Life lately.

 My heart is heavy today, friends.  This week, I’ve had two encounters with people I know and love who are a part of the foster care system in the U.S. and IT’S JUST SO BROKEN.   Urg.  I could just sit down and sob about it.  Even though God called us to adopt from China (because that’s where my girls were!), He has called so many of my friends to the foster care system here in the US and can I just say, YOU GUYS ARE MY HEROES!   Seriously, if you’re out there and you have or are currently fostering, GOD BLESS YOU.   One of my best friends, Meagan, blogged here last year about her experience fostering, and you know what?  It was so hard.  I’m just crushed for these kids, for these foster parents, for the whole system.  So, my heart is heavy today.  I am praying for you in the foster care world.  You are selfless beyond words and I’m so thankful there are people like you, and I’m so burdened by the sweet kids you care for.

Anyway, I just had to say something.  Fostering is hard.  HARD.  BUT if you are one of my readers out there and you feel called to do it, please don’t be discouraged.  We are praying for YOU.  If God is prompting your heart to be a part of this broken yet beautiful system, I urge you to.  He will work out the details.  He ALWAYS does.

So, it’s October at the Shull’s house.  I showed you this picture last week, but then just now found this one…

…because this is my world.  Right here.  And I love every messy minute.

Last week, Madeley made the transition from high chair to big girl chair at the dinner table and she was PUMPED!  We packed up the high chair and stored it away.  We have four big kids now 🙂 .

This just made me laugh.  This is them EVERY DAY.  He would prefer to wear his underwear 24/7 and she cannot have enough layers on.

There was a big milestone at our house last week!  Kensington got her first set of braces.  Sigh.  If you’re new around here, then maybe you don’t know that braces are the bane of my existence.  I’ve had them three times.  As an adult.  You can read all about it HERE.  So, now, it’s the children’s turn 🙂 .  We have been watching two of Kensington’s teeth for over a year now and they just won’t drop down (they’re halfway up in her gums), and now, they’re causing some other problems (crowding, other teeth scooting over in their place, etc), so she got these babies put on.  They think she’ll wear them for a year and then get another set when she’s in middle school.  I just love these girls of mine!

She could not wait to get back to school to show her friends!

This girl.  She has my heart.

Oh wait?!  He does too!  My sweet nephew Samuel came to stay three nights with us last week.  It was a fight for his attention the whole time!!  Everyone loves them some Samuel!!

Erika and I decided to wake up early and take all of the kids to Canton.  I know I’ve told you about Canton before…but here’s a refresher: it’s a city about an hour and half-ish (it took us two hours because of traffic) from our town in East Texas and one weekend a month, they have this HUGE flea market type event.  It’s always fun to visit Canton, but it’s never more fun than the fall because they have all of their Halloween and Christmas stuff out to buy!  So, we left our houses at 7:00 AM and headed east with these five cuties!

Samuel is 15 months and Madeley is days away from being three…but they are TWO PEAS IN A POD!  Samuel doesn’t say a ton of names, but he for sure can say Madeley 🙂 .  They’re just so cute together!!

We headed home at 1:00, so that we were back to pick up the big kids at school.  It was such a fun day!

Home from school and ready to cuddle her little cousin.

Lunch the next day.  Smith loves Samuel too 🙂 .

We celebrated October 1st with pumpkins on our clothes!  I bought these outfits at a boutique on our town square.  Brace yourselves…it’s going to be nothing but pumpkin wear for the next month.  #cantstop #sostinkincute

We decided to be fun on Sunday night and head to our square for pizza.  I sat next to this guy.

That face!  And side note: Madeley loves cheese.  Brie and Parm for the win before pizza.

Headed out the door with my big kids on Monday morning to drop them off at school.  This girl is just sweetness.  (And side note, Boden has so many cute Halloween tops and dresses this year!  My girls stocked up on the spooky fun!)

After I dropped off the big kids, I came back home and grabbed these two for a walk.

 

As we were walking, Ashby asked me if she could run instead, so she hopped out and off she went.  She is just so darn active, full of energy and endless determination.

