Monday, April 30, 2007

Good Enough

Well my paper is turned in. It's not brilliant, it's not even scholarly- it's just 28 pages of "good enough". The "good enough" approach to school is new for me, and I have to admit I'm enjoying it. I had an epiphany during fall quarter this year- this the most control I'm going to have over my schedule until I retire. In a few years, when I'm surrounded by contracts and drowning in billables, I'm going to look back at law school and think "why the hell didn't I enjoy myself more?" I can leave the building at 2pm, I can go shopping, I can take a nap, I can watch Friends re-runs I've already seen a thousand times, I can even miss class- I have the freedom to do whatever I want with my day.

And I can do that because I've finally reached a point on the prestige train where I'm getting off. I don't want or need law review. I don't want or need a clerkship. I just want and need to graduate. I hope to enjoy law school until then and I always read and brief the cases before class (yes, I still do that), but I have a great job at a firm I think I'm going to love, in a city I know I love. I can finally let go. I spent high school getting A's and climbing to the top of my class rank. I spent college getting A's and getting into top law schools. Now, I'm realizing that I don't have to get all A's. (Well, it's not so much that I don't have to, it's that I'm in a whole new pool of much smarter fish and I can't get all A's.)

It feels weird to step off the path of prestige. I do have random (and blessedly brief) moments of worry that I'll regret not taking advantage of every opportunity available in law school to do more and be more. The writing competition for law review was the first time I've ever not sought to be recognized as the top. The day it was due I had a panic attack thinking that "oh my god, I should have done that and now it's too late," but it went away and I can honestly say I don't envy those who made it. A lot of them want things in their career that require law review on their resume, and some of them even enjoyed the work, but I don't, and I wouldn't, and it felt good to realize that and step away.

A good friend of mine goes to another prestigious law school and is doing very prestigious things while there and after graduation. We went to the same high school and were one spot apart in class rank- now I'm smack in the middle of mediocrity and he's at the (very) top of his class. We were talking over IM the other day and he asked me what it's like to not have that need to be at the top anymore. At first I wasn't sure how to answer- I'm not a slacker and I'm proud of what I've accomplished (and continue to accomplish)- but I ultimately said it felt great. And it does.

I have a new goals and a new definition of success. We're starting our family and I can't wait to spend time with our son. I love that JP and I now have so much time together we feel like we can just waste it in each other's presence. I love that I can spend a whole afternoon looking at baby announcements or bedding sets and not feel guilty. I love that I don't feel a crushing weight of stress about not doing enough- never doing enough- studying or exam prep. I still work hard, I still go to class, I still do the reading, and I still care about my grades- I'm just honestly satisfied when they're only "good enough".

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Posting from the Gym

I'm waiting in the gym lobby for JP to finish up his ridiculously long workout. He was mad that I cut him down from 3 hours to 2 (I've got to eat, which requires a stop at the grocery store, and I'm not missing my sunday night shows!). We have very different views of working out. I do it because it's good for you and I don't hate it. JP does it because he loves it- six hours at the gym is an afternoon well spent. I can't say I don't appreciate the benefits of a husband who can bench 300 pounds (he has a hot swimmer body and can carry a 91 lb. crib box up four flights of stairs when the elevator is broken), but I'd rather be home right now instead of waiting for him to finish up whatever he's doing in there.

Today has been a productive (and gorgeous) day. JP had to go in to the office so I decided to make the trek out to the suburbs with him. I worked on the PAPER, he played with a fancy spread sheet, and we took a nice lunch break together and ate outside. After work time was over, I dragged him to the suburb's mall for a few errands. I love shopping outside along State St. and Michigan Ave., but when you've got a lot of little things to do, nothing beats a mall for convenience. I found earrings for prom, a cute summer sun dress, another work shirt, earrings that I've been searching for forever to match a necklace I love, and a delicious bubble tea. I even managed to drag JP into Babies R Us to look at a few of the items I had recently added online. He pretended to be miserable, but I saw the happiness in his eye when he added three new bathtub toys to our registry.

So I feel a little bad that I'm sitting in the gym lobby in my gym clothes and the only calories I'm burning are from my fingers hitting the keys. I did some weights and some cardio and decided to call it a day. If there's ever a time to take it easy, it's when you're six months pregnant- right?

