Friday, December 28, 2012


A couple of years ago I started seeing a real trend of Advent calendars and ideas. Maybe everyone has been doing them all along but I just started reading blogs and websites that are into all that family type stuff!? Either way I liked the idea. A lot.
But it stressed me out. Really stressed me out.
First of all, Nathan's birthday is December 2!? I am in the throes of planning a birthday party, not adventing! Second of all, if you're going to do Advent activities...they have to be things that everyone wants to do. Not something that half the family can't do (my littles) or half the family groans and starts dreaming up excuses why they can't participate (my bigs-they are not typically like this but you know what I mean! It needs to be pleasant, right?)...
And the calendar has to be cute and crafty. Pinterest worthy! Right?
Or not. Last year I made one with a cardboard drawer kit I bought at the hobby store. And it had 25 drawers. That's 25 ultra cool (or at least passably fun) activities and ideas. For a family of 6. Who have a bazillion other things going. And nights when we're tired...or cranky.
So, this year I changed it up a little!
I made these little envelopes out of Christmas scrapbooking paper.

And we started several days after Nathan's party. And we didn't have near 25 activities. And you know what? We didn't even do all the ones we had!
Some of the ones that we did complete:

  • made snowmen out of cotton balls, glue, ball ornaments, buttons, etc
  • stirred/drank hot chocolate with candy canes from the tree while reading about the candy cane
  • made a chain to count down the days to Christmas eve (Haley and I had fun on this one-we used scrapbooking paper rather than the old red and green construction paper)
  • made ornaments
  • made and decorated cookies (first time ever!)
  • read the Real Christmas story and the silly one (you know, 'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, yada yada yada!?)
  • My older kids put on a kind of puppet show of the nativity (figures on popcicle sticks) for all of us-it was sweet!
  • Watched Christmas movies. While Christmas shopping at I conveniently purchased two classics to start this tradition:
 Miracle on 34th Street (Special Edition)

Some that did not make the cut:
  • driving around looking at lights. Because our van is in the shop for warranty work. And the loaner they gave me does not fit the whole family! But it's okay...this was a no stress advent so if we didn't "do it all" it's OK!
  • singing Christmas Carols
  • playing a family game (which really had nothing to do with Christmas anyways, just family time-or maybe that IS what Christmas should be!?
Overall I"m very happy with our Advent. :) I will surely be watching all year this year for new and different ideas. We got a gift from a family that are our dear friends of the story of King Wencaslas (you know, from the song?) and that will be added to our reading stories night. Looking forward to that one! 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Have Yourself....

a Merry Little Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Falling Short

Since I've been a believer all of my life I am no stranger to the idea of falling short. I can handle falling short of the Glory of God. I mean, He's God! Of course I won't be as good as Him...but I don't like always feeling like I'm failing people. Falling short. Not doing enough.

And it's never enough.

I'm not saying that the people in my life think I fall short. It's me. I think I do. If my husband goes to the fridge after dinner, in my mind it means I didn't feed him enough or what he liked. I had a party for my 3 year old a couple of weeks ago. We planned it pretty well I think. But I failed to have a sugar free cake for my diabetic/pre-diabetic in-laws (they asked if the cake was sugar free). Wellll, the actual main ingredient and the flavoring factor and creates the crisp texture of buttercream frosting. Sorry. So, epic fail. I didn't please all of my guests. I feel like I fail my kids I'm sure I don't measure up as a daughter...thankfully I can't think of every thing I've ever done or, more importantly, not done to give examples.

I think some of this comes from being a mom and being the jack of all trades kind of person. I have so many hats and jobs that I can't perfect any one of them. I mean, if all I had to do was cook...I could be a-may-zing! Or clean. If my only job was to could eat off of the bathroom floor. If all I had to do was teach my children their academics....they'd be Einsteins! ;)...and if all I had to do was study God's Word and teach them Oh wait, and a wife. I'm one of those too.

I love my life. I really do. Right now I'm just feeling a little less than qualified. Anyone else ever feel this way? Am I alone?

