Category Archives: Homeschool

Why You Should Be a Jack (or Jane) of All Trades

I fancy myself to be somewhat of a Jack of All Trades (or a Jane). I love to go out and learn new things. Being able to do as much as I can for myself not only saves me money, but empowers me as a woman. It makes me feel strong.

Last weekend I came back from a bootblacking class in my freshly cleaned and conditioned leather. I had done it myself in a workshop run by my friend K. My Valkyrie was so excited by how shiny and new it looked, having seen it before I left.  So excited, that I asked her if she would like to learn how to do it herself.

I’ll never forget how she jumped up and down and screamed “Yes,” at me.  She wanted to learn a life skill. Even if it may not be particularly useful to her every day.  And this is something I encourage. She may never need to know how to bootblack, but at least one day, if she has leather of her own, she can say that she can do it herself.

There are plenty of skills that fall into this category. Sewing is always useful. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made my own dress in a style I like, for way cheaper than I could have bought it. (And sometimes I’ve made a better quality dress than what I was looking at.) Or ironing. I can’t say that I know too many people that iron, but its still a useful skill.

And there are more than even I want to learn. I want to learn to consistently target and fire a gun and a bow. I want to learn how to hunt (if I can learn to be that patient). Or trapping. I would love to increase my ability to cook things properly over a fire as well as other survival skills because one day I may need them to survive.

I know I was glad to be able to track in the woods when I got lost at summer camp.

Diverse Ability

I’m not a prepper by any means, but I still find value in these skills. I find value in the ability to diversify what I’m personally capable of.  And as a parent, I think we should all hope that our children feel the same way. I think we want them to have a diverse range of interests and abilities.

I know that I want the Valkyrie to be well rounded. I want her to have all manner of skills to fall back on. I want to prepare her for as many possibilities as I possibly can, even if some of them are unlikely. It doesn’t make a skill any less useful.  It doesn’t mean that someday they won’t use it.

I know I can’t plan for everything or ensure that she can survive everything, but I can continue to learn and share my knowledge with her.

The Fall of the Jack of All Trades

Once upon a time, we lived in a different world. A world where we praised those who managed to learn more than one or two specified skills. A man was considered more competent if he could do all many of contract work versus only being able to drywall or replace roofing.  The Jack of all trades was revered for his abilities and often paid more in the long run than those who could only perform one task.

Alas, those days have passed and our society has taken a turn. Nowadays, we relish those who can perform minute pieces of a larger task.  Computer programmers rarely do all the different types of programming in their jobs. They tend to be specified to one part of it. The idea is that the fewer functions one has to perform the more efficiently and correctly they can perform the aspects they are working on.

Which in theory sounds nice, clean, perfect, and maybe a bit robotic.

But What About the Future?

However, while all this sounds nice, it does create a number of problems.

#1: Tedious

First of all, it’s exceedingly Tedious.  Think of factory work. God bless all the people who work in a factory. I’ve worked in one myself. I know it’s not an easy job, but its also a bit mind-numbing doing one single task over, and over, and over, and OVER again.  I only did it for a week and I was already sick of it despite the wonderful pay.

And there was a time when that sort of tedium caused Henry Ford to pay his workers nearly double to do menial, repetitive work. At the time people were afraid it would drive them nuts. And in fact, there is some evidence that this may be accurate. One study showed that boredom and tedious, repetitive work can negatively affect your cognitive functioning over time.

#2 The Death of Creativity

Creativity is the applying of new patterns to a set of objects. Specialization removes new patterns from the equation.  You have to continue to learn to find new ideas and inspiration. Which implies that generalizing, not specializing is better for you and your company in the long run.

And what would we be without creativity? Creativity is what caused our country to boom into the economic powerhouse it is today.  Without creativity, we will continue to fall behind, not only in education but in business. I would much rather branch out and stir the creative pot than kill that part of me.

#3 Communication Breakdown

Specialization creates a problem akin to what happened at the tower of Babel. Everyone failing to communicate, in this instance because they aren’t working together. When each person isn’t at least learning about the whole, they miss out on jargon and key points that allow the system or product to work.

