Friday, June 7, 2019

Memorial Day Weekend

Garden with red mulch.This year our Memorial Day weekend ended up being a kind of suburban super-event. We’ve spent three and a half days working on our yard, front and back and have started, moved along and completed a large number of projects.

So I just wanted to do a diary kind of post and list out a bunch of these things in sequence.

Front yard with freshly cut grass.I had a half day at work on Friday because of an incoming long weekend. We’ve started with mowing the lawn right after arrival of my dad and my sister for their long weekend stay.

My dad asked us not to do the whole lawn ahead of their arrival because he loves the smell of a fresh cut grass.

Hydrangea.Speaking of mowers — we have purchased an electric Ego mower powered by a massive battery that lasts for a good hour and a half on a self-propelled machine. No messing with gasoline, no oil changes, no hard starts. Press a button and it runs.

In fact we were so impressed with it that now we have a full set of Ego tools — a wire grass trimmer, a chain saw, a hedge trimmer and as of this weekend a leaf blower for small clean-up jobs that can be used in place of a usual sweeper.

Leveling the sand.Back to the diary — we installed three large stepping stones next to our trash bins for easier access. And we finished fully mulching our “mid-yard” — total 10 bags of red mulch used. Home Depot had them on sale for $2 per bag.

Towards the end of Friday we marked down the area for our shed walkway with stakes and orange string.

Marking off the new portion.And at the end of the day I drove down to a local train station to pick up my mom who was coming down directly from Manhattan after her work day.

This was the first time that my parents decided to arrive separately — the reason for that was a nightmarish traffic that can precede a long weekend. Dad and sister drove out in the morning and missed it all and trains are trains.

Digging.On Saturday morning Alёna took Arosha to taekwondo make up class and took my dad and Anna along with them for a walk in a park after the class.

Meanwhile my mom and Lina were busy making a massive lunch-dinner meal for the family — manti. Probably one of my favorite dishes, but it is very time and labor intensive to prepare.

Gravel.When Alёna arrived we started digging the foundation of our shed walk. It was going very slowly. The soil was filled with gravel and we had to work our way through it with picks — these were kindly gifted to us by one of our neighbors.

After eating our lunch we proceeded to dig further and made good progress for the day.

Almost done.Also I went through our lawn with a rake to collect all the excess grass that was left by a mower a day before. The grass grows really quickly this time of the year and we decided to leave the grass on the lawn instead of bagging it.

In retrospect this was not a right decision, but an easily correctable one.

Grilling.Also we spend a good amount of time on walking around our whole property and cutting down parasitic vines off our trees. Some were chocking trees, some were just starting, but we had a lot. We used a big wire-cutters and an axe when that wouldn’t work.

After running through bushes, grass and tick-untreated areas we all did a mandatory shower and tick check — one of the dark sides of life in Connecticut.

Salmon and steak.We finished the Saturday with putting kids to bed and had a nice conversation for several hours in our kitchen with parents and Lina.

Sunday was started with work on the dig. And we only finally completed that job on Monday. We took out a large number of huge boulders out of the earth during the process.

Lunch on the porch.Then I took a drive to a local supermarket to acquire provisions for grilling. I bought three 2-inch thick steaks, a medium-sized salmon filet, 8 burger patties, vegetables and grilling beans.

The steaks, fish and vegetables we grilled for lunch. Everyone seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.

Spruce and lilac.After lunch I used our manual aerator to lift up a bunch of soil in the areas of backyard where we are growing new grass — quite successfully so far.

We felt that we could’ve put down more seed during our initial sowing, so I repeated the process in the areas that seemed sparse with new grass.

Mulched bushes.When I was done with grass we got into our cars and went to a highly recommended nursery in Bethel — Hollandia Nursery.

My mom wanted to get us a new plan and she settled down on hydrangea. And Alёna and I got a pair of our long-standing wishes fulfilled. Alёna loves lilac and we bought a young plant for ourselves. And I wanted to get an evergreen tree for the longest time — so we got a young spruce.

Lilac.Then we rearranged out empty planting bed. We moved one of the bushes we planted last year closer to the center and planted our spruce close to the steps and our lilac to the opposite end of the bed.

For all these plants we started with peat moss “soup”, then backfilled it with earth and added fertilizer on top. The final touch should’ve been mulch which we didn’t have any left of.

Mulch.So Alёna, my mom and I got into the car and went to Home Depot. We ended up buying another 14 bags of red mulch. My mom got a couple of perennials and we also picked up Ego blower on Memorial Day sale.

Monday morning we started with more digging and an early burger lunch. After my parents left we finished the dig and filled our foundation with small sand-like gravel and leveled that out.

Fig tree.Alёna cleaned up our house beds from weeds, we trimmed some bushes and filled both of these beds with mulch along with our hosta plant by the door of the garage.

Then to finish our job with our walkway by the shed we needed some actual fine grain sand. So we went to Home Depot again and were surprised to discover that they had none. Went to nearby Lowe’s — same result.

Hosta at the start of driveway.But then we stumbled open a small fig tree which our kids really wanted to get. And it already had fruit developing on it. We bought that. Stopped by a nearby Raymore and Flanigan and cashed in our gift card for a guestroom bedside lamp.

Upon return home we planted our new fig tree, mulched it and that was pretty much the end of our weekend. Phew. So much stuff accomplished.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Poconos Summer House

Summer house.В пятницу во время прогулки Илона пригласили меня и Эрику с семьями к ним на дачу в Поконо. С ночёвкой. Эрика сперва отказалась, сославшись на то, что Юра ни за что не согласться, а я сказала, что поговорю с Даней и возможно мы приедем.

Nearby playground.Я очень надеялась, что Даня согласиться. Дело в том, что Ароша очень хотел побывать на даче у Сени. Ему не раз снилось, что он там был, или что он с Сеней и Сашей ездили в совместный отпуск в другое место, например, на Коста Рику. Сеня тоже давно уговаривал Илону показать дачу своим друзьям. Вобщем, Даня согласился поехать, а когда Саша узнал, что Ароша едет, он смог уговорить Юру.