Saturday, December 22, 2012


We no longer have a cub scout in our house! We have a BOY scout!
This past week Jared graduated and crossed over the bridge. I don't think he was all that excited until it happened. He seemed to not realize the importance of it until after the ceremony when he told me "I can't believe I'm a boy scout now!" I guess until it happened and we had some pomp and circumstance within the little ceremony he didn't realize what a cool thing he had accomplished.

 Cakes! I helped the leader make the cakes that represented the 2 levels and if you notice there a bridge going from cub scouts to boy scouts.

 One of my favorite parts of boy scouts/cub scouts is that it pushes the kids to do things they might not otherwise do. Jared is not one to get up in front of anyone but he was asked to lead the beginning of the meeting/ceremony that night. And he didn't love doing it, but guess what? He pushed and did it!
 Here is one of the leaders giving Jared some of the final awards he needed to accomplish/receive before he could be officially a boyscout!
There were so many more pictures I took "in my head" but since my camera died after this last one that my mom took....alas, it didn't happen...One of the neatest things at the ceremony was the scout leaders found some "flash paper" and wrapped it around the shaft of an arrow (which the boys kept!) and we went outside and for just a moment in time they got to hold an "arrow of light"! If you know anything about boy children, you know this: fire is cool! :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

We have had some big happenings here in our household! My boys are growing up right before my very eyes (well, the girls are too but there has been recent evidence with the boys)...

Nathan turned 3 on Dec 2.

This picture would have been right about the moment he turned 3. He was born on Dec 2, 2009 at 10:50 am. When I went to his Sunday School class to get this picture he had just hit his head so it kind of changed the plans to take a perfect picture. ;)

 Yum! Cake! And Old fashioned root beer! :)
 My dad (aka Papa) had some horses come out with guys (okay, maybe he had some guys come out that have horses ;) ) and the kids all took turns riding the 2 ponies for an entire hour! They LOVED it!! *note: this is not a regular occurrence at my kids' parties. this is the first time EVER animals have been "rented"...

 This last picture is not as self-explanatory as some....we had an activity that, while it didn't work out exactly how I pictured, the kids LOVED! I baked like 4-5 cakes a few days before the party and crumbled them up to resemble "dirt" and then we put butterscotch (gold colored) candy in the "dirt" so the kids could dig for gold! And let me tell you, the mess was pretty...messy! But the kids loved it! They really got into it and loved getting their hands dirty. So much fun! (the problem: the cake stuck to the candy so it was harder to find and since they were little this was not the plan...if your birthday child is not allergic to milk (chocolate candy) you could do gold coins and it would work so much better! But since it was about Nathan...and he can't have milk chocolate candy, that was not an option.)

Such a bittersweet thing for this mama. For some reason 3 seems so big. He's no longer a "toddler" but a "preschooler" might be it. The crib is going right after Christmas...Time is flying!
We had the funnest birthday party. I think it went very well and he was happy-isn't that what matters?

My baby is 3 to bigger and better things!

Next Post: Jared graduates from cub-scouts to boy scouts! It's official! We have a boyscout!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gift Policy

For the longest time my husband and I have realized that Christmas is so overboard. Materialistically speaking! Our kids, while not having near what many of their peers have, are way too "blessed". And the more I think about it, if we celebrate Christmas as Christ's birthday (and we do in the sense that we remember that event during this season-I don't necessarily believe He was born on December 25th and I know there is some concern that some of our traditions are questionable in their origin but I feel no qualms about using this time of year to talk to my kids about the importance of the Baby that was born in a manger so many years ago and so far away....born for the purpose of dying for us!) Oops, I digress...

If we celebrate Christmas as a time to remember the birth of Christ, then should my kids get 123 gifts when Jesus only got 3? And it's supposed to be about Him (for us anyway)!?

I have been challenged in so many ways this year because I'm so used to just picking up this or that-sometimes things they "need" (clothing or pajamas) and sometimes things I just think are cute or really cool (for the boys-you should never buy your big boys stuff that is "cute". Just not okay! ;) ) This year with the self-imposed "rule" of 3 gifts per child (including Santa's gifts!) I have really had to think about each thing I buy and make it count!

I do not think everyone needs to do this. This is something we felt led to do this year....

My kids have been warned regularly that this will happen! They will not go from 123 gifts to 3 without being warned.

I have "cheated" a little bit by making their stockings a little less junky trinkets and more neat stuff.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year....

