our lower level {sneak peek!}.

this post is long overdue, but i hope it’s worth the wait…it’s time to give you all a sneak peek of our newly{ish} painted family room in the lower level!

to help to jog your memory, here’s what the space looked like on move-in day {RIP, glass globe lamp on the table, which fell victim to L’s ball-playing}:



and after a coat of primer and two coats of Benjamin Moore’s Woodland White {using BM’s Natura line, which we’re huge fans of}, take a look at the dramatic change! it’s amazing what paint can do for a space:




as a reminder, here are the plans that we have for this space, taken from our good ol’ Listy McListerson posts of yore:

- paint

- bring in TV {at least 55″}

– add a wood accent wall behind TV {like this}

– add a vintage sideboard/buffet/credenza {with doors for DVD/toy storage} under TV {repurpose 2×4 black/brown Expedit in boys’ closet for storage}

– add large area rugs in living space and in playroom nook

- add graphic curtains, art {there’s still a few bare walls that we’re working on!}

- add playroom area for L and Q, complete with a reading nook {i can’t wait to show you this space soon – we’re waiting on just a few more items to finish off the reading nook!}

– eventually add a fourth bedroom by adding a wall to close off part of the large family room {stay tuned on this – we’re a few years away from tackling this project}

– eventually DIY a drop-down double desk + two chairs for homework and art time for the boys + any future sibling(s); hang two farmhouse lanterns over the desk {in red? yellow? teal?}

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happy love day.

happy Valentine’s Day from our “first love” and our latest “love bug” :)


xoxo, the Gillis family

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“mama” to “mom.”

a newborn asks for nothing. well, except for his Mama’s body {swollen, first around the middle, then later, in her chest}, her mind {anxious with worry all the time, except when she remembers to breathe}, and her nourishment {which, for my babies at least, are seasoned with Nacho Cheese Doritos, peanut M&Ms from a large yellow bag, and a taste – or three – of red wine.} a newborn doesn’t ask for his Mama’s heart, for her soul to ache with each milestone reached, each gurgle and snort and sigh; these, she gives freely.

a 2.5 year old, on the other hand, asks for everything, from the toy Lightning McQueen car at Target to the first, second, and last bites of his Mama’s supper. he, like the newborn, got his fill of his mother since birth, yet his 2.5-year-old self has since armed himself with an independent mind and a stubbornness that rivals only his mother’s. it’s this recently-realized autonomy that leads him to christen the woman formerly known as “Mama” with a new name altogether – “Mom.”

of course, this moniker of “Mom” arrived all too soon for the mother in question. you see, while “Mama” inherently points to a sense of youthful innocence, both on the part of the word’s user and its counterpart, the term “Mom” colors it all differently. unlike “Mama,” “Mom” is a term that’s reserved for three types of exchanges: 1) for exasperated teenagers {“oh, Mom!”}; 2) for whiny children in dire need of a sleepover with Jenny or Jerry or whoever’s the friend of the minute {“please, Mom?”}; 3) or for twenty-somethings who see “Mom” pop up on their iPhone and click “Ignore.” thus, since this 2.5 year old is neither an adult nor its pre-pubescent opposite, and since sleepovers in his mind mean snuggles in the “big” bed instead of his own, the name “Mom” should not escape his mouth for, say, at least five years. but, the mother hears it at almost every turn in nearly every situation.

“i need juice, Mom.”

“sorry, Mom, for hitting.”

“wanna watch Blippi on the iPad, Mom.”

and yet, the exception to the rule, the asterisk in this 2.5 year old’s reincarnation of his “Mama,” is one single, solitary phrase:

“snuggle Mama.”

uttered in moments of discomfort or pain, of unfamiliarity or stress, “snuggle Mama” is always accompanied by big, brown eyes that pierce the soul and outstretched arms aimed in her direction. and, for a moment, all thoughts of the word “Mom” – and the cantankerous exchanges that this word brings along – dissipate. as the mother – no, the Mama – takes her boy into her arms, her only concern is for her son, even though he’s guaranteed to ask for something soon, even though he’s destined to use the forbidden word of “Mom” again.

oh well – – there’s always hope for the newborn.

