Monday, August 30, 2010

So, maybe you're here because you randomly googled "yablonski floatsam and jetsom" and landed here. More likely, though, you passed by on a random is-she-writing-anything check and are you in luck! I'm writing something, because I have to keep writing things or I will stop writing things.

The thing is, it's hard to write things in present company.





Friday, August 27, 2010

You know what would be amazing? Seeing something for the first time. Seeing everything for the first time. Sometimes I watch my kids look at something and take it in, and I realize, everything is new. What a beautiful, intoxicating gift to give them the world.

Yesterday, we went to the Clifford Exhibit downtown. For those of you without cartoon cred, Clifford is a giant red dog, of PBS fame. The exhibit is basically a playroom, with the Dawg himself and his surroundings, super fun for the younger set. It was a good day, but one moment stands out. Toby was running ahead and glanced into the room. He turned around with the most brilliant smile... I swear, you couldn't pay for that kind of joy. I actually laughed out loud- it was such a heady feeling to see him understand.

Every day, they are blown away by the reality of something. A real butterfly. Why rocks in sunlight are hot. How seatbelts plug in. Electricity and music and sound and the sun and the moon. It's a new world!

And I, I am the lucky one who gets to sit through Creation over and over again as they learn. I could cry from happiness.

Some day soon, they will understand darker realities, pain and death and sorrow. Even those things have a strange, sweet beauty, a shared experience with humanity and with God himself.

Today, though, they are innocence.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I forage through the refrigerator, processing lunch options. Now that R2's gone back to school, it seems easier. He's the big eater around here. These characters here are not picky. One day I put slices of lunch meat and cheese in a circle around some crackers and called it a sun. For days, I got complaints every time I didn't serve that.

They're pretty reasonable, too. Today, I recycled some leftover something or other Han had left in the fridge after a date at Cheesecake Factory. It had mushrooms and meat, maybe meatloaf? and mashed potatoes. Toby took one look.

"I don't like that." he said firmly.
"What don't you like?" I asked him.
"Well, what is it?"
"It's meat, and mushrooms and veggies. You love it."
"Well, I don't think I like mushrooms..."
"Oh, you do. You love them."
reluctantly, "Okay..."

Then he eats it all. So far, the Force is working.

I do the same thing to Brynn. Toby comes up with these specific orders, like no jelly on his sandwich, and his grapes on this side, and cut it this way, and Bean says, yeah, that's what she wants, too. So I ask her if she wants jelly on her bread and normal grapes and so on, and she agrees cheerfully. We do it my way. This ain't Burger King, unless you're Toby and your argument makes some sense.

I am the boss. I am, I am I am. Right? 

In other news, we have just over a month left on the matching grant. I am sending out letters this week, hopefully. I would like to send you a letter, anonymous blog reader. If you would like to receive said letter, email me your address. Gratzi. 

It's basically this- your donation will be matched, i.e. doubled if you mail it to this grant organization between now and September 30th. Doubled donations go to our adoption fund, c/o our agency. Mail donation checks (nothing is too small!) to : 

Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.
Richy and Jessica Clark
18524 Juniper Street Gardner, KS 66030-9147 

DON’T write our names on the check anywhere, for tax reasons. DO write our names on the envelope. Donations are tax-deductible. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ask me a question, any question, and I will probably answer, "I don't know yet." All right, LITERALISTS, I mean a general question about my future, my home, my future children, financial prospects and direction in general. I don't know yet.

R2 is settling in at school, but I'm not loving what I've seen so far in my brief trips up there. More research needed. In other words, I don't know yet.

We are tentatively exploring (as quickly as possible) if we qualify to take a mortgage loan to buy this house. Don't know yet.

Baby. Don't know yet. (I am speaking of adoption, I know I'm not pregnant. So, there's one I know)

Money. Hee hee hee. I expect a lot of bills to be paid with royalties 10 years from now. Until then, I don't know yet.

Texas, Missouri, Radiant's immediate plans. Don't know.

Blah blah blah blah. I tell you one thing, I know I'm eating some BlueBell tonight. I'm having a Coke Zero with dinner, to balance the calories, see? It's a health thing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I never really planned on having a daughter. Shoot, I never planned kids at all, they just were very exciting surprises, every time. But you know, back when I was playing MASH and planning my dream house in 7th grade, I thought I would probably be a boy mom. That is, the mom of boys.

