First 5 Stan

Helpful Tips

Making Grocery Money go Farther

Let's face it, shopping for groceries can get really painful.

What seems like a quick trip can turn into something much more expensive than you planned. That's why we've tried to pull together some quick tips to help you stay on budget and save some money.

  1. Have a food budget. If you've not made a monthly food budget that you can track, you are very likely to spend more than you planned.
  2. Stop eating out. Eating out is one of the fastest ways to increase your food budget and usually the food we get is not better quality.
  3. Plan your meals in advance. This takes some work and preparation, but planning in advance is probably one of the biggest ways to save you money at the store.
  4. Take a list to the store. If you stick to your list, you're less likely to overspend.
  5. Make more frequent, smaller trips. Often, people don't use everything they buy at the store. If you are able to make a few more trips, you can keep your list smaller which could mean less waste.
  6. Buy in bulk. You can get certain foods in bulk that won't spoil. Keep your eyes open for good prices and buy bulk when the prices are good.

Changing just a few of your habits can help save you money at the store, while keeping good quality food on your table.

Building a Simple Budget

Creating a simple family budget is probably the BEST thing you can do to financially protect your family.

Here are some basic steps:

  1. Track what you spend. Write down everything you spend and how much you spend over the period of one month. This includes EVERYTHING you pay for regardless of whether you are using cash, checks, credit cards, electronic billing, etc. Add it all up.
  2. Look at where your money goes. Put those expenses into different categories such as housing, food, auto, entertainment, utilities (electric, water), etc. Especially look and see how much money is going to eating out, fast food, clothing, cell phones, etc.
  3. Track where your money comes from. Identify all the money coming into your home on a monthly basis (typically your paychecks).
  4. The budget worksheet. Create a budget worksheet or download a budget worksheet where you can list and total your monthly expenses and income. See if you are spending more than you are making.
  5. Make adjustments. Make changes to your spending if you see things are out of balance.
  6. Review monthly. Keep tracking what you spend every month so can see if you are staying on your plan or not.
  7. Get help. Talk to a trusted friend who knows how to do budgeting if you're having trouble creating a budget for your home.

Simple Money Management Skills

Money problems can cause big trouble in your relationships and can make your life miserable.

But, there are things that you can do now to prevent trouble from happening

  1. Make a written budget. If you've not created a written budget for your home, you absolutely need to. A budget is a written plan of how much money you plan on spending for everything (like rent or mortgage, food, cars, etc.).
  2. Create an emergency fund. This can be really hard to do, but you can start small and make it grow over time.
  3. See what you really need. Look at your spending to identify things that you might not really need. Ask yourself if something is nice to have or really important?
  4. Make some goals. Have you thought about starting to save now for a car, future education needs, or housing?
  5. Look at where you spend the most. Sometimes, you can find ways to trim back what you are spending by looking at expenses like food, cars and entertainment.
  6. Don't give up. If you are having financial trouble now, don't give up. Allowing yourself to go deeper into trouble is not a solution.

Single Parent Finances

As a single parent, you're responsible for making certain everything gets handled . . . including the finances.

Here are some simple tips for staying on top of your finances.

  1. Have a written budget. This is probably the single most important thing you can do to stay on top of your finances. There are many online resources that can help you.
  2. Pay off credit card debt. By getting rid of credit card debt you not only get rid of that weight you can feel hanging around your neck, but you're no longer paying the high interest expenses on top of what you owe.
  3. Create financial goals. When you have a plan in place to eliminate your debt and you have a budget, you can begin to look at longer term goals such as housing or auto.
  4. Create an emergency fund. This can be really hard to do, but you can start small and make it grow over time.
  5. Monitor your monthly spending. It's OK to be frugal and put money into savings. A key to doing this will be to monitor your spending on an ongoing basis.

