the magnitude of a resolution

it has been so long since my last blog post, and to be honest, i am a bit ashamed. i wanted to be so diligent about posting, and that just hasn’t been the case. as 2017 comes to an end, i wanted to cumulate it with some thoughts, and i am hoping the positive nature i intend comes out in my writing.

the past three hundred and sixty five days have not been the best for me and my family. in fact, they have been some of the toughest, saddest, scariest days of my life. this past year my last living grandparent – my mom’s mom – went to heaven (positive: she is with the love of her life and no longer in pain). it was harder than i thought it would be to watch my mom in so much emotional pain, and to close the grandparent chapter in my own life; it was, in a sense, the end of an era.

on mother’s day, i lifted something wrong and experienced back pain unlike any pain – it was, at times, worse than i remember childbirth being. we use our backs for everything, and i was unable to do anything for myself… putting a lot of burden on my parents and husband (who was traveling 4 days a week, every week). i couldn’t lift my toddler, shower, walk, sleep, etc. i had a bulging disc pushing on my sciatic nerve causing constant spasming.. hell.

the week before thanksgiving, i had a dermatologist appointment to a have a suspicious mole looked at on my right breast.. i had been putting it off out of fear; i knew it was a bad mole – it was changing shape, it was black in some areas.. it was textbook “get that looked at.”

my doctor removed it, along with a few other moles and said that i probably wouldn’t hear back until after thanksgiving. the night before thanksgiving, mike was at the hardware store, i was making our toddler dinner, and i got a phone call… without knowing who it was, my heart sank. my dermatologist said, “i’m so sorry lauren.. you have skin cancer, melanoma to be exact.”

because of the holiday and weekend, we had to wait to get ahold of the plastic surgeon oncologist she referred me to. and let me tell you, that felt like years. i am the most impatient person on the face of the earth, but God is teaching me patience through all of this. upon talking to the amazing surgeon, we found out i needed a large section of my breast removed (to make sure all the cancer was removed) and we needed to do a lymph node biopsy to make sure the cancer had not traveled to my lymph nodes. our surgeon said he was about 80% certain that we caught the melanoma early enough, that it hadn’t spread. this doctor is an incredible man.. he was so concerned about making my 7-8 inch scar as perfect as he could; i was concerned about watching my daughter get married in twenty five years.

on surgery day, i was on edge, but more calm than i thought i’d be. i was going to be in surgery for an hour or two, and have an incision on my breast, and in my armpit – where he would be taking out a lymph node to biopsy. surgery went well, the pain was bad but manageable, and the doctor informed us he ended up taking three lymph nodes because of the closeness of two and some doctor talk i won’t bore you with. we were supposed to get the biopsy results two days later – to know if there was cancer in my lymph nodes, and there came that dang patience again! the lab was behind, and two days ended up turning into three and another phone call i wish i could remove from my memory. “i’m sorry but two of your nodes had cancer in them.. just cells, though, which makes me very hopeful.”

i am thirty years old and i have stage three cancer.  but it doesn’t define me.  i am remaining positive and hopeful.  and being hopeful will kick this cancer’s butt.

 


 

my new years resolution coming out of 2016 was to smile at strangers more, and to thank veterans or current soldiers; to be more kind. both of my grandpas served in wwII, my father-in-law served in vietnam, and my mother-in-law was in the navy. smiling at strangers and saying “thank you” is so simple, and can change someone’s whole day. and do you know what? people smile back… they smile BIG. and veterans have stories, and soldiers genuinely appreciate it. the magnitude of my simple resolution was making me feel fulfilled and bringing tiny happiness to people i didn’t know.

throughout my not-so-fab 2017, the kindness i have received from people blew my mind.. and continues to do so. the magnitude of the kindness, love and support has hit me harder than the magnitude of being thirty with cancer… and that’s no bull. i’ve done my fair share of crying: scared, sad, or tears of pain… but i’ve cried waaaay more tears of happiness; being touched and overwhelmed by love. when i first found out about my cancer diagnosis, i was going to keep it to close friends and family. but, in life, we get through tough times as a community; friends, social media buddies, family, loved ones, people you haven’t seen in years but are praying for you or sending you hugs and healing thoughts.

i don’t know what 2018 will bring, but i do know that i am going to fight like hell for my health, i’m going to keep showing gratitude for people who risk(ed) their lives for mine, i’m going to smile at strangers, i’m going to buy random cups of coffee for someone i’ve never seen before, i’m going to love my tiny trio with all of me, i’m going to spend as much time with family and friends, i’m going to wear sunscreen, and i’m going to continue to have faith and thank GOD for each and every day.

