Thursday, December 29, 2011

Past Midnight

I find it funny when people ask me what I'm doing for New Year's Eve.  It's a perfectly polite and well meaning question, but really?  REALLY?

Let me tell you a few things about New Year's Eve:

Even before having children, I dreaded New Year's.  It was always this high pressure night when you had to make big plans and find dinner reservations and pay some price fixed New Year's special and then find a party or bar where you would fight for drinks and a cab home.

After years of concerts, trips to Europe, and overpriced Manhattan nightclubs, in 2005 we decided we were getting too old to venture out.  Instead, we decided to keep it more "low key" and have a party at our apartment in Manhattan.  Our apartment was actually on the bigger size by NYC standards, so we cleared out the furniture, cleaned, and had about 40 people over.  This was great, until I realized that we LIVED in the apartment and it had been trashed.  At 2am when everyone left, and I wanted to do some minor cleaning (aka, there are bottles of vodka spilling in our bath tub), my husband (then fiance) could not be roused from this position:

Monday, December 26, 2011


There are children starving all over the world.

My kids have 529 accounts that need to be filled.

I am technically unemployed.

It is the season of giving - you know, like to others. 

We really should be paying down our HELOC while interest rates are low.

I have no need for any form of high fashion given that I am in pajamas 90% of the time.

I pay almost $1000 a month in student loans for a career that I have all but abandoned.

And yet, somehow, this morning I justified to myself that it was acceptable to spend $312 on these:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Son is Beating Me Up

It's getting official.  My sweet little boy is turning into a TERROR.

He hits.  He kicks.  He throws.  He screams.  He pulls hair.

Sometimes it's because he doesn't get what he wants (aka, wrong Gabba episode, juice in the wrong colored cup, shirt he wants to wear is dirty - you know, the real tragedies).  Other times, it's just because.

To his credit, he will give me a fair warning.  I.e., "I'm going to hit you today." or "I'm going to go kick Casey."  And then, the simple, yet poignant, declaration of:  "I'm going to be a bad boy."  Yes, my boy tells it like it is.

I have tried various approaches to dealing with this, none of which have been successful:

Approach #1 - Time Outs
I've read parenting blogs and watched Supernanny, so time outs were my first plan of attack. Every time he hit or acted aggressively, I would calmly put him in his time out chair, explain to him why I was placing him in time out, leave for a few minutes, come back, ask for an apology, and then hug and make up.  Simple enough?  Nope!  For some odd reason, Braden loved these time outs.  He would get a huge smile on his face as he would sit on the chair.  He liked it so much that he ended up hitting me, just so he could get a time out!  How do I know this?  Because the little s#@! would say, "Mommy, I'm going to hit you and then I can go in time out."  APPROACH #1 FAIL.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pic of the Week - Keeping it Classy

Hubby Birthday Dinner #31:  Benihana

Impeccable fried rice.  Cold sake.  Man on drugs at adjacent table.  Photo souvenir.  

We'll be back next year. 

Friday, December 16, 2011


I started this blog on April 1, 2011, with a post called My New Endeavor.  In it, I tell my story - how I got into the craziness that is the legal industry, and the reasons why I left.   It has been, by far, my most popular post with the most comments.  Right now there are 67 comments.  And it is this 67th comment I want to write about today.

On December 1, a person who calls themselves "Hindsight" left the following comment:

"You have just set forth why so many women are not hired.  After proving you could do it, if you really wanted to, you opted for children and staying home - honorable and admirable choices.  But I wonder if the coveted law school spot would have been better spent on someone who needed the job and would more likely stick with it."


For some reason, this comment hit a nerve with me.  I had to resist responding in a nasty way, and I forced myself to sit on it for a week or two.  Perhaps it's because the comment is full of stereotypes and blatant gender discrimination.  Perhaps it's because it is probably written by a lawyer who makes hiring decisions - hiring decisions that may affect me someday.  Or perhaps because in some ways, I understand what this guy (and I am assuming it is a guy, but maybe not), is saying.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Whole Lotta Holiday Card

Oh, the holiday card.  The way to spread holiday cheer, while at the same time saying "look how cute my kids are, surely they are cuter than yours."  Or, if you're not quite there, "look at my dog, doesn't he look funny when he wears an elf hat."  Or perhaps even, "we got married this year, look how stunning I look in my wedding gown, I lost 15 pounds to fit that thing on my body."

It's enough to make you sick.  Or get totally excited to check the mail to see what holiday cards have come.  Or get totally swept up in the phenomenon yourself.

Yes, I in fact have done all of the aforementioned holiday cards.  Shall we take a tour?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hello Again

Wow, I feel out of the loop lately.  The blogging loop, the friend loop, the I need to clean my house loop.  The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of working while trying to fit in cooking and cleaning and tantrums and patience with my husband's ridiculously long hours.  I feel like I have been on adrenaline, going from one task to the next and struggling (not always successfully) to keep it together.

But this morning, I am able to breathe, to relax, to appreciate the quiet.  The work deadline has passed. I got 8 hours of sleep last night.  Braden is at school.  Casey is asleep.  And I am back where I like to be at this time in the morning - in bed, with a cup of coffee, the computer on my lap, and the Today show on in the background.

These past couple of weeks have been a rude awakening as to what it was like - what it is like - to manage two jobs at once.  In a word - hard.

As hard as it is to stay at home with two kids, it is that much harder to stay at home and try to fit work in at the same time.  Laundry fell to the wayside.  The kids ate mac and cheese every other night.  I put the TV on more than I'd like to admit.  And the guilt that I hadn't felt in so long came flooding back - guilt for neglecting my kids, and guilt for not getting the work done quicker.  It is amazing how quickly I fell back into the cycle of it all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I have 11 minutes to write this post

This whole working thing has been a change of pace for sure.

My schedule these days?

7am - Get up with kids
8:30am- Braden off to school
9:00am- Casey goes down for nap
9-11am - Work during nap
11-2:30pm - Pick up Braden, feed kids, entertain kids, keep kids from engaging in suicide drops
2:30-4:30 - Work during nap
4:30-8:00pm - Feed kids, entertain kids, keep myself from engaging in suicide drop, kids to bed
8-10pm - Work.
10pm-7am - Watch DVRed crap reality television and sleep.  (And no, I never get 9 hours of sleep.  Ever.)

Rinse and repeat.

The intent has been to budget six hours a day for work.  Some days are more successful than others, but the whole schedule has been a bit grueling and I feel like I'm in a constant race against the clock.

I don't want to complain, because I am really grateful for this short stint job.  The money is good, it feels good to be working again, and it's something to add to my resume.  But it is a gentle reminder that the whole juggle is very, very difficult.

If this were a more long term thing, I'd obviously look into childcare options which would make things a lot easier.  But it's not, so I'll make due for the time being.  And stick to the schedule.

I have more to say, but my time is up, and I'm feeling guilty for not doing the work I should be doing.  Old habits die hard!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Bitter Pill

When I started this blog, it never really dawned on me to make it completely anonymous.  For starters, I didn't really expect hardly anyone to read it.  But more than that, I felt like I didn't have anything to hide.  I just didn't see a reason to completely conceal myself behind the thin veil of the internet.

I have to say that over the past few months there have been MANY times that I wished it were anonymous.  And probably not for the reasons you think.  I'm not scared of people seeing my kids or employers blackballing me or getting the occasional hate mail (oh, you gotta love the hate mail!).  Instead, I feel as if my lack of anonymity has limited my subject matter.

Lets be honest - I'd love to bitch about a few choice people.  I'd love to be able to sincerely express my hopes, fears, and insecurities.  I'd love to have this blog be my TRUE outlet where I can just let it all go.  But I can't.  Because, for better or worse, people are reading it.  People I know.  Including those choice aforementioned people.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Strange Turn of Events

I'm working again.  For a few weeks, anyway.