Hike to Dingmans Falls.Мы выехали в субботу в 11:30, а вернулись в воскресенье около 21:00. Что могу сказать? Время провели просто замечательно. И детям, и взрослым из нашей семьи очень понравилось. Кроме нас и Илоны с Денисом и детьми были еще родители Дениса и Илонина сестра с мужем и млашим сыном.

Off the trail on a trail.Дача находится в очень зелёной части Пенсильвании. Дом большой, двор большой, там даже стоит довольной большой надземный бассейн.

Dingmans Falls.В субботу вечером мы ходили на реку немного порыбачить. Денис поймал аж 4 рыбы, включаы довольно крупного сома. Весь улов был отпущен обратно в озеро, потому что всем было жалко убивать рыб.

Us at Dingmans Falls.В воскресенье утром мы сьездили на Dingmans Falls, которые находятся милях в 15 от дачи. Оказывается, эти водопады находятся под опекой национальных парков, и там есть visitor center с печатями, картами, прочим. Вход на водопады бесплатный, и к ним ведёт отличная деревянная тропа. Мы провели там около 2 часов и получили массу удовольствия. Анюта прошла пешком около 2 миль и жаловалась на усталость буквально за 100 метров до парковки.

Dingmans Falls.Кстати, нам очень повезло, что мы приехали туда не слишком поздно. Около водопадов есть парковка, но она небольшая, машин на 50. Когда мы приехали, еще были места, когда мы уезжали, то на парковку стояла очередь из полусотни машин. Я думаю, что в такой очереди можно простоять больше часа.

Grilling.А еще мы жарили шашлыки, общались, пили пиво, а кое-кто и что-то крепче, ходили на детскую площадку и даже пару минут прокатились на велосипеде. Дети практически всё время играли вместе, хотя как всегда не обошлось без мелких стычек и драм.

Fishing. Yura in the front, Elona and Denis in the background.Спать было тоже очень удобно. Нам отвели отдельную комнату с 2 кроватями. Для Анюты мы прихватили с собой её складной манеж. Несмотря на то, что днём было жарко, а в комнате нет кондидионеров, спать было хорошо. Сначала мы укрыли тёплым одеялом только ноги, а под утро укутались в него до шеи.

Fishing.Вечером жгли костёр, и Илонин племянник запустил одну ракету с салютом. Детям очень понравилось.

Checking out the fish.Хозяева были очень гостеприимными и старались, чтобы всем было хорошо, весело и сытно. Вобщем, отличные у нас получились выходные.

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Memorial Day in Cape Cod

Nauset Light.We wanted to go to Cape Cod for years it seems. The place is relatively close, but somehow we never went, in part because it gets pricey in season. It was not cheap this Memorial weekend as well — a little over $250 for a room per night, but definitely more affordable.

Salt Pond Bay.We booked Hampton Inn hotel by Hilton in Hyannis. The location is not ideal since it’s still a 40+ miles ride from Provincetown, but we wanted to book something with a big chain rather than a small business in case we will have to cancel the trip on the account of children getting sick.

Nauset Beach.The original plan was to leave at 15-16 o’clock, but after some consideration we’ve decided to go as early as possible in hopes to beat some of the traffic, which in our case was right after picking Arosha up from school at 14:20. I prepared chicken sandwiches and tea so that Arosha could eat in the car and save us some time.

Down to Nauset Beach.Well, what can I say? Getting out of a megalopolis on the verge of the long weekend is not pretty. It took us 4 hours to drive the first 90 miles. We did stop at some point to get a quick dinner at a Turkish restaurant, which kids really liked, but pretty much all we did for the rest of the day was driving and standing in traffic. We got to the hotel at 22:30 and went to bed after 23:00.

Eroding Cape Cod.On Saturday the plan was to drive to Provincetown and make a few stops on the way in order to see different lighthouses and maybe take a hike or two.

Balancing at Nauset Beach.Approximately midway we stopped at the visitor center, where Danya and the kids got their passports stamped, and then proceeded to Nauset Lighthouse and Three Sisters Lighthouses. We went down to the beach, but did not spend too much time there since we had a lot of other plans.

Streets of Provincetown.The children started climbing sand dunes on the beach, which apparently is not a good idea because it can facilitate coastal erosion. We did not realize it at first, but within a few minutes someone pointed that out to us, so we explained it to Arosha and Anюta. I think if they were allowed to proceed, they could have enjoyed this activity for a very long time.

Streets of Provincetown.We then went and looked at the Nauset Lighthouse and took a few pictures of it. There were no tours to the top available. We did not take a hike to the Three Sisters, but drove by them — the remnants of the replacement wooden lighthouses (the original brick ones fell into the ocean over a century ago) are not on the shore and only one of them looks like a lighthouse.

Streets of Provincetown.We then proceeded to Provincetown. The roads were quite busy, but no major traffics. In the city though it was tough to find parking. Luckily, we stumbled upon a big public parking lot (it was relatively inexpensive) and on the farthest parking field there were still some spots left.

Cape Cod Bay. View from Provincetown.What can I say? Provincetown seemed too busy for my taste. I guess, if we did not have children, it would have felt nicer, but it was a little unnerving for me to keep track of them in the crowds of people, especially considering the fact that Anюta stopped in front of every single dog and tried to communicate with it, and there were a lot of dogs in Provincetown that day.

Breakwater walk to Wood End Lighthouse.We picked one of the less popular places for lunch — it still had relatively decent rating on TripAdvisor — and got some beer, burgers, chowders and a lobster roll to share. The seafood in Cape Cod is fresh and tasty, and even though I am still not a huge fan of lobsters, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Breakwater walk to Wood End Lighthouse.We walked around the town for a little longer after lunch, and then drove to the Wood End Lighthouse. People at the visitor center warned us that we won’t be able to take a hike to it with little children in tow since the path to it is made out of huge rocks going through the water. We decided to see what exactly that looks like, but could not find any parking. Luckily, there was an inn with a big parking lot right next to the path, and the management let us park there free of charge for an hour.

National Seashore headquarters.The children were very excited with the rocky path — they were jumping from one rock to the next with the speed of a fit adult, but I was worried that one of them would slip and get into the cracks in between the rocks and break something. So we walked towards the lighthouse for about 15 minutes and then headed back to the children’s great disappointment.

