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Let’s Roll! Morning Meal Idea for Little Hands On-the-Go

We have some busy mornings during the week in our household. Whether it’s preschool, scheduled activities, play dates, or just running errands, it is nice to have a go-to breakfast to feed the kids when we’re running low on time.

At ages one-and-a-half and four, my children are at the height of picky eating. When we are running behind, the best I can content them with is cereal or a breakfast bar. But when I have a few extra minutes to spare (or if I’ve planned ahead, which isn’t unheard of), then I’ll make them up a hand roll. They’re fresh, quick to make, and easy for little hands to hold (which means less mess in the car)!

Here’s my method:

  1. First, take a slice of bread with the crust cut off. Regular wheat or white works best, as heavily seeded breads don’t flatten very well.
  2. Flatten the bread with the heel of your hand. I usually put a second cutting board on top before pressing down which helps make the slices nice and flat. This probably sounds like an odd thing to do, but a big difference between a hand roll and a sandwich is that everything is contained inside the hand roll. If you give a toddler a traditional sandwich, then you’re likely to have bits of filling dripping out all over.
  3. Choose a spread or filling from whatever you happen to have on hand. It could be as simple as butter or strawberry jam, but most often I use two ingredients, like the one shown here which is ham and cream cheese on wheat. For step-by-step photos click here.

Optional: Fold a piece of paper towel and wrap it around the base of the roll. Seal the paper towel edge down with a piece of tape. Not only does this help keep the roll together, but it keeps little hands cleaner as well.

Here’s a list of other filling ideas:

cheese and butter
peanut butter and jelly
cream cheese and raisins
turkey and avocado
canned pumpkin and cranberries
hazelnut spread and bananas
ham and mayo
hummus

Now, I know what you may be asking: why not use a tortilla or pita instead of a flattened piece of bread? Well, you certainly could. Our toddler finds bread a lot easier to bite and chew, and the preschooler prefers the taste and texture of bread over tortillas. This way I just have to make one variety and they are both happy. Sometimes I even make one for myself while I’m at it.

Tip: If you’re using a less flexible filling like cheese or banana, then it helps to cut it into pencil-sized chunks. Place the thin chunk on one side and then roll it, which will put the cheese in the center. Otherwise the cheese will make the hand-roll too bulky and not close properly.

To even better balance the nutrition of a hand-roll breakfast, I like to include a side of fresh, travel-friendly fruit, like grapes, apple, orange segments, or banana, plus a sippy cup with milk or half water/half juice.

And there you have it – a healthy meal to fuel those little bodies that you love, even when you’re feeling rushed!

This post is part of BlogHer’s Rush Hour Tips editorial series, made possible by Got Milk?


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Family Portrait by Chloe, age 4

This is a drawing that Chloe made yesterday. I totally, totally love it. For the longest time she was mostly a scribbler. We never guided her drawing, but sometimes she would as us to draw something for her. Now suddenly she is starting to make all kinds of recognizable drawings. They are really fun to see, and sometimes come with imaginative scenarios or stories that blow me away.

The other photo shows her explaining the people in the picture: Daddy is in the middle. He is carrying her and Leo, one on each arm. He’s strong! Mama is in the back next to me, and Barkley (our dog) is the puffball in the corner under Leo.

The toy is a Fisher Price Kid Tough Travel Doodle Pro with Light. It’s been a great! I bought it for Leo to play with during our holiday flights to Colorado and Cancun, and also because he was always fighting over Chloe’s Toulouse-LapTrec from B. Toys (both definitely on my list of best toy purchases ever). The Travel Doodle has a little stowaway light the kids like to switch off and on, and turns off by itself (genius! why doesn’t anyone make a kids flashlight that does this?). For Chloe I pack her travel Aquadoodle which is much thinner and lighter, but mostly now she just draws on her ipad. We also have the large floor Aquadoodle that both kids can play with at the same time. All have been a big hit, and worth every penny.

