East Of Eden

"A curious mix of the relevant and reverential"


Throwback Thursday: "You're HUGE" & Other Dumb Things Not to Say or Do to a Pregnant Woman

Note: This post was first published on my old blog, Far Above Rubies, on March 30, 2011. Enjoy! ~Li

 (Photo: Flickr)

God bless 'em, the jerks who have thought it all in good fun to poke at my ever expanding belly, the same ones who question every bit of food and drink I consume. Even the one who commented on my larger bust line (and this came from a guy... a guy who is NOT my husband). God bless these folks, because I don't want to. But, I will. I will bless them with some sage advice on how not to address or behave towards an expectant mom, speaking as a sage expectant mom.

  • "You're HUGE!", "You are getting so big!" "Wow, your stomach has really popped out" or any other variant of the bulging belly bump kind. I believe most people are genuinely just amazed at the gestation process when they let exclamations like this slip. The thing is, not too many women, even if they are awaiting a bundle of joy, enjoy being repeatedly told how much weight they've gained. Think about it. We ladies try all kinds of fad diets, hit the treadmill, and wear clothing to try to disguise so much as a two pound gain. Suddenly, we've gained, let's say, twenty, and no amount of scarves or drapey tunics can hide that. We now have to face up to the fact... we're fat. And that's hard. So give us a break. If you MUST make a comment, try referring to the growing baby instead of the growing belly.
  • "That better not be coffee!", "You know there is caffeine in tea" or "That juice is too full of sugar for you and baby!" These comments come from genuine concern, but being a drink monitor to a grown woman is demeaning. I've been cautioned against the evils of coffee, only to inform the person the hot creamy brown liquid I was sipping was cocoa. Most women have heard such warnings already, so if they choose to drink, they most likely are doing so knowing the risk. Now, if you see a momma to be gulping down Captain Morgan's, THAT would be a time to speak up. Similarly, that brings me to my next point. Do not say
  • "You're not eating that are you?", "That snack is full of sodium!", or "More pickles?" Do not cause us preggos to develop eating disorders by constantly commenting on the foods we choose to indulge in. Yes, we should be eating lots and lots and lots of fruits and veggies and getting our calcium through glasses of skim milk. But sometimes we just to eat lots and lots of oreos and get some calcium through a big bowl of Hagen Daaz. Now, I know you're probably thinking, "That's no good for you!" Too much of it, no, definitely not. But an occasional splurge is not the end of the world. But let's say your pregnant friend or sister has diabetes or is overweight... okay, you can speak up, but again, not in a condescending tone or manner. Gently encourage her to choose some lowfat , sugar-free yogurt, and then go a step further and eat it with her. If you really want to support her, you best not condemn while your chowing down on the Carvel.
  • "Your back must be hurting!" or "I know you're feeling exhausted." Don't assume to know how another person is feeling. You might have been miserable (or fantastic!) throughout your pregnancy, but that doesn't mean your co-worker is. Everyone is different, and every pregnancy is different. If you'd like to know how she's feeling, just ask. And for anyone wondering, I'm doing pretty darn well. For reasons unbeknown to my doctors (or me), I'm actually feeling better most days now than before I was pregnant, even on the medication. My doctors have hypothesized it might be the extra vitamins or the flow of hormones (my money is on this). For whatever reason, I'm thankful that my sinuses aren't inflamed, my back isn't aching and while I do feel the extra weight slowing me a bit, I'm not feeling extra pain because of it. Thank God!
  • "You are having a boy since you are carrying out!" or "That has to be a little girl as round as you are!" For us few ladies who opt not to learn our child's sex until birth, there is a constant barrage of declarations as to our babies' sex. I've mainly received, "It's a boy" comments, with a sprinkling of girl pronouncements. While I might be good natured fun to want to guess, these comments usually are tied to opinions on a woman's bulging bump... so more weight and appearance talk. I also find some of it offensive. "Girls take away all their mothers beauty." Think about that... so not only are you passing on a sexist belief, but you're also saying a woman is now... ugly. Augh. 
  • "Your naming him what???" Okay, so your cousin has just told you she is christening Junior with a name so instantly detestable that you know this poor kid has years of bullying ahead at school. And that's just from the teachers. What do you do? Try asking why she's chosen the name. Maybe it has a very special meaning or is her father-in-law's name. Try to find out details before you just come right out and say her son will hate her for life and wind up in counseling for having to go through childhood be referred to by that moniker. Even if you still object, remember that if she hasn't asked your opinion, no need to give one. And that many people happily go by their middle names.
  • Proceeding to rub her belly without so much as asking. Or even asking if this isn't a close friend or family member. Don't do this. As I tweeted yesterday, I am not a Buddha. I do not want you to rub my belly. If you do, you are guaranteed to have bad luck. And as my buddy Shaun pointed out, normally, a stranger touching a woman is usually grounds for a call to the police. This is not acceptable behavior. If she offers, rub away. If not, don't be a creeper. 
 My most recent picture, taken by my boss at work. I've got a big belly and big hair!

