Jillian R.
If you're a mom who is sometimes most times stuck watching an "educational" TV show with your toddler/kid(s), or simply forced to be in the room until said toddler falls asleep, because otherwise said toddler gets up and starts playing with their toys in the room, then I'm sure you are armed with a smart phone/tablet during these times, lest you are either staring at your little angel's adoring face or most times; a blank wall because God forbid, you make eye contact and the toddler takes this as a cue to get up and play.

Don't get me wrong, I love my two and a half year old to death, but sometimes, reading parenting articles online makes me feel like I'm either being a very bad parent or am setting up my own child to be a monster when they grow up.

I haven't written in a while, so there's a lot to catch up on, but here's what happened today. After our weekly grocery shopping, after unloading all the groceries from the car - while being almost seven months pregnant, in the heat, I went to unbuckle my child from the car seat. Being a two and a half a year old, of course she thinks she can do anything by herself (and would not accept any help!), which I don't doubt for a second, but for now, there I was standing in the heat waiting for her to SLOWLY climb off her car seat, and just when I thought she was about to descent from the car, she backed up and tried to climb into the driver's seat to "beep beep" the horn. We are currently going through a phase of her wanting to explore everything in the driver's seat. Obviously this is not wrong and I would gladly sit with her and let her explore, but not in almost 40°C heat.

Now, if you read online articles from the many many parenting blogs/websites out there, you would know that you are expected to very calmly explain to your child that we need to go inside because well, it's freaking HOT! And if this doesn't work, I don't know, you are supposed to propose a trade, maybe a favorite toy, or whatever, to get the toddler to come with you - because in a picture perfect world, your toddler would very happily come with you and all will be well.

Against my better judgement, I always try to be calm, in a "soothing" (yes, soothing is the key!) voice, albeit through gritted teeth, I tell her what I want, do I ever get results? Yes! She runs farther away, she touches whatever I tell her to not touch, she laughs/screams and THEN runs farther away.

So I told her, calmly, that it was hot and we needed to go inside *continues to stand between the two front seats, one more step, she'd be in front*. I told her the sun was "Ouchy-ing mommy (this usually works for most things, she's super caring, if anyone ever says ouch in our home she runs to the medicine cabinet to help) *continues to look longingly at the horn*. After a few more tries, I reached in and tried to grab her. Screamed bloody murder. At this point, the heat, my feet about to give out from under me and the frustration of standing there in front of our house, pleading with a two and a half year old to get out of the hot vehicle was too much, so I became a bad parent - and raised my voice! I hate yelling at her, but I yelled and reached in to grabbed her. Confronted with a physical challenge that she knew she couldn't win, she told me in between screams that she wanted to do it herself, and she slowly climbed out of the car.

Yes, the neighbors might have heard me, they might have judged me, how dare I yell at my child in 2016! But, parenting isn't all about doing everything you read online. It isn't about shaming and judging, it's about you and your own child. I'm not saying my child only responds to yelling, she is actually a pretty amazing human being, a much better person that I ever hope to be. She is loving, caring, very generous, kind, and if anyone's ever upset, she goes up to them and says "Don't worry, Scarlett's here", oh and the wisdom she shows at such a young age is truly remarkable. I know I might be biased but I swear it's all true! And the point I want to make here is that this little person CAN be reasoned with. Oftentimes, if we just explained to her why we want her to do something, she understands and does it, but she is two! We should just let two year olds be two year olds sometimes.
Jillian R.

Decided to skip working out today so I'd get to the grocery store early and beat everyone to the cashier's! Grocery stores here typically get busy after lunch time.

Got ready, dressed the Bunny, prepped the cooler with an ice pack because I was planning to buy meat. Loaded cooler and tote bags in the car, removed the skin of an apple (because Scarlett wouldn't eat apple skin!), sliced it thinly and put them in a little ziploc bag, packed some Cheerios and raisins and put everything in our little snack tote - because shopping alone with a toddler is a nightmare, in case nobody has yet to mention this.

Next, Bunny chose the shoes she wanted to wear (because at barely 2, making decisions is important to her *eye roll*). I managed to strap her in her seat without struggling because I bribed her with her favorite Elsa purse. I had her tablet fully charged and ready to go, in case of extreme madness during the 40 mins drive into town.

Everything was set and ready.

