Monday, April 13, 2015

Surprising Myself

There have been three times in life that I've really surprised myself.

The first was when I studied abroad in London for the first time, as a junior in college.  Two years prior, I scoffed at the idea, and even changed my initial major since a semester abroad was a requirement.  I was timid and risk averse and joined at the hip to my high school/college boyfriend, and living abroad was definitely not for me.  Then, after two years something made me change my mind.  I took the leap and spent a few months in London, and I haven't been the same person since. Not only did I return to live in London for two years, but travel became my passion, and it still is (even though I don't get out and about like I once did- that second trip to Vietnam will have to wait a decade or two).  The further out of my comfort zone I get, the better.  

The second was when I walked away from my law firm career.  I've written various blog posts about this, so I won't rehash what I've already said multiple times, but if someone would have told me during my law school days (or any other days, for that matter), that I would quit my job as an attorney to stay home with my kids - three BOYS no less, I would have laughed in their face.  I was as ambitious as one gets at one point in my life, and I had a stellar resume to prove it.  I was on a trajectory upward - getting off was not an option.  But yet, here I am - I got off and then some.  And I am embracing it, enjoying it, and not looking back.

And now, I'm experiencing another unexpected surprise in my life.  I'm embarrassed to admit what it is, because it's such a cliche.  

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Explosive Poops on Planes (and Related Netflix Entertainment)

I feel like I could write a novel about diaper mishaps, but I don't.  Because it's disgusting and boring and who really wants to read that?

And yet, here I am about to write a blog post about an explosive poopy diaper.  But I must. Because my story must be told.

Our family went to the Cayman Islands last week - our fourth visit there.  It was awesome and beautiful and perhaps in the near future I will post pictures.  But the trip down there with three kids was a bit brutal.

In order to save a bit of money, we opted to take connecting flights from DC to the Caymans.  It sounded like a great idea a few months before whilst searching for the best fare, but I was cursing myself when we arrived late to the Miami airport and had to book it across the terminal to make it to our next flight.  We barely had time to do anything, but I told my husband we HAD to change my son Colin's diaper before we boarded the next plane.  Because really, where does one change a diaper on the plane?  In the minuscule, disgusting airplane bathroom?  I'm not quite sure logistically how that would work, and I didn't want to learn.

I took the older boys to grab a quick snack, while my husband changed Colin's diaper, in our reclined stroller.  We reunited in the boarding line, where my husband said to me:  You know in the Crocodile Hunter where the crocodiles would roll all over violently when threatened?  That's what Colin just did while I was changing his diaper.  

I had to laugh.  Better him than me.  At least it was done.

We boarded the plane, and I hunkered in with Colin on my lap, who was flying as a lap child.  Just as the plane was about to take off, I smelled something.  I reached at the back of his pants to look in his diaper, and there it was.  Explosive and yellow and mushy and about to go up his back.  And a bit of it got on my forefinger.

I calmly wiped my finger with a napkin and turned to my husband across the aisle and told him that Colin needed his diaper changed asap.  But of course, we had to wait for the plane to take off and for the fasten seat belt sign to be turned off which took, all in, around 20 minutes, all of which were spent with me delicately holding Colin in awkward positions so the poop would not squeeze out of his diaper and up his shirt.  I used this fact as leverage in convincing my husband to be the one to do the dirty deed.

The plane reached cruising altitude, my husband took Colin to the bathroom, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  As I did so, I must have wiped my brow with my hand, because I noticed that my finger had left something wet on my head.

Yes, it's what you are thinking.  Poop.  On my forehead.

I scrambled to find another napkin, a bit confused as to how poop got back on my finger, and thus, on my head.  As I did so, I saw it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

To London and Back

I went to London this past weekend.

About fifteen years ago, when I lived in London, a weekend trip abroad wouldn't have been that out of the ordinary.  Travel back then was easy, frequent, and carefree.  It was what I loved most in the world, in fact.

Now, life is very different.  And so am I.

As a mom of three, travel is complicated, whether with or without kids.  Since this trip, precipitated by a conference my husband was attending, was going to be without kids, the childcare factor was the issue of the day.  And who knew that once we had that third child people wouldn't be jumping up and down to come and play mom for a few days?  After much stress, I ultimately secured a team of 3 to care for my 15 month old, 4 year old, and 6 year old, for four days.  The manifesto I left for all of them was 12 pages long.