Got any more tips? Comment away!

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PSA: So you noticed I'm disabled...


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... and I am. Now get over it. 

 

It's summer, and the more I go out, the more I run into people who get spontaneous, explosive, diarrhea of the mouth because of said disability. Or rather, the walker I use because of said disability.

Here's the thing: over a year after having a HSCT, not only am I not any better, I'm actually more dependent on a walker than I was before it. While I definitely made use of the walker for trips to malls, museums and parks pre-HSCT, I didn't usually bring it to church, doctor's appointments, cafes or book stores. Now, it's constant.

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Throwback Thursday: Zoe 101: Lessons From My Daughter

Note from Li: This post was first published on my old blog, Far Above Rubies, on March 6, 2012. I'm republishing it today, with an update: Matt is now an awesome dad to two adorable boys. I knew he'd be a great dad. ;-) ~Li

 Last week at The Church of No People, Matt topped off his month long series on Parenting by explaining why he didn't want to have kids. At least anytime soon. I laughed out loud reading it, and not in that fake "LOL! But I only wrote that because I don't know what else to write except maybe a smiley face, but I don't want to" type way, either. Especially that part about Go-Gurt. I don't know why, but before having Zoe, seriously thinking about having kids always conjured up images of gross poopy diapers, crazy kid temper tantrums, and yes, Go-Gurt. Sticky, sour-smelling, old Go-Gurt on teeny fingers and chubby cheeks. And I shuddered. And wrote this. And recorded this. In other words, I understand. In fact, I still shudder when I think of what others have told me about parenting. The sleepless nights, the illnesses, the ruined... well, just about everything, from carpeting to electronics to waistlines. But as God as my witness, in my admittedly short time as a mom, I have yet to feel that chill. Really. Yes, there were sleepless nights, and being popped and peed on. Yet, I wouldn't have it any other way. Why? One, because just as with everything else that has challenged me- Pre-Calculus, working at a super awful job, being married, dealing with a chronic illness- I have emerged much stronger having had to deal with it. Well, except for maybe Pre-Cal, which taught me the lesson that I should've stopped at Algebra. Two, because I've learned much from Zoe. So much. Here are a few: 1.) Don't take things too seriously. Nearly everyday lately, I've turned around for LITERALLY two minutes and return to Zoe having my cell in her mouth. Or the TV remote. Or a corner of my iPad. Sometimes, she's managed to crawl into near disaster. My first reaction is, "What the ksfhkrfskhs!" And my second, is to quietly laugh to myself. Like my daughter, I am learning to call them how I see them. And sometimes, it's really not that serious. Or really, not serious at all.

 2.) It's okay to cry. Other times, it is serious. At least enough to cry. I'm not saying I go into hysterics, but I know, balancing church, family, etc., can be trying. Sometimes, letting out some tears is totally cleansing. It's like a little emotional reset. So when two loved ones passed a few weeks ago, I sat and cried. And was the better for it.

 
 

 3.) Smile often. Zoe is one of the smiliest babies I've ever known. Really. Most mornings, she wakes up smiling. She smiles at us. Her Big Poppa. Our pastor. And especially Keiron's co-worker Tim (yeah, she's totally a flirt). It's good to smile. Meet a new day with happiness.

4.) Be determined. When Z focuses on something, she'll keep going (even it means a tumble off the bed) until she gets it. There have been many days I've  felt weak and did not even attempt to go out. I'll stop myself before I even tried. Watching Zoe crawl, squiggle, wiggle and kick her way to her goal inspires me to do so. Onward march! Or crawl. 5.) K is awesome. Yeah, duh, I know he is. But I need to show him that. Daily. Zoe will scream and laugh when K gets come home from work. Or goes into the living room and then comes back. She shows her Daddy how much he is missed. A reminder to me to throw some of that excitement his way, too. P.S. to Matt, you're going to be a great dad. You already are.

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Lent- Day 35: The Last Temptation of Alisha.

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Beloved, my husband brought home the cake pictured above. Along with a large tray of brownies.

