Sunday, July 20, 2008

Captain Clumsy strikes again

Ok, as promised, something more lighthearted than another boring old "what does it all mean" post.

People who know me in real life know that I'm not the most graceful person in the world, despite many years of ballet classes.

In fact, I'm extremely clumsy and have a tendency to either fall down, run into things, or hurt myself in some really stupid way.

I've been this way for as long as I can remember. When I was probably about five, I ran my bike into the back of a parked van. Around the same time, I ran my bike into a pile of sand in our driveway (my dad was doing some landscaping; the pile was huge and impossible to miss) and wiped out on my bike, giving myself a huge gash in my forehead in the process. (I still have the scar.)

While I was in high school, I went camping with my friends the Strongs. We went water skiing one morning, and finally it became my turn to get in the water and ski. I remember the water was really cold so I tried to partially climb down the boat ladder so I wouldn't feel the cold all at once. Somehow in the process of climbing and then eventually jumping, I managed to get the shorts I was wearing caught on the ladder, leaving my butt sticking straight up in the air and my hands and feet in the water. Everyone was laughing so hard that no one helped me right away; I'm pretty sure it wasn't until my shorts ripped that I finally got loose.

Yeah. Embarrassing. I wound up with a huge bruise on my leg where my shorts had cut into me while I was hanging there. It didn't go away for the rest of the summer.

In college, I was running through campus early one Saturday morning because I was trying to catch a bus. I was jumping down some stairs (there was my first mistake), landed wrong, sprained my ankle, and passed out. That was just plain stupid; I should know better than to try to run, let alone to run down stairs.

Right around the time we got married, I had two epic falls. The first was coming out of my building at lunchtime, onto Madison Street. My heel caught on the concrete stair and I fell face first down about four stairs, winding up on the sidewalk with two skinned knees, skinned palms, torn pants, and a very, very bruised ego, since at least five people saw me fall.

The second was coming out of our apartment building when we lived downtown. It was raining, and I was wearing flip-flops. I was running because of the rain, and when my flip-flop-clad foot hit the top of the marble staircase (marble stairs = old, worn, slippery), my feet went out from under me and I went down seven steps or so on my butt, just one right after another -- boom boom boom boom.

Brett was laughing so hard that he had a tough time being very sympathetic. He said it looked like something out of a cartoon. I didn't think it was so funny; my tailbone hurt for weeks.

After those two falls, I was very afraid I'd fall on our wedding day, but thankfully and miraculously, I managed to avoid it, although to this day I'm not sure how I got away with that.

My current co-workers are all very aware of my, um, problem with walking. We were walking down Third Avenue one day to get some lunch and my heel (pesky heels again, maybe that should be a clue that I should always wear flats) got stuck in a grate on the sidewalk. I kept walking, which meant I did a face plant when my foot didn't move.

So seeing as my co-workers know of my clumsiness, they were more amused than surprised on Thursday morning when I came into the office walking with a limp, clutching an empty coffee cup, and covered in coffee from my knee to my ankle.

I was looking for a little sympathy, so I walked down to my boss's office and poked my head in. She looked up and said, "Good morning!"

I wailed, "I fell down and twisted my ankle and now I have mocha all over my leg!!!"

She said, "Oh my God, are you ok?" and then looked at me for a second, covered her mouth with her hand, and started cracking up.

Of course, that made me crack up too, which was a good thing, since I was really peeved at the moment.

I was being really stupid and looking at my cell phone as I walked, so somehow I missed the last stair on the staircase coming into my building and just...fell.

It was like slow-motion; I saw the cup with my yet-untasted mocha go down, the lid pop off, and the coffee start to pool at the bottom of the stairs. I saw my bag heading right for the puddle, then I saw it land there. And then I saw my leg go right for the puddle, too, and then it happened -- SPLAT -- I had mocha all over my leg.

Of course about five people were right behind me and they all did the "OH MY GOD ARE YOU OK!?!" thing, which only makes a situation like that even more embarrassing.

All of the sticky mess and bruised ego aside, I actually did twist my ankle pretty badly and wound up icing it for the rest of the day.

