Author: Stephanie

Wonder

 

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Lately I have been thinking a lot about kindness. I’ve found myself telling my children to ‘be nice’ frequently in the last month or so. Being 5 has Boss all discombobulated, trapped between baby and big kid while Huckleberry is firmly planted in the mine phase. Big brother takes care of his toys, little brother likes to throw them. You can see where the conflict comes in.

Be nice! I tell Boss firmly and probably not sounding very nice myself. Huck! No hitting! Be nice! 

What I really mean is be kind. Nice somehow has a negative, inauthentic connotation. I want my boys to be kind. There is a difference. Nice is sometimes at our own expense, kind is…kind is different. More understanding. I’m trying to teach Huck not to hit or throw by redirecting his behaviour but he is hitting and throwing because he is frustrated, both by his inability to do everything his little heart desires and my inability to understand what he is saying. I need to be kind to him. (Not that I am mean, you understand.) Boss takes so much on the chin, stolen toys, broken toys, a baby brother who is into everything. All while dealing with his own things. His natural state IS kindness. And when he gets frustrated and upset I need to be kind to him. Take a moment before time outs, before punishments, before any of that…and see if I can find out WHY he is behaving as he is, to understand, to show empathy.

I want him to continue on that path of kindness, I want to encourage and nurture it. I see it in Huckleberry as well. You can’t give a treat to that kid without him wanting to take one to big brother and all his friends. Huck may be two with a vengeance but he is happiest when everyone is happy. Aren’t most kids born into a state of kindness? Until the world beats it out of them? So, my small resolution as it were is to stop telling them to be nice. Be kind, is what I will say, reminding myself as well as my little ones. Be kind.

So it was an interesting coincidence that my mother in law brought home a book and said emphatically “You have to read this!” Today I did, from start to finish and just, wow. How’s that for an endorsement? It’s just so interesting when you are ruminating on something and then things seem to appear everywhere on that same subject. The book was Wonder by R.J.Palacio and while it is a riveting tale about growing up, learning who you are and all the pitfalls of middle school; it is mainly about kindness and how kindness can be like an avalanche. The main protagonist of the story is August “I won’t describe to you what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.” a young boy who has been homeschooled his whole life due to surgeries for his facial abnormalities. That’s putting it mildly, actually. It could be preachy and heavy-handed and yet, it’s not. It’s funny, smart, sweet, heartbreaking, wonderful and life affirming. And not one bit schlocky at all.

In the book the author quote the often quoted JM Barrie “Shall we make a new rule of life…always to try to be a little kinder than neccessary?” I think that might go right one one of those wonderful typography signs when I have my home.  Kinder than neccessary. I love that. And I will try to follow that new rule.

Except for snarky pop-culture blog posts. Obviously.

Raven Symone comes out and ruthlessly ruins peoples lives.

Forget Dr. Who. Raven Symone is an all powerful Time-Lord who can go back in time and alter lives.

Apparently Raven Symone came out this week, that’s right, the littlest Cosby loves the ladies. I took a quick stock of my life and the differences it held in the five seconds after I learned that information and quickly compared it to the status of my life, and particularly my childhood in the five seconds before I learned that information. Hmmm. No difference. Okay, one difference, I did think ‘good for her!’ but that was it.  I am guessing that this information was not life changing for you either, and it certainly didn’t go back in time and retroactively destroy your WHOLE CHILDHOOD. Did it? Cause if it did, then we need to talk. And know that I say this with love, okay?

A slew of the self-involved took to twitter with the hashtag #Childhoodruined to spout a whole lot of poor me; my life is ruined BS. Because That’s So Raven is a lesbian? That’s so lame.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs… these people need to take a quick look at the oh-so-simple lovely rainbow pyramid chart and see if they can identify where they are on that there thing. See that top one? That’s the goal, right? We grow up and and have empathy and use words like self actualization? I remember being a teenager and feeling like everything was about me. Caught a red light? Clearly the ENTIRE WORLD WAS OUT TO GET ME. But then, you know, you grow up.  You realize that just because that girl you don’t like is thin it doesn’t make you fat and Raven Symone coming out has not one little thing to do with you. Or me. Or anyone other than Raven herself and whomever she chooses to share her life with.  Because she is a public figure she shares this with us as we as a country move towards this being NBD. Or are we? Because to think your childhood is ruined because some actress who played some character on some show you watched when you were little is gay?

