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12th Jan, 2014

Jak pozycjonowac

Ostatnimi czasy nader regularnie jestem proszony o pozycjonowanie stron internetowych. Spora liczba osób, zadaje pytania typu jak pozycjonować, od czego zależy pozycja w wyszukiwarce?, jak mogę wpływać na efekty w wyszukiwarce?, ile kosztuje pozycjonowanie? i tym podobne.

Czym jest pozycjonowanie?

Pozycjonowanie stron internetowych w wyszukiwarkach, tytułowane też nierzadko SEO (Search engine optimization) jest to pakiet czynności mający na celu osiągnięcie wysokiej lokalizacji naszej strony internetowej w rezultatach wyszukiwarki. Na przykład, jeżeli jesteśmy producentem opakowań i mamy swoją stronę internetową, to dokładnie dzięki pozycjonowaniu nasza strona internetowa będzie jednym z pierwszych linków w wyszukiwarce. Dzięki temu większa ilość ludzi odwiedzi naszą stronę i być może zakupi nasze towary.

Posted by: paremane
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6th Dec, 2010

This One Is For Donna

I’m not sure what happened to last week.

That’s when I promised Donna I’d write something here. And I’m pretty sure I told another person or two that I’d do the same, but by now I’ve forgotten who those people were.

I guess this means that I should admit it turns out that my mother wasn’t as dumb as I imagined she was when I was old enough to realize Mom forgot really crucial things sometimes, but I was still young enough to have no idea what it is to think for a family-full of people.

I mean, just a few weeks ago the nurse from Kit and Jack’s school called to tell me I’d forgotten to send their lunches with them. “You’re wrong,” I told her adamantly, overly confident in my competence. “I remember packing them last night right after dinner.”

Of course I had to apologize to the nurse just a few beats later when I opened our refrigerator door and saw Kit and Jack’s lunch boxes perilously balanced on top of our family’s stash of yogurt and pudding cups, and I had to endure the brunt of Kit’s embarrassment as I rushed into the school gym twenty minutes later. She was sitting hunched over the lunch table, her arms crossed on top and her chin resting against them. She wouldn’t look at me, that daughter of mine. And she didn’t say a word to me, not one at all, as I turned away from her to walk back to my car.

Sorry, kiddo, I thought that afternoon as I traced my way across campus, down the sidewalk toward the parking lot. I hate to tell you this, but I’m bound to let you down again maybe a few hundred times more.

Last Monday night I went to a cocktail party for sponsors of the Meyer Center Ladies’ Luncheon, and then on Wednesday I attended the luncheon itself with Camille and Charlie and a whole bunch of other friends who feel like family by now. On Friday I went to Greenwood with Sarah and Becky for the HospiceCare of the Piedmont’s 19th annual Festival of Trees kick-off luncheon. Kit had ballet on Tuesday, Jack went to gymnastics on Wednesday, Archie and I went to the grocery store together on Thursday to pick up a prescription refill, and a whole bunch of other stuff happened in between all of those things.

But sometime during all that running around I remember listening to the radio in the car and hearing “If I Had $1,000,000” by the Barenaked Ladies. Of course that song started me thinking and I decided somewhere between Woodruff and Hudson roads that if the income from those oil wells out in North Dakota that John supposedly inherited from his mother’s family ever actually comes in I’ll give all that extra money to people like the teachers at Archie’s elementary school to use to buy supplies for their classrooms, and to places like the Meyer Center where Archie went to school before now. I decided that I’d also give some to our Children’s Hospital where all my children were born and where Archie was cared for in the NICU until he was transferred to Charleston for surgery, and where I still take Archie to the Cancer Center every now and again in fulfillment of his treatment protocol.

And after all of that I’m sure I’d give a little more money to the ballet company where Kit studies in support of their Nutcracker Outreach Performance Program, and even though I already write a check to Prince of Peace Catholic School for approximately nine-hundred-thousand-dollars-and-twenty-nine-cents each month I’d still spot them a little extra money to establish and fund a course of study like the Options Program at Bishop England High School in Charleston because, I mean, why not?

Or at least that is what I thought I’d do until last night when I was tucking the kids into bed. After Archie chased me down the hall to his bedroom, a race we pretend to run together every night, I turned on his bedside radio. It’s tuned to a local station that plays holiday music all the time, and when I flipped it on that song by Kenny Loggins was playing and that old emotion filled my chest and tightened my throat all over again as I picked up my skinny seven-year-old who was dressed in two sets of pajamas, one of those cotton Gap-brand long sleep sets layered underneath a fleecy footed sleeper from Target, to lay him down in his bed. That’s when I covered him in one hundred kisses and it occurred to me what I’d really like to buy if I were rich and it were possible is time.

I’d buy a whole bunch of time and I’d find a way to manipulate it so I could show the scared new mother version of me from several years ago a scene that’ll play out a little later this afternoon. It’s one that happens every weekday afternoon with little variation and it’s the routine of it all, I think, that holds potential’s promise.

I’d show that younger version of myself that soon I’ll drive over to Archie’s school, park my car and then walk up to the front of the building, right outside the cafeteria door. I’ll stand outside the school and kick the broken sidewalk with the toe of my worn canvas sneaker as I talk to the other parents and grandparents waiting there. I’ll swap jokes with Archie’s bus driver, whom we have come to depend upon, and when Archie’s teacher, Ms. Bradley, finally walks Archie out the door toward me she’ll drop his hand when we’ve closed the distance between us and he’ll run the final few steps to me hollering, “Mama! Mama! I had a great day!”

I’ll squat down to hug Archie then, and Ms. Bradley will confirm that Archie really did have a great day. She’ll remind me that his reading and math homework are in his backpack, and I’ll promise to see that Archie gets it all done before school tomorrow. And then as we walk to our car other kids climbing into buses will wave at us and call out, “’Bye, Archie! ’Bye, Archie’s mom!” and since I don’t recognize these kids from Archie’s class I’ll assume that they are his peers in the related arts classes he attends and I’ll feel all warm and huge-chested because I know that these are typical kids who have befriended my atypical son.

When we get to our car Archie will climb inside without my help and as I’m waiting for him to remove his backpack and place it on the seat next to his I’ll ask Archie, “What was the best part of your day?”

