Monday, February 25, 2013

Monsters Under The Bed

I know violence is as old as time but only recently has it been so pervasively and prevalently on my mind. It may be increased coverage on shootings in light of the national gun debate or it may just be the usual hysterics that rock our nation in the wake of a violent tragedy, but lately it seems that horrifying stories about death and violence and crime are daily taking the centerstage of all news programs. Some stories showcase the bravery of heroes in the face of danger. Others focus solely on the unimaginable grief of loved ones.

Amidst all of this, I find it increasingly hard to fall asleep peacefully at night.

Each night, as I slide under my covers, I try to unseize myself of the fear that is tightly gripping my mind. I try to shake off scary thoughts and imagined sounds. And even though there is just a thin wall separating me from the two precious boys snoring in the next room, in my mind, that wall has the depth of five dozen bricks. As much as I try to ignore all the scary "what-ifs," multiple horrifying scenarious still play out in my mind. I never know how each one should end. And this just increases my anxiety.

What would I do if something really were to happen? How would we protect the kids? I have no doubt I would jump in front of a gun if need be. But would that even be enough? As much as I don't want to think about these scary things, part of me feels like I need to. Isn't it better to be prepared?

I am fervently against gun ownership. I have told my husband a thousand times that I will not live under the same roof as a gun. In my mind, a gun is at least 10 times more likely to result in an unintended injury or death (especially with children in the house) than to result in successfully thwarting a criminal invader. But late at night, when my thoughts are running wild, when every sound coming from the boys' room makes my heart leap, when fear replaces logic, I can't help but think that a gun would make me feel safer. I can't help but feel that a measley baseball bat under the bed is grossly ineffective.

Hopefully the landscape of the national gun debate will quiet (as the next controversial topic takes over) and these scary thoughts will fade. But until then, versus of The Lord's Prayer will continue to run through my mind as I close my eyes each night. I will continue to fall asleep hoping that I never have to be brave. That I never discover the extent of my strength. And that I never meet the depths of my grief.

Being a mom is really hard. I never knew having children would be such an emotional vulnerability. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Little Bit Of Everything

My boys are both the highlights of my day and my biggest source of frustration.

I constantly have to remind myself to laugh at the trouble these little guys make. Like when I'm in one room cleaning a bunch of toys while, unbeknownst to me, the boys are in another, dumping a bunch of different toys out. Or when I have to tell Jacob something a minimum of seven times before he actually does it. Or when I walk into the living room to discover that Ryan has rubbed half a package of crumbled Ritz crackers into the carpet.

These moments are easy to forget, however, when Jacob flashes a wide smile just for me or when Ryan erupts into a fit of giggles.

Amid the craziness and business of this weekend, there were a few rare quiet moments. Times when the kids didn't need me to fulfill an immediate need. When they were busy playing or napping and my husband was also busy with chores. It felt so strange to sit in my room alone. I actually kind of freaked out. In those moments of quiet, free time, I had absolute NO IDEA what I should have been doing. I thought about starting a craft or home improvement project but I knew the free time would only be of short duration. Our house is so small that we can't start projects and set them aside for later. For five minutes I walked around, room to room, uncomfortable with my rare freedom, totally clueless about what I should be doing.

Luckily, those moments did not last long. They were quickly interrupted by Ryan was crying or Jacob demanding something to eat. And then, faster than Jacob can say "Mommy, come wipe my butt!," I was back to feeling normal: the short-fused, ever-flustered mommy with too much to do in too short of a time.But, I think I like it that way best.

All in all, this weekend was full of...

Rainier Beer drinking

Laughing at Daddy

A kitchen-band music debut (don't you love my lime green cabinets?)

Riding scooters and playing in rare Pacific Northwest winter sunshine. You are a true Pacific Northwesterner if you bust out your shorts when the temp dips above 50 degrees.


Being Mommy's big helper

Playing dress up

And comic-book reading.

After the day whizzed by, I tucked my sweet boys in and gave them lingering hugs goodnight. I chuckled to myself as Jacob desperately begged and pleaded to stay up and read comics with his dad and Ryan snored away with legs tucked under his belly and his butt in the air.

And now, as I fall into bed myself and slink under my warm covers, I can't help but think about the crazy and fun moments of the days and greet the evening hours with a big smile on my face. My children are my favorite bed time story.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Rough Day Ends In Success: With Strozzapreti!

