Category: Parenting

2015 in review

We are just days away from a new year. I can’t help but look back on 2015 with much appreciation for all of you! I am blown away by how many people follow and comment on my blog each week!

WordPress put together this annual report for The Whatever Mom, complete with site stats and most popular posts. Feel free to read through. 

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,600 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I am also excited to share that I was recently interviewed for I Am a Hudson Valley Parent. I have been lucky enough to blog for Hudson Valley Parent for the last two years. I am honored to be a featured parent in 2016.

One of the questions I was asked about my blogging revealed an answer that surprised me. I shared that the toughest thing for me about writing my blog is revealing the darker parts of parenting, the less glamorous and talked about struggles.

This has me thinking, what parenting topics would you all like to see discussed in 2016? Please feel free to comment below with your suggestions or email them to [email protected]

I look forward to continuing to grow my blog with desirable content, building my Whatever Army and connecting with new friends! Thank you all so much for a great year! See you all in 2016!!

The Whatever Mom is a full time mom and part time crazy lady living off the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry, sandwich making and writing her blog. It is her dream parents every where will join her Whatever Army and accept that we are all in this together!

 

 

 

 

 

Wanting Perfection: The Struggle Is Real

Perfection, the struggle is real.

All of my perfectly scheduled plans were derailed this week with a late night trip to the Emergency room. That of course was NOT part of my plan! But, there I was taking my very first ride in an ambulance to the ER. All I could think of was how this is going to set me back in everything I have to do this week. I was in a lot of pain, but I still kept thinking about my to-do list. Even after the ER staff settled me into a room and made me comfortable, I found myself reaching for my phone. I thought, “Let me just check in on my social media while I’m waiting.” Then the voice of reason shouted over that thought with, “what are you crazy? You are EXHAUSTED! You are in PAIN!! Just sit still and RELAX!!!” I couldn’t really relax, but I did put the phone away. I closed my eyes and thought about Christmas.

The "carnage" from my ER visit.
The “carnage” from my ER visit.

I am not sharing this to elicit any kind of sympathy in fact I’m going to be OK. It is nothing life threatening! But, this is a very familiar place for me. I talk all the time about letting go of perfection and yet I STILL struggle with this ALL. THE. TIME. Apparently, even while I’m in an ambulance all I can think of is how much time I’m wasting being there, when in fact there is exactly where I needed to be! Agh! Ironically, it was an ER visit nearly three years ago that led me to my “Whatever philosophy” of letting go of perfection in the first place! Double Agh! As you can see letting go of perfection really takes some work for me.

I returned home at 4 a.m. My babies were still sound asleep and I went in to kiss each of them good night. I am so lucky I made it home safe (and still healthy despite a visit to the ER). I realize this is as close to perfection as I can get in my parenting: two healthy kids who have zero interest in my to-do list. When they wake tomorrow all they will want from me is to play, hugs, kisses and of course demand which color cup they want. It won’t be all smiles and sweetness. There will be some crying and some yelling and I won’t get a single thing on my to-do list completed. But, that’s OK.

“If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands-” ― Milton Berleading

After a couple hours of sleep I woke up exhausted. I wasn’t ready to face the day alone at home wrangling the twins while I recuperated. It felt daunting at best. But, an angel really came through for me. She helped me get my kids to school and kept them a little longer until their dad could pick them up for me. This was such a gift, the gift of time to heal! It wasn’t our usual routine but my kids just went with it (unusual). The plan I had outlined for the day wasn’t happening with perfect execution, but it was perfect for today!

Christmas is only 9 days away and if everything on my to-do list gets finished, GREAT! If not, I’m going to be OK with that too. I don’t need the gifts wrapped on a schedule, or the crafts finished by a deadline to make this Christmas perfect. I just need to be with my family at home.

As always thank you all for reading each week! I hope you all find joy today, no matter what today brings!

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

 

On The Twelfth Day of Service Give a Merry Makeover

10

It’s the twelfth and final day of my service series! I hope you have enjoyed all the fun ways my kids and I give back during the holidays. Now there is nothing saying you have to do all twelve service projects or any projects at all. You can pick one that is the easiest and most affordable for you! Or, you can schedule it for another part of the year that is more manageable for you.

Being a stay at home mom for five years now means we’ve had to survive on one income. There were a couple of tight years when my husband had to work two jobs.  He delivered newspapers in the early, dark mornings on his way to his regular 9-5 job. He never had a morning off and he worked every holiday. It did not matter that there was a drop of 26 inches of snow overnight people STILL demanded their $1.00 newspaper be delivered directly to their door. I don’t know how my husband kept that job for two years. But, when providing for a family you do whatever it takes.

