Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Doing Time...Out

When I get home from work, the first thing I usually encounter is a recounting of Jacob's behavior of the entire day...given by him....and totally unprompted. When he looks sheepish, I know he has a time-out or two to report. Other times, he will smile wide and exclaim, "I was so good! No time-outs today!" It cracks me up that he feels compelled to tattle on himself.

Although he is pretty good about giving me an honest report card, it's never easy trying to get any details out of the guy! This is precisely why four year olds are not allowed to testify:

Jake: "Mommy, I had to go to time-out four times today."
Me: "Well, what happened? Why did you have to go to time out?"
Jake: "I had to go to time out the first time because Cousin1 was screaming. Then I had to go another time because Cousin2 took away Cousin1's toys. Then another time, Cousin2 was jumping on the furniture so I had to get in trouble. And...I can't remember the rest."

I would love, just for hilarity's sake, to get all the cousins in a room and take turns cross-examining them. Fingers would be pointing in all directions. Hmmm, it's interesting...the similarity between kids and clients.

Speaking of clients and work, I had an incredibly frustrating day today. I left my house at 11:45 a.m. for a 1:30 hearing in a different city. Although it should have been simple and quick, I didn't pick up the kids until 6:30. Not only did the hearing start late but, even though I was there for a simple "housekeeping" matter, ours was the very last case called. So I sat there for 3 hours and listened to all the other attorneys. What's worse is that I had only eaten one piece of toast and one measley yogurt all day. It's hard to listen to bullsh*t for three hours on an empty stomach!

Listening to other attorneys never ceases to shock me. I can't believe the shit judges have to put up with! I overheard one attorney repeatedly swear and rag on his opposing counsel to his client. Gee, I wonder why people hate attorneys! After one particularly painful hearing, an attorney on the losing side made snarky comments to the judge about how unethical opposing counsel's behavior was (btw, it was so definitely NOT unethical) and then even accused the judge of making a borderline unethical ruling. I don't know what planet THESE people come from, but I pretty much thought it was a universal rule that you do NOT insult the judge?! Right? Am I crazy?!

Then during another hearing, one attorney was very upset things weren't going his way and kept making sarcastic comments, complete with grandious and dramatic hand gestures to portray his exasperation with the court and the other party. He even made the pro-se party on the other side (who declared through sobs that she is undergoing cancer treatment) cry during the hearing! Things were so surreal that I forgot I was watching real court hearings. I'm sure I noticibly gasped and chuckled as if I was in the audience of a Judge Judy taping.

My favorite hearings of the day were the ones involving pro-se parties. One pro-se party asked the court to strike the other side's supporting declaration on the basis that he didn't know the person signing the declaration. To top it off, this guy had the squeakiest shoes on the planet. They didn't make a normal squeaky noise though. They made a mini-whoopie cushion fart noise each time he took a step toward or away from the bench.

After three hours of THAT. My head hurt from all the ridiculousness and my butt hurt from three hours of sitting. And when we finally were called, we discovered that our hearing had to be continued anyway. Geez! At least I learned a lot about how NOT to behave before a judge.

As if I hadn't had enough circus for one day, when I picked up the kids, Jacob was dressed like this:

He refused to take the wig off even for a quick trip to the grocery store, during the middle of which, somewhere between dried cereal and baking supplies, he loudly screamed that he "had to POOP!" When I asked if he could hold it until we paid for groceries, he screamed even louder (to the joy of everyone around us) "NO, THERE IS A HUGE POOP TRYING TO COME OUT OF MY BUTT. I'M POOPING OUT MY CHICKEN AND RICE."

It was lovely.

And Ryan was, as always, such a breeze. He is such an easy and happy baby that he barely makes the blog anymore.

I'm Too Crazy For My Bar Card

In the past four days I have done a lot of things that make me feel lawyerish. During my weekend, I wrote a 12 page response to a motion. This week I drafted an Appellate Brief. And tomorrow, I am going to attended my first Pre-Trial Conference.  Feeling lawyerish again feels so good. Initially, I had a rough start transitioning back after taking a year off to do pre-litigation paralegal work. I'm finally getting back into a groove.

And I'm starting to breath a sigh of relief regarding my long term laywer career. I'm past that all-so-important three year benchmark of being an attorney. You know, that qualifier on job postings that says "minimum of three years experience required?" Well, I'm finally there! Not that I feel my job is in jeopardy or that I want to change jobs. It's just a big sigh of relief knowing I qualify for whole new set of lawyer jobs in case anything happened.

While I've done a lot of things in the past couple days that have made me feel like a legit lawyer, nothing has made me feel more legit than tonight when I turned off the TV after the kids went to bed, realized there was nothing good on, and instead opted to crank out more billable hours. Watch out world! I'm a wild child!

I often wish I could get a bird's eye view of what other people my age do on a regular basis. I often feel like I'm so out of touch with the regular activities of "normal" people. Do other 28 year old still go out on on a regular basis? Do they have, let's see, what's the word? Oh yeah, dates? (In the past five months, I can recall going on only one date with my husband- we didn't even celebrate our five year anniversary!). Do other 28-year olds go to pubs and happy hours and those unfamiliar things called movie theaters?

Whenever I tell my boss what my weekend plans are (after he asks me if I have any plans), he declares to me that his life was so much different at 28. And by different, I'm assuming he means that he did things that were remotely entertaining and involved some level of fun, irrational behavior. You know, something a little more crazy than throwing all caution to the wind and licking BOTH beaters of cookie dough.

Is it because I am an introvert? Is it because people generally piss me off? I'm too busy? Is it because I don't have quick access to fun places to hang out? Is it because I'm a mom? Or is it a good mix of all of those? Who knows....honestly, I don't really feel compelled to change my activities (although a date would be nice!). I'm fine with staying low key for now.

Now excuse me while I re-organize all the recipes on my Pinterest food board into new categories!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Work Hard. Play Hard.

