Book Review: A Charlotte Mason Education: A Homeschooling How-To Manual

Book Title:  A Charlotte Mason Education: A Homeschooling How-To Manual

Author:  Catherine Levison

Genre: Homeschooling; Education

Pages:  89

Publisher: Champion Press

Why Did I Choose It?  To give myself a better overall picture of the Charlotte Mason method to help determine if it truly is the method I wish to use for my youngest child.

A Bit From The Back Cover:  The immensely popular ideas of Charlotte Mason have inspired educators for many decades.  Her unique methodology as written about in her six-volume series established the necessary protocols for an education above and beyond that which can be found in  traditional classroom  settings. In A Charlotte Mason Education, Catherine Levison has collected the key points of Charlotte Mason’s methods and presents them in a simple, straightforward way that will allow families to quickly maximize the opportunities of homeschooling.  With weekly schedules, a challenging and diverse curriculum will both inspire and educate your child.  A Charlotte Mason Education is the latest tool for parents seeking the best education for their children.

Review:  Why did I not pick up this book over 8 years ago when I began our homeschool adventure?!  Oh, I know why…. at the time I was just overwhelmed by all that was happening in our lives to extensively learn anything other than what I already knew… but oh I wish I had!  I believe Catherine Levison gives a wonderfully simplistic overall introduction to the Charlotte Mason method and demonstrates how to begin the journey in a way that is not over boggling to the homeschool parent’s mind in any way.  The book, though only brief, is chock full of resources and suggestions on how to approach the subject areas using the Charlotte Mason approach.   It is well-organized and easily understood.  Each chapter is only a few pages long at most and gives a brief but thorough overview on how to approach the subject with Charlotte’s methodology, an approach unlike that of the public schools of our day  – school days should be fun, relaxed and igniting a passion for learning within our children. It has given me the affirmation that I needed that this is the approach for us and that it will be most doable and, most likely, by far less time-consuming than any other method I’ve used previously. This will be a resource that I will keep handy to refer to over and over again.

Other Books By This Author:

More Charlotte Mason Education: A Homeschooling How To Manual,  A Literary Education


Fellow homeschoolers, let me know what you think of this book! And feel free to list other recommendations for my other readers!

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September Wrap-Up

Well here it comes!  October will be upon us in just two days!  The leaves are already changing here, seemingly quite quickly.  My son, the other day, was quite convinced if we just turned around to go back home up the mountain road what had been green just moments ago would surely be yellow or orange already!

With the fall changes are many changes in my own life.  We are settling into the new house.  It felt like home before we even had stuff in it.  Now that our things are here and I have found MOST of them (The LeapPad never was found I ended up replacing it) and I’m beginning to get things up on the walls and settling into a semi-normal (whatever normal is) routine, it feels even more like home.  I’m also settling into the changes of having a football player at home (my oldest son) and having ‘school’ with my youngest – who even insists we do school on Saturdays! (I usually do cave into at least going over his word cards or ‘making words’ with his letters because who can say no to someone who wants to learn??).  I love the changes of being closer to church and the grocery store – we were finally able to attend family night at church and it is such a tremendous blessing to have raw milk and free range eggs from the Amish farm just down the road….and the produce from there too!  It’s amazing only spending $2.00 on a beautiful spaghetti squash!  Yes, these changes are GOOD!!  Thank you Lord!

I think I’m finally settling back into a routine here on the blog as well!  Thank you and a warm welcome to my new followers from this past month. I’m thrilled to have you.  I noticed a big addition to numbers and views especially after my post on Charlotte Mason.  I am so totally falling in love with this approach and fully intend to keep reading and experimenting with it and yes, definitely will be posting more about it.  If you missed mention of it, you can check it out here.

Along with posts the above post, I’ve been making a habit of posting my Peaceful Reflections in an attempt to share my favorite quotes of the week that find me reflecting on the blessings God has given us. I’m finally getting back into my routine of waking early (the move left me utterly exhausted and getting up early just wasn’t physically possible for well over a month) to spend time on God’s Word and other spiritual readings as well as spending time on my writing before waking my oldest and starting breakfast preparation in the mornings. I achieved four of those posts this month, so be sure to look for them all.

