Top Ten of 2015



Peace out, 2015, I'm going to miss you and wish you would stick around for another day week or two (I'm not done with you!!!).  But since I have no choice but to forge ahead with 2016 - ready or not- here's my Top Ten List for 2015.  Every year I compile a top ten list of significant things that happened during the year.  My best friend Daniel started this when we were much (much) younger and it's a year end tradition I've kept up with pretty much my entire adult life.  Not a lot happened in our hometown and he was tired of everyone complaining about how they hadn't done anything that year, so he would make us come up with a list of 10 good things that happened in our lives that year.  The criteria for our Top Ten lists has changed to include 10 significant things that happened during the year (since some life changing events aren't exactly good, happy moments).  Without further ado, here's 2015's list (in no particular order).

1. STARTED MY OWN BUSINESS (whaaaaaaat!!!)
2.  went to the Incubus concert with Dennis and Jack
3.  dyed my hair purple and pink and orange, and red
4.  Ingress anomaly in Austin
5.  great baseball moments:  won tickets to a Skeeter's game, sat behind home plate at an Astro's game, and my Mets made it to the World Series!
6.  our front yard got dug up to have a water main replaced - it took four (five?) days and Jack was super excited about watching all the machines
7.  Jack got a big boy bed!
8.  Dennis and I participated in a bowling tournament for his work
9.  We met George Takei at Comicpalooza!
10.  I was lucky enough to attend Blog Eleveated even though it was out of town this year.

2015 was a really good year.  It wasn't as big and grand as some years (ahem, 2012), but it wasn't stagnant like some other years.  Since I'm terrible at just picking 10 things, here are some honorable mentions from this year: I kept on running but without as much dedication, gained weight - lots - I'm now tied for my heaviest non-pregnant weight, watched the Houston Marathon, did a lot of bike riding, Jack got tall enough to reach the rings on his own at the playground, Reed's third birthday gymnastics party, I attended all of the Houston Bloggers meetings, Bubbles for Kitty, continuted my photo an hour project, took Jack ice skating for the very first time.



I love reading everyone's Top Ten lists.  If you have one (or a year end post), please share them here!  I'll leave the link-up open all month!  Happy 2016!!!


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Sunday Confessions (on Monday.....again....I know, I know....)

The United States of Becky

I confess I've had my Christmas tree since December 3rd and only got lights and tinsel on it 5 days ago and not a single ornament has been hung yet and this is a super long run on sentence and I totally don't care because I'm 100% not in the holiday mood because it's freaking EIGHTY DEGREES outside right now and fuck you, El Nino.

I confess I have really great ideas for Christmas gifts for my family and friends until it comes time to actually go shopping.  As soon as I get into a store I get shopper's block and completely blank on any and everything I wanted to get them and then usually end up getting something crappy.  As soon as I get home I remember all the cool things I wanted to get them.  Why I don't write down my ideas is beyond me.

I confess this weather makes me all ragey and stabby.  I know that's not much of a confession, but I just really really hate hot weather.  And I hate it even more in December.  I know I'm not going to get a white Christmas in Houston (except for that one time and I wasn't even there FFS) but I'd at least like to be able to wear a sweater, scarf, coat, and long socks.  Shorts and a t-shirt feel about as Christmas as a hot poker to the eye.

Bah-humbug!!!
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Day in the Life, December 1, 2015

The last month of 2015 is here and (as usual) I'm just not ready for it.  I need at least 2 more weeks of November to get ready for December, but like it or not, December is here.  I spent the first day of this month not nearly as productive as I would've liked, but still managed to get some stuff done.  Errands were ran, dishes were washed, and laundry was on it's continuous loop - so pretty much what normal adults do every day (why is this so hard for me?!!?).  Along with all the chores, I snapped my photo an hour as part of my nearly 3 years long Day in the Life series.  Not all of them are up on the blog, but you can go back and look for them on Instagram.  Just look for the #dayinthelife and #reinventingjess hashtags!



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morning coffee with Den


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Squeak was holding Den hostage'


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Jack's new favorite toy.  Dennis bought it for him last night and it was the last thing Jack talked about before bed and the first thing he wanted when he woke up


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Loading up to go to Mimi's. Jack wanted to hang some windchimes in the truck.


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Time to add oil.  Treat your car right and it'll return the favor.


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Free hipster cat bag with my purchase at Sally Beauty Supply!


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Fancy TV dinner for lunch.  It was actually really yummy.