I don't know if I really agree with that. I'm sorry. I know that kind of makes me a scrooge. Or a grinch. Or something that's not good. I just get frustrated that there is so much expectation regarding Christmas.
::All the right gifts for people that want for NOTHING.
::Perfect, crafty decorations.
::Endless supplies of money needed(for all of those "right gifts" and "perfect, crafty decorations")
::Advent activities that my kids will love (but I have to come up with them!)

But there are some things I love!
::Family! I will get to see my nephews this Christmas (well, 2 days after) and my new sister-in-law and brother!
::Finding the right gift! You know that moment...when you find it! Last night I found this:Imaginext Helicopter Rescue Gift Set By Fisher-PriceThe only problem being that it *might* not get here on time. Oops. ( Nathan loves helicopters. And trucks. And trains. and motorcycles. When asked what he wanted for Christmas, his answer was "a Camaro". The kid cannot tell you what color the car is but he knows when it's a camaro!? Really?)

::Christmas parties! I know, I know...they can be kind of a pain but this year my hubby's work party was a little bit fancy-schmancy! And I loved it! I got to get all dressed up-which I don't have much excuse for these days!
::Cooler Weather! Ok, it is relative where we live and I'm definitely thankful that we don't generally see white at this time of year but I like when I can turn the air conditioner off.

::Kids' excitement! So fun to tease them. And let them think you're not going to get them what they want the most! I think my kids are going to be very happy this year! Even considering our new policy regarding Christmas gifts (see next post)...

::That moment when the craft comes out! I made a wreath this year and have about 10 other projects going (yes, my dining room table is a mess...but it's fun anyways).

::Pulling out all of the old ornaments. I'm not into a designer/decorator's tree. We do the ornaments my mom gave me from when I was a kid, the ornaments marking our first Christmas married and all the ones our kids have made or have been engraved with birthdays, etc! And I love that homey, eclectic look. (And colored lights and icicles in case you're wondering....although I didn't get my icicles this year. Boo)

::Slowing down. I know, so many people are busier at this time of year but for us things tend to slow down-at least mandatory things. Scouts is not even meeting for the rest of this month! No sports, etc! It's lovely.

I do think though that we need to remember that while most of us are celebrating the happiest season of all....some are not. And we should remember them in thoughts and prayers. Those who have no family, those who are mourning the loss of a family member, those who are struggling to feed their family basic food-forget about all the decadent loveliness we are putting in our mouths! We don't have to feel guilty for enjoying our family, food, and everything that goes with Christmas...but just look for ways to help and pray for people who are in need.

Monday, December 17, 2012


Tragedy is a word we use all too often. Awful. Devastating. Unbearable. All of those words. It is not a tragedy/awful/devastating/unbearable when you can't find the purse you wanted on sale, nor is it a tragedy/awful/devastating/unbearable when you miss a call from a friend or miss a party or whatever floats your boat. We throw those words around so easily...

This is what is a tragedy/awful/devastating/unbearable: kissing your small child and sending them to school never dreaming you'll never see them alive again. Another tragedy? Telling your 3 year old that his or her big brother or sister is never.coming.home. Never. And they can't even comprehend the word NEVER. But when? Where is s/he? I just want to play with him/her. Or even worse, maybe you DIDN'T kiss that child that morning. Because there was plenty of time for that later, and besides, we are in a hurry and you're late. And don't forget your lunch and your homework. And good heavens, did you brush your teeth? Why is your hair sticking up? People are going to think you're an orphan. What if those were the last words?
You dropped them off or put them on the bus for what should be a safe day away from mom. School should be the place where it's okay. But too often it's not. From bullying to massacres...
The odds are this will never happen to most of us. But, what if it does? What if this morning were your last morning with your child?
I have my beliefs on gun control as I know most have their minds made up on it. But either way, this is not a political issue. It's a heart issue. There are grieving parents out there and siblings and grandparents and aunts and uncles...and children of teachers and administrators that were shot protecting children! And it's not about political issues. I could cite all the rhetoric in the world and give you statistics about deaths and the percentages caused by gun violence...but if it's "only" 11,000 (I did see that number on a chart)...when you're a family member of one of those "11,000" it's definitely more than "only". And the family and friends of over 11,000 people that died don't want to hear that. When you're going through grief, statistics don't make you feel better.
This is why I have posted nothing on Facebook regarding this tragedy. I have seen a million posts that I agreed with politically but I feel like it would be exploitative if I posted them right now. When the tiny caskets have not even been lowered. When the whole story isn't even out and straight (good heavens, the brother was tarred and feathered and he wasn't even there!).
The point of all of this: HOLD YOUR BABIES. Don't wait for a tragedy/horrible/awful/devastating thing to happen. It might be too late....