Wednesday was insane. INSANE. First, as we were driving down a busy highway, Jacob swung his car door wide open. I had a mini heart attack before pulling over to reprimand him/stop my heart from jumping out of my chest. Less than two minutes later, we were back on the highway and Jacob was screaming at max capacity that he had to pee right now! No exit in sight, I pulled over to the shoulder once again. I grabbed my empty water bottle and held it out for Jacob to pee in (we've done this before...). Unfortunately, he missed.






After I freaked out and nearly shriveled out of my clothing, we made a quick (ha, yeah right!) stop at the grocery store to grab something. As soon as we walked into the store, a horrible smell radiated from Ryan's butt. I went to change him and discovered that he had filled his diaper, his onesie, and his pants with brown, soupy poop. Ryan was stripped to a shirt and diaper for the rest of the trip. And the poopy pants, which I SWORE I threw onto the floor of my car, have gone missing. This means they will likely show up somewhere very unpleasant at a very inconvenient time...after marinating for a week, of course.

After that (and much more), I probably had a great excuse to pull out a frozen pizza for dinner. But, no. I'm certifiably insane. And cooking is my therapy. After the chaotic, random, and uncontrollable events of a busy kid-full day, nothing is more therapeutic than to pull together an organized and predictable list of ingredients and follow a clear set of step-by-step instructions. On top of that, cooking is such a fun, creative process. Oh yeah, and the end result is edible (duh!)!

When we got home, I was so excited to make dinner. Earlier that day I had run across what appeared to be a simple and easy homemade pasta recipe. I've made gnocchi, linguine, and ravioli from scratch and, while they were all delicious, they were so much work! This recipe for sprozzapreti, on the other hand, was super easy and only required two ingredients (for the pasta anyway, then add your own favorite sauce)! Just like my favorite recipe for homemade tortillas, this is going to be a new go-to recipe.


(seen with my new favorite dish: gruyere chicken)
(p.s. forgive the poor quality, phone-camera photo)

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs

Pour the flour into a bowl. Crack the eggs into the center. Mix thoroughly with your hand until the ingredients are combined and form a ball. Add flour if necessary so that the dough is not too sticky. However, do not add so much flour that the dough becomes stiff.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out onto a floured surface as thin as possible.  Cut the dough into strips about one inch wide. Take one strip at a time and roll the strips between your palms as if making play-do snakes. Roll them just enough to make the snake shape so that they have a fun texture but do not roll them so much that they become too smooth (honestly, you can roll them as much as you like, but the funkier the texture, the better the pasta can pick up your pasta sauce). Pinch the strips into small pieces (don't worry about being exact) and set aside.

Cook the strozzapreti in a large pot of boiling salted water for a couple minutes. You want the pasta to be tender and slightly chewy, but cooked through. When it's the desired amount of tenderness, drain the water. Add pasta sauce and serve!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Day In Poetry

I honestly don’t know if I’ll survive another day

So many dirty dishes and toys to put away

Another poopy diaper will surely make me scream

These kids make more laundry than the local football team

The marks on Ryan’s face show he ate a purple crayon

Jacob’s jumping off the couch proclaiming he’s spiderman

The cat just farted and now he’s scratching at the wall

What’s that in Ryan’s mouth? Why, it’s a cotton ball

Jacob just decided his stuffed penguin needs a bath

He’s lucky daddy just got home to save him from mom’s wrath

I’m counting down the minutes until the kids are in bed

If only my to-do list would vanish from my head.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Messy Monday

My day off started....with a gigantic Ryan poop. The second I got that diaper off, he wriggled free and smeared a long trail of poo all over his boppy pillow. The more mobile he gets, the more I am certain that a medical restraint board (and a hazmat suit) is a great investment. But the day was still fresh and I was in a good mood. I wasn't going to let a little poo ruin my day off. I cheerily sorted out a load of dirty laundry, brought it downstairs, and filled the washing machine.

When I arrived upstairs, I prepared breakfast for the kids. Jacob informed me that he wanted orange juice, but not the "hairy kind." What? Hairy orange juice? It took five minutes of inquisition to figure out that he was referring to pulp. Ha Ha!

It wasn't until after both kids were fed that I was finally able to sneak to the bathroom for my morning pee ("TMI" is my middle name). I closed the door and breathed a heavy sigh. It's amazing how much sanctuary a thin bathroom door can offer.

