Apr 28, 2008

The Potty Stop

4/28/2008 — cori

We took a fun road trip this weekend. And as with all road trips, the inevitable always happens...the potty stop. This is never something I look forward to. I get grossed out way too easily. Borrowing your random truck stop, gas station or local fast food restaurant's (normally) dirty restroom always sends shivers down my spine. Just one glance at an exceptionally dirty rest room can literally make me sick to my stomach the rest of the day.

So there we are driving peacefully until Chloe blurts out her need for the dreaded potty stop. We engage 'Eagle Eye for Clean Restroom' mode and scan our restroom possibilities while in the middle of no-where. Since I also had to join this little rendezvous, I was hopeful that the place we chose would not leave me gagging the rest of the drive home.

Normally, Chloe and I share the restroom since she has 'flushing issues'. She's scared of the types of pottys that flush automatically - and I can't say I blame her. I have to hold her hands whenever she's on one of those in case it automatically flushes while she's still on it so that she doesn't get sucked into 'potty oblivion'. Thankfully, this gas station was too high tech and I go to my own stall so we could kill two birds with one stone, if you will.

Why do I ever try to be efficient when it comes to Chloe? I should know better. So there we are, each in our own big girl stall when I hear her say, "Uh-oh Mommy, I have yucky poopies again (meaning diarrhea)." Oh great - this is never a good thing on a road trip and especially if I'm not in her stall to make sure she is totally clean before we proceed any further, if you know what I mean. She asks, "Mommy, can you please wipe my botton (bottom)?"

Uh, slight problem here...I'm not in there. I'm in the adjoining stall. Wouldn't you have loved to be in this restroom on this particular day listening to this random conversation? "Honey, Mommy can't come in there. Remember, you locked the door. You're going to have to do this yourself now, Honey. You're big now, remember?"

"But Mommy, I can't. You can just crawl under the door." I laugh out loud. "Honey, Mommy can't do that, the space is too small. Why don't you just do the best you can, slide off your seat and unlock the door for Mommy and then I can come in and help you." Can't do that. She has major issues with being dirty and can't stand it. Stubbornness is one of her strongest suits. If she has decided for or against something...there is no changing her mind. "Mommy, I can't do that. Can you please climb under here?"

I am now standing outside her stall cursing myself for thinking I could also use the bathroom the same time as her in my own stall - how could I have been so selfish or lacked the foresight to see this as a possible future scenario. Now what am I going to do? I'm frantically searching for a keyhole to her bathroom door. This is no ordinary bathroom. Each stall has a real door attached to cinderblock walls that separate each 'unit'. There is maybe 18 inches of space between the floor and the bottom of the door. Way too narrow for me to try to squeeze under. Too tall of sides for me to try to climb over. This is a real, full-fledged problem now.

Thankfully, Chloe has the patience of a saint today. She's also decided to practice her encouragement skills on me and is saying, "Mommy, I know you can do it. Just look under the door. Please." Okay. That's the least I can do so that she knows she's not alone in this ordeal. I figure I can get down on my knees and look under her stall. If strangers come in and give me odd looks, I can explain myself - I'll cross that bridge when we come to it. But for now, my daughter needs me.

I am now on all fours in a truck stop restroom looking under the door. I never, in my wildest dreams, ever pictured myself in this position in my life. So, there I am now with the vantage point of seeing Chloe and trying to encourage her in my earlier pep talk, "Okay honey, just do your best to wipe yourself, you can do it." Did I mention that there is someone in the stall next to her? Can you imagine her fear as I'm on my hands and knees peeking under the adjoining stall? I'd be high-tailing it out of there if there was a crazy lady like me around. I guess she wanted to stick around for the show to see what was going to happen.

Then Chloe continues on in her relentless encouragement of me, "Come on Mommy, you can do it. See...all you have to do is scoot under here now." At this point I'm laughing my head off in utter disbelief. I guess I figured why not go all the way. I'm already on the floor, how much worse can it be? So I proceed to squeeze my entire self between 18 inches of the floor and door. My face is only inches away from the potty (which is rather odorous). There's probably only another 18 inches of space in which to crawl into without crawling onto Chloe's lap. It's one of those surreal moments. I couldn't believe I was doing this, yet I was...and I was laughing hysterically the entire time. I guess it was either that, or crying and I knew if I started crying, the puking would accompany it because my stomach is so weak and my sense of smell so heightened.