 

          i hope 2018 brings you health, sparkle, and tons and tons of smiles.

time to get serious

I am 97% of the time a type of person that loves to laugh, joke and be sarcastic, but this post is going to fall in the three percent; it’s time to get serious.

It has been quite a while since I have posted last, May 28 to be exact.  On that same day, Jim, a hardworking husband, father, grandfather and friend lost his battle with mental health.  Jim is the father of my sweet friend Cody and hugging Cody at his father’s funeral was one of the saddest things i’ve done in my life so far.  His family had the best outlook on Jim’s death and the phrase “he’s free now” was said a lot.  As someone who fights the daily battle with anxiety and depression, the loss of Jim hit me hard; even only meeting him a few times.  Since the funeral, I have been in communication with Jim’s strong, brave and sweet wife and she has shared some things with me.  Jim struggled with major depression for about ten years and it was a constant battle of switching medications; some would give horrible side effects and some wouldn’t work at all.  Jim fought hard for years with his doctors and his wife to try and find ways to cope with his anxiety and depression.

Anxiety and depression have a stigma about them which causes them to be a silent diseases; a silent killer (suicide).  The media doesn’t talk about them, we don’t talk about them… it’s just not a socially acceptable thing to bring up your anxiety and depression issues, and it needs to change; I WANT TO START THE CHANGE.

My Dad taught me when I first started having panic attacks to talk about it with any and everyone; the more people you tell about it, the more people you have that can potentially help you and the more people that are probably struggling with the same damn issues.  I have anxiety that debilitates me and causes me to be depressed, and I consider it moderate to severe.  I have been medicated since ninth grade; trying a multitude of different medications.  If you have struggled, you know — medications work for a while, and you can feel GREAT, and all of a sudden, out of the BLUE, they stop working.  And you think to yourself… F^$K!! …back to the drawing board.  Thankfully, I have a Psychiatrist who is simply amazing.  I am on a high dose anti-depressant, something to help me sleep, and then have as-needed meds for when/if I feel panicky.  There have been times in my life when I have been on much lower doses of medications, have been almost able to be on no medications, and have been on so many medications that I wasn’t able to drive my car (because I was so heavily sedated).  In recent years, the time I can remember feeling the most mentally stable/least anxious was when I was pregnant!  I am going to be very candid and tell you that I have never been suicidal but I have had days where my anxiety and depression was so bad that I didn’t know how I could ever maintain a normal life; where living didn’t seem viable.  I want to be clear, I never wanted to harm myself, but I just couldn’t picture a normal life – getting out of bed, working, taking care of myself and others, etc.  I have had major guilt about the toll my depression takes on my other people; especially my husband.  Since having our daughter, Gianna, I only had a very, very small amount of postpartum depression.  And, since having Gigi, I have not had any bad spouts of depression.  I haven’t had any days where I cannot get out of bed or function.  I am a religious person and I truly believe that I was meant to be a Mama, that God knew I needed my baby girl just as much as she needed me.  I am not naive, I know that my medication could all of a sudden stop working one day — because that has happened to me many times.  I know that life could become overwhelming and I could becoming severely depressed, but I have the tools in place to be okay if that happens.  I want you to have those tools in place, too…. or your sister, brother, friend, mom or dad to have those tools.  The suicide rate should not be increasing just because we are scared to talk about it.  I just told my whole story!!  I am ZERO PERCENT ASHAMED!! … and I want people to share this like CRAZY so we can end.the.epidemic.

According to the World Health Organization, depression is a worldwide epidemic.  An epidemic.  Each year 44,193 Americans die by suicide.  The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states that suicide is the TENTH leading cause of death in the United States.  We can change these appalling statistics by talking; by ending the silence.  People do not need to fight in silence… being anxious and depressed is a disease.  We aren’t hush hush about heart disease or diabetes.  START TALKING.