Lame.

Take from your elders, we have been through this before and our parents as well. Sulu? GAY.  Mike Brady? GAY. Doogie Houser? GAY!!!!! And how is your childhood not ruined by Miley Cyrus twerking? Or how about Amanda Bynes completely losing it? Why so choosey?

As long as there have been humans there have been gay humans. Deal with it. And if something that has nothing to do with you can ruin your childhood? Get over yourself. Grow up. Olivia Cosby being a lesbian has nothing to do with you. Being a self involved homophobe does.

 

coming up short

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Recently I’ve had the blogging blahs. Nothing big…just the blahs. BlogHer really made me think about this self generated machine we are all a part of, both the incredible good it can and does do culturally, socially and individually; and also the negative. I’m not even talking about the Munchhausen blogs, the rip off, the snark sites. I am talking about comparing our ‘behind the scenes’ to others highlight reels.

It suddenly struck me why I’ve had such a rough time blogging lately, what began as a form of expression and sharing my stories and my stories of my kids has begun to be just one more area in life where I don’t measure up. And no, I am not talking site stats, subscribers or internet fame. I am just fine where I am in that regard. I mean that suddenly it seems as if I don’t love my boys if they don’t have ikat legging, minnetonks and saltwater sandals for summer. (And honestly, I think saltwaters are a little girly. My husband had saltwaters when he was little, and although adorable, I think they would have looked better on me. Also, it could have been the kickass 80’s jogging shorts and rainbow t-shirt he was sporting as well. The 80’s. Great music, bad fashion)

I read (and love) so many blogs, gazing at such beautiful pictures of beautiful children and their beautiful parents and I think…dude, I am still in my pj’s. I’ve busted up ten fights between my sweet Boss and my two with a vengence Huck. Crafts? Setting up gorgeous photo shoots? Drama free trips to the museum? Documented in all it’s adorable glory with perfectly edited DSLR photos? Mom perfectly dressed and looking well rested? In the immortal words of Sweet Brown, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Of course by nobody, I mean ME.

I’m not accusing these women of lying or staging things, some women (my best friend Janice is one of them) have it all together like that. That’s their forte. Clearly that’s not mine.

I am not coming down on them for having such a life, or portraying their lives in such a manner. I’m not judging them, I am judging me.

I need to get it together. I need to remember that just because my house isn’t the perfect blog worthy home, and my kids have peanut butter on their faces doesn’t mean it’s not worth writing about my life. For me, anyway. I need to remember that my kids don’t give a tiny rat’s ass about chevron or ikat or whatever is the new pattern. They don’t care if their bedroom is perfectly decorated or not. They don’t care if their birthday parties are pin worthy, pin-tastic or pinteriffic. They care if we are there and we celebrate together.

So I am going to let it go. We went to Chuck E Cheese this weekend and had a mad scramble birthday pool party for the Boss. Neither of which will end up on Pinterest, or reblogged. But we had a damn good time and my kid felt loved and had a blast. And in the end that’s what I have time for. What I want.

Blogging sometimes makes me feel like I am in 7th grade and I don’t have the Guess jeans with the zippers at the ankle or whatever is the must have thing to be cool. It seemed like the end of the world then, but it wasn’t. It’s not the end of the world that my kids have a 19 dollar circus tent from Ikea instead of a hand whittled tipi covered with vintage sheets and embroidered by hand. They have a blast in that damn tent for days, even if it is a bit of an eyesore.

There is room for all of us here in this big blogging world. Even those of us who hate ikat.

Love to you all, yes even you.

P.S. while I was writing this Huck busted into my craft supplies and now has letter stickers all over his belly. And that? Is what craft supplies are for in my house. That and mugshot boards for the annual birthday mugshot.

 

five.

It’s good to be five. Five is a real kid. No trace of baby left. Long legs and over-confidence. Five. The Boss is five today.