When I had a girl, I planned to use moderation, and try to gently steer her away from things that would make me sweat, like anything involving outdoors. So far, so good. She, on her own, showed an early preference for pink and tiaras, and except for making skunks ride in her Barbie Corvette, has pretty much toed the Girly Line along the way here. I try to encourage them to be whatever they want to be, and if that's a fairy butterfly princess today, fine with me. If it's President tomorrow, great. I've been planning that for a long time.

Lately, she has been looking at me like I'm a hero. You know, with the upturned lashes and the awe and such. And I am falling for it, bigtime. I mean, I always loved my baby. Now, though, it's something new and special, realizing that she is a girl, like me, and that we share something so sweet. I'm also realizing my responsibility to model womanhood, and motherhood and femininity and the whole package to her.

Some of you are probably gagging on all this sweetness and light. Give me time. I'll write something dark and moody soon, I'm sure.

I'm just geeking on the girliness. Can't get enough. I know it might end, and she will start picking hiking boots and wanting to play hockey. But for now, my little princess and I will enjoy this. I will teach her, in time, to be strong and smart and brave and independent. And sparkly and silly and pretty, too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Note: you might not want to read this if you are violently opposed to immunizations, because it might make you hate me and send me death threats written in henna on burlap paper. And really, you like me. So let's just keep it friendly. 

I wrote a while back about another time my little kids got shots.  You should read it, since I think it's fairly entertaining. Anyway, I delayed their immunizations until last year and we've been working through them. 

Anyway, Toby has known for a few days that this was coming. He keeps a pretty close eye on the schedule in general. So this morning, he knew it was Thursday and proceeded to work Brynn into a total frenzy before 8 in the morning. After panicking for a while, I convinced her to eat her oatmeal, which she did VERY slowly, and then poured her water bottle in her oatmeal bowl, screaming, "I'm still eating! I'm still eating!" until I came and dragged her away and held her down to get dressed and restrain her hair and such. 

The drive and the time in the waiting room were pretty happy, since they love to run around waiting rooms, inviting as many sick children as possible to breathe on them and other practical things, like licking the walls or getting stuff out of the trash can. Once we made it back to the room, the tension started to build. Toby was first up, and he changed his mind. "Never mind!" he says. "I decided I don't want any ice cream! I don't Want to DO THIS." The medical establishment and I pressed on, and after like 1 second he was negotiating which flavor of ice cream he really wanted. 

That moment of screaming, though, had done Brynn in. She was hiding under the chairs, giant puppy dog eyes and all. Lucky for us the nurse had not prepared her stuff, so I had 5 minutes to calm Brynn down. Toby got in on it too. "See, Brynn?" he says. "I'm FINE. I'm gonna have ICE CREAM." and so on, but she wasn't having it. She did NOT want any ice cream, and she did NOT want a shot. Again, society won.

I held her arms while she screamed at the nurse, "THIS is not my favorite! This is NOT my favorite!" There is not a much worse feeling than looking in your kid's face while they're scared... anyway, as soon as it was over, there was some excitement about the band-aids, and then they both loudly celebrated the next step, which was ice cream at McDonald's. At 10 in the morning. And yes, I did explain to EVERY senior citizen who walked by and looked at them. Toby and Bean boast a pretty large senior fan club everywhere they go, and I didn't want their rep damaged. Or something. 

Whew. Glad that's over. Until tomorrow, when the MOG and I will have to take R2 to the pedi to get labs drawn, which will be a mega-ordeal. Man, I just talked myself out of my relief. Nuts. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's 10 pm at Children's Mercy, and there are two of us in the elevator. It doesn't take more than a glance to know we share membership in the fellowship of mothers with really sick kids. She carries the weight under her eyes, so either it's pretty new or it's gotten worse. I'm an old hand, 31 with the posture of a 50 year old. I have been finding vending machines in hospitals for over 11 years now.