This weekend was a crazy mix of extremes. I rarely work on the weekends (thanks to my new non-conventional lawyer hours). I also rarely go out on the town and stay up until 2am. This weekend, I did both!

At the end of last week, a partner asked me to take a look at a motion and prepare a response. It's a motion involving attorney fees. Do you know what that means?! It involves....dun, dun, dun.... MATH! GROSS! Thankfully it also involved a good deal of legal research (my fave) to break up the math-monotony.

I love a lot of things about being a lawyer. But I mostly love the competition and creativity of motion briefing. One thing I have discovered is that there are a lot of lawyers who are lazy writers/legal researchers. It is not very fun to oppose a sloppy motion. When my opponent is crafty and creative and only border-line ethical, that's when the big guns come out.

There is nothing in the world better than pulling apart your opponent's arguments. Then when you find the MONEY case that supports your own argument, it's like pulling a tiny thread and unraveling an entire sweater. Even better than that is when case law on a subject is mixed and the judge could rule either way. The excitement of opening up the court order and reading the ruling while trying not to skip ahead to the outcome is even better than opening gifts on Christmas. Because you know that, if you win, it's the result of your own work, creatively crafted arguments, and excellent use of analogizing cases. It's called a litigator's high. It is better than sex. Yep.

So back to this weekend....I spent over 8 hours researching and writing a 12 page opposition brief. I broke this time out between the two days so that I didn't feel like I was neglecting my children. I wrote the brief at my kitchen table in my yoga pants in between tantrums, time-outs, meals, nap times, and simple cries for attention. It was frustrating to have to stop mid-argument to refill a water bottle or wipe someone's ass, but I managed somehow.

Then Saturday night, I met up with some friends for a night on the town. It was one of my friend's 30th birthday and we had high expectations for the night. I love taking friends from my city to Seattle. I am the honorary Seattle-ite since I work there and I get to show them around town. I also get to feel really important when people ask me simple things like "how do you catch a cab in Seattle," or "where is a good place to eat?" or "Is this neighborhood too sketchy to walk through this time of night?" I love playing tour guide because I love Seattle with a passion and I get to share my love and passion with others (whether they want me to or not!).

We started at one of my favorite bar, Bathtub Gin & Co. It's a tiny little bar and best-kept Seattle secret. The entrance is in an alleyway behind some office buildings. When you walk up to the entrance, an unassuming wooden door between homeless people and dumpsters, you have no idea if you are in the in the right place. One step inside the door and you feel like you've discovered a secret little world. The place is tiny and cramped but the dim lighting, the friendly people, and amazingly long list of cocktails make it the COOLEST place to get drunk in Seattle.

NOT Sketchy:

Our fancy custom-made receipt illustrated by our bartender.

We had a couple drinks, made friends with the bartender and other customers, had some interesting girl talk, then left to grab a bite to eat. We had our sights set on a romantic looking, upscale grill across the street. But as we left the bar at 8:45, one person in our group was already stumble-down drunk. So, we opted for nachos at the fast-food joint Taco Del-Mar where we were the only patrons and could enjoy the spanish game-show television, bright flourescent lights, and cartoon fish character decor all by ourselves.

My "I'm not drunk enough for fast-food nachos" face.

Me with the beautiful birthday girl

Luckily everyone sobered up in time for some dancing at a nearby club. Looking for a cool little pub? I'm your girl. Looking for a club? Forget it! But Google did not disppoint and we landed at Trinity Night Club with multiple dance floors and walls that vibrated from the mix of techno and pop songs. We drank, we dance, and OH BOY did we meet some of the creepiest men in the city. I don't remember men being so bold and shameless. I also don't remember men having no qualms about dancing like complete idiots. Men continued to want to girate on us even upon discovering we were married. We all took turns playing body guard though and it worked out pretty well.

At one point during the evening, this man (looking like an ugly Daniel Craig- trust me, it IS possible) bent over at a ninety degree angle, stuck his butt out, and danced with his rear jiggling and jiving up against me. WHAT? Since when do men dance like that? We all laughed at his expense and then quickly ditched him in the crowd.

I also had forgotten about the flocks of men that a group of women can attract. I haven't talked with so many people in my entire life! As much fun as I had, I couldn't help but feel a little detached from it all many times during the evening. I guess I'm just a lame-old mom. By 11:00, my knees were hurting from dancing and I just wanted to sit on my quiet couch and surf Pinterest (I realize how very sad I sound!). I was shocked to see men twice my age with more energy and interest in dancing. Can I blame my lame-ness on being a mom?

Can I go home now and drink tea?

We left the club a little after midnight, caught the 12:50 a.m. ferry and that got me home at 2 a.m. It was a very fun night! It wasn't so awesome, however, to be woken up at 6:30 by two hungry, energetic children and then have to spent 4 more hours finishing up my motion. But that is the life of a mommy lawyer!

P.S. Is it sad that the closest thing I could get to a clubbing outfit was an Ann Taylor Loft blouse?

Work Interrupted

My Friday night plans originally consisted of getting the kids to bed and settling down to finish a motion. The motion is kind of intense and it is due Monday. I REALLY wanted to get it out of the way so I could enjoy the rest of my weekend.

So Friday night, I sat down to get started only to realize that I had left the outline in my thumb drive at the office. FAIL! I had no choice but to try and recreate it. I had finally gotten started on the substantive stuff when I heard Ryan crying from the bedroom. I swore under my breath, sighed, and went to rock him back to sleep.

When I finally sat down to contine my work ten minutes later, I discovered that the website I use for legal research was not working. At 10:30 p.m. I got on my cell phone and called tech support. I waited on hold for 12 minutes just to be told that there was a systematic glitch and that it would take them a while to fix it. I did as much as I could without the ability to do legal research (which was not very much) then I finally gave in and called it a night.

