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Dier Mama

Do As I Say AND As I Do

Children have a funny way of teaching us life lessons when we least expect them.

With no special announcement, with no resounding alarm, they make us look introspectively from time to time, on the most ordinary of days, and face the person we really are and the person we are training them up to be.

Sometimes those two don’t always coincide.

‘I know you’re upset, and that’s okay, but that doesn’t mean you can throw a fit,’ I had told her.

No sooner had I said the words, my thoughts turned reflective.

I wondered how many times she had seen me upset or sad and how I responded.

‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ That phrase played over and over in my mind.

Thanks to Daniel Tiger, my toddler has learned a lot about emotions. She knows that ‘it’s okay to be sad sometimes’ or what to do ‘when you feel so mad that you want to roar!’ As her mama, I also talk to her quite a bit about appropriate responses when she has negative emotions.

What I forgot to take into account is she is watching me and maybe, just maybe, I’ve been telling her how to behave without modeling it.

That, to me, is one of the worst offenses I could make in motherhood.

 

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(Photo Credit: Kelly Dier Photography)

The fact is, we serve as guides for our children. How they view themselves, others and the world around them is largely made up of our influence - especially at this stage in the game. Do we offer grace to those who have wronged us? Do we lend a helping hand to those in need? Do we stick up for the bullied? Do we exercise self control when we feel out of control? When we don’t get our way, do we stomp around with poor attitudes or rise above it and make the most of what we’ve been given?

The great responsibility of a parent is not only to tell our children what to do in these types of scenarios, but to model right living. Not just for their sake, but for our own.

My children have been one of my greatest resources when it comes to personal growth. While I am their ‘teacher,’ they continue to be mine.  

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How to Talk to Your Child About an Emergency

You see them on the news…

Emergency situations.

Far away, in some other city or country, you read about a crisis happening or view it through a comfortable lens on TV, but somehow it doesn’t quite connect. It doesn’t hit home.

Until you experience a situation that puts it all into perspective.

On a recent weekend, I was out shopping with my sister-in-law and two young daughters. We were having a great day taking in the sights and sounds of a busy Saturday and found ourselves checking out new spring clothing for kids.

That’s when we heard it.

A panic-stricken voice, running into the particular store we were visiting and saying, ‘Everyone has to get out! They are evacuating the building!’

Quickly, my sister-in-law and I put down our items, secured both children and ran out of the mall with the masses.

Safely through the doors and across the parking lot, we watched emergency personnel surround the building and instruct patrons what to do next. Everyone who was inside the mall had evacuated as quickly as they could, so hundreds of people walked all around the parking lot trying to find their cars.

We walked through rows and rows of cars, nervously laughing, talking about what a crazy story it would be and wondered as to what the emergency was.

Then we walked by them.

Visibly upset, a very shaken child clung to her guardian who ushered her across the parking lot. I could hear him say to her, “Stop it! Calm down! You're strong and I’m an adult, now cut it out!’

I winced. While we all deal with these situations differently, I couldn’t help but wonder what the better approach would be when addressing an emergency situation to a child.

 

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I got a chance to talk with Tina Almeida, Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist for Kids, with Aquia Counseling and Therapy and asked her to share her expert tips on the best way to not only calm a child in this situation, but how to address the reason for the situation itself. She expressed the following:

1) The parent or guardian must stay calm.

2) Be honest, but do not share the details.

For example, you can tell a child someone threatened the safety of the people in the building, but explain that it is the reason for the evacuation – a precaution to make sure no one is harmed. Don't shelter them, but bring it back around to the positive. 

3) Emphasize that first responders are our friends and are at the scene to help keep everyone safe.

4) Get on your child’s level, make eye contact and remind them to breathe. Assure them you are going to be okay.

5) Don’t underestimate the power of physical touch. A hug and secure embrace makes them feel protected.