Last week, a contract attorney/freelance gig kind of fell into my lap.  I hate it when people say that, but it's true.  I didn't seek it out- it came to me.   And when the question was posed to me as to whether or not I was interested, I was shocked at how easy it was for me to exclaim a big fat "Yes!"

I think I have missed working more than I care to admit.  Or maybe it's not working per se, but SOMETHING.  Something other than the tediousness of my daily life these days - the nap times and the school pick ups and the playdates and the meal preparation and the laundry and the Real Housewives episodes.  Don't get me wrong - I love the aforementioned things, but I find myself yearning for something different.  Something to make me appreciate how awesome a mundane lifestyle can be.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pic of the Week - Oh Christmas Tree

It may be a bit puny.  Stubby.  Sparsely decorated.

But it's ours.  And man, it smells good.

Just looking at it puts me in a good mood!  Yay for Christmas!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

And They All Fell, One by One

Our Thanksgiving was a bit of a bust, to say the least.  Such a bust, that I feel a mere narrative is not sufficient.  Thus, here is a timeline of the events that gave way to our Thanksgiving from hell, beginning with Wednesday:

11:00am - Go to Braden's school for Thanksgiving feast.  The holiday has begun!
12:15pm - On way home from Braden's school, receive phone call from my mother informing me that Casey has thrown up.  CASEY DOWN.
1:00pm- Decide to cease giving Casey his antibiotic (for an ear infection from the week before), in case the vomiting is due to an allergic reaction to penicillin.
1:01pm- Hope to God it is only an allergic reaction, and not the dreaded, worse than anything in the world, spread like wild fire, stomach flu.
3:00pm - Hubby comes home to begin cooking.
4:45pm - Braden wakes up from nap.
4:50pm - I rally the family (including my sister, her boyfriend, my mom, and stepdad) to get ready to go out to dinner.
4:55pm - Braden throws up.  BRADEN DOWN.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pic of the Week - Balls to the Wall


A lot of balls.  And a not so happy Casey.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SAHMs Like Bonuses Too

It's that time of year again.

I'm not referring to the time of year where you give thanks and express gratitude for all your blessings in life.  Though I suppose it's that time of year too.  

I'm referring to law firm bonus season.  It is usually right around this time each year that the first firm announces its bonus numbers. Until then, law firm associates everywhere are on the edge of their seats wondering what these initial numbers will be, and what that will mean for their bank account.

Whatever this first firm announces as its associate bonus breakdown sets the stage for all other law firms.  And whatever the numbers are, they are never enough.  The initial announcement is usually followed by outrage and threats of an uprising.  All anonymous, of course.  Then, with all the talk of outrage, there comes hope.  Hope that your firm will right this wrong and increase associate bonuses, putting that first announcing firm to shame.  This rarely happens. 

To the outside world, this whole practice must seem ridiculous, and begs some questions:  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Three squared

Today is my birthday.  I am 33.

I'm not really one to freak out about getting older, and this birthday is no different.  So what if I'm 33?  I have a few more wrinkles, and a  few more pounds.  But overall, I don't feel any different than I did when I was 25 (except maybe a bit more tired - yes, a bit more tired).

It's funny how birthdays change when you get older.  Or maybe it's when you have kids.  I'm not sure.  But they just aren't such a big deal anymore.  Gone are the days where I rally all my friends together for a happy hour and secretly tally who remembered my birthday and who didn't.  At this stage, who cares?  Half the time I can't even remember how old I am.  I think once you get to the stage where you have to mentally subtract your birth year from the current year to figure out your age, the era of gilded birthdays are over.  So if you are reading this later this week, and you realize you forgot my birthday, and you feel bad - don't.  Really.

The overblown presents and parties may be a thing of the past, but that doesn't mean I won't try and make this day as close to perfect as possible. I might as well milk it!  So my plan today is to do the following:

1) Lay in bed an extra half hour while hubby takes care of the kids (check - thanks to hubby).
2) Put Casey down for morning nap, and return to bed with french vanilla decaf (check).
3) Continue reading the Hunger Games.
4) Go to the grocery store for Thanksgiving dinner shopping (this would normally suck, but I am putting a positive spin on it by allowing myself to buy a Tony's frozen pizza for lunch).
5) Pick up Braden and then allow Braden and Casey to watch as much TV as they want prior to their nap, so that I can finish the Hunger Games.
6) Return to bed during Braden and Casey's nap and watch last night's Real Housewives of Atlanta, and will them to sleep until at last 4:00pm.  Please.
7) Gather family together to go to my favorite restaurant of all time - Chili's.  I may charade as a foodie, but at the end of the day, there is nothing better than Chili's nachos.  (Each individual nacho has its own cheese and toppings!)
8) Blow out the candles to my birthday cookie cake.  Is there anything better than a cookie cake?
9) Relax with a glass of champagne and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
10) Stop writing this blog so I can get to numbers 1-9 above.

It's going to be a good day!  And by all indications, another good year.  Here's to 3-squared.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Virtual Intervention

Do you all know what today is?  It's the 35th Annual Great American Smokeout.  It's a day to inspire smokers nationwide to quit, just for the day.  And maybe if today, then another day, and another.

There are approximately 46 million smokers in America, according to CBS news.  My mother in law is one of them.

Like many smokers, my mother in law has tried to quit before.  She has set milestones, aka, the birth of the first grandchild, then the second, then the third.  After a couple of tragic, sudden deaths in the family, she recently vowed to quit smoking at the birth of her fourth grandchild, born at the end of July.  She didn't.

It has become a part of her daily life in a way that is probably just as powerful as the nicotine addiction. When she wakes up, she has a cigarette.  When she talks on the phone, she has a cigarette (and she talks on the phone a lot).  Driving, before bed, walking the dog, etc.

I've never really broached the topic with her, because really, it's none of my business.  I always thought that if the family wanted to pressure her to quit, that it should be at my husband's initiative, not mine.  But things have changed.  Two things in fact:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Journey to the Light

As I've mentioned on this blog before, I tend to get in a funk from mid-November until March.  This funk coincides directly with the onset of daylight savings time, and dissipates when the clocks spring forward.  So yeah, it's not a coincidence.  Classic seasonal affective disorder (self diagnosed).

I've been on the hunt for one of those "happy lights" - the ones that are supposed to mimic the sun and make all of the winter funk go away.  It's all a bit hokie, but why not?  Problem is, said lights are kind of expensive (upwards of $100), so I've been a bit hesitant on splurging for something that is probably psychosomatic in nature.

A friend of mine knew of my quest for brightness, and forwarded me an email that went out on her neighborhood list serve.  Someone was selling a happy light for the bargain price of $40.  This seemed a bit more reasonable.  I emailed the woman and arranged to pick it up last Wednesday.

I had ideally wanted to wait until my husband got home from work to go pick it up, so I didn't have to drag my kids with me.  But of course, with my husband's schedule last week, the chance of him getting home before bedtime was slim to none.  So around 5pm last Wednesday, I headed out into the darkness to find the light.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Face Time

Last Wednesday my husband called me from work with a dire warning: "It's going to be a bad weekend."

In all honesty, I didn't take it too well.  My husband's aunt and uncle were coming in for the weekend. We had Braden's parent teacher conference Friday evening.  We had dinner plans.  We had a date night.  I've seen these "bad weekends" before, and at times they have entailed conference calls that start on a Saturday morning and last in excess of 6 hours.  Where my husband has to switch phones mid-way through because the battery on the cordless phone is dying.

I just wasn't up for it this weekend.

On Friday, my husband decided to work from home.  In part it was because the rest of his team was out of the office that day, and because he wanted to ensure he would be home for Braden's school conference.  But the primary reason was that he didn't think he could afford to take 1.5 hours out of his day to commute.  He couldn't spare a moment not sitting at his computer.  He was that busy.

So he stayed home.  He worked.  He went from call to call.  He was stressed.