PS. I just found out when getting the link to the Toulouse-LapTrec that all versions before 2011 have been recalled, which includes Chloe’s. Looks like they might send a new one. Hers is the chocolate brown version, but now it looks like they only come in olive green and red.

 


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Christmas 2012 Recap

I am so proud of myself! I just realized that I had remembered to “lock” some photos to my camera before I downloaded and deleted the memory card in Colorado! I had transferred them to an SD card, but they weren’t there when I got home. Luckily, copies are still on my father-in-law’s computer, and he will send me a CD. Until then, I still have some of my favorites!

I often think how Chloe and Leo have no idea how lucky they are. After all, Santa and Mrs. Claus have come to visit them at their grandparent’s house for two years in a row. Can you imagine?! You can see Chloe’s expression when they came to the door here (if there is a next time, I’ll have to get it on video!). Leo, naturally, wasn’t quite as enthusiastic. However, it was great fun, and that night we had an amazing Osso Bucco dinner made by Grandma Sandy. And, as if on cue, we were surprised by the biggest group of neighborhood carolers I have ever seen later that night!

We also did some other fun “firsts” during our week in Colorado, including attending the children’s Christmas mass at the local Catholic church, had a very exciting visit to the North Pole Santa’s Workshop, a storybook-like theme park not far from Colorado Springs, AND went on our very first horse-drawn sleigh ride! Wow! It was crazy to get to play in the snow and go sledding one day and then turn around and hop a flight to Cancun the next.

It is tempting to think the rest of this year will be very boring in comparison, but somehow, I don’t think so…

More photos from this trip are on Flickr.


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Hello

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Hello from Washington DC! The kids and I are here visiting my parents and sister, and yesterday we spent an incredible 80 degree day admiring the cherry blossoms.

Packing for this trip was a major challenge. All of our things had to fit into a single piece of luggage. Snacks, baby items, necessities, and kid entertainment for the 5+ hour trip were contained in the carry on. And then there was a stroller and infant car seat (thank goodness my dad already had one for Chloe!). Quite a lot to handle. Luckily David helped us through ticketing and my parents were waiting for us when we arrived.

One of the hardest things to leave behind was my dSLR camera. It had been a year since we last visited, plus it was the first time my dad and sister would get to meet Leo. But in the end It was too bulky. So I just have my iPhone camera with me. This would be a good time to learn how to use some of the photography apps i’ve downloaded and never used. The one I have used is Photoshop Express. The top photo has been enhanced using the “vibrant” effect.

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Weekend Camping

We went camping this weekend in celebration of a friend’s 40th birthday. Once upon a time, 40 seemed so far away, but now that I am creeping up there myself, I can’t say I feel like I thought I’d feel. While I do feel like a grown-up (especially after the baby was born), I don’t feel as “grown-up” as I thought I’d feel by this point. I’m guessing it is true for most people, that though we live our adult lives every day, being grown-up doesn’t feel like we thought it would feel when we were kids thinking about being grown-up. Does that make sense?

Anyway, the highlight of this trip for me was the 2.2 mile hike to the Blue Pool, also known as Tamolitch Falls. The “Falls” actually no longer exists here. What used to be the upper section of the McKenzie river has been diverted, and now the water that fills this pool comes from an underground source. This is my favorite kind of hike -  with a destination, or “reward” at the end, and this one did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, the pool contained the bluest water I’ve ever seen in my life, more like a really deep turquoise. The photo does not do the color justice, nor does it even hint at it’s incredible depth.  Let me tell you, it was hard to resist the pull of all that glistening water on a summer day, but a quick temperature check with a dipped hand into the freezing cold instantly warned us that would not be a good idea.

And did I mention that I carried Chloe on my back on the hike up? I was pretty proud of myself. I think it actually made the experience more fun, hiking with friends with our babies on our backs. We brought the Beco carrier instead of the framed Kelty carrier because it packs down so much smaller in an already full car (Barkley was also with us). I’m happy to say the Beco continues to be worth every penny, although we use it less now than when Chloe was a newborn. And although camping with a toddler is quite challenging at times, I think it was still a good experience.


