About 2054 Miles

In February 2007, my husband and I packed up all our belongings, drove 2054 miles and moved from California to Iowa. This blog is about my and my husband's adventures, which mainly now feature our two boys- 5 year old Rex and 3 year old Wyatt.

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Iowa, United States
I have a wonderful husband and two awesome little boys. I love being able to stay home with them and am always trying to do something to our house.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Blog Amnesia

Usually when I don't post anything for a while, I am still thinking about how I should be doing it or what I could be writing about.  But lately, this thing has not even crossed my mind.  This morning I finally thought about it though so here we are.  I am obsessed with getting my acceptance letter for grad school. I got everything turned in way before the February 1st deadline and I was totally cool with waiting.  Until that deadline hit and now I have no patience whatsoever for them making a decision and  getting my letter to me.  I don't know how I went from completely cool and patient to total anxiety so quickly. Pretty much nothing else besides that crosses my mind so don't feel too bad, blog.  I know I will get accepted and I am pretty confidant that I will be getting an assistantship based on some information I've been gathering.  This is all great news but then it leads to other questions, mainly will I be offered a teaching or research assistantship?  And which professor will I be working with?  I also look at the class schedule for fall online several times a week.  Right now it is just the tentative schedule and I am so curious to see the final schedule so I can pick my classes.  It's not really a big mystery there either- I have to take 4 classes and 3 of them are already locked in for your first semester.  So I get to pick one class.  And I can't wait.  I am so excited.

I've noticed it has been snowing a lot here lately.  I swear we can't go more than two days without it snowing again.  Today is pretty warm (in the upper 40s) so we will get some rain first and then some snow.  Weather reports are all over the place with the amount we will get this time around.  I've heard everything from just 2 inches up to 8 inches.  With the rain coming down first, I can guarantee it is going to be a big old icy, slushy mess.  This is what it looked like on Monday and we got about 3 inches.

I'm guessing we will be in the upper range of that snowfall forecast because we haven't had anything like that yet this winter and we are most definitely due.  Rex's school is out on Friday anyways so that's nice.  I bet they end up canceling tomorrow too.  He better remember to bring his snow pants home this time so we can go play in the snow.  He left them at school all weekend so we didn't get to play in the snow on Saturday or Monday.  It was a bummer.

Rob finished up tiling the bathroom.  I don't have a finished picture to share right now but I will try to get one for the next post.  It looks beautiful but what a nightmare that shower project was.  First he installed a fiberglass tub surround and that was up for about 3 days but he didn't like it.  He didn't think it was strong enough or substantial enough.  He wanted to take it out and tile the whole thing so he did that.  Unfortunately, a couple of days into it, we all got strep throat.  He powered through as best he could to get it finished but we were out a shower for almost 3 weeks.  The guys were taking baths here and I was showering at the gym.  It was crazy.  My gym attendance has never been better though! So happy to have my lovely, newly tiled shower available now.

Sorry I don't have more photos or more stories.  It's been a pretty boring and quiet winter lately.  I think we are planning to go to the Twin Cities next weekend.  I haven't been there in about 5 years- I know I was pregnant with Wyatt at the time.  I can't even believe how long it has been.  We used to go up there all the time!  But with little kids who need naps, traveling seems like such a big production that usually isn't even worth it.  So glad they are getting older and can travel better now!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Mid-Weekend Report

Rob has a three-day weekend and to him, that means it is time for a project.  Good thing for him we have a leaky shower that needs fixing.  He was having a hard time deciding if he wanted to just fix the 4-5 bottom rows of tile or tear out all the tile and install a fiberglass tub surround.  Go ahead and guess what we are doing.  Here's a hint.

Looks like we are getting a whole new tub surround!  He actually bought that last night.  I took this picture early today and by now, he has it all down to the studs.  The surround is actually being fitted right now and he thinks he can get it up on the walls tonight and then finish it up tomorrow.  That is excellent news since it is our only shower. I plan on going to the gym tomorrow morning to work out briefly and then get a shower.  I skipped it today and that is all I can take.  Hopefully I will be able to share the finished project on Monday.