She wears socks with sandals. It's not so much a fashion statement as a necessity. She will slip into a dark, cold room and sit tentatively in a vinyl recliner until the beeping is consistent and her child's breathing settles into a pattern. When all is calm, or as calm as it will be, she'll slip the sandals back on her cold feet and slip quietly out, to find food or to make a phone call. 

Tonight, I'm the lucky one. We're here for something routine, fairly non-invasive, and he's healthy, all things considered. She carries the heaviness of a child's fear. I don't have to say anything, because our eyes meet and I understand and she understands. It hurts and it's beyond exhausting, and you can't know it if you haven't walked it. I know stepping out for a grilled cheese sandwich could suddenly, shockingly be goodbye, and so does she. 

We are mothers, and we will wait quietly for the bleeding to stop, for the crisis to end. We will find reserves of strength we never knew existed as we fight for our children. We will put them in the car and take them home with a surprised kind of joy, every time. We will be so, so thankful for today.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Disclaimer: I'm through selling shirts for the time being. I am not done fundraising, however. We still need multiple thousands of dollars. So here's the new news, which is GREAT! Read it, and re-tweet and repost and mail and email it around. This matching grant only runs until September 30th. I will be talking it up, not daily, but you know, a lot, until then.

As most of you know, we are in the process of adopting a baby. We’ve been working on the adoption process since February, and fundraising for several months now. We expect the total remaining cost of our adoption to be approximately $10,000. This is significantly lower than normal, since we’ve been blessed to work with Hannah’s Dream Adoptions.

We are so excited to say that we’ve been awarded a matching grant fund! (I hope the next exciting news I have is a baby!) The grant fund is a little complicated to explain, so let me sum up.

The Hand in Hand foundation will match your donations, up to our $2500 limit. So if you, our friends and family and curious onlookers, give donation of $25, they'll give us $50, etc. If your combined donations are $2500, they will match that and give $5000 to our adoption agency, to be used toward our costs. 

I’ll give the more detailed info below, but basically you mail the donation to them, made out to them, with our name included on the envelope. They pool donations and give the total matched amount after 9/30.

More detailed information:

The grant foundation is Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc., a non-profit private operating foundation. Hand in Hand will match any funds that are donated through our friends and family for the expenses of our adoption. All funds received through our friends and family will be matched dollar for dollar by Hand in Hand up to our awarded grant amount. All donations are tax-deductible.

You can find out more about Hand in Hand through their website at You may also contact Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc. with any questions you may have. They can be reached at 913-248-5015 or by e-mail at

The way you can give to us, through them is by sending all donations made payable to “Hand in Hand Christian Adoption” before September 30, 2010 to: (for tax purposes please include our name on the outside of the envelope only…do not put our name on the check itself)

Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.
Richy and Jessica Clark
18524 Juniper Street Gardner, KS 66030-9147

Thanks so much for reading and praying with us. We hope you will consider being a part of helping us bring a child home.

Richy and Jess

Monday, August 16, 2010

I've been shacking up with my house. In fact, I've shacked up with every house I've ever lived in. In the olden days, it was because I was being raised by gypsies, and now it's because... I'm a gypsy. Of sorts.

Today, the owner of this house offered to sell it to us at a pretty good price. That makes our options: a)make an honest woman of her and take out a massive loan and learn about mortgages or b) go find another house to shack up with, which is proving difficult. I imagine it's similar to when a man tries to find a new quality woman to move in with. The caliber of female lining up for a shack-up is questionable at best. No offense to any of my friends who are shacking up. But hey! while we're on the subject, maybe you should get married.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is I think this ultimatum is making me look a little harder at this house. It's fine for a rental, but do I really want to commit to it? I mean, I hate the kitchen. And there are all kinds of promises floating around the stratosphere, from landlords and husbands, about new windows and breaking out walls and painting things, but when it's all signed, landlords will be living in an RV in Alaska and husbands will be out rocking their ax for Jesus. You see my dilemma. Well, one of my dilemmas.

People buy houses all the time. They buy them and they sell them. It really isn't the same as marriage. I know that. It's just incredibly intimidating to me to think of purchasing a house. That, to me, is all like, then that means I will live in Missouri forever and my grandkids will make fun of Texas, like idiots. My grandchildren will be idiots.

