March 31, 2010

We were all made for something

A local handicraft store, its English name being Hearts and Hands, recently started carrying some books for English-speaking children. I picked up a children's dictionary the other day, and it is fabulous. Beautiful illustrations and descriptions of everything from the solar system to the nervous system to the inside of a car engine.

This afternoon, as the boys were leafing through it for the umteenth time, we noticed the Weaver bird, or Weaver finch. Male Weavers twist strips of leaves around a twig, then they make the roof and the entrance.


It got me thinking about creation. This bird could never measure flour for a cake, or plant an orchard, or lace a pair of sneakers. But we could never make this nest, especially without an opposable thumb or a tube of glue.

Horses are walking the day they are born. It takes us 14 months. Great White Shark mothers give birth to their young and swim away, leaving the newborns completely on their own. My dad did my taxes until I was 21.

Crazy creation. I guess we were all made for something.

March 28, 2010

Thrice blessed!

Brave is starting to become a little guy. Now it feels like we really have three kids, as opposed to two kids and one bundle attached to mommy all day long. Brave is, as they say, "all boy." Not that the other boys are only partial boys or something dumb like that. It is just that Brave can be heard literally growling from his high chair, attacking his food like a wild animal, and laughing his raspy and dimpled laugh all the while. He is barely crawling but attempts to crawl up the steps to our landing in an effort to follow the big boys across the house. He eats McDonald's hamburgers already, at 9 months old, with only four teeth (which is mostly because he is the third child and caution has been officially thrown to the wind) and he fights like a rabid alligator on the changing table.

Apart from his "boyish" qualities, he has a fabulous sense of humor. He will laugh genuinely at something that he finds funny, not just when someone pokes his ribs or pops up from behind a chair. He is cuddly, too, though not quite the cuddle bug Zion has always been. He is built just like Bright was, thick-chested with little biceps. He eats like two babies put together, and already has a taste for the spicy local food (particularly the fried red beans).

So, with Bright going around the house pretending he is Bear Grylls, pointing out the wild life in the living room and warning us that the lizard under the coffee table is "very territorial" - and with Zion running around completely naked from the waste down because that is the only way he will consistently use the toilet - and with our new little personality dragging himself after the others - our family has become quite full indeed. Pure joy dances from Daniel's face to mine as we watch our little brood. We are truly blessed.

This was the first time bathing the three of them together (last night). There were cuter pictures, but this was the only one I figured the boys would approve of when they are teenagers.Bright as a turtle.Brave in his mode of transportation.Zion hiding.

March 23, 2010

In Good Company

For anyone who has ever had the thought, 'Kayla is sure roughing it over there in East Asia,' let me clarify. Though some (ok, many) things are much tougher here, there are some things about my life that I wouldn't trade for the world.

Most worthy of noting would be our living arrangement. We live in an apartment complex with quite a heap of other foreigners who speak English, and all of the moms stay at home like me and homeschool their kiddos. So, twice (count it, twice) every single day we bring our kids outside for an hour of romping in the landscaped courtyard under the ever-shining Spring City sun. We don't exclude the East Asian kids, but they are away at school from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. (even the kindergarteners) so it ends up being just us foreigners most of the time. Today, however, Brave wiggled and giggled with two other babies, both East Asian, while a beautiful, brown-skinned grandma gave them some strange pitted fruits to gobble on (they eat lots and lots and LOTS of fruit in this country).

One of our sweetest little neighbors is Sydney, our freckle-faced, 9-year-old companion, who comes ringing our bell nearly every day in late morning. If the boys are not yet ready to go outside, she will come up and help me with dishes or sweep my floor or serenade us on the keyboard with a very good "Smoke on the Water." The boys are in love, I'm pretty sure. The sad thing is - and I haven't had the heart to break it to them yet - Sydney and her family are going back to The States, perhaps for good. There you have the bitter to accompany the sweet. People that do what we are doing are always coming and going.

For now, however, we are in good company.

March 22, 2010

When Mason met Dixon

When Tim Brown married us in the Spring of 2002, he entertained our wedding guests at Dimnent Chapel when he said something like, " we have an Arkansas Razorback who came up here and picked one of our Tulips."