Marconi Wireless Station Site.Originally, we planned to see one more lighthouse located in the area that day, and also to get another stamp at the farthest visitor center. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the center was already closed. Everyone was tired, so we decided to postpone the lighthouse visit until tomorrow, if we would feel like driving so far from our hotel again.

Authentic Cape Cod lunch at Moby Dick's.When we got to the hotel, the children went to the pool, which was also super crowded. Danya and I also changed into our bathing suits, but to be honest, neither pool, nor jacuzzi looked appealing enough to get in, although I did put my legs into the hot tub — I guess, Costa Rica spoiled us in this regard.

Lunch at Moby Dick's.We spent about an hour in the pool, and after a quick shower went to get dinner at local Peruvian restaurant. Danya and the children got fajitas and I got some Peruvian seafood dish that our waitress recommended. It turned out to be really good even though I oftentimes don’t like stuff like that. I think that the quality of the local seafood really makes all the difference.

Cape Code Lighthouse or Highland Lighthouse as it is known now.The next day we have decided to drive to the top of the Cape Cod again to see the Cape Cod Lighthouse. We stopped at some ranger station first in hopes to get an extra stamp, but it was closed. We did make it to Marconi Wireless Station Site though. We had lunch at Moby Dick’s restaurant. It was a nice experience — you order your food at the counter and take any table that you like and they bring the food to you, and the food was good too.

View from the top of Highland Lighthouse.After getting the passports stamped, we went to see the Cape Cod Lighthouse. Danya and Arosha took a tour to the top, but Anюta is not tall enough to be allowed in, so both of us waited for the boys outside. Daniеl liked the tour and one of the interesting things that the guide told them is that the lighthouse was moved 3 times already due to coastal erosion.

Light lens itself up top of Highland Lighthouse.We wanted to see another lighthouse and maybe take a hike on the beach to it, but were not sure where to go exactly. A park ranger at the entrance to one of the $20 per car beaches (which we skipped) explained to us that there is a small hidden parking lot from which we can take a mile long hike to the lighthouse, and we even managed to find it, but it had no empty spaces. Oh well.

Highland Lighthouse.We ended up parking at Herring Cove Beach, which was free by the way, and taking an hour walk in the direction of the lighthouse on that beach. We could have walked longer, but it was just so windy and chilly that we could not take it any longer.

Herring Cove Beach.After this we went back to the hotel and the children enjoyed the pool once more. For dinner we went to Brazilian Grill, and it was a real treat. I think kids each ate about as much meat as I did, as they tend to do in this type of restaurants.

Hike at Herring Cove Beach. Windy.Our last full day at Cape Cod happened to be rainy. We didn’t do much. First the children went to the pool and spent 2 hours there. Then we drove to one of the restaurant streets in Hyannis, and had lunch at The British Beer Company and some deserts at the local cupcake store. We also checked out a few souvenir shops and got a cool looking magnifying glass for Arosha and small pink plush seal for Anюta — they christened it tюlenьka.

Herring Cove Beach.We then went back to the hotel and kids hit the pool and a hot tub again. This time around they spent 3 hours enjoying the water activities.

Collection of shells.Danya and I used the fitness center to get a workout on an elliptical trainer. I enjoyed it, but I still like our Peloton much more.

Seashell castle.Then at the evening I felt a massive migraine building up, so by the time we went to the restaurant and ordered dinner, I could barely sit straight. We took the food to go, and Daniеl with the children ate their meals in the dining area of our hotel. I did not touch my meal, which was for the better, since I ended up throwing up a few times, which I suspected would happen.

Race Point Lighthouse from afar.Long story short, I was able to sleep most of the night and felt better the next day, although I still had a slight headache and queasy stomach.

Rhode Island Capitol.After breakfast on Tuesday we headed home. We stopped at Providence, the capital of Rhode Island. We visited the state capitol there — looked around, took some pictures, got special stamps.

Inside the capitol at Providence.We ate lunch later on at McDonald’s to save time and arrived home at 7 p.m. The total millage for the trip was 763 miles, which is a lot considering that it was just an extended long weekend getaway.

Arosha with Liberty Bell.I had fun overall, but at the moment have no desire to revisit Cape Cod. I understand that the timing was not ideal since a lot of people travel during this particular weekend, but it just felt so overcrowded. Our average speed for the trip was 30 miles per hour, which means that we spent 20 hours in the car altogether, and this was definitely tiring for everyone, especially Daniеl.

Rhode Island Capitol in Providence.But then again, this was a quality time spent with my family and I am grateful that we were able to get away from our everyday routines and just explore new places together.


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Friday, May 12, 2017

Cape Cod Weekend Getaway

Cape Cod map.During our last weekend’s trip to Fire Island I again started reminiscing about us visiting so many places and yet still not being able to make it to Cape Cod. Well, we decided to take an upcoming long Memorial Day weekend and remedy the situation.

One of the issues before was that we have tried to look into visiting the cape during the peak summer time and the prices are just way out there. We decided to go there ahead of the season — there are still supposedly plenty of things we can spend our time on without having to actually swim in the ocean.

Another decision that we made was to stay at the very start of the Cape Cod peninsula. Most of the land along the National Seashore is covered by little motels and lodges and they have less than stellar cancellation policy. Having two little kids who can decide to develop a fever on whim’s notice we prefer bigger chains.

We booked our stay at Hampton Inn & Suites Cape Cod1 in Yarmouth-Hyannis area. There was another Hilton property in close proximity, but we settled for this one because it had a hot tub in addition to an indoor pool that both properties featured. Provincetown itself is 45 miles or 1 hour away, so we’ll be able to visit it on one of the days while we are there. Continue Reading

  1. Hampton Inn & Suites Cape Cod — 4 nights, total of $1,115 with taxes included. []

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Rock

New York from the top.The past weekend was the last one for Alёna’s mom’s current stay with us. Because of the bad weather we didn’t really get out much this time around, so we decided to do something interesting for her on this last weekend. My mom agreed to take the kids for the day so we had it easy.