Being able to walk to Starbucks from our house is such a treat!

And then…on Tuesday, Simmers came out!!  Eeeks!  These four are my greatest JOY!

That’s a look at life lately. xo

 

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80 Comments

  • Reply Kate October 5, 2017 at 4:41 am

    The Lord called us to foster care and yes, it is SUCH a broken system. I don’ t know how to Fix it, but I do know the battles we face DAILY. These poor children are left in limbo for so long, workers are overworked and very much underpaid, and the laws unfortunately support the wrong person in the system (not the children). Nothing has taught me to rely on the Lord like foster care has!

  • Reply Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog October 5, 2017 at 4:52 am

    I think it’s such a wonderful thing you’re doing with fostering. And your kids are the cutest!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • Reply Sarah October 5, 2017 at 5:03 am

    Fostering is for sure hard, but so needed. This is something I’ve been praying about. A close friend of mine in college’s family was a foster family and it was difficult, but life-changing (and SO NEEDED, like you said). My heart hearts for all those children.

    Kensington looks great in braces!!! Such a sweetie!! And man I would pay big money to be able to walk to Starbucks!!! That’s my fave place ever! 🙂

    -Sarah http://www.thefrugalmillionaireblog.com

  • Reply Whitney October 5, 2017 at 5:14 am

    It has been a tough week! My heart has been so heavy with the tragedy in Las Vegas. God Bless those sweet families.

    Looks like you’ve had a great week! Love these posts!♥️😊

  • Reply Alison October 5, 2017 at 5:14 am

    Hi Shay! Love reading your blog!! Are your girl’s bows in the Halloween outfit from an Etsy shop?

  • Reply Foster mom in Florida October 5, 2017 at 5:17 am

    I am a foster parent. I did not go into it to adopt. That makes a big difference. Here is the thing…..The government has no business raising children but thank god they do care and try to help. The system you speak of….the judges police,, CPI, case managers, GAL,and me do the best we can with limited resources and laws that rule over the bio parents right their children. The foster parent is not part of any rule or law to decide anything. . Obviously we have a say and guide outcomes….but these children are not ours until parental rights are terminated. The judge decides not the foster parent when to TPR. The judge take it very seriously. You need to have faith in the system and not dispare it. It is not perfect but given all,the challenges, we do the best we can.

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama October 5, 2017 at 5:50 am

      I am specifically praying for YOU today. I am in awe of you and what you’re doing. God bless you!!

  • Reply Erika Slaughter October 5, 2017 at 5:34 am

    We had a blast heading to Canton! I can’t wait for our next adventure!

  • Reply Elspeth Mizner October 5, 2017 at 5:37 am

    Such sweet smiling faces. I love all your decorations. When do you put them up and take them down?,the pumpkins outside are my favorite

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama October 5, 2017 at 5:49 am

      I put them up around September 1 and take them down mid-November (when I put my Christmas stuff up!).

      • Reply Elspeth Mizner October 5, 2017 at 6:29 am

        Good idea. Thanks for the tips. Have a great day

  • Reply Meagan Ruse October 5, 2017 at 5:49 am

    You know I could talk about the foster care system for hours 🙂 And you have 🙂 It’s a circle of broken things. Fixing one thing at a time isn’t enough and picking the one thing to fix first isn’t quick enough for these kids and families getting lost in the mess. Oh how it breaks my heart. I still have random people come up to me or message me who have just recently read my foster care post. What that says to me is people are still opening up their hearts to these children and putting the fear or the system, state, and county aside. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share our story. Love you so much!!!

  • Reply Alexis deZayas October 5, 2017 at 5:49 am

    These posts are some of my favorites!! So much sweetness!

  • Reply Courtney October 5, 2017 at 6:05 am

    I just LOVE all of the Halloween outfits. Thanks for sharing, such sweet kiddos you have!