But me?  I was loving this!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

TV Debut

So remember that crazy celebrity wedding I wrote about a few months ago?  The one with the nine foot wedding cake?  The one that is actually going to be televised on the TLC series, DC Cupcakes, this Friday at 10pm?  You may remember, I went a bit crazy preparing for that wedding.  Weight loss.  New dress.  Spray tan.  Hair and makeup.  The whole spiel.

A few weeks ago my husband got a consent form in the mail requesting consent for his appearance on the reality show.  It was addressed to him and his guest.  Ooooo, how exciting!  I knew all my preparation was worth it!

But it wasn't to be.  My husband's colleague, who actually married the celebrity bride, quashed all my dreams last week when he informed us that though my husband will make a split second appearance on the show, I will not.

WTF!  Did my husband stand naked spread eagle for some random stranger to spray his innards with a can of brown paint?  No he did not.

Whatever.  I am over it.  Because you know what?  I've already had my time in spotlight.

You probably don't know this about me, but back in 1999, I was a celebrity in my own right.  For like, a whole minute.  While studying abroad in London, I was featured on the BBC show "World of the Secret Camera," which is Britain's version of "Candid Camera."

How?  Why?  Where?  I was in London walking through a Pottery Barn type store, when I passed a shelf of glassware and heard it all crash to the ground.  Convinced I caused the demolition (because I had an enormous "I am an American backpack" on my back), I freaked and offered to pay for the damage.  Little did I know it was all a big joke and I was being filmed.  Apparently, my reaction was unique, and I was invited to be a guest on the show itself.

I wasn't nervous at all for the taping.  I was over-confident in fact.  And then I totally choked.  CHOKED.

You want to see for yourself?  Here you go (I come in after 8 seconds):

A few notes on this:

1) The reason I had a big fat backpack on was because I was on my way to the airport to go to Paris.  I met my ex boyfriend at the airport and was like, "Um, a crazy thing happened to me today."
2) Oh my God was I skinny.  No muffin top at all?  None?  Me?  How?  Why?
3) I still have that necklace.  I wore it a few weeks ago.
4) In the "candid" version of the video, where I didn't know I was being taped, I was wearing contacts.  And I looked showered.  With makeup on. And painted nails (!).  Who is this girl?
5) Shortly after this interview, five of my friends and I wreaked havoc on the green room and showed the British what 20 year old unable to drink in the U.S. girls can really do when they have access to free, legal alcohol.  They ended up giving us a car to take us into Covent Garden just to get rid of us.

So will my husband make a fool of himself on camera as I did?  We can only hope.  Tune in on Friday night to see.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

We are STILL Penn State

There's an aspect of my life I haven't really discussed on this blog.  It's not because it wasn't important or meaningful.  It's just that it was a long time ago.

But no amount of time, space or distance can change the fact that I was, am, and will always be Penn State.

I came to Penn State at the age of 17, back in 1996.  I was young, naive, and convinced I was going to marry my high school boyfriend.  I thought I was going to go into public relations.  I had no desire to travel abroad, let alone study abroad.  I looked forward to returning to Cincinnati during the summers so I could hang out with my high school friends.  I had no interest in football or tailgating outside in frigid temperatures.  I was insecure, unsure, and anxious, and looked at college like a means to an end - a rite of passage I had to endure.

It's crazy to think about.

I left Penn State sans high school boyfriend.  I had a double major in Journalism and Political Science, and was awaiting my return to London, not to travel, but to live.  I left with six best friends, whom I still keep in touch with (and all of whom I'll be seeing in Philadelphia next week).  I gained a healthy respect for football, and a love for tailgating in the cold.  I loved seeing my family and missed my high school friends, but I no longer yearned for summers at home.  I was confident, I was ambitious, I was eager, I was ready to conquer the world.

And I was proud.  Proud to be a Nittany Lion.  Proud to be a Penn Stater.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Me, a Tutor

I've been in a bit of a rut lately.  Not a depressive rut or anything, but the kind of post-vacation, what am I doing with my life, how am I going to entertain the kids when it's pitch black at 6pm kind of rut.  Just a bit restless.  I have been chalking it up to getting back from Disney and having real life come crashing back, but last week I had a bit of a (small) breakdown. 

It's not that I am thinking I want to go back to work - I don't.  It's just that sometimes that existential question creeps in - how do I want to spend my time in this life?  I mean, my time - my free time.  I do have that, sometimes.  When the kids are napping, or at night, or when my husband gives me a break.  But what do I want to do with that?  Watch TV?   Eat?  Exercise to make up for the watching TV and eating?  Shop?

The truth is, I don't know.  But I'll tell you what I'm not doing during my free time.  I'm not making money.  And I'm not really using my brain. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Me Hungry

Casey is now over a year old, and I think it's official.  The "baby" weight has turned into my weight.  It's all mine.

Despite my best efforts, I am just not looking like my pre-Casey self.  And yes, I know, pregnancies change you and you'll never look exactly the same, but really?  Really?  This is how it's going to be?

This summer, I put my nose to the grindstone and said enough.  Enough!  I did Jillian Michaels every friggin day for weeks (and I hate that woman).  I counted calories - as in, every time a morsel of food or liquid went into my mouth it was recorded on a scrap of paper in the kitchen.  I bought disgusting weight watchers microwave meals and endured them.  I stopped watching Top Chef reruns, because it was just too painful.

My efforts were rewarded, and I did end up losing weight.  I got down to my pre-pregnancy weight, plus one pound.  Which I figured isn't so bad.  I'd allow myself the excess pound if it meant I could cut Jillian Michaels out of my life.

Once I had gotten to my baseline, I figured I was in the clear. I mean, one can't live like this forever, right?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Obligation

I'm not one of those people that posts on Facebook very frequently, but as I reviewed my news reel this morning, I realized that I had to post some Halloween pictures.  I just HAD to.  Because if I didn't, surely I would be the worst mom ever who wasn't proud of her children and didn't think they were cute and didn't want to share their cuteness with the rest of the world.  If you love your children, apparently that's just what you do.

And now that I have a blog, it would be even more egregious if my decked out boys were passed over.  They would never forgive me.

So here it is.  And, they are pretty cute if I do say so myself.
Woody and Buzz Lightyear with a proud mama.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Beware the Female Biglaw Partner

When I worked in biglaw, I always tried to avoid working for female partners.  It sounds odd, right? I mean, as a female associate, shouldn't I have sought out female mentors?  Women who had been in my position, and overcome massive obstacles and somehow learned to balance work and family?


As it turns out, I'm not alone.

According to a recent article in the ABA Journal, not one of the 142 legal secretaries surveyed preferred to work for a female partner.  Not one!  Ninety five percent of the secretaries surveyed were women.

I can't say that I'm surprised.  At all.  From my experience (and this is ONLY my experience), the majority of female partners I came across were not pleasant to work for, and I avoided them to every extent possible.  In fact, at my last firm I was more than happy to join a group where ever single partner was male.  Why?  Because over my five years at law firms, I found that most female partners fell into one of the following categories:

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Surprise Package

With Casey's recent birthday, we have been getting a lot of packages in the mail.  Cars and books and clothes from Gap Kids (love).  Even though the presents aren't for me per se, I still get really excited when we get something and tear the wrapping paper off in excitement help Casey unwrap the gifts.

A few days ago the UPS man paid us another visit, but this time the package wasn't addressed to Casey.  Instead, it was addressed to both my husband and I.

Now this was interesting.

Why would a package be addressed to the both of us?  This indicated it was not a purchase by my husband or myself (I tend to order things and then forget about it).  It also indicated it was not a present for either child, as even if their names are left off of an address label, usually only one parent is the addressee.  Not the case here.

Since Casey was sleeping and Braden was watching the Halloween episode of Yo Gabba Gabba for the TWENTIETH time this week, I figured I would play a little game with myself.

What do I want to be in this package?

My imagination started to run the gamut.  Out of every possibility in the world - what do I want to be in this 1 foot by 1 foot box?  The rules of the game were that it can't be money (too boring), and I had to narrow it down to three options.