The kids woke me up at 7:00 the next morning. I got them fed and then focused my attention back on my motion with Dinosaur Train blaring in the background. I got about 30 minutes done before Ryan was whinny and ready for a nap (he usually needs a nap right away when he wakes up too early). I didn't even get started on my motion until 9:30. (P.s. - Lawyers without kids have no idea what kind of advantage they have!)

Needless to say, I didn't get my motion finished. I spent all of my hour-long spin class crafting my arguments in my head. After spin, I did only a little bit more work (while taking care of the kids) before I threw in the towel. Instead of finishing my motion, I headed out on the town for a rare ladies' night. There was a lot of new drinks, dancing, and conversations with strangers. Apparently there was too much of those things because I didn't get home until 2 a.m.! I'm so old. As soon as the clock strikes 11:30, all I want is to be home so I can go to bed.

So yeah, tomorrow is really going to be fun (not).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

You Spin Me Right Round

Just wait, I have so many more unfunny and unclever "spin" titles to attack the blogosphere with.

So, have I mentioned I love spin class? I absolutely love it. Who knew you could get the equivalent of a runner's high from cycling? That is, after you get over how hard it is, how freakishly much you sweat, having to stare at someone's (usually an old man) ass for an hour, and having to wear shorts with padding in the crotch.

As a semi-related side note that you don't want to know about: Sometimes when I'm cycling, I'll glimpse down without thinking and wonder, "why is my crotch puffy? Is there a man sitting on my lap?" Then I remember, "nope, I'm just wearing padded shorts." Oh yeah... I'm cool.

The best thing about cycling is that while it's hard, anyone can do it (unless maybe you have no legs). Beginners can adjust the gears on their bike to any level of resistance. No one can tell what gear their neighbor is in. So, on a rough day, while the rest of the class is doing an uphill climb on gear 20, I can be sailing along on gear 13 so long as I make sufficient grimacing faces to assure the instructor that I am working as hard as everyone else. And when I feel like I'm dying and the instructor yells "ADD A GEAR!" I can easily waive my hand over the gear level to make it LOOK like I'm adding a gear.

I'm so clever. I know all the tricks.

Because you can never judge, simply by sight, how well anyone else is doing, there is only one way to indicate your elite status as a spinner. Elite status is achieved when you work so hard that sweat continuously drips off your face and forms a nice puddle on the floor. Yes, your performance is judged by your sweat. I love being in an environment where it is totally acceptable to sweat. It makes my life so much better.

Oh and did I mention that in one hour of spinning, I can burn 600 calories?! It's totally amazing! That's like 1.75 donuts, 4 small scoops of vanilla ice cream, 7 oreo cookies, 600 carrots, or one Butterfinger Blizzard.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sometimes I Live Out A Legal Drama

*Updated to fix the misplaced hyphen in the title (it was driving me crazy!)

I've had some notable deposition experiences in my life. My very first deposition is by far my favorite story. It involves a 6-foot stuffed bear. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. Plus I have pictures. Although I can't imagine anything topping that, today's deposition was pretty memorable.

Today's deponent was a 70+ year old man. He's your typical ornery, fiesty older gentlemen. But his answers were hilarious. They absolutely did not make sense. For example, if someone would have asked him what color the sky was, he would have answered "square." The other attorneys around the table were looking exasperated, flustered, and impatient. I, on the other hand, was trying very hard to keep a gigantic smile from forming across the surface of my face.

The deposition started out friendly as the elder gentleman flirted with the four of us in the room (all women). By the end of it, he was very offended by all of the questioning and took each question personally. Whenever an attorney raised an objection, he immediately stopped his narrative as emitted rays of icy death from his eyes both of which were partially hidden by his down-turned, silver eyebrows. Each time he gave The Look, I nearly choked on my tongue. At one point, he let out a string of french explitives which he refused to translate into English much to the anger of another attorney and the court reporter. When he wasn't being ornery, he was thickly laying on the charm and sending overtly flirty compliments in my direction.

I was fascinated that I was the only one who found his behavior to be completely hilarious. During the entire deposition I kept thinking, "this could be a scene from The Good Wife."

I love days like today. They remind me why I love practicing law: people. Litigation brings out the most interesting aspects of a person's character. With some people, litigation can be one long, drawn-out cat fight. Or a series of bitch slaps. People can be so childish sometimes, but most especially when they are in an extremely contention situation and thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars are on the line. I absolutely love it. I love it in the same way I love reading obnoxious posts on Facebook or watching people act like the characters in Mean Girls. The flattery of 70+ year old men doesn't hurt either.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Child-Colored Lenses

There is this surreal moment when you become a parent when you instantly empathize with your own parents. A flash of insightening (insight + lightening, I'm so clever!) hits you out of nowhere and you suddenly realize, "So, THAT'S why my mom never let me drink a jug of chocolate milk before bed," or "wow, THAT'S how my mom was feeling when I threw my body on the floor like a human grenade and demanded ice cream until I turned blue," and "no WONDER my mom sent me to my room all the time!" When you join the parent club, you magically receive the gift of understanding the plight of parents everywhere, spanning both time and geographic space.

But now that I have a four year old, I'm not just empathizing with my own mom, I'm suddenly empathizing with my son. Because, even though I'm quickly approaching the wisened age of 30 (I just had to go to my happy place, practice meditational breathing, and remind myself that I am only 28 just to recover from the onset of heart palpatations I received from typing that dreaded number), I still remember what it was like to be a kid.

I have two very distinct memories of being completely frustrated with my mom. The first was when I was about five years old. My mom had let my brother and I pick out a bag of candy as a treat for later that evening. We picked a bag of Skittles. When we got home from the grocery store, I really REALLY wanted to eat the Skittles. My mom took them away, put them above the fridge, and told me I had to wait until after dinner. I was furious. I didn't understand why I couldn't have them NOW. Even after my mom tried to use her annoying grown-up logic, I still didn't get what the big deal was. I just knew I HAD to have them. I felt so helpless. Helpless in that I really wanted the candy and didn't know how to refocus my energy (I wanted what I wanted, damn it!) and helpless in that I could not change my mom's mind. That feeling sucked. I sulked and screamed, and whinned, and tantrumed away. She never gave in and I made a loud vow that when I was a mom, I would let my kids eat candy whenever they wanted!

