Getting a Good Night’s Rest

Eight and a half months ago, my wife Christy gave birth to our daughter Winifred Róisín. It’s been the best and most challenging time of my life. One of the challenges, of course, is sleep. Our sleep, Winnie’s sleep, friends and family’s sleep (when we travel) – it’s a dance to which we’re still learning the steps. Sometimes, it’s easier to feel the rhythm than others.

Recently, Christy told me her mom’s group is discussing sleep training. Both Christy and I work from home, and we divvy up responsibilities. Sleep training became my territory, while Christy focuses on nursing and introducing solid foods to Winnie’s diet. When the mom’s group started talking sleep training, Christy asked me to recount the steps we’ve taken to help our daughter (and us) sleep soundly and regularly.

After chatting about it with Christy, I decided to write down our experience, both for my own remembrance and to share with others. It’s hard being a first time parent. There are so many questions, and others with experience are always at the ready with a plethora of recommendations. It can be hard to cut through the din.

This is the process we took with Winifred to get her to regularly napping and sleeping through the night.

MONTH 1-3, or “Baptism by Fire”

The first month was tough. Winifred spent her first week in the hospital, being treated under LED lights for jaundice. In a way, I’m sure she was in heaven. She received 24/7 attention and fed whenever she wanted. It was an extremely emotional time for us – Christy’s milk came in, but she was only able to feed Win when we visited the hospital. And feeding is just what we called it. Latching and actually drinking didn’t really happen, and we had anxiety over whether Win would have nipple confusion when she left the hospital.

After six days in the NICU, Winnie joined us at home. Sleep during this time was almost nonexistent…for us. Basically, one of us was awake, holding Winifred all the time. She wouldn’t let us lay her in her bassinet at all. When Christy was up, I was sleeping, and vice versa. Oddly, Christy and I didn’t see much of each other except for a few mutually agreeable waking hours. It was a matter of survival.

At the end of that first month, two major shifts happened:

  1. One day, we chatted with our neighbors from down the hall, and we mentioned we couldn’t put Winnie down without her erupting in tears. It was usurping our sleep, and something had to give. They suggested the Momaroo, a robot/swing that had five different settings: Car Ride, Tree Swing, Rock a Bye, Ocean, and, of course, Kangaroo.mamaRoo colors

The irony of their suggestion was that during Christy’s pregnancy, we visited a baby store, and when I saw the Momaroo in action on the showroom floor, I declared I didn’t want a robot rocking our baby to sleep. However, as many parents will attest: You do what works so you can get rest. The Momaroo was our savior. We were able to get between two and five hours solid sleep a night during the following two months.

  1. Nursing was the other factor that played a part in the topsy-turvy first few weeks. Christy used a nipple shield as a transition from hospital formula-feeding to full-time breastfeeding. By her one-month doctor visit, Winnie wasn’t gaining enough weight, and the pediatrician suggested Christy employ a lactation consultant and pump after every nursing.

The following four days might’ve been the most challenging for Christy. I’ve never seen her go through so many emotions. Christy basically didn’t sleep because of all the pumping and feeding. Beverly Solow, the lactation consultant with whom Christy worked, was fantastic.

MONTH 3-4, or “Getting a Groove”

The first sleep training book I read was Elizabeth Pantley’s popular “The No-Cry Sleep Solution”. We began with this approach because both Christy and I leaned toward attachment parenting. We wore Winnie in an Ergo when walking the neighborhood, brought her into our bed for night nursing, and avoided her crying as much as possible. This typically required our holding her.

“The No-Cry Sleep Solution” gave us four helpful tools in our sleep training:

  1. Sleep Associations: Arrange a series of events just before your baby’s nap or bedtime, like singing songs, reading books, offering a bottle or nursing, or bath time. One of the most necessary items that Winnie relies upon is her lovey, a small blanket-like stuffed animal that she cuddles and chews throughout her sleep.
  1. The Pantley’s Pull Off: This technique is how to break the habit of sleeping with a pacifier. It also reduces the chance of your baby waking up after she’s fallen asleep. In the very beginning, we would put Win down with a pacifier in her mouth, but as soon as she fell into a deep sleep the pacifier would drop out. When she inevitably woke, the pacifier was gone and Win would crank up because she couldn’t soothe herself. If you can teach your baby she doesn’t need a pacifier, she may be able to have a sounder sleep.
  1. Sleep Charts: I like the sleep charts Pantley includes in her book. It suggests how many times a day your child typically should nap, how many hours a night she should sleep, and it reinforced how having a routine can encourage nighttime sleeping.
  1. Looking for the Signs: This isn’t the only book to talk about signs of sleepiness, but it was the first I read that reinforced if you catch your baby’s signals for sleep – rubbing of the eyes, grabbing the ears (for older babies), and, of course, yawns – you can put your baby down before she ramps up to becoming over-tired.

