Friday, July 12, 2019

The Heart Changer (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

I am most assuredly a bookworm. One of my favorite genres is historical fiction. I recently had a chance to review The Heart Changer from Jarm Del Boccio, Author

Jarm is a fellow writer so I was extra excited to get my book in the mail. I received a physical copy, but it comes in an ebook, as well.

The story is based on 19 verses in 2 Kings. The story is of Naaman and his wife's maid. Namaan is the commander of the Syrian army. He has leprosy, which is a horrible disease of the day. His wife's maid, who is unnamed in the Bible, tells Naaman of the prophet Elisha. Naaman travels to Israel and is given the instructions to bathe in the Jordan river seven times. The end of the story is that Naaman does so and is healed.

The central character in The Heart Changer is the maid. The account of Naaman in the Bible does not reveal her name, nor does it give any details about it. Obviously, the author has built a fictional story about the girl, but I didn't find anything in her story to give me pause. I think it was very true to the time period and was so encouraging and heartfelt.

In the book, the maid is given the name of Miriam. She is a slave who has been captured during a raid and given to Naaman's wife. Miriam struggles with being taken away from her home and family. She has to deal with the jealousy and bitterness of a fellow servant. She wonders how God could have placed her in Namaan's household.

When it is revealed that Naaman has leprosy, God uses Miriam to point Namaan towards the prophet Elisha. Through Naaman's healing, Miriam is reminded of God's love and sovereignty.

This was such a great story. And even though it is intended for middle-school students, it resonated with me. I needed to be reminded of God's love for me and purpose for me....despite my circumstances.

There is also a great teacher's guide on the website for your use, as well. It features an interview with the author, Jarm. It also gives a short interview with Miriam. There are questions included that promote those issues brought up in the book. How does one deal with circumstances outside our control? Is it right to question God? There is also information about Syria and some recipes to try out. The guide is only 12 pages long and is a good addition to any study.

This is really a precious book. It is a short book and reads easily. The message is invaluable. There was a portion at the end of the book where I truly felt the Holy Spirit and was encouraged that God knows about all of us and He loves us. He is a miracle working God!

This one is truly a keeper!

You can connect with Jarm via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.


The Heart Changer {Jarm Del Boccio, Author Reviews}
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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Dyslexia Gold (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

I've talked about my son's struggle with dyslexia in the past. I always am on the lookout for resources that can assist him. Recently, we had the chance to review the Dyslexia Gold Full Bundle from Dyslexia Gold. He has really enjoyed it and I am excited to continue to use it.

My video below takes you through a visual walkthrough of what it looks like, but I thought I would talk about just a few of the highlights.

The program is intended for ages 5 and up. The recommended activity time is about 10-15 minutes a day, five days a week. Most of the programs can be used on PCs, Macs, tablets or iPads. EXCEPT for Engaging Eyes. That program can only be used with PCs or Macs.

A pair of 3D glasses will arrive on your doorstep when you purchase the program and there is also a link for purchasing the glasses on Amazon. 

The program is made up of four different programs. 

Engaging Eyes uses games to help student with vision, mainly tracking and focusing both eyes on the same point. You might know that this is something that struggling readers find difficulty with. It isn’t that they can’t see. My son has great vision. The words sometimes get jumbled and jump off the page. The games include: Eye Tracking, Whack an Alien and Target Practice. The Target Practice game was harder for Josiah to get into…Whack an Alien was his favorite.

Fluency Builder helps students improve their reading accuracy, speed and comprehension. This program deals more with phonological issues. We didn’t use this one as much.

Spelling Tutor was the program that Josiah spent the most time. The students are taught to spell 1000 of the most common words. The program uses a multi-sensory approach, including dictation.  I did find that when I went back to check on Josiah’s progress it didn’t appear he had completed hardly any of it. I found that the student needs to completely complete the lesson before it is recorded.  I am assuming he just spent the time repeating the same group of lessons. I’ll know better from here on out!

