Monday, June 30, 2014

Insert Post Here

I was going to do a thoughtful post today about our weekend. But then I wasted all my internet energy on Facebook defending the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

(Can I please just say that I'm sick of people telling me I'm "waging a war on women" because I don't agree with them. I'm a woman. Why would I wage a war on myself? Maybe instead of "waging a war" I actually have a thoughtful and logical explanation for my beliefs -- and before you say it, no they are not based on religious dogma. I feel like people label me so they don't have to engage. They can dismiss me as being the "enemy" without having to consider my point of view and dwell on the fact that it does not "jive" with their world view and carefully guarded intellectual reality. If my opinions differ than yours, it must be because: (1) I'm actually evil, (2) no really, I'm evil and am trying to singlehandedly destroy the world and women, or (3) I've been brainwashed. It can't possibly be that there is a valid disagreement or counter to your position.)

I try not to engage because it's Facebook and stupid and full of drama (and adults acting like children). But I'm a lawyer. Arguing is what I do. I get paid to look for and craft opposing positions. And, I enjoy it. And sometimes I just can't turn it off, especially when I feel strongly about something and my news feed blows up with one-sided comments.

Anyway. This is why I don't have a real post today. Not that anyone is particularly disappointed.

To end on a happy note, I just won a huge summary judgment motion in federal court. Like huge. And it feels amazing. Oh and my knee is finally starting to feel better so I'm going to run my first pregnant 5K on the Fourth of July. My goal is to run an 8:00 mile pace, which isn't too shabby but still disappointing to me because before I got injured I was set to run a 7:00 mile pace.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

To Be Loved By A Child

I love my boys' room. It's cluttered and littered with toys. There are all kinds of weird items on display, organized without any rhyme or reason. It's a far cry from a page in a Pottery Barn magazine. The furniture doesn't match. The toy storage organization is clearly lacking.

But it's lived in. It's enjoyed. It's loved. And I kind of love that it's not perfect. In a world dominated by Pinterest, must-have baby and kid items, and perfect baby nurseries, my boys' room is real and down to earth. In the end, how important is it going to be that your kids had $250 matching bedding sets, perfectly painted and color-coordinated walls, a toy storage system worthy of Martha Stewart, and delicate decorative items too precious to be touched? This stuff may give bragging rights to a parent. But it doesn't matter half an ounce to a child.

In the end, kids are going to remember the memories that their rooms hosted. The blanket forts. The campouts. The personalized art. Their favorite toys. Their treasure collections. The things kids will remember are necessarily the things that result in messes. So when I see the after-effects of a kid-sized tornado that has blown through their rooms, I may cringe, but I'm also thankful. Because the pillows and stuffed animals strewn across the floor, the toys stacked in odd places, and the legos dumped all over the carpet are direct evidence of memories in the making.

The famous bunk bed blanket fort

Treasures on display

Painted driftwood materpiece

A practically empty container with a handful of pennies and dimes (aka: an irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind piggy bank)

3-D art

A very special robot creation

Lego handiwork

A beloved, painted rock

Dinosaur paper plate

Another "fort" (aka: toys placed meticulously on the floor in lines)

The other day, I entered the boys' room to put away some clean laundry. On top of the dresser was a weird mass of paper, glue, and wooden sticks. It looked like garbage to me. A valueless pile of trash. Moments later, Jacob walked in and I asked him about the trash. His eyes lit up and his voice took on a dramatic inflection as he told me all about this art that he created.

In that moment, I felt overpowered by a wave of awe. It struck me that children have a wonderful and powerful gift. With their innocent adoration and unfiltered view of the world, they have the ability to transform any object into a treasure. Take any piece of trash, add the love and wonder of a child, and suddenly that trash has incalculable worth.

As I was pondering this thought, another hit me just as hard (and they say lightning never strikes twice). I realized that this beautiful gift applies equally to people. It only takes the love of one child to transform your entire life and outlook on the world. It only takes the love of one child to drastically increase your worth and value as a person. In the eyes of my child, I am everything. I am beautiful. I am loved. I am a treasure. I am that much more special just because HE THINKS that I am.

I am beloved. Because I am beloved by him. And soon I will be beloved by three. Triple blessed.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Greatest Weekend Of All Time

Great weekends are a double-edged sword for working moms. The positives are obvious. You enjoy yourself, spend quality time with your kids, and the worry that you are wasting precious weekend hours never crosses your mind.

