Friday, December 18, 2009

I Second That

An excerpt from a San Francisco Chronicle article pretty much sums it up for us over here. The article is headlined A look back at one of the worst years ever and starts like this:

"If there is good news for East Bay residents in 2009, it's that the year is almost over. And if you are one of those poor souls who lost a home, a job - or both and then some - take comfort, friend, for you are a survivor of one of the worst years on record."

Full article here if you're interested.

I don't need to read the whole thing. I am painfully aware of how difficult a year it's been. More on the further twists and turns of 2009 for us over here in survivor-land later. For now, I'm going to make myself some hot chocolate spiked with brandy and think about how 2010 is just around the corner, and man, what a better year that will be.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Beautiful Post

I swear that this blog is not becoming all-miscarriage-all-the-time. That would be way too depressing for me and for you. But I really wanted to share a post I found on one of the blogs I read regularly. She has an essay out in The Sun about her experience. I've only read the teaser they give you on The Sun's website, but I will be buying the magazine to read the rest.

And no, referencing this blog post doesn't mean that Mikhail and I are deciding that Elan is our one and only. I just think the writing is beautiful and the sentiments are so understandable, at least from where I stand.

Read it here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

After Yet Another Rejection Letter

Sometimes I ask myself why I write. Writing is the work I do during my precious hours not being 100% Mama, sandwiched between getting some exercise and doing tasks that cannot possibly be done with an energetic 3-year-old in tow, like visiting the dentist. Paying for twelve hours of childcare a week so that I can write (and do other sanity-preserving activities) is a huge investment for a family with very little extra money in the budget. Sometimes it feels like such an extravagance. I should use this time for something that pays real money right now, I think. Or at least something that provides a little validation, rather than just another fresh rejection letter curing on my desk.

How do we know when chasing a dream goes from inspiring to irresponsible?

Does it ever?

I sought out grantwriting gigs, and after many hours of trying, I got one. I made a little money. It felt good. I'd do another, if there were another to do. But I am impatient. I don't want to spend the precious hours chasing after work; I want to spend it writing. I have so many projects in the cue and on my desk. What I lack is not ideas or the drive to put them to paper - it's the time to delve deeply.

But whenever I question my choices, I end up back here: I know deep down that writing is my soul-work. No matter what else I do with my days, writing is not a choice; it is a necessity for my soul to be filled and fulfilled.

And then there is this quote from Joyce Maynard, via one of my favorite blogs Chookooloonks:

"It's not only children who grow. Parents do, too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself."

Having faith in myself and my writing, even during a run of rejection letters, is how I show Elan what it looks like to reach for the sun.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In December

It is December now, and I notice that for the past several months I have maintained silence here on my blog about how I have continued to deal with the miscarriage that rocked my world this year. Why is that? Shortly after the miscarriage, I wrote a series of emotionally raw and revealing posts. I did that consciously, because for me, writing is a form of therapy. Writing helps me to process my emotions, to understand my reactions, and to move through difficult or stuck places.

I could have written these things in my journal rather than in a public forum like a blog. However, I also wanted to communicate about this experience. Despite all the supportive and loving people in my life, miscarriage has felt like such a lonely loss. Perhaps all loss is. I know the experience of miscarriage and the emotions it raises are different for every woman. For me it has felt like a death that only I really grieve. And while society might be more open about miscarriage now than in the past, it is still an experience shrouded in things unspoken, people not knowing what to say, women not knowing how to share their experience without making others uncomfortable. In writing about my miscarriage, I wanted to reach out to say how it is for me, to make this kind of experience less of an off-limits topic, to acknowledge the hard stuff rather than gloss over it. For better or worse, I'm just not the type to skip to the happy ending.

I wrote some posts where I started to really delve into these feelings, and then I got scared off. I got scared off by the reaction of a few people, which I feared meant there were more who just wouldn't speak their thoughts out loud. I retreated. Which was okay. I needed to mull over how to use this blog, what purpose I hope it to serve both for me and those who read it. And the truth is that, while I enjoy posting pictures of Elan and the strange and funny happenings in our world, I know I won't keep writing on this blog unless it really serves me. And I think the way for it to do that best is as a forum for me to send snippets of my writing out into the world. This is something I need to practice. It is difficult for me to decide that a piece of writing is finished and to submit it to journals and magazines, when I know statistics say it will most likely be rejected. This blog is a way for me to tell the overly-perfectionistic part of myself to bug off. It is a place for me to experiment, to put my writing out there with less fuss and hassle and patience than is required in the publishing world.

That doesn't mean that I don't carefully consider the words I post here. I know that once published to the Internet, they live outside my control. But I have decided that ultimately, I'm more interested in truth than self-protection. I'm more inspired by sharing myself than by retreating. At least for today.

And so, I write to you from December. Today after I put Elan down for his nap, I suddenly felt overcome with sadness. I flipped the calender to December, and there was a visual representation of why. At the end of this week, a small number inked in my handwriting: 38. At the end of this week, I would have been 38 weeks pregnant. Elan was born at 38 weeks. My official due date is not for several weeks, and yet, I could have had a baby any day now.

Could, should, would. I know these words are not helpful. They are a story of the past, not my current reality. And yet. Grief is like that, I have realized. You go along, feeling fine, focusing on the here and now, until suddenly, a wave sneaks up and takes you down. Or at least gets the hem of your pants wet.

What I want to say is that I am doing well. I feel strong and hopeful, especially in comparison to where I was several months ago. I am healing. A work in progress. This month marks the time our baby would have been born, but it also signifies the official end of the six-month waiting period after the molar pregnancy. And so now, in December, I find myself balancing hope and fear, thankfulness for the health I've got and how far I've come with sadness over what I hoped would be, this time of the year.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Big News from the Home of a 3-Year-Old

Today, at 3 years and 3 days old, Elan peed in the potty for the very first time!

Anyone who is not a parent is not obligated to feel any excitement at all over this news.

Friday, November 27, 2009


For my first long night's sleep in over two weeks

For Elan turning 3 yesterday

For an amazing Thanksgiving meal

For several weeks of laughter and connection with friends and family

For holding my nephew Judah

For Popa Al's 100th birthday party

For safe travels and safe returns

For health and another -0- HCG level

For a quiet, peaceful moment in the autumn sunshine

For our Japanese maple showing off how it can do red

For dreams and the ability to pursue them...

