Thursday, April 29, 2010

Food Allergies Can Bite My Ass

Children and food allergy don’t mix. What the heck is going on with all this allergy nowadays anyway?! I don’t remember growing up worrying about a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the next classroom or friends that had to avoid food-dye-number-whatever. But, nowadays, it seems to be so common place. It’s scary stuff.

Parker has struggled with allergy since birth – breast milk, milk, pears, apricots, strawberries, grapes, tomato, salicylates, eczema. This is what we know of for now. Now that my son is two years old, we have been able to figure some of it out, and we haven’t had a big problem in a while. Now we are wondering about a food dye allergy.

It is amazing to me how much it affects the family when a flare-up of some kind occurs. It is a ripple effect.

The last few days, Parker had a rash around his mouth and hairline and has been grabbing at his bottom. But the worst part is the screaming, yelling, crying, and tantrums that occur when he is not feeling well. He is a downright grumpy boy when dealing with the discomfort of a food allergy.

So, not only do you feel bad that he feels so bad, but you also get a little (ok, A LOT) annoyed with him because his behavior just crumbles into this awful where-the-hell-did-our-child-go intensity that causes me to daydream about nights alone in a hotel room.

Then what happens, is you and your spouse start bickering with each other because of the general irritation in the air. You start to question your reactions to the behavior, whether or not it is food allergy related, when it will stop, when your child will feel better, and whether or not you will murder your spouse in the meantime.

Today, thank you Lord Jesus, God, Allah, the Universe, and Buddha, Parker has got enough of the offending item out of his system to act like our sweet boy (most of the time). And, it is just amazing to me the relief that floods the air. The happiness and comfort permeates the air, and I am instantly back to an all-is-well-attitude, and I love my spouse.

So now we say, “Fuck red food dye, and yellow just in case, and no more gummy bears to boot because God knows what is used for the flavoring, and it may contain natural strawberry and...” you get the picture.

Ugh. Food allergies suck. It is a roller coaster ride that I’d rather not be on, but we are also grateful that is the most serious thing that we are dealing with right now.

Now I get to go watch Survivor in a fair amount of peace while Parker is able to contentedly play for a bit. When you have had a couple days of whining hell, this is as close to heaven as you can get. I gotta go enjoy my reality TV fix!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

If Attitudes Were Contagious, Mine Could Kill You

Ok, people. Watch out. I am feeling surly. I apologize ahead of time. There is a lot on my mind, and I cannot pull a positive, witty anecdote out of my ass. Instead, I’d like to try something called, “I’d rather put a cigarette out in my eye than. . .” Get the idea? Ok, here goes.


-Listen to whining – from my child, any child, all adults, and basically any living thing in the vicinity

-Beat a dead horse. And then listen to people beat a dead horse. And then wonder why people beat dead horses. And then read a memo about people beating dead horses.

-Listen to words that do not match that person’s actions.

-Participate in any activity that sucks the life force energy out of me and takes away from my livelihood and time away from my family.

-Observe grown adults obtaining great pleasure in spreading hurtful gossip.

-Eat a low fat string cheese for 1 fucking point rather than scarfing an entire box of Cheddar Jack Cheezits.

Ok, I am done. Some of that may not make sense, but I had to get it out, and boy do I already feel better.

I am sitting here on my couch in my comfy home. My boy and my cat are sitting near. The little maniac’s eyes are glazed over, eating a snack, and watching some awful Buzz Lightyear cartoon. We are content in our quiet side-by-side. All is well. I am going to go and cuddle him if he’ll allow it and enjoy what matters most in life.

Have a good evening.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Life is Good Award

I was tagged by Oddyoddyo at Dani’s Letters for the Life is Good Award! And, indeed it is!

This girl, Dani, has heart, and I’m so grateful to have gotten to know her. As part of this award, I need to answer the following questions, so. . .Enjoy!

What do you do when you’re bored?
Here are my go-to activities: reading, writing, being on the computer, watching my Tivo list, sewing, looking at Us Weekly, only sometimes scrapbooking.

Are you an autumn, or a spring?

Quick! You’re stuck at an airport for hours, and the only options are crossword puzzle, or an old novel nobody’s ever heard of. Which would you pick?
The novel. For sure.