I am really excited about the Times Table Tutor. It is based on Singapore math. Josiah has really struggled with math facts. I think this one will help him tremendously. \

I think Dyslexia Gold would be something really great to start this summer. Most of us have an easier and lighter schedule. 10-15 minutes a day could really make a difference with your struggling reader. 

This summer for us has been a wild and crazy one so far and my son hasn't been home and won't be home for a good portion of it. Still, this is something that he can do at his grandparents' house. 

I do need to encourage you that you don't have to have a child with an official diagnosis of dyslexia for this program to work. It is for struggling readers. 

You can watch my video below for a visual overview of the program. PLEASE excuse the shakiness. I tried many different solutions to prevent all the "wiggle." This was the first video that I didn't have my camera (phone) propped up on something. I just couldn't manage it and use the computer at the same time.

 Don't forget to click the banner below to read more reviews! 

Dyslexia Gold Full Bundle {Dyslexia Gold Reviews}
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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Checking In

I've been so neglectful of my blog.

In truth, my house, body, and husband look a little neglected, as well. It's a good thing the Muffin knows how to fry an egg. Now if we could get my house to tidy up after herself

But, my friends.

Next week we start Cousin Camp! Josiah and I leave for the Missouri farm in just a few days. I am just a bit behind in my preparations. I can't seem to get myself together. Hopefully, the cousins will be merciful and flexible. Aunt Beke needs more than just a nap or two to catch up.

I hope to do a little "vlogging" as we go about our week. I don't doubt I will have plenty of good material and willing participants. It's just me getting it up on Youtube. I still have a trip we took to our Minister's Conference I still need to post.

It had been my goal to have an easy breasy summer. Nothing has been easy so far. We seem to have been busier than ever. I am WAAAYYY behind on my current writing job and the calendar for the rest of the summer is as full as it can be.


I don't know about you, but I have found that it takes less and less to entertain me. Just give me a good book and some time on the comfy corner of my couch and I am in heaven. A pedicure thrown in now and again is nice...and occasional date with my husband for sushi.

Would I like a vacation at the beach? You bet your bippee. Vacations for us are non-existent. I just try and find my bliss where I can. One of these days, though. One of these days.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Lightning Lit (British Mid-Late 19th Century) A Homeschool Review Crew Post

We have had great experiences with Lightning Lit from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources previously. When the opportunity arose to review Lightning Literature & Composition: British Mid-Late 19th Century, I jumped at the chance.

What I Received

Lightning Literature & Composition: British Mid-Late 19th Century Student's Guide
This is a thick book (approximately 244 pages). It contains all the necessary material needed for your student to study a variety of works hailing from British Mid—Late 19th Century.

Lightning Literature & Composition: British Mid-Late 19th Century Teacher’s Guide
This a stapled book that provides the teacher with a recommended schedule, grading suggests and a copy of all the writing exercises, etc.

The books needed are sold separately (some works are included in the Student Guide). The intended grades indicated on the website for the product is 9-12, but we were given an even narrower guideline of 10-12. It is also recommended that the student have completed a previous level of High School Lightning Lit…though that recommendation is not written in stone. I think if your student is a strong writer, he or she should have no difficulty.

Here is the order of the literature covered (I copied it straight from the website)

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (selected poems; text in this Guide)
George Eliot (novel: Silas Marner)
Charles Dickens (novel: Great Expectations)
Lewis Carroll: (selected poems; text in this Guide)
Robert Louis Stevenson (travelogue/essay, text in this Guide:"The Silverado Squatters")
Oscar Wilde (play: The Importance of Being Earnest)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, (short story, text in this Guide: "The Adventure of the Speckled Band")
Rudyard Kipling (novel: Stalky & Co.)

We obviously didn’t have time to cover the whole curriculum. However, I did already have the required books. This is what comes with shopping those thrift stores for your library!

How We Used It and What I Thought

To be honest, I chose this to review this product simply because of the writers and works covered. I wuv them. I also took a class in college that was very similar to the scope and sequence of this one.

That being said, when considering how I was going to approach our review time I paid close attention to the recommended schedules. You can use this course in a variety of ways. I needed to get through as much material as possible, but if I had to do it again I would definitely go at a slower pace.

