Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I feel pretty, Oh, so pretty...

Yesterday, yesterday I was stewing.

If I had canned it, it'd tide us through next winter. I mean, if we liked canned stew heavily peppered with vitriol. With a side of vituperativeness.

I love those angry V words.

Anyway, I've simmered down a little. But yesterday I was just too angry to respond to comments. However, I really appreciated them; please don't think I didn't.

They definitely made me feel better, and less aberrant.

So, thank you.

But every time I thought about all of it, I was back in the furious. And I'd still drive that truck if I weren't worried about the law and karma. Seriously.

And don't think I haven't been brainstorming for untraceable things one can do. I mean, so one could eliminate the fear of the law. Karma is another matter entirely.

If you have suggestions, I am open.

But you know, I was raised not to be angry. Seriously.

Because anger in women? Is so unattractive.

Positivity! Sweetness! Agreeableness! Those are attractive.

And of course attractiveness is Very Important. Because otherwise you might not get married. You also won't be attractive (and thus probably won't get married) unless you're thin. And tidy.

You think I'm kidding about this?

Skinny, tidy, cooperative. I've managed one of the three fairly consistently. I bet Nick would love it if I were tidier. And probably more cooperative. But he loves me loves me loves me for me (not to sound all Bridget Jones) just as I am.

Plus, I'm never actively working to bring down the household, so there's that.

If we have another kid and it's a girl, I swear I am not going to put this kind of fucked up stuff on her. Although apparently girls' self-esteem comes from their interaction with their fathers. Nick won't feed her these weird messages either.

Did you have these kinds of unhelpful messages growing up? If so, how have you dealt with these things in adulthood?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Give me Liberty or give me...skinny ties?

I don't know if you have an opinion on skinny ties?

This came up because I'm currently kind of fixated on Liberty of London for Target.

You know I am all kinds of into textiles and I love pretty prints. And I used to do a lot of printing and dyeing, but then I got all knocked up and stopped using toxic dyes for fear of having a mutant kid, and then we moved, and then I had a baby. As you know.

And now I fantasize about screen printing but time-wise it's kind of far from reality.

So.

Ever since I discovered my new favorite matchy-matchy outfit - which, I promise you, I am going to wear in public (and document reactions) if it ever gets warm - at Target, I've been all about the Liberty.

Although, as some of you noted in the comments on that post, Target has pretty much nothing available online. And I've been to two Targets, and the selections are skimpy.

I know it's popular. But it makes me want to ask them why the heckfire they promoted this so hard if they're only going to stock 17 of each item?

And then, when you ask a clerk for an item, they're all, "Uh, yeah. My little hand-held thingy says we have some in stock. Try aisle 9? Maybe?"

They don't know. And they don't know if they have more in the back. Or if they'll get any more in stock.

I considered whipping out my boob and breastfeeding on our favorite display couch in the hopes that a manager would chastise me, so I could be all, "WHY don't you have any Liberty items? And why don't any of the employees here have any idea where the things that your computers say are in stock might actually BE?"

But that seemed so ridiculously consumer-y, when really, no babies will die if I can't get more fun printed items.

Oh! Which leads me back to! What do you think of narrow ties?

I hadn't given them a second of thought, but then I bought Nick a couple Liberty ties. . .and they turn out to be narrower than his typical ties.

And so I'm thinking that they are not Nick ties. Because he is not trendy. He wears conservative suits. Plus, I have this fear that skinny ties on a gigantor man will just look like little toy ties.

What do you think?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This morning's Betty

I made Betty tea and a paratha for breakfast. I asked if she wanted jam on it.

Which prompted her to say: "You know which jam is really not that good?"

"Which one?"

"Smucker's. It's very gelatinous."

"Ah."

"And they say, 'With a name like Smucker's, it has to be good.' So I thought it would be. And it's not! Why would they say that?"

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Big J, questionable rap songs, and it's a good thing I don't run the military

video
This video reminds me of the Blondie song "Rapture" - "...and then you're in the man from Mars. You go out at night, eatin' cars. You eat Cadillacs, Lincons, too..."

I should probably be embarrassed to still remember most of the words to that, shouldn't I?