But then Monday hits. The fantasy of living life without being chained to a desk and without being a slave to the clock comes crashing down as suddenly as the poisoned Snow White falls unconscious to the floor. One minute, you're enjoying a delicious, bright red apple. The next, you're in a trance of preparing lunches, responding to urgent e-mails, dressing cranky children, briefing emergency motions, cranking out laundry well past bed time (there IS no other time!), prepping for court appearances, managing pick-ups and drop-offs, and pouring over correspondence from nefarious opposing counsel. It happens every single week. But somehow, it catches you off guard every single time.

The more awesome your weekend is, the harder it is to face reality on Monday. And this weekend? In spite of a nasty sunburn (I was wearing SPF 50!) it was pretty much right there at the top!

On Saturday we met my sister at a nearby outdoor wave pool. It's one of the little known secrets of our region. It's fantastic! So fantastic, in fact, that you will often face a 45 minute line just to get in. I learned from past experiences and arrived 30 minutes before the pool opened. Turned out to be completely unnecessary, but it's never a bad thing to be prepared.

My sister and Jacob disappeared into the depths of the wave pool and practically did not return to our umbrella table until five hours later. They swam the WHOLE TIME!

Ryan was very much in need of a nap and so it took him a while to warm up to the water. This was totally fine with me because I'm not a huge fan myself. After a while, he found his niche in the baby pool and spent an hour climbing in and out while I soaked my feet in the water and (unbeknownst to me and my 50 SPF) roasted away the top layer of my skin. But I will NEVER complain about sunshine or heat. Even if it means suffering through my burns in happy silence.

22 weeks!

My handsome middle child lounging with me, Hawaii-style.

Ok, you can put the camera away now mom.

At one point, the temps must have neared 80. I reclined in my lounger by the pool and rested my eyes as Ryan slept on me. With my eyes closed, I could truly make myself believe I was on Waikiki Beach. It was complete heaven. Later that evening, as I drove two exhausted but happy kids away in my Subaru, with the warmth of the sun still emanating from my skin, and a crisp cool Diet Dr. Pepper in my cup rest, I was happier still.

I thought Saturday would be hard to beat. But somehow, we managed! Sunday morning we stopped by to visit my parents and to go for a boat ride. Nothing FEELS more like my childhood than sitting in my dad's 15 foot Bayliner, rocking over waves, with the wind teasing my hair, and the scent of saltwater being carried on the breeze.

Pre-ride muscle show.

My parents live here. I grew up (mostly) here. It is gorgeous. We are spoiled.

Watching boats go by.

Ryan dressed himself as an ewok. Cutest ewok ever.
I love it all. The smell of fiberglass. The sound of the prop whipping through the water. The rough carpet of the boat under my bare feet. The sound of boat parts clunking over choppy waves. The chill of the breeze as we speed on by. The way the wind pushes your hair back in a ridiculously persistent Frankenstein hairdo. The perpetual smile across the faces of all the passengers. The friendly waves of other boaters as they pass. You can't be in a bad mood when you're out in the boat. Somehow, when you step aboard, you enter a different dimension. Your worries slip away as easily as the land. There is absolutely nothing better.

My little beach bum.

Grandma's so much fun.

Waiting patiently for our boat ride.

Well, nothing except for sharing it all with your kids. Both Jacob and Ryan have been on the boat before. But each time is special. And Sunday proved no different.

Grandpa spoiled us by pulling up right onto the beach. We didn't even have to brave the annoying dinghy ride.

Checking out the surroundings.

Grandma is ALWAYS smiling. I swear I'm not exaggerating here. She could cheer you to death.

There is no such thing as a bad seat.

We drove the boat to a nearby town and docked just long enough to stroll through the downtown and enjoy an ice cream. My dad treated us all. My practical, frugal dad must be getting soft in his old age. (He did yelp at the fact that two ice creams put him back $7.... he's still my dad afterall!).

All docked-out and ready to party! (I'm so corny!)

We enjoyed gourmet peppermint and fresh strawberry ice cream at Mora Iced Cream in Poulsbo, WA.

I've been dreaming about that peppermint ice cream ever since.

Spending time with my parents in a different environment was so refreshing and fun. The thing about small boats is that they force everyone to be together and socialize distraction-free (well, as long as you don't count breathtaking views, exciting wildlife sightings, and the heartwarming laughter of children as distractions). I have a great relationship with both of my parents. But because they watch my kids 2-3 days per week, a lot of our time is spent talking business. Where should we meet up? Who's taking the kids Friday? Jacob did what?!

My mom was laughing so hard she bent over sideways. I love that she will laugh at anything.

Grumpy Grandpa (or as Ryan calls him "Bampa") teaching a lesson.