Work becomes bureaucratic in nature and we’ve all seen how that works. At least you have if you’ve ever sat in a government line for anything.  If the project manager has to go through each link of the process to find out where something went wrong, rather than just being able to pull everyone together to brainstorm, how much time does that waste?  And what if one of the other people would have been capable of doing both tasks? What if they had worked on it as a team and communicated? When a project is passed around in parts and pieces, however, this is impossible to accomplish.

Highly inefficient as any movement has to go through several people, wastes time, and makes anything one person does affect them only indirectly. This indirectness decreases motivation and the need to do something correctly.

So Why Am I Teaching My Child To Bootblack?

I’m teaching the Valkyrie all sorts of skills. I don’t think that any skill lacks value (well maybe being able to burp your alphabet or something like that). I may not use every skill I learn, but I know I can fall back on them if the need arises. I know that I can change my own oil and tires. I know that I can refurbish a torn up piece of furniture.

All those skills and much more have saved me money on more than one occasion. I want the Valkyrie to have those opportunities as well. I want her to be well rounded and no have to rely on each specialized piece on the board to be able to function.

We all have to be able to rely on others and ask them for help when we are incapable of performing the necessary task. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t diversify our own skills and be as independent as possible. I personally think that overspecialization is a dangerous and slippery slope.  I think that it cuts us off from other people and possibly things that we could find passion in ourselves.

Regardless, take a chance. Learn a new skill as a parent. Or teach your child. Learn as many things as possible. Be diverse. Be the Jack (or Jane) of all trades. In the end, whether you use all those skills or not, you will be a stronger and more well-rounded person for the experience.

Blessed Be.

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10 Tips For A Well Oiled Home

We all know there is more than one way to skin a cat.  Not that we’d want to.  This is true of all things. I don’t care if you are just a caregiver, homeschooler, parent, or even working from home, there are a million ways or more to do just about anything you desire.

So today I want to share a few tips as well as show you an average day in my work at home experience.

#1: Priorities

It’s just a matter of finding what works for you.  What feeds your family and their needs. What makes life manageable. This is going to be different for everyone.  And a part of the process is realizing what you need to thrive.

The first thing you need to do is sit down and determine what those needs are.  Mine are as follows:

  • Freedom– Being able to do what I want to do (within reason). This is a big compent as to why I am pursuing financial independence.
  • Time for myself– Making sure that I take care of myself and my personal needs for space, time, and relaxation.
  • Family Time– Making sure to make connections with my little one and my parents. Family events and activities.
  • Spirituality– Ensuring that our family life is enriched. This includes getting my mother to bible study, exposing Freya to all sorts of religions as well as my own…and discussing questions we have in regards to spirituality.
  • Clearing of Old Projects– Over the years, we all end up with projects we haven’t finished. My big goal this year is to clear those projects off my list before starting any new ones. From sewing to woodworking, I have a number of projects to finish.  Getting those done will make my life easier.
  • Organization– I have been working hard since the end of last year to declutter and make sure that everything has a place. I would say that I’m about 60% of the way there. I would still like to get rid of some more stuff and refine where it is organized.
  • Cleanliness– I don’t expect to have a perfectly clean house. I gave up on that a long time ago, between all my other duties and the little one. However, I cannot tolerate a dirty kitchen and I hate it when coats get dropped on the floor.

#2: Savers

We all try to save time. I won’t try to put an exhaustive list here, but I will list a few things that help me save time and money.

  • Bulk cooking – When I make a meal I make enough to freeze for at least another if not two or three more meals. This way we can eat the same thing for dinner each week and I only have to cook it once or twice a month. I save so much time cooking and its especially great for busy weeks and weekends. It also leaves me time to make more fun treats throughout the week.
  • Life Skills – When I say this, I mean that I have miss Freya help me with everything I believe she can do. It does take a bit of time for a new task, but she loves helping and its teaching her valuable skills. It also gives me more time later as she can help take on those tasks. Currently, she gathers all the things I need for cooking and can grab her own plates, among other tasks.
  • Meal Planning – It takes the guesswork out of what we’re eating and it’s still adjustable. It also saves you on groceries.
  • Making my own cleaning supplies– Saves me both time and money. I can make one batch on laundry concentrate over the course of a day (there’s some waiting involved), with a hands-on time of about 30-60 minutes. For that time I have 5 gallons of concentrate that will last me at least six months if not longer. Other supplies are multi-purpose which allows me to take them from spot to spot and get my cleaning done more quickly.
  • Finding a flow to your schedule that works for you. -Probably the most important thing you can do.

