Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Inspired by IKEA

I was inspired this holiday weekend. Not only by the many friends and family that surrounded us... but by the coolest store in the universe! We spent Wednesday and Thursday with my family in St. Helens, then we drove up to the Seattle area to see Rob's family for the remainder of the weekend.

To take advantage of our cultural surroundings, Rob and I went to "Swedish Church" on Sunday. Code name: IKEA. I admit, I didn't go there to be inspired, and we didn't really intend for it to be "church", but it inspired me to think more creatively about church, and that's a wonderful thing!

I was so impressed with so many aspects of this store, that I feel it's necessary to write down my awe-inspiring experience so that I won't forget it. And hey... why not let you listen in?

As a Children's Ministry Director I've always got my Children's Ministry hat on, and it came full-force when we were still several blocks from the store. Here are some things I noticed:

A couple blocks away they had their own blue street sign. Cool! It was convenient and it was clear that we were going in the right direction.

There was clear sign-age (is that a word?) from the main street and there were several flags indicating that you were about to enter some place that's really fun.

As we turned into the parking area it was clearly marked who could park where. Signs read "Loading area, employees only etc." The COOLEST sign, however was the one that had universal signs for disability and FAMILY PARKING that was depicted by a stroller. Wow! Now that was COOL! This parking was under-cover and attached to the main building. Even-though Rob dropped Titus and I off while he and Leeann went to park in the other garage, I was honored that they thought of me. When I'm at a store, with both kids it's so frustrating to be far away from the carts, to walk in the rain, or through heavy traffic. It was good to see that someone had taken note of the plights of young moms!

By the time Leeann and Rob caught up with us, all of the little child-sized carts out-side were taken eagerly by young kids. They did have convenient little strollers though. Picture a short shopping cart, with just the area to seat the kid (i.e. you won't have to struggle to move about the store with the huge cumbersome shopping cart). Bonus- it had a place to hang the diaper bag, and even a place for me to hang my purse!

All this, and I haven't even entered the store yet! I strolled in with confidence knowing that this store wanted me (a young mom) as a customer, and that my children were welcome in their store. In a not-very-child-friendly world, this was like a breath of fresh air.

Inside the store their mission statement was written on the wall in bold letters:

The IKEA business idea is to offer a wide range of home furnishings with good design and function at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them. And still have money left!

Ah, another factor that spoke to my heart! Affordable, functional and a good design. I like that!

Just to the right as you walked into the store there was a play area for kids called small-land. There were check-in screens on the wall and many other cool features. I'll get to that later.

We didn't drop Leeann of at small-land, instead we took her shopping with us. I'm glad we did because it opened my eyes to many other things the store had to offer children.

Continue with me down the isles. Besides their awesome furniture, they had big arrows on the floor every 10 or 15 feet. It would be easy to get lost in such a big store with crazy displays... but it was impossible to get lost with a clear path. My convenient little stroller cart fit everywhere with ease, I'm confident that they made sure of that when setting up their displays. They don't seem to do anything on accident at that store.

One of the model homes set up in the store had clear sign-age indicating all of the ways in which this house was safe and functional for children. It made me want to move in! Now I know: IKEA keeps children in mind when creating their products. Nice.

About this time there is a kid-station that is a four-sided activity center. IKEA knows that this is about the time a young child might be getting restless. There was also a bathroom. For a mommy who's potty-training: extra nice!

About the time that Leeann was getting a little fidgety again, we strategically came upon the children's furniture section. There were lot's of beds set up, and many sample rooms. The bunk beds had Plexiglas over the stairs with a sign that said something about wanting to keep the kids safe by blocking their access to the electrical and lighting fixtures above. Many other stores would post a nasty sign telling me to keep my kids under control and off the furniture. I don't like those stores, I like IKEA!

Side Note: We're hoping to get Leeann a big girl bed for her 4th Birthday in July... so this section was extra fun. Bunk beds? Loft beds? Trundle beds? Canopy beds? Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Anyway, Rob and Leeann played hide an go seek from Titus and I, and it was fun. I honestly felt comfortable letting my child and my over-grown child play hide and go seek in the middle of a furniture store. I knew that I (and my kids) were their target audience by the way they purposefully designed it with so many things helpful for moms and fun for kids.