I finally got out the book review on The Graveyard Book that I read earlier in the summer. And hopefully my writer friends and homeschool friends caught Writing Exercise #9 as it related to the fall colors surrounding us! And I am trying to make new habits in handling the stress in my life and have started to share about that here and here.

My family finished off September by attending a football game with all of us attending (my daughter came home from college) and a lovely wedding in Ohio.  We had a really nice time. footballGreg's Wedding4

Greg's Wedding Greg's Wedding2 Greg's Wedding3 Greg's wedding5

 I have lots of ideas for October posts,  So be sure to keep a watchful eye! 

Hopefully that will include an update on cold and flu remedies, more Peaceful Reflections, more on Charlotte Mason including a book review and much much more!  If there’s something you’re hoping to see, let me know….maybe I can squeeze it in!!




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Peaceful Reflections

Peaceful Reflections…..for those times you just need some quiet time to sit, read a short bit and reflect.

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Pay attention to yourselves, lest your hearts be burdened with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a snare;  for it will come upon all those sitting on the face of all the earth. But keep awake at all times, beseeching that you may have strength to flee away from all these things that are about to happen and to stand before the Son of Man.  ~ Luke 21: 34-36

Though I speak with tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

St. Paul

~ I Corinthians 1-3



Remember, never to fear the power of evil more than your trust in the power and love of God.  ~Hermas, one of the Seventy


 Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God  have mercy on me a sinner.




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Book Review: The Graveyard Book


Book Title: The Graveyard Book                               

Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy

Pages: 336

Ages: 10 and up (I’d probably suggest 12 and up – see my note below)

Publisher: Harper Collins (reprint edition September 28, 2010)

Awards: Newberry Medal, Carnegie Medal, Hugo Award, Locus Award

Why Did I Choose It? Besides the obvious – this book is a Newberry Medal Award book of which I am determined to read them all – this was a ‘ghost story’ so to speak and as a child growing up, I was always drawn to ghost stories and those ‘scary’ stories of the supernatural world.  In addition, the book was recommended to me buy a blogger friend who also wrote a review and you can find that here ;)

A Bit From The Back Cover:  It takes a graveyard to raise a child.  Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy.  He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy- an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls,  the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack- who has already killed Bod’s family.

Review: This was an unusual Newberry Medal book in that it certainly possessed an unusual telling (ghost story) with very unusual characters (ghosts, ghouls, and a few lone humans) for a Newberry!  Needless to say, I LOVED it! Now keep in mind, I love ghost stories…  and I love Mr. Gaiman’s imagination to come up with the idea of a young human child being raised by ghosts!

The book starts a little scary…or at least could be for a young reader.  It basically tells a tale of Nobody Owens, a toddler, narrowly escaping (unbeknownst to him) being murdered and leaves behind his parents who actually have been murdered and climbing the hill to the graveyard. There the grave imagination begins…. (pun intended…sorry).  The book follows young Bod through his childhood weaving in relationships with his ‘adoptive’ ghost parents (not his biological parents mind you), a caretaker, a young human friend, a creature called the Sleer, and  an unjustly executed witch among others and ends….well, I won’t tell anymore of the story as you really must read it for yourself.

But I will say this – It’s a wonderful tale weaving in bits of fantasy, ‘scariness’, humor, friendship, and mystery all in one unforgettable piece. Furthermore,   the book leaves an enormous amount of possible discussions to be had with youth.  First of all is the discussion of whether ghosts exist or not….do you believe in them?  And most importantly, what does your Faith teach you? Secondly, the book shows a different relationshiop between Bod and his adoptive parents and that between Bod and Silas, another character in the graveyard.  This certainly portrays reality for youth today and the relationship they have with parents and that of other adults.  Another third discussion point is the goodness displayed by what would typically be seen as ‘evil’ type characters (Silas, Miss Lupescu and Eliza) – what can be said about how we judge others according to appearance and social status? Can those who are good do something ‘evil’?  Can those who appear ‘evil’ do good or actually be good at heart? There are many other points that can be made and discussed, of course.  But these stick out to me the most.

