Want to get organised for back to school? Join Bonnie and Lily to chat about uniforms, booklists, and how to keep your school lunches fresh and exciting. Find out how to help your child transition smoothly to school and make 2021 your most organised year yet.
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BONNIE: Hello and welcome! I am Bonnie.
LILY: and I am Lily, and this is Little Home Organised, the podcast dedicated to helping you declutter, get organised and reclaim time for the things you love.
BONNIE: Hello and welcome, this week we are talking about getting ready for back to school, we will chat about the practical steps to help your child transition smoothly to school and how to make 2021 your most organised year yet
LILY: If your New Years resolution is to get your home and life organised and you need a helping hand check out the Essentials Guide, created by the team at Little Miss Organised, the Essentials Guide is the only guide you will need to organise any space in your home, designed with the time poor parent in mind, head to littlehomeorganised.com.au to find out more about the Essentials Guide.
BONNIE: Well Lily it is that time of year again when in Australia all the parents today in fact are starting to send their little ones back to school.
LILY: And for some parents it might be the very first time.
BONNIE: It is an exciting/terrifying time
LILY: You had one in Prep last year and now you have got another one heading into Prep this year.
BONNIE: Yes, I mean why not just get it over and done with, bam, bam, bam
LILY: You really fired those ones out, didn’t you?
BONNIE: Oh yep, baptism of fire that one. So yes I did have a preppie last year and I have got another preppie this year so I am really getting to know the whole starting school from the beginning thing quite well. The routine is becoming quite solidified although I have to admit when we started prep last year, there was no coronavirus.
LILY: Yes, true it really does um put a spanner in the works doesn’t it, and todays episode is going to be all about getting back to school. What are the things that we need to do to help us get organised to get those children off to school and help them with the transition.
BONNIE: Yes well the biggest thing I think with getting ready for back to school is those practical element and look I am going to be honest, I was not my most organised self over the Christmas holidays so I didn’t do like the book list and the uniform, ok I tell a lie, I actually got really organised with the uniform stuff for my new preppie and I think we ordered that in December maybe November and she has had a growth spurt over the last 8 weeks and so we tried on her uniforms again a week ago and I actually thought, oh I don’t even know if you will get a year out of these dresses that I have paid $40 or $50 dollars each for and so then I emailed the uniform shop and they have sold out of
LILY: her size
BONNIE: Well they have sold out of most of the sizes and like they don’t even have a sample that I can try on so that in 2-3 weeks time when more stock comes in I can say yep cool you can just wear this other uniform for a few weeks.
LILY: How does that work, like if a student hasn’t got their uniform yet and they have sold out
BONNIE: There are just lot of other very kind parents who will rally around and help them find it, that’s what I found last year, the same thing happened to me last year with the uniform shop. I was waiting until the end of the holidays for my son so that I didn’t have this issue of him growing out of things and went to the uniform shop and yeah they had sold out of all of the sizes basically that like a prep to grade 4 would kind of use and I thought oh that’s great you are not getting any until like week 3 or 4 and yeah I had to put a call out.
LILY: Oh, so they do order more, it is just at the time, they don’t like to sell out completely and then say sorry we are not stocking that any more
BONNIE: Oh no, no. no, no I just think it is a case of maybe not knowing or not having enough prepared.
LILY: It must be hard for them to do that because children do obviously come in all different shapes and sizes.
BONNIE: Yeah, yeah it really is. So, heading on from that getting ready for school one of the most important things that you need to get ready is obviously the uniforms, what are they going to wear.
LILY: Most schooling situations in Australia there is a compulsory uniform. Whether it is private or a public school. There are exceptions to that but for most cases there is a uniform that is required.
BONNIE: Yes unless you are doing like distance education or um home based education um then you can wear whatever you like, pyjamas if you like. I even remember because we both went to a state school for primary when we were younger um I do remember there being like some kids who maybe had like the school shirt but they had um you know shorts or pants or things that were very different and or maybe they didn’t have you know the school colours jumper or the equivalent and now days what you can get which is really good is you have a lot of the department stores that will actually carry those 4-6 basic colours that the state schools kind of use and even if you can’t get the branded one that has got your schools logo on it you can go to these department stores and you can get a jumper, a t shirt you know a pair of shorts, a pair of track pants, socks all that sort of stuff in those kind of school colours, so it means kids don’t stand out so much any more if for some reason they haven’t been able to get those branded items which I think is a really good thing.