Jane Austen or Emily Bronte?
Ayn Rand

Do you feel prepared for the five other questions coming your way?
Bring them on.

Who’s your hero?
My mom. And Oprah.

Favorite word?
Peachfish (any Tom Robbins fans out there?)

Are you one of those “checklist” people, or are you a “wing it and hope everything goes well” sort of person?
Oooh, just the word “checklist” I like. Order and preparedness, yes.

What phrase has stuck with you in your life?
For crying out loud.

If you were to choose between coffee and tea. . . which would you go with?
Coffee all the way.

Here is this award for six others!
One Fine Wire - Courtney also has another blog site - One Fine Blog Design - she is in the midst of giving my blog a make-over and she has been awesome to work with!
Warsaw Mommy - I have recently discovered her and enjoy her blog greatly!
Baby and Sofia - A beautiful pretty-new mommy!
Diminishing Lucy - A bright spot in blog world!
Lamb Around - She is lots of fun!
Dry As Toast - Still laughing from her sex book reviews!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How Many Times Can I Say Bliss?

Yesterday, I had a day all to myself. Talk about restorative. I was totally blissed out. I had been feeling run down and was feeling a cold coming on. If I didn’t get rest, I was feeling like I would succumb to a full-blown cold or a full-blown anxiety attack. I also knew my husband was leaving on a trip, and I would be a single, working mother for a few days (By the way, how do single mothers do it, anyway?! God bless them.)

Well, yesterday, I got to be just me. I wasn’t a mother, I wasn’t a wife, I wasn’t a coworker. I was me.

When I have the rare opportunity for me time, I like to do. . . NOTHING. My husband likes to run a 5K, take a hike or grueling bike ride, and then socialize with a bunch of people. Uck. I want no one around me, I want no pressure to do anything, no physical strain or activity, and no questions. I choose to do very introvert-type things in order to feel the energy come back to my soul. I read, I write, I lay, I think, I watch movies, I eat – alone.

So, I took a day off work and had my husband take our son to daycare. I pushed all work and mothering guilt to the back of my mind and let the relief wash over me. And what is it with this guilt, anyway?! I haven’t been able to get rid of it since I became a Mom.

First, I slept in. An absolute must. Got a good 12 hours of sleep. When I woke, I got some coffee, grabbed the laptop, and promptly got back in bed. I turned on the TV, and I didn’t really care what was on, as long as all I heard were adult voices. You see, I work at an elementary school, so even when I am at work, most of what I heard are those precious little voices. My coffee was on my bedside table, my cat was purring next to me, and the laptop warmed my legs as I read blogs. Get this – God had even ordered up a cloudy, misty day for me just to add to that wonderful, cozy, all-alone-and-doing-whatever-I-want feeling.

Ah. Bliss. Heavenly bliss.

I got out of bed in order to eat lunch. I settled on the couch and watched a movie on Showtime. I was still in the horizontal position, only in a different room. You know, so I could say I didn’t spend all day in “bed.” I wanted to watch something with an intelligent plot, a little suspense, and cussing. Something I would never watch if Parker was around. I settled on The Gift (with Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves, and a naked Katie Holmes, oh my), and then Nurse Jackie. I love watching Nurse Jackie pop pills, cheat on her husband, and act surly at work – it is scandalous! Makes me feel so much better as a person.

When the clock neared 4:00, I felt a little frantic and thought, “I have about half an hour left! What should I do? What would be the perfect way to spend that time? Would I feel good about myself if I worked out? Should I clean something? Should I just lay here until time is up?” I decided to just take a hot, leisurely shower.

When my boys (the husband and the son) walked in, I greeted them with hugs and smiles and sat on the floor to play cars with Parker. I didn’t have to fake excitement or muster up the energy to play cars. I happily played for a little bit before it was time to make dinner. I felt so much better and no longer run down. Some totally blissed out me time was all it took. I found myself again for a time that day and was able to better connect with my family.

What do you do to restore yourself? What do you consider blissful “me” time? If you had a day to yourself, what would you do with it?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Son, The Photographer

Usually when the camera comes out, this is what my son looks like.

He wants the camera. He wants it bad. So, last night I let him have at it, and here is what he got. We’ll title this, “Woody: A Character Study.”

