Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Halloween That Almost Was Not

I left the office at 1:00pm today to drive to a medical exam for a client. That exam was supposed to start at 2pm. It was supposed to last 30 minutes. I was supposed to catch the 3pm boat home just in time to pick up the kids, grab the Halloween costumes and my pulled pork chili verde, and arrive at my sister-in-law's place just in time for trick or treating.

EXCEPT. That exam did not start until 3pm. And then it lasted until 5pm. And then I was stuck in 5 mile per hour traffic for nearly 40 minutes. When the clock struck 5:30pm, I was still going at a snail's pace and I was still 1.5 hours from my kids and our trick or treat destination.

As I sat in traffic, I panicked. Halloween was not going to happen. I was going to be super late. We wouldn't get the kids' costumes in time and I clearly didn't have time to put together my carefully crafted Hulk costume. Trick-or-treating would be over before we even arrived! My son has been talking about trick-or-treating for a whole year. He's been counting down the days for nearly a month. He was looking forward to this day SO MUCH. A huge knot formed where my stomach should have been. I felt so horrible.  I picked my scalp uncontrollably the entire drive (my bad, nervous habit). My panic attack went to full throttle as my anxiety (and I'm sure my blood pressure) reached near cataclysmic levels. I had let my kid down. I cried at the thought.

I made a few calls. My backup plan, which I had arranged as soon as I realized the medical exam was running late, fell through. One call to my husband and plan C was formed. He would pick up the costumes, my chili, and the kids, and meet me at my sister-in-law's place. I didn't arrive until 7pm. The kids and costumes didn't show up until 7:30. But, somehow, there was just enough evening left for a quick trick-or-treat trip around the block, in the torrential, pouring rain.

As soon as they were in costume and ready to go, my anxiety finally melted away. Turned out I would not be candidate for Worst Mom of the Year. Plus, the kids looked pretty darn cute.

My Spiderman and my little spider

20 minutes of trick-or-treating and the kids were drenched. But at least their pumpkin buckets were already 1/4 of the way full. Everyone snuck back inside to dry off, watch some cartoons, and have.....

Naked Time:

Ry-guy chewed his way through a bag of M&M's. Daddy caught him just in time!

Things turned out ok in the end. Phew, but let me tell you, it was NOT my favorite day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What Happens At Grandma's

'One condition to my new employment was that I would be able to work from home two days a week. That was the only way I could justify traveling into Seattle for a 2+ hour commute (that's ONE way). However, I agreed to come into the office everyday for the first month so that I could get into the swing of things, learn how the firm operated, and become familiar with cases and the files.

Even though my commute was 2+ hours one way, it wasn't so bad coming in to work everyday. That's because the OTHER condition of my employment was that I would be working about 6 hours a day. Realistically, I work more like 7 hours on most days, but it's at my own perogative. I'm usually  so engrossed and wrapped up in what I'm doing that I don't want to leave! Crazy, huh?

It's been over a month now, so this week, I started working from home for part of the week. Monday was my first day. And it went pretty well. When I work from "home," I'm actually working from my parents' house, my childhood "home." This is where I drop my kids off on Mondays and Wednesdays so I thought I would use their spare bedroom. My dad set up a little office space and I brought in an extra monitor courtesy of my boss (once you start working with two monitors, it's so hard to go back to one!).

I quickly evacuated my spot at the desk my dad has set up and opted for the bed. This is what my workspace looked like for most of the day (please ignore my nasty socky, I absolutely can't stand bare feet and those socks were all I could find):

You can't really tell, but the mug says, "Old Guys Rule." Which made me laugh and think of my dad at random times throughout my day.

Before I snuck down to the office room, I explained to Jacob that I was going to be working and that he couldn't come talk to me while I was busy. I explained that there were two exceptions to this rule: (1) he could come get me at lunchtime so we could eat lunch together and (2) he could come get me at 4pm when my work would (hopefully) be done.

To my amazement he followed these rules really well. I was so excited when he knocked on my door at 12:00 on the dot to announce that it was lunch time. I sat down and had lunch with my two boys and my mom (how cool is it that I get to eat lunch with them twice a week during the work day?!). I had prepared a PB&J sandwich for lunch but my mom had me try her "BBQ" soup instead.

When she put it down in front of me, I noticed a unique array of ingredients. Peas, pineapple, chicken, potatoes, mushy croutons, and pepperonis. This is so typical of my mom. She is always making crazy experiments, to the bemoaning of my dad and brother. It was definitely interesting....but it wasn't so bad. I think the BBQ sauce really brought all the ingredients together :) Please note the bread roll covered in sprinkles.

After lunch, I snuck bad to my "office" and got busy. It was odd to hear Jacob watching Scooby-Doo in the next room while I was on a conference call with a client. But it was totally awesome to have had said conference call while wearing my favorite t-shirt and skinny jeans!

After two more hours of work, I needed to get up and stretch. I walked upstairs to make some tea and saw Ryan playing in his bouncy chair chomping on something that was obviously NOT baby food. I looked closer and saw that he was clutching a chicken nugget in his fingers, tearing off bits with his toothless gums, and chewing it to death. WTF? My six month old is eating a chicken nugget? I shook my head, grabbed my tea, snuck back downstairs, and pretended that I hadn't seen anything.