By the fourth month, we were able to lay Winnie down in the bassinet at night, but not until she was in a deep sleep. This required between 30-90 minutes of either Christy or me in a dark nursery, holding Winnie in silence, reading our glowing iPhones. We had to bounce her on a yoga ball because she got too heavy to rock her in our arms. But once Win was down, she would sleep for anywhere between 5-8 hours. We still held Winnie during her naps, which adjusted to a regular three times per day.

The other book we used was the well-known “The Happiest Baby on the Block.” This book was beneficial when it came to teaching us about white noise, which simulates the sound surrounding your baby in the womb. Offering a “shhhh” was my go-to whenever we didn’t have our white noise Sleep Sheep, which Winnie uses for every time she sleeps.

MONTHS 4-6, or “Crib Transition”

At about four months, we decided to move Winnie out of our bedroom. It was a choice I was ready to make, but Christy was hesitant. It felt, somehow, to be the beginning of Win truly separating from her mother.

Fortunately, there is a futon in Winnie’s room, so if Christy had to get up with Winnie during the middle of the night, she would go into Win’s room and bring her into the futon for night feedings. Often, Christy and Winnie would continue sleeping the rest of the night away together in Win’s room. Today, Winnie still wakes this way in the morning and nurses straightaway in the futon.

This is what a typical day looked like:

WINIFRED DAILY ROUTINE AT FOUR MONTHS
6:30am WAKE
6:30am NURSE
8:30am NAP
9:30/10:00am WAKE
10:15am BOTTLE AND APPLESAUCE
11:30am NAP
12:30/1:00pm WAKE
1:15pm NURSE
4:00pm NAP
5:00/5:30pm WAKE
5:30pm NURSE
5:45pm CEREAL W AVOCADO
6:45pm STORY, SONG, BOTTLE, BED

As you can see, we began feeding Winifred solid foods about this time. The first foods we tried were rice cereal, avocado, and applesauce. You’ll notice the final food feeding of the day is at 5:45pm, and it remains that way today. After food, we read stories until Winnie shows sleep signs. When she does, we put her in her sleep sack, sing a song, and give her a four-ounce bottle of breast milk. The bottle has been good for us because it allows either Christy or myself to put Winnie down without breaking her nighttime routine. During her bottle, we continue singing. After the bottle, we burp her, sing a few “OMs”, and tell her “Night, night.”

This routine didn’t transpire overnight. It started off like this:

Around four months, Christy got the gumption to try The Ferber Method. Our pediatrician suggested Winnie was ready for this technique, and after speed reading some of Ferber’s book, “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems,” we decided to put her down and walk out of the room.

And she cried. And cried. And cried.

We followed the instructions: 5 minutes, check. 10 minutes, check. Then, every 15 minutes, check, check, check…check.

After two hours, I went in to check on her, and Winnie’d vomited all over herself. Christy and I agreed, Winnie wasn’t ready to cry it out, and we would continue holding her as she went to sleep at night. And it went that way for the next couple months.

Then, we started traveling.

First, we visited our friend in Colorado. She has two daughters who are seven and four years old, and she let us borrow another “cry-it-out” book called “The Sleepeasy Solution”. Again, I was skeptical. This time, my incredulity rose from the fact that these were the “sleep trainers to the stars”. There are quotes from Ben Stiller and Conan O’Brien on the back cover. I imagined the authors probably came over and sleep trained these celebrities’ children while the parents were off making millions entertaining America. But I decided to read the book because our friend highly recommended it.

It’s a good book. And it’s good for the very opposite reasons “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” and “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” frustrated us.

When we told our friend we were trying “The No-Cry Sleep Solution”, her opinion was it’s a bunch of hooey. I’d had similar feelings, and I wondered why our friend had this opinion. Her issue is that Pantley doesn’t give you any real solutions. She only offers ways to soothe your child but doesn’t offer hard means of putting your baby down without her crying. In fact, the book made us feel we were horrible people if we let our baby cry at all.

