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Archive for December, 2009

Happy New Year!

I don’t know about you, but after the long holiday season, I’m always pretty fired up for the new year to begin. Sure, I’m a little sad that Christmas has come and gone, but nothing can last forever. Besides, the changing of the year is the cleaning of the slate. On January 1, we start anew, and with that comes an opportunity to make the upcoming year even better than the one before it. When you think about it, that’s part of the reason why we make resolutions.

Only I hate resolutions. Resolving to do something makes that something sound like an arduous and unpleasant task, doesn’t it? It implies that the something can be done, but to do it, it’ll take all that you’ve got. And while many things worth doing take all that you’ve got, I seldom “resolve” to do them.

For example, each year my friend, Chris Chambliss, and I do a section of the Appalachian Trail. In ’09 we did eighty miles in five days. Hiking fifteen plus miles a day for the better part of a week while carrying a forty-pound backpack up and down steep inclines certainly qualifies as something that takes all that you’ve got–both physically and mentally. It takes great resolve. But Chris and I don’t make a yearly resolution to do it. Whenever we plot out our course, neither one of us looks at the other and said “This year, our resolution is to do one hundred miles.”

Instead we say, “This year, our goal is to do one hundred miles.”

And that’s what I do on New Year’s Eve. I make goals. Not resolutions. Striving toward a goal is uplifting. Even if you fall short, it’s okay. Anytime you do your best to meet your goals, you should be happy. If you constantly set worthwhile goals, and if you continually do your best to achieve each and every one of them, odds are you will live a fulfilling and worthwhile life. At least that’s what I believe.

So what are my New Year’s goals? This year, like each of the two prior ones, most of my goals pertain to my family or me. (Funny how adding triplets to the roster alters your glance inward. At least for a while.) I have a goal of becoming a better husband to Lovie, and a better dad to Pookie, A, B, and C. Another goal is to become a better Christian, and a better man. There is much work to do on all of these fronts, and to make progress will take all that I’ve got, but I’m not biting my tongue and resolving to do them with a furrowed brow of masachistic determination. 

I’m setting hope-filled goals and promising to do my best to reach them. For my family. And for me.

Oh. I almost forgot. There is actually one goal this year that doesn’t pertain to my family. I’m extremely excited about. You’ll hear about it soon.

Happy New Year, everyone! God bless…

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Okay. So the Christmas season of 2009 is officially in the books. Here’s a little recap of how the holiday went down in our neck of the woods via something I like to call The Good, the Bad, and the Snuggie.

It’s important to note that potty training is alive and well in our house. In fact, B is doing so well that he went all “next level” on us. One night in early December he commandeered C’s pink car, you know, a little toddler toy that wee ones roll around on? With a seat that lifts up so the wee ones can put their blankies inside? Well this wee one decided to put his wee-wee inside.

What? I see you lift up the lid all the time. Hypocrite.

Shortly thereafter, we got a bit of snow, a rare occurence in our fair city these days. Sadly, Pookie was with her dad, but A, B, and C got into the spirit and even took time to pose next to a snowman.

B, C, and A ain't skeert of a little cold.

C, B, A, and Frosty.

Then the holiday season got amped up a bit when Lovie, Pookie, and I went ice skating at an outside rink on Friday the 11th. Look how pretty Pookie and Lovie are.

Lovie and Pookie fixin' to get their skate on.

When I get done skating with her, I think I'll go on a quick tri-state crime spree.

Pookie, graceful as always.

That Sunday, Lovie, Pookie, and C went to a cookie-swap, which left the boys and me to hang out during the afternoon. Excited to have some quality male bonding time, I anxiously went upstairs just past four to wake them from their nap, but but before I took even a single step into their room, I knew something was drastically awry. Long story short, one of the boys had experienced the blow out of the century. The pictural evidence of said blow out is truly remarkable, but Lovie insisted that I leave it out. (I could, however, be coaxed into inserting it with a well phrased request or two…) We had a good afternoon, but from that point until Christmas, it was official. A stomach bug had infiltrated our clan and would remain throughout the holidays, eventually affecting nearly everyone.