For those of you who have never been to my hometown, the fee for picking a Tulip is around $100 (per Tulip). We are very protective of our Tulips. They are part of who we are as a Dutch-immigrant-founded-and-populated town on the southern swoop of Lake Michigan's east coast. Yes, we have a coast. Laugh until you see it, people. Daniel did.

Speaking of southern swoops, I am starting to notice my own "southern swoop," acquired over the past 8 years of living in the South and with Southerners. One might say that I am now a Tulip/Razorback hybrid, or a flower in pig's clothing, or pork on a stem, or some combination of the above.I didn't realize how Southern I had become until recently, when a Northern family moved here (from the capital city of this country, but originally they are from the Dairy State). They are a tad more...abrupt...than the folks I have become accustomed to, and they use their upper sinus cavity much more frequently. They say things like "yer guys'es" when all of the rest of us say "ya'll." They say "I think I'll go with," leaving off the "you" on the end. I used to do these things and sound this way, years ago, I'm sure, but after three years in Arkansas, three years in Kentucky, and almost two years here, I have fallen out of practice. Most our friends in this city are either from East Asia, North Carolina, or Europe. Don't let the "North" in North Carolina fool you, it is a very Southern state. Even though I live in Asia, I am still surrounded by sweet-tea-drinkin', BBQ chowin' Southerners. We all teach our kids to say "yes mam" and "no sir," and never call an adult by their first name unless preceded by "Ms" or "Mr."

I am proud of both heritages in our family. I am proud to be a Northerner who is sincere and simple, and I am proud to be a grafted-in Southerner who is honorable and kind. I grew up, oddly enough, listening to Hank Williams Jr. and Alabama, and now I can claim some stake in the lyrics of those songs, and so can my kids (excluding Hank Jr.'s smoking and drinking lyrics, of course). I will be even more proud next year when our family becomes tri-cultural (after the adoption of our daughter). What fun to break down the walls that divide people, while celebrating the beautiful things on either side of the wall.

I thought you might like another engagement picture. :)

March 21, 2010

Bread and Jam for Frances

Sometime around 1984, there was a little girl in southwest Michigan who had not yet learned to read. She was sitting with this book, Bread and Jam for Frances, the audio version running in her cassette player, and she listened to this story over and over and over.

That little girl was me, and this was my favorite book.

When asked what she had in her school lunch box, Frances, a badger-looking character, and the first "foodie" I ever met, replied:

"I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup," she said.
"And a lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread. I have
celery, carrot sticks, and black olives,
and a little cardboard shaker of salt for the celery.
And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries.
And vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles
and a spoon to eat it with."

What you may not realize, unless you have read the book, is that Frances was not always a foodie. She started out a very picky eater, willing only to eat bread and jam. Her parents devised a clever plan to get her to WANT to eat a variety of foods, and it worked.

It worked on me, too. Looking back, I really think this book was the reason I was the only kid at my parents' table who asked for salad, and second helpings of vegetables, and shared seafood pasta with my Dad for lunch when the rest of the family was eating peanut butter.

Wikipedia tells us that the word, foodie, "was coined in 1981 by Paul Levy and Ann Barr, who used it in the title of their 1984 book The Official Foodie Handbook." Wiki also says that "foodies differ from gourmets in that gourmets are epicures of refined taste who may or may not be professionals in the food industry, whereas foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news."

What does being a foodie mean to me? It means I talk about food, eat food, compulsively collect recipes, browse kitchen stores, and always order something new at the restaurant. This morning for breakfast, while Daniel and the boys ate English muffins, I sat with a pair of chopsticks, eating leftover pork and peppers with rice. To me, it's a no-brainer. If I have a chance to eat, and there is a tastier option, I'm going to choose it.

So the other day, when the boys and I found "Bread and Jam for Frances" at our local international library (or rather, a single lady's book collection in her private apartment that she has opened up to foreigners to check out for three weeks at a time at 7 books for $1), I was thrilled! I was going to get to share this piece of my childhood with my own kids. I carried it home carefully, not wanting to open it until we were nestled into our couch at home.

Since then, which was late last week, we have enjoyed veal cutlets, string beans, and cup custard many times during story time (not actually consuming these foods, of course, though I would love to). Maybe my boys will be bitten by the good-food bug, too.