Which means I should definitely not mention Wham! Rap.

Anyway.

So this week is ending on a challenging note.

Betty came down with the flu Wednesday night and woke up sick sick yesterday. Fortunately, she's at our house, so I can take care of her.

But we have no contingency child care. So I stayed home from work. But had to work, because I had a bunch of writing and editing to do.

And then our Big J, who is normally super smiley and happy and just a delight, was a huge crankybottom.

Typically, while he loves attention, he also happily keeps himself entertained in the bouncy thingy or on a play mat for stretches of time. But yesterday? Very protesty.

Fortunately, he had big naps so I could get stuff done. Stuff being the work that pays my salary and health care.

And now on top of the flu, Betty has this tremendous pain in her hip. Like, so bad she was whimpering in pain this morning.

This, from a very strong, stoic, North Dakota Lutheran, of solid Viking stock.

You know things are bad when Betty complains.

So I gave her Tylenol, and ice, and heat, and then remembered I had Vicodin from my C-section. Vicodin! Here! Have a handful!

But just to be safe, I called Maude's mom, who is a nurse. Who said her hip is probably inflamed from going up and down all our stairs carrying a heavy load (AKA Mr. Eatyface) and no on the Vicodin and to get her to eat something and give her ibuprofin.

Which I've done. And things are getting better.

It was definitely a more reasonable solution. Plus it made me realize once more that I'm pretty cavalier about medication (although for the life of me, I cannot find my taking-Ambien-from-a-stranger-on-a-plane post to link to).

AND I realize I always reach for the most extreme solution.

Pain? Don't hesitate! Grab the biggest thing you have! Go nuclear if necessary!

Which made me think it's probably a good thing I'm not in charge of the military.

I imagine you'll agree.

Happy weekend, all!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

His vorpal blades! The snicker-snack!

So it's not like I really want to dwell on my nipples.

But sometimes, sometimes life is just like that.He resisted my initial attempts at documentation, but I think you'll see in subsequent photos - the kid really has teeth.

You probably know where this is going. You maybe even did a squeamy little cringy oh-the-nipples! eeeee! dance in your chair.

They started out as ittybitty nubs. The teeth, I mean.

And they've turned into small, sharp, dangerous little white weapons.And they're all super adorable, ooh, look at the little white dentition blossoming in the pink pink gums!

Ahh, cutie cute! Love the teeth!

Until.

Until you settle in for what you think will be a nice little cuddle and nurse. And your kid looks up at you all lovingly. And grabs your shirt with chubby pink fingers. And snuggles close.

And opens his mouth wide.

And CHOMPS! With glee!Chomps, holds on, pulls back, scraaaaapingly back, as if to assess his work. . .

. . .and only lets go in extreme surprise because of the sheer volume of pained, horrified epithets pouring out of Mama's mouth. That'll frumious Bandersnatch you, it will.

BLD is fast approaching, my friends.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Solipsism

I'm restless. And I just don't feel like writing about any of the things I've got on my mind.

I'm not in the mood to write about babies, or spring, or my boobs - although they're an imminent topic - or strategies for passing people on the sidewalk, or the occasional urge to ram my car into the back of someone else's.

So I thought instead I'd throw open the blog doors in your direction.

Got a question? Ask me.

I'll answer in comments, or in another post, depending.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Over the top? A Monday poll.

Say you found a hat in a print you loved.And then you discovered a matching bag! And a dress!

So you bought them all. And put them all on! At once!

And you looked something like this (biggen photo for better view of the prints! the happy sunny prints!):That would be:

A. Fabulous! Moderation is for sissies.
B. Hilarious. You should do it just to amuse others.
C. Wrong. So wrong! Your shopping privileges should be revoked.

Happy (rainy) Monday!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Magnificent seven

Today, little man, today you are seven months old.

Yesterday someone asked your dad how old you were, and he said, "He'll be seven months old on Friday."

The woman said it was so obvious he was a first-time parent. Apparently by the third kid, you're all, "Um, he was born in August, so...?"

I tell you with no hesitation we will never find out if that's true.

You've become a very good roller this month. You can flip over and back, which you find very entertaining.

You also think it's really fun to shake your head back and forth like you're saying Nonononono.

