Thursday, May 14, 2015

I Suck as a Mom This Week

Huge mom fails this week.  And they both involve my children being in physical pain that was only exacerbated by me.

Mom Fail #1 - Braden

Braden is one of those kids that is in the nurse's office at school every day.  When he gets a minor scratch on his knee, he limps.  When he has a mosquito bite, he wails.

The kid cries wolf.  A lot.

So when the school nurse called me on Tuesday saying that Braden had been to see her saying his eye was hurting, I assumed it was just overplayed allergies.  I had little sympathy, and after all, this was not the first time I had gotten a call from the nurse.  I told her that if she thought he was okay, that he should go back to class.

When I picked him up after school later that afternoon, he was clutching his left eye.  He immediately got into the car and started crying.  His eye was red and puffy, but he does tend to get puffy eyes in allergy season.  I tried to calm him down saying it was okay, it was just allergies, and that I'd give him some allegra and eye drops when we got home.

But he kept crying.  And for some reason, I decided to go ahead and make an appointment with the ophthalmologist for the next day, thinking all the while that I was wasting my time and the doctor's time, because after all, it's just allergies.

But that mommy gut thing was telling me to do it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

If you're going to throw a party, the night before Mother's Day is a good time to do so.

My husband and I had a party at our house this weekend.

This is extremely out of the ordinary.  We're just not party throwing people.  Sure, we've done all the birthday parties and the occasional shower hosting or massive playdate gathering.  But a real party - like those people that throw annual holiday parties or Halloween bonfires or massive cookouts with themes and roasted pigs?  Not us.

It's not that we don't like parties.  Au contraire, I love me a good party.  It's just that I'm not good at throwing parties.  I'm not good at decorating or cooking hor d'oeuvres or coming up with cute little party themes.  The few times we have hosted things, I have been so stressed out about it that I haven't had all that much fun.

But for some reason, I've had this inkling to have a big to-do.  If for no other reason than to get all of my favorite people in the DC area under one roof, for just one evening.  Because how often does that happen?  We all have our favorite people gather at our bachelorette parties, weddings, baby showers, etc.  Then we have kids and they get older and those big gathering stop happening, and before you know it, weeks turn into months turn into years and you feel more and more isolated.

So I really wanted a party.

When we moved into our new house in January, it seemed the perfect opportunity to do a housewarming, but we dragged our feet a bit.  Then a friend of ours suggested having a "Stock the Cellar" party.  What's that, you ask?  It's a party where you invite people to your home and demand that they bring you alcohol.

Because our new house happens to have one of these:

Don't get too excited - it's not a real wine cellar - there's no temperature control or anything fancy.  It's basically just a closet with some wood shelves for wine.  But still - if you got it, you might as well stock it!

So we planned a party.  We invited our closest DC area friends, and around 60 came.  And, we got it catered.  By the best most amazing catering duo who allowed us to have a blast at our own party. They brought and set up the food (which was all awesome).  They also set up a bar with beer and wine and some of the best tequila cocktails I've ever had.  They even cleaned up when it was over. For our part, our only job was to clean ahead of time, figure out a music playlist, get the kids to sleep, and enjoy ourselves.

It was one of the best nights I've had in a very long time.

With a couple of exceptions, all of our close DC friends were there.  And I realized half way through the night that between all of them, all of my life phases were represented.  In attendance were my sister, a friend from high school, a friend from college, a friend from my days in London (who randomly lives a mile from me now), friends from law school, friends from my law firm days, my "mom" friends, and even my blogging friends.

The whole thing left me feeling festive, happy, and loved.  Because when we moved here to DC, a little over 8 years ago, it was essentially on a whim.  We only knew a handful of people, and since then, we really have built our own village.  And I LOVE my village!  So much.  So it was about time that we put forth the expense and effort to get our whole village together, for one night.

I spent Saturday night surrounded by so many awesome people.  

In doing so, I stayed up way too late.  And drank way to much.  I think when I was going to sleep it was in the 1's, which spells pain for the next day.  Oh so much pain.

But no - Sunday was Mother's Day!  Which means it was the one day in the entire year that I am guaranteed the right to sleep in as long as I want!  Could I have planned this any better?

I slept until 9:45 am - the latest I have slept in years.    I felt well rested - I suppose this is why I never experienced hangovers in college - perhaps because there weren't three little people screaming in my face at 6:45 EVERY GODDAMN MORNING.  

I went downstairs only to realize that everyone was gone, out running errands. I marveled at the silence, and the fact that I had the entire house to myself, even for only 15 minutes or so.  And I surveyed the bounty left by the guests...

If you think that's impressive, just look at the massive improvement in our wine closet:

Now that we have all of this wine, I am thinking we should throw another party (maybe on a smaller scale).

Because really, isn't there so much to celebrate?  I think so.

(I just need to tie it to some event/holiday to ensure that I can sleep in again.  That was key.)

[Writer's note - Yeah, so that whole Everyday in May thing...  That didn't happen.  I'm sorry.  I had good intentions, but when it comes to blogging or sleep, sleep tends to win.]