While emergency situations can lend themselves to worry and stress, it is important to remember kids look to us to set the tone in those type of scenarios. How we respond can greatly impact how they respond. It is our job as parents and guardians to bring comfort and love to our children and those around us, not additional hostility.

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Pursuing Dreams in the Midst of Motherhood

They came from all over. 

Photographers of every shape and size, every genre and age, men and women, filled The Fillmore just outside D.C. to listen to some of the best and brightest in the photography business give their definition and insight into what success looks like - personally and professionally.

My notebook was full of notes and my heart completely inspired.

This is the year to rock my photography business!

I came home on a high, ready to tackle my post-conference 'homework' and put all the steps into play that would launch my artistic career.

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Photo Credit: Kelly Dier Photography
To view more of my work, check out www.facebook.com/kellydierphotography

However, as soon as I walked through the door, my husband was off to work, leaving me with my two little girls. One needed breakfast, one needed a diaper change. I had not seen them in two days, so much playtime was had and cuddles given. The day sped ahead to nap time and, while one little one stayed snug in her bed, the other just wanted mommy. 

I realized all my good business-centered intentions would have to wait until evening.

Later, as the wind quietly crept out of my sails and reality set in, I mulled over how challenging it is to be self-employed. It is one thing to build a successful business solo, but staying at home often yields little to no free time to pursue my dreams and goals.

'So, why even try?' I thought.

'Because you must. You must set the example.'

I heard it in my spirit, the resolve within, reminding me that little eyes are watching not only how I manage our home, but how I manage to incorporate my dreams during each season of motherhood. It matters. It's important.

Because one day they will need to know how to pursue their dreams in the midst of motherhood.

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Photo Credit: Kelly Dier Photography
To view more of my work, check out www.facebook.com/kellydierphotography

I am of the theory it is important to be a lifelong learner. And, while it can be challenging, more and more I am realizing that motherhood should not sit you on the sidelines of your own life.

Kids or no kids, you must remain an active player.

The thing is, one day my girls will have choices to make about career and family. Do they want to be career women? Super! Do they want to be stay-at-home moms? Great! However, I recognize that these choices are not always that black and white. While they may feel the desire to be a full-time SAHM, they may need to bring in an income to help support their family. They may have dreams and desires they wish to pursue, things that are life-giving and allow them to be better women, wives and mothers.

So, as a 'mompreneur.' it is important for me to show them it can be done and it can be done successfully, without sacrificing family. It is why I continue to find outlets to write and clients to photograph - because I want to be at home with my children and I also want to contribute financially through various creative outlets. I suggest this is why 'home parties' and direct sales companies have been so wildly popular...women have a desire to stay an active member of their life and draw their own boundaries when it comes to how they spend their time. Being a self-made businesswoman opens the door for this. 

This is not limited to money-making tactics and monetary contribution. Pursuing passions and hobbies is something I believe your children should see you explore. When my oldest was still very small, I signed up for a cake decorating class with my mom. I didn't have any desire to start a bakery, but I love to make cupcakes and thought down the road I would like to make some special birthday cakes for my kids. Those couple of hours away each week, focusing on something that gave me an outlet to work with my hands and engage something I loved, filled my mama energy tank and when I came home I found myself refreshed, in an even better place to settle back into 'mommy mode.'

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Photo Credit: Kelly Dier Photography
To view more of my work, check out www.facebook.com/kellydierphotography

In the end, I want to exemplify to my girls you can do both: you can pursue your dreams and/or find creative ways to make a financial contribution in motherhood, should they find themselves in the in-between family, career paradigm down the road. I want them to remember they are important and should engage the things that ultimately will make them better, more energized women all around.

You make time for the things that are important to you. When my girls are older and grown, I hope they see not only did I love them unconditionally and prioritize them, but that there is always room to pursue the gifts and talents they've been bestowed with - even if it looks like scheduling those things around a late night cup of coffee.

This will benefit not only them, but a future generation of 'Dier' women who will be watching.