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Kalaloch


Ruby Beach

After writing that post about Bree Tanner, I thought of some photos I took of Kalaloch during our memorial weekend camping trip. What does Kalaloch have to do with the Twilight series? Nothing, except that it is just 30 minutes south of Forks, Washington. For being so close in proximity to this popular Twilight fan destination, Kalaloch was no busier than I’d expect for this area of the Olympic National Park. No surprise, but it was cloudy the entire time we visited, and no, we didn’t see any vampires. 🙂


Big Western Red Cedar. Click here to see view from inside tree.

BTW – A friend of mine wrote an interesting post about visiting Forks as a Twilight fan, including great photos. You can read it here.


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Camping at Lake Quinault, Olympic National Forest

I hope everyone had a happy Memorial Day weekend!

We decided to go on a rare camping trip to the Lake Quinault area of the Olympic National Forest. It was cloudy, wet, and very cold (Hello! Rain forest!), but we did enjoy a brief break when the sun made an appearance on the second evening. I was finally able to pull out my camera and once I started I could hardly stop taking pictures. Everything was just so verdant and sparkling.

We pitched our tent in a beautiful spot, surrounded by lush vegetation and old-growth trees, right beside the lake. With Chloe in her framed backpack carrier, we explored the nearby rainforest trails, including one leading to the largest Sitka spruce in the world. The Lake Quinault Lodge was also picturesque and charming with it’s rough, weathered facade and stately presence.

Overall, the weather proved to be our biggest challenge, and sadly, our air mattress sprung a leak the very first night. We had bought a new REI Kingdom 4 “family” tent on sale just a few days earlier, and although roomy, it had a poorly designed fly that didn’t keep out the rain. Luckily David played it safe and packed our old Mountain Hardware tent, too, which was much more suited to the wet and cold environment.

I think I was the one who enjoyed our trip the most. Chloe wasn’t thrilled about the long car ride, or sleeping in her coat, but she did remarkably well and had a good time. I’m also proud to say we packed everything we needed, including food for delicious and easy camp-friendly meals. Our last night we enjoyed a special dinner at the Salmon House Restaurant in the Rainforest Resort Village while we watched the sun go down behind the mountains. It was a moment of perfection for me. I can’t wait until next time (when hopefully it will be just a little bit warmer!)


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Never say never

Once upon a time I thought if I ever had a child, I would never (literally) put a leash on her. Well, fast forward to the present. Our cross-county flight in a couple days with an active toddler is making me very nervous. This 2-in-1 Monkey Harness is just one more tool+toy in my arsenal to help make the best of whatever situation I find myself in. I actually think it’s kinda cute!


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A weekend away

We had a wonderful weekend visiting friends north of Seattle. The weather was sunny and perfect, and for the first time I could see the entire skyline of Seattle, including the Puget Sound and distant mountain ranges. I would love to live so close to the water. We arrived late, but with enough sunlight left to visit Hayworth Park and let the dog have some off-leash time.

On Sunday morning our families took the ferry to Whidbey Island, to the picturesque town of Langley. The toddlers tossed stones by the waters edge and we all peeked into the various shops until lunchtime. Unexpected treasures were found at the Chocolate Flower Farm where I bought up an envelope of the richest hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted and David found Chloe a like-new Little Tikes Tambourine for only $1 at the Good Cheer Thrift Store. Lunch was very tasty at the French Bistro, Prima (I’m always up for a good croque madame). The girls were getting tired though, so we parted ways soon after, but David, Chloe and I hung around just a little longer, to soak up as much of the island atmosphere as we could before the long drive ahead.

Greta and Ava picking up rocks
David and Chloe dropping rocks into the water
The gorgeous view from Langley

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Seattle, Birthday Weekend 2010

This weekend I thought it would be nice to explore north into Washington State for a change. Even though we live only three hours from Seattle, we’ve hardly spend any time there in the almost ten years I’ve lived here.