Still, by Christmas, we had rebounded. Despite a couple of us waking up looking pretty rough…

B, halway undone on Christmas morning, and somehow the possessor of a gender-inappropriate passi.

A, our little monster, on Christmas morning.

…all in all we felt much better and were ready to enjoy the day. Pookie didn’t get back from her dad’s until 2:00, so after breakfast we played in the garage for a bit before going for a ride in the car.

B and A, feeling better, and excited for Pookie to get back home.

Little Sissy waiting for her turn in the Barbie jeep. Wait, does that mean my BOYS are playing in the Barbie jeep? Fellas...

Finally, it was time for us all to gather round the tree. Lovie’s mom and her fiance’ came over, and together, the eight of us enjoyed a wonderful little slice of Christmas.

There are enough lights on this tree to illuminate a small village. A small, dark village.

Pookie loved her green fleece.

B plays with the cars that go in the big truck.

A waits for a turn with the cars.

Sweet Pea, C, plays with the latch board. Yes. That's a wipe on her head. No. We don't know why, either.

The day after Christmas was another big one as that night, Lovie’s mom and her fiance’ got married. Pookie and her cousin would walk her down the aisle. Pook looked beautiful and so did her grandmom. A, B, and C looked great, too, but we were in such a hurry that, unfortunately, we didn’t get pictures. Aside from their baptism, the trips had never been to such a ceremony. We were more than a little nervous about how they would do. Thankfully they were great, especially given the little stomach bug that was still alive and well.

Until the very end, that is.

As the moment was drawing nigh when the happy couple would be pronounced man and wife, an unmistakable low rumble escaped one of the trios’ backsides. Followed by two more just like it. Followed by a sweet, little high-pitched voice singing “Toot, toot, toot. Toot, toot, toot.”

Though not exactly according to script, the minor transgression did nothing but add (a pretty good amount of) laughter to the happy occasion and with its conclusion, the gauntlet of the holidays had passed. Not only did we survive, we triumped. But that’s not to say we didn’t come out unscathed. For on Sunday the 27th, the stomach bug reared its ugly head again on a morning car ride.

Oh boy.

Two hours later, feeling very queazy, I limped back to our bedroom. It would be twenty hours before I re-emerged and during that time, I did everything imaginable except eat. It’s Monday night and I still haven’t had anything more than a handful of crackers, a chicken sandwhich, and an English muffin. But as bad as my stomach has felt during the past thirty-six hours, it could never have compared to the sinking feeling it had on Christmas when Pookie opened a gift from Santa–a gift that I can assure you I knew nothing about.

Santa? How could you?

So it’s official. I live in a house equipped with a Snuggie. And I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I think the fact that it’s a snuggie “for kids” makes it even worse. I looked into a couple of reputable snuggie relocation programs, but was told it wouldn’t make a difference. I’d still be considered in violation. So I’ve contacted the authorities and have made the neccessary arrangements. I’ll be meeting them on January 8th to hand in my man card. Since I’m a first-time offender, they’ve been kind enough to let me keep it through the bowl games.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Age-Old Debate

A Country Christmas with Merle Haggard, anyone?

Alright. I got one for you. A topic for debate, if you will. Is it okay to listen to Christmas music right now? One school of thought says its fine through New Year’s Day. Another says that Christmas music should be put away at the conclusion of Christmas. What say you?

We’re helplessly deadlocked over here: one vote in favor of listening to Christmas music through the New Year, one vote against it, and one vote for the write-in candidate of “playing Wii forever.” (Pookie’s ballot, of course.) Three minors (A, B, and C) aren’t yet old enough to vote, and one canine abstained which has left us in a quandry. What are we to do? Please advise.

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Why is it that many of us become so reflective during the holiday season? What is it about the end of the year that has most of us taking stock of our lives? And why is it that during these evaluations, we only seem to notice what we don’t have? Or what we haven’t done? Or who we haven’t become?

I’ve got a rule. I’m not great at following it, but still, I’ve got a rule–and, no, this rule doesn’t prohibit me from looking back on my life. After all, it’s impossible to drive without taking a peek in the rear-view mirror every now and then. But my rule does pertain to the act of looking back. Whenever I do so, I’m not allowed to critique the journey. I’m only allowed to admire the view.