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baby Q’s birth announcements {from Tiny Prints}.

when sweet Lionel was born, we sent adorable birth announcements that i custom-designed with the help of this fantastic Etsy seller. here’s what they looked like, complete with a wallet photo of L’s newborn self, taken by Kara of Creative Kindling, our favorite photographer:





and for dear Q’s arrival, we worked together with Tiny Prints {see more of our collaboration on the boys’ shared bedroom here!} for a stellar birth announcement and Christmas card combo to introduce our newest boy.

i selected the Stylish Debut: Tropical design and customized it for our growing family. i also ordered black envelopes, matching gold + black dot envelope liners + wrap-around return address labels to add a little flair to our sweet baby Q’s official introduction to the world. we customized the announcements with photos from Quincy’s newborn photo shoot with Creative Kindling! i couldn’t have been more pleased with the quality of the announcements; we received SO many compliments on our sweet cards!

take a look:





many thanks to Tiny Prints for working with us on these fantastic cards – we feel so blessed to have introduced our sweet Q to our family and friends in such a stylish way!

{all photos by me; photos used in both L and Q’s birth announcements by Creative Kindling}

{NOTE: Birth announcements c/o Tiny Prints.}

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It has been a long while since I’ve written any posts for this blog, my blog, or any blog blog. I could rattle off the hundreds of reasons or excuses as to why that is, but I’m going to ignore it and pretend like I’ve been writing once a week since the beginning of time. Go.

As my wife has so beautifully described to you on several occasions, I became a father of two boys past November. Quincy has a been an absolute riot and deserves a few hundred thousand words to describe the experience he has been in my life already, but I only know a thousand or so words (bad dad joke). Since his birth, I have gotten the pleasure to watch Lionel interact with this new human on a daily basis.


Before the birth, Sara and I did our best to try and prepare Lionel for this major life change, but I still did not know what would happen when Q-day would come. That day came and went, and both Lionel and Quincy have blessed us with an outrageous level of tolerance, love and patience.  It is extremely rare to have both of them upset at once. I don’t believe I have ever seen one trigger another one into some sort of fit. Granted, I know that Quincy, being less than three months old, has little to do or say, but both of them have their special ways of showing love for each other.

Lionel is down right adorable when he interacts with Quincy. He reads, he sings, he plays, and he watches “his shows” with Quincy. He gives him kisses, tries to comfort him while he is upset and even when he is rough-housing, Lionel takes a general care to not over do it with the small baby. It is remarkebly fascinating to see my oldest boy, who is on his way to three years old, coordinate and control his body around the baby. You can see him actively trying to be extremely careful. Finally, when Quincy needs immediate attention, Lionel might not always be happy to share “Mom” (that’s his new name for Sara, and it is under-appreciated by “Mama”), but he shows understanding.

Quincy, on the flip side, has dealt with an almost three year old who thinks he’s being extremely careful, is watching his every step and playing a charade of games to impress Mama and Daddy. That older brother steps, lays, screams, steamrollers (my bad), and runs all around Quincy, and of course, accidents happen. Socks get pulled on or off, pacifiers gets shoved into Quincy’s face, and the swing stops rocking as big brother attempts to join in the fun. All that being said, Quincy is resilient. Quincy typically handles all these interactions with a careful studying of the scenario at hand. Clearly, he prefers the tending loving arms of his mother, but from time to time, when Mama needs a break, he’s quite content when, sometimes, the entertainment duties fall to big bro.

As a father, it is absolutely fascinating watching and following Lionel grow up and learn new things. It has been just as fascinating to watch Quincy take seemingly a different course to the same conclusion in many ways. They are so similar and so different in so many ways. Perhaps I’m remembering things differently or perceiving things differently the second time around, but the best part of all has been watching them interact, learn and grow together. The sibling dynamic has been deeply meaningful, and they are so full of love and care for each other, even if, perhaps, they don’t yet understand fully what it means to have a brother.

