A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
Today was Review Day, so we went to a place for review: Mini Israel! We watched a 3D movie about Israel and all yelled when we saw places we'd seen (we were all alone in the theater, so it was ok). Then, we went out to the 'park' to see all the model buildings. These people took all the important landmarks of Israel and reconstructed them (1:25) in smaller size so we could look at them. The kids were totally enthralled! In some of them, the cars drove on the freeways, planes taxied on the runways, people prayed, dances, marched, and played football (aka soccer)! We saw Jerusalem's Old City and pointed out all the places we'd been. They really enjoyed it, and it was fun to see how much they recognized without any prompting from me! :) The only downside to the outing? It was HOT HOT HOT!! The sun was blazing down on us. I'm sure glad we went early when it was only 33C!! Sheesh.
Thanks to Jon and Leora, our good friends who 'introduced' us to FS life (Devin replaced Jon in Cameroon), we were invited to spend a day in Tel Aviv with our own private tour guides! :D So, Sunday morning at 6 am, we were all up and getting ready to go! (It still took an hour and a half to get out of the house...)
By 8:30am, we were in Tel Aviv and noticed that it was already 34C/92F!! Oh boy. The sun was out and it was relentless! We walked around and saw some fun historical points of Jaffa--some Egyptian finds, cannons (as opposed to canons...), a clock tower, some beautiful arches and old cool buildings... We ate ice cream and were introduced to the juice shops here. Oh my. They squeeze the juice for you while you watch and it's amazing...
We took some time to play at the beach where the kids were yelled at by the life guard. He he he... It was funny only because the life guard blared something on his loudspeaker, and amidst ALL the people on the beach, I had this feeling it was my kids since they were slowly making their way out to sea (Devin was watching them). I jumped up and as I was running over to them to get them to come closer, the lifeguard must have figured out he didn't get any response so they must not speak Hebrew, because he yells out, "Kids! Three kids! Come back now, it is not allowed!" How did he know they spoke English? Are we that obvious?? Ha! They were mad, and Josh sulked a bit, but they overcame it and made a spectacular sand castle that I didn't get a picture of. :( But it was so nice to just sit and chat... Devin and Jon stood out in the sun with the kids, and Leora and I sat in the shade and talked away about everything. That was so lovely!
After swimming and dying of heat stroke, we went and had lunch at a yummy little place on the street. Mmmmm... It's so fun trying new things! And even the kids found something to eat! Hooray for Schnitzle! :D
After eating, we were ready to try to find a park to play! They took us to a big park--we're talking BIG--and we found a little place that rented paddle boats! We got two paddle boats for an hour and had an absolute BALL paddling and steering around the river! (Sadly, I left the camera in the car, so I don't have any pictures...but it was SO FUN!) It was a great workout, too! :) After the paddle boats, there were these 'dune buggy'-type things that you could rent, too, and the kids BEGGED... Unfortunately, we gave in. It was a four-seater. One person steered and pedaled, one other person had a faux steering wheel and also pedaled, and two in the front just sat and enjoyed the ride. The kids were in heaven! Devin and I jogged after them to make sure they didn't run into trees, people, bicyclists, or the river. We definitely got our workout!
When we finished this, we were walking back to the car and stopped off at a store to pick up a few things for the next day--fruits and eggs and stuff. The kids talked us into some chocolate. Never again. We were passing it out, and lo and behold, it has Hazelnuts. Dang it. Claire was having a reaction, and I had already used up the epi pen! I had one dose of Benadryll in the car, but she wouldn't close her mouth when I gave it to her, so most of it spilled on me. I was so upset! We found a pharmacy, and the guys at the pharmacy were infuriatingly slow-- "Benadryll? Antihistamine? Yah, I guess we have something like that. Let me look..." Then, a few minutes later, "Here you go." Jon asked if it was the same dose for kids (how did the guys miss the fact that I told them my DAUGHTER was having an allergic reaction? Do I look old enough to have an adult daughter?? Really?), so then the guy said, "Oh. Just a minute." So they had to confer for awhile about it, and then it was ok. Basically, they gave me Claritin. Whatever. If it helps... I gave it to Claire, who decided to CHEW it (seriously???) and within a few minutes, she threw up in the car. Then she felt much better. The swelling in her mouth went down and she was ok. We didn't get home until almost 10pm. The kids slept REALLY well. Josh got VERY sick while we were out and about--I'm almost 95% sure that it was heat stroke of some sort. I felt the same way. I had to rehydrate him and we decided to spend the WHOLE day today doing nothing except watching movies. :) Sometimes you just have to have a day off. It's been very beneficial for me as well as the kids. Poor Josh sat in the same place all day long in a stupor. All the kids did, really. They were watching the Muppet Show, and I missed 3 episodes because I fell asleep!!!!! Can you believe it?? ME?!??! I couldn't believe it, either. Funnily enough, I'm STILL tired. I hope I'm better tomorrow so we can do something else fun!