A perfect day with my THREE boys :)
It was really nice to sit down with them and remember that they are people too. Not just parents. Not just grandparents. Not just childcare. I'm so thankful for both of them. It's hard sometime for me to not be the one who cares for my kids all day long. But if I can't do it, there is no one I'd rather have watch my kids than my mom. I know I have my own talents, but she is BY FAR a better mother than I am. I can say that hands-down without reservation because she is far more selfless than I am. She is 10x more patient. And she is never, EVER anything less than cheerful (even when things are hard). I don't know how she does it. If I didn't know her the way I do, I'd SWEAR she was on happy pills.

Grandpa stealing a smile.

I love them. I am so blessed to have them. And a day does not go by that I recognize how wonderful they are.

P.S. Monday suuuuuucked!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Trial, Trial Everywhere

I'm up to my elbow in trials. And I love every bit of it. The actual trial part is not necessarily my favorite but preparing and strategizing for trial, is essentially like my version of snorting coke off Ryan Reynolds abs in a tropical paradise while swimming in a pool of margarita - don't forget the salt-rimmed pool edges and a sun that doesn't burn skin but only turns it the perfect shade of toast (not that I would know what ANY of that was like).

My criminal trial (the one that I'm helping on in order to get more trial experience) keeps getting continued. At first, I was so thankful for each continuance but now I'm just annoyed. I want to put it behind me. My mentor had me practice my opening statement (which nervously spent way too much time writing) in a real courtroom to a jury box full of experienced criminal lawyers. Talk about nerve-wracking!

I got mostly good feedback but I'm told I need more passion. It's just.... I find it so hard to get passionate about criminal law. How can I act indignant go all wrath-of-God on the defendant just like the TV attorneys when prosecuting a misdemeanor? In my opening, while paraphrasing what one person said, my mentor wants me to say, "f*ck you" right to the jury's faces. I've never said the f-word in open court before. That should be interesting, especially since I will be like seven months pregnant. And surprisingly, it takes much more practice than you would think. You know, I can't sound TOO comfortable doing it-- the jury will think I have a sailor's mouth.

Earlier this year, I got pulled into assisting on a major employment lawsuit. Dispositive motions have been filed. Settlement attempts have been made. It looks like we are really going to trial. My boss has asked me to help with the trial and casually (almost a little too-casually), she assigned me four witnesses to examine on the stand.

What's awesome about where I work is that people assume you can do your job and leave you to do it. They don't micromanage. They don't hold your hand. They don't nervously check over your shoulder. They delegate and then move on. It's like, "here, write this appellate brief and file it, I don't need to review it." Or, "draft this letter on behalf of such-and-such elected official." Or, "cross examine these witnesses at trial." It's so very awesome in such a very scary way.

It's a huge wake-up call to realize that most attorneys in this world are not experts. They are all learning as they go, just like me. I have just as good of a chance of succeeding on a project as they do. If I didn't jump in and craft something together by the seat of my pants, another attorney (even one more experienced) would probably do just that. So wait? There is no magic milestone in your legal career where you suddenly know how to do everything? Yikes.

But, like I said, litigation is my passion. And I'm so happy to have civil trials to work on. When I interviewed for my job, it was described to me as mostly contracts and public record disclosures. And truly, when I first started, I did a good deal of "general counsel" work. It was interesting. But it just wasn't litigation. I missed the drama, the slowly unfolding stories revealed during discovery, I missed being 100% involved in a case that progressed for nearly a year, with new twists and turns at every corner before the entire thing culminated in one climactic production (whether trial, or mediation, or arbitration, or dispositive motion, or settlement discussions).

Luckily, I had the opportunity to show my coworkers that my true legal skills lie in brief writing and civil motions/strategy. And ever since then, I've been sought after to help in all kinds of litigation projects. Right now, I'm in a perfect spot. I have no actual clients of my own. I'm just some kind of in house litigation consultant/contractor who gets asked to chime in and help almost exclusively on all things litigation.

As a result, in the past nine months, I've written three appellate briefs, countless dispositive motions, numerous memos on a vast range of legal topics, and have assisted in the trial preparation of two civil litigation cases. All without having to stress over managing my own caseload. It's perfect. Of course, this is only temporary. Either they will let me go when they don't need me anymore or they will hire me on permanently and load me up with my own clients. So for now, I'm soaking in my margarita pool and enjoying every single day, while also looking forward immensely to my imminent maternity leave...hurry up and get here already!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Kids Are Winning

On Father's day, I gathered Jacob and Ryan together and we called my dad with the speaker on.