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sara’s going {back} to doe bay.


last time i was there, i had just learned, one week prior, that this little guy was joining our family. last time i was there, i was sniffing citrus fruits and drinking seltzer water and praying for my nausea to subside long enough to take a car ride with three total strangers who quickly became friends. last time i was there, i shared my heart’s deepest fear – of feeling inadequate as a soon-to-be mama of two – and received nothing but love and reassurance and “me, too’s.” and what’s so, so wonderful is that this time, when i’m back at Doe Bay in one week’s time, i’ll have this sweet Quincy Bug with me to share it all with. my sweet Q is a Doe Bay baby, for real.



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{progress} our laundry room.

hi all! since we moved into our home in the summer of 2013, we haven’t chatted much about our laundry room. in fact, all that we did since moving in was plop down an area rug or two, stored a few baby-related items and paint cans, and added a mini-fridge {from our college days} for convenience when entertaining in our lower level.

but, as can often happen when you’re a homeowner, circumstances sometimes demand your attention…

…and for us, that was true with our laundry room.

Exhibit A: Our Laundry Room.



see the water heater in the picture above? {that’s the cylinder on the left side of the photo.} guess what decided to start leaking {albeit slowly} this past fall? yup, our water heater.

although we had been talking with a local heating & plumbing company since we first noticed the issue last fall, the leak was quite intermittent and slow that we decided to wait to replace the unit until we had saved a few pennies and until the need presented itself.

as of this past weekend, guess what began leaking at a faster rate? you guessed it.

thankfully, our home savings account was prepared for this type of a “hit,” so when the plumber came out to visit today to take a look, i took the liberty of asking him a few questions while he was quoting us an estimate for replacing our unit.

as a reminder, here’s the current layout of our laundry room, which is partially drywalled with an open ceiling and concrete floor:


as you can see, our utility units are spread out around the perimeter of the room. while our washer and dryer are ideally located and offer a wealth of space for our front-loader doors to swing open, the challenge lies in concealing all of our utility units upon finishing our laundry room with drywall. while the picture above isn’t to scale {of course}, when the entry door to the space is open, it nearly hits the existing water heater unit, thus making it rather impossible to conceal the sump pump and the water heater by adding a closet and a door, for instance.

so, while the plumber was here, i asked him about the possibility of moving the water heater over next to the furnace…and happily, he said that not only would it be possible, but that he would also recommend doing so, since the water heater would then be located in closer proximity to the drain on the floor, which is currently positioned in front of the furnace! furthermore, moving the water heater from one side of the room to the other increased our estimate only slightly, making this project completely feasible and budget-friendly.

however, the plumber cautioned us that since our water heater is an electric unit, that we would need to call an electrician to help to make the move of the water heater possible. that’s all i needed to hear before hopping on the phone with a local electrician and requesting a quote. after a short phone conversation with both myself and with the local plumber, we had an estimate that was well within our budget for what we were saving for the water heater replacement itself – not including the opportunity to move the unit to the other wall!

so, after replacing our water heater and relocating it in a more logical space, here’s what our laundry room looks like now:


what has me so excited {and Jord, too, by proxy – he’s excited when i’m excited!} is that when we’re ready to finish the laundry room {perhaps this summer and fall?}, we’ll be able to rock out a layout like this:


a few notes + inspiration images {click here to follow my “our home: our laundry room” board on Pinterest, where all of these images hail from!}:

* i’m loving the look of these ceiling “tile” planks – but i wonder; are they accessible for electrical/wiring issues?:


* i would LOVE to tile the wall behind the washer and dryer and DIY some open shelves, much like this image from BHG and this photo from here:



* i’m obsessed with this DIY faux bois folding counter from Jenny Komenda’s Little Green Notebook blog:


* i also think that painting the concrete floor a rich color {like navy, which is what i’m lusting after!} a la Young House Love would also be fab:


* this paint storage is genius:


and a few more inspiration images for the closet space, which would include ventilated door panels to maximize breathing room for the utilities that we’d be concealing:




Ventilated-Doors-41, 2, 3, 4

what projects are you dreaming up for your home?

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once upon a time, eight years ago today, a boy and a girl began dating. they had met the previous summer at their summer bank job. on the first day of work, the girl greeted the boy, but the boy didn’t return her “hello,” so the girl thought that the boy was stuck-up and rude.

little did the girl know, the boy would spend the next nine months chasing after her heart, until she finally relented one January 27th, when the boy was away for the weekend with a friend.