Connect with Your Kids

We are all very busy and sometimes feel exhausted by our busy lives. But connecting with your children doesn't have to feel like a burden. Here are five simple ways to connect with your children:

  1. Disconnect - Turn off the phone or television and spend time playing or reading with your child. When you turn off the distractions, you can engage with your child better.
  2. Communicate - Talk with your child about their day - even if your child doesn’t speak words yet. Plus, it can be fun to hear about the world from a child’s perspective.
  3. Create - Make something together! Maybe you want to draw pictures together, or make up a fictional story.
  4. Eat - If you’ve just come home from work and are making dinner, invite your child to help you in the kitchen. Then you can enjoy the meal together.
  5. Play - Playtime doesn’t always require a lot of work. Here are two quick games you can play using the very room you’re in:

"The ground is lava!" In this game, the goal is to get from one side of the room to the other - but be careful, the floor is boiling hot lava! Use chairs, cushions, laundry baskets, or other creative objects to safely get across the lava.

"I Spy…" In this game, try to have your child guess what you're looking at based on the color of the item you see. For example, if you look at the television say, "I spy something black!" And let your child keep guessing objects until they guess the correct one.

Five Values to Teach Your Child

Honesty - Provide space for your child to be honest. If your child broke something and began telling a crazy story of what happened, calmly remind them that you love them, tell them to think about the truth, and then reassure them that it's okay to tell you what really happened. It's important to not overreact when your child tells you the truth. Remember that honesty can be uncomfortable, but everyone feels better in the end.

Justice - Imagine this: you have two children playing with their toys, and then suddenly one gets angry at the other and kicks their toys away, for what seems like no reason! While it's important for the child to apologize for their unacceptable behavior, it's also an important moment to ask your child why they kicked the toys. Forcing the words "I'm sorry" does not allow a child to process their feelings. Instead, work with your child to process why they kicked the toys and their apology may become sincere.

Determination - Challenge your child to do their best and be their best. We know your child is great, and you're proud of them… but it's powerful when you provide them with honest, yet gentle feedback to push them to deliver their best. Encourage them to challenge themselves whether it's in school, on the playground, or at home. When your child receives praise for working hard and giving their best, or for stepping out of their comfort zones and trying new things, the praise holds more weight. "Great job! I know that was difficult for you!" Acknowledge their effort in difficult tasks.

Consideration - When your children start arguing, especially in public, it's easy to get frustrated. What could have been a quick grocery trip has now turned into a battle. Instead of giving up and refusing to take your children with you on the next grocery run, let your children know that you feel upset or frustrated and ask your child what they suggest could make grocery shopping a better experience for everyone. At the next grocery shopping trip, remind your children of their suggestions. It's a small step to helping your child learn problem-solving, but it allows your child to learn to consider others.

Love - Yes, your child loves to cuddle or snuggle, and may need a lot of physical or emotional attention. Don't forget that your child expresses these gestures because they need to feel love and hear that they are loved. When is the last time you hugged your child and told them you love them? Don't be afraid to express your love for your children, spouse/significant other, or relatives. When your child sees love expressed, and receives expressed love, they may just become happier children.

Try this: pack a note in your child's lunch box that says "I love you" or give your child a hug for no reason, and watch their response.

Handling your Child's Emotions

It's one of the most frustrating things as a parent: the toddler tantrum.

Tantrums and meltdowns are normal - Remember that your child is immature and they do not have the coping skills or ability to communicate exactly what it is they're feeling or needing.

But how do you handle your rising stress levels and your child's emotions at the same time?