LILY: Yeah that’s good to know like if you are a parent who is in a position financially for some other reason you cant provide your child with that uniform there are you know, maybe you have waited for the growth spurt and there is nothing left, you have got those options.
BONNIE: And it is often cheaper so like another parent had said to me before we started prep last year don’t buy the shorts from the uniform shop because they are like twice the price that you can get at this other place and they weren’t branded anyway, they just looked identical and so that was a really great tip, so instead of paying you know $20 or $30 even dollars for a pair of shorts, I got them for $8 at a local department store, so those kind of things can really save you a lot of money if you just simply ask around, I think with uniforms the other thing that I would really encourage people to do is think about are you happy to wash you know once a week at the end of the week which would mean you would need like 5 sets of uniforms or are you happy to do a wash half way through the week which would mean you would probably only need 3 sets of uniforms because that is going to save you a lot of money too.
LILY: Yeah it comes down to budget and time doesn’t it, so it is something to think about it is not just a case of I am heading to the uniform shop I am picking up a uniform it is how is this going to play into my week now depending on how many things I chose to purchase.
BONNIE: Yeah there is a lot of things that you need to think about and for me I have got 3 children I have already got to do pretty much a load of washing everyday anyway it is not any extra to chuck in the uniforms every day so that by Wednesday there is pretty much a new set already to go for the end of the week, so for me it didn’t make sense to have 5 sets
LILY: And also it is more affordable to do it that way too
BONNIE: Which means we can spend more money on other things, like chocolate and wine, important things
LILY: Yeah, so of course when you are looking at uniforms you need to think as well about if your child needs a sport uniform as opposed to a dress uniform as well, so think about that so making sure you tee that up with the uniform shop too.
BONNIE: Funny story, so I went to a private high school a Lutheran high school and we had the whole dress uniform versus the sports uniform and our dress hat was actually made out of felt which looked awesome when you first bought it, it was a ridiculous price, like it was $100 or something for this hat and if it rained and the hat got wet it would get out of shape
LILY: You know you have talked about this on the podcast before
BONNIE: Have I really?
BONNIE: Well for those who are new to the podcast please listen to my hat story!
LILY: Go on.
BONNIE: And if you are an old faithful I am sorry for saying it again, and they would sell these little plastic things that you would stick over the hat that looked like a condom so you know if you are brand new, we use to call them veggies, in grade 8
LILY: Oh yes you are a veggie in grade 8 because you are new to the school
BONNIE: When you were first into high school you are a veggie, don’t know how that came about but anyway, I would wear the hat condom when it rained and I think I wore it twice before I realised this is super uncool, no one else is doing it and I am never doing it again, but like how impractical for a school to pick felt.
BONNIE: Like really.
LILY: Yeah it was worth you telling that again.
BONNIE: Oh yeah totally.
LILY: So other things to think about as you are getting prepared to go back to school is oh course making sure that you appropriately label uniforms because especially with little ones it is so easy for them to get mixed up at home let alone getting mixed up at school as well if there is a change of uniform, if there is an accident, anything, you want to make sure things are appropriately labelled so have a think about what you are going to do, are you going to be the person who uses permanent maker on a tag, are you going to be the parent who does the iron on label, like have a think about um what you are going to use and make sure you order whatever you need in time so that it is ready to go for school.
BONNIE: And if you are a returning parent this year, check over all of your child’s uniforms, make sure they fit correctly, make sure they are in the right condition, there are no holes that have sprung up, check that the labels are in functional order because the pen ones do tend to fade, even some of the iron on ones tend to fade and you know what funny story, my husband just the other day, when he was helping me god bless him, iron on some labels for new preppie and year one, he actually burnt a hole through one of the pairs of shorts and he held them up and he said I am so sorry these shorts are stuff, and I said that’s fine, they are from last year, you know we got our $8 worth out of them, its you know it is not an issue, but I thought yeah that would be right, like
LILY: The one time he irons something on there.
BONNIE: Yeah, yeah at least it wasn’t a $50 dress okay like I can handle an $8 pair of shorts.
