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  1. Changes indeed - I officially went back to work on Monday the 18th, but only have 42 more school days until summer (thankfully, because the sub left one heck of a mess!!), at which point I will go back to grad school and my husband will move into a summer administrative position because holy cow does it pay stupidly well for only 6 weeks worth of work. And then in late July we should both get a short break before transitioning again back into our normal positions. Baby Girl is transitioning to childcare for those 42 days as well - and that has been a challenge in and of itself! But after much angst, a surprise opening appeared in my district’s daycare, which had been our top choice originally except they were full when we tried to enroll her last summer. Whew! It’s a much better environment than the other daycare we were going to settle for, super convenient (only a 4 minute walk from my classroom), very affordably priced, and I can even stop by during the workday to feed or cuddle her if I don’t have class or can beg for a few minutes of coverage So far she’s been happy there, though she’s already showing signs that she’s caught her first cold…sigh, such is the daycare life! The other nice part is that since it is a part of the school district, she can be home with me all summer for free - no paying every week just to hold a spot, and her leave/return schedule will match mine perfectly. With all that said, I tried to set up this challenge to support the most critical immediate needs while remembering that the “real” goals are honestly still a few months off: Quest 1 - Nutrition I have a terrible habit of skipping either breakfast or lunch, but going back to work means I really cannot do that without my milk supply taking a hit, which I super cannot afford (I overproduced with my son, but not so much this time around) - so my first goal is to always have food prepared for both of those meals! And they really need to include a focus on protein as we go through this period of routine growth spurts. It will also help if I make sure to drink enough water - bare minimum 80 ounces a day - though that has been fairly easy to hit most days lately (I’d guess about 4-5 days every week I hit that without specifically trying right now). Quest 2 - Movement I have been cleared for any form of exercise I want, which is a luxury I have not had for nearly a full calendar year! I’m going to start slow though by saying I want to fit in some form of “extra movement” at least once a week. My idea is that this will primarily be neighborhood walks or lake path mini-hikes with Baby Girl in a carrier since we are going on our first camping trip as a family of 4 in early June and we always do at least one hike. My 6 year old has worked his way up to 4.5 miles on an “advanced beginner” trail, so I want to make sure Baby Girl and I are not the ones holding the family back! But since it is still early spring, if it is too cold or rainy, I’ll replace that with something indoors - like maybe a YouTube yoga session? Quest 3 - Family So Baby Girl also deserves a quilt - and I’m finally using the heart pattern I originally picked for my son’s quilt! I got a little bit of a start while on leave but am not very far yet: row 1 is done and rows 2 and 3 are both started (they have to be made together in order for the heart pattern to work) but they’re only about 15 inches long right now and they need to get up to 76.5 inches before I can attach them to row 1. My goal is that by the end of this challenge I can have through row 5 done? That might be pushing it a little too hard but it’s worth a shot, especially since there are 45 rows in total. I’m also going to make a minimum of 1 weekly post on Moment Garden for each kid! It’s basically like a super private Instagram where each kid gets a “garden” page where they or their parents can post photos or short videos that are only visible to the people you invite (all via email addresses, there’s no search option to find a particular kid). I especially like it because every evening it sends me an email showing any entries from that exact date in previous years, which is super fun! And for infants like Baby Girl, it shows photos from 1, 3, or 6 months ago so they can be included too. All 3 grandparents and sole remaining great-grandma have invited accounts, and my son loves it when they ask him about things they saw without him having to share what he’s been up to first ❤️ But when life gets busy, I often forget to post anything, so this is my reminder to look for those cool things my kiddos are doing and make those posts happen! Quest 4 - (42 days of) Work I do have one major task left for the school year (outside of, you know, finishing teaching and everything): getting my curriculums uploaded for every single prep. Blargh. I have Spanish 2 fully uploaded so my goal for this challenge is to get Spanish 3 and 4 both in. If I have time, I’ll also start on French 1 and 2, but I can push those off until May if necessary. I also need to read more and make extensive reading quizzes for my Spanish classes! Ideally I will expand this into French as well but man, it’s just going to take a huge amount of time. I’m going to try to add a minimum of 15 quizzes this challenge (3 a week) starting with a Magic Treehouse book I already bought, Piratas después del mediodía. And because I’m a glutton for punishment, I also started playing Lingo Legend for Japanese. It’s a gamified language learning app I found while I was trying to stay awake for a late breastfeeding session. I am very much still not convinced this will eventually lead to a third certification or program, no matter what my counseling office wants from me, but it does at least help keep me alert while Baby Girl is eating! I’m going to try to play at least 4 times a week (probably still while feeding Baby Girl)…just in case I do eventually get talked into doing something stupid like running a third language program…
  2. T-11 days and counting... So, first of all, fair warning - I'm going to do an awful job of posting during this challenge. You know, because I'm having a baby in the middle of it! Currently scheduled for a December 11th c-section but have been warned by multiple doctors that I might need to go in earlier, so there's no guarantees. Because of that, I was going to sit this challenge out completely, but I have been finding myself wanting a spot to keep track of everything and, well, why not, right? Of course my goals are not really whole challenge goals, on account of the fact that prepartum and postpartum will have very different needs, but here's where I'm starting: Quest One: Fuel I finally started getting a bit better at this at the end of the last challenge. I need to keep up my water intake (or even increase it) and keep up my weight gain/eating enough. I have been just barely skirting the very, very bottom of the measurements every week for several weeks now. For example, yesterday our goal was that I would weigh at least 177 pounds and I was 176.8. So it's close enough that I'm not getting scolded anymore (well...for that!) but these last few weeks are super important to help the baby pack on body fat to help regulate her own temperature after birth, so I can't get lazy just because we're in the home stretch. Also the water will help ensure that my false labor cramps don't get worse than they have to be, even though my doctor agreed with me yesterday that my contractions are like weirdly between false and real labor (they're not producing any labor progress, but they're matching the pattern of real labor which false labor is not "supposed" to do and common remedies for false labor cramps have all failed to work). And I'll need to increase my water again after the birth if I want to try breastfeeding, so I might as well try to shore up the habit now. Quest Two: Work Prep Of course a major source of stress has been prepping for maternity leave. Here's what I have left to do before the 11th: 1. Semester 1 Finals Week: So far I have 2/5 preps 100% done and ready to go: French 1 and Spanish 2. Spanish 3 and 4 have stuff from last year I can build from. French 2 has nothing, as it has never existed before and I haven't started anything for them yet. 2. French 1 Unit 6*: I have 6/13 lessons complete and 1/4 extras done. Lessons 7 and 8 are both started but need finalizing. I have been starting on video lectures as well but still have a minimum of 3 more planned (will probably add more once more lessons are done too...) and I haven't started on their bellwork prompts either. 