Spit That Out!

The Overly Informed Parent's Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt by Paige Wolf

Blogging about green guilt, eco-anxiety, and finding practical, reasonable ways to keep our families safe and healthy.
February 19th, 2015

Thanks to Climate Change, I Hate Winter Even More

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Warning: First World Problems Ahead – Read at Your Own Discretion

I once read a quote that read something like, “‘Tis better to relish the changing of the seasons than to live for summer.” I try to repeat that to myself on days like today. Because there is nothing more mundane than bitching about the winter, right?

Problem is, the only way to get me to stop verbally complaining is to write it all down into one glorious self-indulgent rant. So if you love winter, this post is not for you.

You see, global warming is just making the winters even shittier. I know I’m fortunate not to be six feet deep in snow like my friends in Boston, but seeing a 10-day-forecast that barely crawls above single digits makes me want to board the next flight to Florida. But the thing is, I like living in Philadelphia and I like seeing leaves fall in the autumn and trees bloom in the spring.

But most of all I love summer. Even when it is 110 degrees and the city smells like hot garbage, I will go sweat out every ounce of fluid from my body in an unairconditioned CrossFit gym with no complaints.

Because summer is the opposite of winter. And this is winter:

  • Piles of wet hats, scarves, mittens, coats, stroller blankets, and boots muddled in an unyielding pile of tracked filth stretching well through the living room.IMG_1780
  • Never-ending laundry brought on by above items as well as many, many layers of socks, sweaters, and sweatshirts.
  • Avoiding the mirror because no amount of makeup will cover the pale, sickly, swollen look that tells the world, “I have barely left the house since Christmas.”
  • And why haven’t I left the house – apart from the bitter cold and snow? Viruses swapped like halloween candy among all members of the household. Stomach viruses! Ear infections! Non-stop runny noses, hacking coughs, and inexplicable illnesses that leave you bedridden for days!
  • Social media photos of other people on tropical vacations! Without their children! And also lots of photos of people enjoying their “ski cabins.” When did this become a thing where everyone has a ski cabin with like six other families who all drink hot cocoa together and have kids who snowboard like Shaun White? My kids can barely walk through snow. Which brings me to:
  • Snow Days! Nothing is better than paying for childcare on top of childcare! Or just accepting that you will not be working on these days and instead watching Frozen ad nauseum. Or maybe you’ll bake cookies and eat them all in one sitting because in winter you are:
  • A fat ass! That’s right! Forget training for that 10K you have in the spring because you won’t even want to walk to the damn gym. Places that used to be leisurely walks are now death marches complete with messed-up bus schedules, snow squalls, and layers of scarves leaving you unrecognizable and shapeless. And if you think you are lacking exercise:
  • Meet my hairless dog. He lays by a heating vent all day and wonders why the hell we brought him here from Georgia.IMG_1361
  • Also, only boring fruit and root vegetables are in season, it’s dark at 4:30 p.m., and all I want to do is open a window.

How are you getting through this winter?

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February 11th, 2015

Chocolate You Can Feel Good About for Valentines Day (and Everyday)

Chocolate is so, so good. And the sweet treat is a Valentine’s staple no one should be denied.

But what happens when the company who makes your chocolate fix is bad news? Nestle has been boycotted for years due to their aggressive formula marketing (and slave labor. and rainforest destruction.) Conventional brands contain gnarly artificial ingredients that would blow your mind.

Fortunately Raaka Chocolate allows for guilt-free treats that taste miles above a Hershey’s Kiss!

Since 2010, Raaka Chocolate has been committed to making the most delicious chocolate possible while building and maintaining healthy relationships with the global community. Sold online and across the United States through independent retailers, the small batch, organic chocolate company makes unroasted chocolate bars by hand out of a factory in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The soy free, gluten free, nut free and vegan chocolates are made with directly traded cocoa beans from sustainable farms that offer cocoa farmers above market price.

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Raaka’s handcrafted, bean to bar truffles, are like nothing you have ever tasted. Made with Raaka’s signature virgin chocolate, they use unroasted cacao from Bolivia and the Dominican Republic to create four luxurious vegan truffles: Olive Oil, Coconut Milk, Sesame, and Butternut Squash.

Raaka’s Virgin Chocolate delivers rare flavors from the raw cocoa bean not available in other chocolates by crafting chocolate with a unique low temperature process. While nearly all chocolate is made from roasted cocoa beans, Raaka makes chocolate from unroasted cocoa beans which present a tremendous variety of flavors. Raaka Chocolate offers bold tasting notes like raspberry, clove and citrus. Their Bourbon Bar is made by aging cocoa nibs for a month in oak bourbon casks, and they stone grind whole rooibos tea leaves into chocolate to make their Vanilla Rooibos Bar.

