Ideas For A Fun 4th Of July At Home

Ideas For A Fun 4th Of July At Home

My Romper (old – similar and also love this similar blue option!) | Sandals | Bag | Sunglasses | Boys flag tank

Like many places, Covid cases are rapidly accelerating here in Boise and new restrictions have been reimplemented banning groups larger than 50 people. Which of course means no annual parade or fireworks. While we will miss these fun traditions this year, I’m all in favor of prioritizing keeping our family safe and healthy! That said, I still want to make sure we have fun celebrating the holiday even if we will be quarantining at home. Today I’m putting together a list of some activities you can do at home with your kids to celebrate the 4th of July this year.

🇺🇸 HAVE A BIKE PARADE 🇺🇸

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While we may not be able to attend an actual parade, we can still have our own! I thought it would be fun to have the kids decorate their bikes and ride around the neighborhood…and even invite other neighborhood kids to join in (safely socially distanced of course!)

 

🇺🇸 WATER FUN 🇺🇸

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With no local pools open, we will opt for some water fun at home! We were gifted a huge inflatable pool when Evan got home from the hospital, which we are planning to fill up for the holiday. We can also get our water guns and water balloons out for even more fun!

 

🇺🇸 HOT DOG BAR 🇺🇸

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An all-American hot dog bar is the perfect easy and patriotic meal for the 4th of July

 

🇺🇸 MAKE PATRIOTIC SHIRTS 🇺🇸

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There are so many fun ways you could create a patriotic shirt – from painting your own design, to tie dye, to bedazzling…this is sure to be a fun activity

 

🇺🇸 BUCKETS OF FUN 🇺🇸

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Putting together a bucket of activities and treats to keep the kids busy all day is sure to make the day a bit more special. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, sunglasses, glow sticks, tattoos, cracker jacks, and pop rocks would all be fun options

 

🇺🇸 WATCH A PATRIOTIC MOVIE OUTSIDE 🇺🇸

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Set up a projector and screen, and watch something patriotic. My pick would be Hamilton on Disney+ which is coming out on July 3rd!

 

🇺🇸 FIREWORKS 🇺🇸

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While we may not get to see the big show this year, we will still be able to have a few small fireworks at home. My kids especially love pop its – which are super fun and safe for the little ones. You could also do some non firework festive options like silly string or confetti poppers!

An Exclusive Janie and Jack Promo Code For My Readers

One of my absolute favorite places to shop for kids clothing is Janie and Jack, and today I’m excited to share an exclusive promo code for my readers for an additional 20% off your entire purchase – including sale items!

  • Code: SHOPSTYLE20
  • Valid: Until 6/28 (11pm PT)

Here’s a few adorable sale items that have caught my eye…

Boys…

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Girls…

GirlsJ&JSaleOneTwoThreeFour | Five | SixSevenEight

 

Our (Socially Distanced) Summer Bucket List

This summer is definitely…weird. Not only are we very busy with and heavily focused on Evan’s rehabilitation (and spending most of our weekdays at therapy), we are still in the midst of a global pandemic. Our nation has also been witnessing horrible injustice and perhaps (finally?) coming to terms with the systemic racism that plagues us. This year has been a brutal one for our family personally with Evan’s severe brain injury, and so many of my close friends have also been facing horribly difficult times as well. The weight of the world feels heavy and life right now is just…hard. It really has all made our family pull together and focus more on one another, and what truly matters. While our state is loosening social distancing restrictions, due to Evan’s immune system needing more time to recover, we will continue to socially distance for the rest of summer. While this summer isn’t going to be one filled with days at the waterpark, camping trips, or vacations – it can still be meaningful. We can make positive memories too, in the midst of so much difficulty, and perhaps come out of this one day with a lot of personal growth.

As this isn’t a “normal” summer, this bucket list isn’t a conventional one either. I asked Cole to come up with some crazy (within reason) ideas, outdoor activities where we can safely socially distance, and some fun things we would normally do at home in the summer. From picking a night to stay up all night, to camping at home, to a day where I have to say “yes” to everything…we are still finding little things to bring joy and some positive memories we can one day look back on in the midst of these trying times.