3. French 2 Unit 6*: Not started. It will have the same length goals as French 1 though: 13 lessons with 4 extras, complete with video lectures and bellwork. 4. "To Finish Later" List from the summer: Over the summer when I started prepping Spanish 2 in particular, there were a few things I couldn't do yet because the classes weren't set up on our tech at the time (this is all either setting up speaking assignments or making grading keys). It's a short list, but an important one! Without bothering to look right now, I think it has like 7 or 8 things on it. 5. Semester 1 grading: I only have 2 more assignments that have been due so far, but I am accepting late work for credit through tomorrow. Also all my classes are taking writing finals tomorrow and speaking finals next week Tuesday/Wednesday that I will need to get posted. (They are doing the listening and reading finals with the sub, because I can leave answer keys for those modes much more easily!) *Both French units could be shortened if necessary, as this plan gets me prepped through March 27th/the first day of Spring Break and I expect to come back somewhere around March 18th. But it would be nice to not have to worry about prepping classes immediately during that transition back to work, and some buffer for changing dates is always smart. Quest Three: House and Personal Prep We are getting so close! So one of the most important yet difficult things to do is get some rest. This is also a major help with the false labor cramps and also one of the only things that we can do that has any potential medical backing to help with the polyhydramnios situation (for anyone who didn't see my last challenge, I have way too much amniotic fluid, which is likely just bad luck but it does make the delivery more dangerous). I also have just a few things left to do to be ready for her birth: 1. Finish sanitizing plastic stuff: breast pump parts and bottles. I've done two batches so far (because I can't fit that much into my stew pot at once), but there is at least one more left to do and then a whole other bowl of plastics that need to be soaked and washed before they can be sanitized. 2. Set up changing pad area: this is largely done, but I need to add some extra clothes in case of middle-of-the-night blowouts (her clothing is going to be temporarily in my son's room until we can get his new bedroom finished, so I don't want to accidentally wake him up if we need something) and I need to get the trash can/diaper pail situation sorted. 3. Scoot our bed over slightly: this really means "annoy my husband into scooting our bed over a few inches" so the bassinet will fit next to the bed instead of at the foot of the bed, which would be an incredibly obnoxious spot for it to stay. 4. Laundry: this is two fold - I will likely need to wash a few more items of baby clothing and also keep my husband from dumping the clean laundry into the bassinet, which has become a weird makeshift closet between the time we put it together and now. Obviously the baby can't be sleeping in the laundry pile, and gods know we won't want to deal with putting away a giant pile of clothing right after getting home from the hospital! 5. Make a hospital bag: Finally, I still need to get the things we are bringing to the hospital together in one spot! At the very least, get it together enough that we can grab it, throw in a few toiletries, and go - especially if there is a good chance she'll come early and semi-unexpectedly. A lot of this can't be packed too far in advance because we will need those things in the meanwhile, but like a set of pump parts, her first outfit, etc. can definitely be put together now with little impact on our daily lives. ...Not going to lie, seeing all of it written out like that is more terrifying than I thought it would be, but I can definitely dig deep and get this done in time. Right??? Right. Of course I can. Now it's time to drink my daily single cup of coffee and get to work making it happen. 💪☕
  3. Late to the party, whoops, but I did just return from vacation on Monday. I trailed off on the last challenge but don't feel terrible about it because it was insanely hectic - not the most stressed I've ever been, but definitely the most major events in a month. Plus at the beginning of the challenge I wasn't planning on the Italy work trip, and then that happened in the middle of everything. My healthy routines were thoroughly disrupted, but I still squeezed in a little exercise and some vegetables. I'm thrilled to be home, and in my own kitchen and bed again (not at the same time, obviously). After eating out most meals for three weeks, I am excited to cook balanced, delicious meals at home. Overall Goals My general life goals have changed a bit because, uh, I'm pregnant and all - so weight loss is no longer the primary aim. I weighed myself this morning and was unpleasantly surprised by the number on the scale, but the internet tells me it's normal to have gained 4-6lb at this point even though the baby is only the size of a raspberry, so I feel better about it now. I'm going to stop weighing myself at home because it makes more sense to focus on make healthy choices each day. I've cancelled my NF Coaching because I already feel a bit overwhelmed, and through work I'm going to be assigned an RN who will advise on healthy eating and exercise throughout my pregnancy. But I have even stronger reasons to eat healthy, and I won't be drinking ha, so I'm going to focus on paying attention to how I feel - more frequent, small meals seems to sit better with me these days. I am currently working to use up a lot of my pantry/freezer food which has been accumulating for...a while. I also want to declutter since we mayyy buy a house and move before the baby comes. Goal #1: Cook all the things Make (nearly) all our food at home, avoid relying on processed food. I'd like to get in a good pattern of meal prep and eating at home pre-baby. Document food here. Goal #2: Feel the burn Work out doing whatever feels good. Right now that's barre but I'd like to try to get running again if I can do it without chest pain. Aiming for working out 3x/week minimum, and walking on other days to aid digestion and circulation. Goal #3: Feed the fire Take extra kind care of myself. Give myself an 8-hour sleep window. Nap if needed. Meditate daily. I have FIVE WEEKS before our family vacation when we tell the family, and I have already told random coworkers in Italy (because finding out I was pregnant the week before the trip was anxiety-inducing), a couple coworkers I am closer to (because we were on vacation for a week and they wouldn't have figured it out from the not drinking anyways, and this way I was able to talk to a friend who had twins last year about it), and another friend (who I stayed with on the way to and from the Florida vacation, because we're close and it was nice to do it in person). Between now and the official family announcement at which point it will be public, I will probably tell a couple more friends because as an external processor keeping secrets is not my strong suit. It still feels completely surreal, but in the best way.