LILY: The other thing you need to do if your kids have been at school for is check their pack back, you want to check their swimming bag, their library bag, make sure that they haven’t left something in there for the last 6-8 weeks.
BONNIE: Oh can you imagine finding like a smelly pair of togs
LILY: Oh speaking of good stories, so I remember in grade 5, I had a teacher who wasn’t particularly nice and I don’t know what I had left in my school bag, something it could have been a sandwich, it could have been anything, I remember us being in class, we had our back packs with us at our desks for some reason, and I opened it and my bag was filled with maggots
BONNIE: Oh gross
LILY: And she shamed me, she was like get out of this classroom, that is disgusting, which was also awful, never do that to a child but also how disgusting and I remember
BONNIE: Maggots in your bag
LILY: but I remember going out and just being like what are maggots, like I didn’t know what they were. I was mortified, these wriggly little white things.
BONNIE: Look at my little wormy friends.
LILY: Yeah what you doing hanging out in my backpack.
BONNIE: So gross
LILY: So, disgusting, oh my goodness.
BONNIE: I can’t believe you have never told me that story before
BONNIE: Nup never, that is like top of the pops
LILY: Maybe I wanted to take to the grave, but yeah so make sure you check the backpacks from last year, ideally at the end of last year but you know but if you haven’t do that now because you don’t want to find a disaster the night before and think this child can not use this backpack tomorrow
BONNIE: You are going to school with a plastic bag, I am sorry
LILY: And if you don’t have a uniform backpack, which most places do, there are heaps of options to get them really affordable seriously check out your local op shop they have just such a ton of really good stuff
BONNIE: Or you local market place or gumtree or craigslist or whatever second hand economy you’re using in your local area, like we did not, we choose not to get a branded one because we knew that we would be moving in a couple of years.
LILY: There you go
BONNIE: So we just bought a paw patrol one because you know you can’t go wrong with paw patrol
LILY: You can’t go wrong with that
BONNIE: And God bless him he is so good at taking care of his stuff, the backpack has survived a year and is good for a second year whereas I just have a feeling that my darling daughter her backpack
LILY: It is going to be a different story
BONNIE: will survive for maybe a term.
LILY: We will look at that as the benchmark and then it is success if she gets to there. The other thing I would mention is you know along the lines of checking things, hopefully you have gone through their bags and made sure that there is no lunch boxes and gross things in there for that reason, speaking of which my husband pulled a coffee mug, one of the travel mugs out of the car last weekend, I don’t know it had been in there for either a couple of days or a couple of weeks whatever it was it had obviously had milk and coffee in it, when he opened it the smell literally filled the whole storey of our house and we rinsed it and put it in the dishwasher and then you would like walk pass the dishwasher and you could still smell it
LILY: And you would open the dishwasher and it was like ohh, gaging, it was soo bad, so make sure to check that stuff and if you are an adult make sure to check that stuff to, because if you leave stuff in a hot car it gets really gross really quickly. So one of the things that you can do to help that of course is establishing a routine when you come in the house right
BONNIE: Routines are great
LILY: We are about the jump into that topic real shortly but before we do we should probably also talk about book lists.
BONNIE: Yes booklists are really important. Ok so quickly with booklists the most important thing is did you keep any spares from last year and if you did awesome, great good on you, what I actually like to do at home is have a spare stationary section so that at the end of the year when the spare stuff comes home I keep it there and I reuse any of it for the following year if I can, and I did get to do that this year which was really cool. The second thing is shop around for the best price like the booklist that came out from our school was just for a local newsagency and it was something like $160 or $180 per child so one for prep and one for year 1 and this is just at a state school, so it is not even text books and stuff like that it, it is just lots of scrapbooks and because I decided to shop on line and just you know have a look at like one of the local office department stores or office supply stores, it ended up costing me about half that price.
LILY: Oh wow
BONNIE: So there are some really big savings to be had, the other thing is if you are a really time poor parent and you don’t want to go to that effort of shopping online or shopping in person or whatever it might be, you can actually send your child’s booklist to any office supply store pretty much and they will fill it for you.
LILY: I was actually going to say I use to work at Officeworks and it was such a busy time of year in January because the staff who worked in the stationary section were just filling booklists but it was so awesome because as a parent you just walking in and you just picked it up and it was all done and if that is something you can take off your plate and just keep it all at the one store, then why not do that.