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Photo Credit: Kelly Dier Photography
To view more of my work, check out www.facebook.com/kellydierphotography

 

*Final note: Kelly Dier Photography is now booking spring sessions! Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for rates and availability and don't forget to 'Like' my Facebook page for the latest information and updates from KDP.

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One of the Best Gifts NOT Under Your Tree | Pt. 2

*In my December blog post, I shared how the greatest gift you could give yourself over the holiday season was realistic expectations. This is part two of One of the Best Gifts NOT Under Your Tree and a gift I hope to give my family more consistently in 2016. 

I couldn't remember the last time I went to bed before midnight.

For weeks, a collection of circumstances had carved out a later bedtime for me and I couldn't get my body to adjust. Things like an unwelcome stomach bug, traveling, working, a handful of family birthdays, setting up our new home and getting ready for the holidays as a mama of two pushed me to my nocturnal limits and I found myself continually crawling into bed in the wee hours of the morning.

There was just too much to do and those uninterrupted nighttime hours seemed the best time to tackle my endless list.

However, just because I had a new schedule didn't mean my family had followed suit.

When my tiny alarms woke me up in the morning, my eyelids would barely open and I found myself walking through the day like a zombie and dozing off in the oddest places. I barely remember any of the conversations my husband and I had during that time as focus was not my strong suit. I couldn't speak until my nose picked up the faintest trace of coffee. Then I would remember I have a couple of kiddos who would appreciate my attention, even if it was to simply pop on Daniel Tiger or slice an apple. 

It was challenging. It still is challenging.

Being a stay-at-home, keeper-of-the-home, 'momprenuer' continually provides opportunities for good 'ol fashion juggling and balance. The need for connection and distraction and doing can take my focus off what is most important - during the holidays and all year long...

the being

Being present with my family and more invested in them than all the other extracurricular distractions. 

As I unpacked my Christmas decor, I couldn't stop shaking the feeling that something was off this year. 

Why wasn't the season feeling more magical?

What else can I do to make it more jolly?

Why can't I seem to get the house in order?

When does mommy get to take a nap?

Where is the coffee?

So many doing things kept lingering in my mind.

Then I ran across the Christmas tree 'cookies.'

For those who don't know, a Christmas tree 'cookie' us a wooden slice taken from the bottom of the Christmas tree at the time of the first trim. For the past couple of years, we have specifically asked to have about a 1-2 inch slice cut and bring it home as a memento of the year. On it, we write our names, the date and where we are living that particular year. It's a snapshot, an early-stage tradition I hope will last for years to come.

I ran my fingers over the freshly cut tree wood and began writing on the slice that would represent 2015. The distinct difference between this year's cookie and last's was that instead of three names listed, there were now four.

That reality made me pause. Made me still.

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In that moment, something inside of me clicked. I realized, if I wasn't careful, I might miss the opportunity to rejoice over my youngest daughter's first Christmas experience - an experience I didn't know if she would have back in March when her tiny body was in distress and she had to be delivered via an emergency c-section. If I wasn't careful, I might miss the opportunity to be thankful for our new home - the first home my husband and I ever purchased together, in such a wonderful and welcoming neighborhood. If I wasn't careful, I might miss out on the memory of my oldest daughter peeking out the window every single night to see our neighborhood all lit up in a vast array of Christmas colors and squealing with delight each and every time, as if it was the first time she was seeing the displays. If I wasn't careful, I might miss the sacredness of the season - when love and light was birthed into the world for the redemption of all mankind.

If I wasn't careful, if I wasn't present, I would miss it.

If I wasn't present, I would miss being able to give my littles and my husband what they really wanted most for Christmas...me.

Don't get me wrong, I love jumping into the festive hustle and bustle of the season. I love the excitement happening all around me - excitement happening because of a lot of doing. However, the best gift I can give my household is joy and peace and love. That comes from being. Being present, being in the moment, being available to them because they are my first priority. 

So simple. Such impact.

