winter

winter

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ugh! It's Monday.

It's Monday and, boy, does it feel like it! I knew it was going to be snowing last night long before I saw that weather report because of the ache I felt down deep in my joints. It is an ache that has only gotten more intense as the current weather system has moved thru. It started off as a slight twinge of discomfort but now my wrists switch back and forth as to which feels like I sprained it. My elbows are beginning to complain as is my back. The joints in my toes are feeling some pain also, but more in my right foot then my left. The aches and pains are just no fun.

It's not helping things any that I have caught the head cold that has been bothering the boys. I have zip for energy right now. I'm seriously debating if I should take a nap or if I should attempt to slog thru the dishes. Of course, I'm not doing either. Instead, I'm sitting here drinking orange juice, nibbling on pretzels, and typing.

The boys are on the mend and should be well soon. It is a fact that I'm most thankful for. I was getting worried about Snuggle Bug for a little bit there but that terrible cough is improving along with just about everything else from what I can tell. So I am here feeling woozy, achey, and congested. Torn between guilt for not having the apartment clean, irritation with this body wracking cough, and dread at the thought of fetching the mail, I'm questioning just how clearly I am thinking. Both boys are down for their afternoon nap. I think Momma is going to take her cold medicine, clear some space on the couch, and take her own nap.

It's not like the dishes are going to run away. And if they were at that point, well... they'd do an armed revolt and I'd be screwed anyways.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Warming up for the holidays?

I've been on a big hot cocoa kick of late. It has been because the hot cocoa helps make me feel better when I am ill with the warmth and I've been craving chocolate. It has been primarily the instant hot cocoa that you buy at the store. It's not half as good as what I'm going to be making for myself later today because I'm trying to make myself feel a little happier about the holidays.

Waking up at 3:45 in the morning and being awake until 7:30 just doesn't make for a good morning. Thankfully, Snuggle Bug took a nap and Cuddle Bear didn't wake up until 8:15. This meant that I got to get a nap while hubby took his shower this morning. There's been several mornings like this recently and it hasn't done much for my mood. Hubby's threatening to frog march me to bed earlier at night until this bout of illness is over, so this should give an indication of how cranky I've been.

I'm just not feeling that 'holiday cheer' right now. There's been enough stuff making my life crazy of late that it's got me feeling like the best present I could get is to sleep in late ... in some exotic location where there is nothing around to make me a crazy woman. Since hubby and I are not going to be taking a romantic trip to the Caribbean anytime soon, I'm just doing my best to thole and get thru.

I'm taking a page from FlyLady's book and doing a little self-pampering today. I haven't been doing enough of that and I think that's a big part of the problem. Making myself crazy over the holidays and the state of the house isn't good for me or anybody else around here. It's tough because I'm recognizing that as the housewife, I am kinda the anchor for the family. For some reason, I didn't fully comprehend just how much work that was going to be, especially with two small children. So, I'm going to try to get life a little more organized around here and make it work better.

Part of that is going to be making myself some hot chocolate:

2 C. Water
1/4 C. Sugar
4 Oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/4 C. Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Boil the water and sugar in a medium sauce pan until the sugar dissolves. Stirring constantly with a whisk, add the chocolate and cocoa. Heat the mixture until the first bubble pops on the surface. Remove from heat and whip in a blender for 1 minute. Serve immediately. (Makes 2 servings)

- Recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme (via an article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle from 2002, I think.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Blessed Yule, everybody!

Blessed Yule! This winter solstice, I am still finishing gifts up and working on getting our home clean, as true with the year before and the year before that. I, however, am blessed with two children and a loving husband. The worst complaint at the moment that I can think of is that I hate having a cold. For me to be saying that right now in the face of all the stress in my life at the moment is a wonderful thing. And having some hot cocoa right now helps with that itchy/sore feeling at the back of my throat, even the cold isn't as bad as it could be.

I hope that this feeling sticks around today, because it would really help out with getting things done. I wasn't up all night last night, but I kinda feel like I was. Sitting here listening to the geese fly over head as they make their way from the lake we're living near to where ever it is that they're going, I am struck by how mournful they sound. It doesn't matter what mood I am in, the sound of the geese calling makes me think of those sad moments in life that are filled with a heavy, thoughtful sorrow that can't be conveyed with words. I suppose the concept of a 'swan-song' is better but I've never heard a swan's call before. Geese, however, always seem to manage to fill that point.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Long days and longer nights.

