Tuesday, October 28, 2008

See you at www.theleen.com!

I've finally made the switch from Blogger to Wordpress. I've (obviously) been at Blogger for a very long time, but I'm excited to explore the new world of Wordpress.

This means that if you've been using http://shinelikestars.blogspot.com to access my blog, it will no longer automatically direct you to my new url, www.theleen.com.

So please take the extra minute to type the url in and visit me over at the new and (soon-to-be) improved www.theleen.com!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

week in review, 10/15/08 (a day late)

Sorry this is a day late; things have been busy in our house this week!

Friday: We had to give Elanor a bath in the kitchen sink because we were in the middle of re-painting and re-caulking the bathroom, so we couldn't use the bathtub all weekend.

Saturday: We dog-sat our friend Kim's dog, Fipo. He was really sweet and patient with Elanor, and she loved playing with him.

Sunday: Hanging out on the couch before I got her dressed for church. She loves to nom on Papa's deodorant container...go figure.

Monday: An impromptu early-morning photo shoot while she was playing in the living room. She seems to be thinking, "Huh. I have a hand. That's cool."

Tuesday: Official nine-month photo. She was not pleased. She was already overtired, and I couldn't get a good picture so I kept trying, which (clearly) did not make her happy.


Wednesday: Just playing around with Photobooth on my computer. I sound like a total dork. Heh.

Tomorrow morning, my eight-year-old nephew Zachary is coming to visit for the weekend, and then he and I and Elanor are taking the train back to Portland on Sunday night. Elanor and I will spend the week down there and then Brett will join us for the weekend. I am taking my computer to Portland with me so hopefully I'll have a chance to post while I'm there!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October 14: Monthly Letter and contest results

The results are in!

At her appointment on Friday, Elanor measured thusly:

28 inches long
23 pounds, one ounce

Okay, if I'd thought this out better, I would have just had people guess on her size, because the chances are slim-to-none that anyone would guess both right on.

And, of course, no one did, so I guess I will have to declare two winners:

For weight: Meg, whose guess of 23.5 pounds was only off by a few ounces
For length: my sister Melissa, who was right on with her guess of 28 inches

Congratulations, ladies! The prize is a $15 gift card to Powell's Books, my favorite bookstore, because everybody needs more books! Meg, send me an email to the address in the sidebar with your mailing address and I'll get it out to you, and Liss, I'll get yours to you when I'm down there next week.

Thanks to everyone who participated; it was fun! I will have to think of some more contests in the future.

My two cents on her weight and height is that it sure as heck seems like she weighs a lot more than that. *shrug* I was downright shocked when I put her on the scale and that's what it said, but there's no arguing with a scale. It means she's still 95th percentile for weight (only 75th for height) so it's not like she's small, she's just lighter than I guessed. I suppose she just seems a lot heavier since I carry her in the Ergo so often. Go figure; apparently I am just bad at guessing these things.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Elanor,

Today you are nine months old! I am not sure what to write without it sounding trite or full of clichés about how wonderful you are or about how much I love you or about how much of a joy it is to be your mom or about how fast you're growing. (All of those things are true, though.)

Eight month picture, September 14

You are getting bigger all the time and are continuing to develop into a fun, hilarious, curious, good-natured child. That said, Papa and I are starting to get glimpses of how strong-willed you are. If we’re doing something you don’t like (usually involving holding you in our arms and trying to get you to go to sleep), you protest vehemently with crying, grunting, and arching your back to try to make us let go of you and let you keep playing.

Playing, September 24

You are both crawling and standing up with ease. A few weeks ago, when Noni was here, you stood up in the bathtub, holding onto the side with your right hand. You then noticed that your rubber duckie was in your left hand. So, you let go of the edge of the tub, standing on your own and playing with your rubber duckie. Noni and I looked at one another in amazement and disbelief as we watched you stand on your own for at least 30 seconds before sitting back down on your bum.

Standing up, October 13

Since then, your pulling up skills have vastly improved, and you will now pull up on anything. You cruise around the living room, holding on to the edges of the furniture. We can’t leave you alone for a second anymore; that’s how long it takes for you to get into something you shouldn’t or to lose your balance and bonk your head.

Making malarkey, September 26

These days, your favorite toys appear to be mostly non-toys: our camera bag (best.toy.ever), Papa’s hairbrush, a plastic clothes hanger, your shoes, and a silky ribbon belt that came with a pair of your pants. I gave the belt to you to play with because I just could not fathom putting a belt on a baby. It appears to be a good decision, since you love it so much.

Nom-ing another favorite non-toy, Papa's deodorant, October 12

You are eating a lot more table food. We recently got you a high chair and you enjoy sitting up at our level for meals. You have not rejected any food yet (including Kalamata olives, which was a huge surprise for us) and you enjoy eating all kinds of different things. You pick up the little bits of food with your thumb and forefinger and bring them to your mouth. If things are crunchy, your (now seven) teeth take care of it, while making a really cute crunching munching sound. You still love to nurse, though, and I’m so glad.