Then the car wouldn't start. Battery was dead.

Moral of the story: Never skip morning workout.

(Note: The battery dying out on us this morning is a HUGE blessing really. One, it happened at home and not in the hot carpark - with all my cold meats in the trunk! Two, it happened in the morning when it's not even that hot outside yet. It's 'only' 39 C right now. And three, I'm waiting for a replacement comfortably on our couch instead of some bench at the mall, so all in all, WIN!)

Jillian R.
I'm sure by now many of you have read and/or heard about the incident at Marcy's Diner in Maine where the owner yelled at a "baby" for having a 45 minute tantrum in the busy diner on a Saturday morning. Well, as it turned out, the "baby" wasn't a baby, but a 21 month old toddler.

As a mom with a 21.5 month old myself, I could relate - well sort of.

Scarlett is a sweet little girl most of the time, she waves at strangers, blows kisses at them, says "ki-kiu" (thank you) at waiters/waitresses every time they bring something to the table, says "es-you" (love you) to everyone we know and gives hugs and kisses whenever she is asked. However, every toddler has the occasional tantrum and there is only so much we can do. In my previous post I left out parts about me spilling the contents of my purse, carry-on and "activity bag" for any last hope we might have had to calm her down. I even offered her a super special treat (chocolate, which she normally doesn't get) as a bribe but she wouldn't open her eyes to look and just kept on screaming at the top of her lungs.

Thankfully, we have been blessed with a very co-operative, sweet child for the duration of this vacation so far. She loves her grandparents and cousins and has been very well behaved in restaurants as long as there was something for her to do. Scarlett loves to color, so I ALWAYS carry a little bag of crayons and a little notebook with her favorite character on it. She would sit and color while we waited for the food to come, no matter how long it took. She's known as the little-girl-who-loves-to-color back in Abu Dhabi in most of the restaurants we like to frequent. The waitresses know her by name and they always rush out with crayons and activity sheets as we are being seated!


(I forgot to bring her notebook once, so, they offered her a take-away menu at a pizza place)

However, our latest incident happened just last night. It is not too different from the one at Marcy's Diner. We were visiting family in Syracuse. It is a four hour drive back to Eric's parents' house where we are staying so we decided to stay a night in Roscoe. We discovered this place by accident last year when we stopped for a bite on the same drive home. The Riverside Cafe & Lodge has really amazing food, on par with any five star restaurant we've been to. The place is cosy, quiet, and I don't know what's not to like about eating by the river. I will probably put up an entry on this soon, but first, let's get back to my child.


(A six-month old Scarlett at the restaurant last year. She told me the silhouette of the pig in the background is "Oink" which made me very proud)

After a two-hour drive, we arrived at the lodge, checked in, laid our bags down, strolled along the river and took lots of pictures, it was time for dinner. That was when it started. They didn't have booster seats (only high chairs) and she has, for a couple of months now, decided that she has outgrown high chairs. So she refused to sit in the high chair OR the regular chair. We managed to get her sitting in the high chair for a few minutes before she screamed to be let out. It was a quiet restaurant and we could clearly see the restaurant had a very "adult" dining atmosphere. A few diners wore dinner jackets - it was that kind of place. We tried putting her on our laps, offered her bread, nope, nothing worked. We took turns walking her around the restaurant where she pointed out taxidermied "fish", "dee-er" (deer), and everything else she saw. She pointed at the deer head and said "scared". She was also scared of "tiger, meow" (a picture/painting of leopards). She has a really vast vocabulary for a toddler who is barely two so it is never dull playing this game with her, at least.

When the salad came, I offered her the salad dressing (yes, I offered my child salad dressing!) for "dip-dip" as she loves ketchup. There was no ketchup but Ranch seemed to do the job. She stopped fussing and sat in the high chair. That lasted 10 minutes before she wanted to get up again. The strange thing was, amidst all of this, she kept waving and smiling at three elderly diners at the next table who smiled and waved back, then went back to saying "NO!! *grunt* STUCK!! HELP!! *whine* COME OUT!! DOWN!!". I wasn't going to be that mom who lets her child run amok in restaurants. So we didn't want to let her down. She kept trying to jump out of the high chair!

