Monday, February 27, 2012

Stay at Home Mom

My three reasons to stay home.
After I had my first daughter I stayed home from work for only ten weeks.  I was supposed to be out for twelve weeks, but my husband got laid off from his job and I had to go back to work early.  It was awful.  I missed my new little baby more than anything else in the world and felt nagging guilt for returning to such an obviously unimportant job when my sweet little baby needed her Mama.  About two years later, while pregnant with my second daughter, I got laid off from my job.  I decided to take that opportunity to become a Stay at Home Mom.  After about a year, I started volunteering and eventually accepted a part time job at my church.  But the church is not immune to the economic crisis, and my position there was eventually cut from the budget as well, landing me back in my full-time job as a SAHM.  (Typing out Stay at Home Mom every time is cumbersome, so I'm using the acronym SAHM.  It's killing me a little bit.)

There are people who will say things like, "Being a Mom is the best job in the world!"  I feel confident in saying that those people are delusional.  We can safely say that any job that includes being pooped on on a regular basis is far from being the BEST job in the world.  I mean, sure, it's probably pretty important in the grand scheme of things.  We're trying to mold young minds into civilized and productive human adults.  I would guess that Charles Manson's mom felt like she pretty much dropped the ball.  But being an important job, isn't the same as being the best job.  The men who take away the giant bags full of poopy diapers every Wednesday have a pretty important job in my book, but I wouldn't want to be the one riding on the back of that stinky green truck.

As far as SAHMs go, I'm really awful at it.  Television would lead us all to believe that the SAHM has tons of time to do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, organize play dates, host Sentsy parties (or what-have-you), and do it all with a trendy messy up-do.  I do, in fact, know a Mom or two that seem to have all that going on.  I'm almost certain they cry themselves to sleep.  More likely, they probably just collapse into a heap at the end of the day.  My carpet almost always has Pop-Tarts or crackers ground into it.  There is so much snot and fingerprints smeared across my windows that it looks like I own a pet llama with a sinus infection.  The dirty laundry sits in a schlumpy heap in the corner, and we're almost always out of milk.  I wouldn't even dream of inviting someone into my house that doesn't already have a deep appreciation for the fact that as I clean my house, I have three little tornadoes behind me and I never seem to make any progress.  And while my hair is almost always messy, it's never fashionably so.

The reality is, at least for me, that stay at home motherhood is a very secluded life.  The only people I ever talk to are under four feet tall.  These miniature people somehow manage to get my complete attention at almost all times.  I do for them constantly to the point that I neglect myself.  Now, I'm not one of those mom's who thinks I'm entitled to a day at the spa (although I wouldn't mind one!), but occasionally I need to do things like eat, and drink some water, and pee without someone trying to sit on my lap and read them a book. 

I find myself craving adult interaction and actively stalk friends on facebook to the point that I'm almost certain I am going to be blocked or unfriended.  (My computer doesn't like the word unfriended.  To be fair, neither do I.)  I was friended by someone whose blog I read and really like, and honestly, I was so excited.  My husband was really confused.  "But, you've never actually met this person, have you?"  No, no I have not.  But nonetheless, it was like finding out the really cute boy in high school has a crush on you.  I was giddy.  It was a little embarrassing and I sometimes fear my enthusiasm will be off putting.  So before hitting enter on comments to their facebook page I say to myself, "Be cool, Kim.  Be cool."  I'm not.  I am not cool at all.  I'm desperate, and I'm afraid it shows.

Anyhow, I'm hoping that my desperation will lessen over the next week or two.  I'm leaving my profession as SAHM and entering the workforce... you know, the one where they pay you for doing stuff.  I'm pretty excited to wear clothes that don't have snot on them and to avoid a few hours of diaper changes.  But mostly, I'll be glad to just be out of the house and talking to real-live grown ups.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I Forgot My Wallet, or, Why Freud Was Right.

She stood behind the cash register scanning a seemingly endless sea of dried noodles, dried meats, and dried fruit as they slowly made their way down the long black conveyor belt.  The mindless monotony at her job as a cashier made her feel numb.

Beep... Beep... Beep...

"I forgot my wallet!"  The man in the Tam o' Shanter frantically patted his chest, searching the fourteen million pockets in his camouflage vest attempting to locate his missing wallet.

