2 Cor 12v9

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Juice Juice Baby

Father Christmas thought I was too little to manage a whole orange, and I got a kiwi in my stocking instead.

So I waited till one of my brothers left a stocking unattended.

Then I sure showed him.

Now if I can just get my hands on one of those selection boxes I missed out on....

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Christmas Round Up

Christmas was, of course, brilliant. It really can't fail to be anything else with a house full of small people. I feel like Christmas is kind of where I get my come-uppance againist the rest of the world: yes, I know that for the rest of the year other people have luxuries like time to brush hair, peeing alone, clothes free from snot and milk, sleep, sanity and a social life, but Christmas is where I kick ass. Even though a communal bout of flu in the first week of the holidays and a nasty poke in the eye on Christmas Eve threatened the occasion, nothing could really take away from the magic.

The best house on our post-recovery Christmas Eve Eve Christmas Tree Drive-By (now there's an easy way to get them out without really having to get them out):

Our first Christmas Eve Christingle service:

 Christmas Eve magic (not sure who gets more excited at this part, me or the children):

Christmas morning jumping in our beds to open their stockings (it's not the best shot because they don't look very excited, but they were - I just don't want to spend so much time trying to get a great shot that I miss the moment - that's my excuse for my rubbish photography!):

The rest of Christmas Day and Boxing Day was just as it should be; about friends and family. My fabulous husband cooked up a storm for Christmas dinner, we had lots of fun with friends in the afternoon, then we headed to Preston to be with family. It's the most exhasuting and best two days of the year, every year.

Hope you had a fantastic time too!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


When I went to buy advent calendars at the end of November, I was thinking about the cost and where they would go. Last year we had to shove them in a high cupboard because two-year-old Rocky couldn’t possibly keep his fingers to himself and kept trying to rip them all open as soon as everyone’s back was turned. We don’t have a high enough shelf to place four advent calendars (and it would be five of them next year) due to his non-human climbing skills, so I decided to buy this instead:

My first thought was to put four treats in each drawer and place it up high, but then I realised the drawers were actually too small for that, so that inspired an even better idea.
Every morning after they are dressed they get to open the drawer and read the note inside. It tells them what their Christmas activity for the day is – which ranges from the nativity play at school, to writing Christmas cards, to dancing to Christmas music (I like this particularly lazy one). But it also has a clue to where their treats are that day. If it’s Rocky’s turn to ‘read’ it, I just draw a picture of a shoe, for example, but for the others I do little rhymes like ‘Four little treats, where could they be? They’re hanging on the Christmas .........?’
I was feeling particularly smug the other day when instead of a rhyme, I simply put ‘Look under there.’
‘What?’ they were saying. ‘Look where?’
They started looking under chairs, under the cabinet and under the table. Finally Turtle stood up and said ‘Under WHERE?’
‘Underwear?’ I said, ‘Did you just say underwear?’
Their faces all lit up as they realised the answer to the clue but they gave me the last laugh, as they all in unison proceeded to look not in the drawers upstairs, but in the ones they were already wearing.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

The Boy Done Good

He’s home, and apart from a bit of an ache that seems to leave with Calpol, he’s doing great J
I managed to get to Manchester on Tuesday to be there during and after the surgery. As usual, watching him coming round afterwards was horrible, watching him writhe and cry and point at the door (which was actually a cupboard) to tell the recovery nurses that he just wanted to leave. That’s the part of hospital visits when you feel like you need to pull out every single parenting trick you ever learnt, from reassurance, to distractions, to firmness, to silence, all at the right times. Not to mention pulling off those cemented-on ECG wires and trying not to look at the three canulas running into his hands and foot (I am so squeamish when it comes to those things).
However, by the time he was wheeled back up to the ward, he was sat up drinking juice, eating jelly and chatting. Soon he had downed a belated lunch and when I left at 4:30pm, he was repeatedly asking what time tea would be arriving J
Then, the biggest surprise of all, he was discharged the next evening and came home late on Wednesday, not Friday as we had anticipated J
Am I using enough smileys yet?  J

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Scooby's Syndrome: Part Three