On the flip side, Ferber’s tone is such that we felt if we picked up our baby at all when she cries, we failed. If we even touched her, we ruined all the hard work we did, and we must start from square one. Parenting is hard enough as it is. Why should we feel like failures when we’re doing something as natural as comforting our child?

“The Sleepeasy Solution” offered solid middle ground. Its approach is easy, open and non-judgmental. The authors, Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack, share a precise method while empowering parents to make choices that are right for their family.

At six-and-a-half months, Waldburger and Spivak made us feel like we could revisit the “cry it out” approach. If we heard Winnie crying but she wasn’t bawling-her-eyes-out-real-tears-crying, we might let her go a little while. If Win screamed bloody murder and couldn’t catch her breath, we felt like we could pick her up without ruining the work we’d done.

Within a week, Winifred was sleeping 11-12 hours through the night. By the time we took another trip to visit family in Illinois, Win’s naps were lengthening, and low and behold, one day, when I put her down for her nap, she nestled her head against my shoulder and I was able to put her down for her nap while she was tired but awake.

And she napped for two hours straight.

MONTHS 6-8, or “We Can Actually Get Work Done”

Since our visit to Illinois, we’ve been on a regular routine. Winifred’s third nap shortened and then disappeared completely. Now, she usually takes a 90 minute to two-hour nap in the morning, and the afternoon is anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. At night, we start our routine around 5:45pm, Winnie’s asleep by 7:00pm, and she wakes between 6:00-7:30am the following day. This is amazing for us since both Christy and I work from home. We don’t have to tag team as much because we can work when Win sleeps.

Of course, there are frustrating shifts in schedule. Last week, Winnie had a double whammy: She was teething and she got a cold that lasted a week. Sleep regression reared its ugly head, and Win woke at 3:00am, 4:10am, and 5:00am. Naps have been all over the place. And other recent travels over-stimulated her to the point that she didn’t want to go to sleep at night. But now we’re home again, and Winnie seems to be settling back in.

Routine. The stuff baby dreams are made of.

Winifred, 8.5 months

Winifred, 8.5 months

YOUR BABY, or “Do What Works for Your Family”

When Christy was pregnant, I had a friend talk to us about sleep training, and then he gave me a piece of advice: “Do what works for your family.”

It’s the best advice I’ve received since becoming a father. There are tons of books and articles online about sleep training, but you have to figure out what works for your family. If you can’t stand hearing your baby cry, go ahead and pick her up. If you’re losing sleep because your baby can’t soothe herself in the middle of the night or you can’t put her down awake, maybe consider cry it out. I had friends who co-slept with their daughter until she was five years old. That’s what worked for their family until it didn’t. Now, their daughter sleeps in her own bed.

Or maybe you’re like our family, and you cherry pick bits from books to fashion a plan that works for your child. Babies are humans, and not every technique is going to jive with your little human’s personality. So do what fits her. And when it stops feeling right, try something new.

Listen, love, and do what intuitively feels right. That’s all we can do.

______

Special thanks to my stellar wife Christy for helping me remember some of the more murky moments we drudged through together. Here’s to seeing the future with clearer eyes.

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praise christy

For our wedding, I prepared a little surprise for my wife and gathered all her friends for a flash mob. The video’s all family shot (special thanks to Josh Crowley & Joanna Carter) and final photo by Pat Furey.

I’ve cobbled it together. But you get the idea.

Much love to my lovely wife, Christy. I hafta praise you.

grandparents

Today, I’m remembering my grandparents. My paternal grandmother, Helen Maude (Walker Carter) Hoffman passed away last night at the age of 95 after battling dementia for over five years. Her passing just happened to fall on the birthday of my maternal grandfather, Delbert W. Lacy, who passed away ten years ago. I never knew my paternal grandfather, Edgar Carter. He died before I was born. Vera L. (Morrell) Lacywas the first of my grandparents to pass during my lifetime, and she did so after a long physical struggle, too.