While working from "home" is awesome in so many ways, I have to remember one rule: "what happens at grandma's house, stays at grandma's house." well, at least until it is announced all over Facebook for the world to see.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Big Boys

As I pulled up to our garage yesterday, back from a day of running errands, I saw that the leaves on the tiny tree in our yard had turned a bright red. It was gorgeous. It suddenly struck me that the red tree, in contrast to our white picket fence, would be a perfect backdrop for some outdoor fall photos.

So this morning, at 10am when the lighting outside was perfect, I dressed the kids up and shoed them outdoors.

At first Jacob wouldn't smile. So I started to make up a story about a monkey wearing underwear. That seemed to do the trick. The result of our photoshoot: my absolute favorite pictures of the two boys together. I can't believe they are so big.

By the time we got to this picture, the monkey story was wearing thin. To get Jacob to keep smiling, I sunk to a new low and started to wiggle my butt enthusiastically while singing an ad-lib song about monkeys trying to steal my underwear. At least it worked. But I seriously hope my neighbors were no where near their windows.

Jacob, about to drop a leaf bomb on Ryan:

Pretty good huh? Especially considering I was semi-hung over from three margaritas I had enjoyed the night before during an impromptu visit with friends (Hi Jessica! :).

Lately, Jacob's been saying some funny things (admitedly, they're probably only funny because I'm his mom). Ever since Jacob was little he's had a minor lisp. It's almost unnoticeable now but every once in a while I'll catch him saying "shushi" instead of sushi or "shtring" instead of string. He also calls rootbeer "rootbeard." And when he talks about ghosts in the plural, he calls them "ghostess."

Yesterday, as I was doing chores in another room, I heard Jacob approach his dad and ask: "Daddy. Are you a nock turtle?"

My husband replied, "Sorry Jake, I don't know what that means."

"It means you can see at night."

"Oh, you mean nocturnal?"

"Yeah, a nock turtle." The sound of his voice said "Duh Dad. That's what I just said." Big thanks to Kratt's Kreatures for that word. Everyone says TV is bad for kids but, seriously, it's probably the reason he has the vocabulary that he does.

I'm going to end this post with two more pictures. We finally got our act together this weekend and set up Jacob's bunkbed and Ryan's crib (he's been sleeping in a travel pak 'n play in our room). Seeing the two of them in "their room" blows my mind. It highlights for me how close they've become as brothers.

Yes, their room is tiny (just like the rest of our 990 square foot house). 
And yes, that pterodactyle is wearing a tie.

I've always envied the siblings I knew who had shared a room and grew up as best friends. They would fall asleep giggling over pillow-talk and doing their nails. I have no idea where we will be in five years (probably still in the same house) or whether the boys will be sharing a room. But for now, it's fun to see them together. These boys love each other so much. And now that they share a room, it seems as if they have their own little world, one that we will never be part of.

Tonight is the first night that Ryan will be sleeping in Jacob's room (oops, I mean "their" room). Crossing my fingers and toes that all four of us aren't wide awake at 2am.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Journey To Building A Plaintiff Practice: Preface

Yesterday afternoon, I sat in on a client meeting that ran a little late. By the time it had ended, I had missed my normal ferry boat and knew that I wouldn't get to the ferry dock in time for the next sailing. The only reasonable thing to do? Impromptu happy hour!

My boss and I walked across the street to our favorite dive bar/diner.  Over $3 beers, I was dubbed the "President of Plaintiff Cases" -- or something like that. I work for a firm that largely does insurance defense work. The thing about insurance defense is that all you need is an in with an insurance company and you are golden. You sit around and wait for cases to come in on their own. The fax machine buzzes and... cha-ching! New case!

But plaintiff cases are different. It's harder to bring clients in. And you can only bring them in one at a time. It takes a lot of work: marketing, networking, advertising. All the stuff that makes me shudder.  Since I worked at a plaintiff firm for a year and have (although scant) experience dealing exclusively in plaintiff case, I've been given the opportunity to take our plaintiff work and run with it. I've also been eagerly encouraged to assist in bringing in some clients.

Building a plaintiff practice nearly from scratch? No problem!

I'm going to start researching, reading, and networking. Perhaps develop a marketing plan. I have no idea what I'm doing. This should get interesting! Feel free to chime in with any tips :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Busy Fo Shizzy

It's been insanely busy lately. Busy, but awesome. Work is getting more awesome as I'm given greater opportunities and responsibilities. In the next couple weeks, I'm scheduled to attend an independent medical exam, a deposition, and a court hearing. (Court...woo hoo!)

When I first started the new job, I was totally overwhelmed. There are so many freaking cases! The only thing to do was grab a file and dig in. Now I'm feeling a little more familar and comfortable with the cases and the work. On a daily basis, I feel as if I'm up to my elbows in litigation: answers to draft, discovery requests to send out, motions to prepare, legal research to conduct. I absolutely love it!