“I in first grade!” he’ll respond and I’ll be reminded of something that’s hard to explain but that feels a little like this:

There’s a part of our mind, I believe, that sometimes we can turn off if we try hard enough. From an athlete’s perspective it’s the button we push that helps us power through a painful workout, that gets us over the panicked part where we can’t breathe and our hearts are racing and we’re convinced for a moment or two that we really are going to die if we don’t stop soon. If you carry that analogy a step further and look at training as a metaphor for life, this place is the one we retreat to inside when a situation gets sticky but we have to keep moving forward to survive.

It turns out, I believe, that there’s something we learn to turn off every now and then when we move throughout our lives, and when we do we’re lucky to find ourselves in the slipstream, just moving forward effortlessly, painlessly. Some of us can get there like fingers snapping, and some of us struggle to find our way in. It’s where we go to transcend thought and time, it’s the place everything is really as easy as putting one foot in front of the other.

Archie is in first grade now and his success there is exceeding my expectations. But it’s as if I always knew we’d get here. It’s as if I saw this day before we arrived.

Maybe I’ve been here before, after all? Maybe confidence, it turns out, is a trick of time. Maybe we all find a way someday of giving ourselves the ability to do amazing things by just believing them so.

A note: If you follow this link to the Meyer Center for Special Children web site, you’ll find a video posted on the Center’s homepage. Watch it and you’ll spy Archie as a toddler, and me with my long hair pulled back in a ponytail. When I gave that interview, Kit and Jack, who were not quite one years old, were right off camera, strapped into a blue and white double stroller handed down to us by John’s coworker and friend. That seems about one hundred years ago. Or maybe it was just yesterday, after all.

Posted by: anne
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Archie
Jack
Kit
Morning with the Moores

11th Aug, 2010

Right Now

A big yellow school bus just pulled up to the front of our house. I was in my office, on this computer, and thought our dog was barking because the mailman had stopped at our mailbox. But when the doorbell rang and I got up from behind my desk, rounded the corner out of my office and looked toward the windowpane in our front door, that big yellow school bus filled it’s frame and an older gentleman holding a clipboard peered back at me.

When he saw me coming that man stepped back, turned away from the door and began marking something on his clipboard. I stepped outside to talk to him, leaving our front door ajar. The dog stopped barking and slinked away to the back of our house, but Archie, Kit and Jack appeared at the top of the steps and raced their way down to the bottom where they crowded into the foyer on the other side of the front door to see what all the noise was about.

The bus driver was riding his route, he explained. He looked at his clipboard, checking his passenger list, and ensured that Archie lives here. Then the man recited the phone number on his list beside Archie’s name and I assured him it was the right one.

“I can’t believe there’s a school bus in front of my house,” I said to fill the silence between the man and myself as he stood close beside me, writing something next to Archie’s name on the passenger list.

“Time flies,” the bus driver replied as he stared off in the direction of the school bus and scratch the top of his ear with his pen.

He said he wasn’t sure what time he’d be by to pick Archie up, but that it would probably be early and he’d get back to me as soon as he figured out his stops. “I’m just out today, riding my route,” he said again before he stepped off my porch and I bid him goodbye.

“Is that my school bus?” Archie wanted to know when I went back inside the house.

“You bet,” I answered and when I did Archie started jumping around.

“My bus! My bus!” Archie sang out as his bare feet made a slap-slap-slapping sound each time he landed flatfooted on the wood-planked floor. His enthusiasm was muted only by Jack’s loud lament that he-wants-to-ride-the-big-yellow-school-bus, too, and-why-is-life-so-unfair-to-him-while-it’s-so-great-to-Archie, whaa-whaa-whaa.

Are you as amused as I am to know Jack sees things this way?

Right this very minute two short-sleeved white knit shirts and two short-sleeved and one long-sleeved white dress shirt with Peter Pan collars are in my washing machine, in the middle of a rinse cycle. These shirts belong to Kit and are part of her school uniform. Kit’s two plaid jumpers and her collection of navy blue pleated skorts and shorts are piled on the floor with Jack’s short-sleeved red knit shirts and navy blue pleated pants and shorts. I haven’t figured out yet what pieces each child is supposed to wear on what day, but I do know I need to have all of this laundry washed and ironed by first thing Monday morning.

On Monday morning Archie will begin first grade and Kit and Jack will begin Kindergarten. Archie is going to public school and Kit and Jack are going to private school, but both places feel like exactly the right ones for each child. I obsessed about Archie, Kit and Jack’s school placements before we committed to them, and I talked out our choices with John and my mom and dad until there was nothing left to say. I admit that there are moments when I can’t believe the twins are no longer preschoolers and I’m suddenly surprised all over again by the fact that Archie has graduated from the Meyer Center, but mostly this stage we’ve reached, my children and I, of growing up and letting go feels exactly right. We four are ready for whatever comes next.

Time flies, that bus driver said, and for the most part I agree with his assessment. Sometimes it feels as if Archie, Kit and Jack have been on summer vacation forever, but when I review the bigger events that comprised these hot and humid days in my head and string them together, one right after another, time blurs and seems to blip by at a breakneck pace.

My dad had open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve, and I broke my toe, the middle one on my right foot. John and Jack went to Wisconsin with John’s brother Lewis and his nephews, Ellis and William, to stay in a farmhouse that’s been in John’s family so long it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. My parents bought a beach house on the Isle of Palms, and a baby copperhead snake found it’s way into our home’s family room late last Saturday night.

The kids completed their summer camps, swam, and slept out in a tent in their cousins’ backyard. One of my nieces, John’s sister’s daughter, spent Tuesdays with us, and another niece, my cousin’s daughter, flew down from New York City to spend a week with our family. My mom took Kit out to a dress-up dinner at High Cotton, and at the conclusion of Archie’s last day at the Meyer Center my voice wavered as I stumbled all over myself to thank his teachers for a really good year until Sharon, Archie’s lead teacher, held up her hand to stop me and said, “Don’t.” So I didn’t.

