The Neverending Story of Diapers

Little Miss is napping, the builders are busy next door, and I’m stealing a few moments to write….for the first time in weeks!

I’m a cloth diaper kid. My mother used a diaper service when we kids were tiny and we lived in the big city. She continued cloth diapering even when we moved to the country and no longer had access to a diaper service. Mom claims she didn’t feel comfortable putting us kids in disposables back in the 80s. When I was pregnant with Little Miss I decided cloth diapering was the way to go purely for financial reasons. I do use disposable diapers at night (Little Miss is a heavy wetter at night) and when we go out, but that is purely for convenience sake.

The “right way to diaper” debate is huge and sometimes heated when you read the various blogs, discussion boards, and articles online. I don’t care what you do as long as your kid is clean and happy. However, for those who are considering changing to cloth for whatever reason, or those who are newly pregnant and trying to figure out what they want to do, here is my 2 cents.

prefold diaper
Image source: Google/Amazon.com

Please note: I use prefold cotton diapers with snappi’s and waterproof covers so that’s what I discuss below. Friends of mine use pocket diapers of which I have a few and love (they are great for daddy if he’s like Mr. Fantastic and not keen on learning to fold a diaper). For those who are completely flummoxed by which cloth diapers are which, this blog post has a great description of what each kind of cloth diaper is and how they work. Really, it’s the best and easiest to understand explanation I’ve read.

Upside to Cloth Diapers

  • Savings: This is a fairly obvious reason to use cloth. Yes, you may fork out some $150-$400 bucks at the beginning for diapers and covers. But when you “do the math” on how much you’ll spend each year on disposables the savings are clear. Especially if you plan on having more than one kid! Some diapers are sized, other types/brands are not sized but can be adjusted to fit newborn through toddler sizes. According to clothdiaper.com you can get a starter pack for less than $200 that will last you from newborn through 30lbs that includes diapers and covers. (After a very rough calculation based on a rough estimation of Little Miss’ current diaper consumption, using disposables would cost me $700-$1000/year!)
  • Cute-factor: Depending on which type of cloth diaper or waterproof cover you buy, you can get some really cute prints and solid colors. A far cry from the classic white plastic pants my mother used for us, Little Miss has waterproof fabric covers in plaids and fun solid colors that I can coordinate with her outfit if I so desire. These covers don’t have to be washed every diaper change. If a cover gets damp, I let it air dry then use it again.
  • Fewer Diaper Blow-outs: This may just be personal experience, but when Little Miss was an infant and wearing disposables (it took me a while to get fully into cloth diapering as a new mom), she could and would blow out her diapers frequently. I have heard that some babies have very regular…uh…schedules. Little Miss does not. She poops or doesn’t as she feels like it. Once I switched to cloth diapers, got the hang of folding them properly, and got good covers (Rumparooz for the win!), Little Miss’ attempts to blow out her diaper and soil her outfit were stymied.
  • Diaper Rash Avoidance: Once I got the hang of washing cloth diapers properly (I’ll write another post on that soon), Little Miss hasn’t had a case of diaper rash. At all. Because my prefold cloth diapers don’t hold as much liquid as a disposable, I have to change her more often which also cuts down on the chance of diaper rash. Plus, no allergies, reactions, or irritations from disposables to worry about.
  • They Don’t Make That Much More Laundry: Really, they don’t. It’s no worse than buying a new 12-pack of socks except that you don’t have to sort and pair up diapers. I throw Little Miss’ dirty diapers into the wash with my lights/whites loads and haven’t noticed a massive uptick in laundry duties.
  • Environmental Benefits: This is an obvious reason. Cloth diapers get washed and reused instead of clogging up landfills. Nothing more really needs to be said.
  • Trash Can Stinks Less: The one upside to cloth diapers no one seems to mention is the load on the trash can. Unless you have a diaper pail with a self-sealing lid, your trash can will stink after a couple of days (yes, I do know about the Diaper Genie. I had one and it stunk). If you have more than one kid in disposable diapers at a time, your trash can will fill up faster and need to be emptied more often. This means you’ll spend more on trash bags too.
  • No Pins: Yep, you read that right. You don’t have to use the classic, slightly scary, diaper pins to fasten diapers on to baby. You can use Snappi’s instead, or just fold the diaper in three, lay it in the cover, and snap it on baby. I did this for a while and it worked great, but I had to wash the covers more often because the poop wasn’t caught in the diaper like it is when you fold the diaper and close it with a snappi or pins. This article has great visuals on various folds for prefold diapers.