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Am I Getting Myself Into?

We are leaving tomorrow morning for the Epic Back East Trip. Almost midnight and still packing (as usual). Feeling a little worried about how it's all going to pan out. Wondering if I'm going to be kicking myself for getting myself into this. What am I - crazy?

I might be updating the blog regularly from the road. But then again, I might not.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Here We Go

The last time I did a cross-country flight alone with Elan, it involved: 7 diaper changes; 3 episodes of explosive diarrhea (his); 1 destroyed airplane blanket (thankfully only the blanket, not the seat); 2 cases of raging pink eye and associated Nastiest Virus of the Winter (both of us); 1 episode of begging wipes from the other family on the plane; and 2 interactions with unsympathetic flight attendants that must have sufficiently labeled me mom on the edge that they ignored the fact that my computer was playing an Elmo DVD as we landed in San Francisco.

It’s taken me ten months, but I believe I have sufficiently recovered from that experience to attempt it again.

Enter the Epic Back East trip, beginning in T minus 2 days. Our itinerary is ambitious: 3 nights in Boston, 2 nights in Baltimore, 3 nights in New York City, 3 nights in New Jersey, culminating on the last day with a huge family reunion and party for my grandfather Popa Al’s 100th birthday. Twelve days, four cities, one mama and one almost-3-year-old. Elan and I will be traveling alone for two flights and two train trips. Mikhail will meet up with us in New Jersey for the party and accompany us home on the last flight.

I am a traveling mama. This is not a huge surprise, given my penchant for travel in my life pre-child. And, though my friends are always asking, “Where are you going this time?” for a long time I thought that because most of our travel is for the purpose of visiting friends and family and none of it has been international, it didn’t count. Most of the time when I travel with Elan, it’s quick trips back and forth to southern California. But we’ve also done several trips to the East Coast, and while usually I have a fair amount of family support on those trips, I do most of my southern California runs flying alone with him. And oh, what I’ve learned.

As moms in our daily life, we tend to think that we’ve got to have it all together. We try to manage feedings and snacks and naps and diaper bags to make our schedules and lives as comfortable and free of meltdowns as possible. But when you travel, to some extent you throw normal routines and schedules out the window. You’re in a new place; you don’t know where you’re going or what you will need when you get there. You’re more likely to encounter something that throws you or sends your child into a tailspin. When you travel, life becomes more uncertain. By its very nature, travel opens us up to the unpredictable. This can feel scary to new parents whose feeling of control is often on shaky ground as it is. But it can also teach us valuable lessons about how creative we can get, and how we can get through tough times.

One lesson that I learn time and time again when I travel with Elan is that people like to help. I don’t want to set myself up for impossible situations. But they can and do happen, and while some people will walk right by and ignore your plight, others get a big boost out of feeling useful. Given the norms of our society, people will not often offer – you generally do have to ask. But when you do, people can be surprisingly generous. If you find yourself without enough hands, look around for an able-bodied member of the general public who’s kind of looking at you. That’s your cue to give that person a big smile and ask them to take your suitcase down the escalator for you. If they bow out, don’t take it personally. The key is not to assume that you’re owed help simply because you have a child (people without children hate parents’ sense of entitlement!). When you do get help (and you will), be grateful. At the bottom of the escalator, give that person a huge thank you. Tell them they made your day. And sometimes, by reinforcing the communal nature of society (as opposed to the driving individualism we often embrace in our daily lives and when traveling alone), you can make that person’s day too.

Once, I was running late for a train that would take Elan (then six months old) and me from New Jersey to Baltimore. When I got to the train station, I jumped out of the car and asked a college-age guy waiting for the bus if he would do me the biggest favor ever. Not only did he run up several flights of stairs carrying my insanely heavy suitcase, he also helped me navigate the confusing ticket system. I made my train, and he got to feel like a big hero (and he was!).

A few tips about flying with a baby or toddler:

  • Pack more diapers in your carry-on than you think you could possibly, under any circumstances, ever need for the duration of your flight.
  • Overhead air blowers make excellent quick dryers for wet garments, especially when you lay them out on the seat back in front of you.
  • Rows 12-18 are the dirtiest seats on Southwest – that’s where all the kids end up sitting with the new family boarding system.
  • Diapers (even just wet ones) are not supposed to go in the trash bags the stewardesses carry down the aisles, and even though they rarely tell you this, they will sometimes make you pick yours out of the trash if they see it.
  • If your baby is breast-fed, no one will notice if you change his diaper on your seat (just use a changing pad so if they do, you still look somewhat civilized).
  • You can usually get away with keeping your baby in a soft carrier (Moby, Ergo) as you go through security. Just look confident and say “They always let me do it every time I fly” if you are questioned. If your baby is happy or asleep, try requesting a pat down rather than taking him out.
  • You are not technically allowed to keep a baby in most carriers during take-off and landing even though that rule makes no sense at all. Try to get away with it, but be ready to undo at least a few straps and hold your child the flight attendant makes a fuss.
  • If your baby cries on the plane, do not look around. Yes, people are looking at you, and no, that won’t help comfort the baby.
  • If you are nursing without a cover, everyone who walks by will invariably look straight at your nipple. Don’t get upset about it – it’s an involuntary reaction.
  • When an airplane does not have a changing table in the bathroom (and it's surprising how few do), just lay your changing pad down on the floor in the back galley and do it there. Act like you know what you’re doing even if you don’t (in fact, that goes for most of traveling with a baby or toddler).
  • Most important thing to bring: your sense of humor. The good news is that if you forget it – and you most likely will at some point – you can pick one up again almost anywhere.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

We Should Rent Him Out To NASA

I might have mentioned before that Elan is a problematic sleeper. At this point, after more than 2.5 years of sleep training, he often goes through good spells of sleeping through the night. He never wakes up at what Mikhail and I would have considered in our B.C. (before-child) life to be a reasonable hour. But let's not get me started on that right now.