I came up with the following:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pic of the Week - Young Love

The whole boy vs. girl distinction is still lost on Braden sometimes.  He knows he's a boy, that Daddy's a boy, and that Mommy's a girl, but that is where it ends.  Casey is at times a girl.  His teachers are girls or boys, depending on the day.  And with friends it is also a mixed bag.

Despite his gender confusion, he seems to innately treat girls differently.  He is much more affectionate with girls, and he'll even come home and talk about how girls from school are "pretty."  Last year, he developed a particular affection for a girl in his class, and would consistently try to hug her.  Apparently, the girl got annoyed and started pushing Braden away, making him cry.  (Bitch.)

This past weekend, Braden's cousin, who is a year younger than him, came into town to celebrate Casey's birthday.  Braden has always been a bit enthralled with her, but he is usually shy and keeps his distance.  This trip, he took it to the next level:

Look at this!  He insisted on putting his arm around her waist as they strolled the halls with their stroller.  Melts my heart.

I decided I would wait a few years to break the news to him that it is illegal for him to marry her.  At least in most states.

For now, I'll let the young love flourish.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Lovely Color

When I lived in London back in 2001, I worked at a small public policy research consultancy.  The pay wasn't great, the job was at times mundane, but the atmosphere was awesome.  It was an open plan office, and everyone was friends, regardless of age or seniority.  When the company won a new project, champagne was brought in (no matter the time of day).  There were office pranks and inside jokes.  There were well attended weekly happy hours at The Fox, our local pub down the street.  And our work actually did something to better society.  It was a great job.

I was young, I was energetic, and I was loving the fact that I was the only American at the company. It was before law school.  Before meeting my husband.  Before kids.

It was back when I was me and just me, and okay with that.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Cous Strikes Again

You know the saying that you need a vacation after your vacation?  I get it now. While our Disney trip was amazing, it was exhausting.  At the end of it all, I just wanted to sleep in, head to the airport, pop a xanax, and wake up at home in my bed, where I could chill out for a few days before reemerging to reality.  But alas, it didn't exactly happen like that. 

The return trip itself was somewhat of a disaster.  After refusing to use the airplane toilet (because of  "the loud"), Braden preferred to soil himself, and announce it to the rest of the plane.  Loudly.  Once we landed, in a rush to get him off of said plane, I picked him up and soiled my own shirt in urine.  This is on top of my orange juice soiled jeans, thanks to Braden spilling his juice all over me mid-flight.  

When we got home, all I wanted to do was purge myself of urine and citrus and lay in bed and catch up on Real Housewives episodes.  But alas, there was laundry to do and kids to feed.  And on top of that, we had a party to plan.  Casey's birthday was that very day, and his party was planned for Saturday, at our house.

[Before continuing on, I must write this note to myself: NEVER AGAIN HAVE A PARTY AT YOUR HOUSE!  Thank you.]

Since I was so focused on planning our vacation, Casey's birthday party planning had gone to the wayside a bit.  I don't generally do high maintenance parties, but even the basics were up in the air the day before the party.  What to serve?  What to play?  Who did I invite again? 

Family descended upon us on Friday.  Of course it's wonderful to see everyone, but it is also overwhelming and exhausting and hard to party plan and clean with everyone here.  So needless to say, by Saturday I was stressed and tired and just wanted things to go smoothly.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pic of the Week - Almost Birthday

A year ago today was my due date.

I was not in good shape.  I was convinced I was going to be pregnant FOREVER.  I remember leaving work, driving home, and calling my sister whereby I had a panic attack that this baby was never going to come.  I was never going to start maternity leave, and my mother in law, who was staying with us to watch Braden for the birth, would be staying with us permanently.

In the midst of my panic attack, I was pulled over and got a ticket for talking on my cell phone while driving.  I was so over it, I didn't even attempt to use the pregnancy card to get out of the ticket.

Looking back, I don't know what I was all worked up about.  Of course the baby was going to come.  Of course I wasn't going to be pregnant forever.  But as a nine month's pregnant woman, it doesn't matter.  There is no rationality.

Later that night, the contractions started.  And at 8:50am the next morning, I met my beautiful baby boy.

So today, here in Disney World, we celebrated Casey's almost birthday. 

And though Casey looks less than thrilled, he did enjoy his ice cream.  :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Taste of What's to Come

It's been almost five months since I completely weaned Casey, and pretty soon he will turn 1 and be off of bottles and formulas, and onto the real stuff.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss breastfeeding.  I don't know why.  In a lot of ways, I'm excited for this year mark to pass, because I know that had I been left to my own devices, and not had health issues that caused me to wean early, I would be weaning right about now.

Even though I'm no longer an official breastfeeder, I still find myself very defensive of breastfeeding moms.  Like if someone gets offended by someone for breastfeeding in public.  Or when Facebook took down those pictures of women breastfeeding.  Or when people got all up in arms about that breastfeeding doll.  Come on. It's natural, people!

So when I saw this ACLU petition regarding the LSAT exam and breastfeeding moms, I couldn't help but get a little worked up about it.

For any non-lawyers out there, the LSAT is basically the law school entrance exam - you can't get into law school without taking it.  The exam itself lasts approximately four hours.  Apparently, the Law School Admissions Council (the organization that administers the LSAT) has a blanket policy of denying all requests for accommodation from nursing mothers who need to pump during the exam itself.   So basically, if you want to take the LSAT and you are nursing, be prepared to endure pain and invest in some extra breast pads.

Are they serious?  I'm not suggesting breastfeeding mothers should have any advantages, but surely some accommodation could be made for these women to, um, get rid of the milk that is about to explode out of their boobs?

Whoever is making these decisions surely has never had said milk explode out of their boobs.  I am pretty sure of that.

Whatever.  I suppose I'm not surprised.  The barriers to a legal career and motherhood start early. And trust me, beyond law school, it doesn't get any easier.

But this is just ridiculous.

For anyone interested, you can click the link above to sign the ACLU petition.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Four Years of Disney

Don't hate me because I'm in Disney World.

Yes, I am here - on a five day mini-vacation with the husband, the kids, and a set of grandparents.   And though a trip to Disney World is far from relaxing, we are having a blast.  So this week's posts will likely be heavy on pictures and light on words.

Walking around Magic Kingdom yesterday, I couldn't help but reflect on all of my trips here over the years.  I have vague memories of coming here as a five year old and riding "It's a Small World" over and over again.  I have sharper memories of coming here as an 8 year old, dressed in a princess dress, and galavanting around Fantasy Land.  I distinctly remember coming here as a teenager with high school friends and thinking I was too cool for Fantasy Land.  I clearly remember coming here while in college and skipping Fantasy Land altogether and instead doing an "Around the World" bar crawl in the EPCOT world showcase.

And then I remember coming here as an adult.  I've been here numerous more times over the years, but three times over the past four years specifically.  And the pictures tell the story:

September 2007

September 2009

October 2011
Who knows what our next Disney trip will bring?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Un-wined of the Week - Catching Up

It has been a while since I've done an un-wined of the week.  Fear not - it's not because of a lack of alcohol consumption.  It's more because I've been traveling and things are busy and there are other things I want to write about.  Plus, I like to add a bit of a story behind an evening of wine drinking, and lately the story has been:  It's Wednesday and I am watching X-Factor and eating popcorn.  And that's kind of boring.

But last night departed from the mundane.

One of the things I love about the DC area is that it is so transient.  People are always moving in and out.  It obviously sucks when friends leave, but it also means that there is the potential for friends to come.  And lo and behold, a few weeks ago, one came.  And I am so happy about it!

Kristen and I went to college together, and were in the same (ahem, I'm going to say it) sorority. She was a year younger than me, so we weren't in the same core circle of friends.  But you know how there are those people that you may not be that close to, but that you just LOVE?  In that, you know if you had the opportunity, you would be great friends, no problem?  She was one of those. Love her.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Tale of Two Dentists

Today is going to be a short one because I am exhausted.  Casey inexplicably woke up at 5am this morning, and once I got him back down I couldn't go back to sleep, since I knew I was waking up at 6:15 to go to the dentist.

