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September 28, 2013 / mommylok

Kicking off October’s National Bullying Prevention Month with Little Joe

Recently, I’ve been working with Gracie Barra Long Island to spread the word about their Anti-Bullying program.  After we hosted our first ever #NoRoomForBullying seminar, I was approached to review Little Joe (book one of the Round Rock series), a historical fiction by author Michael E. Glasscock III.  With the approach of October’s National Bullying Prevention Month, I thought this is the perfect time to share with you this book.

When Michael E. Glasscock III was growing up in the segregated South, he witnessed his share of bullying.  Now, at 80 years old, Glasscock believes every young person must eventually learn how to deal with a bully.  In his new book Little Joe, Glasscock follows one young man on his journey through ups and downs in the heart of the South after his parents pass away.  Struggling with being raised by his grandparents, forging new friendships, and confronting bullies, readers will delight in learning life lessons along with Little Joe.

At first, I was hesitant to sit down to read Little Joe.  I was just too consumed with everyday life activities.  However, it wasn’t a book that I wanted to just throw into the pile and forget.  Bullying is such an important issue to me and sharing about it in any way I can is a priority.  So I kicked everyone out of the house for some peace and quiet reading time.  And I’m glad I did.  While I haven’t finished the book yet, I’m a few chapters in and am having a hard time putting it down.  The author does a good job of pulling you in, setting the emotional introduction for Little Joe.

About Little Joe:

It’s the 1940’s and the rising events of World World II leave a lasting impression on even the  youngest of Americans.  In the Deep South, the Jim Crow laws, enacted after the Civil War, creates a system of apartheid designed to keep African Americans in their “proper” place.  Seamlessly blending American history with the tale of one young boy’s plight, Little Joe provides a glimpse into growing up during a time of two wars: once occurring outside of, and the other within, our country.  Little Joe is just nine years old when he is the sole survivor of an auto accident that kills his parents.  Orphaned, he goes to live with his grandparents who teach him about standing up to bullies, war, the Jim Crow laws, and what forgiveness means.

Through Little Joe, Michael Glasscock III brings to light various themes:

  • A world war can, even at a vast distance, have a frightening effect on children
  • The loss of parents suddenly at a young age can be emotionally life changing
  • Childhood friendships have the power to overcome anxiety of adjusting to a new life in an unfamiliar setting
  • Every young person must eventually learn how to deal with a bully

Now that I started the journey with Little Joe, I cannot wait to finish it.  If you have time, I hope you’ll pick up the book and join the journey with me.  Little Joe and The Trial of Dr. Kate (book two of the Round Rock Series) can be purchased from, and through major and independent booksellers upon request.

Remember, October is National Bullying Prevention Month – share, educate, speak up.  It’s the best thing we can do for our children.

About the Author

Michael E. Glasscock III M.D. F.A.C.S. spent most of his career in Nashville, TN in private practice at the Otology Group, which he founded.  While there, he was also a clinical professor in the Department of Otolaryngology and an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  He founded the American Journal of Otology and the Ear Foundation and has published over 260 peer-reviewed papers in the otolaryngology literature and was the editor for six editions of Surgery of the Ear.  Dr. Glasscock is currently is an Adjunct Professor of Otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, practices at the Glasscock Hearing Implant Center in Houston, TX, and is a consultant to three medical device companies.  In addition to his outstanding medical career, Dr. Glasscock is the author of the Round Rock Series, with Little Joe being the first book in the series.
Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book for review purposes; no other compensation was received for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.
August 13, 2013 / mommylok

#NoRoomForBullying – Transforming Bullying Into a Positive Experience

#NoRoomForBullying Seminar

On Sunday, August 11, Maria Wen Adcock of Bicultural Mama and I hosted Gracie Barra Long Island’s first #NoRoomForBullying Seminar for media and their children.  This event came to fruition because of the earlier success of the Anti-Bully Seminar Gracie Barra Long Island (GBLI) hosted for a local Girl Scouts Troop; GBLI and I thought having this seminar for social media influencers would be effective in helping to spread the word about the important issue of bullying and empowering our children on how to handle a bully situation.  Professor Joe Scarola, owner and head instructor at GBLI, also shares his thoughts on this issue:  “Through Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu, we aim to turn bullying from a potential lifetime trauma into an opportunity to build a stronger character in your child.”  You can see how his passion for this issue also helped us with the vision for this wonderful event.