Eating peach cobbler, October 6

Every week you seem to babble more. You now say many, many different babbling sounds. While you don’t have any real words (other than Mama) you do seem to be putting the pieces together about how language works, varying your tone when you babble and listening to everything we say. You’ve begun to say Papapapa, and I believe you are starting to understand it means that big, hairy, bearded guy who likes to tickle and snuggle you. And it’s no surprise that you’ve figured out how to tell us you don’t want to do something, which is when you say Neenaynaynay.

Peering over the edge of the couch while starting to stand up, October 13

You also seem to understand some signs, especially the sign for more, which you seem to do by clapping your hands. This afternoon, you were sitting in your exersaucer and you clapped your hands. I looked over and asked you if you wanted more Veggie Booty (your favorite food, ever, hands down, no contest) and you got a huge smile on your face and clapped your hands together more, as if to say that I understood you. You now patty-cake, too, (which Noni taught you) on command and love to clap your hands even if you aren't trying to say more.

In the Ergo, about to leave for community group, September 23

The best thing that's happened in the last month is that I'm done with my job and I have been able to be home with you all day, which I love so much! We have a good time, going for walks, playing toys on the floor, or rolling around and laughing on the bed.

Being gorgeous, October 13

Waking up next to you and Papa every morning and seeing you smile at each of us in turn is a beautiful thing, and I look forward to it every single day. I know, I say this every time, but you are truly a joy and a pleasure to spend my time with and to parent. I love you, my girl!

Love,
Mama

Friday, October 10, 2008

place your bets...

Elanor has always been, well, big for her age.

Even when I was pregnant, we knew she was big.

She has her nine-month checkup this afternoon (even though her nine-month birthday isn't until Tuesday...but that's a long story) and one of the things I'm most curious about is what she weighs and how tall she is.

I know a lot of our family and friends are curious, too, so in the spirit of friendly competition and curiosity, I'm going to give a special prize (yes, something real!) to the person who guesses the closest to what her actual weight and height are.

To make the most informed guess, you'll probably want to know previous stats, so here goes. I'm including pictures, roughly from around the time of her checkups, to give a visual as well.

When she was born, she weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.

At her first pediatrician visit when she was four days old, she had lost a little weight, but was a little longer: 8 pounds, 11 ounces and 20.5 inches long.

At her two week visit, she weighed 10 pounds, 8.5 ounces and was 21 inches long.

I can't find the little sheet from her two month visit, so I don't know what she weighed. I totally can't remember.

But at four months, she weighed 17 pounds, 5.5 ounces and was 26 inches long.

And at six months, she weighed 2o pounds, 2.5 ounces and was 26.75 inches long.

Here's her eight month photo, the most recent chair/pig one.

Here's a picture from last week. I know it's not in the chair with the pig but at least it gives you an idea of how big she is.

She's wearing a range of sizes, anywhere from 6-9 month stuff (although it's getting small) all the way up to 18-24 month stuff. The 12-18 month stuff tends to fit her pretty comfortably.

She seems so much bigger to me now than she was even at six months. It seems like she has grown a lot. But then again, at six months, I was expecting her to weigh closer to 25 pounds and she was clearly a lot less than that. However, she's always been solidly in the 95th percentile for both height and weight.

So, all of that said, what do you think? What are your guesses? I honestly have no idea. All I know is that she gets heavy awfully quickly these days when I try to carry her around.

Like I said, the winner will get a prize, probably a gift card to somewhere online! (Not for much, because I'm not rich, but it will be somewhere fun, I promise.) I'll announce the winner, let's see, how about Tuesday, her actual nine-month birthday?

Until then, comment away with your guess!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

week in review, 10/8/08

Wednesday: A view of a train going under the overpass at Fisherman's Terminal while Elanor and I were walking. I love seeing the trains at the rail yard there and it was neat to stand right over it and watch it go along the tracks.

Thursday: On the Ballard Bridge. She fell asleep in her stroller while we were walking to do our errands after playgroup.

Friday: On our drive to Ellensburg. We stopped here so I could feed Elanor, and the sign just cracked me up for so many reasons. First of all, the turtle at the top -- awesome. Rachel, he's totally an awkward turtle. Second, the juxtaposition of words made me laugh -- beans, beer, gas. Food, ice, LP (what in the heck is LP?). Lotto, scratch, dog. (Why dog? WTF? Is this all some kind of random code language that I don't understand?)

Saturday: In the pool at the motel in Ellensburg. Elanor adores the water!

Sunday: Brett and Elanor in our motel room in Ellensburg, just as we were getting ready to leave.

Monday: Elanor trying peach cobbler for the first time. I bought a box of peaches in Ellensburg so I made a cobbler, which is a special dessert in my family. The recipe was my mom's grandma's, and it's a traditional dessert we've always enjoyed. Elanor certainly liked it!