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All bars are wrapped in Loop’s paper is printed with soy inks on FSC-certified, 100% post consumer recycled, chlorine-free paper that was processed with sustainable wind-generated energy. Even their cocoa husk is upcycled, donated to Edible Schoolyard NYC, an after-school gardening program at P.S. 216 in Brooklyn where they use the husk as mulch and fertilizer!

USE CODE IHEARTPAIGE FOR 10% OFF YOUR PURCHASE AT www.raakachocolate.com.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received samples of these products for review as well as monetary compensation. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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February 9th, 2015

Confession: I’m Terrified of My Kitchen – But Not For The Reason You Think

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I enjoy cooking. And I unquestionably enjoy eating. And every time I come home with a new vegetable share from my CSA or even a well-timed Fresh Direct delivery, I take pleasure in finding new recipes that I know at least three out of the four of us will enjoy.

That said, I am completely terrified that everything in my kitchen is going to kill me.

Not the food in the kitchen. We shop as clean and healthy as we can (save for occasional fights about my husband’s addiction to Edy’s chemical-shit-storm ice cream).

No, I’m afraid my cookware is going to kill me.

I’ve known for some time that I will probably die a slow death from the few plastic remnants in my kitchen. Old tupperware that’s gone through the heat cycle on the dishwasher a million times, and those BPA-free bottles that are actually made with something far more toxic.

I’ve lazily baked bread in a chipped non-stick breadmaker and sautéed on scratched up “Earth Pan” cookware that I know deep down is probably just as bad as Teflon.

Or maybe I’ll die by homemade pipe-bomb, as could have easily happened when a perfectly good piece of Pyrex glassware inexplicably and violently shattered upon being taken out of the oven. And I later learned this was because, several years ago, good old American Pyrex realized it would be cheaper to use a less temperature-resistant form of glass.

Now I literally have to screw up courage any time I take any dish in or out of the oven. And forget the gas stove – I’ve always been convinced that thing is gonna blow from an errant crumb in the burner.

My Keurig was recalled for spewing hot liquid and burning several customers. I once absent-mindedly stuck my finger in a hand blender while making pesto and had to get stitches.

Maybe we were better off before the advent of fire and I’d feel safer sticking to nuts and berries. Except that everyone I know is allergic to nuts. And it’s impossible to find organic berries in the winter.

So I must be brave. Stir that pot with some faith that hot oil won’t shoot directly into my eye. Bake those cookies with abandon.

It takes balls to feed a family of four. Balls of stainless steel.

NOTE: Coincidentally, Healthy Child Healthy World has just released an infographic on “9 Steps to a Healthier Kitchen.” Some important – slightly scary, but important – information, including the three types of cookware least likely to kill you (unless you drop them on your feet): Cast Iron, Enameled Cast Iron (my fave), and Stainless Steel.

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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February 2nd, 2015

I Put Tea Tree Oil Inside My Vagina – An Essential Oils Update

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All my life I thought I hated the smell of lavender. Now I know it’s just because what I thought was lavender was really just some funky chemicals in a Glade Air Freshener. And I am putting lavender essential oil on my pillow every night because I have officially reached a new level of crunchy – I’m addicted to essential oils.

Oh, I was skeptical as can be when all these green mom bloggers were raving about curing strep throat with thieves oil. I’m pro-vaccine, pro-tylenol, and, quite frankly, pro-Zoloft. But I figured I had nothing to lose by trying a few samples and wrote about my slow foray into essential oil use.

And then I started using them more and more – and finding myself carrying them on vacation and running low on my favorites. I started putting drops of Grapefruit and Lemon oils in my water – far easier than squeezing fruit and such an amazing way to get a flavor boost + vitamin C. I started using potions with Tea Tree Oil and Purification for all my cleaning purposes. And when I did get sick, for the first time among months of winter preschool germs, I diffused Thieves Oil, rubbed Breathe Again on my chest, and felt fine again in 24 hours.

But the defining moment, the moment when I knew there was no turning back, was when I put essential oils inside my vagina.

When I found myself on the brink of a yeast infection, I didn’t run out and buy Monistat. I mixed Tea Tree Oil and Lavender with Coconut Oil, solidified it in the fridge, and put the whole thing in my vagina. And it worked.