Right now, I’m reading The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins, and the current chapter I’m on breaks down how “connected” we are to relatives based on our genetic make up and our connectivity. The equation of my “relatedness” to my grandparents is 1 x (1/2)2 = 1/4. I have a 1/4 of each one of my grandparents as part of my genetic make up. Put all four of my grandparents together, and I am a sum of those people. Part of their genetic make up continues to survive in me. On a scientific level, it’s fun to know my grandparents passed on their physical traits to me. I’ve got my grandpa Lacy’s nose, my grandpa Carter’s eyes, my grandma Lacy’s lips, and my grandma Carter’s body type.
Beyond physicality, though, these wonderful people taught me great lessons. Through their faith, I learned loving others is the greatest reason for living. I clear my throat like my grandpa Lacy. It wasn’t practiced. It wasn’t taught. One day, I just cleared my throat, and it sounded like my grandpa Lacy. My mother almost fell of her chair, it was so like old D.W.. He also taught me to fish. I don’t fish often these days, but when I do go on a lake, I remember how because grandpa Lacy taught me. My favorite pie is strawberry rhubarb, and that comes from my grandma Lacy. She made the best strawberry rhubarb pie in the world. I believe the secret ingredient was Jell-O. My mouth is watering right now. Grandma Carter taught me sensitivity. She was one of the most empathetic people I know. She could sense when things weren’t going well, and she knew how to give good council. My big heart for others comes directly from watching her care for her others. Like I mentioned, I never had the honor of meeting my grandpa Carter, but from what I know, the gregarious nature my father has was passed on to him from grandpa Carter. I’m sure everything I know about socializing and congregating with others comes from my grandpa Carter via my own dad.
It’s pretty great, when I think about it, to know how many wonderful qualities I have because of these four awesome people. I’m a pretty sentimental guy, and I know I often reflect that here on the blog. Sometimes, it feels a little self indulgent, but I hope what I share here is always universal. We all have grandparents. Whether we knew them or not, they’re a part of who we are and how we live our lives. As we get older and grandparents slip away, it’s easy to forget the influence they had on our lives. Today, I’m honoring my grandparents, thanking them for the traits I inherited and the things they taught me. Blessings to Helen, Ed, Vera and Delbert. You make up who I am.

nephew

I’m babysitting for my nephew today, like I do every Wednesday, and he’s having a hard time of it. I think he might be getting sick. His mom is suspicious of sickness, too, thinking he slept a bunch this morning probably in an attempt to fight off whatever ails him.

Now, he’s been wailing and moaning for over a half an hour as I go back into his nursery telling him, “I love you…I love you…”

When I enter he smiles and giggles. He crawls to the back of his crib and gives and impish grin. I feel fooled. I pick him up, and he clings to me, hoping I won’t put him back down. But I do. And he cries. And I tell him I love him again. Then, I shut the door only to hear his scream pierce through the baby monitor in the living room.

He’s a good kid, really. My sister and her husband are very lucky. Hell, I’m very lucky. I get to spend every Wednesday afternoon with the tyke, wrestling, playing, tossing him in the air, feeding him, and putting him down for a nap. Usually. This is the second time in over a year of sitting with him he’s not gone down, and I’m about to give up this fight. Go in and let him roam wild. Live for another day, another nap, another time.

But, my sister and her family are moving to Maplewood, NJ at the beginning of October, and I wonder how much time I’ll get to spend with him after they move. How many more naps will there be? How quickly will he grow up? Will he be talking by the time I see him next? I don’t want to miss important moments in his life, even if he is only my nephew.

His other uncle lives in Nashville, TN. I asked my brother-in-law (the other uncle’s brother) how he’s doing down there.

“He’s good,” he replies. “I think he misses the baby, though.”

I’m sure he does. I guess I’ll count myself fortunate they’ll only be 1 1/2 hours away by train, rather than several hours by airplane. I remind myself I don’t really need to worry about next month yet. I’m here, he wants to be up, and he wants to be with me. Maybe he senses our weekly time together is coming to a close. Maybe he’s just coming down with something.

Whatever the case, I just keep reminding myself I’m just fortunate to have today.
______________

Ironically, as I wrote this, he fell asleep.

my vacation

From April 21st to April 31st I traveled to Geneva, IL, Denver, CO and Los Angeles, CA. Basically, the trip was to see some of my best friends, god daughter my family and . It was a fun, fast-paced time, and I’m sad it’s over. Thought I’d share a few shots of my time on the road. Enjoy!

1. ILLINOIS

On the first leg of my trip, I hung out in Geneva, IL with my mother, sister, Heidi, and her fiancé, Joey. We stopped in at this killer catering/deli spot called Moveable Feast.

Heidi and Mom order at the counter. They see pastries (notice the Strawberry Rhubarb
individual pie – my favorite), and we head into the dining area where Heidi & Mom eat. (They’re gonna hate me for putting these shots up on line).

Did I mention Strawberry Rhubarb is my favorite pie ever?

Oprah said Moveable Feast has the best brownies in Chicago.
They think she should be president.
I thought the painting was a riot.

Heidi & Joey got engaged a couple weeks back. Aren’t they cute?

