Friday, May 23, 2008

Quaint reminder

I took my car in for service and had to get a rental car (they don't have loaners). In looking around the Chrysler Sebring convertible they gave me, I realize I can't remember the last time I saw this: an ashtray in a car. It's like seeing an 8-track tape in the backseat.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

When you see crazy coming, cross the street

I had the most bizarre experience at Fred Meyer tonight. I had Ava in her car seat on top of the basket's child seat and was in line waiting to put my groceries on the belt. Inadvertently, I bumped the cart of the person in front of me with my cart. Literally, I made about as much contact as brushing against someone in an elevator. His cart didn't even roll. Feeling the contact, I peered over Ava's head and said, "Oh, I'm sorry about that," and went back to fiddling with her feet and keeping her entertained.

If everyone in this little saga were normal, that would be the end of it, right? Yes, well this was Bizarro Fred Meyer and Mr. Cart Tappee apparently felt our carts touching was an affront equal to the Janjiweed torching his home and killing his family in a spate of civil unrest.

He turned to me with this put upon expression and said, "You just don't care about anyone else, do you? You just sit there and don't even care that you bumped my cart." Surprised, I reiterated, "Uh, I said 'I'm sorry' but I guess you didn't hear me. Again, I'm sorry about that."

Again, this should end now, right? Oh, you and I both wish. No, Mr. Cart Tappee then continues, "Well sorry isn't good enough! What if I had been standing there? (When I arrived, he was already standing near the front of his cart about to load groceries onto the belt) I wouldn't even have room to stand behind my cart because you're so close. As a matter of fact, you need to back up! I could pull my cart but I don't want to. I want to push it the way it's supposed to be pushed! As a matter..."

He continued blathering on in this vein but I tuned him out because I realized I was experiencing a moment that former Oprah guru Iyanla Vanzant described as "When you see crazy coming, cross the street."

This was clearly not about me or my cart. This guy had to be dealing with something bad in his personal life (I know: shocker considering his lovely attitude). But clearly, something was seriously loco about this guy's way of handling rather innocuous situations. Like scary loco.

So I went over to a store employee and asked him about opening another check stand. He couldn't but came to stand nearby just in case. When I came back, the guy was just getting to the checker. Grrr. So I simply gave him a wide berth and gap on the belt ahead of me as I started to unload my groceries. He continued muttering to the checker, pointedly ignoring me.

As if to prove the point that this could have been a non-event had the guy had an even rudimentary grasp of appropriate social cues and responses, seconds after returning to the line, a lady behind me bumped my arm reaching for a grocery belt divider.

"Oh, I'm sorry dear," she said. "No problem," I replied, without hesitation. I went back to unloading my cart, and she did the same. See? That's how NORMAL people react, as opposed to Mr. Hair Trigger Anger Bomb.

When I told J. about it later that night, he was understandably outraged and said, "Why didn't you go off on him?" "Uh, because I generally don't just unload on bystanders, no matter how deserving they are." Only later did it occur to me that my gut told me to let it go, which in hindsight was the right thing to do with Ava sitting there inches away. What if I had returned the vitriol and escalated the situation? What if the guy, who was 6' to my 5' 4," had gotten physical or waited for us in the parking lot to continue the rant?

Ultimately, I didn't go off because A) it's not my style (public shouting match and/or fisticuffs? How uncouth!) and B) because every time I look into my daughter's eyes as she absorbs experiences each day of her still-new life, I'm reminded that I am her first and most powerful role model. And while I want her to stick up for herself when bullies raise their slimy heads, she also has to know how to assess situations, pick her battles and know that sometimes when you see crazy coming, it's better to just cross the street.

What would you have done?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ava's 1st swing at the park

70 degree weather + 8 month old fresh from a nap + dog needing exercise = trip to the park where Ava had her first experience with the kiddie swings, after they were wiped down with germ killer of course. Good times had by all.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Portland-Seattle Mother's Day weekend whirlwind

Before the baby came, we would head up to Vancouver, BC or down to Portland, OR a couple times each month for a change of scenery day trip. They allowed us to decompress on the 2.5 to 3 hour drive each way and relax our minds from the grind of our everyday lives.

Since Ava arrived, with the pressures and challenges a new baby brings, we've needed these even more. While we've managed to fit in a couple good getaways, life has gotten busier, free time is more limited and gas is nearly $4/gallon. Still, we knew we had to bite the bullet and just go or quit all our bellyaching about how much we needed a getaway.

So last weekend, we booked a room at the Hotel Lucia in Portland and headed out after work on Friday. It was a lovely, uneventful drive after we got out of the Friday traffic around Seattle and Tacoma and in less than three hours, we were checking in to our room.
We love the hotel's contemporary style. Ava loved the king size bed with plush duvet cover and leather headboard. Okay, I'm guessing. But she didn't dislike it and seemed quite content lolling about on the bed playing with her toes while J. hit the bar downstairs for a cocktail and I chowed down on delish room service from the hotel's Thai restaurant Typhoon!. Yes, it's spelled with the exclamation point. As in "Loved it!" Ava even tried a little rice. Tag-teaming on baby duty is part of the territory when traveling with a child this age if you ever want to see anything besides the hotel room. We learned that on our Vegas trip.