The other day we checked off an item on our list by spending an afternoon at the river building a teepee, throwing rocks, and playing in the sand. We had and absolute blast, and it was a good reminder of how even simple time spent together in nature can be a ton of fun.

Here is our completed list and a few items that will help us check everything off…SummerBucketList2020SummerBucketListNecessitiesOneTwo | Three | Four | FiveSix | SevenEight

One | We are going to need a projector if we are going to set up for outdoor movies this summer. This one has great reviews.

Two | I’m thinking a rock painting kit would be a lot of fun for a painting project

Three | A picnic basket is a must

Four | This cooking kit for kids comes with literally everything you need

Five | Cole did a tie dye project at school years ago and still talks about how fun it was so I thought it would be something fun we could do this summer

Six | This will make our summer nature walks a bit more fun

Seven | In trying to come up with a fun and different craft to try this summer I found this…and I think it could be a lot of fun

Eight | Camping in the living room is what the kids are looking most forward to this summer, and a cute indoor tent would make it that much more memorable

Cherry Picking

Cherry Picking

My Top | Jeans | Boots

It has become a summer tradition for us to take a drive out to the orchard for an afternoon of cherry picking. This summer’s weather has been (like the rest of 2020) weird. Idaho is known for wild weather swings – but we’ve had a lot of unusually cool and rainy days this month. Although the day we went picking last week was cool and sprinkling rain off and on, it was a lovely afternoon. Life admittedly has been difficult since Evan’s brain injury in March, but every day he continues to amaze me with his progress. And going to the orchard to continue one of our traditions was especially wonderful because it felt so…normal.

Father’s Day Gift Guide

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One | My husband is obsessed with his Fitbit. This is a must have for any fitness minded dad.

Two | This wood card is the coolest Father’s Day card I’ve seen

Three | My husband loves this deodorant, and it’s a great way to give dad a little luxury that won’t break the bank

Four | Instead of a cheesy mug, give him a mug that will keep his coffee hot

Five | This super cool portable camping stove converts to a pizza oven. I wouldn’t even mind keeping this on our patio all summer long!

Six | My husband loves all things Patagonia and these are the perfect summer shorts

Seven | My husband has and loves this drill

Eight | Another favorite item my husband owns! This little speaker can go literally anywhere (it’s waterproof too!).

Nine | AirPods are sure to be a hit

Ten | My husband is super into having a smart home and this little gadget can control everything from your lights, to thermostat, to the TV.

Eleven | Perfect for the dad who travels a lot and this high quality bag is also 40% off

Twelve | Everything from Kiehl’s is pretty great, and this all in one body wash/shampoo has rave reviews

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Sliding Into Summer

After nearly 3 months in the hospital, Evan is finally home!!! While we continue to work on recovery with outpatient rehabilitation 4 days a week, we are making sure to leave some free time for some summer fun. As we are still observing social distancing, (and public pools are closed anyway) we have to bring the fun to us at home. This is definitely going to be a different and much more challenging summer, but I’m determined to still create fun memories for the kids and provide lots of stimulation for Evan to help facilitate his recovery progress. The other day we had record high temperatures, so we set up our slip n slide and had a fun afternoon enjoying the sunshine.

Slip N Slide Essentials

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Young Warrior

Young Warrior

March 3rd was just a normal day. Evan and I ran errands, picked Cole up from school, had dinner together, and were getting ready to go to Taekwondo. And in an instant our lives were changed forever. Evan started screaming in pain holding his head and became very weak & nauseous. I immediately knew it was a neurological emergency and I threw both kids in the car and raced towards the emergency room. Cole and I were screaming and crying begging Evan to hold on as he lost consciousness. When we arrived at the ER I told them that Evan was having a stroke. The ER doctor told me that it was “highly unlikely” but proceeded to take him for a CT scan which confirmed my hunch. He had a large bleed on his brain & I truly thought we were going to have to say goodbye right there in the ER. But moments later, in walked Dr Jutzy (one of Evans Pediatric Neurosurgeons) who smiled at me and said, “I think we can do something here.” Evan was rushed to emergency surgery to place a drain in his head, and Dr Jutzy’s words gave me the glimmer of hope I needed to endure what was to come.

