Thursday, March 5, 2015

To Tide Me Over

Trial is zapping out all my life. We have a recess until next week and PERFECT timing because I just got sick. Ugh. But I also love it and am dreading for it to end. I am 100% certain I will experience traumatic let down from not having a trial date looming on my calendar or an excuse to wear my new suits. Also, I think someone should update and streamline all the annoying formal trial procedures.

I have the following suggestions:

  • Objection buzzers- just hit the buzzer when you object and let the judge make his ruling/ask for argument.
  • Causal Fridays. Why not? If we are all equal before the law, why can't we all be equal in our favorite jeans? Justice won't care. She's blind, remember.
  • Cases In Chief. Let's all just make Youtube videos about our side of the argument, post them on Facebook and see who gets the most likes?
  • Pantyhose. Must. Go. (Except for when it's cold out, then it should be lined with fleece)
We've received a couple new cases, which makes me very happy. Every time I see that a new claim has been filed, it's like a million Mexican Jumping Beans have taken residence inside my heart. I love studying new fact patterns from a legal perspective. I also love sleuthing for new facts to shed light on the fact patterns. The thing about law is that we have to judge and analyze events after-the-fact. And we have to judge and analyze events from different perspectives- two people can see the same thing in different ways. All we have are limited and imperfect tools (memory, photos, records). So practicing law is basically attempted time travel and wizardry. 

Today, I took a day off of attempted time travel and wizardry to try and shake off my newly contracted illness. Jon got his 4 months shots. He's 15 pounds, 13 ounces (50%), then Jon, Ryan, and I took a spin around the enchanting aisles of Target before we all came home and piled into my bed and slept for two hours. Thank goodness, because I'm so sleep deprived that I put the tea kettle in the refrigerator this morning. It's not enough, I could sleep forever. Well, I could except for the fact that during our nap I found an ant on my pillow and I've had phantom ant itches all over my body ever since. 

I mean, I already have to share my bed with a husband, a baby, and sometimes a toddler. Ants ARE NOT WELCOME.

After our naps we went to the park and I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining sight:

At the park Ryan and I played "throw the bouncy ball up the slide and watch it come down" as well as the "I smack your butt, you smack my butt" game a million times. Life with kids is so thrilling. 

I came home in time to pop some Advil and power through dinner-making while holding a grumpy, post-shots baby. Then Jacob bounded through the door to show me this:

I feel like it's a little unfair that Jacob gets a certificate for asking a lot of questions. I mean I'M the one who has to answer them all! For example, "what if every single chapstick in the world was as big as me" and "what if my arms were octopus tentacles and I had to eat a sandwich" and "what if the whole world was sideways?"

Jacob's been selected as Student of the Month two times now since Kindergarten started last fall. Either he is a teacher's pet or Student of the Month certificates are basically the new T-ball trophies (every body gets five). 

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Treatise On Babies, Trials, And Crotches

After a ten hour work day involving eight full hours in court, I came home to this guy's happy smiling face:

There is seriously no better way to end a day of trial (except with a defense verdict).

I also came home to this elaborate set of train tracks, courtesy of Jacob and Ryan.

When Jon's happy coos began to turn into tired whines, I gathered him into my lap, collapsed into my favorite rocking chair, and rocked him to sleep over a game of Zingo with Jacob and Ryan. I was home, I was surrounded by all my babies. They were either sleeping or laughing. I was so, so happy.

In preparation for trial day one, I spent a good portion of my Sunday rewriting and reviewing witness outlines and doing this:

I swear Jon knows whenever I'm about to have a big day. He is usually a great sleeper but the three times I've had to get up early for court this month, he's only let me have a couple hours of sleep. Last night he woke up at midnight, then Ryan woke up at 1, then Jon woke up again at 2, then Jon woke up again at 4 and again at 5. When my alarm woke me up at 6, it felt like I'd barely slept a wink. But when I looked over at the little stinker in my bed, his face broke into its usual gigantic grin, and I just couldn't stay mad. He hung out with me in the bathroom while I showered and sat next to me while I got dressed for court, all the while lavishing me with huge open-mouthed grins every time we made eye contact.

I love babies.

