Wednesday, December 31, 2014

From Sponges to Lemurs - Ringing in 2015

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

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

New Year's 2014 Partay!

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

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

Bring on 2015!

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

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

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Last Big FU From My House to Me

Dear House,

I have been kind to you.  Sure, I have bitched about you and complained about you and cursed you and your money sucking ways.  But I've cared for you and spruced you up and even wrote a long emotional blog post about you a couple weeks ago.  I think I even shed a tear for you, god dammit. I was sad to move and leave you forever.

We only have eight days left together before we depart.  Can't we make them happy ones?

Apparently not.  Apparently you are pissed.

Because you had to give us one last fuck you, didn't you?

You thought eight days before our departure would be a good time to break the heater?  Thanks! Thanks so much!

Bundled up and cold in my Christmas PJs.

You just couldn't let it rest, could you?  You had to give us one night of freezing cold to remind us that you can never really be trusted. One night of walking around in sweatshirts and thick socks and hoodies.  Of calling repairmen during their off hours and pleading with them to come fix you.

And you just couldn't wait for the serviceman to come today, could you?  To fiddle with you and fix you and charge us 500 fucking dollars for a new motor for the heater that we will use for eight days.

You couldn't have waited 8 more freaking days?  Until you're someone else's problem?

You know what?

Fuck you.

I'm over you.  I'm done with you.  Good riddance.

There will be no more of this over the next 8 days, you hear me?  No more.  You can save your falling apart for 2015.

Love,
Shannon

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

27 Months (Twice Over)

It's an inside joke between my husband and I.  Every time there is a task that we don't want to do - say change a diaper or clean a dirty pan that's been sitting in the sink or be the designated driver - I sing my little jingle.

27 months!

That's how long I was pregnant with our three boys.  3 x 9 (full term babies) = 27 months.  Twenty seven months of creating and living for another human being.  Of dealing with nausea and pain and blood draws and hemorrhoids and stretch marks and peeing 5 times a night.  And then somehow ejecting each of the three babies from my body.

So you want me to change some urine soaked sheets at 2am?

27 months!

And now, 27 months has new meaning.

Last night, I breastfed Colin for the very last time.  At 13 months, it was time.  I didn't want to wean, to be honest.  But for a number of reasons, I did it anyway.  I thought I was going to cry throughout the whole feeding.  After all, I sobbed with both of his two older brothers, both of whom I weaned at 7 months.

But I didn't.  Instead, I did some mental math.  7 months + 7 months + 13 months = 27 months.

Twenty seven months of pregnancy.  Twenty seven months of breastfeeding.

And now, it comes to an end.  I think the finality of it all is what kept my tears from flowing.  It was just too much - too significant.  If I had let my emotions run wild, I feared I would lose myself a bit.  I didn't really want to go that deep.  Because there will be no more pregnancies.  No more breastfeeding.  And no more babies.

A chapter is ending.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tis the Season of Giving Uncommon Gifts + A GIVEAWAY

I've been a bit bah humbug with holiday gift giving over the past few years.  For one, I've stopped doing it with certain people altogether.  After several years of basically trading cash via gift cards, my sister and father and I all mutually agreed to stop with the madness!  No more gifts.  Same goes for the hubby - if we want something, we just go to our joint checking account and buy it for ourselves.

But then there's always that danger of becoming a huge asshole come holiday time should the person that you have mutually agreed to not give gifts to actually gives you a gift (I'm talking to you Dad, sister, and hubby).  Then you feel really bad, and angry at the same time.

But we said no gifts!  

Oh, but it's just a little something. 

It's like those birthday parties that say, "No gifts, please."  Bullshit.  Everyone brings a gift.

So I am always on the lookout for "a little something" for my loved ones to avoid the aforementioned anger and self loathing.  And this year, I've found my source!

I received an email a few weeks back from someone at a company called Uncommon Goods, to see if I would be willing to review some of their products for the holidays.  I looked at their website and was intrigued - their stuff is kind of funky/awesome.  Uncommon, if you will.  It also seems to be a nice company - their seasonal workers start at 50% above the minimum wage, half of what they sell is made by hand, and one third of their entire collection incorporates recycled and/or up cycled materials.

So sure, I'll take some stuff!  Lets go shopping!

I perused their website, which is organized well for Christmas gifts (click here), stocking stuffers (click here), and gifts under $50 (click here).  I think I spent a good hour scrolling through all the products, which were, again, uncommon.  I selected three gifts for my sister, father, and husband (so now you are on notice - you are all getting "a little something," and if you don't want to know what it is, stop reading now):

For Dad, an eye glass holder (he will love this).  


For my husband, wine pearls (For those times when you have white wine that hasn't yet been chilled, but you just can't wait any longer, and you don't want it to get all watered down by ice. Finally, a solution!  And, they're kind of pretty.)


And my personal favorite, for my sister, a wiener dog oil and vinegar set.  (Full disclosure - I bought these with her in mind, but after getting them, I may keep them for myself.  I mean how awesome are they?  So Rachie, no need to get me a "little something" because you may not have something in return.)



And now you too could live the wiener dog dream!