Tuesday: Elanor and I went for a walk and the view from Sunset Hill Park was so beautiful. This picture really doesn't do it justice.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

wow. kind of intense.

Uh.

I just tried to make some oven-baked french fry-ish sort of potatoes. Did not go so well. Perhaps it is a message from the Lord about my possibly excessive love of potatoes.

I turned on the oven to preheat while I peeled and sliced potatoes. As I finished, I realized it smelled funny in the kitchen.

I opened the oven door to see what the deal was and there were FLAMES, like actual firey flames, in my oven.

I think I yelled, "OH BALLS!!!" while I just stood there, dumbstruck, and watched the flames for a minute, thinking about how I don't have a fire extinguisher and maybe I should call 911 and what in the heck would I smother a fire that wouldn't just catch fire itself IN THE OVEN AHHHHHHHHHHH!

So I did the first thing I could think of. I grabbed my phone and called my mom, since I knew she'd a.) answer right away and b.) know what to do. (There's a good chance Brett wouldn't be able to answer and that he would have no idea what to do. Mom seemed like a better choice.)

"Hi-mom-there's-a-fire-in-my-oven-flames-smoke-helllllllp!"

"Oh, uh, wow! Um, baking powder! Put baking powder on it."

I ran to the cupboard and threw it open.

"Powder? Are you sure, powder? Not soda?"

"Oh, uh, I, uh...yeah, soda! Baking SODA."

"Soda soda soda where the heck is the SODA!!!"

I finally found it behind the red wine vinegar (seriously? I clearly did not re-shelve it properly last time I used it) and turned around to see smoke billowing through the kitchen (well, ok, maybe just wafting) and Elanor looking at me with curiosity. I pulled the oven racks out (with a hot mitt, of course, I'm not that dumb) and threw them onto the oven door, then proceeded to dump at least half a box of baking soda onto the flaming piece of whatever-the-heck was stuck to the bottom of my oven, extinguishing the flames.

Whew. That? Was a crazy five minutes.

And I am still hungry. :( Sigh. I guess I will wait until the oven cools off, wipe it out, and then try again with the potatoes. And I guess that I will also be running a self-clean cycle on my oven, very, very soon.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

week in review, 10/1/08, and a special birthday shout-out

Thursday: At Fisherman's Terminal, while walking to pick up some things for my WAHM gig. Elanor laughs like crazy when I say "net shed" to her over and over again in a silly voice.


Friday: In the Ergo, munching on the camera strap, looking beautiful and luminous in the natural light from the dining room window.


Saturday: Walking to Fiore. The trees were glowing with the sunlight, and they looked very dramatic against the dark grey sky.


Sunday: Chopping tomatoes and putting them in cans.

Edited to add the following: So, I didn't really take any pics on Monday or Tuesday. Yeah. Lazy. But, in consolation, I'll post this.

Today is my nephew Zachary's eighth birthday. He's always been a fun and wonderful kid, and he's growing into a fun and wonderful young man.

It's hard to believe that this day was eight years ago. And yet, at the same time, it seems like it's been so much longer, like Zach has always been a part of our lives.

October 1, 2000: I'm holding Zachary on the morning he was born. He was so tiny!

December 2000: I'm pretty sure this was when I was home from college for Christmas. Can you see where Elanor gets her chunkiness? Ha.

July 26, 2008: This is the most recent pic I have of him, from when we were down in Portland this summer. He's the one in the back making the hammy face. From l-r is our friend Molly's son Carter, then Zach, then Zach's brother and sister, Jacob and Adeline.

So, happy birthday, Zach man. I'm so glad you were born and that I get to be your auntie. I love you!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

black bean soup and cornbread

Cooking is one of my favorite things to do, and I'm really glad that I'm going to be home and able to cook a meal most of the time.

I tend to get into ruts with cooking, in that I tend to cook the same recipes over and over again. But hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

Maybe I shouldn't call it a rut. I guess these recipes are more just staple recipes for us. Most of them are quick, easy, and cheap, and, obviously, they are yummy, or I wouldn't keep making them so often. I'm hoping to post a few of them over the next weeks and months, because I know I am always on the lookout for good recipes, and I've found a couple of favorites through recommendations from friends.

I've made black bean soup a few times recently, since the weather has started to turn, and I'm reminded again just how much I love it.

I initially had black bean soup in Maine, at our friends' Joey and Lisa's house. I also had it at a restaurant called Norm's, which was next door to Brett's school in Maine. At Norm's, you could get a cup of soup and a slice of cornbread for something like $3, which suited our poor-student budget quite well.

Lisa's recipe wasn't exactly like the one at Norm's, and I've been trying to get it a little closer to what I remember the soup being like at Norm's. I think I'm pretty dang close, and I think it's really, really good.

So this recipe started with the one Lisa gave me, but I've added quite a bit -- the red pepper, the carrots, more spices, lots more pepper -- and have reduced the amount of tomatoes and corn. At this point, I guess you could say it's pretty much my own creation, since it's fairly far removed from the original recipe Lisa gave me.

