Friday, December 15, 2006

Reversing Trend, Big Drop Is Seen in Breast Cancer - New York Times

What great news. According to this article in the New York Times, the most common form of breast cancer dropped 15% from August 2002 to December 2003. And overall, all breast cancer types dropped by 7%.

Hopefully this trend will continue!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Out of the mouths...

Emma is starting to string words together. Her first combination is "Mor arbejder" ( "Mommy works" or "Mommy's going to work") and "Mor bye-bye". While I'm very happy she seems to be developing nicely, this word combination is not making me happy! For one, I really, really want her to call me Mommy instead of Mor, which she just won't do. Do I have to even point out the amazing amount of guilt attached to the other aspect of her saying how much I work, and how much I leave her? Harsh.

Oh well. Off to work...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Just try it, you'll like it

Giving away TV shows is a little mean. At least for someone who doesn't get American TV. I just watched "Battlestar Galactica: The Story So Far", downloaded for free from iTunes. Yet another show to follow online since I won't see it here in Denmark.

I was such a fan of the 1978 series. Richard Hatch especially was that non threatening boy-man type that pre-adolescent girls find so appealing. I had seen the show when iTunes launched TV shows, but just assumed it was cheesy in a current way (as opposed to a 70s way). But it looks great. So, another U.S. TV show to add to Desperate Housewives, Lost and Gilmore Girls.

The thing is, if I was living in the States, I'd flip through my hundreds of channels say moan that nothing's on...

Fertility Help

So, I saw a specialist today. We're trying the least agressive method possible, all I have to do is take some hormone pills for 4 days a month. The doctor warned me that the pills could make my stomach hurt. Why do I think that's an understatement? If I'm not already pregnant (that would be ironic), I'll start the pills in about two weeks.

A Wii Workout: When Videogames Hurt -

Poor gamers. According to The Wall Street Journal's story A Wii Workout: When Videogames Hurt the sedentary are getting more than they bargained for with Nintendo's Wii.

A spokeswoman from Nintendo, says the company hasn't received complaints from any gamers about soreness. "It was not meant to be a Jenny Craig supplement," she says. "If people are finding themselves sore, they may need to exercise more."

But, hey, maybe it could be a way for a stressed out, low energy mother of the 19 month old to actually get exercise. Santa, all I want for Christmas a Wii (and to lose 20lbs)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sick of the Smoke

Denmark is finally cracking down on smoking in public places. According to this article in the Jyllands-Posten the Danish public is all for it.
Starting on 1 April next year, all public buildings must be smoke-free. The poll showed that 73 percent of the population, and a surprising 69 percent of smokers, supported the measures.

I heard about the new laws on Friday, sitting in a restaurant feeling sick to my stomach from the smell of smoke... This summer we can go to cafes with our two year old and not worry about smoking blowing smoke in her face. I'm very excited.

Well, if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere!

Friday, November 17, 2006

ChezLeah back up!

In case anyone noticed, ChezLeah took a little vacation... I have no idea how I managed to miss renewing my URL, but I did. Buying and renewing URLs seem to be a theme these days. I'm dealing with a mess of country URLs for work and registering URLs for a friend's web site. Network solutions and I are best friends these days!

But I'm so happy to be back, I'm actually going to try and blog more!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Denmark as a Brand

The Copenhagen Post has a story about the minister of economic affairs using a major marketing campaign to promote Denmark as a brand. The story says,

"Funding will also be available to study how Denmark is perceived abroad."

I could save them some money... Americans think Denmark is the capital of Sweden where everyone speaks Dutch.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The family-friendliest company

LEGO in Enfield, CT has made Working Mother Magazine's 100 Best Companies to work for in 2006.

Another incentive to try to stay with LEGO when we're ready to move back to the states.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Parent's put their careers on hold

There's an interesting article in the Copenhagen Post about parents putting their careers on hold until their children are teenagers. I wonder if the U.S. is facing the same issues.

Lars and I are extremely lucky to work for a company that takes family so seriously. But it does make me nervous when we talk about the moving the U.S. I hear from friends and family about the lack of flexibility in the workplace and the hours a salaried employee is expected to work. I had no problems working 50-60 hours a week before Emma, but I just won't do it now. Spending time with my daughter is more important, no matter how ambitious I am.

Pacifer at 16 months?

Suddenly, one day, Emma started freaking out when seeing a pacifer.

"Den der" (that there in Danish) she yelled. "Den der, den der, DEN DER" as she melted into tears pointing furiously at the pacifer.

So, we've been giving her pacifers. She would have nothing to do with them before this. When I was breastfeeding and would have given anything not to be used as a human pacifer, she turned up her nose. Yesterday, she tried to fit two into her mouth at the same time.

Here I thought we had by passed the pacifer weaning quite nicely. Oh well.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


I'm finally on holiday, and have spent the past four days away from all communication devices and work, just focusing on my family, resting and recharging. Lars, Emma and I have spent the past couple of days at the in-laws (Lars' parents), watching Emma light up around her Farmor and Farfar.

The five of us went to Egeskov Castle, which apparently Lars has told me about before but I had no idea it was such a great place. They have a petting zoo, a great (huge) playground and Lars and I went "Tree top walking" (where I took the picture). We didn't spend that much time there, Emma got tired and cranky, but it was great and we will definitely be going back (we bought a season pass).