I played with my kids, riding bicycles with them around the driveway, pretending as if I didn’t see them when we played hide-and-go-seek, or squirting them with our green garden hose. We cuddled together on the couch inside our air-conditioned home and watched Little Bill on Nick Jr. and Dinosaur Train on PBS Kids. And I yelled at them, too, all three of my kids, when the day was too hot or my patience was too thin or something was bothering me that had nothing to do with Archie, Kit or Jack at all while time tripped over upon itself until we arrived right here.

Yesterday afternoon my parents watched Kit and Jack while Archie and I went to the store to purchase the items typed out on his class supplies list. He’d accompanied me when I’d taken Kit and Jack to do the same thing for their school last week, but for whatever reason the trip for Archie’s supplies felt different and I wanted to go alone with him. Maybe it’s because he’s my oldest child and I can remember when he and I spent our days together, just the two of us idling in a state of shared adoration, but for whatever reason sometimes I prefer to do certain things with just Archie, leaving Kit and Jack behind.

We made our way around the store, filling our cart with things like glue sticks and Ziploc bags, and when we got to the aisle with the pencil boxes I told Archie he needed to choose one and asked him if he’d like the red, blue, grey, green, or purple box. He picked a green box, one with embossed, interloping circles on the top, and asked if he could hold it. “Show me how to open it,” I instructed as I handed him his pencil box.

An older woman wearing surgical scrubs stopped beside our cart and I watched her watching Archie as he opened the box on his first try. “Good job, Archie,” I said, smiled, and then ruffled my son’s hair.

“He’s so smart,” the woman wearing surgical scrubs cooed to me before she passed by us, moving forward in the opposite direction.

As we were checking out at the register Archie told the cashier about his school supplies, and then asked her about the doors in front of us. Did one go to the office, he wanted to know. Does one go outside, he wondered aloud. She patiently answered his inquiries until I’d paid for Archie’s supplies and we were off again.

When we got outside the store Archie growled, covered his eyes, and then called out, “I’m shy!”

“You’re not shy,” I chided. “You just talked to that lady and you don’t know her.”

“I’m shy from the bright, hot sun,” Archie explained, laying his forehead against my chest. He kept it there until I lifted him out of the shopping cart and helped him into the backseat of our car.

Last weekend I watched a program on one of the science channels about black holes. Apparently there’s a debate among scientists about what would happen if a person somehow fell into a black hole. Although everyone seems to agree that a person would disintegrate as the hole’s gravitational pull overpowered the body’s chemical bonds, those scientists argue about what would happen to all those disconnected atoms.

One of the scientists interviewed for the program crafted a mathematical equation to prove that even though a person would be annihilated in a black hole, that the person’s atoms would somehow form an imprint along the hole’s rings and create smears similar to the kinds of groves you find carved into a record.

According to this particular scientist those smears would be collections of memories and in each smear the person would exist, unaware that he’d been devoured by the black hole and unaware that there were now multiple versions of himself spattered throughout the universe.

To illustrate this point the television program’s director filled a room with several images of the same man, reading different parts of the same book in different positions around the room. The different images of the man with his book were layered into the room, one by one, and the overall affect of the illustration was a little disorienting at first. I had to think about what I was seeing before I understood what was going on.

There’s a house we pass nearly every time we leave our neighborhood. It’s on a street that runs behind where we live. The house is situated on a big lot and I’m not quite sure what’s going on with the house and the lot other than to say that someone is working awfully hard in fits and starts to build both up and then tear both down. Whoever owns the place has a few yard statues, deer that sit and stand and a grizzly bear dressed in clothing that seems to be holding an ax against his side, and if you watch closely enough you’ll notice that the statues move about the yard. One day a ceramic deer is sitting in the front of the yard, leaning against a tree, and then a few days later that deer has moved back from the road and is resting near the house.

I don’t get it either.

But what I do know is that this morning those roving statues reminded me of the television program about black holes. And the television program about black holes made me think about the way Archie, Kit and Jack are growing up. Everybody always says that they can’t believe their baby is however old now. I’ve said that before myself, too. But yesterday at the store when Archie sat in the shopping cart, holding his green pencil box with embossed, interloping circles on the top, I didn’t look at him and think, disbelieving, “You are starting first grade next week.” Instead I saw Archie as the baby he was and the boy he’s become all at exactly the same time and realized this is just another moment among the collection of moments comprising our shared lives. We are here now, my three children and I, and we will be somewhere else next week, but we are still who we are and we are doing what we’re intended to do. Down through the summer and into the fall we four endure unchanged, stepping out without contradiction, moving forward and remaining resolute in our intentions.

“Time flies,” Archie’s bus driver said.

It moves forward and then folds over upon itself.

Posted by: anne
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Categories:
Archie
Jack
Kit

29th Jun, 2010

Full Circle

The first time I meet Brandon Chapin was at the Dan Davis Memorial 5K Turkey Trot at Furman University. I saw his t-shirt across the field behind Paladin Stadium, and when our paths converged on our way to the race’s starting line I said something to him about it.

Brandon was wearing a CrossFit Reaction t-shirt, one that was navy blue with gold lettering, advertising the box he owns in downtown Greenville. If you don’t know much about CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program that trains athletes using functional movements executed at a high intensity, then you may not know that CrossFit gyms are commonly referred to as boxes. And if you don’t know anything about CrossFit you probably don’t know either that someone who is bold enough to wear a CrossFit t-shirt to a race’s starting line is most likely going to kick your ass.

I can’t remember what I said specifically to Brandon about his t-shirt, but I do know that he asked me which of the “Girls” I’d done and I mentioned doing Helen and Karen. He wanted to know my finish times, which I told him, making a point of mentioning how Brian had altered each workout so that I’d actually done them with heavier weight than prescribed. Because, you know, I’m the kind of person who thrives on competition and dominance and I sure didn’t want this guy I’d just met to think I was someone less than who I am. In other words, I’m certain Brandon walked away from our first conversation thinking I was a complete and utter tool.

At the starting line I positioned myself about three feet behind Brandon, who had walked up to the line as if he owned it and confidently claimed the preeminent position right in the middle of the cones. There was a girl running with Brandon, who was also wearing a CrossFit Reaction t-shirt, and my last-minute race strategy was to hang onto her as long as I could. When the gun sounded Brandon and the girl, Kristen, sprinted ahead of the pack and I knew before we rounded the first cone marking the right hand turn one-hundred yards into the course that I’d have to revise that race strategy.