Uncommon Goods is offering a $50 gift certificate to the lucky person who wins this GIVEAWAY! Here's how to enter:

1) Like me on Facebook (if you haven't already) by clicking here.

2) Leave a comment (on the blog or on Facebook) and include your email address.

3) Enter by Thursday, December 11th.  The winner will be notified via email on Friday, December 12th.

And even if you don't win, I highly recommend checking out their website for some great gift ideas. In addition to their wiener dog oil and vinegar set, they also have an F-Bomb paperweight and row boat salad bowl, among other things.

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I received free products from Uncommon Goods.  All opinions reflected are my own.  


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Our House

We bought our house in December of 2007.  We were told, at the time, that it was "a great time to buy."  It was our first house.

We didn't love our house when we bought it.  Our price range didn't allow us the luxury to buy the quintessential dream home.  Rather, it was, to be frank, the least disgusting of everything we had seen.  It wasn't huge.  It wasn't updated.  It was one level living.  There was no master bath.  But it was clean, and bright, and in a great neighborhood with a great yard.  And anyway, we figured we would move to a nicer house in 2 or 3 years.  With our dual incomes, we were on a pretty good trajectory to eventually upgrade.

We closed on December 15, 2007.  Two weeks later, I found out I was pregnant with our first son.

We settled into our house and prepared for a baby.  We painted the nursery a pale green and spent a ridiculous amount of money on crib bedding.  We bought a glider and I remember sitting in that glider, still pregnant, resting my hand on my growing belly and daydreaming about what our son would be like.


In September of 2008 my son entered this world and became our new housemate.  Life changed.  I went back to work.  We got a nanny.  I got pregnant again.

I decorated another baby room, bought another glider, and in an extreme bout of nesting, convinced my husband that we needed to renovate our entire kitchen and bathroom.  We did, and it transformed our house.  It looked fantastic.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Eating, Drinking, and Netflixing

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  

It doesn't have the materialism and franticness of Christmas.  Or the food limitingness of Passover.  Or the freaky bunny mascotness of Easter.  Or the guilt illicitness of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  Or the fire hazardness of Hanukkah.  Or the almost not holidayness of St. Patrick's Day, Valentines Day, and Flag Day.  

Not to knock the aforementioned holidays.  I celebrate them all.  But I have a soft spot for Thanksgiving.  

I love the eating.  It took me until my adulthood, but there is really nothing better than the perfect Thanksgiving bite.  A piece of turkey with gravy, with a bit of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce - all in the right proportions of course.  

I love the drinking.  Who doesn't love a holiday where day drinking is acceptable?  Wine, beer, whatever, it's perfectly acceptable to have a constant flow.  After all, no one is driving.  Where would one go?  Everything is closed!

Which brings me to the only downside of Thanksgiving - everything is closed.  It's one of those holidays where one tends to go stir crazy by around 5.  

I think there are some football games on Thanksgiving Day or something.  But I loathe football, the sound of football, and basically any sport on TV.  And I hate the Macy's Day parade even more.  Ditto on the Hallmark Channel.  So generally, my family and I end up surfing On Demand for movies, trying to find something that is agreeable to everyone.  Which is hard, because our audience spans generations, from age 1- 77.   

This year, I am a blogger for the Netflix Stream Team.  So I am all over Netflix these days (especially since being a Stream Team Member means that I get a free Netflix subscription and iPad!).  I've done a bit of research, and I've come up with a list of ten family movies that are perfect for viewing on Thanksgiving Day.  

Here was my criteria:  1) No Disney movies.  I see enough of those every damn day.  So no Frozen, Lion King, Little Mermaid, and the like;  2) They must be appropriate for ALL ages.  This doesn't mean that there won't be subjects the little ones won't understand, but there won't be anything to give them nightmares either; 3) Nothing depressing, dark, or Blackfish-ish.  Only uplifting subjects are appropriate for Thanksgiving; and 4) They are available for live streaming on Netflix.  

Without further adieu, here is my list (in no particular order).  Please feel free to add or critique in the comments!  

1) Ghostbusters

2) The Nightmare Before Christmas

3) Jumanji

4) Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

5) Annie

6) Hook

7) Who Framed Roger Rabbit

8) School of Rock

9) Freaky Friday

10) Hugo (Note, I have not seen this one, but hear it is amazing).  

What will you all be watching on Thanksgiving?  Whatever it is, enjoy!  Eat, drink, Netflix, and be merry.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Monday, November 17, 2014

When the Baby Leaves Him

I've never completely understood the exact time frame of the baby terminology.  When does one go from newborn to infant to baby to toddler to child to kid?  At the beginning, people tend to use the labels interchangeably.  But as children grow older, the options for terminology dwindle.

My six year old and four year sons can hardly be considered babies or toddlers anymore - they are pretty set at the term child, or kid.  But when did that happen?  I assume there was a time that they were in "transition."  But right now when I look at them, I no longer see a baby.  In fact, when I see pictures of them as babies, it's hard for me to reconcile that they are the same person - that that baby I once held in my arms has morphed into something so different.

Colin turned 1 last week.

I still call him a baby.