It's very clear to me from what little experience I have (3 years), that I belong in litigation. I love absolutely everything about it. There will always be times when I'll get nervous or feel a bit uncomfortable about doing new things (examining witnesses at trial, taking depositions, etc). And sometimes it can be a little bit scary to think that I'm in charge of someone's case, when lots of money hangs in the balance. BUT, I'm kind of used to it by now. I mean, I'm a mom for heaven's sakes. Human LIVES are in my hands! The things on I do on a daily basis could scar, maim, or mess up my kids for life. Compared to that, a little personal injury case is nothing. Right?

Things are awesome at home too. As with most four year olds, Jacob can be both really sweet and a real pain the neck. I have to bite my tongue at least once an hour to prevent myself from saying things that my mom used to say to me. For example: "I'm not going to tell you again!" or "Life's not fair!"or "Don't ask why, just do it." Ugh, major cringe....."Hello Mom, when did you suddenly sneak into my brain?

Lately Jacob has been doing puzzles when we get home for the evening. His puzzle skills totally amaze me. Two months ago, he couldn't do the 12 piece puzzles without help. Now he'll finish all four of his 24 peice Thomas the Train puzzles all by himself in one sitting. I think he's been taking brain steroids or something....

Story Time:

Ryan continues to be a very happy little guy. My favorite thing sbouy coming home is that first momen when I walk in the door. When it's my husband's turn to pick up the kids, I walk in the door in the evening to a warm, full house. Jacob's resting on the couch or playing with his cars or legos. Ryan is usually sitting on the floor next to my husband listening as my husband plays his guitar. The second Ryan catches my eyes, his face completely lights up, and he lets out a long string of high-pitched giggles. These giggles usually last a full couple of minutes. My husband tells me he saves those giggles just for me.

I can't help constantly reminding myself how lucky I am. I get to go to work to a job that I LOVE and then,I get to come home to a house full of my favorite people on the planet. No matter where I am, whether home or work, I am in a place where I want to be. Life is happy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Love And The D-Word

Growing up, I used to babysit alot. In fact, I babysat from the age of 9 (don't worry, I was supervised!) through lawschool and up until the year Jacob was born. I've babysat for may families from Seattle to Chicago. Out of all the families I babysat for, there is one family that will always stand out in my fond babysitting memories.

I started babysitting for this family when I was 11. I continued to babysit for them until I graduated from highschool and moved to Chicago for college. During that time, I watched the three children grow from kids/toddlers to young men and women.

I loved that family. LOVED.

The mom was beautiful. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up: busy, a bit frazzled, but always confident and stylish. Just like her, I wanted to grow up to have two older boys and one girl. I had a mini-crush on the dad and enjoyed the nights he would drive me home and ask me about what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Then there were the kids. I can't begin to describe how close we grew. Nine years of playing games, watching movies, making up bedtime stores, and tucking them in. They gave me the best babysitting stories. Like the time we were all playing hide and seek and the middle child locked himself in the bathroom, put the cat in the dryer, and turned the dryer on. Right at that moment, the mom called to check up on us. Ahhh, I always had an extra soft-spot in my heart for that kid!

I always saw them as the "perfect" family. They had their flaws, but their flaws were just how a family should be flawed, if that makes sense. They were everything I wanted in my own future family: loud, rowdy, loving, lovable. Not only did I look up to the mom and the dad. I spent hours imaging my future husband and myself being just like them. I often wished I could be a part of that family. (No matter how good your own family is, when you're a kid, you can never quite appreciate what you have).

It's been years since I've seen any member of that family. I never run into them when I'm running errands back home. But still, I'll occasionally remember them and look back happily on my memories.

Today, unexpectedly and quite randomly, I heard that the mom and dad are getting a divorce. I was bowled over by the news.  Just the thought devastated me. This was the couple that I'd grown up idolizing. The couple that I wanted to be emulate. Now the very family that I had set on a pedestal was breaking apart.

Oddly, even though I hadn't seen them in forever, I began to tear up at the news. It was as if some part of my childhood past was crumbling. Something I'd always held in high regard was no longer that perfection that I had remembered. The perfect image of a family that I'd held so closely throughout my own developmental years suddenly shattered. I thought about the kids and how sad this must be for them. Then I thought about my own family. If THEY, my "perfect" family, can end up like this, can't any family? I know I only saw them from the outside and was not privy the inner-workings of the family. But still...what kind of twisted road is it that takes you from strong to broken?

It's a tragedy. That people who were once so in love can at some point in their lives decide they want to spend the rest of their years apart. Or worse, with other people. With sadness, I immediately texted my husband and kindly asked him to never divorce me.

It may be weird but my husband and I talk about the issue of divorce every so often. We both look at each other and solemly agree that we can't imagine ever having to come to that rough breaking point. It's probably trite, but we continually promise each other, over and over, that we will never come to that. That we will alway be there for each other. That we'll always give our relationship the care and attention that it needs. That if we have to get old and wrinkled at some point, we will do it together.

