Sunday, September 30, 2012

Make Your Own Bagels

A couple people have asked about my bagel recipe. Here it is! I don't remember where I got it. I think it was just a random website I found during a google search rather than Cooking Light or Cook's Illustrated, my usual go-to places. 

Pretty easy. The hardest part is waiting for the dough to rise!


4 cups bread flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs vegetable oil
2 tsp yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water

Topping (for Pizza Bagel)

Pasta sauce
Mini pepperonis
Mozarella or monterrey jack cheese
or anything else your heart desires!

1. Dissolve yeast in water about 5 minutes/until bubbly or frothy. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to form a ball of dough. It's suppose to feel stiff.

2. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, or until smooth. Separate into 8 balls and let rest for 20 minutes.

3. Roll balls into a long snake. This only works for me if I rub the dough between both hands rather than a hand and a floured surface. Wrap the snake-like dough around your hand bringing and pressing the ends together. While the dough is still wrapped around your hands and with the end peices in your palm, roll the peices together (the same as you would roll the dough to make the snake-shape). If this makes absolutely no sense, then try this quick video.

4. Let the dough rest for another 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 and set a large pot of water to boil.

5. Boil each bagel (I did two at a time) in the boiling water, one minute on each side.

6. Place the bagels on a greased baking sheet and top with your toppings of choice.

7. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes.

Then...YUM! Carb alert!

One Good Day

Oh man do I miss sleeping in....Ryan woke up at 6 a.m. today.  I fed him and hoped he would do his usual thing by going right back to sleep. He fought sleep for about 30 mins and right when he was about to finally drift off, Jacob's bedroom door opened and he rushed down the hall, grinning widely and stomping his feet loudly.

Sigh. I was up for the long haul.

So what to do next? I decided to make bagels. And just because I'm an insane person, I decided to make them from scratch. I had made bagels once before and they hadn't turned out so well. Ever since then I've been determined to make them again. I pulled out my recipe book, glanced down the ingredient list, and quickly realized I didn't have bread flour, the staple ingredient.

That should have been a sign to abandon my little morning project. But I had already made up my mind and, dang it, I really wanted some pizza bagels! So I packed up both kids (husband was sleeping and Jacob refused to be left behind) and off we went, to the grocery store, at 6:45 a.m. Never underestimate a mom's desire to carbo-load at the butt crack of dawn.

My hair was greasy, my yoga pants had the just-been-slept-in smell, and my sweatshirt had a huge spit-up stain in the shoulder area. I should have changed decided my chances were very slim of running into Jon Hamm at Safeway and convincing him to run away with me after throwing provocative glanes (ducklips anyone?) his way. Especially if I was pushing a cart containing one poop-grunting infant and one shoe-less child (I didn even realize he wasn't wearing shoes until we got there!). "People of Safeway at 6:45 a.m." is giving "People of Walmart" a run for it's money.

When we got home, Ry was crabby and ready for a nap. But I had come so far in my goal of making bagels to let something silly like naptime get in the way. With Ryan on my hip, I one-handedly mixed the dough, shaped the bagels, set them out to rise, boiled them, topped them with pizza ingredients, and plopped them in the oven.

They were well worth every freaking effort! Hmmmmm, carbs. Since I know so many people on the Paleo diet right now, I decided to enjoy a bagel for each of those people. That's just the supportive kind of person that I am. Yes, I know I'm kind. You are very welcome.

I didn't have an agenda for the rest of the day at all. I spend the day totally present with my kids. Jacob helped us re-arrange and organize his room. We set up his big boy bunk beds and somehow managed to fit bunkbeds, crib, dresser, bookcase and toy chest into his tiny room. Things ended up fitting with just centimeters of extra space. Phew! Jacob is now ready to share his room with Ryan. I am so excited for them to go this one step further in becoming best-bud brothers.

Jacob had a freaking ton of toys that he never played with. He refused to let me take them to Goodwill so I told him we were going to put the extra toys in a bag and take them to Grandma's house. Poor kid, he had no idea he was an accomplice in a bold act of toy-knapping. When he fell asleep in the car, I rushed to Goodwill and dropped those toys off faster than a hot-potato. Mommy win!

Before we went home, we took a spontaneous trip to a nearby creektrail. Jacob, Ryan, and I took in the scenes and explored some nature. We played "Pooh-sticks" over a bridge, helded caterpillers in our hands, made up some songs, and enjoyed some spray-paint graffiti ("Mommy what do those words say?" "Oh, they'I love rainbows'!"). I need to remember to do stuff like that more often. Nothing beats good, old-fashioned outdoor fun. Especially when it is free and doesn't involve puke-covered arcade games (looking at you Chuck E. Cheese!).

Today was one of my favorite days in a long time. This is true even though I fell asleep 20 minutes into the movie Inception during date-night-in with the husband. (Don't worry, I've seen it's very good.)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Buh-Bye Baby Weight

Another reason why my job is is a baby-weight killer!

My commute keeps me on my toes, literally. It's 2+ hours of car, ferry, bus, and walk travel (one way). This week, I started skipping the bus on my way home and instead have been walking to the ferry after work. This means, depending on the day (if it's not my turn to drop the kids off, I walk almost a mile from my house to the ferry), I can get up to 2-4 miles of walking in each day.

And just like that, I solved my lack-of-energy-to-go-to-the-gym-at-8pm problem!