  1. Positive Reinforcement - When you communicate praise with your child's good behavior - even if it's the smallest thing, your child will desire that positive praise and will behave accordingly.
  2. Plan ahead - When you spend time with your child learning their behaviors, you begin to see what sets their tantrum off. If it's a rumbly tummy, pack a healthy snack… so on-the-go tantrums can be prevented. If your child gets grumpy without a nap, make naptime a priority.
  3. Walk away - if you're at home and your child throws a fit, trying to calm them down is going to frustrate you more than anything. Walk away. When your child sees that you are not going to entertain their undesirable behavior, they'll calm down on their own. IF your child is throwing a fit and harming others, DO NOT walk away, instead, remove the child from the group and explain to your child that their behavior was unacceptable.
  4. Stay calm - When your child starts yelling at you, it's easy to yell over them. It becomes a power struggle. But if you speak softly and calmly, your child will begin to lower their voice to match your volume.
  5. Talk - Your toddler can use some words and has the ability to use limited words, but they're still learning how to handle their emotions. The lack of language can be frustrating, so using phrases like, "show me what you want" can help connect thoughts or emotions your child hasn't understood yet.
  6. Hold them - Because your little one doesn't quite know how to express their emotions, sometimes they just need a safe space to "let it out." We know hugging your tantrum throwing child is probably the last thing you want to do, but try it. A hug can provide a sense of security, which may do the trick for your little one.
  7. Don't cave in - You're at the store and the tantrum starts. One of the most common reactions is the fear of judgment. "What are other people thinking of me as a parent?" We've all been there. If you stress out and begin to panic, your child will continue. If you ignore the tantrum with a calm, collected approach, your child is more likely to calm down. As far as the fear of being judged? Rest easy, because people will judge the way you react in that situation, so don't give them a reaction to judge.

Follow through. Reward good behaviors, and make sure that your child ultimately listens to what you've instructed. If they throw a fit because you asked them to pick up their toys, they still need to pick up their toys with or without their tantrum. Once the tantrum is over, make sure your child still does what it was you asked. If you pick up the toys for them, you have then rewarded their undesirable behavior.

How soon should you discipline your child?

This subject has been debated a lot. There's too much to include in a small article, but we can get you started.

Keep in mind that genuine discipline really has no meaning when it comes to babies. They're too young to understand instructions and expectations.

A "general" rule is that around the time a child starts crawling around and interacting with their surroundings, it's time to think about setting limits. Again, that is a general rule and your experiences might be different.

At the crawling age, it's easier to help your child stay out of trouble than to set a number of rules. At this age, they're simply exploring and not really trying to defy your authority. If they're starting to explore, try to create an environment where things are child-proofed and put away if you don't want them touching them.

You can start to use verbal reprimands like saying "no" and re-directing them, but your primary focus should be on your child's safety.

Typically, the need for discipline will show itself at some point during your child's second year. So read up and get some trusted advice before then on how to prepare for what is to come.

READ - Benefits of Reading to Your Child

Reading to your child, even when they're babies, prepares them to take on the world. Reading aloud has many benefits. Here are four great benefits when you READ:

Raises their attention span and strengthens your relationship

Exercises their brain and builds their imagination

Advances them academically and prepares them for school

Develops language, communication, and vocabulary skills

RESET - Resolving Conflicts

Children can be happily playing one minute, and the next minute it seems they're at war with each other. While children are growing, they're learning how to process emotions and resolve conflicts. Here's a simple tool to help them - just remember to "RESET"!

Relax - When children get frustrated they have difficulty thinking clearly. Have each child take a few deep breaths until they're calm.

Express - What went wrong? Allow the child who feels wronged to tell you what happened.

Share - Ask the child who feels wronged how they feel by using "I feel" statements. "I feel mad when my toy is taken away." Then, ask the second child how they feel, when they hear how the other child feels.

Explain - Allow the child who "wronged" the other one, to explain their side of the story.

Together - Ask the children to propose solutions together so they can learn how to resolve their conflict.

The Power of Eating Together

It's been said that families that eat together stay together, because eating together makes your family:

Stronger: Eating together creates a stronger family bond. When your family eats together, you help develop and maintain healthy relationships and nurture a deeper belonging. Routine meals also allow your children to grow a better sense of reliability and security in you.

Happier: Eating together can help your children become happier. When children feel a sense of belonging, they may have less desire to seek belonging with a wrong crowd. Allowing family time to talk about each other's day at the dinner table creates a space for your children to feel they are important.