But isn't that what everyone says? I mean, no one gets married with the plan of someday getting a divorce, right? I'd like to think that we are special. I'd like to believe the fact that we are very different people and yet get along so well is a testiment to how we are above the big D-word. But, in reality, we can't predict the future. It saddens me to know that while I can control my own actions, there are many variables (the actions and feelings of my husband) that are out of my control. Because it really does take two to make things work. If you can only control half of that effort, you really have no lasting assurance that things will work out.

But, that's the thing about love. Whether it's love for your husband, love for a friend, or love for your children. Even if you give your whole heart, you never receive a fire-proof guarantee that love will always be there in return. It's crazy. It's unpredictable. It's painful. But, we all do it anyway. We can't help it.

It makes me think that love is both watchful and blind at the same time. You have to love with your eyes open, by keeping a look out for ways to improve, tend, and strenghthen your relationship and its deficiencies. But you also have to love blindly--blind to the uncertainty, the unknown, and the "what-ifs." We won't ever receive a guarantee that things will work, but we still have to love as if we know that it will. Because, you cannot love truly if you love with reservation.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pumpkins. Boobies. Yay!

Pshhh. Kids these days are totally spoiled. When I was a kid, we got our Halloween pumpkins at Safeway. In fact, I assumed that's where pumpkins came from...the concrete foyer of the grocery store. But my own kids pretty much expect to get their pumpkins from a REAL pumpkin patch each year. What do they think? That pumpkins come from the ground or something?

Now, on to obligatory pumpkin patch photos.

Home Alone throw back:

Baby's first pumpkin!

Yummy pumpkin!

The wheelbarrow only tipped over once during the photo shoot.
I'm on a CPS watch list somewhere.
Ok, that's better.
Me and Farmer Hubs.
The End.

Me 1 And Me 2

Today, I arranged for the service of a complaint. Technically, it was a third-party complaint contained in a responsive pleading. This was the first time I had to serve someone with a lawsuit and, the whole thing made me uncomfortable. We're months from the statute of limitations but, for some reason, I was so paranoid about making a mistake. I checked (and re-checked and checked again) the service of process statutes and civil rules to make sure I was complying with everything. What should have taken me ten minutes turned into an arduous affair.

As much as I love being an attorney, there are so many times that practicing law makes me uncomfortable. "Really? Someone's putting ME in charge of their case? Don't they know that I can't even make my bed in the mornings, that I wear bright berry-colored rainboots, and occassionally fantasize about being a Ninja Turtle?"

By the way, what would you say if you caught your attorney wearing these:

Target was out of black and I needed a way to stay dry during my walk-heavy commute. Confession: I've actually grown to like them!

Sometimes I'm amazed at the extreme differences in my two lives: professional and personal. I can responsibly manage cases worth thousand (or more) of dollars. But I can barely manage my own stuff. I can (for the most part) follow procedures, create litigation checklists, and keep files organized at work. But at home, my crap is everywhere and it's a scary thing each time I cook a meal. I dress on the more conservative side at work (hose, black tights, tucked-in shirts, more skirts than pants) but at home, I'm super relaxed (flannel! yoga pants!). I simple exercise the "smell" test before putting something on. Clearly, this is evidence that I am two different people.

One reason, I couldn't practice law in a small town: I'd be constantly afraid of running into clients at the grocery store while rocking dirty yoga pants, a ratty sweatshirt, and bird's nest hair.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Neutral Laughs

I know everyone is probably as sick as I am of all the political talk on social media right now. So, maybe you will find this refreshing. This video is 100% politically neutral. In full disclosure, it is also 100% nonsensical. And you can breath easier knowing in advance that this video contains no mention of binders full of women.

Do I have a lame sense of humor or is this the most hilarious thing on the internet right now?

"That dude's the sickest. We hate him. Because he had eggs for a bath" - Gov. Romney

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Super Dad Saves The Day

Before my trip to Vegas, I had left my husband alone with both kids for maybe....a couple hours. Even when it was just Jacob, I think he maybe handled one overnighter without me. So, I was a little worried to be jet-setting out of the state for three nights and four days and leaving the men alone together.

I knew the kids would be fine. I was actually worried for my husband. Jacob alone can be a lot of work when you are doing everything on your own. Throw in a 6 month old baby who still wakes up 1-2 times per night and you've got one tough, tough job! I actually had imagine stepping off the airplane to a frantic husband shouting, "How do you do it!? You're so amazing. You're never allowed to leave again!"

That's not exactly how it went down. It turns out, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. My husband picked me up at the airport in a squeaky clean, freshly vacuumed car filled with two sleeping kids. The kids were alive. They were clean. They were fed. My husband looked happy and upbeat. Not exhausted and frantic.

When I asked how it went he said, "Oh, it was easy. Ryan only woke up once a night and went right back to sleep. On Saturday, I let Jacob and Ryan play in the living room and then I slept in until 9am." WHAT?! He wasn't supposed to say that. He was supposed to go on and on about how essential I am to the family. That he could never do it without me! How he hasn't slept in three days. That Ryan was in tears from missing me so much. Humpff.