This gave me a much deeper perspective and appreciation for people in service positions. From the person who delivers the newspaper, the mail carrier to the people who take away your garbage- we NEED them! Their jobs are valuable because they make our lives convenient and comfortable. For this I think they deserve some recognition and some gratitude. So, today we decorated our mail box!

 

Give your mailbox a Merry Makeover

Without fail through sleet, through snow and rain our mail arrives! I would not want to walk miles in the rain to deliver a flyer, or worse bills that brings stress to many families. HOWEVER, they do get to bring me some cheer at Christmas! They fill my box each day in December with cards from family and friends. So to that I say THANK YOU!! During Christmas week we will leave a small gift outside for our mail man- a pair of gloves, a lotto ticket and a gift card for coffee. All fun things he can put in his pocket and take along with him.

Your kids will love decorating the mail box with pretty bows and wrapping paper. Help them make a thank you card, or sign to attach to the box. Have them help you wrap each small gift and let them leave it in the mailbox for your carrier to find! This is a great way to teach kids that no job is insignificant.

Thank you for sharing the last 12 days with me! I appreciate ALL OF YOU reading along and taking the time to share your comments. You have brightened my days and I enjoy sharing the Christmas spirit with you!! I’ll see you all again next week when I return to my regularly scheduled Wednesday post and Friday Favorites!

Related posts:

On The First Day Of Service Host A Food Drive

On The Second Day of Service Host A Coat Drive

On The Third Day of Service Make A Special Delivery

On The Fourth Day of Service Send Some Cheer

On The Fifth Day of Service Give Some Swag

On The Sixth Day of Service Rise Together

On The Seventh Day of Service Make A Furry Friend

On The Eighth Day of Service Express Your Gratitude

On The Ninth Day of Service Share Your Spirit

On The Tenth Day of Service Give the Gift of Your Best Self

On The Eleventh Day of Service Give A Stranger Warmth

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

On the Tenth Day of Service Give the Gift of Your Best Self

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Our nine days of service have included some great experiences to share with the kids. I hope you enjoy the simplicity and are inspired to find creative ways to include your kids in service to others. Now, I am going to suggest you give back in a way only YOU can. Give a friend, a neighbor, or a stranger your best self.

How can you help?

  1. See another mom at school drop off who looks overwhelmed? Ask her out for coffee. As moms we don’t take the time for ourselves, we so easily give it way. But, if we schedule time with someone else we are more apt to follow through. Connecting over coffee will give both of you time to recharge.
  2. See a neighbor who lives alone? Don’t just drop off a note, knock on the door. Invite them over for tea and chat for a while. If they aren’t able to make it out of the house take them a meal and stay a while to talk. Giving someone your full attention even for fifteen minutes of small talk could mean the world to them.
  3. See someone who needs a shopping cart? Offer them yours. Give them a big smile and wish them a great day. The thoughtfulness of strangers can be very uplifting.
  4. Is there someone you miss talking to? Put away the to-do list and pick up the phone. Give them a call and check in. Ask how they are doing and find out what’s new. You’ll be glad you took the time to catch up.
  5. Look at people’s faces while standing in line at the grocery store. Talk to them about the weather. Notice something about them you like: a scarf, a pin, their shoes and give them a compliment. Talk to the cashier about how busy the store looks today and thank them for their service. It can be rare that someone tells us something nice about ourselves that even the smallest compliment can give us a boost.

I know all of my service posts have featured small acts with big impact. I’ve showed you how to package up gifts and cards and send them out to people in need. But, not all of us need material things. Some of us just need to be recognized. Some of us just need a little kindness in our day. Like a pebble dropped into the water the ripples travel outward until they join the current and create a big wave. Together we can start a tidal wave just by being our best selves this holiday.

 

Related posts:

On The First Day Of Service Host A Food Drive

On The Second Day of Service Host A Coat Drive

On The Third Day of Service Make A Special Delivery

On The Fourth Day of Service Send Some Cheer

On The Fifth Day of Service Give Some Swag

On The Sixth Day of Service Rise Together

On The Seventh Day of Service Make A Furry Friend

On The Eighth Day of Service Express Your Gratitude

On The Ninth Day of Service Share Your Spirit

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

On The Eighth Day of Service Express Your Gratitude

12 Days of Service

I’ll never forget the Christmas my brother in-law Joe was serving in Iraq. The entire holiday season felt off because we were all so worried about his safety on the other side of the world. We built care packages for him and included items for him to share with the members of his unit. We wanted to be sure if anyone was missing letters and packages from home there was enough for Joe to share. Thankfully, he was only gone for the one Christmas and returned home safely shortly after.