In this section there were little kid-sized doors that kids could crawl through to get from one display room to the other. Talk about fun!

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, there was a whole big area with cool kids tables and chairs, and play centers, complete with a tent and crawl station that Leeann particularly enjoyed. Although small-land is there for the parent's shopping convenience, it was obvious that it's purpose was not simply to keep kids out of their store and off of their stuff.

We rounded through the dining section pretty quickly since we recently purchased our dining room table and chairs. We came through the kitchen section and ended up in a clearing where small-land was extremely visible.

There were essentially 3 different rooms that were brightly colored with murals on the wall. There was a huge ball-pit, a room designed for active play with a play structure and even plastic rocks to climb on! The biggest of the 3 rooms was divided into 3 different sections. There was a house-keeping area that looked like tons of fun. There was a creative area that had kid-sized tables and chairs where kids were drawing and playing games, and there was also a barn, that apparently had a t.v. located in it like a little club-house.

Needless to say, although we had already gone through the whole store... we wouldn't be good parents if we squashed Leeann's dream of being "on the inside" of this fantasy-land. We had a little talk about how she could go in for a little while, but she couldn't cry when it was time to go. (Okay, she ended up having a huge-fit anyway... but such is life).

In order to check her in, I had to use the computer screen on the wall to enter our names, address, birthday etc. Then I waited in a short line while the kids before us went through the routine. While I was standing in line there were big, bold, brightly colored information bubbles on the wall. My favorite? "All of our co-workers are trained in basic first-aid and CPR." Bonus! There were also signs that said kids ages 3-9 were welcome and they could stay for up to an hour while their parents remained in the store. Kids must be fully potty-trained. The same parent had to drop off and pick up their child, and photo ID is required to drop your child off. I was impressed! Of course, it took me about a total of 10 minutes to drop my child off, but I did so with confidence. I knew she wasn't escaping and I knew no one else would have access to her. Not only that, but it was obvious that she was going to have so much fun.

They printed out a card that had the information I entered on the screen and on the bottom it made provide a password and my signature. Then they asked for my photo ID. Then they proceeded to ask Leeann how old she was and they put a printed out sticker on her back that had some sort of code-information. They gave us matching bracelets that indicated that we were number 63. They also gave me an Olive-Garden style pager that had the number 63 on it and let me know that I had an hour to shop. On the wall there was a sign that said "Wait-time" O minutes. Added bonus: I knew they wouldn't exceed proper worker-to-child ratios, and it was obviously Leeann would receive proper care. I saw lot's of workers in each of the areas with children which gave me added comfort.

Since we'd already been through the store once and we were hungry we stopped at the cafe. First things I noticed? A place to park your cart. A sign that read "high chairs", and cheap kids meals. One of the things I was most impressed by was the fact that they sold baby food jars in their cafe. I can think of a time or two that I would have thought that was the biggest blessing ever! Again, I knew I was their target audience, and I felt like they were looking out for me.

Oh wait, it gets better. When I went to grab a strategically located high chair I noticed another children's play area. you could sit at a table and watch your kids play, or you could let them get up and play after they've finished their meal. When I'm having a good conversation with an adult at church, I could only wish there was a place like this nearby!

Titus was cranky and fussy and nearly inconsolable. He was tired, and it was far past bed-time and there was no where to lay his sleepy little head (we've carried him around in his infant car seat so long that he's had a ready-made bed everywhere he went!) After lunch I took him to the bathroom to change him. They had an infant seat in one of their stalls and it was clearly marked. A mom who's shopping with a baby Titus's age would find this absolutely necessary! There was a pail clearly marked "diapers only" and a changing station at the back of the bathroom. That was nice, I didn't have to flash everyone with Titus's bum as they walked in to use the restroom. One of my favorite things was just above the changing station (that was well stocked with liners I might add). "Extra diapers are located in small-land for your convenience." Wow. SUPER NICE! I happened to have plenty with me, but there have been a time or two where we've stayed somewhere longer than we would have anticipated and that can pose a problem for obvious reasons!