One of the main goals of Gracie Barra is to help and support all of the kids from their communities against bullying.  The Gracie Barra system will teach your child principles of respect, team work, a better understanding of who the bullies are, how to react mentally and physically to this situation, and acceptance of everyone’s individualities.  Helping your child to understand the big picture and to know they are not alone can help transform the bullying into a positive experience by bringing families and friends together.

Gracie Barra instructors engage the children

Photo by Vida Lok

#NoRoomForBullying’s purpose was to show our media guests Gracie Barra’s goals and principles in action.  The Gracie Barra system can be summarized as follows:

1) Walk Away and Raise Awareness

2) Stand Up for Yourself

3) Self Defense

Time was spent on all three areas with demonstration from the coaches and then allowing the children to practice the skills newly learned.  I previously posted on this – if you’d like to get a glimpse of these techniques being practiced in real life, please read: Gracie Barra Instructors Teach Anti-Bully Messaging to Girl Scouts.

The event was well attended by local media, including representation from the following blogs:  The Mommy FactorThe Mama Maven, philZENdia, Petite Brooklyn Mom, Boyz Rule Our World, The Jade Effect, and Thirty Mommy.

Here are some additional recaps from the bloggers who attended:

Petite Brooklyn Mom: No Room For Bullying

Bicultural Mama: Gracie Barra Anti-Bullying Techniques for Kids

Thirty Mommy:  #NoRoomForBullying

Generous sponsors who provided delicious refreshments included The Gourmet Bake Shop, Little Bird Chocolates, Honest Tea, and Funny Face Cranberries.

Photo courtesy of Petite Brooklyn Mom

Photo courtesy of Petite Brooklyn Mom

If you have any questions about this event, please feel free to leave a comment below.  Additionally, we will be looking to expand this event and host additional ones for anyone who has missed it.  If you are interested in having Gracie Barra Long Island host #NoRoomForBullying in your community, please contact me at mommy_lok at yahoo dot com.

For more information about GBLI, please visit their website:

June 10, 2013 / mommylok

Lazoo’s Magic Stickers! Fosters Your Child’s Imagination

Image courtesy of Lazoo

Lazoo recently released Magic Stickers!, an adorable, interactive stickering app that is available for the iPhone and iPad.  This app is available for purchase and download on iTunes for $1.99, a great value given all the wonderful features!

With Magic Stickers!, kids can create their own stickers and watch them “magically” come alive in each scene.  Place the stickers wherever you want and make as many original stickers as you wish.  This app features:

• 8 pages of animated backgrounds, featuring Lazoo’s internationally award-winning art
• 50+ magic animated stickers
• Revolutionary sticker-maker tool allows kids to draw and design stickers
• Gesture-protected Parent’s section
• Daily Lazoo craft feed
• Free animated short featuring Lazoo characters
• Japanese translation mode

Magic Stickers! is based on Lazoo’s “Hands On! Mind On!” curriculum, developed in conjunction with top educational experts.  Lazoo’s curriculum is designed to support and celebrate creativity and creative thinking.  There is also an accompanying book that your children may enjoy, Incredible Stickers!  Having the book and app allows your children to have both the digital and physical experience.

I asked my daughter to review this app and this is what she had to say:

“I think people should play and download Magic Stickers!  It is easy to play.  I think the app is good for 1-3 year old children because I’m an 8 year old girl and when you eventually get older, you start to think it’s not as fun.  When you start the Magic Stickers! app, it asks you questions.  For example, ‘Is this a bread roll or a bus?’  Then after you answer the question, you can decorate the picture.  In the bottom right corner, you see all the drawing choices in a box.  If you click on that you’ll get to draw whatever you prefer.  I prefer 1-3 year olds to play this because they’ll have more fun.  It’s cute to see the pictures come alive.”

I also love that kids are free to use their imagination.  With such vibrant use of colors, this app definitely captures the child’s attention and fosters their creativity.  You can also save all the fun artwork your child created to your device’s camera roll.  I would definitely recommend it!