He still has those adorable a baby thunder thighs, complete with symmetrical thigh wrinkles where the fat has buckled.  It is still hard to find his neck under his big baby head and pudgy cheeks.  He still smells like a baby and his hair is silky and smooth after a bath.  He babbles and coos and slobbers.  I still nurse him, and while doing so he likes to caress my cheek or poke my mouth.  He is still small enough that I can hold him comfortably on my hip for long periods of time, and he still falls asleep on my chest every other night or so.  And when I put him down to sleep and peer in his crib, he looks like the most peaceful sleeping baby.


But there are signs.  Signs that the baby is leaving him.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Never Any Time

I'm reminded of my favorite scene from Saved by the Bell.

Photo taken from https://us.beamly.com/exclusives/2014/07/28/saved-by-the-bell-caffeine-pill/
Oh Jessie Spano, I am channeling you.

I've got a lot going on.

We bought a house.  Yup, a house.  That's kind of a big deal.  It's only a half a mile from where we currently live, but it's bigger.  And nicer.  And I will have a bathroom I don't have to share with three mini-people.  Hooray!

Way back before I was an adult, I used to think that buying a house was simply that - one purchases a home.  That was before I understood inspections and mortgages and appraisals and oh, the fact that when you buy a house, you also have to sell your current house.  This is our first go round with that, and it sucks.  Lets just say last night I painted four doors.  It was hypnotizing.  I wanted to keep going.  More doors, more doors.  My husband had to stop me.  Shannon, put the paint brush down.  

Right now there are two different handymen working outside.  A storage unit will arrive this weekend.  And then the house goes on the market next Wednesday.  The same day we leave for Disney World.

This weekend, I will be hosting a baby shower for my sister on Saturday.  And then on Sunday a first birthday party for Colin (holy crap, how did that come so quickly).   I'd like to make a slideshow montage for him, as I did my two other children, in time for the party.  My friend from Australia will also be visiting, so I will take her out for a night on the town on Friday.

I have two different sets of papers to grade for the class that I teach.  And a blog that I like to write.

All of these are good things.  I mean ALL are good things.  So this is not a woah is me.  It's just a, I am in the middle of a whirlwind and just trying to get by.

Things that have gone to the wayside:  Showering.  Screen time limitations.  Returning phone calls and emails (sorry about that).  Playdate reciprocation.  Halloween candy regulation.  Blogging.  Thank you cards.  Getting gas.

I made it with 14 miles to spare!
Whilst writing this post, Colin just ate a piece of dog food.

Someday soon I will write eloquently and deeply and wittily.

Just not today.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Few Firsts

1) My first time taking a weekend vacation with my husband in a long, long, long time.  Definitely the first time since I've been a mom of 3.  I have been counting down the days until this weekend getaway to Miami, but yet, as I nursed my baby this morning before I left, I got tears in my eyes. What is with motherhood?  How is it that you can want a break so bad, but then when said break arrives, you are heartbroken to leave?  (Don't worry, I left anyway.)

2) My first time blogging from a flight.  Did you know that you can get wi-fi on a plane now?  Is it weird that I find solace in this, because then should the plane go down, I could live blog about it? And write out my last words?  (Yes, this is morbid.  Yes, I have a major irrational fear of flying. No, I did not have a drink or take any xanax.  Yet.)

3) My first post for the Netflix Stream Team.  As a blogger, I get a bunch of random emails to promote things, review products, etc.  Most of it is junk.  But when I got an email to promote Netflix (and it actually turned out to be legit) I jumped at it!  Why?  Because I am a Netflix junkie. And because, in the interest of full disclosure, I get a free year subscription to Netflix as well as a nifty I-pad mini to stream shows.



I discovered Netflix about two years ago.  It's an on demand streaming system whereby you can watch thousands of movies and shows (for the reasonable price of about $9/month).  At first, it took over my life. I put my books back on the shelf in favor of all 5 seasons of Breaking Bad, all available seasons of Mad Men, all available seasons of the Walking Dead, both seasons of Orange is the New Black, both seasons of House of Cards, and then countless documentaries and movies. It became my guilty pleasure - as soon as I put the kids to bed, I would retreat to my bed, get comfortable, and log in.  There was always something good to watch. I did go a bit overboard, sometimes staying up until 2 am watching something, or watching Blackfish, that Sea World documentary, with a bottle of champagne on New Years Eve.  (Very sad, infuriating documentary, and not really New Years Eve festive.  Don't go to Sea World!).

My kids have loved Netflix too, and unsurprisingly, can navigate it on the iPad better than I can. They love to watch back to back episodes of Handy Mandy and that asshole Caillou.  Of course, I do try and limit their screen time, but it is great to have in a pinch (for long car rides or doctor waiting rooms or any afternoon I just can't deal anymore).

The only problem with Netflix is it can be overwhelming.  There are SO. MANY. CHOICES.  So what I'll aim to do each month is give suggestions of what to watch.  For this month's post, see above.  You much watch all of those series before you move on to other things (seriously, they are all so good.  But if you have to prioritize, do Breaking Bad first).

I should touch down in Miami in about an hour or so.  Forecast is for rain - lots of rain.  But I honestly don't care.  Give me a hotel room and a bath and my Netflix and I will be happy as a clam.

