Happy Father’s Day

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They say that all women marry their fathers. Literally doing that would be creepy as hell, but marrying a man like my father was one of the best decisions I ever made. Growing up, my father did his damnedest to balance his work as a cop with his family. This meant working odd shifts to make sure he could attend our events, picking up sports just because we played them and making sure he was always around for us. My Dad continues to be one of our biggest supporters, strongest allies and clearest voices of reasons (whether you want to hear him or not).  We are all so lucky to have him in our lives.

The Hubs, bless him, is just as an amazing father (thanks to his father!). I married a cop with a life just as crazy as my father’s and the Hub’s is doing the same amazing balancing act that I grew up with. He coaches our kids, takes them to school every day he can and tries his hardest to be around every night to tuck them into bed. He picks up where I fail, talks me off the edge and makes me laugh every day. My kids are lucky to have him and so am I.

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This is a terrible picture, I’ll own that. It’s was taken from my window looking down at the Hubs, Scorch and my father grilling this past Mother’s Day. But it makes my heart happy knowing that my little boy will one day grow up to be an amazing father thanks to the incredible men in his life.

Grace

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Dear Beaners-

Last night was a NIGHT. You had a fantastic day at school and then it was off to the dentist. You are so scared of the dentist, but you were a rock star. I could tell how nervous you were, but there were no tears and you got through it. It was so proud of you and, as a reward, we decided to stop for ice cream. And that is where the wheels fell off.

You were already pissy that we were going to get our haircut instead of going home. Then the ice cream you wanted had hot fudge on it. That hot fudge caused your ice cream to melt faster then you could eat it, so your bowl overflowed. I was already on edge from a stressful weekend and you and your brother squabbling in the car and I didn’t react to the huge mess of ice cream on your lap and the car seat as well as I should have. I snapped at you and you, my sweets, snapped right back.

And that was that. I was standing in the parking lot yelling at you, my 6 year old over, melted ice cream and you were screaming right back, rejecting all my attempts to help. We were a literal and metaphorical mess.

MotherDaughterBean- I hate nights like that. Even though the night ended on a good note, I still am sitting here feeling like a jerk. I’m the adult, I’m the parent- I’m supposed to know how to act appropriately.

Except, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes you push every single button I have at the same time and my head explodes.  And sometimes I push your buttons and your head explodes. And this scares me to no end because you’re six. We are lucky enough to still have at least 12 more years under the same roof and I can’t wait to watch you grow. Truly. You are an amazing kid, and you’re going to be an equally amazing teenager and adult. You have the brains and ability to rule the world and I love watching you.

But, girlfriend, you and I both need to learn grace with each other. I am the adult so I’ll take on the lion’s share of the work for now, but you’re not off the hook. We both need to learn to take a deep breath and walk away sometimes. We both need to learn how to talk to each other with clearer, kinder words. Your father and I are doing our best to give you these tools and words and skills so you can tell us what you really mean when you tell us your shoes is too loose, then too tight, then too loose again and then end with an ugh I hate my life! and a slammed door.

I adore you more than chocolate milk. You are my favorite six year old in the world and I can’t imagine how boring life would be without you in it. Know that when I’m angry or when you’re angry or when we’re both angry, that I love you. Nothing will change that no matter how many stupid fights we have. You will always be my favorite daughter.

But sometimes, bedtime is my favorite part of the day.

Love,
Mom

My Lady Loves

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Did you know today is National Best Friend’s Day? Neither did I. But it is and I’m always looking for an excuse to love on the incredible women in my life so here we are.

The Hubs makes fun of me because I have more then one best friend. He says that’s impossible and I say it’s not. Some of us, like the Hubs, are destined to have a very few, special select friends in their lives. And that’s wonderful. Some of us, however, are destined to have more from all stages of life. My friendship cup runs over and that’s freaking awesome.