This is one of those products that your student can use independently…depending on his writing prowess.

The Student Guide contains all the information (with the exception of the novels) that is needed for the student to complete the course. Each lesson will contain a general reading. This might include the type of literature or a variety of literary terms.  There will be a short biography of the author and some background information.

For example, Unit 2: Lesson 3  - Charles Dickens, gives us some basic information about Mr. Dickens and then proceeds to talk about his literary journey (most of his work was published in serial form). You might remember that Mr. Dickens and his family spent some time in debtor’s prison when he was young. His experiences often show up in his novels. Victorian England could even be one of the major characters in Dicken’s novels.

After the background information, the student is given the comprehension questions to fill out for each chapter. The Literature Lesson covers conflict. There are several pages of reading on the variety of conflict in literature. The final section assigns a variety of Writing Exercises.

We decided to pick one or two to focus on. Josiah chose to the assignment that asked him to write about four summaries of conflicts he has experienced in the past.

All the lessons follow a similar pattern.

Appendix A contains Discussion Questions and Project Suggestions.  The Discussion Questions were fairly meaty and could certainly be used for advanced writing projects and papers.

The Project Suggestions has ideas for across the curricula. Some are more involved, such as creating a Graphic Novel for one of the works. Others are more research-based, like researching the diseases that popped up in the crowded cities of the Industrial Revolution. In any event, there is a little something for every interest. We even listened to some popular music of the time. (Gilbert and Sullivan, anyone?)

Appendix B provides a list of additional recommended reading and Appendix C contains a couple of different recommended schedules. They are fairly easy to follow.

One of the great difficulties that homeschool parents often come across is how to grade a child’s writing assignment. Some of us feel like we are just shooting in the dark.

The Teacher’s Guide provides a good portion of help in that department. I try to make sure before assigning anything that I let Josiah know exactly what I am looking for. I was helped even further by the advice and recommendations in the Guide.

I will say that the end of the traditional school year was not the best time to review a heavy duty lit and composition curriculum. I had a hard time motivating Josiah to pay attention. He is not a strong writer and is dyslexic. This would not be a product I could give him to use on his own.

That being said, it is very well constructed and I love the variety of literature used. I think I enjoyed it more than he did! He had a harder time plowing through. If you have a student like my Josiah, you might consider an easier level.  I don’t care for literature curriculums that analyze the work to death. I felt that Lightning Lit does a good job of helping the student think and applying their thoughts to the written word. I would also recommend to pepper your student’s assignments with some of the project assignments (located in the appendix) as you go along. 

Lighting Lit has many more great products! You can read more reviews of a variety of levels by clicking on the banner below. You can also connect with Lightning Lit via the following social media outlets.

Lightning Literature, My First Reports, State History Notebook & Joy of Discovery {Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Reviews}
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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Memoria Press: The Story of the Thirteen Colonies (and more!) A Homeschool Review Crew Post

You might have noticed that I have reviewed a number of Memoria Press products over the years. Memoria Press has really become one of my favorite publishers. For one, they produce such quality materials. My review today goes even beyond my expectations. For this review, I got to take a look at The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and 200 Questions About American History set for grades 5-8.

What I Received

I got a number of goodies in the mail. The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set includes:

The Story of the Thirteen Colonies and the Great Republic text

The Story of the Thirteen Colonies and the Great Republic Student Guide

The Story of the Thirteen Colonies and the Great Republic Teacher Guide

In addition to those products, I received the 200 Questions About American History Set.

The Story of the Thirteen Colonies and The Great Republic are actually two separate works written in the late 1800s by British historian H.A. Guerber. Memoria Press edited Ms. Guerber’s works to allow us to see better history unfolding through the lens of time. The book begins with life for Native Americans before the entrance of Europeans and ends with the Spanish American War.

The 200 Questions About American History Set (which includes student, teachers guides, plus flash cards) was compiled as a supplement. It contains (obviously) 200 questions that every American should know about history. Be aware that there are a few modifications given on the website to use this product. I think it was originally compiled to use with another history book and they are still working on that one. 