Other Books By This Author: The Ocean at the End of the Lane,  Stardust, Coraline, Sandman, Unnatural Creatures (Stories selected by Neil Gaiman), Anansi Boys and others.

I am actually rather eager to read more by Mr. Gaiman now- I will admit, until now, I had not…. (horrors, I know…)

*Special Note for ParentsThe novel does contain  bits of  violence, murder, and death. If  I were to rate it comparative to movies of this day, it would most likely be PG.  I ‘m certain that teens could easily handle the material in the novel. But parents of younger children, say below 12, should probably read it for themselves to judge their child’s ability to handle the story.

On another side note….. it IS being turned into a film directed by Ron Howard…..  hmmmmm……  always a dilemma…. should I go see the movie when it comes out? Will it just totally ruin the book??

Read the book…. and let me know if you’re going to go see the film!


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Writing Exercise #9 A Memory in Color


Our first drawing after a nature walk. My son got a little carried away…. while I was drawing the leaf, he drew an acorn ( upper left if you can see it), a snake (it was dead on the road…ick), a tree, the neighbors, and many other things which we did NOT see….you know- like a toilet. LOL. Once we get the sketch pad that will be officially our nature notebook, I think I’ll limit it to one or two things we REALLY did see ;)

With the autumn leaves changing all around us, color has been on my mind.  My son and I often observe the fallen red leaves in our driveway and yard (woods) on our daily nature walks.  Today we brought one back and drew a picture of it.  So for this next writing exercise I thought of this one that involves color:

Select one color – maybe it’s your favorite or maybe it’s the color you are wearing or maybe it’s just the first color you see when you look up from this screen – and write about a memory you have that can be associated with that color.

For me, today, I’m choosing red.  Red is full of memories for me and when I was first thinking of this exercise I thought of Mrs. Allred, my fifth grade teacher,  of nosebleeds as a younger child, and the color of my own hair and the nicknames I inherited as a result.  All of these are encircled in memories, but as I was actually typing this I thought of a memory I haven’t thought of well, maybe since it occurred.  As a young child of seven, I lived in a trailer park for about a year (the trailer was this old looking, faded blue thing). The back yard (the only yard, really – there was no front) ran up a hill.  At the top of that hill was a small garden held in by a stone wall.  In that garden there were strawberries. RED, ripe, juicy strawberries! Perhaps they were wild – my memory isn’t enough to tell me if they had purposely been planted there or not, but I remember the small, bursting with flavor strawberries.  The smell, the sweetness, the juiciness of those delicate fruits.  I remember picking them—  my first experience in picking berries — and the excitement of finding the red treasures under the cool green leaves and fragile white flowers. I remember the coolness of the dirt as my fingers played among the runners and weeds looking for crawling beetles, wriggling worms and, of course, more berries lurking in the shade of the plants.  Thinking back I can recall the heat of the sun and the buzzing insects in the air. I recall the people, my aunts and stepmother, and I can almost envision what my stepmother was wearing… mostly I remember the strawberries.  Luscious!

Feel free to go into much more detail with your own writing.  Encourage your child by (if you are a homeschooler using this) sharing a color and a few memories it makes you think of from your own childhood.  Remember, also, a memory doesn’t have to be from years and years ago.  For a child, especially, the memory may be from the week before or even just a day ago.

My memory is much more vivid than I would imagine and I know I could write more.  I could play around with this exercise and tell if from different points of view.  I could also select a different memory associated with the same color or choose a different color.  Have fun with it.  You never know what a color may make you remember!  I wasn’t expecting this one :)

Also, feel free to share what you come up with!