The reason we all visited was to support my mother, who directed Hello Dolly at Kaneland High School in Illinois.

The cast pulled my mother up on stage and gave her a bouquet of flowers, showing how much they appreciate her. She hates it, for she thinks it’s unprofessional to pull the director up on stage after the final performance. Perhaps it’s not professional, but I was so proud to see my mother up on stage in front of a standing audience. Too bad I couldn’t get the audience in the shot, too. They cheered. Mom rocks.

Students’ mothers made “Hello Dolly Cookies” and passed out at intermission.

On the left is Becca, the girl who played Dolly Levi.

Heidi & me after the show.

So, I’m walking back to my seat after intermission, and I see this kid, who’s probably 13 years old. And he has this shirt on:

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I ran up to Heidi and Joey, who’d already taken their seats for the second act, and told them about this kid. I declared, “I gotta get a picture of this!” and ran back down to the kid’s seat. “Hey, man…can I take picture of your shirt?”

He was happy to comply.

Then, his mother proudly exclaimed, “He wore that on Roe v. Wade day!” Like it is some sort of “holiday” or normal yearly protest for which they wait in anticipation all year long. She was very proud. This is what some kids are being taught in Illinois!

The oddest thing, I might have been this kid in another life. As a kid, I was a Christian, and I very well might have worn this shirt. All I can hope is that he’ll one day go out into the world and have his mind expanded.

My two cents: “Guns don’t kill people, white cowboys in White Houses with hard ons for Iraqis kill people”

But, of course, we all have our opinions.

2. COLORADO

The second leg of my trip landed me in Denver, CO – more specifically, Parker, CO just a few miles south of the mile high city. I was there to visit two of my closest friends in the world, Troy & Jefferson. Troy, I’ve known since we were 13 years old in Canton, IL, my adopted hometown (I was actually born in Peoria, IL). Jefferson is a great mate from NYC. We did tons of theater together in New York, and now he’s living in his hometown and is partner in a beautiful cabaret in downtown Denver called Lannie’s at which I performed on April 25th.

This first shot is of my goddaughter, Abigail, as she practices piano with the instruction of her mother, Teresa (Troy’s wife).

Ever heard of Build-A-Bear? I hadn’t until I offered to take Abby shopping for a birthday present. Friends, this place is crazy. The kid can go through the store and pick out any animal they wish.

Then, they put “fluff” in a vacuum tube…

…which flies into the stuffing machine where they…

…stuff said animal…

(how this isn’t traumatic to a young child I don’t know)

Before the back of the animal’s back gets sewed up, Abigail kissed a heart, made a wish and chose a “voice box” to go in the hand of the bunny. When you squeeze the hand, her bunny says, “I love you.” These guys think of everything!

Once the animal (a baby bunny rabbit in this case) is full, Abigail gives it a “bath” of compressed air to get all the “fuzzies” off the bunny.

After she named the bunny and printed out a “birth certificate” for Baby Bunny Ashley, she had to clothe the poor thing! So, we went shopping…

Ashley’s a baby, so she’s wearing diapers.

Finally, Ashley is complete with butterfly hare tie (get it…hare…tie…man, I’m cheesy) and bottle/rattle set – remember she’s just a baby (Abigail reminded me many times).

I had another picture of Abigail in the car with Ashley, but it was all blurry. So, this is just a killer picture of her and me and her Cabbage Patch Kid.

We spent the rest of the afternoon coloring. This is mine.

Abigail’s… (she liked the cherries I made on the ground & decided to make some on her drawing, too!)

We did this one together. I drew the grass, flowers, bee and me. Abby drew herself and then insisted that tulips were red and had thorns. I tried to explain to her that tulips could be any color and that roses have thorns. Try debating with a six year old. It doesn’t go very far. Hence, our tulip has thorns (or “stickers” as Abigail likes to say).

Abigail is big time into Bratz. The majority of her drawings are of these genie dolls. She LOVES them. She’s a pretty good artist, if I do say so myself. (She’s six, folks…)

And, of course, here’s the original brat herself, Abigail!! Hehe…love you Ab…

At this point, one might wonder, why are there only pictures of people and the indoors?

Answer: It snowed while I was there. 70 degrees the day before I arrived, 70 degrees the day I left. On this day, it was 30 degrees with two inches of snow.

It’s beautiful, though, don’t you think?

My aunt and uncle came up from Colorado Springs on this day and treated me to lunch. Then, we went down to their condo and they showed me their new retirement pad. Go, Uncle E & Aunt V!