The kids decided to take advantage of their three minutes of freedom by dumping out an entire package of jumbo-sized cotton balls.

When I saw them giggling and throwing cotton balls at each other, I didn't have the heart to interrupt their fun with adult worries about wastfullness and messes. Jacob loved making snowballs and throwing them at Ryan's head. Ryan loved picking the balls up and showing them to me. Then he crawled over to his stacking cups and proceeded to fill each one with a mound of cotton balls. He was working with so much concentration and effort, it was pretty hilarious!

Unfortunately, the kids handled the cotton balls so much that they disintegrated into small cotton strings. As we speak, those cotton pieces are rubbed into all four corners of our living room rug.

As I tried to pick cotton ball strands out of the rug, Jacob asked me if he could have something to drink. I shoed him to the kitchen to get his own drink. One minute later, I heard the microwave turn on. This sound was followed by the sound of aggressive sparks and a smokey-burny smell. I walked into the kitchen to find Jacob staring at a soda can that had seen better days. Four years of parenting have calloused me to little calamaties like these. I think I've seen everything. Unless someone's limb is hanging on my a mere membrane, I am incapable of freaking out.

I calmly walked Jacob out of the kitchen. In doing so, I passed by a bundle of fabric on the floor. What the heck?! It was the boppy pillow cover smeared with Ryan's poo. You know... the very same boppy pillow cover that I had JUST done a whole load of laundry for. The one that was supposed to be in the washing machine right that minute! ARRRRG!!!

Despite a rough morning, I decided to brave a trip to the pool in the afternoon. It was just the kids and me. It was also the first time I had taken both kids at the same time. It was a bit of a challenge (ok a large challenge) to wrangle two kids to the pool, in the pool, and from the pool, but it was very worth it to see the excitement and happiness on their faces as they played. (Also, as I changed Ryan into his swimsuit, three cotton balls fell out of his onesie...that's what big brothers are for, right?).

Jacob is my fearless waterbunny. He loves to dunk his head under and will bravely march into the deep end after the big kids with nothing but a skinny pool noodle to keep him afloat. Scares the crap out of me. I desperately need to get that kid into swimming lessons.

Ryan loves the pool just as much as Jacob. He kept trying to leap out of my arms and into the water. He splashed and giggled and splashed some more. Our pool has a zero-depth entry so I set Ryan down in the shallow end to let him splash. He quickly darted straight towards the deep end. Luckily, I caught him just as his face hit the water.

I am so in trouble! What am I going to do with these fearless boys?

Although Jacob has a new, coveted pair of Spiderman swim trunks, he insisted on wearing his old shark trunks so that he could match Ryan. Ryan's red shark trunks are hand me downs from his big brother. I remember so vividly when Jacob used to toddle around on the sand in them. I teared up just the slightest as I slipped them over Ryan's chubby legs. Sigh...

My (freezing) sharks

We ended our eventful day with a trip to the grocery store where I JUST barely clung to the remainder of my wits and my thinly-stretched patience. Jacob insisted on wearing his sunglasses. And Ryan, refusing to let me help in any way, kept trying to put on his hat.

We rushed home and I whipped up a new dessert that had caught my eye in a cooking magazine. It's a key-lime cheesecake with oreo crust (YUM!). It's setting in the refrigerator right now and I keep opening the fridge door to take little peeks. It's supposed to chill for four hours and I, with good faith, predict that I will be sneaking out of my bed at 1 a.m. for a taste test!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Escape From Mommy-Hood

This week, in a rare showing of spontaneity (I'm usually the spontaneous one in the relationship), my husband booked an online deal for a hotel in the heart of winery country. And for no good reason at all, aside from the fact that we are long LONG overdue for a real date, we decided to redeem that deal this Saturday.

Our first destination (after saying our goodbyes and dropping off the kids), was to do a little winery hopping. We made it to three different wineries in 2.5 hours and sampled four to five different wines at each one.  The wineries ranged from a dinky warehouse that offered only five choices (but they had a chocolate fountain!) to a swanky, upscale winery that boasted 10 different rieslings alone! The whole event was fun but it also reminded me that I'm not much of a wine girl. I'll drink it anytime but there are so few wines that I actually love. Most days, I'd just prefer a Rainier beer!