Thankfully, my ankle is mostly ok now, and thanks to my mom's incredible laundry genius, the coffee and chocolate came out of my pants. (I called her not so much to whine about falling but more to get her laundry advice; the woman is a laundry genius. Her method of heavily spraying the pants with stain remover, then soaking overnight in cold water with Borax and detergent, then washing with warm water -- it was brilliant, and my pants are as good as new. Thanks, Mom! You rock.)

Basically, the bottom line is that I'm a huge, huge klutz, and I fear I always will be. I really hope this is one trait of mine Elanor does not inherit.

So, tell me -- am I the only totally clumsy one who tends to make a fool out of herself in front of lots of people? I want to hear your embarrassing stories of clumsiness, too. Make me feel better...tell me I'm not alone!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

wonderful news, plus more rambling about my emotional response

I can’t believe I haven’t posted about this yet; I keep forgetting to say anything and now it’s been a while so it hasn’t been in the forefront of my mind.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I had an echocardiogram and an appointment with the cardiologist. I’d called because I hadn’t been feeling well, and the doctor had me move my next appointment up about a month to make sure everything was ok.

Miraculously, the echocardiogram showed that my heart has regained all of its function. In the doctor’s words, it looked like the echocardiogram of any normal, healthy 27-year-old woman.

That shocked me; I was sure it would take much longer for my heart to recover. Many women who experience this take medications for years to get to the point where I am, if they get there at all. So for me to be less than two months out from the big event and to be pretty much recovered where my heart function is concerned without having taken any medications to get here…well, miraculous is the only word I can think of to describe it.

(Note to readers: We’re now moving on to the “rambling evaluation of my emotional response” segment of our program, with which I am sure you’ve all become familiar in recent months. Sorry about that. This is just what life is like these days. It seems sort of arrogant and self-centered to take all of this time to delve into my psyche so much lately, but, well, that’s my reality. My apologies…I’m sure that someday I’ll get around to posting something fun again!)

Anyway, hearing the wonderful news that my heart looks great has forced me to start dealing with all of this in a different way. Since I’ve heard my doctor say that my heart is pretty much the picture of health, it makes me feel like life should just be back to normal, like it was before all of this happened, like everything should be business is usual and like I should feel really good physically, and if I don’t then I’m doing something wrong.

The problem is that I don’t feel great physically. I’m doing much better than I was, certainly, but I still get so exhausted at times that I can barely move. Yesterday was one of those days; I was alone with Elanor all day – 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. – and I was out and about quite a bit, too. On top of that, Elanor hasn’t been sleeping great lately (she’s getting about three more teeth -- fun, huh?). By about 4:30 or 5 p.m., I felt worse than I had in weeks – exhausted, short of breath, unable to focus on anything, just totally drained.

I’ve also noticed that my heart seems much more sensitive to stress. It barely takes any stress for me to feel like it’s going to beat out of my chest. A sudden stop in the car or any whiff of relational conflict and I’m suddenly feeling my heart beating in double time.

So to feel that way when I’m recovered – whatever that’s supposed to mean – seems strange. I have to keep reminding myself that two months ago I was lying in a hospital bed and the doctors didn’t know whether or not I’d have brain damage when I woke up since I stopped breathing for a few minutes when my heart stopped beating, if I did wake up at all. I’ve come a very long way in the past two months, and it’s perfectly reasonable that my body would be less accustomed to stress and activity than it was before this happened.

All of this reminds me of something that our pastor said during one of the meetings we’ve had with him lately. We were talking about how I was dealing with everything, and how I felt this compulsion to process everything in some kind of analytical way. He said something to the effect of, “Don’t let anyone, least of all yourself, dictate how you should be feeling emotionally right now. You are processing it, every single day, and there is no right way or wrong way to do that.”

No one else is telling me I have to be recovered, that I have to be back to 100% at home, at work, with Elanor. They’re all saying to take it easy. So why am I telling myself that I should be back at 100%?