Notwithstanding the complications, I was dead set on taking this trip.  I believe when my husband came home and told me about the conference, my response was: No way in hell are you going to London without me!  London is my city.  Having lived there for three years, I know its streets, its restaurants, its cheesy touristy bars, and a handful of incredibly awesome people that inhabit it. This may have been my husband's work trip, but it was my homecoming.  And I wouldn't miss it for anything.

I booked the ticket, did a little ankle click celebration, and then something weird happened.

I got scared.

I was actually scared to go through with this trip to London.  Which is preposterous on its face - I have been yearning for a trip away, and have been meaning to go to London forever.  But the kids....  what is it about leaving the kids that seems so unsettling?  I am not one of those parents that refuses to leave my children with babysitters, and my husband and I have taken weekend trips away before.  But the general notion of being far - very far - away was unnerving. The idea of them falling and needing a hug, or doing something incredibly cute, or waking at night crying - and I being so far away left me feeling anxious.

But that wasn't the whole picture.  The truth is, I wondered who I would be in London without them.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Five Netflix Documentaries That Make You Question Humanity

I know lists such as these are usually of the feel good type.  Aka, most romantic movies on Netflix, best movies to watch with your family over the holidays, best shows for kids, etc.  I've read such lists.  I've used such lists.  I've even written such lists.

But lately I've watched some really effed up stuff on Netflix that has made me (a la the title of this post) question humanity.  In the sense that the documentary credits roll, and I think to myself, What is wrong with people?  

The whole thing has me reflective in a weird way as I'm driving to do my preschool pick ups.  I find myself thinking things like:  Is the human race doomed to destroy itself?  Are we all solely driven by greed?  Are we all inherently violent?  What will become of me and my family and all of our offspring until the end of time?  What is time?  What will I make my family for dinner tonight?

I don't know.  I really have been in a good mood lately, so I'm not sure what the fixation is with the doom and gloom.  But if you for some reason, like me, want to watch some documentaries that really make you doubt the future of the human race, here they are:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Worst Time of Day. Everyday.

I didn't learn how to make pasta until my senior year in college.  And the first time I did, I was absolutely petrified to use the burner.

That's how much I know about cooking.  

This has never really posed a problem.  As a student, I used the dining halls, and became an expert in take out food.  As a young lawyer, I worked late and ordered in most nights (on the client's dime, of course).   On the weekends, I dined out and became a self proclaimed "foodie" (whatever that means).    And, lucky for me, my husband loves to cook.  I was always happy to encourage him. 

Then I had kids, and I breastfed them for the first 6 months of life, and that was all well and good. And then something happened that I never anticipated.  

They had to be fed.  Food, that is.  

Every.  Single.  Day.  Three.  Times.  A.  Day.  

This is literally - for me - the worst part of parenting.  I suppose it's a bit like working for the U.S. Postal Service.  Or being a toll booth collector.  Or working at a laundromat.   Because the work never ends.  Just when you are done with one meal, and you feel the slightest bit of satisfaction, it's ready for the next meal.  And then the next, and the next, and the next.  YOU ARE NEVER DONE. IT GOES ON FOREVER AND EVER.  

I hate every second of preparing, serving, and cleaning up after meals.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Six Years in the Making

The only time in my life that I regularly went to the gym was during my 18 month stint as an attorney at Skadden in New York.  Say what you want about Skadden, but it has a great gym, that happens to be onsite, complete with uniforms, classes, and trainers.  I would go almost every day, not so much to lose weight or get in shape, but to regain my sanity.  The gym served as my refuge whenever I needed a mental break.  I generally went in the early afternoon, and would then return to my desk to continue work and order dinner.

Then I left New York and moved to DC and started having babies.  And I hadn't entered another gym since.  

Until two weeks ago.  

On my first day back at the gym, I had a session with a personal trainer (complimentary for all new members).  Before we started our workout, she had me fill out a cheesy survey that asked about my eating habits, fitness level, and goals.  I told her my number one goal was to get some tone and build muscle.  

And how long have you had this goal?  

Six years.  I replied.  

I didn't think there was anything wrong with this response, but she looked visibly shocked.  She seemed to realize her response wasn't appropriate, so she gave me a nervous laugh and set the clipboard aside.  

I got defensive.  I have three kids!  Six and under!  I was pregnant for 27 months!  I was breastfeeding for 27 more!  I've been tired!  Really tired!  

She didn't care.  She was pushing 21 and probably thought I was a complete weirdo.  Okay, lady, that hasn't been able to tone a muscle in 6 years.  Just shut up and do a plank.  We did a 30 minute session and I couldn't walk for three days.  