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Finally getting to the dishes I had been putting off all day


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Sorting laundry


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The never ending story


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On the way to get Jack


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Seriously.  He's obsessed with this baking set.


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Getting a little Ingress action in on the way home


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"Daddy, draw house, draw Scoop."


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Maybe not the best way to try to wind down for the night......


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A Runner's Best Friend {Sponsored}

I'm so glad I've started running again.  It's been several months since I've been out running on a regular basis and I can already feel the benefits of getting out there and hitting the pavement.  My energy level is up, I'm in a better mood, I'm getting more done around the house, and I just feel so much better!  Running is a relatively simple sport and not much gear is necessary, but I just got my hands on my new running BFF:  compression leg sleeves by Zensah from SwimOutlet.com, who is sponsoring this post, btw (thanks, ya'll!!!), but all these opinions are my own, yo.  This post is about running, but SwimOutlet.com carries stuff for all athletes and has an awesome holiday gift guide - go check it out!



Since gaining more weight than I want to admit during my running hiatus, I've been getting really bad shin splints.  This also happened to me summer before last when I was trying to pick up my 5K pace and the splints left me almost unable to walk!!!  It was torture!!!  I looked online for remedies and traded massages with my coworkers, but nothing helped very much.  Until I got my new Zensah compression leg sleeves.  I've been using them for about a week now and they are amazing!

Here's how they work:  the compression from the leg sleeve stabilizes the muscle giving the calf extra support to help prevent injuries.  The compression from the leg sleeve is also graduated - more compression at the bottom and less at the top.  This graduated compression helps improve circulation and that's supposed to help reduce fatigue and improve performance.  Compression sleeves are also supposed to help reduce recovery times between workouts.

To be honest, I was on the fence about some of these selling points.  I had been thinking about getting some compression leg sleeves before teaming up with SwimOutlet.com, but just wasn't sure if they would do all the things they claim to do.  Providing extra support to reduce the chance of injury made sense to me, but the whole improved performance/reduced recovery times seemed a little far fetched to me.  Until I tried them.

Now, I'm not going to claim that they turned me into a marathoner or anything (I still alternate between walking and running), but I can tell you that my runs were noticeably faster, my stride was longer - I actually felt like I was running and not jogging, and I had absolutely no pain at all after my run.  In fact, the next day, my legs felt like I hadn't even been out running the day before, and my legs are always sore the day after a run.  Color me surprised that these things really do help improve performance and reduce recovery.  I'll never run without them again.  Srsly.  If you're a runner or if you want to be a runner, go out and get a pair - NOW!  You'll thank me.

Along with my compression leg sleeves, I also got a new pair of running shorts, a book about running, and two different snacks (these and these).  I love, love, love the new shorts.  For some reason I thought they were going to be basic stretchy cotton shorts, but it turns out they're fancy high tech compression moisture wicking anti-chafing shorts.  Maybe I should've read the product description instead of just looking at the pictures, but it turned out in my favor.  I really needed a new pair of running shorts and these are much nicer than I expected.  Bye-bye chaffed thighs!  I haven't started the book yet or had any of the snacks, but I already know I like the sports beans and am looking forward to trying the waffles.  I'll let you know how they are.

Have you ever been really surprised by a product before?  Tell me about it!
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Sunday Confessions (on Wednesday)

The United States of Becky

I confess I've developed this really annoying habit where I say everything to Jack twice in quick succession.  Like an echo or an annoying parrot:  "Time to pick up your toys, Jack.  Time to pick up your toys, Jack."  "Get your shoes on.  Get your shoes on."  "Did you have fun today?  Did you have fun today?"  "Squak Squak."  I have no idea why I've suddenly started doing this.  It's not like he can't hear or understand me, or that he's not listening and following directions.  And it's driving me crazy.  But I can't seem to stop. SOMEONE HELP ME!!!

I confess I went all Momma Bear this weekend on this slightly older kid that raised his fists at Jack out at the Renaissance Festival.  This older kid was trying to unlock the gate to the demonstration area where Dennis and Jack were working, and Jack pulled his sword glorified letter opener on the kid to defend his territory.  The kid tried to get Jack in trouble (and although we've been teaching Jack not to pull out his sword, I was kinda proud of him for standing his ground and not letting the other kid steam roll him - plus Jack was aiming at this kid's chest and not his face), so I told Jack that he needed to be careful with his sword and to not pull it on anyone.  A few minutes later, the same shitty kid tried to unlock the gate again and Jack stared him down.  In response this kid raised his fists at Jack and I was all ready to fight a 5 year old.  Instead, I put on my you don't fuck with my kid voice and scolded the other boy and he finally went away.  But I totally would've punched a 5 year old if necessary (not really - that's a joke).