Smarter: Eating together can help improve your child's performance in school. Children grow by listening to the adults express their opinions and ideas, and the dinner table is a safe space for children to express their own opinions or ideas. Once your child has grown comfortable expressing opinions or ideas, they may gain confidence to do so in the classroom. When you eat with your children, you can ask them about any upcoming deadlines for school tests or projects that you can help them with.

Healthier: Eating together encourages better nutrition. Dinners together at home are more likely to include the five food groups, such as vegetables, fruit, dairy, grains, and proteins.

Sensible: Eating together saves time and money. You don't have to drive anywhere to wait on a table, and you don't have to spend $20 on a plate of spaghetti, when you could make 5 plates of spaghetti for the same price.

Discover: Eating together allows families to explore new recipes or flavors that they can all try together. By eating together, you can introduce new foods to your children easier. Studies have found that children who tried new foods as a family were more likely to enjoy the new food item, than the children who did not.

Top Parenting Fears and What you can Do:

It's very common to worry about struggles or dangers your child may or may not face as they grow. In a recent poll on BabyCenter.com, 2,400 parents listed expectations, stranger-danger, accidents and injuries, bullying, and weight concerns as their top five fears.

Here is a quick look at each fear and what you can do to conquer that fear:

  1. Expectations - It's natural to want your child to reach their potential and have the best opportunities in life. Parents are admittedly afraid that their child may not succeed due to financial disadvantages, or economic uncertainty - and that is completely normal for a parent to fear.

    The reality: The current economic climate is scary. The cost of living is increasing and the rate of unemployment is, too. The world seems very competitive and it's easy to fear that your child may struggle, especially if you have.

    The solution: Allow your child to gain independence and resourcefulness, and teach your child basic life skills. These three things will help your child to do well in school and life, and can open doors to opportunities as they grow.

  2. "Stranger-Danger" - It's a basic parental instinct to want to protect your child, so the fear that someone may hurt or harm your child is common. We see and hear horrible stories of bad things happening to children and naturally want to protect our own.

    The reality: National research done by the Crimes Against Children Research Center has shown an overall decline in child maltreatment.

    The solution: Stay in-tune to your child's needs and build a strong relationship where your child will feel comfortable talking to you about issues they may experience, and teach your child the differences between appropriate and inappropriate contact.

  3. Accidents and Injuries - Children can be clumsy, imbalanced, and a little too adventurous at times. It's natural to fear your child getting injured - especially when that injury or accident is caused by someone else.

    The reality: Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries or death for children in America. However, most of these injuries or deaths were preventable. According the National Highway Traffic Safety, these injuries or deaths were primarily caused by a child either not being in a car seat or using a seat belt, or the child was in a car with a driver who was under the influence of substances (alcohol or drugs).

    The solution: Ensure your child is safely secured in the vehicle before you drive and always make sure your child is transported by a sober driver. If you're unsure how to secure the car seat in your vehicle, most local hospitals, fire stations, and law enforcement agencies can assist.

  4. Bullying - It's common to worry about whether-or-not your child will be liked at school or on the playground.

    The reality: Bullying is a rapidly growing issue among children in America, so much that about 1 in 7 students from kindergarten to high school has either bullied, or has been the victim of a bully at least once. Bullying can lead to issues with self-esteem, school performance, and mental health issues, and sometimes the biggest bullies are the ones that have been bullied before.

    The solution: Never treat your child violently, or allow others to treat them that way. It's important to be proactive in teaching your children to treat others with kindness and how to react to those who treat them or others unfairly.

  5. Weight Concerns - Worrying about whether your child will struggle with obesity, anorexia, or other disorderly eating habits is a common concern.

    The reality: Obesity and severe weight loss are serious risks for children. According to the Center for Disease Control, obesity in children has tripled in the past thirty years, and more young children are developing anorexic or bulimic eating habits.