I've struggled so hard with these last 5 pounds of babyweight. After Jacob was born, all the weight melted off within a month with NO extra effort. This time around, I shed a bunch of weight in the first month after Ryan's birth, but then my progress stagnated. I started running and then threw out my back. I started running again which only made me super hungry. I cut way back on my chocolate intake (notice I said "cut-back" instead of "cut-out" - I'm not INSANE). I continued drinking a gallon of water each day. Nothing worked.

Four months of no progress made me really depressed. I was in a pit of despair. I tried to just accept my new body and move on. I tried SO hard. But just those 5 extra pounds made me feel so horrible. It make me neurotic. It became a mind game. Those 5 stubborn pounds (located all in one place) were taunting me. No matter how hard I worked, they clung to me (damn parasites). This was war. I HAD to defeat them! I just HAD to.

It didn't help that my favorite clothes no longer fit right (I paid good money for those!). I mean how many more times can I really get away with wearing stretchy-waited yoga pants and oversided sweathshirts to run errands? I think I more than exceeded my new-mommy quota. In fact, I'm pretty sure I owe libations to the fashion gods for my fashions sins these past 5 months.

But things are FINALLY turning around! After just 1.5 weeks at my new job, I've already lost half of my remaining baby weight. Not only does the commute add 2-4 miles of walking to my daily routine, but being super busy with exciting lawyer tasks keeps me from snacking on junk. I'm far too busy drafting motions to think about buying candy bars.

I've already lost nearly half of my remaining baby weight! Only 2.5 pounds to go!

Unfortunately, I may have just sabotaged all this progress. This morning, I made (from scratch- with real yeast and sh*t!), pizza bagels! Cause really, what else am I supposed to do when my kids wake me up at 6 a.m. But, you can't just make pizza bagels and not taste one. Or two. Or three.  They had to pass my quality control of course. And to QC test a product, you need a decent-sized sample.

Good thing there's plenty more walking in my future.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Not Just Easier, But Better

When I returned to work after my 4 month maternity leave. Things were....difficult. Mornings sucked as I had to pry myself away from my children. I wasn't used to giving up my baby on a daily basis. Up to that point, he was almost always with me. He was my little buddy.

Once I got to work, my thoughts were consumed by them. Everything reminded me of them and the fact that I was not with them. It was hard to focus. I couldn't have pictures of Ryan in my office because they would bring me tears. I cried often. Random things would trigger my tears. I would sit in my office, let the tears fall down my face, and try so hard to will them to stop before anyone saw me.

Things were hard for at least a month. Then one day, they were better.  The teary-eyed moments stopped. I would finish a whole day of work and suddenly realize that I hadn't thought about the kids that day.

It amazed me how quickly I got into the routine of dropping off the kids and going to work. This is especially amazing to me because for several weeks it seemed as if things would be hard forever. That crying at the office would be my life for the foreseeable future. That would suck, right?

I'm not saying it's easy to leave the kids in the morning. When I wake up, I only get about 20 minutes of awake time with the kids before I pile them in the car. That time is mostly spent getting dressed while listening to them talk and giggle with each other from across the room. Those first 20 minutes with the kids are so precious. I always hate to interrupt that time.

Somedays when I drop the kids off at my mom's house in the mornings, it would be very easy to let pity take over and to wallow in the fact that I don't get to be with my boys all day. It would be easy to let the pang of separation flourish. But on those days where it still feels hard to leave them and go to work, I make a conscious decision to not wallow. And usually, by the time I get to the office, I'm too excited to tackle the challenges waiting for me on my desk to focus on feeling sad.

This is why, for me, it has become so important to have a challenging job in which I get to use my lawyer skills and education. When I leave my kids each morning, it helps to know that I'm using my time away from them wisely. That I'm doing something worthwhile. That I'm learning, and growing, and using my (horribly expensive) education.

But you know what else? Even though I'm not with them all day, I'm teaching my boys something very important. I'm teaching them that women can play many roles. Women can be loving mommies AND they can be bread winners. They can be lawyers. They can be professionals. They can be valued for their skills and intellect. They can be independent. They can be confident without all the negative connotations that usually follow. They can be nurturing at home and successful at work. Women can have babies. They can go to court. Sometimes one shortly after the other. 

I hope when my boys grow up, they are unable to fathom that women, at one point in time, were limited by glass ceilings. I hope, when they go to their own jobs, that it never even crosses their mind to treat women differently than the way THEY wish to be treated in the workplace.  I hope the only world they know is one where women hold positions of power and are respected for their capabilities. When they date and get married, I hope they operate under the assumption that their girlfriends and wives can do great things, both in and out of the home. And, I hope their default setting is to support their significant others in any path that they choose. I hope, they are imparted with the knowledge that women can be strong and smart and successful in anything they do.

I hope that by going to work every day, I teach them a little bit of all that. And just maybe, I'm also making things a little easier for the future women in their lives too.

Monday, September 24, 2012

God And Sex And The Inquisitive Child

I had just picked the kids up at my mom's house and we were all piled into the car heading home. Sometimes Jacob falls asleep during our drive. This makes for a peaceful car ride and a happy, exhausted mom. But sometimes, like tonight, we just end up playing 143 questions instead.

(Oh and P.S., Jacob gets most of his religious education from my mom)

"Mommy, do only bad guys die to their bones?"


"Do only bad guys, not good guys, die to their bones?"