It was so fun to spend time with my husband. Day in and out, I get to see my husband the "father," my husband the "employee," and my husband the "chore-doer." It's pretty rare that I get to see my husband the "best friend." It was so great to hang out with him in carefree, agenda-less environment. Lucky for him (Hah!), I got to let my hair down and bring out my usual crazy self. Thank god I found someone to marry who is not easily embarrassed!

"Bottoms UP"

I'm such a light weight.

After the wineries, we headed to our hotel which was a gorgeous establishment on Lake Washington. It was fabulous. It smelled just like a hotel should smell: bleached sheets, ginger soaps, and a hint of adventure. It was upscale but not snooty. I squeeled in delight when I saw the gigantor king-sized bed and immediately pressed my cheeks against the cool sheets and did a bed "snow" angel. Then I promptly consumed all the pillow chocolates and took a tour of the bathroom where I did a happy dance the moment I saw the fancy hand-held showerhead and luxurious bathrobe hanging on the towel rack.

We dropped off our stuff and went looking for dinner. The hotel restaurant was packed and their menu was less than impressive. So we headed to the restaurant across the street (La Grand in Kirkland, Washington) where we found immediate water-view seating. I'm so thankful that the hotel restaurant was packed that night because, at this unassuming place across the street we had what we both agreed was the BEST MEAL OF OUR ENTIRE LIFE (haricots verts, crab cakes atop carrot puree sauce, and steak with garlic butter).

After returning to our room, we luxuriously fell asleep BEFORE 9pm. And the next morning we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before picking up the kids. There's nothing quite like being away for 24 hours to make you truly appreciate your children. When we walked into my in-laws' house, the kids bounded up to the door beaming from ear to ear. We wrapped them in big hugs and reminded ourselves just how lucky we are to have wonderful children to come home to. Jacob talked nonstop on the way home while Ryan chimed in on the noise-making with his singing. We were in such high spirits when we got home and the sun was shining (rare for a wintry Washington weekend) that I mustered up the courage and energy to take both kids to the park on my own. My husband had to leave for a work event so I had the kids all to myself.

We frolicked down to the park as if we were hamsters let free from their cages. We enjoyed our freedom, soaked up the sunshine, and Jacob and I giggled happily at Ryan who was making silly noises and desperately trying to escape from his stroller. He wants so badly to be like his big brother Jacob. He kept reaching desperately for Jacob's Thomas the Train bike and the look in his eyes was a mix between curiosity and envy.

The happy mood quickly turned sour a mere five minutes into our trip when Jacob decided he was suddenly and desperately cold and absolutely needed to have hot cocoa within five mintues or else parish an unthinkable death.

I refused to leave so soon after our long trek to the park. Plus, Ryan was having fun crawling back and forth through the tunnels of the big toy.

That is....until he went one crawl too many and fell face first onto the grated floors of the play structure.

He has a rhino horn!

On the way home, I had to haul both the stroller and Jacob's bike back uphill to the house while listenin to Jacob cry hysterically about how cold he was. Funmy how Ryan was the injured one and he was doing JUST FINE.

It was a losing battle for the rest of the evening as Jacob was sent to his room for (1) hitting Ryan, although he claimed he was just "drumming" on his head, (2) putting a large box over Ryan's body after being told not to, (3) back-talking, backtalking, and backtalking some more, and (4) coloring all over our furniture with markers. Jacob also refused to eat any dinner despite my begging and pleading. When he was sent to his room the fourth time and I noticed that he hadn't touch his dinner, I ate it myself to keep from being wastful. Of course the second he was out of his room he demanded to know where his dinner was and screamed at the top of his lungs because he was "SO STARVING that his tummy was going to melt!"

By 7:00 p.m., I had had enough of my return to Mommy-land. Even though it was 1.5 hours before their usual bedtime, I rushed both kids to bed in record time. Luckily, even Ryan went into his crib wide-eyed but without a single fuss. Then they both fell asleep without a single peep!

Is an overnight date worth paying the price of a thousand child tantrums? That would be a resounding "YES!"

Friday, February 15, 2013

Silly Baby Games

As I put Ryan down in his crib tonight (awake but sleepy), rubbed his back, and slowly tiptoed away, he curled his knees under himself in typical Ryan-fashion. I had a hard time leaving his room as he rustled peacefully into his sheets and nestled his soft cheeks against the mattress.