Miraculously, I make it inside and Chloe gleefully says, "See Mommy, I knew you could do it. Good job!" We finish taking care of business and walk out of there like we were perfectly normal. Except for I needed an entire can of Lysol to disinfect my whole body. A simple hand washing was not about to cure my sense of the he-be-je-bees.

I guess parents truly will do anything for their children when it comes down to it.

Apr 24, 2008

Remember When

4/24/2008 — cori

I guess I'm just in a very reminiscent mood tonight. Obviously, the first thing I did when I came home was search for that earlier Trace Atkins video online. I was so happy to find it that I just started looking up all my favorite songs. This one is very special to us. We both love how Alan Jackson is able to recapture life so simply yet elegantly.

Stealing Cinderella

4/24/2008 — cori

Since I'm all about music tonight (or so it seems), I thought I'd post another of my favorites. This is a song by Chuck Wicks. Just another reminder of how amazingly fast time goes by. And if you can't tell - I'm a big country music fan.

You're Gonna Miss This

4/24/2008 — cori

This evening I was out driving around by myself when this song came on. I'd never heard it before, so I cranked it up to listen real good. By the end, I had tears streaming down my face. Oh, how I could relate...as the child and as the parent. After a long hard day - make that a couple of weeks - this helped me put it all in perspective. Yes, as moms we get tired, we question what in the world we're doing, if we're doing it right or wrong, like the work load is never ending...but in the end, all that matters are the relationships we fostered with each other. Yes...I'm definitely going to miss this crazy, hectic, question-filled, tiring time. Thanks for that reminder Mr. Atkins.

Apr 16, 2008

Towels of Joy

4/16/2008 — cori
Just wanted to show you the beautiful sight I beheld as I walked into my bedroom yesterday. I had asked Bennett and Chloe to empty the towels out of the dryer, fold them and put them on my bed. That is exactly what they did! :) I was so tickled, I had to take a picture right away. This sight made my heart sooooo happy! I'm sure Bennett also instructed Chloe in the finer art of proper towel folding.

I used to be one of those people that was so anal about getting all my laundry and house cleaning done all in one day with all the laundry folded and put away before night fall. Ha!!! I soon realized that those expectations were far from realistic (the more my household grew in numbers). I no longer deceive myself with such lofty goals. I might even at one time have gone back and refolded all the towels. But then I would miss out on the smile it brings me every time I open the closet door and reach in to find such a beautifully and creatively folded towel.

Life is more than neat stacks of folded laundry. It took years for God to get me to the point to admit that and now that I can...boy, does it feel good!

Apr 14, 2008

Girl Night

4/14/2008 — cori
Last night Chloe and I had two totally undisturbed hours by ourselves. I thought it might be fun to go on a date together, but I just couldn't seem to think of anything fun to do. Then I tried to think like her. That's when I knew what should be done.

The evening commenced with the two of us putting on our high heels and going ice skating (for pretend of course). Chloe was the Mommy and I was her daughter. She's sooooo into this reverse role playing thing right now! But it's so fun to watch her and see how she thinks a Mommy behaves, talks, walks, etc. So, I just followed her lead the whole time.

The last time we had time like this, we actually did go ice skating together. So, she imitated every single thing we did. She insisted I put on a pair of her high heels (picture 6 inches of plastic, raised 1/2 an inch off the ground) - that just wasn't going to work no matter how hard I tried. But, just like the step sisters in Cinderella, she insisted I continue trying to fit my foot into a place that only my big toe would fit. Exasperated, she let out a big sigh and in her most patient mommy voice she proclaimed, "You can just wear the shoes you have on." She had already picked out my black, dress, high heels that was nicely paired with my sweat pants and long cotton t-shirt.

I pretended to slip and fall once we got on the ice and I pulled her down with me and we laid there and giggled until she realized that this never actually happened in the 'real skating adventure'. She was getting a bit frustrated that I was not going by the script and told me to go over to the carpet section and wait for her. I pretended to hang on to the wall inside the ice-skating rink instead and was promptly disciplined, "Daughter, you are 12" said the airy, high-pitched Mommy voice "you already know how to ice skate. Don't fall."

