Sunday, February 27, 2011

happy 2 years, blog o' mine

It's been two years since I started this blog.

I'm really glad I did.

It's given me an outlet through some crazy times, a way to keep in touch to share news both difficult and joyous, a place to tap into my thoughts & send them out into the world.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

on safening

screenshot the Muppets Gonzo 1080p
Gonzo Photo credit: svensonsan, flickr

Recently, we borrowed my sister-in-law's copy of Muppets Take Manhattan. The picture on the cover made me nostalgic, remembering happy hours with the characters of Fraggle Rock with my sister when we were small (she was particularly obsessed with Fraggles).

But Elan had a different take on the movie. After watching it, he proclaimed, "That's not a funny movie! That's a scary movie!"

I had never thought of Muppets as scary before, even if they are considered monsters of a type. Although, in Muppets Take Manhattan, Kermit does get hit by a car, develops amnesia, and wanders around Manhattan not recognizing anyone, even his friends, until Miss Piggy beats the crap out of him and his memory is restored. Now that I think about it, that is pretty frightening.

And yet Elan likes to watch it. Kind of. So long as he receives regular safening.

It goes like this:

Cue scary part of Finding Nemo, like the jellyfish part -- actually, that's too scary and always requires fast-forwarding (the part where the mother is killed defending her eggs, which are all eaten except for one I choose to fast-forward all on my own -- a girl can only get emotional over so many things daily). Okay, then, so the part when the ship is falling on top of Dory & Nemo.

From a nest of pillows on the couch a voice squeaks: "Mama, Dada, safen me!"

The response: "I'm safening you!"

We used to always run over and give him a little squeeze cause, let's face it, that is just too cute. But it turns out there are a lot of scary parts in classic children's movies -- Jungle Book (Shere Khan the tiger), Winnie the Pooh (those bees), and don't even get me started on how truly terrifying Cruella deVille is in 101 Dalmations. And I've got a baby to nurse, and laundry to do, and dinner to make...

Luckily for us, we discovered that safening can be done remotely.

I'm upstairs, changing the baby's diaper, when I hear the voice call from downstairs: "Mama, I'm scared!"

And I shout back down the stairs: "Don't worry - I'm safening you!"

And then he's fine. (Although some might point out the potential link between scary movies and Elan's tendency toward nightmares, and his new habit of charging hysterically out of his room if he gets up in the night.)

Remote safening is convenient, but we make sure to still get in there & do a little hands-on safening frequently. Having one super-snuggly baby in the house has made me realize how little my big boy lets me snuggle him these days, so I grab every opportunity I can.

And besides, who doesn't need a little safening now and then?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

4 months

Has it really been over 10 days since I've posted pictures of my gorgeously chubby baby? I must remedy this situation immediately.

Whew. Now I feel much better.

Yesterday was Emry's 4-month birthday.

He celebrated by projectile vomiting a shocking quantity of breastmilk over my shoulder and straight onto the carpet, where it splattered over a 2-foot radius.

When I heard the splash, I thought Elan had knocked over his cup of milk.

Sorry, Mama.

That's better.

Parenthood is simultaneously the most mundane and profound experience.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Walking home from preschool, we passed a restaurant that specializes in roast chicken. The smell wafting out of the open door was garlicky, roasty, almost carmelized -- great comfort food for a rainy afternoon.

I stopped and said, “Elan, do you smell that chicken? Doesn’t it smell good?”

“Mama, stop doin' that!”


“Telling me what it smells like all the time.”

Is it possible that, at four years old, he's already finding me embarrassing?

And then last night, I dreamt that Elan had a book report due, and I had forgotten all about it and was trying to figure out how I was going to cram it into the morning routine -- when I could finish reading the book to him and how long it would take to write the report, given that he can't really write yet. I mean, he's got "E" down pretty well (though sometimes he forgets how many horizontal lines go with the vertical line), "L" is a piece of cake, "A" is coming along nicely, but "N" is considered too tricky and he will hardly consent to practice it.

His still-evolving abilities around writing letters and numbers haven't diminished his love for them, though, as evidenced by one of our latest art projects.

Number 4, since he's 4 years old

My idea was that we could make Elan a shirt like Mikhail's soccer shirt that he loves so much, with the last name and the number on the back. But Elan didn't see it that way. He wanted his first name on the front, and then he wanted all the other letters on the front too. I told him we could do letter mosaic on another shirt, but Mikhail was on implementation duty and decided that a little creative letter-adding might spice things up.

I AM ELAN. Or maybe it's He's probably that cool already.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

blame the bread

It's not going to help me lose the 20 pounds, but it's so yummy I almost don't care.