The second memory was when I was about 10 or so. My mom would not let my best friend spend the night on a school night. I remember how desperately I wanted my friend to stay over. I also remember the anger and helplessness I felt as my friend walked out our front door. I had begged and begged and begged for my mom to let her stay. Yet, despite all my wanting, I was powerless to change my mom's mind.

I'm reminded of those horrible feelings of uncontrollable desire, anger, and helplessness when my son throws a tantrum. Usually, it's over something silly and, at first, my grown-up self cannot fathom why Jacob cares so much about drinking his soup with a straw versus the spoon I want him to use. Then I have to travel back through time and try to understand the situation as a kid. Then I'm reminded that he doesn't exactly know why he wants something, he just knows he wants it. And at the age of four, no amount of adult logic can remove his desire.

I'm pretty sure the tantrums are a result of not knowing or understanding how to cope with automatic emotional responses. So, I'm trying to take the tantrums in stride. I try to see Jacob in the context of his childish brain rather than the way my adult self sees him. I don't always succeed. Honestly, when I'm exhausted after a long day of work, I sometimes don't even try. I just promise to do better next time.

BUT I've noticed that when I AM able to see Jacob with the eyes of a child and the wisdom of an adult, he is much sweeter than I give him credit for. Even mid-tantrum.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Best Sick Day Ever!

Sickness is here! I knew the sickness was inevitable as one by one my coworkers, friends, and family fell captive. So far, I'm the only one in the family who has been hit and it hasn't actually been that bad. Congestion, foggy head, and sore throat. I rarely ever get sick, so I guess I was long overdue. As long as I'm not puking, I'm a happy sick person.

Last night was day two of the sickness and I fought it off with a nice long spin class. I may be crazy, but it has always been my own personal philosophy that sweat and exercise is the best thing for your body when you get sick. When I ran competatively in college, this always seemed to be true and it has worked for me ever since.

After a full night of tossing and turning, plugging my nostrils with tissue paper, and trying to sooth my burning throat, I woke to my 5:25 a.m. alarm as I imagine a swamp person would arise from well...a swamp. I was groggy, my head felt like it was full of mud, and I looked pretty awful. I immediately hit snooze and didn't think twice about trying to make it to work. Since today was my husband's turn to wake, feed, dress the kids and drop them off at his sister's house, I fell right back to sleep for four glorious more hours.

I finally woke up at 10 a.m. and made the obligatory call in to work. I had a couple work projects on my plate and I got those out of the way first thing. After that, the day WAS MINE! First, I lounged on the couch with tea and caught up on Pinterest and Facebook and some of my favorite blogs. Then I tidied the house, but only just enough to feel accomplished.

Then I went to the craft store. Not because I needed to buy anything. I went to the store solely because I had the rare luxury of driving somewhere without having to pack a diaper bag, strap and unstrap two kids into their carseats, and drag three different bags around with me. Although my husband and I pretty much split kid duty right down the middle, when we both have chores or errands to run, it's always expected that I will have the kids with me. I don't really mind it-- in fact, sometimes I prefer it. But when I'm running to the gym, the grocery store, AND the bank, it would be nice if my husband would take at least ONE of them with him on his ten minute hardware store trip.

Anyway, my point is that it has been so long since the last time I went on an errand alone. In fact, I honestly cannot remember the last time. So today, being able to peruse casually and aimlessly down the aisles of the craftstore with no agenda or care in the world (aside from trying not to sneeze or cough on anyone), was so freaking amazing.

On the drive home, I got to listen to Dori Monson, my favorite news radio show host (did I just say that? I'm such a nerd). His show is during the middle of the day so I rarely get to listen to him. I used to have a major voice/brain crush on him. Then I spoiled everything by looking up his website and finding his headshot. A lot of people love NPR. I personally can't stand it. Luckily we have a local news radio station that is simply fantastic. The hosts each have different perspectives and political leanings and it's amazing how they can cover the same top five stories and present totally different news. I NEVER listen to music in the car anymore (unless T-Swift comes out with a new album). I'm a total news radio addict. I have no idea how I survived on a daily basis before "Ring My Bell" with Rachel Belle.

Because I'm missing the piece of DNA that tells people to veg on the couch, I came home and finished a painting that I started six months ago (I painted over book pages. Sorry "Hundred Years of Solitude" you were way too boring to earn a permanent spot on my bookshelf):

Then I started and finished another painting. My camera didn't pick up the background colors very well. I really liked the background. I kind of think I ruined it by adding the branch silhouette. It's definitely NOT my favorite painting.

I always hate my own art and that is why most of my work lives at my parents' house where they, in typical parent fashion, display it prominently and without objectivity and for the entire world to see.  I nearly die each time I go to their house and see all my HORRIBLE middle school paintings hanging proudly in their living room and dining room. I made them promise to tell visitors that they found the paintings at Goodwill.

I also made this star:

It was so fun and so easy. Right now, as I type, I am planning a star take-over of all the walls in my house.

In between all my projects, I drank six cups of tea (current favorite is black chai tea with hazelnut creamer and three packs of splenda = death by sweetness). I had a gigantic bowl of chicken noodle soup. When the kids came home, we played, I gave them baths, we cuddled, and then I wisked them off to bed.

Finally, at 10:00 p.m. when I realized that all I had eaten all day was my bowl of soup (one good thing about being sick is total loss of appetite and then being able to make up all the missed calories the next day), I sat on the couch and had a nice big helping of my delicious "whatever is in the fridge" pasta. I made it two days ago when our pantry was bare and we were desperately waiting for payday. It turned out really well and is going to be my new go-to pasta dish. I'm thinking you can use whatever kind of cheese you happen to have on hand.

