Wednesday, September 07, 2011

And she danced!

Ella's first dance class was a success. That is to say, once she warmed up to the room she felt free to roam freely (and the teacher said that was alright for the walkers in the class), she only cried once (I think she got a bit of an owie when she fell into my arms at one point), and we walked (slowly) through the small parking lot to the car while holding hands. 

Letting her be a person

Often, when people see Ella they say, "She's such a doll."

I thank them.

But it's time for me to let her be a little person, instead of my little doll.

Today she starts her first class: Baby Dance II through the City of Long Beach.

The class description is as follows:

Help your baby develop a love for music and dance in a fun, silly and
friendly environment. We will sing, dance, and play with instruments,
streamers and the parachute and much more. This is a great way to let
loose with your little one and help them to develop socialization skills!

It's going to be a fun time for both of us. 

But it's time for me to start letting go. I have to remember to let her walk, even though carrying her is faster. I have to let her eat with the spoon in her hand instead of mine, even though it's less messy to feed her myself. I have to let her fall--so cliche.

She's so much more than a doll.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Fifth First Day of School

My teacher-friend reminded me that this is the first day of school where I used to work.

August went by and despite the posts I read about teachers preparing for the new year, I didn't feel a twinge of sadness because I wasn't going back.

My fifth year as an I-used-to-be-a-teacher.

Ella helped with that.

Ella and the fact that I really don't miss teaching.

Nevertheless today is the first day of school.

It should be recognized as it floats by, just another day in a long string of days feeding her oatmeal, taking her to the park, letting her nap...

Today, I can't help but think of the parents' experience on the first day of school. The anxiety, the loneliness, the pride. The I-can't-believe-she's-growing-up feeling of milestones.

Today, I am a mommy who wants her daughter to do OK. To be liked. To make friends. To be included. Today, I love and teach just one child, and she's mine.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

From a note to my doctors

I'm starting to think the best thing to do is give up Medicine A.

For one thing, I'm still having problems falling asleep at night and I'm already taking three Medicine B pills plus two Medicine C pills a night. I don't like the idea of taking more Medicine B to stop a problem that might just be because I'm taking Medicine A.

Also, if I recall correctly, I started taking Medicine D because the Medicine A was causing me to gain weight.

So that's two drugs to cancel out the effects of one drug.

Seems like overkill to me.

I know that I was really bad before I started the Medicine A though, so I'm a little worried about it. But Justin reminds me that there was a time when I was OK without any meds at all, and who's to say I won't be OK again.

I'm guessing it doesn't usually work that way--but is this really what I'm destined for? A lifetime of taking meds out of a granny-like pill box?

Right now I have five pills in the morning and five at night, for a total of six different drugs and ten pills. I know I don't usually care how many pills I'm taking when I'm doing well, but aside from the restless legs I am  doing pretty well, so I have to ask what the heck I am doing.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Where's Ella?

I never thought I'd be one of those mommies who had that question; I'd be eagle-eye-mommy and always know where my kid was playing.

But today I asked, "Where's Ella?"

It seems she's found her independence.

We got to my friend's house for a MOMS Club Swap Meet, and Ella held my hand like we're best friends. But then when I started pawing through the clothes that other MOMS brought, she went around the corner. I looked up, "Where's Ella?"

She came back around the corner.

She kept disappearing into the house or the patio while I talked with friends, ate a bagel and told other people to take her old clothes, please.

It was only when she saw me that she came to keep me company, holding my finger while she walked around, crying and wanting to be picked up, asking for water without saying a word.

Ella is a girl about town.

I kept saying, "She's only been walking for three or four weeks, I'm not used to this."

"But she's doing fine," a friend said.

She was walking on concrete, a little wobbly, "OK, I just can't look," I said, and looked away.

My friend was right--she was fine without me. Not that I could leave her--she has new, strict rules about my departure at any given time--but she could leave me whenever she wanted to go.

It's something I have to get used to.

Our independence.

Ella is free to go.

And I have to let go.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Music and Dancing is Always in Fashion

It's the Copa Cabana around here.

Last night I made dinner--fish and risotto just so you know--and Ella watched from her play yard.

Part of how I get away with leaving her "alone" while I cook includes music. And dancing.

I dance big.

I dance like my 15 month old is watching.

She giggles and shakes her bootie.

There are arm movements and head shaking involved in our dancing.