Me: "Say Happy Father's Day to Grandpa!"
Jacob: "Happy Father's Day big butt brain."
Ryan: "Happy Fafer's Day stinky butt Gampa!"
Me: "No, that's not nice. Please talk nicely to Grandpa."
Jacob: "Ok, hi tooty-butt grandpa stink face."
Ryan: "Bad boy Gampa!"
Me: "If you can't talk nicely, I'm going to take away the phone. Tell Grandpa you love him."
Jacob: "I love you turtle buttface, robot footlicker."
Ryan: "lub you, chicken fart."

Yes, I had to take away the phone.


Today after work, the kids were coloring in the dining room while I was changing out of my work clothes. It got really quiet so I called out, "Hey, what are you guys doing?"

Jacob yelled back that he was coloring at the dining table. Ryan followed suit by exclaiming, "My color on the chair." Ok, I assumed he was sitting on the chair, coloring in his coloring book.


Should have known better.


Later this evening while I was putting the dishes away, I heard this lovely exchange between my husband and Jacob.

Husband [very angry, like usual]: "JACOB, did you PEE in the BATHTUB?!"
Jacob [sheepishly]: "No."
Husband: "Then why do I see PEE in the BATHTUB?"
Jacob: "Well, I peed in this cup and then dumped it into the bathtub."

Duh dad. DUH.


One of my least favorite things in the entire world is supervising the kids as they brush their teeth. When it's time to brush teeth, Jacob is suddenly the chattiest human on earth. He'll sit there with the toothbrush dangling lamely from his mouth as he gabs and gabs about the most useless shit imaginable. Before you know it, a two minute chore has eaten up fifteen minutes of my life.

Jacob [with toothbrush hanging from his mouth]: "Hey mom, tomorrow I'm going to use that empty box as a trash can for my room."
Me: "Ok, we'll talk about it later. Please brush your teeth."
Jacob: "Mom?"
Me: "No! No talking. Brush your teeth."
Jacob: "Just one thing, really quick!"
Me: "Quick!"
Jacob: "Well today, I was walking with Grandma and Ryan was riding his scooter and we were going to the park and Grandma let me have a grilled cheese sandwich and then I saw someone litter."
Me: "BRUSH."
Jacob: "Hey mom, my foot is bigger than Ryan's."
Me: "Great. Now brush."
Jacob: "Just one more thing. Remember at Chuck-E-Cheese that game that's your favorite? Well, when I went to Chuck-E-Cheese the other day, it was gone."
Me: "Brush."
Jacob: "Did you know our neighbor is growing lemons."
Me: "No she's not."
Jacob: "Then what are those yellow things in her tree."
Me: "Leaves."
Jacob: "Tomorrow, I'm going to build a gun out of my Legos and...."

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Chronic Internal Dialogue Of A Pregnant Woman

This is pretty much the conversation I have with myself 15 times each day:

"Oh man, I want [another slice of pizza] [some ice cream] [chips] [a donut]."

"But I don't NEED one."

"Have I had my extra 200 pregnancy calories yet for the day?"

"Ugh, I don't want to gain too much weight."

"What the hell. I'm going to gain weight no matter what I do. Might as well enjoy it."

"But I don't want to sabotage my future post-baby self."

"Eh, I've only gained 5 pounds so far, that's pretty good right? I have some wiggle room."

"But the second half is where all the weight comes on."

"But who really cares if I gain more this time around. There's no badge for staying within the recommended weight range. No certificate. No trophies. It's not a competition."

"But I'LL know."

"But why do I care?"

"I really want  [another slice of pizza] [some ice cream] [chips] [a donut], dang it!"

"I work hard. I deserve it."

"I'm pregnant for heaven's sake!"


The end result is always the same. It just takes a whole lot of internal dialogue to get there.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Adventures With Children

My kids are so much fun right now. They are definitely a handful but, oh man, they are so much fun. Even when they are frustrating me beyond belief, there is usually a smile hiding behind my repeated scoldings, commands, and instructions.

Jacob is strong willed and has a very intense notion of how things should be. I read a wonderful article a couple months ago about how to handle a "strong willed" child and it summed him up perfectly. Jacob isn't defiant or disobedient. He just has a very strong internal moral compass. He won't follow orders simply because he is being ordered around. He wants to do what he thinks is the right thing to do.

If I ask him to do something and he thinks that something else should happen or that things need to happen in a different order, he expresses his thoughts. It often comes across as back-talking or stubbornness, but I've come to appreciate this quality in him. He has a strong sense of right and wrong (even if it isn't quite accurate) and has a strong compulsion to follow his conscious. I'm learning to love his "defiance" as a sign of his moral intelligence and strength. I'm learning to explain things to him rather than demanding things of him. It's been helping a lot.