"Whatever" Pasta

2 cups milk
3 Tbs butter
3Tbs flour
1 tsp salt
Dash of nutmeg
1 tsp lemon juice
2 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

First I made bechemel saude by melting butter in a pan over medium heat. I added flour, stirring it in, and cooking it for another minute or two. I slowly added the milk and brough the mixute to a simmer. Then I melted the cheese into the mixture, and added salt, nutmeg, and lemon juice. At the very end, add in the chicken pieces. Serve over penne (or any) pasta.

I'm rounding out my fantastic sick day with a seventh cup of chai tea, and soaking in the peacefullness of a silent, sleepy house. I absolutely love being the last person to go to sleep.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Baby With Talons

After work, I like to sit down with the kids in the living room and just hang out. This involves me laying down on the floor, Ryan crawling and climbing all over me (when he's not chasing balls around the house), and Jacob playing Legos. Ryan intermittently will chase after a couple balls, crawl back to me for cuddles, then go chase some more balls.

Once Ryan has his sights set on a ball, everything else in the room disappears. He will go to great lengths to obtain a ball. He will crawl under our TV stand (where he frequently gets stuck) or crawl through a hallway full of baby-sized obstacles. For Ryan, there is nothing better in the world than having one ball in each hand. He gets really confused when he sees a third ball and tries to pick it up. I can see the wheels turning in his head, "Do I drop this one to pick up that one? Or do I keep holding this one? Where's my third hand?!" Sadly, evolution does not think it is necessary for a baby's survival to be able to hold THREE balls at one time. Ryan would strongly disagree, however.

Once he has two balls in his hand, he is satisfied (mostly) with his ball quota and then tries to crawl towards me. But, still not willing to let any balls out of his grasp, he will crawl toward me while desperately clutching a ball in each hand. Wouldn't you know it? The kid actually makes it work too! As he crawls towards me, I hear the quick-paced "bang, bang" of tiny plastic balls hitting our wood floors.

He looks like a baby gorilla. It cracks me up!

When Ryan makes a bee-line for me, my first instinct is to coil myself into a fetal position and protect my face. Ryan's a tough lover. He shows that he loves me by hurling his little body against mine, clawing my face, scratching my neck, pulling my hair, and pinching all exposed skin, all the while showcasing a wide, maniacal grin. I hate it but I also love it at the same time.

Tonight he crawled over to where I was laying on the floor and, erupting in giggles, pounced on my face like a playful cat. I began to engage in some friendly baby talk while Ryan drummed contently on my forehead with both hands. This made me laugh and cower at the same time. Then, without warning, he was attempting to rip fistfulls of hair from my scalp all the while trying to suck on my cheek. I was about to plot my escape from his grubby baby hands when a chubby finger filled my vision. Before I knew it, a baby talon barreled toward my pupil and I felt the equivalent of a dozen sheets of paper ripping across my eyeball. It hurt like crazy! I immediately grasped my face with both hands as tears uncontrollably spilled out of my right eye. I then buried my face into a pillow and let out a thirty-second long string of explitives.

Five minutes later I had finally regained somewhat fuzzy eyesight. Ryan looked puzzled and slightly alarmed by my outburst. When I looked down at his hands, I half expected to see a large chunk of my eyeball hanging from his falcon-like talons. Then, as I was still recovering, I heard a familiar parade of explitives coming from Jacob's general direction on the couch. I looked over at him and realized that he had recorded the entire incident on my old phone and was playing it back to himself and laughing with much amusement. I quickly confiscated the phone and deleted the video, just in case it ever found it's into Jacob's pocket for his grandma to find. I may be an adult, but I still don't need my mom knowing I can swear like a sailor.

Switching gears, Ryan had his nine month check-up on Monday. He weighed in at 20 lbs 13 ounces (I swore he was more than that!) and 28 inches long, placing 50th% for both categories. His head circumference was in the 80-90th percentile.

He looks like such a little man here! Where is my baby?

The doctor seemed impressed by Ryan's ability to eat anything. Seriously, this kid can and DOES eat anything. The other day, I was distracted while making dinner. After ten minutes I turned my attention back to Ryan who was happily sitting on the kitchen floor, pantsless, munching on a large cinnamon roll. I have no idea how he even got that cinnamon roll, unless it was gifted to him by his older brother. Ryan had already chomped his way through 3/4 of it so I figured I'd let him finish the thing and have his fun.

And then I spent the rest of the night finding evidence of Ryan's "fun" in the form of teeny-tiny, sticky crumbs that had been rubbed into, my kitchen floor, likely by the same falcon talons that had ripped open my eyeball.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Love At First Spin

My sister-in-law convinced me to take gym classes with her this summer. Although I had access to free gym classes for the last four YEARS, I had never taken a single class. We did Zumba, which was fun but challenging for my uncoordinated self. At one point, I looked so absolutely ridicilous trying to do the moves that I had nothing left to lose and simply made up my own. Also, I never felt like I had gotten enough of a workout from Zumba. I'm curious how many calories you actually burn in a class. Weight lifting was also fun, until I threw out my back from the weights! Then, one day, we took the class with the funny name: spin.

At first, I had low expectations for the class. I've never been that fond of bicycling. The long-time long distance runner in me always prefered to set my beloved Nike Pegasus shoes to pavement over hopping onto a bicycle. I was an elitist runner who thought cycling was inferior and not challenging enough. I soon discovered that a 20 mile spin class was so much different than a childhood bike ride around the park.