Halfway through July, Scooby seemed to be tired again. He began to fall asleep some afternoons but we weren’t too concerned. He was only on a tiny dose of steroids by then, so we assumed his body was experiencing withdrawal symptoms as it readjusted. He had blood tests which came back normal so we just tried to ride it out. Throughout the summer he continued to be tired but still functioning fairly well, so we just tried to adapt to his needs and wait for an improvement. We managed a holiday to Cornwall, which was fantastic, and it was only in the last weekend in August when things turned bad again.
Within a few days it was clear that something had shifted in his brain. His eyesight moved dramatically again. His balance and ataxia (unsteadiness and difficulty in movement) was worse and he lost his appetite again. We took him back in for tests but they showed nothing and a few days later he began to have seizures again. He went back into Manchester hospital for a week and many of his original investigations were repeated – intensive blood tests, lumbar puncture, bone marrow, CT scans and multiple MRIs. He and Ace celebrated their seventh birthday that week, separately at first, then meeting up in the evening where we were able to take him out, canulas in hands, to McDonalds with my brother and his wife who live in Manchester.
The week after, we went to hear the results of the investigations. The good news was that the lungs were now completely clear. But the bad news was far worse - the stuff was now not only at the back of the brain but it had spread round to new areas too. The tests had not given them any positive results, even though they had sent all the information to many other hospitals in the country, and consulted with specialists on an international level, it could still not be identified. As the letter later stated; He is stuck with a multisystem steroid-responsive condition, with hints at possible immune system disturbance (elevated IgA and IgE) but no diagnosis, nor even a pattern to which this seemingly non-inflammatory multisystem disease belongs.
We came home with a larger dose of steroids to keep his outward symptoms at bay, and some anti-seizure medication, but with no idea what would happen next.
The next few weeks were very hard. The changes in Scooby’s brain were affecting his body in new and unpredictable ways. His legs would sometimes shake, his hands would occasionally stiffen into unusual shapes, he had tremors in his cheeks that would sometimes turn into small seizures, he saw things in front of his eyes, and his hearing seemed to be affected. In addition to this, both medications have a powerful effect on mood and temperament, so he had a lot of frustration and surges of hormones. Because of all these things, he could no longer go to school. He was tired, overly emotional, and scared of what was happening to him. And of course, we were all those things too.
By November, there were still no signs that anything had improved, but as with all things, time has helped us to adjust. He seems to understand his feelings now and is able to control his rages better, which makes home life a bit easier. The education board have provided a tutor for one hour a day, so he is still able to learn and have something else to focus on for part of everyday. Scooby and Rocky have developed a very close relationship, as they are together all the time (except for two mornings a week when Rocky goes to pre-school) and Scooby quite often uses their time together to play school anyway, and gets Rocky to tag along.
And we’re hoping next week may bring something positive. Tomorrow, Richard and Scooby are going back down to Manchester and on Tuesday, he will have a brain biopsy. Obviously, we’re not thrilled about any brain surgery, no matter how minor, nor that it is so close to Christmas, but it is one more chance that they may discover what is happening inside his brain before it spreads any further.
So we would really appreciate your prayers that everything goes smoothly, and that he will back by the end of the week so we can carry on enjoying Christmassy things together.
Thankyou for keeping up if you’ve read this far and I’ll keep you posted about how things go!!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Scooby's Syndrome: Part Two

Although we knew it wasn’t over, we thought now that Scooby was out of hospital having left part of himself to be experimented on in various hospitals around the country, we would soon hear some news of what was to happen next.
In the meantime we had no idea when to expect our next big event – the birth of our fifth baby. I was home but still no use to the family and in great pain again trying to get around in our three storey house. Thanks to an amazingly understanding consultant at Lancaster, who saw how bad the state of my pelvis was, and heard our plight about Scooby, I was taken in five days after coming back from Manchester, and on 25th February 2010 our baby girl was born J

