On Saturday night, Evanston freshman Dajae Coleman was shot and killed while walking home with friends. The shots were not intended for him.
It was a random act of violence. Heartbreaking. He was a good kid.
The students of Evanston Township High School took to social media to reach out to Coleman’s hero, Lebron James. They started a petition asking the basketball star to acknowledge the senseless loss and help spread the word about the tragedy.
The power of the internet…
Lebron, along with many other NBA stars, have taken to twitter sending Coleman’s family and friends words of support and calling for an end to the violence.
I write this post with a heavy heart. My prayers go out to the young man.
This has got to end.
[Read the belief statement Coleman wrote for his humanities class the Thursday before his death.]
Objectively speaking, I am pretty well versed in theatrical and culinary arts….
I stay up to date on relevent happenings (openings, collaborations, etc). I have opinions on emerging artists (be it chefs or directors) and a clear sense of what I like and why a particular piece/plate works for me.
But when it comes to visual arts (like the stuff you hang on walls), I am a novice.
I know I like bright colors and that I prefer a more contemporary style But there is so much about the art world that I just don’t get.
Namely, if I want to collect great pieces…works that aren’t posters…but don’t have THOUSANDS to spend on art…where do I even start?!
Lucky for me, my girl Danielle is passionate and well-informed about art and has taken me on as a project of sorts. Last week she got me tickets to the contemporary art show, ExpoChicago and encouraged me to go and hunt for galleries and artists that evoked emotion.
I am so glad I went! I fell in love with about a dozen pieces. While not a single one was anywhere near affordable for us…it was helpful (and incredibly fun) having the opportunity to take in so much art. Exposure.
I am pretty sure that a Damien Hirst is not in my future… But who’s to say I won’t someday find an emerging artist doing work I love just as much.
(If anyone has tips/advice/recommendations on artists/galleries sources for inspired works - I’d love to hear from you! xo)
This one begins with a Jelly Donut (fine…two, two jelly donuts) and ends with a baby.
As far as these things go, Felix Belle’s birth story isn’t particularly dramatic (I mean, other than the whole miracle of life thing). There was no at-home delivery, water baths or crazy prolonged pushing. All things considered, labor was pretty easy and our lovely daughter was in tip-top shape as she entered the world.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I spent Labor Day weekend up in Michigan with my family. It is normally not advised for mothers to travel so close to their due date, but since the lake is only about an hour away - my doctor gave us the green light. Being with my family provided a welcomed diversion from the home-stretch discomfort. Golf cart rides, Antique hunting, Oinks ice cream, an opening day Irish vicory all helped pass the time quite nicely
By the time Sunday rolled around (and our self-imposed Sept 1st milestones had been reached) I was very ready to meet our baby, even if it was still a full week until my due date.
I spent that morning on the terrace with my family. Grandpa brought donuts (as is our Sunday morning lake house tradition) and mom kept the coffee pot going several hours longer than usual. We sat out there for a long time. Talking. We talked about some heavy stuff going on with my family right now…and while I tried to be engaged, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this baby was on her way.
(My dad later mentioned that when he looked across the table and saw me casually resting my coffee on top of my bump - he too had a sneaking suspicion I had reached the end of my pregnancy)
We were planning on staying another night and day in Michigan, but after my (second) donut - I was overcome with this feeling, a pull: Get me home. Now.
We packed up faster than I thought possible. As we Kissed everyone goodbye, we joked that maybe the next time we saw each other - there would be a baby. Fingers crossed.
We took the scenic route home. The back roads make for a prettier drive than interstate cruising. Hazel was uncharacteristically quiet in the car. Simon played just the right music. It was a nice drive. My contractions began. They were 12 minutes apart. It was 1:00 on September 2.
We arrived home to find that a watermelon had exploded on our counter (weird) Simon spent some time in the kitchen cleaning up the sticky mess and unloading the produce he picked up at the market in Sawyer. I headed upstairs with Hazel and put the finishing touches on the go-bag. I ironed both baby and my head-home outfit. And cut little pieces of ribbon for bows…just in case baby had enough hair to sport one (spoiler alert: she did).
Simon made us an extra tasty dinner that night. And we gave Hazel a long bath in the deep tub. She loved the bubbles but not as much as the 2:1 time. Even though my contractions had not progressed, the spirit of our evening felt very….”last night before baby.” It was special.
I meant to go to bed early that night But a few tivo’d episodes of True Blood and this Letter to Hazel kept me up later than intended. As we tucked ourselves in at about 11pm Simon asked if we should call my mom and ask her to drive back from the lake…just in case GO-TIME happened in the middle of the night. I said that wouldn’t be necessary. I am not sure why, but with both Hazel and Felix’s labor I was in denial that they were happening until they were WELL UNDER WAY.
To be safe, we texted my siblings: Probably won’t happen….but please keep your ringers on just in case baby makes her grand entrance overnight.
12:15 am Monday Morning I was sleeping. and then I was half-sleeping. and then my water broke. and then I was the most wide-awake I have ever been in my life.
Oh my god….GO TIME!