There was a bakesale at his job, he said, and well, he brought me... a cake. And a large tray of brownies. 

As I mentioned earlier in this Lenten season, I gave up sweets until Easter. So I haven't so much as popped a peanut M&M since February.

And here we are, at the start of Holy Week, looking ahead to celebrating... and my husband, the man I vowed to love and honor before God, came strolling into our home with some kind of green frosted chocolate cake. And a large tray of brownies. Oh, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

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Lent- Day 34: Why blog?

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(Image: John P. Weiss)

 

Yesterday's post, complete with cutie-pie pic of Z, got over 70 hits. Thursday's barely hit 20. My most popular post in this Lenten series got something like 150. So basically, I'm not even half a blip on these here interwebz.

Sometimes, I'll get discouraged. Afterall, I started blogging in April 2009 at Far Above Rubies, and it's sad knowing thousands of posts have pretty much collected the online equivalent of dust without having been read by more than 7 or 8 people.

At least, it would be sad if I primarily wrote for others. Thing is, I don't. You lovely Readers matter of course, and sometimes, I do write for you (I'm especially talking about Kiki, Thomas, Maria, and Xiamora... ya'll are loyal). But I owe my blogging longevity to my own desire to write. I started journaling around 7, and I wasn't consistent with it. Weeks or months may pass between entries, but inevitabaly, I'd be back at it. Writing is like my social awkwardness, introversion, or sensory neuropathy: chronic.

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Lent- Day 26: Congratulations.

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In Thomas Edison's workshop. (Picture, my own.)

 

Today, I took Zoe to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange (N.J.- um, if you aren't aware by now, I live in Dirty Jerz). While I found the place fascinating, full of actual history (a kinetoscope!), Zoe was much less interested. In fact, she doesn't want to go back. While she liked dressing up in old tyme clothes and playing with Tinker Toy blocks, she was sorely disappointed to be the only child there. A museum with ancient artifacts is one thing, but with ancient people, too? Nope, fail.

 

One of the park rangers there, Gage (true story, that's his actual first name... Ranger Gage is a superhero-in the making, just wait for it), spoke to us about Edison's inventions, legacy, and rivals (ahem, Tesla, ahem). After I mentioned a "Bob's Burgers" episode about Edison and Topsy (fair warning, the real-life story is hella grim, Guys. If you want to check it out, start here, but you were warned!), he even discussed the history behind that. I thought he may try to give me P.R.-approved answers to such non-flattering questions, but Ranger Gage kept it real.

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Lent- Second Sunday: Blessings.


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(Image Source: Genius)

 

"If I ever took a loss, I learned a lesson"
"Blessings", Lecrae

 

I lost three followers from this blog's Facebook page over the past week and a half- you know, since I started these daily Lenten posts. Ha.

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Until you return to the ground.

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By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

-Genesis 3:19

 Ash Wednesday- actually the whole concept of Lent- jolts me. I grew up Holiness/Pentecostal, belonged to another such church during college, and then spent another five years as a member of a nondenominational Evangelical fellowship. So yeah, I always find myself shocked by the starkness of this day.

The verses read, including the one above, are blunt. We're going to die. All of us. And we, as in humanity, really stink. We are the worse. We oppress others, are selfish, and a quick skim through Isaiah 58 shows that even when we are supposed to be doing something holy, like fasting, we tend to get all self-righteous and conceited.

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Baby, I'm just soggy from the chemo.

 
 
On the April 12th, I underwent the first round of chemotherapy for the stem cell transplant at Northwestern. I was given a rather large, private room, complete with a spectacular view of the Chicago skyline and a large flatscreen TV that I never used on account of the fast hospital WIFI and having my laptop with me. 
 
The nursing staff was nice. Friendly, chatty even, but not too talkative. They knew when to take a bow. 
 
They were quick to provide me with Zofran to combat the nausea from the Cytoxan. Sidebar, but isn't Cytoxan such an appropriately awful name for chemo? Cy-TOX-an? Toxic toxin. Eww. Anyway, they also gave me Mesna and Lasix, which left me having to pee pretty much every ten minutes for a couple of hours each time I was dosed. And of course, every time I went, I was accompanied by my beeping, infusing buddy, large IV stand, pictured below in the background.

 

Yes, I still maintain my hippie style even at the hospital.


The actual chemo infusion went fine, but the stay overnight was rough. I couldn't sleep, which is totally normal for many hospital patients. But what did me in was an overwhelming, almost to the point of smothering, feeling of loneliness. There was a pull out bed in my room, but it was empty, with K being back at the hotel with Zoe. We spoke via FaceTime... or rather, barely spoke, an awkward silence doing most of the communicating for us both. The day, with it's heavy anxiety, had left us both stunned and stung.