Until she whacked her head against the wall of the play yard and I had to rescue her. (Fortunately just before I got the risotto started.)

Her first dancing injury. 

Luckily, the memory of a toddler is short, and we were back to the boogie after some cuddles and playing in the living room with oh-so-safe stacking cups.

With any luck there will be video of her dancing soon. As for my dancing, well, that's just for Ella to see.(And BTW, isn't it neat that I have the energy to dance vigorously while I cook? Things aren't all bad around here.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Our lives are heavily ruled by Ella's walking experience these days. We have a play yard in the dining room, so that she can be near us when we are cooking or eating. She loves it.


Mostly she prefers to choose toys from the toy bucket so that she can play in the freedom of the living room.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dryer Sheets

Ella has been helping me sort laundry for months. When she gets to the dryer sheet I always take it away from her before she can put it into her mouth.

Today, when we were sorting and folding towels (I'm in charge of the folding, she does the "sorting"), she found the dryer sheet.

She looked at it, got up, toddled over to the wastebasket and threw it away.

I love that girl.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How are you?

It's easy to blog about feeling miserable.

But how do you enter a post saying, "Fine thanks, and you?"

Of course though, things aren't fine, but they're so much better that I haven't felt like writing because I felt awkward about saying I'm better. Things are a 7 out of 10--10 being best, 7, in my point of view, being C average. Which is better than a 5, but still not good enough.

So yesterday I went back to San Diego--the euphemism for going to see my therapist and psychiatrist.

I explained that I did OK when there was something to do--taking care of Ella, going on play dates (especially going on play dates), getting stuff done. But dropping her off at my mom's house to be taken care of for the day, having to drive for almost 4 hours total alone with my thoughts, no one to worry about in the backseat, that was hard.

There are times when I feel liberated by my alone time driving to San Diego. But when I'm in a low part of the Bipolar II cycle (which can take years to go around, or just days or hours or minutes--but right now years), I hate that I have to do this. I hate that I have to leave my girl. I hate that I have to take so much medicine. I hate that I can't just be normal.

Whatever that is.

The other night when I was tossing and turning because of Restless Leg Syndrome (a side effect of a medication that is working well on my mood but wreaking havoc on my body), I thought, "I wish I could just do a meds cleanse. That I could go off it all and feel great and then go back on little by little til the right combination was achieved."

But I know it doesn't work that way.

For one thing, this is me. I'm not some other person because I take my medicine, I'm who I am without the bizarre demons running through my head.

I'm just a person the way a diabetic on insulin is just a person. We watch our levels and live our lives just the same. 

Let's talk about Medicine A (I don't like to name them here because everyone reacts differently to meds and I don't want anyone starting or stopping something because of my experience with a drug).  Medicine A sucks. And it's saving my life.

Medicine A has the side effect of making me fat (it slows my metabolism, making me not the always-skinny girl I once was, skinny with or without exercise, no matter what I ate). It has the side effect of Restless Leg Syndrome, which makes it difficult if not impossible (depending on the night) for me to fall asleep.

And, wait for it...

It could make my face start moving with an involuntary muscle movement that will never stop.

So I want to go off Medicine A. Because I don't want to be The-Mom-With-The-Twitching-Face.

However, I also don't want to be the mom from my doctor's notes from 2008. The woman who couldn't get off the couch during the day, who was having nightmares, who had self-mutilation and suicidal ideation. Sooooooooo....

What would you do with Medicine A?

It's a very rare side effect, this twitching-face thing, but I'm rare. I'm on a cocktail of medicines that would make a junky joyous if he found my bottles.

There's the option of titrating me down from everything (woo-hoo! the cleanse!) and starting a new regime, but I could do really badly during the cleanse, and if the new regime didn't work, turning back to This Regime wouldn't necessarily work.

There's the option of lowering my dose of Medicine A, just to see if I can handle it, and raising my dose of medicine that stops my legs from going crazy at night.

Right now we're going with the latter.

So, for those of you who keep eyeing me with that question, "How are you doing?" lingering over our heads, an unvoiced curiosity, there you have it.

For the rest of you, I hope you'll still be my friend even though you've read my blog.

And, since I have a moment while Ella naps and Justin golfs, I'll let you know that my worries extend beyond my medication. As my beloved psychiatrist said, "Your world is bigger now. [So we can't just go changing your meds and seeing what happens, because there's Ella to think about.] But we also want you to enjoy that world."