I spent two nights in hospital with her and came back on Saturday 27th – and Richard took Scooby back into the same hospital that night. We knew he wasn’t right, he was beginning to look extremely thin and was too tired to cope with anything. Finally the disease seemed to be catching up with him, and over the next two weeks he began to deteriorate. He stopped wanting to move around and struggled to do simple things like gripping a pencil so he could write. Multiple blood tests and observations were made, but by the third week he was so weak he had virtually stopped eating and communicating – and for Scooby, who has chattered incessantly since learning how to talk, this was extremely serious. Wondering whether he needed perking up by being around family (as I couldn’t take everyone down to Manchester by myself yet), he was sent home for a weekend. We were very excited to have him back, but as soon as he was home, it was clear it wasn’t working. He was overwhelmed by the noise, and needed to be carried up and down the stairs by Richard. It was like they had sent home the frame that used to contain him, but Scooby himself wasn’t there. The next morning we thought he was watching TV when we realised he wasn’t looking at the screen but a few inches below it and his face was tremoring slightly. We couldn’t get him to respond, so we rang an ambulance. He had had an ‘absence seizure’; rather than jerking and shaking, the body goes into a rigid, trance-like state and the brain is unresponsive.
Up until this point, the doctors had been reluctant to intervene with any treatments as there was still no diagnosis, so they wanted to see what the development of the actual symptoms were, rather than masking them with medicines. But now he was seriously ill and they had to start to intervene. He was put on a nose tube to be fed, and started on a very high dose of steroids. They could see an immediate improvement, and so after a couple of days were able to release him back home, armed with masses of medical equipment. It was the end of March meaning he had finished his second month-long hospital stay of the year.

His progress was incredible and after just ten days he was able to come off the nose tube. The steroids gave him a massive appetite so he put weight on immediately and was soon heavier than he had ever been, to our amazement. The only glitch was at the end of April, when everything seemed to be going well, he suddenly had another seizure – an active one this time, with shaking and jerking, and it needed medical intervention to stop.
We were pretty taken aback by this, but doctors reassured us that children often did have single episodes of seizures after a lot of internal changes and medical stress, so it was too soon to know how significant it was. It reminded us though that Scooby still needed a lot of care even if he was looking healthy on the outside.
He was able to go back to school for most of the Summer term, which was brilliant. Thankfully Scooby has always loved school and learning, and so he threw himself back into it. He probably missed about one day a week through various appointments in Lancaster and Manchester hospitals, but the rest of the time he seemed to be doing so well that his teachers were really pleased. He got a good report at the end of June from the hospital, and scans showed an improvement in his lungs, although the always hard-to-read MRI was unsure about changes in the brain.
All the time, Scooby was gradually being weaned off his steroids. Although they have done amazing things in him, they have massive side effects and are only supposed to be a temporary solution to a problem. We were satisfied that they had given his body the boost it had needed to fight whatever was going on in there and things seemed to be on the mend.

To be continued (unfortunately).....

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Year Two are currently focusing on writing stories, and more specifically – punctuation. Ace likes to put his own slant on things and his teaching assistant has been very amused that he decided to take her advice on spaces literally. He now uses the visual aid she gave him – a picture of a finger in between two words to show how big the space should be – as a model, and is carefully drawing a picture of his finger between each word he writes.

That’s what’s known as backfiring, and the main reason I don't homeschool.
Personally I am getting even more amusement from his special use of air quotes, as he keeps randomly adding them to his conversations.
Mummy, I love these “sausages.”
When are we “going” to go outside?
I don’t think he likes “that”, do you?
It’s funny anyway, but even more so because it reminds me of this scene from one of the funniest episodes of Friends ever (and I do know, because I have devoted years of research to it):

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Monster Mayhem

Look at these little guys. I started knitting when I was pregnant because I couldn’t do anything else and needed to practise on something. While I was in hospital with Scooby it seemed like the perfect time to make these ‘Monster Brother Cushions’ (catchy title, I know) for each of the boys while they couldn’t be together.
They look very sweet, don’t they?
I thought so too, until one day I came into the playroom to see the following carnage:

Whoda thought it?

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Scooby's Syndrome: Part One

Before I write a post in plain English, I just need to include the following to this post (please do not adjust your screens):
Presented with diplopia and convergent squint, MRI revealed a posterior fossa diffuse legion. Seems to have a multi system disease with a strong pulmonary interstitial inflammatory component and hilar lymphadenopathy. Microscopically, there is complete destruction of the alveolar architecture. He was pyrexial, had hepatosplenomegaly and a degree of cerebellar ataxia. Significantly raised IgE (4021IU/L).
That, so I am told, is the medical jargon that described Scooby’s condition in March this year. I know, thanks to the hard work and devotion of the many many doctors that have been involved with our family this year, that there has been copious research done on their behalf, but I just thought I would send this blurb into cyberspace, just in case it causes someone to stumble over it who hasn’t seen it before and may be able to shed some light on the situation.
Of course, it’s more likely to cause infuriation to his current doctors when they google these words one morning and end up here which is of no use to them at all. Sorry Dr Hughes.