I have my sister because everyone’s sister should be their best friend. We weren’t as kids and even today there is no one that can get under my skin faster then her, but she is the one I talk to almost every day and she is the one who loves my kids like her own. She’s the one who laughs when I talk/whisper right in her ear and ask her how she’s doing in a certain tone of voice because she’s the one who gets that inside joke. She’s the one who will tell me when something doesn’t look right and she’s the one who taught me how to pack a diaper bag less like a suitcase 9 year ago. She talks me off the edge at least once a week and I can’t imagine a world without her in it. I love her deeply.

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I have my friends from growing up. These are the incredible ladies who remember my bad perms, awful fashion choices and even more awful taste in boys. They rocked to NKOTB with me, learned how to remove paint from car bumpers when we accidentally hit something when we took our first solo trip to the mall and spent long lazy summers at the pools with me. We grew up going in and out of each others houses and knew that we couldn’t get away with anything because our parents would always check in and up on us. That didn’t mean we didn’t try though, so these are the women I made memories with sneaking out of each others homes, trying booze together and growing up together. We cried at our high school graduation and promised to always keep in touch. And we did. We are a year shy of our 20th high school reunion and even though we may not talk as often as we like, when we do, it’s like no time at all has passed. They keep me grounded and I love them fiercely.

DSC_1005And then there are my local friends now. My sisters in parenting and marriage and life. The women I see weekly if not daily depending on the sports season. These are the women that keep me sane, the ones who co-parent with me on the nights I need it. The friends that will help out in a pinch and who know my children almost as well I do. They are the ones who see me at my worst and my best and love me regardless. They know by the tone of my voice if it’s been one of those nights and will listen with compassion and humor when I need to lose my shit at someone just so I don’t lose it at my husband or kids. They give selflessly and help make my life 1000% times more smoother thanks to carpool and play dates and communal dinners. They are the ones I can’t wait to share the next 11+ years with as our kids hit their milestones at the same time- elementary school, middle school, dances, sports, proms, dating, graduation, college and all the little pieces that make up life in between. They are the ones I’ll be calling and checking in with as our kids try to sneak out of our homes and get into trouble together. They’ll know the reason behind every gray hair on my head and wrinkle on my face. They’ll parent my children when I’m not up for it and I’ll do the same. My love for them is boundless.

Ladies_Halloween_2013I’m a very, very blessed woman. #friendsrock

Take Me Out to the Ball Game…

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Spring is fast becoming one of my favorite times of the year. Scorch’s obsession with America’s Past Time means I’ve become a baseball mom and the Hubs, a baseball dad. We didn’t mean for this to happen, we didn’t want it to happen- we wanted to be lacrosse parents. But Scorch, bless him, had other ideas and the Bean followed right along. Our weeks for the past two months have consisted of games, practices, creating line ups and hours spent throwing against the throw back. We all sport t-shirt tans and the smell of baseballs and cleats fill my car. Our lives are now lived at the fields – it’s our home away from home and the center of our social lives.

Bean is playing in the Rookie league with 5-8 year olds. She is still pitched to by coaches and kids get an undetermined amount of balls tossed to them before they strike out. She’s one of two girls on her team and she makes my heart hitch every time I see her in the catcher’s equipment with her ponytail hanging out the back of her hat. Her cleats are a hot pink blur when she runs around the bases, looking proud enough to burst when she finally gets a hit.

Scorch is playing in the next league up and the game has gone from something cute the kids to to something serious the kids love. Everyone plays and everyone is nurtured, but kids aren’t playing in the dirt anymore or picking flowers in the outfield. Scorch wants to be a pitcher or a catcher or a first baseman and I hold my breath during the big moments because all of a sudden wins and losses are something the kids care out. He wears neon green cleats and he sets them just so as he stretches his body as far as it will go trying to make the out at 1st. You’d think his team just won the World Series anytime something big happens because these kids are so exuberant and happy to be playing.

We work on sportsmanship and try to ensure our kids are as good winners as they are losers. It’s a delight and a blessing when you see your kids mimicking the good behavior you’ve tried so hard to teach them- when they cheer on their teammates, congratulate the other team for a good play and make sure the kid who got beaned with the ball is OK.