The great and unexpected Danish summer has given way to the typical cold and rainy weather but I don't really care. I've been so burnt out and overwhelmed at work I don't mind the excuse to stay inside and get a little extra sleep. Emma, however, is part duck. She was suited up in her rain gear today and just giggled in the downpour. My little Viking baby...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I’m Mel Gibson and I don’t hate Jews. I actually said "I Hate Juice"

What a funny little site to stumble on. I'm trying desperately to tie up loose ends at work and actually have a vacation RIGHT NOW... but this site was good enough to take a minute out of my regularly scheduled program and blog about.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Depressing smoking news

The Jyllands-Posten has an article about Danes' smoking habits. According to the article:

Costly anti-smoking campaigns have had little effect on Danes. Sale of tobacco products have risen by 12 percent over the last few years sales, according to the Scandinavian Tobacco Company (ST).

I had started to get optimistic about Europe's anti-smoking laws. Ireland, England & Sweden are some of the front runners, banning smoking in public places including restaurants.

Smokers 'only' use DKK 11.5 billion a year on tobacco, but it costs the public health system DKK 27 billion to treat patients with smoking-related illnesses.

It's good to know that a good chunk of these outrageous taxes I pay here go to covering the costs for people too stupid to stop a vile habit that kills them and the people around them. I guess I'll have to put up with smokers blowing smoke at my baby (I'm not lying) in restaurants for a little longer. Grr.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Danish Summer

There's an article in the The Copenhagen Post about all the warm weather we are having this year (it's been glorious, despite the lack of air conditioning).

Everyone seems to be speculating whether or not this here to stay:
"'It's too early to say if we will continue to have these types of summers that go along with global warming,' said Stig Rosenørn, meteorologist with Denmark's Meteorological Institute (DMI) 'The warm weather here at home has lasted just over four weeks' time, and it has done that several times over the course of the last 100 years.'"

This has been the sunniest, warmest summer in the four years that I've been living in Denmark. I have my fingers crossed that this is the way summers will be from now on. The winters could warm up a bit as well...

With all this great weather, I've been riding my bike to work almost everyday. It makes the move to tiny Billund worth it, just for that. We've also been taking Emma to LEGOLAND (pictured above) a lot. She loves just loves Duploland!

Monday, June 19, 2006

She walked!

Emma took her first steps yesterday! Twice she walked without holding on to our hands and took a tentative step or two. How exciting!

Friday, June 16, 2006

The rabbit still lives

I was having imagined pregnancy symptoms... they certainly weren't real.

Father's Day

Well, Lars is college educated, so according to this study, Education Linked to Better Fathers, he should be a good father. But he's an AMAZING father, as is evidenced by Emma's absolute adoration of him.

With Father's Day coming up, I wanted to give props to the best father (and husband) I know.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Svendborg Nazis

I can't find any English news about the Neo-Nazi demonstration in Svendborg that we encountered on Saturday evening. We were on our way to the movies, and the demonstration was starting right next to the theater as we arrived.

Between the gorgeous weather and the Nazis, we had the entire theater to ourselves to watch The DaVinci Code. Or was it because it was a thoroughly mediocre movie? The only good thing about it was Paul Bettany's performance. I'd like to see the movie he thought he was in...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Boxes Everywhere

So, we're officially Billundites. The move went as smoothly as can be expected and we've survived our first week of the new daycare. Lars even rode his bike to work a couple of times this week! I have yet to dig mine out of the shed...

The house is quite nice and we are so looking foward to finally getting unpacked. At the moment, our two extra rooms are just storage containers for the many boxes of stuff we don't quite know what to do with.

Our neighbors came over and gave us flowers the other evening. It's funny, I expected less people to speak English in a smaller town, but it seems like more do. Our new daycare mother speaks it fluently as well as our new neighbors.

We get phone and internet next week, so more blogging then!

The waiting the hardest part. I'll know by next week if I'm pregnant again and despite all the mental energy I spend on trying to decipher potential pregnancy symptoms, nothing will make me know any sooner. At the moment I don't know if I can stand another six months (or longer) of this, just to live in terror for the first 3 months of another miscarriage. But as discouraged as I feel right now, I still feel like it's my destiny to have another child.

I guess I can hold on for another 3 days...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Unfortunate baby names

So, the genetic blessed Shiloh Nouvel Pitt-Jolie is not so nominal blessed... What is it with celebrity and unfortunate baby names?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

For Moms, there's no place like Denmark

According to the The Copenhagen Post, Denmark was second only to Sweden in the Save the Children's annual "State of the World's Mothers" report.

According to Save the Children, the disparity between the best countries and the worst was bleak: a woman in Scandinavia is 750 times more likely to survive childbirth than in some African countries. Infant mortality rates were 28 times lower.

I'm still feeling lucky...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Infants Mortality

I find this article, "Infants Dying for Lack of Basics" in the New York Times hearbreaking. I think an unexpected side effect of Emma's birth is how lucky I feel. We are so incredibly lucky to live in Western Europe, or eventually the U.S. I think the events of last month added to the that feeling... I am so lucky to have such a lovely healthy baby.

Unacceptable weight loss

Ugh! Don't tell me my body's fat-thermostat is stuck on post baby!!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fart Idiot

Okay, perhaps I'm not as mature as I should be. But a few years ago when a Danish newspaper had the huge headline "Fart Idiot!" to describe a crazy high speed traffic incident (fart means speed in Danish), I laughed until I cried. (They said "fart"! ha!)