Black Bean Soup
olive oil -- enough to cover bottom of soup pot
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced (more or less to taste)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
4 medium size carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup frozen or one can of corn
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes in juice
32 oz (2 cans, one carton) vegetable broth
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
(I think I usually add more of the cayenne and black pepper, but I don't measure, plus, we like things spicy, so I tend to add more than not)

for garnishing:
chopped scallions
chopped cilantro
grated cheddar

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, cumin, oregano, and salt. Saute over medium heat until onions start to caramelize and brown and carrots are soft, about 10 mins.

Add all other ingredients, bring to a boil, and let simmer until hot. Adjust spices to taste, adding more if desired.

Serve hot, and top with scallions, cilantro, and cheese.

Now, I'll confess that I got the cornbread recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, although I did make two modifications, noted below. It was a hit the other night: crumbly, slightly sweet, very corn-y. We ate almost the whole pan at dinner. (Yep, we're pigs.)

Basic Corn Bread, page 646, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
2 T butter
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 t baking powder
2 eggs (this is where I changed -- I don't like eggy cornbread, so I only used one egg and it turned out great)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2-4 t honey (I wanted to give some to Elanor, so I used 1 T raw sugar instead)
1 c milk

Preheat the oven to 425. Put the butter in an 8-inch square baking pan and set in the oven while it's heating. Meanwhile, stir the dry ingredients together and make a well in the center of the bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. As soon as the oven is hot, remove the pan and brush the butter around the edges. [note: don't be a dumbass like me and leave it in there for any longer, because I forgot to take it out and let the butter burn, and then had to start this step over] Pour any excess into the wet ingredients. Quickly mix the wet and dry ingredients together, then pour the batter into the pan and bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Enjoy! If you make either recipe, let me know how you like it!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

probably not very interesting to non-parents as I talk about diapers ad nauseum

We've had a couple rough days, sleep-wise. Or I guess I should say lack of sleep-wise. Elanor's decided she doesn't want to nap much longer than 30 minutes at a stretch, and she also doesn't seem to want to go to bed until 11 p.m. All signs point to the fact that we're entering the nine-month developmental spurt/sleep regression: getting at least one more tooth, pulling up, crawling, babbling more, and the like. Knowing that helps, I guess, but it doesn't make the not sleeping easier. Sigh. She's asleep on me in the Ergo right now, and I really should go try to put her down in the bed and then get some things done around the house, but, well, I'm tired and I worked hard yesterday and Brett hasn't been home much this week to give me a break (he's at work now, even, on a Saturday), so I am going to blog instead.

Aaaaanyway, with that long and rambling introduction, I'll get started.

I have like four immediate things I want to blog about, but I guess I'll just pick one and then try to write up the others while Elanor is asleep so I can post them later this week.

For a while now, I've been wanting to get gDiapers. My friend Isabel uses them with her son and has been singing their praises for a while now, and I've heard good things about them elsewhere, too.

While we usually use cloth diapers at home (and let me just be very clear that I love, love, love my cloth diapers), we do occasionally use diposables: when we travel to Portland, when Elanor has a bad diaper rash and I want to load her up with diaper cream, or when I've been lazy and all our diaper covers are dirty.

But we've had some major problems with disposables lately. One result was this:

And the other was this:
It's obvious what happened in the first picture. She had a blowout of epic proportions. ( Thank you, Seventh Generation. )

In the second, she'd had another huuuuuge blowout, this time in a restaurant while we were on Bainbridge Island for Joel and Rosanna's wedding. ( Again, thank you, Seventh Generation. )

This second event resulted in her clothes being covered in poop, and me running to the grocery store next door with Rosanna to buy something, anything other than Seventh Generation diapers. Then when I got back outside, we had to strip her completely naked on the sidewalk so I could wipe her down with baby wipes and then put a new diaper and a new outfit on her, since there wasn't a changing table in the restaurant and I wasn't about to change this one at the table. Uh, no.

So, because of those two incidents, I'm done with Seventh Generation, which is unfortunate since they worked well for us when Elanor was younger. It's also unfortunate because at Fred Meyer right now, they are on sale for $7 per pack. Yes, that's right -- $7. It's a great deal...but not if they inspire huge blowouts.

Anyway, some of you might be thinking, "Why doesn't she just use Huggies or something?" Well, I don't want to use so-called normal diapers, the kind with all the chemicals/dyes/scents. I know. Call me crazy, or fanatic, or whatever, but I just don't. For one thing, they don't decompose for a very long time. For another, Elanor tends to get rashy when we use them. So we don't. Am I being stubborn? Maybe a little, but given our other crazy environmentally-friendly tendencies, are you surprised? Probably not.

Since Seventh Generation has failed us so epically multiple times now, I had to find an alternative. I bought Tushies that day on Bainbridge Island, which were just ok. I didn't love them, and although we didn't have an epic blowout, that's only because Elanor didn't poop while wearing them, and not because they work any better. I think they'd probably be about the same as Seventh Gen, honestly.