I recalled for a moment how anxious I had been before he was born. The days before he was born, I was so consumed with worry. I was worried he would throw a wrench into our family dynamic. I was worried that by loving Ryan I would be taking away some of my love for Jacob. I was also worried that I didn't have enough heart to love him fully. When Jacob was born, I thought I had been so full of love that my heart was filled to capacity.

Turns out, there is no such thing as maximum heart capacity. Turns out, even as a second-time mom, one can still be amazed by the ability of a tiny person to change how you love and increase both your vulnerability and strength at the same time.

This guy:

He has taught me so much about both love and myself. He has doubled the amount of smiles and giggles in our home. And lately, he's been entertaining us all with his silly baby games.

Tonight, as we sat on the floor to play, Ryan took my husband's hand, opened it up, and placed a tiny ball in his palm. My husband tossed the ball back to Ryan. Ryan fetched the ball and did it all over again. He crawled to my husband, opened his fist, and placed the ball in his hand. They repeated this game over and over as we all laughed in amusement.

During his crawling escapades, when he comes across a sock or shoe, Ryan will stop mid-crawl, grab the sock, plop on his butt, and attempt to put the sock over his foot. When the sock keeps falling up and he will grunt in frustration as he tries again and again. Poor guy, he wants so badly to be big like his big brother!

When Ryan finds a bigger items of clothing, such as a shirt or pair of pants, laying stranded on the floor, he will grab it and place it on his head. No joke, he will sit on the floor with a pair of pants covering his face and do nothing but giggle and sing for a solid minute. Then he will suddenly and unexpectedly pull the pants off his face and scream in delight when he sees us smiling back at him. As with his other games, this will be repeated over and over for several minutes.

His little antics make his big brother roar with laughter and make us smile so hard that our faces hurt. Seriously, there are no games better than silly baby games.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love For Everybody!

Don't hate me but....I'm going to say it... I love Valentine's Day! I never liked Valentines Day until I became a mom though. Before I became a mom, Valentine's Days just seemed like a bunch of societal pressure to be romantic. And let's face it, most attempts to be romantic are exactly the same (I made you a card, I bought you some flowers, I sprinkled petals on the bed, it always seemed a little trite). Although, one year while we were still dating, my husband gave me an empty box wrapped in wrapping paper with a large hole in one end.. Dick In a Box...most hilarious V-day gift EVER!

Before I became a mom, V-day mostly brought back embarrassing memories of V-day's past. Like the one year in college I baked my cute frat-boy apartment neighbor some brownies in the shape of a heart and wrote "QT Pie" (except I used the mathematical pi symbol) on the top in red frosting. I wanted to hand deliver it personally to him and not his roomies so I stopped in the stairwell next to his apartment and pressed with my ear against the wall abutting his bedroom to try to scope out whether he was home. Unfortunately, at that precise moment, his roomate walked into the stairwell and found me standing there like a big FAT stalker. I turned as red as the frosting letters,  ran away, and ate the brownies by myself while I cried over what was clearly not meant to be. *Face Palm*

But now that I'm a mom, I LOVE to celebrate Valentine's Day. To me, the holiday is not so much about romance and trying to make a killer showing of affection for your significant other.  (My husband and I don't really celebrate V-Day...or anniversaries, or birthdays, or mother/father's days for that matter). To me, the holiday is about sprinkling the people I care about (whether they be my favorite checker at the grocery store, the mail man, my children, or grandparents) with little reminders about how important they are. It's about adding a smidgen of cheesy thoughtfulness to someone's day. It's about sending an unexpected letter in the mail to friends and family or surprise novel gifts for my kids. And if romance just happens to bloom, I won't fight it, of course :)

I mean, how can anyone not love a holiday that celebrates love (and chocolate)? And who says that the love we celebrate on Valentine's Day has to be the romantic kind of love? I say we should celebrate the less-exciting love. The love that so often goes unnoticed. The love that makes us sympathize with people we have never met. The love from which husbands listen to wives complain about their day without uttering a word of judgment. The love that makes us stand up for causes we strongly believe in. The love of our parents who sacrifice so we can obtain what we think we want (even if they know that we really won't want it). The love that drives us to smile at strangers. The love that encourages us to wash pee-soaked bed sheets for the third morning in a row when we would rather banish our children to sleeping in the bathtub. The love that helps us to fold laundry without complaining (most of the time).

THAT'S what I'M talking about! THAT'S what we should be celebrating on Valentine's Day.  EVERYONE can appreciate THAT kind of love. Am I right?