For trial day 1, I got to voir dire the prospective jurors. It's always nerve wracking to have to chat up complete strangers about whom you will be making instant and stereotypical judgments. And I was younger than every single potential juror. I'm still waiting for the day that I walk into a courthouse or an important meeting and am NOT the youngest person in the room. But hey, could be worse. I could be the oldest person in the room?

After the jury was selected and sworn in, I argued one of our motions in limine. The federal court judge ruled against me but paid me the highest honor by saying that it was "a really excellent brief." I'm going to bask in the glory of that compliment for quit a while! You think judges read so many briefs that they are just mind-numb to them all. Maybe not.

Tomorrow I'm going to wear my brand new pants suit (the phrase "pants suit" makes me cringe and mentally vomit- I don't know why) while I cross examine some witnesses. It's also my only suit with pants (successfully avoided The Phrase). I've been searching for FIVE YEAR for a decent pair of work pants that don't give me constant wedgie. Is my butt just big? No, my butt is exceptionally flat (not in a good way). So is my crotch just long? That could be my native name: Long Crotch. Ha ha, ew. That's worse than The Phrase.

The wedgie problem is why I exclusively wear skirts and dresses at the office. But the other weekend I ACTUALLY found a pair of pants that worked. It was no small miracle. It also just happen to come with a suit jacket that ALSO fit me. And the entire suit made me feel like Alicia Florrick so, you know, I had to buy it. And now I'm not sure what I'm excited most about tomorrow: my new suit or my cross examination.

Either way, I'll be ready!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Life Is Good: Writing Motions & Sniffing Babies

I published a mean-spirited post this morning about the great vaccination debate (which I can't believe is even a debate). But my 10:30 am self was much nicer and more tolerant than my 7:30 am self and I decided to take it down. As a (mostly) libertarian, I understand people's desires for personal liberty. Seriously, I do. But in my opinion, the whole point of government is not wealth distribution to step in where one person's personal liberty will infringe unnecessarily on other people in a detrimental way. Anyway, I just found a nicer way to say what I said in my deleted post. Now I can clean my hands and my mind and move on to happier things, like Jimmy Kimmel.

If you haven't seen the Jimmy Kimmel clip on this must see it RIGHT NOW. Not just because he is my secret celebrity crush. But because he is actually freaking hilarious. Is there anyone out there who can watch an entire episode of his show and not think to herself 100 times, "I want to have all this man's babies!" ? Fair question.

Work this week was exciting and busy as usual (LOVE my job- I think I've said that before). One of our cases went before the Court of Appeals and I got to attend the hearing (I wrote a huge chunk of the brief). I love seeing the whole legal system in action. How amazing is it that we get to be heard and solve our disputes before a (hopefully) unbiased court? It makes me wonder if there can be an equally awesome way to settle sibling disputes. Because most of the time I give up trying to figure out who is the wrongdoer and send them both to their rooms so I can enjoy my tea in silence over the loud roar of two children screaming from timeout.

Pro-se plaintiffs are seriously the best. THE BEST. Reading their briefs is probably the highlight of my day. I just read a petition for review to the Supreme Court in which a pro-se plaintiff attached the entire Declaration of Independence. I mean, this man gets 100 points for creativity. Also, he gets 100 points for knowing what the entire Declaration of Independence actually says....because I probably know nothing beyond that first paragraph. I remember being in middle school and thinking, "I'll never need to know this history crap. But I'll probably need to divide fractions like all the time." yeah... the only time I've ever used fractions since then was when I've split a candy bar three ways (breakfast, lunch, dinner).

On Friday, I had to work on an unexpected motion and hadn't planned childcare in advance (was going to be my day off). So Ryan and Jon were my little assistants and came to the office with me. I held Jon and Ryan was my little shadow as I walked all over the office carrying on work as usual- conferences with coworkers, trips to the printer, trips to the bathroom. Jon was a great help with motion writing. But Ryan just wanted to keep hitting all the buttons on my computer. He's NOT hired.

The best way to write a motion- with a baby snuggled in your arm!

Office selfie with my new assistant

I've also said this many time before but it's just so true right now. I feel like such a better mom when I'm working. The time I have with the kids is so much more cherished and special. I actually have time to miss them which makes me want to soak them up when I get the chance. We're back to our regular routine of being busy all week and doing special fun things on the weekends. And it's the best.