E4336D0B-20D9-46D0-BE03-45D1E439434BMarch 5th – 2 days after his brain injury

For over 3 weeks after, Evan faced a battle that most people will be lucky enough to never experience. Evan was diagnosed with an AVM, a rare congenital blood vessel abnormality on the brain. People can actually have these their entire lives, and may or may not ever cause a problem. In Evan’s case, he developed an aneurysm which ruptured and bled. It was a constant battle in those weeks to try to stabilize him and treat the aneurysm. Not only did an attempted angiogram to try to treat the aneurysm fail, he suffered respiratory distress from a mucous plug and a code blue was called. He had to have an emergency bronchoscopy to save his life again. He then developed severe vasospasms in the vessels in his brain which caused additional strokes, and had to have a second emergency angiogram to attempt to open the vessels. This was followed by trips to CT every other day, and as he was so unstable he went with a team of 2 RTs, 2 RNs & occasionally a doctor, to continue to evaluate the vasospasms to make sure they weren’t returning. To treat the strokes, he was intentionally fluid overloaded to perfuse the brain as much as possible – which also caused horrible swelling making him completely unrecognizable. The pressure in his head was so high he continued to need to be put in a deeper and deeper coma with the aid of barbiturates and paralytics. There were a lot of long nights with 4-5 nurses and a doctor in his room fighting to stabilize him while all I could do was sit there and shake. There was talk of not being able to extubate him and potentially needing a tracheotomy. I tried so hard to hang onto hope, but it was obvious the situation was incredibly dire and we were going to need a miracle.

And by the grace of God, we began to witness a miracle unfold. On March 28th we crossed our fingers and extubated him. He started breathing and opening his eyes. Over the following week, his breathing remained labored, but he continued to wake up more and more. He eventually started following commands, smiling at us, and moving his extremities. And our biggest miracle was yet to come.

909E815C-C23C-4E72-A758-F1BE73E296CAApril 11th – our last day in PICU just prior to transferring to the Pediatric unit

On April 16th, a 3rd angiogram was performed in another attempt to embolize the aneurysm in Evan’s brain. Once an aneurysm has bled, it has a very high risk of bleeding again and every single day it felt like we were sitting on a ticking time bomb. When Evan went back to surgery, I kissed him goodbye and said a prayer for peace and surrender – trusting that God would see us through. The mood had been somber with Evan’s doctors that morning. After the last failed attempt, we all knew that there was a high probability that it could fail again.

9D409D1D-D2C3-4950-AB88-DB6D841713F8An image of the AVM

After waiting about 4 hours while Evan was back in surgery, our interventional radiologist Dr Bell came to the waiting room and told me he had some news. Not only did they successfully embolize the aneurysm, they got the AVM too. This wasn’t even something we had thought was going to be possible and had just hoped the aneurysm would be stabilized. We had been planning to pursue radiation treatments in the coming months to treat the AVM and there was no discussion of embolization even being an option. Covid be damned because I hugged Dr Bell as hard as I could and sobbed happy tears – and I hear there was a whole lot of high fiving and cheers happening in the angio suite too!!! We are so thankful to Evan’s incredibly skilled doctors (Dr Bell, Dr Perl, Dr Cherny, Dr Zouros, and Dr Jutzy) who didn’t give up on this incredible challenge. And so grateful to God for making a way. We witnessed a true miracle that day.

img_3243After his angiogram on April 16th. “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24