I finally just bit the bullet and invested the money in the gDiapers starter kit, since we were almost out of the Tushies anyway. And let me tell you, gDiapers = awesome.

I put her in one when we got home yesterday, just to try it. I went to change it a couple hours later, and, much to my surprise, she had pooped. And there was no epic blowout -- the poop was contained!

HOORAY.

Granted, the cover was dirty and I had to wash it, but that's par for the course. I usually have to wash our cloth covers, too, after a poop, so it's not a big deal to me.

The liner even flushed exactly like it's supposed to, despite the fact that our plumbing is old and somewhat crappy.

Plus, the covers are seriously cute, and they are nice and trim like normal disposables, so if she has an outfit where her cloth diaper is too big, the gDiapers will still work.

I'm just thrilled that they've worked out so well, and that I seem to have found an environmentally-friendly pseudo-disposable that works well for us and will make traveling a lot easier.

Coming later this week...a favorite (easy, cheap, healthy) recipe of mine, a good-bad-ugly post, the week in review, and a follow-up to this post. Yeah, I know I'm being ambitious, advertising four upcoming posts in a week, but you never know; I might actually be able to make that happen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

a new weekly feature and a staying home update

First of all, I'm going to start doing at least one weekly themed post. The one I've decided to try first is a Wednesday week in review post, which will usually be heavy on the photos, light on the text. My hope is that I'll eventually be able to post one photo for every day of the previous week, just to give some kind of snapshot of what we've been up to. This week's, though, is going to be a little less complete, since I don't have a photo from the first few days. I'll post what I have for this week below.

Second, Annie asked in the comments on my last post how my first week at home is going. It's going really well! Some things, of course, are different than I'd imagined or hoped they'd be, but that's to be expected. That said, some things are even better than I'd hoped. Here's a quick rundown.

Things I've done more than I expected:
  • Sleeping. I took a nap with Elanor today and it was great.
  • Trying to get Elanor to sleep. Even though she's tired in the mornings, she doesn't seem to want to nap.
Things I've done less than I expected:
  • Blogging. Clearly, since this is my first post of the week.
  • Laundry. I have a backlog that's been piling up since last week. I forced myself to do a few loads today, primarily because every towel in the house was dirty and I'd put the last sest of clean sheets on our bed. It's hard since the laundry is in the basement and there's nowhere down there that I can put Elanor where she'll be safe while I load the machines. I'll have to figure out a solution to this one, because I'm going to have to do laundry while Brett is gone, and thus far, I've only been doing it when he's home to watch her or when she is napping, hence the major backlog.
  • Cleaning. I've done a little every day, and have been able to at least maintain some standard of neatness around the house, but it's nearly impossible to deep clean a bathroom or to mop the floors when Elanor is awake. I guess this will have to be reserved either for nap time or for when Papa is home.
Things I've done about as much as I'd hoped:
  • Cooking. I've made dinner, including some sort of baked good, every day so far. Monday was cornbread, Tuesday was snickerdoodles, and today was a yummy beer bread.
  • Walking. We've taken a walk every day so far, which is good, because we both like to get out of the house and because the fresh air and exercise are good for us.
  • Enjoying. Basically, this, being home with Elanor and taking care of her and our home, is fantastic. Sure, it's different than I thought it would be in some ways, but almost nothing is ever what one expects it to be, so I'm fine with that. Overall, I'm thrilled to be home and to be taking care of my family every day.
And now, for the Wednesday week in review.

Friday: Brett's dad, otherwise known as Grumps, held a ready-for-bed Elanor as he and Brett were getting ready to go out to see our friend's band play. He and Noni came up to visit for the weekend.


Saturday: Brett made toast from some yummy sourdough bread on Saturday morning, and he gave Elanor the crust to chew on. I think she liked it.


Sunday: Brett's mom Noni was about to go back home to Portland. She was getting one last snuggle with Elanor before she and Grumps hit the road.


Tuesday: I had Elanor in the Ergo, ready to leave for community group, and I took a photo to document that the hat Brett's mom made before Elanor was born still fit.


Wednesday: Brett and Elanor enjoyed watching YouTube videos together after Brett got home from work.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's been an interesting week; we've had a lot of change happen all at once, mostly on Thursday.

First of all, Thursday was my last day at work, at the job I've had since we moved back from Maine, the job I had before we moved to Maine, too. It's the job I've had the longest in my post-college life, and it's been a good job with good co-workers. So as excited as I am to be home with Elanor, it was pretty bittersweet to leave it forever.

Second, Rachel left on Thursday to go back to school. She's been with us the entire summer, since mid-June. She has truly become a part of our immediate family, and in addition to helping us watch Elanor while we were at work, she's been our caregiver, our helper, our companion, and, most of all, has become a really awesome friend to me. She's only been gone a few days but I miss her already.