Since you only do it sometimes, and are clearly delighted by the sensation, I've realized with relief it isn't some weird tic you've developed.

This month we branched out with the food. And you love to eat. Love.

Carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, prunes, pears, peas, oat cereal, rice cereal...You are up for it all. One night you ate cereal plus two 4 oz jars of food. You just kept opening your mouth for more, so Nana kept filling up the bowl and feeding you.

I occasionally worry that this Nom! Food! attitude means you take after your dad's people. But I hope that if I teach you to chew your food and introduce you to yummy fruits and vegetables, you won't grow up to be all heart attack city.

You sleep 12 hours a night fairly consistently. It was painful getting there, but now we all wake up much more rested and happier.

I will always, always be there for you, and it's not that I don't want to spend all my time with you. But 3 am has never been my finest hour. At least, not since I was a teenager.And the biggest news this month is teeth! Teeth!

You have two tiny white teeth peeking their way up out of your gums!

Teeth!

You decided to see how they worked when you were nursing the other day. You surprised the tar out of me.

I, however, turned around and scared the shit out of you by yelling, "Jesusfuck!"

I didn't mean to scare you, but holy hell, little man. However, you haven't done it since, so I can't say I regret the reaction.

It's been a great month, Big J, and every day I think it can't get any better than this. And then it does.

I love you like crazy.

Mama

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Uncrankypantsification

video
I'm not going to lie to you; there's not a lot going on here. But if you're having a grump of a day, I highly recommend activities like this.

I walked home last night wishing evil and destruction on way too many a fellow pedestrian.

And then I got home and Big J was just such a beaming little ray of sunshine. We walked Aunt Pat, who watched him yesterday, to her car in the warm, lovely weather.

And then we came back in, played a little, and made a number of movies lying on our backs with the laptop camera.

The plot of all are pretty much the same. It's really just the endings that differ. Ending options include: raspberries; the covering of the camera with a chubby pink hand; the successful grabbing of the keyboard, thus causing wild panning of the room...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The GRRR

You know how sometimes you just wake up a crankypants?

It's for no specific reason. And you'd like to not feel this way.

And you don't get less cranky or pantsy as the day goes on. You just walk around all GRR and that's just how it is, even though the sun is shining its fiery old heart out.

This is me today. Despite chocolate, despite a hard workout.

I haven't kicked any puppies or pinched any babies, but I've thought a lot of mean thoughts about people. Totally innocent, innocuous people I've passed in the street.

Which makes me feel like a bad person. Which helps not one bit with the grr.

GRRR.

Does this happen to you? Do you work on kicking it? Or indulge it?

And I'll bet you wish you hadn't suggested I illustrate more posts, huh?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How to sort your dry cleaning and amuse your neighbors in a few easy steps

A couple weekends ago, Nick painted our front door. He did a great job.And on Monday morning, as he was leaving, wearing a nice suit and carrying his heavy, computer-laden briefcase, plus an armload of dry cleaning, he turned around for one last admiring look.

"Man," he thought, "I sure did a nice job."

He was backing up as he said this to himself.

And let me just remind you of how large a person we're talking about. Big, tall man. Big feet. Big clothes.

Just so you have a clearer picture in your head.

He turned just in time to catch the toe of his enormous shoe on this very sneaky short fence around a patch of grass and flowers.And so he windmilled his way through the flowerbed, flailing his arms, throwing his dry cleaning in the air. But keeping a firm hold on his computer as it swung round and round.He tippy trompy tromped his way across the flowers, and stumbled out the other side, tripping over the fence on his way out.

Clomp.

He turned, gathered his shirts up with as much dignity as he could muster, and righted himself. And then noticed a neighbor giggling down into the flowers.

At least the boxers didn't make it all the way to the cleaners.

The two guys jogging past apologized for laughing. As did the neighbor.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Date night 2010

Friday night we went on a date to celebrate Nick's birthday.

Here we are all please take our picture! We're on a date!We got a babysitter! We got dressed up!

Well, I got dressed up. Nick pretty much always wears a jacket and tie to work. Me, on the other hand, sometimes I don't even bathe.