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Lately it's been really hitting home that my kids are just plain growing up on me. I didn't okay it. And I'm not really okay with it on most levels. Sure there are good things-like increased independence (any mom who hears "I'm DOOOOONNNNNNNEEEE" coming from the bathroom knows what I'm talking about) and kids that can help out are great!

But what about kids that have their own opinions about everything?
And kids that want to hang out with their friends more than they  want to hang out with their family?
I know it's appropriate and normal but that doesn't mean I have to like it, right? I have an almost 13 year old. She will be 13 in April (only 2  months after my 5 year old will be 6!) This is just all way too fast. I was going through some pictures to make room for more on my blog and some of the baby pictures I came across....

This is the reason we are taking a whole season off from sports. It's a really tough call to make because watching your kids play the sports they like and are good's really cool! But, spending their entire childhood yelling at everyone to "hurry up" because "we're late" again....doesn't really appeal to me. I'd like to remember something else-and more importantly I'd like for them to remember something else. Dinners with family. Walks. Game night. All the things we used to do before we got so involved in sports that we didn't have time.

I'm not knocking sports. Not at all. But, we just need a break from the constant running. What are the odds that my kids will play sports beyond their teenage years? Probably..ZERO. What are the odds they will need to know how to be a good family member? Almost guaranteed! So, that's why. The time is flying by and we want to spend some of it just being a family.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Just Say No!

Do you remember when you were a kid and you felt like your parents lived to tell you no!? I sure do. I think I thought they derived some kind of perverse pleasure from denying me what I wanted (to have or to do). Now that I'm a mom of 4 I realize that it is not the funnest (yeah, I know. Not really a word but it fits) part of my job to tell my kids no. I don't enjoy it at all.

And since my parents were not mean spirited (well, they aren't, not past tense since they're still living) I doubt they enjoyed it any more than I do.

Who loves seeing the look of disappointment on their child's face when they can't do something or have something they long for?

I hate saying "no" to my kids. I hate disciplining my kids. I hate telling them that something they did wasn't "good enough". I mean, I don't say it like that but that's what I feel like they are thinking when I correct them on a chore or schoolwork. I feel like I'm giving them the message that their efforts aren't cutting it. And that's not the message I want to send. I want them to be confident and know that their mom said "yes" to everything I could! And that I"m proud of their effort when they give something their all. 

Well, I had a really cute picture but I am out of storage on or whatever. I have to figure this out...... :(

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Baby-hood Over

My baby is turning 3. I know, he's still little but for some reason that's the age that babyness is over in my mind. The diapers are (long) gone, nursing is (longer) over, He has been speaking in complete sentences and using big words for quite a while now (and slowly but surely the baby words are disappearing). One of the last vestiges of babyhood in our house is the crib. And it just seems that when he turns 3 he should not be in a crib anymore. I don't know why, it just feels wrong.

But yesterday when I went into the boys' room to start "packing it out" to paint it and put the new carpet which time we will take the crib down...I just couldn't face it. My stomach felt sick and it just made me want to go to my own bed. So, the room is even worse off than it was (also looked at his newborn clothes-sniff sniff) and I still have to face it! I might just go today and buy a stinkin' mattress. Get this over with. Donate the crib to someone who really needs one...that might make me feel better about it (my mom's idea). Move on. I normally love redoing my kids' rooms. It needs paint. It needs carpet. I will focus on that! Pics to follow! :)

Monday, October 1, 2012


I have such a love/hate relationship with toys. I find these toys that I think my kids will LOVE! And so I buy them. Only at Christmas and birthdays for the most part but I'll admit they have more than they need...not as many as some kids for sure, but more than they need.