Rex has a fever to make things even more interesting.  He is carrying around the official Blue Bowl we use for, well, you know.  I think every family has a certain tub or bowl for that when someone is sick.  He hasn't used it yet and with the bath all torn up, I'm very hopeful it doesn't come to that.  The tub could be functional pretty easily if we need it so that is some good news.

I'm excited about the new shower going in but I'm also really excited about the CSA I signed up for today.  I wish I could share a link to the actual farm but since I try to keep our location somewhat under wraps, that wouldn't be a very good idea.  I bought some vegetables from this farm at our farmers' market last summer and they were great so I'm very excited to be getting a whole box of veggies each week.  Last year was their first year and 18 of the 22 people they had last year signed up again so I thought that was a pretty good sign too.  I think it will be fun to get a variety of things I may not usually buy and have to figure out how to use them- kind of like my own Iron Chef competition.  Without any competition.  Hmm.  I probably needed a better analogy there.  Anyhow, looking forward to my first delivery in the second week of June!

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Bus Trip and Some Fish

Today was finally warm enough to take Wyatt out on a little bus trip around town- something I've been wanting to do for a while but, hello, we are not going out when it is like 5 degrees.  I decided we could take the bus to Play Pals and then ride it back home.  That worked out great and Wyatt had so much fun.

We used to go to Play Pals a lot during the summer but we haven't been back since school started last fall.  We were all sick for forever so we stayed home and now I'm scared about him picking up germs from other kids whose parents or daycare providers aren't as cautious as I am.  You've got to live a little though, right?  After we had that big adventure and got back home, Rob called and asked if we wanted to go out to lunch with him- duh, of course we do!  So we went and picked him up and had lunch with him.  You'd think with me being home for the last 5 1/2 years we would've done that a lot.  But we haven't.  This was a pretty rare thing for us.  Anyhow, today was a busy and really fun day around here.

I should probably write a little something about our two new friends in the house, Buster and Ethel.  A friend gave us a gigantic (55 gallon) fish tank recently and Rob has been working on it for quite a while, getting it all prepped up and ready for some fish.  We even bought one fish for it a month or so ago and it lived two days.  That was Lucho- he didn't turn out to be much of a fighter after all.  Should've named him Muerto.  Anyhow, Rob worked on the tank some more and Rob and Rex brought home two new fish this weekend.  I am so not into any of this but the guys all think it is great.  Here they are feeding Buster and Ethel for the first time.

I guess my big news for the past week is that I have jury duty. Not just any jury duty either- it is for the federal courts and is in Des Moines which means quite a bit of driving.  And it gets even better.  I am on the hook for the entire month of February.  I don't go every day but I have to call in each Friday and get my assignment for the week.  The instructions said that you typically serve 2-3 times during the month.  I'm hoping that means just 2-3 days.  The one good thing is that between being paid for service and mileage, I make about $80 each day I have to go.  It's extremely difficult with only one car and no family around.  Rob will have to take off work any day I have to go and he will be stuck at home all day with no car.  Thank goodness we only live a few blocks from Rex's school.  I don't know how we would manage if he needed a car to get Rex to school.  It could still be really cold though so say a prayer for them that they have warm weather on the days that I have to go to jury duty and they won't be outside walking if the weather is really bad!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year- Same Resolutions

I need to blog more.  Or at least on a schedule- that would be good.  I would really like to post something at least once a week.  I get discouraged though because I don't know how many people even read this anymore.  I sure don't get many comments and that is the only way I really have of knowing what is a visit from someone I know or who just stumbled across my blog because they googled "churchill hotel vanilla paint".  People losing interest is probably my fault though because I have been a blogger in serious decline for the last year or two.  So no more!!  Here is my post for the first week of 2014 and hopefully number 1 of at least 52 posts for the year!

I haven't shared hardly any of our Christmas activities so let's get to it.  The last week of school, Rex's kindergarten class did a performance in the school auditorium for their families and then had a little party afterwards.  I thought it was lots of classes and a whole big deal so I asked Rob to take off work early and stay home with Wyatt.  Well, it turned out to be only Rex's class and the performance lasted about 10-15 minutes.  I was really bummed because we all would have gone if I had known that.  Here are some adorable kindergartners- and as you can see, I was not the only proud parent snapping away with the pictures.