I think Danish drivers are terrible. My last trip to the states, I drove from Enfield, CT to NYC and I swear the NYC cab drivers are better drivers than the average Dane. Apparently this also goes for the Danish National Police chief too, who was caught on videotape breaking the speed limit by more than 50km (30 miles) per hour.

Ha, ha! Fart Idiot!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Miscarriage con't

This really dragged on. I guess I should have had the D&C when I first miscarried, but I thought my body would take care of it. Instead, I spent Friday and Saturday in the hospital. First they tried to use medication and when that didn't work, they performed a D&C.

It's over now, and I finally feel like I'll recover. I've had a hard time talking about this... I've felt like my heart was in my throat and if I tried to talk I just cried. But even now, as I start to feel better, I wonder what there is to say. I have no words on hand to describe the loss, and I don't have the energy to try to find them. It's just time to move on.

Friday, April 14, 2006


One in five pregnancies end this way. And the odds go up when you hit 40, increasing to 35%. I shouldn't be surprised that it happened to me. The fact that I was so shocked feels a little like hubris.

I knew something was wrong because I had no morning sickness. I told myself, "this is just an easy pregnancy" ignoring the fact that I knew for a fact that nothing was going to be easier at 40. But I still saw my doctor, expecting a firm reassurance. Instead, she ordered blood work and a scan. I think it was the one time I wanted her to not take me seriously. "Oh, you have nothing to worry about" was what I expecting to hear. Not the "it doesn't sound good" that she actually said.

Despite the cramps I had on Monday, the excruciating backache and not being able to sleep, Lars and I showed up at the scan Tuesday morning fully expecting to see a little heartbeat. We didn't. At eight weeks, the fetus was just the size of 4 or 5 weeks. "Are you sure you have the dates right?" asked the midwife. "There's no doubt" I said. "I'm sorry" she said. And we both broke down.

I went to the emergency room and had more blood work and another scan. We were sent home and told to call Wednesday morning for the results of the blood work. I woke up Wednesday morning already knowning the answer. I had started bleeding.

I went to the hospital to have a D&C, but just as the nurse came to get me, my body aborted the fetus. I was given meds and sent home. I took one dose of the meds and got a hive, so I stopped taking them. The last thing I need now is an allergic reaction. Today I feel fine physically... nothing more than a normal menstrual period. Emotionally I'm better off than I expected. The one strange emotional side effect has been a relunctance to be around Emma. I hadn't expected feeling resentment that I couldn't really have time to grieve. Lars has been great--very supportive and picking up all the slack. I think all I need is just a little time... and maybe a little more time to myself.

This experience has definitely shown us how much we want another child. That's one of the things that's keeping me going. It'll work next time... or the time after. I know I've got at least one good egg left.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

End of May

It's been a while since my last blog. Things have been really busy with selling the house, buying a new house in Billund (pictured above) and a week long business trip to the U.S. thrown in for good measure. We found a great house in an area where all of the houses are from the mid to late 90s. Our new house was built in 1996, then modified in 2004 with an add on. We're gaining almost 50 square meters more and there isn't much work to do when we move in, just some painting. What I like the best about it is the two huge (by Danish standards) bedrooms, it has a great bathroom and a lovely garden.

Now we only have about 6 weeks to move in!

Great pancake recipe

My friend Vikki made these pancakes for a baby shower and they were great. I met Vikki in the hospital; she had a baby boy a few days after I had Emma. Apparently her 11 month old son and her 3 year old daughter loves pancakes.

Golden-Nugget Oatmeal Flapjacks

Makes about 48 silver-dollar sized pancakes

1 cup whole milk
¼ cup apple juice concentrate (I just use ¼ - ½ cup regular apple juice)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
1 cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup wheat germ (hvedekim)
2 ½ teaspoons low-sodium baking powder
¼ cup non-fat dry milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
½ cup dried apricots, finely chopped
Vegetable cooking spray

1.) Beat the whole milk, juice concentrate, butter, egg and egg whites together in a large bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients through the vanilla (or cinnamon if using) and beat just until smooth. Fold in chopped apricots.
2.) Spray a skillet or griddle with vegetable cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat until very hot. Reduce the heat to medium and spoon batter to make 2-inch pancakes. When the surface of the pancakes begins to bubble and the bottoms are nicely browned, about 2 minutes, turn and brown and the other side, about 1 minute more.

Best Odds Toddler Servings in four 2-inch pancakes: 2/3 whole grain: ½ protein, some calcium, 1/6 Fat.

Monday, March 27, 2006

What every baby needs to thrive

It's common sense, but it's really, really good to be reminded of these things in this BabyCenter article What every baby needs to thrive:
Hug, touch, smile, encourage, listen to, and play with your little one whenever you can. It's also important to answer his cries immediately, especially in the first six months or so, when experts say it's impossible to spoil a child. In fact, responding to your baby when he's upset (as well as when he's happy) helps you build trust and a strong emotional bond.
I'm leaving today for a week long business trip, the first one since Emma has been born. It's going to be a long week without all those hugs and smiles.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dreams for my daughter

I don't know how every conversation I have at work ends up incorporating my daughter... well... ok, I have a clue. Yesterday morning, in one of these conversations, I mentioned that I'm not a natural disciplinarian. My overriding attitude in general is, "hey, if it's good for you". But she won't know what's good for her if I don't teach her how to know. My goal is to teach my daughter to be a fully functioning adult--to know how to take care of herself and others, to know how to make hard decisions, to be confident in her ability to navigate in the world.