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Charlotte Mason and Self Education

“Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child’s nature.”  ~ Charlotte Mason

One of the biggest things I find attractive about the methodology of Charlotte Mason is the self-education.  I find that in all the methods I’ve tried or researched or discussed with others, it is the method that seems best able to offer a child the ability to learn self-education. This is so because it focuses on developing a love for learning using methods involving all five senses without methods that kill that love.  It is not a methodology like our public schools where they test to see what a child does NOT know, but gives ‘examinations’ to determine what a child does know.  There is no dry boring textbooks with countless questions to answer, no weekly quizzes or tests to memorize the information for and forget the following week,and no lecturing.  The child develops a true love for learning in Charlotte Mason’s techniques involving the heavy emphasis of LIVING books and short lessons with a large variety of subjects taught each and every year.

I’m really enjoying  reading A Charlotte Mason Education (A Home Schooling How-To Manual) by Catherine Levison.  It’s providing a great overview of teaching various subject matter with the Charlotte Mason method. It’s  a quick read and is covering lots of subject matter that I won’t necessarily use just yet (my son is only 4) but gives me a great resource to determine when I might start introducing things and a book I can turn to over and over again for review and ideas.

The book is broken down into 20 chapters.  The first three chapters focus on an introduction to Charlotte Mason, the basic methodology and narration.  The remaining chapters all cover how to cover basic subject matter:  literature, poetry, art appreciation, music appreciation, science, math, history, etc.  I’m about halfway through.

Just last night I ordered a sketch pad for my son and I to use as a nature journal.  I have some ideas on how to introduce this concept to him this year in a basic way.  I’m really excited about developing a habit of nature walks and nature observation outdoors.  We

This is an acorn, something we observed quite a few of the other day on our walk. The picture isn’t mine – I borrowed it from the internet this morning I’ll either start taking my phone with me on our walks (I really should buy a new camera and learn how to upload my pictures) or use the computer to show him how to find pictures and print them out for our notebook.

started last week but without a notebook.  My plan is to simply spend time outdoors with him (my goal really is 5 times a week but I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up with it in winter – I’m a true sissy when it comes to the cold so if you have pointers on this, I’d love to hear them!) and allow him to pick something new several times a week to come back and either draw a picture of something we discovered or find a picture on the web to print, cut and paste into his notebook so I can label it for him.  He’s four, so I won’t have him write the words in his notebook unless of course, he wants to in which case I’ll write the word somewhere else for him to copy.  It won’t be something forced.  If there’s a day he doesn’t want to do the notebook, we’ll let it go.  This is just our introductory year – for him and for me.

Are  you using the Charlotte Mason method?  Feel free to share your favorite resources or favorite activities.  I’d love to hear about them!


“…my object is to show that the chief function of the child–his business in the world during the first six or seven years of his life–is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses…”  ~Charlotte Mason

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Peaceful Reflections

Peaceful Reflections…..for those times you just need some quiet time to sit, read a short bit and reflect.

2010-07-18 09.50.10


Let our love be only in Christ.  In order to benefit others you must live in the love of God, otherwise you are unable to do good to your fellow man.  You mustn’t pressurize the other person.  His time will come as long as you pray for him.  With silence, tolerance and above all prayer, we benefit others in a mystical way.  The grace of God clears the horizon of his mind and assures him of His love.  Here is the fine point.  As soon as he accepts that God is love, then abundant light such as he has never seen will come upon him.  Thus, he will  find salvation.   ~ Elder Porphyrios the Kapsokalyvite

Let us be convinced that nothing can happen to us apart from the providence of God.   ~St. Dorotheos of Gaza

As soon as your mind has experienced what the scripture says: “How gracious is the Lord,” it will be so touched with that delight that it ill no longer want to leave the place of the heart.  It will echo the words of the apostle Peter: “How good it is to be here.”  ~ St. Symeon the New Theologian

St. Symeon the New Theologian




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An Hour to Myself

I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I put two and two together that my son’s chemistry lab was letting out early.  I realized that I’d be home before my faithful friend would be done cleaning (she started out as a neighbor who agreed to do my house-cleaning when I was looking for help five years ago and has turned into a great friend) which meant, if she agreed, I could leave my little one home with her and have an entire hour to MYSELF!!!!  WOOT!  She agreed, of course (she and my little guy seem to have quite an attachment) and I was happy as a lark sitting back in my van with my bag of books, notebook and a pencil.

