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Friday, April 30, 2010

a mommy moment...

A thumb-sucking baby perched on the back of this chair twirling my hair with her finger
and a small girl waits to tell her story...
Sandwiched between words for the second-born's spelling test
is discussion with a boy whose mission has only one requirement: his very life.
A small sweating boy sticks to my legs watching pictures...
all while a hymn keeps time softly in the background.

...this is a picture of this homeschooling mommy today.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sketch Tuesdays

Our contribution to this week's Sketch Tuesday!

Monday, April 26, 2010

has spring sprung?

We're off on a nature walk today... want to join us?
What a way to start the week off right! Yay!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Artist Study: Monet {part two}

Wednesdays are Artist Study day... but this week it got put off until Friday (catch-up day) and accidentally even spilled over into Saturday.  Here's what we did:
  • Read Child's History of Art, Hillyer - 'The Most Important Person'
  • We'd already looked through this gallery and noticed that the print looks different in thumbnail view as opposed to full view.  So we talked about how Impressionism is different in that it isn't striving for detail so much as the over all impression of light and color.
  • Then we decided to paint! Normally we don't paint during artist study, we just study the works.  With Impressionism and its special appeal, I wanted them to get a feel for it themselves.  We picked up the inspiration to wet our brushes here - Phyllis' kids' artist study on Monet here

A very helpful quote for imitating the impressionists:
"When you paint, try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Instead think, 'Here is a little square of blue, here is an oblong of pink, here is a streak of yellow,' and paint it just as it looks."

 How are these for Charlotte Mason principles... :)
No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it
and is sure of his method and composition.
It's on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.

On the LOVE of art:

A work of art that did not begin in emotion is not art.
Paul Cezanne

Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.
Claude Monet

More helpful links:

My other post, Artist Study: Monet {part one}

Here's a project called Mini Monets by Dick Blick Art supplies with a video!  Looks awesome. We watched this halfway through before it decided to start over from the beginning...twice! (our connection is slow, so I had not the patience to wait for it the third time... urgh)

and this book: Picture This, Activities and Adventures in Impressionism by Raimondo

Friday, April 23, 2010

Most Important Children's Literature

Who made this list anyway?  The School Library Journal?  What school library?  Obviously not a home school! ;) Well, who cares... my friend Jeanne thought it was blog worthy and obviously so did I.  But for the record, I liked this article's list WAY better... and this one.  After a little searching I found that everybody and their brother have made their lists.  Here are the National Education Associations 1999 list and 2007 list.  And here are the kid's picks and the teacher's picks and the author's picks, even the celebrities' picks (actually very revealing I thought).  okay, okay already... just one more ;)  the top bilingual books are here.  :)  alright, enough.  Here's how many from this list we've read (in bold)...

#1 Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
#2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle  (have it - to read list)
#3 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
#4 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
#5 From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg*
#6 Holes by Louis Sachar
#7 The Giver by Lois Lowry (have it - to read list)
#8 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
#9 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
#10 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
#11 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin*
#12 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
#13 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#14 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
#15 Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
#16 Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
#17 Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
#18 Matilda by Roald Dahl
#19 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
#20 Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
#21 Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riodan*
#22 The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo
#23 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#24 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
#25 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
#26 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen*
#27 A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett
#28 Winnie-the Pooh by A.A. Milne
#29 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland /Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
#30 The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
#31 Half Magic by Edward Eager*
#32 Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
#33 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#34 Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis*
#35 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire JK Rowling
#36 Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
#37 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
#38 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
#39 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead*
#40 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
#41 The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
#42 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#43 Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
#44 Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
#45 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
#46 Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
#47 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
#48 The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall*
#49 Frindle by Andrew Clements*
#50 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
#51 The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright
#52 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick*
#53 Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
#54 The BFG by Roald Dahl
#55 The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson*
#56 Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
#57 Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
#58 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken*
#59 Inkheart by Cornelia Funke*
#60 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi*
#61 Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
#62 The Secret of the Old Clock (The Nancy Drew mysteries) by Caroline Keene
#63 Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
#64 A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck*
#65 Ballet Shoes by Noah Streatfeild
#66 Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
#67 Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville
#68 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech*
#69 The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
#70 Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
#71 A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
#72 My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (have it - to read list)
#73 My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
#74 The Borrowers by Mary Norton
#75 Love That Dog by Sharon Creech*
#76 Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse*
#77 City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau*
#78 Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
#79 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
#80 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman*
#81 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin*
#82 The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander*
#83 The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner*
#84 Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
#85 On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#86 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
#87 The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg*
#88 The High King by Lloyd Alexander
#89 Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary
#90 Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
#91 Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar*
#92 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
#93 Caddie Woodlawn by C. R. Brink
#94 Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
#95 Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
#96 The Witches by Roald Dahl
#97: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo*
#98 Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston*
#99 The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
#100 The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder*
The interesting thing about this list to me is that of the books I've heard of, we've read almost all.  40 books.  But there are countless books we would have recommended that didn't make the list.  Oh well.
The 27 *s signifiy all the books I've definitely never heard of... but then again, that's not saying much ;) 