Alёna with her mom.We picked the observation deck at the top of Rockefeller Center as our destination. Alёna’s mom haven’t been to the top of any skyscrapers, so we figured this should be memorable. Rockefeller Center observation deck is my favorite location in the city as you can see a lot of famous landmarks around — Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, World Trade Center, Central Park and numerous bridges.

Central Park. Fisheye.We spent a while looking for parking, but there was no line to the top. As far as I can tell Alёna’s mom loved it. We couldn’t actually get her to leave for some time. She would go from side to side, trying to take in the views. I think it was a success. Once we got down we visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral that was right across the street.

Alёna and Daniеl.After that we took her to our favorite Brazilian Steakhouse — Churrascaria Plataforma. Even though she is not a huge meat fan I thought she would like the experience. Open salad bar and then an endless stream of different varieties of beef, lamb, pork and chicken that waiters keep bringing to your table until you turn the green button given to you to red. Alёna and her mom didn’t eat quite as much as I did, but mom definitely liked it.

Self again.And that was a full day. I got some decent pictures, she got good memories. It’s really sad that she’s leaving tomorrow already.

New York through fisheye.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Caumsett State Park

Caumsett State Park on Long Island Sound.Yesterday was a first truly springtime weekend day this year. The day was so nice and warm that it was the first time we could be outside in a park without our jackets. We decided to visit a state park located on the north shore of Long Island that was recommended to my mom by a coworker — Caumsett State Historic Park.

Stables.All of us went, so we had to take two cars. Even though it’s only 48 miles away it took us a bit on the long side to get there — all the traffics and such. Arosha was as always a good traveler, and Anyuta did pretty well also, although she did “complain” from time to time.

Arosha and Daniеl in front of main estate house.The park was created on the lands acquired by state from an estate of Marshall Field III that he in turn put together in 1921. The park is pretty sizable as far as estates go.

Kids in daffodils.The road to the park was quite picturesque as well. I really long for a 70-200mm lens lately, no pun intended. Throughout the day we saw 3 large eagle nests with a pair of eagles in each and a large white heron.

And grandpa too.The signs of spring were all around. A lot of trees are budding, Magnolia trees are covered by fresh flowers, but out biggest discovery the the day was a large number of fields covered in blooming daffodils.

Arosha.Arosha was running in front of us all and when we happened upon the first of these fields could not stop asking if we were happy that he led us to such a beautiful place.

Picnic towards the end. All the food is already gone.Our hike culminated in a nice family picnic on the blankets in the middle of a large field not far from the main estate house. That event totally put Arosha’s excitement level over and top and off the scale — he kept pointing out numerous aspects of how picnicking was great, amazing and awesome.

Flowers.The total length of our round-trip hike ended up being around three and a half miles. However while we might’ve walked that much Arosha did twice of that since he was running non-stop back and forth and to the sides and all around. He picked up numerous sticks of varying sizes, jumped into ditches, climbed onto large stumps and so on.

Arosha and woodpecker.At one point he found a stick with a sharp short branch at the top coming out of it. He proclaimed that it was a woodpecker and we had to wait for “them” while they go and find some food in nearby trees. He proceed to go from tree to tree pecking at them and pretending to look quite surprised by the fact that they were unable to get anything out of a tree trunks.

Anyuta riding around.Anyuta slept some, but mostly she was exploring the park while sitting in Alёna’s arms and looking around. She enjoyed touching flowers and grass with her hands — I remember Arosha was a lot more cautious of the grass in his first encounter and wasn’t quite sure of what to make of it. Anyuta seemed to like the sensation of touching it.

Lunch break.We spent five hours in the park. We left home at 11:30am and came back at 7:30pm. On the way back Arosha went into “recharging” mode for a change, and Anyuta actually stayed awake looking and playing with her toys. It ended up being a great spring day.

Blooming daffodils.
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cheesequake and Jamaica Bay

Along the trail at Cheesequake State Park.Even though days are still quite cold the snow is gone. We have started our weekend outings again. This weekend was eventful. On Saturday we drove down to Cheesequake State Park in nearby New Jersey1.

Throwing cones into the water.The day was very warm and we had a nice walk. Arosha, as before, was throwing stuff into the river from a wooden bridge that runs across. Then we had a nice walk on a trail and Arosha played on a playground.

Flying out of the slide.While we go to Cheesequake pretty often we decided to do something new today. At first our plan was to take a walk along the Rockaway’s boardwalk. However it appears that the boardwalk is no more. I assume Sandy is to thank for that. Not knowing what to do we were driving back and drove by one of National Park areas that we have nearby.

Birdhouse at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge2 is a nice nature sanctuary in the middle of a megalopolis. The nature itself though is still pretty much asleep. I might as well have been shooting with black and white film.

On a trail at Jamaica Bay.We took a nice walk along the trail which at one point used to be a loop, but it no longer is because of the very same Hurricane Sandy — one of the bridges was washed away.

Trail and sleeping nature.We ran into a huge flock of snow geese who apparently migrate down to this area all the way from the arctic for the winter. If good telephoto lenses wouldn’t be as expensive as they are I would definitely invest into one — at least I really had a strong urge to do it. Yesterday in Cheesequake and today it was only reaffirmed.

Arosha with "a stick that helps him run faster."Arosha as always found something to do — today he found some large hole in the ground, took his favorite shovel and proceeded to offload as much sand into the said hole in order to fill it up. Since the hole was about 5 times the size of Arosha he didn’t get very far.

Anna and grandma.Anna refuses to sleep. She mostly sat in her stroller looking around or screamed in protest when we tried to put her down. She also refuses to eat outside. While the boob was Arosha’s favorite thing in the world at this age Anna will have none of it unless she is really hungry. Really really hungry.

Sleeping nature.Back to nature — at both places we saw large nests of ospreys. They are eagle-like birds of pray. We saw them flying high overhead, but couldn’t really see them well. We should borrow my dad’s binoculars one day. All in all a nice weekend. Can’t wait for the warmer days.

On a trail.

