Friday, June 26, 2015

Six Things I've Learned from Six Months at the Gym

This past January, I decided I would do something all original and join the gym.

I hadn't worked out regularly since the year 2005, and even at that, the only time I worked out regularly was the 9 month period before my wedding.  I'd never been what you'd call, "athletic."  Or "muscular."  Or "coordinated."  Or "well rounded."   Or "interested in bettering myself."  The gym, and all that health stuff, just hadn't been "my thing."

But that all had to change, because after baby #3, it was now or never.  No more excuses.  If the flab was going to go, it was going to now.  

And so I embarked on my gym journey.  

It's been 6 months, and much to my surprise, I have completely embraced it.  I don't go everyday, but I would if I could - I generally make it there five days a week.  The gym has become my place of respite - one of the only "no kid" zones that I get to enjoy in my life, and without the guilt.  I really love to work out.  Which is really, really weird. 

In my six months at the gym, I have gained tone, muscle, and confidence, but I've also been enlightened as to the gym culture.  It's a mini cult society in and of itself.  There are unspoken rules, unexpected truths, and a stringent dress code.  Oh and judgment.  Judgment abound.  

I was so naive when I walked through those gym doors in January.  So, so naive.  

I feel the need to pass my wisdom on to other gym novices.  To other stay at home moms like myself, who feel its their duty to get into shape, because really, we all have so much time on our hands. 


In any event, if you are considering jumping on the gym bandwagon, please consider the following tips.  After all, knowledge is power.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Perpetual Baby Phase

For the past six and a half years, I have had a diaper in my purse.

Casey, my second child, was born before my first was potty trained.  Back then I had two different sized diapers in my purse.  

Colin, my third child, was born just as Casey was graduating to the potty, but I always had to be prepared.  So around that time I had two sized diapers in my purse too.  

Now my third is 19 months, Casey is 4, Braden (my first) is 6, and I have one size diaper that I carry around.

As the diaper quantity and sizes have shifted around in my purse over time, the majority of my friends have graduated from this stage.  They no longer carry around diapers in their purse.  They also don't cut up food in small pieces or carry around sippy cups.  They don't have to be home by noon for nap time, and scream bloody murder in the car to keep their toddler from falling asleep on the way home.  They don't have to worry about explosive diapers or sleep training or choking hazards, and all of their outlet covers have been removed from their home.  They, and their kids, have graduated to a different stage.  And I kind of want to join them.

The other day at our community pool I saw a mom I recognized from when my oldest was a baby. She was on a lounge chair, reading a book, while her son went off the diving board.  As I chased after Colin heading straight for the pool, and removed a rock from his mouth, I nearly cried.

I'm sick of the diapers.  I'm sick of the baby phase.  And I'm really, really tired.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Documentary About... Motherhood

I'm a huge documentary film fan.  So when my friend Valerie told me that she knew of someone who was making a documentary film about motherhood, and who was looking for mothers to interview, I jumped at the opportunity.

Truth be told, I didn't know much about the documentary when they showed up at my door with the camera crew a few weeks back, but I did know what it was called:  Mom is a Dirty Word.  I also had watched a fundraising trailer, which was intriguing in and of itself.

The tag line for the short stated:  "Mom is a Dirty Word" feature-documentary explores how damaging public policy and media depictions impact Mothers and their families.  

Sure, I can talk about that!

I used a hair dryer and put on make up and cleaned like crazy and got rid of the kids and the dog so that we could have a calm, peaceful ambiance for the interview.  I think I was so busy getting prepared for the interview that I actually never thought about what I was actually going to say in the interview.

I kind of choked.

Not completely.  I mean, the conversation was casual and covered a wide range of issues, many of which I've written about in this blog - the sad state of maternity leave in this countrythe reasons why mothers are leaving professional careers in drovesthe difficulties women face when trying to reenter the workforcethe adjustment to being a stay at home momthe regrets we face, the things we gain, and learning to let it all go, among other things.

It was nice and informal and the conversation flowed naturally.

But at the end, the interviewer asked me if I had one thing to say about motherhood, what would it be?  And could I please look in the camera and say it?

Um.... my mind raced.  Surely, I needed to come up with something really deep, really poignant, really meaningful here.  But the pressure, my God, the pressure!  How to narrow it down?  How to word it?  What was it, anyway?

I rambled a few things, and I honestly can't remember what exactly is I said.  But I do know I said the following:

Being a mother is the best job in the world.  


Yup, I choked.  (And this isn't the first time this has happened to me on television - see my interview on the British version of candid camera where I absolutely BOMBED by clicking here).

Hence, there is a very real chance I won't appear in the documentary, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't support the documentary!  Because it is timely and poignant and generally needed.  There's simply not enough out there by mothers, about mothers, for mothers.