Friday, January 30, 2015

Doggy on the TV (and Netflix)

We have a dog named Couscous.  I mean it when I say she is the most annoying dog ever.  She barks incessantly at anything that passes by our house (cars, birds, people, leaves).  She jumps all over anyone that dare enter our home.  She eats the kids' food off of the table and she chews up furniture and she once brought fleas into our house and I've never forgiven her for it.

But she does have one cool trick.  

She watches TV.  I mean, actually watches it.  When an animal comes on the screen, she gets all excited, and true, to form, barks at it.  My husband and I usually egg her on by shouting "Doggy on the TV," and then she's at full attention.  

Every month I write a post for the Netflix Stream Team, recommending shows on Netflix for the month.  This month's theme was animal related shows.  I wasn't quite sure what to do with it, until the other night when my husband and I were drunk bored, and we decided to give Cous a bit of entertainment and showcase our favorite animal related programming, to see if she reacted to any of them.  

Here are the results:

Okay, so it's a cat, not a dog.  Cous wasn't a fan.  But, the kids happened to love it - it's a new series on Netflix that just came out on January 16th.    

An oldie, but a goodie.  And it features the voice of Mel Gibson from back in 2000, before he became an antisemetic obnoxious drunk.  Notwithstanding the fact that Cous goes ape shit over raw chicken meat, she had no interest.   

I'm a self proclaimed documentary fanatic, so I couldn't leave a documentary off of this list.  Yes, it's depressing.  Yes, it's probably not a good idea to view it on New Year's Eve with a bottle of champagne (I speak from experience).  And yes, you will vow to never go to Sea World ever again. But it's so worth watching, even if it makes you a little angry.  I so wanted Cous to react and curse Sea World, but again, she sat there dumb as dog shit (no pun intended). 

Finally, a movie with actual dogs!  - Says Cous.  

Who's scarier - the animated Cruella De Vil or Glenn Close?  I argue Glenn Close, but watch it yourself to weigh in.  Notwithstanding the fact that the film is filled with dogs, Cous withheld her approval.

This is a series that aired in 2000.  I was 22 then and a bit drunk and crazy and wasn't interested in such a show.  In fact, I was unemployed back then, unlike these dogs, who ... had jobs.  There's a celebrity dog.  A service dog.  A police dog.  An earthquake dog.  A seizure dog.  A mine detector dog.  And even a run of the mill sled dog.  It's kind of incredible, all of these dogs with gainful employment.  Cous may have a bit of an inferiority complex about it, which explains why it's the one show she got all excited about...

Happy Netflixing, animals and humans alike!


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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursdays in Baltimore

Every other Thursday, Casey, my four year old, and I head to Baltimore for our 1:30 appointment at Johns Hopkins.  I should be be thankful for this - so incredibly thankful- because we travel there for a peanut allergy clinical trial that very few people are able to participate in.  If all goes well, at the end of three years, Casey will be, for lack of a better word, "cured."  And that's huge.

But going to Baltimore from DC so often has proved to be a pain.

Every other Thursday, I pick Casey up early from school.  I take him to the McDonald's drive through and get him a happy meal.  And then I battle traffic for the hour drive up 1-95, drive through the swanky and then the mean streets of Baltimore, and arrive at the kingdom that is Johns Hopkins.  Casey takes his dose, we sit and watch TV for an hour before we are cleared to go, and then we come home, and battle the traffic once again.  And before I know it, two weeks fly by and we are back at it again.  Back to Baltimore.

In the midst of everything else going on in my life, I generally grimace when I realize it's another Thursday.  Because it's just SO MUCH on top of everything.  On top of normal school pick ups and activities and napping babies and other doctor's appointments and diaper rashes and teaching a class and furniture delivery windows and feeding the family 3 meals a day.  On our Baltimore Thursdays, I usually leave the house at 11am and get home at 4pm when all is said and done. That's 5 hours out of a day that is extremely hectic as it is.