The waiter tried to be helpful and asked if we wanted him to bring out our orders all at once (we ordered appetizers and mains). I didn't feel that he was in any way trying to make us feel bad by the way. He was professional and genuinely seemed like he wanted to help. We told him it was alright, we will try to calm her down. Unlike the parents at the Maine diner, at the very next scream, I grabbed her out of the chair, took her out of the dining hall and very calmly made her apologize. She did. With tears in her eyes, and snot running down her mouth, she said "Sorryyyyyyy", gave me a hug and a kiss on each cheek and lips and we went back to the table. She still didn't want to sit in the high chair but she did sit in the regular chair (on her knees) and quietly ate her food with dip-dip the rest of the meal. She even made a few new friends - she told the other diners her name - "Scar-yett" and how old she was - "Two!" and everybody waved goodbye and many kisses were blown back and forth as we were leaving.

So, in conclusion, in my humble opinion as a 21.5 month old mother, I say, unless your child just waited in the airport for over 6 hours, and flew 13 hours quietly and cheerfully, they CAN be calm and quiet in the restaurant. A two-year old CAN be reasoned with, there is no need for everyone else to sit through your child's tantrums. Unless we're really talking about a baby who cannot tell us what's wrong, there is always something we can do.
Jillian R.
We've successfully escaped the Abu Dhabi heat. We're still pretty jetlagged but the weather is so pleasant it's hard not to enjoy it to the fullest before we return to 50C (and over 90% humidity, there was one day that was 100% and it did not rain! How?! Why?!) heat. Just thinking about it drains all the joy out of me! 

Also, I've finally found the strength to write about our flight into the States.

The flight from Dubai to New York takes about 13 hours. However, because we live in Abu Dhabi, we had to take a 90 minute taxi ride to get to the airport. We arrived four hours early because Dubai International Airport happens to be the busiest airport in the world, and I wanted to check-in as early as we can to ensure that we secure bulk head seats for our flight so that Scarlett, who does not require her own seat yet is able to use the baby bassinet during the flight. When we arrived at the check-in counter, we were the first and only ones there, and got the seats we wanted - because unlike some folks, we are only flying Economy and those extra few inches of leg room mean EVERYTHING when it comes to flying with a two year old! The flight ended up being delayed for an hour and a half. Then another hour with us sitting in the aircraft. 

At the airport: Who needs a stroller when you can just ride mommy's suitcase?

Apart from the delay, everything worked out very well thus far! Scarlett entertained herself by running around the terminal, coloring and waving "hi" to tired looking strangers equally dreading their 13-hour flight. Everything went extremely well on the flight as well, I was so afraid it was not possible to eat meals with Scarlett on my lap if she wasn't napping in the bassinet, but as it turned out, it WAS do-able. I never knew that I was capable of eating and feeding a toddler in such a small space. I mean, we're talking about a tiny, little tray with no seat in front to stop the whole meal from flying off onto my pants! Everything was going according to plan! Scarlett stuck to her usual nap and sleep routine and seemed to be enjoying the flight. She charmed flight attendants and passengers around us with her sweetness.

She thought the flight attendants were "ah-cess" (princesses)!

Everything was going SO WELL! Too well!

Then we arrived at JFK airport Immigration *insert dramatic music*.

We had been travelling for about 18-20 hours at this point, I've lost count. Our flight's two-hour delay meant that we arrived at the same time as other flight(s) coming into the US. THOUSANDS Hundreds of people swarmed the Immigration lines, which were not all opened because it was a little past midnight. We were sent to the "Visitor" line which had twice the number of people than the line for US citizens or green card holders - even though I was travelling with TWO U.S. citizens. The woman directing the lines was obviously feeling a bit grumpy that night. Usually, even it was just me and my American husband, we were sent to the citizen line. Rules are rules, I get it. 

Anyway, we were waiting in line for about an hour and the end of the line was still nowhere in sight. Scarlett decided not to take it anymore.

She had possibly the worst tantrum of her 22 month of life! I'm not even joking. Blood curdling screams echoed through the entire hall. I don't think there was one person who didn't hear her screams. We spent the next 30 minutes trying to calm her down. We tried everything, I mean everything! Nothing worked. People around us tried to help, a woman offered to help push our luggage forward as the line moved forward an inch at a time. After getting screamed at for nearly an hour, I yanked her into the restroom and splashed cold water on her face. That merely stunned her for a few seconds, but it seemed to have angered her more! She started laying and screaming on the restroom floor. As we walked out of the restroom with me holding my squirming, kicking, screaming child by the belly, I heard "Tsk, tsk, tsk" coming from the bench beside the restroom door. I wanted very badly to let Scarlett scream in their ear for 10 minutes, then we shall see if they could still tsk me! I was merely minutes away from losing it myself.