The other night we were at my mom's house and she has a little basket of select toys she keeps. Nathan was enthralled with those toys and busy the whole time we were there. Way moreso than he is at our house with a bazillion toys! At our house, he gets into everyone's stuff (nail polish on the carpet anyone?) and just kind of throws the toys everywhere. So, I have an idea. I think we will get rid of toys-ruthlessly! And then take some toys and put them in the garage so we can rotate them. So that they are new every few months or year or however it works out. I know, it's not like that is some revolutionary's been done before. In fact, I read about it in a magazine I'm sure. But doing it in my own home is revolutionary to me!

Barbie Pink 3-Story Dream Townhouse
The same with Haley's toys. We Santa got her a Barbie Dream Townhouse last Christmas. I He really thought it was the perfect thing! I mean, come on, what little girl would not want a Barbie Dream Townhouse? Complete with working elevator and a rooftop garden tub, etc! Ummm, DREAM house? Wanna know how many times she played with it? Probably about 5. It's been almost a year Sure glad it was Santa and not me that paid for that one. *shaking my head*

I am about to redo my kids' rooms because I love to do that and haven't for almost 4 years! But! I'm going to do some serious purging and organizing. I will attempt to take pictures-before and afters, etc for blogging purposes but we will see if I remember.

I'm so ready for a purge of our house! The one thing that really needs to go due to space that I'm not thrilled about getting rid of is the crib. *sniff sniff* The last vestige of babyhood in this house....

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weighed Down

I have this problem. I go back and forth between how I want to be thin and how much I love food. I am a foodie. Truly, madly, deeply love food. I love texture, taste, experience and especially texture (oh, did I already say that?).
Cereal, cake, steak, salad, pasta.....I love it! And Mexican food? I'll knock you over to get to it! (Ok, not really but you know what I mean)
But! After Haley was born I dropped my weight like *that* (snaps fingers). I was 12 pounds under my pre pregnancy weight when she was like 11 months old-and I had done NOTHING (other than nurse her around the clock because it lessened the crying in our house) to lose it. No killer workouts with Jillian Michaels. No crazy "diets". Just nursing and eating what I wanted.
Then! I had to start taking Zoloft (typically when I wind down on nursing some-when the baby starts to eat anything other than breast milk) I begin to experience some post partum depression. The only thing I can figure is the feel-good hormones of nursing delay it for me!? So, when she was around 10 months old or so I started feeling it. Depression. Rearing it's ugly head and changing who I am. Ick.
So, I started taking Zoloft (one of the only anti depressants you can take while breastfeeding). And I started gaining weight. By the time I got pregnant with Nathan I was back up about 30 pounds. That was just about a year later! Because I didn't plan to get pregnant again I was kind of lackadaisical about my weight gain. Kind of a "eh, I'll lose it tomorrow" thing. So, a few days before I found out I was pregnant I ordered some workout dvds (new ones) and got ready to start losing again (I was off Zoloft at this point and on something a little less fat-friendly).
But, then I got my bfp (that stands for "big fat positive") on a hpt (that stands for "home pregnancy test"). And I put that aside to work at a healthy baby. (Those dvds came the day after the bfp on the hpt).
Fast forward another 2 1/2-almost 3!-years after Nathan's birth....that pregnancy did something big and fat to my figure but nothing positive. So, there I was....way overweight from anything I've ever been before. And fighting to lose it.
It has taken me a year to lose 21 pounds. I could totally do it faster. Except I LOVE food. And I LOVE eating out.
I fight with myself daily about this. The good thing? Because I'm doing it with some, ahem, good eats involved in it....I won't gain it back because this is sustainable! I know, for me, low carb or anything extremely restrictive is not sustainable. It just makes me angry to have a list of foods I "can't" have.

By the way, I will work out with the best of them. I don't really mind that part of it all...if you could lose all the weight that way I'd be a toothpick!

