Saturday, April 28, 2007

It Was All Just A Dream

Read this ARTICLE from the LA Times today.

The other day, while giving Froggy her respiratory treatment I had a premonition (I hope) or dream of the future. She was about eight years old, playing in her room with a friend. While they brushed their doll's hair and dressed them, Froggy said, "I used to have Cystic Fibrosis."

And the friend asked, "What's that?"

To which Froggy replied, "A really bad disease, but I'm okay now."

And then they continued playing dolls as if she had just told her friend that she liked peanut butter on crackers.

I truly believe that someday Froggy will have this conversation. And I hope that CF will only be a vague memory of nebulizers and vitamins, a phantom disease that disappeared from her life like diapers, or highchairs - something she just grew out of. This disease and the frightening outcome of it's progression, will have no reality in our future, or the future I imagine.

It was all just a dream, for little Froggy. And only we will know the truth, of what could have been.

One Rubber Ducky at a Time

For those of you who were unable to access my essay, here it is. It was originally posted in October under the heading "A Small World."

By Elise Free

There is something that I selfishly and unselfishly enjoy about being a mother, that has nothing to do with my daughter and yet everything to do with my daughter.

My friend Mieke has the wonderful ability to befriend complete strangers, everywhere she goes. She knows the personal history of every Starbucks employee in California, firefighter, police man/woman, postal worker, neighbor, passerby, shopper, etc, etc. In fact, if you don't know her and you live in the SoCal area, you are either a hermit, or a total a#$hole.

It's an ability that I admire and envy. When it comes to strangers, I'm shy and would rather not strike up conversations about the weather or price of gas. And it's not because I want to separate myself, if anything it's the opposite; but it is difficult to make the unknown known. And I guess fear lies at the heart of separating ourselves from the people who share our universe. Mieke has no problem with this. If the universe was a mansion, Mieke would request that the other 4 billion people sleep in her bed. And I love that about her.

She can walk up to any woman at the park or Costco and say, "I noticed you are wearing a pushup bra, now is that as comfortable as my athletic one?" all the while lifting her shirt, displaying the sports bra to her new best friend. And the person at the other end of this conversation, this complete stranger, you would think, might be startled by her directness, but it's the contrary. If anything, they are relieved, relieved that someone has broken the invisible barrier of strangerhood. And here they are, two women in the middle of Costco pulling up their shirts, while others walk by completely jealous of this interaction, wishing they too were invited to pull up their shirts and discuss their saggy boobs. And while Mieke befriends this complete stranger, she simultaneously hands over her business card, saying, "call me, I know a great plumber, agent, and boyfriend for your niece's daughter. In fact, come over on Sunday, we're having Wafflestompen, it's a Dutch thing, you've gotta try our puffages." I wish I could be this brave, but I'm not. So I'm forced to use my baby to make friends.

Today, Addie and I were shopping for diapers and other baby paraphenalia at Target or as they say in France, Tar-geh. It's Veteran's Day and every other mother and child on the westside was also shopping for binkies and sippy cups. Each aisle I approached, a conversation ensued. Women with their babes in tow, seemed desperate to connect. And I don't mean desperate in a negative way, I mean, "dear God, I've been playing 'here comes the spinach, down the hanger, and peek-a-boo baby doll, how big are you, Goodnight moon, Is Elmo feeding Dorothy?, please don't stand in the stroller, stop kicking your sister, wash your hands, don't pick your nose, don't eat your crayons, let's play nice, use your indoor voice, that's a beautiful macaroni necklace' kind of way." It's an adult, seeking another adult's company in the lonely job of stay-at-home mother, kind of desperate.

In aisle 7, I ran into an African American woman (who by the way had lost all of her baby weight, sob sob) and she asked, "Is your daughter about a year?" I said, "14 months." And the conversation was on. Her daughter was 13 months and also bald. We joked about how other babies have hair, but our little baldies are just as beautiful. We chatted about teething, Motrin, innoculations, Chicken pox, walking, behavior, how they grow so fast, first birthdays, diapers, wipes, bottles, breastfeeding, pediatricians, family, going back to work. She mentioned that in two weeks she would be returning to her job, after a year off, and how hard it would be to leave her babe. Her daughter's name was Hannah. She has four teeth and they all came in at the same time. In five minutes I learned more about this woman than I know about some of my closest friends, and the only reason is that we share a common interest, our babies. Our children open up a world for us. If we are too shy to say, "You wanna be my friend?," we can say, "Is your baby also standing up in the grocery cart?, or "Have you tried the new Luv's, do they really handle big poohs?"