Elan has a clock in his head. And it is a very reliable one. It knows, for instance, exactly what time to awaken to really piss off Mama (that would be anytime before 6 a.m., the time I have somewhat kind of a little bit made peace with). When we travel across time zones, he shows an eerie ability to almost instantly adjust to the new time. For instance, he might "sleep in" till 7 a.m. local time the first morning back east, but after that he's back to his usual wake-up time sometime around 6, even though that's actually 3 in the morning back home.

Mikhail and I joke about how we should rent him out to NASA, in case all the clocks in the entire world ever go blank at the same time. We could just put Elan to bed and then wait until he wakes up in the morning. BAM! Instant reliable time-keeping.

For a while, we tried to counter the permanent early setting on Elan's internal alarm clock with an external alarm clock. We figured we could capitalize on his love for numbers. It worked for a while. There followed days of blessed sleeping-in until 6:20 a.m.! That's a whole twenty minutes past six, people! After a few weeks, he started to think that if he just screamed loud enough, the clock would change. At that point I threw the clock out the window (not literally, but I would have liked to).

Lately Elan has been creeping his wake-up time ever earlier, until 5:45 a.m. We've been kind of skating along with this one, not wanting yet ANOTHER round of screaming in the darkness. It's easier, in the moment, to just bring him into bed and try to sleep another few minutes. Not that that actually works though - long gone are the days when he would snuggle in and sleep with us.

He's been getting up occasionally in the night too, like last night at midnight, at the exact moment that Mikhail had finally settled into a deep and restful sleep. Thankfully he settles down fairly easily in the night, but not in the wee hours of the morning.

(And YES, we've tried putting him to bed later, and NO it does not work. NOT EVER.)

It is amazing, knowing what I do about my son's internal clock, that I could be blind-sided by his response to the time change as I have been. I was actually looking forward to the end of Daylight Savings Time because I figured I would feel more awake in the morning if it were light sometime in the two hours after I awoke. However. The small and difficult one has gotten up at 4:45 a.m. the last two mornings. And he is completely resistant to going back to sleep. This morning, I was treated to 45 minutes of screaming, the first 15 at a pitch loud enough to wake birds sleeping in trees in yards across the street. And finally when I gave him a bottle and put him back in his crib, he did quiet down for a half-hour, but I am pretty sure he didn't go back to sleep. And then at 6:30, he tried again. Now can I get up? I'll be really charming and cute. Except after being up for nearly two hours when it's just getting light outside, charming and cute don't really register in my brain. All I am aware of is ugly, ugly thoughts that go something like where can I stick this kid so I can go back to sleep? Maybe inside the washing machine...

And that is why Mikhail was woken at 6:30 on his birthday and told: Take. The. Child. Now.

Happy Birthday Sweetie!

And now the small and impossible one is not napping. This wouldn't be so bad if he were not acting like a pile of exhausted toddler before going into his crib for naptime. But he was, cause HE'S BEEN UP SINCE 4:45 IN THE MORNING. He's in there calling out Mama five thousand times. And I'm in here trying to pretend like I can't hear him. And trying to pretend like it's not making me crazy. Oh, and look - I'm failing. I score an F in pretending my kid is not pushing every button I possess.

Mikhail said last night that there's probably no way to get him back on track without a lot of screaming. So it looks like it's time to bring the neighbors a bouquet of earplugs. It might be an ugly one.

Now I have a new realization about the end of Daylight Savings Time. I am not for it. Can't we just go back to the mornings being pitch-black until 7 a.m.? That wasn't so bad, really.

P.S. In case you work for CPS, I was kidding about the washing machine. It's a joke. The dryer is really much more pleasant.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ay, Matey

Happy Halloween!

We thought this was the year that Elan would discover candy, which he thinks is just "pretty" and has no idea that it is something sweet that people love to eat. In fact, last summer when we were waiting at the airport after a long flight, he entertained himself for at least a half-hour moving different-colored toffee from one bin to another. I guess that's the plus side of having a kid who is not very interested in food.

Elan was a pirate this year.

It was the perfect no-cost costume since my neighbor across the street provided an armful of pirate paraphernalia when I told her my idea. It was a big day for neighbors overall - we had a smash-hit Block Party complete with jumpy house, costume contest (for all ages), and potluck with great food. There's something about closing off the street to traffic and having everyone out of their houses and interacting that makes you think: let's live this way everyday. And we're so lucky to be living in a neighborhood (and block) where people are friendly and interesting, and there's lots of kids around.

Earlier in the week, we went to a pumpkin-carving party at Elan's nursery school, where he had a great time with his friend Katia, who was dressed glamorously as a princess. He is completely enthralled with Katia and talks about her all the time. She tells him what to do, and he (mostly) goes along with it.

And now I'm going to utter one of those ridiculous statements parents make:

First love?

Thursday, October 29, 2009


My new nephew's name is technically Judah, but after spending four days snuggling him, I get to call him Jude. Cause it rhymes with Dude. And you know how fun it is to do the whole baby-talk thing while rhyming. Even though I am actually terrible at rhyming. Just ask my husband. Or Elan, who just discovered the concept of rhyming a week ago and is already better at it than his mama.

Anyway, I got to steep myself in newborn-land at my sister & Jason's house outside Athens, Georgia, courtesy of my awesome mother-in-law who came here to watch Elan while I was gone. We took walks and experimented with all types of baby carriers (Mobys and Ergos and slings oh my!) since Judah likes to be worn. Elan was also a big fan of baby-wearing when he was a wee one. In fact, I believe that's the only way I successfully made dinner between months six and ten, when I could put him in the Ergo on my back through his early-evening fussy time. The only problem was that he hated it when I sauteed onions, and most of my favorite foods begin with sauteing onions.

It was notable to see how much easier it was to wear Judah for long periods of time than it had been to wear Elan. Jude's a little guy, at six weeks old probably about the weight Elan was at birth (8 lbs 4 oz). But I think it has more to do with the fact that I actually have stomach muscles now, as opposed to when Elan was six weeks old.