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Max,

Today you are five. FIVE! I feel as though I’ve blinked and here you are, this fully formed and fully opinionated person. Everyday you challenge me and make me a better person. I live in fear that I will fail you in some way. I am forever regretful that I don’t know all the answers to all of your amazing questions. Like, why can’t we see our brain when we close our eyes? And how does the water get down to the sewers where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are and then get clean and come back? And how am I growing? And when I was with God how did he put me in your tummy? (A concept you came up with on your own, by the way. You talk a lot about before you were with me when you were flying with God) I don’t know how mothers did it without google! You frequently pipe up from the backseat after having stumped me with a question saying “don’t worry Mommy, you can just google it!”

You look out for Huckle-boo. I laugh at how I worried that you would have trouble adjusting to having a baby brother. You were not only the center of the world to me and your father but also to your grandparents and aunt. Our daily world literally revolved around you. When Huck came your heart grew just like mine did. Now Huck is two and man is he really two. He steals your toys, hits, throws temper tantrums and most of the time, you just take it. Sure, you complain from time to time, who wouldn’t? But your patience with him gives me patience. While I am desperate for an over-tired Huck to nap, you want him up. As soon as he is sleeping you start counting down till you can wake him up to play. You accept that he wants whatever you have, you share so beautifully with him. I am sure there will come a time when you don’t want him around at all, but not so far. You have said twice “let’s send Boo back.” That thought only lasts a minute before you emphatically state that you’d miss him and we should keep him. Twice. In two years. I think that’s pretty good!

Let’s talk Baseball for a second, you are well into what I am assuming will be a life long love of the game. You watch ESPN, you practice every single day. You blow me away with your skill, you can bat like crazy and you’re not-so-patiently waiting to break free of T-ball and get to pitched baseball! You love Spider-man, the Smurfs, rock-n-roll and Pitch Perfect. We have the greatest dance parties and you have some serious moves. One day I swear I will get your So You Think You Can Dance audition on video, it’s EPIC. One of my favorite things about you is how you vocalize your feelings. Coach Shannon wanted you to jump off the diving board at the pool and we could hear you all the way across the way “I’m feeling a little nervous about this.” I also adore how easily you accept praise for your accomplishments. After you get out of the water at swim class you turn to me and give me a big thumbs up, so proud of yourself. My heart just bursts with joy and pride. I hope you always feel proud of your hard work and what you accomplish. I will be.

Your dramatics make all of us laugh. If we say no to you you cry out “You broke my heart!” I hope your heart is never really broken, but if it is I hope you will come to me. When you get scared at night you aske me to protect you and I hear you whispering to yourself “They’re just shadows. It’s nothing” and I hold you closer until you fall asleep. Oh, yeah you sleep with us. You can’t bear to be away from us even at night. “But I’ll miss you” You say sweetly, and so, for now, you sleeping in any room other than ours is not even a thought.

You are the light of my life, Max. My constant companion and my partner in crime. Five years ago they brought you to me and when I saw you for the first time I said “Hi Max. I know you.” You reached a tiny, moments old hand out and touched my nose. You knew me too.

I love you so much. Thank you for a wonderful five years! It’s good to be five. And it’s good to be a five year old’s Mommy.

I love you and love you and love you and love you.

 

(my letter to Max on his Fourth Birthday , Third Birthday  and his Second Birthday )

 

Friday I’m in LOVE

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I took all of last week off because we went to Ohio, Zach’s nana had hip replacement surgery and his papa ended up in the hospital and it was just a giant ball of relaxation around those parts. My Mother in law has been there for a month taking care of them and so we headed on over in the van armed with a dvd player and more goldfish crackers than there are actual goldfish in the world.

While we were there I had the chance to shoot my new little cousin Finley’s 3 month photos! (Yes, we now have a Huck and Fin and someday theme photos will be taken) I also got to do a little photo shoot with her big sisters Kaylin and Lauren. It was a blast and I continue to learn every time I do a shoot.

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This week I fell madly in love with a whatchamacalit cyclone from FLUBS. This will be a definite when we go back for Thanksgiving. IN the meantime I have eaten two Whatchamacallit bars since then. Obviously.