It seems obvious. I'm sure that what every parent wants for their children. But it really sank in when I said it outloud. That's why I'm documenting it. I want to keep it in the front of mind when I'm faced with a screaming toddler, or a screaming teenager. How will the decisions I make about my daughter help ensure she has all the tools she needs when she goes out into the world?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Thin Pink Line

Yep, that's a pregnancy test! I took it Friday morning. The instructions say that even if the line is faint, it's still positive. Just to be sure, I took another one today. Same results (darker line)!

According to's online pregnancy calculator, my due date is November 18th. I go to the doctor on Thursday, so I'll see if she agrees.

So, I am in my 5th week. It hasn't sunk in yet... I've wanted this so much for the past 6 months and I thought I would be giddy (I was when I found out about being pregnant with Emma). My giddiness has been tempered with a "oh my god, what have I done?" feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's going to be an interesting 9 months! Oh wait, I'm getting giddy again! Whew-hoo!!!

So, I'm starting this pregnancy 5 kilos heavier than the last one at 75 kilos (hey, I'm 5' 10", it's not that bad!). I'm trying not to think of this time as the food free for all that it was last time. I haven't had the debilitating morning sickness yet, and although my back, ankles and hips already hurt, I still feel pretty spry.

So... here we go!

Why Billund?

First I move from Brooklyn, population 2.5 million, to Kolding, population 63,583,and now we're moving to Billund, population 8,697... where to next?! Is there ANYWHERE less populated than Billund?

So, why you ask? Billund is where the LEGO offices and the LEGOLAND theme park are located. Kolding is about 40 km away from Billund, and since Emma was born Lars and I drive separately work everyday. Her daycare "mother" is only open until 4:15, and to get there on time to pick her up one of us has to leave work at 3:00. We've been taking turns working from 7-3 and 8-4 (depending on who has late meetings or conference calls). Luckily, LEGO is an incredibily family friendly company and no one has a problem with working around this schedule (provided our work gets done). But it's wearing on us.

There is nowhere in Billund that isn't a 15 minute drive to LEGO. We'll sell one of our cars and have an hour and a half more a day to spend with our little daughter. If we have some sunny days this summer, one of us could even drop her off and go to work on our bike.

The second busiest airport in Denmark is in Billund, with direct flights to London, Paris, Amsterdam, etc. -- which will be handy for vacations. We'll also be visting Lars' parents on many week-ends... and we're hoping that it's somewhat temporary. We still have our five (or is it four now?) year plan to move to the U.S. But in the meantime, we'll have more time with Emma and less stress in general.

Okay, who am I trying to convince?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Danish politics... ??

I wanted to write something after reading this article on how non ethic Danes favor the opposition parties, but realized I had no idea how the Danish government works... or what the article actually means.

My husband sent me to Official website of Denmark - Government & Politics page:

"The political system of Denmark is a multi-party structure, where several parties are represented in the Parliament. Danish governments are most often minority administrations, governing with the aid of one or more supporting parties. This means that Danish politics are characterised by inter-party compromising. Since 1909 no single party has had the majority of parliamentary seats."

No single party has had the majority of parliment since 1909? That's very hard to fathom as an American. I'll have to read the entire web site before trying to blog about Danish politics again!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

And so it begins...

How long since has Alito has been appointed? South Dakota see it's chance and is passing a law to ban abortions.

"I think the stars are aligned," said House Speaker Matthew Michels, a Republican. "Simply put, now is the time."

I'm so sad and disappointed I don't what else to say.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Really? This tired?

I've heard for years how hard it was to be a working mother and how tired new parents are. But, is this for real? Is it ever going to end? I thought when she slept through the night it would get better. It's really not.

This morning she woke up at 4 am, and none of us could get back to sleep before we had to get up at 5:30. During breakfast, she poked me in the eye and it really hurt (no, really). So now I'm at work, having trouble keeping my injured eye open.

Luckily, this is my last day at work before a two week vacation. Whew-hoo! Not only do I get to spend lots of time with Emma (and Lars), I'll get to nap. It's so sad that I'm more excited about taking naps than going to Copenhagen this week-end to see Depeche Mode. Well, not really. Since it's an Emma-less overnight trip, I'll get to sleep in on Sunday! Yay!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Gender Roles

Apparently immigrant men in Denmark are encroaching on "traditional" women's vocations. What I find amusing is the fact that Danes believe they are not sexist. Maybe you don't find it as much in Copenhagen, but in the boys' club that is LEGO, it is rampant. I often feel like I have two great big strikes against me in this company--I'm American and I'm a woman. I don't know which irks me more.

Okay, rant about work... The company language of LEGO is supposedly English. However, all the signage in the office is in Danish. I lost a bunch of money in the vending machine the other day because I couldn't read how to use it (vending machine should be easy, right?!). I had quite a hard time changing my outgoing voice mail message because all the prompts are in Danish. Any email I get from HR is in Danish. I am constantly asking people in meetings to please speak English... I know I've been here a long time but I've been trying to learn Danish since before I left NYC and I still can't understand a meeting if it's in Danish. Grr.

Back to the article:

"The untraditional career choice could give bonuses in the form of career advancement. Men in women-dominated professions experience an elevator effect. Managers believe they should be transported through the system."

Does that strike anyone else as wrong?!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Why THOSE cartoon were published

An interesting article from Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published the cartoons that started all this hub-bub. It's written by the editor who commissioned the satirical drawings.