I confess I'm a total '90's girl.  Grunge, plaid flannel, combat boots, baby doll dresses, thigh high tights, ripped jeans - I think you get the picture here - that fashion was my jam and I've been waiting for it to come back.  And, no, it doesn't matter that I just turned 35.  I'm rocking the '90s again.  I'm simultaneously super psyched that '90's fashion is finally coming back into style and really pissed off when I see teenagers wearing my signature style.  Like, those bratty teenagers just have no idea (but they look good!).  Now I'm off to go buy some flannel.
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Jamberry Holiday Gift Sets: Winter Wishes, All is Bright, and Snow Angels

Jamberry holiday gift sets, Jamberry nail wraps, nail art, nail polish, holiday gift set, christmas gifts, winter wishes, all is bright, snow angels

The Jamberry Holiday Gift Sets are here, ya'll, and they are A-MA-ZING!!!  I know it's been a little while since I've talked about Jamberry here, but let me tell you, my passion for these nail wraps has not waned and these sets are too good to leave off the blog!  Don't know what a Jamberry is?  Let me tell you!  Jamberry Nail Wraps are salon quality nail art wraps that are heat activated and pressure sealed to the nail bed.  They last for about 2 weeks on fingers and up to 6 weeks on toes and (if removed properly) they won't damage your nails.  Jamberry wraps come in over 300 different designs in both regular and junior sizes, plus you can design your own custom wraps if you want (I know, right?!? So cool!!!).  One sheet of wraps is enough for two manicures and two pedicures with enough left over for accent nails.  Basically, these wraps are the best thing, ever!!!  Jamberry has released three different gift boxes this season, Winter Wishes, All is Bright, and Snow Angels.  And in case you haven't figured it out, I'm a Jamberry Independent Consultant - that's how much I love these things.

First up, I want to show you the Winter Wishes gift set.  The Winter Wishes set includes everything you need for a festive holiday party.  Two regular sized coordinating wraps, a bottle of Ruby nail lacquer, and an exclusive bottle of cranberry scented Nourish hand lotion, plus the basic application tools are included.  This set makes a bold statement with the vibrant ruby lacquer, gold glitter wraps, and clear lace overlay wraps.  This combination will turn heads this holiday season!  And it's only $45 plus tax and shipping!!!
  
Jamberry holiday gift sets, Jamberry nail wraps, nail art, nail polish, holiday gift set, christmas gifts, winter wishes, all is bright, snow angels

Jamberry holiday gift sets, Jamberry nail wraps, nail art, nail polish, holiday gift set, christmas gifts, winter wishes, all is bright, snow angels

Next up is the All is Bright set.  This gorgeous set is perfect for a glamorous holiday party.  Two regular sized coordinating wraps, a bottle of Foiled lacquer, and an exclusive bottle of pear scented Nourish hand lotion, plus the basic application tools are included.  This set is glitzy and glamorous thanks to the metallic foiled lacquer, gold wraps, and clear script overlay wraps.  This combination will make you feel like a million bucks this holiday season!  This one is also only $45 plus tax and shipping!

Jamberry holiday gift sets, Jamberry nail wraps, nail art, nail polish, holiday gift set, christmas gifts, winter wishes, all is bright, snow angels
Jamberry holiday gift sets, Jamberry nail wraps, nail art, nail polish, holiday gift set, christmas gifts, winter wishes, all is bright, snow angels


Last up is the Snow Angels gift set.  Snow Angels is perfect for little girls with an exclusive junior sized wrap and Ice Kissed lacquer, plus the basic application tools.  This set is adorable with snowmen and plaid and is great to wear all winter long.  The Ice Kissed lacquer is the perfect compliment to this set!  This set is only $30 plus tax and shipping!