This not only applies to Christmas, it applies year round. This year, I want to make it my resolution to A) have realistic expectations for myself as a mom and, B) be present with the ones I love. Saying 'no' some times to some things for the greater 'yes' of being present.

It is the best gift NOT under the tree, and the greatest gift I could resolve to give them in the new year. 

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One of the Best Gifts NOT Under Your Tree | Pt. 1

The countdown to Christmas is on! 

Jingle bells are ringing, neighborhoods are lighting up in a spectacular array of red, green and twinkling white lights, Santa has been seated on his mall throne and candlelight Christmas Eve services are being prepared all over Fredericksburg. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year! 

Like many of you, once I became a mama, the holidays seemed a little extra special. I love watching how excited my toddler gets opening up presents, seeing jolly light displays and reveling in all the things this time of year brings with it. 

So, to kick off the festivities, I bought a beautiful gingerbread house - complete with visions of colorfully lined rooftops and iced windows made of tiny candies and gummy spearmint trees.  

Just my toddler and I, basking in a traditional holiday glow. 

This was my expectation.  

Yet, our adventure in gingerbread house decorating wasn't as glorious as I envisioned it to be. 

Between her eating every spare piece of candy she could reach, the gingerbread roof sliding down and the frosted walls caving it, it wasn't what you would call a 'success.' 

This was my reality. 

 

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While we found ourselves in a humorous situation, I almost missed it, getting slightly frustrated.  

This gingerbread house was supposed to be magical!

We should be having a great time!

It should look just like the picture on the box!

This is my life's work!

(Okay, slight exaggeration.)

The point is, I noticed myself putting so much pressure on the situation, myself and my three-year-old in an attempt to create a memory. 

Then it hit me, the greatest gift I could give myself this year, something I won't find under the tree, is to release my unrealistic expectations for the holidays.  

Let 'em all go! 

If we are not careful, we mamas of littles may actually miss out on the joy of the season striving to achieve certain rites of passage that our young ones may just not be ready for. And, should we still decide to move forward with these type of activities, it would save us and our family a lot of stress if we simply kept the expectations low and our attitudes light.  

No holiday activity or gingerbread house is worth losing your cookies over.  

This year, give yourself the gift of realistic expectations.   

You may find yourself making this Christmas a little merrier after all.

 

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Scooter Town & Sidewalk Chalk

‘Welcome to Scooter Town!’ she said confidently.

With that proclamation, she handed me a large piece of sidewalk chalk and symbolically declared our acceptance into the neighborhood. 

As I looked around at the other houses in our cul-de-sac, I noticed sidewalk chalk markings on many of the driveways and the street, evidence that more than one child had left their mark in an artistic variety of pink, purple and yellow.

Before we decided on buying our house in Fredericksburg, we knew neighbors would be very important – especially with two little girls of our own. I knew we wanted a safe area with friendly folks surrounding us, but what we got blew my expectations away.

When we pulled our U-Haul into the driveway, every neighbor stopped by to say, ‘Hello!’ and offered a kind welcome, but I could not stop thinking about that little girl who presented us with chalk and made us feel so accepted with her quick, youthful charisma.

Where we are from, we did not have any children as neighbors and now we have at least ten. While quite the change of pace for us, I have decided children make the best kind of neighbors for three simple reasons:

They are super welcoming.

As exemplified in the chalk presentation, kids don’t seem to care who you are or where you come from as long as you can draw. They are still too young to share in the bias and prejudices adults can face, they simply scope you out to see if you are friendly enough to be worthy of their Crayolas.

They don’t worry about formal introductions or invitations, they make themselves right at home (and allow you to do the same).

I love watching how the kids in my neighborhood play. They just run from one house to the next playing and, like a boulder gaining momentum, add kids to the pack as they visit and carry on. There is no need to ask whether or not you are invited, if you are outside, you are invited to play.