There is currently a fundraising effort underway - please support the documentary by donating here.

There's also a new trailer (featuring my dear friend and mentor, Valerie Young - there are no words to describe how awesome she is).

You can like the documentary on Facebook by clicking here.

You can follow the documentary on Twitter by clicking here.

You can find more information on the documentary's website here.

And you can tell all your friends about it.  (There's no click for that).

The director hopes to get the film finished by election season.  I for one can't wait to see it (whether I am in it or not!).


Like this post?  Like me on Facebook by clicking here!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

On Vacation with no TV? No problem! (Thank you, Netflix!)

For better or worse, we are not one of those families that unplugs during vacation.  In fact, when looking at vacation rentals, a lack of television is a deal breaker, for a couple of reasons.  1) I don't get to watch that much TV in everyday life, so I associate TV watching with luxury, and vacation should be filled with luxuries, but most importantly 2) TV is our babysitter.  It occupies our kids when they need occupying and it provides us with short increments of time to just take a breather. Without 24 minute Disney Jr. episodes, I may well have lost sanity long ago.

We went to Bethany Beach over Memorial Day weekend (after falling in love with it last Memorial Day).  We researched multiple condos/beach rentals, and settled on a large unit in Sea Colony. From the pictures, it looked beautiful - large enough for my and my sister's family, a beautiful ocean view, and four, count them FOUR TVs!  One in each bedroom.  And a huge one in the living room.

When we walked in the unit, it didn't disappoint.  I mean, just look at the view!

But at some point that first afternoon, we went to turn on the TV for the kids.  I was hoping for Disney Jr., but at a minimum, there should be Nickelodeon.  It's then that we realized.

We only had basic cable.

Four TVs, one of which was a 60 inch flat screen, and only 13 channels?

I began to have a minor panic attack.   Until my husband pointed out the amazing, obvious fact that "Well, at least we have our I-pads.  Why don't we just let them watch Netflix?"

Yes, yes, Netflix!

We did not turn any of the four TVs for the entire long weekend.  A record for us, indeed.

But when we needed our electronic babysitter, Netflix was there to save us.  In fact, it alleviated the routine battle over who gets to pick what show.  Each kid got their own I-pad and got to pick their own shows.  Everybody wins!

I originally was going to write this post about what shows captured my kids' attention, but I have to make an admission.  I don't even know what they were watching.  At 4 and 6, they both operate the iPads on their own.  And during those precious half hour increments, I would shower, put the baby to bed, or gaze at the ocean from our deck whilst sipping a nice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

All was right with the world.

Of course, Netflix isn't just for them.  In fact, I began researching what shows I will binge watch over the summer vacation.  And there are some good ones!  Here are a few:

1) Orange is the New Black, Season 3

It's back!  The first season of Orange is the New Black, a Netflix original series based on the true story of a woman in her 30s who goes to prison for a crime she committed a decade earlier, is one of my favorites.  I think I watched all 13 episodes in about four days, most of which occurred early in the morning hours where after each one I would promise myself just one more, and before I knew it it was 3am and I spent the next day exhausted (and waiting until the kids went to bed so I could watch more).  I didn't think the second season was as compelling, but I have faith that it can return to its first season glory.  New episodes are available on Netflix on June 12 (and you can live stream Seasons 1 and 2 right now).

2) Louie

So I've actually never watched this show.  But a few months ago, my husband and I watched a couple of Louie CK stand up specials and we were both dying laughing.  And I feel like that's kind of rare - to be alone in your living room and keeling over in absolute laughter.  He was completely inappropriate and crass, but I couldn't stop watching and it has inspired me to put this on my list for the summer.  The show itself (which ran from 2010-2014 on FX) received vast critical acclaim, and Louie himself received several Emmys, so that has to say something.

3) The Office (the British one!)

Before Steve Carell made the show famous stateside, Ricky Gervais spearheaded the clueless, cocky, jackass boss on UK television.  I happened to be living in the UK at the time, and I fell in love with the show.  I've seen every single episode, but now that I've discovered the first two seasons are on Netflix, I plan on rewatching it this summer.  It's a similar format to the US version, but it's got that British dry humor....  I don't really know how to describe "British dry humor," but if anything exemplifies it, it's this show.  Like this quote, from Season 1:

"Well, there's good news and bad news.  The bad news is that Neil will be taking over both branches, and some of you will lose your jobs.  Those of you who are kept on will have to relocate to Swindon, if you want to stay.  I know, gutting.  On a more positive note, the good news is, I've been promoted.  So every cloud....  You're still thinking about the bad news, aren't you?"

Happy vacationing, and happy Netflixing!


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

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