Jamberry holiday gift sets, Jamberry nail wraps, nail art, nail polish, holiday gift set, christmas gifts, winter wishes, all is bright, snow angels
Jamberry holiday gift sets, Jamberry nail wraps, nail art, nail polish, holiday gift set, christmas gifts, winter wishes, all is bright, snow angels


I'm so excited about these gift sets!  They're stylish, they're festive, they're bold, they're glamorous, they're fun, and they're a great deal.  One gift set costs what just one manicure and pedicure would run you at a nail salon and includes enough wraps for FOUR manicures and FOUR pedicures (not to mention how far one bottle of lacquer will go)!!!  Plus they won't chip or fade like a regular mani/pedi would!  I don't know many ladies that wouldn't love to get one of these sets for Christmas.  So get a head start on your shopping and give a unique and amazing gift!

If you have any questions about these sets or Jamberry in general, leave me a comment here or email me at reinventingjess[at]gmail!  Oh, and let me know which set is your favorite (mine is Winter Wishes).
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Day in the Life, November 1, 2015

Seriously, November already?!?  I just can't believe how fast this year is going by!  I know I always say that, but, man, it seems like time is on fast forward lately.  Jack turned THREE last month (or according to him, "Jack big boy now"), Dennis and I celebrated our 5th Anniversary we're already halfway through the Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF), and the end of the year is right there!!!  Slow down, already!!!

I'm still taking my Day in the Life photos every hour on the first of every month over on Instagram (even though I haven't been blogging them).  It got to be such a hassle to download each picture from my phone (or email them to myself and freak out gmail, then get locked out of my account), upload them to a photo editor (I like PicMonkey {and that's an affiliate link) to watermark them, save them to a folder on my computer, get distracted while writing and editing the post, switching to a different computer where I have no access to my edited pictures, having to wait for Jack to stop watching DinoTrux, finding my groove again, and finally uploading those pics to the blog and writing the damn post.  Then I had an a-ha moment:  I can just embed the f***ing pictures straight from Instagram and save myself literally hours.  FACE. PALM!!!

Anyway, November 1st was quite a busy day for us.  We were all in a post trick-or-treating haze, but had to be up early because I was running the Dia de los Muertos 5K fun run first thing.  Then we had to go back out to TRF because, work.  Jack took an epic nap in the middle of the day (thankfully) and all in all, it was a fantastic day.


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6:30 am and I'm the only one up


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7:30 am Jack will only cooperate with the aid of DinoTrux

A video posted by Jessica Brogan (@actorjess) on

8:30 am Enjoying the pre-race entertainment

A photo posted by Jessica Brogan (@actorjess) on

9:30 am Mid-race selfie with Jack

A photo posted by Jessica Brogan (@actorjess) on

10:30 am Heading to TRF

A photo posted by Jessica Brogan (@actorjess) on

11:30 am Arriving at the back gate

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12:30 pm Back in the Jackalope costume - Trick-or Treating Round 2...

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1:30 pm .....and he's asleep

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2:30 pm Standing watch backstage while Jack naps

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3:30 pm Nom, nom, nom

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4:30 pm Post-nap snack

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5:30 pm "Jack people watching."

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6:30 pm Jack by candlelight

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7:30 pm Fire Dancers at TRF

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8:30 pm Post-fireworks fireworks

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9:30 pm Danatee plays the Peruvian straw

I fell asleep in the car on the way home, so there wasn't a 10:30 picture and then we all went straight to bed when we finally got home.  We were all so exhausted!  But in a good way.  I like days that are this busy.

And now that I've figured out how to embed those Instagram pics (and seriously, why did it take me so long to come to figure that out), I can start posting my Day in the Life photos here again!  Yay!  Let me know what you think of the embedded pics - can you see all of them, how fast did the page load, do you like them, etc, etc, etc.
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7 Acre Wood Pumpkin Patch


It's Fall and that means it's time for pumpkins, s'mores, cider, and cooler temperatures.  Here in Houston, we're short on cooler temperatures (and, therefore, s'mores and cider - for now), but we do have an abundance of pumpkin patches to choose from.  I love a good pumpkin patch.  Especially one that also has hayrides, giant sandboxes, mini-golf, and a petting zoo.  Enter 7 Acre Wood, just north of Houston in Conroe, TX.  7 Acre Wood has all that plus pony rides, a zip line, ping pong, horseshoes, and more!  Naturally we had to take Jack.




When we first arrived at 7 Acre Wood, a small pumpkin patch with a wagon was arranged in front of the ticket office.  There was a nice shady tree with a porch swing and there were plenty of places to take pictures.  It was very inviting.  Jack climbed right into the wagon and we finally had to coax him out so we could go play inside.



hmmmm, should I go inside or stay in the wagon?
As soon as we convinced Jack to go inside the entrance building, we were greeted with another small pumpkin display.  I was in pumpkin heaven!  I tried my best to get Jack to sit still long enough to get some pictures, but he had other ideas.  Pfft, toddlers and their ideas and opinions. #whatever  I did manage to get one good picture of him sitting with pumpkins, but he mostly wanted to dig through the giant tub of miniature pumpkins.  Again, toddlers with their independent ideas.