During his time on active duty I helped host a collection drive and assembled shoe boxes of supplies to send to our soldiers. Since then I have remembered to send letters and cards at Christmas. This year, I have found a great organization that makes it really easy for parents and kids to give back to members of the military: Operation Gratitude.

OPGA_poster_army

There are several ways you can share your support through Operation Gratitude. One of the easiest and least expensive ways is to assemble a care kit. This small kit of personal care items is included in care packages shipped to 150,000+ deployed Troops, Recruits, Veterans and Wounded Warriors. These kits are a valued contribution to the packages. Most requested items include: Lip Balm, Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Roll-on Deodorant, Razors, Individual packets of moist towelettes, Hand/Foot Warmers, Foot powder (travel size).

You and your kids can shop for and fill one bag, or invite friends to donate items and have a stuffing party. Fill a gallon sized Zip Lock bag, or a clear toiletry travel kit with your care items. (All of which can be found at your local dollar store). Be sure to include a personal letter, or card for the recipient.

write a letter

If you are unable to assemble kits because of the cost, or maybe you just have really little ones and it’s hard to get everyone out of the house, write a letter! Your words of encouragement and gratitude will go a long way. Yes, even the scribbles and stickers from a small child will help brighten someone’s day!

Sharing in this simple activity is a great reminder for children how important it is to lend our support and say thank you to our military. It helps instill gratitude for those who are serving to keep us safe.

Related posts:

One The First Day of Service Host a Food Drive

On The Second Day of Service Host a Coat Drive

On The Third Day of Service Make a Special Delivery

On The Fourth Day of Service Send Some Cheer

On The Fifth Day of Service Give Some Swag

On The Sixth Day of Service Rise Together

On the Seventh Day of Service Make a Furry Friend

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

 

 

On The Sixth Day of Service Rise Together

12 Days of Service

As we are counting down the days until we wake up on Christmas morning surrounded by our families, there are thousands of children in our foster care system just hoping for a family for Christmas. Currently there are around a half of a million children in foster homes in America; many of them waiting to be adopted by a forever family to call their own.

This statistic is pretty heart breaking. But, to hear that foster kids are handed two trash bags upon entering foster care tugs pretty hard at my heart strings too. They move from home to home with their belongings in plastic bags meant to carry garbage.

Kids in foster care get two trash bags to carry their belongings.
Kids in foster care get two trash bags to carry their belongings.

My friend Rachel adopted her beautiful little girl from foster care. At her celebration party Rachel and her family collected comfort items to donate to our local foster kids. They decorated canvas bags and filled them with teddy bears, toys and hygiene items. They donated the bags to the local foster care division at the Department of Social Services.

How can you help? Contact your local Department of Social Services to ask for a list of needed items and arrange for a drop off date. Ask your friends and family for bags and the needed items. Host a get together to decorate the bags and fill them. Kids of any age can help stuff items into a bag and help bring comfort to these vulnerable kids.

The GIVEBACK BOX can assist 10 children in your local community with Care Packages this holiday season.
The GIVEBACK BOX can assist 10 children in your local community with Care Packages this holiday season.

Not sure you have the time to get out and gather up the items yourself? Together We Rise makes it even easier! Make one online donation of $50 to sponsor a sweet case and you’re done! Sweet cases are duffle bags filled with comfort items and hygiene items and it gives children in foster care a more dignified way to move to a new home. You can sponsor one case, or call upon your friends and family to split the cost of a Give Back Box!

For a $250 donation ($25 per person times 10 contributors) you can purchase a kit filled with all the items you need to stuff 10 sweet cases. Host a get together in your home, or round up co-workers at the office to decorate and stuff the bags. Then, deliver to your local foster care agency. Shipping is FREE on the first 20 bags. LAST SHIPPING DATE IS DECEMBER 14TH via FEDEX.

Whichever way you choose to give back it will have a great impact on a child going through a difficult transition. This is a great way to help instill compassion in your young children, and it gives them greater perspective that some kids just need a family.