Oh what fun allergies are. Yesterday, after a lovely outing to the park with friends, the kids and I went to pick up Devin at work because he had done a little shopping at a local market and picked up a whole lot of fruit for us. He also bought some bread, and the kids were ecstatic! So, we started down the road wondering if we should head home or look for somewhere to find a little more food for the weekend, and the kids were passing out bread to each other. A few minutes later, we hear a scream from Claire and she yells, "MOM! DAD! I think there are cashews in this bread!! My throat is closing up!!" Oh boy. I searched through my bag and strangely enough, I had no benadryll. I did, however, have the Epi Pen. I have actually never had to use the Epi Pen on her, so this was a first. Devin was driving, so I climbed back to the back seat where she was freaking out, opened up the Epi Pen, flipped off the safety, and followed the directions to the letter. It was interesting. I've never given a shot to anyone in my whole life. Within less than a minute, she was totally fine again! No swollen lips, rashes on the skin, or closing throats. Except now she was limping because she said her leg hurt. Ha ha. I made her soak in a hot jacuzzi bath (always helps, of course), then we had movie night. She's all better this morning.
By the way, it wasn't cashews in the bread. When we got home, we looked at the bread, and it was chock full of walnuts! It was really thoughtless of us to not check out the bread beforehand (although it's not something that is usually a problem), but now we know that walnuts are just as fast acting as cashews...and Epi Pens are invaluable to have on hand.
And on another totally unrelated point: Andrew just came out ready to go to church...wearing an old t-shirt and jeans. When we asked him if he thought that was appropriate for church, he said yes, and pointing to the giant holes in the knees of the jeans, "They're Holy!!" Oh boy.
Another Andrew funny: At the zoo the other day, we were playing at the zoo park, and there were a LOT of kids...and they weren't very nice. Andrew came over in tears and said, "Mom, I wish we weren't here! There are too many kids and they are very inappropriate!" Ha!
My blog website has been down for an entire week. I thought it was because the host was bad. I've had quite a few interesting problems lately with being kicked off for random updates... Anyway, after a week, it's back, and come to find out, it wasn't the host. Hmmm... It's time to be back in Jordan.
Stop to wrestle with the alligators
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo has to be one of the best zoos! It was so much fun! We went on the perfect day--it was sunny and warm without being TOO hot. All the animals were up and about. We saw EVERYTHING there was to see! They opened at 10am, and they closed at 5pm--we were there the WHOLE time! Whew! Luckily, we brought some great food and water with us, and our time was well spent learning all about the animals there and watching all of their antics. There were LOTS of school groups there, which made the children's area a little trying, and we were pushed out of the way a few times, but it wasn't terrible. We got to see penguins, snakes, tigers, birds (the aviary was the best!!), giraffes, zebras, etc., etc., etc., and we even got to PET some fish!! Ha! The petting pool was pretty funny! Those poor fish... The favorite, though, was the underground exhibit. Inside of the meerkats' and the prairie dogs' displays were tunnels that you could crawl through and then pop your head out of 'bubble domes' so you could look right at the little guys! The kids played Star Wars inside of them. Ha! They popped up and down and had such a great time--it was very comical!
Would I go back? Yes. Yes, I would.
Movie in Hebrew with Arabic subtitles... :/
Today turned out MUCH differently than I had intended. I got up intending to take the kids to Herodium--King Herods winter palace/tomb. We got to go to a big exhibition of it at the Israel museum a few weeks back, and thought it would be really cool to see the thing in real life.