    Oh yes, and I am so jealous of Starbucks being within walking distance. I don’t know if that would be a good thing or a bad thing for me! 🙂
    XO
    Courtney
    http://www.greywoodmama.com

  • Reply Kfran October 5, 2017 at 6:12 am

    Fostering can be heartbreaking. We were always told from the beginning that reunification is the #1 goal for the children and their parent(s). Its difficult when we feel we could give the children a chance at a better life yet we have to put our faith in the judicial system.

    • Reply Meagan Ruse October 5, 2017 at 7:12 am

      Yes!!!!!! That’s just one of the many hard parts

      • Reply Ashley October 5, 2017 at 12:32 pm

        Meagan – I am not sure if you are able/willing to give an update… But, I have followed your fostering story. Are you able to get updates on Sissy and Sister? Or once they reunite with their bio parents, it is just done? Your story has inspired our family to look into fostering to adopt. But, I’ll be honest … I am terrified of the emotional heartbreak if/when we were to loose them.

  • Reply Amanda October 5, 2017 at 6:36 am

    I know many families who have been called to foster and they’ve gone through many struggles but I have never seen anyone regret it.

  • Reply sydnee October 5, 2017 at 6:45 am

    Samuel is such a darling! And love all the Halloween stuff!

    Sydnee | Design by Sydnee

  • Reply Narci October 5, 2017 at 6:48 am

    Kensington in her braces is pretty much the cutest thing ever!! So sweet!

  • Reply Amanda October 5, 2017 at 6:56 am

    Am I the only one who noticed that you are storing away your high chair, rather than getting rid of it???! I can’t fathom five kids… but then again, I am amazed at how beautifully and gracefully you manage four! Can’t wait to see what more God has in store for you!

    • Reply Leslee October 5, 2017 at 8:26 pm

      Nope…not the only one! I noticed immediately! Stored!!!

  • Reply Foster Mom in Texas October 5, 2017 at 7:02 am

    You’re right, being a foster parent is HARD, and all prayers are greatly appreciated! The system is messed up, and I praise God that in our experience every government worker had our now adopted son’s best interest in mind: social worker, CASA, attorney, judge. However, I know that every single foster care case is different and that is not everyone’s experience unfortunately . My job as a foster parent is to love and support these kids while they are in my home, and pray that God’s will will be done in their lives.

  • Reply Deirdre Lennon October 5, 2017 at 7:08 am

    Hi Shay!
    What brand shoe is Ashby wearing with the pink bow on it? They look super comfy!
    Thanks 🍂🎃🍁

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama October 5, 2017 at 7:16 am

      Sketcher Go Walks 🙂

      • Reply Deirdre Lennon October 5, 2017 at 1:11 pm

        Thanks!

  • Reply Paula October 5, 2017 at 7:18 am

    I was a teacher before staying home, so I have some fostering experience. Man, it breaks your heart. Big. Breaks it big.
    I just pray that the small time that some of these kids do get to spend inside a loving, kind, praying home makes enough of an impact that the cycle & legacy STOPS! That those children see, hear & feel a different way.
    All the pictures…so cute. Fun you got Samuel for 3 days.

  • Reply Robyn October 5, 2017 at 7:22 am

    I have the same cat dress for my girls that Kensington has on from Boden. Does Kensington’s glow in the dark? We cannot get our eyes to glow but the dress is still supercute!

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama October 5, 2017 at 10:46 am

      I really can’t see it glowing either!

  • Reply Jillian October 5, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Love your lipstick at the pizza dinner! What kind/color? Thanks 🙂

  • Reply Christina October 5, 2017 at 7:43 am

    What lip color are you wearing in the picture where you went out to eat pizza?(and if it’s lipsence what gloss do you like) Also where is Kensingtons Halloween necklace from. Super cute. Enjoy your cute family every morning

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama October 5, 2017 at 10:46 am

      I’m wearing a Charlotte Tilbury lipstick, and she got the necklace at Canton.

  • Reply Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams October 5, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Keeping foster parents in my prayers today! Looks like a bunch of fun at the Shull house, cousin time is always so sweet 🙂
    xo
    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  • Reply Laura @ Laura Likes Design October 5, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I’m obsessed with your leopard print stairs — does that continue upstairs or is it just on the staircase?