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Literally, a Crappy Monday

Yesterday I took all three boys outside to play.

Then a bird shat on my arm.

I took a moment to think about the existential nature of this.  What are the chances that I was standing at the exact right point in my yard at the exact right time that this bird decided to take a crap directly above me?  It got me all philosophical thinking things like:

If I hadn't sat next to that random girl on a flight to Amsterdam back in 2000, then she never would have introduced me to my ex boyfriend, and then I never would have stayed an extra year in London, and then I never would have gone to Penn Law, and then I never would have met my husband, and then I never would have had these three kids and lived in this house and been standing outside at this exact moment for this bird to crap on my arm.  

My thoughts were interrupted by a couple of screaming children, and before I knew it I had forgotten about the profoundness of the bird shitting on my arm and how it all went back to this flight I took to Amsterdam in the year 2000.  In fact, I must admit I didn't even wash my arm until about 20 minutes later (but I did wipe it off immediately with a dried leaf).  

I suppose it really wasn't that profound after all.

Sometimes shit just happens.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Was Law School Worth It?

For some, like my husband, it's an easy answer.  Of course it was worth it!  He's got a great job in a great firm working with great people and he can't complain about his salary.  (Plus, he met yours truly in law school - does it get any better than that?).  

For me, this is a particularly loaded question.  Because it comes with the following undertone:  

Was law school worth it, when now you don't even use your law degree and spend the majority of your time child rearing?  

And, more to the point:  

Wasn't it a waste?  

I've pondered this question from time to time, and it was actually posed to me recently by Annie Little, a blogger and writer for the website, Attorney at Work.  She asked me, as well as nine other lawyers from various different backgrounds, how we subjectively viewed the value of our law degrees.  The result was posted last Friday.  Here's a snippet of my response (to view the entire response, click here and scroll down to #5 - and also check out all of the other responses!):  

"When I graduated from law school back in 2005, a law degree meant money.  I hadn't gone into law school expecting that.  In fact, I had planned on going into public international law (whatever that is). But after three years of school, six digits of debt, and a multitude of offers in a booming economy, I went with the big ticket, big law offer.

But as the cliche goes, money doesn't buy happiness.  And at a certain point, I realized that following the money didn't fit me and what I ultimately wanted in life:  Children.  After six years of firm practice and two children, I quit.  At that point, I wondered if my law degree had any value at all anymore.

What a waste of a degree, I would think.  All that time, hard work, expense... for what?  I certainly didn't need my law degree to be a stay-at-home-mom.  Laundry, cooking, and running after two (and then three) small children didn't require any legal skills.  In fact, when people asked me what I did, I stopped telling them I was a lawyer.  

Or was I?  What makes a lawyer?"

To continue reading, click here.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Everyday in May

My blog writing has slacked lately.

And since I write so infrequently, and I'm out of practice, it takes me forever to write each post.  I used to post everyday (except weekends).  Remember that?

I was thinking about this when I came up with the little catch phrase "Every Day in May."  Should I challenge myself to post every day in May?  (Except weekends.  I mean, come on).

It is perfect timing, of course.  Because I just started teaching another online course, we have tons of end of school activities, countless baseball/soccer practices and games, two weekends away, a sick need to go to the gym as much as possible, and that minor job of attending to three needy endearing young boys on a daily basis.

But I'm always up for a challenge.  And I need to get writing more.  I've been lazy, and my mastery of the craft is slipping.  So here ye, here ye, I shall post every day in May.  (Except weekends.  And public holidays, while we're at it). *

In that vein, help me out.  Guest posts, articles, etc.  Send them my way.

And to kick off May, this cracked me up to a weird extent this morning.

* Note:  If I decide not to post on a weekday in May, I reserve the right to delete this post so that my lack of commitment to follow through is not documented for all to see.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

What We're Netflixing These Days

(Yes, netflixing is a verb).

And yes, I am part of the Netflix Stream Team, which means yes, I get free Netflix (and I even got a free I-pad mini!  Perks of blogging are few and far between, but sometimes you get some good ones).  

But believe me when I say that even if the above were not the case, I would still be obsessed with Netflix.

There are a few reasons - the first is that we recently got a smart TV, so we can now easily watch Netflix on our main television (we had Apple TV before, but somehow the fact that I had to remove one plug and insert another one was too much for me to handle).

Then there's the fact that my kids (well, two of them at least) are now old enough and have the fine motor capabilities to hold and manipulate their own iPads, and choose what they want on Netflix.  This means that if necessary, I can get a 4 year old and a 6 year old to sit quietly for long periods of time.  Yeah, I know, screen time limitations, rotted brains, blah blah blah.  Sometimes it's necessary.

Lastly, the content is just awesome lately.  I've made my way through a seemingly unending inventory of fascinating documentaries, I've happened upon forgotten favorites, and, most notably, I have binge watched their original shows (more on that below) and it is all fabulous programming.

