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

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

more emotional processing

I’ve mentioned before that one of my biggest struggles with the whole heart thing has been the fact that I remember nothing of the incident itself and next to nothing of the two or three weeks that followed.

I recently re-read the Lord of the Rings books, and there’s a part in the Fellowship of the Ring that stuck out to me as being something I could identify with.

Frodo has just arrived in Rivendell after being stabbed by and then pursued by the Nazgul. He wakes up with Gandalf sitting next to him, and he tries to recall everything that has happened to him since leaving the Shire, but there are holes in his memory, so he asks Gandalf to tell him what has happened.

‘I wish you would tell me what happened!’
‘All in good time! You are not supposed to talk or worry about anything today, by Elrond’s orders.’
‘But talking would stop me thinking and wondering, which are quite as tiring,’ said Frodo. ‘I am wide awake now, and I remember so many things that want explaining.’

That’s how I feel about this whole experience. I wish someone would just walk me through the gory details and tell me what happened, but everyone keeps telling me that I shouldn’t worry about it and that it’s better I don’t remember. But I feel like Frodo does, that thinking and wondering are tiring in and of themselves, and that there are lots of things that I’d like to have explained to me.

People are getting to the point where they’ll talk a little more openly with me about what happened. I think that up until now, the people who were there with me throughout the experience – Brett, my mom, our sisters, Brett’s mom, my dad, my friend Becca – haven’t wanted to talk about it much because the reality of what could have happened was so scary. Now that things are better and I seem to be ok, though, they seem more willing to open up, and I’m glad of that.

All of these people who are close to me – plus many who aren’t close – have been deeply impacted by what happened to me. And I, on the other hand, feel a huge sense of detachment from what happened because I don’t remember and because I seem to be fine now. It all just seems like a very surreal blip on the radar.

It’s hard for me to have the amazing sense of joy and thankfulness that all of those people have, simply because I have a hard time grasping how frightening the whole experience was.

I’m at a point now where I’m ready – at least I think I am – to start facing the fact that I came very close to dying or at least having some permanent damage.

We’ve been watching Six Feet Under again, and an episode we watched the other night underscored what I’ve been feeling.

In the episode, the main character (Nate) comes very close to dying because of a medical condition he has. He has this…I don’t know, I guess it could be called a vision, or maybe a dream, of all of the different ways things could have ended up. One scenario shows his funeral, with his family and friends all sitting at his funeral looking shell-shocked and grief stricken. Another scenario shows him with permanent brain damage, living at a near vegetable level, having to be cared for all the time by family. Another scenario shows him being completely recovered, and spending time with his wife and baby.

Throughout the episode, as he lives his life out according to the third scenario he saw – complete recovery – he has flashes of the other scenarios, just brief visions of what might have been.

That is so how I feel. Every now and then, out of the blue, I’ll have a flash of what might have been, and it’s like the feeling you get when you think you’re going to get in a car accident, or when you’re on a roller coaster and you crest the top of the big hill and start to fall – that sort of stomach-turning adrenaline rush, that taste of fear that never quite comes to fruition.

I had an experience like that while we were watching that episode of Six Feet Under. Brett’s sister Rachel was holding Elanor and playing with her, and they were both just laughing and enjoying each other. Elanor, though, would get tired every few minutes and reach over to me and say, “Mamamamamamamama” and whine until I took her.

And I had a flash: if I had died, other people would have replaced me in Elanor’s life. I would not be the one she reached out to when she was tired, the one who provides comfort to her, who gives her love, who teaches her things…it would have been other people – Rachel, our parents, our other siblings. And as much as I love and trust all of those people and want them to comfort her and love her and teach her things, I want to be Elanor’s primary person, along with Brett.

I was, well, it seems weird to say this, but in that moment, watching Elanor and Rachel play, I was at once jealous for the role Rachel and everyone else would have played in Elanor’s life had I died, and at the same time, so very, deeply grateful that I hadn’t died and that I was there to reach over and take Elanor when she got fussy, to hold her while she put herself to sleep.

