A Case of Mistaken Identity

When we went to Disneyland, the first ride we had to go on was Star Tours. The line was ten minutes long, so I handed the boys their brand new fidget spinners, purchased for moments like these. I took the time to work on my Spanish on my language app. (Sure, it looks like I was annoying my kids as I played Candy Crush, but, honest, I was working on learning a second language that will help me as a person, a teacher, and a mom. I’m way on top of it.) And the line moved on. In less than ten minutes, we were on board.

For those who have never been on the ride, right before the ride starts, they snap a picture of a guest. Capacity of the ride is 40 people. During the ride, a picture, in shades of blue, is shown of the guest as the rebel spy. I have friends who have ridden the ride until their kids were the spy. It’s neat.

I was sitting next to Tornado E, who sat next to Tornado A, who sat next to Tornado S. The ride took off, and the rebel spy was revealed.

Those big eyes. That bald head. My family’s traditional cheeks and nose. Oh my god, my little Sith Lord is a rebel spy! Tornado E and I looked over at Tornado S and started laughing.

We laughed through the whole ride. Our Sith Lord was a rebel spy! There was good in him after all. He belonged to us; he belonged to the rebellion. And We. Are Never. Going to let him live it down.

We got off the ride and congratulated Tornado S, teasing him about his new role.

Tornado S: I’m not the spy!

Tornado E: We saw your picture, Tornado S!

Me: Everyone saw it, rebel spy. Would you like a shirt? I’ll buy you a shirt!

Tornado S: I’m not the spy!

Tornado E: Yes, you were!

Me: I’m totally buying a shirt. I always knew you would rejoin the light side.

Tornado S: I’m not the spy! I wore my hat the whole time!

Huh. He was wearing his hat. He was wearing his hat during the ride. So was Tornado E. Tornado E and I turned to the last child.

Tornado S: Tornado A was the rebel spy!

Tornado A: (with a huge smile) Fooled you!

I feel like that should have been a Spaceballs reference. Also my kids look goddamn similar.

Me: (huh. Do I look like a bad mom for not being able to tell my kids apart when they’re pictured in blue scale?) Do you want a shirt, Tornado A?

Tornado A: (shakes head) No. But can I have a light saber?!

Like the other three light sabers that you boys built last time we were at Disneyland. Like the other 5 (Is it 5 or 7) light sabers we already have. Your grandparents are going to yell at me if we bring home any more light sabers.

Me: I don’t want to carry souvenirs all day, so let’s keep looking around. If you want one at the end of the day, you can have one.

Which was interrupted as: Please, start building a light saber right now and act like I never said a word.

They did leave the light saber building area. And we did go back so the boys could build light sabers before we left.

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Plans and What Kids Do to Them

The first night of vacation, I had a brilliant plan. Go to Mrs. Knott’s for dinner because they give your ridiculous amounts of food, food that has to be brought home, food perfect for a lunch at the picnic tables outside of Disneyland.

Mrs. Knott’s is the restaurant that built Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park. The line to get into to the restaurant was so long that Mr. Knott built attractions to occupy people as they waited to get some of that delicious friend chicken. The restaurant today still uses Mrs. Knott’s recipes. An adult dinner, though slightly pricey, gets you a salad, chicken noodle soup, a vegetable, mash potatoes, 4 pieces of fried chicken, and a dessert.

My brilliant plan was to have Tornado E order an adult meal, eat what he could, and then take the rest for lunch at Disneyland. But Tornado E didn’t want to order an adult meal because a few months ago he had been with his dad, ordered the meal, and was berated for not finishing it. (Honestly most adults can’t finish the meal.) I assured Tornado E that he only had to eat what he could. Then he wanted to order chicken-and-dumplings. What? No! That’s what I’m getting, and I want the fried chicken. We’ll share. Then he wanted chicken strips. Stop messing with my plan, child!

Plan B. Everyone orders what they want, and I’ll order chicken from the to-go place.

We arrived at the restaurant a couple of hours from getting into California from our 8 hour drive. Tornado E conceded to my plan with the promise that he only had to eat what he felt like and could have some of my chicken-and-dumplings. Tornado A ordered macaroni and cheese; while, Tornado S ordered chicken legs. I ordered the chicken-and-dumplings. The waitress, bless her heart, told me I could order it without the meal, but I could not pass up an opportunity to have chicken noodle soup.