As we unloaded our U-Haul, the neighbor girls to the right of us came out to visit and pulled out the sacred sidewalk chalk and began doodling on our driveway as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I love that. I love the sense of community children naturally bring with them.

They are inclusive.

When we discovered our neighborhood was filled with children close to my oldest daughter’s age, I could not wait for her to meet everyone, but I wasn’t sure how they would react to her being the ‘new girl’ on the block.

Much to my delight, never having a formal introduction, as soon as my daughter saw a couple of girls her age standing at the edge of our driveway, she ran up to them and immediately they began swapping tall tales and sharing toys. It didn’t matter that they had never met before, the sweet innocence of childhood makes room for everyone.

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I am so looking forward to watching my children grow up in ‘Scooter Town’ and watching as these friendships unfold. We have only been in Fredericksburg for a week now, but something tells me the sense of community we have witnessed in only a matter of days will give way to many years of joy as we plant roots and spend countless hours drawing on driveways.  

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Pay It Forward

It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences.

While I hope for more gatherings like it in the future, I knew this past weekend was special and one to be remembered.

It is not every day I get to see so many of the people who invested so much into my life in one room. People who saw me at my highs and lows, took me under their wing during the raw teenager years and called out the potential they saw in me. People who made such a profound impact in my life, it could be said they helped shape its course.

This past weekend, the church I grew up in came together to celebrate 60 years. While it was so good to recall the early years of the church and those who started it, what was so special to me was the chance to reconnect with my old youth group pastor and friends. It had been ten to fifteen years since some of us had seen one another. It was possibly the sweetest reunion I have ever been apart of.

What really stuck out to me as I was looking back and reminiscing about those formative years was how many wonderful, ‘older’ people sewed into me (now, don't get hung up on that word, there is a point to it). Many of them had to be late-twenties, thirties and forties when I was just a 'tween' and teen, taking time out of their busy lives to be a guide and a friend to me. They were ahead of me in years, yet reached back behind them to help lift me up.

Now, with a family of my own and a variety of responsibilities, I realize what a challenge it can be to take time out of your schedule to work people in. Life gets in the way doesn’t it? Yet, these friends and mentors did, despite whatever ‘grown up’ things they must have been facing at the time.

 

Pictured: My brother, Josh, and I with our former youth pastors, Mike & Bobbie Furlong. They played a huge part in encouraging us through our teen years.
Pictured: My brother & I with our former youth pastor & his wife, Mike & Bobbie Furlong.
Their influence was profound as they encouraged us through our teen years.

 

How do you thank those type of selfless people? How do you honor the legacy they left in your life?

Pay it forward in someone else’s.

The older I get, the more I find myself looking around at the next generation and thinking about how I can make a difference. There are teenagers and young 20-somethings that need an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and a friend to champion them as they come into their own and look out into the horizon of their future. I hope that in addition to myself, my daughters are able to benefit from having mentors, teachers, leaders, pastors and friends who encourage their dreams and believe in them so much they never waste time doubting themselves.

The next generation needs us. They need you.

What can we do today that will make a difference in their tomorrow?

 

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Pictured: Several friends & leaders from my former youth group. Such a great weekend reminiscing.
'Paying it forward' is not just about using material resoures, but the most valuable thing you posses, your time.

That will always be te greatest gift you can give.
 

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Out With the New, In With the Old

They stood in the driveway, arms around one another, watching with pride in their eyes as I drove off. Only, they were not proud of me. They were proud of the Honda Pilot they sold my family.

We had bought their baby, their pride and joy, their family vehicle of the past ten years and with great care they handed over the keys and said, 'Goodbye.'

This was the vehicle they brought their daughter home in as a baby, the vehicle that had logged many miles driving cross country from one destination to the next. The owner's wife told me about how her husband used to open the sunroof with a 'magical tap' on the dashboard - only to reveal to their kids years later there had been a hidden button he was pressing the whole time.