We jumped out of bed with a comedic frenzy that you would expect in such a situation (think: Macallister Family in Home Alone). Then we had the realization that it was the middle of the night and we needed someone to come watch Hazel. I KNEW we should have asked your mom to come home! Simon kept saying.
A call to El & Hen. They were together…at a concert. A couple of beers deep, I think. HOLY HELL. We’ll be right there. 12 minutes later the party bus (er cab, as the case may be) pulled up to our house and out piled the crew: El, Dan, Hen & Dana.
They ran up to our room and kept me company as I showered and dried my hair. (There was no way I was going into this labor business with a wet ponytail.) We then high-fived and took a group picture And headed for the hospital!
Since it was the middle of the night (and my water was still leaking), we decided not to walk. As we hailed a taxi, I couldn’t help but think about this dude…it would have been fun to see him again.
Once at the hospital, we spent a lot of time waiting. Because I had tested positive for Group B Strep, I had to have 4 hours of IV antibiotic before the could up the petocin and get things rolling. 2-5 am
As was the goal, I got my epidural as early as possible (Just before 6, I think), which afforded me a couple of hours of sleep before the main event. I dozed while listening to This American Life. Simon and El were out cold. After a shift change, my new nurse came in and lectured me for getting the drugs too early It’s called labor or a reason, she chastised. And while she probably made a very valid point, it was sort of too late to do much about the Spinal that had already been inserted.
Around 10, things started getting painful. We put on a few episodes of Newsroom (god, I love that show) and passed a couple more hours.
Maybe because my labor with lasted 24 freaking hours, I figured I was in this for the long haul…so you can imagine my surprise when the doctor came in at 12:30 to check on me and said it was time to push.
(El had gone home for a few minutes to grab lunch/change clothes…and got a 911- GIT BACK HERE…IT’S HAPPENING text. Thank god my sis has strong legs because she literally came running into the delivery room just as the action was getting started)
I pushed for a grand total of about 15 minutes (piece of cake, really) and then… at 1:23, September 3rd, she arrived. Felix Belle was placed on my chest. I felt a heart racing, but I am not sure if it was hers or mine (both probably)
As I leaned down to kiss this brand new life and felt her beaming father squeezing my hand I whispered to our girl:
You hit the family jackpot, Felix. We won’t do everything right….and things won’t always be easy But we are going to love you and care for you with every inch of our hearts. I’m so happy you are here.
I have never made a promise more confidently.
And with that, the nurses whisked her away to clean her up & get her stats 7 lbs 9 oz. 20 inches. Everything looked great.
And that, I suppose, is where the real adventure begins.. C’mon baby girl, you’ve got a family to meet!
We love you Felix Belle. Meaning of the name Felix: Happy, Fortunate
Take everything you’ve ever learned and everything You’ve yet to discover and place it in a box labeled Thank You.
Take a picture of your face and remember That in many years time you will be amazed at how gorgeous you were. Be amazed now.
Find someplace to live. Make sure it has the ability to let light fall Across the room in such a way that every so often, You’ll stop and mouth the words “Ah, sunlight.” Before you finish dusting the books. Don’t let the books get dusty. Open them and reread your favorite sentences Or give the books away.
Fall in love. Touch. More than you think. Have a child if you want one. If you don’t, don’t. Let your child out into the world Discovering for themselves just how magical It is. Or it isn’t. It’s theirs to decide. Give your child a lot of books.
Get a job. Remember this job is not who you are. You get to open the silk door of You, And decide, over and over, as many times as your socks, Just who you are. You get to say your own I am.
Do yoga. Let your body discover what it’s like to move without your brain holding it’s hand. Tell your brain to take a hike. Let your body believe fully in it’s own powers. Let every person you’ve stored inside your muscles out every so often, to breathe.
Do things that make you feel good. Let your joy be contagious and spread through Your home, your job, your children. Let it spread through the world Like a virus so that when you forget it, Every so often, you’ll catch it from someone else.
Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans [Exhibit A]
Simon has a few more days left of pat. leave and Fee had her 1 week check-up where the doctor confirmed she is a sturdy little nugget- so we figured yesterday was a perfect time for a pilgrimage out to the suburbs to take the girls to Kohl’s Children’s Museum.
We have been looking forward to this adventure for weeks. And have been telling Hazel about it for days.
So this afternoon, wedged in that window between Z’s 2 naps….
We packed the diaper bag (with bottles and sippy cups and extra clothes and swaddle blankets and spit-up cloths and 2 sizes of diapers, bibs and sunglasses) We folded up the double stroller We loaded the 2 car seats with our 2 daughters
…and set-out on our journey. No easy feat.
45 minutes and a couple of squirmy kids later, we pulled into the museum parking lot and spotted this sign.
CLOSED. You’ve got to be kidding me!
For a moment, I thought I might actually cry from disappointed (blame the hormones), but then I looked over to my husband, and all we could do was laugh.
Laugh at the herculean effort that it took to get our little family up to here. Laugh at the delusions of grandeur we had of Hazel exploring her-sized exhibits while Felix sweetly slept in my arms. and Laugh at how our plans were flat busted in an instant!