I may have ended up winning my age group that morning, and I may have improved my time from the previous year by a full minute, but I didn’t see Brandon again until I crossed the finished line and he was standing there, talking to another runner. He’d finished fifth overall, and he’d won his age group, too, but I’m pretty sure Brandon missed the awards ceremony because I spotted him later, darting around the parking lot, tucking laminated cards advertising his box underneath each cars’ windshield wipers.

The next time I saw Brandon was on Good Friday, at his box. Brian and Brandon had competed at the South and North Carolina CrossFit Games Sectionals, and both had qualified to advance to the Regional competition in Jacksonville, Florida. Brandon had opened his box on Friday afternoons to non-members for something he and Brian were calling the “Next Level WOD,” and Brian had invited me. So I went and dropped Brian’s name, which I’ve discovered carries a lot of weight in certain circles. Brandon looked me up and down and I remember wondering for a moment if I’d be better off excusing myself and mumbling something apologetic like, “I’m sorry for crashing your Black Panther party.” But before I could tuck tail and turn away Brandon smiled and said something kind that put me at ease and I knew I was right where I belonged.

I’ve spent time with Brandon since that afternoon a few months ago and I really think he’s a great guy. I’ve gained muscle and lost weight since we first met last November. I’m also a better athlete today than I was then, one who’s attained more but who has also been humbled. Those achievements aren’t Brandon’s, to be sure, but I wouldn’t be who I am right now if he hadn’t opened his gym to me, if he didn’t remember what we talk about each time we see one another and bring it up later when we meet again.

Last Friday morning I was training with Brian when he told me that he was planning to go over to Brandon’s later that day. “Why don’t you come to?” he suggested.

“I have my kids today,” I answered, shaking my head. “I don’t know if I can get someone to watch them for me on such short notice.”

“Why don’t you bring them?” Brian asked, shrugging.

So I did. Brandon visited with Kit and Jack for a long time before he, Brian and I trained, and by the time we left Kit was flirting with Brandon and Jack declared him to be his bestest friend ever and wanted to know if I thought Brandon would come to his birthday party. If you know anything about kids you’ll agree with me that they don’t react like that to an adult unless he makes them feel extra special.

I’m telling you all of this because Brandon is beginning a kids’ fitness camp in July. It’ll run from Monday, July 12th, until Wednesday, August 11th. The class will meet three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8:30 a.m. Based upon the concept of CrossFit Kids, Brandon’s class will introduce fitness in a fun and creative way, working toward the goal of teaching children good, healthy habits that will create lifelong benefits. Brandon and the kids will run, jump, skip, throw and generally have a great time together.

I’ve already registered Kit and Jack for Brandon’s class. The cost of the class is $50 for one child (or $75 for two children from the same family, a 50 percent discount), which figures out to about $3.50 per class. On paper that’s a great deal, but it looks even better when you consider that figure in light of Brandon’s credentials. Take my word for it: He really is the kind of guy you want influencing your child.

If you’re interested in learning more about CrossFit Reaction, you can visit the box online or on its facebook page. If you want to learn more about how Brandon trains himself, or about his training philosophy, you can visit his blog. If you do you’ll come away with an idea of how much Brandon knows about fitness and how accomplished he is as an athlete, two things he’s too modest to elaborate on himself. And if you want to sign your child up for Brandon’s fitness camp, which I certainly suggest you do, you should send him an e-mail at brandon.chapin@gmail.com.

Go ahead and do it right now.

You’ll be glad you did.

Posted by: anne
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Categories:
Jack
Kit
Morning with the Moores

9th Jun, 2010

Mixtape

Sometimes I think I’m a little crazy. Or maybe I ought to call myself intense instead of crazy? Or maybe it’s that I’m just really, really insightful and confident enough in what I see to name it aloud. I’m not sure which description fits me best, but there they all are, typed out here in this space. Owning it’s the first step, and all that, right?

I’m thinking about this today because the television is off and I’m playing my music on the wireless stereo system John rigged up throughout our house. Certainly we listen to as much Raffi as the next family with young children (maybe even more, come to think of it, as that man is kind of a household hero around here), but I’ll say this about my kids: Sometimes I think they enjoy listening to my music as much as I do.

We were coming home from swim lessons one afternoon last week when I caught Jack’s reflection in my rearview mirror. “Float On” by Modest Mouse was playing on the satellite radio in my station wagon and Jack was mouthing the song’s lyrics as he stared himself down and made crazy, rocker dude faces in time with the song’s beat. Awesome.

I’m not lying when I tell you that Archie knows every song on my iPod by title and artist. Seriously, he does. It’s really too bad that television game show Name That Tune doesn’t air anymore because I’m pretty sure Archie could sweep that one clean. Right now the song on my favorite playlist that elicits the most enthusiastic response from Archie is Metric’s “Gold Guns Girls.” Just knowing that makes you want to set up a play date with Archie and your child right this very second, doesn’t it?

The other day Kit asked me to play “that song by the people who like to bite your neck.” We played an abbreviated game of twenty questions, Kit and I did, until I figured out that Kit wanted to hear “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” by Vampire Weekend. When Kit hears the da-dum, da-dum, da-da-dum guitar rhythm at the beginning of the song she starts this skip-jump step thing that she’ll do back and forth across our family room floor until the music stops. Her dance is rather interpretive, I think, and all sorts of cute and I wouldn’t be telling you the whole story if I didn’t mention that there’s a part of me that finds her affinity for this song all sorts of funny for all kinds of reasons Kit won’t even begin to understand for at least ten more years.

So back to the crazy thing. I’ve always believed that what sort of music you listen to says a lot about who you are. To me, your preference in music is a reflection of where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you’re going. I just read a review of a recent scientific study that first confirms my belief, and then goes on to assert that musical preference may be a more reliable way of quickly assessing someone than the other sorts of things that normally form our first impressions. The author of the article ultimately describes music as “a unique road into the soul.”

When I was in college I ate every meal in the Great Hall, the main student dining room in Peirce Hall. The campus feminists complained that the walk from the heavy wooden doors at one end of the dining room down the central aisle to the servery at the other end was too much like a catwalk. It didn’t help either, the feminists said, that the fraternity boys sitting at the long oak tables on either side of the room always watched the women walk the gauntlet, those boys’ heads turning to follow their gazes as they followed you.

