Monthly Archives: May 2011

Cobbler

I’m not even sure this recipe is reproducible, but I am going to try my best to explain what I did and hopefully that will be enough for you to attempt it.

We had a barbecue potluck to attend for our community group and I had a bunch of random fruit from our CSA and the farmer’s market that I needed to use up. Cobbler just goes with summer and barbecues to me.

So at first I wasn’t sure whether to do a cobbler or a crisp, but I finally settled on cobbler because I wanted something more doughy and we’d had a crisp that someone made the week before.

I started looking up cobbler recipes and figured out that cobbler is basically just marinated fruit with biscuit dough on top baked in the oven.

Those that have read my blog for a bit know that the best biscuits ever are my friend Cara’s family recipe. So, hello, why would I even try any other biscuit dough recipe? Not happening.

You may also remember that some time after Cara posted her recipe, I adapted it into a scone recipe. I was thinking a sweetened biscuit might be better on top of the fruit in this case.

So here is what I did:

Fruit base:
-3 or 4 peaches or nectarines (I think I had 1 nectarine and 3 peaches), chopped
-1 Asian pear, peeled, cored and chopped
-1 small package blueberries
-4 or 5 large strawberries, chopped
-a couple handfuls of Rainier cherries, pitted and chopped

I don’t think it honestly matters what combination of fruit you use. Use what you have and what is in season. In all I had about 6-8 cups of chopped fruit.

I decided to chop all my fruit the day before mostly because it was close to being at its end and I wasn’t sure it would make it to the next day sitting out. Plus, Sundays I always seem to never have enough time and I was trying to get part of it done ahead of time.

After I chopped it, I mixed it with about 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp TJs pumpkin pie spice (LOVE that stuff), and the juice of one grapefruit that we got a couple CSA boxes ago and also needed to be used. I covered it up and stuck it in the fridge overnight.

The next day I poured the fruit and all the juices out in a baking dish and sprinkled some whole wheat flour over the top (about 1 tbsp) then used a spoon to mix it in.

Next up was the biscuit topping. I decided to follow along more my scone ingredients than the original biscuit recipe ingredients so it would be sweeter.

So changes to the scone recipe were that I only used whole wheat flour (so two cups) because that’s all I had, I used 1/2 cup of sugar instead of a full cup, no dried fruit, and I was out of milk, but I did have some homemade apricot yogurt so I used that.

After working out the dough into the flakey layers I cut as you would for biscuits or scones and layered the cuts over the top of fruit in the baking dish, overlapping slightly.

I preheated my oven to 400 and the baked for 20 minutes.

Hello puffy flakey cobbler goodness.

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Episkey

10 points to the house that can correctly identify the reference of the title of this post.

If I’ve lost you, don’t worry, I am going to speak English and come back to this world pretty quickly.

Inspired by Davi’s post going over her adventures in homeopathy and by her urging, I decided I would delve into our journey into the same world.

It’s obviously no secret that I tend to do things a little differently, like having babies at home and making my own diaper rash spray. My journey into natural home remedies and homeopathy has been somewhat slow, but I am getting more and more confident lately with trying out different things for the various things that ail our family. As I said in the diaper rash spray post, the introduction to my new book on the subject really inspired me when it pointed out that up until fairly recently most ailments were treated at home with ingredients found in the garden or pantry and there was at least one person in every family with a fairly good knowledge of healing.

I guess the first toe dip into homeopathy for us was when I started using Hyland’s teething tabs as a first and majority of the time responder to teething difficulties with my kids (when is the recall going to be over, by the way? Waaah I miss those things!).

The next time was when our pediatrician at the time mentioned she had been doing a lot of research on the subject and started explaining some of the principles of it to me during our visit. She also gave us a handout that she made up for immune support before, during and after vaccinations. I was slightly skeptical, but I have seriously noticed such a difference in the way our kids respond to vaccines since implementing the stuff in the handout. There have been a few times when I forgot or didn’t realize the kids would be getting a vaccine at the appointment and noticed their reactions to be much more dramatic as well. So it isn’t just a matter of them getting older and handling things better.