Not only did I bathe and get dressed up, I wore tarty boots! And a non-nursing bra! Hahahaha! Caution to the wind! Crazywildandfree!

OK, not really crazy, wild, or free. But it was liberating in a small way.

Cheers! Can you tell I'm clean?
Here's Nick and the birthday strawberry shortcake.
And you know, I'd forgotten this, but in my date-o-rama drama trauma days, one of my guy friends suggested that my socks were likely keeping me single. I dunno.I was going to say you can take the girl out of the tarty boots...but the expression all falls apart there.

Hi! It's Monday!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday dollop of the Big J

This is a photo of the pizza gang clash. I couldn't find it yesterday, even though it was with the rest of my photos.

The organizing and file-foldering, not so much my strengths. Plus, I don't like iPhoto as much as Picasa. Picasa kept me organized.

Anyway, this is Big J watching the pizza people with interest.One of the things I love is watching him watch things.

When he notices something new, he opens his eyes wide, thrusts his head forward, and gets this, "Wow!" expression on his face. It doesn't matter what the subject matter.

Lights! Snow! Water bottle! Pillow!

Any of them might evoke the same, "Holy cow!" from him. Or not. Nick was amazed at how nonplussed he was by the snow.

But then, when your whole world is relatively new, who's to say it shouldn't be entirely white? Maybe the world turns white every Saturday.

And I have no reason for posting the following except that I just cannot pass up a picture of a baby in a bear suit. Or anyway, my baby in a bear suit.Seriously, I want a hat with ears. I don't mean to be immodest, but I think I'd look pretty cute in one. Don't you think?

Happy weekend, all!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Because clearly some people have stronger opinions about pizza than others

We went to the Reef with some friends on Sunday afternoon.

Because the fish! Oh, the fish!

I don't know if you've ever seen a little kid up next to a fish tank, but it's just such a delight. Ohhh, the fish!

Anyway, Nick was telling our friends about the last time we'd been there, which was a few weeks prior. I'd forgotten about this.

We were walking up 18th Street, and we heard this commotion.

"Pizza Mart! Pizza Mart! Pizza Mart!"

There was this group of people holding Pizza Mart signs and chanting. They were accompanied by film cameras and a sound guy.

As we watched, another group walked towards them. They were promoting Jumbo Slice.

And the two crowds clashed. "Pizza Mart! "

"Jumbo Slice!"

"Pizza! Mart! Only dumbos eat Jumbos!"

They continued on in this way, on film, with microphones.

It was sort of like two gangs bumping up against each other. Except you know, not actually dangerous, because they were holding pizza signs rather than weapons. And nobody actually seemed angry or threatening.

This was clear to us.

But maybe not so much to the seemingly homeless guy who joined the fray.

He was pissed. He had opinions.

In the midst of "Pizza! Mart!" and "Jumbo Slice!" he jumped in.

He yelled, "Pizza Mart sucks! Pizza Mart stores their dough in the bathroom!"

The chanters paused. Looked at each other. Uncertainty as to what to do with this.

They resumed chanting.

He was still angry. "Fuck Pizza Mart!" He threw out a bunch of profanity. And then stormed off.

They recovered, and chanted a bit more. And then all headed into Madams Organ together, all affable like.

Who knows?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Three cheeses and one trickily named non-cheese

I used to think of myself as a person who would try just about anything once - with the main exception being weird meats.

And before I go any further, let me just mention that this is a very link-y post. In case that kind of thing irritates you. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood for a bunch of links, personally. And yes, I know you don't have to click them. But sometimes their existence just bugs.

So.

I've realized that there's an entire world of stuff I will not try, not once.

Because the other night we went out for dinner with one of our friends who got a charcuterie plate that included head cheese.

And of course I was all, "What kind of cheese is head cheese?"

You guys, it is not a cheese. No! It is meat jelly. Replete with pieces of the head of a cow or pig or sheep.

Clear meat jelly with chunks of animal head. In case you missed it the first time.

Eeeeee.

So that's the non-cheese. Moving on to the scariest cheese ever.

I learned about casu marzu - or maggot cheese - on a date several years ago.

Back when I was in the throes of my Internet dating career I went to NY for work. In a short span of days, I managed to not only have drinks and drinks and drinks and dinner with the Dementor but to pack in dates with two guys from the Internet as well.