No lamenting decisions made, paths not taken, or (perceived) opportunities missed. Such reflections fill one with irrational regrets, and such regrets are filled with darkness. And thanks to my rule, darkness is of no use to me. When’s the last time anyone was wowed by a glimpse of the Grand Canyon in the pitch-black night? For me to admire whatever it is I see in my rear-view, I need a lot of light. 

Light brings the world to life by casting its revealing presence upon the images, events, and people that define it. Light illuminates so that we may take notes on all that is around us, and in turn convert those notes into memories, the most precious of which hang like banners on the shapeless walls that line our souls. Light touches our essence and allows us to associate images with feelings. Light allows us to admire whatever it is we see in our rear-view.

Below you’ll find what I’m seeing in mine: a little home-made video I made of A, B, and C on Christmas night, 2008. My rule encourages me to watch this video. There are no regrets hidden within–only joy which gives me a genuine admiration of one magical night in my lifelong journey, a journey I’m navigating the best way I know how. 

This is one of the precious memories that hangs like a banner on the shapeless walls that line my soul. Memories like this one are what I want to focus on each and every holiday season. How about you? Merry Christmas!

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Okay, let’s see here…Lovie? Check. (Don’t let the near-perfect smile fool you. She’s barely holding it together, but Lovie’s still a check.)

Alright…Pookie? Check.

A, B, and C? Check.

Bald spot? Check.

Meltdowns? That’s a check and a double check thanks to both A and C.

Look of fear? Yup. B’s got that covered. Check.

Santa? Santa? Uh oh. Where in the world is Santa?

Houston, we have a problem. Santa’s nowhere to be found, and I don’t like our chances of getting this bunch back here for a second picture. In fact, I think the dad just made a beeline for the bar.

WAIT. WAIT. My bad. We got him. Santa’s in there. His eye that is. And that’s all we really need. You know, the whole “He’s sees you when you’re sleeping,” bit. We’re good. False alarm.

from l to r: B, Lovie, C, Santa's eye, Pookie, A, and me.

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Lovie, can you get my dentures for me? I think that B is playing with them again.

Well it happened. This past Tuesday. I turned forty. And while I am totally fine with it, even I have to admit that I’m starting to feel my age, especially when it comes to containing our two-year-old triplets. Simply put, I’m not the man at forty that I was at thirty, or even thirty-five. At least physcially. That said, there are some real benefits to hitting this mile-marker as they relate to my family. Here are my top ten.

10. The trips eat dinner at five and go down by seven leaving me a brief, but effective window for bingo.

9. I’m finally as old as my wife. (Sorry, Lovie)

8. Simultaneous meltdowns by three fussy two-year olds? They’re starting not to bother me. My hearing’s not what it used to be.

7. Even on the rare occasions when such meltdowns do bother me, I can always spit out my dentures. They’re usually good for a laugh. Especially when I chase A, B, and C around the house while chomping them together with my hand.

6. Whenever I hear one of the trips crying through the monitor at three in the morning, it’s not that big of a deal for me to get up and see what the problem is. It’s overwhelmingly likely that I need to pee anyway.

5. If we run out of diapers, I’m happy to let them borrow my Depends.

4. They love to play with my cane.

3. But that’s nothing compared to the joy they get from swinging on the crossbar of my walker.

2. I’m becoming more and more like Pookie. It turns out that I, too, like to watch TV with the volume turned up super-loud.

1. Whenever one of the trips is constipated, no more running to the store. I’m more than happy to share my prune juice with them.

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Twas the night before Christmas, and we’ve come to grips
With life that is crazy and laden with trips.
But not ones to islands, or Vegas, or Rome.
‘Cuz our trips are little and mess up our home.

It all started quickly, too sudden it seemed,
When I fell in love with the girl of my dreams.
One who is pretty, and witty, and kind.
I fell for her spirit, her body, and mind.

It wasn’t just her who melted my heart,
But also her daughter, who played a key part
Of bringing this bachelor right down to his knees
To ask her sweet momma to “marry me, please.”