And I want to move back to Texas. Not right this minute, but you know, eventually. So it's just blowing up my brain a little and coincidentally, blowing up my entire body, because I'm stress-eating.

In other news, I am closing orders on adoption shirts tonight, maybe forever. I mean, if someone decides they want to buy one in the future, I will put their order in a kind of shirt-order purgatory until I have like, 10 in there and then place the order. Consider this the end, though. So go buy some and contribute to Mystery Baby Clark's adoption fund, and also get a ROCKING shirt.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The bus was 10 minutes early today. Lucky for them and the schoolboy, I am obsessive about anything that has a scheduled time and was up much earlier than I had to be, making my child into the image of all his classmates, and all the other kids in this district. I tell you, there is something creepy about kids in uniforms. It's like the perfect intro to a music video with zombies or something.  And I should l know, since I spent my whole childhood encased in white oxford shirts and yards and yards of pleated plaid. I don't think they could make Catherine Zeta-Jones look good in one of those monstrosities. Plaid with pleats. It had to be thought up in some sadistic gulag-planning committee. Or something. Exhibit A: 
I get it, okay? This is so all kids look equally bad and the poor/ugly/fat kids are less likely to be bullied for wearing poor/ugly/fat clothes. News flash, administrators of America. That's not really working. When I put my special needs kid with glasses in a pair of khaki slacks and a polo shirt, he looks even MORE special. Let me send him to school in a guitar shirt and some ripped jeans and the guy has a fighting chance to be ignored... 

It's nice to not think about what he has to wear every day, except the panic of did-that-stuff-even-go-into-the-dryer panic, but man. I just don't know. This whole army of look-alikes weirds me out. 

I wasn't even going to talk about this today. I was going to talk about homeschooling Toby, and his obsessive erasing and total meltdown when I took his eraser away. But somehow this whole uniform thing crept up on me like a pair of tiny kelly green gym shorts, paired with a mustard yellow gym shirt. Piney Woods teachers: what were you thinking? And what's the statue of limitations on hate crimes? 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

School started today. Not that anyone would have known, unless you are a part of the underground information network that is probably available to certain parents in Kansas City. Me, I found the school district website, myself, and bookmarked it, and then I go on there and DIG until I find out when and where my child should be going to school. It's like a conspiracy.

Now, if you've been hanging out around my house, and there's a good 10 of you that have, then you know that the non-stop topic of non-verbal conversation has been "school". R2 wakes up in the morning, signs "school". When that is ignored or thwarted, he signs "hungry" until someone pays attention and then signs "school" some more.

So today was the day and we put on his conformist khaki and white uniform with his rebel "rocker" belt. I had looked the start time up on the website, but no one from the school or the bus barn would answer the phone, since I'm a parent, I guess. So we decided to go for it and see what happened.

Now, he's going into 6th but that's junior high, here. So it's a new school, and there are very large children walking around everywhere, getting yelled at and tucking in their shirts and rolling their eyes and sighing. We were apprehended in the parking lot by a teacher who must have identified R2 as special ed by the fact that he was laughing hysterically and jumping, arms flapping wildly all the way there. We then stood around for a good 20 minutes with the Sped staff, as they cornered young pant-saggers and explained the way it was gonna work to them.

"We take responsibility, young man." "Get used to that bein tucked in because we gonna hold you accountable here, young man." "You gonna learn respect, young man." And the saggers would look kinda sheepish and unzip their drawers and tuck their shirts in, right there, which was kind of a charming way to show that they are still kids. R2 was starting to get concerned about school, school, hungry, school, when they finally let us in the building.

We then sat through a fairly long assembly, where the principal alternately made large Robin Williams movie kind of statements and then offered to pull their disrespectful selves out of the bleachers, and then we went to the classroom, where R2 was the only student present and the teacher seemed a little confused about what exactly she was going to do in there, exactly. "I thought we'd do math stuff over there," she says, waving kind of vaguely toward the front. "And then this is the bathroom." "I have to talk to PT and OT and see what they want to do..." she mutters. After a while, I went home because it was clear that nothing was going to happen today.

So, it might be a boring year for him, if the teacher doesn't think of something to do. One thing's for sure. He will learn respect, and he will keep his shirt tucked IN.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Librarians are punks. Maybe you're a librarian, and you're all like, "Hey! I'm no punk!" and then you give me the stinkeye. Punkish.