But in truth everyone knew all that gawking went both ways, and that we girls watched the boys as much as they watched us. My friends and I used to talk about what each other’s theme song would be if such a thing existed, about what particular song should play when a specific person took to the catwalk. “Here comes Anne Roberts!” my girlfriend Lacie liked to shout. “Cue up ‘Brick House!’” Please.

During more complex conversations my friends and I would take that discussion a step further. “If your life were made into a movie, what song would play in the background to mark your pivotal moment?” we’d ask each other over open bottles of beer.

I still think about that question every now and then. In fact, I thought about it yesterday morning at the gym when I was hanging onto the pull-up bar and Filter’s “Hey Man Nice Shot” started playing over the sound system. I laughed a little and remarked to Brian, who was standing on the ground beside me, that this song was my life’s theme song. What I said amused Brian and he laughed, too. Wholeheartedly. Story of my life.

Where am I going with this? This very second my kids and I are listening to Jeff Buckley sing “Hallelujah.” It’s a Leonard Cohen song, I know, but Jeff Buckley covers it as if it’s an homage to sex and right now I’m wondering if it’s appropriate to listen to this with my kids in the same room. Whether or not I switch over to another song before this one’s finished, I’m sure that later today I’ll play “11th Dimension,” and “Little Lion Man,” and “First We Take Manhattan,” and “Old White Lincoln,” and “No You Girls,” and “Fed Up,” and “You Will Leave a Mark,” and “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise,” and “1901,” and “Substitution,” and “Quiet Little Voices,” and “Sweet Disposition,” and “Lions,” and “The High Road,” and a hundred more songs. Because each of these songs? They mean something to me. I have a story about why I like each of them, and its all those stories that makes me want to share the songs with my kids. If I do so, they’ll at least know me better and at best they’ll come to share with me the stories in my heart.

Whether or not Archie, Kit and Jack come to know my heart remains to be seen, but by reading this you now know that I have eclectic taste in music, which must mean that there’s something complex going on inside my head. And since everyone knows that complex is just a nice word used to describe crazy people… well, there you have it.

I wonder, though, if my making them listen to this stuff means that my kids’ll grow up crazy, too? ‘Cause, you know, kids learn what they live and all that stuff.

I really hope so.

Posted by: anne
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Categories:
Archie
Jack
Kit
Morning with the Moores

2nd Jun, 2010

This In Between

I had an English professor at Kenyon who liked to comment that I wrote the best transitions of any undergraduate he’d ever taught. So maybe that’s why I laughed a little in one of Archie’s first I. E. P. meetings when a therapist noted that my son sometimes struggled with transitions.

Of course the sort of transitions I wrote in college and the sort of transitions Archie’s therapist was talking about differ greatly. Kind of. Or maybe not?

The transitions I once wrote signaled relationships between ideas, and established logical connections between sentences, paragraphs and sections of my papers. They provided my readers with directions for how to piece together my thoughts into a coherent argument.

But the transitions Archie struggled with were the ones he was required to make between activities during his daily classroom schedule. Archie was being asked to finish one activity and to begin another one, but he become frustrated or irritated when he was told to stop working on something in order to begin focusing on another thing so instead he’d protest by refusing to cooperate. “He’s very stubborn,” that therapist told me. “He just wants to do what he prefers to do.”

I didn’t doubt that the therapist’s observation was at least partly right, but I decided way back then to make Archie’s developing ability to transition effortlessly between activities a priority. How would I do it? I’d teach Archie to focus less on moving physically between activities, I decided, and instead encourage him to bridge the gap with a rational and thoughtful correlation.

Today Archie can tell you everything we’ve planned for the day from the moment he wakes up in the morning until the instance he’ll go to bed at night. He’s able to string together transitional expressions with the finesse of any English major: “First we eat breakfast. And then we get dressed. After that I’ll watch Max and Ruby while Momma takes a shower. Later we’ll go outside and play.” He’s unraveled the logical relationship between time and the events of his day.

Now Archie may be able to deftly maneuver our daily routine, but the signposts marking the structure of our days are changing. Kit’s ballet lessons have ended. The twins’ preschool classes concluded two weeks ago. Jack’s gymnastics spring semester was over last week. Archie’s school year is finished. Kit and Jack’s last art class before summer camps begin was on Friday, and this Thursday will be our last swimming lesson at the YMCA.

In a few weeks the twins will be taking vacation gymnastics and art classes, and Archie will be back at his alma mater for summer school. We’ll have a schedule guiding us as I do my best to keep the time between activities. But right now… Well, right now Archie, Kit and Jack are upstairs in my bedroom on the oversized ottoman at the foot of my bed, watching Imagination Movers.

After I got home from the gym, after I took a shower, I helped the kids pick up their toy room and change out of their pajamas and into their outfits for the day. We don’t have to be anywhere until later this afternoon, and I won’t have to rush to finish our laundry so I can put it away and pick out three new school day outfits to lie out on the counter separating our kitchen and family room by bedtime tonight.

I’ll tell you that if I had to operate at this pace for a long period of time I’m sure I’d stagnate, but for now slowing down feels good. This time of transition between what we used to do and what we’re going to do next, it is Archie, Kit, Jack and my recovery period. It turns out they’re right when they say you’ve got to rest before you can move forward, both actually and astutely.

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28th May, 2010

He’s Graduated

On Archie’s first birthday I bought him a hardback copy of Corduroy by Don Freeman. The story about the teddy bear who lives in a department store and who is always passed up by children choosing a toy because he’s missing a button on his overalls was one of my favorite books when I was a child. I remember searching for it in basement of the Bosler Library where the children’s books were kept, and I remember sitting next to my mom on the bench beside the bookshelves while she read it to me over and over again.

Back then I liked the story because I liked Corduroy. The simple, water-colored illustrations in the book made that bear look fuzzy and soft, and I was compelled by the way his straightforward expressions concisely conveyed his emotions.

I think I also remember feeling a little sorry for Corduroy when he realized he’d lost a button and wondered if that was the reason why no one ever wanted to take him home, but I don’t think it occurred to me until I was much older that the most admirable quality of the book is it’s theme that even flawed things are worthy of love. “There’s the very bear I’ve always wanted,” proclaims Lisa, the girl in the story who discovers Corduroy in the department store’s glass display case, as she points at him with a gloved finger and looks at him with wide, hopeful eyes.