Now, if you'd ask me my all-time favorite books, there'd be so many and then I'd still forget some and forever feel guilty for omitting one of our beloved friends, and the interminable editing and adding... well.  I won't trouble you.  :)

your welcome.

So what are your favorite books NOT on the list?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Composer Study: Ravel

2009-2010 TERM 3 Maurice Ravel (1915)

Ravel was an atheist... sad.  And single...  real sad.  Like many composers he was unique, borderline strange.  But we like this about him:
"From childhood he had a particular liking for minute objects, miniatures, the tiny world of figurines, little things that worked by clockwork, mechanical birds 'whose heart-beats he felt' and miniscule Japanese gardens which evoked for him the giants of the forest." 
   (Marguerite Long, At the piano with Ravel)
Here's a timeline of his life... 

Some additional somewhat interesting facts about him are, that he was French.  After an experimental brain surgery as a result of a brain injury as a result of a car accident... the result was, he died.  On April 8, 2008, the New York Times published an article saying Ravel may have been in the early stages of frontotemporal dementia in 1928, and this might account for the repetitive nature of Boléro. (I did actually think this was funny. [sorry... not in the laugh at someone while they're down kind of way... just the fact that the song IS rather repetitive and this would explain it!])  Despite that last fact, Stravinsky did once call Ravel the "Swiss Watchmaker", for the intricacy and precision of his works.**

Listening selections for this term:
    Daphne et Chloe - selections
    Bolero (read more about Bolero here) & (the wiki here - *WARNING image at top right hand of page)
    Mother Goose Suite
    Pavane pour une infante dufunte
    Piano Concerto in D for left hand, (part 1) and (part 2)

    Rhapsody espagnole

Ravel's Bolero:
Listen to the music:

See the ice skating:
(thanks to Susan in PA for pointing this one out)

Here is another version of Bolero for comparison (in two parts):
Yes, they ARE different, see if you can tell how?

(thanks for this one Janet!)

Here are the instruments in order of appearance:
snare drum
soprano clarinet
E-flat sopranino clarinet
oboe d'amore
muted trumpet & flute
B-flat tenor saxophone
B-flat soprano saxophone
piccolo & french horn & celesta
various woodwinds
tenor trombone
woodwind section
strings, strings & winds in various combos to end...
(thanks bassoonlady!)

Ravel's Mother Goose Suite:

A very nice performance of Ravel's Mother Goose Suite for Piano 4-Hand.
(thank you KayP)
Here are the CDs we're enjoying this term:
Click here to read about how we do Composer Study
We also use: Composer Response Questions by Jimmie
More Composer Study links

**Random information gathered from &

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesdays are for Literature

Ahh.  Today is Tuesday.  Hooray for Literature day!  As I've mentioned before we have our readings grouped by subject and then assigned to a day of the week.

Tuesdays we muse literature and poetry and plutarch.  

Almost always our favorite picks are the AO literature selections.  Such books as Robinson Crusoe, Oliver Twist, Kidnapped, Children of the New Forest, Understood Betsy, Wind in the Willows, Pilgrim's Progress, Parables from Nature, Robin Hood... oh, I forget myself, I could go on... and on.