  4. I'm back for another! The last challenge had its issues, plagued with... well, endless plague. But we're all on the mend now. My big success was that (somehow) I managed to knock off those last increments to return to my pre-pregnancy weight! Just less a year since I gave birth. Hurray! So let's carry on to the next. Who am I? I'm Ann of Vries, aged 39; a diarist, a fiber artist, a gamer, a traveler, a hiker, and a first time mother. I’m madly in love with my partner, Mr of Vries and my son, Rowan of Vries, who will turn one year old at the beginning of this challenge! Wow! I live in London, after having emigrated from Seattle three years ago. I love it here, although I’m still trying to find my tribe (outside of the House of Vries, of course). Keeper of the Hearth Flame One of the insights from my last challenge was that—when I allow myself to—I really enjoy doing a lot of domestic activities. I love keeping house. Spending time with my Enting, cooking, knitting, creating a warm space for family and friends, etc. (But not cleaning. I still don’t much like cleaning :P) Since that’s where this volume the books of my life is currently opened, I’ve decided to fall into it. I love the concept of being the Keeper of Hearth Flame. The Challenge: Protector of the Flame But this role I've newly embraced won't start easily. During this challenge, my mother is coming to visit for 2 weeks. I won’t turn this into a novel of all my Mommy Issues, but suffice to say we have a tenuous, rocky relationship and have done so since I was little. I have to break contact her for years at a time due to her toxic behavior. But she’s really keen to finally be a grandmother, and she’s the only grandparent Rowan will have (my father is in poor health, Mr’s parents are already gone), so we’re extending the Enting as a literal peace branch. Here’s hoping it’ll be successful. The thing is, my mother has never come to visit me. Since I was little and she left, I have always visited her, and I haven’t seen her for anything as long as two weeks since I was a tween! She has little understanding of how I live, or what I do with my time, or my family's values. She has always had her own version that I should fit, and our distance has largely allowed her the freedom to believe I am the daughter she wanted me to be (think materialism and keeping up with the Jones'), rather than the geeky, wonderful, odd duck that I am. And the odd duck that I married so we can raise our wonderful, unique family together. Sorry, those pesky Mother Issues are slipping in…. I will—in the kindest ways possible—protect and defend our lifestyle, values, and home from her criticisms and demands that I immediately change things because she thinks it should be different. I’m almost 40. It’s not that I can’t change anymore, but I’m not a child to be bossed around. This is my family, this is my home. I will protect it from those who seek to attack it. Use adorable grandchild as shield Keep Mother as busy as possible with London activities Be gentle, but firm about shutting down her criticism. This is our life, not hers. She will be here from 0.5 week to 2.5 week. After that, life returns to our version of normal, and the remainder of the challenges will begin in earnest. Tend to the Flames Cook, 5 days a week. We are a food-positive household. We love good, healthy, home-cooked food in reasonable portion sizes. I enjoy cooking. (As does Mr, so he cooks on the weekends.) I may not be able to compete with @Tanktimus the Encourager's lavish food writing, but I may just give it a try. Find my peace in creating a clean space. 5 minute tidies, re-framing, whatever it is, I want to find my pleasure in a tidy, comfortable (although, not spotless) home. Stay on My Feet I need to continue to get out for my sanity and health. I have another 10 pounds or so I'd love to lose over time. Daily outings - big or small. Whether its a walk to the park, the grocery store, or a museum, I want to try to get out once per day and be on my feet. As usual, illness and particularly inclement weather will not be penalized. Write My Family Saga Journaling is important for both keeping track of items, but also my mental health. I will continue to explore my psychic space and record my own family story. Make time to spend in my notebook, particularly during naps. As little or as often as I need at the time. Tap in the Creativity of the Hearth Fire Cook at least one new dish a week Knit, and take part in the House Cup on Ravelry Explore other avenues of creative expression as they come Family and Friends are Welcome Here For the last year, baby has taken the front stage and I've usually been crushed by the time he finally goes to sleep. This was largely inevitable. But I'd like to begin increasing my quality time with Mr.. Play board games and other activities together after baby bedtime At least once, join Mr at the Saturday Markets he goes to Propose family walks and outings to stretch our legs Continue looking for a well-priced secondhand jogging buggy so we can run together And, we are still looking to build our tribe. We did good on this during the last challenge, and I want to keep the momentum. Keep reaching out and making and tending to connections. Keep our home a warm and welcoming place for friends to visit--with good food, good company, games, and other group activities. That's more than enough bullet points to keep track of, I think....
  5. I’ve been away for a couple of challenges. The holidays and new year left me evaluating my online haunts—I’ve let some go, but here I return. NF is a place for good. Who am I? I'm Ann of Vries, aged 39; a diarist, a fiber artist, a gamer, a traveler, a hiker, and a new mother. I’m madly in love with my partner, Mr of Vries, and my 11(!) month old son, Rowan of Vries. Warning: There will be baby pics and talk on this thread. I live in London, after having emigrated from Seattle three years ago. I love it here, although I’m still trying to find my tribe (outside of the House of Vries, of course). Where are we now? The days are as long as sleepless nights, and the months move as fast a thought. Mr of Vries has a new job after a four month break (bringing dinosaurs and robots to life!), and although I cannot yet see the sunset of this new chaos, Rowan and I are getting back into the routine of it just being the two of us during the day. Here's a photo montage of the last few months: The Challenge: Carry On My theme of my challenge will be to carry on not let the frantic pace and demands of daily life tear me away from key rituals and routines I know are good for my mental/emotional/physical health. After a long plateau, the rest of my pregnancy weight has began to (slowly, but progressively) slide off. I’d like to keep that in forward motion. I suspect that moving to 3 small meals and a “tea" a day (coinciding with RoV’s eating routine), helped in this. I also want to expand my cooking repertoire as I’m getting bored. Keep moving my weight down through good eating choices. As a guideline, but not absolute rule, I follow the philosophy-if you wouldn’t feed it to your son, why are you eating it? With the dark season came a return of the shadows in my mind. Getting out has helped. I’m now trying to go out daily, even if it’s only for a few minutes of walking around the block, pushing Rowan on the swings at a nearby park, picking up food at the grocery. Sometimes it’s such a bother—ask anyone trying to go anywhere with a small child! But sometimes I just need to put him in a carrier and go out for a little while, close to home. Mr and I are trying to use our weekends more wisely to get out, walk, spend time together and as a family. We’re still hoping to get back to hiking regularly. We’ve also hired a babysitter a couple of times a week so I can go out on my own for a couple of hours. I can do most things with Rowan along, but sometimes the company I need is my own. Keep my mood up and my weight down with daily adventures big or small. (I will not penalize myself in situations of poor physical health or inclement weather.) Over and over again, I learn that my personal journal is something I cannot neglect for long without my psychic landscape turning into a black, fell wasteland. I’ve spent a lot of time writing in fictional worlds, but the truth is that while I love making up worlds, I really want to have that “life worth writing about” in my own. (Even if I’m the only who is reading it.) Make time to explore my psychic landscape in my journal when I need it. I need to create things. Over the years, I’ve often vacillated between writing fiction and fiber arts (knitting, sewing, etc.) . Lately, I’ve increased my attentions to my fiber arts. At the moment I’m knitting and learning embroidery. I can’t do it with the single-minded focus I did before I was a mother, but if that was a reason to not do something… well, I wouldn’t be doing much of anything right now. And that never goes well for long. Make time to explore my fiber arts creations, simple or complicated. I’m an introvert, hands down. But I still need people in my life. The problem is that sometimes I feel like between Rowan and Mr I’m always “on.” Yet, I still need to be part of the wider world. One of the things I always think about when I’m about to do another challenge for NF is that I can’t keep up with threads half as much as I want to and it makes me feel guilty. Locally, I’m still trying to find “my people” on this side of the Atlantic. Honour my introvert nature, but push myself a little more to reach out to people and make connections (both online and offline). I’m an introvert, not an island. I tend to forego the metrics, as when I try to devise them I get more focused on the numbers than I do on living my best life (which is really the goal). So… I’ll update a couple of times a week and let you know how I’m doing. I can watch the scale—and I will be—but ultimately, whether I’m doing well or not is based on my overall mood and emotional state. Carry on!