Downside to Cloth Diapers

  • Poop: You have to rinse the poop out of the diaper before washing it. This can be a bit gross, but it also gives you a good chance to see how your child’s system is handling the foods you’re feeding him or her. Mr. Fantastic doesn’t care much for this step. “My dear, I don’t know how you do this every day.” was his comment as he rinsed out a particularly full diaper the other day. Rinsing out a soiled diaper isn’t all that gross for me. Everyone poops. It’s just a fact of life.
  • Expensive at First: Yes, cloth diapers are more expensive than disposables…at first. Depending on what type of cloth diaper you choose and how often you plan on doing laundry, you may shell out somewhere between $150-$300 for diapers and covers that will last from infancy through toddlerhood. Especially if you find out the diaper type you chose isn’t as awesome to use as you thought it would be and you decide to switch. Or if you buy sized cloth diapers and have to buy bigger sizes later on.
  • Smell: If not stored properly between wearing and washing, cloth diapers can stink up your house. I used to just dump dirty diapers into the washer and leave them there until I had enough for a load. Let’s just say urine-soaked diapers reek. Add the stench of formula-poop residue and you’ve got an aroma you won’t soon forget. I found putting dirty diapers into a small (15qt size works great) plastic storage bin with a locking lid traps the smell and fixes the problem.
  • Stains: Depending on several factors including your water (well, city, hard, or soft water), cloth diapers will stain or get dingy. You can bleach them, but bleach “eats” cotton and will cause your cotton diapers to deteriorate faster (or it will turn the beautiful snowy cotton a yucky yellow color). Other types of cloth diapers can’t be bleached due to waterproof coatings and such. However, hanging cloth diapers outside to dry on a sunny day will “sun-bleach” the stains without weakening the fabric.
  • Prep-work: You can’t use cloth diapers straight out of the box. New cotton cloth diapers they have to be washed and dried a few times before they are ready to use. This “opens up”, so to speak, their absorbency. It’s like using new cotton kitchen towels. The darn things won’t soak up water until after they are washed and dried once or twice. I don’t know if it works the same way for other types of diapers, but my mother taught me to always wash clothes before wearing them so I wouldn’t use cloth diapers right out of the box anyways.
  • Daycare: Not all daycare facilities will work with cloth diapers. You will need to check with the daycare to see what their policy is.

Okay, I think that’s everything. I’m sure there are other pros and cons to cloth diapers, but I can’t think of any at the moment. Happy Diapering!!

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The Saga…

Of the Gateless Goats is finally coming to a close. After nearly 6 weeks of chasing them off, calling their owners, and attempting to keep the not-so-wee beasties out of our yard, the owners informed us they are installing a fence this week. Hurray!

You might ask “Why isn’t your yard fenced? Wouldn’t that solve the problem or prevent it in the first place?” Yes, yes it would and our yard is fenced. However, our fence, though a nice sturdy affair built by Mr. Fantastic out of rough-cut cedar boards, blew down in a giant windstorm this spring. Even though just one 8′ section of fence fell (weakened in part by tree roots shoving against a post), it has taken a few weeks to repair due to weather and time restraints. Therefore our defenses against those marauding goats were anything but secure.

Now, I’m not talking cute little pygmy goats with adorable faces and giant pannier-like bellies. No. These are “3 Billy Goats Gruff” type goats complete with 12-15″ horns. One is skittish, one fairly docile, but the third one is decidedly aggressive if pressed. Their owners claim that they tether the goats during the day, but somehow the creatures continue to break free and wander off their owners 3-acre domain. Much to their owners continued surprise. (Seriously, every time I call they seem to have absolutely no clue their critters are on the loose, and their apparent dereliction of animal-owner duties has caused some of bad feelings in the neighborhood.)

But our fence is now fixed and their fence is going up this week. No more apple tree depredations, garden raids, frightening of neighbors strolling down the street, or terrorizing of the builders next door. I guess it’s true: Good fences do make good neighbors.