After an exciting 3 minutes of ice skating, it was on to hairdresser and make-up. This was going to be a full spa treatment. Of course I had to do her first. She requested a Queen Amahdalah hair-do (one of the only girl characters in Star Wars that she can relate to). Thankfully I was in the midst of creative genius during this time and made my 'mommy' very happy with her Star Wars hair-do. When it was my turn, she decided to paint my finger nails purple, followed by blue eyeshadow and lots of sparkly purple lip gloss. My hair turned out to be an eclectic mix of bows and clips.
Throughout the entire time, she's giving me tid-bits of mommy wisdom such as, "Kid. Daughter, I know much lotter than you. So, that's why you need to listen to me. Okay, kid?" or "Daughter, are you having a good day?" or "You are my kid, okay daughter, and I am in command of you." When it came time for clean up, she promptly reminded me that she was the Mommy and the kid always has to clean up, so "do it, okay daughter." What choice did I have?

The last part of our evening involved dining on a picnic blanket in front of the t.v. eating egg salad sandwiches and pretzels and watching Cinderella until the boys got home. What more does a girl need? Anytime we get time alone it's a definite treat.

Apr 13, 2008

We Lost A Lost Dog

4/13/2008 — cori
How could this possibly happen? Let me explain:

The other night I was up at the track with all the kids (neighbor kids included) running away (not literally, just figuratively). As I'm finishing my last lap, all the kids start following me, talking all at the same time, about some dog. I was looking a bit like the Pied Piper. In the most patient voice I could muster while gasping for every precious breath, I asked if they could PLEASE wait for 2 more minutes so I could finish this all important last lap. I was not about to let a little lost dog ruin my goal. My priorities were soaring at this point.

The lap is finally finished, the goal reached and I start walking across the field to meet up with the kids. You would have thought their best friend just died. They couldn't believe I could be so heartless as to let a little dog run out of their grasp (they were not allowed to step foot out of the field so I could keep my eye on them the whole time). It was now wandering aimlessly through the parking lot somewhere. I assured them that we would indeed find the dog and bring it back to it's owner. A collective sigh of relief could be heard.

So there we all are, 5 kids and me, roaming in and out of cars, calling for some random dog that we don't even know if it is a he or she or even if she has some horrible illness, fleas or even rabies for that matter. Thankfully, it ran right towards us and was quickly inside our little huddle before it knew what hit it. After a unanimous vote, it was decided that I would carry the dog to the van, being that it was a wiggly mass of 25 pounds or more with no collar.

Upon reaching the van, the dog jumped right in and took her place in one of the seats. I have to say this for the dog, she was clean, didn't bark or whine, and was seemingly well behaved. She knew we must be bringing her back to her castle. Unfortunately, we had no clue where that was.

The neighbor kids' mom is a huge dog lover, and I thought, the perfect person to 'rescue' this dog. I was really hoping to pass the poor thing off on her and be done with it. Not so. Although she felt bad for it, she didn't feel bad enough to take it in her house with her. Great. Now I need to think of a plan B. Too bad none of the shelters were open this time of night. Looks like litte lost dog gets to come home with us.

Just a side note, bath time and bed time are being blown out of the water here. When Chuck is out of town, I operate on a tight schedule. I look forward to this part of the evening when the time is my own and I can sit and stare at a wall in silence. Not so tonight. Tonight, I have to make a flier to post around the neighborhood so little lost dog can get found again.

I put the dog and kids out back. They lavished attention, food, water and toys on it. They even gave it a temporary name "Weedy". I doubt there was any deep thought behind it. The kids probably just looked around the back yard and named her the thing they saw the most of - that would be weeds. Meanwhile, I'm back inside honing my Powerpoint skills and making a poster worthy of some advertising award.

We then all load back up in the van, sans 'Weedy' and go post our flier at the entrance to the neighborhood. Thankfully, the rest is all downhill from there. Baths were a welcome relief (for me) and removed any all all skin lichens the kids may have unknowingly retained by caressing your random lost animal. Bedtime was filled with many prayers for this special friend who came into our lives.

I even found myself having a fitful sleep that night - worried about the dog. Would the shelter take the animal? Did I have to set up an appointment? What if they thought it was my own I was trying to pass off as a stray? What time would they open? Would the owners think to look there? I was up early in the morning looking for the number. I thought I'd check on the dog and see how she made it through the night. She didn't.