I’m so proud of my boy for playing after the heartache of last season and I’m so proud of my girl for playing with the boys. As crazy as our schedule is, I’m going to miss this season when it’s over.

Oh- wait. It’s never over thanks to summer league and then Fall ball. Never mind…

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To Those Who Mourn

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This past month our local community has gone through unspeakable tragedy. A 6 year old was killed in an devastating and completely preventable car accident. A 16 year old was killed on Prom night by her ex-boyfriend. She broke up with him, then refused his efforts to get back in touch with her, so he showed up at her home with an imitation Army knife to scare her, so she’d see how much she still loved her. Then this weekend, two talented, smart high school seniors were killed in a car accident. They were coming home from the mall and lost control of their car.

We didn’t know any of these kids, although we certainly knew of them and have many friends who mourn them deeply. I haven’t written about this because I didn’t want to exploit their tragedies or make it seem like there is a personal connection when there isn’t much of one.

However, this latest tragic hits close to home because when I was turning 16, I lost my friend Paul in a car accident. I hope what I posted about what happened after Paul’s death helps those that mourn to know their family and friends are in a good place even though they are so desperately missed here. Here is what I shared:

Paul was a sweet kid I went to school with. He was short with dark hair and amazing eyes not unlike my Scorch. He was a wise-ass and a charmer and he always, always had a big grin for everyone. He was honestly one of the nicest people I ever have met.

Paul died the summer I turned 16.

The day is etched into my brain. I spent the afternoon driving around country hills with my boyfriend- with no particular destination in mind, we just enjoyed the day. When I got home my parents were literally standing in the window watching for me. Paul was in a car crash- he was driving on a windy road and crashed head on into a dump truck. He was killed instantly.

At almost-16, I had never lost anyone close to me before who wasn’t elderly. My friends and I had lived a charmed life up until that point. Paul’s death shook us to the core.  The days after his death are still so clear to me. The crying, the huddling together, the wake, the funeral, spending time at Paul’s mom’s house trying to prop each other up.

About 10 days after Paul died, I spent the evening with two friends. As it often did, our conversation turned to Paul and how we wished we knew that he was at peace.  On the walk back to my house, we sat down on the side of the road and asked Paul to give us a sign that he was OK.  We sat there in silence- waiting, watching for that sign. After a few minutes we realized how silly that was- because anything from the owl hooting to the car honking could have been a sign. So we got specific.  We told Paul if he was OK to please please cancel swim lessons the following day. The three of us taught swim lessons for 4 hours a day and wanted a break.

That next day while I was driving to swim lessons, I saw one of my friends and her mom driving away from the pool. When I got to the pool, the director was sitting outside. She told us that lessons were canceled that day- the pool pump broke in the middle of the night.

I still get chills when I think about that.

And here’s a follow up from last year:

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to talk to a psychic. I realize there are a lot of fakes out there, but I also know that some people  have a talent that I’ll never understand.  It was towards the end of my 25 minute conversation with this woman and I wasn’t entirely convinced I was speaking to the real deal. She got some things completely right, but other things seemed to be entirely off base. She asked if I had a last question so I asked about Paul. Here is what I asked word for word: “When I was 16, I lost a friend of mine. We asked for a sign to see if he was OK and we got what we thought was one. Was it?”

There was a pause and the woman I was speaking to started to laugh:

Your sign had to do with water. And yes, don’t worry, your friend is wonderful!

I hope this brings those who mourn a small measure of peace.

Nine.

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Dear Scorch-

I think I start every yearly letter to you marveling over how old you are and this year will be no different. You are NINE. N-I-N-E NINE. This is your very last year in the single digits and my mind boggles over this fact. Weren’t you just born? Wasn’t I just changing your diapers and rocking you to sleep at night?

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I read something a few months back that was floating on Facebook calling age 9 “halftime” for kids since you are half way to 18 and, presumably, becoming an adult. Will you think less of me, sweet boy, if I admit I rolled my eyes at that notion so hard they almost got stuck in the back of my head? Because I did. Don’t get me wrong, 9 is an amazing, awesome, exciting age and yes, when you’re 18 hopefully you’ll leave home but to think that I’m halfway through parenting you is hogwash. I still call my mom and dad for advice multiple times a week and I assume you’ll be no different.