The next day we met up with one of J.'s colleagues, did some shopping, then hit Koji Osakaya in NE Portland for some teriyaki salmon rice and noodle bowls. My penchant for international food during pregnancy and while nursing seems to have primed Ava's tastebuds for new flavors. She is still nursing at 7 1/2 months but is starting to reach for our food and drinks and willingly tries new things.
Here she is with J. getting her first sip of miso soup. She lapped it up and leaned forward for more! She also had a few grains of rice before pursing her lips to indicate "No more please." As we finished up, it was about 2:30pm and getting close to nap time for her so the fussiness and mini-meltdown started. J. jiggled her while I shoveled the last of my food down so we could get out to the car and feed her, strap her in, and hit the road. With a tummy full of milk, she was asleep before we crossed the Interstate bridge back into Washington.

We had to punch it on the way back because we needed to be back in Seattle by 7pm. That morning, we'd gotten a call from our friend Anne who offered tickets for that night's Seattle Storm game. We made it back by six, freshened up, and rolled into the arena just as the game was starting. Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird were still in Russia finishing up their overseas season, but Sheryl Swoopes, Swin Cash and the rest of the ladies played a great game. And whoa: Alison Feaster of Indiana should wear a warning on her jersey that you'll be getting a game and a gun show: her arms are ripped. I've GOT to start doing push ups.

Ava loved all the visual stimulation at the game! She smiled, squawked and wiggled her arms and legs when the crowd cheered. This is her look for "How is that a foul?! It's not our fault she ran into our player's elbow with her face!"

When she wasn't doing her Dennis Rodman sneer impersonation, Ava looked quite fetching in her leopard print hat and received several compliments from passersby who'd seen her on the Jumbotron totally rockin' out. Yeah, shy she's not. We were even able to snag a shot with Anne, whose notorious blink reflex is perfectly in sync with any nearby camera flash. Really, we tried. Twice! This was the best we could do. Thanks again Anne for a great family night out.

But wait, there's more! Sunday was my first official Mother's Day! That of course made it special. But the best part was that J. cooked brunch (salmon, eggs, bacon (yay protein!), waffles, fruit, and pomegranate mimosas) for the whole family (his side and mine) with an assist from his cousin on the eggs and waffle iron. I didn't have to do anything. Okay, I helped with a few things, like pre-event clean up and set up of the tables and chairs. But J. did the bulk of the work, which was AWESOME.

See, I enjoy having family over, but it's a lot of work, as any host will tell you. Especially when it's never fewer than 10 folks. While everyone's there, you're so busy doing stuff (refilling glasses, finding someone tartar sauce (on salmon?!), getting an extra serving utensil, etc.) that you don't actually get to enjoy the folks who are there. So getting a pass for a day was the best gift of the year from my super thoughtful husband. Plus, I got lovely cards from several folks, including Ava. She's so thoughtful that little girl. Just wait until she's walking. I was so busy enjoying the day, I didn't take any pictures, but one of the cousins did, so I'll track it down and get it up here.

The three of us closed out the afternoon napping in a drooling, protein-enfused heap on the family room couch. The perfect end to a great, family-filled weekend. I counted my blessing that day but couldn't finish. What comes after a gazillion?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Seattle Storm rock!

Ava's courtside at the Storm vs. Indiana Fever game (thanks Anne!). How cool is it that she will never know a time without women's pro basketball? WAY cool.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Not listening to voices in my head

Standing in line at lunch, I found myself softly humming a non-sensical ditty and swaying slightly back and forth because Ava likes it when I hold her and do that. Only problem is that I was in line WITHOUT my child, bobbing and nattering to myself like someone you'd give a wide berth to on a downtown sidewalk.This is what motherhood can do to you.

Given this incident, I've officially given up all pretense of being either young or hip. I'll simply close with a shout out to my fellow mommy peeps who know-what-I'm-sayin', yo. Peace.

Signed, MC Tashi J

Sunday, May 04, 2008

7 months and counting

Good grief, where does the time go? You know, the time that isn't eaten up with raising a child, nurturing a marriage, work, commuting, grocery shopping, sleeping (not enough), walking the dog (not nearly enough) and volunteer commitments.

Ava is 7 1/2 months, has two little lower teeth in, is eating baby sweet potatoes, oatmeal baby cereal, baby food applesauce and just outgrew all of her 6 month size sleepers seemingly overnight. One night they fit and the next night it's like she was a bound foot bride with her little toes curled under the minute I zipped her up. Grrr. Luckily I remembered she had the one below from our lovely friend Marjorie in her bag of next-size-up clothes.

This is her "Why are you taking a picture and not holding me?" look. It's one of a series of looks that include "Why are you eating and not holding me?", "Why are you using that sharp knife to cut vegetables for dinner and not holding me?" and the daily favorite duo "Why are you driving and not holding me?" and "Why are you going to the bathroom and not holding me?" So predictable that girl.

The only reason I'm posting now is that she's sleeping (while I hold her on my lap). I've heard the well-meaning advice from people about this, which was variations on the theme "Don't hold her so much: you'll spoil her." I listened, smiled politely and bought a sling so both me AND J. can hold her as much as possible. And we all love it. I work 40+ hours a week away from her and you're telling me I should limit the contact I DO have? Yeah, I gotta go with my gut on this one: no thanks.

That is the only advice I give new parents (when asked): trust your gut and your own experience with your child and only use the advice that makes sense for your family. Kids are very similar in many ways, but they are also unique. So just because someone else has raised multiple kids and generations and something's worked for her doesn't mean it will work for you. If it does, great! If it doesn't, you shouldn't have to put up with that person repeating the advice every time they see you as if you're too thick or stubborn to try it. Just smile politely, and do what you were going to do anyway.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some advice to ignore and a recently awakened 7 and a half month old's chubby, adorable, kissable toes poking my chin. I must go nibble and savor her giggles.