There are many more pictures part of that compilation. I was just giving you a teaser. He also started calling Woody “Dada” while taking these pictures. So, we can add Woody to the list of Dadas (which also includes Jeff Probst and Rich on Imagination Movers). Before he finished, he got this picture of our cat.

He is a surly cat. He is thinking, “That kid will be the end of me. Where did he come from, and can he go back?”

I hope you enjoyed my son’s obvious giftedness and artistic vision. He is now working on an interpretive dance scene for the movie, Cars.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Mommy's Everest

I may believe that Supermom is a Myth, but I also believe that when a mom needs to, she gets the job done, no matter the daunting physical feat in front of her. Not only have I endured a 25 hour labor and the recovery thereafter, breastfeeding was excruciatingly, gnawingly painful (and it did not get better after two weeks like they tell you, I just started getting blisters). Then, it’s learning to do all tasks one-handed and on little to no sleep. From there we move on to becoming accustomed to holding a crying child down the street while pushing the empty apparatus the child no longer wants to sit in. And let’s not forget the lessons in back strengthening while taking your child in and out of car seats.

You get used to it. I handle other things on my own much better now as well. I have a braver face when I go to the doctor or dentist. I also truly wish that I could have all medical procedures done to me instead of my son to take his pain away.

I grew up hearing my own mother say, “Oh, honey, if I could get the shot for you, I would!”

When I was little, I figured she was lying. She was only saying that because it wasn’t possible and she just wanted me to feel better. Now I know that it was absolutely true. I would TOTALLY take that shot instead of my son so he could avoid the pain. That is why we’re mothers. We want to protect and take away the pain.

I surprised myself again today. I did something I don’t think I have ever really done before. I did it for my son. I climbed a fence. This is may not sound like a big deal, but this is extremely out of character for me. Usually, I am a HUGE WIMP. HUGE. WIMP. I am scared of heights, trying new machines at the gym gives me great anxiety, just watching rock climbing gives me toe cramps, and when my husband tries to take me on “easy” hikes I literally believe I am going to die.

Parker and I walked to the park. It took us a while to get there and we almost gave up a couple times and went back. Parker would get tired every so often and just sit on the side walk, but he would shriek if I tried to pick him up and carry him. We finally approached the fence of the park. Parker began jumping up and down holding onto the fence and shouting in excitement.

There was a family already inside playing on the equipment. The gate to get into the park was locked.

I yelled out to the family. “Is there an open gate, or did you have to climb the fence?!”

They yelled back, “We climbed the fence!”

I instantly felt deflated. The dad in the family looked big and strong. The mom looked tough and scrappy. The kids were older than my son.

I thought, “Uh-oh. I’m going to have to drag Parker away and . . .”

I looked down at Parker. I could not make him turn away. We had walked too far and overcome too many obstacles to turn away now. It was like when the Griswolds finally approached WallyWorld. And it was closed. You darkly realize that you will break laws to get your child in that park. I steeled myself.

I told myself, “I can do this. I never have before, but for crying out loud, I’m going to today.”

I couldn’t believe I had to do it in front of other people too. It wasn’t even a tall fence (and you know, I am like a giant, tall lady, so I really shouldn’t be so afraid, but my mind is much stronger than my body). I picked up Parker and got him over, and off he went running at top speed toward the playground. I put my toe inside one of the holes of the fence. The hole was too small. I was really going to have to grip it with my shoes. I felt a toe cramp coming on.

“No!” I pushed the thought out of my mind. I will not have a toe cramp, and I WILL get over this fence. I jumped up and got my waist parallel to the top of the fence, put a toe in, got one leg over top one at a time (completely ignoring the pain in the back of my thighs and crotch from sitting on the top of the fence), and jumped down. I DID IT. I CLIMBED over that damn fence. I ran to meet my boy and looked just like all the other accomplished, strong mommies on the other side of the fence.

And guess what? For our walk home, we found an opening in the fence on the other side of the park. Whew. Thank God. I may have done it once, but that was enough for today.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Take That, Scale F***er!