So, two big changes in one day. It's all just starting to sink in, and I think it will continue to do so over the next week or two.

One big effect that will come out of Rachel leaving is that once Brett's parents leave tomorrow (they're visiting for the weekend), Brett and Elanor and I will be alone in the house for the first time ever, with the exception of a few weeks here and there. For one thing, we used to have a housemate, but he moved out, and for another, we've had family here nearly continuously since Elanor was born. There were maybe eight or so weeks of my maternity leave when none of our family was here, but between visits right after she was born, and then visits to help care for Elanor when I went back to work, and then people taking care of us after my heart thing, and then Rachel being here...yeah. We've had constant people here with us for the past five months or so, and the three months before that were not constant but were nearly so.

Anyway, it's going to be weird to be here alone, I think. It's going to be great in a lot of ways; I'm looking forward to some changes we're making with regard to how the house is set up -- moving the guest room, setting up an office/work space for me -- and I'm glad that I don't have to worry about Elanor disturbing anyone if she wakes up early or if she cries in the nighttime or if she's just being loud. But it's going to be strange to be alone, and, I'll confess, probably a little creepy, too, since I'm so used to having other people around.

I have so many other things I want to blog about these days, but I don't ever seem to have the time to type them out. I've taken to composing blog entries in my head as I walk around the neighborhood, pushing Elanor in the stroller. The only problem is that I don't have any way to record them when I'm doing that, and my time at the computer is limited, so the majority of these mental blog posts never get posted. And that's a shame. I've started carrying around a little notebook wherein I can write at least snippets of the things I want to blog about. Maybe it will help me remember them and will make it easier to type them out once I do have a few minutes at the computer.

I should wrap this up. Brett wants some more gingerbread (I just pulled it out of the oven a few minutes ago; it's yummy and warm and we both devoured our pieces in a matter of minutes) and I think I do, too. So since he is holding a sleeping Elanor, I suppose I should get up and get it for him. He just looked at me pleadingly...I'd better get to it. (Besides, I want more, too!)

Monday, September 15, 2008

funny...

I was cleaning all of the personal stuff off the hard drive on my work computer in preparation for my last day, and I came across this picture, which was taken a year ago Saturday.


I had a hard time at first remembering why we were on the roof at my building. I think it was when Brett's sister Rachel and her friends came up to Seattle to go to a concert, but it sold out before they could get tickets so we went on the roof instead. If I'm remembering right, that weekend was also the first time anyone on the outside of me felt Elanor kick. Rachel was the lucky one to have that experience...it seems her connection with Elanor was present even then.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ack. I sat down to write a blog post and my mind is going in about a million different directions. That's what I get for not posting in a long time, I guess.

So for now I'll just post one thing; I might as well keep it short and get a post out and published before Elanor needs my attention again.

My last day at work is Thursday. I'm really excited to be home with Elanor and am sooo ready to just be done. It's hard to focus but I want to leave on a good note so I am making myself do it even though it's not easy.

That said, I'm feeling oddly conflicted about not getting up every day and going to a job. With the exception of my maternity leave, the time I was out on disability after my heart thing, and a very few random weeks here and there, I haven't not worked a "real" job since I was 15. FIFTEEN! Yikes. That's...well, suffice it to say it was a long time ago.

I've got to confess, too, that I'll truly miss some elements of going to work every day. I'll miss seeing my co-workers and interacting with them. I'll miss my bus commute, oddly enough, since it's a guaranteed hour or hour and a half a day when I get to just be alone to read and listen to my iPod. I'll miss going over the Ballard Bridge every morning as the sun is coming up. I'll miss being downtown and feeling the sense of busy-ness and energy I get whenever I am there. I'll miss having a parking pass that grants me 24-hour access to a garage in the city. I'll miss being able to go up on the roof of the building where I work at any hour of the day or night.

But all of those things aside, I truly am excited to be home with Elanor. I know it's what is best for her, for me, and for Brett, and I'm looking forward to finding a rythym and a niche that works for us.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

changes

Come September 19, I'm going to have a new boss.

She's short, and has wild hair, and can be temperamental and moody at times. She likes to yell and often gets her hands dirty, but at the same time she likes a laid-back environment where she can just sit and let it all hang out. She can also be full of crap and tends to drool over the littlest things.

But no matter how hard she can be to deal with from time to time, when she smiles at me, all of the bad stuff fades away and I feel happy.

Ok, since this analogy is getting really awkward I'll just cut it off and say what I'm getting at: Elanor is going to be my new boss! I quit my job today; my last day in the office will be September 18 and then I am going to stay home and take care of her full-time!

Brett got a promotion at work and some at-home opportunities have panned out for me, and with Rachel going back to school, the time was just right for me to make this change. Everything fell into place perfectly and in the perfect time; God's hand has so been present in this.

We are really excited for me to get to be home. Ever since I was in college, I've known that what I am supposed to do is be home with my family. I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to do so. At times over the past several years, it's seemed like staying home was something completely out of reach for me. I'm so thankful that God has given me my heart's desire and made all of this happen.