In Archie’s copy of the book I penned the date inside the front cover and wrote, Happy First Birthday, Archie! We love you very much. I remember wrapping that book up in colorful paper and deciding then to always give Archie a special book on his birthday. I’ve done that for Kit and Jack as well as Archie, and it always make me feel good to touch the books’ spines, all lined up straight and tall on the shelves in my children’s bedrooms, and remember picking out each book for each child because it felt as if that story was just right for this boy or for that girl for this instance in time.

Archie graduated from Kindergarten on Thursday morning. On his diploma, below his name, the phrase “in recognition of outstanding participation in classrooms and therapies” is printed in blackletter calligraphy. That’s a cursory description of Archie’s years spent at the Meyer Center, and even though those words are an apt account of his time there they don’t say a thing about the heart and bones of the five years Archie’s been a student.

But during the commencement program Archie and his classmates performed an adaptation of Watty Piper’s “The Little Engine That Could,” and under the direction of Traysie Amick, a teacher and actor from the South Carolina Children’s Theatre, those children reminded us parents about the significance of their graduation.

Chug, chug. Puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong, Archie’s classmates sang out as they entered the room bedecked in costumes, and marched along the meandering train track laid down across the linoleum tiles in blue painter’s tape. When Burke, the happy little train, stopped with a jerk, Chantz, Elijah and Ryan, the funny little toy clowns, Kaylee, the doll with blue eyes and yellow curls, Shyla, the doll with brown eyes and a brown bobbed head, and the rest of the red train’s jolly load recited their lines enthusiastically. “Won’t you help us get ooooohhhhh-ver the mountain?” they asked again and again, their plea punctuated with exaggerated arm movements.

Mary Sullivan, the Shiny New Engine accustomed to pulling fine big trains filled with passengers, refused to help the little train and all the dolls and toys. Katherine, the Big Strong Engine who was used to hauling important loads filled with things for grown-ups, wouldn’t help the little train either. All of Archie’s classmates looked forlorn until Traysie declared, “Here is another engine coming, a little blue engine, a very little one, maybe he will help us.”

And that’s when Archie walked to the center of the room. He came chug, chugging merrily along and after he greeted John with an excited, “Hi, Dad!” he agreed to help the little engine and all the dolls and toys. With Traysie’s help Archie, the Little Blue Engine, hooked himself up to Burke and began to make his way down the train track, around the room.

“I think I can – I think I can – I think I can – I think I can – I think I can,” the children chanted together as they marched down the track. Soon Traysie urged them to march faster until they climbed to the top of their imaginary mountain and when they did they cheered and thanked Archie, the Little Blue Engine, who chugged away from his classmates toward the corner of the room while slowly turning his hands over top of each other in repeating circles, whispering like he does when he’s reciting something alone and doesn’t want to make a mistake, “I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought could. I thought I could.”

I’ve thought a lot about the performance put on by Archie and his classmates on Thursday morning, assigning all sorts of metaphorical meanings to the characters in the play. I know when Archie was a baby, before he was even born, I felt like the red train, happy and doing my own thing until everything changed and I was unable to move forward another inch no matter how hard I tried. My mountain may have been Archie’s disability, or his heart defect, or his leukemia, or his delays, or any number of things separated or stuffed together. While I thought about the play, I imagined that the gold and black engines were all the things that didn’t or couldn’t help me get where I needed to be, and then I started imagining that the Meyer Center was our blue engine that helped Archie and me reach the top of that mountain when we most needed assistance.

If I follow this metaphor all the way out to its end, then I’d have to conclude that we’re at the top of the mountain now, Archie and me. There’s a city ahead of us, down in the valley, and together we’re moving forward and completing a journey we started a long time ago. Only I know this isn’t the end. We hitched a tow when we needed it most, but we still have to keep moving. The mountain pass will slip into stones and we’ll push forward, no matter what because that’s what we do, Archie and me.

This morning I stood in front of the bookshelf in Archie’s bedroom. I ran my fingers across his books’ spines, all lined up straight and tall on the white-washed shelves against the wall, until I found the one I’d been looking for. I pulled the book from the shelf and looked inside its cover. I held in my hands the book I’d picked for Archie on the occasion of his second birthday. I’d given this one to him in the hospital when I left Kit and Jack, who were infants then, at home with a friend and brought a cake and presents to the fifth floor pediatric oncology ward where Archie was receiving his fourth or fifth round of chemotherapy treatments.

When I looked inside that book today I saw what I’d written then, Archie, you’re our little engine that could! We love you!. Seeing that sentiment penned by my own hand made me see what I’ve always suspected but was afraid to wholeheartedly believe, what Archie’s teachers and therapists at the Meyer Center have been trying to show me all along. I may be that little red engine filled with hopes and dreams that’s traveling toward tomorrow, but it’s Archie, the little blue engine meant for switching trains in the yard whose never before been over the mountain himself, who is going to help me get where I need to be before he sets out on his own, proud and confident and smiling all the way.

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Morning with the Moores

20th May, 2010

3

Today is Kit and Jack’s last day of preschool. Yesterday I drove over to the school where they’ll attend Kindergarten next year to pay their book fees.

It’s true, I guess. When one door closes, another one opens.

Just the same, I can’t believe my two youngest children are graduating tonight. I clearly remember the day I registered them for K-2. They’d attend class twice a week for four hours, the preschool director explained to me, and even though that seemed like an awfully long time to leave my toddlers at school I knew I’d be grateful for the freedom their absence would offer me. As Kit, Jack and I walked out of the director’s office that day I remember we heard the church bells peeling, ringing in the noon hour. The song they played felt familiar, like one I’d known a long time ago, but the tune also sounded hopefully new at the same time.

In the mail yesterday we received a copy of the uniform policy for Kit and Jack’s new school. John reminisced aloud as he read through the dress requirements, and then summed up his sentimentality with this bit of gratitude, “Well, at least they don’t have to wear green plaid.” Thank goodness for that.