Watch this clip to learn more about sweet cases:

 

 

Related posts:

One The First Day of Service Host a Food Drive

On The Second Day of Service Host a Coat Drive

On The Third Day of Service Make a Special Delivery

On The Fourth Day of Service Send Some Cheer

On The Fifth Day of Service Give Some Swag

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

 

On The Third Day of Service Make a Special Delivery

12 Days of Service

One of the easiest ways to show someone you care at Christmas is to make a delicious baked treat. Perhaps you have a specialty you make each year? Or, maybe you are of the Pillsbury persuasion? Either way sweet treats are a sweet way to show your appreciation!

Every year our local fire department drives through our neighborhood with Santa on a bright red fire engine, sirens blaring. Santa sits up high and waves to the kids below while the fire fighters walk alongside of the truck. Each fire fighter walks the length of our driveway to wish our kids Merry Christmas and presents them with a candy cane. It’s a small token of their generosity, but my kids look forward to it every year.

Besides running into a burning building to save lives (voluntarily) our local smoke jumpers do a lot to prepare the kids in our town for a fire emergency. They dedicate a lot of time to educating kids on fire safety and showing off their gear. This makes seeing a fire fighter less scary if ever faced with one in full turn out gear during a fire emergency. They try to prepare our young kids how to stay safe. It is such a valuable service many of them provide for free.

Home made cookies for our local police officers and fire fighters.
Home made cookies for our local police officers and fire fighters.

 

We can’t forget about our police officers! The officers in our small town do so much to help raise money for kid’s charities and give back to our community. They offer free bike safety programs, host car seat safety checks, show off their K9 partners and visit kids with McGruff the Crime Dog and obviously, put their lives on the line to keep our streets safe. I’ve also heard they are very kind when pulling over a stay at home mom who may or may not have a tail light out. *wink*

Everyone loves to get some love and appreciation from the community they serve. So bake up a few dozen of your favorite cookies! Call ahead to your local fire station or police station and ask when a good time to make a delivery is. You want to be sure you aren’t interrupting a scheduled training and that someone is there to accept your donation. Have the kids make some thank you cards and let them deliver in person with you. Dropping off a tray of cookies is an easy way to say thanks, and a casual way to introduce your kids to important community helpers.

Related posts: On The First Day of Service Host a Food Drive, On The Second Day of Service Host a Coat Drive

 

he Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

 

On The Second Day of Service Host a Coat Drive

12 Days of Service

You’ll start to notice a pattern in these posts. I confess I didn’t leave my house for much the first few years after the twins were born, it was just too chaotic to do by myself. So, I had to get a little creative and figure out ways to streamline my community service without really leaving my house. I held a lot of drives in my home and delivered to one outside location. This made it much easier for me, we met the needs of people in our community and my toddlers could help right alongside of me.

Volunteering your home as a collection site for warm clothes is super easy. Start by contacting a local agency that you know is collecting items and arrange for a drop off date. Decide if you want to collect for one day, or collect over a longer time frame. Send out an email, text or Facebook event asking friends and family to bring their gently used/like new winter coats, hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, snow boots and snow suites they are willing to donate. Put out a collection box and have everyone drop their items inside. That’s it! Once you have collected from your last volunteer you are ready to deliver the items on the scheduled drop off date!

Our coat collection during the girls' 4th birthday party.
Our coat collection during the girls’ 4th birthday party.

If you are not aware of any coat drives happening near you, you can contact your local department of social services and ask if they are collecting donations. Very often they collect for children in foster care who do not have enough winter wear. Most often children taken into foster care leave their homes in a hurry and there may not be enough time, or funds, to secure a coat or boots quick enough. Your donations will help fill that gap for them.

If you are feeling especially festive you can host a drive for an hour or two and put out some cookies and cocoa, or eggnog. (After all ’tis the season to celebrate!). Be sure to send a follow up thank you to everyone who donated. An email or Facebook update with a photo of you and the kids dropping off items makes for an excellent digital thank you card.

Related post: On The First Day of Service Host a Food Drive

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

 

Black Friday Favorites- Barefoot Books! **Exclusive Discount**

Barefoot Books Black Friday Savings

If you have never had the pleasure of reading a book from Barefoot books, allow me to introduce you! My friend Gloria first shared these books with me when our kids were just babies. I was immediately drawn to the rich illustrations and the wonderful positive messages of each story.

Barefoot books began in the early 1990’s as a way to honor children’s stories from all over the world. The diversity offered through Barefoot books is a great introduction to other cultures, different abilities and empowered child characters. There are books for children of all ages and stages. Your kids will immediately love the colors, the beautiful illustrations and become captivated by the stories!