I took my books that I’ve been reading – the two that I mentioned in my previous post – and a couple of others in addition to the new cookbook (cookbooks are an addiction of mine) that I just received the other day!  I actually managed to read for about 15 minutes from the book on the Charlotte Mason method as well as read a bit from chapter 16 of the Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook and worked on some goal planning.  Chapter 16 is on Time Management and what the book has covered so far in my reading is on setting priorities and setting goals with those priorities. So currently I’m working on that list of priorities and making some long-term (life) goals as well as some medium term (something I can accomplish in one to five years) goals.  I’ll get to short-term soon, I’m sure.

After I worked on that for a bit, I peeked at the cookbook.

What made me buy this one is the author’s menu plans.  She actually included menu plans for at least 7 weeks and included the grocery shopping lists for each week!  That’s one of my goals – to develop a few easy week menu plans so that if I simply don’t have time to plan I can just grab a menu and an already made up shopping list and GO….  no stress of trying to figure out what can be made on days I don’t have a lot of time.  This would have been nice to have during the week of our big move – as it was, we fell to take-out from so local restaurants that have gluten-free options, but certainly not paleo.  My digestive system is still a little upset with me :(  So I’ll be playing around with some new recipes soon!  And working on more goal planning….

So now I’m feeling a little more invigorated and even found time to post today which wasn’t even in my plans!  So I hope you enjoy this little update as much as I enjoyed finding a few moments to write it up!

Have you had any unexpected but pleasant surprises today?

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Reading…reading…reading…not so much

I’m an avid reader, as I’m sure you can tell.  Especially if you read my post back at the beginning of the year listing the books I wanted to read by year’s end

I’ve made progress on that list but I don’t foresee actually getting through it.  Especially since I’m barely reading at all these days and the ones I could say I’m actually currently ACTIVELY reading are not ones from my list. Sigh.

There are other books I’m reading…but not so actively – meaning I’ve started them and they ended up in a stack of other books I’ve started but got sidetracked because , well, I started others.  It’s almost an addiction… book stacks….

But here is what I’m Currently ACTIVELY reading:

1.  The Relaxation  & Stress Reduction Workbook (previously mentioned in several posts such as this one and this one)

2.  Charlotte Mason Education:  A Homeschooling How-To Manual by Catherine Levison- I’m hoping that Ms. Levison’s book will at least put in my mind the key points of Charlotte Mason’s methods.

Yep….that’s it.  For me , that is really an extremely short list.  But I’m still unpacking…and searching….  Have I mentioned that I have unpacked (not put away and organized mind you…but ) the majority of our boxes and STILL can not find my son’s Leapfrog LeapPad???

 This is a small computer like toy that he uses for educational games and BOOKS that I’ve downloaded for him.  He is not addicted to it like a lot of kids are with electronic games but we really like it for trips in the car, appointments and for use in general places that he has to sit for longer periods of time than usual….   So anyway… I can’t find it.  It seems to be gone.  And that really really bothers me (obviously since I’ve seem to have found a way to rant about it here in the middle of a post on reading and books….)

So yes, that’s my current book list.

I’m really eager to read more of the Charlotte Mason book.  I’ve just started it and can only get in half a page or so here and there.  I truly am falling in love with this method of homeschooling.  I just don’t know how to shake off all those years of public schooling from my memory and let it completely fall to the wayside…  I guess I won’t completely.  But I do really want to change my approach for our little guy.  The way he’s picking up on ‘making words’ right now is delightful!!