Regardless, I am glad to have Frances around again. The picture below, by the way, is me in my mom's kitchen, circa 1990.

March 20, 2010

Seeds of change

I am trying to take Proverbs 31 to heart and get my tired behind out of bed before the sun comes up (spurred on by "Creative Counterpart" by Linda Dillow, a must-read for wives).

This morning, after transplanting my above-mentioned behind from my warm bed to the cool office (sans my usual cup of hot strawberry tea with milk and sugar because we ran out of drinking water last night) I read the following verse:

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." (John 12:24)

The Son of Man said this just before his famous death, referring, of course, to himself as the kernel of wheat. All of us who believe are the many seeds resulting from the death of the original kernel.

This verse also applies to martyrdom (remember the movie End of the Spear), but it pertains to me, too. I believe in the message of John 3:16, therefore I am going to Heaven. However, what good is that to anyone but myself? As a single seed, unwilling to fall, unwilling to yield to change, I shall remain a single seed.

I say "NO!" I am not satisfied with that. And so I pray:


March 18, 2010

Beautiful Rhythm

She's here! Lou (Liz Sharda) gave birth to a breathtaking baby girl (breathtaking in many ways, including large, as she weighed 10 lbs 3 oz at birth and measured 23 inches long).

Liz and Brian named their daughter Cadence Bella. Cadence, meaning rhythm, and Bella, meaning beautiful.

I'm so proud of you, Lou. I CAN NOT WAIT to get my hands on that little (or not so little) bundle of sweetness! She has been given a mother like no other. May you be blessed by each other all the days of your lives.

March 15, 2010


My first best friend was Michelle Breuker in the third grade. She lived way out in the country and we would ride her fourwheelers and eat frozen pizza with canned mushrooms on top and play Supermario 3 until late into the night and call boys from her dad's office phone in the basement (hanging up as soon as they answered, of course). I remember when her "boyfriend," Josh, broke up with her just before the end of fourth grade. She laid on her bed in the very pink room that she shared with her teenage sister, and we listened to Richard Marx in "Right Here Waiting", courtesy of her pink and gray boom box, and we both cried. And let me tell you, when we snuck into her sister's Caboodles and carefully applied gobs of blue eyeshadow and hot pink lipstick and filled our hair with hairspray until our permed bangs stood on end...we were hot!

After the fourth grade, I switched schools and we lost touch, but we are back in touch now, 20 years later, thanks to the wonderful world of Facebook. Here she is with her husband, John:

In the fifth grade, my best friend was Teresa Roche. She was the oldest of 8 kids, and her parents were beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking, rock-n-roll thumping Catholics who loved their kids and loved me, too. To this day, the smell of stale smoke in my clothes (like after a meal in a smoky restaurant) brings back good memories of the years I spent as Teresa's best friend. We had the necklaces - you remember the ones - the gold heart pendant broken in half, with "best" on one piece and "friends" on the other. Oh, we had them, and we wore them. Every day.

Until one fateful afternoon in 9th grade, when she slapped a Dear John letter in my hand and walked away. I had been a terrible friend to her for months. Seems I had been getting some attention from the in-crowd, now that my braces were off, and I had been giving her the "I'm too cool for you now" treatment. She had had enough. I received the letter in front of my new "friends," so I passed it into the trash with a laugh and tried to pretend that I wasn't cut right through. I tried to make amends to her years later, but to no avail. To this day, I have dreams that I am wandering around her parents' lawn in a half-dark fog, wishing I could go inside the house, but the rock-n-roll is no longer playing and all the lights are off. I am always, in these dreams, dragging the dead branch of a tree behind me. You psychologists could probably tell me what that means.

She is not on Facebook.

After Teresa, I hesitated to use the term "best friend" with anyone. The term is like a contract, and when things change, and people change, the term may no loner apply but neither party involved knows how to dissolve the contract. It is all quite awkward. And boys and men don't use the term at all, have you ever noticed? I never saw boys in school with matching T-shirts that said "best" on one and "friends" on the other. They would have been beat up for that. What is it about girls that makes us want to have a B.F.F. (Best Friend Forever, in case you weren't part of the 20th century)? Lou, who I wrote a recent post about - who has not had that baby yet, believe it or not - was definitely my best friend in college. No one would have disputed that. And even though we haven't lived in the same vicinity for years and she has many, many friends who know more about her daily life than I do, I know that I would be among the first to be called if something happened to her or her family, and she knows I would be among the first to be at her side. Best friend? What is that, really?

