Friday, July 18, 2014

My Everything

I was 19 when I first felt the lump on my left breast.  I was young then.  I didn't worry about hardly anything, and I didn't worry about the lump.  I asked my doctor about it during a check up.  He felt it and told me it was "probably fine."  Life went on.  The lump remained.

After I had my first son, ten years later, I remember consciously feeling for the lump and realizing it was gone.  I wasn't quite sure when it had disappeared but I remember feeling relief.  Being 29, I wasn't as carefree as I had been in my late teens.  I still felt somewhat invincible, having just created a life and birthed a baby, but a general wariness had begun to rear its head in me.  Not even thirty, I had already known of a few acquaintances - my age- who had been diagnosed with cancer.  Some survived.  Some didn't.  A tragedy and a rarity, for sure.  But still, the idea that contemporaries of mine weren't immortal was unnerving.

Five years went by.  Then I had my third child.  I breastfed him, like my other two, and, like the two times before, I endured chronic clogged ducts.  They were an annoyance and a pain.  When I felt one coming on, I would submerge myself in a hot bath and massage my breast, trying to dislodge the clog.  It was then, during a bath in April, that I felt it.  The lump.

It was back.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Head on Over...

To the Ms. JD website today (click here).  There's an interview of yours truly!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hello from the Cape and a GIVEAWAY for the Summer Sun

I've been MIA for the last month or so.  There are several excuses reasons - three children, lack of school, the new season of Orange is the New Black, laziness, a health scare, and most recently, vacation.

Hello from Cape Cod.  

Mayo Beach, Wellfleet, Cape Cod
We come for two weeks every year.  And I spend the rest of the year looking forward to it.  It is, quite simply, my favorite place on earth.  (As I've previously written about here and here and here and here).  I've been drinking way too much and eating way too much and avoiding any and all work/stress/responsibility.  It's been absolutely wonderful.  

With all this beaching and swimming and relaxing we've been spending a lot of time in the sun. And we are pale.  Every last one of us.  Pale, pale, pale.  (I'll still be pale at the end of this vacation, by the way.  That's the goal.)  The fact that this is considered something that we should work on or rectify by laying in the sun and exposing ourselves to UV rays so that our skin will change to a darker shade is nonsensical, sad, and a topic for another day. So we embrace our pale skin, seek out shade, and layer on the sunscreen, almost obsessively.  I am proud to say that my kids have never ever had a sunburn.  But it's a pain, and a constant anxiety.  

Through this whole blogging thing that I do, I occasionally get offers to promote products, get free samples, etc.  I usually ignore them - not so much because I am so above it all, but because that's just not really what this blog is.  But occasionally, one is just to apropos to ignore. 

Such as Sunscreen Bands.

The bands tell you when you need to reapply sunscreen, and when you have had your max sun exposure.  Another tool in the artillery against sunburns?  Sign me up!  Here's how it works:  

Step 1:  You put on the band before you go out in the sun.  

Step 2: You expose the band in the sun until it turns dark purple.  (Kids love this, btw).  

Step 3: Once the band turns purple, put sunscreen on the band (as well as yourself).  

Step 4: Go have fun in the sun.  

Step 5:  Check the band.  When it turns light purple, reapply the sunscreen.  

Step 6:  Have some more fun in the sun.  

Step 7: Recheck your band.  If it has turned white, it's time to cover up and get out of the sun - you've reached your max sun exposure for the day.  

Lucky for us, our bands turned white just as we were heading home.  

So here is my attempt at a professional product review.   I am going to be very, very professional.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Deep Thoughts on a (Bizarre) Solo Car Trip

Long car trips by myself used to make me anxious.  I would do them, but I would dread them.  They were boring and monotonous and stressful and every once in a while I would have a really bad one, where I would get lost (Mapquest, anyone?) or run out of gas (just once, pre-cell phone), or have to pull over on the side of a highway during a blinding rain storm.  

In a former life, having a companion for a long car trip was definitely preferable.  

Then I had kids.  And my car trip companions tend to make the car journeys rather difficult.  There are vomiting incidents, multiple bathroom breaks, malfunctioning DVD players, thrown food, breastfeeding stops, tantrums, yelling, crying, and just generally noise.  Really, really loud noise.  

All of a sudden, the idea of a solo car trip became enticing.  And lucky for me, I took one such solo trip last weekend, to New York City for a bachelorette party.

I was really looking forward to this trip for a number of reasons.  I was able to see my sister.  I was able to celebrate my good friend (the bachelorette herself).  I was able to get my nails done. I was able to order a bloody mary at a bar at 1pm and then order another one after that.  I was able (by the grace of God) to stay out until 2am dancing.  At a real life bar!