#3 Be gentle with yourself

Some days you just aren’t going to get everything done. Things will go wrong. The important thing to remember is that you haven’t failed, you’ve just had a rough day. There’s no reason to be harsh with yourself. Or put yourself down.

I hear so many women, no people who are harsh to themselves.  We should never call ourselves failures and we should recognize that even we need days to recharge.  So next time a day doesn’t go as planned remember that you’re only human.

#4: Task Master vs Servant De List

It’s great to have a plan and a to-do list, but remember that you cannot be a slave to it. Again things can go wrong.  It is fine to have a plan, but if you don’t get everything done you need to take a look. You may have planned more than you could get done or unforeseen events could have prevented you from reaching your goals.

Again be gentle with yourself.  These things happen and its okay.  Being harsh with yourself is not going to make it any better. And stressing yourself out with more than you can manage in a day will only leave you more frazzled, less focused, and unable to accomplish more.

#5: What you do matters

It’s great to want to do everything but remember your priorities. What use is it to clean or work all day, if you don’t make time to enjoy your family or even yourself.  I often find on busier days that I’ll drop homeschool for the day or cut out something that needed to be done so that I can spend time with my family.

I know its tempting to just keep trucking along, but it will only lead to burn out and an unhealthy lifestyle.  It will leave your children, spouse, and other family members missing something they need as well. Your attention.

#6: Have a Schedule

Even if you work at home have a schedule. Having a schedule gives you and everyone in the house a framework for what should happen over the course of a day. Whether you have little ones or family members with dementia/memory issues, having a framework will help them function within your home.

I’ve also found that having a schedule keeps me grounded and reminds me of my priorities throughout the day.

My Day

The Daily To Do List

Every day I have a to-do list.  Here’s what it looks like. I prioritized the list by what I tend to do first, however, I always remain flexible and move things about as I need to.

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner Prep
  • Chores (3-5 cleaning items aside from daily maintenance)
  • Dishes
  • Homeschool

Then I have a list of things I try to do for myself each day

  • Read
  • Reiki/Meditate
  • Some work on one of my unfinished projects
  • Udemy class

Schedule

  • 9 AM- Wake up, reiki, meditation, organize for the day, get dressed, etc.
  • 10 AM- Breakfast and Dinner prep. Valkyrie Cartoons
  • 11 AM- Cleaning and Chores, Family Showers.  Valkyrie plays time.
  • 1 PM- Homeschool
  • 3 PM- Play with the Valkyrie
  • 4 PM -Udemy Class for me, Tablet time for the Valkyrie
  • 5 PM- Dinner at the table
  • 7 PM Project Time
  • 9 PM The Valkyrie and I do something together (Usually a show and read)
  • 10 PM Finish getting ready for bed and put the Valkyrie to sleep.
  • 11 PM My time to unwind.
  • 12 AM My bedtime (not always great at following this).

#7: Be Flexible

This is what works for us. No one in my house is an early riser, my parents, even less so than I. I get most of my work done in the morning and the Valkyrie helps a bit between playing her own games and depending on her mood.  Once my parents are up things tend to be more unpredictable in terms of what I might get interrupted with.

Some days they wake up early and I have to put off my chores until they are otherwise preoccupied. It can make for an unpredictable day sometimes, but for the most part, we all know what should happen and when.

#8: Relax your parenting

Everyone is terrified that they will not do good enough for their child. We rush everyone to everywhere and over schedule ourselves. We helicopter parent not even letting them play outside by themselves. Our world isn’t so scary that our children can’t play without our constant watchful eyes.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, I suggest two books I recently finished.

#9: Find Joy In Everything You Do

If you can find joy in any task you will enjoy doing it. While I know this is far more complicated than easy, it is true. And its something that I often have to work on.