This site made me laugh because I am indeed a fashion blog stalker. How I adore watching these women in their  5 inch heels jauntily skipping across the street carelessly swinging their Celine bag. Because my life is JUST LIKE THAT. Except heels=flats and I am not so much jauntily skipping across the street as I am haphazardly racing after a toddler screaming not in the street!  

My new obsession with Pretty Little Liars continues. As soon as the Boss passes out I am on Netflix faster than you can say what the hell is going on!? I am only on season two, so don’t tell me…but holy crap. Also? Those teen age girls are way wild. I was very boring in comparisson.  Are you watching this? Because it is damn good fun.

I don’t love this, but it’s terrifying and good to know. Before you head to the beach, read it.

I have a new hair dye love. I know…but hear me out! I am not going to dye my hair whore yellow again. I may or may not have some greys, and depending on whether you have some greys may I reccommend the lovely new cheap-o hair dye by Vidal Sassoon? Because it is the BEST. It actually covers the greys and has such a nice color! I’m playing it safe from here on out. Plus there is always a coupon so it ends up being like $5.99. The End.

And last but not least the LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER VIDEOS are up!! YAY! (i do hope you’re picturing me doing my very best Kermit the Frog impression there) I am extremely proud of this years show, and as I work my way through the other cities I am so proud to be involved and believe even more in women’s voices being raised up. Here’s my piece on Postpartum Anxiety.

This weekend I am going to take Boss on a little date. I think maybe a movie and some fro-yo. We need some Mommy-Max time. And Sunday? I’ll be at the pool. All day. All the livelong day. Have a wonderful weekend!

Mad Mom: Beyond Thunderdome.

 

I lost my shit yesterday at Target. I mean, completely lost it. I’m not proud, and I may switch Targets because when I say I lost it what I really mean is I spanked Boss. I’ve been a in a spiraling K-hole of shame and dispair ever since.

I’ve never spanked my child before. I don’t believe in spanking. My mother spanked me once when I was about Boss’ age and then she took me shopping. I understand both impulses now. Once when I was about 15 she told me she was going to shove my head into a wall. I have conveniently forgotten to remember what I did to cause such a statement from a woman who has never and would never do such a thing but I can guarantee you one thing: she would have been totally justified if she had actually carried through with that threat.

Leading up to the point where I lost my shit was 10 consecutive hours of arguing with my child. Do not climb on the chair and jump off the balcony said I. So he did. Do not spit on me, said I. He did. Do NOT spit on your brother, said I. He did. It wasn’t just willing disobedience, it was endangering himself which is not his usual modus operandi. I tried everything. Usually his currency is his toys. I can usually say “Leonardo going away in 1,2…” and before I get to two the behavior has stopped. At the worst, a time out will work. Time outs usually mean he is tired and needs a break. I don’t even mind a little disobedience. He is nearly five and testing his boundaries on all fronts. But when it comes down to safety or destroying things and injuring others….no. Just no.

I tried everything. He has been working to earn the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (How I miss the days of Smurfette now). Raphael costs $20 so he needs to earn 20 points. First thing, he lost his points. Then Michelangelo was gone. Then Donatello and finally our leader in blue Leonardo. All gone. It did nothing . One time out, then two, then three. Nothing. Huckleberry went down for a nap and I thought perhaps a tv show and some snuggles would work. Sometimes it’s just a cry for attention, and we had been gone in Ohio where Huck became super needy so I hardly saw Boss at all. Nothing doing. He jumped on me, kicked me, threw things at the computer, threatened to smash my camera.

Who was this boy? All I could think was if he rested for ten minutes I could regroup and he could relax.

It was my fault. I KNEW I shouldn’t have taken them out. But having just gotten back from Ohio we had nothing in the house; specifically cereal and milk and the five other things my children will eat. This includes green beans, so I don’t feel too horrible. He promised to be good. I told him maybe he could earn a point or two back towards Raphael and he seemed to like this idea. Oh, if only it had worked. I got everything as quickly as I could while he screamed and tossed a giant ball down every aisle. I employed all my tricks. Nothing worked. He took off like a shot for the jewelry section and began messing with the necklaces. I told him to stop. Again and again. I redirected behavior. I removed him from the situation, we headed to check out and LEAVE. He went back and I could see myself buying 30 $16 necklaces because he broke them all.  That’s when I lost my shit. I grabbed his arm in that way that only moms can and I smacked his booty. Having been trained in stage combat and never in real combat I smacked the only way I knew how, a good old stage smack. This means my hand was cupped so it makes a loud sound when the air is pushed out at the time of impact so it doesn’t really hurt. But it’s LOUD. And to the elderly couple near us it must have sounded like I hit him with a big old piece of wood. WHACK.