 

The Things We Learn…

when we have kids and houses. I’m not going to bother with an introduction because I’m squeezing this post into the last few precious moments of nap-time. So here goes.

A) Sweeping and vacuuming floors is a daily necessity. Especially once kids learn to crawl and to feed themselves. Little Miss did not like it when Mommy pulled that tasty pine cone out of her mouth last night. It was chewy and felt good on her gums…and Mommy always spoils all the fun.

B) Coordinated and customized storage bins are cheaper than therapy. My house is tiny, my budget is tight, and I need an organized house to stay sane. So I took paper grocery bags, cut them open to lay flat, and used packing tape to wrap this nice brown paper around a few random boxes. Each box was marked with its contents and now I know exactly what is in my front, bedroom, and nursery closets. (And my husband will know where the game camera goes when it’s not in use outside.)

C) Saving ribbon is a life saver. I mentioned my house is tiny, but it’s not a legit “tiny house.” A “starter home” would be a far more accurate description. However, the designation of “home” holds no bearing on the relative size of the kitchen or the amount of storage provided within said kitchen. (Seriously, for a house built on an island where the authorities recommend having a 3-month stock of non-perishable food in case the bridge to the mainland goes out, this house seriously lacks pantry space!!) I own a few more baking pans than I normally use and don’t have a good place to keep them. This is where the ribbon comes in. I tied two lengths of cheerful red gingham ribbon in a decorative fashion around my quiche pan and thumb-tacked it to the kitchen wall. I can get to it any time I feel like making quiche, but in the meantime it serves a decorative purpose. Ribbon hoarding for the win!

D) Command hooks and Monkey hooks are your best friends. Seriously. I have command hooks mounted in the most random places for hanging things like my apron, my clothespins bag, giant colander, etc. And every set of antlers, every large picture, and even a random cooking pot is hung up with a monkey hook. Inexpensive, reusable, stronger than a thumb-tack, and less damaging than a nail, I love monkey hooks. (No, this is not a paid endorsement. Just an honest opinion.)

E) You need more than one apron. I thought I was a fairly tidy cook….until I got pregnant. Then I realized the belly containing my child was a magnet for flying food drops, grease, and various other things. When pregnant with Little Miss I was still working full-time and got away with only owning one apron. Now that I’m a stay at home mom and pregnant again, I’m realizing the necessity of owning two or three aprons. They are handy for protecting clothes, drying your hands fast (while racing across the house because baby is crying, getting into something, or looks like she might be chewing on a non-food item), and wiping little faces. I wear the darn thing every day and seriously miss it when it’s in the wash. *sigh* Oh well, guess I’ll have to break out the sewing machine and make a new one. Too bad that means a trip to the fabric store. (That last sentence is dripping with sarcasm, btw. ;))

Camping

We took Little Miss on her first camping trip this past weekend. To put it mildly, she had a blast. Family, friends, food, fresh air, sunshine, and all the other good stuff that goes into a giant family reunion camping trip. Mommy kept Little Miss slathered in sunscreen so she did not burn, and there were enough cousins around that Little Miss got a lot of practice walking.

Daddy spent the weekend zooming around the hills and valleys on the four-wheeler looking for deer and practicing his game calls. Just exactly his favorite way to spend a weekend. He saw several deer each day and thinks there were even more hiding in the brush. A small group of deer came down into camp each evening to nibble the fresh clover that carpets the little valley. Little Miss wasn’t quite sure what they were, but she could see the deer were big and furry and moved on 4 legs so she did what any self-respecting 11-month old does. She squealed at them. Loudly.

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This deer showed up early in the morning, watched the squealing Little Miss for a moment, then took her leave.

She squealed at the dogs too. They weren’t sure what to make of the small, noisy human and kept away from her as much as they could. After all, her shrieking and squealing hurt their sensitive doggy ears. But, on Monday morning the oldest and calmest dog was cuddled into submission and allowed Little Miss to pat and stroke her. Of course, Little Miss’ idea of petting a dog is to slap them with all the vim and vigor of her little hands. So we worked on learning to pet gently and Little Miss got the idea eventually. Smokey the dog was very patient and, as long as someone was petting her, didn’t care what Little Miss did.