But I also was able to get a little over of 7 hours to myself in the car.   SEVEN HOURS with no one to bother me!  SEVEN HOURS of me and my own thoughts!  

This rarely happens.  The thinking that is.  I am generally always doing.  Feeding, cleaning, carpooling, refereeing, cooking, talking, yelling, organizing, internet surfing, planning, going, going, going, and then when that's all done, I usually watch some crappy reality television just so I don't have to think.  And then I sleep.  For as long as I possibly can.  

But in a car, all you can do is think.  And I thought a lot.  For example, I decided that: 

Friday, June 13, 2014

I Am a Shadow of My First Time Mom Self

I remember being on maternity leave with my first child, Braden, and complaining to my husband that I never had time to eat lunch.  Or shower.  Or check email.  Or do laundry.  Or perform any kind of self care or household chore.

I am sure I was sincere in this sentiment, and I do remember a general feeling of exasperation.  I remember reaching the point where I gave in, and took a shower with the bouncy seat in the bathroom.  I remember rushing as quickly as I could to get the shampoo out of my hair.  Shaving was out of the question, of course, because the baby was crying, dear God, and I must get to him.

With all due respect to my former self....


Need to eat?  Need to shower?  Need a breather, for God's sake?  Put the baby down in a bouncy seat, a swing, the crib, on a dirty towel on the floor.  Anywhere.  It's okay if he/she cries, you know. For a little bit.  He/she can't go anywhere.  Everything will be a-okay.

Do you hear that, Shannon from 2008?  PUT THE BABY DOWN AND LET THE BABY CRY.  EAT A SANDWICH.  Because you know what, Shannon from 2008?  You are going to have two more babies and THIS IS AS EASY AS IT'S GOING TO GET.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The End of an Era

Tomorrow is Braden's last day of preschool.  Next year he'll be in kindergarten.

It seems to be a common question to ask a parent how they are handling this.  I've done this myself.  How are you coping?  I would ask.  Can you believe it?  I suppose it's because it is a rite of passage, albeit a manufactured one.  There's nothing innately transformative about the exact age a child graduates from preschool.  Braden will still be the same kid next week that he is this week.  He'll still love on his brothers, raid our snack cabinet, throw the odd tantrum here and there about absolutely nothing, and cry when we try to brush his hair.  He's still our same little boy.

I've tried not to get all emotional about it.  

But I can't deny it.  Between the "graduation" ceremony last week, the pictures sent home from school,  and the slideshow the teachers made of all the kids (which yes, did make me cry), I can't help but take it as an opportunity, or maybe a mandate, to reflect.  

Our little boy isn't so little anymore.  

It's subtle things that drive this home for me.  The size of his feet, for example.  Sometimes I'll look at his feet, and think, My God, what happened?  It's not that they are particularly big.  It's just that they look like kid feet.  The baby feet - that cute little padding on the bottom, and the chubby little toes - are gone.  

Our conversations have gotten progressively more complicated - moving from the simple, toddler concepts, to the difficult ones.  When I told him the other day that my grandmother is in her nineties his response was Oh man, she's going to die soon.  He has started asking not only about death, but about religion.  Illness.  Even race, but in the most amazingly innocent way.  (What color is that girl's skin, mommy?  It's not blonde like mine.).  About marriage and how most boys marry girls but some boys marry boys, and how that's okay.  About divorce (or "breaking up," as he calls it), and about how it must have been sad for mommy that when she was little that her mommy and daddy lived in different houses.  

Friday, May 30, 2014

Hi. I [Was] in Delaware. And I Loved It.

We hadn't planned on doing anything for Memorial Day.  For no real reason, except for we didn't get our act together to plan something.  But then at the beginning of May, during a particularly stir crazy weekend, I felt the urge to go away.  I asked my husband if he was up for it, and he said yes, as long as we went somewhere within driving distance.

So started the internet research.  

What's within a 3ish hour drive of DC?  I started looking west.  Surely there is some mountain get away with a pristine clear lake and a cute little cabin?  I looked at Deep Creek Lake, Nemacolin, Wintergreen, and a bunch of other lake/mountain areas I had never heard of.  I ended up feeling eh about all of them.  Eh?

Then I turned east.  Do we dare brave beach traffic on Memorial Day?  And where to go?  New Jersey?  Delaware?  Virginia?  More internet research.  Questions posed to Facebook.  And ultimately, we decided on Delaware.  Bethany Beach, Delaware, specifically.  