This morning was a doozy.  The babysitter showed up at 11am to watch Colin, my 14 month old, and as soon as I was getting ready to walk out the door, I realized I couldn't find my car keys. ANYWHERE.  I ended up having to take the babysitter's car to pick Casey up, have my husband meet me at Casey's school to give me his spare key, go pick up McDonalds, drop the babysitter's car back off, switch cars, and then head to Baltimore 15 minutes past the time I had planned (and I hate being late.  HATE).  I realized as I was getting on the highway that I had forgotten to call my oldest son's school to let them know he needed to go to aftercare, since I would be in Baltimore when school let out.  I then realized that I didn't have blue tooth in the car so I could not make said call.  As I glanced at my phone to connect the Bluetooth (which did not ultimately work), I realized I had 6+ emails from students from a class that I am teaching, all of whom wanted immediate answers.  Then the babysitter called.  The cleaning people had arrived, and they couldn't find the check I had left.  And Colin wouldn't go down for his nap and was crying hysterically and what should she do.

I had to exhale.

I had to drive to Baltimore.

Casey slept the whole way.  And I thought.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A New Thing to Obsess Over, and It's Oh So Much Fun

It's no wonder I was a litigator.  I LOVE to research.  It gets borderline obsessive, actually.  I will dig deeper and deeper and deeper and scour all available resources until I have reached near expert status.  Then I feel satisfied, abandon, and move on to the next thing to obsess over.

I go on kicks - research for vacation planning, research on local real estate listings, etc. and now.... interior design.

Yes, we have this nice new big house and nothing to put in it.  We must buy a coffee table, kitchen table, bar stools, wall hangings, knick knacks, and who knows what else.  Many, many things!  At first it was daunting, and I was dreading it actually.  After all, I'm not really a shopper, and I'm completely lacking in taste.  But slowly but surely, I have gotten into it.  Big time.

There's all sorts of blogs on the topic.  I never knew that!  Apartment Therapy has become a daily read.  And Houzz.  Have you seen Houzz?  Endless hours of fun!  I also peruse Overstock and West Elm and Joss & Main and One Kings Lane and CB2 and other websites I never knew existed. And Pinterest!  I finally understand the purpose of Pinterest!  (You can follow me by clicking here).

After all of this perusing, I have discovered I have modern taste.  Or is it called contemporary?  Who knows?  But I all of a sudden care what my house looks like, whereas before it was.... well, disheveled is a kind word.  It actually was a large piece of shit we inhabited.  So much so that we ditched pretty much all of our family room furniture prior to moving because it was just that disgusting.  But now we don't live in a piece of shit anymore - we actually like our new house (for now anyway).  And we have space!  Actual space!  So my challenge?  To fill said space as cheaply and as stylishly as possible.  (Who doesn't love a challenge?)

Don't fear - this will not become a design blog.  Because this is a momentary obsession and I'm not artistic enough to become a design expert.  But indulge me.  Just for a minute.  Because this is oh so fun.  

Here's what we have purchased for our new house so far:

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

From Sponges to Lemurs - Ringing in 2015

We never really do anything special for New Year's, and it's been years since I've stayed up past midnight.  Last year, after the kids went to bed, my husband and I split a bottle of champagne and watched Blackfish.  I ended up tipsy and depressed thinking about the poor killer whales and vowing to never visit Sea World, or a zoo, ever again (Casey may or may not have had his birthday party at the zoo this year).

It wasn't all solemn, though.  Before the kids went to bed, we had a family New Year's celebration.  I sent my husband out to get some hats and streamers, and the like.  As it turns out, it isn't the best idea to wait until 5pm on New Year's Eve to get New Year's paraphernalia.  Because all that was left was Sponge Bob.

New Year's 2014 Partay!

The hats had nothing to do with New Year's, and my kids had never seen Sponge Bob.  But after our New Year's party, they became obsessed with the show and still are to this day.  (Note to parents out there - perhaps not the best idea, as last month my oldest went around telling his younger brother to "go sell stupid elsewhere" - a direct quote from the show).

This year, thanks to the Netflix Stream Team, we are prepared.  As part of a promotion, earlier this month we received a party kit themed for the new show on Netflix, All Hail King Julien.  The show is a spin-off from the Madagascar franchise, which my kids absolutely love.  So they were thrilled to sport this party garb earlier today:

Bring on 2015!

We just moved a few days ago, and since we have yet to get our cable sorted, the kids have been Netflix-ing it up.  They have watched all 5 King Julien episodes several times over, as well as countless other shows/movies/shorts that have added up to way more than 2 hours of screen time per day.  But I have approximately 22 boxes to unpack, so it must be.

Tonight, I will set the unpacking aside.  I will sport lemur garb.  And I will drink champagne.  And then some more champagne.   And then I will put on my anti-wrinkle cream and go to bed around 11pm.

However it is you are celebrating tonight, enjoy!  Happy 2015!

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