I forgot my wallet.  That simple phrase tickled a memory deep in the recesses of her brain.  What was it?  She stood with a packet of noodles in her hand placed halfway into a plastic bag and cocked her head to the right in an attempt to pull the dusty memory forward into her consciousness.  She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and found her mind leaving the glaring, florescent-lit mini-mart to travel back in time.

There he was again, the freckled boy she remembered so fondly. They had spent nearly every day of their childhood together, rolling down hills, searching for frogs in the creek, or sometimes just relaxing, the summer sun on their face and cool green grass on their backs.  Their parents were long-time friends; their father's worked in the same department and their mom's were on the same bowling league.

They were raised practically as siblings along with their combined seven additional sisters.  The families loved to pull out the embarrassing old Polaroids of the pair taking naps together or, when they were barely our of toddlerhood, sharing a sudsy bath after a particularly muddy day of play.  The two were best of friends, buddies till the end, and, after an epic battle with a brier bush that left them both cut to pieces they become blood brothers... "and sister!" she would always add. 

Despite their deep affection, they lost touch with each other.  His family moved to another town after grammar school.  The busy schedules of two large families shuttling kids to basketball practice, cheerleading practice, band rehearsal, play rehearsal, school banquets and trophy ceremonies left little time for the group to come together for many years.

One summer day while on break from college she was sunning on the beach.  A dark shadow fell across her face and there he was, the tan-faced boy from her youth who had grown into a handsome broad shouldered man, smiling at her.  She jumped to her feet and wrapped her arms around his neck as he spun her around.  They spent the rest of the day together catching up, laughing and getting reacquainted.  The brotherly/sisterly love they felt as children was somehow different now.  Intensified.  He asked her to a movie that night and their love began to blossom.

"I forgot my wallet," he said one night on the way to dinner.  Never have four innocent words started a series of events that would utterly destroy a budding relationship.  "No big deal, I'll just run home and get it real quick."  He turned the car around in the old high school parking lot and headed back to his parent's house.  If only they were further away from the house or maybe even in the restaurant when he realized the missing item, she would just offer to pay.  Perhaps if they didn't go back to the house the pair would be happily married raising a tiny army of tan-skinned, curly haired, blond boys.  But he did remember and turned back home.

She stood in the front hallway at the bottom of the stairs while he went into the living room to find where he had put his wallet.  His father saw her standing by the door and tossed his paper aside to give her one of his famous bear hugs.  "How have you been, Sweetheart?"  His hug felt like an old familiar friend.

The three of them chatted and did some catching up for a few minutes.  Just then, his mother scurried down the stairs and sat on the bottom step in her long flannel night gown, face in her hands, grinning from ear to ear, yet saying nothing.  When you looked in her eyes you could see she was planning out their entire future.  The mother was totally thrilled to see the two together.  This was unnerving for both.

They said goodbye to the parents and got into the car.  Although they usually found conversation easily, silence overwhelmed them all through dinner.  They were both acutely aware that a mother's smile had somehow cast a spell of eerie stillness between them.

"Sooo..." she said, "your mom."

"Yeah.  She was pretty..."

"Excited?" she suggested.

"Yeah.  Ummm... our families are pretty close." He spoke nervously. "I wouldn't want to ruin that."

"Yeah."  They felt the overly-enthusiastic mother's approval creeped them both out.

Sigmund Freud had a theory that children who were raised together would never be able to develop a romantic relationship.  As it turns out, Freud was right.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Funny Valentine... or Lovin in the E.R.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and if you're one of the three people who read my blog you know how I feel about this particular holiday.  If you don't, I suggest you read about it here in order to get the full effect of this entry.  Go ahead...  I'll wait....

Okay, now that you're all caught up I'll continue.

Now, I don't know if it was coincidence or anxiety driven because of my deep seated dread of Valentine's Day, but I ended up with a killer headache.  My husband came home from work to find me collapsed on the floor from the exhaustion that sometimes comes with migraine headaches.  Since my doctor's office was already closed for the day we ended up going to the emergency room, but only after I fixed my hair and makeup.

We arrived at the hospital at 5:30pm and the emergency parking lot was already full.  This did not bode well.  We ended up parking in the crazily low-ceilinged parking garage and navigating the combined parking lot and hospital maze like Hansel and Gretel, but without the breadcrumb trail, uncertain if we would ever find our way back to the car. 