The real zinger though was coming home to a spotless house. With the floors swept and vacuumed, the dishes done, and the laundry folded. I was absolutely floored! The house never looks this clean when I'M home with the kids. He totally put me to shame. I guess I can't really use the kids as an excuse not to clean on the weekends anymore....

I guess it's good to know that if I ever ran away or was abducted by aliens, they'd be just fine.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Half Birthday

Ryan had his sixth month check-up today! He did amazing after his shots. He only cried for 30 seconds and then was extra happy for the rest of the day (I'm used to my kids being a little clingy and crabby after shots). I'd like to think he was really happy to have me back. And...breaking news: this is the first time that I didn't cry during shots!

Obligatory baby stats:
  • Height: 26.6 inches (50%)
  • Weight: 17 lbs, 15 oz (50%)
  • Head: 75% (don't remember the number)
The doctor said I could start introducing baby snacks (such as biscuits, etc) when Ryan starts to master biting and chewing and self-feeding. I didn't bother to tell her that he's already doing all three. Just this past week he's learned to pick up cheerio-sized baby snacks and can even get them in his mouth on his own. Ryan being able to snack away on baby biscuits and baby cheerios has been a life saver. I can put him in his walker with a tray full of snacks and he stays busy, eating, talking, and laughing, while I cook dinner or do some chores.

During Ryan's exam, I had him sitting up on the exam table. He was babbling away and rocking vigorously back and forth the whole time. He does that at home and it cracks me up. It reminds me of some crazy person sitting in a corner, rocking back and forth, talking to himself. The doctor got a pretty good kick out of it as well. She was impressed that he stayed upright and didn't tumble off the table.

Speaking of mobility, Ryan's really close to army crawling but he's not quite there yet. When I set him on his tummy, it's fun to watch him spin in circles on the carpet. He can also push himself backwards pretty far but he hasn't quite figured out the whole moving forward thing yet.

All in all, today was wonderful. I took the day off to spend some time with my boys in addition to taking Ryan to his check-up. We didn't do anything special but I still had a blast hanging with my boys and enjoying the everyday stuff.

This picture is blurry but I still love it. These boys love each other so much!

Also, I couldn't help this (for Ryan's sake, baby 3 needs to be a girl...):

We shopped together. We ate lunch at the hospital cafeteria together (Jacob cracked me up with his big-boy conversations over lunch) and even Ryan got to eat- he enjoy some rice cereal. The boys accompanied me all over town as I ran errands. We stopped at the mall and I let Ryan play at the indoor play place while Jacob rode the mall train. Then we came home and played a little before I whipped up a dinner of enchiladas and spanish rice (one of my fave meals!).

The days that I go to work remind me that I love my job and I love having a career. But days like today, I start to miss being home. In the middle of the day, as I was pushing a cart around Target, trying to keep Jacob wrangled by my side and feeding Ryan a bottle with one hand, I started to feel a stabbing homesickness for my maternity-leave days. Being with my guys one-on-one from breakfast through bedtime was so special. I miss sharing the little moments of the day with them. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Home Again



Just, Wow.

I decided that, in describing the trip, less is more. So, I'll just give some brief, highlights. By the way, this was a ladies only trip ;)

  • Dancing and closing down the Toby Keith bar
  • Old lady boobs, up close and personal
  • Getting into a very heated political debate with an Australian man dressed in a yellow M&M costume (he's an M&M, what does he know?!)
  • Vodka for dinner (three times)
  • Thunder Down Under
  • Sticker-shock: the only thing that got between me and my very first tattoo
  • Sleeping until 11am, just because
  • More dancing at the Toby Keith bar
  • Smoking cigars at the Roulette table
  • Betting a grand total of $11
  • Losing a net total of $9 of that amount
  • Turning into a pumpkin at 12am every night (yes, even in Vegas, I'm still a mom)

As far as photos go, this is the only one that is innocent enough for the internet:

I can definitely see why people tell you not to stay longer than three nights in Vegas. It's totally overwhelming. If it weren't for the great company I was with, I probably would have been ready to go home after 24 hours.

The best part of the trip?

Returning home to a sparkling clean house, laundry put away, dishes done, car vacuumed (my husband is totally amazing) and to this:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Out Of Office

In Las Vegas until Sunday!!! Sleep is mine ;)! Be back later.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What's Pissing Me Off Right Now

Wanna know what's pissing me off? THIS label on all containers of baby formula:

It's like a slap in the face everytime I make Ryan a bottle.

Breast is best? What the hell does that even mean? "Best." It's such a loaded word. If a mom physically cannot breastfeed, then no, breast is NOT best and who are you, stupid government regulation requiring The Label on every container of formula, to pass judgment. What about the mom who juggles work and home duties, who cannot or does not want to interrupt her challenging work every three hours to pump for twenty minutes, which is physically and mentally uncomfortable, in a non-private work space? When pumping would make the return to work insanely hectic, logistically hard, and almost not worth it, then is breast really "best?" At the sacrifice of a new, guilt-ridden mom's sanity, I say NO.