Wednesday, Jacob's school had a science fair. He goes to a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) school so I should have expected the science fair to be awesome. But it really blew my mind. Not only did the students have all their science projects on display (they start participating in third grade), but the gym was full of hands-on projects for the kids to do. Some of the projects we did included: making our own parachutes, building a ping-pong ball launcher, constructing a bridge, building a rocket and launching the rocket with an air compressor. Even Ryan was able to participate in all the activities and we ALL had a great time.

Building toothpick towers- an idea we stole from the science fair

The science fair came at the perfect time. I was just starting to lose faith in the school based upon observations and things I've heard from other people. Also, it didn't help that Jacob told me one of his classmates confessed that her mom stole things from people's pockets and that whenever a police car drives by she is afraid it is going to take her mom away. OMG. Can you imagine having this fear in KINDERGARTEN?! OMG. But you know, let my kids blow stuff up with vinegar and baking soda and you have a fan for life. Science Fair FTW.

Today (Saturday), I took the kids to the gym, we ran errands, then we played at the park. After that, we came home and did chores and I cooked dinner while Jonathan napped and the kids played hide and seek. After a family dinner (our first for the week because my husband had to work late almost every day), I sat down with the boys and we all watched Big Hero Six (highly recommend!). I rocked all my babies and tucked them into bed.

Jon had a fluffy audience during his tummy time (thank you big brothers)

Jon also had his first table experience. Bumbos are the best! 

It was a day full of typical chores and scolding and sibling fights. But it was so perfect. I got so many baby kisses and snuggles. It's amazing how therapeutic and wonderful having a little baby in the house can be (well, now that he's not a total jerk anymore). Jon is seriously our pet. Jacob and Ryan love him so much and show him so many gestures of kindness and inclusion throughout the day. Ryan always asks if he can "look at" the baby. And by "look at" he means shoving his nose two millimeters from Jon's face. Jacob loves to pick him up and hold him standing up. I love listening to them talk to him in high-pitched baby voices. Jon is definitely the center of the family around here. And he loves every minute!

I LOVE his little round head! 
I also love his eyes. They are brown in the inside and dark blue on the outside. FINALLY I have my brown eyed baby!

SO big. 4 months old!

These guys. I love 'em.

Life is so good

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rough Day. New Blazer.

I have a trial next week. My life is a little insane right now.

I had an 11:00 am meeting with a witness that I will be examining at trial. That meeting lasted two hours and included a lengthy and non-relevant history lesson on the Battle of Normandy.

Then I scarfed down a can of soup while I got ready for my 1:30 meeting. This meeting was shorter but still made my brain hurt. But legal brain hurt feels masochistically good. So I didn't mind too much.

Then I had a nearly two hour meeting at 3:00 pm to discuss trial strategy. I have never discussed and re-discussed and triple discussed trial strategy this many times before. Brain hurt level = explosion.

I rushed out the door at 4:30pm to pick up the little kids (husband working late).  Then, with little kids in tow, I rushed out the door to pick up my big kid. Then for some crazy reason (i.e.: I am totally freaking insane), I dragged all three kids to the open house for our parish's school.

Coincidentally last week, the day that my son informed me that a kid in his class told him that her mother steals things from people's pockets and that every time she sees a police car she is afraid it will take her mom away, that just happened to be the SAME day that our church school sent out an email invitation to their open house. And some people don't believe in signs! I'm seriously considering private Catholic school after a number of incidents made me feel a little uncomfortable with the local district. And I'm not talking about the dude who dropped his kid off on the first day of school wearing a shirt that said, "I have morning wood."

Jacob's teacher is AWESOME and he is thriving (now). But man, sometimes I get the creeps. It's totally unquantifiable. I just can't shake it off. Oh yeah, there WAS that incident of a sexual predator.... And the classmate who colored on the wall with her own poop and stuck crayons up her nose. I know weird and icky stuff can happen anywhere. I would just prefer that it happen surrounded by a hundred Jesus and Mary statues. Also our church school rocks. But.....costs. I will likely have to choose between private school education or a house that does not resemble a sardine can. Dear Lord. Don't make me choose! We are about to set up our baby crib in the kitchen. I can't pee without sitting in someone else's pee (one bathroom, five people). And I have to dry my hair while sitting on the floor wedged between the Pak 'N Play and my dresser. Sh*t is getting desperate!