"Has Jyllands-Posten insulted and disrespected Islam? It certainly didn't intend to. But what does respect mean? When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy."

Friday, February 17, 2006

Winter Colds

This past week-end, Emma had a bad cold. She was coughing so hard she threw up. I freaked out. I took her to a week-end clinic to make sure she wasn't dying... what do I know? If I was coughing so hard I was throwing up, I would be convinced I was dying.

Lars was in Germany and I would have been all alone when this happened if my friend Kelli hadn't come by. She remained calm in the face of my freak out ("Oh no, oh no, what DO I DO?!") and made the clinic appointment for me in Danish. I'm sure they would have understood my panicked English, but it was nice to have someone to help (Kelli is an American also living in Kolding but she can actually converse in Danish, unlike me). has a good article on treating colds. Thank god for Infants' Tylenol, it was the only way either one of us got any sleep. She's much better now, but has a lingering cough which will probably stick around until May.

D'oh! LEGO NEWS goes here

This is what happens when "Blog this" falls into the wrong hands. I posted this on Babyitis by mistake.

Good news for the Kaae family and LEGO. The company announced its earnings this week and it looks like this LEGO dependent household will be just fine this year.

You know, it does feel like LEGO is getting back on track after a couple of hard years. Some pretty big organizational changes were announced yesterday which (for a real change) could be... good.

Maybe this blog won't have as much bitching about work as I thought it might (fingers crossed). Wow, what a weird feeling... is this what they call "optimism"?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bad Dane

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen has been cast as the baddie in the new James Bond flick. He's refered to as a "heart-throb" in the the Copenhagen Post article. Heart-throb? Really? I mean, I'm a fan of Danish men (okay, well one Danish man in particular) but, really? Granted he looks kinda hunky in this picture... but this is the actor I refer to as "Mr. Fish Mouth". Personally I just can't get behind "heart-throb".

After watching him in some painful Dogma movies, such as Elsker dig for evigt (a real, "slit my wrists now" movie) I'm sure he'll be a great villian.

A cup of coffee and a Rose of the Prophet Mohammad, please

Now this is the way to protest! I think it's very effective, considering the only thing most people know about Denmark is Danish pastries. Wait, maybe that's not even true, given the amount of people who asked me if I was learning Dutch...Danish, Dutch, same dif, right?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Breastfeeding Tips

I had this idea that since breastfeeding is what nature intended that it would be easy. It. Really. Isn't. The first 2-3 weeks hurt like a motherf*cker. I was completely miserable, dealing with thrush, mastitis (twice) and bleeding nipples. But at about 3 weeks or so, everything clicked into place (although I did have another bout of mastitis later) and was great. No making formula, no carrying bottles, it's the best thing for your baby and the bonding that happens during breastfeeding is simply amazing.

I just weaned Emma completely about 3-4 weeks ago, only because I'd like to have another baby. At 40 that ain't gonna happen while I'm nursing, even if I was down to only one time a day. But I still miss it, much more than she does I think.

Here are some tips for nursing. I especially agree with the Lansinoh and the Boppy, both of which I had to import from the U.S. I've heard other places that starting with Lansinoh at the end of you pregnancy can help prevent some of the soreness. I'll be trying anything and everything next time...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Oops! Sorry Guy2K!

Yikes! The dangers of using "blogthis" at work the day after your 9 month old baby was up 4 times during the night... I mistakenly posted this to Guy2k, which is a much more serious and eloquent blog, where this post certainly didn't belong. (Because, as I mentioned, ChezLeah is all about ME)

I wish I could have written my opinion about the Danish Mohammed cartoons as eloquently as Jeff Jacoby did on

The only thing I disagree with is the statement that Christians don't act like Muslims... Fundamentalist Christians are just as dangerous as these radical Muslims and scare me just as much.

I know my original blog on this topic made me sound like a Republican... or worse. No, I haven't gone over to the dark side. As an immigrant in Denmark, I am subject to the same conservative (and frustrating) policies as everyone else--policies Guy2k refers to in his comment to my post, and which I'm sure I will rant about on this blog in the months to come. I know I am in a better position than most immigrants here because I was relocated by work (not only work, LEGO, the nation's darling company) and now I'm married to a Dane and I have produced a new citizen for both countries.

I don't think every Muslim has a bomb strapped to their chest. It's just that I was unprepared for the constant barrage of violent images in the media here and what it would do to my fragile post 9/11 psyche.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Much ado about nothing

I am so angry and outraged about the reaction to these Danish cartoons. It's hard to write anything coherent about protests and violence that they have sparked. Having been in Brooklyn during 9/11, it's hard to be rational about the possibility of terrorism in Denmark, which given the response could be just a matter of time.

It seems to me that the Muslim community wants to terrorize the citizens of the world so any government that values personal freedom will become as oppressive as those in the middle east. What's next? Threatening violence if western women don't adopt veils because not wearing them "offends" Muslims? Hearing violent threats because of a tasteless cartoon greatly offends me... what should I do about it? Start attacking an embassy?

What I want to know is how to do live side by side with people you're afraid of? There's quite a Muslim population living in Kolding right now. How do I stop being scared of that man on the bus? How do I be friendly, nice and non judgmental--the person I want to be-- when all I see and hear is unwarranted violence?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Love IS a drug

I love (ha!) this story on According to this article, when you hold, nurse or rock your baby both you and the baby get a rush of dopamine. "Incidentally, dopamine is the same compound that 'rewards' users of heroin or cocaine. In a very real sense, addicts who get hooked on drugs are simply chasing the feeling that flows between a mother and her baby."