So, Happy Valentines Day to my fellow bloggers. Thanks for all the virtual love you guys always throw my way.


That horrible, stomach-eating feeling when your boss instructs you not to do something...and you've already done it. Worst feeling ever.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

That Was Quick

Who can I talk to about getting my weekend back? Seriously. I need a refund.

A while back I agreed to join my boss for a meeting with a potential medical expert for one of our plaintiff cases. Little did I know that that meeting would take place on a Saturday. Right smack in the middle of the day. And an hour an a half car ride from my house. I anticipated it would be only a short meeting. But that short meeting dragged on for 2.5 hours. So that time plus the 3 hour round trip pretty much shot my Saturday plans.

But, it was an important meeting and I learned a lot about the medical area which is the subject of our lawsuit. The doctor was really pleasant. My brain only hurt a little bit from all the medical jargon spouting out of his mouth (and I thought lawyers were bad!). I only fidgeted in my seat a little bit when he started to give unsolicited advice about tampons, a topic entirely unrelated to our case. And I only checked the clock one time to think wistfully about the 1.5 hour spin class that I was missing.

My husband drove me to the meeting and he and the kids played at a McDonald's playplace while they waited for me. I couldn't really complain about the meeting anymore after my poor husband bravely withstood 2.5 hours in McDonald land hell. Then on the way to pick me up, Jacob pooped in his the car. This resulted in an emergency run to Target for new underwear. I could use some new panties too. Unfortunately I am on a "brief" (ha ha ha, get it!?) clothing spending ban...maybe I should poop MY pants too?

On the way home we decided to stop by IKEA for a nice, family outing (yeah. right). Jacob ran away from us three times, the baby was crabby, husband's temper was short, and I dropped Jacob's ice cream cone a mere record-breaking 40 second after we bought it. I think I cried twice as loudly as he did.

Because my Saturday was mostly business, I had high hopes for Sunday. I was going to get up early, get to mass, go for a spin class, run some errands, make dinners for the entire week, and do all the laundry in the house (not just shove it into clean and dirty piles, but WASH it and FOLD it, and put it AWAY!). Then came the night of hell during which Ryan woke up at 10:30pm and screamed until 1:00am. Jacob woke us up at 3:00 having peed all over his bed (he was even wearing a pullup!). He also managed to wake up the Ryan Beast who, this time, screamed his head off until 4:30 and woke up every half hour to head butt us and scream some more. NOT HAPPY.

Despite my exhaustion all day today, I managed to get out of the house sometime after noon. I went grocery shopping and then took the kids to the park. Ryan was a huge fan of the swing:

He also loved to watch his brother play

He's my Mr. Eyelashes:

And he's my Mr. Dimples

I can't believe Ryan turned 10 months old yesterday.

I make it my mission to never make comments like "my baby is the cutest baby ever" on social media (despite my super biased opinion) because those type of comments annoy the SH*T out of me when they come from other people. Obviously, every mother thinks her baby is cute. But not all babies are cute (I'm cruel, I know, but it's the cold, hard truth). do the math.

But, even if he's not the cutest baby in the world, I could take picture of him all day long.  When I work from home, I come up out of my basement office during breaks and lay on the ground to watch him play. I didn't think I could love a baby more than I loved my first baby. Ryan is showing me just how much love one person can have. The memories of Jacob's babyhood are already slipping away. I'm so glad I have Ryan to relive those feelings all over again. It makes me sad to think they will fade away forever when he gets older. (If I could only convince my husband, I'd be planning for baby number three right now.)

Watching my kids at the playground made me start to feel all mushy inside. Ryan was kind of a grump today, but each time Jacob ran near him or gave him any attention, his little eyebrows raised happily and he cracked a huge grin. I love how much my boys love each other. Watching them play, I tried to imagine what Ryan might say to Jacob if only he had a little more wisdom and language skills:

Dear Big Brother,

I'm not able to tell you this but I want to be just like you. I watch from my knees as you run and skip and jump. Against every ounce of my will I can't keep up. At least not yet. I can't play your favorite games like cards or catch or legos. Sometimes it makes me scream. But when you see me trailing behind, you stop and wait. And when I can't reach, you bring the world to me. Someday I will give you a run for your money. But for now, I love to sit and watch you. And, when you let me, I love to take your hand. You are my first friend and I love you. 
And then I cried like a big, fat baby.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Margarita Worthy Day

Today was awesome. My boss and I finished drafting an appellate brief. (I love researching and briefing. I may suck at organizing tangible things but I love organizing arguments!) A large part of our brief is based upon briefing my boss already did at the trial court level. But I was able to expand on it using some of my own my additional research. And I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty dang proud of our combined efforts.