I also hope to find more time this week to read the chapter on time management in the workbook….ain’t that a hoot!  Need to find time to read about time management…. I guess that’s a big indicator that I really do need to read it!

So What is on your current ACTIVE reading list?


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The Stress Challenge #3


I wasn’t sure really what to call this post…. Chapter One?  No, because I  doubt that I’ll go in order reading this book:

I’ll probably skip around and maybe I’ll just post commentaries from time to time that aren’t really about a chapter at all and, after all…. this won’t be the only book or source I’ll use in my challenge to reduce stress and its negative effects on me.

So what to name it/them?  Well, I decided with just simply #3 since it’s the third post on this topic (The other two are here and here in case you’re just reading this and didn’t see them…) and will hopefully be a series – more hope for more posts and more hope that I stick with it!!

So…..  onto the topic.

I read chapter one.  A lot of it was review for me.  I took psychology in high school and college.  I knew all about sources of stress, the fact that there really positive stresses, not just negative and about the fight-or-flight response, etc.  I also knew about the life events that make stress higher and how it can affect your health overall, etc., including that MOVING is certainly a big one along with several others I’ve been experiencing over the last year.  The first chapter did offer a chart, however, which I used to determine which chapters were probably going to help me the most as it addressed which chapters were most beneficial for particular stress symptoms…. obviously I need to read the ones that address the majority of my symptoms first.

But now onto chapter two…(The introduction recommends that I read the first two chapters before choosing on my own what to read next).  Chapter two was and has the potential to be pretty beneficial.  It was on body awareness.  Frankly, I don’t have it.  Not until I am hunched over in pain from back spasms or have a major headache…though my headaches are normally from dehydration – yet another reason for developing body awareness.  Perhaps I should notice that I need liquid BEFORE reaching dehydration?? You get my point.  Our bodies register stress loooooonnnngggggg before our conscious minds do.  Muscle tension is probably the biggest way it does this.  Those of us who have particular beliefs or attitudes tend to be the ones with chronic muscular tension.  Yep, that’s me.  Not the greatest self-esteem, always worried about what other’s might think, always doubting myself, etc…. yeah, that leads to beliefs/attitudes that work themselves into chronic muscular tension. Anyone with me on that?

The chapter offers several ‘exercises’ to help increase body awareness.  I’ve tried them.  They seem awkward at first but I can see that if one got into the habit of doing them, it would be easier to be aware of what’s going on internally…. but that will be key!  THE BUILDING OF THE HABIT! – This is the same person that sets a timer throughout the day (when I think of it) to remind myself to drink water.  Yes. I really do have to do that.  :(  But I’ve taken the timer to be a reminder for something else now too.  It’s sort of a body check/relax check.  It goes off, I drink my 4 ounces….and then I force myself to take a moment to breathe.  Deep breathing….at least a few and to just close my eyes and ask myself:  What’s going on right now?  Am I relaxed?  Do I feel tension? Aches? What’s going on around me and how is it affecting me?

I’m not keeping the diary as it suggests but I am trying to at least get a sense of how the day’s events and environment affect how my body feels.  It’s not a great huge leap into the world of relaxation but it’s a small step and that’s better than not addressing it at all.  I have, by the way, also started  to read chapter 16 on time management.  No commentaries on that today as I’m not that far into it.  But this is where I’m at with my challenge so far:

1.  Reading about relaxation and stress

2.  Getting back into my daily prayer/devotion time.

3.  Making time for writing. (So far it’s just the blog here but I have reached out to my critique partners and have goals of getting back to my children’s writing within just a few days if all goes well….)

4.  Drinking my goal of 64 ounces of water a day This may not sound stress related but it is!  Part of my issues, I believe, is that I don’t make time for me….taking care of myself physically, emotionally or spiritually…so I need to set these things as priority!  Let’s face it.  Dehydration doesn’t exactly HELP alleviate stress.  With that, I weave in some deep breathing and attempt body awareness.

What changes have you made recently to reduce stress in your life and achieve relaxation?

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