I guess it explains the sensation I've had of just swimming in love when I'm holding Emma. I gush to my childless friends that I just didn't know--I couldn't have known what it would be like to have a baby. I recently had a coworker remark that I've embraced motherhood in a way that was inconceivable when I was a tough, single 30-something career woman in NYC Mmm, was I that much a stereotype? Am I now? Who cares! I'm drowning in love hormones and I like it!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Taking back ChezLeah

Okay, I've set up to focus on my (beautiful) daughter. You can also get there by going to So that is where you will find all the latest pictures and updates on her development and general news about the Kolding branch of the Kaae family. is going back to it's roots, which is me... and my rants and raves on my adopted country, Denmark. Of course there will be the occasional rant about spam, cell phones and the general rudeness of people. I'm sure some U.S. politics will creep in once in awhile (Alito? What are you thinking people?!) and maybe a post or two about work that could concievable get me fired. In short, whatever is on my mind these days.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I haven't blogged lately because I've been more tired than I've ever been in my life. I've heard the plight of working parents for years but I never KNEW. Work is so busy (and surprisingly interesting), Emma is cutting new teeth (hence, not sleeping) and I am tired, crabby, overeating and about to fall asleep at my desk.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Pull Up the Covers, Your Cellphone Is Ringing - New York Times

It sounds like Stephen King has the right idea.

His latest book, Cell sounds like a must read for me. Not that I hate cellphones, I have... um, two, actually... but I would like to be the person who could control a pulse that emanates from a cellphone and controls the person's behavior. I wouldn't use it for evil though. It would just be a little jolt of pain when someone was being rude on their phone... okay, back to reality (and work).

Monday, January 23, 2006

Mobile phones: The end of society as we know it

Wired News: How to Squelch Your Inner Jackass is a very satisfying rant about mobile phones and how to use them. As I write this, I have someone standing next to my desk having a loud mobile phone conversation in Danish (to add insult to injury, I can't even earjack!). Grr.

Here is the list of "niceties" the author suggests. I actually disagree with the one about the ringtones. The theme to Alias may be inane, but it makes me feel like a secret agent.
  • Don't use your phone in obvious situations where your one-sided conversation can only be disruptive: at the movies, at a concert, in a public auditorium, on an elevator, in a crowded waiting room, etc. I would add city buses to the list, but those are already rolling prison yards for the most part. Use your phone if you must, but use at your own peril.
  • If you're in the middle of a face-to-face conversation with someone, don't take a phone call. It's disrespectful. You can go on the theory that if the incoming call is important enough, the caller will leave you a message. You can then return said call at a more convenient moment, and nobody is offended.
  • If you're expecting an important call and somebody stops by to chat you up, let your buddy know that you might have to take a call. That's fair.
  • Ditch the ring tone and put the phone on vibrate. The only person who cares about an incoming call on your phone is you. Don't worry, you'll feel it. (It feels go-o-o-od.) Most ring tones are not only intrusive, they're inane.
  • Don't have emotional phone conversations in my face. In other words, don't break up with your boyfriend publicly. (Besides, we can't see him and being able to see his reaction is half the fun.) Wait until you get home and then toss his sorry ass out the door.
  • Don't talk on the phone while you're grocery shopping. For whatever reason, the acoustics of a shopping aisle seem to amplify your voice. Also, talking on the phone tends to distract you from what's going on in your immediate vicinity and I need to get around you to reach the Cocoa Puffs.
  • When you're in my cafe, turn off your phone and don't use it at all.
  • Personal note to my son: Using part of a rap song as a voicemail greeting, where the only intelligible words are "bitch" and "fuckah," is not a felicitous way of welcoming an incoming caller. While your friends may find this the height of wit, your employer and professors and parole officer almost certainly will not.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Personal Choice

Today is the 33rd anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade and I've signed up to blog for choice. I've been thinking for the past week about what to write, and I decided to get personal. I've been pregnant three times in my life and I made three different choices.

The first time was when I was 19 and a freshman in college. I came very close to having an abortion, but my mother talked me out of it. Before the baby was born, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Shortly after the birth, she died. Without the support of my mother I felt I couldn't raise a child and I gave him up for adoption. That was the hardest and most painful decision of my life.

Two years later, when I was 21 and engaged to be married, I found out I was pregnant again. I think on some level I knew what a horrible mistake I was making to marry that man. I just knew that neither he nor I were ready for a child. He was very excited about the news and we fought bitterly about my decision to terminate the pregnancy. The marriage ended badly a year later and I have never second guessed the choice I made to have that abortion. I know I did the right thing.

Now I'm 40, married to the love of my life and have the most beautiful 8 month baby. I am blessed to have this family. But I wouldn't be here if I hadn't made the choices I've made in my life. Personally, I can't think of anything worse than feeling like you're in a situation where you don't have a choice.

One of the great things about Denmark is that I don't hear about "Pro-Life" here. This is the most family oriented place I've ever seen, yet no one questions that a woman can choose what she wants to do with her body. Choosing a name for your baby is more restricted than deciding whether or not to have that baby!