But this dentist post is not about me.

Yesterday I took Braden to his first dentist appointment.  I knew from the get-go it wasn't going to go well.

How do I know this?  Well, Braden doesn't like to be touched by strangers.   When we go shopping for shoes, he freaks when the salesperson tries to measure his feet.  He demonstrates an impressive physical strength at doctor's appointments in refusing access to his ears.  And just try and cut his hair.  That's the worst.  Because not only does he not like invasions of personal space, he also really hates loud noise.  All hell breaks loose when he gets his hair cut and they bring out that electric razor thing.  This is why his hair is always uneven- he ends up scaring the hair dressers and making them cry and they refuse to finish the job.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pic of the Week - Happiness Is...

This baby boy.

I only have a few weeks left to count his age in months, and likely even less time to count his words on one hand.

My baby boy disappears more and more everyday into an older version of himself.

But I can't be too sad about it, because, man, he is so, so, so happy.  All the time.

Monday, October 10, 2011

So It's Not Just Me

When I started this whole stay at home mom journey, it was easy to feel isolated.  I knew there probably were other women who had left law firms, or other career tracks, to stay at home, but I only knew a few.  I suppose part of the reason I started this blog was in an effort to reach out and feel connected.  A virtual way to say - "Is there anyone else out there?"

Well, seven months out, the resounding answer is YES!  Thanks to this virtual community I've joined, I've realized there are SO many of us.  So many women who have taken a break from a career to be with family.  So many women who never thought it was the course their life would take.  Maybe it's just now becoming more apparent, or maybe it's just because I'm looking, but I've also noticed a lot more people are talking about it.  In fact, in the past week, thanks to the blogging community, I've come across three fascinating articles on the subject.

Friday, October 7, 2011

This weekend I am STUFFING MY FACE

Tomorrow is the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.  Before I look it up on google, let me tell you what I know about it:

It's a really big deal Jewish holiday.  The most important one I think.  No gifts are involved.  Instead, you are supposed to go to temple tonight.  And then again tomorrow.  You are supposed to fast for 24 hours (starting tonight).  You are supposed to think about all the crappy things you did this year, and feel really, really bad about yourself.  And then you are supposed to do better next year.

And now the official description from Wikipedia:

"Also known as Day of Atonement, [Yom Kippur] is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews.  Its central themes are atonement and repentance.  Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services."

Well, hell hath no fury like a Jew stuffing their face, and Lord strike me down for my synagogue non-attendance. But, much to my in-laws horror, we won't be going to services, and I certainly am not going without food.  (I'm pulling for Olive Garden for dinner this evening).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Forgotten One

I write all the time about Braden.  About Casey.  About my husband and work and vacations and my various identity crises.

It dawned on me yesterday that I haven't written at all about a certain family member and housemate. 

This is Cous Cous.  She also goes by Cous, "The Moose," Moostifer, and Ga ga. 

She is a Cavapoo (a mix between a King Charles Cavalier and a poodle).  She is 4 1/2.  She is about 25 pounds.  She is a daddy's girl.  She is OBNOXIOUS.  And as much as I hate to say it, she is at many times forgotten.

It wasn't always the case.

Back in December of 2006, we were newlyweds living in New York.  I was working at Skadden in those days, and I was miserable.  We made the decision to leave our jobs and move to DC, and we thought it would be a perfect time to get a dog.  We'd have more space, an easier lifestyle, and I'd have four weeks off from work to potty train the little thing.  We perused the internet for hypo-allergenic breeds (husband claims he is allergic) and knew Cous was "the one" from the second we saw her picture.  She flew into JFK Airport with her breeder the day before we moved to DC.  I fell in love with her from the moment I saw her.  My husband, on the other hand, vomited that day when she had her first accident.  (I told you he had a problem with his stomach when he is undergoing a life change!)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pic of the Week - $400 Empanadas

On Sundays, my husband generally makes dinner.  He enjoys it, and I'm certainly not going to complain.  This week's dinner?  Beef empanadas with a black bean and tomato sauce:

I swear they taste better than they look.
I generally don't interfere with my husband in the kitchen and let him do his thing.  However, while I was watching him cook on Sunday, I noticed he was throwing an awful lot of food into the garbage disposal - lettuce, tomatoes, cauliflower, etc.  The garbage disposal is a great invention, but it can't take a head of lettuce.  We have learned this the hard way.

I thought to myself, Surely he won't put all that down the garbage disposal.  He is probably just keeping it there for now, and will transfer it to the garbage later.

So I decided not to say anything.  Why be condescending?  Besides:  He just clogged the sink last month.  He learned his lesson.  I'll let him cook in peace.

A few moments later I heard the clankety clank noise of the garbage disposal.


I do love a good "I told you so."  But not at the expense of water spilling all over our kitchen floor.

A plumber, a snake, and $400 later, we enjoyed our empanadas.  They were good, but not $400 good.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

The weather this past weekend was downright depressing.  Cold, rainy, gloomy, curl up in pajama type weather.  It was a premature reminder of the dark months to come.

For the past four years, I have fallen into a winter funk from mid-November - February.  I can't say it's depression per se, but I generally am sluggish, bored, unmotivated, and never wanting to leave the house because it's too damn cold - just blah.  I find myself crossing days off of the calendar and counting down the days until daylight savings time.  I think this funk has been the result of one or more of the following factors:

- morning sickness
- post partum depression
- the drafting of a ridiculous number of deposition outlines with a completely unmanageable deadline
- a crying newborn
- a lack of sleep
- sunsets before 5pm
- the self loathing of post-baby weight
- the announcement of salary freezes
- an impending return from maternity leave
- the stress of childcare to cover impending return to maternity leave
- Snowmageddon (twice - once resulting in a tree falling on my house)

Among others.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Y.G.G. (And if you don't know what that stands for, you should)

That would be Yo Gabba Gabba.

Tonight, we will be seeing the magic live.  Live!  DJ Lance in the flesh.

Maybe some people reading this are professional people with no kids.  Maybe you have kids, but they are too old to watch Yo Gabba Gabba.  Or, perhaps you have kids but you (gasp!!!) don't watch Yo Gabba Gabba.  You're probably thinking, why should I continue reading this crap post?  Maybe you've stopped reading already. 

Why?  Only because Yo Gabba Gabba it is the most unbelievable, entertaining, creative, educational, college student stoned enjoyment to have ever graced the television.  This is no Blues Clues, people.  It's bizarre.  Eccentric.  Odd.  So odd, in fact, that it can be nothing but brilliant.  If you find yourself saying, "Who thinks of this crap and what are they smoking" multiple times over a thirty minute episode, you know your time is well spent. Oh, and Braden loves it too.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pic of the Week - Embracing Mediocrity

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, I've been taking an introductory photography class.  The last class is tonight, and I have to say I am sad about it!  I have really enjoyed learning something new, and more than that, having a place to go where I can talk to adults and space out if I want to.  Despite class ending, I am thinking I want to make photography my new "hobby."  You know, where I tote a big camera around parks on the weekends and start taking pictures of inanimate objects instead of just my kids.

But there's a problem. 

I'm really not that good at it.

For a while, I thought it was something I could learn to be good at.  It's all technical right?  But the more I learn, the more I am realizing it is more of an art than a science.  And artistic talent is NOT something I've been blessed with.  Not at all.

This past weekend, our class took a field trip to Union Station and then walked around the Capitol area.  We were sent off to take original, artsy photos, and I was at a loss.  I am completely lacking in creativity!  Angles, leading lines, unique perspective - it's all lost on me.  But, I had lots of fun anyway.  And here's one of my mediocre artistic attempts:

Where the magic happens, people. 
I have decided that I don't necessarily need to be good at something to make it my hobby, as long as I enjoy it right?

In fact, mediocrity is a relief.  Who needs all that pressure from a hobby?