Laura walking, Judah pretending he's still in utero

I wasn't much in the picture-taking mood while I was in Georgia (all that quiet reflective time got me off my game), so here's a super-cute pic that my sister sent me. This was obviously taken during happy diaper change time, which generally goes on for a little while after a feeding, during which he actually makes those ridiculous baby noises like "goo." It usually ends suddenly, when the sheer exhaustion of figuring out this big world sets in and he needs to be bounced into sleep submission.

I was away from Elan for four and a half days. It didn't feel so much like missing him as much as it felt like I had lost an appendage. I kept walking around wondering where my third leg had gotten to. While traveling, my suitcase was so small and light that I kept worrying I had left something crucial behind, like all of my shoes. By the time I was on my way home, my craving for him was physical. I couldn't wait to be home. And he rewarded me with exclamations of delight when I appeared in the doorway to his bedroom and a big long hug (as anyone with a restless preschooler knows is an unusual delight).

My little guy, however, has taken to skipping naps more than his usual, and he's been getting up extra-early in the morning and some at night. I am hoping that my being home and our usual routine will get his sleep schedule back to normal before we head off on our Epic Back-East Trip in two weeks (more details on that to come in another post). I always panic a little (a little? my husband snorts) when his sleep gets off. We have had so many rounds of 4 a.m. scream-a-thon that I always fear the worst. So I'm crossing my fingers for a nap, and I'm going to go try to settle into home fast -- before it's time to start packing again.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rainy Day Chili

We have been partying it up lately - four parties in four weekend days. Elan is exhausted from playing with so many kids' toys.

It's raining again. Second big rain so far in October. The weather is mocking our HOA's plan to paint the whole condo (4 units) by "the time the rains come." Right now the rain is falling straight down and hard and it is saying: "Ha! I'm here, and you haven't even picked the color yet! (but you have taken down your existing two semi-functional gutters and noted with concern all the spots where the exposed wood could start to rot)."

Anyway, for our housewarming party last weekend, I made chili, and I've had several requests for the recipe since. So here it is, courtesy of The New Best Recipe (whose recipes are extraordinarily thorough). Very delicious on a fall evening, and it really is even better the next day. For the party, I actually made it two days before and reheated it all day in the crock-pot. Yum. This is the meat-eaters' version - I made a vegetarian one too, but it wasn't nearly as good.

Beef Chili with Kidney Beans
serves 8-10

2 T vegetable or corn oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/4 c chili powder
1 T ground cumin
2 t ground coriander
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 lbs 85% lean ground beef
2 (15-oz) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (28-oz) can tomato puree*
2 limes, cut into wedges

1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and add half the beef. Cook, breaking up the chunks, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining beef and cook, breaking up the chunks, until no longer pink, 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 t salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, and stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove the cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if the chili begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, stir in 1/2 c water and continue to simmer), until the beef is tender and the chili is dark, rich and slightly thickened. Adjust the seasonings with additional salt to taste. Serve with the lime wedges and condiments, if desired.

Good choices for condiments include: diced fresh tomatoes, diced avocado, sliced scallions, chopped red onion, sour cream, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese.

The flavor of the chili improves with age; if possible, make it a day or two in advance and reheat before serving.

*I couldn't find a large can of tomato puree, so I used two large cans of "tomatoes in puree" instead of one can of each.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Boy Called Nemo

About a month back, on a whim, I ordered Finding Nemo for Elan.

It's a hit.

I am not proud to admit that he has watched this movie (or part of it) every single day for the last two weeks. Okay, maybe three. I've lost count. Thank god for Ellen DeGeneres. Her Dory is hilarious, my salvation. And the part with the sea turtles is awe-inspiring; I always advocate skipping to the turtles. The other thing I've noticed, as this movie forms the background to my early mornings, is how impressive the score is. The moments where the music shifts to contemplative remind me to take a deep breath, the quick beats remind me to eat breakfast and drink my coffee, the soaring melodies remind me to savor the quiet and appreciate the fact that he's not obsessed with Barney.

The other benefit of this movie entering our lives is that now Elan, Mikhail and I have alter-egos. Elan is Nemo, fittingly enough (he even has a "special toe" - two webbed digits on his right foot - just like Nemo has his "lucky fin"). Mikhail is Marlin (pronounced "Maw-in"), the devoted (and neurotic, which Mikhail is actually not) father who searches the ocean for his lost son. Elan used to call him "Chuck" before he picked up on the fact that was just a made-up name I pulled out of a hat one day naming his three toy fish. And I am Dory. She is a great alter-ego for me. Dory, a "natural blue", who suffers from short-term memory loss, is of the glass-half-full mentality. She can't remember enough to be stressed or worried. Her motto is Just keep swimming, sung with much gusto as she twirls into the darkness where lives the scary monster-fish sporting a light-up spinal column. Dory is happily ignorant of the existence of such threatening creatures. She bounces on the tops of jellyfish, not remembering that the tentacles sting. She certainly does not wake up at four in the morning unable to go back to sleep because she's worrying about the what-ifs in life. I find her a good balancing force for me.

And so current conversations in our household often go something like this:
"Nemo, let's go on an adventure out in the ocean now."
"Okay, Dory. That's a good idea. Is Ma-win going to come too?"
"That's right, Nemo. We're all going. Put on your fishy shoes and let's swim out to the car!"

And later at REI, we picked out a new rust-orange fleece for Elan, which won instant acceptance as his Nemo-jacket. Mikhail (temporarily) donned a bright orange women's XL rainshell and ran around the store after our wandering boy, literally finding Nemo, while I searched the racks for a suitably bright blue Dory-coat (but alas did not find one in this aquarium's budget).

On another topic, this weekend, we FINALLY had our one-year-later housewarming party. (And if you live locally and we forgot to invite you, mea culpa mea culpa, check your email junk box for an evite, and then call me up and berate me and let's get back in touch.) It went swimmingly. All those months that we thought we'd get around to having a party in our new house and then something else went wrong so we never did: you are over now. I really like to host gatherings, and luckily I'm married to a man who loves to socialize once he's in the midst of it (just never thinks to plan it), and we've got a child who is starting to understand that parties = cookies. Now I'm thinking about all the excuses to have parties coming up: Elan's 3rd birthday, Hanukkah, Mikhail's and my 34th birthdays. I'm imagining dinner parties for grown-ups after kids go to sleep, crazy child-filled afternoon rampages, and quieter playdates with hot (spiked) cider for the mamas simmering on the stove. After all, fall is here. There's a new oven range in our kitchen, and it's time to reap the benefits of our ugly but indestructible wine-colored carpet.