Long story short- I took the kids to the school open house. And I'm in love with the school. And my kids knocked over a "crown of thorns" display made by the first grade class. And we all shook the priest's hand except for Ryan who had his finger wedged deep into his nostril and apparently even priests have their limits. And I tried to have a serious discussion with Jacob about what school he would like to go to next year but he was pretty determined that the decision should be settled by "eeny meeny miney mo."

As we pulled away from the open house, I decided to take Ryan to Urgent Care because he had weird bumps on his face and he had a crazy rash on his tongue. You know, it really could have been the measles. You can never be too careful. Another long story short, Ryan does NOT have the measles but a bacterial infection and lingering respiratory infection. And sitting with three children in a waiting room and then exam room for two hours will likely involve several unpleasant things including: (1) constantly telling your two year old to stop licking the wall - hmmm, might explain that tongue rash, (2) your six year old repeatedly spinning on the rotating doctor stool and crashing into everything within a ten foot radius, (3) baby spit up on your work clothes, (4) walking laps around the doctor's office to distract certain children from smacking each other, and (5) lots and lots of selfies.

Ryan hasn't quite mastered the art of the selfie.

But Jacob has.

By 8:30, we were finally exiting Urgent Care and I gave in and made a final stop at McDonald's Drive-Thru where in my exhaustion and distraction from a screaming four month old, I totally hit a curb. I'm hoping I can blame any resulting vehicle damage on the elderly neighbor who parks next to us on the street. (Yes, I've accepted the fact that it will take the sayings of many MANY rosaries to get my wicked soul into heaven.)

Forty minutes of baby screaming and cheeseburger throwing later we are FINALLY home. It's not until I pull up to the house that I realize I never picked up Ryan's antibiotics. Ooops. It will wait for tomorrow because: the siren call of the yoga pants > concern for son's well being. It's just a tongue rash people. It's NOT the measles.

The kids ended up going to bed super late and I finally choked down dinner at 9:30. It was such a freaking crazy day. But you know what, it's totally ok. Because today I was wearing a brand new cropped blazer with my favorite boots and slightly new prescription shades and I felt like a million dollars all day long (even when I pulled out my wallet at the doctor's office and a used pair of little boys' Toy Story underwear fell out of my purse).

This is now one of my favorite outfits. I was totally unsure about the layering. The waistlines and hem lines didn't seem quite right with the shirt underneath. But it looked funny to tuck the shirt in and I ran out of time to adjust my outfit so I just went with it.

Any outfit looks better when poised next to a suspended, stuffed pterodactyl. 

I felt like I was channeling my inner Alicia Florrick (my fictional lawyer hero and role model) all day. It's amazing how one single outfit can make you feel powerful and in-charge. And I desperately needed to feel these things during today's meeting in which I had to tell men nearly thirty years my senior what to do.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Regrets, Gambles, And Payoffs

Everyday that I pick up the two youngest from their babysitter's house, the babysitter tells me how amazing my two year old is. He wears big boy underwear for her all day without any accidents. He doesn't fight. He doesn't throw any tantrums. She swears he is the most angelic child she has ever watched. Every time she tells me this I feel like she must be watching someone else's kid.

I bring Ryan home and within ten minutes of walking through the door, he poops in his underwear (this has happened the only two times I have let him wear big boy underwear home from her house). And I can't help but have scarring flashbacks to the long days of my maternity leave that were filled with tantrum and timeouts and fights and squabbles and defiance. I wonder if there is a law of child behavior that covers this strange phenomenon. Or maybe it's just called being two years old.

Anyway, we've all made the transition back to being a house of two working parents relatively smoothly. Even though I was eager to return to work I still worried that I would miss my kids, mourn the end of my maternity leave, and/or feel slight pangs of guilt about leaving my baby. I have to say that these worries have only surfaced for a combined total of 5 minutes.