  1. Diesel is 50¢ per gallon cheaper in New Jersey than in New York or Connecticut. []
  2. There is an official National Park stamp available at this location. []

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fire Island Outing

Lighthouse against some funky clouds.Last weekend was quite active for us. Besides going to Bayswater Point State Park we decided to take full advantage of warmer days and on Sunday went to Fire Island National Seashore again.

Beautiful Fire Island Lighthouse.We even managed to talk my mom into going with us — to our surprise it was her first time there. Only took her 19 or so years. So there was a total of seven of us there and two cars.

Grandmas. Grandpa and Arosha on the left.Even though the day was warmer relative to other days it still was a cold February day. Especially when you’re walking along an open shore of Atlantic Ocean. The sky was very blue and thus uplifting, but the wind was cold.

More of the family.I had to borrow the hood from Alёna’s jacket because I as always misjudged the weather. As did my dad. That seems to be the trait of our male side of the family. Since Arosha doesn’t make these decisions for himself yet he was well dressed.

Shore of open Atlantic Ocean.Fire Island National Seashore is probably one of the nicest “nature” locations that is within an easy reach from us. If traffic conditions cooperate it takes us under an hour to get there.

Wooden trail at Fire Island National Seashore.After having a nice jog we finished off the evening with a family dinner at some random Outback Steakhouse that we found on our way home.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Weekend in Poconos

Echo Valley Cottages. Our cottage.It’s been a month, but I only got a chance to write about our little Pocono trip now.

Morning grilling. Burgers.I have to say, I love my husband! One of the great things about him is that he loves traveling, so in the beginning of November he had an urge to go someplace. He checked a number of cabins, but they were either too expensive or out of vacancies. He did find a good deal for my birthday weekend though, so we booked a cabin in Echo Valley Cottages. We invited Daniеl’s parents to come with us, and they happily agreed.

Stream near the cottage.We left Friday evening after Danya’s mom came home from work. The ride was only about 100 miles, but it took us 4 hours to get there — first we got stuck in traffic getting out of Brooklyn, and then we spent almost an hour doing food shopping at Wegmans in NJ. I have to say that Danya wanted to specifically go to this store, since Wegmans that we visited by Arsen’s house was really great, but we were disappointed. They did not have organic grass fed beef or burger shop; it was still big, so we spent a lot of time trying to find items that we needed, while in a smaller store it would have been quicker. But whatever.

Bushkill Falls. Trail start.We got to the cottages at around 11pm. The owner came by and gave us the key. Arosha was pretty excited about the trip and he did not even fall asleep in the car. The cottage was pretty big — bigger than I expected — and although it was not as fancy as the other Pocono cottages we’ve been to in the past, I still liked it.

The falls themselves.We traveled on two cars this time around — with two car seats we can’t fit 4 adults into the car anymore.

Wooden paths.The next morning I was woken up by Arosha, who was so excited that he got up after about 7 hours of sleep and said that he wants to grill. Our three men went to the store to get well burning coal and lighting fluid after unsuccessfully trying to start a fire with regular coals. Danya’s mom, Annushka and I prepared meat and vegetables for burgers.

More falls.Soon enough the burgers were ready. Danya did an amazing job — he doesn’t cook at home, but grill is his domain. They were really good. I have to say that Arosha really likes grilled meat. He ate as much as adults!

Different part of the falls.After that we went to see Bushkill falls. They were a short ride away from the cottages. There was an entry fee — $12.50 per person. Not exactly cheap, but I guess they need that money to maintain an impressive infrastructure of wooden paths, steps, bridges and other structures around the falls. The paths were not stroller accessible, so I was mostly carrying Anechka in my arms. We spent around two hours walking around and enjoying the views.

Grandparents.After that we went home and Danya got to grilling the dinner. It gets dark early, so we wanted to at least start the process before the sun was down. The meat (skirt steaks) and vegetables (peppers, zucchini, corn) came out delicious. I was again amazed at how much food Arosha ate.

Wooden stairs on the trail.After dinner we drank tea with my birthday cake. Arosha helped to put candles in, and he also helped to blow them.

Dad on one of wooden bridges.I went to feed Annushka and tried to put her to sleep for the night. She was not cooperating, and threw a long screaming fit. I think she was crying for over 30 minutes overall, which does not happen often.

Lunch on the trail.Danya, his dad and Arosha made fire outside. Arosha really enjoyed it. He wanted to add firewood himself and as often as possible, but I don’t think that he was allowed. What he was allowed thought is light up sticks and wave them around. He did not want to go back inside.

Climbing.The next morning we grilled some more burgers and left. Arosha asked me in the morning if its possible for us to stay until the evening and was a little bit sad that we had to leave before noon.

Jumping.Another thing that Arosha liked is just to play outside. There was a small creek nearby and he pretended that he was a fisherman (one of his favorite games) and that long sticks were his fishing rods. He also liked playing with all kinds of things he could find — stones, leaves, mushrooms, you name it.

Grilling.On our way home we stopped at local outlets and got two pairs of Levi jeans and a few flannel shirts for Danya since the winter is coming. We also stopped to eat at Olive Garden, but the food was so so.

Dinner. Skirt steak and grilled vegetables.We got home at around 7 — exhausted, but satisfied with how our weekend went.

Alёna's birthday cake.Arosha keeps saying that he wants to go to the cottages again. I think he definitely took after his daddy!


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Sunday, December 8, 2013

C-Class in Manhattan

C-Class loaner.This is really two stories in one, yet both are about this weekend. First one starts with me not being able to make my music sound as it should on a high end Harman Kardon sound system in our new M-Class. Closer inspection revealed that the subwoofer in the rear of the car instead of playing low sounds makes everything around it vibrate. The outside fender of the car actually vibrates the most and creates the most noise.

I took the car to the dealer on Wednesday morning and after a service manager and a technician looked at it and admitted that that’s not even close to normal we went and tried the same MP3 file in another similarly configured M-Class. Sound was clean and crisp at much higher volumes too.

WTC 1.Long story short — they had no loaner car available on Wednesday, but they promised to come by my house, bring a loaner car and pick ours up at 10am on Friday. That’s exactly what they did. Of course for me there is a hassle of taking out kid car seats and moving them into another car, but as far as service goes at this point — nothing like Chrysler was — one of my main reasons of leaving American cars behind.