And if you're looking for a mantra for the week, may I suggest Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming...

And if you're in the mood for seven minutes of sea turtle (and baby sea turtle!) inspiration, click here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What To Say?

Sometimes words fail even the writers among us.

Photo courtesy of Elan's Aunt Sara & Aunt Renee, who hosted him at their house for a sleep-over while Mikhail and I went on a romantic weekend getaway. Thank you!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Meet the New Nephew

Judah Alexander Mann, born September 18. Isn't he adorable?

I get to meet him later this month, when I go to Georgia to see my sister, my brother-in-law, the three dogs, and him!

Friday, September 11, 2009

How To Relax

Go to this link.
If you're not pregnant, ignore the birth-related content. If you are pregnant, feel free to peruse the offerings.
Download the free 15-minute relaxation hypnosis. It's a simple process with a few short steps.
Put the track on your iPod or MP3 player.
Lay down and put something over your eyes.
Listen to the relaxing sound of a precise English accent guiding you through a relaxation hypnosis. She never says anything that is specific to pregnancy or childbirth, so anyone can use this for general relaxation, to help control high blood pressure, deal with anxiety, insomnia, etc.

If you've never done hypnosis before, it can sound rather intimidating, as if you're about to give up control of yourself to some other entity. But I find it similar to a guided meditation, with something to listen to besides all the voices in your head. You can come out of it any time you choose. And it really does leave you very relaxed. I've been doing this every day lately, often when Elan goes down for his nap. Sometimes afterwards I feel rested and energized, but when I am very tired and have the opportunity, I've fallen immediately into a very rejuvenating sleep. And I am just about the world's worst napper, at least when I'm not pregnant or recovering from being pregnant.

My other experience with hypnotherapy was when I visited a hypnotherapist to help me get past my fear of flying, which had been tormenting me for years. The combination of self-hypnosis techniques and a half pill of Valium got me to the point where I now fly drug-free and with minimal nervousness. I'm determined not to pass on my fear to Elan, though I do notice that lately he's started grabbing my arm if there's turbulence. Is that his own reaction to a somewhat unnatural form of transportation, or does he pick up on my subterranean moment of fear myself? I don't know, but I take a deep breath and comfort us both.

So give yourself the gift of 15 minutes. Try this, and let me know what you think.

Thanks to my sister Laura, who's having a baby any day now, for finding this link and passing it on to me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Where Have I Been?

Oh, here, there, and everywhere. (Yes, we do travel a lot. And yes, I always pack too much.)

Our latest voyage was closer to home.

On a wildlife-filled ranch in west Marin county this past weekend, Mikhail's sister Sara tied the knot with Renee.


Well technically, they got married a year ago, back when same-sex marriage was (briefly) legal in California. This past weekend was their community wedding, and it was a gorgeous location, heart-tugging ceremony, and rockin' party.

Rock climbing after the ceremony

Elan was as crazily energetic as I've ever seen him -- the entire weekend long. He trailed after his older cousins, shouting "Mama, I'm wunning!" as he trotted by at the end of the line of 4- and 5-year-olds. He was never in one place for longer than a few seconds, and I was constantly looking for him, always losing him in the minute I had my back turned. He has no fear about wandering off on his own lately.

With his cousin Rowan, getting ready for the walk down the aisle

With his Auntie Sara

And then came the party. Sara & Renee had two babysitters hanging with the kids in a room next door to the "Boogie Barn." Elan was a big fan of the kids' room, filled as it was with his cousins running in circles and then falling down on soft blankets on the floor. We parents definitely took advantage; I noticed that as the party went on later into the night, the parents of young children were disproportionately represented on the dance floor (we WILL NOT miss out on a night out!).

Finally at ten we retrieved our so-tired boy and I gave him one last chance to go dance. He decided he was game, and the next hour was spent boogying down on the dance floor dressed in his fuzzy blue, polar bear-covered, footed sleeper.

Dancing in the barn with Grandma Karen

Turns out those plasticy foot bumps are perfect for late-night dance parties in lantern-filled barns. Who knew?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our New Trick

During our last trip, there was a fair amount of in-transit napping. On the second day of the trip, we were on the train, and I knew Elan was exhausted because he had skipped the nap the first day and been up in the night (too interested in what Mikhail and I were doing when we returned back to the hotel room at midnight after my friend's wedding). We brought the carseat onto the train, figuring he doesn't usually do well trying to sleep curled into a ball on a seat (hasn't napped on a plane since infancy). But there was a group of chatty 20-somethings sitting across from us, and you can't exactly ask strangers on a train to please stuff it so your toddler can fall asleep. He was doing his best to ignore them, but it wasn't quite working. So I came up with the (ahem, brilliant!) idea of letting him listen to music on the ipod. We found a suitably soothing tinkly music box rendition of U2 tunes, and he was out in less than 2 minutes.

Needless to say, we used this trick several more times for car trips. Unfortunately, now he thinks he can hijack the earphones while traveling on the plane too.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Away Again

This time we are in north-west Washington state, at Mikhail's dad and stepmom's house. They live on a bay, and it's warm and sunny here. A gorgeous location for a relaxing week away. Of course we're traveling with a toddler, preschooler, whatever you want to call him, so it can only get so relaxing. Elan is doing his version of Jekyll and Hyde - alternately being extraordinarily charming and a non-stop tantrum-throwing fussy mess. Oh, travel with a 2.5-year-old is so full of surprises!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Own Personal Louise

Back in June, I wrote about longing for Louise to come save me from the piles of un-done and dis-organized and un-made that seemed to be looming in on me from every angle in our little house. I was experiencing a longing for someone to come help me figure out what to do with all this stuff that we accumulate and then haul around with us. In this case, I'm talking about physical stuff - old bills and bedding, letters and linen - though I'm sure my frustration with the messy build-up in my house is also frustration with the mess and difficulty of my life lately.