Now that I finally had some decent pictures of Jack and pumpkins, we were free to enjoy the rest of our afternoon.  First up was feeding the goats.  It was suggested that we feed the goats through the fence and then go inside the petting zoo area.  What a brilliant idea!  Those goats get so aggressive - that's one thing I've always disliked about petting zoos.  Side note:  the Houston Zoo has an area where you can brush the goats and they are the most mellow animals I've ever seen.  Anyway, we fed the crazy animals, then decided to give mini-golf a try.  Jack used the club and hand method and made it all the way through 4 holes before losing interest.







After the goats and mini-golf, we headed straight for the GIANT sandbox.  We pretty much spent the rest of our time playing in the sand - it's Jack's favorite thing, plus it was nice and shady, and there were seats for the adults.  I call that winning.  Dennis went and got Pigger, Butt-Naked, and Zedee Bear out of the car so we could get pictures of them in the pumpkins, too.  Jack wasn't interested in the pumpkins at all (again, with the toddler opinions), but he was all about the driving the tractor.

this was about 1/16th the size of this sandbox - it was HUGE!


Jack is very serious about sandboxing


We had a great time out at 7 Acre Wood.  We've been to some other pumpkin patches and corn mazes over the years and this one is definitely a good one.  I always look for one that has more than just pumpkins and we like to make a day (or at least an afternoon) of it.  The sandbox was a huge hit and so was the tractor.  I look forward to coming back next year!!!










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Sunday Confessions (on Monday)



I confess:  I had every intention of waking up extra early this morning to get a head start on my to-do list.  And I did wake up early.  And by wake up early I mean I hit my snooze button 10 times (that's 90 minutes just in case you're wondering), and by get a head start on my to-do list I mean I fell back asleep on top of the pile of clean towels I need to fold.  I am constantly winning at adulting.

I confess:  I had pork chops for breakfast yesterday.  And for lunch.  Then for dinner.  And there is a bag full of pork chops in my fridge.  I'm sorry piggies.  But you're delicious.  Excuse me while I schedule my bypass.....

I confess:  I am slightly obsessed with this video.  I'm not going to admit to how many times I've watched it, but her butt is mesmerizing.  Like, I really don't get twerking, but I'm fascinated with this video.  I just don't see how it's physically possible.  Like, how do you move your butt that much but still keep it relaxed enough to jiggle???  HOW DOES THIS EVEN WORK???  I'm just an unfrozen caveman lawyer; I'm frightened and confused by your modern dance moves.  Either way, I'm sure we can all agree on two things:  she's got skillz and those leggings are pretty bad ass.

That's all I've got to confess this week.  Do you feel the need to confess?  Go link up with The United States of Becky and read everyone else's confessions, too!
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Anniversary 5.0

2010

2011

2012

2013
2014
2015

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Sunday Confessions (on Monday)


United States of Becky


I confess:  I tried starting the Write 31 Days project at the beginning of this month.  I failed horribly.  I think I had a good idea, but it started out too much like a self-help book and I just wasn't able to keep up the tone of the series (and by keep up the tone, I mean I wrote one post and had a second half done in my drafts folder).  So I deleted my original post.  Yes, I said it, I deleted an already  published post.  It's the only time in the almost 5 years of blogging that I've deleted a post.  It felt weird to do it, but since I had exactly 0 intention of writing anything else on the topic (at least for a while and especially since I'm now 12 days behind), I figured it would be more disingenuous to leave it up than to take it down.

I confess:  My ADD got me like

I confess:  I've gained like 25 pounds in the last couple of months (mostly due to the stress and time commitments of getting my business started).  I'm now at just under my heaviest non-pregnant weight and only 15 pounds less than my heaviest pregnant weight.  And I am miserable about it.  My clothes don't fit, my body aches, and I just feel blegh.  *side note - when I just typed "blegh" no squiggly red line came up under it indicating a misspelling - now my ADD is gonna make me google that to see if it's actually a real word*  *yup - it's a real word*

Got anything to confess?  Go link up with The United States of Becky and see what everyone else is confessing!
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