I have a friend here in this country who told me that she has a friend for every need, like an outfit for every occasion. If she needs someone to cry with, she calls one friend, if she wants to go shopping, she calls another, if she needs a good laugh, or a recipe, or advice on parenting, etc. etc., you get the idea. I think she has a very healthy way of looking at it, don't you?

And then there is Darci Long, pictured here with her husband, Matt. Darci is my Wendi.* My mom met Wendi when she was just starting out as a mom, as the 70's were coming to a close, and they became fast friends. Over the years, their friendship has changed, waxing and waning as friendships do, but they have never lost their bond. They are adult B.F.F.s. Wendi is now raising her grown daughter's child, because her daughter is battling a heroin addiction and can't raise her herself. My mom meets Wendi for lunch and they cry over their chicken salads and wonder what happened between potty training and heroin addictions.

Hopefully Darci and I won't have that exact same conversation in 20 years, but our friendship was born near the beginning of our motherhoods, and it was nurtured in our sweatpants as we folded laundry and watched our toddlers play. We lived right next door to each other, which in an apartment means sharing a wall, and we never let a day go by that we didn't talk. She was there when Zion was a newborn. She was at the airport with our families when we waved goodbye and left for East Asia. She was one of the last American faces I saw.

And now, Darci is going to be a star! She is pursuing her lifelong dream of acting, and I am her biggest fan. She is the only person I've ever met that dreams bigger than I do, which is one of the reasons I love her. She is not blowing smoke, people. She has an acting coach and an agent and has started driving around the South for auditions. Under her picture on Facebook, she has George Elliot's quote, "It's never too late to be what you might have been." You go, girl! Just remember, when you make it to the top, that I have been there from the bottom:)

Titles and contracts aside, friendships are a gift no matter what form they come in, or what forms they take on with the passing of time. Real friends are just about as sweet a thing as life has to offer.

*name changed to protect her privacy

March 14, 2010

Peas and Carrots

No, this post is not about vegetables, nor the lack of them that are consumed at the dinner table at our house (primarily by Zion, though he has begun to chew, and chew, and chew, and chew, and eventually swallow one bite of veggies every evening before he can eat whatever else is on the table).

This post is actually about Bright and Zion, and their cuter-than-ever relationship that I pray over all the time and delight in daily. I used the word "actually" just then in honor of Zion, who says "actually" before almost every point he makes, for some reason. (i.e. "Actually, I need a drink" "Actually, I'm a big, scary octopus" "Actually, I want Mama" etc.)

So now I return to the peas and carrots, or close-in-age brothers who have banded together in a foreign land where they are the only blond heads at McDonald's, or the park, or the supermarket, or wherever we happen to be out as a family. These two little guys adore each other. Whenever we buy a small toy, we always have to buy two that match, and then they name them like this: If we buy them wooden butterflies on springs, they name one "Bud" and one "Derfly." If we buy them wooden jointed crocodiles, they name one "Croc" and one "Odile." Often they pretend to be dragons, and when they do, Bright insists on being called "Drag," Zion "Komodo" and baby Brave is called "Gonny" (pronounced Guinea).

They wrestle on the floor together like grown men, they chase each other around and around and around and around the coffee table, laughing hysterically. They cuddle up close beside each other for a showing of Milo and Otis, Mighty Machines, The Talking Words Factory, or Winnie the Pooh. They insist on sitting next to each other at the kitchen table, and one will periodically kiss the other, usually on the back or the leg or something, and then continue playing as if nothing happened.

I just wonder what it will look like around here when Brave can toddle, and "peas and carrots" becomes a regular bag of mixed vegetables. Oh what fun we shall have then!

March 13, 2010

Too much of a good thing

During our homestudy the other day, our case worker requested that we, over hashbrowns at The Wicker Basket, tell her the weaknesses in our marriage. We looked at each other and smiled - and today I smile even bigger remembering the moment - as we realized we couldn't think of a single one.

Please don't hear me bragging. If anyone deserves to revel in this place, it is us. I remember saying to Daniel, with just 10 days of married life under our belts, "I don't like being married to you." I remember his response, too: "That might be a problem."