Any suggestions on what to watch?

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Four Years Ago You Rocked My World

Quite literally.


I thought I knew what it was going to be like having more than one child.  I was wrong.

I thought there was no way I could love anyone as much as your older brother.  I was wrong about that too.

Our first months together were HARD.  We both struggled.  We both lost a lot of sleep.  We both cried.  A lot.

And then we bonded.  Big time.  And before I knew it, I couldn't imagine a time when you weren't there.  It's as if I had known you forever.  As if you had been here all along.


I fell in love hard.

And the awesome thing is that it happens over and over again.  I fall in love with you every single day.  And I love discovering who you are.

You are unique, that's for sure.

You are the pickiest eater I have ever seen.  And yet you are obsessed with toy food.  You've been known to sleep with a plastic tomato or hamburger bun, and you are being a hot dog for Halloween this year (your choice).

Casey's Halloween Costume
You refuse to smile for pictures.  EVER.  But then sometimes, I can crack you, much to your own chagrin.


You are quiet - figuratively and literally.  Sometimes you speak in a whisper, and you are not one to gush with your emotions like your big brother.  But that means that when I do get an "I love you," it means so much more.  I melt when I hear those words.

What you don't say in words, you make up for in cuddles.  You are the cuddliest boy I know.  You always want to be close to me.  And even though I probably shouldn't carry you around anymore, it's hard for me to say no.  So I'll keep doing it until you stop asking.


You are so brave.  You have been poked and prodded by needles and sat in ER waiting rooms more times than I'd care to admit.  But you rarely cry.  And you are easily pacified by a lollipop in any situation.

You suck your thumb and twirl your hair.  And it is adorable.


You are a boy's boy.  You are all cars and trucks and balls and superheroes.  You rarely play with girls, though you do have a soft spot for a girl named Lila.  You blush when you talk about her.


You acclimate to social situations ridiculously easily, because you don't overthink it.  You are just yourself.  For lack of a better word, you are chill.  You are already cooler than I ever was.

You love Disney World.  And roller coasters.  And youtube videos of both.  (But especially Disney World).


You have an innate talent for naming that tune.  You can tell a song after literally one beat of music. It kind of freaks your daddy and I out.

You cry every single time you take a bath.  Every.  Single.  Time.

You are an amazing little brother.  When Braden is at school, you sometimes cry and incessantly ask when he will be home to play with you.  Sometimes the two of you sleep in the same twin bed, just because.


You are an amazing big brother.  It took some time for you to warm to Colin, but you are coming around.  And as a mother, it is beautiful to see.


You are a momma's boy.  You and I have an inherent connection that only the two of us understand. Sometimes I will hear you cry, and watch someone else try to comfort you, but I know it's me that you need.  And when I pick you up and embrace you, I can feel you relax into me.  You and me, me and you.


You are such an individual.

You are such a character.

You are a such a source of infinite joy.

You rock my world.

You are Casey.

You are 4.

And today is your birthday.

Happy birthday, my baby boy.


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Monday, October 6, 2014

Why did YOU leave?

My very first post on this blog, a whole three and a half years ago (holy crap, that's crazy), was devoted to why I left a big law firm to stay at home with my kids.  (You can find it by clicking here). It was picked up by Above the Law, a legal news site/blog, which is why people actually started reading this blog.  It's still my second most popular post (behind my post on why lawyers are so miserable, which, who knew, is a very popular google term).  

I occasionally reread my introductory post myself.  I'm not sure why.  I suppose it's a reminder as to how I got where I am, though when I read it, I find it hard to reconcile it with my current self.  I've come a long way, and I've chronicled it as the time has passed (here and here and probably a hundred other places I have forgotten about in 3.5 years).   If anything, what I've learned in the years since I first started this blog is that my story is not that unique.  SO many women have faced the issues I have faced in the legal profession.  And a lot of them, like me, have left.  

So why did you leave? 

The freelance network that I am a part of, Montage Legal Group, is conducting a survey to collect information about what law firms can do to retain talented attorneys.  And while it is useful to talk to attorneys still working in law firms, the better source is probably those that have actually left.  

So, if you previously worked at a law firm or legal job and left due to dissatisfaction, or if you think your law firm missed an opportunity to retain you...


It takes five minutes, and your responses are anonymous and confidential.  (Just click here).

And, if you really want to share your experience, consider writing it out and sharing it here on my blog, via the Your Turn Series.  

Either way, put your "story" out there!  It's a freeing thing (I speak from experience!).  


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Clinical Trials and Emotional Tribulations

For the past two weeks, I have been living, breathing, eating, sleeping, and existing in all things food allergies.

I don't know quite where to start.

I guess the beginning.

A little over a year ago I wrote a post about how my son, Casey had been diagnosed with a peanut allergy.  (He has a RAST score of over 100 - the highest you can get.)  I haven't really mentioned it since.  In part because it's not always on the forefront of my mind, and in part because I didn't think it's the kind of thing that people want to read about.

But it has become part of our daily lives and then some.