So here’s the story in my words (sorry, it’s very long)
One day in January, we noticed that six year old Scooby’s eyes were looking weird – he looked cross-eyed. I assumed he was developing a squint, as Richard had a lazy eye at a similar age, so I booked him an optician’s appointment. When I told him a bit later that he was going to the eye doctor and may have to wear glasses, he said ‘Yes, I think there must be something wrong with my eyes because I don’t think anyone else sees two of everything.’ Turns out he had been seeing double for days without thinking to mention it to anyone – aren’t kids amazing? I was just going to keep the appointment; Richard in his wisdom immediately rang the hospital and was told to bring him in. Their first diagnosis was that inflamed sinuses were probably pressing on his eyes and they put him on antibiotics. But they kept him overnight, just to be sure. I was going slightly mental at home because at this stage I was seven months pregnant and hadn’t been able to walk for weeks. When one night turned into two, I was starting to feel cross – I remember saying to Richard on the phone ‘Tell them your wife is a pregnant invalid with three other children to look after and she needs her husband – can they not just send him home with antibiotics?’
But everything changed at tea time that Friday when my mum and dad turned up at my house. Before I had time to ask how they had got here so fast after work, my dad handed me his phone with Richard on the other end, who told me that an MRI had shown that Scooby had a tumour at the base of his brain and was being transferred to Manchester Children’s Hospital that night. Kaboom. I am so grateful he thought ahead to send them before telling me. I crawled around the house collecting clothes and toothbrushes in a daze while mum and dad fed and loaded up the three boys into the car. We dropped them off at my brother’s house then went straight to Blackpool hospital where I was soon accompanying Scooby, who still seemed fine except for random spiking temperatures, in an ambulance to Manchester with Richard following behind. We were told to give him nothing to eat or drink in case the surgeons wanted to take him in immediately.
That night we waited, while he slept soundly, for what would happen next. In fact, I started contracting after all the activity and distinctly remember lying awake in a bed next to him wondering what the heck Richard was going to do if his son was having brain surgery in one part of the hospital while his wife was giving birth in another. Thankfully the contractions stopped around 7am, and shortly after that, a neurosurgeon came to tell us that they were going to monitor him over the weekend before making a decision. Richard went back home to look after the other children, as I was pretty useless anyway, and we waited for what Monday morning would bring.
It brought a heck of a lot of weird stuff. First was the group of neurologists that came and told us they didn’t think it was actually a brain tumour, but they didn’t know what it actually was. Then the oncologists came to tell us that his blood levels were all over the place which meant that he was very poorly indeed. Then, after a series of scans to assess the rest of his organs, came another big shock – his lungs were completely covered with patches of something. As the different specialists came to the bed, my head was racing as I added it all up – low blood count, growths, secondary sites affected – I couldn’t even ring Richard to tell him because I couldn’t digest what they were saying. Eventually, the next time the team came round, I blurted out what I needed to hear – ‘Is it cancer?’ No, probably not, they reassured me. The first thing they had tested the bloods for was evidence of cancer and they had found none. Also, cancer in children spreads in a different way to cancer in adults and it wasn’t following a recognisable pattern.
That was the good news. The bad news was that the specialists (and they really are – Manchester is reported to be one of the best children’s hospitals in the country now) could not fathom what was happening to him. Not only were the many symptoms posing an issue – the brain thing, the lungs full of something, an enlarged spleen (which showed he was fighting an infection of some sort), the low red blood and platelet count, the double vision and the searing temperatures – but the most baffling thing of all was that he looked fine! It became an almost comical moment when a new group of doctors approached the ward and would look at their clipboards, look at the child on the bed, check the notes of the child on the bed, ask the nurse if they had the right child, and then look back at their clipboards. The patches on his lungs, apparently, looked like those of a pneumonia sufferer who should be on a ventilator, or of someone who had long term lung disease. The scans they saw seemed to have no likeness to the boy bouncing round on the bed and running up and down the corridors.