At some point in the wee hours, my night nurse, Maria, checking on me during a pee run, noticed my sadness, and offered up some words of encouragement. Somehow our small talk turned to God, and with a thick Filipino accent, she shared how she prays for each one of her patients at the start of every shift, asking God to help her be an instrument for Him.

Still lacking words, I gave her a hug, me still tethered to old large IV stand, her in crinkly, blue, antiseptic gown and latex gloves.

I got home the following afternoon feeling surprisingly well. I had made several stops after being discharged to buy flowers (white lilies and pink daises) for our hotel room (really more of a studio apartment with a full kitchen) and to pick up the prescriptions I'd need for the next week.

Things were still awkward between me and K, but Zoe greeted me as if we had been separated for months. As the hours passed, I fell into a daze of exhaustion, finally conking out before 8PM. Around 2AM, I awoke to what felt like an actual wave of nausea. For the next 36 hours, that wave would submerge me into some kind of hellishness akin to labor pains, premenstrual cramps, and the most severe stomach virus ever... combined. I'd pop a Zofran, which, as far as life preservers go in an ocean of nausea, kept me afloat, but most certainly didn't save me. Food was a step away from gross. I wasn't even too keen at looking at it.

The only thing I wanted to see was my family. In fact, from my groggy, soggy chemo haze, laying in bed, I set my gaze on K and Z. It didn't take long for them both to question my stares. I mumbled out how much I missed them. Zoe shrugged, laughed and went back to watching TV. K met my stare with a look that crossed incredulity with being weirded out.

Again, I felt stung.

I had been warned that this process would leave me physically depleted. There were no side effect warnings for my emotions.


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I am not my hair.

 

 
"Breast cancer and chemotherapy
Took away her crownin' glory
She promised God if she was to survive
She would enjoy every day of her life, oh
On national television
Her diamond eyes are sparkling
Bald-headed like a full moon shining
Singing out to the whole wide world like, hey"
- India Arie, "Brown Skin"
 
On Wednesday evening, I walked into the bathroom, slid open the medicine cabinet, pulled out a small pair of scissors and paused for about five seconds. I took a deep breathe and cut a large hunk of my hair off on the left side. In less than ten minutes, the sink was full of fro. I was done.
 

 

 
I had decided a long time ago that I'd rather get a hair cut before receiving the chemotherapy that is part of the complex Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation. The staff at Northwestern Memorial let me know from the jump that I'd lose all my hair. Unlike with many chemo treatments prescribed for patients with cancer, the use of chemo here will be so intense that the hair wouldn't just thin. I'd look like a honey brown cue ball within two months. No ifs, ands or combovers.Not wanting to resemble a 2016 female version of George Jefferson when clumps of my afro begin to drop out, I planned to go to a salon and get my first real, professional haircut since college.
 
But plans have been failed aspirations lately, and with less than a week before I'd be back in Chicago to finally get the transplant, and not wanting to spend any additional cash on strands that wouldn't be around to greet the Summer Solstice in a couple of months anyway, I got my Edward Scissorhands on. 
 
Zoe doesn't like it. Not in the least. She wants my "old, better hair style back". K... well, he's said he likes it, but only did so after I asked him straight out. So, yeah. 
 
I like that I haven't had to do it since I washed and styled it that first night. But I feel a little... I'm not even sure. Unfazed? I thought I might've gotten a bit moved by it all. I now have the shortest hair in the house.
 
My husband, with his shaved, two-strand twisted fauxhawk, has longer hair than me. And still, my emotional reaction could be depicted like this emoji
 
I've thought about it and I truly believe going natural while pregnant with Zoe pretty much took the sting out of this. I heard some of the nastiest comments when I let go of the relaxed locks. My appearance, value, sexual appeal and femininity were all questioned and even ruled quite lacking based on the texture of my hair. Why worry now when I barely have any? In those people's eyes, I've been ugly. 
 
I cried then, but their taunts toughened me. There I was, in my last year of my 20's FINALLY getting it. My value is not in my appearance, and certainly not in the capricious opinions of others on said appearance. As India Arie sings, I am not my hair. I'm not my skin, either. I learned that lesson quite well as I got scar after scar from IVIG treatments, medicines, and surgically implanted ports. 
 
I don't have breast cancer, but like the woman in India's song, I've done my praying and have decided to enjoy each day, "Bald-headed like a full moon shining".
 