I also discovered that Titus had diaper rash, a little bit of a bleeding tooth where his top right tooth just came in, and an obvious top left tooth that was about to break in. No wonder he was fussy. Rob laid his blanket over his shoulder and Titus took a nap on daddy. That was especially sweet because Titus isn't a snuggler and he rarely falls asleep on anyone. He'd rather be left alone! We wandered around the store one last time to take a look at some things we were interested in. There was an end-table that we really wanted, but there was absolutely no room to get it home on this trip. Okay, there were a lot of things we really wanted, but the $14.99 end-table seemed like the most realistic item at this moment in time.

Side note: It was the van's turn to go to the doctors this time. It blew a head-gasket. Bummer. This was the morning we were leaving on vacation and the van is much roomier!

Oh well, we have plans to visit the store again in December, and hopefully we'll get to take a few things home then.

We started thinking that our hour must be getting close to being up so I returned to small-land to retrieve my daughter (at a much less-crowded exit-station). Leeann was in hysterics and didn't want to go, so one of the ladies had to physically carry her out to us. She said, "I'll let you hold her, but I'll need to get all of the tags off of both of you." So, she took the sticker off Leeann's back, retrieved my pager and removed our matching bracelets. I was grateful for their safety precautions!

Leeann absolutely did not want to leave their store. Everything about made me wish I could go back more often. If I lived closer I'd probably drop Leeann off a couple times a week and walk the store for exercise. We'd both have lot's of fun. I'd go there by myself with the kids... I won't even go to the grocery store by myself with the kids! Not to mention, my house would be a walking IKEA advertisement $20 at a time (my home-maintanance/decor budget is $20 a month!)

It was a good trip. I was inspired!

Can you imagine what a church would look like if you were it's target audience? For me, at my stage in life it would have many of the qualities that IKEA had. Of course, the content would be different, but the environment would probably be similar. I wonder what I can do with this IKEA inspiration to make people with children feel like we truly want them at our church... and what we can do to make life easier for them while they are there. Not to mention, how can we make it such an inviting place for kids that they'll cry when it's time to leave just like Leeann did. Hmmm...

IKEA is currently building a store in the Portland area. It's slated to be open in the Spring of 2007 and I'm excited! If I picked up that much on my first trip to IKEA, I wonder what might stand out on subsequent trips? And, it's 3 hours closer to my house, which makes purchasing furniture from there more of a reality. And that, I REALLY LIKE!!!

Well, if you made it this far, I hope that you too were inspired in some way, shape or form by this post. It was an amazing adventure!

Monday, November 27, 2006

We're a little late on the Birthday Pictures!

Rob's showing off his new iPod for the camera.

Rob's being a little bit silly now, showing off his new iPod.

Rob is blowing out "3""1" candles on his strawberry cheesecake. We accidently celebrated his birthday several days after the actual event. It was still fun though!

Leeann made daddy a special square for his Birthday out of those cool melty-beads. He liked it almost as much as the iPod!
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Leeann and Daddy were just hanging out listening to his new Birthday iPod. I thought I'd share this with you!
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Leeann's 2nd, 1st day of Preschool

Leeann struck a deal with Mrs. Erin (the main teacher at the preschool I used to work for), that when she went poo-poo in the big-girl potty, she would get to go to preschool for the whole day! Afterall, you can't go to school until you are potty-trained. Leeann has been talking about wanting to go to school for sometime now, and everytime we're around the church when preschool is in session she likes to dart into the classroom and attempt to join in on the fun. That's why I teamed up with Mrs. Erin to bribe Leeann with a day at school for going in the potty.

She thoroughly enjoyed her day at preschool and she certainly didn't want to leave, but she had a great day!

I have been hoping all year that we might get to send Leeann to preschool. Having taught there, I totally believe in the program, and I see the many benefits. The only problem is, it costs money. We talked a little bit about using some money we'd been given a month or so ago to maybe send her, but then I had the root-canal. Welcome to my world!

Well, we've been talking about money at church and in our small group, and talking essentially about needs verses wants. I spoke up about how it's been hard for me, because I want to send Leeann to preschool, and although it's a good use of money, it isn't essential. We more or less resigned that she wouldn't be going to preschool (at least not this year).