With all the stimulus of new people and new surroundings Little Miss overloaded frequently and needed to nap. A lot. She slept like a lump each night and didn’t mind the wind rustling the tent. What Little Miss didn’t like was Mommy’s insistence on putting her in the tent to play while Mommy cooked supper. But Mommy packed toys and Little Miss made the best of things. It turns out throwing toy rings and reading books is just as fun in a tent as it is at home.

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Little Miss wasn’t terribly happy, but Mommy was busy so she just had to practice being patient. (Yes, the photo is fuzzy. With all the moving Little Miss does it’s a miracle I got a semi-decent photo at all!)

When we got home, I was pleased to see the garden had survived the weekend. Turns out that trick of shoving a full bottle of water upside down into the dirt is truly a great way to slowly water plants. It looked like I was trying to grow margarita mix and O’Mara’s Irish Cream, but my tomato plants, radishes, lettuce, and other veggies stayed nicely watered.

Most of the camping gear is cleaned, organized, and stowed away until our next trip. Now I just have to weed the front yard and make our house look decent again. Weeding is not my favorite activity, but the garden beds are small so it shouldn’t take long. I hope.

Big Moves and Little Changes

Holy crap! It’s been a while since I wrote last. Baby Girl is content so I’m snagging a few minutes for a quick post…just because I can. The laundry, dishwasher, messy house, and all my other chores can wait a minute or three.

Summer hit full force this past week with temperatures in the 60s and 70s, sunny days, and flowers blooming everywhere. Nevermind that it’s technically still spring. I pulled out all my shorts and t-shirts and my beloved hiking sandals. And sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen.

We planted a garden of sorts this year. After demolishing the rhododendrons in the front of the house with a chainsaw, Mr Fantastic added some extra dirt and I got to work creating a string trellis for snap peas. We will have a small container garden on the back deck for lettuce, radishes, etc. while we save the garden bed in front for squash, zuchini, and cucumbers. It’s not a huge food production endeavor, just a little experiment to see what works. Keeping it small also prevents me from overwhelming and ditching the whole project. Knowing one’s own capacity for something makes that something easier to accomplish.

Baby Girl is growing fast. She is on the brink of walking by herself and loves nothing better than taking Mommy or Daddy for a walk down the hallway. She learned too that crawling is an acceptable alternative to walking. Though she hasn’t mastered the technique yet, and hates crawling on the vinyl floor, Baby Girl scoots around the living room with remarkable speed on her hands and knees. I just hope she gets the walking thing figured out and locked in soon. She’s getting heavy!

Fairly soon we will have to upgrade Baby Girl’s nickname to something else. Child #2 is expected in November and we may need to recycle Baby Girl’s nickname if Child #2 ends up being a girl. We won’t find out for several weeks, so stay tuned.

Well that didn’t last long. Baby Girl just pulled over the trash can…..

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What are you looking at? (The orneriness is real with this one)

We’re back!!

Sorry for the long absence folks. I was taking a shot at a home-based business…and after a few weeks decided I already have a full time job that keeps me quite busy. Turns out a husband, a busy 9-month old child, a house, and a garden is plenty to manage and maintain. More than plenty.

So I will get back to posting on occasion. Can’t promise any regularity as Baby Girl is keeping me even busier these days. But I will post when I can.

Emma Walker
This whisk is tasty Mom!

She’s a Better Driver Than Me

How so? She has perfected the double-clutch downshift maneuver and she’s only 8 months old!

Over the last three weeks Baby Girl grew fast. She learned to stand in her walker and push herself forward. Then she learned to take steps as she pushed. Wobbly, uncertain steps, but steps nonetheless. Those steps became more firm and she started moving from point A to point B with decision. She started poking her wee button nose into everything: the dishwasher, dryer, oven window, trashcan, anything at her level. Eating everything I put in front of her, Baby Girl still disdains the bottle, but is learning to accept it.

In short, Baby Girl started acting like a toddler. A small, unsteady toddler. But a fiercely independent toddler. Heaven forbid I don’t immediately transfer her from the highchair to her walker after breakfast!

