

3. Cabbage Patch Kids

And yes, I did send the birth certificates in – Don’t judge!

Source: Nickutopia

Source: Nickutopia

4. Barbies

Remember how her shoes would never stay on?!  So frustrating!

Source: Electric Alice

Source: Electric Alice

5. Magic 8 Ball

Outlook not so clear.

Source: Amazon

Source: Amazon

6. Glo Worm

I couldn’t sleep without it.

Source: Time

Source: Time

7. Teddy Ruxpin

He was definitely creepier than he was cute.

Source: My Synonym

Source: My Synonym

8. Skip It

I was the master at skipping it!

Source: The Atlantic Wire

Source: The Atlantic Wire

9. Pogo Ball

Jump out of the 50s and into the 80s!

Source: Goodtoknow

Source: Goodtoknow

10. Velcro Ball

And it’s a wonder why I can’t catch…

Source: Super Fun Stuff

Source: Super Fun Stuff

11. Big Wheel

You couldn’t tell me anything while I was cruising the ‘hood on my Smurf Big Wheel!

Source: flickr

Source: flickr

12. Merry-Go-Round

The best part was jumping off while it was still spinning!

Source: Football Speak

Source: Football Speak

13. Guess Who

“Please pick the black dude with glasses or the white lady with the beret.”

Source: Tangled Up In Words

Source: Tangled Up In Words

14. Shopping Cart

Times before inflation sure were good…

Source: Gulama

Source: Gulama

15. Corn Popper

I don’t know how this didn’t drive my parents crazy.

Source: My Fitness Pal

Source: My Fitness Pal

16. Parachute

This was the sole upside to gym class.

Source: flickr

Source: flickr

17. Pop-Up Tunnel

They treated us like hamsters.

Source: Amazon

Source: Amazon

18. Grow-With-Me Roller Skates

Click, click, click…

Source: Memez

Source: Memez

19. Trolls

My grandma used to borrow them from us to take them to Bingo with her!

Source: About.com

Source: About.com

20. My Buddy

“My Buddy… My Buddy… My Buddy and me…”

Source: Fran's House of Dolls and Toys

Source: Fran’s House of Dolls and Toys

21. Walkman

Today’s kids have no idea that there’s a connection between pencils and cassette tapes!

Source: Baktrack

Source: Baktrack

22. Garbage Pail Kids

I can’t figure out for the life of me what we loved about these – but we did!

Source: The Mary Sue

Source: The Mary Sue

23. Slap Bracelets

We loved them until we were convinced they would slice our hands off!

Source: Fashions Update

Source: Fashions Update

24. Pound Puppies

It was like 101 Dalmatians in our house.

Source: fanpop!

Source: fanpop!

25. Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine

Every child of the 80s had one of these!

Source: The Green Head

Source: The Green Head

26. Care Bears

“Care Bear Stare!”

Source: TV Acres

Source: TV Acres

27. My Little Pony

I had more hair brushes than I did ponies!

Source: Girls' Literature and Culture

Source: Girls’ Literature and Culture

28. Pogs

Stupidest. Game. Ever.

Source: Wikia

Source: Wikia

29. Rainbow Brite

I even had Rainbow Brite curtains in my room!

Source: Motley News

Source: Motley News

30. Punky Brewster

I wished I could be just like her…

Source: retroland

Source: retroland

31. Trapper Keeper

I saw them at Target last weekend – They’re back!!!

Source: Like Totally 80s

Source: Like Totally 80s

32. Strawberry Shortcake

My sister had these curtains!

Source: Wikia

Source: Wikia

33. Nintendo

Original Donkey Kong, baby!!!

Source: Wikia

Source: Wikia

34. Radio Flyer

Every kid should have had one of these!

Source: Toy TMA

Source: Toy TMA

35. Lisa Frank

Hooray for sticker books!!

Source: fanpop!

Source: fanpop!

Now that we’ve all reminisced a little, don’t you wish you were a kid again?!


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