So, the battle wages on. Apple and salad with no dressing or spaghetti and a salad with dressing and a piece of bread!? Hmm. No contest.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Due to some unforeseen circumstances we had some unexpected cousin time this summer! Because my brother's children live so far away we rarely get to see them :( I wish their visit would've been longer this summer but, we'll take what we can get!
                                           puttin out fires!
                                          nathan is not too sure about joining in those reindeer games.
                                          water play! pretending to put a fire out.
                                          josh and my dad horsing around...
                                          alex kickin' back
                                          chase and nathan
                                          chase on the left and alex on the right
                                          josh really loved playing with haley! they're only about 3 months apart
                                           a genuinely happy josh!
                                          chase (closest) and alex
We all miss those little guys more than you can imagine. :( I hope we can see them again soon! But I am thankful for the time to love and cuddle them when I had it....

Friday, August 31, 2012

Family Vacay! Texas Style!

This year we kept our vacation much simpler. If you don't remember, last year we went to Disney World! And next year will be a biggie too (more on that later). But for this year it was camping at "the river" (ie The Frio River in the Hill country of Texas-kind of west'ish of San Antonio I guess you'd say). It is a gorgeous place to be. We have been going there for most of our married years. But one of the neatest things is that the first time we went there and Harold looked around he said "This is where we came every year when I was a kid."!!!??? A total fluke! We went with some of my co-workers so I didn't pick the place and he certainly didn't! So, our kids' favorite vacation spot is the same one where their daddy grew up! There is a state park very near where we go but we prefer the smaller family owned campground.

I have to say also, my kids were just as excited I think to spend a week at "the river" as they were to go to Disney World for a week. And let me tell you, I was excited to spend about $350 (including groceries) as opposed to the thousands spent at Disney. Disney was very exciting and I wouldn't trade our time there but I'm so glad that the kids still consider a camping trip to be the best.

Now, for the pictures!

                                  I'd rather have my toes in the river than in the sand any day! 

This kid loves to fish! Here he is getting ready to look for some small ones for bait!

All 3 of my big kids love to swing from these ropes all day long! And it's fine with me...I can sit with my toes in the water and watch them. 

Haley is fearless! She has always been that way
(unless there are shadows in her room at night-
but that's a whole different ball game!) and it
has contributed greatly to my gray hair count.
Apparently while I was downriver talking to a
new friend for a bit, her daddy witnessed her
do some kind of river trapeze act and get herself
just like this only UPSIDE DOWN over a bunch
floaters (people floating the river in tubes)coming
down the river! While it was an amazing trick
he told her not to do that ever again! LOL

  Jared amazes me! See the 2 ropes there? The one he is hanging on and then the striped one? He was able to swing out and then catch the other rope and he actually went back and forth 5 times once! Let me tell you, it takes all of my body strength to hold onto that rope just to get safely out over the water! (now, if only I could turn the picture and make it stay that way!)

Even daddy got in on the action! (I did too but it's my blog and I'm choosing not to share that picture!)

 Nathan is super happy to stay safely in very shallow water. Definitely not the daredevil that his older sister is. Phew!

Hanging out with the big guys.
Wearing a life jacket in case of a rogue
wave I guess ;)

 A good nap is always in order! Thankfully no one got the camera when I fell asleep in my chair!

This is my view while laying on the riverbank while my children play...heavenly!

Haley really needs her own goggles, huh? Once, when we felt she was getting too far away from us we called her back and she said "I can''s too rivery!" I guess she was referring to the slight current? We laughed so hard!

Awwww! Acting like they like each other while eating some semblance of a breakfast (yeah, those are fruit loops!). When we camp nutrition is optional ;)

Ok, so it's not huge...he doesn't care. As long as he catches something! That's bait! 

I think he needs a bigger tube! ;)

Painting suncatchers while we were getting dinner started....I need to make sure I bring an activity every time we go camping!

 Best sissies! I {heart} this! At first Lindsay made some new friends and didn't want to include Haley but once I informed/explained that this was FAMILY vacation and that her FAMILY would be included....she was pretty much fine with it. 

Sword fight with a pink fishing pole while wearing
your pj shirt, pull-up, white socks and too-big
black cleats....when you're 2 that's the best ever!

And this {extremely unflattering} picture reminds me why I will be glad to get home! Because at home, my "sink" is at waist height and doing dishes doesn't make my back hurt. Ouch!

 And it's over :(  Nathan waited patiently all week to help with the lowering of the camper since he is not strong enough yet to help with the raising. (we kept the crank hidden all week just in case his patiently turned into not so patiently...)

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