A shot of the falls taken with the iphone

On Saturday we drove up to see the 270ft Snoqualmie Falls. It was wet and rainy, so we didn’t hike down to the river, but satisfied ourselves with a good view from the overlook. Even better, we ate a truly memorable lunch in The Attic of the adjacent Salish Lodge, and literally had the best seat in the house, right next to the window above the falls. (If you go, we’d highly recommend the Northwest Charcuterie and Cheese Plate, the Duck Confit And Kobe Beef Sliders and the Spiced Northwest Fish Tacos).

Saturday night we stayed at the friendly Pensione Nichols bed & breakfast, just a block away from Pike’s Place Market in downtown Seattle. I saw it listed in DeliciousBaby, and chose it because they allow both children and pets. The room with shared bath suited our budget, and it turns out we were the only ones there that night! Breakfast in the morning was lovely and Chloe got to gorge herself on handfuls of her favorite, fresh blueberries.


An early evening stroll through pike’s place market

View from the pensione

On Sunday we did a little exploring in the Ballard Neighborhood, stopping first at the highly recommended Cafe Besalu for a bite of the best leek gruyere quiche I’ve ever tasted. After that it was an engaging experience at the Ballard Locks, watching the water level drop to let the boats pass through. While we were there we also witnessed a bizarre occurance of a boat getting wedged sideways in the lock, but it wasn’t long until the workers freed it and sent it on its way.

By noon we had stopped at the Honore Artisan Bakery where I ordered a French Macaron in every flavor as a decadent birthday treat for us to share. Then it was on to the Farmer’s Market, a little (mostly) window shopping, and a late lunch at the nearby India Bistro before it was time to head home during Chloe’s afternoon nap.


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A very good start to the New Year


Overlook on hwy 101, near Manzanita, Oregon

We decided to head to the coast today. It was dark, cloudy and pouring rain, but I didn’t care. I was just glad to begin the new year in one of my favorite places.

Luckily we timed the drive during Chloe’s first nap. David and I talked along the way, sang songs, made plans. We stopped at one of the overlooks to watch the churning, pounding waves below and I tried to snap a few photos while the wind whipped my hair in all directions. Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching when I got out and lost one of my cashmere wristwarmers made by my sister-in-law. I didn’t realize this until later, of course, and was pretty bummed, but determined to not let anything ruin the day.

In Manzanita we took it easy. Shared a mocha from Manzanita News & Espresso, and poked into a few of the cute little shops, including Unfurl, my favorite eco-clothing shop. They were having a fantastic sale, including 50% off Danskos, the brand of shoe I wear 98% of the time (I’m on my third pair of black professionals, plus I have a pair in brown). I eventually walked out with a pair of black Sallys that David talked me into. Looking down at them now I’m glad he did. I’m generally too practical to waste money on cute shoes, but these are a good blend of comfort and style to suit me (at half-price!).


Showing off my new danskos

Wild elk herd near Cannon Beach, Oregon

For lunch we shared a tasty clam chowder, halibut fish & chips, and hushpuppies at the charming Manzanita Seafood & Chowderhouse. Happy and full we braved exposure on the beach to let the dog loose  in the sand and surf. Too soon it was time to head home. On the way we saw a herd of wild elk by the highway near Cannon Beach. Can you imagine? Just minding their own business, munching on grass, and stopping traffic on the highway.

And remember my lost wrist-warmer? David decided we should check the overlook on the way back to see if we could find it. And guess what? He found it! Sodden and a little worse for wear, but it was FOUND! David is really amazing like that. He doesn’t just give up, instead he puts in that extra effort that so often ends in a rewarding outcome. And that, I would say, is a very good start to the New Year!


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Photographs from France

Looking back at our France photos (to find one for this post), I was reminded of how many good ones there were. Here are a few of my faves. But really, is there such thing as a bad photo of Paris?