My mom told me something a friend of hers named Kate told her once, when my mom was having a hard time and was struggling with feeling like she couldn’t keep her head above water because of the very real struggles in her life at that time. Kate told my mom to imagine that a friend of hers was going through everything my mom was going through, and that the friend was describing everything that was happening. She then asked my mom to think about how she’d respond to the friend. Would she have compassion? Would she give them a hug and say she was sorry and ask how she could help? Or would she laugh and give them a hard time for not being able to keep it together?

Kate then told my mom to think of her life in those terms from time to time, and to at least have the compassion for herself that she’d have for a friend in the same situation.

It’s been helpful to think of what happened to me in that context. Because, really, when I call a spade a spade, what happened is hard both emotionally and physically. It makes sense that my body would be tired, that I’d have a hard time doing things. I came within a hair’s breadth of dying. I think it’s ok that two months from that day I would still feel tired and overwhelmed at times.

Just like it’s going to take me a long time – years, probably – to work through this emotionally, it’s going to take me a long time to feel normal physically, too, regardless of how great any echocardiogram might look. I’m coming to realize that it’s ok and good and normal and healthy to realize my limitations and to try to stay inside them.

I’ve had many people tell me recently that I know my body best. That is true, I do know my body better than anyone else does, and right now, I need to listen to what my body is telling me, which is – of course – to take it easy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

our 15 minutes of fame

Brett's been experiencing quite the spurt of notoriety recently. As the ever-supportive wife by his side at all times (ha), I've been riding along on his coattails and have shared some of the recent media attention.

The barista competition was the first thing that thrust him into the spotlight. He had a picture and a mention in a Barista Magazine article (he's on page 23), which was fun. He'd leave the magazine open around the house when friends were over to see if they'd notice his picture.

If that wasn't enough, the beard competition that we attended in Bremerton last weekend has generated even more attention. Brett won second place in the Full Natural Beard with Styled Moustache category. (There are lots of mostly very dark pics on my Flickr if you want to take a look.) It was pretty hilarious. There's so much I could say about the beard competition but it really deserves its own post...and it's way too late at night for me to try to write that tonight.

There was a reporter from the Seattle Times at the competition. She wrote an article about it, and another reporter did some interviews on video, which are posted on their website.

Even more exciting than that, there was a photographer from Newsweek there. Yep, that Newsweek. He took some pretty awesome pictures of the event. Check out photo six. I think I look pretty ridiculous. Or angry. Or...something. I don't know. But I look silly.

Then, in addition to all of that, we went in to the studio at 710 KIRO tonight for an interview with Luke Burbank and Jen Andrews of Too Beautiful to Live (tbtl), a radio show that airs every weeknight. They heard about the beard competition from our friend Nikki, and wanted him to come in to talk about the beard. But then they read our websites and realized what had happened to me and wanted to talk about that, too.

So we spent about 45 minutes talking to the two of them about our lives, my heart, and Brett's beard. I kind of forgot I was on the radio; it was fun to talk with the two of them and, I'll admit, to talk about ourselves. (If this blog proves nothing else it at least proves I'm good at talking about myself.)

The archive of the show is up on their website for those of you who have an hour or so to sit and listen to us ramble on about everything from beards to being in a coma to music.

And for anyone who might actually have come here after I mentioned my blog address on the show, welcome! Thanks for taking the time to come over and take a look.

Ok, I gotta wrap this up. It's really late and I have to be up insanely early. Blech. Maybe I will get up a few extra minutes early (really, what's the difference between 6:20 and 6:40? not much) and go get a coffee for my bus ride. I'm finished with my book -- re-reading LOTR for about the eighth time [seriously, I'm a nerd where these books are concerned], I have a post brewing about that too -- so it would be a good day to listen to a podcast and sip a mocha on the bus.

So, yeah, we are sorta famous...kinda...hopefully we don't get too much of a big head about it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

July 14: Six Months Old

Dear Elanor,

Today you are six months old -- a whole half-year!

I was just looking back at the last monthly letter I wrote, and was confronted with a picture of you on our trip to Denver. You were so little, and despite how I thought you were so big, you were still such a little baby compared to the person you are today. I'm sure I'll say the same in a couple of months when I look back at who you are now.