There are a lot of things about parenthood that surprise me but perhaps the one that surprises me the most is how unsentimental I am. I mean, I cry at your concerts and get choked up at the start and end of every school year. Milestones sometimes hit me hard, but for the most part, I don’t mourn your baby-self. Sometimes I miss your squishy compactness and holding you under my chin, but dude- I LOVE watching you grow. I wasn’t sure if I would, I honestly don’t have much experience with kids but you, sir, are blowing me away. There is so much I love….

> I love watching you interact with friends. You, my love, are this great combo of leader and peacemaker. You always have ideas and thoughts on what you should do but you’re easy going enough most of the time to change plans if others want to do something different. You are a good, kind friend who gets along with everyone. You have no interest in girls outside of being friends and I’m totally fine with that!

> I love watching you play ball. You are obsessed with baseball right now. This past year, you played all year long. Little League in the spring, summer ball, fall ball and then weekly clinics up during the winter. I have no idea if this will stay your passion, but right now you’re all about it.

> I love watching you learn. I legitimately got choke up this spring watching you learn cursive because that is amazing (yes, I’m a nerd. Deal with it). Your curiosity and passion are a joy to watch. There is nothing better then hearing you tell your sister what an adjective is.

> I love how affectionate you are. I admit, I SUCK at cuddling. You always get hugs and kisses- always- from both your father and me. But long, laying-on-the-bed-reading-a-book cuddles? Nope, not my thing. But I’m trying because I know one day you won’t want to cuddle and that I know I’ll miss.

> I love how fun you are. I love our dance parties in the car, your infectious laugh, your sly comments and your desire to share everything you think is funny. (Even if your stories take for-freaking-ever to tell. We’ll work on that, bud.) You are a joy to be around and I don’t think you’ve ever met anyone who hasn’t been charmed by you.

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Sweet boy, it’s impossible to tell you just how loved you are. There aren’t words big enough or expressive enough to encompass all we feel for you. Your father and I must have done something really good in our lives for God to give us you to raise. Every birthday you have leaves me so excited to see where you’re going next and who you’ll grow to be.

I hope this year is an amazing one. I hope you keep cultivating good friendships, I hope you keep loving with all your heart and I hope you never lose your joy! You are astounding and I’m so glad you’re ours.

Love,
Mom

You’re The Worst

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The other day, I shared a link on Facebook to an article called “The Curse of the Second-Born Child.” It uses a heck of lot more curse words than I would have, but it essentially says that your second-born child is an absolutely amazing, crazily loved asshole sent to earth to break you.

Truth.

The love I have for the Bean is boundless. This child is a bright spot in my life- she’s funny and smart and clever and quick and gorgeous. She’s also been working my very last nerve for a good month now. If something can be a battle, it is. I realize I have a hand in all this too and that I need to disengage but man, it’s so easy to get sucked into to battle of wills with her.

Monday the Bean’s homework was to write out the contractions for “it is,” “you are,” “I am,” we are” and “he will” and use them in a sentence. Her schools gives out homework passes for various reasons and she has a bunch she can use so she chose to use hers on this particular assignment so she could play all evening instead. That was fine until she came home yesterday with classroom work involving contractions that she bombed. She didn’t have any homework last night, so I told her that we were going to do Monday’s homework as review to make sure she understood the concept.

She was furious at me for this injustice. There was wailing, gnashing of teeth, yelling and tears. There were dropped pencils that she “couldn’t” find and pencil tips that were broken on “accident.” In total she probably spent under 5 minutes writing the sentences and 40 minutes fighting with me about having to do this. Any time I tried to help Beaner, I was snapped at but any time she asked for help and I didn’t jump immediately she reigned hell fire down.

Fun times, man.