She was no where in sight. I looked everywhere in the backyard. Evidently, we weren't the kind of family she wanted rescuing her and she dug her way out to better pickings. I was nervous about breaking this news to the kids. Bennett's response was, "Great. We lost a lost dog."

Yep. That pretty much sums the whole fiasco up.

Apr 7, 2008

History Lesson

4/07/2008 — cori

Evidently, Chloe has been trying to wade through the murky waters of the concept of time. History is spoken of, taught, read about and discussed a lot in this house. We just can't seem to get enough of it. You might even call me a history junkie of sorts. Not that I could spout off random dates and facts to you, my mind doesn't work that way. I love history for the stories and for the lessons you learn from them. So, I'm forever telling the kids stories from history so they can make modern day connections to those same lessons.

In order to make the story understandable to Bennett and Chloe, however, I have to discuss time in very broad, sweeping strokes. For instance, 'A Long Time Ago' or 'Back Then' could mean Creation or the Civil War or when Grandma and Grandpa were kids - it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that they weren't there and that's pretty much all they care about. They normally ask, "Was I still in heaven when this happened?" This is normally our reference point. When you're 4 and 6 you still have a very egocentric world view (how sad that many 30, 40 and 50 year olds still do too).

Anyways, every other Monday the kids and I deliver food to the elderly at a Senior Apartment complex in our city. We were stopped by several old ladies in hall and enjoying visiting with each other for quite a well. They did a lot of reminiscing of days gone by. Fine by me, I love to listen to their stories. As we parted ways, Chloe asked me, "Mommy, are we in the back thens?"

I could totally see her point of view. Here we were with a bunch of old ladies talking about 'back then', so she just assumed we were experiencing it. I told her, "No Honey. Those ladies lived in the 'back thens' but we're not there right now - we're just talking about when they were little girls."

Time is such a funny thing in the eyes of children. I just adore seeing those wheels turning and watching as their brain processes information we take for granted.

Apr 5, 2008

Still Learning

4/05/2008 — cori

I was taught an invaluable lesson by my children tonight. Humility. I was humbled by the wisdom God gave them and they shared with me. I was humbled by the love, forgiveness and acceptance they showed me anyways. I was humbled to see the ugly condition of my heart. Let me explain:

Today was almost a perfect day. It was my daughter's fourth birthday. As is tradition, we spent a majority of the day at the Arboretum. We came home to a wonderful, family celebration of opening presents and eating cake. We dressed up for dinner and even got to dance with one another after dinner, per Chloe's request. Could it have been any better? No.

And then came bed time. It all seemed to come about so fast. All of the sudden we were herding them up to their beds, making them clean up their rooms as well as finish their dinner chores. Chloe was having none of that and she put her foot down hard. She ended up throwing quite a royal temper tantrum. I kept my cool during the first one. But by the second one and her refusal to apologize, I lost it. I couldn't handle a perfect day ending up so horribly. I left my poor but patient husband to clean up the mess. I had to go fume.

And boy, did I feel justified...just look at what effort we went through to make this an extraordinary day for our baby, not to mention the hours of pain staking labor I put into making a special cake for her from Family Fun magazine. I just couldn't believe she would be so selfish as to let this wonderful day come to such a demise. That is, until Chuck came to talk to me.

He told me how I needed to separate her yucky choice from the sweet, little girl she is. How I can still be saddened by her response to the close of the day without being mad at her and thinking of her as selfish. He told me I was throwing as big a tantrum as her by letting her actions affect me so. He told me not to throw my expectations of how I think she should be on her and love her for how and who she is right now. Ouch. Lastly, he explained his theory as to why he thinks she acted out the way she did. He thinks she was sad to see such a fun day come to an end so abruptly. So she dug her heels in and fought it tooth and nail. Why didn't I see it? She was just sad.

I'd eaten enough humble pie and knew it was time to go upstairs and say goodnight to the children. I went to see the boys first. Gavin sat straight up and said, "Mom, I think I know why people argue. It's because they don't take the time to see each other's point of view. If we would just try to look at the other person's point of view, we might never have an argument." How much worse could it get? Did I really need to hear this from him right now? Evidently that and more so. "And another thing Mom, I've noticed that at the end of really fun days, you get really snappy. I think its just because of how hard you worked and you're just real tired." Then I chose to finish his sentence for him because I knew I had to...."but that doesn't excuse it. I can't let my circumstances control my actions. I'm so sorry guys. I hate being a snappy mommy." Of course they lavished forgiveness on me.