On Monday I’m going to find out what exactly the issue is and how long it will take them to fix it. Hopefully they’ll either install the speaker properly or replace it with a new one if the current one is blown. For the time being I’m stuck with a loaner C-Class. At first I didn’t really care, but it is anything but a family car. Tiny!

One of many sets of statues.Basically in order to get a Anechka’s rear-facing seat installed and to get it to fit we had to move the forward sit so close to the dashboard that Alёna could not get in. After moving some things around and adjusting the seat we barely fit her into the car in rather an uncomfortable pose. Because of that on our way through Manhattan to a park on Palisades Parkway we decided to instead try to explore downtown Manhattan.

We got really luck and found a spot (with no meter even) within 2 blocks. Arosha has never walked around that part of Manhattan, but he always talks about the “highest skyscraper” around. So we took a good look at WTC 1 and walked through a nearby church and walked around a park by city-hall filled with all kinds of statues and had a nice lunch and a middle-eastern place — a good walk close to home essentially.

Enjoying art is his own way.So that was our Saturday. Hopefully our car gets fixed and we won’t have to use MB service anytime soon again. If we do, I’ll ask for something bigger than C-Class for a loaner. Otherwise it’s a pretty decent car with enough oomph in its engine. But it still did make me appreciate our choice even more — it’s noticeably more refined and definitely more roomy.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013


Throgs Neck Bridge.We’re trying to use our last pre-baby weekends to their full potential. Yesterday Alёna and I spent our full day alone without Aroshka. Aroshka was with his grandparents while we did our now weekly OBGYN visit, did some errands that we won’t be able to do when the baby comes and finished the day off with a nice dinner at our favorite Thai place in Park Slope.

38 weeks and 2 days.Today I had an urge to explore a new place — the park under and around Throgs Neck Bridge. I drive by this place every day when I go to work and somehow never stopped there before. So we got into our car and drove there along with my dad. I spent some time taking long exposure shots, while Arosha spent all this time throwing stones into the water.

Throgs Neck.We also installed a new infant car seat base into our car and a car seat that we use for travel into my dad’s car. He’s going to be taking Aroshka to gymnastics every Tuesday now — first class is in two days. Meanwhile Alёna is into her 39th week which means that we can have a new arrival any day now.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Our Weekend

Brooklyn Heights.We had such a wonderful weekend. The weather is getting better — it gets to high 60s during the day — so it’s a pleasure to be outside.

We spent almost four hours on a playground by our building on Friday morning. Aroshka played with his bff Evelina, and he was just so happy, so joyful, that it melted my heart. Evelina was acting strangely around him in the last few weeks — did not want to play with him and was saying that she was scared of him. I don’t know what was the cause of it, but when she changed her mind, he could not be more excited to be around her.

Testing out a bicycle.And in the evening, Aroshka, us and Alex went to Brooklyn Heights. Danya wanted to take a few pictures of the Freedom Tower, which is near its completion, before its ready. He and Alex went on the promenade, and Aroshka and I went to a small, but very cozy playground.

Manhattan skyline.Danya’s pictures did not come out well because of the haze and not ideal lighting conditions, but Aroshka had a lot of fun. There were a lot of toys, a big sandbox, a bicycle, and other new and exciting things. There were two benches colored like taxis, so he made up a whole story about us driving to the airport, flying to Dominican Republic, and then staying there in the hotel (the metal patch on the ground was our airplane, and the area adjacent to the slides was our hotel room).

Afterwards we ate at some diner, and went home.

In front of a brownstone.On Saturday Aroshka spent most of the day with his grandparents, while Danya and I took care of some chores and then had a dinner at Al Di La. We have not been to that restaurant in almost three years — there are always lines, and up until yesterday we did not want to waste time waiting. The food was nice (I ordered risotto as always), but it was quite noisy inside. We came back home just in time to put Aroshka to sleep. Even though he had a wonderful day with Danya’s parents, he still was just so happy to see us. You should have seen that big smile, and the way he ran to hug us. He told us that he missed us very much and that he loves us very much. He is just so sweet, and I just hope that he will always have such a pure heart.

Storming the fence.And today we went to another playground in the morning, and he played with his other friend Daniеlka for over an hour, and then Danya picked us and his dad up and we went to Bay Ridge (after washing our car — we wanted to show Aroshka machines that wash cars).

Smelling the flowers.First, we walked down the pier, where Danya took a few pictures of the Freedom Tower again (but it was super-hazy again). And then we went for a walk to a Narrows Botanical Garden which was just a few blocks away. There were a lot of blooming flowers, mostly tulips, in the garden, and Aroshka wanted to smell them all. He was like a little bee, sticking his nose in one flower after another. His face was covered in pollen afterwards. He also enjoyed just running around in the grass, especially up and down a little hill. We spent total of 4 hours outside today, and he got so tired by the time we got home, that he even refused to have lunch and went straight to bed.

Manhattan in haze.So this was our weekend. We are going to Linka’s Birthday party later today (after Arosha’s nap). I hope it’ll be fun too!
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Car Trouble and Visiting Tanya

Arosha and Antosha. Arosha is 3 months older, but is taller than all kids of his age.A small update on recent events of our life — two pretty much separate stories. First one is the fact that Tanya — Alёna’s friend from university days in Minsk — is in United States again. While the first time she was here for a tourist visit with us, this time she is here for work. We kept planning to visit her for several weeks now, but stuff kept getting in the way. This time around it was our car.

On Monday morning I got into our car to go to work. The car didn’t start from the first try, but did after a second try. When I got to work it did the same thing at a gas station near my office. In the evening I decided to leave earlier, in case it doesn’t start and it had no trouble at all. On Tuesday morning all was good as well. So thinking that it was some one time fluke I stayed late at work on that day and to my dismay the car would not start no matter what I tried at the end of the day.

Usually the most typical problem is a dead battery. But all the electronics seemed to work just fine. Lights were on, sound system played music well, but the engine would not even try to turn over. My dad had to come out and get me. We got home close to midnight. I spoke with Geoff and he very kindly suggested that I should leave my keys on his desk and he’ll try to sort things out in the morning, so I wouldn’t have to come out and not be able to get back again — I couldn’t ask my dad to make so many 140 miles long trips.