I just love my job (so, so much). And I love coming home to a cuddly baby, a happy toddler, and a talkative six year old. I feel like there is a perfect balance right now. A balance that I have only been able to achieve since I took a job with my local government. I am so incredibly thankful.

The other day I had to forcibly remove myself from my desk to go home. I realized that, after 8 hours of work, I was still having fun. I love litigation. It's exciting and interesting and uses all my favorite intellectual parts of my brain. And as I walked to my car I just couldn't believe it. I mean, how many people get lucky enough to actually love their job as much as I love mine.

The crazy thing is that just two years ago (before I started my current job as just a temporary employee), I was so frustrated and full of regret over my law degree and my legal career. I was certain that I had made a horrible decision that was going to negatively impact the rest of my life. But I had no choice. I had to suck it up and stick it out. I shopped around with jobs (I had four jobs in four years). And after all the regret and many MANY nights spent wishing I could go back in time and shred all my lawschool applications, my pain has paid off somehow.

I liken my experience to wandering through a scary, precarious forest of uncertainty, doubt, and trial and error before arrive at a wonderful destination. I just hope that this is a little bit encouraging to anyone who is seriously regretting their decision to invest in law school. Don't write off your legal career just yet. There may just be a wonderful place out there where you fit and belong. You just need to find it first. Also, don't stay in an employment situation where you are not happy. Look for other jobs and take new job offers, even if they may be a gamble.

Since graduating from law school, I took a couple gambles (a position at a start-up firm, a position as a paralegal). Some of these gambles worked in the short term and some only helped me realize what I DIDN'T want to do. My last gamble was to leave a steady full time employment job with an insane commute for an unguaranteed six month temporary job. It was the best career decision I have ever made. It led me to my current job, the legal career of my pre-lawschool dreams. What I learned- if you aren't happy where you are, you have much less to lose in rolling the dice and making a bold employment change.

Be bold. Be adventurous. Go search for your happiness. Don't quit. Regrets are for suckers.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Heart Day Adventures In Kindergarten

Today I got to step back in time about 25 years and re-experience Valentine's Day as a Kindergartner. You know what? Unlike Christmas (which is even better as an adult) Valentine's Day is pretty much best when you are a kid. No expectations. No romance drama. No gift anxiety. No worries. Just pure, innocent fun, all wrapped up in doilies and heart stickers and wonderful, scratchy Kindergarten penmanship.

For Jacob's class party (his first V-day party ever!) I thought about doing a fancy Pinterest project. But then I remembered a very strong lesson from my own elementary days. In third grade we were learning about the Oregon trail and were assigned to go home and build covered wagons. My mom pointed me to the craft supplies and I went to work. I returned to school with a flimsy shoe box creation that looked like it very well may have died of the covered-wagon equivalent of dysentery. All the other kids came to school with perfectly crafted wood-built wagons with perfectly-sewn fabric covers. One kid even had a wooden sign on the back of her wagon that said, "Oregon or bust." I didn't know what it meant, but it looked fancy.

My mom picked me up from school that day and I remember crying to her about how I was so embarrassed at how ugly my covered wagon was next to all the other kid's wagons. She looked right at me and said, "It might not be perfect but you did it all by yourself! The other kids had their parents to their project for them." I thought back on all the other fancy wagons and it occurred to me that she was right. I was suddenly proud of my shitty old shoe box covered with foil. For some reason, that is one of the lessons from elementary school that stuck with me the most all these years. It's not about being perfect. It's about being genuine and honest and trying really hard. 

That's a long way of saying... I made Jacob make his own Valentine's Day cards. I was really tempted to make something Pinteresty for him (hey, crafts aren't just for kids!). But really, what's that going to do for him? So one day last week during the car ride home from school, Jacob and I chatted and came up with a design together: a card in the shape of an Xbox controller with heart buttons and the greeting "You Win!" I helped trace the controller shape onto pieces of paper and Jacob took it from there. The perfectionist in me really REALLY wanted to jump in and "fix" up or improve a couple things. It took all my will to restrain myself. And they turned out awesome! Jacob was so proud of himself. His own little covered wagon.