Unfortunately, I don't have a letter for you for months four or five. I was not able to write them, because on the day before your four-month birthday, I underwent what I am sure you will one day realize was a very frightening experience.

That said, I am so, so, so glad to be here today writing about the past couple of months. I'm so glad I am here to see you grow up and change from a baby into a toddler into a girl and someday into a woman.

At Magnuson Park, July 11

So, to recap, the past couple of months have been pretty chaotic for us. You, however, have weathered the chaos extremely well. Your adaptability and good-naturedness has been such a blessing to us and to those who have helped us care for you -- all of our family members, and many, many good friends. Especially during the first very difficult weeks, you were so good and amazing and really just rolled with the punches in a way most babies wouldn't.

Getting kisses from Papa on Father's Day

And now to the more immediate past and the present. Before all of this stuff with my health happened, I went back to work. It was a hard transition for us, but we were doing ok. With help -- again -- from our family and friends, we were making it work, even if Papa and I were tired and a little overwhelmed by everything.

But then my heart stopped, and we had to realign our priorities. Spending time with each other and with you became even more of a priority than it was before.

Showing off how well you can sit up -- not to mention your amazing fat rolls -- at Magnuson Park, July 11

Your Auntie Rachel came up just after your five-month birthday to take care of us and of you. You have been having a great time with her every morning while I've been back at work! She takes very good care of you and you love to be with her.

Within the past two months, you've had lots of fun firsts: you've rolled over, front to back and back to front, you've gotten two teeth (one on June 10 and one that popped through this past week, both on the bottom), you can sit up unsupported, you've learned how to inchworm yourself forward (but not quite crawl, although you are so close), and you can stand up if we help you balance.

Standing up with some help from Kim, July 6

You enjoy playing in your exersaucer for quite a while. You like the orange lion because he's squishy and nice to chew on, and you like the little flippy book part with the pictures of monkeys and lions and such.

Looking adorable in your exersaucer, June 20

When you've had enough of your exersaucer, you'll now look at us and do what Noni calls uppy -- you put your arms up in the air and look at us pleadingly and make little whimpering sounds, which is your way of asking us to pick you up and snuggle you.

Another important thing we've done lately is introduce solid -- well, ok, mushy -- food. You liked cereal ok, you loved bananas. Avocadoes, though, were more fun to squish than to eat. I am excited to continue offering you new things. Despite all of the new foods, you still love to nurse and I am in no rush to stop doing that. It is so good for you health-wise, it calms you in a way nothing else will, and it's such a lovely connection that we have. I'm so very thankful that we are still nursing. It's a minor miracle considering what I went through medically.

Avocado aftermath, July 3

Your hair is less mohawk-like these days. It sits down on top, unless it gets messed up by the wind or something. But it's soooo long in the back. What we used to call your mullet has grown and is now your rat tail. I am not sure what we will do about it, whether we'll let it grow or whether we'll eventually cut it off to even things up.

Stuck under a chair after scooting yourself there, June 29

Sleeping is still not really in a schedule yet. You have a general pattern, though, and I am really ok with that. You continue to sleep really well if you are in the Ergo or sling, or if someone is lying down with you, although there are times when you will sleep by yourself if you are in the co-sleeper or on our bed. Honestly, though, even though 90% of your sleep is with one of us in bed with you or with you sitting on us, I don't worry about it. It's funny, though: if someone had told me that you'd be sleeping with us 100% of the time at six months, I wouldn't have believed them. And I would have been even more incredulous if they told me that I'd love it. I guess this is just one of those things about parenting that wound up being totally different than I'd pictured it.

You still love to squeal and screech all the time. The sounds you make are starting to mimic our speech more, which is fun. You say lots of sounds like "Ma ma ma ma ma" and "Da da da da," which is so fun to hear. However, although I was saying words at your age, you have not yet spoken any true words. I feel like that's coming soon, though!