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama October 5, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Just the staircase :).

  • Reply Allie Zusan October 5, 2017 at 8:02 am

    What kind of placemats are you using with the kids? This is my biggest struggle right now because I want something that is easily washable but I won’t have to throw away in three months from being washed too much

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama October 5, 2017 at 10:45 am

      They’re plastic trays off of Amazon!!! They’re amazing!!

  • Reply Sarah October 5, 2017 at 8:09 am

    Praying for all those in the foster system. Love seeing a peek into your life! 🙂

  • Reply Nicole October 5, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Please tell me Meghan didn’t loose those girls???

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama October 5, 2017 at 10:45 am

      She did. She lost them last summer. It’s still devastating.

      • Reply Nicole October 5, 2017 at 4:07 pm

        I don’t even know her but I feel for her.Praying for her family and those sweet babies!!!!

  • Reply Margorie October 5, 2017 at 8:25 am

    my 1 county alone takes in 40 new foster kids a day. A day. It is crazy to think that many adults are being irresponsible to the point CPI takes the child. We need more foster homes,…it is all about a bed. Keeping them save and letting them know everything will be ok. I tell my kiddo’s “what can you control?” You can control school, hygiene, attitude. The grown ups need to grow up. All it takes is one responsible adult to raise a child…just one. Please advocate for more people to become foster parents.

    • Reply Lindsay October 5, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      devastating…..she will be in my prayers as will every Foster parent. So heartbreaking.

  • Reply Lee Ann October 5, 2017 at 8:29 am

    I’m a single foster mama and just dropped one off at daycare and I’m pretty sure she has fever but I can’t miss work. Brother wet the bed at 1:00 am so I was up for over an hour getting that all cleaned up. My sister gets married this weekend out of town. Of all days to open up your blog while I’m scarfing down some breakfast like I do every morning and see that foster families are on your heart, it was this morning. Thank you for the shout out and love!
    PS- We almost braved Canton on Saturday. It’s definitely my happy place!

  • Reply Casey October 5, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Oh, the joy of braces! I got them on at Kensington’s age, then again in middle school. Then I got them again my senior year of college in prep for jaw surgery. Good luck to Kensington!!!

  • Reply Kansas Foster Mom October 5, 2017 at 8:39 am

    As a foster mom, I covet your prayers for our children. 2 children we love have court today and are being moved yet again later this week.
    THANK YOU for posting about foster care and for praying for everyone involved.

  • Reply Sara October 5, 2017 at 8:45 am

    When I lived in Texas, I went on a girls trip to Canton & we had so much fun! I’m too far away now for a trip there but I wish I could go again.

  • Reply Amy October 5, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Received my Simmers cookbook On Tuesday. I know I will be giving as gifts. More to order!
    Congrats!

  • Reply heidi October 5, 2017 at 8:47 am

    My parents were foster parents for 18 years!!!.. they had over 50+ children come live with us and be part of our family. I can guarantee she can name all 50..without a doubt. It’s broken in England too… 😢
    It’s something that has been on my mind a lot recently, something that I need to take to the Lord!… fostering is hard no doubt and yet so rewarding at times. I have a beautiful now 25 yr old sister that we adopted. Her story is heart breaking but through the grace of God she ended up with us forever .. i could write pages on her sweet and devestating story.
    Thanks for posting about this shayx

  • Reply Kathy L October 5, 2017 at 8:56 am

    I”m a volunteer advocate with CASA in Tennessee, and I have experienced how broken the foster care system is in my area. It breaks my heart that so many children are entering foster care on a daily basis, knowing there aren’t enough foster homes for these precious children. I’ve seen how demanding and stressful foster care is day in and day out. The love and care the foster parents provide the children, whether it be for months, or a few days is so encouraging. I’m proud to witness it and be a small part of the system, even though it is far from perfect.

  • Reply Renae Gulledge October 5, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Ah…fostering is very hard, but definitely so worth it. We may never understand the “other” side but we are called to love unconditionally those “babies” that come into our lives and protect them the best we know how. Love your heart for adoption and foster care.