Friday, April 27, 2007

An "Ugh" of a Day

I waited in the apartment ALL day for FedEx to deliver a crib (JP's mom recently ordered it off our registry) that has been trying to make its way to our apartment for two weeks. First they thought we were a business address instead of residential (not sure why that would matter so much, but apparently the truck driver wouldn't deliver when he got to our building), then they had the wrong apartment number, then they had a wrong phone number, and then finally, after many many phone calls, they promised it would be delivered today. I skipped my class and stayed home. At 11:30 I got a phone call from a woman at FedEx and she told me the truck driver didn't want to leave the box at our door (its a big 91 lb. box) so he left it at the shipping center. I'm sorry, WHAT?! Perhaps they should have called before the driver left to see if I would be home- then they wouldn't have to worry about leaving the box. She asked if I would stay home Monday too and I said no, that crib needs to come here today. I'm happy to report that after talking to a few other FedEx employees higher up the ladder, the crib was just delivered at 8:45pm. The battle with FedEx over the crib is won.

While forced to stay in the apartment I worked on my paper. It was enormously depressing. I have 27 pages (25 is the requirement), but it's really not good. There's a whole section (sadly, one of the best ones) that is definitely a tangent- I just can't bear to delete it. So my paper has a bit of an identity crisis.

Now I'm watching "An Inconvenient Truth" with JP. It seems a fitting movie to top off my rather frustrating and depressing day. It's a very good documentary, but its depressing (1) to see how much damage we've done to the earth and how much the government has refused to acknowledge it and (2) to think about how different things might be if someone with actual experience and competence had won the 2000 election.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

25 weeks, 20 pounds, and 21 pages

Today I start week 26 of my pregnancy. JP felt the baby move last night for the first time- his first response was "weird!" but I know he was quite tickled by the experience. He kept his hand on my belly all night and this morning. I really need to come up with either a utero name or an official blog name for the baby. We've already named him and call him by name whenever we talk about him, but I'm not sure I'm going to use it on the blog. I'm getting tired of typing "the baby".

This morning when I stepped on the scale it informed me that I have gained 20 lbs. That's a lot! It's not that its so much for where I am in my pregnancy, it's just a lot of weight in general (picture two 10-lb hand weights at the gym). The poundage is still rapidly increasing, but I'm hoping it will start to taper off soon (back to 1 lb. a week rather than 2-2.5 lbs a week). My constant hunger has become irritating- it gets in the way of my productive studying time. It's a rare and exciting occasion when I am in the zone and getting through my reading assignments without internet-surfing breaks. Now whenever that happens, I am invariably Starving twenty minutes later and need to find food. Since our law school food sucks, I have to roam all around campus in search of nourishment- or I just go home where I am less productive, but have a fridge and pantry only a few feet away. On Tuesday I was stood outside the closed doors of an undergraduate dining hall until they opened at 4:45pm (my new dinner time)- I was the first one in!

The PAPER is slowing getting done- 21 of the required 25 pages are filled in. I can't even say "written" because it doesn't deserve such high praise. I should be embarrassed to turn it in, but it's submitted by email and I really don't care a whole lot about the class or topic. Of course the weather this weekend is supposed to be gorgeous- I'm determined not to spend all of it in the library. The paper is due Monday (not sure what time- does that mean before midnight? before 5pm? no idea.) and I'm hoping to have it done Saturday so I can play (shop) on Sunday. I need to find the perfect pair of earrings for my prom dress and Michigan Avenue will be calling to me on Sunday when its 70 degrees and sunny.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Breastfeeding v. Formula Debate, Part 2

I've blogged on this topic before. I shouldn't be calling it a "debate" because my whole point is that I don't think it should be one at all. Breastfeeding is great for the baby, I completely agree, I just don't think its EVERYTHING for the baby. I received 19 comments on that post (that's a Lot for me). Most of them were supportive or simply gave their reasons why they did what they did. Some wanted to know more about why I had such a gut reaction against breastfeeding, I suppose to make sure my reasons could stack up against all the evidence of breastfeeding's positive effects. Others reported on how it helped you lose weight faster (definitely a benefit, but that can't be the reason other people seem to think you're committing some form of child abuse by feeding your baby formula). And finally, a few commented on the link between breastfeeding and childhood obesity.