You do need to know that the Student Guides are all consumable and each of your students is going to need their own copy.

How I Used It and What I Thought

We are all about the history here in our house. I even do some writing of my own history curriculum. 

That being said, I don’t like to present our history in a dry or dusty manner. I LOVED the H.A. Guerber book. It is really delightful. More importantly, my son loved it.

My son (who is High School) is dyslexic.  As a result, we have done the majority of our reading aloud or via audio books. I was curious to see if this product would be one he could read on his own. I simply assigned him a section a day. He was really hooked. He has been sharing with us all kinds of tidbits he’s learning along the way.

We have been doing a rather hurried version of the recommended schedule for our “summer school” months. There won’t be any schooling in July, so I thought this product would be a great one to squeeze into our rotation. That being said, it is intended to use as a one-year survey for those middle school kids.

The Guides themselves are classic Memoria Press. Each lesson contains:

Facts to Know
Comprehension Questions

The Enrichment portion might include map work or a writing assignment. There are also many primary source assignments (which I LOVE), as well.

The Appendix in both the Student and Teachers Guides include maps, lots of primary sources, a time line, etc. The primary sources include a letter from George Washington to his wife, Martha. There are also excerpts from Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, the Constitution (everybody needs to re-read it) and the Emancipation Proclamation. Plus, more!

The Teachers Guide also includes tests and the answers to those tests.  

I don’t know about you, but I need those answers!

We have had a lot of fun with the 200 Questions set. There is a recommended schedule to use with each chapter in The Thirteen Colonies. There are Drill Questions, dates to know, famous quotes to remember and a section that helps the student learn all the Presidents in order.

The 200 Questions About American History Flashcards are sold separately and can be used with any history curriculum.

It’s all good stuff. Be sure you check out the sample pages located on the website. 

One of the great things about Memoria Press is that they make it easier for you, the teacher. The products are well-constructed and thoughtful. It is a Classical Education company so the material isn’t skimpy and watered down. I have found many of their products fit well with my own eclectic/Charlotte Mason/Unit Study sensibilities.

This particular group of products is really terrific. I know your kiddos (and yourself) will enjoy the writing style of Ms. Guerber.  

Memoria Press has another winner in our house!

Don’t forget to connect with Memoria Press via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to read more reviews about this product and more by clicking on the banner below.

Classical Writing & Spelling, American History & Jewish Wars {Memoria Press Reviews}
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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Supercharged Science (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

Are you looking to ramp up your homeschool science game? Supercharged Science and their e-Science Homeschool Science Curriculum can help you with that. We reviewed Supercharged Science several years ago and recently had a chance to do so again.

What is it?

Supercharged Science is an online science program created by the super smart Aurora Lipper. She actually worked at NASA as a rocket scientist and has a whole bunch of credentials to do what she does. 

Her lessons are inspired and energetic. You can’t help but get excited about science when watching one of her videos.

e-Science can be used in two different ways. The lessons are organized by topics or by grade level. The grade level feature is a newer one since we reviewed Supercharged a few years ago. 

I am not even sure of the number of videos located on the site. This is a ginormous site. There are experiments, worksheets and so much more to accompany each lesson. There is something for grades P-12. 

But it is a site that is easily navigated and you can tailor it to meet your specific needs.

I decided to poke around Aurora’s High School content. She has an awesome video and article that explains what kind of science High Schoolers need to focus on.  She also talks about in what order those sciences should be studied.

We went rogue and decided to start with Biology. I felt like Josiah needed some refreshers.  

Aurora is really great about giving thorough instructions. I was able to download what Josiah would need right away. 
 For our review, I am going to focus on one of the easier experiments and lessons. It gets more complicated further into Life Science.

In this video (which I believe is Number 4 in the Biology refresher course), Aurora is explaining how birds fly.
 She explains how to make an airfoil. Josiah also made an airfoil stay tuned for that.

As Josiah went through the videos he was able to fill out the workbook. Aurora has several resources for creating a scientific journal and the workbook pages were great to add to that notebook.