That seems to sum up when a small child has an illness. No matter how minor it may be to the health officials assisting you in dealing with it, the illness still proves to be especially fraying upon the nerves of the parents/caregivers and the child. In a household with two small children who are sick with a nasty head cold and the adults are now afflicted with the damn thing, I question the standard of 'minor'.

Hubby, who never gets sick has been having wretched sinus headaches. Thankfully, the cold medicine is actually helping him some this time. We seem to have a hit or miss thing going on with cold medicine's effectiveness for my dear husband. It makes me thankful that he doesn't get sick very often and that he recovers quickly when he does. He seems to be on the mend, as is Cuddle Bear. Now, it's just Snuggle Bug and I who are miserable.

My crankiness from yesterday is a combination of feeling rotten, lack of truly restful sleep, stress, and the wonders of womanhood. I honestly do believe that life has thrown enough weird things into the mix that I can't say that I really should be surprised by the fact that when I got myself fixed (hey, if we call it that when we're neutering pets, we can call it when we're neutering ourselves!) that I have found my menses to be even more uncomfortable.

I really do hope that it's just stress that has been making me so incredibly cranky over the last few months. If the hormonal swings from having PCOS have been made worse by this business... Well, I'm going to be absolutely miserable. The depression/anxiety thing hasn't been exactly helping me but I'm finding that it doesn't make me into a cranky and bitchy woman. It makes me rather whiney, apathetic, and easily prone to burst into apologies/tears over something.

I'm rambling right now. Part of the reason is that I am tired and part of it is because I don't really know what to say at the moment. I really should be working on cleaning up the mountain of dishes or finishing up Snuggle Bug's yule gift. But I wanted to write in here before I forgot about it again. So, my rambling inanity has been presented and I'll probably screw around in one of my other blogs because I'm not interested in doing any chores right now.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Because no one reads this anyways...

Yeah, I realize that is an emotional statement and that there are people out there who actually do read this. I'm just so over ridden with fury right now at the entire damn situation at the moment that it's put a negative spin on everything. I recognize that stress takes a toll on the body. I recognize that we all need to do something about it and find some way to cope with it. I recognize that being up all night with a fussy baby is hell.

I also don't give a damn at the moment because I'm so angry I want to spit nails. Cuddle Bear is in a foul mood because he doesn't feel well and I'm not letting him get into toys that he's not big enough for yet. He absolutely LOVES trucks and he has a few trucks that are more appropriate for a 4 to 5 year old child. They were out of reach up on top of a bookcase that he decided to try to climb last night. The bookcase fell over and he's a few minor bruises, with all the things on it scattered across his room now. Yeah, that made last night really suck.

This morning isn't off to a good start because Snuggle Bug just threw a two hour tantrum. The whole place is absolutely filthy because I haven't been able to keep things clean and get the yule presents done and tend two small children with colds. I've now caught the damn thing. So, I'm sitting here filled with rage, damn near, because my home is a disaster. Hubby looks around and says it just looks lived in and that I'm being unreasonable with myself for expecting to have it clean.

I can't get organized enough even for the baby steps part of the FlyLady program. I've been trying for damn near three weeks now and I can't manage it. I'm overwhelmed by the stuff that needs to get done around here everyday and I'm falling behind. At the same time, I'm trying to also manage the finances, plan for monthly needs, keep the family schedule under control (thank the gods that neither of the boys are in school right now!), and get things taken care of for special things that come up in the month, like yule. At the same time, I'm trying my damndest to be supportive to my husband when his boss is being a motherfucker and driving him to a nervous breakdown (because we honestly don't know if he's going to even have a job MONDAY, never mind next month) and keep MY psychological issues under control.

Oh, sure, I was looking into getting a counselor to work thru the whole PTSD thing that's been making my life HELL for the last few months back in September. But.. Well, I realized that I wouldn't have anybody to baby sit the kids for an appointment. So I had to say the hell with that and pray that the antidepressants will at least do enough to keep me from having anxiety attacks or bad problems with dissociation.

[... angry bitter ranting edited out ...]