We've had meetings with his teachers and his camp counselors about how and when to use the epi-pen.  Every time he goes for a playdate, I have to have a discussion with the parents first.  Same goes for birthday parties, soccer classes, babysitters, and pretty much any time there is food and kids around.  I have written a detailed plan for all family members whose homes we visit, which includes where they need to place their nuts, what they need to do at a restaurant, and what the initial signs of an allergic reaction may be.  I have more epi-pens than I can count, stored in all sorts of places - both cars, the kitchen, the school, and in various baby sitters' purses.

Notwithstanding all this, Casey, had an allergic reaction to macaroni and cheese from the Cheesecake Factory back in July.  (There had been cross contamination with peanuts).  We had to use the epi-pen for the first time, right in the thigh.  Then we sat at the ER for four hours to be monitored.

It was at that point that I decided enough was enough.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Three Things I Don't Get

I try not to get too political/controversial/contentious on this blog.

But I am coming from a sincere place when I wonder the following:

1) Why is this new Ray Rice video so explosive?

A caveat - I don't follow or care at all about football.  I had never heard of Ray Rice.  But I do follow the news, and from what I understand, on February 15, 2014, Ray Rice was arrested on simple assault charges for assaulting his wife.  A few days later, we all got a glimpse of what happened, as a video surfaced of Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancĂ© from an elevator.  She entered the elevator standing.  She left unconscious.

Um, do you really wonder what happened to her inside that elevator?

The next month Ray Rice was indicted, and on July 24, 2014, instead of losing his job, he received a two game suspension.  Apparently, sitting out two games is an adequate punishment for knocking your wife unconscious.

On September 8, 2014, the new Ray Rice video surfaced, and we got to see what happened inside the elevator.  Here it is:



Disgusting.

The same day this video was released, Ray Rice was terminated from his Ravens contract and suspended by the NFL.  All of a sudden, a two game suspension wasn't enough.

So let me get this straight....

You can knock your wife unconscious.  You can be videotaped dragging your wife's unconscious body.  You can be indicted for assault.

And that doesn't merit a termination or suspension.  No, that's not enough.

But if, by some miracle, you happen to be caught on camera doing what everyone already knows you did, then you lose your job.

Lesson - if you choose to abuse your wife, be sure not to do it on camera.  Keep it behind closed doors, and at worse, you'll get a slap on the wrist.  And then everyone will forget about it.

I mean, just look at Chris Brown.  He beat up his girlfriend.  He did this:


And a year after he did this he released a fourth album.  It debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts.

Do we need to see actual video footage of his physical attack to be disgusted and horrified enough to boycott his music?  Just like we need to see the video of what happened inside the elevator, despite the fact that it's glaringly obvious?

I guess I just don't get it.

2) If I hear someone in the bathroom in the middle of the night, I'm going to assume it's my husband or kids or dog before I take a shot gun and kill someone through a closed door.  

I remember seeing Oscar Pistorius at the 2012 Olympics and being impressed and inspired.  A double amputee who makes it to the Olympics?  Who wouldn't be inspired?



But then he shot and killed his girlfriend while she was going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  He claims he woke up, heard a noise in the bathroom, and thought it was an intruder.  He fired four shots through a locked bathroom door, killing her instantly.

Not so inspiring.

Last week, he was found not guilty of murder.  Instead, he was convicted of culpable homicide, which in U.S terms is equivalent to manslaughter - meaning that the Judge found that he did not intentionally kill his girlfriend; he was merely negligent.  The Judge held that there was a reasonable possibility that Pistorius thought his girlfriend was an intruder when fired shots through the locked door.

I'm not going to pretend to know the intricate details of this case.  In fact, I really got the majority of my information from watching snippets of the Today Show whilst breastfeeding my son.  But let me say this:

If I hear someone in the bathroom in the middle of the night, I'm not going to assume it's an intruder. In all likelihood, I would just go back to sleep.  But if I was curious for some reason as to who was occupying the bathroom, I would do the following:

1) Look and see if my husband was in bed with me.  If yes, then go to #2
2) Look and see if my kids are in bed.  If yes, then go to #3
3) Check and see if the bathroom door was locked.  If yes, then go to #4
4) Say something like "Who goes there?"

Apparently Oscar didn't even get to #1.

Not guilty of murder?

Don't get it.

3) I never knew that taking a stance on transvaginal ultrasound was a thing.

Do you know what a transvaginal ultrasound is?  I do!  I do!  Three pregnancies, and I am an expert on them.



Look, there's Steven Colbert holding one!  It looks like a skinny dildo.  The doctor puts a condom over it (seriously), and then they put it up you, and voila, you see all sorts of things!  In my case, an embryo (hello, Baby Braden!).


Here's the thing - when you are very early in your pregnancy (like 4-10 weeks), doctors can't see the baby with an abdominal ultrasound - it's too low.   Instead, they stick the dildo thing up you and see the baby that way.

It never occurred to me to have a problem with this.

But then a few days ago, whilst breastfeeding and watching the Today Show (see above), a campaign commercial for Democratic Congressional candidate John Foust came on.  Here it is, for your viewing pleasures:



In it, Foust accuses the Republican candidate, Barbara Comstock, of supporting the following:

1) Making abortion illegal in cases of rape and incest (BAD!)
2) Overturning Roe v. Wade (BAD!)
3) Requiring women seeking abortion to undergo transvaginal ultrasound  (HUH?)