Monday, September 26, 2011

AP Math

Up until my junior year in high school, I never put that much effort into school.  I would get A's and B's, but I actually didn't care that much about my grades.  I wasn't really challenged, and I didn't care to be challenged either.  I was more into boys and lunch time and talking on the phone for hours each evening (thank God I grew up before Facebook).

I had always taken AP Math classes, and my junior year I signed up for AP Precalculus.  Within the first week or so, it became clear that this was not going to be so easy peasy.  I did the homework as required and studied for quizzes and exams in study hall, but it didn't cut it.  For the first time in my academic career, I was failing.  Failing!  I was humiliated.  I remember asking to go to the nurse during one class right before the teacher was about to pass back test results, because I was so ashamed.  After about a month, I went to see my guidance counselor and told her I wanted to transfer to the Honors class instead.  She approved it, and within a few days, my schedule was changed.

Then something weird happened. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pic of the Week - A Nine Foot What?

I guess we shouldn't have been surprised - what do you expect from a Georgetown Cupcake wedding?

Yes, that is a 9 foot wedding cake.  Made of little cupcakes. 

And that's how I gained three pounds during a weekend away.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Phase

As I sit here at my computer listening to Casey babble about in his bed when he should be napping, a sad realization has struck me:

Soon, in the not so distant future, Casey will give up his morning nap.  And my luxurious mornings, complete with coffee and bed and the Today show and blogging, will be a distant memory. 

But that's not all.  Also, in the not so distant future, Braden will be giving up his one and only afternoon nap.  And then I will have no break in the day.  AT ALL. 

This scares the crap out of me. 

Right now, even with these two breaks in my day, I consider my day pretty damn hard - much harder than my days in biglaw.  I am exhausted.  When the boys are up, and I'm not preparing meals or cleaning up from meals or dealing with various toddler demands, I'm on a constant quest to entertain them and find activities.  Some days are easier than others, but all days, an immense amount of energy is exerted, and I yearn for my boys' naptimes.  Yearn for them!  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Celebrity Wedding

The wedding I went to this past weekend was pretty unbelievable.  Over the top.  Extravagant.  But what do you expect from a celebrity wedding?  Well, maybe not Hollywood A-list style, but close to it. 

Have you ever seen that show on TLC, DC Cupcakes?  It's a reality show following the two sisters who own Georgetown Cupcake, which is a cupcake store chain in DC (soon to open in Manhattan).  The cupcakes are pretty amazing, but that's neither here nor there.

Well, my husband happens to work with the guy who married one of the sisters.  I know, it's weird, right?  A guy who is engaged (now married) to a reality TV star/owner of hugely successful cupcake chain chooses to spend his time in biglaw marking up credit agreements and taking notes during conference calls?  I can't imagine he's yearning for the partner track, but what do I know?  And anyway, that's also neither here nor there.

We got the invitation to the wedding last spring, and my first reaction:  We're there.  Nevermind I had never met the bride or the groom.  The wedding was in Santa Barbara.  At the San Ysidro Ranch.  It was being filmed for the TLC series (it will air in November!).  Um yeah, we're going.  My husband took a bit of convincing, but the tickets were booked in short order.  And so began the countdown to my first celebrity wedding. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Never Again...

Will I take a red eye flight.

You know when you are booking a flight, like six months in advance, and you are weighing all of your options?  Cost, time, connection, etc.  And a flight comes up that is maybe $30 cheaper, but it is a red eye flight and you will get to your destination at 5am having had no sleep at all.  And you think, come on, I should save money, I can hack it for just one morning.  Because it's all conceptual at that point and the pain that you will endure and feel on that morning is in the distant future and hey, maybe it won't be that bad.

Yeah, that's kind of what happened to us. And yes, it will be that bad.  Much worse than you can imagine, actually.

We thought, oh it will be nice to have all day Sunday to spend in LA.  We can drive the Pacific Coast Highway and frolic on the beach hand in hand with "Something Tells Me I'm Into Something Good" playing in the background.  Sure, we won't have a hotel room or place to sit or lay down or use the bathroom, and there is a large chance we'll have a painful hangover from the night before.  Nevermind that.  We will be on vacation!  Without children!

Never again.

I got nine hours of sleep last night, and I still feel like I got run over by a truck.   I really wanted to do a heartfelt post, about how amazing the wedding was, about how I could potentially appear on a reality show episode in November, about how I got a drunken job offer, about my thoughts on post-kid travel, etc. etc.  But I can't.  I'm just tapped out.

Hopefully tomorrow.  

Until then, today promises to be a long one.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Some Nice Surprises, Some Disappointments, and Some Irony

I'm in LA!  My flight did not go down in flames.  Let me recap my trip thus far by dividing this post into three segments:

Some Nice Surprises
Nice Surprise #1 - A nun on our flight.  I'm not religious at all, but when I saw that nun, I thought, "Surely this plane won't go down.  Surely this nun has an in."  And I was right.  Not only was it an uneventful flight, but my husband and I ended up with a row to ourselves and I managed to sleep most of the way.

Our flight was a bit delayed, so we didn't end up in LA until 1:30am.  We were exhausted when we arrived at the W Westwood and learned about Nice Surprise #2 - we were upgraded to a suite!  I seem to be making a habit of this.  The room is great.  The bed is great.  The pool is great.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Heading West, on Xanax

If you know me, you know I've been counting down the days for this west coast trip forever.

In T minus 11 hours, I'll be on a Virgin Atlantic flight heading to LA.  Just my husband and I.  We have my husband's colleague to thank, who decided to get married at the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, CA. 

Gwyneth Paltrow got married here.  Just sayin.  

Before heading to Santa Barbara on Friday, we're going to spend a day in LA, which I plan to spend poolside at the W hotel, with a cocktail.  Or two.

Life doesn't get much better, right? 

There are only two things putting a downer on this amazing trip right now.  One, I am pathetically sad about leaving my kids.  Yes, they will be fine.  Yes, my mother raised me and my sister and is capable of taking care of two kids.  Yes, it is only four days and once I'm back, they won't even remember that I was gone.  But I just can't help it.  I'm heartsick over leaving them!

There's that, and then there's this:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pic of the Week - Five Years

It was five years ago (plus a few days):

September 9, 2006

It was 75 degrees and sunny.

Wanna know a secret?  My husband threw up a few hours before the ceremony.  His stomach does weird things when he's nervous.

There were about 130 people at a low key, small B&B in Wellfleet, MA.

The guest list included a British Member of Parliament, a large gay contingent, a friend who came all the way from Australia, and a poodle named Snowey.  

There was lots of dancing, a shirtless rendition of "Living on a Prayer," and even some keg stands (not by me!).    

It was a good day.

But better than that day has been the five years since, that have given us a new city, a new house, a new dog, two boys that are more amazing than words, lots of laughs, and pure happiness.

There's no one else I'd rather hang out with in this life.  

Love you, sweetie.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Bust

When I worked at law firms, it wasn't the long nights in the office, the ruined weekends, or the canceled vacations that really got me down.  In reality, those things didn't happen too often.  No, the scary thing - the thing that caused me the most stress - was the threat of all of those things.

All it took was one all-nighter in the office to put the fear of God in you that it would happen again - anytime, at no warning.  (For the record, it only happened to me once, which I wrote about here).   If you heard that some associate in some other department in some other office had to cancel their vacation, the seed was planted that this too could happen to you.  Having to cancel plans once in a blue moon meant that you never knew when you would have to cancel again, at a moment's notice, and so every dinner reservation, every concert, ever planned weekend away, came with an underlying caveat - "... unless things go crazy at work."  Since leaving my job, I obviously don't have to worry about this happening to me anymore.  But this weekend, I was reminded that I can't say the same for my husband.  And so that the fear continues to follow me.