Once he was on break, it was time to do a little Christmas baking.  They helped until the first batch of cookies came out and then they were just cookie snackers and very little help.

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve over at some friends' house.  Their two kids play so good with our kids and it gives the adults a chance to just talk to other- and that is awesome.  I wish I had taken a picture of how beautiful it was that night.  There was just a little bit of snow falling and then the delicious dinner and great company.  It was just perfect- a little snow to really add to that Christmas feeling but not too bad to drive home in.  The next morning the kids woke up early (for the first time ever on Christmas) and got right to it.


Today was supposed to be Rex's last day of vacation.  It is going to be so cold tonight and tomorrow (with the wind chill it will be 40-50 below) that the school district canceled school for Monday. I'm more than happy to keep him home and stay in our nice warm house. Brrr!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Story Of Our Card

I have gotten a few questions about our Christmas card and if there is a story behind the picture.  Indeed there is.  Since most of you have gotten the card by now, here is the story.  And here is the picture from our card to bring you up to speed if you don't have one (it was cropped in the card but this was the whole shot).

I saw a Christmas card photo that had kids blowing snow at the camera and it looked so neat.  Here is the picture I saw.

Pretty cool, right?  Like so many things I pin, this didn't quite go as planned.  For one thing, you probably need better equipment than your iPhone camera.  More cooperative and older subjects would undoubtedly help as well.  Here is the closest I got.

I'm starting to think the kids in the perfect photo aren't actually blowing real snow.  That probably added to this Pinterest fail.  Anyhow, we were doing this a few times and then the last time, Wyatt ended up getting his snow all back in his face.  I didn't see it happen but all of a sudden he was bawling and you can see that little bit of snow under his chin.  That was the end of the photo shoot.  When we got back inside and I got the photos off the camera and onto my computer, Rob and I were just laughing so hard at the one of Wyatt crying.  It isn't an unfair characterization of him either- he looks like that a fair amount of the time.  Probably because he is the little brother and always thinks he is getting picked on or missing out on something.  So Rob and I talked about it and decided to use that photo, hoping everyone else would think it was as funny as we did. And someday when Wyatt gets older and finds this card in our 2013 scrapbook, he will probably be mad all over again.  I don't care though because I am sure I will still think it is funny!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Shelby's Busy Life

So I've missed the last two Mondays but I was on vacation in LA for one and then taking a monster exam on the other.  Hoping to be better in the future!

Usually, I'm the last one to have anything going on.  Ok, I probably have more than Wyatt but it doesn't take much to have a busier schedule than a 3-year old.  The first half of November has been all about me though.  I kind of like it ;-)  It started on November 1st when I flew out to Los Angeles to visit my good friends Nanette and Tricia.  They live within 10 miles of each other but weirdly, I know them from different points in my life.  Just a total coincidence that they both live in the LA area and not far from each other.  Things got a little crazy and I almost called off the trip due to a shooting at LAX that morning.  Fortunately, for me and for Tricia who was picking me up, things were mostly back to normal by the time I got in.  I was a little delayed because a huge Delta airplane ran over a luggage truck and blocked our gate when we got in.  But that's just funny.  We had to wait an hour on that stupid plane which wasn't so funny but every time I'd get mad about sitting there, I'd think about that plane and luggage truck crash and I would start to giggle.  I had so much fun with both of the girls.  Tricia and I shopped at Third Street Promenade, stopped by to look at the beach in Santa Monica and perhaps most importantly, she took me to get Mexican food at El Cholo AND to In-N-Out.  Love that girl!

Nanette and I started out our portion of my trip with free massages that she won from Bliss Spa via Twitter and Paypal.  A massage is great but a free one at a swanky place?  Even better.

We also went shopping at The Grove and ate at the Farmer's Market, Rush Street, Brooklyn Water Bagels (they seriously taste like New York bagels- I couldn't believe it) and Versailles.  So much good food.  I would totally recommend every single place I ate at during my trip. But then it was time to go home and I realized something- I still love to visit California and LA, but I don't want to move back.  I love Iowa.  Everything went great with my flights home, just as they did on the way out there. I came home loaded down with so much stuff.  I'm really looking forward to this being an annual trip! (Please Rob?)