I’ve always known how special Evan is…and in this very trying time he has touched the hearts of so many. We had a string of surgical staff coming to the recovery room after Evan’s angiogram, who had heard Evan’s story and had been waiting weeks for this day with their fingers crossed for us. People we had never met were congratulating us & just giddy with excitement. After his procedure we were sent back to PICU for observation, and all of our PICU family was just as excited as we were! They said they had been calling down the whole time trying to get updates. His anesthesiologist began to tear up and told me that she’s been following us very close since she first met us in the ER the night of Evan’s emergency surgery, because her own 3 year old nephew was lost in a horrible tragedy about the same time we were admitted. Seeing Evan hang on and continue to get better had brought her some joy in this time of her own personal grief. I still think of her often, and I pray for comfort and peace for her and her family.

E9F3531A-DE3F-4365-9DD5-C12E3E991468April 21st – Evan’s first day of inpatient rehab

We are currently at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City undergoing inpatient rehab. Evan has a long, challenging road ahead. He is having to relearn everything – from speaking, to eating, to walking. He has to rebuild his strength completely as even just sitting up independently is a challenge for him. Despite the difficult days here, Evan continues to make huge strides every day. He works his body and mind to the point of complete exhaustion, all with a smile on his face. Every day I am more and more in awe of his incredible strength and resilience. Evan’s name in Welsh means “God has been gracious” and in Celtic it means “young warrior.” Our young warrior is fighting hard and God is watching over him every step of the way.

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Working so hard to regain strength! April 30th

During this time of great uncertainty in the world, we have seen that God still performs miracles. We are witnessing one unfold and I’m so incredibly grateful. God also sends his helpers, and boy…were we blessed with the presence of true angels. People who were strangers to us 2 months ago, are now our family. I can’t express the love and gratitude we have for the heroes at St Lukes Children’s Hospital in Boise. Not only did they expertly care for Evan saving his life over and over, they loved him like their own. They cried with us on the bad days and cheered with us on the good days. They surrounded Evan and stood in prayer at his bedside with us. They were just as giddy as we were seeing him make such huge improvements, and as one of his RT’s said, “he’s our miracle boy.” To his neurosurgeons, ICU doctors, rehab doctors, RNs, PTs, OTs, STs, RTs, CNAs, chaplains, child life specialists, social workers…you are all heroes. We’ve had the added aspect of facing a global pandemic during our time in the hospital, and the courage and sacrifice of our healthcare workers continuing to carry on despite their personal risk and fears is truly heroism. Thank you all and we love and appreciate you more than we can ever say.

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Saying goodbye to a few of the incredible PICU doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists that saved Evan’s life before leaving for rehab

We all think that something like this will never happen. But life can be inherently cruel and unfair, and I now fully realize how fragile it is. Tomorrow is never promised and your life can be shattered in an instant. Don’t take any moments for granted. Hug and kiss your kids constantly. Don’t wait until tomorrow to spend time with them. Let them sleep with you, play with them, find joy in every day. All the little things you are annoyed with or bothered by day to day…realize that those moments are actually a blessing. Most problems in life really are trivial. When you are sitting in an ICU praying for your child to live, you truly realize that what you thought were tough days, are in fact a gift. Embrace them. And no matter what trials you may be faced with…don’t lose hope. Your miracle may be just around the corner.

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“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” Job 5:9 

Valentines Gifts For The Kids

Valentine’s Day around our house is typically a family affair where we do a gift exchange for everyone in the family and share a fun dinner together. We typically keep gifts minimal, but I do like gifting my boys each a small basket filled with things like bath bombs, small toys/games, books, and candies. Today I wanted to share a few fun ideas for Valentine’s gifts for the littles!