When was the last time you ate freshly baked bread straight out of the oven?

In college, I lived in a cooperative house (Mikhail did too, but a different co-op). The student-run co-ops at Stanford were known for many things: nudity, co-ed showers, naked cooking, and the tradition of the student residents baking bread every night to use for sandwiches the next day. My co-op was one of the more conservative ones, so there wasn't a whole lot of public nudity (not so for Mikhail's -- but that's another post). There was freshly baked bread at midnight nearly every night. The smell would creep out of the kitchen and into the dining area, through the lounge, and down the halls. It drew all of us out of our rooms and into the kitchen. Blocks of butter and tubs of jam were pulled out of the huge industrial fridge. Large quantities of bread were consumed. Particularly good batches often didn't survive till the next morning, much less till lunchtime. It was like the secret society of bread lovers, there in those florescent-lit kitchens. And if you were one of the bakers, you felt pride that it was your creation that gathered your fellow students around the enormous butcher block island.

After college, my San Francisco apartment challenged my bread-baking capabilities. The high-ceilinged, drafty kitchen was always chilly, and the vintage stove, while charming, had a temperature consistency problem. Even challah, the bread I thought I had perfected, was inconsistent when I baked it in this kitchen. I learned to bake bread while doing laundry -- on top of the running dryer was the only place I could get the dough to rise. But when the dryer broke and I had to start going to the laundromat, I retreated to cookies and brownies, more in line with a working girl's life and less easily corrupted.

Since then, I've resurrected my challah baking tradition (I even figured out a high-altitude version when we lived in Peru), but I've never baked bread as much as I'd like. Baking bread is a sensual process: the earthy smell of the yeast, the lofty creep of the rise, the silky resistance of perfectly kneaded dough (which bears a striking textural resemblance to my baby's luscious thighs). The magic that a limited set of simple ingredients come together to produce something entirely unlike their separate elements.

Unfortunately, bread baking had become a special-occasion novelty in my kitchen. It just seemed like too much -- too much work, too much time, too much flour all over the house. Then one week ago I was introduced to this no-knead, store in the fridge system. Three peasant loaves, two whole wheat loaves, one challah and a large batch of pecan sticky rolls later, I'm hooked.

Thanks to Mindy, my high school friend & cooking blog author, for introducing me to my newest kitchen obsession. At least I think I'm thanking her.

If you've never eaten freshly baked bread with butter and jam at midnight before, don't worry - there's still time. Tonight, in fact. Tonight would be perfect.

Monday, February 14, 2011

we californians are so spoiled

All the leaves fell off the trees, and then they started budding again. A few days later. That's how we do early spring winter in this part of the world.

We had a string of 70+ degree days. I don't remember how many. Enough to lose count.

Enough to coax the daffodils out of the ground.

And the cherry trees to bloom.

This is as close as we get to snow around here.

I walked the streets of my neighborhood one late afternoon with my camera.

My new camera, which I love so very much.

But don't worry, it's not that perfect here - today the weather remembered that it is still winter. The wind blew; the rain fell; the temperature dropped to at least 50 degrees.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

year of abundance

In what is becoming a yearly tradition, in early January, Mikhail & I picked our word for the year:

Or two.

Okay, three.

Words that describe what we want to create for 2011, the possibility we want to live into.

Abundance, vitality & faith.

I love how the three relate, connect, and influence each other. When I imagine vitality, I can imagine energy propelling me into abundance. When I am confronted by the idea of abundance, I think of the backbone of faith.

And I love how the word abundance contains dance inside it, something I never noticed until Mikhail wrote it in the sand.

Maybe it's the Universe telling me to try a Zumba class...

Friday, February 11, 2011


People ask how Elan is adjusting to being a big brother.

It's a hard question to answer. He loves his baby brother.

And sometimes wants to bonk him.

Emry is fascinated by his big brother.

And sometimes alarmed by him.

It's complicated and ever-changing, as I assume it will be for the rest of their lives.

Both Mikhail and I have had moments of sadness for Elan as he struggles through this, the biggest transition of his life thus far. Learning to share the most precious thing: the love and attention of his parents. I have compassion for how monumental this is for him, even as I sometimes feel frustrated that he won't be more careful around the baby, or angry when he acts out toward him with aggression (Elan pokes, then quickly covers his ears as Emry starts to wail).

And yet I know in my core that this gift of a sibling is the best gift we, his parents, could ever give Elan. Someday they will be not only playmates but allies, with a connection apart from the vagaries of friendship. And whether they're fighting or playing nicely, living in the same house or seeing each other only a few times a year, as they grow, they'll always have each other -- that common history, the irrevocable bond that is family.