We got back into line, Scarlett continued eardrum bursting screams. I lost it. Any sanity I had left was gone. There was nothing else Eric and I could do. I was sure everyone hated us. I couldn't even bear to look anyone in the eye. Then an immigration officer came and took us, "the hated people" to the front of the line, where we only had to wait for about five more people to get through. Still, the screams continued. When I say screams, I don't mean cries by the way, I really mean screams, screams that shreds your soul. A few minutes later, another officer pulled us out of line and took us to a closed booth, which he opened just for us. I was crying at this point. Yes, mother and daughter were both crying. Through blurry, teared eyes I could see people looking judgingly at us, tissues were handed to me. For a few minutes I couldn't see the hundreds of judging eyes anymore. Oh, Scarlett was still screaming this whole time, there was no break.

Somewhere on file is my U.S Immigration picture, puffy, red eyes and tear streaked face.

On the bright side, if it wasn't for her crazy tantrum, we'd still be standing in line right now, and there wouldn't be this entry to read.
Jillian R.
I'm painting my toe nails and feel like I'm wasting precious minutes waiting for them to dry before the next coat goes on. So, I will share another one of my stories-from-the-desert with you.

I've probably mentioned before how many times, on a daily basis actually, that I get mistaken for being Filipino here - by Filipinos themselves! Not that there's anything wrong with being Filipino. It could very well be Eskimo, it's still annoying being mistaken for being from some place you are not AND then being spoken to in that country's language. Anyway, Filipino is my thing. Usually there's "Ma'am you are Filipino?" or "Are you Filipino", but many times it's just straight "Tagalog, tagalog, tagalog" and I have to stop them by saying "I'm NOT FILIPINO!". Ah, and there's also the arguing! After I tell them I'm not Filipino, they ARGUE with me, "Oh! But you look like Filipino, ma'am!" - which I don't think I do!

Once, I was scolded by a Filipino sales person. Yes, scolded!! Scarlett was being a pain (as usual!) during grocery shopping and insisted on pushing our shopping cart, which she couldn't, but wanted to try anyway. As I walked passed this sales person, she said in a reprimanding tone, and again, by now I can always guess what they are saying, she was scolding me in Tagalog that Scarlett could get hurt pushing the cart. I stopped and said, "EXCUSE ME! I don't know what you are saying, but I'm not Filipino and this is my daughter, I know what I'm doing!" Immediately, her tone changed completely and she apologized "Ma'am sorry, I thought you were Filipino". She explained that she saw a kid's foot being run over by a shopping cart wheel before. I understand that her intention was well-meaning, but still, she suddenly earned the right the scold a shopper if they were Filipino?! I feel offended FOR Filipinos, really!

Yesterday, we were last-minute shopping for travel stuff. At the checkout, the cashier started speaking Tagalog with me, from her gestures I understood that she was asking me if the snack that Scarlett was eating needs to be rung up, or something like that. I told her "No, I brought it from home, and by the way, I'm NOT FILIPINO!"

She was apologetic but Eric was there and they had the following exchange:-

Eric: Are you Vietnamese?

Cashier: Oh no sir, I'm not!

Eric: I thought you were Vietnamese

Cashier: Oh no, I'm Filipino!

Eric: Oh sorry, I should have asked where you were from.

Cashier: Oh sorry, sir, but most English (she meant Caucasian) men marry Filipinos. So I thought your wife is Filipino.

I was a bit disturbed by the whole thing on so many levels! 

Later on, Eric told me he felt offended for Filipino men! Apparently most Filipino women run off and marry Caucasian men, what what she was implying. What happens to all the men?

Anyway, nails are dry now, will write again soon from the Big Apple, I hope!


Jillian R.
I never knew what love was before I met you.

I knew that love is patient but I never knew that love was unmoving.

I knew that love is kind but I never knew that love was so forgiving.

I knew there's give and take in love but I never knew there's so much one could give.