You know, somedays I wish that I smoked, drank, or had something that took the edge off of all this stress.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Update (2/2)

Now, if you feel like you are jumping in at the middle right now, it's because you are. Please, read my last post to clear up any confusion. Otherwise, enjoy the ride! :) My story of the last several months is about to get a lot more interesting.

So, I stopped with August. It was early September when the fecal matter hit the artificial wind machine between my Mother and I. This, however, was after I went to my first Fiber Festival. I had an absolute ball and I lack the words to express how much I appreciated my mother-in-law bringing me with her. Having the day free from the children and getting to visit with her was just what I needed at that time, her generously buying me a small tapestry loom and a niddy-noddy was just absolutely over the top amazing! Everyone I met there was so warm and inviting. It was an absolute surprise (and delight) when I was invited to give a presentation at next year's festival on how to spin using a wrist distaff. I was so excited I could hardly speak! Then, when I found my words, I just couldn't stop saying thank you.

That wonderful moment in September was then followed by the worst. First, one of my aunts, whom we had learned was diagnosed with esophageal cancer back at the beginning of August, died. This was a woman who was a picture of grace, civility, and kindness. I have admired her for a long time and have always been thrilled that she and my uncle (who was a generally frustrated bachelor before she came into his life) were so happy together. They were the couple who still acted like newlyweds even though they had been married for almost 25 years. We were unable to attend the memorial services or the funeral. I still feel badly that all we were able to do was to send a card. It felt like such a cold thing to do. I was really looking forward to introducing her to her great-nephew this year. (I really want to find the ornament that she had given me for Christmas years ago when I was a kid to put it on the tree in her memory. I haven't found it yet in the box, however.)

Almost a week later, Mom and I had our heart to heart conversation. A conversation that had fully convinced me that my Mom had finally and completely lost her mind. One that also lead me to the conclusion that it is best for my psychological well being and the well being of my children that we have nothing to do with her until she changes her behavior. Mom rambled on for almost four hours about how my brother's soon to be ex-wife was psychologically abusing him and psychologically abusing me, how she believes that I am manic-depressive, and how my friends are degenerates that I shouldn't be allowing to baby sit or otherwise influence my children's lives. Now, Beloved had a good point. Four hours is a ridiculous length of time to listen to such nonsense but I was too busy being baffled, flabberghasted and trying to figure out just what her point was in all of this to put a stop to it.

Amazingly enough, I wasn't offended. Though her stating that I was a good mother in between criticizing how I am raising my children, my house keeping skills, and my choice of associates (most of whom she doesn't even know and hasn't met) really should have offended me. I guess my being too busy trying to figure out what was going on in her head made me impervious to her efforts to offend. I'm not sure but what ever it was, I am thankful for it. Because it gave me the clarity of mind to first not have the upset reaction that she was expecting when she told me that she thought I was headed for suicidal depression and that she was cutting off all contact with me because she couldn't handle my highs and lows. She was expecting me to become extremely upset and pliant to her demands. Instead, I simply said, "Well, you do what you think is best for you."

I know she didn't expect me to call her on what she did when she threatened the lives of my youngest brother's daughters. You see, I would have let her comment about how if something untword happened to my children when they were being babysat by my sister-in-law or her mother that my mother would kill everyone in the house. I would have been more then happy to let that go as bluster, except for she made a point of repeating this several times and directly mentioning that this included the three little girls over there who are her granddaughters. At the time, I was too stunned to do anything.

I didn't sleep well that night as I tried to decide what to say or do about it. In the end, I sent an email to my father. In the email, I recounted the conversation. I then proceeded to explain that my mom wasn't allowed to be alone with my children ever again and that I was going to have nothing to do with her until she changed her behavior. I clearly stated my opinions on her efforts to coerce me and her pathetic attempt to make me feel as though I would be morally implicated in her actions if she did such a thing. I also made very clear that if she did something to harm any of the children in the family, I would be one of the first people at the police reporting that conversation to them. This got a predictably unpleasant reaction from my parents.