I have always known that Delaware is a common beach destination for DCers.  After all, it's only a 2-3 hour drive.  It seems like nearly everyone I talk to rents a house there, has a house there, have friends who have a house there, etc.  But my lack of knowledge has kept us from exploring the Delaware beaches for the eight years we have lived in the DC area.  

It's time, I told my husband.  We're going to Delaware.

We did.  And now I have fallen in love.  With Delaware.  

Prior to moving to DC, all I really knew of Delaware was that Wayne's World clip.  And corporate law.  It certainly isn't universally known across the country as a tropical beach destination.  It's just Delaware.  

But ahhhhhhhhhh, Delaware is beautiful, people!  

We booked a two bedroom condo at a place called Sea Colony.  From the pictures, it didn't look that enticing.  It is a community of poo brown condo towers.  

Photo taken from Wyndham Vacation Rentals.
Not normally my cup of tea.  It's a bit on the cheesy side, for sure.  But it was right on the ocean, there were multiple pools, and the price was reasonable.  

Poo brown and cheesy aside, our condo was awesome.  Just look at our view!!!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Packing, Then and Now

There was a time in my life when I packed a single backpack for a two month trip.  

There's something so freeing about that.  

Sure, it was strategic, and difficult to do.  For our Asia/Australia trip back in 2005, my husband and I had to pack for warm and cold weather.  For hiking and swimming.  For fancy nights on the town and casual beach barbeques.  IN A SINGLE BACKPACK.  Given those constraints, one has to learn to be minimalist. Flexible.  Go with the flow.  There simply is no way to pack for every contingency.  So you don't worry about every contingency.  You just enjoy.  

Australia, 2005- My backpacking days
Nine years later, packing for a family of five is an entirely different beast.  It really doesn't matter the length of the trip - 3 days, or two weeks.  It takes me generally two days to pack my family for a trip. There are more contingencies than I can count, and as a result, sometimes, it looks like this: 

This won't all fit in a backpack.
The first day I start laundering and thinking.  The laundering, which I do in preparation for the hardcore pack day to follow, takes a couple of hours all in.  But the thinking - this takes all day.  I am constantly thinking of things we may need - making mental notes (which will likely be forgotten), making lists (trying to remember all of my mental notes and knowing full well I'm forgetting something I thought of earlier), and calling my husband with a list of things for him to pick up at CVS on the way home.  

The second day is when it's on.  It's hard core packing day.  And that's the day I'm in today.  We leave for Bethany Beach, DE tomorrow for the long weekend.  Oh yay, we're going on vacation! Oh shit, I have to pack.

When I tell someone without children that it takes me a full day, all day, to pack for my family, they probably think I am exaggerating.  Because honestly, when I try to explain what exactly I am spending 10+ hours on all day, I can't.  I don't know what I am doing for all of those minutes, or why it takes so long.  But given that I am doing this today, I'm going to attempt to break it down: 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I had a great Mother's Day.  The best I've ever had, in fact.  The morning started off like this.

Doesn't get any better!
We spent the rest of the day doing activities of my choosing.  A trip to the outlet mall (where I got to shop solo), a stop at a nearby winery (beautiful - Fabbioli Cellars), and dinner at one of my favorite restaurants (Jaleo).  

It was an excellent, excellent day.  

With one small shadow...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Your Turn - Annie's Story: How Being a Lawyer Prepared Me For Mamahood

"Your Turn" is a series of posts where readers share their stories of parenthood, work, the struggle for a balance, or just life generally.  If you are interested in contributing a story, please email me at, or click here.

I knew I wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember. (Don’t even get me started on the fallout I experienced by following an uninformed childhood dream.)  I also knew that I wanted to be a mama.  And as I got older, I became more aware of the challenges that being both presented.

I told myself I could handle the challenges of doing each well, but deep down I didn’t want to do both. I’m one of those people who just doesn’t half-ass anything.  And I knew that if I could have things my way, I’d be whole-assing the mama thing.

That being said, I assumed that being a 24/7 mama wouldn’t be an option for me.  You know, six-figure law school debt and all.  While that didn’t stop me from developing an exit strategy -- namely starting my own life coaching business for attorneys during my pregnancy -- I wasn’t sure if I’d have the ladyballs to quit.

Fast forward to the summer of 2013 when our Gwyneth Paige was born with an obstruction in her lung.  I didn’t even get to hold her before watching them intubate her in preparation for transport to a higher level NICU... in a neighboring state.

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