Castle Rock – on the way down to Colorado Springs.

Pike’s Peak (shot’s not great, but not bad from a moving car!)

That night, I had a wonderful opportunity, which was afforded to me by my buddy, Jefferson Arca. I threw down some spoken word as my Denver debut at a club in which he’s a partner is called Lannie’s, and on Tuesday night’s they have the Retro Vaudeville Variety Night.

Crazy acts like the Finnish Cuckoo Guy play the accordion and jam out on the guitar.

Here’s a little video of the second act song he did:

http://www.onemuse.com//vacation/colorado/finnishsinger.mpg

Teresa captured some of my second act poem on video, plus a little story about Abigail from that afternoon.

The performance is not great, but the poem is one of my favorites, for my sister.
The top of the poem was chopped, so here’s the beginning, and then the link to the performance below:

mom once told me
as a baby,
when you began to speak,
you spoke in
full sentences.
not baby talk —
broken ideas
words like:
baba
wawa
no!
— but in
full sentences.
not surprising.
the way you talk now:
furiously fast in
full sentences.

mom theorizes…
http://www.onemuse.com//vacation/colorado/fullsentences.mpg

Then, I told a story about Abigail from earlier in the day:
http://www.onemuse.com//vacation/colorado/abbystory.mpg

Coincidentally, my friend and fellow performer, Joanna Parson, was in Denver, too, and she performed that night. It was like a big reunion, for Jefferson introduced me to Joanna almost eight years ago!

Check out: www.joannaparson.com Joanna’s performing her show REDDY OR NOT! for THE Helen Reddy Thursday night, May 4, 2006! Check her site for details.

Puppets! (they were funny as hell!)

Host of the Vaudeville Variety Night, Pierre Jean-Pierre St. Pierre, me and Joanna (sorry J, for choppin’ ya off a bit).

Jefferson and his lovely gal pal, Shelby. Shelby thinks Jefferson looks like Wolverine in this picture. I think he looks like the villain, Syndrome, from The Incredibles.

Teresa and Troy. This is how Troy always looks. Ha!

3. LOS ANGELES

The final leg was in good ‘ole L.A. I stayed with my friend, Giselle, in Hollywood for a three nights, and my buddy, Ken, housed me for the final sleepover of my exciting left coast extravaganza.

I don’t know if I got bored of taking pictures, or we didn’t do anything fun while I was in L.A., but there are very few shots from my five days there. Mostly, we ate and drank, so we were at restaurants and bars. I believe, I was having so much fun I just plum forgot to take pictures. Also, I had some work to do on the terraNOVA website while I was there, so I think that took up time.

Nevertheless, it was grand. My friends there took care of me, and, since I got bumped on my flight to Denver, I got a free, round-trip flight anywhere in the continental U.S.A.! I’m going back to L.A. soon, so if you live out there and I missed you last time, lemme know. We’ll hook up…probably in August.

Here’s Gissy! Pickin’ me up at the airport!

Adria, my friend and former roomie, now works at a bar/restaurant/venue named Tangier in Los Feliz. It was cool, and Adria gave me some great feedback on my new solo play, FEEDER: A Love Story, which is opening in the terraNOVA Solo Arts Festival on June 10th. The pic doesn’t do her justice…damn flash!

Friday night, I met up with my friend, Lindsay, who took me to this great Italian restaurant in Los Feliz called Palermo.

Then, we hit The Dresden, featured in the movie Swingers. Of course, it seems as though every place in that city has been featured in a movie at one time or another.

If Club Tee Gee hasn’t been in a movie, it should. Tee Gee is the coolest, most chill place; however, the bartender told us that because of Coachella, the big music fest last weekend, most of the regulars were missing. No matter. This night was chill with Ken, his roommate, Lance, buddy, Jason, and his friend, Trudy who was moving back to Texas.

Check out the wood paneling. Does this remind anyone else of the basement that they grew up in during the 1970’s? Love it.

What…? Ken.

Brokeback Kenny.

Out the airplane window on my layover heading back to NYC.

This trip wasn’t about decompressing or relaxing, which is an odd thing to say about a vacation, but it was about seeing friends and family…catching up with the people I love most in the world. It’s difficult when those I love are so far away, but I feel fortunate to have others I love just as much here in New York with me.

Tonight, I hung out with an old crew of friends who welcomed a good friend back from being abroad for two years. It was a great time, and I counted my blessings once again. I’m a lucky guy.