Last Friday was my husband and my 5th anniversary.  To be honest, we have never been big anniversary people - we usually do a card and a dinner out.   But this year, my husband actually splurged and bought me a decent piece of jewelry.  I was so touched and surprised.  And though we aren't having our "official" anniversary dinner until next week in California (details to come), we still had a night out planned.  My husband's firm had a corporate department dinner, and spouses were invited.  I was so excited for a night out with my husband with free food and drinks, and also to be able to hang out with his co-workers that he talks about so much, but that I barely know.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Un-wined of the Week - Bloggers Unite

I have "met" so many people since starting this blog.  Most are virtual friends, who comment on my blog, or whose blogs I read.  These friends have given me advice, inspiration, and some much needed laughs.  I know it's weird to have friends you've never actually met, but hey, the internet is a crazy place. 

Every once in a while, I actually do meet someone through the blog, in the traditional, face to face sort of way.  A few months ago, I met Darcy.  Darcy has an amazing blog (which I actually recommended in a former post, prior to meeting her!), called No Monsters in My Bed.  She's an amazing photographer, an amazing writer, and what do you know, she is also a cool person, who happens to be a former lawyer.  I had actually met her about four years ago, when she interviewed me at her law firm.  We didn't put two and two together until just recently, but still, how crazy is that?  Little did we know in that interview that in a few short years we'd both be stay at home moms, with blogs, and meeting on a rainy Thursday night in downtown DC for drinks.

We went to Founding Farmers in downtown DC, right down the street from where I used to work.  I took the metro in, as I wanted to treat myself to a drink or two or three.  It had been a rough week.  A broken dishwasher.  Four straight days of buckets of rain.  A letter informing us that we owe a couple grand to the IRS from taxes we filed two years ago (I swear, it was an honest mistake).  I could go on, but suffice it to say, I wanted a drink.

Last night was just what I needed - good wine, good food, good conversation.  I had a few glasses of this:

Acrobat Pinot Noir
Oregon, 2009

It was a bit expensive at $12 a glass, but what do you expect from a downtown DC restaurant?  And it was very good - bright and smooth and a bit fruity.  It went perfectly with bacon lollipops (oh my gosh, were those good) and an ahi tuna salad.  I googled it, and it looks like it retails for around $20, which isn't bad, though it does compel me to go off on one of my rants about restaurant markups, of which I will spare you.

We had a great time at dinner, and decided to make drinks a regular thing.  Any other local bloggers want to join?  Just email me!  Lets be real friends!

A quick note - I would be remiss not to mention that today is my husband and my five year anniversary.  Happy Anniversary, sweetie!  We done good!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to School

There's all this "back to school" talk this week.  Everyone is raiding the Nordstrom kid shoe department and posting pictures on Facebook of their kid with a backpack on (guilty, and guilty).  But, hey, what about me?  I went back to school this week.  Kind of.

I'm always a sucker for those Groupon/Living Social/Bloomspot discounts.  I've bought some random things - magazine subscriptions, cases of wine, two for one pizzas.  (I've been very tempted by the hair removal/teeth whitening/make yourself a little less gross deals as well, but haven't followed through quite yet).  A few months ago, I saw a link to a deal for an Introduction to Digital Photography class at the Washington School of Photography.  Four classes, $100 bucks, sold.  Learning more about photography has always been one of my tangential goals.  You know, kind of like:  "I want to read more books" and "I want to get in shape" and "I want start a blog."

My first class was this past Tuesday.  I could not wait!  Not because I was so excited for the class itself, but because Tuesday at home with the kids SUCKED.  Constant rain.  Lack of naps. Several meltdowns.  The baking of cupcakes (to bring to Braden's school), the cooking of three separate dinners (because no one will eat the same thing), and A LACK OF DISHWASHER (broke down this weekend, yay).  Two loads of laundry.  No good television to look forward to (save for Teen Mom).  Just general malaise.  But the class - it was my saving grace.  It meant that despite my husband's workload, he had to be home to relieve me by 6:30.  And no matter what, by 6:30 I was off duty.  I would drive in a car, by myself.  Ahhhhhh. Three hours, just for me. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pic of the Week - Note to Self...

Never again order a birthday cake with blue icing.  First, there's this:

Then there is the fact that his poop, for two days straight, was a strikingly similar color.

Sorry if that's too much information, but I feel the need to warn the public.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Moment

Today is Braden's birthday.  He is 3 years old.

I'm not going to bore you with a photo montage of his last three years, or share a letter I wrote to him professing my love and admiration.  No, that's for just Braden and I.

But I will say this.

I have found that there are so few moments in life that are truly remarkable.  Instead, day to day life is made up of tasks, obligations, and arbitrary traditions that seem important at the time.

We spend our time networking, climbing the corporate ladder, returning voicemails, and meeting deadlines.

We keep up with doctors appointments and meals and playdates and birthday parties.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Party Time

It's that time of year again.  T-one day until Braden's third birthday party.  It's absolutely ridiculous to let a toddler birthday party stress you out, so I try to just be laid back about the whole thing.  But really?  Me?  Laid back with planning?  Doesn't happen.

It's not that I plan something extravagant.  In fact, part of the reason I left Manhattan was because I had heard one too many stories of a museum rented out for a two year old's birthday party, complete with a five tiered princess birthday cake, duck foie gras and champagne for the parents, live music performances, live animals, and a multi-thousand dollar price tag.  No, no, no.  That's all kinds of wrong.   

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Un-wined of the Week- Wills and Wine

My husband and I are flying to California for a wedding in a couple of weeks, and while pondering the terror of descending thousands of feet in a metal fireball, I figured we should probably go ahead and do a proper will.

We are both lawyers, so you would think we could do our own will, right?  Nein, fraulein.  If anything, our legal background just makes us realize how ignorant we are and how much we would mess up the disbursement of our assets and leave our children homeless and in squalor.  

So last night my husband and I were paid a visit by our lawyer (aka, neighbor, aka, husband of our dog walker, aka, bedmate of our dog when we go out of town) to go over the details.  There's nothing quite like contemplating your own death, the death of your husband, and the future of your children parentless and alone in the world.  So we figured we would add some wine to the mix!  Our attorney was happy to partake.

This week's wine was:  

Blackstone Pinot Noir
California, 2009

I know I really need to stop with the Pinot Noir and try something new, but to be honest, last night I wanted a sure thing.  This was cheap ($9.99), smooth, light in color, medium in body, and had a nice vanilla like aftertaste.  I had tried this before and knew I liked it, and hey, if I'm discussing my untimely death, I should be able to drink what I want.

Overall rating - 8/10

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Low Standards

In the past few weeks, I have found myself counseling two different friends who are about to return to work from maternity leave.  The irony of this is not lost on me.  I probably don't carry much credibility telling someone that it all will be okay, when I couldn't hack it myself. 

Neither of my friends are as lucky as I was, though.  As a biglaw associate at the time, I enjoyed an 18 week fully paid maternity leave for both of my kids.  When I tell people this, they are shocked.  18 weeks!  Most people, including my two friends, only get a twelve week maternity leave, only part of which is paid.  Some don't even get that much.  Because other people had it so much worse, I was programmed to carry a huge sense of gratitude about my own maternity leave benefit.  I felt that I couldn't complain, and for the most part, I didn't.

But you know what?  18 weeks sucks too. 

At 18 weeks, your baby is just starting to "wake up."  They are smiling.  They recognize you.  They are bonded with you.  They are becoming little people with preferences and quirks and distinctive sounds.  And as for you?  You are tired.  You may still be breastfeeding. You still aren't completely back to your normal self.  But you are getting used to this new person, this new life, and this new routine.  You are finally starting to enjoy things.  And just as you are getting into the groove, BAM.  Go back to work and find a stranger to take your child.  After the second maternity leave, I couldn't do it.

Wouldn't a bit more time be nice?

It got me thinking about what other countries do.  It's common knowledge that the U.S. leave policy sucks, but how much does it suck?  I was inspired to go to a trusted resource (aka, the internet) to do a brief multi-country survey of government mandated maternity leave.  Here are the results:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pic of the Week - Oh the Memories

Irene may not have knocked out our power, but it sure did knock down a lot of trees.  Three days later, I'm still seeing uprooted trees along the side of the road, and on some unfortunate houses.