I have no idea why transvaginal ultrasounds would be controversial, because really, it's no big thing. Perhaps there are valid reasons, though the campaign commercial didn't expand on them. Ostensibly, just the term "transvaginal ultrasound" is enough for you to know that it is bad, bad, bad.

So apparently now this is a buzzword.  We can't live in a world with terrorism!  Climate change! Racism!  Abortion restrictions!  Transvaginal ultrasounds!

Don't get.

End rant.

ADDENDUM ON 9/23: I have been schooled.  I am now firmly against mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds. [But for those that see the campaign commercial and are freaked out about their upcoming OB appointment, I swear, they really aren't that bad.]

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Kid

When I look back at pictures of my son, Braden, I can almost pinpoint the time when he stopped looking like a baby.  It was when his hair grew long and he started standing up tall and running like a maniac.

As he has gotten older, his transitions have been more subtle and harder to pinpoint.  But three days ago, on his 6th birthday, when I took his annual birthday picture, he looked like a kid.


A real, life kid.

He has big feet - not abnormally big (and only a half size bigger than his younger brother), but they are kid feet.  He has fuzzy blond hair on his legs now, and the last of his baby fat is gone.  He is skinny.  This may not seem alarming, but consider the fact that he once looked like this:



He walked late - around 15 months - and also endured three years of OT for gross and fine motor delays.  Now, he writes his name like a champ.  He jumps off the diving board and swims across the pool, and was on the mini swim team this summer.  He plays soccer.  And t-ball.

And when I told him I was signing him up for all of these sports, his response was:  But when do I get to do music class?  

So I signed him up for his school choir too.

He is emotional and shy.  He is full of energy and charm.  He loves to play games on the I-pad and he sticks his tongue out when he concentrates, just like his dad.  He is a complete momma's boy still, thank God, and professes his love for me on a daily basis.  But when he doesn't get his way, he hates me just as fast and tells me so, in great detail.

He is the sweetest brother ever.  He is in a constant state of anxiety over his younger, daredevil brother Casey, getting hurt.  He shares a room with him now, and says that he wants to forever, even if we someday get a big house with more bedrooms.   He loves his baby brother Colin a bit too much and knocks him over at times in his excitement.  But he goes in with me every morning to wake him up, and screams his nickname at the top of his lungs - "Ishy Collie Bee."  Braden gave him that nickname (?!?!), and it has stuck.  We all call him that now.

He is silly and crazy and sweet and complicated.  He is unique, that's for sure.

I don't usually post videos on here of my kids.  I don't know why - I guess because it gives me the slightest semblance of privacy.  But for Braden's sixth birthday party, I just have to post this video of our recent family dance party, to the tune of Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off."  This was filmed on Braden's first day of school, and as you can see, he was not the least bit fatigued.

This is Braden.  To a T. (With a few cameos from the other men in my life).




I could not love this boy kid more.

[I would be remiss not to acknowledge that it's my husband and my 8th anniversary today - happy anniversary, sweetie!  I am writing this here in lieu of a Facebook announcement (as I am somewhat morally opposed to such things).]

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pride

As I sit down to write this post, I am letting out a big exhale.  It has been SO long since I have had more than ten minute chunks of time to myself, and my writing regularity reflects it.  But today, Colin is sleeping.  And both of "the boys," as we refer to them, are in school.

There is silence and calm.  For this moment, at least.  

Casey, my three year old, started school last week.  He is so laid back and chill compared to his brother, that I have to remind myself not to treat his milestones as an after thought.  



He returned to the same school he went to last year, with the same friends, with the same schedule - 5 mornings a week.  The teachers are different of course, but he was already familiar with them.  He is in the same room Braden was in two years ago, and by coincidence, has the same cubby.  When I picked him up on the first day, I arrived a few minutes early and was able to spy on him playing on the playground.  Ahhhh, that kid.  He is so free.  So awesome.  So engaging.  So easygoing...   And all without even trying.  I think that may be the coolest thing about him.

He is just the coolest kid.

Braden started kindergarten yesterday.  I may be biased, but God, he looked so handsome.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Best. Summer. Ever.

When I was young, I used to go away for pretty much the whole summer, to Wellfleet, Cape Cod. This was possible only because of the fact that my father was a professor (with his summers off), and my mom was her own boss.  But to me, I thought this was normal. Didn't everyone take a vacation that lasted all summer long?

To me, summers have always meant relaxation.  Sun.  Water.  Swimming.  Ice cream.  Friends. Family.  Lazy days.

As I got older, summers shifted a bit.  Once I went to college, I cut down on the amount of time I spent on the Cape.  Eventually, I had summer jobs and internships.  Once I "grew up" and got a real job as a lawyer, apart from a weather shift, summers were pretty much indistinguishable from the rest of the year.  Which was kind of depressing.

When I became a stay at home mom, one of the things I was most excited about was having my summers "off."  My relaxing summers would be back (or so I thought).  We would travel and swim and eat ice cream and do all the things I did as a kid.  No more depositions or document reviews over the Fourth of July weekend.  I was free - FREE!