What? I'd have moved to NY for love.

So, lots of alcohol, one museum, several meals, and I learned about maggot cheese. Ooh, and as I recall, I bought a really cute jacket. And I haven't been back to NY since.

ANYway. Getting back on topic.

For me I think the second worst cheese is Milbenkäse, which is this German cheese that's left to sit in a box with cheese mites - the digestive juices of which permeate the cheese and cause fermentation.

Which is not as bad as live maggots, but still very creepy to me.

However, I think I'd eat the cheese mite cheese, or maybe even the cheese mites themselves spread on toast, before I'd eat cheese made out of someone else's breast milk.

BOOB MILK CHEESE, people!

Seriously. Daniel Angerer, a NY chef, makes cheese out of his girlfriend's breast milk. She produced a ton of milk, and they were all, why waste it? And we like to make cheese! A recipe for it is on his blog.

Yah. So would you try any of these? How would you rank them?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Pump it up a little more, get the party going on the dance floor


I've become one of those people who is a threat to nurse their kid until he's a teenager.

Seriously. I now see how it happens.

However. I am slowly slowly heading towards Boob Liberation Day (BLD). Just much more slowly than I anticipated.

You know, I started out all, no way am I going to pump! I'm going to breastfeed until I have to go back to work and that is that.!

And then I got all sore-nippled and wandered around half-naked and the PPD was crushing and I felt so suffocated and just plain trapped under the weight of my child and milk-filled boobs. And I just wanted my body back. I wanted someone else to feed the kid. Every single day I decided I would get through one more day of nursing, and then I could quit.

And then suddenly it got easy and fun. Even if we didn't have as much of a mutual bond as I believed.

So then I decided we'd get to six months. Six months would be my cutoff point.

And then six months arrived. And I decided I'd just nurse morning and night. No more pumping. Because it's the pumping I'm sick of.

But this doesn't exactly work if I nurse on the weekends. Which I do.

So now I pump once a day if I can get away with it without my boobs exploding. I sometimes picture them exploding in a meeting. Or while walking down the hall.

I'll be sitting at a conference table or walking past someone's office, and all of a sudden, BLAM! PFFFSSSSSHHHHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSSHS!

So now I'm thinking seven months. Seven months. BLD, here I come.

And then, then my friends, I am having a big fat BLD happy hour.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Tam bo li de say de moi ya

Last night we slept all night long (all night)!

Then we got up and had boob and oat cereal like it was any other day.

And the reason I am posting is because I just feel like it's a huge day for us. WE SLEPT ALL NIGHT LONG! HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Naked backflips down the street! Yippee!

(And Maudie, this title's for you. And I googled the lyrics, so not entirely sure.)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Friday dose of the Jordan

Before Jordan was born, my dear friend Dagny gave him a number of extremely thoughtfully-chosen books.

One of them was Harold and the Purple Crayon, which I remember fondly from childhood. Nick, however, had never read it.But you know, these kid books are so fun, and even if you don't have fond memories attached, the good ones are still delighful.

I'm not saying Nick reads himself to sleep with them, but I'm not saying he doesn't.

So Nick was flipping through it, and stopped and asked, "Does Harold remind you of anyone?"I kind of think he's right.

Happy weekend, all!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Circling in circles

Oh, people. I am in one of those what am I doing with the blogging places.

You know how dogs will turn around and turn around, and then almost lie down, and then something isn't quite perfect and so they will seemingly turn in the same circle 37 billion times and then finally, finally curl up in what looks like the exact same place?

That's how I feel. I'm circling.

Like, should I pretty up my blog? Move to Wordpress and have many clean and lovely templates to choose from? Or shell out the cash to have someone else design a space just for me? Which is kind of a spendy proposition.

And I think design, good design, is totally worth money. It's not that I'm opposed to supporting designers; quite the contrary.

It's more that that's money that could be put towards light fixtures or the new door, or 74 gajillion other house things. Or baby clothes and toys. My new favorite way to spend.

Because for 30 seconds I kidded myself into thinking I'll learn CSS and figure out how to make my own and then I was all, really, in what kind of free time that you wouldn't rather be spending with Big J?