So now when I hear my daughter coughing in the middle of the night I go into her room and rub RC on her chest. I advise friends to use Peppermint Oil to break a fever. I wrestle my kids to rub Thieves Oil on the bottoms of their feet to boost their immune system. I am relying less and less on my conventional meds – though I still keep a stocked medicine cabinet for the times when you just need an Excedrin.

NOTE AND DISCLOSURE: Most of the established essential oil companies work through a multi-level-marketing model, something I am admittedly not a big fan of. However, purchasing as a “wholesale buyer” – which automatically makes you a distributer – saves you a significant amount of money versus buying them on Amazon. So technically, now I am a distributer. And these are affiliate links. You will not see me doing any essential oil hard sells, but if you’d like to try these out for yourself, please feel free to use my link!

MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: The information included on this website is based only on my own research and personal experience. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions expressed here are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. 

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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January 26th, 2015

BookMentors Connects Students and Teachers with Needed Books

With budget cuts to public and charter schools throughout the country, new and relevant books have become a valuable and scarce commodity in classrooms and libraries. Connecting teachers, librarians, and students in need of books with donors supporting literacy, reading, and education, BookMentors uses micropatronage to solve book access problems in high-poverty schools.

A space for anyone passionate about the power of books, the Web site enables readers, writers, publishers, and teachers to connect and share information about children’s and YA literature. BookMentors allows teachers to ask for the particular book or books they really need, not just any donated old books that won’t meet the needs and preferences of individual students or teaching curriculum.

Lack of access to books constrains the literacy development of students in lower income communities. While e-books may be trending across some schools, most can not afford to provide e-readers for each student. Additionally, there has been increasing research suggesting students have better comprehension, attention span, and even sleep patterns with print books.

And, of course, I’m always curious about the green factor. The jury is still out on the sustainability of print versus e-reading, and in most of these cases, e-books are simply not a reasonable or plausible replacement.

Learn more and see how easy it is to participate at www.bookmentors.org.

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January 20th, 2015

Connect with Top Media at One Day NYC Event for Health, Beauty, + Wellness Brands

Facebook ImageI’m so excited to be co-producing Healthy Brand Showcase: Spring 2015. This event gets bigger and better every year, and we are excited to welcome 15 brands for this exclusive event that draws top media and celebrities!

Knowing that most health and wellness product brands only have the time (and budget) for one media trip to New York each year, Healthy Brand Showcase  brings the press directly to you for the day!  We connect health, wellness, beauty and fitness brands with national magazines, talks show producers, newspaper reporters, bloggers, trades and freelance writers who write on-going feature and product stories.  We will also have several guest experts on-site throughout the day to assist with broadcast and print interviews.  

We are only accepting about 15 brands and only a couple in each category. We keep it small and intimate and, unlike a large trade show, you really have time with the attendees! 

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Some of the amazing brands who have showcased in the past include Revolution Foods, Happy Family Brands, PiperWai, Board & Batten, La Bella Figura Beauty, Boiron, Stur, Motto, Goddess Garden, Acorelle, Bitsy’s Brainfood, and more! It’s been amazing to watch the event directly result in fantastic press hits and celebrity endorsements for the participating brands!

If you know a brand that might be a good fit, visit www.healthybrandshowcase.com and contact me for more details.

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January 12th, 2015

Acorelle: Beautiful, Organic Perfume That Won’t Give You a Migraine

Perfume. Parfum. Fragrance.

I have been diligently trained to avoid those ingredients on all labels as they generally refer to a cocktail of synthetic chemicals immediately sets my olfactory sense into overdrive. Not only do I know what lurks in most fragrance formulations, avoiding them for years has sensitized me to the point where I’m leery to hug a friend dosed in eau de toilette.

I remember the years when I adored Coco Mademoiselle, but now a whiff of it sets me up for a migraine. I learned to embrace essential oils and seek out the few truly natural perfumes that didn’t smell like an old hippie.

But now I have fallen completely in love with Acorelle, a line of French-made organic perfumes now available in the U.S.

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All Acorelle perfumes are paraben-free, phthalate-free, and 100% natural, made from concentrated active essential oils. In addition, they are carried in an alcohol base that is made from organically grown wheat – not from denatured cellulosic alcohol. No synthetic ingredients are used in Acorelle, such as chemical fixers or synthetic musks, and there are no animal ingredients.Acorelle’s base is derived from organically grown wheat and is not denaturated by DEP (diethyl phthalate), a chemical compound commonly used by the cosmetic industry, and a suspected carcinogen. The products are certified by Ecocert/Cosmebio, the international agency that provides organic certifications for personal care products.