Given how amazing my co-workers have been in the past year, I'm sad to leave them, and Brett and I did have to consider carefully if my job was worth walking away from. In the end, obviously, we decided that it is, since our family is worth more than any job -- no matter how wonderful the company and co-workers are -- could be.

I'm hoping that with this new phase in life I can do more with my blogs. I've been wanting to do more for a while, but just haven't had the time to dedicate to it. I hope that now I'll be able to. I miss writing regularly.

So, that said, it's late and I have a lot of knitting to do before Joel and Rosanna's wedding on Friday since I'm knitting some things for the ceremony, so I should either knit or go to bed. I do have to get up for work tomorrow...but after tomorrow, I'll only have to do it eight more times! HOORAY!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

new domain name

I'm really excited to say that I have a new domain name: www.theleen.com. I've wanted to get my own name for a long time, but the impetus to jump in and do it has been that my friend Rosanna, who designed our gorgeous baby announcements, helped me design some business cards with my email address and website name.

She printed them today and they look beyond amazing. I will scan one and post it soon; it's really lovely. I'm thrilled with them. (I'm actually hoping to eventually take the plunge and move away from Blogger entirely at some point in the near future and do a website re-design that will incorporate elements of the cards. It will look really cool!)

(PS -- if you need any stationary made, like business cards, notecards, wedding invitations, baby announcements, basically anything you can dream up, you should talk to Rosanna. Her work with the letterpress is truly talented and she's working at building up a business so she's eager for projects. I'd be happy to send her email address to anyone who is interested.)

Any link listed as http://shinelikestars.blogspot.com will continue to point here for the time being, until I move away from Blogger entirely, so that is convenient.

Ok, Brett just brought me some chocolate ice cream, so I'm going to enjoy it while I keep typing in www.theleen.com over and over again just to see how fun it is to have my own domain name. I'm such a dork.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

un-freaking-believable

I got kicked out of a coffee shop today.

(Yeah, I know...it seems pretty ridiculous, doesn't it? I mean, seriously, people. Anyone who knows me will find it hard to believe that I would actually get kicked out of somewhere. Brett, now -- well, I'm sure you can see him getting kicked out, but me? I don't think so.)

Elanor and I were downtown with Brett's mom and Rachel, Brett's sister. We had been shopping and decided to get some coffee, as we had about 45 minutes to kill before we had to take Rachel to meet up with some friends.

We were in the middle of downtown, but coffee snobs that we are, we didn't want to patronize any old (yucky) coffee shop, so we got in the car and drove down to Trabant in Pioneer Square.

When we walked in, the place was empty except for the two employees -- one male, one female.

I ordered our drinks -- cappuccinos -- and paid for them. The male barista made Brett's mom and me gorgeous cappuccinos, which we sat down and began to enjoy.

(A side note: It truly was one of the best cappuccinos I've had in a very long time. The coffee tasted wonderful, the milk was nutty, and the foam was really nice and dense.)

We were the only customers in the shop for a few minutes, until about five people came in and sat down at a table up by the door.

The high ceilings were making everything echo -- the espresso grinding, the doser, the music...and every noise that anyone in the shop made.

Elanor was being a typical seven-month-old and was babbling away. At one point she squealed and it echoed in a huge way. I looked up at the barista and said, "Oh, sorry, she's being kind of loud." He smiled and said that it was no problem.

We'd been there about 30 minutes when I had finished my coffee and Elanor started to fuss. She broke into full-on crying, and I stood up to take her outside to wait while Brett's mom and Rachel finished up. I was just telling Rachel what I was going to do and was asking her to grab the diaper bag when we were approached by the female employee, who had been over at the other table of customers in the store.

Elanor had been crying for maybe -- MAYBE -- a minute, tops, at this point.

The female employee then told us that if the baby was going to be loud that we would have to leave. She said she was trying to teach a class and that they "can't hear anything."

She also said that she didn’t “know anything about children” but that she had to ask us to leave if the baby was going to be noisy. Clearly, she knows nothing about children; no one ever seemed to tell her children don’t come equipped with an on/off switch.

In the moment, flustered by being confronted and by Elanor’s crying, I just told the woman that we were already leaving and then walked out of the shop, leaving my family to collect my bag and our other things.

Of course, now I can think of about a million different things I wish I would have said, many of which are not very nice.

At the top of the list is some form of HOW DARE YOU followed by YOU ARE NOT A NICE PERSON AND OBVIOUSLY NOT VERY BRIGHT SINCE YOU DIDN'T NOTICE I WAS ALREADY LEAVING followed by MAY YOU BE CURSED SOMEDAY WITH A VERY FUSSY BABY IN A MUCH MORE PUBLIC AND INAPPROPRIATE PLACE THAN THIS.

It's probably good that I didn't say any of that while I was there since none of it is very nice.