I thought I knew unconditional love reading books and watching movies but I've never felt it until I met you. 



I feel like I could go on writing this for a while but everyone knows that's not me. Eric and I met under the most fortunate of circumstances. If I was to be perfectly honest, I'd say it was meant to be. See, I had just moved back to my hometown after working in another city for a few months. It was just like the movies; I hated my job, was making very little money and was made to work more than 12 hours a day in a little cubicle at the office. Sure, there was gourmet coffee to be had at any time, but that's just to keep us awake longer -- to work! So, yeah, I hated my job so one day I just upped and left.

But the bank didn't care if I still had my sad excuse for a job or not. I had to somehow pay off my car's monthly installments. I've been independent since I was 17, so taking handouts from my parents wasn't even on the table. I've already sent out resumes and attended a few interviews, so while waiting for news, my cousin suggested that I work part time at a local Irish pub; the tips were good she said having worked there herself and the clientele was more working adults as opposed to rowdy teenagers pretending to be adults. What could go wrong?

So I waited tables. I majored in hospitality so waiting tables is as comfortable as it gets for me. The second night on the job, a guy whom I thought was just making polite conversation with me at first asked what time my shift ends (which I lied) and wanted me to go visit him in his hotel room. I knew this sort of thing was unavoidable, working in a pub and all. I didn't visit him, of course, in case anyone is wondering.

The next night, I met my Eric.

He sat there watching people playing pool. I will not lie. I was attracted to this man, with eyes that lit up when he smiled. I've always had a thing for men with nice, lustrous hair but as irony would have it, this man has none. Yet, I feel myself drawn to him. Anyway, he didn't have a tab and paid whenever I brought him another beer. Lousy tipper. Then we got to talking, because like I said, I'm not going to lie, I flirted (back when I remember HOW to flirt) with him. When he told me he was visiting (he was a tourist) I asked where he was staying, I don't know why, just making conversation I guess. When he told me the name of this little hotel which I said I've never heard of, he said "I can show you". My heart fell, I thought he wanted me to pay him a visit just like the guy from the night before. When I started to excuse myself, he said, "No really, I can show you, it's right across the street, I can point it out!".

So, long story short, or perhaps a story for another time, several dates, two years of Skype chats, expensive long distance phone calls, and plane rides back and forth to visit each other (I was still living in Malaysia, and him in Korea) later, we were married.

And thus, here we are, on this loooong blog post, here I am, wishing this wonderful, loving and kind, a man I'm extremely proud to call my Husband, a very happy, and blessed birthday (it's a few days early, but I cannot wait!)

(Us, the summer we met)

(That summer was also the first time we both saw a rainbow around the sun for the first time in our lives, it it wasn't meant to be I don't know what is!)


Jillian R.
Our little Scarlett Bunny is now a few days shy of 21 months old. I can't remember if I ever wrote about her sleep issues and it's kind of hard to search past posts on my iPad right now so I will quickly summarize the best I can.

We co-slept since she was born, we set up her nursery and everything but because I was breastfeeding, it just seemed like the most sane idea to keep her in her little co-sleeper next to our bed. I can barely remember now, but I know I got up every hour to feed her the first night we came home from the hospital. Anyway, the plan was, she was supposed start sleeping in her nursery when she turned six months, which never happened. Plan B was when could sit up by herself, nope, still slept with us. Then finally, she outgrew the co-sleeper when she could stand up. The co-sleeper wasn't built with high sides so Bunny could easily fall out, so being weak hearted parents who couldn't send a crying child to her room alone, she started sleeping in our bed. From time to time, I'd try to get her out of our bed with no success. This is not a normal child, she has an iron will, she would cry and scream herself to sleep, then woke up refreshed half an hour later to repeat the screaming. Nothing worked, until one day, a few moms at our playgroup gave me the strength to leave her to cry it out. It took one night, ONE. From then on, she's been sleeping by herself.

Now, we have established a routine. Every evening, after dinner either daddy or mommy would bathe her, then give her her "goodnight milk" (bottle), and as she tucks herself into her bed and drinks her goodnight milk, we would read her THREE stories from her collection of Asop's fables storybook. Three stories somehow became the magic amount of time it takes for her to finish the milk and go to sleep.