The sound stopped him more than the hit and he looked at me shocked – and this is what killed my soul – betrayed. His face reddened and tears sprang as he howled “Mommy, you hitted my bottom!” I knelt down and cuddled him in my arms and we had a Come to Jesus talk about listening. I told him I never, ever wanted to do that again. That I never ever wanted to do that in the first place. I resisted the urge to buy the entire toy department. This is where we were and I had to stick to it. Within a minute he said it didn’t hurt and we hugged tightly, both of us teary eyed. We came home and he ate a good dinner saying “this was perfect mommy, thank you.” then I drew a new graph for Raphael and he earned two points for clearing the table and we went to bed. We cuddled up for bed and he settled down, I kissed his cheek and he laughed that musical giggle. That tickled he whispered. I whispered back we had a bad day today, but tomorrow will be better. Even when you misbehave, when you have time outs, I love you. I always love you. Nothing will ever change that.

I love his drawing of Raphael!

I love his drawing of Raphael!

His eyelashes fluttered and he fell asleep with a little smile.  But I lay awake. Today he has forgotten all about it, he is all smiles and cuddles, but I will never forget that on July 10th 2013 my hand touched my child with something other than love.  I’m not over it.

Just me and Channing…and four hundred others at the White House Down premier

For weeks my husband has been saying how much he wants to see White House Down and for weeks I thought, seriously dude, you’re on your own. Mama doesn’t get out much and if he thought I was going to waste date night on watching the White House get blown up he was mistaken. Then I got the invite from The Moms that made my husband’s day. I quickly sent him a text asking if he would like to attend the premier of the movie and see Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. The answer was an emphatic hell yeah.

I blogged last year about how I just didn’t get the whole Magic Mike thing my sensibilities being more offended by the horrible furniture than the stripping. I’ve nothing at all against stripping but strip clubs just ain’t my thing. It’s kind of a fact that Mr. Tatum’s personage is indeed a fine specimen of male physicality. This made it much easier to go see White House Down. At the very least an hour and a half of man candy, right? Plus it was a ‘mom’ blogger event and that meant that several women who I adore would be attending so happy husband + happy wife means I can drag him to a chick flick and he can’t complain.

Hey! what moron forgot her camera? Oh yeah...

Hey! what moron forgot her camera? Oh yeah…

The nitty gritty: Channing Tatum- humble, shy, adorable. Jamie Foxx: obviously one of the most talented people on the planet. Maggie Gyllenhal brought down the house when she acknowledged the moms and said she nursed her newborn in her trailer on the set. As if we didn’t love her before!

Here’s the thing, and I can’t believe I am going to write this; I loved the movie. It was a good old time, along the lines of Die Hard. It was action packed, with great (if occasionally over-acted) villains, and best of all it was funny; complete with D.C. insider jokes. The girl who plays Channing’s daughter is a stand out and the audience collectively screamed at the irresponsible way the press in the film handled a certain thing…I won’t give it away. And both Zach and I agreed it’s the best White House set we have seen. It was creepily like being there. It’s the classic formulaic action movie and it works. So if your man suggests seeing White House Down this weekend, go for it. It was fun, it was funny and Channing Tatum runs around saving the day in a tank top.

photo credit Sony Pictures

photo credit Sony Pictures

White House Down opens today and it is, indeed, a good time.