    The solution: You can help your child make healthy food choices and habits by encouraging a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Limit the amount of sweets, fruit juices, and processed foods, and replace them with vegetables and fruits. Instead of focusing on weight or calories, focus on developing healthy relationships with food, which in turn will lead to healthy eating habits.

As always, the greatest influencer on your child is you, the parent. Don't forget to spend time with your children and reinforce how much you love and cherish them.

Top parenting fears - what you can do.

It's perfectly normal for you to have fears about parenting. Everyone does.

And those fears can change over time as you and your kids grow.

Here are some simple tips that can help you navigate this process no matter what your fears are:

  1. Write them Down. Take a moment to write down what you think are your top five fears as a parent.
  2. Make some notes. Go through your fears one-by-one and ask yourself what you can control and what you can't control for each of those fears.
  3. Acknowledge. You have to recognize you can only do and control so much. The rest is out of your control. If it's out of your control, you probably need to let it go and find peace in that.
  4. Act. If there are some things you reasonably can control and need to take action on, make a plan to address those.
  5. Relax. Parenting is stressful enough. Give yourself a break, take a deep breath, and understand all the worry you carry around means that you care. But to help stay healthy, you need to get rid of as much of that worry as you can.

Remember, the healthier you are emotionally, the more you can help your child.

What Should You Make Time For?

It seems like time is one of the things we never have enough of. As a parent, time flies by. One minute you're bringing your little one home from the hospital, the next minute they're headed to college. Where did the time go?

While they're still young, here are a few things you should always make time for:

  1. Make time to play their games

    Ask your child to teach you a game. Be forewarned, most children like to change the rules of the game while you're playing, and it might make the game longer… don't get frustrated! Instead, make that time to enjoy their wild imagination!

  2. Make time - to take your time

    If weather and safety permit, take a walk with your child. We're always rushing around and forget to take important moments to slow down and spend quality time with the people we love the most. When you make time - to take your time by slowing down and not rushing, you show your children the importance of spending time with each other.

  3. Make time to fix things together

    We just want to get it done. The faucet is leaking or the lightbulb needs to be replaced. What may take us as adults a few moments to fix, could make your child's day. Children are eager to learn. If you need to so those small home improvement tasks, let your child help you. Having the simplest involvement in a "grown-up" project can bring your child a great sense of pride and joy in working together and in working with their hands.

  4. Make time to allow your children to decide

    Let's face it, children aren't really decisive and sometimes it's just easier to pick for them. But you can help them gain decision making skill if you take time to let them choose. These choices can start small - like what to eat for dinner, what to pack for lunch, what to wear to school, or what to do that weekend, and the choices can grow from there. Letting your child make decisions early on can help them form decisions as they grow older.

  5. Make time to read together

    Whether it's a short book that can be read in one sitting, or a long book that takes you days to finish together… always make time to read with your children.

  6. Make time for yourself

    You're busy. You're exhausted. You've got your hands full. When is the last time you made time for yourself? Not the five-minute shower you rush through in the morning, but real, quality time with yourself? Your children will benefit from not only seeing you taking care of yourself, but they will get to interact with the refreshed version of you. You can only do so much, superstar. Take a deep breath and exhale.

Craving potato chips? Try these instead:

Chips

Kale Chips

Ingredients:
Bunch of Kale
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Teaspoon sea salt or season salt

Instructions:

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove Kale leaves from stems, wash and dry (salad spinner works great). Place leaves on parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with choice of salt. Bake until edges are brown (not burnt) approx. 10-15 minutes.


Zucchini Oven Chips

Ingredients:
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini (about 2 small)
Cooking spray

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Place milk in a shallow bowl.
  4. Dip zucchini slices in milk, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
  5. Place coated slices on an ovenproof wire rack coated with cooking spray;
  6. Place rack on a baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until browned and crisp.
  8. Serve immediately.