Just thirteen months later much chaos ensued
When three little babies came into our brood.
The first months were trying, of that there’s no doubt.
The triplets were crying which caused me to shout:

“MY GOODNESS, what happened to life as I knew it?
My cell phone is shattered. A baby just threw it.
If I pick up one, another will cry.
One of them just took a whiz in my eye.”

They kept us up late and woke us up early.
These two little boys and this one little girlie.
My Lovie, my Pookie, my doggy, and me
Did all that we could to take care of the three.

Our first Christmas came, and then we were a part
Of magical moments that rang in my heart.
Lovie, and Pookie, and A, B, and C,
Gathered together and sat by the tree.

Of all of the things that we opened that day,
Not one of them mattered to me in a way
That rivaled the way that I felt about them.
For they are my gift that was given by Him. 

Pookie with (from l to r) B, C, and A

The next time we gathered around by the tree,
Our babies were starting to walk aimlessly.
The start of their journey, it filled me with tears,
And forced me to ponder the upcoming years.

Just who would they be and where would they go?
There really was no certain way that we’d know.
But one thing was sure, the three were much fun.
Their magical journey in life had begun.

(clockwise) Me, Pookie, B, C, A, and Lovie

And now they enjoy their third Christmastime,
Which prompts me to break out in this little rhyme.
A tribute, my friend, to all that I see.
A tribute I give to our little three.

Combine them with Pook, and our crew is complete,
With four little beings and their eight little feet.
My Lovie and I, we seldom have time,
To sit on the couch, relax and unwind.

We take care of Pookie and tend to the trips,
And wish we had pointers, some ideas, or tips.
‘Cause this year it seems just as hard as it gets.
Even for us. And we’re seasoned vets.

Toddlers, I tell you, are ruthless, my friend.
Off in the distance, they’re screaming again.
And three of them running all kinds of amuck?
Yanking on Elmo? Demanding a truck?

Don’t CARE what you say–not even the Gotties
Could deal with the three as they sit on their potties.
Or how ‘bout the noise that always abounds?
It leaves our heads spinning around and around.

But all of that matters quite little to me.
‘Cuz this is our life–it’s all meant to be.
Oh what we would give for a break here and there?
We’ll wait til we’re old til we rock in a chair.

And now I will leave you with this earnest thread,
that’s sewn in a quilt to lay on your bed.
To help you stay warm this cold winter night.
To help you remember–continue the fight.

We’ve all got our issues, our hassles, our lives.
We’ve all lost a loved one who still lives inside.
If with you this Christmas, or Heaven above,
I hope you are warmed by the glow of their love.

So all you who read this take nothing for granted.
Use this fine season to grow what you’ve planted.
In pots that are family that soak up the Light.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

A

B

C

Pookie

Remember the reason. Be thankful for your blessings. Focus on Goodness. -jco-

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So perhaps you’ve heard of one Ashton Kutcher,  actor-hearthrob,  Mr. Demi Moore, fellow stepdad, new media magnate, and Twitter force of nature.

Well, to my great surprise, he’s heard of me. Or at least, he somehow ran across one of my You Tube videos – one depicting a night I spent solo parenting the triplets without Lovie, who was enjoying a much-deserved evening out with Pookie.  I still have no idea how Ashton Kutcher happened on my video, but however it happened, he was nice enough to tweet about it.

Yes, you read that right Ashton Kutcher gave my video a shout out to his 4 million-plus Twitter followers.  Not long after that, Alyssa Milano (who was always the boss in my book), tweeted about my video as well.  And now, parenting bloggers are talking it up, and people are trying to get Ellen Degeneres to notice it via Twitter.

This is amazing.

And here’s the video that seems to be capturing people’s attention.

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Caroline and I decided to host Thanksgiving this year. It didn’t go that well. It turns out that preparing such an all-encompassing meal with three cranky two-year-olds constantly vying for attention isn’t easy. In fact it’s hard, not to mention noisy. To get everything done, we had to (temporarily) blow off our needy trio, which didn’t go over well. At least that’s what we gathered during the ensuing succession of DEFCON 1 temper tantrums.