Now we are reading Kim.  Thank goodness.  I've been wanting to read it ever since I picked up the practically new hardback book from a garage sale for 50 cents.  The lady at the garage sale looked glad that someone was so excited about it.  She said, "Oh good, you're buying Kim!", those are the words she said, but the way she smiled when she said it revealed, "That story is a friend of mine, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did."  So, I liked the book before I started reading it. Just look at the cover and art...


I think I've discoverd something important; when we read to our kids or present them with books, they'll give them a fighting chance if we are intrigued if not excited by them.  So my boys have an open mind towards Kim (I think), because I have been looking forward to reading it and have enjoyed wading into it with them.  Granted, it is a difficult book for this year.  It has so much religious and specific-to-India jargon that it IS rather boorish to read aloud.  For instance, how DOES one pronounce the following words and still maintain the flow of the story:
  • Gunga
  • Benares
  • Loodhiana Sikhs
  • naik (Mohammedan priest?!)
  • Sobraon
  • Chillianwallah
  • Moodkee
  • Ferozeshan
Okay, so you're saying to yourself those don't look that bad... it's one thing to see them in isolation quite another to come upon them suddenly in the midst of an interesting yet trying narrative!  Let me tell you!  :)

Anyway.  I'm going to try to round up some resources/links together for this book.  It's good, but it could be SO much better with some background knowledge.

Other things we read today:

Year 5 -
Age of Fable
Shakespeare (we are starting the Tempest this term)
Poetry by John Greenleaf Whittier
Plutarch's Romulus

Year 1 - 
Fifty Famous Stories Retold
Aesop's Fables
A Child's Garden of Verses

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monkey Boy... First edition

Here we have a video of our brown capuchin monkey friend...
The kids call him Frodo. I call him Monkey Boy. For he is clearly a boy.

Have a looksee:

We have been this animal's family since he lost his.  I'm not sure I'm as happy as he is about that.  He wakes up EARLY and HUNGRY.  When Micah is home he sees to that (he is wonderful).  But he is currently on a river trip... so now who is to care for the baby?  Well, I take care of that... by waking Javen up :) 

See how he holds on with his tail?  and uses his fingers so adeptly?  and climbs around with such agility?  See how he is not ashamed of his maleness?  well.  he's a monkey boy alright. 

After watching this video, Javen said, "Mom, maybe you shouldn't put that on your blog... it's not modest."  HAHAHAHAHAH.  I laughed out loud.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Folksong: Farewell to Nova Scotia

This Term's Folksong:
Farewell to Nova Scotia

photo by philly_j

While the exact author is unknown, Helen Creighton is the folklorist who first published it.  It seems to have been inspired by the poem The Soldier's Adieu, by Robert Tannahill.  You'll want to read the wiki HERE, but the Canadian Encyclopedia actually has more detailed information.  I'm not sure why, but a several of the folksongs are actually Canadian... not that I have a problem with that... [ahem.]  But AO having mainly American adherents I wonder why we don't choose American folksongs... hmmm.  Well, I don't mind either way.  Just sayin'.

Listen and learn the song:

This version is in the Celtic Punk genre and frankly, I didn't hate it... but, it was different.

Ryan's Fancy - Farewell to Nova Scotia Sing-a-long! - This is my kids first pick because they say the music is more lively.  The instruments definitely sound more folkish if you know what I mean ;) I liked that it was a kid-safe page with no inappropriate images.  I also like that the page has the sheet music with more than just the guitar chords + the lyrics, so you can follow along as the song plays.

Free downloads:

I've made a printable of the lyrics which match the version by the Irish Rovers linked above.
Right click HERE and 'save file as...' to your computer.

Go to this page for a FREE mp3 download of Farewell to Nova Scotia by jeez And Cheez And Kineez.  

Friday, April 16, 2010

Artist Study: Monet {part one}

Monet is my favorite.  He's french.  I have a french friend.  Perhaps one day I'll go to France.  Perhaps one day I'll speak French.  Perhaps.

Until then I'll admire his art.  Especially these pieces:

One of my favorites:

I guess they're all my favorites.  :)

I love how he paints the same thing but in different lights... ahh.  so beautiful.

Here's a page that shows some of the different views of the Japanese bridge.