I will listen, please email me if you’d like to talk or have someone to listen:  lspinellitruman@gmail.com

Resources

National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255

Minnesota COPE Crisis Line: 612-596-1223

Lines for Life Youth (17 and under): 1-800-968-8491

twenty thoughts from my 20s

Today I enter a new decade, and, to be honest, I am HAPPY to say goodbye to my twenties.  They were memorable, ridiculous, hard, confusing, embarrassing, scary, exciting and boy were they eventful.  In my twenties, I graduated college, got married, we purchased our first home and we welcomed our perfect little girl into this world.  Why would I want to say goodbye to all of that?!  Not goodbye… but it can only get better from here 🙂 I’ve been thinking loooong and hard about these, so here we go:

1 – Save more, but don’t be cheap; there is a difference.  I have always been a generous person and that stems from my upbringing; my parents are some of the most generous people I have ever known… with my Dad at the very top of that list.   Saving is so important, and I stand by this.  However, I also know so many people who are cheap.  We all know the type… who would never buy drinks, coffee, etc.  Being cheap is never a good look.  People remember generosity; strive for it.

2 – Learn about money and investments.  Find someone who is knowledgeable about 401K’s, Roth IRA’S, retirement plans, etc. and pick their brains.  Someday you will have money and you will want to know what to do with it.  Someday you will work for a company or organization that will offer one or more of these things and you will want to know what they are talking about during your introductory meetings; knowledge is power.  As for me, if you want to know about beanie baby investments … I am your girl.  Because I will get my money back on these bad boys.  Otherwise, don’t look to me for help with this one.

3 – Vanity is inevitable.  I’ve debated about adding this one, but it’s true.  I’m not going to say “life is easier for pretty people,” but my extremely pretty friends got drinks paid for them a lot, and got served at the bar way quicker than I ever did.  Lesson? I chose to come out of my shell and let my personality shine and not give a crap.  I realized it, and moved on.  But, it will show it’s face in many different facets of life.  Shake it off, move on.

4 – Learn relaxation techniques.  Learn how to deep breathe, meditate, practice yoga, etc.; practice ways that let your body release tension or you will be in a world of hurt (in more ways than one).

5 – Connect with children in some way.  In college I started working with toddlers and preschoolers and it changed my life in the biggest way.  When you work with children, you are able to immediately be transported into their minds and their worlds; to look at things more sweetly and simply during a time in your life that can be really heavy. Whether or not you are going to have your own children in your twenties or ever, connect with children in one way or another.  It will change you.

6 – Travel, duh.. it’s on every list.  Whether it is flying to Bali, or road trip to Wisconsin, make more time to travel to new places; get out of your familiar bubble.  We learn from venturing to places we have never been, talking to local people, eating cuisines, sleeping in unfamiliar places and being with people we love in uncharted territory.  Whether you have thousands of dollars or a couple hundred, leave your four walls and head somewhere new.

7 – Find faith.  I am a Christian and I have a lot of faith; faith that has gotten me through some dark, scary days.  I don’t care if you pray to God, Allah, Buddha, Jesus Christ, earth, angels, etc.  Finding faith will change your outlook on life and and help you live with purpose.

8 – Learn about health insurance.  For the love of man, will someone tell colleges and universities that they need to teach us about health insurance WHILE we are IN college?!?  If i’m not majoring in English Lit, you’d think I could skip that class and learn about health insurance!  Because I am still calling my Mom to help me understand.  Copays, deductibles, out of pocket maximums, in-network … I’m having hot sweats typing this.. !

9 – Take care of your skin. Never, ever, ever, put even your finger in a tanning bed.  Being pale is ok, and everyone looks ridiculous at some point trying bad self-tanners (but there are amazing ones out there – another day, another post!)  Skin cancer is real and getting scary skin spots removed is not worth being tan.

10. – Timing never seems right.  Hear me out:  When my husband and I talk about big decisions we say “it’s not the right time” a lot.  Probably 95% of the time, we stick by that statement and we are confident in the fact that it really isn’t the right time.  But, i’ve come to realize that it’s never the right time for babies, marriage, pets, houses, vacations, sex (had to), job changes, new cars, etc. and sometimes you have to just go for it.