I quickly became obsessed with spin class. It was perfect: travel 20 miles without going anywhere, no pounding which was good news for my runner's knee, fun music, a group setting which still allowed to tailor your ride to your own needs/skill level. And I was amazed by the amount of sweat that dripped off my face by the end of the hour long class. At first I was disgusted by the pool of sweat I left on the floor. But it quickly became my badge of fitness. The best part, however, is hopping off the bike at the end of class and landing on legs made of jello. Then, I always end my workout by "sprinting" a mile as fast as I can. I shocked myself last week when I was able to crank out a 6:30 minute mile. That's not fast, for a runner, but it was proof to me that my 2.5 mile walking commute and my spin class are really keeping me fit. I used to feel about walking the same way that I felt about biking....

After a couple of spin classes, I quickly learned that there is a downside to cycling: sore butt bone. Each spin class left me with a sore butt that lasted for an entire week and made it painful to sit. At my next class, I took cues from the people around me and bought a padded seat cover. I must have an especially sensitive butt bone because this did NOTHING. Five days later, I still found myself sitting very gingerly and avoiding cross-legged sitting.

That is when I discovered that the funny tights the cyclists were wearing actually have a purpose other than to make you look ridiculous. Those tights are padded! No wonder they look so funky! Today, I bit the bullet and bought my first pair of padded cycling shorts. I have no idea if they worked because my butt is still sore from my spin class three days ago. But let's just hope I'm not wearing these suckers for no reason:

Do these padded shorts make my butt look strong? They were kind of pricey, so now I HAVE to go to at least 40 more classes...

Hey look! I sweated in the shape of a heart!

Also, why is it not standard practice to sing along with the spinning sound track. How can anyone exercise to "Living on a Prayer" and NOT sing along? Come on!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tough Love

At the end of the day, I love both of my children with equal passion, fervor, and intensity. However, it's hard to remember this sometimes. I know, when all the cards are on the table, when all the stages of development, phases of childhood, tantrums, poopy diapers, wet beds, messes,  and joys are laid out before me, that it is impossible to choose one child over the other. BUT. BUT. BUT. In the passion of a child's tantrum, in the exhaustion of a long day, I occassionally need reminding.

Jacob is at a difficult age right now. WHEW boy, I thought the twos and threes were supposed to be "terrible." In Jacob's case, the fours have out-shined all previous ages in terms of difficulty. I think a lot of it is his personality. He's very intelligent and can converse like a ten year old. He seeks the independence of an adult but also wants the attention deserving of a baby. He is headstrong and has an opinion about everything. He doesn't want to follow directions or simply take orders because he wants us to listen to HIS version of how things should go. He still needs a nap but refuses to take one.
The kid moves at 100 miles per minute!

At his best, he is very sweet and very affectionate. Every morning, he follows the news stories I listen to on the radio and quizzes me about them. "Mommy, they were talking about a fire when a car exploded. Did the ambulance have to come and take the people to the hospital? Were their mommies really sad?" "I heard them talk about an asteroid in space! Is that the same asteroid that killed all the dinosaurs?" But even at his sweetest, he can still be difficult.

Ryan, on the other hand, is at the absolute best stage of babyhood. He is constantly happy and always on the go. He is so aware of everything that is going on and it's so fun to watch him respond to the world around him. He plays ball and is learning to stand. He loves making music ("noise"). Right now it's a toss up as to whether he will be a musician or a ball player.

Playing guitar with Daddy


He eats almost anything and insists on feeding himself. He is always flashing us wide, dimpled grins, even when he is tired and cranky. He sings, he dances, he giggles. His eyes light up when any of us walk into a room. He crawls over to me and give me hugs. He is content. He is happy to be with anyone and does so well when I leave him at the childcare at our gym. He is easy going, low maintenance, and fills our world with so much happiness. He gets grumpy as his bedtime nears, but even at his worst, he is pleasant and sweet.

"Who wants to change my diaper?"

More often than not, Ryan will be at his sweetest right when Jacob is at his most difficult. Those are the moments when I have to remind myself to give each of them equal attention and love. It's not easy being the oldest especially for someone who is very strongwilled. Being a strong-willed  oldest child myself, I know this all too well. So I try to cut Jacob some slack and give him an extra hug or two. I try to redirect him to a constructive game or project that we can both enjoy together. Current favorites are I-Spy books (his ability to find all the objects amazes me!) and Zingo (one of my FAVORITE kid's games ever!). But, I'm not going to sugar coat this whole parenting thing. After a long day at the office, it's very, very hard to put up with a stubborn, whinny, over-exhausted four year old. Especially when I'm feeling exactly the same way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Support Equals Success

At four o'clock this afternoon, I bounded up the stairs in my parents' house having just billed 5-6 hours of work, my new "full" day of work. I walked down the hallway, past the front door and stared wistfully at the running shoes and gym back I had packed before I left the house this morning, when my ambitions for the day were at their greatest.

"Man, I really would like to go for a run right now." I sighed. Despite the steady rain coming down outside, it was perfect running weather. The temp was in the upper forties and there was not a sign of wind.

"Go for it." My mom/childcare manager prompted.

"I would....but I've been working all day. I'd feel bad for not spending time with the kids first.

"Go run. Don't feel bad. You need to take care of you first. Your kids are so well you and everyone else."

I was grateful for that comment. Four years ago, my mom would have never said that. Four years ago, my mom had a very different attitude about the fact that I was a working mom. She had always been a stay-at-home mom. She quit her "working" career weeks before I was born and never looked back. She couldn't fathom how or why I would leave my kids (just "kid" then) and go to the office.

I tried to outline for her the intracacies of my situation on many occassions. I had a hefty student loan. I had suffered three and a half years of rigorous legal education and I wanted to us my degree! Also, to her utter disbelief, I WANTED to work. I loved being an attorney. I could go over these facts again and again and still she would make passive-aggressive comments like, "raising children is the most rewarding career," "children need their mommies," "So-and-so decided to be a stay-at-home mom, isn't that just the most wonderful thing?" and "are you sure you want to leave your kids and go to work?"