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One :: For the kiddo that’s too cool for something sappy

Two :: I’m pretty sure every kid loves slime and this glitter kit looks really fun

Three :: Every girl I know loves making bracelets

Four :: This non-toxic nail polish set is perfect for little piggies

Five :: I love this sweet little hooded towel

Six :: Evan got this watch for Christmas and he loves it

Seven :: A special way to tell your kiddo all the ways you love them

Eight :: Dylan’s candy bar has the cutest candy for special occasions

Nine :: This organic cotton onesie is perfect for your littlest valentine

Ten :: This smart phone controlled paper airplane kit is a super fun way to deliver a valentine

Eleven :: A mommy and me set of trendy heart shaped sunglasses would be so fun

Twelve :: Perfect chocolate treat for the gamer

Thirteen :: My boys are getting whoopie cushions in their valentines baskets, which I know they will get a kick out of

Fourteen :: My kiddos love kinetic sand, and this is a really cute set

Fifteen :: When I picked Evan up from preschool the other day his teacher was reading this to the class, and Ev was loving it so much he kept scooting closer and closer. Such a cute book!

Sixteen :: This rose scented thinking putty is great for helping kids relax and focus

Seventeen :: The heart shaped pocket is a sweet touch on this tee

Eighteen :: Perfect for the crafty kid

Nineteen :: Every lego lover needs this in their collection

Twenty :: Literally the sweetest little shoes

Twenty One :: Channel his inner cupid with this fun bow and arrow set

Twenty Two :: Your little one can love on their very own rescue pet

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Evan’s Minecraft 5th Birthday Party

This past week (January 20, 2020 to be exact!) my sweet little Evan turned five. FIVE. I still can’t really believe it. He still feels like my little baby and part of me really can’t handle it. But it is so fun seeing the little person he is becoming and I love his big personality and his very strong opinions. And this very strong willed kiddo really wanted a Minecraft themed birthday to celebrate this year…and what the birthday boy wants the birthday boy gets!

We had his birthday party at a local trampoline park and celebrated with a few of his favorite friends from school, along with some family friends. It was such a special day and so much fun was had by all. The kids especially loved the Minecraft themed candy bar, and they each got to fill up a little bag to take home with them as well.

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Party Supply Sources

Lunch Plates

Dessert Plates

Lunch Napkins

Beverage Napkins

Minecraft Birthday Banner

Minecraft Birthday Backdrop

Minecraft Party Favors and Axe Glow Wand

Party Bags (I drew the creeper image on with a sharpie!)

Cake Topper

Party Hats (similar)

Galvanized Tray

Candy Bar: Iron, Diamonds, Coal, Gold, Watermelon, Fish

Food Labels via Printabelle

Cake by Albertsons Bakery

This little guy is so many things…sweet and sassy, feisty and funny, imaginative, creative, and sensitive. Everything he does is BIG – yes he has a big temper, but the he also loves with such intensity and it completely melts me. He really is just something special and having him in our lives is such a blessing. Love you my little man!

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Self Care For Busy Moms

For week 3 of my wellness series, I wanted to talk about something that I feel is so important for all moms – that we don’t focus on enough! While we are always busy taking care of everyone else, we often let our own self care go by the wayside. But just like we are told on an airplane – in order to help anyone else you really need to put your own oxygen mask on first. Today I wanted to discuss some tips for making sure you are prioritizing your own well being and giving yourself the care you need.

Make time for exercise

When I had my first son, I quickly realized that finding time to work out was a challenge. If I waited for my husband to get home from work, I was often too tired to go to the gym that late, and early morning workouts after being up with a baby felt impossible. I realized that finding exercise that I could incorporate into my schedule and include my baby made things a whole lot easier! I bought a jogging stroller and began going for runs during his nap time (he slept while I ran), and I also started doing mommy and me swim classes and yoga classes. Now that my kids are a bit older, we can do family bike rides, kick a soccer ball around together, or take a family walk or hike. With a little flexibility it is possible to find a way to make regular exercise happen.

Touch base regularly with friends

One thing that isn’t talked about enough, is how isolating motherhood can be. We can all easily get trapped in our own little bubble of family life, but it is really important to reach out for support and adult conversation. It can be hard to find time to talk on the phone, so mom friends and I will often connect by text and just share funny things or vent when needed. It makes it easier to keep in touch over text when you are juggling kids. And try to get out once in awhile too! Even a weekly coffee date/play date with the kids really can be that little break we all need.