I have thought about Louise often since then. She has also come to represent the ability to ask for - and accept - help. I've been lucky in the last months to have a few real-life Louises come and help me. My friend Julie, who called me up shortly after the miscarriage and said, "I have a light week. Can I come and be your Louise?" And then she came and vacuumed my house and folded laundry and returned videos and library books. My parents, whose fun beginning-of-vacation visit turned into trauma-support. My mother-in-law, who made an impromptu visit for two days last week, took Elan to the park more times than I can count (his nursery school was closed for vacation), and helped me reorganize my linen closet. This kind of help is such an amazing gift. It gives me a boost of energy and makes me feel not alone even when the day is difficult. It is the kind of help I imagine people used to engage in more often, when families lived in the same town and communities were more cohesive. It is the kind of help I would like to offer more too.

Louise has also become a metaphor for me, a way to think about a certain kind of energy that I know I have inside but that is sometimes difficult to locate. I love to be organized, and yet I am slow and methodical when it comes to getting organized. I keep things too freely and find culling them difficult. The nice thing about Louise, though, is that I can call on her when I am ready for her (today she came for a few hours and made nice progress on the guest room closet), and when she's not around, I don't beat myself up about that. Louise is out on vacation, I tell myself. I imagine her sipping a mai tai on a Hawaiian beach, and I shut the closet door behind me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sometimes All A Boy Needs

Is his dada and a big old bowl of mac & cheese.

Elan's been a picky eater pretty much since he entered toddler-hood, but about once a day he'll surprise us and tuck into a meal with gusto. It's always a crapshoot what that meal will turn out to be, and many times it's been crackers in the car instead of something at least marginally more nutritious.

Both Mikhail and I seeded our fair share of bad-eater karma when we were little, so it's no surprise that we have to deal with Elan giving it back to us. I famously subsisted mainly on apple juice for some unspecified period of time when I was a toddler (family friends insist I smelled like apples for months). Mikhail required foods to be blended, refused key ingredients, freaked out if items touched other items, and had very specific aversions to texture (Elan especially takes after him in this respect).

Mainly our parents are sympathetic, but occasionally they like to laugh at our plight. 

Friday, August 7, 2009

Zero is My Favorite Number

Since my miscarriage, a negative HCG level (signified by a big fat ZERO result from my blood test) is the best news I could hope for. And yesterday I got it.



Aren't I articulate?

Now I wait a month between blood tests, which are to make sure the level stays at zero. There's a lot of different information out there about how long you should wait before trying to conceive again after a partial molar pregnancy. So much different research and so many different conclusions being drawn by different people. My doctor generally favors the six-month wait, and since that's the timeframe I've managed to wrap my head around, that continues to be my working assumption. My doctor has started to show some signs of flexibility with that number, and I'm not sure if I will enquire more about that or leave it be. I know myself well enough to know that, given any tiny kernel of doubt, I will worry needlessly during another pregnancy. And I assume I'll be worrying enough during my next pregnancy without adding in fear of developing cancer to the list. 

I also feel like my recovery, physical and emotional, is taking time, and I want to allow myself to take that time. I want to be pregnant again, but I don't want to rush the processing of this loss, which has been a real loss for me requiring its own grieving process. I'm not going to say more about that right now. I will, at a later date, once I feel my thoughts more formulated and my energy higher (today I am sleepy after a very productive week).

I finish off the week with a picture of my beautiful and intense boy, who will be waking soon from his nap.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Colorado Part II

I am feeling totally uncreative after a very busy & blessedly productive day, but I feel the need to post a few more pictures of Colorado. So bear with me and enjoy the toddler eye candy.

Bubsy happily surprised by the bubbling water-play fountain on Pearl Street in Boulder.

Add a balloon and it gets even better.

Elan is very into older women these days, such as his cousin Molly, who he adored.

Elan and doggie pass out in the backseat.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Go Here.

I'm going to take a break from sorting through my stack of medical bills to tell you I really loved Steamboat Springs, Colorado. So much so that, when we were there, I found myself perusing real estate listings, a habit of mine when I find a place where I *could* imagine myself living. I have no plans to move anywhere anytime soon, but this is a sweet place to visit.

Reasons to go (summer version):

#1: They have aspen trees. My favorite.

#2: Hot air balloon rodeo. I believe that's actually two separate things that just happen together, not that anyone's up in the air leaning out of a swinging basket to try to rope himself a giant flaming balloon.

Early-morning balloon sighting.

#3: Who can resist pretty nature?

#4: They have brother-in-laws who feed you lots of yummy food and wine. Well, I suppose you have to bring your own. 

#5: Lots of hot springs. The main springs in town have been made into a gorgeous rec center with a lap pool, several kiddo play areas, warm and hot pools, and a water slide. Since Elan is also a fan of water-therapy (it both tires him out and relaxes him - a wonderful combination as any parent of a 2.5-year-old will attest), we visited several times. They also have Strawberry Hot Springs in a more natural setting out in a beautiful river gorge. Elan wasn't so sure about these, but we adults loved them, and he eventually got comfortable with the hint-of-sulphur water and the mossy rocks.

#6: Hanging out and being a family. My parents rented a great condo (found by Jason & Laura) where we all stayed so we got to do things like play marathon games of Settlers of Catan (anyone in Berkeley want to come over for a game?) while bubs was napping. And there was a hot tub on the deck, for more water therapy.

Kickin' it family style at Strawberry Hot Springs.

Thank you Nana & Babu!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

From The Thick Of It

What, you think a writer's blog should include WORDS? Picky, picky.

I haven't been writing publicly much because what to say? The question I've mostly had from friends and family members is How are you doing? And the answer is it's complicated.

Elan has a book that I love reading him called My Many-Colored Days. It's all about moods, very appropriate for a toddler. Some days we feel "happy pink. It's great to jump and just not think." But then there are the brown days, the purple days, and, of course, the black days: "I howl, I growl, at every cloud." Lately my days encompass a rich variety of colors, tending more than I'd like toward the gray, brown, and black spectrum. The bright end of the rainbow is not so well represented, though I do have times where I feel quite fine, relatively energetic and able to deal with the little and big mishaps of life. And then there are the other times, when I feel like I'm barely holding it together, whatever *it* is.