It began with my pregnacy, and it didn't just include women. Men were also dying to talk about their lives, their wives, their children. "When my wife was pregnant, when my baby was born, when our lives changed forever..." I was amazed that in a city like Los Angeles, there were so many people who longed for friendship, conversations on the sidewalk, in line at the grocery store, the UPS guy, a barrista, dogwalker, neighbor. Through this beautiful, difficult and miraculous job of parenthood, I've realized that we are united and bound to our world and the people sharing this space.

When we empathize with a complete stranger about 3 o'clock feedings and sore baby gums, concerns over diet and innoculations, frustrations of balancing family and careers, we really can't be strangers anymore. The ties that bind us are bigger than the space between us. And in the mansion of 4 billion people, you can't help but think, "wouldn't it be nice if we all lived in the same room" and no one was really a stranger after all?

We need each other, to understand how we are truly in this together. Whether we're online with someone in Australia or Bangladesh, or shopping with another mom at Target, the love for our children is the glue that holds us together. They're our future and more importantly our present, connecting us to the moment and eachother, one diaper, one rubber ducky, one person at a time.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Drinking Beer for the Cure

I have the most amazing friends! Last night at a local pub, our friends raised $215.00 for the CF Foundation. The band (who played for the cure) is called, The New Low, and they were wonderful. We put a framed picture of Froggy by the guitar case, had a few beers and raised mula for the cure! I mean really, how could you say no to that face? So far, our wonderful team has raised over $9,000! Go Team Froggy's Legs.

And if you're wondering why I don't have pics of the band, that would be because I forgot my camera. But I can assure you, they were very cute.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tooting My Own Horn

An essay I wrote "One Rubber Ducky at a Time" was published in LA Parent. It won the "My Mommy Moment" contest, and I've been asked to read it after a production of a local play. And if that wasn't awesome enough, I get a free one-hour microdermabrasion facial. And they come to me. Oh yes, living the high life now!

Don't be surprised if I'm just too too popular to blog. Soon I'll be featured in The New Yorker, hobnobbing at Hollywood parties, staying at our rich friend's chateau in France, pitching script ideas to Meryl, Al and Oprah, and of course I'll have my book tours, and host Saturday Night Live with musical guest U-2, Letterman appearances, etc, etc. But don't worry, I'll be sure to thank the "little people" who read my stuff when I was just a nobody.

Seriously, it feels good to see something I wrote in print, because most of my life's work is in a filing cabinet, drawer, or shoved into a shoe box in my closet. And as all of you writers, artists, musicians, dancers know, sometimes even a little spotlight is enough to encourage you to pick up the pen, brush, guitar or tu-tu, and keep on creating. (and for my dancer friends, I know you don't really wear tu-tu's. It just sounded better than old haggard sweats and worn out shoes.)

If you want to check out my essay, just click on THIS, and then click on the LA City Edition. My article is on page 26.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Oh Sheeeet

(I haven't taken many pictures lately, so here are some good ones taken by Grandpa J)

Today, upon forgetting something important, I blurted "Oh Sh*t!"

Froggy, upon hearing my expletive, and mimicking her sailor-mouth-mama, said, "Ohhhh Shheeeeet!"

And then I did something even worse. I laughed. Loudly. And you know how tempting it is for a 19-month-old to repeat something funny. Fortunately, she forgot the precise word and ran around the house yelling "shoe! shoe! shoe!" Whew. I don't think I'll get dirty looks at Target with a baby yelling "Shoe!"

I'm going to wash my mouth out with soap and go to bed.

Okay, one more thing before bed. We desperately try to keep the dog and cat food out of the baby's reach, because you know how she loves to dine on Kibble. So we put the food up on the counter and get it down several times a day for the dog. Today, Froggy scooted the chair up to the counter, ate a piece of dog food, looked at me, and said, "Mmmmmm! Yummmm!" One of these days I'm going to give in and just put her mac and cheese in a dog bowl and let the pets raise her.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Carousel and Pseudomas - A Very Strange Combo

Our brave girl on Black Beauty.
After 10 times around, poor Froggydaddy couldn't get the timing right on
my 3-second delay camera. It was too funny.