When he's not frustrating the crap out of us, Jacob is a fun mix of energy and creativity. I loved art as a kid and from the time Jacob was little, I encouraged him to draw and color and do art projects. But not until early this year has his interest in art really taken off. He carries around a little notebook and a colored pencil and will spend hours of free time drawing. Sometimes his art reflects a maturity above his own age. And sometimes, he draws robots peeing into a river. Boys will be boys.

Jacob and his caterpillar

These are the notes we have to leave for Grandma when we stay unattended at her house.
Jacob loves making new friends and naturally takes on the lead role. He craves being included with older kids but is more shy around them. Rather than asking to play, he will try to get their attention in less productive ways (e.g.: throwing pinecones until they notice and hoping someone will ask him to play). It breaks my heart when he doesn't get that invitation, but I stay out of it. I think a good lesson to learn as a child is that not everyone will be your friend and it's best to not hang out with those people who don't appreciate your friendship.

Camo Jacob

Jacob is a wonderful big brother and has recently become a lot more inclusive and friendly towards Ryan. He sometimes has a hard time sharing. He clearly knows what he is supposed to do but he will often, unprompted, justify his behavior to me to make it seem like Ryan got the better end of the deal.

Jacob mid-stomp

Ryan and Jacob are no longer just brothers, they've finally come to the phase where they are legitimate friends. They have a groove and know their roles. Mostly, that would be Jacob as the ringleader and Ryan as the mascot/sidekick. But Ryan loves being his role as sidekick and plays it well.

They often don't get a long but they really do enjoy being together and are (almost) always looking out for each other. Tonight, Ryan asked me for a granola bar and when I handed him one, he asked me, "have one for Jacob?" I gave him a second granola bar and he walked into the other room and handed it to Jacob proudly. It might have been the pregnancy hormones, but I seriously almost cried!

Ryan is at the PERFECT age. I absolute love everything about him right now. When I repeat a word he says, he laughs and exclaims, "don't coffee (copy) me!" He will often just bust out into giggles for no apparent reason and run around the house laughing. He is so full of joy and happiness that it is just such a pleasure to watch.

Lately, Ryan is trying to be a big kid while also trying to remain my baby. I can see that he struggles between these two roles. When he falls and gets hurt, he will run over to me and cry for literally two seconds before he is off and running to the next thing, injury completely forgotten. He hates to be left behind or left out of any of the big kid action. He is such a bruiser. He has bumps and scrapes and bruises all over his body because he doesn't understand that he is only half Jacob's size.

Dare devil.

At the end of each day, he loves to show me all his "owies" and he can tell me exactly how he got them all. "Mommy, see my owie? I fall off my scooter. Mommy, see my owie, I bonk my head on the slide." He talks so well but he still struggles with words and sentences when he is really excited. Sometimes he mixes up the order of his words and sometimes a word he is trying to say will come out totally unrecognizable. After a couple more tries he usually gets it though and he sounds like such a big kid. Where is my baby?!

Ryan is insanely athletic. He sure as heck didn't get it from me. I had no interested in any sports until I took up track and cross country in ninth grade (and even then my interest and skills were limited solely to putting one foot in front of the other). At the age of TWO, Ryan can dribble a basketball (or any bouncey ball for that matter). He can send a ball flying off a tee. He loves to play catch and shoot hoops. He can even throw a football, pointy end forward. His athletic ability at age two surpasses the athletic ability of five year old Jacob in many aspects. An athletic scholarship sure would be nice.

Ryan pouring water down Jacob's leg while Jacob hams it up.

While Jacob is overtly a trouble maker, Ryan chooses to stay in the background when he is up to no good. His most frequent phrases are "no I not!" or "bad boy Jacob!" or "look, a motorcycle!" or "I find an ant mom." This morning during our commute, I asked the kids what smelled so bad in the car and Ryan answered playfully without skipping a beat, "kitty cat pee in my carseat." He is also obsessed with monsters. If he can't find something, he tells me, "the monster take it," so matter-of-factly. Like....duh, mom.

Ryan using Jacob as a lounge chair in the grocery store.

Ryan takes his bat with him everywhere. In fact, the other day he threw a major tantrum when I refused to let him carry his bat from the carseat into the grocery store. I often find him sleeping like this:

These boys are the highlight of each day. From the time I lift my head from my pillow and see Ryan giggling at me from the spot on my floor that he reclaimed in the middle of the night, to after I tuck them in for bed and Jacob sneaks out of his room for his fifth "potty run" (which are really just excuses to give me extra goodnight hugs). These two little men own every part of me. I'm so happy that they call me mom.