"You mean become a skeleton? Everyone will die and turn into a skeleton someday."

"But good guys will go up to heaven and bad guys will go down to the devil?"

"Yes. Our souls will, but our bodies will go into the ground and become a skeleton."

"Why doesn't the devil just leave if he doesn't like it down there?"

"Um.....because.....maybe you should ask Grandma that one."

"Why do bad guys have to go down to the devil?"

"Well, God likes it when people are nice to each other. He likes it when we help each other and not just help ourselves. He likes it when you share, love people, and listen to your mommy and daddy.

"Ok. I will listen to you when I turn 8."

"No Jacob, you need to listen all the time."

"When you were a baby was I in your tummy?"

"Uh......No, you were in my tummy when I was a grown up."

"When you were a baby, where was I?"

"You didn't exist yet."

"So where was I?"

" were with God."

"Ok. I was with God then I got in your tummy? How did I get in your tummy?"

"Um, God put you there." NOOOOO!!!

"Oh. But how?"

"Um....(getting a little uncomfortable here)....He's just special. He can do anything."

"Ok. But how?"


"God has a big button on his desk. When he pushes the button, a baby starts to grow in a mommy's tummy."

"Oh yeah. I know that."

Phew, I temporarily dodged that one.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Up High

We had a busy weekend of chores and fun the past couple days. Why is it I can spend every second of the weekend doing house stuff and yet all I've managed to do is just barely stay above water on the chores? Lately the chores come at me much more quickly than I can handle them. Maybe it has something to do with an extra person in the house?

But this weekend wasn't ALL chores....On Saturday we went to the state fair. Jacob had four hours of fully concentrated fun and we enjoyed re-living our childhoods through him.

Before we left for the fair, Jacob called out to me from across the house: "Mommy, where are you?"

"I'm trying to find something to wear." I called back to him.

"It's ok Mommy. Just wear what you are wearing. It only makes you look a little bit fat." He said sweetly, thinking he was paying a really nice compliment.

Gee, thanks kid!

I managed to STILL take him to the fair even after that comment. But man, I'm not sure if fairs are worth the trouble. I absolutely hate crowds. I easily get claustrophobic (at my old work, some guys were painting the exterior of the building and covered my office windows with protective tarp, that alone was enough for my phobia to creep in). I hate feeling like I can't quickly escape or get out of wherever I am at any given moment. When you're surrounded by a tons of fair-goers it takes 10 minutes just to walk 10 feet to the line for the bathroom! Speaking of lines. I hate lines! I'm the least patient person on the planet! It doesn't help that I don't even really LIKE fair rides. What's the point in waiting in line to do something I don't even like?

But....(highlight of MY day at the fair) at least I got some (kinda) nice family pictures to frame for my office:

I even took my baby on the ferris wheel! Ryan was totally unphased by it as he gazed down at the tiny specks of people below. My stomach was in my throat nearly the entire time and I kept firmly reminding Jacob NOT to rock the seats. Plus, I hate when they stop the ferris wheel when I'm at the top. All I can do when that happens is bite my nails and repeat fervently to myself, "What was I thinking?!" Obviously, I'm NOT an adrenaline junky.

Oh and Jacob had so much fun that he begged me to let him go again, by HIMSELF! I nearly freaked out as I let him load into a ferris wheel seat all alone and watched as the uncertain structure carried him up in the air and far away from me.

Thank goodness I've never read any caselaw about carnival ride accidents because my imaginaton was already doing a good job of helping me imagine the worst!  Oh, but I DID trip on an unsecure electrical cord while holding Ryan.  Luckily I did not fall to the ground but I quickly ran through the premises liability issues and determined that if I had fallen, I'd have had a pretty good liability case :)

Falling Back In Love With Law

I loved law school. Not the highschool-level drama and insane personalities from the ranks of both professors and students. But I loved the classes. I loved reading caselaw. I loved learning the historical transformation of law as the court's reviewed different factual scenarios and as social norms changed. I loved not just learning the final decision of the courts but the reasoning and policy behind those opinions.

It's been a while since I've read a court case that wasn't part of a legal research project for work. But tonight, as I was catching up on my political news, it dawned on me to look up and read last year's Supreme Court decision on Obamacare (yes, this was my wild Saturday night and, yes, I do have issues). When I discovered that the original opinion is nearly 200 pages long, I decided to just stick with the summary. But I became to engrossed that I kept reading. The first couple pages of the opinion is a REALLY good primer on the roles of the Federal versus State governments and the "enumerated powers" of the Federal government versus the broad "police powers" of the States. It totally re-kindled my love for Constitutional Law.

Oh man, I love it. I love it all! I am a total law geek. This (in addition to insurance coverage issues) is the kind of stuff that gets me hot and bothered. And....the Commerce Clause! Shiver. Reading about enumerated powers and the Commerce Clause has the same affect on me as, I'm imaging, the movie Magic Mike has on *normal* people.

If it weren't for the whole lawyer thing, I would be chomping at the bit to be a Political Science professor, or to have a job in politics.

Speaking of the "lawyer thing," I am also falling back in love with my profession. I think I have the best job in the world. It is seriously awesome. And in making that bold statement, I'm even factoring in an adjustment for the typical "new job" excitement.

The firm I work for is basically a start up firm. It's nine months old. There are only three attorneys and three other staff members. But, we office share with a couple other attorneys and their staff so it seems much bigger. I have a bright office with a window overlooking a cute Seattle neighborhood.