Since my kids and husband are also on the bandwagon, I thought this month I'd share what it is we are watching on Netflix these days, in age ascending order:

Colin (1):

My little love doesn't have the attention span to watch anything yet.  But how can I leave this cutie out?

His brain is not yet rotted, but his hair is wild.

Casey (4):

I'm somewhat ashamed to say that Casey has been binge watching Caillou, and I have done nothing about it.

Caillou generally elicits hatred.  There are all sorts of articles written on the topic, and there's even a Facebook page called "I fuckin' hate Caillou" (it has 1200 likes, by the way.  That's almost twice as many as I have.  Not that I'm bitter or anything.  You can rectify this by liking me and clicking here).

I found this on Pinterest.
But eh?  I don't mind him much.  I mean, Caillou's a complete asshole (even more so than my own kids, if you can believe it).  But he's just living his life.  And now, after watching his show, Casey wants to go bowling and make his own pizza from scratch.  So fine.

Braden (6)

Braden has been watching vintage Disney shorts.  I'm not sure how he happened upon it, but he loves them.  We're talking Mickey and the Beanstalk (1957), Three Little Pigs (1932), Chicken Little (1943), and Brave Little Tailor (1938), among others.  I thought this was all cute and funny and wholesome until I realized that things weren't as PC back then.  I mean, what Disney movie now shows a main character smoking a cigarette?

From "Brave Little Tailor."  It's not everyday you see Mickey in a cigarette.
What's in his mouth?  Braden asked.  A cigarette, I replied.  Can I have one? he immediately asked.

And so it begins.  Thanks, Disney.

Husband (34)

My husband is a nerd.  I say that out of love, and solidarity.  I'm a nerd too.  He's not one of those surly guys into football and whisky and weight lifting and race cars.  In high school, he was in the model UN.  And he still remembers his test scores on every single one of his state regents exam.  He's a nerdy Jewish lawyer whom I happen to love.

So imagine my shock and dismay when shortly after dating him I learned he was obsessed with WWE wresting.  Yes, that WWE wrestling - the fake one where it's all pre-staged and when if you pass through it channel surfing you probably think: Who watches that?  (Answer - my husband does.)

Now he has my kids into it too.

The Ultimate Warrior and Roman Reigns - my husband's wrestling figurines from his childhood.  My kids are obsessed.
In any event, he is super excited to watch The Sheik, a documentary about the Iron Sheik, a wrestler from the 70's and 80's who has turned himself into an extremely foul-mouthed tweeter about all things pop-culture.  I've caught my husband reading Twitter and laughing out loud at his tweets, only to then question his maturity after reading the content of his Twitter feed.  Is the documentary about wrestling? Potty humor? Does it really even matter?  This is definitely one for my husband to watch when I am out...

Me (36)

As the most chronologically mature member of my family, I like to think that I have the best taste.  So if you are going to watch anything on this list, you have to check out Bloodline - the latest Netflix original series.  I didn't think anything could beat House of Cards or Orange is the New Black , but Bloodline does it!

The tag phrase for the series is "We're not bad people, but we did a bad thing."  That had me hooked from the beginning.  And the first episode brings you right in, with a strong set of characters (Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek, and Ben Mendelsohn) and immediate intrigue.  The plot centers around one brother - who is the black sheep of the family, who comes home for an anniversary party and turns everything upside down.  It's also set in the Florida keys and has me wanting to go there for our next vacation.

In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't finished Season 1 yet.  I promise to report back if all of a sudden it goes south and the last episodes sucks.  But I highly doubt it - this is the best show I've happened upon in a while.  And they've just renewed it for Season 2, hooray!

As always, I love Netflix suggestions, so send them my way.  Happy Netflixing!

#Stream Team

Friday, April 24, 2015

To My Baby Boy, Before You Become an Asshole

Dear Baby Colin,

How can I express how precious you are at this stage in your life?  At nearly 18 months old, you are endearing, joyful, upbeat, appreciative, charming, playful, silly, easygoing, good humored, cuddly, loving, and a complete momma's boy.  You are, quite simply, irresistible.  To me and everyone around you.

Sure, you have your moments of crying and irrational tantruming.  But most of the time those are just because you want to be picked up and held.  And given that you're my last baby, I am happy to oblige.

I call you my angel baby.

Just last week when I referred to you as this, your daddy reminded me that I used to say the same things about both of your older brothers (now 4 and 6).

I laughed in his face, assuming he was kidding, until all at once it came flooding back to me.  I did refer to your brothers as my angel babies.  (I even have the blog post to prove it).

Don't get me wrong, I love your older brothers with all of my heart.  Unconditionally and completely. But they are not angels.

They are not angels at all.

In fact, a lot of the time they are assholes.

I would never call them that to their face, of course.  No, I try to be cool, calm, and collected at all times - with limited success.  But in my head, if I am being honest, I am often calling them assholes. Because at this age, they kind of are.

I can't imagine you ever turning into an asshole.  I mean, after all, you are an angel!  But as you begin to leave your babyhood and enter the era of toddlerhood, I have a few requests:

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.  

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