Lazoo is a quality-conscious lifestyle children’s brand and media property emphasizing award-winning design, creativity, and play. Inspired by an internationally best-selling series of Japanese children’s books, Lazoo products embody the same core mission: to foster a child’s creative process, encourage self-expression and empower the imagination.

 Lazoo Apps

1.  Build divergent thinking skills;
2.  Foster problem solving skills including implementing, evaluating, communicating and revising creative ideas;
3.  Assist the child in becoming comfortable with uncertainty;
4.  Encourage a resilient approach to play, creative thinking and creative problem solving so that a child learns to persist;
5.  Support the kind of appropriate risk taking in play and thinking that inspires creativity; and,
6.  Encourage an interest in, and openness to, emotion in both play and thinking.

Disclosure:  I received this app to test for review purposes; no other compensation was received for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.

May 10, 2013 / mommylok

Disney’s Planes: Free art activities for the Kids

When Disney notified me that Planes is coming out, I couldn’t wait to tell my kids!  For years, they’ve been fascinated with Disney’s Cars/Cars 2 and all their loveable characters.  I know that they will be just as excited to meet all the new fun-loving Planes!

To help anticipate the movie, Disney has shared some fun coloring pages that I want to pass along to my readers.  Please feel free to share with all your friends!  To download the coloring pages, click on the image.



From above the world of “Cars” comes “Disney’s Planes,” an action-packed 3D animated comedy adventure featuring Dusty (voice of Dane Cook), a plane with dreams of competing as a high-flying air racer. But Dusty’s not exactly built for racing—and he happens to be afraid of heights. So he turns to a seasoned naval aviator who helps Dusty qualify to take the defending champ of the race circuit. Dusty’s courage is put to the ultimate test as he aims to reach heights he never dreamed possible, giving a spellbound world the inspiration to soar. “Disney’s Planes” takes off in theaters in 3D on Aug. 9, 2013, and will be presented in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters.

May 9, 2013 / mommylok

Pre-Summer Fitness Program for Women


Hey Queens and Long Island readers!  Gracie Barra Long Island will be hosting a pre-summer Boot Camp for women only starting Monday, June 3.  The camp will run for 4 weeks, 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 10:30am to 11:30am).  Each 60 minute class will entail a workout, featuring self-defense techniques, personal goals assessment, and health tips to help inspire you to get fit, to stay fit.  The cost of the camp is $140.  Gracie Barra Long Island is located at 24 Jericho Turnpike (New Hyde Park), convenient to both Queens and Long Island.

When I asked Professor Joe Scarola why he wanted to host a women-only fitness camp, he responds, “The inspiration for this really came from knowing that jiu-jitsu is for everyone. We wanted to dip into the fitness aspect of it to introduce the program to more women. Every women might not understand armbars at first, but they will understand getting in shape and feeling great!”

For questions regarding to this camp, please contact Gracie Barra Long Island at or 516-616-4662.

May 7, 2013 / mommylok

Gracie Barra Instructors Teach Anti-Bully Messaging to Girl Scouts

A few days ago, I wrote a post “Be an Upstander, Not a Bystander-Bullying Stinks” where I talked about my kid’s personal bullying experience, as well as how a bullying experience with some of the girls from my daughter’s Girl Scouts troop prompted me to ask Gracie Barra of Long Island to host an Anti-Bully Seminar for them.  Through Jiu-Jitsu, Gracie Barra Long Island teaches students a different way of life and how to use Jiu-Jitsu training to tackle every day life problems, including bullying.

Yesterday was the actual seminar and I had the privilege to attend.  Coach Carlos started out class with the girls doing some warm-ups.  It was quite hilarious to hear the moans and groans when they had to do sit-ups and push-ups!  But I’ll spare them any embarrassment by not posting any videos of that!

After the brief exercises, Coach Carlos explains what a bully is:

After the introduction, Coach Carlos takes us through the three steps on how to handle a bully situation:

Step 1:  Raise Your Awareness

Step 2:  Stand Up For Yourself

Step 3:  Defend Yourself

After each step was introduced, the girls would have a chance to practice.  The girls paired up; one acted out the bully role and the other practiced the proper response.  The instructors were both engaging, related really well to the girls, and truly taught an effective course on how to handle a bully situation.  At the end of class, the girls were also generously given a bracelet and voucher to attend an official jiu-jitsu class if they were interested in learning more techniques on self-defense.