I popped in the place in the GPS, and noticed it was acting really funky. First off, it took a few MINUTES to calculate. That doesn't bode well. THEN, when it finally came up, the directions went directly south, with a perpendicular line east to the site. That didn't seem quite right. I started to follow anyway. The 'road' that it told me to go on kept shifting and I just couldn't seem to find it. I finally stumbled on the road that takes you to Bethlehem, and as I zoomed out on the GPS, I saw that Herodium was further away than Bethlehem and smack dab in the middle of the West Bank (Palestine). Now, if I were with Devin, I may have still tried it out. But there were a few things against me. First off, the GPS doesn't work in that area, which is why it wasn't giving me any specific directions. Second off, while we CAN drive in the West Bank, there are many places we're not allowed to go, and I don't know where they are. Third, if ANYTHING were to happen and the checkpoints were closed, I'd be stuck, and it could potentially be dangerous. Maybe not, but it's always better to be safe than sorry. As I was meandering around the city, trying to find my way, some guy jumped in the middle of the street and flagged me down. He told me that Herodium (aka Herodion, Herodyon...they're very loose with their spelling here) was over an hour from here, but he could take me if I just jumped in his taxi! He could take me there and to Bethlehem and to Masada... Now, these ARE places I'd like to see, but not by myself with the kids in some strange guys' taxi. No, thank you.
So, we changed our plans. I had planned to go to some Stalactite Caves, so I entered that into the GPS, and off we went! It didn't take more than a few seconds to get the directions up, so I knew it was safe. :) It still took 45 minutes to get there, but the drive was GORGEOUS!! We wound our way through mountains covered with evergreen trees. There was hardly anyone on the road. It was lovely!
The caves were interesting... We got there right in the middle of about 45 school groups. Sheesh. The lady at the ticket counter took our money, and told us to tag along with the school groups. You couldn't get into the caves without a tour guide. So, we tagged along. The group was an Arabic school group. The guide spoke only Hebrew. So, she told them things in Hebrew, then a teacher translated it into Arabic, and the kids and I looked for bugs. They gave a whole schpill outside the caves, then showed a movie, then we FINALLY got to go in. It was really pretty inside--very cool formations and the lights changed colors just for fun. The groups inside were sort of annoying, since they had to stop every once in awhile and talk some more--in Hebrew and Arabic. Luckily, the kids and I were able to slip by a few groups and do our own thing. We were grateful for the education we received when we went to the Timpanogos Caves this past summer, as we knew most of the formations! Peter had never been in a cave like this, so we taught him the names of all the different formations: Stalactites, stalagmites, cave straws, flowstones, cave popcorn. The cave popcorn was Peter's favorite. At one point, there was this 'field' of cave popcorn next to a little pool. Peter looked at the pool and said, "Look! An ancient bath!" Smart kid! I told him that this was where they people anciently had movie nights. They ate a lot of popcorn and made a big mess, then jumped into the bath to clean off. The kids thought that was very funny. :)
Claire on the top floor of the fortress!
After our cave tour, we found a park off to the side of the road in the mountains! We had a picnic, and the kids played for hours. They found a BIG playhouse. When Andrew told Peter to take a look at that, Peter said, "Oh. A fortress." He's a riot! They played house (I was the grandma. I'm ashamed at my kids and their lack of respect for my youth!) and enjoyed themselves immensely. I did get a chance to sit and just enjoy the peace of the forest. I watched these very pretty birds fly all over...and eat our discarded fruit! :)
It was a day well spent!
We were having a quiet day at home, doing some basic school stuff and just enjoying ourselves without any big plans to head anywhere, when I decided we should call some new friends we've made here and see if they wanted to join us at a park. When I called, she told me they were headed to the consulate for the Spring party! Oh. I didn't know about it! After a few phone calls, I found out that it would be possible for us to go, too, so this afternoon, off we went to go play! The kids had a GREAT time! I got to stand around and chat with other moms. Devin came in and out as time permitted. Hooray for spur of the moment activities that bring us times with new friends and the great outdoors! :)
Our cute little trees that we planted!!