Instead of handling intense, stressfull, complex cases, we pretty much stick to car accident cases. One would think this would get old after a while, but (as I discovered in my last position as an associate attorney) when you handle cases in litigation, law never gets old. You always have new clients to meet. New opposing counsel to deal with. New cases to investigate. New witnesses to interview. And when you handle cases in multiple different counties, keeping up with the local court rules always keeps you on your toes. And the people... oh, the people! Clients are pretty hilarious. Opposing counsel can be either fun or frustrating. And it's a neat thing to build close relationships with insurance adjusters (who, in turn, give you more business).

My work is a fabulous mix of wonderful coworkers and bosses, challenging work (and a lot of it!), and an office space that instills a sense of pride.

My commute sucks. Depending upon whether it's my turn to drop the kids off in the morning, it is either 2 hours or 2.5 hours ONE WAY. But I'm no stranger to long sucky commutes and at least I'm getting 2-4 miles of walking in everyday. And, for the most part, riding a ferry everyday isn't THAT bad. I have plenty of time to get some extra work in, or read a book, or take a nap. Plus, this is only temporary. After the first four weeks, I'll be working from home two days a week (score!).

This is the passenger only ferry that I rode in to work on Friday- looks like a yacht!

And here is my typical morning commute view:

(Did I mention I love Seattle?)

Commute aside, it all boils down to one thing: I love what I do and I look forward to going to the office. I love it so much that I feel like my time away from my children is time well-spent. If I can't be with them, at least I am doing something fulfilling, challenging, and fun. When you love your work, enjoy the people you work with, and earn fair compensation for your effort, that, my friends, is called the Employment Jackpot!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


First Day:

Heels, bouse, and skirt.

2.5 hour commute to work: car, ferry, bus, walking.

Gorgeous Seattle skyline rising above the fog

Bright new office.

View of a cute neighborhood.

Delicious steak salad at a cajun restaurant.

My name on pretty letter head.

 Sending faxes via e-mail (Mind BLOWN!)

Re-learning how to bill clients.

Two motions completed! (Simple motions, but...MOTIONS!)

2.5 hour commute home: walking, bus, ferry, car.

Missing my ferry by two minutes.

Walking in the door to give my two boys a huge hug.

Take out thai dinner with husband.

Snuggling with my babies before bedtime.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Doubt....And Bear

Big day tomorrow. I start my new job. It's been over a year since I've been a REAL attorney.

I'm totally excited to get my hands dirty and to take charge of cases in litigation once again. I'm even crossing my fingers that there will be some motions that need to be written when I walk into the office tomorrow. What I wouldn't give to write a summary judgment motion on liability or causation. Or, better yet, a complex motion in limine. Those are my fave!

Although I'm very anxious to start my new job, for some reason there is a little bit of doubt in me that I never expected to be there. Doubt that this is the wrong choice. And doubt that I won't be good at the new job. I'm nervous that I've forgotten how to do things. Hopefully, issuing discovery will be like riding a bike?

The real source of my nerves is the fact that I think only one of the partners of the firm wanted to hire me. Sounds like he fought for me. This must be how Prez GWB felt when he took office after the majority of Americans didn't even vote for him (remember the electoral college and hanging chads?). I feel this tremendous pressure to be extraordinary. To prove that I can do the job, and do it better than anyone else. The pressure is weighing me down. It's clouding my excitement. It's making me feel sick. And, OMG. What if I suck?

Go away self doubt! GO AWAY!

To end on a happier note, here are some shameless pics of my favorite teddy bear.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Conversations: How I'm Earning My 6-Figure Education

Some days you just hit the jackpot:

Man: "It's been three month, why haven't you settled my case."

Me: "Uh, because it usually takes 1-3 years."

Man: "You know the first thing King Henry did when he became king?"

Me: "[Sigh.] No. I don't"

Man: "He killed all the lawyers! And NOW I know why!"

Me: "Yeah.... I think that was just in a Shakespeare play."


Woman: "[Frantic] My brother's in jail for a sexual assault and I think he's innocent! What do I gotta do?!"

Me: "You need to call a criminal defense firm."

Woman: "He's innocent! He really is! How much will it cost?"

Me: "I don't know, we don't do criminal defense."

Woman: "That 11 year old bitch framed him! I know he's innocent. I just feel it."

Me: "I can give you the number of a criminal defense attorney."

Woman: "How much money will it take to get him free?!"

Me: "I have no idea. Here's the number for the other attorney."

Woman: "So, will you take my case?"


Me: "I'll let him know that you called. What's your phone number?"

Woman: "1-800-In-Da-Butt! Ha ha ha ha!!!"

Me: "..?.."

Woman: "Ok, seriously? It's XXX-5555"

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Heart Wants

When it comes to making decisions, my heart always leads. Logic is shoved to the wayside. I don't sit and ponder extensive pros and cons lists. There are no complex calculations. Reason, plays a supporting role.

I don't know if I always make the best-overall choices. But I always make the best-for-me-right-now choices. I'm ok with that. Actually, that's what makes me happy. It doesn't make me happy to plan and plot. When I DO make plans, those plans are guaranteed to change. Instead, I live for spontanaeity. I love knowing that nothing is certain and that I'm not stuck to a script or trapped to a pre-decided plot.