Photo courtesy of Gracie Barra

I truly wish every child could have an opportunity to attend a seminar like this.  But hopefully from these clips that I’ve shared, you can still take away some of the messaging and share with your children.  Thank you again, Gracie Barra Long Island, for the wonderful work that you do and for being an inspiration to our children.

Photo by V. Lok

May 5, 2013 / mommylok

Product Feature: Honest Tea

Photo by V. Lok

I had so much fun today at The Mama’s Expo.  With three floors of action and a multitude of vendors to visit, it was exhausting!  Good thing Honest Tea was there!  They were the perfect booth to visit for a quick break and sample of their “refreshingly honest” drinks!

Though I am familiar with the brand and have had a few different flavors before from their Honest Tea, Honest Ade and Honest Kids line (Half and Half, Cranberry Lemonade, Lemon Tea are my faves.), what I didn’t know was that Honest Tea actually has a 59 oz version of their product.  I’ve only previously seen their 16 oz bottles (Honest Tea, Honest Ade) and Honest Kids juices in the stores near me.  The Honest Family Size (59 oz) is much more convenient and economical if you are a fan of their drinks and need more at home than the single serving bottles/pouches!  The Family Size line is available in nine great flavors – Honey Green Tea, Peach White Tea, Half & Half, Just Green Tea, Lori’s Lemon Tea, Mango White Tea, Honest Kids Berry Berry Good Lemonade, Goodness Grapeness. and Super Fruit Punch.

A couple other products that I didn’t know about but am looking forward to try are:

  • Honest Splash:  An evolution of Honest Kids pouches, Honest Splash is a great fit for older kids, or kids on the go, who need the convenience of a larger, re-closable container while still meeting the needs of parents who want to provide lower-sugar beverages.  This line is named “Splash” because the drinks are flavored with a splash of real juice.  Honest Splash is available individually or as 6-bottle multipacks in 3 varieties – Berry Good Lemonade, Goodness Grapeness, and Super Fruit Punch.
  • Honest Fizz:  A naturally sweetened soda with zero calories and zero sugars, it is available in 4 flavors – Lemon Limey, Orange Pop, Root Beer, and Spiced Cherry.

Here’s what else I learned about the company that makes them honest:

  • Independent laboratory analysis has consistently proven that Honest Tea has antioxidant levels that are as high, or higher than brewed tea leaves.  Honest Tea uses real tea leaves when they make their tea.
  • Honest Tea beverages are either unsweetened or use much smaller amounts of sugar, honey, or agave syrup than most other bottled products.
  • In 2003, Honest Tea became the first to make a Fair Trade Certified™ bottled tea.
  • All Honest Tea products are certified as meeting the USDA’s organic standards.  This means that their beverages and tea bags are produced without antibiotics, pesticides, irradiation or bioengineering.

More information regarding Honest Tea’s mission and philosophy, as well as where you can purchase their drinks, can be found on their website:

Disclosure:  I received samples for review purposes; no other compensation was received for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.

May 1, 2013 / mommylok

Be an Upstander, not a Bystander – Bullying Stinks

All school year, my kids’ K-6 elementary school has been focusing on an anti-bully campaign where the kids are taught to be an upstander, not a bystander (amongst other important things).  Of course I thought it was great messaging but the significance of it didn’t really hit me until it was personal with one of my children.

Earlier this school year, my son came home and told me that he was punched in the stomach.  You can only imagine how I felt.  But what made it slightly worse was that it was another peer, a boy the same age as my son (in first grade!) that did this to him.  After speaking with the school’s administrators, I found out that this boy has a tendency towards aggressive behavior and appropriate actions were taken with both the boy and his parents.  I am just very thankful that between the messaging my son’s received at school and his own delicate demeanor, he didn’t retaliate with violence.