When my boss handed me a copy of the brief for a final review (and so I could take on the monotonous task of adding page numbers to the table of contents and table of authorities...yuk!), I noticed that he had added my name and bar number to the cover page as co-counsel. This means that if the decision gets published, my name will be attached to an appellate opinion! This is so cool (unless of course we get creamed by the Court of Appeals, then maybe not so cool).

Is it weird that I am more excited about this than I was for Christmas?

Another task I thoroughly enjoy at work is explaining the process of litigation to non-lawyers. I love when I have the opportunity to explain what little I know about rules, procedures, and strategy to clients. And since I work for a new firm, we have some new-hires and support staff that are not that familiar with civil litigation. I'm not the best teacher but I do enjoy the challenge. All these little opportunities to teach and explain to others may eventually (and hopefully) make me a better oral advocate for trials and hearings. Because right now, I'm pretty much just lucky when I don't stutter over a big word or when I actually remember that one specific words that I am thinking of in my brain.

After we finished the brief, I tackled a lot of things on my to-do list, and cleared(ish) off my desk. It feels good to clear the clutter. I'm pretty sure this occassion calls for a margarita! (Or maybe I will just settle for my favorite tea with the usual extra creamer and three packs of Splenda?).

Also, can I just say...some people need to NOT post everything on FB. EW.

I give this person a FB time-out.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Work, Mommy, Repeat

For the past couple weeks, I started to become mentally bogged down in the monotony of my daily routine. It's not so much what I do each day, actually I really enjoy the things I do. I love my job and my career. I absolutely love (duh...) the time I get to spend with my kids (even if it's mostly in the car or while making dinner). I'm also lucky enough to get a spin class in multiple times per week.

The problem is that the things I do and the order in which I do them almost never changes. Each day looks like an exact replica of the day before or after it. The days run together and are undistinguishable aside from the changing numbers on the calendar. My schedule is boring, tedious, and predictable.

What also bothers me is the fact that my days are so FULL. My schedule is crammed from 5:45am to 9:00p.m. when the kids go to bed. After that, I just might get in a chore or two before I crash/surf pinterest until way past my bedtime. That is assuming I don't have an urgent motion to write or respond to. There is barely any "flex" time or "floating" free time. If I'm not at work, I'm commuting to/from work, dressing myself or the kids, giving baths, making dinner, putting to bed... and all according to a repetitious, predictable schedule.

I'm not really trying to complain. I realize that I am amazingly lucky in so many ways. I just need to figure out how to escape the monotony of repetition so I don't get stuck in a rut. On good days, I'll stop for a moment to reflect on things. Sometimes, I'll rock my baby to sleep, admire his chubby face and his freakishly long lashes, without worrying about my to-do list. Other times, I'll play a card game with Jacob, enjoy his innocence, and just be present in the moment with him.

That is....when he's not acting like this:

And then today, I stepped back for a moment to appreciate the things in my life that usually go without notice-- my mom. I was raiding my mom's pantry this afternoon when I saw the markings on her wall showing our growth when we were younger. Right there beside my name and the names of my siblings, were the names and growth markings of my own children. In all honestly, she really is a second mom to them. And in having such a wonderful person play second mom, I really hit the jackpot.

It really struck me how fortunate (like 1/1,000 fortunate) I am to have a mom so devoted, to not just me, but to my own children. She loves them with as much strength, passion, and even more patience than I do. I sometimes write her off as eccentric and old school, but I also completely take for granted her capacity to love, her strength of character, and her constant service. She is an amazingly strong, positive, smiling influence on us all. We have no idea how good we got it. I just need to take more time each day to focus on these wonderful things in my life.

I guess the challenge, in the face of a repetitious routine, is to take a second to climb out of the deep pit that is my monotonous routine and get my bearings and focus on what is really going on. Maybe I also need to add a little something different to each day to make it stand out from the others. Perhaps all I need is to take a 10 minute time-out from my schedule each day to enjoy something unusual or spontaneous? The challenge is officially on!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Weekend, Illustrated

Weekends that start with a prank are always the best. Occassionally on Fridays, the partners of the firm go out for lunch leaving the office at the merciless hands of the staff. The past couple times they have left us alone in the office, we took advantage of the opportunity for some fun, all orchestrated by yours truly. One time, I got a group shot of us all taking naps in my boss' office. I got really into it and sprawled out on the floor under his desk. He told us all we were fired.