Once I was back in Iowa, it was time to buckle down and study every second I could for my AICP exam (so that I could be a certified urban/community/city planner) on November 11.  I had already put in a lot of time studying, including while traveling on my trip, but I needed more.  As much as I could get.  I have no degree in planning and I took exactly one planning class in college, 15 years ago.  I haven't even worked as a planner for almost seven years!  Rob took care of everything in the evenings and over the weekend so that I could study my brains out.  And thank goodness I have him because I needed that time.  I would guess I spent between 80-100 hours studying for the exam.  The test is really hard and draining- it is 170 questions and multiple choice.  But nothing is a simple, trivia-type question.  It is all critical thinking and lots of times there are several right answers but you have to pick the best one.  Tons of them were set up where you have four options and then you have to pick the right combination of those four (I and II; I, II and III, etc).  It was crazy and as soon as I was done, a monster headache set in.  I think my brain was just hurting and tired at that point.  Seriously.  They give you your score right away, while you are still sitting at your testing station.  I could feel my heart just pounding in my chest as I waited for my score.  I passed- YAY!! It's expensive and very time-consuming and I did NOT want to go through it again.  So now I am an AICP certified planner (though I can't use the designation until I get my first bill and pay my dues)!

In more Shelby career-related news, I attended an open house for all potential graduate students in the Masters in Community and Regional Planning program at the school I am applying to for Fall 2014.  The day was actually for anyone applying to the College of Design for post-grad work and it was pretty funny for me to be mixed in with a lot of artsy types.  I can't even draw.  It's sad.  Anyhow, I spent a lot of time talking with current students and professors and learned a lot and made some good connections with staff and professors.  When I introduced myself and gave a little info, I mentioned that I had just passed the AICP exam this week.  The professor in charge of my program looked at me and said, "Well I don't know what we are going to teach you then!"  I assured him I still have plenty to learn.  I am super-excited about the program and next August feels about 100 years away.  I wish I could have started today.

Now that all that is over with, I need to get back to my house because it needs a lot of attention.  Not only does it need regular maintenance, but my parents are visiting for Thanksgiving and will be here on Wednesday so it needs the company-is-coming treatment!  I suppose I have stalled enough this morning and should get to my chores.  Yuck.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Quick Recipe Share

I don't have any family news to share and this will be short but I've tried a few recipes that were so good and I just had to share them.  And I'm proud to say a lot of these are things I pinned.  I'm a doer, not just a pinner!  However, I'm not a good food photographer so all the photos below are from the recipe source.

Sunday Night Stew from The Pioneer Woman.  No comments to add, no changes- just deliciousness.

Sunday Night Stew

Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad from Greens and Chocolate- I added a little milk to the dressing because it had more of a dip consistency as the recipe is written.  I ate it for the lunch the next few days after I originally made it because I couldn't get enough.

Apple Brownies from Allrecipes- I would say this is a cake and not brownies so be prepared for that.  I followed some of the comments from others and added nutmeg, chopped the apples rather than sliced them and added a little cinnamon-sugar mix to the top as soon as I took it out of the oven.  Some people added a streusel-type topping which sounded delicious but I figured it was bad enough for me as is, no need to cover it with that too.

Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes from Allrecipes- I added some ham in between the layers of potatoes to make a main dish out of it and it came out great.  I have a few comments on the recipe.  First, use a sharp cheese and it will taste much better.  Don't use the bagged cheese; make sure you grate your own.  Finally, the recipe starts by making a roux with the butter and flour and it says you only need to whisk them together for one minute.  No way.  I whisked for about 5 minutes before I added the next ingredient and it came out great.  If you only whisked for a minute, it would still have that raw flour taste and probably be pretty grainy.

Massaged Kale Salad from Food Network- I had a kale salad while visiting friends in Portland last year and I thought it was great.  I'd been thinking about it a lot lately and decided to try this recipe.  I loved this but I was the only one.  Rob said, "If I had to eat grass, this is what I would want it to taste like."  It kind of sounds like a compliment, but it totally wasn't.  The boys wouldn't eat it if you offered to buy out a Toys R Us for them.  But if you have a little more open mind than three of them (which wouldn't take much), you will probably like this too.  I had no luck getting a picture of it so you will just have to follow the link to see a picture if you are interested- sorry!