So what's the point of that stupid passage of judgment of a label anyway? I'm willing to assume that any mom reaching for a container of formula, for one reason or another- whether out of necessity or lifestyle, has already decided to give her baby formula. And, it's probably likely that that mom already feels a little twinge of guilt for not being able to exclusively nurse her baby. How is that mom supposed to feel when she sees that judgmental label exclaiming to her that she's`not giving her baby the "best?"

For me, I was physically unable to nurse without using a nipple shield. But I still nursed Ryan until he turned four months old and I returned to work. At that point, I decided that my life was already crazy enough with two children, a job, and a childcare commute, I wasn't going to pump. I didn't mind giving up nursing. In fact, I couldn't wait to stop. Yes, I'm an evil, non-crunchy mom who hates breastfeeding. Judge away.

With Jacob, my first baby, I continued to pump after I returned to law school. But I HATED it. Absolutely and in every way. It was so impersonal and uncomfortable. It was a logistical nightmare if I was commuting or out in public. Carrying the pump as I walked all over Seattle and trying to keep the milk cold all day was such a pain in the ass. It drove me insane and wore me down. My only regret with nursing is that I didn't switch to formula sooner.

Why didn't I? Because of self-imposed and externally-imposed guilt. If you're a mom, you're getting pelted with tons of messages a day about what you should do, shouldn't do, what you're doing wrong, what you need to buy, etc for your kids. There's judgment around every corner. And all of us are just trying to do the best we can with the time, money, and energy we have.

At Ryan's two month check-up, I remember telling his doctor that I would be returning to work. I was haunted by guilt over the future transition to work and that guilt made me feel compelled to ask her permission to switch to formula. The second I did, I immediately felt sick. Why the heck did I think I needed to ask her permission? Plenty of babies grow up on formula. I had no reason to feel guilty or insecure about my decision. Bless her heart, she might have recognized the fact that guilt was eating up my insides. She smiled, looked at me reassuringly, and enthusiastically told me, "of course it's ok!"

There is no such thing as "best." There is no rigid set of rules that applies across the board for all babies. All babies grow at different levels, live in different environments, have different temperaments. We don't need to be constantly told that the decisions we make are not some unatainable level of what's perfect or "best."

I know plenty of babies who grew up on formula because their moms were physically unable to breastfeed. Those babies are now smart, tall, strong, secure children. Jacon was given formula for the last six month of his babyhood and he's one smart, creative kid. Ryan has been eating formula exclusively for the past two months now. He is thriving, happy, chubby, smart, coordinated, and loved.

So, take THAT stupid, judgmental label!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pistachio Crusted Chicken Tacos

A former co-worker recommended a healthy South Beach Diet recipe to me. And before you ask, no she wasn't kindly insinuating that I needed to cut back on desserts. Wait....was she? Anyway...

The recipe sat in my cupboard, untouched, for almost a month. It intrigued me, but I kept passing it up for tried-and-true family favorites. After a long spell of non-inspiration in the kitchen, I decided this recipe was just what I needed to break my funk. Except, it didn't just break my funk. It shattered it! As I started prepping, I decided to do an overhaul on the original recipe. I changed it from a salad to a taco. Yes, while the rest of the world is obsessed with turning every recipe into a paleo-friendly version of itself, you can always count on me to do just the opposite.

A touch of carbs, a smackling of dairy products, and VOILA! Pistachio Crusted Chicken Tacos! Honestly, the reason I went with a taco is because we are all addicted to homemade flour tortillas (best tortillas ever!). I turned the salad "dressing" into a taco sauce. I think that sauce was my favorite part.

(Forgive me, I know you aren't supposed to put white food on a white plate. But aside from some plastic dinosaur tablewayre, these IKEA plates are all I have).
Here's the recipe-- my version, that is. I absolutely LOVE pistachios. I'm lucky any pistachios made it into this meal because I was eating them like crazy.
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled and finely food processed
2-4 Skinless chicken breasts (Use 2 breast for two people- this will give you leftovers)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup sweet onions, diced
Diced tomatoes
Shredded cheese (moterrey jack, swiss, mozzarella, or even pepper jack)
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp diced sweet onion
1 large avocado, pitted and peeled (I just used 3 Tbsp of guacamole)
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp water
Preheat oven to 375
1. Mix the processed nuts with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. My nuts were already salted so I skipped the salt here. Press the chicken breasts into the nut mixture, being sure to coat as well as possible. (I cut my chicken breasts in half but it's probably not necessary, I just wanted more nut coating).
2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the breasts, 2 minutes per side. Then place them in the oven until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. (I love my meat thermometer!). When they cool a little, slice them into long pieces.
3. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in skillet. Add diced onions and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cool until the onion is browned.
4. To make the sauce, in a food processor, process the avocado (guacamole), white onions, olive oil, lime juice, and water until well mixed.  
5. Make your homemade tortillas.
6.  Assemble by placing cilantro, cheese, onions, tomatoes, and chicken in a tortillas. Dribble the sauce on top and enjoy!
If you wanted to avoid the carbs, you could always eat this in a lettuce wrap instead of a tortilla. Nevermind, forget I said that, homemade tortillas are just way too good to pass us!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Interrupting Baby

This evening, Jacob and Ryan hung out on the couch as I was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Jacob was watching a tv show and Ryan was sitting, propped up in his boppy.  As I diced some onions, I heard Jacob say, "Mommy?"