“let’s date,” she said over the phone, one of her friends silently cheering her on in the background.

the boy, who was playing poker at the time, lost a bit of money while talking to his now-girlfriend on the phone, a sum that he has sworn, since that day, was more than worth it, for the girl on the telephone later became his wife


…and the mother of his two children.


Jord, i’m so lucky to have you – while you may not have won your poker games that fateful day eight years ago, i certainly won, for i got YOU.



{photos by Creative Kindling}

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listy mclisterson update {january 2015}.

hi all! i think it’s time for another look at our good ol’ house to-do list, which, a la the Petersiks of Young House Love, we call our Listy McListerson!

the short version: the biggest changes on the list come in the form of L + Q’s shared bedroom, which is 99% complete – see their room over on the Tiny Prints blog here – and our lower level, which has undergone a major transformation in the past two weeks: the walls have a fresh coat of paint! i’m working on a reveal, so stay tuned.

Main Floor - Floor Plan - Original Paint Colors

hang on tight – here we go!

overall look + layout of our home

– install crown molding in all rooms

– replace standard light fixtures/fans in all rooms in favor of lanterns and chandeliers

– eventually install hardwood floors in common areas, and install tile {slate?} in kitchen + bathrooms

– eventually add a fourth bedroom in the lower level by closing off part of the large family room; resulting family room space will become more of a den/study

– eventually repaint exterior of house in grey with white trim


– add some nice hardware to the garage doors to beef them up {like this}

– eventually replace garage doors with ones with windows/molding/character


front yard

– add a few planters in front of the garage

– paint the exterior entry door{s} to the garage {Blue Lake}

– paint the storm door {white?} when we repaint the house

side/back yard

– build a pergola over stained concrete patio

– add Adirondack chairs in a fun color {red? coral?} to the concrete patio space

– DIY a sandbox for Lionel and Quincy

– add potted tall grasses around perimeter of deck for privacy {multiple planters? one long bench-like planter?}

– plant lilacs

– plant a food garden

– when we repaint the house, refinish the back deck in a light grey color; modernize/replace deck posts {metal?}

entry way

– add a bold stencil/wallpaper treatment

repaint the front door and garage entry door {Blue Lake} – lesson learned: i should have sanded the doors first, or used a high-adhesion primer!

– eventually add a fun lantern or chandelier

- add hooks for coats, art


– paint

- paint a chalkboard wall in the eat-in area of the kitchen

- spray paint {Mint? Coral? White?} and hang empty frames on chalkboard wall {write notes, quotes inside}; also add upside down drawer pulls to hold chalk; also draw a family calendar on the chalkboard wall

- add curtains/blinds of some sort to sliding glass door for privacy

- find a cute vintage cake stand and use it to hold soaps/scrubbers beside sink in the kitchen

- add kitchen chairs in different, fun pops of color

– add art, decorator items above cabinets

– eventually replace the sliding glass door with double French doors {unpaned} or a Dutch door

– eventually add a farmhouse sink

– eventually install tile flooring {slate?} in a neutral tone {dark grey?}

– eventually install subway tile in a neutral tone above counters {white with dark grout?}

– eventually paint/upgrade to white cabinets {or a tuxedo kitchen, with white upper cabinets and darker {navy, gray, etc.} lower cabinets?}

– eventually take down some upper cabinetry to try out open shelving?

– eventually upgrade appliances

hallways + stairways

– add a bold stencil/wallpaper treatment to the wall at the end of the hallway {like this}

– add more frames + art to gallery wall at the end of the hallway

- add decorator items in lighted nook above the upstairs hallway

- organize upstairs hallway closet: main use for upstairs hallway closet = linens and board games

living room {upstairs}

– paint

– add safety gate to stairway before Q is crawling {find a style that doesn’t damage the banister and/or is visually pleasing}

– add an area rug

– add curtains

- mount the television on the wall

– conceal television cords behind the wall

– add a faux fireplace mantle?