This is the reason why I packed up my life after highschool and traveled to the other side of the country, from Seattle to Chicago, for no apparent reason. I knew little about Chicago or how my life would look while I was there. But it felt right. And for some inane reason, I wanted to be there.

It's the reason, after 2 years of dating, my husband and I eloped without telling a soul. It's the reason we had our son less than a year later. It's the reason I quit my semi-prestigious attorney job in a fancy high rise in downtown Seattle to work as a paralegal in the basement of a house 15 minutes from my home. And now, it's the reason I'm jumping back into the hustle-and-bustle routine of a city attorney just one short year (and another baby) later.

My heart obviously can't decide what it wants. I mean, how do you KNOW what you really want if you haven't wandered down ever little sidepath that catches your eye? I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere particular. Life isn't linear or flat. It's an adventure and we don't know when it ends. So why not listen to the little desires of your heart?

When the former partner at my former firm called me out of the blue a couple weeks ago and offered me a job, I knew in that first second that I would take the job. My heart had decided for me. BUT I had to talk my mind into it. I had to pretend to be responsible and go through the motions. "Can I think it over and get back to you in two days?" Was my normal, rational human response.

Does it make sense to jump back into the 4 hour/day commute (at least I'll be working 2 days per week at home), for a start-up firm? I don't know. Because I haven't thought that far. And I have no reason to. I know, in my heart, that I want to pursue this opportunity. That it just feels "right" to me. That's all I need to know.

OMG. I'm so excited!

Who knows, maybe next year I'll be taking the bar exam in Alaska?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Silver-Lined Clouds

Today was hard. So many times I caught myself being mad or crabby or frustrated and I tried so hard to turn my attitude around. I looked hard but I found very little attributes.

Jacob was a total mess. He had a new meltdown at every turn. When he wasn't having a meltdown, he was biting Ryan's finger, poking Ryan in the face, coughing in MY face, and most definitely NOT doing as he was told. I wanted to run away.

Ryan, as always, was very good and very happy. But he's not the best napper. I can usually handle a clingy baby just fine. But when Jacob drives me to the end of my sanity, it doesn't take much more to make me feel like my whole world is spiraling out of control. And OMG, I'm out of Diet Dr. Pepper. And I just spilled Ryan's formula all over the table. And I rammed my shin against our bed for the third time today! And when I finally got to the gym at 8 oclock, I discovered it had JUST closed. The world is conspiring against me. There is NO ESCAPE!

On days like today, I try to count my blessings. Today, I don't have to count very high.

1) Chocolate covered almonds

2) Being able to nap with Ryan. When we nap together, he closes his eyes, arches his back towards me, and reaches his hands out to touch my face. He will fall asleep with either his fingers gouging out my cheeks or his hand cradling my face. It's very sweet- or painful.

3) Not getting stabbed or shot when, upon discovering the gym was closed, I decided to run 4 miles around the outdoor track. In the dark.

Please, Tomorrow, please be better!

Crib-Side Reading

So THIS is how I decided to spend my very limited free time this morning. Kinda pathetic. I have a time management problem.
I have issues.
Get it?
Magazine issues.....
[Hides face in shame]

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Playground Karma

I can always count on Goodwill to be well-stocked with items that we absolutely do not need. For example, thanks to our trip to Goodwill yesterday, Jacob is now the proud owner of a pair of one-size too small Spiderman swimming trunks.  Not only is summer swimming season over, but he already has four pairs of swim trunks.  But Jacob absolutely HAD to have them. How could I pass up a $1.99 cry-free ride home?

The Spiderman swim trunks came on the second we got home. They did not come off. Period. Not for bedtime. Not for the next day. Not for bedtime tonight. We may have a problem on our hands.

The Goods:

Tonight, after work, I had the kids to myself. We went down to the neighborhood farmer's market at the nearby park. I had Ryan facing forward in the Baby Bjorn and Jacob was trailing along next to us on his Thomas the Tank Engine bike. He only ran over my toes three times.

We stopped at our favorite booth and ordered grilled corn on the cobb. I gave the lady my money and she handed me a paper bowl filled with perfectly-charred corn. It looked amazing. And it didn't hurt that every inch was dripping in hot butter. I took a couple bites before I sacrificed my snack to Jacob. He pecked at it like a bird. And when he was finished, it looked exactly like it had just lost a battle with pointy-beaked crow. Every other piece of corn was missing. I tried to finish Jake's scraps but each bite tasted like it had been marinating in slimy 4 year old slobber. Not appealing. We were about to leave when Ryan knocked the bowl out of my hands, sending butter dripping all over my hair. The smell of greasy butter infiltrated my every breath. My hair didn't feel so awesome either.

Before returning home, I let Jake play on the playground. There, we met Bossy Brat Child from Hell. She looked no older than 2 years old. But what she lacked in size, she made up for with her sparkling personality. She smacked Jacob and laughed. Then tried to push him down the slide. At one point she ran up to him and reached out to grab his water bottle out of his hands. Jacob held the bottle to his abdomen lay down on the playground bark and doubled over in a move I call the Potato Bug Defense. Brat Child got bored, gave up, and moved on to find another kid to steal from.

When Jake was assured that his water bottle was safe, we took Ryan out of the Baby Bjorn and helped him slide down the baby slide. He seemed unimpressed.....Until....Jacob decided to go with him. Jacob sat down on the slide beside Ryan, grabbed his tiny hand. and down they went. Ryan let out a long string of giggles.