I am so tired I am having a hard time hitting the keys on the laptop. I am tired and hungry. I have hardly any energy to move. I have finally decided to get serious about this losing weight thing. I am laying in bed avoiding the kitchen. I want to eat the house and take a nap. That is all I want to do. I am remembering the scene from Ferris Bueller when Cameron is laying sick in his bed, staring at the ceiling, and singing somberly, “When Cameron was in Egypt land. . . Let my Cameron gooooo.”

I am being dramatic.

I am not trying to lose weight because I am visualizing health and a well-balanced me. My decision to lose weight is fear-based and suddenly upon me because I have too little time left before I go to Phoenix and Mexico in June. The amount of clothes I need to wear in order to feel comfortable is just too damn hot for either of those places. And I’m sick of wearing my fat pants and feel them continue to get tight around the middle.

Even as I’m laying here I feel like my butt and thighs are tired and sore even though I have done no working out. I have thought about it. And my body is sore already.

I have thought that maybe I could go get some carrot slices and dip them in light ranch. Instead, I have an empty wine glass sitting next to me. I will lay here until it is time to make dinner, and I will eat my two meatballs and half a vat of spaghetti noodles and light red sauce (yes, HALF OF IT, BECAUSE I AM ALLOWED THE POINTS OF HALF OF THE NOODLES AND SAUCE BUT ONLY TWO MEATBALLS). I will beat this extra weight fucker. Bwha, ha, ha! I feel manic, angry energy coming on. Don’t worry. I have allowed myself the “points” for an extra glass of wine for my sanity.

Obviously, I am using humor to get me through this. Obviously, I am not crazy and you are not scared of me. I am going to go now. I will not eat the house. Breathe and visualize. Visualize and breathe.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lovefest! For Mama!

Parker melted my heart last night. We were all upstairs getting ready for bed. Parker had abandoned tooth brushing and left his toothbrush God knows where. He was instead sifting through his toy box in his bedroom. He found an old picture of me that was in one of those plastic “Who Loves Baby” books. He took the picture out, exclaimed, “Mama!” and proceeded to wander around upstairs loudly kissing and smooching the picture.

It was a love fest. I was like, “My baby! I love you! Oh, you are so sweet!” He would smile, show me the picture, shout “Mama!” and continue to kiss the picture.

There is nothing like the love between a boy and his mama.

I looked at my husband and said, “You’re sleeping in the crib tonight. Parker gets to sleep with me.”

I just wanted to hold him and squeeze him all night, my precious baby boy.

Of course I did not. We finished getting ready for bed, read some books, and Parker went to sleep in his crib like always. I know I have to be careful not to spoil my boy too much and turn him into a man looking for a woman to take care of him like his mother did. I know I have to be careful not to become the hovering mother in his life. I know I will not encourage any strange Oedipus-type relationship.

It just feels good to know that your child loves you so much (even after you have put your foot down about NO big, talking Buzz Lightyear in the crib). It just feels good to feel yourself fall in love all over again with your precious little boy (sometimes known as maniac boy when not kissing mommy’s picture).

Here is the picture Parker was carrying around.

Look how carefree (drunk) and youthful (ahhh, the 20’s) I look with my big, red plastic cup. Yes, that was before pregnancy. That was about 8 or 9 years ago at a New Year’s Eve party. Even though the girl in that picture had a smokin’ hot bod, I do not wish to go back and be that girl. I didn’t even appreciate my body at that time anyway.

I like the woman I’m becoming now much more. I would never give back the lessons I’ve learned along the way, although I am still working on loving myself just as much as Parker loves his mama. I’ll be “working on my fitness” again, but I will no longer be expecting perfection. The journey I’m on will turn me into an even more beautiful woman than the one in the picture.

Promise me you’ll do the same. Love yourself. Be the friend and sister and mother you are to others, to yourself. Speak kindly to yourself. The amount of love you give to others can only occur in abundance when you have loved yourself.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

You Know About THAT Mom?

I am neurotic enough to frequently obsess over silly things. I have not shared the following with anyone (fearing that it may, in fact, be true). I am plagued by wondering if my breath stinks all the time and nobody is telling me. I chew gum all the time. I conduct basic dental hygiene everyday. There really is no reason for me to have this fear. But I have it. I am a little neurotic.

Something that I am soooo past wondering and fearing is if I am sometimes THAT mom. I have been in public places before or friends’ houses, and I’ll think, “Do people think I am THAT mom?” You know, the mom who lets her child run amok and be loud and cause general chaos. I am totally owning the fact that I am sometimes THAT mom.