Here are some of our favorites:

The Girl With A Brave Heart – a story about Shiraz, a kindhearted young girl growing up in Tehran. She is miserable living with her stepmother and stepsister because they treat her like a servant. A powerful story about patience, perseverance and empathy.

Photo credit: www.barefootbooks.com
Image credit: www.barefootbooks.com

 

Lin Yi’s Lantern– a heartwarming story shows the rewards of putting others first, and includes educational notes at the end about the Chinese moon festival.

Photo found on www.barefootbooks.com
Image credit:  http://www.barefootbooks.com

 

Grandpa’s Garden – kids are drawn in by the poetic language and warm illustrations. It creates the excitement of watching things grow!

Image credit: www.barefootbooks.com
Image credit: http://www.barefootbooks.com

 

I Took the Moon for a Walk – follow a young boy and the moon as they overcome the fear of the dark and discover the world at night. The end of the book includes notes about the moon and plants and animals that thrive in the wee hours of the night.

I Took the Moon for a Walk
Image credit: http://www.barefootbooks.com

 

Barefoot Books are my favorite books to buy for my kids! I try to include a handful of new ones each year in our book a night Christmas countdown! The books are durable and illustrated with unique artwork. To purchase Barefoot Books you typically host a party (at home or online) where you earn free books and a discount. But, just for being my reader you don’t need to host anything!

My very generous friend Heather is offering a 30% discount on any book orders placed on Black Friday THROUGH Cyber Monday (by 8 p.m.)!!! For every order over $50 Heather will donate one book to a sick child through my charity Operation Christmas Cheer! You can tick off Christmas gifts AND do something good in less than 10 minutes!! No standing in line at 5:00 a.m.! How convenient is that?!?

To receive your 30% discount you must SHOP Heather’s Barefoot Ambassador website and then email your order to[email protected] Write “Whatever30” in the subject line to get your EXCLUSIVE discount!

Go ahead do-gooder, shop and save away! Put a smile on your kids faces and bring some cheer to kids in and out of the hospital during Christmas!

(Tip: The website allows you to take a peek inside of each book! Just click the “Step Inside” circle on the corner of the book cover!).

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

 

 

Let Go Of The Perfect Holiday

Don't Expect The Perfect Holiday

Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK?! I haven’t even carved the turkey yet and I’m already stressed! How will I get it all done? When will I have time to shop? I’m already worried how I will make this the best Christmas ever! There are so many things for us to do and see it just gets so overwhelming!

I decided this week I need to put on the breaks. I’ve had a crazy week with two sick kids, one dental procedure and zero time to prep. In all this madness I’m still obsessing about perfection when I’m living in total chaos! I need to put aside all the to-do lists, sit away from the kids and listen to my own needs. (Yes, I know how hard that is!). I have to ask myself what is the most simplistic need for my family to enjoy the holiday season? Do we need perfect cookies? Perfect gifts? Do we need perfect cards and attend every party? Do we even need to eat a turkey?

When I really think about it, I don’t need to over work myself to make anything perfect. My kids won’t remember perfection. They won’t even know how many hours a night I spend crafting the perfect family cards, pouring over turkey day recipes, or wrapping the gifts with crisp efficiency.  What they will remember is the warmth. The warmth I wrap around each of them when I open my heart and give my love generously. The love I am teaching them to give to the world around us.

So, what am I going to let go of this year? The pressure I put on myself to make the holiday perfect. My husband and I have carefully selected the number of activities we want to participate in. We are letting go of rushing to several events in one day and choosing to spend more time at home cozied up in front of the TV.  Santa is a cool dude, but we don’t need to see him fourteen different places to know it’s Christmas. So, we will do our traditional one photo with Santa. I plan to spend time baking and connecting in the kitchen; and snuggling up every night with a new Christmas book. My kids are getting one dream gift each and the rest will be things they need.

This year I am scaling back from the over-doing and letting my kids excitement lead me into the holiday season. I only have a short time in their childhood to form the memories they will carry through the rest of their lives. The last thing I want for them to remember is my stress for perfection. I want them to remember mommy made things feel like magic because she was right there enjoying the moment.

The season of giving and of gifts is short lived. But, it is the perfect time to let go of the pressure to make every detail perfect. Not every moment has to be perfect for it to be memorable. It’s OK to say NO to material things, it’s OK to say NO to rushing around and it is perfectly OK to say YES to letting go of big expectations for how we celebrate our holidays.

 

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

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