As I was about to pick Ryan up off the slide, he let out a monstrous belch. Without warning, a geyser of spit-up frothed at his mouth before erupting all over the slide. I looked around for something to wipe it up with. I was just about to run for a napkin when, all of a sudden, Brat Child shoved a kid out of her way and toddled towards the slide. Before I could even gather a thought, she slid right down and landed in the puddle of curdled spit-up. She looked down at her pants in disgust.

Oh, Karma! Eventually, every shit-head gets what's coming to her.

So, what exacty did I do to deserve an evening full of buttery smelling hair? And, is that a punishment or a reward?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Mother's Joy & Pain

Some days we take everything for granted. On those days, the little rough patches of our daily routine (having to change the baby AGAIN before you can leave the house or staring your defiant child in the face and scolding him for the third time) take over. They turn our moods sour and bring out our not-so-good sides.

Some days we forget that it is a wonderful gift just to wake up breathing. We forget to rejoice in the fact that the fragile little lives that surround us are still surrounding us. 

And other days, it really hits home how lucky we are. We hear about the tragic suffering of others and we are grateful that we do not know such pain. We hope, above all else, that we never do.

On the way to work today, I was listening to the story of a mother who lost her nearly 4 year old son to cancer.  Taylor Swift reached out to this mother and together, the two of them wrote a song to commemorate the boy. His name was Ronan. That also happens to be the title of the song.

The radio station I was listening to provided the backdrop of Ronan's story and then played a short little clip of the song. I sat in my car in the offic parking lot as I listened to that clip. One line in and tears were dripping from my face. As I heard Ms. Swift sing this story, I sat alone in my empty car wishing that I could be holding my two babies. I was grateful. But I was also so very scared. What if I ever had to experience loss that great? I just couldn't do it. My stomach knotted up at the thought. I cried for Ronan, a boy I do now know. I cried for his mom. I cried for myself.

Having children is horrifying. Because when you love someone as much as you love your children, when a part of yourself leaves your own body and becomes another, you are so much more vulnerable to loss and grief. With love, the potential for loss multiplies in gut-wrenching fashion.

I wanted to post the lyrics to the song so very badly. But I'm afraid of violating copyright. So, I decided to just quote some of my favorite lines. I recommend you listen to the song yourself. Or rather, I recommend you do NOT listen to the song, unless you want to cry shamelessly. The lyrics aren't award winning. Rather, they are simple, and provide imagery that any mother will immediately understand.

I remember your bare feet down the hallway

I remember your little laugh

Race cars on the kitchen floor

I remember your blue eyes looking into mine
like we had our own secret club

I remember you dancing before bed time
then jumping on me waking me up

You were my best four years

Sob. Sob. I need another kleenex.
Go. Right now. Go and kiss your babies.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dirt Won't Hurt

My entire backyard is a sandbox but I couldn't be more thrilled! We are finally taking the first steps in our home remodel. The interior is going to have to wait a leeeetle bit longer. Right now, we're focusing on the backyard.

We live in a cozy (read: tiny) house that was built more than 100 years ago. The floor plan is odd, there is a fold-out ironing board in the kitchen, it has a charming baywindow, a retro built-in in the "dining room," a horror-film-worthy basement, and an unfinished attic. The four of us (and a circus-tent volume of baby items) are currently living in 2 small bedrooms and 1 tiny bathroom, all within the 950 square-foot floor plan. TINY. But it has character!

After we moved in 5 years ago, after being forewarned that a good amount of rain would likely crash the roof in, we wasted no time replacing the roof. This IS Seattle, you know. Can't take any chances. Then we painted over the salmon-pink exterior with a neutral but cheerful light grey. We've almost repainted all the interior walls as well. The booger green in our bedroom is no more, the tooth-stained yellow in Jacob's room is now a pale blue, and MOST importantly, the fake 'n bake orange in the kitchen is now a subdued, pale greyish-green.

In the future, we are going to remodel the front entrance and fix up the attic to provide about 500 more square feet of space (masterbedroom! and second bath! and TV room/office!). But right now? We are turning our red-neck, trailer park backyard into an outdoor sactuary.

So...I'm going to show you some pictures which will probably make you say, "WTF?! Is there an archaeological dig in your backyard? Are you digging up zombie bodies?" Well, all I ask if for a little "vision." Put on your rose-colored glasses and just remember...."baby steps."


Very lumpy and uneven


I set the kids free to "help" out. Please notice that Jake is in his underwear.....


Ok...not SO impressive...yet...

Jacob loves the new sandbox.

Bonus: in addition to heaping piles of buried garbage, my husband found some vintage glass bottles from at lest the 50's. The milk bottle is from an old local creamery from "back in the day." Maybe the others contained Moonshine? It would only be fitting.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

9 Favorite Baby Items

I've had some friends and future/new parents ask me about my favorite baby items. I love comparing notes on baby items with other parents. I discovered that some of the things that I couldn't live without, other parents rarely used, and vice versa.

When it comes down to it, babies really don't need much. Part of me balks at all the commercialization of parenthood. It seems ridiculous right? As if parents are expected to shell out thousands of dollars for their tiny newborns who only really need to eat, sleep, and poop. I mean who REALLY needs a light-up wipe warmer? But when you're a new parent, you don't want to feel like you're not giving your baby the best right from the beginning. Even if you're inclined to not buy all the latest gadgets, there is "product pressure" everywhere!