Enjoying your pool, June 28

The water is still one of your favorite places. Even though the water is usually freezing, you love to sit with Papa or me in your little plastic pool on our patio. We slather you in sunscreen and put your swimsuit on and you'll splash and play until you're shivering, but you don't seem to care.

You also had your first media appearance this month! Papa competed in the North American Beard and Moustache Championship in Bremerton, winning second place for his moustache and beard. A photographer from Newsweek snapped a picture of the three of us while Papa was waiting for his turn to be judged on his beard. Pretty neat, not even six months old and already in the national media!

With Papa at the North American Beard and Moustache Championship, July 5

I've now said it every month, but I'll say it again: you are amazing and you fill my heart with joy. You are happy, funny, adorable, beautiful, and good-natured. Papa and I love you so very much. I am beyond happy to be here on this Earth to take care of you and to see you grow.

Looking beautiful at Magnuson Park, July 11

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

whiny whiny whine

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions on my last post. I have really been trying to take it easy and not overdo things, but it's an ongoing challenge, so we'll see how it continues. Thankfully a couple of friends are going to come over in the next few days just to help with getting things done; I really appreciate their help. And since I wrote this, Brett's been forcing me to take it easy more, too, and has been doing a ton around the house, which I appreciate more than I can express. He doesn't care, really, whether the bathroom floors are clean or dirty, but he scrubbed them on Sunday because I care. And that? Is what makes a wonderful husband.

Work is...overwhelming, both while I'm actually there as well as when I'm not there, as it tends to really sap my energy in general and leave me exhausted once I get home. And that's frustrating, because I have very little energy for the things I need to do -- see my previous post -- not to mention the things I want to do, like having fun with Elanor and Brett, blogging, hanging out with friends, answering emails, etc.

I am not really sure what to do about that imbalance. We are trying to talk it out and pray and figure out what our life should look like going forward...because how it looks at this present moment isn't practical or sustainable for us. We're both too tired and too overwhelmed to continue as we are, but we are really not sure how to get from here to where we want to be.

My friend Carmen and I were talking today (I called her while I was pumping at work, which is the only time in the day I have to do things like make phone calls) and she mentioned how when she worked part-time, she was often really frustrated by it, even though almost everyone else she talked to seemed to view part-time work as ideal.

Carmen said that what she found was that when she was working part-time, she felt stretched way too thin: she never got everything done at work she needed to, and found it hard to be present at work when she was there, and then when she got home, there was still the same amount of work to do at home but it was that much more overwhelming because she was gone that much more. And dude, that's totally how I feel. Even though I'm only working half-time, commuting adds about an hour (well, about 45 minutes) on to either end of my day, so I am actually gone for 7 hours, which is -- I think -- a long time to be gone every day. By the time I get home at about 2, the day just feels like it's gone. I can *maybe* get a quick nap in, or a quick errand, but then before I know it, Brett's home and it's dinner time and we're eating and cleaning up and there's laundry to be done and then I have to get everything together (clothes ironed and laid out, bus bag packed, etc) to start it all over again the next morning.

I almost feel bad writing that because it seems like I'm just never content with my lot, and that I somehow think the grass is always greener on the other side, since when I worked full-time I would have given my right arm for the schedule I have now.

But I guess I'm just being honest, that part-time work isn't all I had it cracked up to be in my head. That's probably partly due to the fact that I am just freaking tired from all the health stuff and partly due to what Carmen and I talked about, that stretched thin feeling when you are not fully in one world or another.

Anyway, I'm just feeling in a complain-y state right now, and I hate it. I do not like being frustrated with and dissatisfied with things, and I don't like complaining. I feel like I do it waaaaay too much. Yet here I am, whining once again to the Interwebs. Sigh.

I promise there are more fun and interesting -- read: less whiny and self-centered -- posts coming soon. I have a whole list of things to blog about; I hope I can get some time in the next week to just get some posts written. I guess we'll see about that.

I'll leave you with a more cheerful thing: a picture of Elanor. We went on a walk on Saturday morning and she was wearing her cute outfit with the bear ears, which her Noni got for her. It is one of my favorites!