  • Reply Kelli October 5, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Wow! Y’all are so brace to bring all of your littles to Canton!! Love love that place! Please tell me you tried the walking taco! 😋

  • Reply Rebecca Jo October 5, 2017 at 9:43 am

    I never could wrap my mind around how the adoption process in the US is so difficult & hard for people. Dont they know if they made it easier, they’d get a better turn around on placing those kiddos? How does this not make sense? So much wrong in areas in our world that could be easily fixed if they took the government & politics out of it.

  • Reply shawnna October 5, 2017 at 9:45 am

    hey girl- love the post! cool pics! Your kids are just so darn cute!

  • Reply Karen October 5, 2017 at 10:31 am

    We are a foster family and I truly believe one of the main problems is that the church is allowing the government to do a job that God gave to the church. Shay, your church in McKinney is living out what most churches are not in their love and encouragement for foster and adoptive kids and families. I pray more churches will watch and learn and follow suit.

  • Reply B.Y.S. October 5, 2017 at 10:33 am

    I had braces twice and my Dad was my Orthodontist! Make sure she does a lot of chewing after each adjustment since they will be sore. Plastic straws, etc. work great!

    Amy

  • Reply Megan October 5, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Love canton! Where did you get Kensington’s adorable Halloween leggings??

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama October 5, 2017 at 11:45 am

      Gap!!

    • Reply Nicole October 5, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      I think they are Gap kids

  • Reply Kristi October 5, 2017 at 11:25 am

    I love your heart and anything I read about adoption you’ve posted or watched movies you’ve posted…I’m a mess. Random question, you usually go to the gym on Monday…right? So you sometimes skip it and go for a walk instead? Also do your kids ever cry at drop off when you leave them at the gym? If so, how do you handle it? Thanks for sharing your life with us!

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama October 5, 2017 at 11:45 am

      I do almost always go to the gym on Monday mornings, but on this morning, we decided to walk and play at the park instead 🙂 . And my kiddos love our gym’s kid area. That being said, it is so hard when you do drop of your kids and they cry. That has happened to me so many times (typically church) (and it was almost always Kensington). I would just say “I love you and mommy will be right back” before I quickly left. I found lingering only made things harder.

  • Reply Pam October 5, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Thank you for saying such sweet words about foster care. I’m a foster momma and it is so, so hard sometimes but also so, so worth it. You’re right that the system is so broken but there is also a lot of good that comes out of it, it just can be much harder to see over all the brokenness. I’m sure I speak for all foster parents when I say we covet your prayers 🙂

  • Reply Vy Garcia October 5, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    My manager at work has been fostering for 6 years now and my heart aches for them! I continue to pray for them each day. He just adopted 2 kids that he’s been fostering since they were babies. The adoption process took years and a lot of money. He’s still fostering other kids as well. I get to see them quite often and they are great kids! and I admire this family so much.

  • Reply Justine @ Charm City Ciemny's October 5, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    I can’t even imagine the heartache that is fostering. Thank God for the angels that take care of those sweet babies… it cannot be easy. Prayers for all!

    Justine @ Charm City Ciemny’s
    http://www.lifeasabaltimoregirl.blogspot.com

  • Reply Angela Ellingson October 5, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Your kiddos are just the cutest! So fun to get some quality time with Samuel!

  • Reply Liz Thorson October 5, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    I thank you for opening up a platform for your many readers who provide foster care. There comments show their generous hearts and unfortunately, again and again, the sadness that the sweet children suffer. I love Madely’s hair in pigtails, the girls darling Halloween clothing and bows AND seeing pictures of Sean and Catherine’s cutie pie, Samuel!