On our way through the hospital we passed a nurse in the hallway who was crying on the phone.  She was crying really hard.  We're talking snot running down her face.  She made no attempt to hide her shameful, snot-smeared, red eyed face like any other person would, even though she was standing at the end of the hallway where we would need to turn left and we were walking straight towards her.  This was really awkward.  And I once had a boy get a really bad nosebleed all over me while we were kissing, so I know awkward.  I said a little prayer for her as we passed that God would take care of whatever was troubling her and that she would not be in charge of any of my medical care.  Once you see snot running down someone's face you just can't take them seriously as a medical professional.

We finally made it to the overcrowded waiting room of the ER and checked in at the front desk with a woman who had the largest head of hair I have ever seen and as much sparkly jewelry as any Hollywood socialite walking the red carpet.  After checking in and receiving my styling wristband we managed to find the only seats left in the waiting area.  I was seated directly under a spotlight and next to a garbage can.  The whole place smelled like B.O.  A particularly strung-out looking guy sat disheveled and shlumped in a nearby chair.  I was pretty sure the smell was coming from him.  Between the spotlight and the odor, my migraine was not getting any better.  I was also not comforted by the poster sighting the signs of stroke, since I experience all  of those symptoms at least every two weeks.  I felt hypochondria starting to settle in.

It took about 30 minutes before my name was called and I was led into a tiny room off the side of the waiting room with a few chairs and a computer.  The nurse at the computer asked me why I was there and typed it into the computer.  She took my blood pressure and temperature.  There was an unopened micro can of Diet Shasta on the table next to me.  For some reason that really tickled me.  I think I was tired.  After about two minutes of questioning, we were told to return to the waiting room.  Luckily our seats by the trash can were still available.

Ten minutes later my name was called again and I was led through a door on the opposite side of the waiting room from the first door.  It seemed things were really starting to move along and I was looking forward to getting some medicine for my migraine which was now even worse after sitting under the spotlight.  I was told to have a seat in a slightly larger small room with one of those little beds on wheels and two chairs.  The strung out guy from the waiting room was sitting in a chair outside the room still looking strung out. 

A few minutes later Kristen the doctor and Brad the note taker came in to ask the same questions I had answered in the smaller room with the can of Diet Shasta, which this room lacked.  Kristen was very small, very young, and had pretty dark hair.  She did not smile at all or laugh at any of my jokes.  I tried to make eye contact but she stood directly under the ceiling light which is a horrible thing to look up into when you have a migraine.  I mentioned this, but she made no attempt to move over slightly so that I would not be blinded, so I ended up talking to her third button on her blouse.  It was awkward.  Once again, I know of what I speak.  I do not care much for Dr. Kristen, and Brad the note taker, while he was the fastest typer I've ever seen, never acknowledge that there was any person but himself in the room.  They spent all of three minutes in the room with me, shining lights in my eyes and taking my blood pressure and temperature again.  I never saw either one of them again.

I heard the nurses talking about the blubbering nurse that we had seen earlier in the hallway.  Apparently her cat had died.  It seemed like an awful fuss over a cat.  I mean, it's not like it was a dog.  Anyhow, she apparently went home.  The nurses seemed ticked that she left while there were so many patients, but I was relieved I wouldn't be seeing her.

Mike and the Blue Chicken.
The thumb is the beak.
I had been in the emergency room for well over an hour and in the tiny room for almost 45 minutes and still hadn't gotten any medicine.  I was starting to get bored.  My husband and I in a small room with rubber gloves for a long period of time is a dangerous combination.  We get creative and start pilfering medical supplies to entertain ourselves.  That's when the rubber glove gets blown up to create a blue chicken.  This is not the first time we have made balloon animals in the ER.  It's been met with mixed reviews, depending on how long the doctors and nurses have been working.