Well, God is good. Really good! I got word from Mrs. Erin on Wednesday that our small group wanted to go in together and send Leeann to preschool! What a HUGE blessing! So, Leeann got to go back on Thursday and she was very excited!

It's a double-blessing really because I will be able to stay at the church and get 6 hours a week in while Leeann is at school. This will be especially nice because some weeks it's hard for me to carve out the hours to be in the office without the kiddo's. Of course, I'll still have Titus but he usually sleeps from 10 to noon or so, so he shouldn't be too much of a problem!

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that my little girl is officially a preschooler!

Leeann's new friend Sabina is just behind her. She's the only other girl in the class and they seem to get along very well!

These are Leeann's teachers Mrs. Tina and Mrs. Erin. Mrs. Tina was Leeann's Sunday School teacher for a long time too. She really likes her teachers!

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Jessi is like a bright light that walked into my life for a short period of time. She and I both attended WOU for a term our freshman year of college. We lived in the same hall and we just seemed to 'click'. I love her dearly and I wish she were closer. She's the kind of friend though that no matter how much time passes by, it's always so great to catch up and spend time together!

Well, yesterday the kids and I ventured up to Canby where Jessi's parents live (she lives with her husband and daughter in Canada) to attend Halle's 1st Birthday party. We surprised Jessi and the look on her face was priceless! The last time we saw each other was at her wedding just over two years ago, neither of us had kids yet!

It was a nasty rainy evening and would have been a terrible drive (an hour on the freeway in pouring rain at 10:00 at night) so Jessi's parents invited the 3 of us to stay the night. Jess and I stayed up til 2 like little college girls and it was so much fun... and such a huge blessing to get to catch up with her!

Halle is just two weeks older than Titus. Yes, he's trying to put on fake lipstick!

I just think he's handsome!

Leeann really liked Jessi too!


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Rob wanted me to post some more about poo...

Because Rob thinks this is such an interesting topic, I thought I'd continue the discussion in today's post.

Leeann woke up dry this morning, which is really exciting to me! She's been dry for a day and a half now, and she's only had one poo accident that I can remember in more than a week (and that was during nap-time). I tell you what, I'm liking this whole getting potty-trained thing!

I probably won't post much more about it (unless I'm wanting to get a rise out of Rob), because it seems like things are well on their way to potty training like a normal 3 year-old. Other than that... all is well...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Anything Else?

I went to get gas tonight and $10 and a clean windsheild later the young gentlemen handed me the receipt and asked, "Is there anything else I can get you?"

If you were a little more whitty and quicker on your feet than I am, how would you have responded to that question?

Friday, November 17, 2006


Because of Leeann's marked progress I asked her if she wanted to wear big-girl panties today... to which she squealed with glee and excitement!

So, just after lunch she went up to her room to play for a little while and then called down to me, "Mommy, I need to go in the big-girl potty!" So I rushed upstairs and unbuckled her overalls and sure enough... she went poo again, and this time she told me that she needed to go. I feel like it's Christmas, I'm so excited!

4 Times!!!

Leeann has gone poo in the potty 4 times this week, 2 of which were yesterday!

Let me tell you how excited I am! She went Friday night and got a sucker, Monday night she went and got a tootsie roll and yesterday she went twice and got cookies both times.

I think the part I am most excited about is that last night at small group she was playing in a big group of kids and then she disappeared. I found her in the bathroom (which she always does when you ask, but rarely does it on her own initiative) going poo! I was such a proud mommy!

I am finally holding out a tiny bit of hope that she is actually beginning to be able to tell when she needs to go and that is priceless to me! Even yesterday morning I was making plans with our friend Noah to help me take her to get her bloodwork done. He's strong and not squirmy and Leeann loves him so he seemed like he might be a logical person to help in that department. I think I'm going to hold off though because she's obviously beginning to make some progress, and I really don't want to have to get her blood drawn again if we don't have to.

It's almost 9 in the morning and both kids are still sleeping. That's abnormal... but it's been a long couple of days for all of us! I'm enjoying the few minutes of peace...