This one is Javen's favorite:

The following selections are chosen by the AmblesideOnline Advisory:

2009-2010 TERM 3
Claude Monet (1840-1926) French Impressionist (Biography or here)

1. Terrace at St. Adresse, 1866, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
2. Women in the Garden, 1866, Musee d'Orsay, Paris
3. Jean Monet on His Hobby Horse, 1872, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
4. Woman with a Parasol: Madame Monet and Her Son, 1875, National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (see slso here)
5. Tulip Fields in Holland, 1886, Musee d'Orsay, Paris
6. The Waterlily Pond, 1899, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey (more here)

(The above is copied from the AO site under this term's Art Study) 

Our Artist Study:

I've posted HERE on how we do Artist Study.  I'm learning all the time.  How do you do it?  I'm all over any helpful hints you might have!!

A few interesting links:

This term we are SO spoiled because Jimmie has done all the work for us with her lovely squidoo lens on MonetJimmie is a wonderful lady with an eclectic approach (primarily CM) to her one child homeschool in China.  I really don't have anything at all to add as far as teaching resources.  Thanks Jimmie!

Thumb through the complete works of Monet.  I love this site to get a real feel and quick overall look at the complete collection of his works.  You can see them as thumbnails, click for larger view (easiest if you set the option to see 96 pictures per page). (

If you happen to be traveling to France anytime soon :) (heheh)  There are a couple interesting links for you.  You'll want to buy this book (you'll probably want to buy it anyway after you read the reviews) and you'll also want to plan your guided tour to Monet's garden at Giverny.

Timeline of painting at Giverny, from Monet's moving to the property until now.


Cool coloring sheet for making Monet reproductions. (  Here's the real painting to use as a coloring guide.

Hands-on Art project HERE.  (

Our thoughts: 

Javen: "What I've noticed about Monet is that in all his paintings there is almost always shrubbery.  If there isn't shrubbery then there's sky.  Sometimes there's shrubbery and sky."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Savory Squirrel Bakes

Today is a fun day for reading blogs... you know in the cracks when we're not celebrating a birthday!

I contributed several of my posts to both the Charlotte Mason Carnival of Blogs and the Carnival of Homeschooling, both are up today.  Grab a cuppa something and have a read ;)

Today for Cullen's birthday, Javen's contribution was a special lunch!  See what he made for his brother?!

Savory Squirrel Bakes

For the last couple years the boys have been REALLY into reading the Redwall series.  While this series may be classified as 'twaddle' by CM purists, it certainly isn't dumbed down.  The animal characters all have unique accents and tendencies, for example the rabbits throughout the series are always a favorite, because according to Javen, 'they're hilarious and they've got English accents'.  Uncle Stevie and Aunt Bethany (more fotos here) bought Javen The Redwall Cookbook when they came to visit and he's been begging ever since to cook something from it.  Today was the day.  How much more special of a birthday present could you conceive of on your 11th birthday than a special meal cooked by your 12 year old brother?!  Well, I thought it was pretty special indeed.

It was also kind of an educational experience as well.  Here's how:
  • First, he had to make a shopping list (he copied down all the ingredients),
  • he helped me translate it to Spanish to take to the market,
  • then he had to translate the whole recipe in order to tell Marmee (our house helper) how she could help (peel, grate, etc.) in Spanish,
  • he had to follow the recipe... measure, use the timer, etc.
  • and he got cooking experience!  
Now, the meal was a little plain and wouldn't have been enough if I hadn't thrown a couple of chicken breasts on the grill... but hey, for a first meal, he did GREAT!!  :)  And I was SO proud of him as the idea was entirely his own... ahhhh.  So perfect.

PS. Be honest, how many from the title actually thought we'd cooked squirrels?! hahahahahah!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Monday

Mondays are Science / Natural History day in our house!

In an effort to have some order and regularity, awhile back, I took the AO readings and split them up into daily themes.  So, today we had all the normal fare, and then we got to the good stuff...

Astronomy  - we read this with EVERYBODY, little Mya included.
Fairy Land of Science
Christian Liberty's Nature Reader
Physics Lab in the Home - this a new book this term and I think the boys are gonna like it!! ;)
Nature Walk
Handbook of Nature Study (focus: birds)

Hooray for Nature Day!!!  It's our favorite because we all like our time outside SO much!