After we left, I called Brett and told him what had happened, and he was shocked. We've been in this shop many times before and Brett is at least somewhat acquainted with several of the employees and even interviewed for a job there around the time he got his current job.

So, instead of marching back in there and telling the woman off like Brett's mom wanted to do, I did what I do best and wrote an angry letter, which I plan to mail on Monday morning, in which I mention that I am going to blog about my negative experience both here and over at Seattle Mom Blogs. (Which, yeah, I'm sure they're oh so scared that I'm going to blog about this, since I'm so important and since I get so much traffic on my blog -- not -- but still, it doesn't hurt to mention that I am going to talk about my negative experience with other people.)

I'm going to ask this over at Seattle Mom Blogs, too, but I'm curious. How many of you have been asked to leave a public place because your child was loud/disruptive/etc? What did you do?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

August 14: Seven Months Old

This is almost a week late, but better late than never, I guess. It's been a busy and kind of crazy couple of weeks for us; I was sick again (ugh) and then the way life has gone lately, I haven't had much spare time to sit down and write anything coherent. This is the first chance I've had to finish this letter and get something posted. Elanor's asleep on the bed beside me so I'd better hurry up and post before she wakes up!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Elanor,

Today you are seven months old. It seems sometimes like you are so much older than this; I often have to remind myself that you are just a little baby who doesn’t understand as much as I sometimes think you do.

At Carkeek Park, July 20

You seem to be continually ahead of the curve in terms of physical development, especially in getting teeth. You have four now – three on the bottom, one on the top – and two more top ones coming in. It’s been a rough week or so with that happening. I can tell that your top middle teeth have been the roughest so far. They are big and seem like they’ve really bothered you as they have been popping through. It's strange now to see you smile and have your mouth be full of teeth. Gone are your gummy baby grin days!

In a big-girl car seat on the way home from Portland, July 27

Along with teeth has come biting. It’s not so fun. You don’t know any better – although we are trying to teach you not to bite – so we can’t get mad when you do bite us, but it hurts! Your little teeth are really sharp.

At the pool with Mema holding you, July 26

Your preferred form of transportation is now a combination of crawling and scooting. You can also pull yourself up to standing and do so with startling regularity and growing ease. It’s actually quite frightening. You are so quick to move across the room or the bed or around your changing table, especially when you have a motivation like trying to grab the cat. (You love the cat, by the way, and will dart across the bed just to try to catch her. You think it’s the best thing ever. Her? Not so much.)

Playing and snuggling with Papa and Miss Kitty, August 3

You also seem to really know what Mama means now. I love it. You’ll be across the room and see me and say, “Mamamamamama” and reach out your little arms for me. It is the most precious and heart-melting thing I’ve ever heard.

Having a bath in Aunt Amy and Uncle Seth's sink, July 25

On that same note, you definitely know when someone other than me or Papa or Auntie Rachel is holding you, and there are lots of times when only one of us will do. Separation anxiety, they call it, which makes sense to me. Of course you’d be anxious at being separated from one of us; you are with one of the three of us 99% of the time so it’s probably weird and scary when suddenly none of us is right there.

Meeting baby Ezra at Leah & Kevin's wedding, August 2

You now eat fruit regularly, especially peaches, nectarines, and banana. You love peaches and nectarines! Auntie Rachel had the brilliant idea the other day to slice one and then freeze the slices before putting them in your mesh teething feeder, giving you a cold treat that not only tastes good, but also feels good on your teeth. (The upside for us is that it doesn’t get sticky juice everywhere since the juice is frozen.)

Family picture at Leah & Kevin's wedding, August 2

Your hair just continues to grow and grow. The hair on the top is thick and sort of strawberry blond, and the hair in the back is just very long and mullet-y. Or maybe rat-tail-y. Really, it’s like some insane combination of a mullet and a rat tail. I am not sure what we are going to do about it. Papa does NOT want it cut off; either he thinks it’s funny or he’s more emotionally attached to your hair than he lets on. (I’m guessing it’s a combination of both.) We’ll see what happens as the rest of your hair gets longer. We’ll have to even it out at some point.

A morning snuggle with Mama, August 8

You are still very chubby, that’s for sure, even though it seems to me that you’re evening out a little bit. Marci said the other night that it’s getting to where we can get occasional glimpses of what you’ll be like as a little girl. She’s totally right; every now and then I have this vision of you in six more months, a year, two years, which is both scary and wonderful at the same time.

Playing with Papa while watching the sunset at Sunset Hill Park, August 3

A few more milestones this month include going down to Portland again and swimming in the big pool at your Great-Grandpa Buz’s house (where we got to see not only lots of cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents, but also friends like Molly and Carter, Yvette and her kids, Carmen and Giles and Greta, and Becca), getting a new big-girl carseat, attending a wedding, and getting to see Miriam again. It’s been a busy month, but a fun one.

With Daisy and Miriam, August 8

You grow more amazing every day, Elanor, and I can’t wait to see what the next months will bring!

Love,
Mama