Hear me say this, as well. Our personal weaknesses abound. I am given to emotion too easily. He operates in task-mode too much of the time. I don't hang the hand towel back up when I'm done with it. He leaves his jeans on the floor every night and every morning I have to ask him, "Are these clean or dirty?" But...when asked to look at our marriage as an entity, we couldn't think of anything we would change about it.

I say that calls for a "Hallelujah."

Just last night, we decided not to pop in the cheap copy of "Blindsided" that we picked up at the movie store on our way home from KFC. Instead, we set up our Scrabble Deluxe board on top of our bed, grabbed our favorite evening snacks (mine is popcorn, of course, and his is a slice of homemade bread with Nutella), and we made words like "whap" and "axis" and "venom," laughing and munching our way to a 258 over 254 victory (Daniel's victory this time, which is becoming less and less rare, unfortunately).

We got to bed way too late, which leads me to the one weakness we finally thought of (so our case worker wouldn't think we were fakes). We wish we could stop hanging out earlier in the evening so we could get more sleep.

BTW, the picture was taken when we were engaged. What kids!

March 10, 2010

The people we meet along the way

Last weekend we went on a weekend getaway to a mountain town that is popular with tourists in this country. The mountains, which shot up into the clouds and made us gasp, were nothing short of spectacular. The shopping was unique and affordable (never pay more than half the asking price). The food, particularly the beef pizza at Stella's, was great. The lodging - a hostel called The Lily Pad - was chocked full of meandering Europeans in sandals, all on their way through Asia for one reason or another.

And speaking of Europeans, the best part were our traveling companions, our good friends Robin and Tanja and their two kids, Juda and Zoe. They are Dutch (as in from the Netherlands, not from Holland, MI, like me). Robin is 6 ft. 8 in., and their son is 6 months younger than Zion but towers over him by at least a head. Their English is better than ours, which is just one of the languages other than Dutch in which they are fluent. They are funny and adventurous and so different from our American friends (in a refreshing way), so that being with them is always a great time.

In fact, if we hadn't been traveling with Europeans, we probably would not have loaded Brave and I on a bus to travel through the mountains for 5 hours at break-neck speed (don't read that, Mom), and we probably would not have stayed in a hostel for 15 U.S. dollars a night in a room with pink ruffled comforters. If we would have been traveling with Americans, we would have forked over the money for plane tickets, and we would have stayed in a nice hotel, and we would have missed the beautiful villages that dotted the countryside along the way, and we would have missed the hostel lounge quarters with TV and over-sized pleather sofas and fresh local coffee.

Throw in the ski-lift that we braved up the mountain through the rain with five kids to the Higherland Inn, where the kids gawked at a scraggly goose and crawled around in the warming house on well-worn pillows, and where we were fed the spiciest pork dish we've stomached to date, and you could say we had one heck of a time.

Relaxing? You guessed it. Not hardly. Small children plus weekend in the mountains in Asia does not equal relaxation. Worth it? Absolutely.

Thanks, Robin and Tanja, for the memories. You have been, for us, a gift. We sure will miss you next year. May you find good things and have good times in your new home. Keep saving for your trip to America with us! We will hold you to it, you know. We'll hit Broadway and the Rockies and maybe even go surfing. You'll gain fifteen pounds and a taste for Country Western music, and you won't be sorry you came.

Here's to the people we meet along the way.

March 04, 2010


Last night we watched "Changeling."


The movie had different effects on Daniel and me. As the credits rolled, I pulled my knees to my chin and cried. It is very hard for me to believe that 82 years ago, in a chicken coop in California, those boy were really there, experiencing fear like most of us could only imagine. I had a similar feeling in the 8th grade after touring the Holocaust Museum in D.C. Do people really do those things to other people?

Yes. They do.

Daniel's reaction was slightly different (always more practical). He woke up early this morning, got dressed, and took Bright out to breakfast. He had been wanting for years to start taking the kids out individually, just a boy and Daddy, but had never actually implemented it. Implementation began today. He said he didn't want to miss one more opportunity to be with his sons.

Sometimes very disturbing "entertainment" brings about very real changes in how we see the world and how we spend our time. Worth the four Tums I had to eat afterward, for sure.