 
 
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Forever 28. Three years old.

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Friday marked the third anniversary of my sister Joscelyne's death.

 

Around 8AM, I pulled the black and white photo of her, ensconced in a shiny, mirrored frame, off the bookshelf, and placed it in the center of the piano. I set out a couple of candles, and searched through a closet for the least tacky plastic flowers I could find. I wanted fresh lilies, but due to a sprained ankle I've been nursing for three weeks, that didn't happen.

 

I found some pink and purple ones, part of a bouquet that she had purchased in 2011 for our mom that wound up in my possession. They surrounded the candles, which I lit and watched flicker. Their light could barely be seen because it was bright in the living room. November 20th of 2015 was sunny, unlike the gloomy and overcast 20th of 2012.

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Lent- Day 24: Euphoria in aporia.

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A drawing of Soren Kierkegaard I did yesterday.

 

 

I haven't been sleeping well the last few nights. My thoughts, during the day and night, are on my daddy, who's been on life support since last week. We- the family- know, but are still grappling with the reality that we are nearing the end.

 

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Lent- Day 10: Bookends.

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Our poor little Civic. :-(

 

 

 

I started the week feeling frightened by my father's declining health. I'm ending it feeling shaken by a car accident.

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Lent- Day 5: My tears have been my food.

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"My dad is dying."

 

 

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Way down in the hole.

 

My interview with Tray Chaney who played Poot on "The Wire" was so much fun, I wanted to keep it going. See, I've caught some flack from a couple friends over my enthusiasm for the show... and you know, I wear that as a badge of honor.

 

I do like a number of other shows, though (ask K about my borderline obsessive knowlege of all things "Simpsons"). As it turns out, some of those shows have writers who share my feelings for "The Wire", and quite casually work them into their episodes. So off the top of my head, here's some I've spotted over the last few years. If you can think of more, please comment below.

 

Speaking of "The Simpsons", in a season 23 episode, "The Ten-Per-Cent Solution", Krusty lands a new adult-themed show on "HBOWTime" thanks to his new (and former) agent Annie Dubinsky (voiced by the late Joan Rivers). While the show airs, things go awry, and Moe, watching it live at the bar is left wondering why he pays extra for the channel.

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Some Saturday Stuff: January 24th.

 

Happy Weekend.

 

We woke up to snow this morning here in Jersey, and we may get some more early next week. Or not, since some meteorologists said we would this past Wednesday and there wasn't even a dusting. So we'll see.

 

Snow is plain depressing to me. Actually, most of winter is. Not enough daylight or sunshine makes for one sad Alisha. 

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Water, ice and crumbling pearls.

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(Screenshot, "Boss") 

 

"I wonder what it's like to take the shape of the space you're in?" -Tom Kane, "Boss"

 

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Some Saturday Stuff: November 15th.

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(Source: @sarahcpr, Twitter)

 

 

While the Internet went cray (but, alas, not broken) over Kim Kardashian's oiled-up cakes on the cover of Paper magazine this week, I was busy binging on the cancelled Starz show, "Boss", which centers on corrupt Chicago mayor Tom Kane and his battles with political enemies and his own body. Kane, played by a scarily beguiling Kelsey Grammer, is diagnosed with Lewy bodies, a degenerative neuro disease with no cure that will eventually lead to incapacitation and death.

 

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On Robin Williams and depression.

Like millions, I was shocked on Monday when I heard the news that beloved comic actor Robin Williams had taken his life. I wound up in tears over my iPad, my nephew Justin offering a brief but heartfelt, "I'm sorry". 

 

I grew up watching reruns of Mork and Mindy on Nick at Nite, and I'd still happily dawn a pair of rainbow suspenders today. My favorite Disney movie is Aladdin, and of course I watched HookMrs. Doubtfire, and Jumanji. I even liked his decidely creepy turn as a villian on Law & Order: SVU. 

 

It was actually that one episode guesting gig that popped in my head as I emailed my friend Aja on Monday night. She wrote that he "seemed like such a sad person" despite "all of his comedy and shenanigans" and I have to agree. There was definitely something dark there, and his sudden death shone a bright light on it.

 

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Some Saturday Stuff: July 26th.

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Zoe with her new birthday gifts from my nurse, Stella- a puppy purse, a Cabbage Patch, and a tiny stroller.

 

 

 

Happy Saturday, All, and a very Happy Birthday to my cousin Ean. I can hardly believe the cute little curly haired toddler I loved to squeeze is now 26. I feel ancient.

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