Tonight it was my turn to tuck her in. I was only on the last paragraph of the second story, when she handed me her empty bottle. I took it and continued reading, it was the last paragraph! That was when she stopped me by saying "sleep", and closed her eyes. She was done with me for the night. "It's enough mommy, stop reading, I want to sleep!" She did say "of you" (love you) before I left the room, so all is well with the world.

Goodnight sweet princess, you will never know how much we love you...
Jillian R.
I went through a sort of bitter-sweet a-ha moment at the supermarket today. 

From watching how people drive, to how people break off random pieces of ginger to pick the BEST piece of ginger from the bin - really, there really IS a BEST piece, you just have to rifle through the entire bin while everyone else waits to find it!. To letting their kids take a bite of an apple then throwing the rest on the supermarket floor, to blatantly cutting lines; I've always suspected that people here have no regard whatsoever about anyone other than themselves. Today, this suspicion was confirmed. I didn't want to be right, hence the bitter- part mentioned above.

I went grocery shopping today. I spent half of the trip chasing my toddler around, feeding her a whole container of raisins, and even resorting to giving her her little kid's tablet I wrote about in my last entry, nothing works. She insists to "walk", meaning by herself, not allowing me to hold her hand, in a supermarket where people push their carts absentmindedly, or just give up pushing altogether and let their 5 year old push it into whatever they so choose. After ALL of that, we made it to the cashier's.

This is where it happened. The lines were all starting to pile up. I chose a random line and started queuing. A woman then told me, in not a single word of English, but I understood that she meant to tell me that I had to get behind her. I had my cart sort of next to her because if I had went behind her, I would've blocked the entire path and nobody would be able to get through to the rest of the cashiers.

There, I tried to illustrate the situation with my poor drawing skills. The blue rectangles are cashiers. The red stick figures are the woman and her husband. They were already queuing on two lines (greedy!), if I had stood behind her like she wanted, I would've blocked the entire path, which I'm sure other selfish people would just bulldoze me over with their carts. Shortly after her husband's line started moving so he called her over and she left.

All that was pointless anyway because as I stood there, I came to the horrifying realization that I forgot to weigh all my fruits and veggies.

Fruitful day regardless, shopping for the week is done, at least there's that. Sometimes I don't know how long I can remain sane here. Not long to do before we leave for vacation. Maybe I'll gain some sanity back. Maybe.
Jillian R.
Here is something that I think will help lots of would-be-travelling parents with small children. We just bought this for Scarlett and I think this might be very very handy during our 13-hour flight to NY in the summer.

Image result for i-life kidstab 4
The i-Life Kids Tab 4
( Source: http://i-life.us/product/kids-tab-4/ )

I've let her play with my ipad before but my daughter is not a normal child, she somehow always manages to get out of a full screen program and change the settings on the ipad. Plus, within a few days, the fiber glass screen protector is cracked and plastic case is cracked on ALL 4 sides. I think we've gotten jibbed on the screen protector and the casing, but that's another story.

However, we generally do not allow our 19 month old to play with tablets or ipads.

This kid's tablet seems durable, and it's preloaded with games and activities, and the best part, it has parental controls that includes a timer that can be set to ensure the child does not stay on the tablet too long. Plus it's an Android, which means DRAG-AND-DROP videos, music and movies on it!! For more info on this click here. I spent 2 hours trying to put videos on my ipad through itunes this morning and I think I very nearly pulled out all my hair! Grrrr. Never again! Oh, and I wasn't successful by the way!

Now, perhaps the plane ride will be "quite" enjoyable! I'm putting together a little toddler kit for the airplane, if I find some sanity and time before we go I will post details of the kit here.

P.s. I'm not getting paid by this company. Just an overexcited parent who's about to willingly lock myself in an aircraft with a very active toddler whom I hope will enjoy some videos on the flight and perhaps we would get to take turns sleeping a bit here and there.
Jillian R.
A random little post before I go to bed.

I often ask Scarlett "Are you my little baby darling?". Of course, being an actual baby, she never answered. Until today that is.

This morning, as usual, we were having a conversation, holding her little hand as we walked down the stairs

Me: Scarlett, are you a little baby darling?
Scarlett: No!
Me: *shocked, because I wasn't expecting an answer* Why not?
Scarlett: TWO!

Scarlett is 19 months but I'm guessing months would be impossible to teach.

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