There were a few things I neglected to consider in this day dream of mine:

First, I have a husband, who works at a job outside the home.  And unfortunately, he doesn't get summers off.  So should I want to live a summer of vacation and leisure, I would have to do it without him.  With three kids, that wouldn't be easy.

Second, I forgot that my kids are a pain in the ass.  No more of a pain in the ass than any other kids, of course.  But they are kids.  They cry.  They tantrum.  They whine.  They wriggle and scream as I try to apply sunscreen.  They fight with each other.  They fight with me.  They run away from me. They swim away from me.   And when they do eat ice cream, it gets all over them and makes them sticky and dirty and hyper.

Lastly, I forgot that if I am "free" in the summer, so are my kids.  Aka, there is no structure, no schedule, NO SCHOOL!  When they wake up at 7am, they are all mine, ALL DAY.  And it's a long day.  A very long day.

After two or three of these "free" stay at home mom summers, I realized that summers aren't as relaxing and carefree as they once were.  But that doesn't mean they can't be awesome.  And through trial and error and some lessons learned, I managed to create the Best. Summer. Ever.

Here's how:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin

I write this blog so people out there will read it, obviously.  

But I also write this blog for myself - because it chronicles my life.  It's something that I, and my kids, can someday look back on.  

So let me memorialize that yesterday, Robin Williams died.  And I am seriously sad about it.  

I can't figure out why.  

It's not that I'm a huge Robin Williams fan.  I like his movies, but I haven't seen them all.  But generally, I would say that I definitely like him.  I mean, what's not to like?  He seems like a genuine, nice guy.  And he's funny.  Definitely funny.  If I ever caught him on a late night show, I would watch.  Because he was wild and unpredictable and entertaining.  

His suicide was a shock to everyone, including me.  But why - because he was funny and rich and entertaining and a nice guy?  Because he had children and a mansion?   It's not like depression only hits melancholy, unsuccessful, childless, people.  But I guess we like to think it does.  Because that's what separates them from us, right?  We have our shit together.  They don't.  So we would never do anything like that.  

That line of thinking doesn't work when considering Robin Williams.  

The first time I knew someone that committed suicide was in high school.  A classmate shot himself in his friend's driveway.  The whole community was devastated.  I wasn't particularly close to the the victim, but it was hard to take in at age 15.  I just didn't get it.  I didn't understand how things could have been that bad, or how he could have done such a horrible thing to his family.  He must have just been crazy, I thought, and extremely selfish.  I didn't think about or understand depression or mental illness back then

As I have gotten older, I look at things differently.  And though I am lucky enough not to have anyone close to me suffer from severe depression or suicide, I have known of acquaintances and friends of friends who have taken their own life, including a law school classmate of mine.  

And I don't think they are crazy, or selfish.  I think they are sick.  

I have never been suicidal.  But when I was in the throws of post partum depression with my second child, I certainly felt crazy.  I had no control over my own thoughts and I couldn't eliminate feelings of utter despair.  Why?  Why was I feeling that way?  I would try to rationalize with myself that I was still the same person, that I had everything I had ever wanted in life, that there was nothing for me to be afraid of.  Rationally, I knew I shouldn't feel the way I was feeling.  But I couldn't make it go away. I couldn't enjoy one minute of life.  And the guilt, my God, the guilt I felt for that, was overwhelming.  I was a horrible mother and a horrible wife and a burden and a general failure to everyone around me.  

I never had the thought, I want to kill myself, but I certainly had the thought: I can't live like this.  

I am SO lucky in that my mental illness was extremely short lived, and was for the most part, hormone dependent. After just a few short weeks of being on an anti-depressant, the fog started lifting.  And though I have had a couple of bumps in the road, I have never again felt the despair that I felt for those few weeks right after my second son was born.  

What I experienced was a treatable, small snippet of mental illness.  For those with longer-term, full blown depression, I can only imagine that what they are feeling is worlds deeper than what I experienced. And in that way, I can relate to how I can't live like this would eventually turn into I don't want to live anymore.  

Can you imagine what Robin Williams was going through in those final moments?  The agony, the solitude, the anxiety, the despair?  Is that what my high school classmate was going through?  Or my law school classmate?  Or all of the people that fall victim to suicide?

It's too sad to really, really go there.  I don't know that I can.  

But I'm sad today.  

RIP, Robin Williams. 





Friday, August 8, 2014

Redemption and Envy

When I was 18 weeks pregnant with my first baby, as I walked out of an OB appointment an elderly woman stopped me.

Congratulations, she said.  That was the best part of my life.  

I thanked her and went on my merry way.  This wasn't entirely out of the ordinary - pregnant women get random comments from strangers all the time.  But for some reason, this comment has haunted me.

First and foremost, people don't normally say that pregnancy is the best part of their life.  In many ways, it's a miserable means to an end.  I know there are those women that "love" being pregnant. Perhaps you are one of them.  Then you will forgive me when I say you are effing weird.  Because being pregnant sucks.