As they shared with my husband and me all they had been through and the memories they made in this SUV, I couldn't help but be grateful to be inheriting such a blessing. While I was selling my new Ford to set our family up for financial success, understanding the rich heritage this car carried with it made the decision easy.

The thing is, new is not always better. Sometimes flashy and up to date does not compare to worn in and loved, especially when it has been a well kept family treasure.

I immediately knew it was the right vehicle for us as my curly-haired daughter climbed up in the seat and began to buckle the seat belt. She was fascinated by the moon roof and soft, cracked leather seats. She giggled with glee and eagerly said, 'Yes!' when I asked if this was the car we should buy.

 

car.jpegNothing like a fall picnic in the back of the car.


As we left, the owner made us promise to wash and wax the exterior with a smile and slight wink. Isn't it funny how something so common becomes precious when it has been used to make those we love happy?

This old member of their family had seen many miles, but a new chapter was waiting to be written and there are new adventures to be had.

 

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My Happy Place

If you are anything like me - a tired, busy, ready-for-a-break mama - you know the feeling of absolute eagerness and sheer joy when your hubby says, 'Hey, wanna rent out a beach house for a weekend in September?'

'Umm, do our kids love Daniel Tiger? Heck yes I want to rent a beach house!'

It was settled. We had a date, we had a house, we had 48 hours to look forward to of kid-free vacation.

Our time away was just what we needed for us both to catch our breath, relax and for me to shave my legs for once.

We ate dinner every night somewhere around 8 'o clock and did not have to cut the meat up into toddler-friendly pieces. I sat and read on the beach while my husband fished on the shore. We sat...just sat...and drank coffee and wine and talked about anything and everything. We were just hanging out - no agenda, no routine, no rules.

Just us.

You know what? As much as I loved our almost perfect getaway together, less than 24 hours into the trip we both decided it was much too quiet. We sat and ate, entertained by the crooning of Frank Sinatra instead of our daughter singing 'You Are My Sunshine' and my mama heart silently missed her off-key tune. As we turned in for the night, it felt a little lonely not hearing her sweet little voice telling her tall tales and asking me to snuggle with her in her small little toddler bed.

Vacation is great, but it is not my 'happy place.' My happy place is with my family, all of us, together. Me, my husband and our two little girls. Life is sunnier, funnier and more precious when they are around.

I do believe it is very important to take time for yourself and for your spouse to recharge your parental batteries, but I realized it is not so I can get away from my kids, it is so I can be better for my kids.

Our time away together was bliss, but so was getting home to them and wrapping my arms around their small little bodies and telling them how much I missed them and watching my oldest daughter's eyes light up when she saw the shells we brought back for her to add to her collection.

That is my happy place.

That is me.

Hi, I'm Kelly Dierberger and I'm thrilled to be part of the Fredericksburg Parent & Family blogging family. My faith, family and my love for all things creative is what drives me. Before kids, I was a TV reporter and morning talk show host turned public relations manager turned marketing director, along with lots of other various jobs in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Nowadays, I am discovering what it means to be a brave mom as I have the gig of a lifetime raising two precious little girls with my husband of four years.

Life isn't always easy, 'dier mamas,' but it's a beautiful ride. Excited to share the journey with you.

kellyfamily

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About Kelly

kelly d

Christ follower, coffee lover, former news gal, writer & photographer, baking enthusiast and wifey to one good-looking fisherman, journeying on my wildest adventure so far – being a mommy to two blue-eyed sweeties.
When I'm not watching 'Daniel Tiger,' or cutting sandwiches into squares you'll find me exploring my new surroundings in The 'Burg.

Pouches' Community Corner

St Baldrick’s Foundation began in 2000 over a simple idea – shave a colleague’s beautiful hair while also raising money for kids with cancer. And now this Foundation has funded over $200 million worth of research to cure pediatric
cancer. In 2015, the FDA approved a treatment that offers a higher chance of a cure for high-risk neuroblastoma patients because of that research.

Pouches St Baldricks

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