When I am rich our community will have an Options Program like they do today at John’s alma mater. I’ll enroll Archie in it and invite all his peers to join him. But since I’m not all that rich right now, and because Greenville doesn’t have anything like the inclusive education program for students with special needs at Bishop England, Archie will be enrolled in an elementary school class designed for students with mild cognitive delays.

I’ve met his teacher, reviewed his class syllabus, and visited his school. I’m excited about his new class’s standards for reading, math, science, social studies and writing, and I’m having a difficult time believing Archie will be a first-grader next year. While I was touring the school last week I watched the students playing outside during recess time. They seemed so big, and watching them run from slide to swings to monkey bars made my stomach fill with butterflies. I don’t know how we got this far so fast.

“You have to promise me we’ll stay in touch,” said one of the other mothers to me this morning at Kit and Jack’s school as we were walking back to our cars. We’d been talking about something else so the sudden emotion with which she spoke knocked me around a bit. I stumbled for words as I always do when I expose sincere emotion, but eventually I rounded off what she had said.

I didn’t, but I wanted to touch her. To grab her wrist and pull her side close against my own. To stand together touching as a way to outwardly show that we’re in it together. I wish I didn’t always feel so awkward displaying my affection physically.

I am certain, though, that she and I will remain friends. Just this morning John and I were talking as we were getting dressed. I was in front of the mirror in our bathroom, fiddling with my hair, and he was in our closet, taking off one dress shirt he’d decided not to wear and replacing it with another. I can’t remember what exactly we’d been talking about, but I do remember insisting that it bolstered my belief that everything is cyclical.

“It’s like I’ve always said,” I insisted. “We travel in circles. Some are small and overlap more frequently, but some are bigger and take a longer time to move around. Our most important relationships are intentional. Sometimes I have a hard time believing in accidents.”

I am thinking now of three recent things that have happened to me over the past few weeks that I’d like to write about here. In between class field trips, and haircuts, and ballet recitals, and loads of laundry, and weekend races, and homework assignments, and evenings out with friends, and art shows, and gymnastic classes, and afternoons at the library life has also felt deliberately significant on occasion. I’ll come back soon and share here what I mean when I say that. I’ll tell you about these three things.

But before I go I want to write about last Friday afternoon when Kit and Jack were in art class upstairs and Archie and I played together on the playground tucked behind the Civic Center. The week before Archie urged me to help him climb the monkey bars. So that time I stood by, spotting him as he fumbled to make his way to the top of the dome. I didn’t help Archie that afternoon; rather I borrowed a trick from the trainers at the gym and just placed my hand on his back so he’d believe I was helping him. When Archie faltered I pressed harder on his back and encouraged him to figure it out. He did and ended up making it to the top all by himself.

When we found ourselves at the playground again last week I sat on a swing several feet from the monkey bars and watched as Archie circled the structure, chanting, “Figure it out… figure it out.” I willed myself to remain seated on the swing, to not sweep in to spot him, and cheered when Archie finally, on shaky arms and knocking knees, reached the top of the dome all by himself.

Archie ran to me after he climbed down, all flailing arms and faltering feet, and I lifted him onto my lap. We sat chest to chest, my biggest boy and I, and I helped him thread his sneakers through the swing’s chains so he could wrap his legs around my waist and cross his ankles behind my back. I pushed the swing with my legs and together Archie and I sailed back and forth, up and down. My stomach flipped a few times and I’m betting Archie’s did as well because he laughed and laughed and then rubbed his belly, telling me that it felt funny.

After a while Archie stopped laughing and laid his head against my chest. It was hot and humid my shirt got wet with our sweat. I started to sing. I began with the nursery rhymes I always recited to Archie when he was a baby, lying in my arms as he drank from his bottle, and then moved on to the Irish drinking songs my dad sang to my brother and I when we were small.

Soon I was singing “American Pie” like I learned to do when I was a teenager, listening to the car radio, “And can you teach me how to dance real slow?”

Then I moved on to my cache of Simon and Garfunkel songs, which always feels like the right sort of transition to make from Don McLean. Archie remained quiet as his cheek pressed against my chest, and his eyes were closed but not tightly enough to signal that he was sleeping. I worked my way through “Bookends” and “The Boxer” until I arrived at “America,” which is the song I stayed with until I’d sung it several times and it was time to go.

I’ve loved the haunting melody of that song since I was a child, and there’s something about the rolling thunder of the drums after the first stanza that gives me chills every time I hear it. That song makes me feel small again, but at the same time I feel so grown-up when I know now that I’ve come to understand what the lyrics mean.

I sang this song to my children, too, when they were babies and I was comforting them, but the lyrics have changed meaning for me as my children have grown. I used to think that one day I’d just get to a place inside myself and there I’d stay, but that was before I believed in the way life turns over on itself in concentric circles again and again.

They’ve all gone to look for America. We’ve all gone to look for America.

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Morning with the Moores

15th Apr, 2010

Antidote

I really hate going to the dentist. I hate it so much, in fact, that I’ve managed to successfully avoid making a trip to his office for the last four or five years.

I know that’s a statement of which I shouldn’t be proud. And I admit to being embarrassed by my dental hygiene negligence enough that I made an appointment with a new dentist, one I’d never seen before but the one who treats my husband. He goes all the time, my husband does, and I make sure to take my kids to all of their dental appointments as well, but I chose not to do the same for myself.

I could have gone to the dentist. I should have gone. I would have gone, but I didn’t. Until last week when I chipped my front tooth while doing an overhead split jerk at the gym and I knew the gig was up.

So today I went and the new dentist fixed my top right central incisor, sanding its enamel until the tiny missing chip was barely visible anymore. But before he started sanding my tooth the dentist wanted to know how I’d chipped it.

“While training,” I mumbled, my mouth filled with fingers.

“While training?” the dentist repeated loudly, as if hadn’t heard me correctly.

I anticipated the question pertaining to how I chipped my tooth before arriving at the dentist’s office, and I’d planned to keep my answer simple. I’ve learned that very few people care to hear the details of my training regime. I assume most people believe I’m totally ridiculous in the way I walk around most days in P. T. gear and goofy-looking shoes, my Ray-Ban’s pushed up and perched atop my forehead, the wires that hold the glass’s nose pads tangled in my sweat-soaked hair. People I know well are used to seeing me this way, people I’ve just met usually look me up and down incredulously, but both sets of people have eyes that kind of glaze over when I start talking about any sort of anaerobic endurance strength and conditioning program. To this dentist I’d offer a cursory answer, I’d decided, one that would be accurate but also concise. In short, I’d spare him the details.