In honor of Earth Day, we did a super cool activity today: We planted a tree in a National Forest here in Israel! How cool is that?? We drove out about 40 minutes outside of the city into the middle of nowhere (SO pretty!!) into an area that they’re trying to re-forest. A very nice park ranger met us there and told us a little about what we were going to do… Of course, he didn’t get very far, because he made the mistake of passing out pickaxes before giving us his shpill. Ha!! We each got a tree (an Arizona Cypress, actually) and we walked out into this big field full of baby trees and irrigation pipes. There, we dug holes and planted our little baby trees! Then, the kids started hacking away at the rocks and dirt, and started finding ancient pottery. The Ranger said they could keep the pottery they found and they were ecstatic! So, they collected ancient pottery for a museum… We got certificates for participating, and flags that said, “I planted a tree in Israel!” On our way out of the forest, we found an area with picnic tables, so we stopped and ate our picnic lunch. The kids ran around and climbed on the rocks and found an old jeep which of course became TIV 3 (Tornado Intercept Vehicle) and they happily played storm chasers for another hour! We finally headed home when it really started to rain on us
Once home, I set up the jaccuzzi bath tub and everyone took turns in the Jacuzzi (or jakuzey, as they spell it on the wall sticker). After Jacuzzi time, we have our ancient pottery museum.
You can tell these kids have been to a lot of museums… They even charged me admittance fee! Sheesh. How’s that for gratitude? :D
A grove of olive trees on the shore of the Sea of Galilee
_ What a weekend! We started our weekend off with a bang—by going to church. We had district conference this Saturday, and it was quite the surprise! As we were walking in and trying to take our seats, whom should we see, but PRESIDENT UCHTDORF!!!!!! HI!!!! We had NO IDEA that there would be an apostle there, let alone a member of the First Presidency! It was a GREAT conference; all the talks were wonderful and it was just so cool to sit in that room, with an apostle of God, and to see Jerusalem out the window! Oh my! Amazing! It was so peaceful and happy. I absolutely love going to church and being reminded of who I am and what I need to do to find peace and happiness in this life and in the life to come. After the conference, everyone brought their lunch to eat there at the Center, and as the kids were eating (Devin and I were standing by them, since there were only 4 chairs at the table we were sitting at), Pres. Uchtdorf and his wife came over and said hi to us! (He actually said our lunch looked really good—I’m sure it was just a nice thing to say since all we had was some cold leftover roast chicken, melon, tuna salad, and veggies…hmmm, that sounds really good when I say it, but it sure didn’t LOOK so nice! Ha!) We got to shake his hand and talk for a minute before he and his wife were pretty much mobbed by everyone else. That was pretty special for us. I’m sort of sad that I didn’t have my camera, but I just feel so silly asking for a picture with apostles. Same reason I never had a picture taken with Elder Holland when he came to Cameroon, even though we got to be with him quite a bit (Devin was the ‘official’ chauffeur). It’s a nice memory that, to me, would feel cheapened by a hectic photo shoot. Probably just me. I’m a little crazy.
We decided to leave soon after eating, as we had a long way to go! Dev and I decided to take a weekend trip to Galilee! We drove up next to the Jordan river (Hi, Jordan!!) and ended up in the city of Tiberias. Since it was still the Sabbath, we decided to do a ‘holy site’, as has become our new habit here. We went to the Mount of Beatitudes. We made it 15 minutes before they closed, which was ok. It was POURING rain and windy, so we couldn’t really meander about and ponder the beauties and history of the place anyway. :) We walked around a bit and enjoyed the lovely flowers (when we weren’t running for cover); we went inside of a church there and looked around a bit. Mostly, we just enjoyed the view, and the feeling of knowing WHERE we were! We read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 with the kids and asked them if they thought it would have been a nice place to sit and listen to the Savior’s teachings. They said no, but that was probably because it was raining and cold.
We then drove over to our little B&B that Devin had booked. It was such a cute place! It reminded me a lot of the movie ‘Leap Year’. If you’ve seen that movie, this room was like all the places where she (they) stayed. The kids thought it was great. It was very cozy—our own little ‘house’ in the middle of nowhere! I’d stay there again, though.