Then Gavin pretty much told me the same thing Chuck did as to why he thinks Chloe was so upset at bedtime. My heart ached so bad for how my selfishness had hurt the people I loved most, all because I didn't take the time to look through their eyes at the situation. The easy way is to lord your authority over a small child. It's much harder to act graciously yet firmly setting boundaries. Another ouch. I was too choked up to say another word. Then Bennett had to go and give me his two cents.

He advised me about how he handles frustration at the end of his day. He says, "Mom, when I'm frustrated at the end of the day I just take a deep breath and let it all out. That's all." It really is that simple, isn't it? And it took these precious souls to sear it deep into my heart.

I ran to Chloe's room, woke her up and apologized from the bottom of my heart for not really listening to her, for not taking the time to just sit and reminisce over the most wonderful day of her four little years, for being insistent on my way. Confession is good for the soul. We cuddled a long time after that, my heart breaking the whole time for the baby who is now a little girl.

Turns out I was the selfish, stubborn, non-listening one who ruined the eve of this most wonderful day. Who knew?

Another day...another lesson learned, the hard way. Thank God for grace!

Apr 2, 2008

In A Galaxy Far, Far Away...

4/02/2008 — cori

...lived my children and their alter egos. They each have their own 'world' with rules, languages and people. It's amazing to me how much these worlds mirror their own daily lives with the exception that they are the ones in control, not Mommy or Daddy. I guess this is their coping mechanism for dealing with the unfair and unjust treatment periodically disposed on them by their captors in this, the present and real world that they are forced to live in. Thus begins the saga...

(note: all stories have been authenticated and fully explained by the main inhabitant of said world.

This is a big city. It stretches from Daddy's room to the upstairs couch. Her Mommy name is Sarah and she is 25, but her kid name is Chloe. Her main kid is Baby and she is 12. She also has other kids whose names are Flank (age 12) and Lessaneen and Kless (both 2). Her friend is Jefanina and she is 12 and plans on staying to her house forever (her exact phraseology). There are several dresses they like to wear here, they are: a Barbie dress, a snow white dress (but she doesn't know where it is), a bride dress and her 'becital' (translated: recital) dress. Her becital is in March where they show people dances.

(post script: at this phase of the dictation, the main inhabitant of this world ran off to demonstrate the dances to be seen at said becital)

If you are lucky enough to live in this world, you would herald yourself a 'Bennetonian'. This is a fabulous place. Everyone who lives here is part of Bennett's family - thus, this is a highly social planet. However, he has declared himself King. Everyone here has a house made out of Three Musketeers candy bars with Mike and Ikes for the roofs. They love cereal, chocolate and caramel. They eat and play all day and then watch t.v the rest of the afternoon. If you live here, you can walk through walls, you have super vision (can see through stuff) as well as superb hearing. Add to that super strength, super speed and the ability to stretch very far...there's pretty much nothing you can't do. They enjoy playing football and basketball. You will also see a plethora of cheetahs, lions, jaguars, panthers, hawks and wolves - but they don't hurt you. If you can talk in random, nonsense speak, then you pretty much have the language of Bennetonians down pat.

(preface: in the interest of saving time, this has been edited down to a shorter version. To understand and appreciate Gavinworld in it's entirety, you must go to it's official website: www.supergem.blogspot.com. This small, limited space doesn't begin to do it justice.)

Gavintalians have great t.v. that they spend 3 hours watching daily. There are skyscrapers reaching 20 miles into the sky. One fourth of the world is city and the other three fourths are forest and oceans. Everyone knows each other and calls each other "dude", but it comes out sounding like "dud". Each Gavitalian is outfitted with the following powers: supersonic hearing and vision as well as heat ray vision. This is solely for the purpose of staying aware of bad guys within the vicinity and knowing when to run away and hide.

The main inhabitant's name is Marsupial Garfbowl. His work is very similar to Superman's job. He works in the newspaper industry as well as working as a computer guy part-time on the side. They have really good jobs in Gavinworld such as: computers, making vehicles as well as fighting crime (that's only a night job).