Here is the plain truth. This program is AWESOME for those kiddos who are visual and hands-on.  And I know you will be thrilled with the amount of information and resources located at Supercharged Science.

Aurora has even organized her experiments into sections for those who use a few well-known homeschool science curriculums. I plan on making FULL use of the site. I can see e-Science being great for those kiddos who are even taking advanced science subjects in college.

After all, Aurora knows what she's talking about. And she helps the rest of us understand science just a little better.

Just a few more notes. You will obviously need a working computer, a way to hear what is being said, good internet service and a way to print off worksheets, etc. You will also need a variety of supplies of experiments. There are all kinds. Those that take just a few items from around the house and some that need a bit more "razzle dazzle."

Aurora is really hands-on herself with students. There is always a comment section below videos to ask questions. She has really developed a user-friendly and fun product with Supercharged Science. 

So. I have to show our little video. This is Josiah's airfoil experiment.

You can connect with Supercharged Science via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.


e-Science Homeschool Science Curriculum {Supercharged Science Reviews}
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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Typing Tournmanet Online (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

I MUST tell you what our latest review has been. We have currently been enjoying Typing Tournament Online from EdAlive. We also have had access to Maths Invaders Online which is also a wonderful product from EdAlive. Stay tuned to learn more.

I know I have told of my early typing prowess before. I learned to type on an electric typewriter.  My typing teacher was all business. I was a sophomore in High School and we still used White Out to cover our mistakes.

Our typing tests were fast and furious. We weren’t allowed to even glance at our hands.
Do you feel sorry for me yet? My son (who is 17 and been able to navigate a keyboard most of his life) has no idea.

Regardless of the advances in technology, it is still really important that Josiah knows how to type efficiently. In fact, I was looking for a fun typing program for him to use this summer and I was THRILLED to have this one arrive in my inbox.

What is it?

We received a year’s subscription to Typing Tournament online. If your student enjoys playing games online, he or she will love Typing Tournament. It is more (so much more) than just a game, however. It also teaches the student to master the keyboard.

It is appropriate for ages 6 and up and uses a number of “helps” to assist those kiddos who need a bit more attention.

Typing Tournament will work on about anything (PC, MAC, Tablets) that has an internet connection. My son is familiar with the keyboard and was able to jump right in. The instruction is progressive and allows for extra practice and drills for proficiency.

I appreciated the excellent instruction…even good posture was emphasized.

You want to know another wonderful thing I LOVED about Typing Tournament?  I was just able to add it to Josiah’s assignment list every day. That was it! I didn’t have to cajole or insist. He was more than happy to sit down and work through the program. He didn’t even raise a peep about the Medieval themed games…I wondered if he would consider them “babyish.”

Not at all. I have to say that this was one of the easiest and most pleasant reviews we have done in a while.  AND it will be a product we will continue on into our summer.

We also received access to Maths Invaders Online. While we only poked around a bit at the site, this will also be one we will continue on into the summer.

In fact, I am kind of kicking myself that I haven’t been adding it to Josiah’s schedule daily.  This program is intended for ages 5-15. Josiah might be out of the recommended age group, but he certainly needs extra practice with his math skills.

And this program, again, is all about fun and mastery. Your student can start where they are and step-by-step Maths Invaders will get them where they need to be.

This one is also going on our summer rotation. Josiah is going to be a busy guy!

You also NEED to take a look at EdAlive. They really have some great products. Don’t miss connecting with them on social media. Don’t forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.

Typing Tournament & Maths Invaders Online {EdAlive Reviews}
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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mother's Day...It was a good one

My friends!

It's Mother's Day. Or at least the end of Mother's Day. I had a big, full weekend and was blessed today with my guys taking me out to eat and a very long nap.

It's the little things, my friends.

I did a whole bunch of crafting and creating for our Mother's Day events at church. I have to say that sometimes I do it well. Then again, there are those projects that go so well....but, I'm not about to tell on myself.

But here's the thing. I didn't get one single picture of our All Daughters Salad Luncheon yesterday. 