The kids meals came with a large slice of Jell-O. Tornado S got mash potatoes with his chicken. Along with the meal, we got a huge plate of biscuits. The boys ordered boysenberry punch because Walter Knott bred and produced boysenberries.

Our first courses came, and the two younger boys tried my soup. Then I had to fight them off. Down, boys. It’s a cream based chicken noodle soup, and it’s heavenly. Tornado S contented himself by begging Tornado E for his salad. Eventually Tornado E relented just in time for the rest of the meal to arrive.

Tornado E was too full to eat anything, until Tornado A didn’t want his macaroni and cheese, which was a homemade recipe with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top and broiled. Tornado E ate Tornado A’s macaroni and cheese; while, Tornado A ate Tornado E’s mashed potatoes. Tornado S ate one chicken leg, Tornado E’s salad, and his corn. I relished half my chicken-and-dumplings until I was regrettably too full. While I mourned all that delicious food going to waste, the boys chimed up to try it. In the end, there was only a quarter left. We ended up with 5 pieces of chicken, one for all of us and my best friend, for lunch.

For dessert, the boys had boysenberry sherbet, and I had boysenberry pie. We spent dessert talking about the importance of tipping. I had Tornado E figure out the tip.

We spent the rest of the evening exploring the shops and running back to the restroom where Tornado A would do his business. Because he’s been having potty issues, I rewarded him with candy of his choosing before realizing it was nearly bedtime and we had an early day that next morning.

We raced back to the hotel room where I got everyone in bed, settled, and read them a bed time story. They all went out like lights which was surprising because they all had slept a little on the ride over, but then they had been with their dad for 5 days without a bedtime and allowed to get up before 6am.

As I paced around the room to get my steps in, the time ticked on. Until Tornado A started vomiting. EVERYWHERE. I grabbed a towel to catch some of it. By the fourth hurl, I had enough sense to tell him to go to the bathroom. He tagged the pillows, the sheets, the blankets, the towels. In the bathroom, his messy hands held onto the shower curtain as he hurled. It took another couple towels to clean the mess. I wiped him down with a hand towel. I took all the dirty blankets, except the bottom sheet, off the bed and tried to clean them. I laid down another towel on the bed and put Tornado A back to bed.

I cleaned as best I could.

Tornado A has a touch of motion sickness. With all that food, well, it didn’t sit right.

I got into bed with him later, worrying that he was sick or that he wasn’t done.

He was. He was fine. The next morning he was fine.

Before Disneyland, I warned the front desk and left a large tip on the bed.

 

Not Writing on Vacation

(I apologize. I had writer’s block. I still may, but I’m sitting down to write any ways. Good luck, reader.)

One of the reasons I haven’t written in a while is because we went on vacation.

First I was in a blur of prep. When living in my own house and preparing for travel, I had a staging area that I would drop the things we would need on a trip. I may start two weeks out just dropping a thing or two as I remembered it. Usually it would start a few days before. Oh, we need this. And this. After I put this load in, I’ll get this thing out while I’m thinking about it.

I cannot do that in my parents’ house. Oh, my mother will say I can. But I really can’t. The remarks and sighs and looks, you know. So prep drop happens on paper and then 24 hours before the trip, making me look sloppy, but I am pretty organized, so there is that.

Second, I did download the WordPress App. I figured when we had down time, I would write. After the boys went to bed, I would write. But you know what I learned this trip?

We don’t have to hang out at the hotel. For any reason. No one needs naps. We can leave early for things. And my morning birds can’t rise with the sun if the black out curtains are closed. They still get their 10 hours of sleep. But as soon as 10 hours is up, up they jump. So when they went to bed late, they slept in.

We never had down time in the hotel. If we didn’t have a scheduled activity, we went to the beach or to a park. If a boy was tired, he would sit with me and build sandcastles. Since I’m willing to drive all around an area we’re staying with, they rested in the car.