We writers hope to write about a specific experience an essay that teases out the details, gleans the essence of the experience, and then knits it back together with some kind of universal truth or lesson at the end. In order to write this kind of essay, one needs some psychic distance from the experience. 

My blog posts are clearly NOT this kind of essay. I have no distance, emotional or physical, from the events that have recently turned my life upside-down. I am still dealing with the sometimes startling physical effects of the miscarriage and partial molar pregnancy. I am still going to the doctor for ultrasounds (tomorrow) and getting blood draws to check my hormone level (sometime this week). I am still in the thick of it, and it's difficult from this vantage point to even understand my own reactions and feelings, much less try to impart them to others. If you talk to me on the phone, depending on the moment, I either sound completely normal or like a total mess. Rarely am I somewhere in between, though sometimes I try to hold off the mess part until I get off the phone, or Elan goes to bed. It's just not always an appropriate time or place to break down into tears.

Writing that last sentence makes me laugh though, because I have been pushing the boundaries that my previous self would have respected when it comes to appropriate places to cry. On Saturday, it was at the gym: locker room, sauna, steam room, and most impressive of all - in the pool while doing laps. And yes, it was difficult to breathe. My goggles got all fogged up, but I figured no one could hear a sob underwater. I was subtle about it; no one seemed to notice, or at least they didn't look twice if they did. This is Berkeley, after all. But what choice do I have? Some days, thankfully not the majority, I just can't stop crying. But life has to go on. I have to get my exercise. There's a tiger inside me, and he has to be walked. When he doesn't get his walk, he starts clawing at his cage, and it's not pretty. (When I shared this thought with Mikhail, he wondered why the tiger was male. It just is.)

And so, I write to you from the thick of it. These blog posts will not be prettily finished-off. They will likely not impart universal truths or little jewels of wisdom. They will be ragged and raw, seams showing, hems with pins still sticking out of them. Just like my days. I move carefully, trying not to prick myself.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Still Shaggy

From the most recent pre-haircut days.

I swear we don't try to get him to look so serious for pictures. He's just not one of those kids who generally breaks into a big grin for the camera. He will sometimes pose for pictures now when he's in the mood. But it's more fashion-model moody than "Say Cheese!"

What can I say? My kid is deep.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blast from the Past

A picture I just rediscovered. 

May 2008. Elan at 17 months, rockin' at his aunties' house.

I forget what a funny little munchkin he used to be.

And yes, that is a raccoon on his head.

Monday, July 20, 2009

In Bloom

My sister Laura, 29 weeks pregnant, looking awesome.

When I first saw her, I was shocked. I had this feeling like what happened to my little sister? I had seen pictures, but I hadn't seen her in person since December, and in person the belly just looks so different. So three-dimensional. But now I'm used to seeing her pregnant, and it's been fabulous getting to feel the baby move around and kick her with these tiny, bony little limbs.

Is it a little bittersweet, being with my in-bloom sister so soon after losing a pregnancy myself? I would be lying if I said it wasn't. Of course I am so happy for her and Jason, and I love getting to be around her while she's pregnant. My own sadness doesn't diminish or even really change my feelings about Laura's pregnancy. She looks so beautiful.

I do wish we were still going to have babies only a few months apart. Though there would have been no way for me to keep up with her on the trail if I were still pregnant.

My sister's and Jason's last name is Mann, and Mikhail came up with our nickname for the baby: Mann Cub. This is what comes from watching too much of your child's Jungle Book video.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Despite the turmoil of the last month, we had a great time on vacation in Colorado. It was an extended family trip with my parents, my sister & her husband, and the three of us. I've got some favorite pictures to post, but right now I need to pack for our next trip: camping with Mikhail's family this weekend. We leave early tomorrow morning. So for now, here's a preview of our time in Colorado:

I think Mikhail looks especially fetching with that flower tucked behind his ear, don't you?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And The Number Is...


I haven't spoken to my doctor yet, but I know that's good news. As Mikhail says, 4 is only 4 above 0, which is where I want to be as soon as possible. And it shows the hormones are definitely still decreasing from two weeks ago, when I was at 49.7.

This time the anticipation of waiting for the number wasn't as bad as last time, but it's still mighty unpleasant. I try not to be anxious, but this afternoon waiting for the return call, I was. I did some yoga and that helped for a little bit. Then as soon as I was done with the yoga, the anxiety came back. Maybe that's part of why Elan was Mr. SuperFuss this afternoon.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Crossing My Fingers

We just got home last night from nearly three weeks away, and I'm on my way to get my blood drawn for my next hormone level check. I am nervous, but I figure better to get it over with fast rather than just worry. I did a good job of not over-worrying while in Colorado, except for when prompted by a few unexpected symptoms (which seem to be turning out to be fine).

After I get the draw, I'm going to go for a swim at the Y and try to ignore the butterflies in my stomach. Yup, there they go. Yikes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Complications Part II

At the beginning of last week, I got a call from the doctor who did my D&C. She had received my results from pathology. This was a surprise. I didn't know they had sent a tissue sample to pathology - they don't tell you if they do since it rarely turns out to be anything worrisome. But my results were abnormal. She told me that I had had a partial molar pregnancy. In a nutshell, this is a "genetic accident" that occurs when two sperm fertilize one egg. The result is a placenta that behaves more like a benign tumor than a pregnancy. The treatment is D&C, which I had already had when I found out my diagnosis, and monitoring of hormone levels afterwards to make sure that all of the tissue has been removed.

The partial molar diagnosis explains why my body behaved like it did - why I felt so sick and exhausted despite a non-viable pregnancy and why I didn't start miscarrying on my own earlier. Partial molar pregnancies often result in higher levels of HCG, the hormone measured by pregnancy tests, resulting in more nausea and other unpleasant first-trimester symptoms. My body was responding appropriately to the high hormone levels, which might have been abnormally high, though my levels were never tested while I was still pregnant so I don't know for sure.