A Carousel pony is the only kind of horse FD would ever let her ride.

Totally off topic. We heard back from Children's Hospital today and Froggy's throat culture for Pseudomonas was negative. Yippeeeeeeeeee!!!! Hoorayyyyyyy! Pseudomonas is a nasty gram negative bacteria that CF kids grow in their lungs because the mucus is too thick, and the scillia (those little hairs that flush out bacteria) are unable to flush outta there. It's a scary bacteria because it's resistant to antibiotics and it's what causes major damage to CF'ers lungs.

One of Froggy's inhaled treatments helps to thin the mucus and prevent bacteria growth. And it's working. Soooo...if we can keep Froggy's lungs free and clear, by the time we find the cure, her lungs will be totally healthy, and she will be totally healthy, and her daddy and I will be walking on sunshine! This was good news and a huge relief.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Baby Pillow Talk

This was the conversation in bed this morning:

Daddy: What's the kitty say?

Froggy: Meooooowwww!

Daddy: What's the doggy say?

Froggy: Hmmmphhh, Hmmmph.

Daddy: What's the monkey say?

Froggy: Eeeehhh, Eeeehh.

Daddy: What's Mommy say?

Froggy: Nooooooooooooo!

Potty Talk

Froggy has decided to skip the middleman and put her juice directly in the potty. Clever girl. It just saves us all a lot of work.

Today I let her run around naked and asked her to make some pee pee. Soooo, she climbed into the training potty, stepped out, and peed on the floor. Hmmmm. I guess I should have been more specific. It was a good first step, don't ya think?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

You Were Right Mamas!

Froggy wanted a booster seat. Since we abandoned the highchair, she hasn't stood up once. Thank you mamas for suggesting it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Healthy Girl Update

Froggy had her doc appt. at Children's Hospital on Tuesday, and she is doing GREAT, PERFECT, WONDERFUL, HEALTHY, and GORGEOUS. If I do say so myself!

At nineteen months, she's 22lbs and 32 inches. That's 25% for weight and 50% for height. Yep, her daddy's tall genes are starting to kick in.

Her lungs sound clear and healthy. At this age, she really hates the nurses, doctors, receptionists, anyone with a white coat, stethoscope, or even appearing to have something to do with the medical field. In fact, if you carry a pen in your shirt pocket, watch out, she'll give you the evil eye. She cried through the entire appointment and everytime the nurse looked at her (even from across the room) she howled louder! The doc said that when most kids cry and they listen to their breathing, she usually hears wheezing. But not from FROGGY!!! Woooo hoooo! This little tadpole has clear, healthy lungs!!!

It's soooooo wonderful to have these appointments when all is right with the world. Thank you for keeping Froggy in your prayers and thoughts. We feel the love and know she's healthier because of it.


In 2006, we spent $10,072 for Medical Insurance, co-pays and Froggy's meds.

To put that in perspective, it's more than 1/4 of our income going to deductibles, insurance and meds.

And...we have Medicare, California Children's Services and Blue Cross.

I can't complain, because Froggy is worth every penny and more, but I think I might cry.

I'm just hoping my fortune cookie was right the other night (and I should not be spending money on Chinese take-out, geeeeesh!), "The star of riches is shining on you." We are rich in so many other ways, but if you could take a moment to imagine us with a winning lottery ticket, or finding the Hope diamond in a sandpile at the park, well, that would be great.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Note to self: Take pictures of "other" people too at family events, not just the baby.

We had a lovely Easter at Aunt "N's" and Uncle "R's." Froggy had a blast. The highlight was running through their house (hardwood floors) with her cute and LOUD paten-leather shoes. Grandma "W" bought her the adorable Easter dress. She is such a girly girl and enjoys the attention she receives from being pretty-stinkin-cute!

We had an Easter egg hunt and she enjoyed smashing eggs more than actually finding them. Her new thing is to sniff everything. It started because I told her instead of sticking things in her mouth, she could smell them. So now she smells everything, and that is what she was doing in the picture above. Flowers, the phone, remote control, eggs, she sniffs them all.

Hope you all had a Happy Easter and Passover.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Best Friends

This is my "Mimi" blanket. You wanna kiss him?