BONNIE: Yeah it is such a time saver and like January can be really crazy with either getting ready for school stuff, so if you can get that stuff done for you why not.
LILY: Now we are going to take a quick break for a clutter confession and when we come back we are going to talk more about routines and how you can help your child transition for school this year.
My clutter confession is that I keep all my diary entries from upwards of when I was in primary school so that I can read them back and see the growth and cringe in hindsight.
LILY: The growth and cringe! I did that for a while I actually kept mine for a number of years, but I must have still been within my teen angst when I looked back and read them to be so embarrassed that I got rid of them and now as an adult I
BONNIE: Oh no
LILY: I regret that because now I can’t go back and go oh my goodness I thought I was you know so smart, I was such a big grown up teenager and look back and just think oh girl you had so much to learn.
BONNIE: I have actually still got all mine and I have them all the way back to when I first got given a diary which would have been like I don’t know grade 2 or grade 3 and you know they give you those locks with them, that you know that every key opens but some of them I have actually lost the keys for and I keep thinking oh one day I will you know break them open and have a look at them, read them um but I have to admit there are some teenage ones I am perhaps avoiding because there was a lot of capital letters and not a lot of them nice.
LILY: So many teenage emotions, well I love it, I would love to know what the most interesting thing is that she is has reflected and looked back on and thought oh my goodness I can’t believe I thought that, said that, wrote that and if you are someone who has kept your journal entries as well we would love to hear it, so feel free to flick us a message and let us know what is some of the funniest things that you said in your diary back when you were young and full of teen hormones.
BONNIE: I don’t think the hormones ever go away. So if you’ve got something weird, wacky or wonderful that you would like to share head to the Little Home Organised page on Facebook send us an audio message and we promise to keep it anonymous.
LILY: So routines, routines are important, we have talked about routines before in one of our very first episodes Rhythm and Routines so if you haven’t listened to that one, feel free to go back and check it out. But routines are important when it comes to getting ready for school especially for our young ones.
BONNIE: A routine is so good for any age because it really helps us to learn the steps and for things to become a habit, and holidays can really upset the routine because we become a bit more lax, like us as parents we wanted to sleep in a bit more so we didn’t mind if the kids went downstairs and watched a bit of TV first thing in the morning so that we could get a bit of extra sleep, our 2 year old is doing this thing where he is getting up at 6 or 5:30 and then going into the siblings room and waking them up rather early and all we can hear first thing in the morning is get out of our room
LILY: Some of us need our sleep
BONNIE: Which is delightful but when it gets back to school there is no TV for our kids in the morning, there is no toy playing, the only things our kids can do is once everything has been done, breakfast, packed bags, gotten ready all that stuff, they can sit on the couch and read a book but in our house my kids get way to distracted if toys are even remotely in the arena so it is a real bit no no for us.
LILY: So I think one of the things that is important when establishing a new routine of course is if you have little ones who aren’t use to this routine, is you don’t want to throw it upon them the first day that they go to school because there is so much change that is already happening and can be pretty overwhelming so why not practice that routine ahead of time.
BONNIE: That is so true, it is a bit like when you have a new baby you don’t want an older child to feel like they got pushed out of their cot because there is a new baby so you push them out of the cot a few months earlier so that they don’t connect the two events. Same thing for school. Is that a bad analogy?
LILY: Pushing… yeah, I mean, I get the idea.
BONNIE: Yeah well that’s good. For those people who are not young mothers or fathers
LILY: Or in America it is a crib.