"Hmmmm?" I answered wiping onion tears from my face.

"I won't sniff garbage out of the garbage can."

"Uh?.....Ok. That's good." I replied and muttered "wierdo" under my breath.



"I won't take garbage out of the garbage can. And throw it around like a monkey."

"Thanks. I really appreciate that." I said, coughing back a chuckle.

I was just finishing up my taco topping when Ryan began to fuss. I picked up my pace and began shoving items back into the fridge. Fussing quickly turned into crying. I finally heard Jacob say, "Shush Ryan! Shush! I can't hear my show!" #Toddler problems.....

I put our plates onto the dinning table and finally turned my attention towards the kids on the couch.

Ryan had plopped over, so that he was leaning on his side.  His face was red and his eyes were closed in anger. Jacob was sitting by Ryan's head, staring blankly ahead at the tv, and with one arm outstretched toward Ryan. But he wasn't trying to CONSOLE Ryan. Instead, he was holding the palm of his hand directly across Ryan's face in an effort to supress the noise coming out of his mouth.

I, of course, did what any good mom would do. I rushed for my camera.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

White Collar Baby

 "Hi everyone!"
"I don't have much time to talk. I'm off to baby work to do baby stuff."
"What? You say I'm forgetting something?"

 "Oh my gosh! Silly me!"
"It's hard to remember your Blackberry when you don't have pockets!"


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Two Pictures

Cuddles on the couch.
My favorite part of the day is when the whole family is together again after being spread apart across three different counties all day. There is so much peace in knowing that we are all under the same roof.

My big man

When I tucked Jacob in the other day, he lined up all of his stuffed animals in bed next to him.  Then, as I pulled the covers up to his chest, he told me, "Mommy! Don't cover their faces. Then they can't breathe!"

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Back That Thang Up!

The roughest part of my day came in the mid-afternoon.

That's right. The four to five times that Ryan woke up in the middle of the night demanding to be in bed next to me, was not the roughest part of my day.

Neither was sleeping through my alarm (from pure exhaustion from being awake half the night) and waking up at 6:20 a.m., nearly an hour late. This still wasn't the roughest part of my day even though it brought the added bonus of having to text my boss at 7:30 a.m. to tell him that I was going to miss my ferry and be late for work.

The roughest part of my day was not even the ginormous (and uncharacteristic) tantrum Jacob threw as I tried to get him out of the car. He had to be forcibly removed, which, to be quite honest, gave me a horrible wedgy that I couldn't "fix" for quite some time without the fear of someone watching.

Oh, and that moment my mom called to tell me she thought Jacob had pink eye and she was going to take him to the doctors? Nope. Not the roughest part. Turns out it was only a scratch.

So, what WAS the roughest part of my day? Well, let me tell you....

At about 3pm, I had just put finishing touches on a motion I had been working on and handed it over to the partner to review. He polished it up and made some changes. Then the secretary stuck copies of the end product in a bunch of envelopes to be mailed for filing with the court and for serving on the opposing party.

My next task was to draft a similar motion. So I went to the computer folder where the motion was saved and attempted to copy and paste it. Except....I accidentally deleted it! Don't ask me how it's possible to accidentally delete a document (especially when doing so requires accepting a pop-up box warning you that the item will be permanently deleted) but I'm special and had found a way to do just that.

Luckily, hard copies of the motion had already been printed out and stuck in envelopes. BUT I didn't even have a copy of the motion for our own files! When I fully realized what I had just done, my heart started to pound and a wave of jitters started to build up inside my chest. Saying a million prayers, I opened my "Trash Bin." But it wasn't there! Apparently, documents that are kept on a shared drive don't go to the Trash Bin when you delete them.


What was I going to do?

Well, first I freaked out. I did a little "help, my world is ending" dance. Then I forced myself to calm down enough to do some Google research. Google told me to click "undo" in the electronic folder. Oh yeah, duh! I held my breath as I selected the "undo" option. Nada.

WTF?!!?!? What would I tell the partner when he asks where his motion went? What will he do when he opens the folder and sees that it's empty?! I could re-type the motion but he made some changes that I hadn't even had the opportunity to see. How the heck was I going to get out of this mess?

If I couldn't recover the file electronically, I decided I was going to have to do it the old-fashioned way: typing up an exact copy from one of the copies we had already printed out. I snuck up to the receptionist and asked if I could have one of the sealed envelopes containing the motion. She looked at me strangely but didn't question (thank goodness!). Then I used my sleuthing skills to carefully break the seal of the envelope. I removed the motion and went at it with the staple remover. I was going to make a copy to take back to my desk and recreate from scratch.

But, in the process of removing the staple from the corner, I pricked my finger. A trail of bright red blood dribbled across the front of the document. Oh great. This was the copy for opposing counsel....and it wasn't like I could just open the electronic version and print out a new one!

I made my copy and, regretfully, shoved the original back into the envelope. "Maybe it's not so bad," I thought. "Maybe it will look like a red marker stain?" (WTF, I'm screwed). I decided the only thing to do was come clean and let the bricks fall on my head.