To say that the constant chaos hampered everyone’s enjoyment would be an understatement. I’m near certain that my brother-in-law and his family will never come over again. And they weren’t the only ones who were put off.

Adam Lambert called. He thought hosting Thanksgiving while shackled with three two-year-olds was a little over the top.

Charlie Weis’s buyout thought it was too much.

New Coke wondered why we did it in the first place.

Richard Heene knew all along that we’d never pull it off.

The mere thought of it made his son Falcon wanna puke.

Fair enough. But I’m a big believer in redemption. And Christmas is right around the corner. What better time to redeem oneself than Christmas? Perhaps Caroline and I could step up to the hosting plate again, you know, as a way of making amends for the noisy Thanksgiving.

Chernobyl is worried about potential meltdowns.

Hmm. Valid. I know! Caroline and I will do a better job of containing the kiddies. A contributing factor to them losing it on Thanksgiving was all the excitement. If we sequestered them in our room and took turns entertaining them, the triplets would be oblivious to all the commotion and would be far less likely to erupt.

Sequestering three family members during a family gathering? Is this thing family oriented or not? Miley Cyrus thinks we’re sending mixed messages.

Tiger Woods says go ahead and separate them. But beware. Eventually, they’ll probably figure it out.

R. Kelly called. He’s got a new gig. He the official chaperone for a prestigious girls’ boarding school. He supervises the young ladies on all outings. He thinks it’ll be hard to watch the kids without thinking about that juicy meat you’re just dying to eat. (Sorry, that was a stretch, but I’m a sucker for a good R. Kelly joke.)

With all the time spent watching the kiddies, there’s always the chance we’ll forget about the turkey. Inappropriate and often crass descriptions immediately followed by far more conventional verbiage Strikethrough text worries the turkey will be overdone—WAY, WAY, WAY OVERDONE.

Michael Vick pointed out that the bedroom is where we keep our dog during large gatherings. He’s on the trips for a dime and thinks others in his possie may be down as well.

Wait, we can’t have people wagering on fights that pit our triplets against our spastic, pink-lipstick-toting dog. MacKenzie Phillips thinks that’s sick.

Enough already! Everyone’s right. Hosting another holiday meal would be a bad call. We’ll let someone else host, thank you very much. Instead of running around in circles trying to concurrently contend with potty training and Spinach Maria, we’ll load up our brood, hit the road, and watch someone else do all the work.

Sure hope the triplets behave better than they did on Thanksgiving. Hang on a sec. I just got a text. It’s from Tareq and Michaele Salahi. Before we pack everyone up, they think it’d be a good idea to make certain that we were still invited.

Solid point.

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Momma-palooza

All three of our toddlers are currently going through a no-one-but-Mommy phase. Though I do perfectly fine with them on my own, the second Caroline enters the room, I magically turn into chopped liver. With mold on it. This is way more than a mild preference for Mommy’s soft touch over Daddy’s two-day stubble. It’s a primal feeling deep within their souls—one that usually manifests itself in Daddy rejection and Mommy chasing, the onset of which is marked by screaming, flailing, even spasmodic rolling as if I’d just doused them with a cauldron of scalding water.

Honestly? I’m starting to develop a complex. During such tirades, I’m frozen with insecurity. Seeing the three of them fight for position as they scratch and tug on Caroline with six needy hands makes me want to intervene and pick one of them up. But I know such an effort would be futile, for if I dare approach, the screaming, scratching, and tugging would become even worse. Scalding water, remember? So I remain frozen, a living, breathing second fiddle; Robin to Caroline’s Batman–the man of the house reduced to a mere boy wonder.

Boy, wonder what I should do?