It also calls us to bring balance into our lives. If you hate cleaning, then maybe you don’t need to focus on cleaning quite as much. Maybe it’s okay for you to have a messier house. I gave up on keeping the sink clear at all times because my parents simply are not capable of it and I can’t seem to manage it on my own.  It still bothers me some days, but I’m less stressed by not trying to focus on it all the time.

#10 Find Magic In Everything You Do

In addition to balance, there is magic all around us. Our very breaths are magical. So don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy things. You don’t have to rush about. You can take your time and do it near perfect and find joy in that as well.

Find joy in having your little on help where they can. It’s magical to see them acomplish and learn right before your eyes.

Find magic in how much simpler your life is. When you look at a loaf of bread you find joy and magic in the fact that you don’t have to bake it in a kiln over a fire. Or that you have a mixer when three generations or so ago that would have been a novelty.  You can slow cook things without constantly tending a fire. We have heaters and water at our fingertips.

All of these things should make us feel blessed. They should help us to realize that we have far more time to do things than our forebearers did in the past.

 

 

 

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Homeschool Plan 2018

My homeschool plan for 2018 is simple. I’m just focusing on fundamentals. Colors, shapes, reading, math.  That’s it.  When it gets a bit warmer I want to add some physical education and outdoor play.  And of course, I’ll add in practical life skills and the fine arts, because those are important too right?

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the programs mentioned below. I receive no payments or gifts from them in exchange for this review. This is my honest opinion based on my own usage and my child’s usage of the product.  

But how do you dod that with a 3 year old? They don’t sit still well. Most of them want electronics anymore, and they have such short attention spans.

Well let me tell you what has been working for us this month.

We have five programs we are currently using for our homeschool curriculum.

  1. EPIC

Epic is a wonderful online resource (8 per month) where we can read all sorts of books from the comfort of our home without going to a library. Don’t get me wrong, I love the library, but there are some weeks that between my duties and obligations, we just can’t make it there. And we go through a lot of books each week.

Epic is also great because it has animated versions of some of my favorite stories that I can now share with my daughter such as Strega Nona and Boom Chicka Boom Boom. It also has some stories that it will read to your child as it highlights the words, great for a beginner reader to follow along and see the flow of a book.  In addition, it recommends new books based on your reading preferences and seasonal elements. So this month we’ve been reading about black history month and valentines day.  I’m not sure how long we will use it but for now, it is worth the money and makes my life easier.

However, before you purchase this, you might check and see if your library has any equivalent free programs. We recently learned that the Indy public library system has such a program, though I currently don’t like it as much as EPIC!.

2. Reading Eggs

I found a free trial of this (going on till the end of Feb) and we fell in love. She’s learning sounds of letters, something I was struggling to teach her. And she’s starting to be able to recognize her letters by name. While we have our frustrating moments with this program (more my patience issues than anything), she seems to have fun and it also comes equipped with its own library.

The site even offers a homeschool curriculum you can follow. The only problem with that is the Valkyrie is blowing through it way quicker than the model suggests, despite her struggles to understand some of the concepts.  My only problem with this program is how quickly some of the activities move. It is geared toward 3-7-year-olds and sometimes my Valkyrie has trouble moving the mouse quickly enough at 3, to click on things, leading to me having to help her a bit more than she’d like as well as some frustration.

Each lesson has between 8 and 15 activites, videos, and exercises to engage your child in learning phonics and early reading stills.

Also, this site works great with a tablet and is only 60 for the whole year. I found a coupon here that allowed me to get both the Math and the Reading program for around 52 dollars! It’s not as pretty as ABC Mouse, but the quality of the exercises is 100% better.

3. ABC Mouse

Honestly, this is my least favorite of the programs we’re using. Freya loves the activities, but I just don’t feel that they are as good of quality as the Reading eggs and its math equivalent.  We are mostly using it because I’ve already paid for it late last year and because my daughter loves the rewards and coloring sheets.

It’s also something that she can do entirely on her own with her physical skills. So it’s easier, unlike some of the problems she has with reading eggs and its math equivalent.

Other problems is that there are way too many coloring sheets, the songs are a bit boring, and I’m not sure its paced well.  On the other hand, it has great videos for any age and a linear progression based on skill and age.