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Carseat Dilema

I just realized that Titus is technically too long for his infant carrier. Nevermind the fact that his first Birthday is in a couple of weeks when most babies outgrow theirs far earlier...

I always assumed I would move Leeann up to a booster seat and move him into her carseat once he outgrew his. Well, now that the time has come I'm doing some more research into carseats and how long they ought to be in what kind of seat, how many point-harness they ought to have etc.

I will spare you the details, but this is actually a somewhat stressful decision. She's technically big enough for the high-back booster seat, but would be safer in traditional carseat that holds a kid up to 40 pounds. I think she's 35 or so.


1.) I can get another seat similar to hers for Titus, but then she'll have to go to a booster seat at 40 pounds anyway. $50-150.

2.) I can put her in a booster seat now, that's for a kid that's 30-100 lbs. Free, we already have one.

3.) I can buy a nice (and by nice, I mean expensive) seat that is a 5 point-harness seat (the safest) that will fit her until she's 65 pounds. Or an even nicer one that will fit her until she's 80 pounds (safest and most expensive option). $220-300.

4.) I can just leave my kids at home and never take them anywhere! Ah, now there's an option!

I'm leaning toward purchasing a seat, especially knowing that Titus is, and is likely going to continue to be small... and he'll need a carseat for longer than most kids I imagine.

The problem is that he's growing out of his at a bad time. His Birthday is in two weeks, and of course Christmas is coming up. It's not exactly a time that I want to throw $250 at a carseat. Ah, unless of course we make this his Birthday/Christmas present. He's only1, he'll never know the difference eh? It won't come anywhere close to covering the cost, but it will sure put a dent in it!

I meant for this to be a short post, but I'm bad at that! What to do, what to do!

Sunday, November 12, 2006


*Note, this post is about poo, if you don't want to hear about potty stories, stop reading now!*

Leeann got a sucker yesterday...

...drum roll...

... for going poo-poo in the big girl potty again!

She has not done so since she had her potty-party in July, and it's been a long and frustrating road. We're still in the beginning stages, but progress is progress--I'll take what I can get!

Rob loves it when people blog about poo! He was reading several of the blogs that have links on my blogs and he came home and said something along the lines of "Why does everyone write about poo on their blogs?" It happens to be because many of us are young moms and this is what we deal with!

For those of you who don't know, Leeann has been going pee in the potty for a year or more at this point, but she just can't (or won't) go poo, so we're still using pull-ups on a regular basis. The problem is, that I don't think she can help it. I'm no doctor, so I could be wrong, but I don't think she knows when she needs to go. She doesn't hide, or stand in the corner and she doesn't strain. She just goes! You can be having a conversation with her and her expressions won't change at all, then all of the sudden she says "Uh-oh, I went poo-poo!" Her stools are very soft and unformed, and they always have been.

Is it an allergy? Is it a medical problem? Is it just the way her body is? Who knows. I don't, if I knew I'd fix it. Her doctor gave us orders to get blood-work done on her again, but it traumatized both Leeann and I so much last time (about a year ago) that I don't know if I want to do that again. I'm so hoping that it will just fix itself, it's so hard to intentionally watch someone intentionally inflict pain on my precious little girl. The older she gets, the harder it is because she's getting to the point where she ought to be potty-trained soon. I'm happy to wait until she's ready, but like I said, I don't think it's that she's not ready, I think it's that she just doesn't know when she needs to go. One day at a time! But, for the curious minds who want to know, that's the latest on our road to potty training!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Date Night!!!

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Guess where we went!

Rob decided to take Leeann, Titus and I out for a date night on Friday... and it was SO MUCH FUN! Can you guess where we went?!?!?

Leeann on a wave runnner

Leeann with the star of the evening!

Ski Ball!!! Okay, she needed a little help with this one!

Leeann, Titus and daddy driving a big rig! This was daddy's favorite game, he got drive a big rig across the country while Titus tried to help and Leeann just kept honking the horn. I'll be honest, he needs some driving lessons before he goes long-haul!

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Friday, November 03, 2006

3-6 months still...