Fast forward to more recent weeks, my daughter’s Girl Scouts troop had to rearrange some of their meeting agendas to fit in a special session on bullying because of an incident that some of the girls encountered at school.  These are girls 8-9 years old, and the cattiness that you sometimes associate with pre-teen and teen girls is now sadly quite visible in the younger age group.  I’m happy and proud to say that the girls in the troop that were affected by this incident stood up for their friends but because of it, their other so-called friends are no longer speaking with them.  I can imagine how difficult it is to stand up to your peers; no one wants to lose “friends”, even if they were true friends to begin with.

After one of the Girl Scouts troop leaders informed me of this situation, it sparked an idea.  My children recently started taking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes at Gracie Barra Long Island in New Hyde Park.  From reading the school’s website, I saw that Professor Joe Scarola (Head Instructor and President) and his instructors have hosted Anti-Bully Seminars for local youth in the past.  I approached Professor Scarola and inquired about a session for my daughter’s Girl Scouts troop.  It was perfect timing because of the special session the girls just had in one of their regular meetings.  He graciously offered to host the seminar for the girls and responded, “I love teaching them (the kids).  I think it’s really important for kids to learn how to deal with bullies.”

It’s pretty awesome that not only when you join Gracie Barra Long Island do you learn self-defense and other important life skills through their classes, but you’re really joining a family.  From what I’ve seen so far, Professor Scarola and his instructors truly care about their students and kids all around.

The seminar is next week – I hope to free up my schedule so I can attend and report back on what the girls will be taught.  I also hope to take away some personal messages myself so I can instill these in my children through everyday parenting.  Keep posted!

To read about Gracie Barra Long Island, its principles and programs they offer, please visit their website:

April 30, 2013 / mommylok

Product Feature: Joovy’s Bicycoo Balance Bike

Photo Courtesy of Joovy

Photo Courtesy of Joovy

At the last Mama’s Expo I attended, I met many wonderful and inspiring vendors.  Once such vendor is Joovy, a family-run business that offers amazing solutions by way of high quality products at affordable prices to families on the go.

At first glance, all I saw were strollers and playpens – products that weren’t relevant to me as my kids have outgrown the need for them.  However, once I stopped and took the time to speak with one of their representatives, I learned that the company offers so much more.  The representative took a few minutes of her time to speak with me about my family and offered suggestions on what I may be interested in based on my needs.  After finding out my children’s ages, she suggested that I try the Bicycoo Balance Bike.

Training bikes without pedals weren’t familiar to me, but after the Joovy representative explained the benefits, I thought it was a great idea and wanted to try it out on my youngest son R (who barely has any riding experience, even on his traditional tricycle).

As my older children were learning to ride bikes, a friend of mine suggested they practice riding their scooter first to get a feel for balancing.  He felt it was more effective than using training wheels (and I thought his point was very valid!)  The Bicycoo Balance Bike has the same concept but seems as if it would be even more effective because you are completely simulating the bike riding experience.  The Bicycoo Balance Bike teaches you to balance on a two-wheeler so that when you’re ready for the big kid’s bike, you can just take off!

Photo by V.Lok

Assembly was quick and simple – after we put air into the tires, R was ready to go.  At first glance, the bike looked small but once R got on it, it was a great fit and he was very comfortable on it.  Though he was a little hesitant at first, he was soon adjusting and felt confident to glide.  I wish I could say that R picked it up after one day but that wasn’t the case.  However, because the bike is cool looking, sturdy, and easy to handle, R will be back on the bike in no time to practice again.

The Joovy Bicycoo Balance Bike’s frame is made of aluminum, making it strong and lightweight – easy for young kids to handle.  The 12-inch tires are pneumatic (air) and refillable – much better than the plastic wheels on many of the bikes on the market.  They help give young ones a much smoother ride which is a big confidence builder!  The seat is adjustable and there is a hand brake for the rear tire.  Currently, the bike retails for approximately $149.99 and is available through various retailers, including Joovy.  To learn more about Joovy and their line of products, please visit their website.

Joovy’s goal is to design and manufacture family gear products that are extremely useful, practical, good-looking, and fun. Their products have premium features and use vibrant, high quality fabrics and materials. Joovy strives for high quality at a reasonable price for their customers and considers their employees, customers, and factory partners members of their family. Customers come first!