In answer to all these advances, I started treating Baby Girl like a toddler. Giving her her independence, encouraging her to come see what I’m doing so she could learn, letting her spend as much time in her walker as she wanted.

And then it all shifted two days ago. It appears Baby Girl is cutting her first tooth as far as I can tell. Combine this with Mommy’s stupid (in hindsight) attempt to swap a bottle for a meal or two during the day (I freaked out about her nutritional intake and bought formula), and the equation equals an extremely grumpy, clingy baby.

That’s right. A baby. I’ve been treating her like a toddler because she was acting like one. But she’s not. She’s a baby. And two days ago she double-clutch downshifted back to baby-like behaviour and needs leaving Mommy eating Baby Girl’s dust and trying desperately to figure out what is wrong.

After a 3-hour crying session that started at 12:30am during which she wanted to be held, put down, fed, rocked, played with, and nursed all at the same time, Mommy finally got it. Baby Girl needs to go back to her 4 meals a day of solid food, a bedtime snack, and lots of play time with Mommy. I need to stop swapping a bottle for a feeding, we need to go back to a consistent bedtime routine, and I need to take time to play and cuddle. I feel like Mater finally catching up to Flash. And I need a nap.

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Sweet Potatoes are a Gateway Drug…

Into the world of food that is.

Last Thanksgiving my husband had the brilliant idea to let Baby Girl sample his sweet potatoes (yes, the ones dripping with melted marshmallows, butter, and brown sugar). She liked them. We tried solids off and on for the next few months, but she wasn’t terribly interested. Then, about two months ago, Baby Girl was obviously ready to start solid food for reals. She breastfed every 2-3 hours, 24/7 and just wasn’t satisfied. So we pulled out the baby bowls and got started.Gateway Drug

She liked mashed bananas, but it was the sweet potatoes that did it. Anything mixed with sweet potatoes was an automatic winner. In two weeks Baby Girl went from 1 feeding a day of solid food to 4 feedings a day and lost interest in breastfeeding.

Then I pulled a “new mom” and freaked out about her getting enough nutrition. Everything online and in the books say babies need to get most of their nutrition from breast milk or formula until they are 1 year old. Baby Girl wasn’t buying it, but Mommy wasn’t so confident. So I called the doctor, explained Baby Girl’s current diet and was informed she needed to either breastfeed 4 times a day, or drink 24-32oz of formula a day because a solids-only diet is not recommended for babies her age.

As mentioned before, Baby Girl hates bottles. She chews on the bottle nipple and gets enough fluids to stave off constipation and dehydration, but no way will she ever consume 24-32oz of formula from a bottle. Why not breastfeed again? Because I’m done. I don’t want to be a human refrigerator any more. Once we both figured out how to do it, I thoroughly enjoyed breastfeeding Baby Girl for those first 6 months. But now I’m done. Does this make me a bad parent? No.

So I pulled another “new mom” and texted all my friends with children 2 years old and under asking them how they weaned their kids. Only one friend has a child with a similar anti-bottle attitude. She watered down her son’s food to help keep him hydrated, and supplemented with vitamin drops. All my other friends have children that liked bottles. Lucky ducks.

Then I called my mom. My mom breastfed me until I was 14 months old and my little brother until he was 5 years old, and therefore never faced this particular problem. So she called her mother.

Can I just take a moment to say something? Gramma’s are awesome. I may be biased, but I’m pretty sure my Gramma, in particular, is the greatest Gramma ever invented. I cannot sing her praises high enough so I won’t even try.

Turns out my grandmother weaned all 5 of her kids at 3 months of age, putting them on a diet of rice baby cereal and homemade formula (canned milk and corn syrup). All 5 kids grew up just fine. No one has diabetes, no one got rickets, all of them are healthy adults. Passing on this information, my mom said “Don’t worry about Baby Girl. She is fine. She is getting far more nutrition than we ever got at her age.”

And then she reminded me of the two magic words I can use with the pediatrician at Baby Girl’s 9-month check when I’m sure this discussion will come up again: Self-Weaned. Baby Girl self-weaned. I feel a bit guilty about going against the “rules”, but I’m listening to, and working with my baby. That is the most important thing because Baby Girl knows what she needs: a mommy who listens to her.