11. – Speak your mind.  You can always be kind and well spoken in what you want to say, but you don’t need to sit back and just listen to people say things when you don’t agree, or let people talk down to you.  Speak up, buttercup.

12. – Drink more water.  Yep, cliche but true.  You’ll feel better, and you know you will.. we all hear it and 95% of us ignore it, so ignore me too 😉

13. – Do truly random acts of kindness.  My favorite way to do this is in a coffee drive-thru – pay for your drink and pay for the next person as well.  They cannot say no, they cannot say thank you, and you can’t even see their reaction.  You will truly make their day.

14. – Invest is your friend’s family.  I truly believe you will have a much deeper and more meaningful friendship if you take the time to get to know all your close your friends family; their parents, siblings, etc.  It’s comforting to know that if I ever was feeling lonely, I know ALL of my friend’s families would open their homes to me in a heartbeat.

15. – Learn to truly forgive.  In my early twenties I know I would use the word “hate” about a few people in my past.  I am not proud of it, but it’s true.  I believe maturity  mixed with my belief in something greater has completely changed that.  Now, I can’t think of one person I even dislike, and that is a truly freeing feeling.

16. – Stay up to date on current events and politics.  This is something now that I actually enjoy doing, but earlier in my twenties I didn’t do as much.  It’s so important.

17. – Smile and say hi to strangers.  It’s so humbling to know the impact this could have on their day.

18. – Learn how to properly tip.  This is definitely something that not everyone will agree with, but servers deserve more than 15%.  My generous Dad has taught me to tip extremely well.  I hardly ever tip below twenty percent, but it’s situational.  If you’re eating out on a holiday, c’mon… tip more.  Like I’ve said above, cheap is not a good look.  Also, I don’t know if people are clueless or choose to be clueless but housekeeping people at hotels should be tipped.  I’ve come across so many people that “didn’t know” that.  We all work hard, and we deserve to be compensated.

19. – Learn how to be alone.  I have always enjoyed my alone time, but it wasn’t until the  latter years of my twenties that I was able to be truly happy in many different facets of being alone; I love going out to eat alone, having the house to myself for a night or two and shopping alone is my preferred way.

20. – Let go of preconceived ideas of what your life should look like.  I find myself hoping for pictures on holidays or birthdays that look like something far from what we ever get.  Not only pictures, but I wish my house jumped out of Pinterest.  Our kitchen table is filled with bills, toys, coffee mugs, car keys and the most random things ever (bras – not because we are getting wild but because it’s the first thing I take off).  Our couch doesn’t have cute throw pillows because they’d be covered in weird things that I’d have to smell to deceifer.  Our kitchen counter is granite, but you’d never, ever know.  My life is pretty perfect, though.  And I have a some non-Pinterest worthy pictures to show for it.

pity party

I am laying here on the couch with ice on my back and I have been for the vast majority of the past nine days.  NINE DAYS.  On Mother’s Day, I lifted my leg onto my bed to put lotion on my leg and I felt a pull and I knew immediately that something wasn’t right.  I have lower back pain regularly for a few reasons: 1. I’m overweight (eye roll) 2. I need to strengthen my abs so that I’m not using my back as my strength all the time 3. I was in a rollover car accident when I was 17, and miraculously (praise GOD), I walked away without a scrape or bruise, it affected my back.  So, I haven’t been able to lift my baby, or do much of anything.  I have been relying on my husband and parents to do virtually everything for me.  I am stuck.  And, if I’m being honest/candid, I’m depressed.  It’s situational depression, which is comforting.

I had a huge pity party on Saturday, and “woe is me” was the theme of internal thoughts.  Depending on other people mixed with not being able to pick up my sweet girl when she says “up up up” in her adorable voice was killing me.  My husband was not only taking care of our 19 month old but also his 29 year old wife.

Sunday I woke up and my mind shifted; I now had guilt for feeling bad for myself.  Yes, I have been bed/couch ridden for a while, but I have a roof over my head and a healthy, happy family.  I am not going to countless cancer treatments, losing my hair and fighting for my life.  I am not living in a third world country struggling to feed my family.  I am not addicted to heroin, with the reality of overdose at any moment.  My back pain is “small potatoes” (as my mom always says).