  6. Hello!! I'm starting the next 4 week challenge a bit late, but I'm here! My goals for this challenge will be: -Doing yoga for at least 10 minutes every day -Walking outside 3 times per week -Doing meditation or Tai chi 2 times per week for 15 minutes I've been doing a lot of kettlebell workouts for the last few years, which I love, however, I just had my second baby and I feel like focusing more on grounding and connecting to my body/breath and slowing down/staying present are what I have been craving physically and mentally in the three months since I've given birth. I'd like to shift my perspective inwards right now while still staying healthy! Thank you for your support!
  7. I haven’t exactly been rocking my goals lately, but I find that I try harder and ultimately do better for myself when I have them. So… I’m back again! The most recent "about me" can be found in my previous challenge. Otherwise, we'll figure it out as we go along. For this challenge my Inspirational Witch is Tiffany Aching, or, really most of the witches of Discworld. I adore these no nonsense ladies, and this line in particular has me right now: I'm not the sort of person who generally casts fault but I could do better at dealing with things. It’s the holidays which is always jam-packed and in addition, I have three trips of 5+ days in the diary during this challenge which doesn't make anything easy, let alone taking care of myself. So I’m going to start by dealing with my own self-care (because I can't help others if I'm not functional, and the Enting only has one mummy): Some way, some how, get in that 10k steps. Some way, some how, get in that 2L of water. Some way, some how, write 100 words a day on fiction or nonfiction. My aspiration is every day. Spoiler: I won’t hit every day! But by trying to do it every day, I’m going to hit it more often than I would otherwise. Let's go deal with things.
  8. The Prologue So, I had originally envisioned a LotR-themed challenge in which I engaged in beauty and running around the woods (or at least local parks) and singing to the trees. But it rang hollow, and I realised something important: I'm no elf princess. * I’ve also been pondering a Harry Potter-themed challenge, but nothing ever came together. Until it did. Forget beauty and serenity. WEIRD and WONDERFUL is who I am. Somewhere along the way, I forgot that. I need to re-embrace my inner Luna. Okay, Let's Back Up I'm Ann of Vries, aged 39; a storyteller, a diarist, a fiber artist, a gamer, a traveler, a hiker, and a new mother. I’m madly in love with my partner, Mr of Vries, and my 6 month old son, Rowan of Vries--usually known as the Enting. Warning: There will be baby pics on this thread. I’ve been in the Adventurers Guild for the last several challenges. I love the Adventurers, but recently the class hasn’t been quite fitting right… and it, oddly enough, took a recent adventure for me to figure out why. About two and half years ago, I emigrated to the UK from Seattle. I love it here, it sings to my bones. It speaks to my soul. This is the place I want to settle. But I’ve realised recently that while I intend to make my home here, I have been treating my stay like a long term tourist. It’s time to live here. To belong. To dig deep and grow some roots. I can't do that in the mindset of a visitor. The Challenge Note: This challenge is in conjunction with the 12 Week Year System. I'm still figuring out the details of this particular "year" so you may see some tweaks in my challenge as I sort that out. Get Weird and Wonderful: Engage in my creative projects: writing, knitting, other crafts (I was recently given some acrylic inks to use with my dip pen and have I even opened them? No!) . Do my hobbies at least 10 minutes per day, 5 days a week. Be my weird and wonderful self. I used to be this eccentric weird girl with an odd charm. These days I just feel awkward and unsettled. I suspect that culture change has something to do with this (Seattle is full of awkward charm; London is full of sophistication), but I don’t feel like myself anymore and I want to change that. I’d rather be myself and stick out than try to fit in and feel uncomfortable in my own skin. Internal journeys are hard to track with SMART goals. So I’ll start with the physical: I want to look like myself again. Unshockingly, I gained weight during pregnancy. Not a lot—I’m only carrying about 10lbs of it now. But it’s enough that my wardrobe no longer fits (or fits poorly when it does). I told myself I’d wait at least six months before I fussed about it. That time has come. Lose at least 2lbs during this challenge. I'm for gradual changes, and anyway it's hard to do a strict fitness routine with the Enting. Return to drinking at least 2 litres of water a day. I can't seem to stick to this one without tracking it, which annoys me, but it is what it is. Clean out my closet: pack away maternity/nursing clothing, sort for the season, figure out what is missing and make a plan to replace them. For example, I know that I’m short of autumn/winter footwear. They all wore out last year, but I didn’t want to try shoe shopping whilst pregnant. Study to Become a Wizard Naturalist: Get walking. Walk at least 10k steps, 5 day a week, as per my fitbit. Note that this will usually involve carrying my 20+lbs-and-growing baby for an extra workout. There is a known inaccuracy because it counts patting the Enting (while winding/burping him) as steps, but I'm opting to accept that for ease of tracking. Observe my surroundings: Note 3 interesting things I’ve encountered, at least 5 days a week in my journal. This is meant to get my out of my head and engaged in the world around me. Eat more healthy homecooked meals. I’m so bored of living on ready meals and prepared foods. Keep records. Create a layout to track these items in my shiny new Bullet Journal. I've been keeping daily to-do lists these last few mad months, but I think I'm now ready for more long term coherency instead of disconnected daily episodes. Let's see how this goes, shall we? AoV x