I like to read. I like to read a lot. I have given some thought to how to have some sort of book page projection into a pair of glasses or across a windshield, or some sort of system for the shower where you put the book in the plastic thing and then use a little like, lever thing that sticks out to turn the pages, so it's all protected from the water. I could use one behind the kitchen sink, too. Practical ideas, these. 

Anyway, if I were a gazillionaire, I still think I would check out a lot at the library, because there's not much worse than owning a rotten book. So I go 1,2 times a week and I usually have 40 books or so in my possession. In Conroe, they had a 25 book limit and you could check out for like a week. Here, there is no limit and you get them for close to a month. So much win! I tend to keep the overdue fines running around $4, and generally relations are pleasant with the ladies of the library. 

The tides have turned, however. Sometime last week, I don't know when, as I was unaware of the crime in general, the corner of a book got wet. Today, when I came in with the hostage negotiations, I was met with frostiness. The Ice Ladies then informed the crumb-crunchers and myself that our only options were a) suicide or b) buying the book. I examined the book. It was kinda wavy on one part, I guess. I started to make a half-hearted appeal for reason, but I was frozen out, so I retreated and wrote the dadgum check. 

I expect palm trees and pageant waves the next time I go in. Buy the book. Sheesh. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

If you're all up in my internet, you know it's our 14th anniversary today. It's a special one, because the MOG is in the same city as I am. We've spent the majority of our anniversaries either together, on the road, or, more often, with him on the road and me at home.

So happy anniversary to us, with babies and laughing and crying, McDonald's and Rush Limbaugh and rain on the beach, with arguments about housekeeping, abounding and abasing, brokenhearted teenagers finding hope and songs that move Heaven, with jokes we can't Twitter and gray T-shirts and hair dye, Papa John and movies in our room, fasting and sweating and weeping in crowds and alone, covering a dead nation. I'd rather be here, with you, than anywhere. Let's get old together.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Adoption news? You want adoption news? Well, let me tell you. I got baby mamas on the run like King Herod. We got baby mamas on the run like the March of Dimes marathon. We got baby mamas on the run like the ice cream truck. I'll stop now. Anyway, they meet us, they like us, then they take their babies and run. That's how we roll.

So, we wait. If we opened up the search a little, it would probably move faster, but we think we're supposed to wait for one to come through Hannah's Dream. It's kind of a good thing we're waiting, actually. Our landlords have decided to move back into the house mid-September, and so we're kinda on the run ourselves.

The nice thing about crises is, you have to make a decision. During peacetime, you just hang out, all like should I or shouldn't I, and picking off flower petals or reading horoscopes or what have you... but when it all comes down and a choice is coming at you like a freight train if you don't move, then it's easier to make a choice.

So here we are. I have no idea where we're going to live in 40 days. Wherever it is, maybe it will have a big kitchen! And a baby!

Friday, August 6, 2010

We've basically wrapped up the post-tour vacation cycle, which usually takes 3-4 days, in which we sleep late-ish (8:30) and spend money on stuff like ice cream, and then reality kicks in and we go back to work and crack down on spending.

Now, my job is flexible, in that I can do dishes or not do them, do laundry or procrastinate, etc. What is set in stone are things like diapers and meals, and snacks and snacks and snacks and snacks. I think my children are in a perpetual growth spurt, which makes sense, I guess. I mean, they have to get bigger, and apples and cheese crackers are the logical way to get there.

We are now in the life-as-usual phase of things, where we eat food together and have bedtimes and bathtimes and staff meetings and such. We'll do this phase for another week, and then we will shift into pre-tour mode, where I frantically locate all the MOGs clothing and wash them, and he will disappear completely, although his physical form will be here. He will be in some other dimension with cords and emails and lights and soundboards and pastors.

Then he will leave, and we will move into surviving-tour-mode here, where we eat more randomly, and watch too many movies and order pizza. We would sleep late, too, but school is starting, so that's out. I will hunker down with vats of chocolate, which is how Mandy and I pass time while our men are gone- by eating.