Here are some cases in point.

The last time I took Parker to the zoo, I think everyone there knew his name by the time we left. You know, I was THAT mom, constantly calling after him – “Parker! Parker, come here. Here. Over here. Here! PARKER!”

My husband and I had a meeting with a realtor. When the meeting was over and the door was opened, Parker flew out running, and we didn’t see where he went. We started frantically searching for him up and down the halls until we heard the receptionist yelling, “He’s up here! He’s leaving!” (What do you think that receptionist was thinking?)

My son is the one at daycare that will chase your child down and sit on him until he gets his toy back. I found out I am THAT mom who feels secret pride that my son’s not going to take any shit.

I love going to visit at friends’ houses because I can talk with other adults and Parker is so excited about being somewhere else, he keeps himself fairly occupied. But, this means that he can get into all sorts of stuff. And, hey, if he’s quiet and not bothering me, sorry, but I’m not going to be too concerned about it. Even if I know he is in a bathroom, unraveling a brand new roll of toilet paper, I’m thinking, “Hey, that’s safe! He’s quiet!” At least I make him pick it up when he’s done, and then I set it on the counter. Might be messy, but you can still use it!

I just feel like there are so many things to worry about as a mother, there are times you’ve just got to give yourself a break, and think, “Oh, well! Sometimes, I am THAT Mom. So what.”

Do you ever throw up your hands sometimes and think the same thing? Please don’t let me be alone with this confession!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How Much Do You Care - About Yourself?

One of my neighbors commented on how time has flown by because my boy is already two. She said, “Gosh, it seems like yesterday that you were pregnant!” I said, “I know!” and smiled. Then, I looked down and realized that I was wearing the same “lounge” pants and hooded sweatshirt that I wore around the neighborhood when I was pregnant.

Now I don’t believe that she thought the same thing about my clothes (but if she did, I’ll beat her up), but regardless, I felt sheepish.

I have been known to schlop around the neighborhood in slippers, no bra, and sunglasses. This is not something I would have ever done before Parker. I thought it very important to wear make-up to the grocery store. Now I am outside at 10:00 am on a Sunday, pulling a wagon or supervising an obsession with the community mailboxes, looking like a loitering homeless person.

My care for what others thought around the neighborhood must have ended about 5 days after my son was born. I will never forget the details of that day.

I was dozing with Parker during a morning nap. We woke and he looked so darn cute. Look at him. Like a monkey.

I tell you now, after the flash of the camera in that very picture, Parker started crying. And screaming. And arching in pain. He wasn’t diagnosed yet, but he had The Reflux. He wouldn’t feed, and if he did, he would scream and arch in pain and choke on spit-up. My husband and I were recording his patterns of crying at the time because we weren’t sure yet what was wrong with him. I still have the journal of that day. He started crying about 11:00 am, and he DID NOT STOP until 5:00 pm.

I don’t remember where my husband was, but he came home, and I just walked. Out. Of. The. House. And. Down. The. Street. I had nowhere to go at a certain point but turn around and go back. On my way back, a different neighbor was outside and saw me. I had tears streaming down my face. I probably looked like a crazy person. Her face went all sympathetic and she said, “Oh no, are we experiencing some post partum?”

I remember standing there, shocked. I didn’t know what to say. Looking back I realize I went through some post-partum depression but I hadn’t yet dealt with that at the time. Who else wouldn’t feel absolutely depressed and insane after spending 6 hours with your own infant that you had no way of soothing, not even through breastfeeding? As if the situation couldn’t get any more awkward, she came up and hugged me. I think I sputtered out, “He’s been crying for a really long time. Something’s wrong. I have to go.”

Well, what can I say? I wear my heart on my sleeve and anyone around me probably knows how I’m feeling. When it comes down to it, I don’t care what the neighbors think. But I care what I think. And I’m tired of feeling schloppy. The incessant, horrible crying is over. The Reflux is over. It is time to pay a little more attention to myself. I’m still not going to care what I look like at the grocery store (it’s been freeing), and I might schlop around the neighborhood here and there (keep ‘em guessing), but I just need to care about myself a little more. It’s hard, but I’m going to try. Why is that so hard?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Let Them Live Their Lives!