  9. - Recent words of wisdom from a good friend. Introduction: Last month, a nuclear bomb went off in my life—I gave birth to my son. We’ve survived the first four weeks, but I’m struggling with creating new balance in my life especially after my husband has returned to work. So for this challenge, I’ve left my adventuring pack behind, and wandered into the druid’s grove, to focus on being, (un)becoming, and the transition into fallout. Around the time I gave birth, a blog post appeared that really spoke to me—it’s about Being—being who you are rather than always chasing for Becoming Someone. It sounds unaspiring, but I actually found it quite the opposite. I feel like I have been given permission to be right where I’m at. (And, when I asked myself the Hard Question of “what if this is all that there is”? I mean, I have to admit a pretty amazing life. Stupid hedonic adaption.) I still aspire. I still aim to inspire. But for the moment, I need to focus on being right where I am. I need to learn how to balance this huge, new responsibility in my life without it consuming all of who I am. Background: I’m an Adventurer at heart. I’m a traveler, a hiker, a storyteller, a diarist, a fiber artist, a gamer. I’m madly in love with my husband (Mr of Vries), and of course my new son (Rowan of Vries). I hail originally from Seattle, WA, but I followed Mr of Vries and immigrated to the UK (London) about two and a half years ago to marry him and start a new life in a new city, a new land. This has opened up whole new adventures and travel opportunities in my personal universe, and also added myriad new challenges—including having a new baby with a near non-existent support network. This has been… difficult. My son is wonderful and very loved, but the situation comes with a high emotional/physical toll. The Challenge: Note: I don’t do hardcore metrics. My way is to have spheres of priorities, and keep focus on fulfilling actions within those priorities. So what you will see are categories and example/target actions in which I aspire to. Balancing the Books of Vries: I used to have a daily spread/layout in which I kept track of my desired and needful tasks for each day, but baby blew that system apart. I want experiment with and design a new record-keeping system for my day that incorporates mum-care, baby-care, and everything else. Try different spreads/layouts Make sure to add self-care and the space to actually do it (taking care of the baby is a given) Relaxing I have not done much purposeful relaxing over the last four weeks, and it’s wearing me down. I need to be better at centering myself. Recognize when I tense up, relax my muscles Stretch! Breathe Recognize and dispel anxious or other damaging thoughts Reading and journaling Movement There was the obvious recovery from childbirth, but then learning how to be out and about with a tiny baby. I’m getting better at this. Get walking regularly, or whatever else gentle movement I can do (with and without baby) Figure out good pram routes for local and city travel (not all stations--including our local one--have step-free access) Sort out a good baby carrier so I can move around more easily when I don't need the amenities of the pram Creativity/Psychic Space I am a creative being. I need to find the space in my self again to contemplate, to write, and to Make. One could argue that I’m Making a person, and that’s true, but it can’t be everything I do. Writing (journal or novel) Reading Knitting and other fiber crafts Here we go....
  10. Water... Earth... Fire... Air. Long ago, AThousandWords lived in good health and fitness. Then everything changed when a new baby arrived. Only good eating habits and occasional exercise could have saved her waistline. But when her world needed these habits the most, they vanished. A an entire year passed and she discovered new motivation: an awesome Avatar themed challenge. But although her gif skills are great, she still has a lot to learn before she's ready to call herself healthy again. But I believe... AThousandWords can save the world. Hi, I'm Yvonne, and it's been a year and nine months since my last NerdFitness challenge. I'm an inconsistent Rebel; I've started about fifteen challenges and fully completed about 8 of them. But NerdFitness is my happy, get-shit-done home. I always come back when I need a kick in the pants, so here I am. I lost over thirty pounds the last time I was participating on NF but stopped joining challenges when I got pregnant. I switched to Battle Log format, hoping to keep up during my pregnancy, but vanished like the Avatar after only a few weeks. Last week I celebrated that baby's first birthday and realized I couldn't keep eating and slothing like I'm pregnant/breastfeeding anymore. With a baby who (mostly) sleeps through the night and doesn't need me to be a milk-machine anymore, I have no excuse not to start cutting back my diet and getting my butt off the chair. There have been some HUGE changes in the last year - adjusting to life as a mom, starting a new job where I work from home, and moving to a new house! - and I let myself get complacent and kept gaining weight even after giving birth. It's time to turn that around, be a healthy role model for my family, and start feeling like myself again. AThousandWords Book 1: Water I've been wanting to do an Avatar themed challenge for ages (I have so many gifs to use!) but it feels especially appropriate now that I am returning after having been gone for so long. My plan is to focus on a different element for each challenge, starting with Water - the element of change. I want to remind myself that I am mutable and fluid; I can change my story at any time; I can adjust easily to new shapes and new challenges; and I am powerful and capable as well. I also plan to be flexible this challenge - there are no absolutes or firm lines here. If a certain kind of exercise or food isn't working - change it up! I don't thrive eating the same food or doing the same exercise every week, so I don't plan to. Diet (CON 3) My diet is in serious need of change. If you followed my pregnancy battlelog (or have ever been around a pregnant woman - ha!) you'll know that first trimester nausea hit hard and all I was able to stomach were simple carbs. For most of my pregnancy I ate bread and sugar (I'm fairly certain my son was born 90% PB&J) and my brain got addicted to all that delicious carby badness; I kept eating junk waaay after pregnancy was over. I'm going back to a Primal eating plan - protein, fat, and plant-based carbs only. I'm embracing flexibility and following the Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve recommendation to stay between 50g – 100g of carbs a day. This worked out great for me during my last challenge, and I'm optimistic I'll succeed again. I’m using the Banting Green/Orange/Red lists as a guideline; each food has a cost in points: Green List: 0 pts (free!) Orange List A: 1 pt per serving Orange List B: 2 pts per serving Red List: 5 pts per serving Goal: 3 points per day, +5 flexible points per week A: < 104 points | B: < 116 points | C: < 128 points | D: < 140 points | F: > 135 points Movement (2 STR, 2 DEX) A waterbender has to practice to increase their skills! And I am badly in need of some movement. I'm focusing my exercise on two main areas: steady and flexible. Anything goes as long as I keep moving. Examples of exercise are listed below each movement type. I’ll be recording time spent, with total time counted at the end of the challenge. Slow, Steady Movement (STA) Walking Hiking Cycling Goal: 3 hours a week A: > 12 hours | B: > 10 hours | C: > 8 hours | D: > 6 hours | F: < 6 hours Flexible Movement (DEX) Yoga Dance/Pole Stretching Goal: 2 hours a week A: > 8 hours | B: > 7 hours | C: > 6 hours | D: > 5 hours | F: < 5 hours Water (2 CON) This is a no brainer in a water based challenge, right? I'm not drinking enough water currently, I need to be. Plain ol' H2O, sparkling water, fruity (no sugar added water), or caffeine free tea all count (Uncle Iroh would be proud). Goal: 8 cups every day A: >= 100% | B: >= 85% | C: >= 70% | D: >= 50% | F: < 57% Money Management (1 WIS) After doing taxes I realized I'm doing a terrible job of tracking and investing our savings. I have a number of tasks I need to do to get control of our income and debts, these can be done all at once or spread across the challenge as needed: Update our Net Worth spreadsheet with current values Determine how much we can afford to save each month Determine how much we can afford to give charitably each month Decide where to invest our savings and set up auto-deposits into savings accounts as needed Decide where to give money and set up auto-deposits for those charities as needed Evaluate my 401k plan at work Goal: 6 tasks A: 6 tasks | B: 5 tasks | C: 4 tasks | D: 3 tasks | F: < 3 tasks Tracking Spreadsheet