4. Math Seeds

I didn’t add a link here because its the same link as above. Math seeds cost the same as reading eggs (60 per year), but if you check out that coupon link above you can get both for a reduced price.  (I paid 52 for both).

This is my daughter’s favorite program out of everything we do. She loves math, she loves counting and the games in this program just make her happy. I usually try to save this and reading for when she gets frustrated.  Especially, as she tends to forget all her worries and scream yay reading or yay math.  Those moments bring me joy.

This program starts from counting one. Each section has at least 20 activities and videos to engage your child in learning.  They also relate it to their body, counting their favorite things, and incorporate books about the subjects.  I love this program and recommend it to anyone with a young math learner, especially if they struggle with basic counting and math skills. We’re only into shapes and basic numbers and I’ve already seen my child grow far more than she had during our private instruction prior to this program.

Finally, last but not least

5. Right Start Math

This is a curriculum that goes from early math all the way through high school. The initial start up cost is somewhere between 150 and 200 dollars. But for all that you get a full curriculum, all the tools you’ll need for all the math courses you’ll take with them, and a set of fun math games you can play. After that, each grouping of books is around 60-80.

Each set of curricula is designed to last your child 2-3 years and is set out as lettered levels going from A-F.  Their website even has a placement test you can take to determine where your child falls within their program.

I originally learned about this program in 2016 at the Indiana Homeschool Convention.  When I went to a demonstration and saw my two year old want to play the games with the rest of the kids. I also found myself understanding math concepts that I had struggled to learn as a child.

We’ve only been doing it for about a week (though I bought it back then), but I love the activities. There is a focus on really understanding what the number 3 is and how to quantify it. And the Valkyrie loves their counting song.

For more info:

If you want to check out some of the activities for elementary aged students check out their youtube page. Currently, I plan on this being our primary math curriculum as math seeds only goes to age 7 or so.

The games are the best part of this program. Even if you don’t need a whole curriculum you might look into their game set. It can be purchased separately from their larger package for around 30 dollars I believe.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my description of our homeschool curriculum this year. And I hope that some of it is beneficial to you.

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Homeschool Idea: Feedback Needed

So I’ve been continuing to work on my homeschool idea for creating a curriculum that is easily accessible to parents and their kids.

Personally, I’ve been taking a lot of classes on Udemy and I’ve found them very useful. I’ve also found a lot of cute and potentially good courses for Freya to take when she is a bit older. With that in mind. Tell me what you think about using Udemy. I want to know if you believe this could be a good platform for pagan/homeschool cirriculum.

Until next time,

may your new year be amazing and full of fun and adventure.

Wyrd Mama

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Pagan Curriculum Ideas

Hello folks, today I’m here to ask for your feedback. I’m fiddling with the idea of building a pagan curriculum. I’ve seen what’s out there and while some of it is cute, I wish there was more. Pagan Acorns (add link) has made a wonderful start. However, while I’ve used some of their tools, I wish it was a bit more comprehensive and more interconnected to everything else we need to teach our children. I both want to hear what you think of my ideas so far and what other units you would like to see if you are/were homeschooling your little pagan.

My Curriculum Ideas

While I am currently working on a prototype I have a ton of ideas for different units including:

  • Pagan deity units (Greek/Roman, Celtic, Hindu, Norse)
  • Moon lore and science unit.
  • A fairy based unit to teach herbs, cooking, and herbal remedies.
  • Potentially a tarot unit for fun (mainly because my little one loves tarot already)
  • An open philosophy unit exploring a variety of ethical and philosophical questions for teens.
  • History and Geography (Though I don’t really have a plan for this yet). The only idea I have for this is maybe a Native American unit.
  • Unit on the holidays, seasons, and realted lore.

My Prototype

I do have a prototype that I’m working on. I’m planning on it being a part of a larger project. It is a unit study based on the Norse Goddes Freya. I would like to expand it to the other major gods of this pantheon and then maybe do something similar for some of the other pantheons.