Honestly, it has inspired me with a new vision of the future: Devin and I will buy a giant piece of land somewhere, grow an orchard, build a huge Victorian mansion-esque building made into a B&B with themes of awesome old-school movies (Somewhere in Time, Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice, etc.), and people can come and stay and we’ll make their food if they want to order it ahead of time, they can pick their own fruit if it’s that time of year, we’ll have chickens (I know, they smell…) and strawberries…and during the day I’ll work at a library because I’ve decided I want to be a librarian. We’ll hire our grandchildren or siblings’ grandchildren to work the B&B/farm for us so they can have ‘experience’. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? *sigh*
Anyway, we all enjoyed our evening and everyone actually slept through the night! WOW! The next morning, we had a lovely breakfast there at the hotel. The couple who own the place were very cute. The husband is the ‘chef’ and everything is cooked right there for you. So fun! Seriously inspiring…
Then, we were off! We actually had no idea what we wanted to do. I wanted to go further north to some waterfalls. Devin wanted to see Mt Carmel and Mt Tabor. I wanted to go on a boat ride in the Sea of Galilee, too. So, off we went searching for a boat ride. Unfortunately, everywhere we went, they told us to go somewhere else for a boat ride. L We saw bits and pieces of places and the kids were really stir crazy. We went to Capernaum, but didn’t end up going in because the kids started a rousing game of tag in the parking area and were running into people, so we felt like another sacred site would be less effective at this point.
Instead, we drove down the road a bit and I noticed a walking trail along the shore of the sea, so we stopped the car and went for a walk! As we walked along, we saw that it was called The Gospel Trail. Cool! So, we walked on the Gospel Trail. I’m cool with that! It actually started to warm up, too, which was nice. The walk was lovely with beautiful views, lots of flowers, and a very peaceful feeling. It was nice to let the kids out of the confines of the car and let them just be themselves and run and yell without bothering anyone. Kids need time to be kids. All that energy has to be let out!! That is the key to happy kids (and happy moms)!
After running on the Gospel Trail for awhile, we drove down to Tiberias to see if we could find a boat ride (and some lunch). We found a great place for lunch called Cherry. They had EVERYTHING!! The kids had pasta, pizza, calzones; Devin had a salad; I had St. Peter’s Fish (Tilapia), and it was all absolutely delicious!!! I highly recommend the place! You won’t find it on a GPS, but it’s there, so if you’re in Tiberias, go there and eat their food. Mmmm… We did some shopping after eating (found some cool Jerusalem placemats, postcards, a Frisbee, and sunglasses for everyone). Then it was off to find a boat ride. Again. Sadly, all the boat rides we found were only for large groups, and our family didn’t count. It’s funny that everyone’s jaw drops when they see how many kids we have (are they ALL yours??—although, there are lots of other people who have more kids than we do, so I don’t know what they’re getting all worked up about…), but they don’t think we’re big enough to constitute a group boat ride. Ah well. We did find a small boat (speed boat) that the owner was willing to take us out, but they only accepted cash, and we didn’t have any shequels…just dinars and credit cards. Doh. So, we didn’t get to go on a boat ride. Sad. The kids were devastated, especially Andrew who just sobbed the whole way back to the car. Poor kid. Me, too, Drew.
We got in the car and decided to head to some ruins down the road called ‘Bet She’an’. They were pretty interesting. The best part was the play that Devin and the kids put on for me (Devin danced like a ballerina across the stage—he was the tooth fairy—it was ADORABLE!! OH, how I love that man!!), and the Roman Toilets. Ha!!
We tried to get up to Nazareth to see it, but traffic was really bad, so we decided to head home through the Jezreel Valley (yes, the future Armageddon site—did you know they even have the Armageddon National Park there?????) which was very beautiful. We had to take some side roads to get home, as the GPS kept trying to take us on a toll road which we’re not really allowed to take since we don’t have the toll sticker on the car window. It was an interesting trip home… :D But, we finally made it, and we are all EXHAUSTED. But then, we usually are. You’d think we’d get used to this pace we set for ourselves. It’s nice, though, that everyone drops like flies at night every night because they’re so tired! Hooray for outings that wear us out!
The other day when the kids and I went to the Western Wall Tunnels, we stopped into the information center at the Jaffa Gate and found that we could get a Combo ticket which includes the North and South Ramparts Walks, Zedekiah's Cave (aka King Solomon's Quarry--or King Solomon's Mine?? Ooooohhh...), and the Jerusalem Archaeology Park/Davidson Center. So, I got a combo ticket. Yesterday, we did the Northern Ramparts Walk and Zedekiah's Cave. The walk is really cool! You get to walk all along the top of the Old City Wall along the battlements! We 'shot' arrows through the slots and looked over at the view at each and every watchtower. We had a great time!