the taste of childhood

When I was young we would spend summers with my grandparents in Galveston, Texas. It was a goldmine of treasures in the closets and being spoiled shopping with grandma and a minefield of family secrets and old wounds. My memories of these early times in Texas are diametrically opposed. The gorgeous old mansions, getting my hair and nails done and loving being with my family then suddenly the comments, the tears, the feelings of shame. Perhaps it seems silly to then remember the candy of a chain restaurant as such a part of it all. No matter what part of the trip we were in, the good or the bad, we could always count on dinner at Monterey House. The Mexican food was good and cheap and in the bottom of the chip basket was this candy. Oh, the candy! You could buy pralines at the counter, but not THE CANDY which was some sort of brown sugar praline like thing but better. Then, Monterey House shuttered it’s doors and disapearred taking that delicious candy with it. I’ve searched high and low for it, checking every Mexican Market I encountered in Los Angeles but to no avail. Last week it occurred to me that others might miss such a childhood delight. And I was right! There are message boards and recipes galore all trying to recreate this candy. I took two recipes, smooshed em together and gave it a shot. Despite feeling this was an utter failure they turned out perfectly. Exactly the way I remembered. Judging by how my husband and father in law scarfed it, they thought it tasted dang good as well.

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Milk, butter, sugar…smells heavenly.

 

It’s easy. It’s sugary. It’s so good. Here ya go, (Mom) here is the recipe!

5 1/2 cup sugar

2 cans (12 oz) evaporated milk

5 1/2 teaspoons butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup packed brown sugar.

directions: Mix the milk, sugar, butter, salt and vanilla in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it boils add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Reduce heat to medium stirring occasionally until it reaches the ‘soft ball’ stage. Remove from heat and stir until it thickens. Pour into candy molds or if you are lazy like me dump it into a brownie pan. I actually used a cookie sheet this last time to make them thinner. Hence less guilt when you go back for a second. I like to score the candy once it is almost cooled (about 20 minutes) makes it easier to cut and eat!

Grocery day is tomorrow and I will be buying more evaporated milk. Because OMG. YUM!

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Friday I’m in Love

1. He loves Boss so much. 2. SpderBoss in trouble again. 3. try to do something good and the closet door Gods smite ya! also? OUCH 4. Backyard fun 5.. Rainy Day walk Boss "Ill keep puppy dry" 6. post-bath warm baby snuggles. One of the best things in the world.

1. He loves Boss so much. 2. SpderBoss in trouble again. 3. try to do something good and the closet door Gods smite ya! also? OUCH 4. Backyard fun 5.. Rainy Day walk Boss “Ill keep puppy dry” 6. post-bath warm baby snuggles. One of the best things in the world.

We started swim classes this week and my timid boy went from not putting his face in the water to jumping in to jumping off the diving board. Yes, I cried. I was just so dang proud! I believe we are going to have to do one of those paper ring count downs to class because he asks constantly if today is his swim class. And it’s not. And Boss? Boss’ sad face  makes sad people sad. It’s sad you guys. SAD.

That’s a big deal you guys!
Huckleberry has been in rare adorable-non two year old tantrum mode this week. Nothing but snuggles and adoration for big brother. It’s been heaven. I can’t get enough of those snuggles. This morning as I lifted him out of his crib it seemed as if he had a growth spurt over night. He just seems so big!

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When I was a little girl we would always go to Monterrey House in Galveston Texas and they had this candy, it’s been closed for decades but I never forgot it and according to the internet, I was not alone! Iput together about two recipes..fiddled with them and made candy you guys. And it is just as I remembered it! Problem: I’m spinning like a top from all the sugar! (recipe to come becase OMG you guys, so good)

I kind of went on a statement necklace binge. But I don’t CARE! So cheap. So love.

I’ve never been a girl crush before! But Heather calls me just that, and I blush.

This picture from 1947. Men and cats. Never change. 

SVH

This weekend we are having a yard sale and I came across some Sweet Valley High books and was like aw hell yeah! And then Kristin from Said Kristin sent me this link. YOU ARE WELCOME SVH fans. Also? I still want to be Jessica.

I mentioned earlier that I grew up without a dad. He passed away when I was very young but through the beauty of facebook I get to see pictures of him as my aunt and especscialluy my Uncle go through and scan the family archives. This week I saw this picture, of my father, age 2. I see some Boss, I see some Huck and I see some of myself. Photos are best, aren’t they?

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Tonight I am off to see White House Down and walk the red Carpet with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. We are turning it into Date Night as well. Zach wants to see the movie so badly I was pretty sure he would divorce me if I went without him!

What did you fall in love with this week? I hope you have a great weekend!