At this point, I was panicky. My heart was throwing a rave party in my chest and my hands were nervously shaking as if I'd just downed three 5 hour energy drinks. I approached the partner and coyly asked, "Does the computer keep back-ups of our files?"

"Why?" he asked.

"Um. You know our motion? Well, I, uhhh, just deleted it." I winced, waiting for the fall-out.

"Oh. That's no problem. The computer keeps back ups with a couple different programs." He then proceeded to show me how to recover the old files. It's not exactly a piece of cake. But it's easier than re-typing a multiple page document. And it's MUCH better than sending opposing counsel a blood-stained motion. Phew! I guess I should have come to my boss sooner.

And I lived (almost) happily ever after.

The End.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Warning: Post Contains Nearly Sickening Levels of Positivity About Being A Lawyer

My favorite philosopher from my high school Humanities class was Boethius, a Roman dude from the 6th century. He faced some pretty rough times-- imprisonment that led to his eventual execution.  The basic theme from his most famous work is that good things and bad things are both transitory so we shouldn't let either have much power over us. According to Boethius, most of the time, we can't do anything to make sure we end up on the winning side of luck. Fortune is fickle. The solution is to be detached.

This kind of reminds me of the first version of the adage"bad things happen to good people."

His philosophical explorations make me want to step back, no matter how "good" or "bad" things are and focus on just "being." To accept everything as an experience. When things are bad, learn from them and move on. When things are good, stay humble, and remember that everything can turn around tomorrow.

But, at the same time, I kind of want to disagree with him. I want to believe that, while we cannot control our environment, we can to some extent make our own luck. We can prepare as best we can and arm ourselves with knowledge, preparedness, and skill. And while I wish I could learn to stay detached during the hard times, when things are good, I want to scream from happiness at the top of my lungs. I'm not good at hiding my feelings. Not ever.

So, with that intro, I have to say: My job is so freaking awesome!!!! AHHH! I love it. Love it. LOVE IT.

There is no clearer sign that you are right where you should be when you leave the office EVERYDAY skipping down the hallway shouting, "I love my job!" I feel so fortunate. How many people actually feel that way every day?

I know my job is still new and that, as Boethius says, fortune is fickle, but right now, things are so awesome. I'm not going to be detached.  In fact, I'm going to revel in it as long as I can. Because everyday I walk into my office and I do something new. On any given day, I learn at least 5 new things. I do something challenging. I do something uncomfortable.

I've been at my new job for only 8 days. And, although I only work 6 hours a day, each day is jam-packed. My work days are fully concentrated with challenges. In the past 8 work days, I've written 6 motions (for cases in three different counties). I've written a demand letter. I've met clients. I've participated in conferences. I've answered two sets of written discovery. I've prepared three answers to complaints. While I liked my old job, I've done more actual attorney work in the past 8 days than I ever did in the year I spent at my last job. No matter how much you like your job, if you aren't using your skills, your education, or your full potential, it will feel as if a part of you is missing.

As I come to work each day, I try to put my finger on exactly why being a litigation attorney is so awesome. By now, I think I kind of figured it out. With every task I complete, I'm shaping an end product. The trial at the end of the road is like a grand production, and each step along the way is a real opportunity to mold an aspect of that production. In litigation, you really get the sense that you are doing something of value on a daily basis. You see meaningful results of your work, at first immediately in a grant or denial of a motion, and then in the long run, as you present or keep evidence out of trial and get a, hopefully good, jury verdict.

And being a litigation attorney is also like a strategic game of chess. For every action I take, the opposing party makes a counter-move and vice-versa. But, unlike a never-ending game of chess, I get to see immediate results. After I write and file a motion, the other side will respond, and then the court will eventualy take action. Walking out of a hearing (or rather sitting at your desk while the partner waks out of a hearing) with an order from the court granting your wish, is a pretty amazing feeling. When that happens, it's like I literally see my cases progressing right before my eyes. And they are progressing because of things that I did!

In any legal field, with experience comes mastery and confidence. But, the laws are always changes. The court rules are always being amended. The clients are always different. The case facts are always posing new challenges. At the same time, you can be both an experienced litigator and still know absolutely nothing about a certain issue of the law. It's so wonderful.

On top of all that, lawyers truly are "counselors." We have a skill that is specialized. We know things that our clients do not know. We have such an awesome responsibility to guide our clients through the litigation process, educate them, assist them, make them comfortable, and help them make decisions about their case. I absolutetly love the client-based, customer service aspect about being an attorney.

Between helping people, seeing end-results on an almost daily basis, gaining mastery of the law while at the same time staying challenged, litigation is a pretty awesome gig. At the end of the day, I feel such a sense of accomplishment. And even though coming home to my babies is one of my favorite parts of the day, sometimes, it is really hard to force myself to leave after just 6 hours of work.

Who knows, all this may change tomorrow. Or maybe IT will stay the same and I will be the one to change. But for now, things could not get better. I'm going to ride this positivity out for as long as it will carry me.