As for night times, usually I am a stickler for bedtimes. My boys don’t sleep in. Dawn comes, and they’re up with the sun. But when I told them we can stay as late as they could handle it at Disneyland, we stayed until nearly 10, getting back to the hotel a little after 10. Then the most amazing thing happened, they woke 10 hours later. (Well, from 10, they fell asleep in the car, woke at the hotel, and went straight to sleep in their beds.) Each night (except the unexpected last night, different story) they went to bed late (and I felt guilty), but they woke after 10 hours refreshed (and I felt less guilty).

I highly recommend not hanging out in the hotel room. No arguing over the TV. No jumping on beds. No wrestling. No fighting. No craziness. It was glorious. I mean, they still fought, argued, and were crazy, just not in a tiny cramped space.

I enjoyed this so much that when my mom suggested we go on vacation together next year, I’m a little hesitant. They like to return to the hotel an hour or so before dinner to relax and go swimming. And I don’t want to go back to that.

(Look at that. When in writing doubt, start from the beginning…..)

Points of Interest

  • I wanted to pack up as much stuff as possible the night before, but my parents decided that all we needed to do was put in the car seats and load the big bags.
  • The mini van was more narrow than my SUV.
  • I was ready at 6am.  They were ten minutes late.  I could have slept in ten more minutes.  Ok. Now I’ll drop it.
  • “Wow.  You should go away more often.  I’ve never seen your house this clean.”  “You’ve never visited at breakfast before the tornadoes are loose.”
  • I can now cuss only in my mind while I struggle to strap boys into seats on a bench slightly too narrow.
  • Best line: “I think your son just got the clap.”  My brother took them to the bathroom at a stop.  “Tornado S laid his junk right on the urinal.”  There is only so much theory teaching I can do.  By the way, Friendly Giant, do you mind teaching them to shake too?
  • My boys are completely melodramatic.  “My back hurts so much.  I’m going to die.”  “I’m so cold.  I’m going to die.”  “I’m so bored.  I’m going to die.”  “It’s so fluffy.  I’m going to die.”  (Their reference.  Not mine.)
  • It’s totally weird to find yourself getting excited like a homecoming when you no longer live there.
  • Two story suite.  A room with two queens and a crib for the boys and me.  The hide-a-bed in the living room for The Friendly Giant.  A loft room with a CA King for the parents.
  • Being a loft means there is a half wall at the head of the bed, overlooking the living room.  Up popped a very blond head with sparkling eyes and a mischievous smile.  My heart stopped.
  • And my dad laughed.
  • Mrs. Knott’s Fried Chicken.
  • Thanks to The Violinist for getting us discount tickets at Disneyland.
  • We would have been the first ones there except for the free breakfast.  FREE breakfast.
  • First ride: Star Tours.  I got the before and after interview on the Flip.
  • Thanks to the BFF for teaching me to snag Fast Passes and to hold them and snag when you can.
  • Both boys were tall enough for Star Tours, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
  • I’m going to say this just once. *I* did not lose any boys on my watch, in my zone, no matter how many I had.
  • Tornado S decided he will never do again nor should the party do again  Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, The Haunted Mansion.
  • I found my new hobby.  Building light sabers.
  • My family lacks communication when we are tired and hungry.
  • Nothing is more fun than the Buzz Lightyear ride with the boys.
  • To the jerk who stole a light saber from our stroller while we were in a ride, you suck.  I hope karma kicks your ass.
  • So maybe leaving the park at dinner time *was* a good idea.  I still didn’t have to like it.
  • S’more bark and the discussion on how we can make it at home.
  • Disneyland TWO DAYS IN A ROW.
  • Tornado E was just tall enough to do Indiana Jones.  He freakin’ loved it!
  • He also bought a necklace.  I call it creepy.  He calls it Frank.
  • Tornado A loved The Tiki Room.  And blue grass.  Go figure.
  • When we’re not tired and hungry, my mom and I kick @ss as a team.
  • My dad and I left the park after lunch for “naps.” But Tornado A fell asleep as we walked to lunch.  He slept through lunch.  He was not interested in napping again.  Far from it.
  • On the other hand, the older boys slept for an hour and half, and I had to wake them up.
  • Last ride on Star Tours, Tornado E was the rebel spy.
  • More souvenirs.  Little things.  I should have bought the boys more Star Wars cars.
  • The ice cream parlor was closed!  WTH!
  • The fireworks were awesome as usual, but Tornado A prefered to snuggle up in my arms and ignore them.
  • Getting out of the park was a b*tch as usual.
  • The weekend was much too short.
  • I didn’t get to see the BFF.
  • Tornado E came down with a fever on the way home and blamed the Friendly Giant for turning on the AC and making him sick.
  • I slept so very much.  Jane Eyre can’t be that boring.
  • Now that I think about it.  I should have bought more.  They have a website, right?