Homemade Applesauce from Cooks.com- No picture this time either but we all know what applesauce looks like, right?  I wouldn't change anything on the recipe, just add that I took a potato masher and smashed them all up when it was done cooking.  I like it with some chunks of apple in it and I don't have a food mill to make it all smooth anyhow so that's what worked for me.  It made a lot and I thought I would need to freeze some of it but I didn't need to after all.  Because we ate it ALL.  In just a few days.  It was so good.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Visit to the Apple Orchard/Pumpkin Patch and A Missing Tooth!

It's been exciting around here the last two weeks, especially while Rob was gone to California.  He missed a lot of cool stuff.  There is a really awesome apple orchard/pumpkin patch in the area that I've been wanting to go to.  Rex went with his preschool class last year.  It is kind of expensive and more so on the weekends so I decided to take Wyatt one day while Rex was at school.  This is a balancing of the scales, as Rex got to go last year while Wyatt and I stayed home.  At least, that's what I tell myself so I don't feel bad that Rex missed out.

I couldn't believe how much there was to do there- I allowed about 3 hours for the driving and time there and that wasn't really enough.  We could've used another hour.  Here are some pictures of our time there.

At the sign by the entrance:

Running around the farm:

Bouncing on the jumping pillow:

They set up a bunch of hay bales in a ring and dumped corn kernels in so you could jump and play and make corn angels (the autumn version of snow angels):

Pumping water to make the little rubber duckies float down the "river" at the duck races:

Finally, the reason we could've used another hour- the hay ride:

The hayride takes 20-30 minutes and we were running out of time.  I thought it was just a quick little cruise but it turns out you buy a bag to take with you so you can pick your own apples and they also stop to pick your own pumpkin.  All that picking takes a while and I hadn't purchased a bag for the apple picking so it was best to just skip it that time.  So we got back down off the hayride and grabbed an already-picked pumpkin.  We also grabbed some fresh apple cider, apple cider doughnuts, a caramel apple and then a jar each of apple butter and pumpkin butter.  I'm a sucker for those little farm stores, what can I say.  By the way, we took all that home- all we ate there was one doughnut each.  We had such a great time and honestly, I think if I was to ever run my own business, I would want to have a farm like this.  Wyatt was ready to move in too.

I took a picture of the boys with our pumpkin the next day, mainly to capture Rex's big news- he lost his first tooth!

The tooth came out at school and was, unfortunately, lost on the playground during recess.  Rex said it came loose and he was afraid he would choke on it so he just spit it out on the ground.  In my mind, I see it all happening where he just spits it out and keeps on playing and he never even thinks about picking it up or that he should save it.  We drew a little picture and wrote the tooth fairy a letter explaining what happened and where she could find the tooth.  Luckily, she was very understanding and left Rex some money and a letter for him.  It was all very exciting!

And if you noticed how stylish my youngest son is in that picture above, here is a full body shot so you can see just how good the guy looks.

It takes a certain personality to rock the Converse lizard shoes, striped beanie and orange sunglasses but it totally works for Wyatt.  It is so much fun to dress him because he can make anything
work and look good.  He just has that attitude.  For instance, this was his pose he did when I asked if I could take his picture- he sat down on the ground and looked up at me just like this.  Rex is pretty stylish too, but he is more of a traditional, preppy type.  He does love to sport the hats when he can- here is his blue Kangol-style cap.

 I love having boys.  They are so much fun.  I'm headed to California on Friday for a long weekend visit with two of my best friends and I can't wait.  I'm really looking forward to it even though I will miss all my dudes here.  Hopefully I won't miss out on any of their big life events while I am gone!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Zoo Time

Wyatt and I recently went to Des Moines (while Rex was in school) and I took him to the zoo.  We had a wonderful day together- we saw goats, otters, penguins and a bunch of other animals.  They even had a play area and a train ride too!  There isn't too much to tell about it but we got a lot of good pictures.  I'll let them tell the story this time.