Completed IV
Finally, around 7:00 a nurse came in to draw some blood and put an IV in my arm.  I'm not great with needles.  I'm probalby the only person that the Red Cross has told to NEVER give blood unless it is a dire emergency.  Since my blood type isn't particularly rare or useful, I've never bothered going back to a blood drive.  Anyhow, while she was drawing blood, the nurse went to the door and called for a flush.  I wondered if what was going on would make a good picture and stupidly looked down at my arm with the bloody needle hanging out of it.  The room started to spin and everything started turning gray.  I started fanning myself with my free hand and whispering, "IIIIIIITTTT'S okay.... shhhhhhh..." in the mom voice that I use when my kids are hurt or crying.  Needless to say, I did not get the gruesome picture.  My husband was unwilling to take the picture for me.  Spoil sport.

By far, my favorite character on
Un Familia con Suerte.
It's all in the eyebrows...
After far too long, and still no medicine, I was moved once again down a hallway lined with people in wheelchairs and recliners, fully stripped of their dignity as their ailments were displayed for all to see.  I again prayed, this time that I wouldn't be a hallway paitient.  My prayers were answered when I was lead to a semi-private room and sat down in one of those big, blue reclining chairs lined with butcher paper.  I was happy, not only because I wasn't sitting in a hallway, but because there was TV.  I had been bored for far too long and didn't even mind that I was watching Spanish soap operas on Televisa.  Not speaking any Spanish, my husband and I made up our own stories for the actors.  Apparently it is a requirement for all male actors in Spanish soaps to unbutton thier shirt at least half way and grow a crazy handlebar moustache that just isn't quite there yet.  Also, the best acting is 90% in the eyebrows.  At any moment I expected Senior Bumblebee to enter the scene.

At 7:20 Jessica, the Tech, asks me if there is anything she can get for me.  I tell her some medicine for my migraine would be great.  She seems surprised that I havent gotten any, but the needle in my arm isn't even hooked up to anything, so I'm not sure where the confusion came in.  Anyhow, 7:30 came and went.  I still hadn't gotten any medicine and I was beginning to wonder if a shot of tequilla and hiding under the covers at home wouldn't have been a better idea.  I'm getting tired, hungry, and loosing interest in Un Familia con Suerte.  Just then, I find the remote for the TV chained to the wall.  Yeah!  We flipped through the channels and settled on that new comedy with Tim Allen.  Not great, but there was a pretty awesome race car doing donuts, so it was enough of a distraction.

Jessica fianlly comes in with a bag of saline and a couple of vials of medicine and hooks me up.  The sailine made my arm really cold and I got that icky medicine taste in my mouth.  Blech.  It wasn't long after that before my headache began to dissapear.  We watched Cougar Town while the neighbor next to us blasted the dog show on his TV.  Once the bag was empty, the quickly discharged me and sent me on my way.

We went through the drive-thru at Burger King on the way home because it was nearly 9:00 and neither of us had eaten.  I don't know if it was the fast food, the medicine, or the combonation of the two, but I spent most of the night moaning with abdominal pain and all morning yelling at my kids through the bathroom door to stop grinding Pop Tarts into the living room floor.  I was suffering from what I call KiaRio, which is actully a yearly sales event at our local Kia dealership, but which I always thought sounded like a terrible bowel disease.

Yes, I made this comic myself.

So we spent our Valentine's Day in a small intimate room with a guy with kidney failure and had a romantic fast food dinner on paper plates when we got home.  Other than the KiaRio, not a bad night. 

We try to keep things fresh.

For a more romantic Valentine's Day story, visit one of my favorite bloggers, Holly Goes Lightly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is once again upon us.  A lot of people get really gushy around this time of year.  There tends to be general excitement about the cards, the candy, the flowers and, if you're a really lucky girl, the jewlery.  A lot of people go out for fancy dinners, movies, or some other sort of nice time out with their significant other.

I, for one, have found Valentine's Day to be an anxiety driven nightmare from a very early age.  It started in grammar school.  As soon as February 1st hit, the classrooms and hallways would be filled with red and pink heart decorations pasted onto giant white doilies.  Images of the diaper-clad Cupid with his love-tainted arrows pulled tight in his bow ready to shoot some poor, unsuspecting dolt causing him to fall madly in love haunted my dreams.  The concept of either a small, but fully grown man wearing diapers, or a baby armed with deadly weaponry is disturbing to me.