One of my best friends, Linda, has been through the wringer.  Her family had the flu – like the high fever, aches, can’t move – and ear infections, and she has had red, swollen, itchy eyes for almost two weeks.  It affects her vision, makes her eyes burn… its horrible.  But, she rarely complains.  She helps keep me grounded, and positive.

I think it’s important for us to validate our own feelings and to have short term pity parties.  But it’s even more important to pull yourself back to reality, take a deep breath and remember whatever you’re going through is only situational.  Back pain is annoying as f#^k but the sun is shining.  Look for the good, my friends –

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self love

Well… this could go in a LOT of directions.  But, this is a PG blog.  And, I do not wish to touch (pun intended) on the intimate connotation of “self love” so let’s move on to other forms 🙂

Especially after having Gianna, I realized the importance of finding time to do things that made me feel good; time to do things that made me feel like a human.  A lot of the time, these things are so incredibly simple and QUICK!  But they don’t necessarily have to be.  At first these are geared towards Mom’s but if you are not a Mama, just scroll down 🙂

Right after having a baby…

  • epsom salt bath soak EVERY day with candles lit and music playing — take this time with no baby for yourself.  DO IT EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I sometimes did it twice daily.  It is relaxing and heals the undercarriage wounds — DOUBLE-WHAMMY
  • whenever your household needs something, don’t go as a family to Target or the grocery store… YOU go ALONE.  Get out, get a coffee or tea (or wine), fresh air, and re-group.  You deserve it

   my favorite epsom             the best, best bath bombs (soaks)!

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favorite candle of all.time!! LIFE CHANGING

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*you guys, I cannot say enough about the Capri Blue candles.  They burn forever, and they smell like h.e.a.v.e.n.!  I was hesitant to buy for $28 a piece, but for the longevity of candle, it’s worth it.  Some candles burn so quickly, and this is NOT one of them.  Also, Anthro has some good sales sometimes, and that is a good time to stock up on these babies.

*the “me! bath” I wouldn’t recommend for healing purposes after pregnancy, but for general relaxation and amazing smell, it’ll be your BFF.

Once the baby is sleeping through the night (praise the LORD)

  • get up before them and drink coffee or tea, read the paper, blogs, facebook.. anything.  Enjoy the calm before the storm.  I love sleep more than almost anyone I know, but when Gianna was sleeping from 7 pm – 8 am (or longer!!), I would wake up before her and read my daily devotional and drink coffee with my happy light.  I felt like a brand new woman before she woke up!

Ok, I know not everyone agrees with this one… but showering every day helps me feel sane.  I shower at night… almost every single night.  Getting into bed clean is the best feeling.

Do SOME sort of “beauty-ing” (cool word, huh?) to yourself every.single.day.  Beauty-ing in Lauren’s word consists of one or more of the following: makeup (even JUST mascara), lipstick (LIPSENSE we will touch base on that another day!!) or gloss, jewelry & perfume.  I found myself wearing the same clothes, leaving the house with my hair in the same messy bun and I felt like a hot mess.  Doing one, or more, of those takes 10 seconds – 10 min and helps me feel infinitely better.

fav perfume!  fav mascara! 

beaded choker –statement crystal necklace  drop earring in 3 colors pink tear drop

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I promise if you do even ONE of these things, your soul will feel the love.  We often times are such givers of love that we forget to take time for ourselves.  The irony of that is, we are much greater wives, partners, spouses, mamas, friends, co workers and humans if we take the time to nourish numero uno.  Til next time my friends –

shower caps…and such

So, I put a shower cap on my baby (er, 18-month-old… but I will refer to her as a baby on here) when she eats.  Hear me out: it’s not at every meal.  It’s at meals when she’s eating sticky, messy, disgusting food; syrup, spaghetti, pizza, anything heavy in butter… you get the picture.  When she was around the age of one, she decided to drive us (mainly me) craaaazy by touching her hair while she ate.  I do not have the time, energy or patience to give this child a bath after all these sticky, messy meals.  Plus, she was going through the “I’m gonna scream as loud as I can, refuse to sit down in the bath, and cause my parents to heavily drink” phase so needless to say, baths were NOT an option.  Solution: a simple and cheap shower cap!  Yes, she looks ridiculous.  She tried to take it off ONCE, I put it back on, and it’s been sayonara nasty hair ever since.  This mama don’t mess around *fist pound* Ironically, she brings us the shower cap sometimes when we don’t put it on her … win, win.  Moral of the story, shower caps can be multi-faceted items, and can be adorable even on stink-bomb kiddos who try to make their hair into syrup-filled dreads.