Acorelle divides their nine individual scents into three different families of fragrances:  Energizing, Balancing, and Soothing. Each fragrance is a unique blend of citrus fruits, woody plants, flowers, bark and other natural ingredients. Acorelle has four variations of fragrant product: Perfumes (8% fragrance), the lighter Eau Fraiche (3% fragrance) or Body Mists (2% fragrance), and the concentrated essential oil blends (100% fragrance oils).

My personal favorites are Divine Orchid, R of Rose, and Absolu Tiare. So, if you are like one of my many friends who swears she can’t give up her beloved perfume, I urge you to give these a whiff!

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Disclosure: I received samples of these products for review. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

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January 2nd, 2015

Get Better Sleep in The New Year with Confident Parenting

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Just when you think you can rest easy again, babies and young children surprise you with night-waking, bedtime fears, and new sleep struggles. I’m personally dealing with sleep regression in my 18-month-old while my 5-year-old likes to rise with the roosters.

Enter Erica Desper of Confident Parenting, a certified baby and child sleep coach offering private counseling for families in the greater Philadelphia area. 

Confident Parenting‘s mission is to educate parents about the science of sleep and walk them through the process of improving their baby or child’s sleep habits. Erica has been a lifeline for frustrated parents who can stay connected to her through text, e-mail, and Skype. She even hosts “Slumber Parties,” group Skype calls with fellow exhausted parents as an affordable option to make support available to more families.

It is never too late to change sleep habits and fortunately now frazzled and frustrated parents don’t have to feel alienated and exasperated! Learn more about her services online.

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December 28th, 2014

My Bucket List – A Five Year Check-In

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Back in January 2010, I decided to create a personal “Bucket List.” The goals had no expiration date – apart from death, of course. But I thought it would be interesting to check in five years later to see what I was able to cross off my list and how my goals for the future have changed.

The following goals from my original bucket list have been completed:

  • Swim with Dolphins (√ – APRIL 2010)
  • Publish a book ( – NOVEMBER 2010)
  • Weigh under 145 pounds (without losing a limb or breast, as I am not taking chances for cruel irony) (√ – JANUARY 2012)
  • Take a family cruise (√– FEBRUARY 2013)
  • Give Sam a sibling (√ – JUNE 2013)

Uncompleted goals (with my new addendums):

  • Spend at least a two-week stretch of time in London
  • Be in the audience of The Graham Norton Show
  • Go to France
    • I would like to condense the above three goals to the following: Spend any amount of time in London, preferably without the children, for a trip that includes being in the audience of the Graham Norton Show. Ideally the couch would include Jo Brand, Jennifer Saunders, Margaret Cho, and musical guest Kate Bush who comes out of retirement for one more show. This trip can also include a quick trip to Paris on the Eurostar, thereby killing three goals in one brief trip.
  • Perform a really good Karaoke duet, preferably “Candy” by Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson or “Stop Dragging my Heart Around” by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty
    • This is literally the easiest one but I have made no progress in five years. If I don’t check this off at my next five year check in I have clearly not tried very hard. I think the problem thus far has been that this would probably require staying up past 9 p.m.
  • Drive Cross Country
  • Visit major U.S. cities I haven’t seen including Chicago, Atlanta, Houston or Dallas, and New Orleans (√ Chicago August 2013, Atlanta July 2014 – halfway to goal!)
  • Have a proper conversation with Kathy Griffin and/or Margaret Cho
    • I am currently in possession of tickets to see Margaret at a very small venue with an “in” to meet her so fingers crossed on making this happen soon!)
  • Kiss Christopher Atkins (has-been 80s actor I am still strangely obsessed with)
    • This is becoming less and less realistic as this obscure actor lives cross-country and is well into his fifties. It’s also really, really weird and I should probably delete it, but won’t.
  • Go to IsraelCall me a bad Jew, but I am sort of over this one.
  • Get a “mommy lift” (As of November 2014 – even after another childbirth and regularly self-shaming my belly – I no longer want this!! )

MET GOALS that I never even imagined having five years ago:

  • Ran a 10K 
  • Competed in several CrossFit competitions 
  • Did a 5K mud run/obstacle course 
  • Can do pull ups, climb a rope, and do at least 20 consecutive double unders 
  • Spoke at amazing conferences advocating for my passions! 
  • Opportunities to appear on TV to share fun ideas for greener living 

BRAND NEW GOALS:

  • Broad Street Run – 10 miles!
  • Spartan Race/Unite Fitness Decathalon/ or similar
  • Renovate top floor to include bathroom, therefore finally not having to share a bathroom with my children. (First world problem, but bare with me)
  • Publish a revised version of Spit That Out! – with the addendum that I will only do this with proper backing from a publisher OR after waiting another 15 years when everything I have said will be completely obsolete.