BONNIE: Oh yeah it is it, that’s true, anyway back on track. What is the ideal morning routine in your household? For me it is some like get up, make your bed, get dressed make sure the room is tidy, brush your hair, go to breakfast and then do the brushing teeth, packing bags, putting shoes on, adding lunch box. So what is the ideal for your household for your routine and once you have kind of identified it and talked about it with your child or your children, make it visual
LILY: Yeah the biggest thing you can do for your kids is help them visually look up and see tick I have done that, tick I have done that, and there are heaps of easy access resources that you can find online that can help you to do this. So if you jump on, you can literally jump onto Google but often Google will link you through to Pinterest. So if you jump on pinterest there are all these beautiful options for routine helpers that are visual aids that help your child know tick I have done that and they visually might be able to tick something, they might be able to move like a magnetic button whatever it may be so you can look at pinterest for ideas like that. You of course can jump on Instagram if you are an instagram user, we are on instagram feel free to check us out, and you can search in the search bar for hashtags so you can search #routinehelper, #childsroutine, #routine and have a look and just flick through some of the posts and you will get some ideas on what to do to help your child get through the things they need that they need to get through of a morning, and of course there is one thing that Bonnie and I personally know that you can use and that is the routine helper from Second Scout, so you will have heard us mention second scout before on the podcast, so second scout is a local business and they make amazing icon labels and they also do wooden icon tags and they do a wooden routine helper and so what is visually looks like is it looks like a little piece of timber
BONNIE: It is kind of like a scrabble thing,
LILY: That is a really great way to visualise it
BONNIE: I am sure it is not called a thing but it is a scrabble thing
LILY: Yeah it is like the little skinny tray that you stick
BONNIE: Your words on, your letters on
LILY: Yeah face it into, so it is like that, the one that second scout does is timber and of course it is really beautiful but it is super visual and practical for kids and on one side there is a bunch of different routine options you can choose from and one side it might have make bed, brush teeth, brush hair, pack bag or whatever it might be just the things that are standard for a child to need to do in the morning and then as the child completes the task they turn it around and on the other side is a little star so they can see oh once I do each task from left to right this will all look like a row of stars and they can have that sense of accomplishment and know that they have done everything that they need to do in the morning and I think anything that can help you as a parent to stop having repeating what they need to do is going to be a win, win
BONNIE: I think I need one of those for my husband
LILY: I think we probably all need one, you know on those tired mornings where you have had a bad night sleep with a baby up in the night, anyone else, no just me okay and you are just thinking how do I get myself out the door this morning, just go and have a look at my routine helper
BONNIE: You know what though I think they are a really great idea the visual aid of a routine helper for kids who are atypical or neuro diverse and I think of my two eldest and there various difficulties and making something visual like that for them is just so awesome and I actually have plans to do something like that so I don’t know if I am going to do like individual pictures of them and flip them over to have a star on the back or if I do this wooden thing from second scout, but it sounds beautiful.
LILY: It is and we have got a great relationship with Second Scout because we really believe in the quality of the work of the products that make and being Australian made as well we love it, so for our listeners you actually get a special discount if you enter the discount code LITTLEHOME10 you will get 10% of any order you place with second scout, so you can just head to their website www.secondscout.com.au and go check out their routine helper but also feel free to check out their other stuff, they have got cool icon labels that are on vinyl and also on wooden tags. I would also say on that note as well, I recently re did my toy area and I used those labels on my Ikea trofast tubs and pull in and out, so if you want to see visually what they look like you can just check out our instagram or Facebook as well.
BONNIE: Oh that’s awesome. Ok so lets talk about how we help our child smoothly transition. Maybe they are starting prep, maybe they are starting at a new school and we have moved areas and it is all a little bit daunting, how can we actually help our child have a smooth transition in that first day and in that first couple of weeks. Well the first thing if you can do this, if COVID 19 has not made you locked down, is take them on a tour of the school or the classroom, meet the teacher, just get them familiar with the settings of the school. Help them know this is where the tuckshop is, this is where the toilets are, this is where I will pick you up and drop you off, just give them a little bit of a tour around the place
LILY: Yeah it is really important to help acclimatise them so that it is not all a big shock on day one and another thing of course you can do which is super easy in the day and age we live now with Facebook is you can reach out with other parents who are going to have parents in the same grade or class as your child and arrange a meet up so the children start to get familiar with each other outside of the school setting so that on that day where it is all big, exciting and new there is some familiarity that it makes it all a little less daunting.
BONNIE: That’s so true and you know what pretty much every school as got some sort of Facebook group whether it is for the entire school or for the class or for that year level, like I know we have got one for both year 1 and the preps coming in this year and it is just so helpful to especially if you are that first time parent of your student starting school for the first time, just to help alleviate some of the nerves, like I have got a son but now I have got a daughter entering school and I had to ask the question what sort of socks do we wear because I am use to boys just wearing joggers but now I have got dress shoes, lovely little shinny Mary Jayne type shoes
LILY: Oh cute
BONNIE: Yeah they are very cute as well as the joggers, so it was like actually type of socks do we wear because they only sell sport socks, so those groups are awesome for connecting, asking lots of questions
LILY: Problem solving, sharing a uniform if you don’t have one
LILY: All that kind of stuff, I think the other thing if you cant actually get out and check out your school as well, see what resources they have online to just show your child oh this is what the front of the school looks like, this is what it looks like inside a classroom and they probably have videos which tour around as well, so make sure that even if you can’t get into the school with your child before school starts, so them some other resources to help them prepare.