  11. Dear Adventurers, there’s no more guesswork about it—sometime during this challenge I’m going to give birth to my child. It could happen in the zero week, it could happen in the third. It doesn’t seem like the time to make challenges, but I fear if I take a month off I may get swept away and never return…. As much as I want to lie around (and likely will do so quite often), I still need to take care of myself, my gardens, and my home and hearth. Adventures… well, they’ll be more of the “exploring new experiences” variety than “exploring new locations”—at least for this challenge. Most tasks are stated in the “before” timeframe. What happens “after” is yet to be determined, but there will likely be spillover. Note: I tend to find life unpredictable, and I’ve found a lot of success in the “spirit” of a goal rather than the cold, hard, and often arbitrary, metrics. As such, for each goal I put down, I’ll put down example tasks that fulfill it, but I will remain open to new and altered ideas that fit the spirit of the goal. Keep on Wandering: This has certainly been a struggle of late, I don’t expect it to improve before. I will continue to get in as much daily movement as I can without overdoing it. This includes short walks, local errands, caring for the house, and other light physical activities. And I will rest when I need to rest and not feel guilty about it. Home and Hearth: Compile a list of one-time home tasks that need doing. Create a list of regular maintenance tasks to keep the house comfortable and functional Create a household task calendar based on this list 15 minute daily tidies Cooking: bettering and expanding my menu Decorating/the photo project Inviting people over/fostering community Alter all of my household plans to incorporate a baby when reality hits me Tend My Gardens: Protecting My Psychic Landscape: There are outer worlds and inner worlds. Psychic landscape (or sometimes psychic space) is how I view my inner world. Sometimes, I let it get too cluttered with rampant-growing bindweed from the outside world. Sometimes I’m better at controlling this. I want to be consistently better. Journaling/developing nonfic projects Revisit my fiction project, brainstorm, add to it Reading Minimizing screen time (including computer, internet, TV, etc.) In the outer world, my “garden," is more literal. We don’t have much gardening space available to us in our London home, but we have some: a left-to-wild edging around our back patio (which, sadly, gets no light), and a shared garden (ornamentals) with a neighbor. I prefer growing food to flowers, but in past 2 years I have enjoyed being able to take cuttings for the table in the spring/summer. (Also, we have a tar seepage issue in our area that doesn’t thrill me about trying to grow edibles straight in the ground.) But I miss growing edibles, so I’m focused on creating an edibles garden on our tiny balcony, which gets the most sunlight. I have seedlings for strawberries, sweet peppers, mint, parsley, and basil already going that need continued nurturing and eventual transplanting into pots. We already have a flourishing batch of rosemary, and a bay tree that somehow keeps on going despite our neglect. I can’t do much about taming the patio or shared garden until “after” as I’m just not bendy enough I’d like to get another batch of seedlings going, particularly with the strawberries Pick out pots from our pile on the patio Acquire potting soil (I don’t drive; will probably have to order it) Begin transplanting the seedlings to pots and acclimating (“hardening”) them to the outside world Once I have those sorted, I will decide if there’s room on the balcony for more Consider fairy lights for the patio to make it more magical to sit in in the evening Check in and storytelling: Check-ins once or twice per week, experiment with narration. If I vanish for longer you can guess why…. This is a really long post for a token challenge >_>
  12. Hello! I'm looking for recommendations for a hiking pack designed as a baby carrier. We will be doing more outdoor activities in the spring with my son (who will be 1 in March) and would love to get one with a sun/rain cover to bring him with us on adventures. I am 5'2" and my husband is 6'6" so it needs to be pretty flexible. TIA!!!
  13. Placeholder for Princess Heather's Challenge, involving getting into a routine after hubby returns to work and I become full time mom. In the meantime, enjoy this muppets gif depicting how I am coping with motherhood so far : Goal #1 Rehab and Build Strength Due to the swelling (which I now know was preeclampsia) I was carrying a lot of water weight in the last months of pregnancy, which bothered my knees and made staying active beyond walking difficult. I want to get back to weightlifting but I need to take things SLOW. I'm only 3 weeks post partum, so I'm focusing on increasing my walking (while carrying little man in a carrier for added weight bearing). Goal is 15 minutes of dedicated stretching amd 30 minutes of walking. Goal #2 Eating Well I have chosen to exclusively breastfeed, which means that my nutrient stores will continue to be focused on nourishing the little dude. So I will be focusing on simply remembering to eat three meals a day of real food (which can be hard when focused on keeping baby happy). Not worrying too much about calories as long as I'm eating enough. Goal #3 Develop My Routine With me being at home, I need to do what I can to help keep our budget in check. So I need to develop routines that let me cook dinner most nights, and that'll be helped by me keeping our kitchen clean. We're also cloth diapering, so that's loads of laundry that definitely HAVE to get done every few days. When I was working full time, hubby and I would leave house work until the last minute even though that makes me crazy. So I'm following the flylady morning and evening routines to form new habits and tackle cleaning and such.