Beloved, however, screened the email and has advised me not to read it because he knows how upsetting it would be for me. The short version that Beloved gave me is that my father all but accused me of lying and doing this to either hurt my mother or to seek attention. To say the least, I am not bringing my family to the big Christmas or New Year's party held by that side of the family. We didn't go to the Thanksgiving dinner this year because we knew that my parents would be there and it would turn ugly. Already, this has rippled out and my youngest brother is upset. Most likely with me for a few different reasons, the first of which being that I didn't tell him directly but rather I told our parents and his soon to be ex-wife. That was because I knew that he wasn't going to believe me. The second reason being because it's made the arguments between him and his wife all the more acrimonious. Knowing my vindictive and insane mother, I am fairly certian that she is going to if not is actively working on doing her best to poison my relationships with the rest of my side of the family for what I have done.

I simply can't stand by and take the abuse anymore from her. And she crossed a line when she threatened the life of some one I love to coerce me into doing something she wanted. She crossed a second line when she threatened the life of a child to coerce me. And she crossed a third line when she threatened the safety and life of a family member. Now, if mom decides to get her head straightened out, does a complete 180 to this behavior, and gives me an honest and genuine apology for what she has done, I may consider speaking to her again. Until that happens, however, I am not going to be in the same room that she is in, not even if it's because my cherished grandmother is dying and has begged for it to happen. And that is something that I think is going to happen some time over the next few years.

October was relatively quiet, except for the fact that my PTSD kicked into high gear. It was then that I realized just what the reason why I didn't remember about 5 to 10 years of my life. Flashbacks to being beaten by my parents and various other rather... awful things along those lines became the norm. Oddly, and reassuringly, enough these didn't happen during the times where my husband and I indulged our shared delight in BDSM. I don't think I'd be able to handle having flashbacks during sex again. It was too horrific before when I was recovering from the abuseive relationship in high school. To go thru that now... It would be just too painful to endure, I think.

Snuggle Bug's colic finally began to resolve near the end of October. It made getting sleep a bit easier for a few weeks. Then Cuddle Bear's 2 year molars started coming in. That was not much fun, but we all got thru relatively unscathed. Holloween was a washout. Thank goodness that our friends out in Buffalo had that party. Snuggle Bug didn't go to the party in a costume but rather a Holloween themed outfit. (Purple is definately not this child's color, neither is orange.) Cuddle Bear was a cowboy and we've got some really cute pictures of that also. Again, I hope to post one of them up soon. When Holloween came, the weather was too foul for the children to go out trick-or-treating. Fortunately, however, Cuddle Bear didn't mind it too much.

November arrived with blustery weather, as per usual for around here. It brought another attempt to write a novel. I didn't win NaNoWriMo this year, though I did make considerable progress. I did find, however, that the preparation work that I had done in October was incredibly helpful for me. I am now working on finishing the novel this month. I am pleased to say that it is not like The Red Chair (my attempt last year) but rather a final version of the first novel in a series that I have drafted out. I am rather shocked by how much darker this version is but it finally rings true.

I just need to get out of my own way and write the story as it is revealing itself. This, however, is very uncomfortable. I have already written some rather graphic and disturbing scenes. I'm not even a full third of the way into the plot that I have drafted out for this novel. I'm making progress, but there are some twists and turns to the plot that are both proving surprisingly important and uncomfortable to write.

Early November/late September also brought tragedy to some relatives of my sister-in-law. Their house burned down and they were lucky to get out with their lives. The baby had some problems with smoke inhalation and the father had torn some muscles in his heroic action of throwing a full dresser out a window so that everyone could escape. Aside from that, however, all injuries were minor and everyone is in good health now. I was doing my bi-annual closet sorting and we sent over multiple boxes of clothes. I also found a Moses basket. It's funny, I found something I had wanted dearly for my own child and I gave it away. I feel a small pang of disappointment that I gave it away but I couldn't have kept it in good conscience.

Thanksgiving was with my husband's side of the family for reasons mentioned earlier. Cuddle Bear had a ball playing with some of the children of family friends. It was a very good thing that I had prepaired a bag of toys for him, because it proved the surprise hit of the night. The toy truck and the blocks being knocked down terrified the poor cat more then an exuberant Cuddle Bear's excited cry of "KITTY!", however.