Antosha. He was much more willing to pose for me than Arosha was. I was unable to talk Arosha in standing still for 3 seconds.I was dreading having to deal with getting the car towed. But I guess luckily for me the car started in the morning when Geoff tried it, so he dropped it off at a local Chrysler dealership and it started having starting problems there, so at least they could start on troubleshooting the issue. Now here are two things — the car has 83,000 miles on the odometer. This was the very first time that it gave me any kind of trouble at all. When we bought the car we bought an extended warranty that runs out at 85,000 miles. I thought this extra warranty purchase was completely useless and kept thinking that warranty covering something was really a myth. I was glad to have been proven wrong.

So the dealer called me and told me it was a starter and the car would be ready on Thursday morning. My dad drove me to work again and when we got to the dealership we saw a bunch of mechanics hovering over my car with manuals — never a good sign. They replaced the starter, the car didn’t start. The suggested they get me a rental car (also covered by warranty) which I had not choice, but to agree too. It’s never cool to give up your car for a car that’s worth less than half of yours — bare-bone Jeep Compas. You just get too used to little niceties. Anyhow, since I’m not in Norwalk until Monday they agreed to let me keep the car until then.

Long story short, they ended up replacing the starter, the fuse box and some transmission sensors which finally fixed the problem. All that got resolved only at the end of Monday, which caused me a lot of stress. But all in all, I did have a temporary car, the warranty covered it all and I have my car back in a working order. Hopefully it will stay this way.

This way the only way to photograph Arosha -- but capturing him. This didn't last long either.Back to Tanya now. This time we decided not to let this car issue stop us from visiting her. We installed our “Costa-Rica” child seat into our Jeep and using Google Maps on iPhone as navigation successfully arrived to the hotel where Tanya was staying with her mom and her 2 and a half (approximately) year old son.

It was a nice visit. We talked a lot about different topics — work, travel, kids, kids, kids. We went out to a local Outback restaurant for lunch, helped with some grocery shopping — Tanya doesn’t have a driver’s license which makes things very hard for them there, even though the company that hired her would cover a rental.

Aroshka played a lot with Antoshka. With went for a nice walk around a lake and they would run around and picked up all kinds of sticks, cones and other stuff. Arosha kept pulling Antosha by his hand in all different directions and Antosha on one hand wanted to play with Arosha, but on the other hand seemed to be kind of afraid of him. So when Arosha would run away on his own Antosha would say — let’s play together. When Arosha would come back Antosha would run back towards his mom and stick with her. All in all I think they had a good time as did we. We will definitely do this more. Tanya is in US until the end of the year I believe.

This would be me.We are planning to invite Tanya for a weekend to stay with us as they are very much bored in New Jersey with no car. While big cities have robust public transportation systems for the most part, in rural America you can not do anything without a car. So there you go. This concludes my update for the past week.

P.S. Sadly I somehow managed not to take a single sharp picture of Tanya. I was running around with my manual lens and I think I lost some fast focusing skill since I haven’t used it in a couple of months.
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Sunday, July 17, 2011


Staten Island Zoo. Some crazy bird is hollering in the background.This summer we keep spending our weekends very actively. Since Saturday and Sunday are really the only days we can go somewhere we try not to sit at home.

Yesterday we just got into a car and decided to go to New Jersey. We figured we’ll stop in the first state or county park we see on our way when there.

Arosha near Alёna's delicious skirt.We ended up getting sidetracked and took an exit off the highway towards Staten Island Zoo. We’ve never been there, but figured it should be fun for Arosha.

It actually turned out to be the kind of zoo that you would only visit with kids too. They had goats, cows, pigs, donkeys and so on. The kind of animals that somehow were usual to us when we were growing up, but here kids only can see them at a zoo.

Doe. Sorry about the ass of an ass.Arosha kept going “Uuuuuu!” in certain cases, but he still is too little even for this. Alёna however panicked a bit inside the goat section when 3 goats decided that her skirt should be pretty delicious. It was pretty funny. For me. Alёna — not so much.

Alisa, Arosha and Vika at the local park.And today we decided that we haven’t seen Ignat’s family for a long time and we should meet up and hang out. We basically invited ourselves over and they were generous good hosts. At first we went to a local park, but Arosha was being very fussy, so we proceeded to move over to their apartment.

Alisa seemed to be quite excited with Arosha and Arosha likes company and new people. Alisa was very generous and decided to part with a couple of her toys — a cow and a piggy — and gave them to Arosha. Alisa and Arosha will probably be friends when Arosha grows up a little.
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Weekends

AlёnaThe truth is, I really like pictures that Danya is taking while we’re out, so I’ve decided to write a few words about our weekend just so I can post them. )

The summer is here. Some days are horribly hot an humid, but some, like today, are really nice — the temperature is in San-Fransisco-like 70s, the fresh breeze makes you realize how young you are, and NY lets you appreciate its beauty without thoughts of being caged in concrete nightmare.

Arosha & AlёnaWe try to spend our weekends as a family — together, and preferably doing something fun. Today we went for a hike on Williamsburg Bridge (neither Daniеl, nor I have done it before). I enjoyed it. We actually were supposed to go to Arsen’s house to celebrate aunt Lilya’s birthday, but he had some health issues, so they had to cancel. I was looking forward to seeing them, but hopefully there will be another chance this summer.

Arosha & AlёnaAnd yesterday we went for a hike in Marine Park. The large portion of the main trail is closed, but we managed to still find a nice one and enjoyed that I-can’t-believe-we’re-in-Brooklyn feeling of being close to nature. Before going there we send a parcel to my sister — she is expecting a baby boy in mid-July (YAY!), and we send her some of the clothes that Aroshka has outgrown along with some new stuff that Danya’s mom bought for the upcoming arrival. I am very happy and excited for my sister and her husband (I know that he REALLY wanted a son). Fingers crossed for a smooth delivery and a healthy baby!