And is the pretty really what this is about? Because what do I want?

Is it in the hopes of attracting more readers? Or is it like buying yourself a new pair of shoes, which temporarily change and improve your life, or at least you feel like they do?

Is that what this is about?

And then I circle back to the what am I doing here anyway?

Maybe I should be using this time to write the book I keep saying I'm going to write, but don't because it is too big and daunting and I get all scaredy-scared. And also, the tired keeps me from embarking on such a big project. Because I never seem to get past the tired. And maybe that's just a big excuse.

Circle circle.

Then I think, but I'm happy. I like who I know here and I like what I have. Why mess with it?

Almost settle back down. But not quite.

I think it's part of a bigger what am I doing? kind of thing. And I dunno.

But I just feel like I need...something.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Ghost of a hope

I catch a glimpse of my father every once in a while.

Walking down the street, I'll see a head of white, curly hair at the right height out of the corner of my eye. Or a profile like my dad's. Or a flash of a smile.

I turn immediately, I always turn. And of course it's someone else.

I know, I know in my mind he's dead. But emotional memory, muscle memory, they take a long time to fade.

Nick humors me. He knows I hope for the reality of ghosts.

The other day I was feeding Jordan, and he kept looking over my left shoulder and laughing.

I looked, and I looked, and there was nothing, just the room. No mirror or window to catch his reflection. No toy, no motion, no music.

And yet, he'd focus on me, then turn, look over my shoulder, and laugh. Over and over.

I'd turn, quickly, hoping to catch him, if briefly.

It must be my dad.

Because you know, when I was young, we used to play this game at the dinner table. We'd compete to see who could make a worse face, my dad and I. He was not one of those "your face will freeze like that" kinds of people.

And he would love Jordan, and Jordan would love him. Who better to make faces over my shoulder?

It must be my dad. I say this to Nick, who wants to think it's possible for me, but in truth, he does not.

I can still make ridiculous faces. I can even frighten myself in the mirror with terrible facial contortions. I'm not kidding. I'm a huge chicken; I can scare myself into a panic if I'm home alone at night.

And yet, I long for a ghost.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Well loved, if not necessarily well dressed. Or clean.

I see all these mothers with makeup on, in nice outfits, strolling with a Starbucks cup, walking their kids.

Their kids are also in nice outfits, and they all look all clean and shiny and their clothes match their strollers match their toys.

And I wonder, how? Just, how?

We had to go back to get the rest of our shots this morning.

Our pediatrician's office does not allow you to be late for an appointment. They make you reschedule if you are.

This causes me a lot of anxiety. Because I am a person who has trouble getting myself out the door all organized and presentable. And now I'm responsible for a whole nother human.

Plus, with a baby, you (or anyway, I) have to start getting ready waaay ahead of time. And hoping there is no poo emergency. Or anything of the sort.

But this morning, my boy was napping soundly, and I just couldn't bear to wake him up abruptly.

He'd gotten up, nursed, eaten oat cereal and peas - num! - nursed, and crashed hard for his nap. And was so heavily asleep when it was time to get dressed and out the door.

So I let him sleep till the very last minute.

This meant that I squoze him into overalls over his PJs, hastily pulled on hat, sweatshirt, blankets, and sprinted out the door with him.

And then I had to run most of the way there, because we were late late, and I am a first-born-rule-follower, and also they have put the fear of God in me, those pediatrician people.

We arrived with two minutes to spare. Me, sweating profusely, as I do ever since having the kid. Him, cool as a cucumber, all chewing on his teething toys, delighted to see all the people.

So we are ushered in to a patient room, and the nurse says she just needs access to his chubby little thighs.

At which point I unsnap his overalls. Which exposes his pajamas. I'm all, "He was napping, and I, uh."

She just smiles. They're very nice there.

And so she gives him his shots and he freaks out briefly and then calms down. He's on my lap, and I'm cuddling him and kissing the top of his little head.

As I do so, I realize there are kind of flaky chunks on his forehead.

She sees me inspecting. "Dry skin?"

I want to lie, but I'm just not good at it.

"Yyyyy. . .Oatmeal."