“Get over here!” Caroline wants to scream like a mind reader, and often does. Like me, she knows it would make matters worse, yet her desperation is sometimes powerful enough to trick her into thinking that maybe this time will be different. But it won’t be, as upon my approach, the babies will wail louder than seems possible, causing aircraft engines to run for their earplugs, and me to retreat back to my frozen insecurity. The wails will then relent (a little), but the non-stop pawing is just beginning, and poor Caroline will be unable to find even a moment’s respite for at least an hour.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Sam, Jack, and Kirby are like fussy paparazzi chasing their favorite rock star longing to be held by the celebrity of her soft, safe love. I’ve officially named this phenomenon Mommapalooza, and truth be told, I’m a little fed up with it. Where’s the love for Daddy? I mean seriously, I’m money on the grill not to mention the fact that I build one hell of a fire. And where, exactly, do at least two of these three little monsters think they’d be without my potent and relentless brand of semen? Hmm? It’s time I got a little attention around here my-damn-self.

After some brainstorming, I finally figured out how. If I wanted to be appreciated like my wife, then I had to act like my wife.

I could drive with a quarter of my normal ability, making other drivers wish my SUV was made of nerf as I barrel down the road while I simultaneously check my lipstick, chat on my cell, and hand Jack his blankie.

I’ll also make preposterously delicious meals, then lament that they’re no good.

With little or no effort, I’ll emerge from the bathroom looking smoking-hot, before complaining about my weight.

I’ll be the one able to decode ANYTHING our triplets utter, successfully translating nonsensical words like bobbie into real words like pacifier, all the while remembering to feign ignorance when it comes to understanding even the simplest things my spouse says.

I’ll leave the grilling and fire-building to her. She’ll also take out the trash, change the light bulbs, and stuff like that. After all, for this plan to work, not only do I need to start acting like her—she has to start acting like me.

Oh shit. Wait. Does that mean she’ll leave crumpled-up paper towels all over the place? Will she walk aimlessly throughout the house on a never-ending quest for her car keys? She better not be constantly watching football. After all, for me to be like her, there’s bound to be some bullshit CSI I’ll need to fall asleep to. How can I do that if she’s locked into Monday Night Football? She’s not even rooting for either team. She’s on the under.

What if she becomes neurotic? Surely she won’t think of sixty different ways to ask me how the smoked turkey turned out, will she? She won’t demand that I rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being high, right?

What if she starts asking me to categorize everything in terms of enjoyment? “Honey, was that not as fun as you thought it would be, as much fun as you thought it would be, or more fun than you thought it would be?” Oh NO! You don’t think she’ll start losing hair (rather ungracefully) on her pate, do you?

I suppose it wouldn’t matter–I’d love her anyway. But if she starts obsessing on whether to use “which” or “that” in any given sentence, I just may have to call this damn thing off. After all, I can barely stand it when I pull that kind of shit. Think how frustrated I’d be witnessing someone else doing it!

Caroline marched into our room in the middle of my brainstorming session as if she had something important to say. “Honey,” she began, “I’ve had it up to my ears in babies. I’m leaving town.”

Holy shit! That’s terrible. Where could she be going?

“Holy cow! That’s terrific. Where will you be going?”

“To the mountains with my Bible study group. I’ll be gone for one night. Think you can handle it?”

Puh-lease. Caroline may be the headliner, but when it comes to understudies, I’m as capable as it gets. If you don’t believe me, take a look at how great I did the last time she left town.

This afternoon, I went upstairs and woke the babies from their nap at four. We played for a while before heading downstairs where they sat on the potty and I waited for Alli to get home from school. My four children and I went through the same evening routine we always do, just not as fluidly. I fought through the inevitable disappointment that came when the trips realized that Mommy wasn’t home. I tried not to be upset when their tempers flared. I tried to not be heartbroken when our baby girl gave me a forlorn look while repeatedly asking “Mommy, bye bye?” in a disbelieving and barely-audible voice. Together, the five of us muscled through the best we could, each of my children all too aware that the star of the show was not on stage with us.

It’s now half past nine, and suddenly it’s me who’s just now realized that Mommy’s not home. It’s me who’s disappointed, and, yes, even a bit forlorn. I hate it when she’s away. It’s so different without her—just a house, not the home she magically makes it.

No wonder the babies carry on and on about her. She is a rock star. And unlike me, they’re smart enough to realize it each and every single moment, not just the ones she’s not around.

At least I’m still money on the grill.

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