I have been cleaning out Titus's closet over the last couple of days, purging summer clothes, and adding winter ones. As I was putting away his 3-6 month summer clothes I suddenly began to wonder if I should not tuck them too far away, as he might still be in them once the whether warms up again this Spring! Yes friends, my 11 month old is still fitting in his 3-6 month clothes, with no signs of growing out of them.

I'm pulling back out the clothes that I put away last winter, thinking he'd surely be out of them by this winter. I still lug him around in his car seat everywhere we go. He's a teeny little boy. I'm trying not to get a complex, but he's super-small!

Last night he was 'accidentally' starting to stand on his own. He was standing up holding onto a couch, but then he started to bang a toy up against it, letting go for very brief periods of time. I imagine he'll be walking in the next month or so, which will be a funny sight to see since he is so small. I found a 2nd tooth in Titus's mouth this morning, right by the other one. He needs a hair cut. He's eating just about anything these days, which is really nice, but really messy too. And those, friends are my random bits of information about my little guy...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Let me tell you why...

This is why I hate Halloween: It's not because of the scary things, it's not because of the begging kids who come door-to-door, it's not because of the costumes... it's the candy. For those of you who know us well, you know that we don't give our kids much in the way of sugar. Part of it is due to the fact that Leeann has some dietary issues that are made worse by juice and sugar, part of it is that she turns into a raving lunatic when she has it, part of it is that so many people try to give it to her everywhere she goes, that we'd rather just say "No, she can't have any," part of it is because we don't want our kids to be a sugar-addict like we turned out to be (heaven forbid we want our kids to have healthy eating habits!), but mostly, it's because our kids don't need it! Tell me what 11 month old, or 3 year old NEEDS sugar? The funny thing is, though--we are the ones that are treated like bad parents when we keep our kids from sugar!

Oftentimes people try to sneak our kids sugar, because they know that we don't give it to them and they think we're mean. Mostly though, people just don't think to ask before they plop a handful of something sweet into our little-ones hands. Or if they do ask, it's after they've already given it to them, as if that's going to help! In Costco yesterday, a well-meaning employee gave Leeann and Titus each a tootsie roll. First of all, Titus can't eat tootsie rolls, the kid barely has one tooth! Second of all, it tortured Leeann because I (had to) let her carry it around all day, but I wouldn't let her eat it.

We made it through Halloween without much of a hitch. We visited many homes of people that we know, and Leeann collected plenty of candy in her little purse. I told Leeann that she can eat a piece of her candy... when she goes poo-poo in the big girl potty. It seemed to be a good compromise, and she didn't complain! We had fun going door-to-door and having lot's of people melt over how cute Princess Ariel was! I just somehow wish we could do Halloween without the candy, but that would defeat the purpose I suppose!

It's an uphill, tough battle trying to keep sweets from our kids. Literally everywhere we go, everyone wants to be 'the favorite' by spoiling our kids. The most immediate way to spoil kids is to give them candy, and so that's what people do! Argg! I understand we are the minority, so I don't expect the world's view of giving candy to kids to revolve around us... but if you are reading this-- now you know :0) Please descreately ask Rob or I before you offer something sweet (or anything really) to our kids. We are doing our best to instill healthy habits in our kids even though church events, holiday's, birthday parties, and people who want to give our kids treats, abound!

Some things aren't worth fighting for, but we both feel that this one is. It will be harder and harder to keep them from sweets as they get older and spend more time out of our care, but we're hopeful that as the years pass they won't be addicted to it, and that it will be easier for them to partake in moderation. We're also hoping that by that time they will have more self-control, so they won't turn into raving lunatics throwing tantrums! And just in case you are wondering, Leeann does get some sugar. Not much, but some. At birthday parties she gets a small piece of cake and some ice cream. If we are somewhere where all the other kids are getting a treat, I usually give her a tiny bit of what they are having, and/or an alternative that she likes. And every once in a while we share something sweet with her. It's not like she's never tasted it, or she never gets any. We just don't want to let her have large amounts of sweets, or to have them everyday-- but we would like to be the ones to say when, and how much she gets.

And that my friends, is a post that turned into a rant... thanks for reading! And now, for your viewing pleasure... the cutest kids in the universe!

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