- touch up paint in both bathrooms {upstairs is painted a terracotta color, while the downstairs bathroom is charcoal grey}

– paint {Hale Navy}

– add white beadboard to walls {make sure to use bathroom-safe beadboard + adhesive made for damp spaces}

– replace white waffle weave shower curtain in upstairs bathroom with a ceiling height curtain

– update linens

– add art

- remove builder-grade mirror in upstairs bathroom and hang heavy black mirror horizontally in its place {dry-brush white after painting the walls?}

– eventually replace shower and tub in upstairs bathroom with a stand-alone tub

– eventually tile the entire back wall {behind the new tub upstairs}

– replace vanity in bathroom {repurpose vintage dressers? purchase a modern vanity from IKEA? DIY a rustic vanity, like this?}

– install double sinks

– install tile flooring {slate?} in a neutral tone {grey? white?}

– install new lighting {pot lights above the tub + lantern/chandelier?}


- touch up paint in both bathrooms {upstairs is painted a terracotta color, while the downstairs bathroom is charcoal grey}

- purchase hand towels

– add art

– replace vanity and sink in bathroom {repurpose vintage dressers? purchase a modern vanity from IKEA? DIY a rustic vanity, like this?}

– install a tiled {grey penny tile?}, walk-in shower

master bedroom {upstairs}

- paint {indigo}

- Craigslist/sell IKEA Hemnes bed + replace with a DIY headboard

– add accent pillows {i moved our existing pillows to our living areas!}

– add end table on Jord’s side of the bed {i moved our gold Target purchase to our upstairs living room!}

– remove and Craigslist/sell the ceiling fan; add a chandelier

- purchase a vintage dresser in a fun pop of color

– add a closet organizational system or additional dresser storage {my grandmother gifted my mom an antique bedroom set that includes a small three-drawer dresser…perhaps have it refinished?}

- create a baby nook for Quincy

– eventually purchase king-sized linens for better draping/coverage of our queen-sized bed {much like Young House Love did here}

L and Q’s bedroom {upstairs}

- remove and Craigslist/sell the ceiling fan; add a warehouse-inspired light fixture

- add vinyl decals (triangles?) to one wall to create a focal wall in the room

- purchase/make + hang new artwork

- paint little wooden rocker as well as a twin bed for L {one of two identical bed frames!} that we inherited from my Mom’s younger days {!!!}

– personalize L’s bed with a monogram {wood? vinyl decal?}

– purchase fabric to DIY a crib sheet in a fun punch of color {ikat, like this?}

- DIY a bed rail for L’s bed {we’ve been using pool noodles like this, and they’ve been working wonderfully!}

- purchase twin mattresses, bedding, sheets + accent pillows/blanket for L’s big boy bed

- build + hang wood shelving on either side of the window {2-3 shelves per side} for additional storage

- purchase + hang curtains

– add storage to the closet {2×4 Expedit? additional clothing rod?}

– eventually paint + bring in other twin bed frame {identical to L’s current bed frame} for Q, when he’s older

Basement - Floor Plan - Original Paint Colors

family room {downstairs}

- paint

- bring in TV {at least 55″}

– add a wood accent wall behind TV {like this}

– add a vintage sideboard/buffet/credenza {with doors for DVD/toy storage} under TV {repurpose 2×4 black/brown Expedit in boys’ closet for storage}

– add large area rugs in living space and in playroom nook

- add graphic curtains, art {there’s still a few bare walls that we’re working on!}

- add playroom area for L and Q, complete with a reading nook

– eventually DIY a drop-down double desk + two chairs for homework and art time for the boys + any future sibling(s); hang two farmhouse lanterns over the desk {in red? yellow? teal?}

laundry room {downstairs}

– move the water heater to the furnace wall

– add drywall

– enclose the water heater, furnace and electrical panel in a closet with ventilated doors {like this or this}

– tile the wall above the washer and dryer {white subway tile?}

– DIY, stain + hang open shelving above washer and dryer to hold laundry soaps, baskets, etc.; use 12” shelves {with fun/large brackets spray-painted gold!}

– add a folding shelf made of MDF {DIY a faux bois counter, like this}

– paint the floor {use Valspar Oil Porch & Floor Paint}

– add shelving for paint storage {like this}

– eventually replace washer and dryer for a top-loader washer + steam dryer; place washer in a water-safe metal tray

man nook {downstairs}

- mount two computer monitors on the wall

- mount/bring in a desk

- bring in Operation Nerd Mode PC and Xbox One

– create a cool way to hang/hold accessories, games, etc. {Jord has a plan!}

– address the drywall situation {while the space has been drywalled, it is need of sanding before painting}

– paint {Jord loves Benjamin Moore’s Bermuda Teal}

– give some love to the concrete floor (paint it? add rugs?)