Initially, when I returned to work after Jacob was born, I felt like she was constantly fuelling my mommy-guilt. As if I was constantly under her strutinizing gaze. Maybe she didn't do it intentionally. Maybe she did. It doesn't matter. It hurt. I was already struggling with my decision to return to work (with nearly a mortgage worth of student loans, I didn't really have a choice anyway). I didn't need the extra self-doubt.

One time, my husband and I planned to attend a friend's wedding in Canada. We had arranged for my mom to watch Jacob for the weekend. When we arrived at her place that day to drop him off, she told me that I didn't spend enough time with Jacob and that he needed to come with us. Needless to say, she guilted me into abandoning our initial plans. We suddenly had an extra passenger for our trip.

But something happened over the last four years. My mom no longer criticizes or throws passive-aggressive comments my way. In fact, she has become one of my biggest supporters. I would like to think that I played some part in the transformation. I'd like to think that I have shown her that a person can have a career and a family without sacrificing too much. That a woman can be success at her job as well as in parenting. I'd like to believe that I have opened her mind in that respect.

When she told me today that I should go ahead and go for me run without feeling guilty, I was surprised at how encouragement I felt from that comment. I have always been self-motivated and independent. I've never really needed a shoulder to cry on. I've never really had a best girlfriend that I could call up and spill my guts to (and I never really felt an absence in not having that). I never really worried too much about what other people thought about me (I put enough pressure on myself as it is!). But, for some reason, that comment, and other comments like it that my mom has made over the past year, really gave me a boost.

With that encouragement, I donned my running gear and laced up my favorite pair of well-warn running shoes. I hit the road, the cold, and the steady rain with a light heart and happy mind. You know what? My kids ARE happy. They ARE well-loved. In fact, I am happy. Ever since started my new job (two days a week at "home" and slightly reduced hours which get me home at a normal person's reasonable hour), I havent't felt a tad bit of self-doubt regarding my decision (or non-decision) to be a working mom. For the first time in four years, I have not felt a single drop of guilt.

Part of the credit goes to negotiating my new work arrangement. But I have no doubt that a big part of that is the fact that my mom is now my biggest fan and a great source of mental and emotional support. No matter how independent we think we are, we can't do it alone. We can't do it without support.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I tried to come up with an illiteration for this post but there is a shortage of fun "p" adjectives. All I got was "Peerless" but that brought back PTSD flashbacks from contracts class (anyone recall the Peerless ship case?).

I do not have a Polish bone in my body...But I dated a Polish man once. He was legit. Fresh-off-the-boat Polish. One time, he picked me up for a surprise date, took me to Dunkin Donuts, and (when I told him I was not hungry) he spent nearly 15 minutes trying to force me to shove glazed donuts down my throat. Then I broke up with him....on his birthday. I think there is a specially-designated level of hell for people who do that sort of thing.

Anyway, for the short period of time that I dated this Polish guy, I spent a lot of time learning about Polish culture.  The whole "Polish sausage" thing is SO not a stereotype. I ate dinner with his parents three times. Each time I ate with them, the main dish was Polish sausage. I'm pretty sure that's the only thing they ever ate. The side dish was always pierogi. Not homemade-like-your-Polish-grandma-makes pierogi. These were frozen-from-the-grocery-store pierogi. But they were so, so good.

Fast forward several years (and a couple boyfriends) later, I was craving pierogi. I stumbled upon a recipe (I can't remember where from) and decided to make my own. Imagine for a moment, the creamiest and richest bite of mashed potato, mixed with melted cheese, rolled up into dough, and fried in butter. Yes! Yum!

My picky husband totally loves these!

Potato & Cheese Pierogi


4 cups flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup warm water


3 potatoes, cooked, drained, and mashed
2 tbspoons butter
3 ounces cream cheese (or to taste)
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or to taste)
1/2 tsp salt

1. To make the dough, measure flour into a bowl. Add salt and stir to combime. Make a hole in the center of the flour and add the eggs and sour cream. Stir to combine. Add water gradually until mixture forms a ball. Knead dough, separate into three pieces, and let rest for ten minutes.

2. Take your mashed potatoes and add the cheeses and salt. Stir to combine.

3. Roll out dough, one piece at a time, to 1/8 thickness. Take a cup with an opening of about 3 inches in diameter and cut out rounds. Spoon as much filling as you can into the round, fold in half, and pinch the ends closed. Make sure the ends are tightly closed so that filling does not escape during cooking.

4. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. In batches, drop pierogi into water and let cook for several minutes. When pierogi rise to the top of the water, let cook an additional minute then remove to a plate.

You could totally stop here. BUT why do that when you have the option to pan fry the pierogi in butter!?! If you DO stop here, you should serve the pierogies by topping with sour cream and onions that hav been carmelized in butter.

5. Heat large sauce pan over medium heat. Melt butter in pan. When hot, add pierogi (again, in batches). Cook until browned on both sides then remove to a plate. Serve with sour cream!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

This Is Friday

PSA for my childless friends:  This is what a Friday night looks like when you have kids.

You pick up the kids from childcare/their aunt's house. With kids in tow, you embark on a wild date with your spouse to Sears. To go refrigerator hunting. You know, because your refrigerator broke down first thing Christmas morning and you have been virtually fridgeless for ten WHOLE DAYS! 

As your four year old runs reckless up and down the refrigerator aisles, you have to scold him on at least three different occassions not to lick the display refrigerators. Regardless of your scolding, he does it a fourth time. For lack of time-out corners at Sears (come on Sears, get with it!), you plop both children in front of the electonics section.

Kid heaven

The luxury wear off after exactly 38 seconds. Before you know it, you are back to chasing your four-year old around the appliances. At least, I caught him before he decided to play hide-and-seek.