Last week, when the bosses left, we posed in front of a new piece of art work my boss had acquired for the office. The general consensus was that the artwork, featuring people sitting around a table, was really ugly and we made him hang it in the kitchen. So when he went out for lunch, we took a photo of the entire staff posing like characters in the photo. We were all fired again.

This last Friday, my boss gave the staff some cash and sent us loose on the town for lunch. It was a rare and unexpected treat. We said our thanks by taking a photo of all of us taking shots (of water). I was fired for the third time this month. But it was worth it.

Saturday, we had a family day at the YMCA. The kids played in childwatch center while I introduced my husband to his first spin class. I was sad to discover (1) he was just as good as me even though it was his first time (I nearly died my first time), and (2) he wasn't impressed. He wasn't even impressed by the fact that we had burned over 600 calories and biked 23 miles in one hour. That cast a sad shadow on the morning as I threw a mini tantrum in my mind. I love spin and I want everyone in the world to love it too. Poop. Oh well, more bikes for me.

Ryan got to practice his free throw.

Then, we loaded the kids in the car and ran errands which included our beloved monthly trip to Costco. Hunting for samples:

Mission accomplished:

It's a depressing moment of your adult life when you realize the highlight of your Saturday is free Costco samples.

Sunday was a little more exciting. I had been promising to take Jacob to an indoor playland for two weeks. Plans kept changing thanks to surprise motions that needed to be responded to and my general hatred for leaving the house because that means I have to put on real pants. We invited grandma to come with us and, to my surprise, she said yes! My mom is Jacob's absolute favorite person in the entire world. And I think she feels the same way about him. I shouldn't have been so surprised, I guess.

At the playland, Ryan enjoyed a little bit of baby heaven. I let him play in the germy ball-pit of viral doom. It's pretty much a required part of childhood. Along with eating cake on your first birthday, falling for the "I got your nose" trick, riding a yellow school bus, eating so much junk food that you puke, and being sent to detention. (Side note: in highschool I was a straight-A, goody two-shoes student. Other kids did illegal drugs and took their parents' cars for joy-rides. The worst thing I did was to purposefully skip class ONCE so I would receive a detention. I did this solely for the purpose of being able to say that I had been to detention. So, yeah....).

Making friends:

Ryan is absolutely obsessed with balls. He grabs them, throws them, catches them, crawls after them, passes them from hand to hand, and even crawls with them:

I'm not trying to pressure the kid or anything, but he's going to be my professional ball player. Ryan Palmer....has an MVP, Hall-of-Fame ring to it.

Then we took a break for the greasiest pizza on earth. Maybe grease kills ball-pit germs?

And we ended our trip by playing arcade games and winning tickets to be exchanged for nominal prizes that would be 500% cheaper if we just went to the dollar store and bought them flat-out. But you know, a 50 cent hacky-sack is so much more awesome when you have to spend $10.00 to "win" it. Grandma and Jacob had a blast.

A mother's love means lending your son a leg to help him reach the gas pedal.

Poor monkey had to watch from the sidelines.

Jacob discovered that I have a gambling problem. I spent more money playing arcade games in 30 minutes than I spent during my entire three-day trip to Vegas last year. I had such a hard time gambling all of $11 during my Vegas trip but I could EASILY go broke in a children's arcade.

After all that excitement, we returned home in time for me to get dinner started. On the menu tonight was homemade mac-n-cheese with cheddar, jack, and gryure cheese (to my astonishment, Jacob loved gryure cheese so much that he kept sneaking pieces of it before I got the dish assembled) and baked, brown-sugar chicken. I have made several version of mac-n-cheese and this version was one of the best, topped only by my favorite recipe for crab mac-n-cheese.

After dinner, I snuck out of the house just in time to get a workout in before the gym closed. I cranked out 4 miles in under 7:30 minute mile pace. I was shocked at my times because I haven't been running in forever. My speedy times are purely a tribute to my four times a week spin class and the three times a week that my commute includes walking 4 round-trip miles.

Phew! What a busy weekend!