But this doctor defied my expectations. He wanted to know more. So I continued to answer his questions, first briefly and then more specifically until I was talking about Olympic lifts and on-season versus off-season running and nutrition and power lifts. This dentist told me about another patient of his, an older man who is now a long-retired distance runner, and he mused aloud that in his next life he’d like to come back as a psychologist who specializes in treating athletes who pursue such extreme endeavors.

“See, I think people like you have some sort of issue you may not even be aware of that makes you want to do this,” he spoke softly, touching my shoulder as he did. He intended no offense and I took none. Instead I just smiled and shook my head in agreement as I offered my reply.

“Oh, I have issues,” I assured him, nearly laughing. But I left out the other part, the serious and lengthy explanation, about how I’m able to transcend those issues by enduring the duress induced by pushing myself to my physical and psychological limits.

Later this morning, after I left the dentist’s office and while I sat waiting in my car in the parking lot outside Kit and Jack’s school, I paged through my facebook news feed on my iPhone. That’s where I came across this quotation by Gail Kislevitz, runner and cancer survivor, and when I read it I breathed aloud, “Yes. Definitely yes:”

I had to do something to shake up my life and get back some sense of control and trust in the world and along the way fill the hollow space. I needed to rebel against those negative forces, to scream so loud and for so long that the anger living inside me would evacuate forever. But instead of screaming, I ran.

I’ve written before about why I began running in the first place, and I ‘ve written about how training enables me to forgive myself, but I don’t speak much about how training also empowers me, how it often alleviates the anger I carry around inside, offering me clarity and perspective. But it’s true, it does all those thing. I know that my accomplishments, they’re fueled by my search of the truth, by my pursuit of transcendence.

Before I close here I also want to say that I am closer to both truth and transcendence than I was a year ago, than I was the year before that. I don’t believe either are things I’ll eventually reach with any sort of finality, but I intend to run them both down for the rest of my life. And I’m going to see how close I can get.

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7th Apr, 2010

In Between

Archie was supposed to participate in the Special Olympics Spring Games at Furman University today, but instead he’s home sick, watching television in the other room. Last night he started throwing up all over himself, all over me, all over his dad and all over our house. He’s stopped now, but he has big black circles under his eyes and he’s as white as a sheet of paper.

Yesterday afternoon we’d meticulously pieced together our family’s game plan for this morning. My dad would take a day off work, and he and my mom would swing by here to pick up Archie and drive him across town so he’d be assured to arrive at Furman on time. I’d take Kit and Jack to school at St. Mary Magdalene’s and then turn around and drive the seventeen miles to the college’s campus, pulling up in time for the opening ceremonies. My brother and his wife planned to join us as well to cheer Archie on and celebrate his abilities and potential. Archie would wear his Wheaties t-shirt, I’d planned, and the new sneakers my parents bought for him last weekend.

But this life, it had other plans.

While that’s disappointing, it also feels as if it’s an appropriate turn of events these days. Lately everything’s been coming in all askew and askance, turned sideways or upside-down or not turning out at all, no matter what. Sometimes that means events go better than I anticipated, or sometimes it means that they don’t or won’t or just plain can’t after all. I don’t know why things are happening this way, but I do know it makes me feel anxious. It’s as if I’ve found myself trapped between periods and commas and I’m not really sure which thought to follow through first.

I may be seeking out my transition, but I do know something about conclusions and yesterday I offered this thought as the dénouement to a conversation I was sharing with a friend: “If it’s not happy, then it’s not the end.”

This morning that friend came back to me and explained, “I was thinking about what you said and I disagree. I think sometimes it’s just the end.” And then he shrugged like he usually does when he says something he anticipates is beyond all objections and rebuttals, his arms extended with both palms turned upward, both elbows set on a different slope so neither is particularly perpendicular to his body.

I tried to argue with him, but his mind was made up and it was early and I was still sleepy and struggling to find the words I needed to speak about everything I wanted to say. We left it like that, he right and I wrong, but later in my car I thought about something I’d heard on the radio yesterday morning.

Forty years ago a group of friends concealed a car behind a brick wall in the basement of a house. The car stayed behind that wall until the new owner of the house discovered it while he was looking throw a hole in the bricks. It turns out that the car was buried simply as something to do when the friends received it from a car dealer they knew, after he acquired it from a man passing through town who couldn’t afford to pay for the necessary repairs to get the car going again after it broke down. They thought it would be funny, one of the friends explained to the reporter who covered the story. “All this time, we’ve been waiting.”

These periods and commas I’ve been trying to string together, they feel like a pause inserted in a sentence to give me time to consider the consequences of a statement. I feel anticipatory. I wonder if someday soon I’ll stumble through the routine of my day only to arrive at the end of one thought and the beginning of another, at a transition where someone will welcome me with an outstretched hand and say, smiling, “All this time, we’ve been waiting for you.”

But today Archie lays on his stomach in the thinking room, by the foot of a leather chair, glassy-eyed and drowsy. He’s not awake but he’s not really sleeping either. The television that’s turned on upstairs echoes the television that’s turned on downstairs, and from where Archie lies I know he can hear the Ferocious Beast and Mr. Shimmers speak a beat faster upstairs than they do downstairs.

In the hallway next to Archie is a discarded piece of drawing paper, one of the maps his brother drew last night. Upon it is a twisting, turning line connecting one corner of the paper to another, a beginning and an end marked by disproportionate dots scribbled in pencil. When I asked Jack where the map leads he answered earnestly, “No where.”

“No where?” I repeated, looking for clarification. “Don’t you mean somewhere?”

“Yeah, yeah. Somewhere,” Jack answered, shaking his head up and down. “Or maybe no where.”

Outside in our driveway my station wagon is covered by yellow pollen, as thick as a blanket. Underneath the car’s carriage the pollen floats like spiraling, stellar arms swirling around a singular puddle left behind by the sprinklers that irrigate our yard in the early dark of each morning.

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