I do love my world. I love my baby girl. I get so tired of chasing her around all day while she holds my finger like Linus holds his security blanket, but I also know there's going to be a day when she doesn't need to hold my finger any more, and that makes me wistfully sad. She won't always need me. But she does right now, and I have to be SO present for her.

Today I made macaroni and cheese for her lunch. She waited relatively patiently in her play yard while I "cooked" (seriously, it's just boiling water), and then she was so excited to see the bowl before her with her own little spoon in it.

She proceeded to eat by picking one shell at a time off the spoon and popping it into her mouth.

"This is going to take forever," I said aloud. I wished for my iPhone, for something to read, for a way to pass the time.

But unless I'm eating the same food as Ella, I'm not allowed to do anything while she is eating. She thinks I'm a mirror. Mommy's reading? I should, too.

So I watched her, and eventually she started taking more than one shell at a time, eventually she used her spoon and her fingers.

And eventually she started eating the cheese flavor off the noodles and then spitting them out.

Game over.

The kid is alright.

And so am I, as long as I don't have time on my hands to recruit historic thoughts and mull them over until they hurt.

Friday, August 12, 2011

They Should Tell You About Preschool

They should tell you about preschool before you get pregnant. Or at least when you have your first doctor's appointment, the one where they confirm that yes, indeed, you are pregnant.

But by then it might be too late.

Too late to get into the right preschool.

The right one?

God only knows what that means.

More coming, after I do some homework.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Life's Lessons

Ella has learned to walk. Actually, she's known how to walk for some time now (she first stood up on her own in mid-April, just before we moved; she got her first pair of shoes two weeks later). 

But she's a cautious one.

After several weeks of feeling like my kid was "behind" and that it was somehow a reflection on my parenting style, I finally let go and accepted that Ella would walk when she was ready, that she would be ready when she'd be ready, and that her needing to ever so gently hold onto my finger was precious. I have Kelle Hampton to thank for that one.

And now she walks.

I love that my girl is cautious. I hope she is relatively cautious when she is 16 and driving a car.

I also hope that my cautiousness and her daddy's sense of fearlessness balance each other well. That she doesn't become too scared, or act too wild.

I love her sense of accomplishment; look at that smile!

I love that she claps at the end of a song, or when she gets the shape toys to fit properly in the sorter.

And as I wished before, she is brave--those first steps away from the security of holding onto something are always brave, no matter when they happen.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nine Years

Justin and I celebrated our nine year wedding anniversary on July 20. He came home from work, and I had dinner on the stove and a baby on my hip. He brought me flowers and champagne.

At first, Ella seemed captivated, but she was fooling no one. I want so badly for my girl to be brave and courageous, but she is cautious and a bit of a scaredy-cat.

I knew I had only a few seconds to get the photos taken with my iPhone and then I would have to scoop her back up.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Quiet Acceptance

Ella woke up two nights ago shrieking so horribly that both Justin and I thought something terrible might be happening to her, so we went running to her room. (Which is on the other end of our U shaped house--picture us at one top serif and her at the other.) She was writhing in pain in cat pose, with her head down between her bent arms. Justin scooped her up, and she could barely open her eyes, so I turned the light back off and we examined her by the hall light. He even unzipped her pajamas to check her belly, but nothing was wrong. We guessed it must be her teeth and the Orajel had worn off, so gave her some Tylenol and after he held her til she calmed down he put her back to sleep. I had left the room because she was clearly confused by having both of us there; trying to decide who to cuddle with and how to stop crying. Not because Justin was the one to hold her, but because I felt so bad for her, I was choked up myself.

The next night he had to work til 2 a.m., so I was praying for peace. She woke up only once, and after only 45 minutes of sleep, so I was still awake. I comforted her for a bit and put her back to sleep, both of us quietly accepting that we were breaking the rules of sleep training.

This morning when she woke up there was blood on her pillow and at the crease of her lips.

It's her molars.

Well, molar. Three of them came in and we barely noticed, but this last one is defining "cutting teeth" for us.

My poor girl.

Despite all this, she is cheerful during the day. (Which I'm just telling you so that you don't worry too much about us.)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just another Saturday....

Ella has had a busy day--the Tot Lot where she was forced to play instead of nap:

Then reading her mail:

And browsing through our local weekly newspaper:
Of course she had to sort through the Trader Joe's bag full of clean socks that she likes to play with:


 I don't know how her eyes get so big:

Friday, July 15, 2011


I am officially not a good enough housewife. I like to do the laundry, but I hate to do the dishes. Which is a problem, because the dishes get dirty every day.