Instead of French fries, try making these:

Baked Eggplant Fries with Lemon Dill Dipping Sauce

For Fries:

Ingredients:
1 eggplant, cut into strips
1/3 c. plain soy yogurt
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 c. whole-wheat seasoned breadcrumbs

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Line two large baking sheets with a non-stick baking mat or parchment paper.
  3. Cut the top and bottom off of your eggplant. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and then into quarters. Next, cut the eggplant quarters into slices roughly 1/4 in. thick. Now cut the eggplant slices into strips roughly the size of French fries.
  4. Combine yogurt, parsley, garlic powder, paprika, ground cumin, onion powder, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar in a large bowl.
  5. Toss eggplant fries in soy yogurt mixture, coating evenly.
  6. Place breadcrumbs on a plate and lightly coat eggplant fries with breadcrumbs.
  7. Spread out evenly on trays making sure they don’t touch.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Turn halfway during baking to brown evenly.
  9. Serve immediately with lemon dill dipping sauce.

For Dip:

Ingredients:
1 cup unsweetened plain soy yogurt
1 tsp. dill
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Fresh black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized


Oven-Fried Sweet Potato Wedges

For Fries:

Ingredients:
2 lbs sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons canola oil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat jellyroll pan with cooking spray.
  2. Cut potatoes in half, lengthwise.
  3. Place each potato half, cut-side down, on cutting board; cut into 1-inch thick wedges.
  4. Combine chili powder, thyme, salt, cumin, and cinnamon.
  5. In a separate bowl, toss together potatoes, oil and spice mixture until well-coated.
  6. Arrange on pan in a single layer.
  7. Roast until potatoes are tender and browned, 20-25 minutes.
Sweet Potatoes

Having trouble drinking enough water, or giving up soda?

Rasberry Water

Our bodies are comprised mainly of water, and it is imperative that you keep your body hydrated. Try infusing your water with lemon, mint, cucumber, or your favorite berry! This alternative will give it a refreshing flavor and make your transition to a healthier lifestyle easier. A popular recipe is listed below, check it out!

If you are trying to give up soda, try drinking flavored sparkling water instead. The carbonation present in sparkling water can help you satisfy your craving. La Croix is a brand located at most grocery stores and has a variety of different flavors such as mango, peach, strawberry, and lime. These contain no artificial sweeteners or sodium, simply the sparking water and infusion of whichever flavor of your choice.


Raspberry-Lime Infused Water

Ingredients:
1/3 cup raspberries
4 lime slices
22 oz. filtered water

Instructions:

  1. Place the raspberries and lime slices in a 32-ounce Mason jar, and fill with 22 oz. filtered water.
  2. Stir, cover, and let it sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or overnight for more flavor.
  3. Add ice, stick a straw in, and enjoy!

Want pasta without all the carbs? Try these options below!

Pasta

Zucchini "Pasta" with Tomato Sauce

  • Prep time: 15 mins
  • Cook time: 15 mins
  • Total time: 30 mins
  • Serves: 4
  • Gluten Free Zucchini “Pasta” mixed with a quick and easy tomato sauce!
Ingredients:
4 zucchinis (about 4 cups), cut into thin noodles with a vegetable slicer
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups crushed tomatoes
⅛ teaspoon dried oregano
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
Parmesan cheese, for garnish if desired

Instructions:

  1. Place zucchini noodles in a colander and sprinkle with salt.
  2. Allow the zucchini noodles to drain. Toss and squeeze out any extra moisture. Set aside.
  3. Add oil to a large saucepan.
  4. Add is onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until tender.
  5. Add in garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  6. Add in crushed tomatoes, oregano and red pepper flakes. Bring to a light simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Add zucchini noodles to the sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender.
  8. Stir in basil and Parmesan cheese.
  9. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately.

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Parenting Tips* To Keep You Going

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The Kitchen

Eat healthy. Stay healthy.

When parents want the best.

Some simple tips to keep you and your family running smoothly.

Parenting Tips
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