I remember a quote from Steve Carell in The Office. It goes roughly something like this, “I don’t know why people say it’s so hard to raise kids. Give them some pizza. Give them some candy. Let them live their lives. They’re adults, for Christ’s sake.”

I applied a bit of that wisdom today, and you know what?! It worked! It was fabulous.

My husband and I believe that Parker is getting his two year molars. That means that unexpectedly and at random, our child turns into a writhing, head turning, totally UN-FUN creature.

All was well today until I heard Parker’s shrill scream cut through the monitor only about 30 minutes after he went down for his nap. I could tell by the way he sounded that he was in pain, the poor guy, and he wouldn’t be going back to sleep. I had already given him children’s motrin, and he had been refusing our other teething tricks, so there wasn’t much more I could do for him besides be with him.

Well, he could have given a rat’s ass that I was there to “be with him.” Upon entering the room, he threw his bunny at me from the crib, he started trying to rip down his turtle aquarium, and he banged his head on the mattress. He was one angry dude.

Eventually, he did calm down. I held him and took him downstairs, but he was still just fussy, whiny, and generally discontent. I’m thinking, “Ok, kid. I would love to just chill and play with you, but if you’re not going to even do that, I’ve got things I can do.” I looked over at his Easter basket and saw the never-before-eaten candy bracelet!

I strapped that bracelet on him, showed him how to lick it, and – you’ve got it – he was in heaven.

So, what did I do from there? I let him live his LIFE, for crying out loud!

Parker sat on the couch in a glorious daze, licking and sucking and chewing, and watching Ni-Hao Kai-Lan (Ugh!) for about a half an hour! I was able to leave the room several times WITHOUT any zombie hands and whiny voice following after me. I switched the laundry, organized the kitchen closet, and stripped the bed sheets for washing.

The last time I checked on him, he gave me an empty string and a smile. I threw the string away, put his shoes on, and we headed outside for a wagon ride. He has been my beautiful, lovely bub ever since. Thank you, oh-so-wise, Steve Carell. You are a parenting expert extraordinaire!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"For the Average, Servantless Woman"

My husband just had a good laugh at me because I just said (in a growly voice), “We need to hire some staff around here.” I’m having a Walter Mitty moment, dreaming away, and I’m taking another sip of wine.

Nothing wrong with dreaming right? Even if it is completely and utterly unrealistic.

I imagine a housekeeper cleaning away the pen ink scribbles on the couch, cracker crumbs on the floor, and mysterious dried food bits all around the kitchen area. Actually, I take that back. They are not “mysterious” dried food bits. It is macaroni and cheese bits. Hopefully, the housekeeper could also take care of our cat because even though a cat is one of the easiest pets to take care of, apparently, it is just too much of a task for this family. Days can go by before someone checks the cat food bowl in the laundry room and discover that the cat has had no food for God knows how long.

We also need a chef. Not only would this be handy because I’m too tired to cook dinner, but they could whip up stuff that is delicious and nutritious. This person would be in charge of making those dishes I hear about that keep you full and satisfied for longer with less calories. And, they would work their magic to make it still look and taste like yummy, trashy food. Let’s admit it please. Nothing is better than yummy, trashy, horrible-for-you food.

Then, as long as there is both a housekeeper and chef, then we might as well have some other people around. You know, a STAFF! A personal trainer might be a good idea, however, they would probably piss me off more than they would convince me to work out. Money would be better spent to hire someone to finish off the next door neighbor’s dog.

Notice that nowhere does it state I would like a nanny. Nah, not for me. That person would probably piss me off too. Besides, me and Parker, we’re like peas and carrots. I do think that if I were suddenly struck rich and able to quit my job, I would still have him attend daycare just a couple days a week because the scrappy experience of dealing with other kids is good for him (must guard against weird-only-child syndrome).

Alas, it is time to stop dreaming. (“Time to make the donuts.”) Time to make the hamburger helper, throw in a load of laundry, and continue to devise surly plans of death (without ever being discovered) for the neighbor’s dog. There is no money for hired assassins right now. There is no money for a house big enough for staff. There is no money for a staff. But thanks for humoring me. Some time in the clouds is fun.