We're now into December and it's going to be a hard month for me. Fortunately, I have enough going on that I am going to probably be too busy to get truly caught up into a funk. A dear friend of ours is going to be going to jail for a crime that was breaking an unjust law out of ignorance. The poor man was functionally forced to plea guilty because of how the whole mess is setup. It's been an excruciating year to watch this unfurl. Beloved and I love this man like a brother. It breaks our hearts that we can't do anything more for him or his lovely wife then what we are currently doing. We are all hoping that the sentencing date which is later this week brings something surprisingly wonderful. A foolish small part of me hopes that the judge will call it 'time served' on the basis of our letters, but I recognize that is far beyond wishful thinking. If it does happen, that will clearly be an example of divine intervention and I think my life is going to become incredibly more interesting then I was even daring to consider as a remote possibility.

I have been working on making Christmas gifts for the children of the family. I was going to make Snuggle Bug another blanket, but he has been given several blankets as something of a surprise gift. So I suppose the sweater that I'm making for him is going to be his gift. I'm at a bit of a loss for what to give Cuddle Bear, but I'll figure something out over the next few days. I have the gifts for my brother-in-law's girls done. They're currently crazy about Disney princesses, so they're each getting a personalized pillowcase with the princesses on it.

My eldest neice is getting a crochet purse in her favorite colors. I'm thinking that I'll include a nice little bit of jewelery in it as well. I'm not fully decided as to what to make for her, though, but I am leaning towards a bracelet and necklace set. For my sister-in-law (my brother's soon to be ex), I have a necklace that I'm going to be making soon. As she loves elephants, I think she is going to really enjoy this necklace with an elephant charm on it. When I got the parts, I was going to make it for my mother, because mom loves elephants too. I am not doing that now because she's never going to get another thing from me again, I suspect. For my sister-in-law's youngest child (and my youngest neice), I have been working on a crochet doll (at the request of Cuddle Bear). He also asked me to make 'something pretty' for her two older cousins.

As I have an army of fabric, I am looking into my options. The girls are all about coloring right now and their mother is talking about starting to teach them how to cook. So I think we're going to be giving them aprons with fabric crayons to make their own designs for them as well as canvas bags to make nifty as well. I need to come up with something to surprise Beloved with, and I do have a project in the works. Hopefully, I can get it done on the sly.

That, however, brings everything up to date. I am now going to go make lunch for a sick Cuddle Bear and get some cleaning done in the kitchen. I'll post about some other irons I have in the fire in the near future. I promise, it is not going to be months before I post again.

Update (1 of 2)

I realized that I've been painfully neglectful of this and the other blogs that I have. This is something that I mean to correct in the near to immediate future. My life has been rather crazy of late. Part of this is all my own damn fault, I admit and own that fact. I also have to say that part of this is because I'm still struggling with depression. A whole lot has happened since I last posted.

Hmm... Where do I begin? I suppose I should list the major highlights of the past several months. Since my last post was in June (JUNE!?! Wow! Have I been neglectful or what!?!), I should probably start with the big events of July, the biggest being the birth of the baby! We learned from my husband's employer that the economy is creating some problems for his business. I suppose it was a matter of time. It was floated about the possibility that my husband and everybody else who worked there would have to take two weeks furlough unpaid. To say the least, no one was pleased but no one was very surprised. They got a few big contracts in and things began to go more smoothly (or so it seemed) for the remainder of the month.

We had a quick visit from Beloved's girlfriend. It was really nice to see her. She's such a sweet-heart. She and I didn't get to visit as much as either of us liked, but there's a reason for that. Near the end of her visit, I started false labor. Yes, you read that right, false labor. Everybody planned around the due date and we all assumed that things would go relatively like it did with Cuddle Bear. The delivery was scheduled a week before the due date and her visit was scheduled for a week before delivery. You'd figure that meant that we'd have everything work out well, right? Oh, we were such fools. Babies don't like to wait for anything scheduled, even their arrival. Yep, he came almost a full week early and was born at the end of July. July 29th, to be precise. Labor wasn't half as long as it was with his big brother. I hope to be posting a picture or two of the baby and I, as well as both the boys together.

August was an incredibly busy month. Not only was I recovering from the cesarian section delivery of Snuggle Bug (and my goodness does that nickname fit him well!) but we had the fun of Cuddle Bear's second birthday, my parent's-in-law's wedding anniversary, and drama surrounding the resolving of the estate of my husband's late paternal grandmother. All year, we had been hearing that my husband's parents were going to be renewing their wedding vows for their 50th wedding anniversary this year. This is what Beloved's sister had been telling us and desperately trying to get us to assist in planning.