Currently it contains the following:

  • History of the Norse Gods (History and Geography)
  • World of the Norse Gods: The tree of Yggdrassil
  • Freya Fast Facts
  • Symbols and Animals of Freya Coloring Page
  • Symbols of Freya Part 2
  • Cultural Connection: Friday the 13th
  • What are Archetypes?
  • Freya’s Archetypes
  • Critical Thinking: Freya & Frigg: The Same Goddess
    Or not?
  • Writing or Discussion Prompt
  • Freya: Myths and Legends
  • Story Map Worksheet
  • Character Analysis Worksheet
  • Science: Amber Resin
  • Science Craft: Make your own resin fosil
  • Freya Flowers
  • Herbal cooking
  • Freya Quizlette
  • Vocabulary
  • Additional Resources and Reading
  • References and Credits

Either way, I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Even your concerns about this idea. I want to hear what the community wants and needs. And that goes for my posts as well. If there is ever something you would like to see on the blog feel free to comment below. I can’t wait to hear what you’re thinking. Whether it be an improvement on an idea or a suggestion for a unit study.

Let me know what you would like to see in a pagan curriculum.

Thanks and Blessed Be.

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The Toddler Sewing Kit

Our sewing kit.

A full view of our sewing kit. A list of the items included and a few that we will add are listed below.

I had to take a break from my series of posts on being a Caregiver to your parents.  I needed to do something fun. Recently, I’ve been sewing….a lot. I’ve been making all manner of new dresses and I’m working on a set of felt dice. The second so I can work towards perfecting my satin stitch (another tutorial that I may get to at one point).  However, I seem to have this little one who keeps trying to fiddle with my sewing kit or machine.  

She’s two…so I can’t expect her to get with the program and be a perfect angel all the time. So I went to go buy her a toddler sewing kit from a Montessori site….and couldn’t find one. So I decided to make my own.  

Not only is sewing a great skill to have our children build towards but even if your child doesn’t end up a seamstress, they may learn something.  For example, threading a pipe cleaner through an old spool is a great motor development game and something my child already loves to do (that and threading beads).  Or using buttons to teach colors and shapes.  As with many avenues of learning, the possibilities are endless. 

Great for color and shape educational activities

Just a few of the colors and most of the shapes from the button set I bought her for her kit.

Our Toddler Sewing Kit

So what did we put in our kit? Take a look:

  • Buttons– As you can see in the images, I chose a bright bold button pack with a lot of different shapes.  The holes are big enough that she will be able to practice her sewing skills as she gets older.  For now, she just enjoys lining them up and sorting them in whatever manner is pleasing to her that day.  
  • Utensils Case– I saw this one on Pinterest. Not only can the thing be used for storage, but I’ve seen pipe cleaners attached to it so the child can work on threading things onto it, or just practicing threading it through the holes themselves. 
  • Plastic needles– Safe, practical, hard to hurt yourself with.  
  • Plastic Canvas– When I was little my mother used to use this stuff to make everything. I had barbie furniture, tissue paper holders, magnets and even Christmas ornaments made out of the stuff. The holes are fairly big so its perfect for an aspiring seamstress to practice their stitches on. 
  • Cross Stitch Hoop: This is great.  Eventually she can use it for cross stitch if she wants but for now, I just want to get some colorful shelf lining to put in it. See the next section for more details. If nothing else she will play with the hoop as small children do. 
  • Pipe Cleaners– These can be threaded through the canister or just played with in general.  
  • A Zipper– She loves playing zippers and its great fine motor practice for her. 
  • Fabric scraps and Squares– Bright colors and patterns attract the eye.  My little one likes to order and sort them.  She also just likes to wave them around.  I personally don’t get the appeal, but I’m also not 2 years old. 

Future Additions/Ideas

  • Shelf liner– this can be placed on the cross stitch hoop.  If you haven’t seen the stuff before, it has holes in it.  It’s another great thing to practice with the needle. 
  • Balls of yarn– I have the yarn, just haven’t had the time to make the balls.  Eventually, my little one will be able to learn to thread her little needle.  
  • Old Yarn Spools– I plan to save a couple of these as I use my massive collection of thread.  She can thread them through pipe cleaners or stack them like blocks.  

 

I’m sure there is all other sorts of ideas that could be used with this and I’ll be sure to update you as I find them.  

Cross stitch hoop, plastic needles, measuring tape, and her box of buttons and sewing trinkets. Her favorite sewing things.

 

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