Super Trooper

With the knowledge that The Husband wanted a separation, I couldn’t face my family for Thanksgiving.  I didn’t want to answer questions.  I didn’t want to lie.  I didn’t want to be honest and bare my heart.  So did what any sane person does.  I organized a trip to California to take my family to Disneyland.

It was a crazy little trip.   The night before Thanksgiving, I demanded to go to our favorite sushi bar.  Not that it took a demand to convince The Husband, and afterwards I took the boys to yet another Target to buy more pants for Tornado E because he failed to the bathroom once a day.  I also stalked up on treats and such for the next day.

On Thanksgiving, we woke early, packed and excited.  Luckily the day before I had met with The Violinist and her adorable daughter.  Since the Violinist still worked at Disneyland, as she had when she was my college roommate, she graciously bought our park passes to use her discount (and yes, I gave her the money.  I’m not a user.).  She even told me that the family could walk across the street from our hotel and just take the parking lot tram.  (Thank you, Violinist!!!)

We actually arrived at the park a half hour after the gates opened, which is a record for us.  We proceed to Fantasyland to scare our children to never want to ride another ride without lots of coaxing, pleading, and bribing. (Snow White will do that to you.)  But after a trip to the Pirate Island, the boys were more than ready to taste their courage on The Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  Captain Jack awaited them.  After that, it was one adventure after another.  Even though Star Tours was closed (the one ride we couldn’t wait to take the boys on), we had a great time riding rides.

I was packed to the gills with the double stroller.  Tornado A did fine, though he was a little grumpy over the fact he had no rolling around time.  While Disneyland has a wonderful Mothers and Babies room, with changing tables, high chairs with feeding seats, and even a breastfeeding room with gliders, Tornado A just fed all over the park, like Tornado E did when he was a babe.  I only wish I had bundled Tornado A up in a sleep ‘n’ play rather than pants that rode up on his legs to expose a little bit of leg to the cooling air.

At Tornado A’s last feeding, The Husband encouraged us to seek shelter in one of the few indoor restaurants.  It was getting pretty chilly, and I had packed only light jackets.  The Husband bought hot chocolates, a brownie, and a rice krispie treat.  The boys ate gleefully (all of them), but they were fading fast (all of them).

The Husband: Maybe we should go.

Me: It’s not even eight yet.

The Husband: Maybe we should find a warm place to watch the fireworks.

Me: But we told the boys we would ride on Pirates again after that.

We looked at our tired boys.

The Husband: They look really tired.

Me: Who wants to go on Pirates?

Tornado E and Tornado S: MEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

I cocked an eyebrow.

The Husband: Fine.  But then we’ll find some place warm to watch the fireworks, AND THEN we’ll go back to the hotel.

Me: You’re getting to be no fun in your old age.

The Husband: Responsible.  I’m getting to be responsible in my old age.

Me: Whatever.

Then I looked over at the boys.  To find Tornado S with his head on the table, right hand curled around his brownie, and fast asleep.

Dang.

I looked under the blanket.  To see Tornado A fast asleep, snuggling against my warm breast.

Double dang.

Me: Ok, Mr. Responsible.  Does this mean we go back to the hotel now?

The end of a vacation deserves a vacation

The Husband and I wanted to visit Boston.  We only had one day without any obligations to the wedding.  One day to squeeze in a week of vacation.  Boston was our first choice.

Then a friend of The Husband, who was born and raised in Boston, told him that the boys would be completely bored with any of the historic stuff in Boston and we would spend the time trying to keep the boys occupied.  He suggested Salem.  Remembering the weeks of studying Salem’s history when I was a teen, I agreed.  My parents and baby brother were staying longer in Boston and decided to join us.