So for vaccine immune support this is what we do (the handout sites Dr. Sears’ The Vaccine Book and Dr. Lauren Feder’s The Parents’ Concise Guide to Childhood Vaccinations as the source):

-Being really diligent about the kids taking their vitamins the week before and after getting shots. Sometimes I forget on a day-to-day basis, but if I know they have an appointment coming up I will set the alarm in my phone to remind me if I have to. The two pointed out as being most important on the handout are Vitamin A and C. I have our kids on a cornucopia of gummy vitamins though which pretty much covers both those. Our kids take: Omega 3 Sea (fish oil), a multi-vitamin, a calcium (though now that the kids are back to eating dairy I will probably eliminate this one next time we run out), a D3, an immunity one (Vitamin C, Zinc and Echinacea), and probiotic chewable tabs. I know, I know, that probably seems like overkill.
-Ledum palustre 30C (for puncture wounds): 1 hour before the shot and then two more doses every 12 hours
-Arnica montana 30C (for local swelling, bruising and soreness): Twice a day for two days following the shot
-Thuja occidentalis 30C (for vaccine side effects): Twice a day for three days following the shot
-Chamomilla 30C (for fussiness following the shot): As needed

So this is really what started to inspire me to start looking into other “cures” and remedies. Another thing was that a lot of the “drugs” for infants’ and toddlers’ colds, coughs, etc. have pretty much been taken off the market. Which leaves not a whole lot of options when you have a sick toddler or infant except to run to the pediatrician that will likely just prescribe an antibiotic. I really, really think antibiotics are way over-prescribed so I try to avoid them as much as possible unless I feel like we absolutely need it. But when you have a miserable babe on your hands you need some help.

The advent of modern medicine, together with its many miracles, also led to a much greater dependency on our physicians and to an increasingly stretched healthcare system. The growth of the pharmaceutical industry has meant that there are indeed “cures” for most symptoms, and we have become accustomed to putting our health in the hands of someone else, and to purchasing products that make us feel good. Somewhere along the line we began to believe that technology was in some way superior to what was natural, and so we willingly gave up control of even minor health problems.

So these are some of the homeopathic remedies we’ve tried for various colds and coughs:
-Hyland’s Sniffles ‘n Sneezes
-Pulsatilla 30C (for colds with thick yellow nasal discharge)
-Allium cepa 30C (allergic or viral runny nose)
-Kali sulphuricum 30C (colds with yellow nasal discharge)
-garlic oil drops (for ear infections)
-apple cider vinegar (helps thin out mucus): 2tbsp in 8oz warm water twice a day
-Boiron’s Chestal homeopathic cough syrup
-Elderberry syrup
-Sambucus homeopathic cough syrup

Like Davi pointed out in her post, I have noticed that sometimes you have to be a little more patient with the homeopathic remedies though. I do still use some of the things I used to for pain and sickness, but I also feel the homeopathic remedies help things out and we can avoid using the heavier “drugs” a lot of the time.

When we have something going on, I either head to the natural foods store that has the homeopathic vials and look at the chart for what goes with what or I look online. Now that I have my book I also will tend to find something online and then go get more “reliable” information from my book as well as see if there is anything else we can be doing.

Something else we use that was mentioned above is arnica montana for bruises. Having two toddlers, and clumsy ones at that, there are a lot of bumped heads, scraped knees etc. I usually just use Hyland’s Bumps ‘n Bruises with arnica in it.

Another area that homeopathy has helped out is with pregnancy. Being pregnant, I don’t really feel comfortable taking a bunch of stuff unless I have to. So the homeopathic remedies have been great for colds and things. I will admit that I still take an Advil here and there, I am still taking Unisom at night for morning sickness prevention (every time I try to wean myself off I feel so lousy, I still have not felt as sick as with the other two, but it is enough that I just can’t do anything really), and I also take Tums or Famotadine for really bad heartburn. So I am not anti-medicine. I just try natural or homeopathic remedies first if I can, especially since they have no side effects and are generally much safer.