And in the meantime, they'll toughen each other up.

No babies or big boys were harmed in the making of these pictures.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

sick day

The baby is still congested and snorty and not sleeping well, and now I've got a cold too. He's been nursing what seems like constantly the last few days, which means I need to drink all the time or I get a headache, I'm ravenously hungry, and I'm feeling.. well... drained. Literally. So he and I are having a mellow afternoon in bed with a movie, snuggling up and resting and focusing on feeling better soon, and being grateful for the downtime.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

february: building momentum

New Year's Resolution: losing 20 pounds, Month 2.

January was about getting going; February is about building momentum. At the end of January, I was feeling pretty good about my plan. I had lost 2 pounds, not much, but a start. I was thinking that if I just kept up a slow and steady pace, I might make my goal. So I made February about building momentum, keeping the same basic plan as January with the addition of eating more whole grains and fewer simple carbs.

Then February started, and my baby's cold became more disruptive to us both. When you're waking up every hour from 1 to 7 a.m., motivation gets a little fuzzy. I've been trying to stick to my plan as much as possible while being super-gentle with myself. So a little more easy energy with fast carbs, but still trying to not go crazy on the sugar and to be in motion every day, which is important for my psyche as well as my body. Keeping my eye on the (long-term) prize.

And in the meantime, I looked through my photos for an inspiration shot. This was taken at my sister's wedding in June 2008, when Elan was 19 months old. I had been doing Pilates on the machines and a stroller-exercise class. Elan had recently stopped nursing and my body didn't need to hold on to that last 5 pounds. I felt good about my post-partum body, especially given that I was the only bridesmaid (wearing super-clingy silk) who had had a baby.

Check out how gorgeous my sister the bride is!

Of course, at the end of the night, as I slumped on the couch exhausted at 2 a.m., the woman who was doing childcare for the kids asked me if I was expecting my second baby.

I did not hit her upside the head. That took some restraint.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

have a waffle

photo credit: Molly Wizenberg, Orangette

My baby's been sick. It's a terrible thing, a sick baby. He tries to be his fat, bald, jolly, regular good-natured smiley self. But most of the time, he can only summon the occasional smile. Thankfully he's still go the fat and bald part covered. I miss my happy little guy, and I'm worried. Worried, and tired. Tired, mentally and physically. That's what happens when your baby is sick for going on 8 days.

At least he doesn't have whooping cough. That's a relief, since on Thursday when I took him in to the pediatrician, I was pretty worried that he might have it. We found that out the swab was negative today, when I made my first-ever after-hours call to the pediatrician. You can seem like a real cool customer, the mom who never panics at 11 p.m. on a Friday night, when your dad is a pediatrician. Of course I do get worried; I just call my dad. I'm very spoiled.

Anyway, today, 4 p.m. on a beautiful sunny Saturday, I broke my record and called our local pediatrician. Emry had been on-and-off screaming for hours, totally unable to settle or sleep for more than 25 minutes at a time, and screaming instead of nursing (this always undoes me). I had his 3rd dose of prophylactic antibiotic (for whooping cough) in my hand, and I'm glad I called because she checked her email and the lab had sent her the results of his swab, so I didn't have to give him the antibiotics. Which is maybe causing this new round of upset. Or maybe not.

Do you see how coherent having a sick baby makes me?

The spaceyness I'm feeling today makes me realize how lucky I am that my baby's been sleeping well up till now, and how different I'd be feeling in general if I had a colicky baby.

Tired, body and soul.

So tomorrow morning, we're having some extended family over for a little family time... and waffles. Mikhail's family has a waffle tradition similar to their pancake tradition but tomorrow morning we're going to mix it up and have these raised waffles that I made one time before and were pretty deliciously different. Okay, Mikhail actually made them, but I found the recipe and suggested it. They're a bit on the savory side, very different from the normal family waffles, which are delicious too but I don't have enough yogurt in the house to make them and I'm not in the mood to go to the store. Anyway, these are delicious with maple syrup. And fried eggs, and bacon, and some good winter citrus, and strong coffee. Yum.

I mixed up the batter tonight, so there's very little to do in the morning, not that Mikhail wouldn't have time given that Elan loves his 5:30 wake-ups on a weekend morning. My lucky husband. (I'll be up with the baby multiple times in the night I'm sure, so it's even in the end. Kinda.)

Wish us luck on the sleeping front and on the sick baby front.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


from our holiday card photo session in December...

setting up

the official shot


look how small Emry was!


we all follow suit

Emry thinking you guys are weird

come on, buddy, you too

Mikhail and his guys

the end