Then, because your life lacks amusement and because you cannot be enjoying a candlelit dinner at a four star restaurant, you decide to have some fun with the baby:

After a thrilling hour of looking at refrigerators, that aside from their price tag all look the same, you and your spouse round-up the kids for part two of your wild Friday night adventure........the FOOD COURT! You turn the kids loose in the indoor mall park. Then you sit down and watch the other parents (poor saps love company) mindlessly staring at their cellphones.

This is fun!

Oh wait, you want me to do DOWN?

Finally, you get to engage in some delightful conversation with another mother-of-two. She is holding a very tiny two-month old baby on her knee. Yay! You can make a friend and have a real conversation! At that precise moment, your four-year old rushes up on the unsuspecting mother, sticks out his tongue, and licks the entire right-side of her two-month old's face...from chin to forehead!

You gasp in horror. The mother's eyes widened. Your kid runs off like everything is business as usual. You try to hard to call out to your child so that you can impose the proper discipline. Execpt you are laughing too hysterically. Everytime you shout for your child, you erupt into maniacal laughter. So, instead, you stick with profuse apologies to the mother while tears of laughter fall down your cheek. There goes your future friendship.

Embarassed still, you and your spouse round up your children and head straight for the car. On the way home you pick up take-out teriyaki from a hole-in-the-wall restaurant near your house. That meal is the culinary highlight of your week (remember, no fridge).

The kids go straight to bed. And you and your husband settle down on the dirty, spit-up covered couch to watch a much-anticipated thriller. Half a Bourne movie and a screaming baby later, you and yoru husband throw in the towel on movie night and head straight for bed. You fall exhausted into your down comforter, fully aware but not giving a sh*t that you never even took off your bra.

Happy Friday!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Full Day

We had a full day Wednesday. I was able to bill several hours (in the comfort of my own yoga pants and in the privacy of my old room- yay for working from home!) and still take plenty of breaks to enjoy the kids.

And by "enjoy," I mean catch them eating catfood.

And listen to their kitchen pan band.

And get lap hugs from Ryan. This is my favorite thing of all time. Randomly, Ryan will take a break from playing, crawl over to me, and lay his head in my lap. He usually does this not ONCE but several times in a row. LOVE!

Then we ended the day with bathtime playtime.

I don't know about you, but there is nothing better than pictures of kids in a bathub. Unless you're Jerry Sanducky, formerly of Penn State. Then it's just creepy.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Champagne Is Best At 175 Feet

I usually don't care much about New Year's Eve. We usually leave NYE celebrations feeling disappointed. I think it's because we WANT an excuse to go crazy and party big. But it never really happens. So for the past couple years, we've just stayed home, invited a couple friends over, and stayed up playing games and watching the Space Needle fireworks on TV.

This year, as NYE approached, we didn't even get THAT far. The night before NYE, I received a text from our friends asking if we had plans. Thus began the most impromptu New Year's Eve night on the town, double date in history. Because it was so last minute and low-key, our expectations were low. Anything beat staring at a TV screen, right?

The night turned out AWESOMELY. It was JUST what we needed!

After work, my boss invited me to join him and the other partner for happy hour. The three of us drank a pitcher of PBR at a dive bar and talked about various inappropriate topics including Catholic sex, pedophile jokes, three-ways with Joan Rivers and Kathie Lee Gifford, and ethnic stereotypes. (My bosses are pretty awesome.)

An hour later, I slipped away to meet my date and our friends at the ferry terminal in downtown Seattle. I planned to take them to a new bar that had opened up in the area but after 30 minutes of me leading them (by foot) in circles, we gave up on that idea and headed to our restaurant.

Since I had only begun my hunt for NYE reservations at 9:00pm the night prior, my favorite places were booked until super late in the evening. My only requirement for dinner was that our restaurant have tablecloths. Finally, I scored 7:45 reservations at Palomino. They had tablecloths. I was happy. And it went pretty well.

After a ginger peach martini, lemon drop, and the creme de mint-y goodness of an After Eight shot, we were feeling pretty good!

As we were paying for dinner we decided it would be a great idea to find some champagne and sneak it onto the ferris wheel ride of downtown Seattle. The ferris wheel is a brand new attraction to the downtown waterfront and, at 175 feet high, it is the largest observation wheel on the west coast. We managed to sneak into a local drugstore just 5 minutes before closing and walked out with our prized possession of $7 champagne!

I was so excited about the ferris wheel until the moment I stepped foot into the ferris wheel pod. I nervously sat down in my seat, clenching tightly to the edge, and demanded that no one MOVE A MUSCLE or rock the pod.


After a couple sips of bubbly (which we decided to call "burpee" for obvious reasons), I quickly overcame my initial trepidation about traveling nearly 200 feet in the air above the Puget Sound. Then I was back to my mischevious self.

Food and drinks are not allowed on the ferris wheel. This fact alone made our champagne taste 100x better. The riders in the neighboring pods cheered and laughed as the four of us popped the cork, took turns passing the champagne, and sipping right from the bottle. The views were excellent.

The company was even more excellent!

After the ferris wheel, we slunk into a nearby bar where we enjoyed one last round of drinks before midnight. Three minutes to midnight, we paid our tab and ran three blocks to the ferry terminal where we expected to see Space Needle fireworks in all their glory. Turns out, the Space Needle is farther from the ferry than I remembered. And there were just a FEW buildings in the way.... (see the ferris wheel to the left?! so gigantic!)

Despite the very tiny firework show, we rang in the New Year all smiles and laughter and in the company of our good friends who we do not see nearly enough. Then, my husband and I promptly boarded the 12:15 ferry back to my parent's house where we passed out in my old bedroom, our two kids peacefully sleeping in the room next door.

Even with our last minute double date, low expectations, and wandering Seattle without any real plans, NYE was a huge success.

Happy New Year!

I was not planning on making any New Year's resolutions. I never do. But this whole evening has convinced me that I need more spontaneity in my life. Here's hoping 2013 brings more impromptu adventure with friends and family.