BONNIE: And one thing that is really important for helping the transition go smoothly is play school. So have a practice day where you get them
LILY: There’s a bear in there
BONNIE: That had to come
LILY: And a chair as well, there are people with games
BONNIE: Everybody who is overseas they are going what are you singing
LILY: And stories to tell
BONNIE: In Australia there is a very popular kids show called Play School and it has been going for like 55 years
LILY: If I say Play School who is the one host that comes to mind immediately
LILY: Noni, yeah, she is brilliant
BONNIE: Yeah she was awesome, but there are so many other cool ones, actually they did this hello song because they had this 50th anniversary a few years ago, they did an album and they did some of their best songs and they did the hello song where everyone who had ever being a presenter said hello it is blah blah blah and it was like travelling back in time.
LILY: Oh the nostalgia.
BONNIE: It was really cool. Yeah, well it is just on YouTube music.
LILY: Oh, I will have to go check it out, anyway I interrupted you
BONNIE: So play school whether you are Noni or someone else, so make their lunch, put it in their lunch box, get them up as you would on a normal school day, get them in their uniform, help them get dressed, help them just go through that practice routine of this is what a school day looks like, travel to school, do you ride a bike, do you walk, do you go in the car, do you actually catch a train, do it together with them so they can see oh this is what it is actually look and feel like. Practice sitting on a mat, you know especially if this is like first time prep or preschool, and your kid maybe hasn’t done that sort of stuff before, have a few fun games and exercises that you can do together where they actually you know can learn, this is what it looks like to cross your legs and to sit on a mat, this is what it looks like to sit at a desk and to do activities with other people and this is how we eat out of our lunchbox, like one of the biggest things for kids who first go to school is learning to balance a lunchbox on their knees while they are sitting on benches.
LILY: And it is the little things that we don’t think about, so if you do this practice thing at home, you can make it fun, it really is going to help your child learn so there is no so much that is new and scary when they get to school.
BONNIE: Yeah because you don’t want them to get to school and be like I can’t open my packet of food, you know like
LILY: Or especially not without tipping it all out, especially with all the boujee lunch boxes that we have these days
BONNIE: The bento boxes
BONNIE: And my son did that once last year and he came home and he said I had to go to the office and ask for food because I tipped my food out all over the concrete and it was dirty, and I was like Okay. I think that is going to happen a lot more this year for my new one.
LILY: Yeah, we will wait and see, watch this space. The final thing I think we absolutely have to mention Bonnie of course is the Go Zone
BONNIE: Oh yes
LILY: If you do not have a Go Zone yet and if you have no idea what we mean when we say Go Zone, check out episode 26 that we did on the Go Zone
BONNIE: What was that? 20
LILY: I’m sorry, Episode 26
BONNIE: Our grandfather is rolling in his grave right now. Speak properly Lily
LILY: Episode 26 because the Go Zone is actually a game changer basically or you can call it a school station, whatever the idea is where every you come in and out of the house everyday there should be zones where things easily go that transition in and out of the house. School bags, school books, your shoes, hats whatever it might be, make sure you set up a zone so it is easy for you and your kids to know where the things go and the routine that happens when the come in and out of the house.
BONNIE: Okay it is time for this week’s tidy task and it is a really quick and simple one, if you have got a child starting school or returning to school I just want you to check all your labels, uniforms, books, backpacks all that sort of stuff, check that everything is completely labelled and then once they go off to their first day at school treat yourself, have a tea and Tim tams morning or a tears and tissues morning or a go for a massage, have a coffee with a friend. You got through the school holidays, you got through the first day of sending them back to school, you deserve to reward yourself.
LILY: And that’s it for this weeks episode, thank you so much for tuning in, we know how busy life can be an really appreciate you lending us your ears.
BONNIE: And remember PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION.
LILY: See you later
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