Arosha climbing over Alёna.Last weekend was also full of fun activities. On Saturday Alex invited us to his home in Jersey City for a barbeque. We didn’t get very lucky with the weather — it was hot — but I still glad that we made the trip. Alex was more comfortable in the kitchen that I’ve even seen him before — he made a tomatos and cucumbers salad, then he grilled asparagus, zucchini and peppers along with burgers and beef steaks. No help from any of us. To my excuse, I had my hands full with Arosha — there was pretty much no shade in Alex’s backyard, and he did not have AC installed in his apartment yet. So dealing with hot and sweaty baby took a lot of energy!

Arosha eating.And on Sunday we went to a small park in Staten Island. Daniеl’s dad suggested that we can stop there — he knows SI pretty well since he used to work there — and I am glad that we did. The park was small, but very cozy and not too crowded. I put an enormous amount of sunblock on Aroshka (probably overdid it) not excluding his big blond head, and he looked pretty funny because of it.

Hiking over Williamsburg Bridge.I also wanted to say that I am very grateful for all the help that Daniеl’s mom provides us with. Unless they have some arrangements (like going to a birthday party or to the theater), she stays home with Aroshka on Saturday night, so Danya and I can go out and have either a romantic dinner by ourselves or spend some good time with our friends. It’s just for a few hours (Aroshka goes to sleep at 8, and we try to be home no later than 11), but this really means a lot for my sanity.

Queens. Flushing Meadows Park.She also tries to cook a family dinner every Sunday — she is a great cook, and it’s always delicious. I don’t know how she does it — working full time, helping me every night to entertain and bathe Aroshka after she is done working, cooking family dinners… I am very lucky to have such a wonderful mother-in-law! I wish I was able to call her mom — it’s hard for me to say it for some reason, although in my mind I have no issues doing it.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lazy Memorial Day Weekend

AlёnaThis year we spent Memorial Day weekend at home. This goes against our recently established tradition of driving someplace reachable by car on long weekends, but these past 6 months have been a little bit out of the ordinary for us, so we are allowed to do as we please. )

We actually considered going to Cape Cod, but the truth is that I just wanted to relax and get a couple of days of nice sleep (and the fact that we came back from our road trip just a few weeks ago also contributed to a desire to be passive). Plus Cape Cod is kind of pricey, especially on holidays, and we’re trying to save a bit in preparation of more frugal times.

Three days flew by. On Saturday we went out to dinner to Al Di La (I think I had satisfied my black ink risotto craving for a long Twenty nine weeks.while now), and on Sunday — to Danya’s parents (his dad cooked a delicious cream of broccoli soup, and his mom treated us with a new dish made with pork, tomatillos, potatoes and other vegetables).

After Sunday night dinner we watched a whole bunch of the Russian game “What? Where? When?” which Danya’s parents recorded from Russian TV for us. I’ve noticed that when at the end of the game the best player is asked to choose the most interesting question, he/she invariably picks the one he answered himself. Isn’t if funny how the human brain work? By the way, I guessed one question — and you know what, this was the most interesting one! ) If you’re curious, that question sounded something like this: “Traveling through Britain, Guy de Maupassant often saw the following picture: 3-4 cows and one sheep grazing together. What was the purpose of this?”

We also went to IKEA and got some shelves and door handles for the new wardrobes. I was wearing my nice pregnancy dress and Park Slop. A place across from Al Di La.felt like a “hot mama” for a change. ) I mean, when I am with Danya I always feel pretty, but when I am on my own (especially at work), I just feel fat rather than pregnant (maybe the fact that I mostly wear pants to work contributes to this). I also miss being a blond, but this is such a small sacrifice for the sake of the little one, that I should not even mention it. )

We started watching “Babylon 5″ again after running out of shows to watch. It’s not bad, but we still remember too many details. I can’t wait for the season 6 of “Entourage” to come out on DVD — Ari Gold, where art thou?

Also, the watermelon season has officially started. I can’t get enough of them and keep bothering Danya to go and get yet another one. He jokes that I already got a pretty big watermelon with me at all times — why do I need an extra one? )

Another good thing I’ve done on the weekend is talking to my family in Minsk. I don’t do it often enough, and a couple of hours spent chatting with my sister and mom were very satisfying (I also talked to Tanya through Skype — didn’t hear her in ages, so it also was a pleasant experience).

And now we’re back at work. I wish we could just stay home together and do nothing for a couple of weeks (and don’t be stressed out about money at the same time) — this would be so awesome! ) Need to buy some lottery tickets. )

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Monday, May 4, 2009


Sleepy Shublya greets us every time we get home.Выходные у нас прошло очень хорошо, по-семейному. В субботу Данины родители пригласили в гости знакомых (две пары), с которыми когда-то познакомились во время тура по Латинской Америке, а в воскресенье в гости приходил Арсен с подругой, мамой и сыном. Посидели хорошо и в субботу, и в воскресенье.

Знакомые Даниных родителей оказались очень приятными людьми со здоровым чувством юмора — мне было интерсно в их компании. Арсена я видела уже не первый раз, и пообщаться было тоже интерестно. Мы взяли с собой в гости Шублика — жалко было оставлять малявку одну дома — и, к нашему удивлению, мы увидели как наш кот шипит. Сначала он с интересом зашёл в квартиру и начал всё обнюхивать. Потом, когда он увидел Рысю, ситуация резко изменилась — шерсть на Шублике встала дыбом, он изогнулся, наклонился к полу под странным углом, и начал шипеть и рычать. Рыся тоже на него зашипела. Вобщем, Рысю он пока боиться, и старается держаться от неё подальше. В субботу он побыл в гостях всего час.

В воскресенье он побыл в гостях часов 6, и за это время успел нашипеть на всех гостей и членов семьи (за исключением нас, конечно). Думаю, стресс и страх послужили причиной такому поведению. Большую часть трапезы Шублик пролежал в столе; часть времени он провёл у меня на коленях. Мы угостили Шублика тушёным мясом, которое он заглотил с завидной скоростью (так же в ход пошла картошка).

Вообще мне всегда очень нравится общаться с Даниными родителями. Семья — это семья! Эх, жалко что Люда и мама так далеко…
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