Then he will be back, and I will run away for hours 2 or 3 times, and then we'll settle back into post-tour-normalcy. Who says life ain't predictable?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Years ago, we made a decision to "write our address in pencil"... what we meant was to be flexible, to be available to move and follow whatever we felt like the Lord was directing us to do. At that point, we only had one baby, and it was easy to strap him on my back, metaphorically and sometimes literally speaking, and go.

Now, we are a family of 5 and soon to be 6, I hope, and it's a little more complicated. Still, I'm okay with change. We packed up and moved to Kansas City, and while we've been here we've lived short-term in Nashville, and St. Louis, and Houston, as well as touring wherever, whenever the tours were family friendly. I have lost my allegiance to a city, although I will always be a Texan and therefore superior to all other life forms. I was made, in part, to pray for America and whatever part of America I need to live in, fine.

Anyways, right now I live in a house in Kansas City. It's a big, goofy old house and it is not  always aesthetically pleasant, due to its advanced age. No offense, seasoned citizens. You look great.

The thing is, we rent. It's helpful to not have a 100k+ investment when you plan on moving across the country because somebody had a dream. What is not helpful is living in a house that belongs to someone else, because they might decide to sell it. So, here we are, firmly ensconced in this place, using every square inch. I'm not in love with this house, in fact, I am at war with it a lot of the time. The thing is, it is big and it has room for all of us and all of Radiant's stuff and the studio and blah blah. It works.

But they're selling it. Maybe it won't sell. Maybe it will sell to an investor who will keep us as renters. The thing is, we don't know. We won't be homeless, we can find another place. It's just the continual state of transition that is hard. I don't want to do anything else, I'm just complaining, that's all. I think I'm homesick for family. Somebody call the waa-mbulance.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I interviewed my friend Christina for Bound4life's blog today. Well, actually, I interviewed her yesterday, and posted it today, if you want to be a stickler. And you do want to be a stickler, anonymous blog reader, don't you? Anyway, go on over there and read it. It's a frank and sweet look at adopting toddlers out of foster care.

In other news, the MOG has returned from his tour. I went out today for 2 hours, alone. I did exciting stuff like buying new uniforms for R2's school, and I did them alone. I was alone. Did I mention I was alone? It was awesome.

In other, other news, Toby has finished the 5 days of a clean room challenge and has been rewarded with a Lego kit from Dollar General. (Not Lego) It has 80 pieces and has already been the source of 3 meltdowns. That's right, come to me for your parenting advice.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I remember as a kid, having a pretty wild imagination. I had these imaginary friends that caused all kinds of trouble, and I'd attempt to pin the blame on them for everything, including my own random bloody noses (hereditary nosebleeds, who knew?) "Lucy punched me in the nose!" I'd say.

As I got older, I still imagined. I could think up whole conversations, situations, people I'd never seen... I talked to myself quite a bit. Is that because I was the youngest of five and a singleton after twins? Maybe. I know I wanted a twin. I still do, actually, so Mama, if you're holding out on me about my secret twin raised by another family, you can tell me. I'll still come to Thanksgiving.

The imagination is still good and strong. The other night, I was cheerfully consuming thousands of calories and watching some movie the MOG wouldn't watch (he was on tour). The house was fairly quiet, except the squeaking and clicking and wind and chaos that old houses are prone to, when I noticed a steady buzz outside. That sounds like a helicopter, I thought. Then sirens. Lots of sirens.

Me, a re-enactment

I texted Mandy about the noise and carried on with my face-stuffing. Moments later, Mandy called and told me that there were helicopters and police cars everywhere on the corner of our street. Then Liz called from a street or two over and said the helicopters were over her house and policemen (or you know, policepersons) were going through backyards with flashlights. Now the imagination kicked in. If there were a marauder in my back yard, what would I do? I pondered this for a moment, and then the timer beeped.

I had to make a decision. My 25 minutes were up, and my Black Burgundy hair was complete. If I waited to hear gunshots and explosions and such, I risked ruining my follicles. I couldn't take that kind of a chance, so it was off to rinse, and then blowdry. Lucky for me, the perp was apprehended down the street while I finished coiffing. Lucky for him, that is. Who knows what Lucy mighta done...
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