Fountain at the Place du Concorde, Paris

Daily Menu, Au Vieux Châtelet, Paris

Château de Chenonceau

Mont Saint Michel, detail

Arc de Triomphe, Paris

From Marie Antoinette’s Hameau,Versailles

Skyline view, Paris

Eiffel Tower at night


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Oregon Mini-Vacation, Day 3-6

Roseburg

By day three we had reached our friends for the Fourth-of-July weekend. Our first day there we drove down just south to visit to the drive-through Wildlife Safari. We went in the afternoon and it was a pretty warm day, so I don’t think the animals were as active as they’d be in the morning or late evening. The ranger said that I could even hold Chloe on my lap, which was a nice change. Really fun to have the animals so close! I was kind of afraid the camel was going to do some damage to our car as he walked by, but he was just rearing his head and smacking his hump. Strange, but fascinating!

McKenzie River Area

I don’t know why, but after this I put my camera away for a few days. Then on day 5 we left and headed to the McKenzie River so David could do some fishing. We camped at Riverside Campground, so he could throw his line into the Santiam as well. Barkley, Chloe and I just sort of hung out. Barkley’s leg is almost perfectly healed, thank goodness. You can hardly see the demarcation line where his fur is growing back (although he still has a bald spot on his back by his tail, where they shaved him WAY too close). And here’s a trial self-portrait with my slr, much harder than with a point-and-shoot!


Self-portrait with the SLR, much harder than with a point-and-shoot!

Barkley relaxing by the river, finally back off-leash


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Oregon Mini-Vacation, Day 2

So, I had every intention of writing about the rest of our trip, but I think now I’m just going to summarize the highlights in one long post. We had a good time, no question, and I do want to share, just not as individually detailed as I had planned. I haven’t been in a very bloggy mood lately, probably because Chloe is evolving faster than I can keep up. She’s amazing. But more on that later. Here’s some pics from the remainder of our trip.

Shore Acres State Park


Restored formal garden

Grandiflora Crimson Boquet Rose

The hidden gem of Simpson Beach

This park is awesome. Imagine owning a private estate on the coast, with your own sandy beach, and building a gorgeous summer home on a bluff high above the waves. Then add a formal garden, including a Japanese-style garden surrounding a 100-foot lily pond, all in the early 1900s. Unfortunately (or fortunately for us), the great depression occured. Now the mansion is gone, but the gardens have been restored and there now sits an enclosed observation deck on the original home site. I would have loved to have spent more time here (just down the road from Sunset Bay State Park), but Chloe was getting tired and we wanted to let her sleep on the drive down to Bandon. Thus, we also missed Cape Arago State Park, just south.

Bandon


Part of the Bandon coastline, plus a view of riders probably from Bandon Beach Riding Stables

Coquille River (Bandon) Lighthouse

By noon of day 2 we were in Bandon, Oregon. We treated ourselves to a fresh and delicious! halibut fish-and-chips lunch at Bandon Fish Market, before perusing the little shops. Dessert was yummy chocolate and handmade candy samples at Cranberry Sweets. (Steer clear of Bandon’s Coffee Cafe, though, our latte was very disappointing.)

Port Orford


Misty boats at the Port of Port Orford, Circa 1856

Port Orford coastline


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Oregon Mini-Vacation, Day 1

Florence to Coos Bay

We drove from Portland to just north of Florence for our first visit to the Sea Lion Caves. They don’t tell you this on the web site, but be prepared for the biggest stink of your life. I was actually fine, but David had a stronger reaction. Kind of expensive, but worth seeing, as it is the world’s largest sea cave.

Heading south on hwy 101 to Florence we stopped briefly at the Darlingtonia Botanical Gardens, a preserve that protects a small area of naturally occurring cobra lilies Darlingtonia californica. I find these insectivorous pitcher plants fascinating!

We took a brief tour of Florence’s Old Town before continuing south through the Oregon Dunes National Rec Area and Coos Bay to Sunset Bay State Park. We chose to camp here for our first night, and I’m surprised now to find I hadn’t taken any photos. I can definitely see coming back here someday when Chloe is older. The little bay offers a charming sandy beach with calm water, a large expanse of grassy, wooded play and picnic area, and warm showers after you’re all done.