Eating our pastries walking through the Muslim Quarter
After our HOUR LONG walk (may have been even longer...) over the walls of the city, we headed back through the city to find the exit at Damascus Gate so we could find Zedekiah's Cave. It's this super awesome cave right below the city wall between Damascus and Herod's Gates. The kids LOVED it!! Peter was SO MAD when we finally had to leave! They ran through and explored and found 'houses' and 'caves', and saw Zedekiah's Tears and thought that was really cool (they're called Zedekiah's Tears because when the Babylonians came to take over Jerusalem, it's said that King Zedekiah went and hid in this cave, but cried when he realized that there was no way out and he was trapped...then they found him, captured him and his family, killed his sons before his eyes, then poked his eyes out. Those guys knew how to do it, eh? Gross).
Unfortunately, we had to book it back to the car. We were parked on street/meter parking and I had a little trouble with it. We found a spot no problem, and I found the meter to pay for parking. It was 5.50 NIS per hour, which is fairly reasonable, I suppose. So I put in 3 hours. Then, I thought that maybe I should put in 4 or 5 just in case, so I did. Apparently, though, they only let you pay for 3 hours max, because even after I put in all that money, it only gave me exactly 3 hours. It stated how much I had paid, but still only gave me three hours. I was so ticked!! So, we were down at Damascus Gate and had to get back to Independence park in 12 minutes... Oh dear. The kids were tired and dragging, Peter was mad because he didn't want to leave the cave... I carried Peter on my shoulders while I almost ran back to the car. The kids did a pretty good job keeping up for being SO tired! We made it back in 25 minutes. It was a long walk. :) No ticket, thank goodness. We spent the rest of our day doing nature journals, drawing pictures, doing some iPad apps, and reading.
Today, we were up and out of the house just before 9am! Wow, eh? We found some GREAT FREE parking by Zion's Gate (I'm not revealing my source!) and we ran up to Jaffa Gate to do the Southern Ramparts Walk.
The reason there are 2 walks is because you can't walk on the wall over the temple mount. So you can go from Jaffa Gate to Lion's Gate, which is the last gate before the temple mount, or you can go from Jaffa Gate to Dung Gate (love that name) which is the last gate on the other side of the temple mount. So, the kids and I walk ALL around the entire city of Jerusalem ON the walls of the city! Pretty cool, eh? We ended our walk today at Dung Gate, and right there is the Jerusalem Archaeological Park/Davidson Center. It's a really cool spot. It has ruins of houses, arches, stairs to the temple, etc. Also part of the Park is the Umyyad Palace, which is the other temple-like building right across from the Dome of the Rock. It was a great spot with lots of places to explore, tunnels to walk through, and pillars to walk on (don't think they were really supposed to do that...).
Inside the Davidson Visitor's Center there were some displays and things to look at, plus a movie talking about pilgrimmages to the temple and what it may have been like during the Second Temple Period (Herod's temple). The kids enjoyed the movie so much, we watched it both in English and Hebrew (ha ha). I think they were tired and ready to sit.
After we finished exploring, we were all really tired. Honestly, if we didn't have those combo tickets, I would not have gone into town today. We are all EXHAUSTED. We spent another 3 1/2 hours walking constantly today and we are just tired. We walked back through the city to Zion's Gate so we could get back to the car. On the way, we found some people selling some very lovely fruit, so we got strawberries, passion fruit and grapes. When we got home, we added that to some peaches, honeydew melons, apples, pears, and oranges that we already had in the fridge and we had ourselves pretty much the BEST fruit salad EVER for lunch. SOO yummy! And it was so big, we had leftovers so that we could eat fruit salad with our roast chicken and corn on the cob for dinner tonight! Mmmm... You just can't beat eating fresh fruit salad with fruit you picked up off the street in Jerusalem... Holy fruit, Batman! He he he...
Who Am I?
As a Stay At Home Mom of 4 wonderful children, I have the amazing opportunity not only to home school them, but to do so in many different places! I am married to the most amazingly wonderful (and handsome) man in the whole world! Together, we seek out, every day, that Joy in the Journey that makes life exciting!
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