The main danger is that partial molar pregnancy can be persistent, and if some tissue or even a few cells remain in the uterus, you need to be treated with low doses of a chemotherapy drug to make sure that it doesn't turn into cancer. This is why my HCG hormone levels need to be tested (a blood test) once a week until they drop to zero and then once a month after that to make sure they stay there. A rise would indicate remaining tissue or cells.

I'm finding it difficult to explain this condition in a way that doesn't either underplay or over-dramatize it. I'm also noticing that information provided by my doctor and the Internet all vary wildly, and there's some very scary information online (even from reputable sources), so I'm going to provide this link from the Cleveland Clinic for those who want to know more. It's a concise and, from what I can tell, fairly accurate explanation, except that it makes it sound like HCG levels are lower in women with partial molar pregnancies whereas everything else I've read and heard indicates they are higher than in normal pregnancies.

My situation is different from the Cleveland Clinic's description because I was not diagnosed via ultrasound. In fact, I had two ultrasounds before my D&C, and no one seemed to suspect molar pregnancy. It was only because my doctor sent tissue to pathology that we knew. This makes me think this kind of pregnancy is under-reported, and plenty of women miscarry on their own, go on to get pregnant in the next 1-3 months after their miscarriage, and never know they were at risk for the scary stuff described in detail on the Internet but downplayed greatly by my doctor.

It has been a stressful time.

I have been trying to process this new information and understand this condition and what it will mean for me and for our future as a family. The Cleveland Clinic says that women need to wait a year before trying to conceive, but six months is also a standard wait time, and that is the number my doctor told me, adding that the amount of time could be revised either way. So for now, we are hoping for six months at the longest.

The first bit of good news happened later in the week, when, after much waiting and anxiety, I got the result from my first HCG hormone level blood test. My doctor had told me that we were hoping for a number under 1,000 (hormone levels in a healthy pregnancy can get up to 20,000 or even 250,000 in the first trimester). Given the huge reduction in my pregnancy symptoms, I was hoping for a low number. In my heart of hearts, I was hoping for a number that seemed impossibly low, like 50. And I got it - my number was 49.7! My relief was palpable.

The past month has been so emotionally exhausting. Sometimes I feel emotionally battered, like I've been run over by a truck, which then backs up and runs me over again. Every time I feel like I'm almost adjusting to the news I've received, I get another surprise, and - bam! - the rug is pulled out from under my feet and I've landed squarely on my butt again. In terms of the partial molar pregnancy, most likely everything will work out without any further intervention, but in my sad and tired moments, I feel the fear of having something hanging over me. The idea of waiting at least an extra four months beyond what we thought we'd wait before trying to get pregnant again has been a big adjustment for me. Six months might not sound like a lot, but to me, right now, it is. I am quite aware there's no guarantee on the timing of trying, of getting pregnant, or of having a healthy pregnancy. It's a difficult mental shift to go from thinking you're going to have a baby by the end of the year to having to go back on birth control because you can't get pregnant until your doctor gives you the okay.

At this point, a month after we found out the pregnancy wasn't progressing, I am up and down emotionally. Some days I feel relatively normal, relieved that the miserable physical symptoms I endured for that first trimester are over. Other days I feel like there's a cloud of sadness hanging over me, tinging the world, if only slightly. And occasionally (less frequently than I might have imagined), the grief erupts and I sob until my eyes can't produce any more moisture. The surprises I keep getting seem to bring up waves of grief, fear and overwhelm.

I am aware of the silver lining to my situation. In fact, I thought about making a list of them, to remind myself. The biggest one is that I live in an age when ultrasounds, tests and procedures can diagnose and effectively treat this condition. I have an ob-gyn who I really like and trust. She is the doctor who performed my D&C, an Assistant Professor at UCSF, a personable and non-alarmist woman who answers her pages quickly. Not to mention one of her colleagues is a world expert in molar pregnancies. I have my dear friend Sophia, an ob-gyn in Seattle, who I can call for second opinions and a more emotional brand of comfort. And I have an incredibly supportive husband, family and network of friends. There are other silver linings too, like being able to soak as long as I want in the gorgeous hot springs here in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

But what I have learned through this process is that grief is a very individual process. I am feeling my way through a maze of thoughts and emotions and physical sensations. The journey is called healing. It's not a straight line.

Summertime Favorite

Back when I was still pregnant, I was at the Berkeley farmer's market, and there was an ice cream stand. This wasn't just any old ice cream - it was pure Berkeley - hand-made ice cream using only the purest ingredients, including organic cream made from cows who really love their lives. Powered by people riding stationary bikes. Just kidding about that last part. Anyway, they were offering free samples on tiny silverware spoons that they then washed in a little sink in back. I offered a spoonful of vanilla to Elan. He let out a scream like I had just offered him a spoonful of sulphuric acid. This from the kid who really likes Rescue Remedy, especially a nice fresh bottle where the brandy is super-strong. He takes it straight from the dropper and then asks for more.

He won't even try ice cream (probably because it's offered to him on a spoon), but he loves popsicles. He gets them as a treat at nursery school, and he asks for them now and then, especially if he sees another kid eating one.

Last week we went to Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas (north county San Diego), and he saw kids eating Italian ice.

He was thrilled.

And I had that amusing parental experience of seeing some trait of yours mirrored in your child. Jessica, Evan and I had all finished our ices and Elan was still only about one-third of the way through his. It reminded me of how I used to torture my sister by eating our designated 2-Oreo-dessert so slowly that she would drool watching me lick the icing out of my second Oreo a half-hour after hers were history. The difference is that Elan often loses interest in his popsicles before he manages to finish them, while I kept track of every crumb.

The first time I saw him eat a popsicle, though, he finished the entire thing. It was a big one, and he ate it sitting naked in his Aunt Sara's lap. By the time he was through, we had to hose him down, and Auntie Ra had to take a shower to de-stickify herself.

That's love.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sandy Sleepyhead

With trusty old doggie at his side, Elan sleeps off the excitement of beach and aquarium.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mama's Got a Brand New Camera

Today it's just about cute pictures.

Bubsy bubs is loving San Diego. Can't you tell from the look on his face?

Check out the new cropped 'do.

Reconnecting with friends - Elan and Evan.