Prioritize sleep

When my kids go to bed, I often feel really tired and ready to go to bed myself. But I love this little bit of time to myself so I often stay up way too late – and then of course pay for it the next day. (I think so many moms can relate to this struggle!) Getting adequate sleep is so crucial, and I think it’s important to set a structured bedtime for yourself and make it a priority to get the sleep you need.

Treat yourself to something new

I think it is so easy for moms to stop doing things for themselves and everything becomes about the kids. I know moms who say they haven’t bought themselves anything new in years! Motherhood is often a thankless job, and it’s important to reward yourself from time to time for a job well done. If you find it hard to go shopping for yourself, consider joining a subscription service for something you love (I personally love my Fab Fit Fun subscription!) so that you are forced to get a little treat every now and then. Even just buying yourself a pretty bouquet at the market or treating yourself to that latte at the coffee shop, can really brighten your day! And you deserve it!

Nourish your body

You know how you get busy preparing meals for the kids, and then you end up eating their leftover Mac and cheese when you realize hours later you haven’t fed yourself?! Yep. We’ve all been there. Make sure you are finding time to sit and eat meals (standing in the pantry shoving a few goldfish in your mouth doesn’t count) that are healthy. Have some easy staples on hand – things like overnight oats, egg/veggie casseroles, soups, whole grain bread with lunch meat, Greek yogurts – are all nutritious and can be whipped up into a quick meal in minutes.

Pamper yourself

It can be really easy to stop going to the hair salon or getting your nails done, but having this bit of time for yourself is so important! Even if you feel you absolutely can’t get away to the salon for a few hours, make it a habit to spend 20 minutes a day taking a relaxing bath or developing a nightly skincare routine.

Learn something new

I didn’t realize how much I would feel a loss of my personal identity after I had my first son. Overnight I became a stay at home mom and all of my career ambitions and personal goals really took a backseat. I really started to feel that I needed something for me…and so I took up a few hobbies that I still do to this day! One was running, and while I don’t do as many races as I once did, I still enjoy regularly running 3-4 days a week. And I always had an interest in photography, and finally bought a camera and took some classes. Photography is something I absolutely love and is a huge creative outlet for me.

Ask for help

Nobody, I repeat nobody, can do it all. We all need help from time to time and it truly takes a village. While I have never had a nanny or had any help with the kids from family, I did come to realize that I needed some help. Years ago we hired a housekeeper who comes once a week to help out and I can’t tell you how helpful this is for me. While it’s just a few hours of help for me each week, it really helps me stay on top of the housework the rest of the week and frees up hours of cleaning time so we can enjoy time as a family instead. Whether you hire some help or simply ask your partner, friends, or family for some help from time to time – make sure you get the help you need.

Avoid the comparison trap

With the rise of social media, I feel that this one has become even tricker. Also there is so much societal pressure on women to be able to do it all, and it can be so hard to be constantly seeing images of perfect appearing women appearing to be perfect mothers, wives, employees, etc. The truth is – we are only seeing the highlight reel of anyone else’s life. Even if you feel that everyone else seems to have it all figured out, I can promise you that everyone is struggling with something. I have a very difficult relationship with my family and have now been estranged from them for several years, and it is hard to constantly see women sharing their supportive relationships with their mothers and the grandparent relationships their kids have with their parents. I even admit to feeling envious of my own friends sometimes when their mothers are so involved and jumping to babysit and doting on their grandkids. I have found a few things that help me when I’m really struggling with this and really hurting. One is to practice gratitude. I know that I have SO much to be grateful for and while I may not have been blessed with loving and supportive parents, I am incredibly blessed to have built my own loving and supportive family. And the other thing that really helps – is to unplug when I have to. If I’m seeing something on social media that is a sensitive spot for me – it’s easy to unfollow. I especially avoid social media a lot around Mother’s Day as it’s a very bittersweet day for me. If something (or someone) is making you feel bad – it’s okay to disconnect.

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