From the second you get that positive test, all vices must cease.  No more alcohol.  No more prosciutto.  No more sushi or deli meat or roller coasters or advil.  That initial test is followed quickly by a hangover type nausea that overcomes you for weeks, while you simultaneously try to act normal because of course, it's not appropriate to reveal a pregnancy too early.  A fatigue passes through you that you did not know existed, and your pants become snug almost immediately due to bloating that you didn't realize was even possible.  (You don't look pregnant, you look fat, and this lasts for about 18 weeks until you are even fatter, but it is excusable pregnancy fat.  The day you give birth, it's back to just fat.)

Sure, the second semester is easier and you get to feel the miracle of the kicks and flips inside of you.  But this coincides with an increasing stress which, unbeknownst to first time pregnant women, never goes away.  There are kick counts, to ensure the baby is still alive.  There are blood tests and scans, to ensure that your baby doesn't have spina bifida or a genetic abnormality or other disorders that you can't pronounce.  You learn of complications like placenta previa and preeclampsia and gestational diabetes and you wonder how it is that anyone ever has a healthy child.  You start to feel Braxton Hicks contractions and your provider tells you that it's normal, but too much is not normal, and how much is too much, you ask - well, they're not sure.  You vacillate between being paranoid and being laid back and wonder how you ever will find the balance to be a chilled out, rational human being again.  (Hint - that part of your life is over).

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Hangover, An Epipen, and a Parasite, Oh My!

Some days are long.  Very long.

Some days are boring.

Some days are fun and free.

Some days are a mixture of all of the above.

And then some days are absolutely killer.

Like yesterday.

The following happened:

1) I woke up with a pounding head ache.  This was self inflicted, as I went to the Billy Joel concert the night before and drank one too many beers.  (Note to self - when drinking at a concert, always buy a bottle of water.  No water = pounding head ache).

2) I also woke up with a sore throat.  The family's summer cold has officially hit me.

3) With pounding head ache and summer cold, I had to pry myself out of bed to take Braden to a play date for all incoming kindergartners at his new school. (Translation - kids will play and parents will quietly judge one another).  This is normally the kind of thing I really enjoy, but I just wasn't in the mood to put my best foot forward.  I put my hair in a pony tail and wore glasses and told myself as long as I got through the event without collapsing, it would be a success.  (It was).

4)  We got carryout from Cheesecake Factory for dinner, which was supposed to make our lives easier (aka, no cooking).  Casey got macaroni and cheese.  Let me repeat - MACARONI AND CHEESE.  Casey has a severe nut allergy.  I am cognizant of that ALL THE TIME.  But I figured macaroni and cheese is safe right?  Right?  Apparently not.  Soon after eating it he started complaining about a stomach ache.  Then sores in his mouth.  Then I noticed a rash developing on his feet.  I still couldn't fathom how this could be an actual allergic reaction, but in an abundance of caution I called the doctor, who told I needed to immediately use the epi-pen.  WTF.  We've never used this before, but I have about a thousand available anywhere and everywhere for this very situation, so we did it.  Poor Casey cried and freaked out and then, as per doctor's instructions, he had to go to the ER to be observed for at least 4 hours.


Casey was/is fine.  He got a popsicle and got to watch Frozen and then fell asleep peacefully.  He's back at camp today.  But me?  I'm not so fine.  I mean, there is something a bit unnerving about STICKING A NEEDLE IN YOUR SON'S THIGH AND INJECTING HIM WITH EPINEPHRINE.  Especially when all he did was eat macaroni and cheese.  He (completely coincidentally) has an appointment with an allergist tomorrow, so we obviously will discuss it then.  I am assuming it was some kind of cross contamination at the restaurant.  Good times.

5)  As my husband was en route to the hospital with Casey (and I literally mean AS HE WAS EN ROUTE) I received an email from Braden's pediatric GI doctor.  For the past several months Braden has been complaining of stomach pain.  It is intermittent and at times severe - severe enough that I made an appointment with a pediatric GI.  She ordered a series of tests, including a stool sample (which was oh so fun to collect, let me tell you).  Well guess what.  His stool sample came up POSITIVE for a parasite.  I think my literal, out loud reaction was - You've got to be shitting me.   (No pun intended).  The good news is that this can be cured with a five day course of medicine, a probiotic, and 30 days lactose free.  But please.  REALLY?  REALLY?

Put a fork in me, I am done.

Today is Monday, and God willing, it will be a smooth, uneventful day.

Because it won't take much to put me over the edge.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

My Everything

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

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

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

It was back.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Head on Over...

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

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hello from the Cape and a GIVEAWAY for the Summer Sun

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

Hello from Cape Cod.  

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

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

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

Such as Sunscreen Bands.

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

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



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



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

Step 4: Go have fun in the sun.  


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



Step 6:  Have some more fun in the sun.  


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


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

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

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Deep Thoughts on a (Bizarre) Solo Car Trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 13, 2014

I Am a Shadow of My First Time Mom Self

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

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

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

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

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

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

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The End of an Era

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

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

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

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

Our little boy isn't so little anymore.  

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

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

Friday, May 30, 2014

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

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

So started the internet research.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

But ahhhhhhhhhh, Delaware is beautiful, people!  

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Packing, Then and Now

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

There's something so freeing about that.  

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Empathy

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

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



It was an excellent, excellent day.  

With one small shadow...


 
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