Don't let the choice be taken away in America! This is an ongoing fight that has to be taken. Sign petitions at Planned Parenthood and Campus Progress. See how else you can get involved at Planned Parenthood. Read more about the issue at Guy2K and capitolette, who has also blogged for choice.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Royal baby

The TV here has been taken over by the live broadcase of little 3 month old Prince Christian's baptism. The little prince was born on October 15, 2005, but this is first time that his name was announced. This is not entirely uncommon here in Denmark, and I find it a little strange... for example, I knew what we were calling Emma from the time we found out it was a girl (because she's named after my late mother) but they wouldn't refer to as another other than Kaae, Pige (girl) in the hospital.

Baptisms are a big deal here in Denmark. Emma didn't have one because I felt that it would be hypocritical on my part, but we still had to register her birth with the church. We also pay a parish tax... I find this hard to accept as an American... Yet another thing (but certainly not the last thing) that's hard to accept is only first names approved by the government can be used. This is a quote from the Information for new members of Danish society web site:

"You are not allowed to give your children a first name that could be to their disadvance and expose them to teasing by others. The Danish Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs (Kirkeministeriet) has published an official circular listing all the approved names. The list can be downloaded from the Ministry’s homepage.You must apply to the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs (via your parish office) for permission to give your child a name not included in the circular."

This is why everyone has the same name in Denmark... but there is a stipulation which could be helpful, considering a number of names on the top 100 baby names in the U.S. are not allowed in Denmark:

"Any parent who is or has been a subject of another country is entitled to give his or her child a name that is not approved in Denmark, provided that it is a common first name in the home country of one or both of the parents."

"Subject of another country" "Crown prince" "parish tax"... I'm not in Kansas anymore...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Easing the guilt

Another great idea by working mothers. Why not have office space at the day care? That's exactly what they'll be doing in Copenhagen. (Mathilde and Magnus?! Mmm)

You would think in this family friendly country I live that the family friendly (toy) company my husband and I work for would have day care on premise. They do in their U.S. offices, but not here. Instead we're looking to move to the little podunk town where the company is located. I guess it doesn't really matter... the population of this entire country is less than the city (NYC) I moved here from...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Definitely NOT

...Pregnant, that is. Again.

I was so ambivalent before getting pregnant with Emma. I went off the pill in August 2003. Of course for the first few months if I was an hour late I thought I was pregnant. But it died down. I think it was May when I started thinking, "shouldn't I be getting pregnant by now?" It was summer when I bought ovulation tests, and I ended up returning them because I found out I was pregnant at the end of August 2005. I had just started to think about it, so I was shocked. I took 3 pregnancy tests, thinking there had to be a mistake. Then the euphoria set in and it hasn't quite left.

At some point during my pregnancy I knew I wanted two children. And since I was 39 when I gave birth to Emma, I knew the second would have to follow closely. I talked about timing with my doctor and she suggested that we start trying again at 6 months. We stopped using birth control at 4 months... I was still breast feeding, but started using the ovulation tests. I had also heard that a woman is more fertile after giving birth. I was reading all these stories about women who accidentally got pregnant a few months after giving birth. I just found out one of the mothers in my mother's group is pregnant again last week... Without meaning to be... But she's not 40. Bitch.

Saying I want another child just doesn't do this feeling justice. I believe that it is my destiny to have another child. I am obsessed with having another child. I will be heartbroken in an epic way if I don't have another child...NOW.

So now I have another month of trying. I remember hearing a friend complain about this and thinking, lots of sex? Great! You'd think it would be fun, right? It just ends up being stressful.

This is exactly where I tried not to be: desperate to get pregnant. I know, if it doesn't happen I have a great, wonderful, beautiful daughter and I am blessed. But I know it's my destiny to have two wonderful, beautiful children. I just know it is.

Signs of a bad nanny or babysitter

BabyCenter has a good article listing signs of a bad nanny or babysitter. Luckily, Emma has a good day care mother (direct translation from Danish) that she is very fond of... in fact, sometimes too fond of, it sometimes makes me a little jealous. Like this morning, when Emma could care less that I was dropping her off for the day.

We manage to communicate well despite the fact that she doesn't speak English and my Danish skills are rubbish.

There's enough mommy guilt to be had without worrying about bad care givers.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Information on SIDS

When I was 19, my mother volunteered to babysit her friend's three small children for a week. It was the first vacation for the parents in many years and they jumped at the chance. The youngest child was a six month old baby named Jordan. I had less than no interest in babies at that point in my life and my mother thought she would remedy that by leaving me to care for Jordan at every possible chance. As beautiful six month old babies are wont to do, he won me over by the time the week was out.

A few weeks later, I'll never forget the date, on March 8, 1985, Jordan died of SIDS. I was devasted and I have been paranoid about SIDS ever since. I found a great post on Daddy*drama's blog about preventing SIDS which includes a great link to a really thorough Pediatrics article.

Emma is sleeping soundly right in her Sleep Sack, on her back, with no toys or pillows in her crib.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Nursing Tips

I see someone else had the same idea and posted some tips for nursing.

Baby Movie

Every Wednesday afternoon, the movie theater here in Kolding has a showing of a current movie specially for mothers with babies. They provide a changing table and microwave just outside the door so you can still see the movie while taking care of those basic needs. I went to a lot of these movies when I was on maternity leave and Emma was smaller. It was the easiest thing to have her sleep in my arms and breastfeed during the movie. I took last Wednesday off last week and went with one of the women in my mother's group (more about that in another post) and realized that Emma is a bit too big and curious for this to be a pleasant outing. The movies start at 11:30 which interrupts her long afternoon nap. At least I thought that's why she didn't sleep, but a tooth did appear on Thursday, so maybe that was why. It gets filed into the "I don't know why my baby did that" category.