Okay, but just a little kiss.


We make beautiful music together!

If you're happy and you know it clap your hands!

Here, you play the recorder!

Friday we had a playdate (playdate - being a word I promised I would never use as a mom). Oh well, add it to my list. It was so much fun watching Froggy and "Hummingbird" interact. They are hilarious, sharing Cheerios, running through the house, desperately jealous of the other's sippy cup. Even at 18 months, the juice is always better in someone else's cup.

It amazes me that at such a young age, they can build friendships with other 'little people.' When we walk by Hummingbird's house, Froggy points and says her name. They pat, hug, and rest their heads on one another. It's too cute. Let's just say there are a lot of "ooohhhs and ahhhhhs" from the mamas.

I love that we are neighbors, and that Hummingbird's parents are such wonderful people too. Lucky, lucky us.

I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.--Humphrey Bogart

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Make Me!

Froggy will not sit in her high chair. I strap the little tadpole in as tight as I can, push the tray right against her belly, and the little Houdini always finds an escape route.

I've tried a quiet mommy voice, 'sit down' a mean mommy voice 'SIT DOWN,' and nothing phases her. We physically keep her in the chair, but the second we let go to get more food or a towel, she's standing proud, eating her avocado without a care in the world.

Sometimes she'll provoke us with other behaviors (like taking my credit card, showing it to me, then running away) because she wants the reaction, but this isn't about the reaction. She just wants to stand while she eats. It would be so much easier if she just wanted to hear mommy freak out! But no, she's just stubborn and wants to do what she wants to do. I have no idea where she acquired that trait?

At this point, I've pulled the highchair into the kitchen, rather than the dining room. And I prepare everything while holding her down. It's ridiculous.

If I have to say "Froggy SIT DOWN!" one more time, we're going to get out the picnic blanket and eat our meals on the floor. Any suggestions?

Sunday, April 01, 2007


It's rattlesnake season. Despite the sound of a few baby rattles in the brush, we only found a gopher snake minding his own business along the path. That didn't last long. Grandpa "J" scooped him up (like the late Crocodile Hunter) and we all got a first hand look at this amazing P. catenifer specimen, crikey mates! He was a Beaut!

I was more than happy to take pictures of "other" people holding the snake. I like snakes but also don't have an overwhelming desire to handle them. And as you can tell by Froggy's face, if the animal doesn't have fur and meows, who cares?

A few years ago on a hike in the mountains, I stepped over a mama rattlesnake, and mid-step realized the predicament I was in. Froggydadda, who has no fear (and I believe was a Lemming in his past life) said, "just step over her, she doesn't want to hurt you."

And he was right. I slowly, ever so slowly - because I didn't want to pee my pants - moved my leg over her and walked away. She never moved. Only when I was out of reach, did she rattle, and slither into a bush. And then I peed my pants, just kidding.

I found a new respect for this creature who used restraint when she was capable of major destruction.

"It's the babies you have to watch out for," Sissy Snuggiekins told us. "They'll bite anyone, and release all their venom, because they don't know any better."

I thought about that on the drive home. How many times have I been the baby rattlesnake releasing all of my venom on one person?

Yesterday, I was trying to get into the right lane and no one would let me in. I was extra mad because the baby was in the car, and I did the "wave to let me in" and no one would. So I yelled out the window "THANK YOU!!!!" to a woman who wouldn't let me in. And then she did the unthinkable. She let me in. She killed me with kindness, and I felt like a big jerk - a baby rattler who released a lifetime of venom on one person, and it wasn't because I didn't know any better, it was because I've lost my patience. I don't know when I lost it, but I did. And I'd really like it back. I want to be that mama rattler, who waits it out, letting the enemy walk away. But lately, I've been attacking, stalking my prey in the bushes and biting ankles like my life depends on it.

I know my husband is that innocent hiker, minding his business, when the baby rattler strikes, releasing a day of medicare-diapers-baby tantrums-exhaustion-stressed out -mama venom! I come out of nowhere, perhaps from a forest of hormones and the jungle of exhaustion. But I'm deadly, mean and shedding skin at everyone's expense.

But I'm going to take notes from the wild:

Sssstrike only when it's life or death, save venom for when it really counts, soak up some sun, enjoy the walk, and teach the little rattlers how it's done.