Justin's co-workers say things like, "It must be nice to come home and be able to just relax," but I kind of expect our old deal to stand. Justin did dishes and I did laundry.

But back then we both had jobs.

Now doing the dishes seems to be part of my job description.

Which means, I should wrap this up and get to work.

But first, let me show you what happens when the washing machine gets unbalanced every time I use it:

I suppose this means Justin is also helping with the laundry, by sitting on the machine to hold it down during the spin cycle.

I really need to step up my game.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bath Time

Ella loves bath time. When I give her a bath she splashes and I end up soaked, but for Justin she just plays with her duckies. It's a different kind of love, I suppose.

You can see in her mouth that a pre-molar has been in place for a while on her right, but her left one is just taking its own sweet time, leaving her gums so swollen that you can see the puffiness when she smiles. Still, she is in good spirits and Tylenol and Orajel at night seem to be doing the trick.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Independence Day 2

For some reason I can't get the photos in chronological order (I'm too lazy to post them one at a time today). But here we are having our Fourth of July fun. This was Ella's second Independence Day, and I think she might have enjoyed it more than the first one, for which she mostly slept. However, she was pretty scared of the loud noises, which meant lots of cuddles for Mommy. Yay!

Ella shares vigorously. "Take the book! Please take the book!"

Here, she is wearing a belt of links that began as a very large necklace. Thanks, Victoria! :)

While we waited for the fireworks, she sat on Daddy's belly and went, "bububububa" with her hand against her mouth--one of her favorite tricks.

She didn't make the very few miles home drive awake...

There was a big military plane that did a very loud flyover... everyone laughed at me because I was more concerned with photographing her than rescuing her from the stroller so she could be consoled.

Justin was relaxing--deservedly so.

The lap of luxury.

The links necklace.

Part of the day was spent casually reading.

No festival is complete without a baby riding on Daddy's shoulders.

Monday, July 04, 2011

July 3

When Ella wakes up from her naps she smiles when she sees us:

Today Ella had her first encounter with ocean water:

She checked out the waves like Daddy does.

The water comes in....

The water touches The Girl; she is brave(ish)

I just love my girl.

My girl will be an ocean girl, like her daddy. We will learn to surf together. Life is beautiful. But, it was chilly and windy a block from our house at the beach, so we retreated to the hot tub after just a few minutes at the seaside.

Now we know where she gets her crinkle nose smile.

Splashes! Like in the bathtub!

And what would a holiday weekend be without seven layer dip? She liked the beans and the guacamole. We definitely have a California girl on our hands.

Somehow, there are no pictures of her smiling and eating it, but she kept reaching out for more.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The End of an Era

It's the end of the era. Justin is working his last shift as a resident.

No more will he be a student (except in the way that all doctors are always learning--and practicing medicine).

I really can't believe it. I'm so used to him being a student. I know residency is technically a job, I think, or technically a job as a student... but tomorrow when he goes to work he's going to WORK. For money! I know residents get paid... but they get paid like, well, teachers. Tomorrow when he goes to work he's really a doctor.

So tonight I'll get up at 1 a.m. or 2, when he gets home, to toast to the future. To say goodbye to the past. To know that he made it and that I was there with him.

We're 37 (well, I am, if you round up--he was as of the 25th), and we are finally going to stop living like college students.

We are renting a house.

We have a baby.

We have known each other nearly a decade, and next month will be our 9-year wedding anniversary.

I've watched Justin graduate from college, medical school and residency. I teased him about going to yet another hooray-for-Justin event, but really I am SO proud of him. So proud.

And thankful. I am blessed to live in Seal Beach with a baby I get to stay home to raise.

We have gone through really hard times to get here, financially, emotionally, even physically (after all, Justin had surgery on his foot and almost died from osteomylitis (a blood infection) in the first month of our marriage). But here we are.

I wish I could just enjoy it all. I wish there weren't this feeling that keeps coming back, but it's there. Maybe it's fading, but it's there.