I've seen articles about this gaining popularity in many American cities, so it's not just a European phenomenon. I loved it when Emma was very small, it was easy to take her and I got to get out of the house. I definitely plan on doing this again with the next one (more about that in another post).

Friday, January 13, 2006

Tooth #3

Emma just cut her third tooth. The first bottom two came at the beginning of October and although we repeatedly think she is teething this is the first sign of anything new. She is such an easy baby. I've heard horror stories about teething babies, but she had a day of being a little off and a night or two of restless sleep and it was done.

The odd thing is it's her top eye tooth, not the front tooth. Is that strange?

Ut oh. I just read the ADA's page on teething. We've been brushing Emma's two little teeth with toothpaste. I guess we should stop that...

Sunday, January 08, 2006


I am a product junkie, there is no doubt about that. The new focus of my mania for finding the newest and best (and most expensive) is the wonderful world of baby products, of course. Where are the cutest clothes? What are the best feeding accessories? What can I buy to make her sleep at night? I am constantly surfing the web for the latest and greatest from America and making my friends and family ship it to me (Thank you by the way).

This handy thing, the HandySitt, is actually made here in Denmark. Not just anywhere in Denmark even, but in Billund the small town where I work. We used this for the first time yesterday at my in-laws house and it is the best thing to travel with because of how flat it folds. It's very light and it hooks on to any normal chair. It's much better than lugging around our Ikea ANTILOP high chair, which is a great value by the way. It's under $20 (or 95 dkk) and I like it better than our fancy Tripp trapp (or KinderZeat)--at least right now.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Rice Porridge Recipe

Here are some recipes for homemade rice porridge, which you can start feeding your baby at 4 months. Of course, the standard advice is to wait to introduce solids until six months if you're breast feeding. But you'll know if your baby needs to eat.

"They" say that feeding a baby doesn't help her sleep through the night. All I can say is that my little angel stopped waking up every two hours when I started feeding her rice porridge during the day.

The thin porridge can be given in a bottle. I could never give this to Emma because she absolutely refused to take a bottle.

Thin Porridge (grød in Danish)
1 cup of water
2 tsp corn flour or rice flour
1 cup of formula or breast milk
-Let the flour and water boil for 1-2 min. Let cool to room temperature and add formula.

Regular Porridge (to feed with a spoon)
1/2 cup of formula or breast milk
1/2 cup of cold water
2 1/2 tbsp of corn or rice flour
1 tsp butter
-Bring the flour, formula and water boil and reduce heat. Cook for 2½ min and remove from heat. Add butter and let cool to room temperature.

The butter is actually quite important. I can't remember where I read that normal fat in a baby's diet helps their brain develop. Normal fat meaning a baby SHOULD NOT be on a low fat diet like the mommy who is trying to lose those last 10 lbs from pregnancy that just won't come off.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Big Babyitis

I'm here to add to the mountains of information that's on the web about babies. Not that I have all the answers, oh, goodness no. But having eight months of parent experience I think makes me an expert. Not just on the past eight months, I have plenty to say about the next 20 years.

I do spend a lot of time hunting for answers to my burning baby questions online--and only sometimes finding them. I read a few baby blogs as well, and sometimes can relate to them. I have a tendency to read American web sites and blogs, since I'm American... but I live in Denmark and that just opens a whole new can of baby worms.

My husband is Danish, and has Viking blood running through his veins. I'm no petite flower and we have produced a very large (and beautiful) baby girl named Emma who was born on May 1, 2005. I named her after my late mother but lucky us, it happens to be the number one baby name of 2005 according to BabyCenter's Top 100 names of 2005. Emma was 10lbs 3oz, or 4670 grams as they told me here in metric land (I hate doing math). According to my BabyWeekly newsletter, "At eight months old, babies usually range from 25.25 inches long and 15.25 pounds (10th percentile) to 28.5 inches long and 20.5 pounds (90th percentile)." Emma is 30.3 inches (77 centimeters) and 20.9 pounds (9.5 kilos). So what percentile is that? (I just said I hate doing math)

Needless to say, she eats a lot. This was the last day of our Christmas holiday from work and I spent almost the entire day making baby food. While I was on maternity leave, I made all the food we fed her and I can't bring myself to commit to buying baby food in jars. I have no idea why I'm like this. I'm not crunchy by any stretch of the imagination. I certainly have no crazy ideas about making her clothes or anything like that... but I keep making baby food. I also can't quite bring myself to wean her, but that's a whole other story for another blog...

So baby food recipes was one of the first things I looked for online and was disappointed. I just wanted to know how to make some rice porridge and stew some damn fruit and I couldn't find it anywhere. I finally realized that there are baby food recipes in the back of "What To Expect The First Year". I've moved on to the lentil stew and lentil casserole recipes today. We now have three ice cube trays of this grayish lentil and vegetable paste in our freezer. She seems to like it. She likes it better if I add a little cottage cheese to it. I don't know what I'm going to do as she gets older about food. I find the whole process of feeding her utterly baffling. What kind of nutrition does she need? How do I feed her without giving her the same hang ups about food I have?

Well, it's 8:30 p.m. on a school night, which I'm sorry to say is past my bedtime.


New pictures from Christmas as promised.

Click here to see the pictures.