But the other part of me welcomes products as useful parenting tools. There really is a gadget for everything. Some items truly are innovative and helpful. Why not buy something that will make your life a little easier? Is the commercialization really that bad? Like everything in life, I think there's a middle ground somewhere.

For most items, you probably won't know until you try them whether they will work for you. It's all about personal preference (yours and the baby's). Example: after putting together a fancy baby changing table with changing pad for my first son, we ended up only using it TWICE. It's so much easier for me (easier on my back and easier to maneuver) to change a baby on the floor. Also a parent can spend big bucks for a fancy swing only to discover that her baby HATES swings. You just never know.

That said, beyond the basic baby stuff (bottles, clothing, crib, diapers), these are MY favorite baby items:

(1) Jack 'N Lilly Originals. When it comes to baby shoes, you get what you pay for. I've shelled out the big bucks ($30) for a pair of Robeez and I've also purchased the Target knock-offs on sale. My favorite brand, however, is a brand we received as a gift for Jacob. Jack 'N Lilly are my faves. Sure, babies don't really need shoes. They can't even WALK! But in our house, shoes are the only way to keep socks on vigorous kicking feet. And when your baby starts to toddle around, the soft leather bottoms help your baby learn to balance. Plus, they're sturdy. Jacob used his for months and they are still in good shape for Ryan.

(2) Baby Bjorn. I've tried a couple carriers: the Moby, a baby sling, and the Baby Bjorn. My search for the perfect baby carrier ended at the Baby Bjorn. This thing is simply awesome! When Jacob was a baby, a friend gave us a used one. It was a life saver. When I have to cook or do dishes and the baby is crabby, I just plop him in it and get back to work. I've taken it hiking, to the beach, to county fairs, to museums. The Baby Bjorn is really easy to use, feels very secure, and can be used for babies as small as 8 pounds. In comparison, a baby carrier that is made up of a 30 foot cloth and requires an instruction booklet is not my style. Haven't compared it to the Ergo though I have heard great stuff about the Ergo as well.

Baby can be front or back facing:

(3) Swaddle blankets. Both of my kids absolutely had to be swaddled in order to stay asleep. There is something about being wrapped burrito-style that babies, especially newborns, just love. When Ryan falls asleep, I slip him in the swaddle blanket, secure it with the velcro straps and set him down in his crib. If he isn't swaddled when I set him down, he notices the change in environment and startles himself awake. The swaddle keeps him secure and stimulates the feeling of being held. I've tried swaddling my babies with regular blankets but I'm a crappy burrito wrapper!

(4) JJ Cole Bundle Me. This item keeps babies warm in their carseats. You slip the Bundle Me into the baby carseat carrier and pull the carseat straps through designated holes. It stays there until it gets dirty and needs to be washed. To use it, just put your baby in his carseat, strap him in and zip the soft, fleece layer over the baby. I want one of these for myself!

(5) Infantino Toy. This is absolutely my favorite baby toy. Now that Ryan can sit up, I can plop him on the floor and place this toy between his legs. It entertains him multiple times a day. He's getting so good at batting and grabbing the toys.

(That's my niece on the left. She and Ryan are gonna be buds!)

(6) Boppy Pillow. I always wanted one of these with my first son, but I never bit the bullet and bought one. I made sure to put it on my baby list for Ryan. This probably is THE MOST used baby item I own. When I was nursing, it was a great support pillow. I still use it when I'm feeding Ryan a bottle. When he was younger, I used to stick Ryan right in the middle and wouldn't have to worry about him rolling out. Now that he sits up, it's the perfectly shape to fit around his waist in case he flops over. The cover is removable for easy washing!

(7) Binky Clip. Both of our babies loves binkies. Binkies have prevented many screaming meltdowns over the years. And binkies nowadays are completely orthodontic and won't ruin a kid's teeth. Our doctor prefers binky-soothing to thumb-sucking, hands down.  The only problem with binkies is the fact that they are easily lost. On particularly crabby days, I'd rather lose my CAR than the binky. It's hard to find a good binky clip. The popular style (in stores near us at least) doesn't work very well (unless I'm just stupid and can't use it properly). My favorite has one end that wraps around the front knob of the binky and clips like a paperclip to a shirt, carseat belt, or bib.

(8) Walker. There are so many different kinds of walkers out there. In our house, these is a must have item. A walker not only lets your baby sit up and toddle around on his own, but it can double as a highchair, at least until your little one surpasses the weight requirement. Plus, when the baby is crabby and the 4 year old needs entertaining, I let HIM push the walker around. Two birds....

(9) Running or Regular Stroller. If you're a runner, a running stroller is a must-have, otherwise, get a regular stroller because the front wheel on the running stroller can be annoying. For that reason, I recommend the kind of running stroller with a swiveling front wheel- so much easier! If you plan to have more than one kid, I highly recommend a stroller adapts into a two-seater (usually by sticking an extra seat in the back/bottom of the stroller). We buy this type because we were on a shoe-string budget, and I regret it all the time. My only other advise on strollers is "you get what you pay for." We spent $200 on a stroller system (this means you can buy a carseat that snaps right into it). It was one of the cheaper stroller systems out there. It's held up pretty well but the level of quality is a little disappointing. The button that folds the stroller up tends to stick and is hard to use (my mom has never been able to do it). We've had the same problem with the matching carseat. The buttons that move the carseat handle are really hard to use. So spend the money on a quality stroller!