Disclosure: I received a Joovy Bicycoo Balance Bike as a sample for review purposes; no other compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

April 18, 2013 / mommylok

The Mamas Expo – New York City’s Premiere Event for Parents!

Photo courtesty of Bellamy Blue Photography

Photo courtesty of Bellamy Blue Photography

New York’s largest borough is proud to bring back the mother of all expos.  On Sunday May 5, the New York Hall of Science will proudly bring The 2013 Mama’s Expo, NYC’s premiere event to local parents.  Open to all parents, expectant moms, and children ages 0-6, attendees will have unprecedented, insider access to some of the best local services, entertainment, activities, specialists and products currently available for families in New York City.  From finding new local classes and schools, to the best innovative products and retail stores, parents will receive an exclusive look at all of the new resources available to make sure they are in-the-know!

Families will enjoy:

–          Loads of free giveaways from the nation’s best kids brands

–          Designated play areas and free sample classes throughout the day to keep kids busy

–          Shopping and discounts from the hottest new retail companies

–          The opportunity to speak one-on-one to representatives from top vendors and local businesses such as Happy Baby, Music Together, The Queens Botanical Garden, NYC Parks, Click and Improve, Dolphin Organics and more

–          Samplings of kid friendly food and treats

–          On-site entertainment and performances

–          All day access to the New York Hall of Science and the Science Playground

–          And much more…

Expo Sponsors:

–          Media Sponsors:  WNYC, Queens Parent Magazine and Yelp

–          Corporate Sponsors:  Music Together, Click and Improve, New York Hall of Science

–          Sponsors:  Happy Family Brands, Wildlife Conservation Society, Babyganics, Honest Tea/Honest Kids, DDO Advisory Services, Tempest Toys, Huggies, and Little Pim

Visit for more details and featured activities.

The Basics:

When: Sunday May 5, 2013 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Where: New York Hall of Science – 47-01 111th Street, Corona, NY 11368

Ticket Price:  To save on tickets, purchase your tickets in advance before May 4, 2013 online at to save a minimum of 15% off the Mamas Expo Access Ticket.  Ticket includes all-day admission to New York Hall of Science, access to the Mamas Expo and events, access to New York’s largest Science Playground, plus one round of Rocket Park Mini Golf.

Mamas Expo Advance Access Ticket:

$17 Adult (18+)

$13 Child (2-17), Student (w/ID), Senior (62+)/ Under 2 Free

(15% off Adult regular price / 19% off Child Regular Price)

Tickets will be available for purchase at the door for full price.  Each ticket includes general admission for one, access to the Mama’s Expo, 1 ticket to the Science Playground, and 1 any-time voucher for Mini-Golf (valid for 1 round of Rocket Park Mini Golf, which expires June 5, 2013).

A limited number of Mamas Expo VIP Tickets are available for online advance purchase only.  VIP tickets are $30 per person (pay one price for adults, children, students, seniors) and include all components of the Advance Access Ticket PLUS an exclusive Gift Bag including sample products and savings.  VIP tickets must be purchased in advance to guarantee your gift bag.  To purchase VIP tickets, please visit

About The Mamas Network

The Mamas Network is a series of online resources and social communities built by parents for parents including websites, events, and social media hubs.  By using local experts and real parent reviews we have built a community where parents can connect.  The Mamas Network includes Queens Mamas, Brooklyn Mamas, Long Island Mamas, and the upcoming 2013 Mamas Expo. Visit for more information.

About the New York Hall of Science

The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) presents 450 exhibits, demonstrations and design spaces that explain science, technology, engineering, and math.  A visit to NYSCI is a hands-on, energetic educational experience where you can indulge your curiosity and nurture your creativity. NYSCI offers professional development for teachers, produces curricula and resources for classrooms, and studies how technology, gaming and play affect how we learn. NYSCI was founded at the 1964-65 World’s Fair and has evolved into New York’s center for interactive science serving a half million students, teachers, and families each year.

From April through August, NYSCI is open 9:30 am–5 pm Monday-Friday and 10 am–6 pm on weekends. For directions and other information, visit or call 718-699-0005.

For more information about The New Mama Expo, or for press attendance, please contact:

Disclosure:  I have received free VIP access to The Mamas Expo as a member of the press in exchange for this post.

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