During my first trimester when I did have some morning sickness I also used some homeopathic remedies to combat the yucks. I found a chart on the old site I frequented when I had the really bad (hyperemesis gravidarum) morning sickness with Bean. It was really helpful in narrowing down which ones to try based on my symptoms. The ones that I used were:

-ginger capsules
-nux vomica 30C
-sepia 30C
-pulsatilla 30C

But like I said, the chart breaks down various “types” of morning sickness and morning sickness symptoms. Every woman is different and the morning sickness can even be different day-to-day or throughout a day. So you should really look to the chart and see what fits you best, not just go off what worked for me.

Recent ailments in our household have included teething with Sprout which has produced acidic, runny bowel movements (BMs) that give him terrible diaper rash. You already know about my diaper rash spray, but I also have been giving him chamomile tea orally and that has helped things in the BM department. The book said it helps reduce the acidity of the BMs and firms them up and I have found that to definitely be the case in the last few days that I have been giving it to him. I also noticed that he is a bit less fussy and grumpy. We usually “cut” the kids’ juice in their sippy cups anyway, so instead of water I’ve been doing half juice, half chamomile tea that I brew a large batch of ahead of time and keep in a pitcher in the refrigerator.

The other ailment has to do with me. I had a bit of a scary episode yesterday, but part of it has been “normal” pregnancy stuff I’ve been experiencing for several weeks now and that I also experienced with my other two. I did some searching online to make sure I’m not weird and was glad to find out I’m not. When I get Braxton Hicks contractions I usually feel like I can’t breathe or that my breathing is constricted. I have to really, really concentrate on just my breathing and it takes a lot of effort. I have been getting more and more of these suckers lately. It’s super annoying when you feel like you really can’t do anything except lay around and breathe. Like this morning I was trying to mix up some oats and nuts for granola and I kept having to stop every few seconds, hunch over the counter with my belly hanging down and just breathe. I felt so pathetic and annoyed. I know I’m pregnant and everything, but I have a life to live and kids and a family to care for. I’m not just going to lay around my house all day. I have things to do. Not even super strenuous things, just the stuff of every day life.

So anyway, back to yesterday, I planned a playdate with a couple of friends that morning. I had been having my usual annoying Braxton Hicks that make me stop and breathe. I was resting a lot. Drinking a lot of water. But then Sprout needing a diaper change could not be put off any longer and I needed to get us ready for our playdate. I got upstairs and the Braxton Hicks turned into super monster contractions. It hurt soooo bad. All I could do is lay on my bed. Finally I was able to get back up in between and grab the house phone. I called Stephen’s cell (the only number I have memorized and my cell with all the numbers was back downstairs) over and over and over again until he finally picked up (he was on another call with a client and not near his cell, but someone else in the office noticed that it kept ringing). I told him what was happening and he came right home.

I started timing things and they were 1:30 long and 3 minutes apart and oh-so-painful. I could feel tugging at my cervix too which was really making me nervous. I called one of my midwives and she had me try taking some calcium and magnesium, a warm bath and more water and relaxing. Nothing changed. So she had me call into the backup OB’s office here in town and they wanted me to come in to have things checked out. An ultrasound showed no changes to my cervix and the fetal fibronectin test which tests to see if labor is imminent came back negative. He also prescribed something to stop the contractions. Everything calmed down and I just ended out the day pretty sore and tired.

Anyway, this morning the Braxton Hicks and the shortness of breath were back. I knew to take it easy, but I decided to see if there were any homeopathic or natural remedies that could help things out. I also felt like what I was experiencing this morning didn’t really warrant taking another of the pills. It definitely wasn’t of the caliber of yesterday’s bout in the slightest.

So I looked up homeopathic remedies for Braxton Hicks online, read a bunch of stuff there and then confirmed and got more information from my book. I made a tea of red raspberry leaf, ginger, and chamomile and then put in drops of a tincture called cramp bark. All of these things help to tone, calm and relax muscles with the red raspberry leaf and cramp bark having specific implications in the uterine muscles. It’s also supposed to help with menstrual cramping. I’ve definitely noticed less activity in the few hours since I drank it so I am a fan. One thing I did read said not to take the cramp bark for more than three days consecutively because it could cause nausea after that point. So hopefully I can just take it here and there as needed and not get the nausea.

Sorry there are no fun pictures to accompany this post. Anyway, I hope this is informative and helpful and maybe inspires you to try out some natural remedies with your family next time some minor illness or injury comes up.