I kept my cool. I didn’t engage, didn’t yell and told her firmly what behavior was and wasn’t acceptable until the 5 freaking sentences were written. Beaner would let me see what she was writing, but I knew it was going to be good and she did not disappoint:

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I’m thinking that my mom is mean. It’s so mean that she making me do amaroke (I assume that’s “homework” and she was just too full of righteous fury to sound it out). We’re not going to the playground. He’ll got to the store. You’re the worst.

You guys, I may frame that sucker.

Happy Mother’s Day

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9 years ago on Mother’s Day Scorch was born. He was the first kid born in our county on Mother’s Day so we were on the news. To say that I looked nothing like Kate Middleton hours after giving birth is like saying Mt. Everest is a big hill. My nose was swollen, my face was puffy and I was squishy all over. I was proudly wearing clean PJs for the first time in 24 hours along with the blessed mesh underwear stuffed with ice packs that they give you in the hospital. I have never felt more beautiful.

Fast forward, today my day was filled with two crazy kids, an amazing morning at church, seeing friends and having an fantastic evening at home with my kids, husband, parents, brother, grandmother and aunt. It was full of cleaning and cooking and washing and socializing and laughing and love. I have never felt more content.

The space between these Mother’s Days, 9 years apart, have been filled with a lifetime of memories and moments. Joy and tears. Laughter and yelling. Some days I look at these gorgeous creatures the Hubs and I made and their sheer perfection takes my breath away. Other times I look at them and I legitimately count down the days until they leave for college. Sometimes I do both on the same day.

You will never, ever hear me complain about being a mom. You will hear me complain about my kid’s actions and attitudes along with our crazy life full of rushing from here to there, laundry and cooking. But being a mom is *the* best job in the world and raising Scorch and Bean is a privilege that I know I’m damned lucky to have.

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To my own Mom- thank you for showing me every day how to parent with compassion, grace and humor. Thanks for reassuring me that I’ve got this when I call you to cry because I think I’m screwing everything up. Thanks for telling me how it is in the nicest way possible and for loving my kids so unconditionally. I love you more then you’ll know.

To my Mother-in-Law- thank you for raising the Hubs to be a good father. He may never, ever cook and he may hate talking on the phone, but he’s a damn good father and that is all thanks to his upbringing! My kids are lucky to call you Mimi.

To my sister, aunts, and cousins – I feel like I was raised surrounded by strong women who weren’t afraid to love me like my own parents. Thanks for continuing to build this amazing family for my kids. We may not live as close to each other as we did growing up, but your influence is always felt. It’s been a joy watching my sister and cousins turn into moms I’m so proud to know!

And to my friends – thank you for being my sounding board and for telling me I’m not crazy. Thank you for loving my kids like your own and being willing to pitch in when ever needed. Thank you for the girls nights, the real talk and hours of laughter. Thank you for raising kids I’m so happy my kids are friends with.

Happy Mother’s Day, all!

 

 

 

Far From Perfect

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This morning was a big one. Today was Muffins for Mom where the 1st grade class gets to have breakfast with their moms and then put on a little presentation for Mother’s Day. I kid you not when I tell you it’s one of my favorite traditions at the kid’s school. This was my last one and I think I was more excited then the Bean.

But, like life goes, nothing went according to plan.

All was fine until Scorch’s stomach got upset. Why? Who knows. So poor Scorch spent more time in the bathroom than out of it this morning all the while worrying that he was getting sick. Beaner is trying to tell me that we have to be at school at 7:45 but I’m convinced that Muffins for Mom doesn’t start until after morning assembly at 8:15 so I’m not worried. If we had had two cars at home, I would have taken the Bean just in case and the Hubs could have brought Scorch when he was ready. But, we were down to one car this morning because mine is in the shop getting the snow tires taken off. (No, Mother Nature, this is not a dare).

We finally made it out the door and over to school. We walked in to take the kids to morning assembly to find the Muffins for Mom presentation just starting. My stomach is in my feet and I felt so badly. But Bean just looks at me, smiles and darts off to join her class like it’s no big deal. I get to watch the whole song (which makes me cry), get presented with a flower from Beaner and it’s amazing.