In grammar school, the anxiety was caused mostly by the Valentine cards.  A day or two before Valentine's Day all the kids would bring in a small shoe box that we would decorate during class with red and pink construction paper, white doilies, stickers, and, depending on how easy-going the teacher was, glitter.  LOTS of glitter.  The pretty little boxes served as mailboxes for the rest of the students to drop valentines into.  Seems harmless enough, right?  But sadly, I suffer from what I call Charlie Brown Syndrome.  What if I don't get any valentines?  What if, while everyone else is going through their piles of tiny red cards with suckers, pencils, stickers, or candies attached, I wind up sitting at my desk with an empty box?  What if NOBODY loves me?  Or what if I give a card to the smelly kid and everyone thinks I love the smelly kid?  Or what if the only card I get is from the smelly kid?  Fortunately, my children will never wonder if they'll have valentines in their box because now it's mandatory that you give valentines to every kid in the class.  Even the smelly ones.  Even the neurotic ones.

My neurosis grew worse beginning in seventh grade when the school system threw yet another visible social status symbol into the mix.  Beginning in junior high, boys could buy carnations for girls that they liked at various times of the year for $1 to raise money for the class.  Some girls would walk around with handfuls of little flowers in a variety of colors.  They would balance them across their desks in class with the buds sticking out into the aisle so that everyone could see that they were loved.  I would simultaneously pray that someone, anyone, would buy me a flower while hoping that I wouldn't get one from the weird kid. 

The absolute worst part was the school dance.  It was usually labeled "The Semi-Formal."  To this day I have no idea what that really means. (It's such a vague term, like business casual.  I never know if I'm appropriately dressed.  But that's a topic for another blog.)  The Semi-Formal was a time to really see how the school was divided into two groups; those who were well into puberty and those of us who were still on the cusp.  The kids who were already a raging ball of hormones would dance with their boyfriend/girlfriend and make out in the middle of the gym, not caring who saw them until the chaperones would break up the love fest.  The rest of us would stand against the walls, wanting a boy to ask us to dance, but at the same time not wanting to catch boy cooties.  Cooties is a very real concern. 

I had a crush on a boy in 7th grade.  I only told one person about it, my best friend.  She swore an oath of secrecy, which lasted about 12 seconds.  The next thing I knew she was standing in front of the boy talking to him... about me!  She turned back towards me with a pleased smile on her face and trotted over to me.  "I told him to ask you to dance because you like him,"  she said.  She was hell-bent on pushing me full force and joining her in the a world of boyfriends.  Her parents wouldn't let her date and she needed more people to go out with her boyfriend.  "Why..." I stammered, "Why do you hate me?"  The boy started towards me and I made a b-line to the girl's bathroom where I hid in a stall and dry-heaved.

Eventually, I came out of the bathroom and the boy did end up asking me to dance.  It was the most awkward minute and 22 seconds I have ever experienced and I am grateful that pop songs from the 80s are generally short.  I got away from him the second the song ended, said "Thanks for the dance," and, after washing the cooties off my hands (just in case), went to go play checkers with the nerds in the cafeteria until the Semi-Formal was over.  Checkers was a relief and it was a great comfort to be around equally socially awkward people who had no interest in being pushed too quickly into the inevitability of boy/girl dancing.

I'm now married with three kids and my husband and I generally don't do anything on Valentine's Day.  He isn't really the romantic type, and if I don't make a big deal about it the day will slide past unnoticed.  The February before we got married he sent two dozen Fire and Ice roses to me at work.  They were beautiful and it was the most romantic thing he or anyone has ever done for me.

When I saw the bill from the florist later that week I told him never to spend that kind of money on something like that again. 

He hasn't. 

And I'm okay with that.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Adventures in Yoga

My gym started a new yoga class and I tried it out last night.  I'm trepidatiuos about yoga because it seems like such a pretentious form of exercise, like Pilates.  In both cases, the people doing the exercises seem to barely be moving.  But they're all in way better shape than I am, so who am I to say it doesn't work?

Hugh Laurie, not the guy from yoga.
There was only one guy in the class and his mat was set up next to mine. He looked like a younger Hugh Laurie, but with slightly less 5 o'clock shadow. We had a pleasant chat before class but sadly, he did not share Hugh's beautiful British accent. He wore tan socks, black shorts, and a shirt that exposed his hairy belly when he reached in the air. Also, he swore a lot under his breath while trying to balance in particularly odd positions. I can't say that I didn't feel the same way.