Tomorrow's Literature day... probably our 2nd favorite day of the week :)

If you're curious, you can see how I've split up the week by theme on our sample week list.  I print a copy of each week's list for each of us (this is a big project that I work on ahead of time each HPD.  I do a whole 12 wk. term at a time).  The boys keep track of their own readings on their own lists (that is when they keep track of their lists...)  One day, I plan to hand over the planning to them... they'll be in charge and have to decide which days/hours to read what... oh won't that be delicious?!  :)  just waiting for things to ripen a little more in the responsibility category, if you know what I mean :) 

I hope you all had a wonderful Monday as we did :)

Hymn Study: My Redeemer

Helpful Links:
Youtube with choir & lyrics
Printable music sheets and more
Author bio - Phillip Bliss
& another bio

Sunday, April 11, 2010

AOy5 Term 3 Planning Day

Yesterday and today I've been cramming to get this upcoming term planned.  We are about a week and a half later getting back from the coast than we had planned and we are scheduled to begin Ambleside Online's y5 Term 3... TOMORROW!!  Yikes. :S 

Yesterday was my official Homeschool Planning Day
(it was supposed to be last week... but I mentioned that already didn't I?)

Not only that but I have exactly 12 weeks in which to finish the 12 week term.  Margin for error = 0.

Can I just say that my adreniline was actually pumping as I was finishing up preparations last night?!  Oh but I came to realize that was nothing to get excited about, because as I was going over my calendar figuring and such - I realized that in addition to the 3rd term of AOy5, I have to start AOy1 with my 7yo tomorrow too!  I just 'bout fainted dead away.

So, today I've been scrambling.  I was planning to unofficially start AOy1 back in January, but was distracted by upwards of a thousand other things.  We've been working steadily on all the important stuff with my 7yo.  You know, like living and learning, so much so that I didn't even realize we hadn't unofficially started her official education yet.  SO... now it's come down to the wire... like dental floss gage wire.  Yikes.

Here was my to-do list for yesterday:
  • Divide Shakespeare readings
  • Divide Physics Lab readings
  • Print AO's Plutarch reading, divide into 12 readings
  • Print Age of Fable p.79-88 (I don't follow the suggested readings), divide readings over 12 weeks
  • Print Artist/Composer study pages  {out of color ink...shoot!}
  • Print An Island Story (ch.110-114)
  • Decide copywork selections
  • Find and download Folksong/Hymn selections  {hubby needed the computer...urgh}
  • Decide handicraft focus - buy material
  • Decide & print memory work selections
  • Buy any y6 books that are lacking 
  • Format checklists  
  • Schedule YEAR ONE readings, for goodness sakes!

I'm still working today...

It's an effort to figure it all out, but I know I'm not the only one who does this :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Nature study on the road

One really cool thing about nature study from the car is that although the study cannot be indepth, one does have the opportunity to observe a good number of different objects from a comfortable vantage point...  it is especially beneficial when you are free to stop now and then for a closer look. :)

My kids are quite accustomed to hearing me exclaim from the front seat, "Hey, look at that sky... those clouds sure are interesting!!"  or, "Can you see the pigs?!"  or, "Why do you think the rock layers are like that?".  Whenever we stop for a potty break or because of road construction or what have you, we always take advantage of the opportunity to look and see what plants and insects we can see. 

Of course, on the long roadtrips like those we regularly subject our children to, it is not always possible to stop frequently for more indepth study.  However, the things we see often lead us to further study when we get home or have access again to our books.  Of course, taking the books along with us in the car is the best!  Since our trips traverse the three very distinct regions of Peru; the jungle, the mountains, and the coast, we can observe on a large scale how climate, altitude, geography differences influence the way things grow.  Very interesting!!

Poinsettias are in full bloom this month in the Andes Mountains!

Don't even try to tell me these guys aren't the cutest things!!

One of my littles spotted this from the car. We all got out and watched him until he crossed the road. Slightly creepy.

This was a literal drive by shooting (as my mom calls it), and is one of the wonderful sights along the road.

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