  14. Aminarra, a level 2 ranger has joined new recruits for a 6 week challenge. Having already been facing challenges at home, she's ready to pass the hurdles and make some real progress. Roll a perception check... 17+Prof. 2 = 19. You smell something sweet, maybe even a little like dairy. There is grit underfoot, and you can hear a myriad of odd sounds near the floor--grunts, mostly, with a few whimpers mixed in. There's a yowling cat nearby. Do you have darkvision? Yeah, up to 60 feet. ...You see a living room cluttered with the trappings of new parenthood. Clean laundry is folded and stacked on the back of the couch, but also strewn on the cushions; a stack of folded towels has fallen onto the floor. The coffee table is a make-shift changing station on one side and a nursing station on the other. The TV is off, but you discover that the grunting and whimpering is coming from the Elfkin in a bouncing seat situated on the floor. The grit is kitty litter that the Elfkin's companion has tracked through. I add it to my quest log to clean the litter box and sweep the floor, and put away the laundry. Roll a constitution check... 12.. Your nose crinkles as you realize what the grunts of the Elfkin signified. You want to gag but you manage to hold back. I use the makeshift changing station to clean the Elfkin up and start my 6 week challenge.
  15. My husband and I are expecting our first baby on January 1st. It was a surprise honeymoon baby we weren't expecting, but we aren't complaining We are really excited to meet little Squishy soon and know if we are having a boy or a girl (we want to be surprised). Our issue is, we are on a really tight budget. And thankfully we've had some help from friends and family, baby stuff still needs to be purchased. For one things, clothes. My parents had promised to visit, and bring a load of baby clothes my sister is not using, along with toys, stroller, bed sheets, etc. They then changed their tune and said when they visited they would buy us a co-sleeper, and a pack 'n' play. But...they have changed their tune once again and it's looking like they won't visit at all. So they lied. My husband says it's sad, because I'm not upset by them breaking their promise. I'm honestly used to all of this. My other sisters come first, and I will come last. My parents bought my twin a lot of baby things for her kids, and they still support them since my brother-in-law and twin live with them. And my older sister (I'm the youngest) gets financial support even though she has a job, along with their attention. My parents are using their vacation to visit my older sis in Missouri. Although we are in Ohio, they planned other things and already said they most likely won't be coming. So since we are looking at getting most of the things needed, we need to know what the baby requires before he or she arrives. We have: A mattress (hypoallergenic, organic, infant and toddler in one) A crib set coming later 20 Gerber 6-ply, prefold, fabric diapers Toddler car seat 9-piece Crib set Changing pad Totoro pillow that lights up in different colors 2 Pacifiers 2 One piece sleep bags 201 Huggies size 1 diapers We are planning on cloth diapers, me breastfeeding long term, and a natural birth. How many clothes should we get before the baby arrives? Doubt the baby will fit in newborn clothes by the way, this kid will be a big baby And it will be winter by the time the baby arrives so what should we get so the baby is warm on the ride home?
  16. Name: Hammlin "Hammi" Race: Wood Elf | Class: Footpath Ranger Leader Level: 19 (STR):44.25 (DEX):41.25 (STA):32 (CON):31.25 (WIS):31.5 (CHA):27.25 Motivation: Bacon Bits continues to grow and he has begun to KICK. Mr Ham and I have decided that he takes after his dad and has already begun his karate training. I am apparently rocking an internal Dojo. My challenge quests are focused around the 12 week Bradley Natural Childbirth classes that we just started- designed to let me have a drug and mostly doctor free labor. Main Quest: Be Healthy for Bacon Bits (baby) Part III (June 9 - July 19) Missions: 1. Relax. 10 minutes, twice per day I will either take a nice calm quiet walk or use my Brainwave app. 2. Exercise. I have a checklist of pre-labor exercises that I am supposed to do everyday. 3. Tracking. The childbirth class that I'm in has specific food/macro-nutrient/dietary recommendations that we mark off and hand in at the next week class, all designed to help baby get what he needs. Life Quest: 4. Home. Things have taken a drastic turn since the start of the last challenge. In a story that is too long and personal to explain via the interweb, we sold our house (close June 23rd) and will be living with my mother in law for a couple months while we look for something that is more suitable for our family. The quest is to find a home by September.... Yikes... Like the last challenge, I won't be tracking or grading myself. I just need to be mindful and focused right now. I don't need one more thing to do or feel bad about, if I forget.
  17. Had a traumatic start to the year. Starting on New Year's Day I was in hospital for 9 days. Then my husband attacked me while I was holding my sleeping 10-day old baby, so I have left him and am now living with my parents & baby. So it has taken me a while to get back to some resemblance of sanity. Here's to a better life! 1. Healthy Eating - make a list of foods I like - create a meal plan based on my limited cooking time and extra nutritional requirements - cut out sweets once current packets in the cupboard are gone (and buy no more) - biscuits and dried fruit are ok 2. Do Physio Exercises Start integrating the following exercises into my daily life: - pelvic floor exercises - twisting back while seated - lying on rolled towel to stretch back - punching air with increasing weights - bridges Bonus: (any of) - shoulder stretches in doorways - calf & thigh stretches on stairs - lifting light dumbbells above head - planks 3. Self Care Make sure personal care is maintained despite time pressures: - brushing teeth twice a day - moisturising body, legs & feet - getting smooth feet (have ordered a handheld machine to help with this) - start using clarisonic facial toothbrush 4. Past, Present & Future Past: - back up 2015 photos & videos - finish making plaster casts of Snowdrop's hands & feet - take inkless footprints - start creating photo book of first 3 months - order photos from best selection for my walls - order photo & frame for my grandparents Present: - TBD - make most of time with Snowdrop - continue to update google doc that tracks Snowdrop's weekly progress - set up tripod so I can video me playing with Snowdrop Future: - sort out pension payouts in event of my death - research life insurance - sort out return to work - sort out nursery care for next year
  18. Name: Hammlin "Hammi" Race: Wood Elf | Class: Footpath Ranger Leader Level: 19 (STR):44.25 (DEX):41.25 (STA):32 (CON):31.25 (WIS):31.5 (CHA):27.25 Motivation: The last 6 week challenge for me kind of ended abruptly in the beginning of January. I was feeling weak all the time, exhausted, and just not myself. I felt like my depression was kicking in, and like all the dark from daylight savings time was sucking the life out of me. Turns out, after nearly 2 years of trying, I'm pregnant. And exhausted. So this challenge, is devoted to moving more and staying healthy so that the Bacon Bit is growing inside me grows and grows and becomes healthy and strong! Main Quest: Be Healthy for Bacon Bits (baby) (Feb 23 - Apr 5) Missions: 1. Walk. Every day. 5,000 steps. This isn't a ton, considering I am a hiker, but with my energy level being slim to none, even with a B vitamin, 5k is a big deal for me. 2. Water. Drinking more, my doctor wants me drinking 4+ of my water bottle a day. 3. Nutrition. I don't have cravings or morning sickness, thank God, but I do have some slight aversions. I am trying to be more mindful about getting enough good food and am trying to avoid the glutens. Life Quest: 4. Stress Management. I need to stay even keeled and not let little things get to me. Going to explore yoga and meditation with Mr. Ham, to see what works best for me. I won't be tracking or grading myself. I just need to be mindful and focused right now. I don't need one more thing to do or feel bad about, if I forget. Bonus: - I recently made it onto the Safety Team. Yay!