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Two days without naps and a series of unlucky events

These two…

I love them to pieces. I want to hug them tight and hold onto the precious moments that slip away so quickly.

Even on days like today. Oh today.

Well, to be more accurate, this started yesterday when they decided not to nap. See, I thought I had solved the whole silly escapades and sibling giggle fest during nap times quite a awhile ago when I started having them nap in separate rooms. And then yesterday they discovered yelling from separate rooms. And the silly escapades were back on.

Bean would sing a silly song at the top of her lungs and Sprout would laugh. Then they’d both start laughing. Sprout would make some baby-type noise really loudly, Bean would copy it and they’d start laughing. She’d yell his name and they’d start laughing.

Numerous interventions and pleas for silence in nice and not-so-nice tones from me. And then it was 4pm with no nap in sight. I gave up and dragged both kids to the grocery store with me.

Bean is right at that age where she can sometimes be alright without a nap. But most of the time, it progresses like this: crazy, silly, hyper, out of control, completely unable to listen to anything asked of her, negotiating everything, arguing, angry when she doesn’t get her way, meltdown into tears, full on tantrum.

Sprout very much still needs to nap. He becomes an inconsolable crying mess if he doesn’t. He wanders around aimlessly just completely upset and unable to communicate except by crying.

So that was how yesterday mostly ended except that Bean moved back into the crazy sillies when my friends arrived for book club just before her early bed time.

Today it seemed things were headed in the same direction. After half an hour I decided that I would take action and not let this happen again for the second day in a row. I had a chiropractic appointment late this afternoon in Oxnard which is about a 20 minute drive away. I packed a book, loaded the kids into the car and started driving. My kids cannot resist the power over sleep that is the car. Or so I thought.

Oxnard comes and goes and they are both still awake. Bean repeatedly informs me, “I not tired, Mama, I awake.” So I keep driving. By Seacliff, Sprout is beginning to fuss. By Carpinteria he is in full blown cry. Bean is yelling at him to be quiet and “that’s enough Bubba” and I am telling her to worry about herself and not to yell at her brother. By Montecito I have decided that this isn’t working and pull off the freeway.

He won’t calm down. He’s in hysterics. Nothing is calming him down.

I buckle him back up and turn around. More crying. Angry grunts and screams. I make it back to Oxnard and decide that maybe we will just try the beach for a bit before my appointment.

I don’t know why, when I could see an extremely rough ocean and feel strong winds pushing my car during my drive, that I thought this would be a good idea. As soon as I get out of the car, sand is blasted into my face. So I get in the back with the doors shut and unbuckle the kids and tell them they can play in the van. I’ve run out of ideas and options.

Sprout is completely beside himself at this point. He’s clinging to me and screaming and flopping on my lap then getting up and taking a couple steps away and then back and more crying and clinging.

I call Stephen. There really is nothing he can do of course. He tells me to try a park instead of the beach. The entire Ventura basin is crazy windy though so I am not sure it would be much better.

I try the Peter Rabbit pop out book app to distract them. Bean is into it, Sprout kind of calms down.

And then even though we are parked right next to a bathroom and we’ve had no accidents and she’s been telling me and been taking care of getting to and doing bathroom stuff herself, Bean informs me from the very back of the van where she has discovered the bag of sand toys I keep for just in case beach trips that she just did a poo-poo in her undies. And that it stinks. And isn’t that so funny, Mama? Poo-poo! Poo-poo! Hahaha!

Except that, no, it isn’t funny when you realize that you have no wipes or extra undies or PullUps and a screaming one-year-old besides.

So with 45 minutes until my appointment and not knowing the area that well, I head to the one place I am sure of will have undies and wipes and that I actually know the whereabouts of: Walmart.

I hate Walmart. Hate it.

I am so glad there is not one in Thousand Oaks. Bakersfield had like four or five.

I realize I sound very stuck up and privileged right now.

I just hate Walmart.

Anyway, another lovely development as the story unfolds is that my gas light comes on as I am headed to what might as well be my personal hell. And to make matters worse the only gas stations I am seeing are Shell which I also hate.