I tried to pump up the boys telling them about the pirate museum.  Tornado S ran around the hotel room, yelling “Yo-ho!”  Tornado E wasn’t convinced.  I mentioned the witch museum, grasping at straws.  I had forgotten that Tornado E was a witch last Halloween, and he jumped around, talking about witches and wizards.

We ended going to a pirate museum and two witch museums that were run by the same company.  The Husband had looked at the reviews the night before, worried about the negative reviews.  The negative reviews were right; I wouldn’t call these museums.  They were more like walking through a wax museum as each museum had rooms filled with manikins positioned to act out scenes.  We were walked through the tour by different guides who were knowledgeable and entertaining.  In the end, we were entertained and learned something.  Though I decided after watching a scene form “a trail” (which looked and sounded a whole lot like a scene from “The Crucible” to the point I swear it was from the play word for word) and hearing what the scenes were in the museum, I decided the boys did not need to have a look through the witch dungeon.  At the end, we spent a couple more hours there than we had planned, since we were hoping to catch a glimpse of Boston history that day.

We ended up not getting to Boston, staying at a hotel just outside the city.  After dinner, where Tornado S learned to say “Appabee’s,” charming the wait-staff, we found a park on the map.  We took the boys, letting them run off their energy.  My mom spied an ice cream shop just passed the park, and we went to satisfy our curiosity and sweet tooth.  The Husband, being a generous father, let Tornado E pick his own ice cream out, which was bubblegum.  In his defense, The Husband had no idea that there was real bubblegum in the ice cream.

When we got to the hotel room, The Husband fell asleep immediately; while, I tried to get the boys to sleep without much fuss, fighting, or giggling.  Nothing like sharing a double bed.  In desperation, I rolled a towel up, length wise, and placed it between them, commanding not to stray over the towel with dire consequences.

About two-thirty in the morning, I was awoken by a strange sound that I couldn’t place.  The Husband sprung from the bed, yelling for me to grab something because Tornado S was vomiting.  Apparently Tornado S doesn’t cry when he throws up but makes a gentle heaving sound that barely pierces my deep sleep.  I ran to the bathroom, grabbing a towel because we didn’t have anything else.  We held Tornado S over the towel until he was finished.  Then I cleaned him up, putting on a new shirt, and he fell asleep.  I washed out the towel as best I could and returned to bed.

Fifteen minutes later, I heard the heaving noise.  I sprang across the bed, grabbing the towel that laid in between the boys.  I held Tornado S over it, noticing that Tornado S was still sleeping as he emptied more of his stomach.  When Tornado S was finished, I went back to bed, leaving the towel folded up near Tornado S, ready for more.

The Husband: What do you think is wrong with Tornado S?

Me: Dessert to close to bedtime.  Two nights before we left, Tornado S threw up because my dad fed him three cookies, a piece of pie, and some Papi candy.  Tornado S will be fine.  He doesn’t even have a fever.

The Husband was content and was snoring to wake the dead within seconds.  The Husband is notorious for his snoring.  His friends believe I’m a saint.  His snoring usually doesn’t bother me because I’m a heavy sleeper.  Not this night.  I lay awake for twenty minutes wondering if I put a pillow over him if it would quiet him enough for me to get some sleep or would that be murder and if he did accidentally die could I claim lack of sleep and frustration over vacation as an insanity plea or would this be manslaughter.

I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I remember was waking up to a thump and crying.  It was four-thirty, and Tornado E had rolled out of bed, hitting his head on the night stand.  The Husband swore and picked Tornado E up, depositing him into our bed so I could soothe him.  Unlike the last hotel, this one didn’t have cheap chairs I could have moved around to make a gate to keep Tornado E from rolling out.  I had hoped my son had grown out of thrashing so much.  I was wrong.

A half an hour later, I was woken up by the screaming of the alarm as well as The Husband trying to fight it.  I hate beeping of alarms.  The Husband hates alarms.  I got up, went around the other side, removed the alarm from the monster paw, trying to bat it to death.  I shut off the alarm.

Me: Leaving Boston at 9am.  Brilliant.

The Husband muttered something incoherent that I chose to ignore than speculate on the negative reaction to my sarcasm.  He tried to roll over and sleep again.