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Pueblo, Colorado


Rosemount Mansion Museum, Pueblo, Colorado

Grandma and Chloe enjoying the Rosemount gardens

One of the first day trips we took was to Pueblo, Colorado, about an hour’s drive south of Colorado Springs. Our main goal was to tour of one of “America’s Castles,” Rosemount Museum, a 37 room, 24,000 square foot mansion and home of the wealthy Thatcher Family. What is really special about this home (besides the fact that it is huge and gorgeous) is that almost all of the furnishings and decor are original – Tiffany chandeliers, stained glass, hand painted ceilings, fancy woodwork, beautiful fireplaces, etc. After 75 years in the family, the home was donated by the youngest child, Raymond Thatcher, when he died in 1968 with no children of his own.


“Kelly Falls” on the Riverwalk

View of the Arkansas Riverwalk

Bell memorial statue, with Grandma and Chloe in the background

Fountain statue with the coal-fired plant in the background

After our tour, which took about an hour (including a real mummy on the third floor!), we drove into downtown to stroll along the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk. It is billed as a 32-acre “urban waterfront experience” which “returns the Arkansas River to its historic location in the heart of downtown Pueblo, after being diverted in the 1920’s due to a flood that destroyed the area.” It was very pretty, with many interesting statues, but I was kind of disappointed that there wasn’t much representation of Native Americans.

We didn’t go into any of the shops, but I will recommend stopping into family-owned Cookie Ladies Bake Shoppe where we picked up scoops of local Josh & John’s all natural ice cream. Mmm!


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On the horizon

We’re in Colorado. David is on a fly-fishing trip with his father and two brothers on the Gunnison River and Chloe and I have spent the week with David’s mom, taking day trips from their home near Colorado Springs. I’ll share more pictures and details of our adventures soon, but meanwhile I thought I’d post the two different views that David and I are enjoying right now.


View of Pike’s Peak from David’s parent’s house one morning, shot using a telephoto lens.


View from Lake City, taken with David’s iphone.


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Old Town Alexandria with Baby

One of the places I visited quite often while growing up was Old Town Alexandria, very close to Washington, DC. It was a colonial port town, and cobblestone streets and period homes still exist, except now it is mostly known for its many shops and restaurants.

A recent post on Delicious Baby about Alexandria, VA with Kids reminded me that it would be a nice place to visit with the baby and her grandparents. We borrowed a stroller for the outing, which worked fine, although a baby carrier would have been nice, since many of the shops are up several stairs off the street. The day was sunny and beautiful and the tree-lined main thoroughfare, King Street, was shady and perfect for walking. We stopped in the children’s boutique stores Pink and Brown, Monday’s Child and Why Not? (where we picked up the cutest pair of baby sunglasses for Chloe!), plus other shops like Ten Thousand Villages and Paper-Source.


Historic Alexandria Plaque

A very interesting wig boutique

Boats on the waterfront near the Torpedo Factory and food pavilion

And being the architecture buff that I am, I couldn’t miss 527 Queen Street. I had read about this tiny house somewhere but had never seen it before this visit. I had to ask at the visitor center to find it. It measures a mere 7 feet wide (!) and 36 feet deep – 350 square feet altogether. According to an article I found in the Washington Post:

“In the 1830s, brick maker John Hollensbury built the tiny place — 7 feet by 36 feet — for his daughters, Julia and Harriett. The “lot” on which it was built actually was a narrow alley between Hollensbury’s house and his neighbor’s. Local lore has it that Hollensbury bought the spot for $45.65 and built the house because he wanted to keep his neighbor’s oversized carriage out of the alley, where it scraped the walls of Hollensbury’s house. Thus, the construction earned the nickname “Spitehouse.””


The narrowest house in town – only 7 feet wide!
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