The first thing they did was start him on a series of TB treatments, as that was a condition that can affect the lungs and brain. The medicine for that was pretty disgusting but outweighed by the fact that he was given his own room in case of infection. This meant we got away with a lot of late night games, TV without ear phones, and visitors who could stay for pretty much as long as they liked. 
As the doctors would come and go, Scooby and I filled our days with stuff that, given the chance, we would have loved to do all day long whether we were at home or anywhere else. He would search through Where’s Wally? books and do drawing and puzzles while I could lay in the bed next to him, almost pain-free for the first time in weeks, knitting and reading books that had been sat on my shelves for months. We read books together, painted model figures and (the highlight for both of us) played board games to our hearts’ content. Instead of always having to tell him I was too busy, or that he would have to wait until Rocky took his nap so we didn’t get our game pieces eaten, I was able to play anything his little heart desired, including a memorable Disney Monopoly that lasted days and was once played till eleven o’clock at night. It was pretty surreal, getting to do things like that and really enjoy it, when we were there for the worst possible reason, but at the same time, we were able to focus on how extraordinarily well he seemed to be, even though scans and tests were showing us that he shouldn’t be.
Scooby became quite a celebrity at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. His scans and tests results were on display in the pathology lab for different doctors to see but no one could work out what his inward symptoms and lack of outward symptoms added up to.  As well as the neurosurgeons, we saw the neurologists, the oncologists, the respiratorists, the rheumatologists, the genealogists, the immunologists, and some more that I can’t even remember. Every department wanted to be the ones to crack the puzzle.
He had numerous blood tests and physical examinations, then a lumbar puncture, a sample of bone marrow taken and a lavage of his lungs (fluid washed through to see if they can pick up any of the cells that will show them what is down there). These passed without incident for us – he wasn’t even sedated for the first two – but although they ruled out a lot of possible prognosis, they still didn’t get the answers they were looking for.
Finally they decided the next step would have to be a biopsy of the lung. We were told how the procedure would probably go, plus the other stuff – the worst-case scenario that they have to give you, just in case. He’d already gone under anaesthetic for the lavage, so we agreed, thinking it would be no problem. Down to surgery he went, for what was anticipated to be a ninety minute procedure. After four and a half hours when we had still hear nothing, we were obviously getting pretty worried, when the surgeon himself arrived. He told us he had tried to use the standard biopsy format of three small incisions plus a camera, but they just hadn’t been able to get what they needed that way. So they’d had to cut him open on his right hand side, which meant he was now under recovery in the high dependency unit on a chest drain and under heavy pain medication.
We were absolutely gutted when we went up to see him. The child who had been running round the ward with not a care in the world that morning was now lying drifting in and out of consciousness on an HDU bed with wires and tubes patched to his body all over. A large tube was coming out of his right side to empty the blood and excess fluid coming from his lungs. As soon as he woke up, he threw up over himself, which meant we had to change many of the dressings and the sheets underneath him while he screamed with every movement.
It took another 24 hours for him to come back to his bed on the ward, and although he wasn’t supposed to be in pain now the worst was over, he continued to howl for the next two days whenever he was awake. It was only when the chest drain was taken out that he was suddenly himself again (it must have been pushing on something inside) and within a couple of hours I was suggesting to him that maybe boxing on the Wii in the playroom on the ward probably wasn’t the best idea yet.
The clock was ticking as I was now 37 weeks pregnant and once they were sure he was recovering from the operation okay, they decided to send us home while they continued to track his test results and see what came from the samples they had taken.
After a month in Manchester Children’s hospital, we were free!