In the meantime, I had a friend from high school who now lives in Texas come over to visit today during her trip to see her family. She brought her daughter, who is two months younger than Ella. We were trying to keep them relatively apart, because of that way babies have of reaching for each other's faces and accidentally poking each other in the eye (there was one head-butting incident, but no tears). But we could see that Ella was very slowly and gently reaching out for Addison, so we just let it go. Ella gave her a hug and a kiss! Addison didn't seem to mind and then they returned to parallel play, but there was definitely some interaction, some interest in the other kid and what she was doing. I wish they lived closer to us.

Three more hours and 11 minutes until Justin's shift is officially over... technically. TV? Sleep? It shall be revealed....

(This blog was written yesterday, but blogger was down, so it's posted later. Justin is at real work now...)

Monday, June 27, 2011

That's What She Said

Today my therapist told me that one of her clients said the smartest thing she (the therapist) has ever told her was that it was OK to lie on the couch.

Someone recently asked me, "Doesn't she (the therapist) just tell you little things you can do [to manage your depression]?" She'd heard that's how it works now--that with mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy it wasn't "just talking" anymore.

So, the smartest "little thing" that the therapist told me today was that I should avoid conflict situations while I'm depressed.

She told me about recruitment--that sometimes when a person is depressed their depression recruits subjects on which to fixate. These subjects become The Problem That If Solved Would Make My Depression Go Away. Unfortunately, the depressed person is usually not in a good state of mind for problem solving, or dealing with other people's crap. So, it's a bad time to talk about the big things in life, especially with certain people.

This is not to say I would be opposed to a friend sharing a Big Thing In Their Life with me--it's just to say that Big Things In My Life need to be put in the freezer (not even just the back burner!) for a while. Until I get better. Which, my therapist says, will happen.

She reminded me of when I was so much worse, when I was in the Navy Medical Center, I think hoping that I would find it inspiring--I was SOOOOO in the pit and I climbed out of it. Funny thing is, when she mentioned the hospital I looked back fondly on those days. That's when you know things are off. When you think, "Ahhhhh, the hospital was such a calm and soothing place to be," instead of, "Ew, hospital food is gross, I'm glad I don't have to go back there again."

Clearly, I'm tired.

I didn't tell her that though, I just agreed that coming out of depression in the past can inspire hope that I will come out of depression again. It's true. I'm hopeful.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Justin's Birthday

Who cares what's in the bag--it's just so fun taking the paper out of the bag together.

Ella was super tired after a long day of fun--including time with Grandma while Daddy and Mommy went to dinner with Brandon and Oakley for the boys' birthdays. She missed us.

Friday, June 24, 2011

New York gets it right

Ella and I just watched the New York State Senate pass a same-sex marriage bill.

After the vote there was clapping throughout the chamber, so Ella started clapping, too. I laughed and started clapping, too.

"When you grow up, you'll be able to marry whoever you want," I told her.

My only question is should I have said whomever. I should have. So be it.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Shoulder Smiles

Ella has this new way of smiling--it's the crinkle-nose smile combined with tilting her head to the side and scrunching up her shoulder to meet her ear. We have no idea where she learned it, but we are so so so in love.

This is her on the changing table. We used to call it the smiling table, then the laughing table. She's still good on it sometimes, but sometimes I call it the wrestling table. For her daddy she's typically good:

Sunday, June 05, 2011

How it Should Be

My husband is cleaning my shower.

My mom is babysitting my girl.

I went to a bridal shower tea and watched Bridesmaids yesterday.

Life is amazing.

It's more than I dare ask for. It's more than anyone deserves.

Yet my heart...

It's like when the grass at the park is beautiful and green and you just want to have a picnic and enjoy the sun, but the sprinklers go on. The grass is muddy. The picnic postponed.

My heart is heavy with mud.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Efff June Gloom

THIS is not going to happen to me.

I am not going to miss June the way I feel like I missed May. (Mother's Day! Ella's first birthday!) OK, so I was sad for the former and present for the latter--though definitely feeling the anxiety creep in before the big shindig, but fighting it fighting it fighting it.

Trouble is, I don't always feel fierce. Yesterday I felt more lost than fierce. More down than up. More subdued than hued.

Still, Ella kissed me again yesterday. She makes a little "O" with her lips and then plants them on my face--this time somewhere below my nose and on my lip--and lingers for a moment. Justin was witness again. This time we kept our celebration subdued, so as not to frighten her out of repeating this new trick. He's just dying for his kiss, holding out his cheek and waiting. We have always kissed her constantly; it is no wonder she's picked it up in her repertoire of tricks.