After the song, we realize that breakfast was before morning assembly and not after and again, I’m a little sick over missing this. But Bean’s teacher graciously offered to let us go eat, just the two of us. So we do. And as we’re eating, the Bean tells me that this is the best morning ever.

So, my sweet kids, this morning did not go like it was supposed to. There were tears (mine), nerves (Scorch) and a little stage fright (Bean). It wasn’t perfect like we had envisioned it- not even close- but it was perfect for us. And sometimes that is all you can ask for!

 

You Are Not Alone: National Infertility Awareness Week

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Lots of years ago, the Hubs and I decided we wanted to grow our family. I was 24 and had no reason to think getting pregnant would be difficult. So I stopped taking the pill, started paying attention to my cycles and was convinced I was pregnant two months later when my period was late. You know that stupid saying that you’re over the moon? I hate that statement- but we were over the moon imagining how life was going to change with our little one. But the pregnancy tests kept coming back negative even though my period didn’t show for over 3 months. We just assumed it was my body’s reaction to going off hormonal birth control after so many years and didn’t get too concerned.

After a few more months though, we knew something wasn’t right. My cycles were crazily erratic, I was putting on weight rapidly and my skin was a disaster. Shortly there after, I was diagnosed with PCOS and we realized that our path to having a baby was not going to be an easy one.

This is National Infertility Awareness Week. Did you know that 1 in 8 couples deal with infertility? Think about that for a minute- 1 in 8 is a lot of people. It’s your friends, your family, your coworkers. It could be you.

When the Hubs and I first realized that having kids was going to be a challenge, we kept it to ourselves. I literally only knew of one other couple that had trouble conceiving and their child bearing years were 20 years earlier. I was scared and confused, ashamed and guilt-ridden. My body had failed me- had failed us– in a monumental way and I had no idea how to deal with that.

A year and 3 months after we started trying to grow our family, I got pregnant for the first time. We told everyone when I was about 5 weeks along. We didn’t think anything of it, we had never heard of anyone miscarrying. Then we became that couple who miscarried.

We were reeling and all the well-meaning people telling us that I’d get pregnant again soon just ate away at me. The dam broke and I told everyone everything. Words like PCOS, Clomid, IUI, Injectables and Reproductive Endocrinologist became a part of almost every conversation I had. Sadly, Miscarriage, Repeat Pregnancy Loss, Clotting Disorders and ANA did too as we dealt with 3 losses. (You can read how we eventually went on to have Scorch here.)

The crazy part was, the more I talked, the better I felt. No one could take away the pain, jealousy and heartbreak I was dealing with but the more I spoke out, the more people I found in the same boat as the Hubs and me. I found an amazing online community pretty quickly, but slowly I found local women in my life dealing with infertility. We called ourselves the Broken Vag!na and Limp D!ck Club. Not the most politically correct or medically accurate name, but it made us laugh. Our monthly dinners were sanity saving and one of the rays of sunshine during a dark time.

Eventually we all graduated from that club in one way or another. Some of us by having kids, some of us by living a fulfilling child-free life. Either way, we had each other.

It’s been almost 13 years since infertility reared its ugly head in my life. Since that time, at least a dozen women in my life have dealt with infertility in one form or another. The two kids I love just about as much as I love my own are IVF babies. I’ve held hands with more women than I’d like as they’ve mourned their losses. It’s been heartbreaking- but I’m so glad we’ve had each other.

Medical advances have out paced my knowledge and experiences, but I still share my story and lend an ear to anyone going through something similar. To know that you are not alone can sometimes be one of greatest blessing during a horrible time. The more I’ve talked, the less ashamed I am. My infertility wasn’t something I asked for, it just is-  like my brown eyes and wavy hair. I don’t wish that journey on anyone but I’m so very, very happy that infertility and pregnancy loss isn’t a topic talked about in whispers anymore. No one wants to be part of the Broken Vag!nas and Limp D!ck Club but if you are, come talk to me. I’ll listen.