I’m going to post this now as it’s taken me over a week to type it in five minute, one-handed stints. I’ll have to follow up with more parts later – sorry it’s taking so long!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Swimming Party: A Repost

This is from January 2008 and serves to remind me that I need to stop waiting for my life to be a little less mental, because it always has been mental and probably always will be mental, and I just need to deal with that. Sigh.

Another typical day. Busy busy, trying to pack things ready for our holiday tomorrow between feeding the baby, making lunch, feeding the baby, cleaning up the inevitable juice spilt at lunch, and feeding the baby. A friend of mine is having a swimming party this afternoon for her one year old's birthday, so I ring her a few times to get directions but there’s no reply. Well, obviously, she’s getting ready for the party, so I leave a message and go to Google maps instead. My computer is slow to start up and when I get the information up I see it takes ten minutes longer to get there than I thought, which means we should be setting off, well, now.

So I holler and rush and get them all lined up excitedly at the door for shoes and coats, pack three bags worth of swimming stuff and emergency other stuff that I daren’t leave the house without, wake up baby, load up the car and off we go.

Fifteen minutes into the journey, I notice Scooby and Ace have fallen asleep. Darn it, that’s not good. It means that they’ll be grumpy when we arrive, and then won’t go to sleep for ages tonight.

Twenty minutes into the journey, I realise we can’t possibly be going the right way and must be lost. I turn around and go back.

Twenty-five minutes and I realise we were going the right way, I just hadn’t gone far enough.

At thirty-five minutes, I am definitely lost and Turtle is beginning to voice his concern.

At forty-five minutes, I make the most spectacular fifty-three point turn between a tiny cottage and an open-edged river bank at the bottom of what turned out to be the wrong lane.

At fifty-five minutes I finally find the centre where the swimming pool is based and continue to drive around for ten minutes trying to find a) the pool, b) a place to park, or c) my friend’s car so I have a vague idea of where I’m supposed to be. I can’t find any of those things so I stop by the road and get out my phone to try her again.

On the phone is a message, sent about two minutes before I left the house, telling me the party was yesterday.

So now I have about two hours packing to catch up on, a hungry baby, and an unfulfilled promise to find a swimming pool at some point when we are on holiday.


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

An Artist & A Gymnast

Did you know how talented my eight month old baby girl is? She drew a smiley face all by herself – not only that but she managed to contort her own arm all the way around her back to do it!
At least that’s what her brothers - who are a very reliable source of information - told me happened.
Isn’t she amazing?

Monday, 8 November 2010

A New Home

Hello and welcome to my new blog home. What do you think?   :)
It’s a little less shabby than the old one, if I do say so myself, and I much prefer the community on this one. It seems to have a lot more frankly normal people on it (if you get a spare half hour to flit around the other one it won’t take long to see what I mean).
The thing that really helped me make the decision was the completely inappropriate advertising that was being shown on the old one. I mean, late night phone dating services? Could they not tell by putting a little effort into reading the blog that the only late night conversations that I usually have are the ones that begin with ‘Who just came in here and put their cold feet on my ankles?’ and end with ‘I don’t care what you think is lurking in your room, I am much scarier than any monster you’ll find in this house, so GO TO SLEEP!’
I do feel sorry for the posts now abandoned on the other site but I thought rather than repost them all maybe I could cheat reminisce occasionally and put some of the best ones up here when I’m out of other ideas feeling nostalgic. 
Hope you had a good bonfire night. Ours was pretty lame - probably for the first time ever, we didn’t have any specific place to go, so we thought we’d go out onto the prom late in the evening, eat fish and chips, and watch any displays around the bay. We must have picked the wrong time or the wrong place because we hardly saw any. We got frozen to the core though, which is kind of traditional for bonfire night, so at least we felt part of it.
What we did do a lot of this week was retelling the story of Guy Fawkes, using Turtle’s massive history book that we all love, and lots of pictures. We have lots of WANTED signs around the house with Guy Fawkes’ picture on (offering a reward of £725389.00, which I suspect may have been quite a lot of money in the olden days). And in the top bathroom, with a warning sign on the door, we actually have a picture on a piece of paper actual real gunpowder, so watch out folks!
Here is Scooby’s new home school corner:

And here is something I’m really really proud of (no, not the state of the bathroom):
(photo removed now he's old enough to read - as promised!)
A child who after TEN DAYS is fully potty trained - in fact, he’s decided to skip the potty part now and go straight for the real thing. If you know how long we struggled with the others, you will know that this is nothing short of an actual miracle for us. He still managed to get in a few good tales to tell for when he’s older, involving a table full of Meccano and a giant box of Lego, but he obviously decided to forsake that game in favour of Buzz Lightyear stickers. We have a winner!
P.S. – Don’t worry, I’m not going to keep that picture up forever, I’ll take it down before he’s old enough to read this!