When I was in San Diego, my psychiatrist asked me, "Are you able to feel joy with your daughter?"


"Are you lying?"

"I don't think so."

She looked away and thought out loud, "OK, you're more depressed..." she trailed off, but I finished with "than I thought" or "than anxious" in my head.

Now I've been watching myself, and I know. I feel joy sometimes. I LOVE it when she kisses me (twice in three days?), I am so grateful for her crinkle-nose smile, I adore the way she goes down so easily for a nap, or crawls to her crib when she's tired, or "walks" to her changing table when her diaper is full, or reaches for the bananas when she doesn't want the cereal. But that feeling I had when she nested the cups or stacked the blocks, it's not nearly as beautiful or full as it was a couple of weeks ago.

Maybe this is normal. Maybe parents aren't always enthralled with their child's every move. But I was SO happy a few weeks ago. I was so in love with the house and the beach and the air. And now I move through it all just wishing I felt joy in my heart, instead of weight and grayness.

It's kind of scary blogging about this. I don't want people to be afraid to be with me. I need the company of my friends--one of the best ways out of depression is to socialize instead of isolating oneself. So those comments on the blog, I appreciate them, and those plans we make, I look forward to them. But I also don't want people to contact me because they feel sorry for me. I don't need pity or pity-company.

In fact, let me tell you a little story. There once was this girl who called me every day and went out with me to eat or walk several times a week. I grew to believe we were great friends. She was, in fact, my best girl friend. She told me things about her own depression, her sister, her work.Then, she stopped calling when she had a baby, and I worried and did my best to be a good friend by calling her (She had fallen into postpartum depression. I didn't know she was depressed--she didn't talk to me at all; I just thought she was busy being a new mom with a husband whom she had told me was not very supportive or helpful.) and leaving her e-mails, and giving her a birthday gift. Then one day, we met with my therapist (whom I had mistakenly recommended to her--never ever have the same therapist as a friend) because I couldn't take the abandonment-without-reason anymore and she told me she never thought of me as a good friend. That she felt sorry for me and she felt like she had to spend time with me.We never spoke again.

What a bitch.

She wasn't a bitch for finally telling me how she really felt, she was a bitch for pretending for all those years that she cared.

So don't pretend or feel obligated to be my friend or support system.

I don't need you that much.

I have my husband and some friends I know are real. That's good enough.

I hate to end on that note.

So here's something funny. I'm not supposed to drink alcohol with my meds. Which is a real bummer because I LIKE the taste of good wine and good beer. I don't waste my time on cheap stuff, or big jugs of wine, or light beer; I don't drink it for the buzz. But I really enjoy savoring a glass or two at the end of the day, and now I can't. So I bought some Ben and Jerry's ice cream. As though I need to enjoy something vice-ish at the end of the day. There was half a pint left in my container (Justin got his own flavor) last night, and now it's gone. Yum!

I really should go for that walk today.

BTW, just because I can't drink doesn't mean I won't go out with someone who can. Just for the record. Having a baby to palm off on someone (grandma!?!?) is a bigger obstacle to happy hour than ordering a Diet Coke and an appetizer.

Also, I'm still fun to be around. If we hang out, I won't talk about being depressed unless you want to. I still laugh genuinely. I still smile. I'm still funny. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day

Memorial Day: a good day to stay in and think about sacrifice, or, you know, go to a BBQ.

Of course, we did both. I would have preferred to lie prone on the couch for the day. A girl can dream. (It's actually a good thing I can't do what I want to do--nothing--because I am not sure I would ever get started again.)

So, the BBQ. We met a cousin of my mom's--Lorna--and Rafael at my parents' house. My dad BBQed and my mom made the mashed potatoes, baked beans (from a can--is there any other way?), salad and corn.

Lorna gave Ella a present, which she actually opened herself.

Ella wasn't willing to keep the headband that matched the dress on for very long, but she did manage a big grin for a moment.

Lorna was a big hit--I'm sure in part because she is so nice, but also because she let Ella play with her glasses.

Rafael was also quite popular; he seems to love music and dancing. Brought in a Yo-Yo Ma CD and did some samba clapping with Ella. Plus, they played the drums with the cake box cover.

Turned out the cake box top also made a good hat. Though I brought a bag full of Ella's toys, the only thing that came out of it was a book that Lorna read to Ella.

And, just so you know, Ella and I wore very coordinated (but not matching! I haven't completely lost it!) dresses.