Baby Labor

Lately, Ryan's been asking us for an allowance. You know, to support his gangster lifestyle:

But it didn't take long to discover that Ryan is just too young to earn his allowance. Despite his best efforts, Ryan wasn't able to clean out the cat box, plunge the toilet, or clear out the gutters. In fact, he was pretty darn useless.

So, desperate, Ryan took his plight to the streets.

First he tried to emphasize his work ethic.

Then he tried pandering to the emotions of his passerbys (turns out we live on a pretty heartless street).

When these attempts failed, he figured he had nothing to lose by sticking with the truth:

I mean, what's the world coming to when a BABY can't even get a bottle....of Jim Bean?!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Doing It All

I had (mostly) a fun lawyer day today. Earlier this week my boss asked me if I would take two depositions for him. I paused for a reasonable amount of time before calmly responding in the affirmative. At that same moment, somewhere inside me a 12 year old girl was jumping up and down, hands and open-mouth reaching for the heavens, screaming in spastic glee.

I love depositions. I've done enough that they are no longer utterly terrifying but I haven't done so many that they are boring or ordinary. In the one and a half years that I worked at my previous firm, I'd taken 11 depositions.  For a baby lawyer, that's a pretty good start but, for anyone else, it's not really that impressive.

I have an unbeatable first deposition story. The day of my first deposition, I was a nervous wreck. I had prepared a 7 page outline for a simple plaintiff deposition. I packed extra outlines, extra copies of every single medical known record, extra pens, and extra business cards. I googled the directions to the plaintiff attorney's firm, arrived 20 minutes early, and took a brisk walk/nervous pace outside the office until show time.

When I walked into the office, which was almost in the middle of nowhere, I was sweating like crazy behind my thin, grey Banana Republic suit. The receptionist led me down a winding corrider until we finally arrived at a small conference room. I walked into the conference room and saw this:

I took the entire deposition just one foot away from this:

In fact, I think his outstreched claws were just inches from the back of my head. Good thing I wasn't inclined to make any sudden movements.

During the middle of the deposition, and right in front of his client, the plaintiff's attorney went on a tirade about how his horrible ex-wife had left him, had stolen his home, and was poisioning his children against him. Sadly, and for some off reason, none of this made it into the official record....After the deposition, the opposing attorney wanted to show me something in his office. I was a little worried and had decided not to actually enter his office alone when I heard a high-pitched "yap" coming from under his desk. He was hoarding a golden lab puppy. Under his desk. What?!

Today's depositions weren't quite as exciting. But they were my first deps in over a year so I was a little (ok, a lot) nervous. As I was driving down a wooded highway toward the destination of the deps, I started to rehearse my questions. All of a sudden, I noticed a cop behind my with his sirens flashing. Crap! I looked at my dash and noticed that I was speeding. I was speeding a lot.

When it comes to being pulled over, I'm quite seasoned. I had gotten so many "warnings" that I was beginning to think that traffic cops in my county were a joke. "I'll probably just get a warning," I thought. I'm cleaned up, wearing a suit, and I look business. When the officer took my papers back to his car and spend the next 7 minutes working on his fancy computer, I knew I wasn't going to be so lucky. $124 later.....

I didn't mind the ticket, I mean, I DID deserve it. But the whole ordeal threw me off and made me even MORE nervous. It also made me late.

The first deposition was rough. I was still obviously flustered and out of practice. On record, I called the deponent by her first name instead of Mrs. ____.  I felt really badly about that but when I tried to correct myself, I had forgotten her last name. Not a good start. And my questions didn't come out as smoothly as I had practiced. How come I can give a flawless performance in front of the mirror at home just to flop wildly like a dying fish at the real thing? 

My final line of questioning for the first deponent was the important one. Thankfully, I think I nailed it. Then we took a short break before I started deposing the second person. The second dep went pretty well until one point when I asked about an event that had happened long ago.  The guy studied me then said sharply, "I can't remember. Frankly, I doubt you were even ALIVE then." Now, overall, this deponent was a very nice guy. He probably hadn't meant his comment to be rude. But the comment made me very mad. It was unprofessional. I know I look young but when I show up to do the job of a lawyer, I expect to be treated like one. Comments about my appearance or age undermine my purpose and suggest that I am not qualified to do my job. That, I take seriously. Fortunately I was able to keep my cool, force a smile, and press on with my questioning. Deep down, however, I felt deflated, angry, and full of self doubt.

At the end of the day, I was glad to have more experiences under my belt. Still, I can't wait for the day when I feel confident enough to not let people shake me down so easily. Being a baby lawyer is exciting but it also sucks in many ways.

When I came home, I got some much needed quality time with my three men. Jacob and I did some puzzles. We took turns trying to make Ryan laugh. I managed to squeeze in a 5 month photo shoot of Ryan for his baby book. Then I tucked my sweet 4 year old into bed, rocked my angel baby to sleep, and watched a feel-good movie with my husband. Ahhh, all in a day's work.

P.S. Last night, when I was trying on my suit for today (thank goodness for a long suit jacket to cover the top of my skirt that I wasn't able to zip all the way- damn you baby fat!), Ryan and I had a little fashion show:

"Mommy, can I come to your deposition? I'll wear my best tie!"