Although I'm not completely sold on yoga, I can see the appeal.  The lights were dimmed, there was quite music playing with chirping birds in the background, and it was just slightly too warm in the room.  Perfect conditions for what a friend of mine in college referred to as "Nappy Time," which was usually a ten-minute nap followed by making out to Counting Crows.

We stood barefoot on our mats (I kept my socks on because I didn't realize we'd be barefoot and my nail polish is chipped) and contorted ourselves into positions like "The Monkey Pose," which my monkey-loving daughter said reminded her nothing of a monkey and came up with a different pose to better suit the name.

Next, we laid down on our backs, put our right ankle on our left knee and lifted our left leg straight up in the air pulling it towards our chest. I don't know what this move is called, but I've named it "Burning Calves and Broken Winds."  As we did this my friend and Zumba instructor, who was next to me, whispered, "This is good for us.  Zumba shortens our muscles."  I have no idea what that means, but I assume it's Fitness-speak for, "Pain is weakness leaving the body, even if that pain is caused by contorting yourself into unnatural positions."  She said something about having wine after class, so I smiled, nodded, and tried not to cry as the weakness left my body.  I'm assuming gas is also weakness leaving the body.

After our contortions we stretched our bodies straight out on the floor, pointing our toes and reaching our arms above our heads.  The instructor told us to stretch as if there was someone pulling our arms and legs.  This immediately brought to mind a movie I saw a long time ago where a person was drawn and quartered, which is a polite way of saying they tied his arms and legs to four horses and had them run in opposite directions.  This was not a peaceful thought, and I instantly tensed every muscle in my body at the idea of being torn to pieces, which counter acted the 45 minutes of stretching I had just done.

This kind of thing frequently happens to me when trying to relax.  I'm not a relaxed person by nature.  I've been accused of being high-strung and wound tighter than a top.  I'm comfortable with this.  In fact, I am completely comfortable with being uncomfortable.  I enjoy being in a cat-like state of readiness at all times.  Being too relaxed sometimes sends me into a total panic.

When I got home I realized that I was not at all relaxed as I expected to be, but completely wound up.  I was talking really fast and couldn't stop pacing for about ten minutes.  My sleep was restless and I had repetitive dreams about falling from various places; off bridges, buildings, scaffolding, and airplanes without a parachute. 

This morning, my whole body ached (probably from all the falling).  While waiting for my kid's bus I paced the full length of the porch windows like a caged tiger at the zoo wondering, "Is the bus late?  Is it coming at all?  Did we already miss it?"  Day 1 of yoga has not seemed to make me any less high strung.  I'll keep going for at least a while because I already bought the yoga mat, but I look forward to Zumba tonight where the music is loud, the movements are fast, and the instructor tells you if you put your leg down you're a loser. 

Also, only one person farts in Zumba and it's not me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lessons In Grace... from Madonna

I fell off the stoop while taking the garbage out this morning.  I landed flat on my back in the driveway.  My first thought was, "Did the neighbors see me laying in the driveway?!?"  The possibility of breaking my back didn't occur to me until much later when I was safely inside the house and cringing in pain every time I leaned over.  This is why taking out the trash should be the man's job.

Graceful has never been a word that anyone would use to describe me.  I have a long history of clumsy adventures that ended with bumping hard into walls, falling down multiple flights of stairs, and ultimately landing on my face.  I wrote an entire blog entry about my misguided attempts at Zumba

But with the recent performance of Madonna during the Super Bowl half-time show, I have a renewed confidence in my own movements. She teetered carefully across the stage on her 4-inch heels and nearly bought the farm a couple of times.  She probably should have practiced in them first.  And as the 53-year-old woman attempted a hand stand with her skirt flapping up while the dude from LMFAO grabbed one of her ankles and the other leg waved wildly in the air, I cringed.  And I couldn't help but see myself as she attempted to stand back on her feet after getting down on her knees during "Hey Mr. DJ."

No matter how ridiculous I look in the circus-style mirrors at the gym while flailing around in an attempt to loose weight and get healthy, I take comfort in the knowledge that I now look at least as good as Madonna.

** Please don't yell at me if you think Madonna rocked the house.  Watching it again in the sober light of day might give you a new perspective...  :-)