Tornado E vomited all over my side of the bed.  The Husband thought it was a good time to get up.  We calmed down Tornado E and cleaned him up.  He stopped crying and looked at us.

Tornado E: Daddy’s funny.  Why’d he do that to the alarm?

Me: Because Daddy’s not a morning person.  How do you feel?

I took a quick shower to come out dressed to find that Tornado E was crying because he had pooped his diaper.  (He still wears pull-ups at night.)  The Husband shrugged, still trying to comfort Tornado E.  I checked.  It was a little diarrhea.  I calmed him down and changed him into underwear.  As I turned to finish packing, Tornado E vomited again.  I grabbed the last towel.  This did not bode well for our flight.  I packed the last pull-up into the diaper bag next to the last underwear of Tornado E’s.

The Husband: What are we going to do?

Me: We’re going to buy crackers when we fill up on gas.  I’m going to give him Mylocon drops in hopes that it can help settle his stomach.

We finished getting ready and began our trek to the Boston airport, stopping to get gas and crackers.  Tornado S refused food.  I should have guessed.  As we drove down the last freeway heading towards the airport, GPS being unreasonable helpful, Tornado S throw up, and there was nothing to catch it.  Luckily there wasn’t anything left in his stomach.

When we got to the rental place, I took Tornado S into the bathroom to strip him and dress him.  I also found out that he too had diarrhea.  Awesome.  We came to the unanimous decision to check Tornado S’s car seat and use Tornado E’s as we had learned coming in that air regulations does not allow for a car seat on the aisle.  Siblings should not be trusted next to each other on a long, cranky airplane ride.  We had already decided I would sit in the middle this time and have Tornado E out of his car seat.

I won’t go into the other gory details of the diarrhea.  I’ll just say that poor Tornado E was horrified that he leaked.  In the end, I had to put him into a Tornado S diaper in Dallas.  In the hour we waited during our lay over and boarded the next plane, I had to change Tornado S three times.  He did not leak.  By that time, I dreamt of getting home, filling the baby pool, stripping the boys, and letting them live outside in the back yard for the rest of the day.  Never mind the 109 degrees with no shade.  Never mind this was our thunderstorm season.  I was done.

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Things I learned on our Trip

1)   Kids four and under can handle three hours on a plane.  The last half hour makes the mother want to jump out.

2)   Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, you all need to pay for better street paint.  When it’s dark and rainy, it would be super nice to be able to see the street lanes.

3)   You all need to invest in street signs.  Especially Boston.  Not helpful for tourists.

4)   Tolls suck.  Do you know how much money we paid to just do u-turns?

5)   I’m willing to pay twenty dollars more a day to have maid service.

6)   “Take the second exit at Broadway” is not a helpful direction.  Left, right, or straight are directions.

7)   “Continue on Route 1” when you are starting at a parking lot on Route 1 is not a helpful direction.  Again, we need a left or right.

8)   Frustrated, tired husband, who is driving, ranting at tired, frustrated wife, who can’t find where they are on the map, makes the wife wonder about quickly divorces.

9)   Delusional tired husband ranting at freeway system makes delusional tired wife laugh hysterically.

10)   GPS can save you or destroy you.

11)    When lost, GPS sounds like a bitch.

12)    GPS does not know all. 

13)   My mother is an obsessive caller.

14)    The family wit came from my father.

15)   Black shirt or black tux = ring protecting ninja.

16)    Always include all children of a family in an event.  Do not leave any child out of that family.  The child will join event unasked.

17)    Never ask sister-in-law or brother where to eat because they like crowded, trendy places that are not suitable for children or tourists that would like to do something other than sit at a table waiting for breakfast.

18)    Tearing apart lobsters is harder than watching it done.

19)    Newly big-potty-trained child will always need to poop when you don’t have the little seat to use.

20)  It’s easier to hold a pooping child if you are sitting on the floor.

21)    Always buy two of everything when you have two children.

22)   Traveling with children is more tiring than traveling alone.

23)    Security guards in Boston like to start sh*t.

24)   Tired, frustrated mother is more the willing to return sh*t.

25)   Telling your mom on your cell phone as you’re waiting to board the plane that your kids have vomited and diarrheaed all morning does not make fellow passengers easy.

 

More details in the days to come.

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