I am sure other gas companies are not much better, but in college I watched a documentary in one of my political science classes all about Shell and how they destroyed African villages and used warlords and ugh!

So here I am basically being forced to patronize the a couple of the companies I hate the most.

Freaking corporations.

I decide only to get a couple gallons and not the full fill-up from the Shell station first. Not only do I save a bit of time before the appointment, I give less money to them.

Next up Walmart. In the same giant strip mall.

Oh and of course now Sprout finally decides to fall asleep. I try really hard to carry him and not wake him, but just as I am passing the cash registers upon entering the store my arm already feels like it will fall off and my belly is locked in a Braxton Hicks contraction so powerful, I can barely walk. Back to the carts and Sprout is awake.

I locate wipes and undies after managing to push down the feeling of being overwhelmed by such a huge place with so much junk.

I get in a line that seems fairly reasonable compared to the others. While waiting in this line another register opens up and I am urged to go into that line by store employees. I am now third in line. Except the cash register’s computer crashes while checking out the first person.

Also, I am now four minutes late to what I was hoping would be the one bright point of my day.

I call the office to apologize and say I am still on my way. They get the cash register going again.

People in line are getting on my nerves. Particularly those sharing their best how-to-be-an-alcoholic tips and getting excited about the price of tequila here in Wally-world.

Ew! I just want out of this place.

Finally, I get to pay and finally get back out to my car after a hold up by a gigantic family that set the security sensors off and nearly rioted over the greeter coming over to see their items and receipt to make sure it all checked out. I get Bean cleaned up in record time and then head to my chiropractor’s office only to be delayed even more by a train crossing.

My chiropractor just gives me a big hug and goes into spontaneous Charismatic/Evangelical prayer, which honestly is a little weird since we’ve never talked about faith/church/etc. But she’s like that and genuine so I just kind of sit there finally calming down and a little dumbfounded.

Then on the way home Bean finally decides to fall asleep. Which it’s time for dinner and I really can’t carry her anymore so I have to wake her. She’s grumpy about it.

Then during dinner Sprout busts into further hysterics over what we still are not sure about and gets so worked up that he hyperventilates, holds his breath and his lips turn purple and it is a big freak out moment and then he’s fine and yeah.

He was ready for bed. So I rocked him and he snuggled and hummed with me and finally that little body relaxed and let go.

And I still just want to wrap both of them up in my arms and hold them tight despite all that. And we’re going to have three of them soon! Which makes me wonder if my sanity should be called into question. Haha!

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The first ice cream cone is documented

I took the kids to Coastal Cone at the Ventura Harbor today to celebrate being free of food allergies. Bean and Sprout had fun eating and making a mess of their first ice cream cone.

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This face…

…is the face of my daughter this morning documenting the fact that we are allergy free.

The past couple weeks I’ve been letting the kids eat whatever, eat what we eat, sharing food with them when we go out to eat with a few more tightly controlled and closely watched experiments. The last of those experiments was this morning when I fed her French toast with real egg and bread.

We’ve had no reactions that I can tell.

I am so very happy. This makes my life so much easier. It’s one of the best days ever!

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Red Enchilada Sauce

So I bought some pre-Mexican-marinated chicken that I grilled up last night for tacos. We had a lot leftover, like we always do when I buy or cook anything. At the risk of Mexican food overload, I decided that tonight I wanted to make enchiladas with it using some of our CSA veg.

I also decided that I wanted to make enchilada sauce from scratch because a) the kind I usually buy from TJs has several ingredients I don’t recognize, b) I had a can of organic tomato sauce that I wanted to use up, c) I figured it probably couldn’t be THAT hard to make, and d) homemade always tastes better.

So a few friends sent me some ideas and I finally found a few recipes online (after getting the search terms right, most enchilada recipes that initially come up just call for canned sauce) that I looked at too. And then I decided to wing it like I always do.

Red Enchilada Sauce
-1 can organic tomato sauce
-2 cans broth (I buy mine in one of those 1 qt tetra box things or I make my own, so you can use the tomato sauce can to measure it out and as a bonus it will rinse out all the extra tomato sauce)
-1 onion, diced
-2 jalepenos, diced (got these from our garden, yay!)
-a few shakes of salt
-couple dashes paprika
-couple dashes cumin
-couple dashes chili powder
-few dashes oregano
-some oil

Heat oil in pan over medium heat then add onion and jalepeno. Sauté until onion is slightly translucent. Add spices, sauce and broth.

Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for a good bit. I did not do this because I was impatient. Big mistake. If the sauce is too hot, it will explode out of your blender. Let it cool!

After it cools down some, put it in your blender and blend until smooth. This will also help thicken it slightly.

Use as you normally would in your favorite enchilada recipe.

You can make it more or less spicy by adjusting the spices and the jalepenos.

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Diaper rash spray

I have no idea what is up with Sprout, but he has been having very classic teething symptoms.

Except that the kid has all his teeth already. I mean I guess he could be getting the two year molars early and considering the rate at which he acquires teeth this is entirely possible. But the molar area isn’t swollen.

Still, he’s extra emo, has a clear runny nose, is drooling and chewing on everything and he has what I call the teething fire poo which causes a diaper rash. It’s like as soon as the stuff touches his skin it starts melting it off.

I have a few different brands of diaper rash cream, including some of the “natural” brands like Earth’s Best. I just hate diaper rash cream. Not only is it bad for causing buildup on cloth diapers, but I kind of have issues with touching it and getting it on my hands. I don’t like my hands to feel sticky or creamy or gooey or oily or any of that. It is an issue. When preparing a meal, I generally wash my hands 50 bajillion times because of my slight phobia/discomfort with my hands feeling this way.

So anyway, after receiving a Barnes & Noble gift card for Mother’s Day from my dad, we took a trip there and I scored this book for just $9 in the bargain section:

I was super excited because I’ve been really wanting a reference book on natural home remedies and homeopaths. I usually look stuff up online, but sometimes it takes a lot of searching and then I don’t always feel super confident about the information or wind up trying a whole bunch of different things.

Anyway, based on what I read about diaper rashes and skin conditions, I came up with a DIY diaper rash spray. From what I’ve read I also think it would probably be good for treating other skin conditions like eczema and minor wounds or scratches.

We got a bunch of chamomile in our CSA box and after reading and browsing through the book I was so geeked out on ideas for it other than sitting pretty in a vase on my counter.

Diaper rash spray

Pour one tea kettle full of boiling water over 1 bunch fresh chamomile in a bowl. Cover and allow to steep 20 min.

Strain the liquid into another bowl.

Add 1tbsp apple cider vinegar, 20-30 drops tea tree oil and 20-30 drops lavender oil and mix together thoroughly.

Put mixture into a spray bottle. Freeze any extra and defrost later when needed.

Spray/mist on rash area and allow to dry before putting on new diaper.

The liquid will keep 3-4 days in a dark cool place.

Anyway, after just one application, Sprout’s bum looks almost new. That’s a huge improvement because it was actually blistered and even bleeding in a few spots. I know TMI and ouch!

I also tried it on a paper cut that Bean got. Only thing is that with my spray bottle I feel like the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. You know, “Put some Windex on it.” Haha!

Oh, and one more thing, I really loved this quote from the introduction of the book:

Until fairly recently, every family had a cornucopia of favorite home remedies–plants and household items that could be prepared to treat minor medical emergencies, or to prevent a common ailment becoming something much more serious. Most households had someone with a little understanding of home cures, and when knowledge fell short, or more serious illness took hold, the family physician or village healer would be called in for a consultation, and a treatment would be agreed upon. In those days we took personal responsibility for our health–we took steps to prevent illness and were more aware of our bodies and of changes in them. And when illness struck, we frequently had the personal means to remedy it. More often than not, the treatment could be found in the garden or the larder. In the middle of the twentieth century we began to change our outlook. The advent of modern medicine, together with its many miracles, also led to a much greater dependency on our physicians and to an increasingly stretched healthcare system. The growth of the pharmaceutical industry has meant that there are indeed “cures” for most symptoms, and we have become accustomed to putting our health in the hands of someone else, and to purchasing products that make us feel good. Somewhere along the line we began to believe that technology was in some way superior to what was natural, and so we willingly gave up control of even minor health problems.

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