  19. Im back after having a baby - and Im determined to return to running, but this time be bulletproof! eg injury free. This means going slow, regaining lost strength and keeping the zen and yoga going I found in pregnancy. Hatchling is now 5 weeks old and Im slowly escaping the post baby blues haze and looking for ways to improve my mental and physical health. Running makes me happy therefore I shall run (ok shuffle/jog). About me: I live on a small sail boat in toasty mexico, new mum, prone to over doing things. Big aim - return sensibly to running without injury. Long term Im thinking of resuming my old pace <25 min 5 km, much longer term <45 min 10km which has always been on my wish list. But these are a long way off. First re-learn to run. Dreaming never hurt though. Goals 1) Be the tortoise not the hare I shall return slowly to running 2 times a week going slow and easy. Increasing my time spent running as my body allows. A 2, B 1, C 0 2) Be Limber Yoga or stretching 2 x a week. A 2, B 1, C 0 3) Be Zen Mediation 3 x a week (honestly everyday is ideal as I was into the habit of this but being realistic) A 3, B 2, C 1 4) Be Bulletproof Strength training such as hip stabilization, calf raises, squats etc which enable me to run. I want to avoid ITB issues and shin splints. 3 x a week A 2, B 1, C 0 Bonus points of awesomesause Be Mexican My adorable daughter was born here in mexico and it is really important to me to up my game learning about mexican culture and improve my pathetic spanish. Aim for either language, culture or history lesson/research 3 days a week. Be Social I live in a very small space (boat is 37 feet) and I have a tendency to hide away from the world. I will put effort in once a week to either meet up with friends, mum group, skype date etc. Things I shall not do! Stress my body - I do not want what precious milk I have to dry up. Criticize my post baby body - as Mr Kiwi so sweetly reminded me this week my health and the health of hatchling is far more important than how I look. Eat street tacos everyday - this does not count as learning about mexican culture. I shall put effort into improving my diet for optimal health Feel guilty ever. So much new mother guilt in the past month, this shall not creep back into my life. Day zero Sunday 22 Feb - Today I did my first run in at least six months. I have a family member in town so was able to leave hatchling with her. It is still crazy hot here and of course I went early afternoon. Walked 5 mins, jogged 5, stretched 10, jogged 10, walked 10. My inner knees are a bit achy but apart from that felt really good. kinda been buzzed since and this encouraged me to eat healthy.
  20. KiwiChick hatches her egg Happy New Year - Feliz Año! OK sometime over the next few weeks (or days I hope!) I should be giving birth to a little new baby! Due 15th Jan but head down and low so really any day now. As I adapt into motherhood I thought I would keep up my challenge momentum if I can. I have had issues with mental health in the past so I really want to avoid PN depression by looking after myself as well as baby - keeping up my meditation and yoga etc. Bit about me: Originally from New Zealand, my husband and I live on a small sailboat in Mexico. I love running, triathlon and weight lifting but found it too uncomfy during pregnancy, but am really pleased with my transition into having yoga and meditation as part of my new lifestyle. Life Goal Give birth to a healthy baby and get the hang of a new born without getting overwhelmed Goals 1) Yoga/Stretching 3 x week Mat yoga, class or night in bed stretch - what ever I am able to do. Be realistic post birth too! 2) Mediation 5 x week Bedtime meditation, hypnobirthing audio recording or other. Ideally everyday. 3) Español 3 x week Our baby is going to be bilingual/bicultural so I have to raise my game here. Class, duolingo, que onda or general study. No time requirement just need to make an effort and get back into the swing of things. 4) Smile every day I know this is not going to be easy but I am exactly where I want to be and need to be grateful for all the wonderful things in my life right now. Find something to smile about everyday.
  21. Hey gang! Man, have I missed being on here daily over the last several weeks. I hope all is well with my Rebel brothers and sisters. Speaking of family, if you didn't know why I was gone (or maybe didn't even notice my absence) I took the current challenge off to focus on my family. My wife was in the final stages of pregnancy, and I needed to focus on taking care of her, our 3 yr old, and the house. Well, we had the baby this week. Daniel Kelly McCarthy was born at 1:58pm CSTon 8/19/2013. A whole 19 1/2 and 6lbs 11oz. He and mommy were released from the hospital yesterday, and are both doing great! I am one proud nerd daddy! So, now what? Back into the trenches I go! And this time, I have a new partner. My wife is going to work really hard to take the baby weight off and reach an all new level of health for herself. This makes me very happy. I have told her all about the awesome community we have here, and how stellar the ladies in particular are. From a fitness stand point, I haven't done much noteworthy. I have really slacked on my resistance, but I have been running like a fiend. Last Friday, I ran 10 miles at a 7:10/mile pace. That will have me pretty set endurance-wise for the Tough Mudder next month, but I am ready to get back to lifting heavy things! Hope all is well with everybody! Spider-Dan
  22. I had a kid! Not sure what else to say... It's amazing. Eight days old and I've loved him to death since day one. What a ride. This changes everything. If I ever need motivation to to get in shape... all I have to do now is look at him.
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