    • Reply Liz Thorson October 5, 2017 at 1:45 pm

      *Their

  • Reply Erin Port October 5, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Oh that last picture is the sweetest with your babies and your cookbook! Writing a book is a dream of mine but no small feat so I am so in awe of you :). Congrats my friend and celebrate. Thanks for championing adoption and foster care! xoxo ERIN

  • Reply Erin October 5, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Being a foster mom is probably the toughest job I have ever had. We are about to say goodbye to our baby girl we have had since May. Some days I don’t know why we signed up for this, but I know God has a special plan for our foster daughter’s life. My favorite quote that I have hanging up in my home says, “Fostering in love for their today, trusting in God for their tomorrow”. It’s such a great daily reminder for me that God is in control!
    Thank you for being an amazing advocate for adoption and spreading love!

  • Reply Christy Haston October 5, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Thank you so much for your sweet words about foster care…for the acknowledgement that it is hard, encouragement to ones who might be feeling the tug on their heart, and the encouragement for those of who who are currently fostering. I’m a foster mama with my most recent little love have felt the weight of how broken the system is and hot gut wrenching it is to let a child go into a place in your hear you know is not best. Yet another lesson in trusting God’s story and not mine. Again…thank you for your sweet words.

  • Reply Hannah Hall October 5, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I just cried like a baby. You said the exact words that I have been feeling lately. Just this week, 20 kids have come into care in our very small county. There are not enough homes and my heart is breaking. Our little home is full(2 adopted, 1 foster) but I want so badly to take more in. 🙁 These kiddos need our love and prayers(and homes).

  • Reply Mandy October 5, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Wow, I just read your (old) post of all you have been through. So so sorry to hear that. Being in pain day and night is no fun. Sure hope and pray you are not in pain anymore! But what an inspiration you are to others that despite all that you were going through, you were still able to bless and encourage others! Your blog, your posts, always so uplifting, fun & friendly!
    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

  • Reply Lauren Ecklof October 6, 2017 at 6:17 am

    I have looked and looked for the post you did on the watches your children wear. Can you please link it? Thank you so much!!

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama October 6, 2017 at 7:05 am

      They’re Garmins! The kid ones :).

  • Reply Caroline Burke October 6, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Thank you so much for your kind words about foster parents. We are currently on a break while we bring our daughter home from india but we will foster again. It’s the hardest and most amazing thing we’ve ever done. We are all better because of it.

  • Reply Sarah October 6, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    My family was a foster family all throughout my childhood. We had up to three babies at times (and I’m one of five so that’s 8 children in the house at one time, yikes!). My mom would go and pick newborns up from the hospital and we even had a few that we named. We also had crack babies and babies that had casts on their legs and had to be fed through a feeding tube. It was such a humbling experience and one that I’m so glad my parents chose to do. The best part for us was getting pictures or letters of the babies/children that we kept with their adoptive parents.

  • Reply Elizabeth McKenzie October 8, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Shay! I just read the old post that you linked to regarding your whole saga with orthodontics and oral myofunctional therapy. I am a pediatric speech language pathologist (based in DC), and I just recently became trained in oral myofunctional therapy. I shared your post with my staff! What an amazing story- and your proof is in your pictures! I am so glad that you had successful results, and thank you for sharing your story. ❤️

  • Reply Suzanne Hin October 10, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    You for sure brought this foster Mama to tears with your sweet and heartfelt words at the beginning of this post. I absolutely LOVE the way that you know foster care is not your calling, and yet you are doing something about it. Praying and bringing awareness through your platform.
    Foster care is so, so hard. It’s so rewarding….but most of that reward isn’t even seen in the immediate times that these kids are in our homes. My husband and I have been foster parents for two years, and have fostered one newborn babe for nine months and we currently have the most delightful 11 year old girl in our home. We also have two small bio children. I never thought I would say yes to an older child, but we did…and oh my word how different is preteen parenting from toddler parenting! LOL! My heart is just HEAVY on so many days for our precious children, their biological families and the brokenness of the system.
    Again, thank you so much for your prayers and for sharing your heart on this.

  • Reply Heather L October 11, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    I’m behind on my blog reading but it’s clearly divine intervention because I NEEDED this today. My heart is heavy for a foster situation I’m involved in currently, and I’m feeling so called towards starting the foster process but it’s also so incredibly frightening.

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