SuperGavin (a.k.a. Marsupial Garfbowl when he's not fighting crime) is superstrong, can fly, has all kinds of vision: microscopic, telescopic, x-ray and heat. He is hurt proof and can hold his breath for 120 hours in order to fly into outerspace in case a crime fighting expedition takes him that way.

The people aren't as lazy as Bennetonian's (his words - not mine). They keep their house in good shape and love to play games such as Loot, Phase 10, Uno, Ziggity, Yahtzee and Star Wars video games. You will also be pleased to know that they have great libraries here - all the books you want along with a great cataloging system. Gavintalians are also very smart!

Everything is ranked here in Gavinworld, even the chocolate. The rankings are as follows: The category of Best goes to Milk Chocolate. The rest are listed in descending order: Green Chocolate, White Chocolate and lastly Dark Chocolate.

In Gavinworld one never gets sick. Bonus! They have special counting techniques. Follow closely, it can get a little confusing. Begin counting as normal, however, once you reach 29 continue on with 20-10, 20-11, 20-12, 20-13 and so forth. This practically doubles the amount of numbers. Swell.

And there you have it. I'm amazed at how often the Real world and these other worlds collide. I often wander between worlds in a daze, never exactly sure where I am and who I'm speaking to. Just one more way they mess with my mind. But I've got to admit - I love it!

Apr 1, 2008

Overly Polite?

4/01/2008 — cori
You would think my children live with Miss Manners. I'm a stickler for being polite - to each other as well as others.. It's almost as if they come from the womb with the innate knowledge that I expect them to precede each opening of the mouth with the utterance "excuse me". Either I'm forever saying it, so they are parroting me or I just harp on them about it way too much.

Gavin, being the first born, was ever conscientious about living up to my expectations and always trying to please me. He uttered that beautiful phrase with such precision. I was (and still am) a proud Mom. He was very articulate as a toddler. It was just adorable to hear with his little pip-squeak voice, "Uh, ex-quuuuze me Mommy, but I need to go potty." Music to a mother's ears. To this day, when he begins a sentence to anyone, it starts with "excuse me". He is determined not to be rude! He doesn't speak with much force in his voice (at least to strangers - he seems to reserve the loud, excitable voice for indoor use with us only). How many 9 year olds do you hear talking to their friends, "Excuse me [best friend], would you like to go climb on that tree over there?"

Then there's Bennett....there's always Bennett. The one forever making a joke out of things that aren't even funny. I'm envisioning my little 18month old toddler who seemed to forever have a wet shirt from a faucet of never-ending drool spouting from some invisible hole in his chin. He always wore a smirk on his face. You couldn't help but laugh when looking at him. That only seemed to fuel his fire. And remember, this is the kid that talked in triplicate EVERYTIME he spoke. "No, no, no" or "eat, eat, eat" or even now it's "look, look, look". He had such a low voice. We've always jokingly called him our 'little cartoon'. Well, why would being polite be any different? Combine that low voice, wet chin, mischievous grin with the "foo me, foo me, foo me". How could anyone take that seriously? Foo me was his way of saying "excuse me". So, say for example, he was wanting Gavin's attention this is what you would hear, "foo me, foo me, foo me, vuh-vuh, vuh-vuh, vuh-vuh!" He might have accomplished being polite (technically), but he certainly didn't accomplish the not interrupting and being rude part. I guess we should just tackle one issue at a time.

Then along comes Miss Priss. Everything she does has to be precise and perfect. She has no qualms correcting anyone who mispronounces something or misreads a page in a book that she has already memorized. Since all she has ever heard is some version of "excuse me" before her brothers ever talk, the precedent had been set. She is now fully aware of what is right and what is inappropriate. In her world, saying "excuse me" is best done with an airy, princess, mommy voice (you can go ahead and assume here that I always speak this way). Therefore, in order to get everyone's full attention she properly and politely says, "Foo-meet, but I would like to play wif wuu." (of course 'foo meet' is princess for "excuse me"). When no one responds (because no one can actually hear the airy princess voice), she has had enough and yells at the top of her lungs, "Foo meet!!!! Fumone peeeeez play wif me!!! NOW!"

I don't know that any of those qualify as being overly polite...but we're heading down the right path...I hope.

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