I mentioned to Brett as we were going to sleep that night how the episode of Six Feet Under had affected me, and he said he thought the same thing I did. It’s scary to see all of the possible scenarios explicitly spelled out. My scenarios are pretty much the same as Nate’s were: death, permanent damage, and being a healthy medical miracle.

I don’t have a pat, neat ending for this post. It’s nothing that can be neatly resolved, and it is clearly a really ragged and raw topic for me. Like all of life, it’s messy, and you know what? I think I can be ok with that for now.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

"eating on the run" has a whole new meaning

This week has largely been getting over a cold and recovering from a very fun but very tiring trip to Portland last weekend, so my blogging time has been light, unfortunately. The good news, though, is that I have several posts lined up to post over the next week or two.

Here’s the first one…

~~~~~~~~~~

We went down to Portland last weekend to visit our families. It was a good visit, very fun to see everyone, and it was overall really nice. While the visit was wonderful, the drive down was a different story entirely. Elanor disliked – nay, hated – the drive, and screamed her little heart out for a good 80 percent of it. For those of you unfamiliar with the Seattle-Portland drive, that’s 80 percent translates roughly into about two or so hours of screaming.

Not fun. Not fun at all. It’s a drive I really dislike anyway, so adding in a screaming baby did nothing but make the whole thing completely miserable.

Thanks to an idea Rachel had, though, I eventually found a way to help the situation. Now, there’s minor law breaking on my part here (namely that I was not buckled), but dude, I had a really, really pissed off baby on my hands, so maybe you can all overlook the law breaking. I’m sure many of you have committed minor law breaking acts for the sake of your children. I can’t be the only one, right? Right?

Ok, maybe I can be the only one. But bear with me.

Back to Elanor. We were about halfway through the drive, and she was freaking out and hysterically screaming again, even though she was exhausted and we’d already stopped twice to feed her, calm her down, and try to get her to fall asleep, stretching the already three-hour drive out even further.

I had moved into the back seat after our first stop so I could sit by her, and this last time she started flipping out, Rachel made a suggestion.

“Leen, could you move over into the middle seat and somehow lean over her and feed her?”

I had actually seen a picture of this somewhere, and even vaguely remembered a story of my sister doing something similar out of desperation.

I said, “Well, I don’t know, let me try.”

So I unbuckled, scooted over, got up on my knees and leaned over. Rachel looked in the rear-view mirror and started cracking up. Brett finally looked up from reading The Fellowship of the Ring to see what I was doing. He laughed, too.

I must have been quite a sight, kneeling on the middle seat, clutching the headrest in front of me, and trying to balance, all while crouching over to let Elanor latch on.

As soon as I moved over and began to get ready to feed her, Elanor got really excited and even more agitated. But the second she latched, she was much calmer. And within about five minutes (a very long five minutes, I might add, what with the struggle to balance as we went around curves, the car seat digging into my ribs, the baby teeth digging into me, and the frantic little hands with very long fingernails clawing at me) she was asleep enough that I could unlatch her without waking her up.

Unfortunately, she woke up about 40 minutes later and screamed for the last 40 minutes of the drive, leaving all of us near tears before it was over, but hey, at least part of the drive was made in peace.

Maybe it was stupid to feed her while we were moving, but clearly, taking her out of the seat and trying to feed her and then put her back was NOT working (she cried so much after the first time we did it that she threw up on herself), and we’d already stopped twice with no results. I don’t know; maybe better parents would just keep stopping…I guess that makes us bad parents, then. At least I didn’t unbuckle her, right? (I would never, ever do that.)

Our drive home was much better, thankfully. We bought a big-girl car seat for her while we were in Portland and she was, I think, much more comfortable in it than she was in the infant seat she was in before. We went to a wedding yesterday about an hour from home, and she only cried for a few minutes before falling asleep. And that is a definite improvement over our last long car trip.

So tell me, have any of you ever done this, or anything equally as ridiculous and dangerous, all in an effort to calm your kid down? Or are you too ashamed to admit it?

Come on, if I can admit that I whipped out my boob on I-5 and knelt on the seat of a moving car to breastfeed my hysterical daughter, you can admit whatever skeleton is in your parenting closet. I promise, I won’t judge.