I can't win them all.

This morning I spoke in our Mother's Day service. I always feel sorry for all of those folks who come to church with their mommas and have to listen to me.

I am not a preacher...I can tell a story...but that's about it.

Thankfully, our folks are sweeties and listened and laughed at the appropriate times.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself. There were many Mother's Days that were tough. I wasn't a mother but wanted desperately to be one. Now I'm the momma of this guy.  I am blessed.

My heart hurts for all those out there who are struggling and hurting. But I also understand that I can rejoice in my own miracle.

Now that Mother's Day is over I can concentrate on a few other things. Namely my housework.

Guuurrll! I won't even tell you how bad it is. I also in the middle of a big history curriculum writing project that needs my attention.

Shew! I needed that nap.

Happy Mother's Day, my friends.

Thursday, May 2, 2019 (CLEP & DSST) A Homeschool Review Crew Post

Recently, I had a chance to review a 3-month subscription for the CLEP and DSST prep materials from

You might be familiar with, but did you know that they have extensive prep materials for CLEP tests and DSST programs? If you aren’t familiar for any of the acronyms I just named…let me fill you in. Both tests allow for college credit without taking a particular course. CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program.  The DSST stands for DANTES Subjects Standardized Tests (DANTES is Defensive Activity for Non-Traditional Support). This test is generally associated with the military, but has now been opened up for everyone to use. allows the user to take a placement test or immediately begin working through the review material. A course is made up of basically videos and a quiz. There are supplemental materials such as flashcards, transcripts or worksheets.

A course can take up to 15 to 20 hours of lesson time. Which, by my estimation, is quite a bit of time shaved from a traditional college course.

How We Used It

To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure where to begin. Or where I thought we needed to begin. My son is a Junior in High School and, while I know there are some problem areas he needs to work on, I also wanted him to be able to use the product during this review period mostly in a frustration-free zone. If that’s possible.

Basically, I wanted to see what was what. However, when I started looking over it I was fairly suspicious we were really going to like it. 

Josiah started with the CLEP test materials and I chose to let him focus on History. I am going to show you his latest placement test and screenshots from CLEP History of the United States 1.

You can see the layout of the overview screen is easily accessible and gives you all the info. 

The placement test gives the student approximately 30 questions and adjusts to the student's knowledge.
 These are Josiah's results. The page gives you an option to either answer some more questions or to start watching the lessons and begin the course.

The videos are fairly short. They have a practice test, a worksheet, flashcards, and a quiz. There is even a spot to take notes. The videos are engaging and keep the student's attention.

Here is a little shot of the practice test.

 Now on to my experience with the DSST materials. 

After poking around the DSST material I thought it would be interesting to take a placement test myself. The DSST does have some different courses to explore. And I was particularly interested in one.

DSST Foundations of Education: Study Guide & Test Prep Final Exam. 

Full disclosure. I did take this course. In college. Waay back in the day. And while it does seem counterproductive to work through material you already have college credit for, I wanted to see how it compared with what I remember learning in college. I also need to admit that my degree was in Education. 

Nearly 25 years is plenty of time to change the way things are taught.

I noticed right away that the test was a smart one. It took into account the answers I was getting right and focused on material I wasn’t so familiar with or had forgotten. Some of the questions were fairly specific.

 While I am a bit ashamed I didn't score perfectly on the placement test, I can see how the course takes advantage of what you do know and helps you bolster up what material is lacking. 

And though I have no intention of taking this college class again, I'm intrigued by some of the other classes offered...I have a desire to go back to school and makes it easy to see that goal in front of me. 

What We Thought

My suspicions were confirmed. This is an excellent program. In fact, I think it is more than excellent. I do need to tell you a few more things. It is a self-paced program. You can whiz straight through or take a break. You can move around or return to something that needs addressing. 

It can also be accessed by multiple devices. We only used it on the computer, but some of you will enjoy the easy access.

This one is a keeper! 

You can connect with via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. I guarantee that there are many more out there who loved it! 

CLEP & DSST Exam Prep { Reviews}

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