She was most disappointed when I explained that we couldn't exactly help between getting ready for the move at the end of May and getting ready for the baby. We then didn't hear anything for a few months. We assumed that plans were continuing and thus prepaired things so that we and the children were ready for such a gathering. (I had made the cutest little matching pair of light sweaters for both the boys because August evenings up here get chilly quick, even.) This, however, did not prove the case when a surprise visit from my husband's uncle (the namesake of our first born) happened.

A very casual barbecue at the parents-in-law's house happened with my husband's siblings and their family in attendance. I almost wrote families, but had to remind myself that my sister-in-law and her beau are not engaged. I have a feeling they will be soon, because things are getting quite serious between them. It really was a shame that he wasn't able to make it, but grad school had just started then and he's going to school out of state. (She tells me that this semester is going really well for him, which I think is fantastic! She also thinks that he will be able to make it up for Christmas, which will be very nice. He's a sweet guy and I like him.)

Cuddle Bear had a ball running around with his cousins. The girls cooed at Snuggle Bug and then got bored with him, thus decided that his big brother was more fun. It was cute to watch him and my brother-in-law's eldest playing cars with the Barbie (or Barbie knock offs, I'm not sure which) vehicles. It was especially amusing when the youngest tried to tell Cuddle Bear that Barbies were for girls to play with. He just ignored her and then proceeded to start playing with the little animals that were part of the Barbie playset they had brought. Everyone got a good chuckle.

Cuddle Bear's birthday did not go as I had wanted it to. I had wanted to have another party for him. No one thought to offer any assistance with it. There was just the expectation that there was going to be a party and people asking when it was. Well... That's not exactly fair of me to say. My husband's side of the family didn't demand to know when Cuddle Bear's party was. They just invaded the day before his birthday with an arm load of presents. Thank the gods that the house was relatively clean and that I actually had the motivation to get myself and the children dressed for the day. (I spent most of August exhausted because Snuggle Bug had colic. Colic is another word for nocturnal hell, by the way.)

To say the least, I was more then a little upset but doing my best to hide it when my grandparents came to visit on Cuddle Bear's birthday. I felt horrible about not having a cake for Cuddle Bear but it was far too hot that day to bake one. I at least attempted and somewhat succeeded to have a little bit of a theme for the very small at home party (which had the surprise guests of my grandparents). I made Cuddle Bear train shaped rice cripsy treats with yellow chocolate windows and red m&m wheels. While Cuddle Bear had fun playing with the treats, he only ate the m&ms. Fortunately, Cuddle Bear's excitement over his toys turned the day around considerably for me.

His favorite new toy was his tow truck. He paraded around the room holding it up over his head and excitedly cried out "Tow truck!" over and over again. Before that, he was about to have people read him the story book that his paternal grandmother gave him a dozen times (The Very Hungry Caterpillar). The toy tow truck, however, completely trumped that. I think it was excellent that we planned it so that it was 'from' his little brother. Cuddle Bear actually has tottled up to Snuggle Bug and kissed him on the cheek for the tow truck several times now.

In early August, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. Between the fact that the doctor put me on Lexapro (which did wonders for me, because it was getting kinda scary for a little while) and Snuggle Bug's problems latching on, we stopped with the breast feeding and dragged out the small army of bottles. Things improved significantly with feedings at that point because I wasn't in excruciating pain and Snuggle Bug was having an easier time getting nourishment. I didn't bother trying to pump or express anything for him because of the medication. Amusingly enough, Snuggle Bug is growing faster then I think Cuddle Bear did and a part of me is questioning if it's because he's been on formula.

During the time that Beloved was taking care of me as I was recovering from the delivery, he was on unpaid furlough. We were both irritated but didn't think too much of it because we were warned about this. Instead of the two weeks for me to recover that we thought it was going to be, however, it was closer to a month. I over exerted myself and pulled a few stitches which resulted in another additional week of not being able to pick up anything heavier then the baby. That was when our finances started to get interesting and, I'll admit it, I started to get really angry with my husband's employer.