March 03, 2010

We Belong to the Night

Unlike "Rupp Van Winkle" (a.k.a. my husband), I can not fall asleep anywhere, anytime. All the stars need to align for me to fall asleep and stay asleep. When I am almost asleep and a ginormous firework goes off outside my bedroom window and I nearly pee my pants, I have a hard time dozing off again. Or, if just as my thoughts are turning into funny images of oddly shaped elephants behind my eyelids, and I suddenly remember something I said during playgroup that could have been misinterpreted, that's it for me. Pull up my hair and put on my glasses, it's time to clock back in for a few more hours.

During these hours I have limited options available to me. I know I want to be out of bed, because awake and in bed is like an anxiety feast and my brain is the main course. I can't, however, do or read or watch anything that overstimulates me, or I will be up past 3 a.m. (which, as you know, has devastating consequences for a mom with young kids that crow with the roosters).

What I usually choose to do is glance at Facebook photo albums (though I can't make any comments because I will regret it when daylight and clear-thinking return to me), or surf Youtube.

What was I watching this morning on Youtube at 1:30 a.m.? Pat Benatar, circa 1980-something, in a navy blue body suit, with a red plastic belt and shoulder pads, and eyeliner that could have grabbed the microphone. Several music videos later, when the white, drape-like thingies floating through the "We Belong to the Night" video started to look like toilet paper hanging from a tree on a Saturday morning, I realized I was sleepy again and I drifted back to bed.

Works every time.

March 01, 2010


College started out on the wrong foot for me. There were a lot of contributing factors, and no one thing can be blamed (other than myself, I suppose), but I can name the catalyst for my turn-around: Liz Schofield, now Liz Sharda, who I affectionately (and perhaps somewhat against her initial wishes) call "Lou."

I had met many Christi@ns in my day, in fact I was one myself, wayward as my status may have been at the time. Very few of the Christi@ns I had ever met actually acted like their leader and role model (also known as their savior, redeemer, etc., etc.) In fact, most of them acted a lot more like the dudes in the New Testament that their leader spent lots of pulpit time criticizing (pharisees).

Case in point: I decided one year to attend a "Christi@n" Halloween party instead of the other party options on campus. I dressed like a, well, I don't know, girl going to a party, and a "Christi@n" guy who appeared to be their ring-leader (who I had seen at some of my usual parties doing not-so-nice things himself) approached me and said my appearance was distracting to the group and I needed to leave. Left I did, and I never went back.

About that time, a tall girl down the hall with rosy cheeks and cute hair started being nice to me. She wasn't preachy, though I knew she was a Christi@n, and she wasn't pushy, or judgmental. She treated me like she treated all of her friends. She hung out with me, talked with me, listened to me, laughed with me, and prayed for me. She acted a lot like the guy in the New Testament who drew the line in the sand - you know, the one who sought out dirt bags and slime balls and hookers.

Liz showed me what everyone else had only talked about. She was the living breathing gospel. I started following her to chapel meetings and spring break trips, and eventually she sort of stepped aside and let me gaze in awe at the One who had used her to bring me back to Himself.

I nicknamed Liz "Lou" because I wanted to call her something that no one else called her, because she was my special someone, in a very real way.

Lou went on to wear yellow satin and carry daisies in my wedding. She went to California to love on shattered little girls in a residential home, standing in for a while as the mother they never had. She let them pound their little fists into her with the rage of years of abuse and neglect, all the while weeping for their hearts and their futures and the world that put them there. She married a really tall Dutch guy with a big heart and they built their home in the trenches of Grand Rapids, MI, where their arms are busy all the time scooping up the broken, working for solutions, and raising praises to the One who they will never give up hope in.

I just talked with my friend, Lou, the other day on Skype. She is 8 1/2 months pregnant with their first biological child, even as their heart-child (foster son) sits in limbo in the throws of the system, waiting to be approved by the state for the intensive emotional and behavioral therapy he needs. One child leaving their home, another coming, many tears and much weariness but still, my dear friend presses onward, never tiring of doing good.

I sometimes wonder where I would be without Lou. I wonder what my life would have looked like if every Christi@n I had ever known had asked me to leave.

Thankfully, I'll never find out.