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Now, onto adult shower cap usage.  Yes, you need one too.  I know some of you get the not washing your hair every day thang, but if you don’t… listen up.  DO NOT WASH YOUR HAIR EVERY DAY .. OR EVEN EVERY OTHER DAY!!  I used to think people were crazy as well.  I have fine hair, but lots of it.  It gets greasy FAST, and I have somewhat oily skin, and I USED to have horrible acne.  About 2 years ago, I found a couple dry shampoos that really worked for me.  Not washing my hair saves me time and money, and it DOES NOT MEAN I DO NOT SHOWER EVERY SINGLE DAY *gasp* That is such a misconception about people who do not wash their hair every day.  I’m not saying you have to shower every day, by any means, but I personally do (for the most part).  But, I also go, on average, 4 days without washing my hair.  And the crowd goes wild.

Your hair stylist will love me for sharing this with you!  You have natural oils that should not be stripped every day.  This also helped my acne immensely… my skin is SO clear now.  Well, I guess I shouldn’t go that far… but it’s come so, so far.  So a cheap shower cap — your husband/partner will thank me… can you say SEXXXXY?! — and a dry shampoo will be your new best friends.  You’ll save money on shampoo, you’ll be in the shower for far less time and your hair will grow faster (YES!).

I have literally tried 20 dry shampoo brands ranging in price from $4 to $30 (sorry Mike) and my favorite is Batiste.  It rubs in well, it smells great and it’s around $6-$7 a bottle. They also make a dry shampoo for brunettes; the powder comes out more brown instead of white.  I typically still use the regular stuff, but for people with really dark hair, it might be a really great product!

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taking the blog plunge

Welcome, my sweet people.  I have been reading about three blogs religiously for at least a few years now, and I decided to take the leap of faith.  I consider myself a middle-of-the-road tech savvy kind of girl, but I feel like a complete idiot trying to set up this blog.  It’s at least ten feet over my head and even changing fonts takes approximately five hours… so I will probably have the most unexciting blog until some genius shows me around this kind of stuff.

As I am typing, my sweet baby is reaching her tiny fingers up onto my laptop and pushing keys every once in awhile just to make sure I know she’s still there.  And, I think to myself, how to work-from-home parents ever accomplish ANYTHING? 😉

I plan on blogging about lots of different things… clothes, religion, nail polish, tv shows, books, vacations, shopping, cooking, being a mama & wife, make up, anxiety and depression, and anything thing else that pops into my head.  Welcome to my cyber world; I hope you find something that catches your eye.. something you can relate to.. or something that makes you laugh.

here’s my world:

My husband Mike is the most even-keeled, loving, go-with-the-flow, stubborn, adorably dorky, attentive, hard-working, gentle, kind, and no joke… my very best friend.

Our daughter Gianna Margaret is quite possibly going to be more sassy than I am.. which is hard to believe, scary, and amazing all at once.  She is itty bitty, but has the best personality.  She kisses everything and everyone, she knows what she wants and wants it THAT second, and she would be outside 25 hours of the day if we let her.  She’s the light of our lives.

I’m Lauren and I love all things glitter, online shopping, TV, sleeping in, laying in the sun, cuddling, make-up, friends, and date nights with my husband.  I went to college for Public Relations but that is just humorous to me… I have been a nanny for the past 8 years, and I love, love it.  I have so many funny, quirky stories and my heart has grown eight sizes since making the decision to help others raise their children.  I have so much faith; God is so good… I won’t be pushy about it. But, if you need or want prayers, I’d love to pray for you.. email me at lspinellitruman@gmail.com.

Welcome to this blog.. it’s going to be quite the ride, folks.  I promise you will question my mental stability at times 😉

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