With Z & Fee waiting in the back seat for a promised adventure, we knew we had to salvage the day.
So that is exactly what we did.
Our impromptu visit to a suburban park might not have been quite as exciting as the children’s museum… but if that was the case, Hazel sure didn’t notice.
I forgot how uncomplicated newborns are. Maybe I am just used to chasing a toddler all over the house/city, so comparatively speaking this newest nugget seems…well, easy. Ms. Felix spends her day sleeping and eating. That’s it. She is fine dozing anywhere (on her dad’s chest/in her swing/cuddled next to me on the couch). Her diapers are oh-so-tiny, her clothes involve a few easy snaps and she stays-put exactly where you place her (ie. she can’t yet roll off of surfaces.) Honestly, newborns are way more manageable than I remembered!
Having said that, I forgot how HARD nights are with a brand new baby. I wouldn’t wish that first night at home on anyone - it is exhausting and terrifying. You don’t yet know exactly which bounce/tap combination will have a soporific effect. You don’t yet know which gurgle suggests spit-up is coming. And if your milk is slow to come in, you don’t yet know if she is actually getting what she needs while she nurses for hours on end. Fee’s first night at home I got exactly 0 hours of sleep. The good news is each night things have gone progressively smoother and Simon and I are tag-teaming her night feedings like champions!
I forgot how much you (I) cry those first few days post-partum. Right after Hazel was born, a reader sent me a message saying “if you find yourself crying for no good reason…or no reason at all - that is totally normal. It will pass” And I remember being so thankful for her note because at that moment, I was just weeping on my couch. There were tears those first 3 days home, but the weird thing was- I didn’t feel sad, I just felt like crying. The way I figure - if the hormones in your body are potent enough to make you push out a baby, they probably have the power to wreak some serious havoc over your emotions as well.
I forgot how tough the recovery from giving birth can be for the mom. I must have TOTALLY blocked this out from last time, but the contractions and cramps and feelings of having-just-been-hit-by-a-bus were very present over the past week. Thank god for Motrin and Extra-Strength Tylennol.
I forgot how squishy your stomach is after giving birth. Honestly, it is gross. While it is such a relief to no longer be sporting a beach ball on my front…It is hard to imagine ever having respectable abs again. (I think I can. I think I can. I think I can)
I forgot how involved it is to nurse your baby For something that has been done by mothers since the beginning of time - it seems pretty incredible how complicated nursing really is…. From getting the baby’s latch just right to the the time required to breast feed to keeping the pump clean to those god-awful nursing bras - there sure are a lot of hoops to jump through just to get your baby fed. Having said that, I know it is worth it.
I forgot how delicious brand-new babies smell. I forgot how tiny brand-new baby nails are. I forgot how often new born babies hiccup. I forgot how many hours can be spent just staring at this tiny human.
But more than anything
I forgot how much life something so little can bring into a home!
2 home cooked meals & a much needed night of sleep
We asked Henry to be Felix’s god-father and let’s just say…one week in and already he is dominating his new role. On Saturday night, Hen and his super-cute, baby-whispering, GF brought us over dinner.
Watching my baby bro walk in our house with bags of Whole Foods groceries (+ a bundle of sunflowers peeking out the top) warmed my exhausted little heart to it’s core.
On the menu: Grilled Chicken over a high class Caesar Salad (I say high class because they splurged on those Parmesan crisps in lieu of croutons and brought some artisanal focaccia that seduced me into having seconds)
They poured our drinks and held our baby and helped give Hazel her bedtime bath.
But my favorite part of their visit, was without question their company. Cool kids… Er, cool adults.
Mom called: Lasagna will be ready at 1. If you are looking for an outing, you can walk here…otherwise, I am happy to bring it over.
Far be it for us to miss an opportunity to let Hazel play with her very best friend (Ted the dog), so we made our way the 3 blocks to my p’s apartment.
A very good choice.
While Mama A. cuddled Fee, Papa wrestled the other two critters (the dog & the toddler) Simon watched some football. I enjoyed a little bit of quiet….and two free arms.
Then Hazel did her first somersault, which sent the whole place up for grabs.
We grabbed a slice of caramel apple for our walk home. It was a wonderful afternoon.
Much Needed Night of Sleep
I forgot how taxing the sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn baby can be.
It is painful.
I am so lucky that Simon and I have been tag-teaming her middle of the night feedings, but by last night…I felt like even my skin was tired (do you ever get that sensation?)
So at 8:00 I climbed into bed. No dinner. No episodes of Breaking Bad. I just needed sleep!
Simon took Felix for some quality time downstairs so I could get 5 hours of uninterrupted rest before her 1 am feeding! 5 hours people!
She was up once more at 4 am… but ate fast and went back to her bassinet without much protest and then the H-family house didn’t stir again until 7 am.
For those keeping track - that is 8 hours of sleep for this Mama. Miracles abound!
I feel like a million bucks… Well, maybe not a million, but several hundred thousand at least.