Do you have a bucket list? What life adventures did I forget to add to mine?

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December 11th, 2014

A Skeptic’s Venture Into Essential Oils

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Readers know I straddle the line between crunchy green mom and conventional parent. My green colleagues and I chat endlessly about organic tampons and whether to scrub out peanut butter jars so they can be recycled. But when the conversation turns to essential oils I pretty much tune out.

It probably doesn’t help the well-meaning essential oil consultants that a few have gone around professing that their oils can cure Ebola, inciting an FDA crackdown. But when it comes to sinus congestion, back pain, or even a great stain remover, I am perfectly open to exploring unconventional methods.

I finally decided to see what all the hype was about and entrusted my friend Stephanie with Good Girl Gone Green for a personalized tutorial and test drive.

She sent me a variety of pure essential oils (plant-derived extracts) as well as some custom-blends meant for specific uses.

I started with a simple and incontrovertible use – making things smell good. I had been meaning to add essential oils to my dryer balls for a while, and Stephanie recommended Purification, a blend of oils including citronella, lemongrass, tea tree, and rosemary. It made a big difference in my laundry and having a truly natural pleasant scent really is uplifting. It was also an easy fix to put a few dabs on cotton balls to place in diaper bins and rooms that get stale when sealed up for the winter.

Stephanie also had me mix a few drops of thieves oil in a spritzer with witch hazel and water to use as a disinfectant. I sprayed this on the kids’ toys, the remote, the phones – everything that desperately needed it since the kids’ noses haven’t stopped running since October.

The medicinal uses were trial and error, with nothing but some very loose anecdotal evidence to share.

When I came home from Thanksgiving dinner of course my belly was a bit sore. And randomly my asthma had been acting up. Before bed I applied Digize to my belly and a prescribed blend of raven, copaiba, and dorado azul  to my chest. To be perfectly honest, I had no expectation beyond my husband yelling at me that I smelled like a hippie. But I have to say, my symptoms began to feel better with no additional medication. This could have been coincidence or maybe the oils really worked some magic!

But it wasn’t always immediate success. I put a few drops of thieves and oregano on my husband’s chest to try to alleviate a hacking cough that was possibly bothering me more than it was bothering him. His cough did not subside but it was also possible that either one dose was not enough or I had used the entirely wrong oils.

A couple days later I had a massage appointment at a decidedly non-eco spa (I had a Groupon.) When I saw the two-gallon vat of generic “massage oil” he had by the table I was glad I had brought my own blend of avocado oil and Pan Away, a pain remedy with wintergreen, clove, and peppermint. It was one of the best massages I’ve ever had.

But the most remarkable use I found was for my occasional – but wicked – sinus pain. I put peppermint on my temples and it truly made a difference almost immediately.

After a couple weeks of playing with the oils I was actually compelled to buy a full starter set with a diffuser. And, yes, my husband thought I was insane to spend $150 on a bunch of oils. But here is my thinking: if using these oils can help my family cut back on my use of over-the-counter medications even a little, it will be worth it. And I know I will be saving money on cleaning products by making more of my own formulas. There are literally thousands of uses for these oils – some that I know are foolproof like grease-cutting, air freshening, and mood lifting. The rest run the spectrum from “Wow, this is really helping” “Can’t hurt” to “I’ll stick with antibiotics for strep throat.” 

NOTE AND DISCLOSURE: Most of the established essential oil companies work through a multi-level-marketing model, something I am admittedly not a big fan of. However, purchasing as a “wholesale buyer” – which automatically makes you a distributer – saves you a significant amount of money versus buying them on Amazon. So technically, now I am a distributer. And these are affiliate links. You will not see me doing any essential oil hard sells, but if you’d like to try these out for yourself, please feel free to use my link!!

And please let me know what your experience is. Did you find any miracle cures? A great way to tackle dirty floors? A scent to keep away creepy dudes on the subway? Please share!

MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: The information included on this website is based only on my own research and personal experience. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions expressed here are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. 

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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