And more sweet potatoes!

 

Mommy’s Little Victories

I’ve been up to my eyeballs in this parenting thing for nearly 8 months now. The one consistent lesson I keep learning (and re-learning) is that it is all about the little stuff. The little wins, the minute victories, the minuscule successes, the tiny hard-won battles.

The last three weeks exploded with little victories that give me hope my child is actually growing into a self-sufficient human being.

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Sitting up was a major mini-victory. It took three weeks of propping, showing her how to place her legs so she could balance, rescuing her from the tripod sit when she got stuck, and constantly putting her back in tummy time to strengthen her core. Now I can sit her in the playpen or on the floor and she is amused for a solid 15 minutes! All without help from Mommy. She cannot yet pull herself into a sitting position, but her ability to sit up at all is a tiny victory for which I am extremely grateful.

Sleeping came next. At the suggestion of her godmother, I started packing Baby Girl with baby cereal right before bed. Instead of waking up every 2 hours to nurse, Baby Girl now sleeps 8-10 hours and only wakes once, maybe twice, to nurse. This means Mommy gets more sleep which makes her a much nicer Mommy during the day. After recovering from the shock of a full-night’s sleep, I nearly threw a party to celebrate this little win.

When it came to starting solid food, Baby Girl took her first bites with happy interest. Moving with the swift surety of a born foodie from one meal a day to hardly breastfeeding at all, Baby Girl faced a new reality: she had to take a bottle.

Baby Girl hates, hates, HATES, HATES bottles. Boobs are far better in her opinion. Not a problem when she was breastfeeding full-time. However, Mommy is ready to be done with her role as a human refrigerator. Unless Baby Girl really wants to be thirsty and constipated and sick, she has to learn to drink from a bottle. She started last week by chewing on the bottle nipples, swallowing some of the liquid, dribbling the rest down her chin. This was super frustrating for mommy because that pumped breast milk took a lot of effort to produce!! However minute it seems, this was a victory because Baby Girl allowed the bottle nipple into her mouth. Last time Mommy tried to give her a bottle, Baby Girl fought and cried upon sight of the dreaded object.

After many tears (mostly Baby Girl’s, some Mommy’s), fights, discussions, and much wheedling, Baby Girl finally figured out how to latch on to the bottle nipple and suck. Then she did it again. And again.

YAY!!!!!! If I could I would have turned a couple of cartwheels. But I was holding a baby and a bottle at the time so I just waited until she was finished and then texted my mom. In the grand scheme of things this is just a little victory. She doesn’t suck full-time, and still chews and dribbles quite a bit. But just that little bit of sucking, that proof that she could learn to drink from something other than a boob, is huge! And has made mommy very, very happy.

As big as these little victories are, the most momentous thing I have learned is this:

To work with my baby on her timeline.

This doesn’t mean I can’t direct and encourage her to learn new things a little sooner or faster than she might otherwise stumble upon them herself. But forcing her into something doesn’t work and usually ends in frustration for us both. It’s a tricky blend of patiently waiting for her to grow and learn on her own, and knowing when to apply a little encouragement and direction. That is the biggest little victory so far.

On a completely different, but oddly similar topic, my next kid will be bottle trained from the start! See? Mommy can learn too!

Terrible Parenting

This morning I broke all the rules.

I plopped my 7-and-a-half month old toothless child who can’t chew, doesn’t really know how to “gum” things, and really shouldn’t have anything within reach that’s smaller than her head into the high chair, poured a tiny handful of puffs (rice cereal) onto the tray….and walked away.

Yep, just walked away.

I didn’t even keep her in sight! I went to the garage get firewood, glanced at her as I came back in to make sure she wasn’t gagging, and proceeded to build a fire.

When I got back to the kitchen, I made coffee and started heating up some breakfast for Baby Girl. I did keep half an eye on her through all of this, but when I finally really tuned back in…Baby Girl had a puff clenched in her little fist busily gumming it to death. Then I realized several puffs were missing and they weren’t on the floor or stashed in her lap.

In three minutes of unsupervised activity, Baby Girl figured out that puffs are food, puffs fit perfectly in small hands, and puffs are tasty. And guess what? She was fine. Absolutely fine.

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