This afternoon, I left work early to attend Jacob's Valentine's Day party. It was just as awesome as I remember elementary school Valentine's Day parties to be: Valentine's for everyone, lots of treats (when I was a kid the Valentine's cards with lifesavers were the most coveted!), messages from friends, self-decorated Valentine mailbox/envelope, doilies and construction paper and hearts EVERYWHERE. 

I sat at Jacob's table and chatted with his tablemates (Kindergartners are SO STINKING CUTE). Everyone kept exclaiming that it was "THE BEST DAY EVER." Then Jacob and I dug into his Valentine envelope and perused all the cards and took a nice inventory of his treats (lots of lolipops!). Valentine's Day is the best. Seriously, why don't workplaces do this?

Before we left, Jacob's teacher and her husband (who comes in every Friday to do science projects with the kids), both pulled me aside separately and told me how awesome Jacob is and how much they love him. My mommy heart swelled with pride and I tried not to let it go to my head. But you know what? He IS pretty awesome. And I have no idea how he turned out this awesome. Because he is our first baby (trial model) and we are pretty much just winging everything as we go. 

Yesterday I took all the kids down to the park to enjoy the rare 60 degree January weather. The weather man said the weather we are having now is usually the HIGH for May. WTF? No snowmageddon here. Anyway, I told the kids that if they let me snap some fun Valentine's Day pictures that I would buy them ice cream (yes, ice cream in January, that is how warm it is!). 

And they were seriously perfect.


Well, mostly. 


Monday, February 9, 2015

You've Got To Be Suiting Me!

I have a federal trial in less than a month. It's actually a retrial of a case I co-chaired last August when the jury was unanimously not unanimous in reaching a verdict. At that time I was 8 months pregnant. Oddly, the only other time I co-chaired a trial, I was also 8 months pregnant (different baby). So this is going to be the first trial where I do not have a beach ball protruding from my abdoment. And I would like to look good. If that's not possible, then I'll settle for acceptable.

All this is to say that I am very much in need of a new suit. In my short legal career, I've not had great experiences with suits. Any suit jacket that fits in the waist/bust is too small in the shoulders and too short in the arms. Also, I have never found a single pair of trousers that fits me. It's painful to admit this but.....apparently I suffer from chronic butt camel toe. So I'll just be sticking to skirt suits.

Basically, I have one suit that I like. It's from JCrew. And while wearing the same suit five days in a row might be forgivable when you are the shape of an orb (they should sell pepper spray thingies that shoot out Febreeze), that's not gonna cut it this time around. Yup, I'm officially suit hunting.

The internet is great for suit hunting. Just from looking at a photoshopped image of a stick-sized, gorgeous model, I can tell EXACTLY whether a suit will work for me or not. UGH, Right now I don't have many leads but I wanted to share some of the gems that I found on actual chain retail store websites.

Warning: the suits you are about to see are 100% real. Recommended for mature audiences only.

First up, look at this beauty. I mean what lawyer hasn't thought, "I really wish I could look like Tetris at my hearing today." It's great for distracting opposing counsel.

Then there is this...the "Embellished Shoulder Torn Blazer." Why would you tear your own shoulders when you can have it done by an underpaid seamstress in a third world country? I know what you're thinking, "This is so wonderful that I have absolutely nothing as equally wonderful to wear with it!" But never fear! You can buy the skirt in the picture and be stylin' from head to toe. Just don't be alarmed if birds start to fly for your crotch, mistaking the print for tree branches. 

If I could wear shorts this short in court, I would never have to brief another legal issue ever again. I'd win cases with my legs. And an occasional panty peek-a-boo during strategically timed instances of a dropped pen.  

Who wore it better? This model, or someone from the cast of Duck Dynasty? This is a great selection when your secretary accidentally books your court date back to back with your hunting trip. Set to the tune of about 5 grand...this suit better be lined with real deer fur.

Finally, this is the PERFECT suit to wear when:

(a) you need to distract the judge from your losing argument;
(b) you want to set a more relaxed, springy tone (i.e. death penalty cases);
(c) when you have to apologize to the court for a mistake you made and you want to inform the judge that to be human is to err by reminding him of poor life choices he may have made during a college spring break trip to Mexico; or
(d) you are the designer's mother.