It brings back memories of a tree that once stood in our front yard...

January 2010

Rest in Peace big tree from our front yard. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hunkering In

Can I make a confession?

I was kind of excited for the hurricane.

For one, I love me a good thunderstorm.  Especially at night.  It usually wakes me up, but I don't care.  I love the sound of the thunder, the lightning, the wind, and the rain on the roof.  For some reason, it calms me.  So I was ready for the noise and commotion that Irene was threatening to bring.

More than that though, I was looking forward to hunkering in with my family.  Since the kids and I returned from our ten day trip to North Carolina last week, time with my husband has been scarce. Some deal that was an emergency and life would end if conference calls were not conducted and drafts were not revised.  Blah blah blah, same old, same old.  Not his fault, but still.  We miss him.

My husband had mentioned that there was a chance that he would have to go into the office this weekend.  Ugh.  But then.... Irene!  I obviously would not wish a hurricane on anyone, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited at the prospect of my husband being stuck in the house with us instead of back at the office on a weekend.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stop It

It's another travel day - we are headed out of hurricane country and back into the earthquake zone.

How do I maintain my cool amidst all of these natural disasters, with two demanding passengers in the back seat?

I take the advice from this old Mad TV video clip below, featuring Bob Newhart.  My dad, who is a professor of social work and psychology, shows it to all of his classes on the first day.

Best therapy ever.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Sky is Falling!

My kids and I missed the great DC earthquake.  And no, we did not feel it down here in North Carolina.

Oh, the drama of it all!  We came back from the pool, and my step-father met us at the door.

"Did you feel it?"

"Um no.  Feel what?"

"The earthquake.  [Your husband] called.  He's okay."

I tried calling my husband at work, but all circuits were busy, of course.  In the meantime, I turned on the TV, where there was non-stop coverage of the "Quake of 2011."  It only took a couple of minutes to decipher that this meant no casualties and minimal damage.  When I finally did get through to my husband, he was a bit shaken up.  He told me he had hid under his desk during the 30 seconds of shaking.

I'm sorry, but that just cracks me up.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pic of the Week - Serenity at Grandpa's House

By now you are all probably very sick of the beach pictures.  I recognize I've posted a lot of them. But it's summer!  And I'm at the beach!  So bear with me as I post one last summer water scene.

This is the view from my Dad's balcony, and those two little figures on the dock are Braden and his Grandpa.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I Got Mad Skills

My husband had his "mid-year" review at his firm last week.  Of course, he got the highest quantification possible, which is something like an A or a descriptive adjective or a numerical rank or maybe a special sticker.  I forget.

It got me thinking about my own skills, and all the ones I'm wasting, for lack of a better word.  There's a lot I used to be able to do, you know.  Have a legal research question?  I am a master of Westlaw and, given enough time, I will get you an answer, or tell you your question is full of shit.  Need thousands of documents reviewed in an electronic database?  I can code ever damn one.  While we're at it, I can also draft all sorts of documents that are incomprehensible to the general public, including motions, briefs, interrogatories, document requests, and deposition outlines.  I can read boring, lengthy legal opinions and make some sense of them (unless they involve patents, then forget it).  And I can get along with anyone, including cocky pricks from the Department of Justice or crotchety old partners.

I don't necessarily want to be doing these things, but it doesn't mean it doesn't make me a bit sad that all of these specialized skills are going to waste.  And it won't be long until those skills start fading.  Maybe they already have.

But fret ye not.  I have acquired some new skills in the last six months, thank you very much.  And since this new career of mine does not involve any formalized review process, I will engage in a self assessment which highlights my top 5 new areas of expertise:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Easy Tonight

Sometimes life has a way of leading you to where you need to be.

The summer of 2000 was a somewhat tumultuous one for me.  I had graduated from college.  I was anticipating heading to London, all by myself, for graduate school.  And I was living at home for a few months - for the first time in four years.  It was a time of major transitions.

A huge part of that major transition was a break up with my high school, and college, boyfriend. We had been together for six years, gone to the high school prom together, and stayed together through four years at Penn State.  But as of that summer, our break up was inevitable.  While I was headed to graduate school in England, he was moving to LA to pursue his dreams in the film industry.  We were going to be more than just bi-coastal.  We knew it was going to be over.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Un-wined of the Week - A Bit of Bubbly

I know my un-wineds are typically wine reviews, but a bit of champagne never hurt anyone, right?

My dad likes to call himself a "champagne connoisseur."  Connoisseur is probably a strong word, but the guy enjoys champagne.  Generally when we come to visit, he'll uncork one nice bottle.  For this trip, the bottle was:

Taittinger Champagne Brut

This bottle retails for about $40, which is outside of my general weekly bottle price range.  But, for a special occasion, I would definitely splurge.  The champagne was fabulous!  Refreshing and crisp, with a clean finish.  It was easy to drink quickly, so I had to pace myself.  Though I admittedly don't have the most discerning champagne palate, this was just yummy.  Perfect for a summer evening on the porch overlooking the ocean.  Just perfect.

Overall rating - 9/10

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Potty Mouth

Since having kids, I have tried really hard to curb my potty mouth.  I can curse like the best of them, and most of the time I don't even realize it.  So I make a conscious effort, and I am usually successful.  There are two general exceptions:

1) Road rage - If someone cuts me off, or stops short, or otherwise does something idiotic on the road, I can't help but blurt out:  "Asshole!"  Yes, I'm aware that the other driver can't hear me - only my children can.  I am working on this, though I cannot say the same for my husband.  So far, Braden hasn't picked up this term.  Perhaps because he is so engrossed with looking for trucks, backhoes, and sirens, or the fact that the country music station is probably turned up a bit too loud.

2) Diaper changing incidents - Just last week, I took Casey into his room to change his diaper, with Braden following close behind.  I opened up the diaper to find a yucky, runny surprise.  Casey was wriggling about, reaching down with his hands, and was just a few moments away from reaching down and rubbing it all over his face (yes, this has happened before).  I quickly reached for the wipes, only to realize there were none left.  What else was there to do than emphatically yell: "Fuck!"  I mean, would anyone have reacted differently?  This time, Braden caught on, and began dancing about and repeating after me.  I tried to save myself - "Braden, Casey's diaper is stuck.  It's stuck!"  So far, he hasn't repeated it again.

Instead of latching onto my curse words, Braden has developed his own toddler version of potty mouth.  I suppose with potty training this is inevitable.  Because somehow, if you add the word "poop" to any sentence or song, it is hysterical.  Like, drop on the floor laughing hysterical.  So if he were to sing:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Plan

When I was in college, one of my nicknames was "cruise director."  I like to think it was meant in an endearing way.  It reflected the fact that I am was the quintessential planner - planning nights out, planning vacations, planning study schedules, planning happy hour destinations.  Is it any surprise I always also had carefully set out plans for my life?

The plan back then was simple:  move to London after graduation (which I did).  Meet English man with an EU passport.  Marry said English man, preferably a professor or executive who gets summers off or can otherwise make his own schedule.  Get law degree.  Embark on high powered legal career.  Have a couple of kids, four years apart.  Make enough money to be comfortable; okay, very comfortable.  Send kids to college, retire abroad, and die peacefully in sleep before Alzheimer's sets in.

When I met my now husband, who donned a Long Island accent and American passport, plans altered a bit.  My plans became our plans, which consisted of getting our law degrees, getting the big firm names on our resumes, getting married, and buying a house somewhere affordable.  We would have two kids, three years apart, and get more flexible jobs where we could actually spend time with our offspring.

For a while, we stuck to our plans. Law degrees?  Check.  Big firms on resume?  Check.  Buy a house somewhere affordable?  Kind of - check on the buying a house, not on the affordable part. Two kids three years apart?  Check on the two kids, but two years apart (who knew it would happen so quickly?).

And now is the part where we are supposed to get flexible jobs where we spend time with our offspring.

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