– add/build concealed storage furniture {for baby items, holiday items, etc.} in smaller space under stairway {beyond the “man nook” area}?

third bedroom {downstairs} – remember, this space will likely serve as a guest bedroom/be in flux until it becomes L’s big boy room in three years or so!

– paint

- bring in full bed, which is currently housed at my parents’ house

– DIY a headboard

– purchase fun duvet color, solid color Euro shams, colorful throw pillows

– replace light fixture with a chandelier/drum shade

– bring in a dresser, a chair/chaise

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i’ll take you back.

last week, my Mom and i primed and painted our lower level {sneak peek coming soon!}. while i was touching up the edging on the walls, i had sweet Q downstairs with me {yay for Natura no-VOC paint by Benjamin Moore!}. my iPhone was blaring out some of my favorite tunes while i worked, which seemed to please both Q and i, so i let the music shuffle through without a second thought.

then, a song came on that i hold super-close to my heart – Jeremy Camp’s “Take You Back.” Take a listen here.

when the opening notes of the song began to play, my heart swelled – i’ve been chasing after God’s heart off and on throughout the past decade of my life, yet i’ve never felt closer to God since becoming a mother. i even wrote the following in sweet Q’s birth story:

I know that people always say this about childbirth, and about children in general, but it became clear to me, as my eyes met yours for the first time, that I have experienced two distinct moments in my life in which I truly saw God, in which I could feel His presence at the helm of my life, and both resulted in the birth of a beautiful boy. While I have long loved God as someone in great need of grace, I realized that never before in my life – not during times of worship, not in moments of stress, of grief, of complete joy or utter sadness – have I so intimately felt God’s hands around mine, and around those of my children, than in the moments in which you and your brother were born. Oh, to feel His love realized in the form of a baby, my baby; yes, as I looked at your sweet face and promised you the best of me – to be for you, and for your brother too, an indestructible, endless net of love and faithfulness, ever positioned so that I will always catch you – I was able to glimpse how immense our Father’s love is for us.

and as the lyrics of “Take You Back” washed over me for the billionth time {i’ve seen Jeremy Camp in concert three times, and each has been a wonderful, worship-filled experience}, my eyes fluttered, holding back tears, and my hands tingled. i set down my paintbrush and reached for my sweet baby, just nine weeks old. as i clutched his dear eight-pound-body to my chest, feeling his breaths wisp in and out, two or three for him in measure to mine, these lyrics struck me anew, on this, the billionth time that i heard them.

for this time, as i listened ever-closely to the lyrics of this oh-so-special song, as my body danced and swayed to the music with dear Q in my arms, i was struck, over and over again, by the immense love of our Father God, and how each day, i strive to show my love for my sweet sons – my Lionel and my Quincy – according to His great example:

I’ll take you back always
And even when your fight is over now
Even when your fight is over now
I’ll take you back always
And even when the pain is coming through
Even when the pain is coming through
I’ll take you back

for this is the promise that i have made to each of my boys – despite your mistakes, because of your mistakes, i’ll always be your Mama, and i’ll always take you back; even when you feel that there’s no where or no one to turn to, even when pain strikes your heart so deeply, your Mama will always be here, will always be your safety net – and through the strength of God, i hope to keep this promise.

and this, oh, this part of the song – it’s the song of my heart, for it’s exactly the prayer that i lift up to God each night as i give thanks for this life, for my life, and especially for my two wonderful sons:

I can only speak
With a grateful heart
As I’m pierced by this gift
Of your love

I will always bring an offering
I can never thank you enough

oh Lord, that you may take these boys’ lives and hold them close, and that you may strengthen them each day to live their lives in You.


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