We went out to lunch afterwards then came back home to pick up Rex from school.  We still haven't told him about our special day- no need to upset him!  He has been to the zoo before, by the way, so he isn't missing out too much.  He is usually the one telling stories about school or fun trips he got to go on so I think it was definitely Wyatt's turn.  It was beautiful weather that day and we just had such a fantastic day!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Blogger Funk

So I have had no desire to blog at all for the last month or more.  Sorry about that.  We have plenty going on to share, I just don't have a lot of time to sit down at the computer and share.  I will try to be better and I'm going to set the goal (once again) of blogging every Monday.  Let's see how I do this time.  I should at least blog as practice for typing because without going to work and typing reports for the last five years, my typing is suffering.  I'm slow.  And I make more than my share of typos.

At least one person in our house has been sick for the last month.  Rex brought us home a cold from his second week of kindergarten and we've been struggling ever since.  First mine turned into the most awful sinus infection I've ever had.  Then Rex had a double ear infection which also gave him a bloody eye- he looked like he went a round with Mike Tyson or something.  It was bad but the eye drops from the doctor cleared that part up in like a day.  Now Wyatt has a cold again and his right ear is infected.  He coughs so much, my poor baby.  He is getting better though too.  Hopefully Rob can stay healthy- he's done good so far!- and the rest of us will all be better soon.  With all the doctor visits we've had lately, the boys and I have gotten our flu shots out of the way so that is one good thing about all this.  Here we all are, happy despite being sick (I think Rex and I were both pretty bad at this point).

Wyatt has two big goals he needs to accomplish and we finally knocked out one of them.  I decided probably six months ago that when his current pacifiers (he had four) were lost or destroyed, that was it.  And don't you know, those last four would not die???  We lost one of them but those last three were indestructible and un-loseable.  I finally just had to tell Wyatt, "It's time for the papas (what he called them) to go.  You are a big boy and those are for babies.  Throw them out and I will take you to buy a new toy."  He took one last hit off of them, and they were gone.

As promised, we headed out to the store where he picked out some new Thomas the Train stuff to expand his train empire.

Now to get him potty-trained.  I wonder how much that is going to cost us in new toys!!  He is so resistant to using the toilet.  Please say your prayers for us- we need them!

Since Wyatt starts preschool next year, I've been giving a lot of thought to what my next move will be.  Going back to work and making money certainly holds a lot of appeal but I have always wanted to go back to school to get my masters in urban and regional planning.  I've been talking to our closest university that has that program to see if we can make it work and it turns out, we can!  So I'm now in the middle of applying to grad school for Fall 2014.  My application isn't due until February 1st but I want to get it done early and turned in asap.  I need to get all my college transcripts and letters of recommendation too which is proving to be difficult.  My two former planning managers that I would like to write letters for me have both retired and moved on and it is taking a little while to get in touch with them.  It's a good thing I have a lot of time to do this!  Although I've met with staff and faculty already, I'm attending an official Open House event next month that I am really looking forward to.

In other career news, I am taking the AICP exam to be a certified planner.  That test is on November 11th.  So if you say a prayer about the potty-training, please add this request in too.  It's not cheap and it's not easy so I would really like to pass on my first try.  Since I don't have a planning degree, I've had to study extra super-duper hard to learn all the material.  I will sooo be ready on the first day of grad school, let me tell you!  IF I can remember all this material by next August ;-)

In a last bit of news, we have lots of trips to California planned- some soon and one (the big family one) that we are still working on.  Rob will be going out later this month to race and I will be going to LA to visit my lovely friends Nanette and Tricia in November.  I have yet to meet the adorable Mimi (Nanette's youngest daughter who will be almost 9 months old when I'm there) and I couldn't pass up the chance to see pregnant Tricia!  I am way excited.  And I get to eat In-N-Out Burger.  And Versailles.  Oh boy, my mouth is watering already.  AND there is lots of estrogen time and shopping and all that girl stuff.  I love all my dudes, but it will be nice to be around girls for a few days!  Finally, we are all planning on coming out next summer.  I am shooting for around the July 4th holiday but we will have to see how that all works out.  I will be sure to keep everyone posted on that.  Thanks for reading and check back next Monday because (hopefully) I will have more for you then!

Here are a few more funny pictures of the boys just because.  Just because they are adorable!!!

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