Personally I didn't believe that breastfeeding had any effect on obesity. Much like "links" between breastfeeding and intelligence, I think it's almost impossible to conduct a study that accounts for all the environmental and social variables involved. Babies don't learn satiety through breastfeeding (and how would that be different from a bottle? there's a milk supply in front of them and they have to decide when they've had enough), they're born knowing when they are hungry or full. Toddlers and children just learn how to eat past the point of fullness and how delicious high-calorie, less-filling foods can be.

this article appeared on The Harvard study involved nearly 14,500 women who were breast-fed as infants and more than 21,000 who were not and found no link between adult obesity and breastfeeding. It is the largest study to date on the relationship between the two. A few quotes that stood out to me:
  • "I'm the first to say breast-feeding is good. But I don't think it's the solution to reducing childhood or adult obesity," said the study's lead author, Karin Michels of Harvard Medical School.
  • "It would be remarkable to find a behavior that you engage in for one year of life and see detectable effects from it 40 years later," said Grummer-Strawn, chief of the CDC's maternal and child nutrition branch.
  • Good or bad eating and exercise habits, developed later in life, may sustain or erase initial weight-related benefits from breast-feeding, he and other experts said. Of course, that doesn't take away the other benefits of breast-feeding, such as building a child's immunity to disease.

So there could be all kinds of things wrong with this study, it was just nice to see an article stating that perhaps how you raise your baby is more important than the method with which you initially deliver milk to him or her and acknowledging that your chosen milk delivery system is unlikely to have "detectable effects" 40 years later. Breastfeeding has some immediate benefits such as helping to build a baby's immune system (as the article mentions), but claiming that it affects a baby forever irritates me. If you already want to breastfeed that's fantastic, you probably don't need more articles telling you how great it is (and what a better mother you are for doing it). If you don't want to, or are physically unable to, such grandiose claims only make you feel defensive, guilty, or like a failure.

Side note: So far the most interesting thing about being pregnant, besides watching my body change with frightening speed, has been how many people (strangers!) have opinions about my personal choices. I've planned innumerable blog articles in my head complaining about this phenomenon but they never end up getting written. I think this is partly because it's hard to complain about people challenging my decisions without challenging other people's decisions myself. For example, it really pisses me off when people insinuate getting an epidural is "wimping out". I have absolutely no interest in a natural child birth- there is safe pain medicine available and I want it. However, I don't think people who choose to have a natural birth are "crazy" and I think its great they're sticking to something they believe in. Its hard to write a post yelling at people who think I should have a natural birth without insulting those who choose to go that route. Basically I just wish people (and by people, I pretty much mean women) would leave other pregnant women alone. Encouragement, stories, general open-minded opinions are all welcome, but questions where the asker has a definite "right" answer in mind are not.

P.S. (oh yes lucky reader, you get a side note and a P.S.) I forgot to mention that I got a few emails after I wrote the original breastfeeding post from women who formula fed. I thought it was interesting that they were the only ones who didn't feel comfortable posting where everyone could see. Anyway, one of them wrote about how she had to send her husband to buy the formula after a cashier at Target gave her a hard time about not giving her baby "the best". Argh!

Feeling Like a Grown-Up

JP and I started looking at life insurance documents last night. There's nothing more fun that going over charts to see how much who gets if the other dies. It's kind of awful and complicated and I'd rather just not deal with it. How do you know what policy to get? There are so many and each has different implications for the present and future- some can apparently be really good investments (am I investing in JP's and my longevity? I'm really not sure). Whenever we get out the papers I feel an urge to call my dad and have him explain it to me, but he must have figured it out by himself somehow. I know for a fact he and my mom were just as clueless as JP and I are when they had me (if not more so judging by the stories...).

We're also figuring out guardianship of the baby should both of us die (lovely thought) and getting a will written. I'm quite practical and planning for our premature deaths doesn't bother me on an emotional level, its just making me feel too grown-up-ish.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Batman Comes to My Street

On Sunday when JP and I were walking back from the aquarium, we noticed that the abandoned post office building on Van Buren St. had been spruced up on one end and now had "Gotham National Bank" in shiny letters on the front. It turns out the Batman sequel "The Dark Knight" will be shooting a few scenes in Chicago starting Wednesday! This is literally 2 blocks from our apartment! There were lots of movie trailers parked around the building on sunday- maybe we'll see someone famous.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Day Off

So after working for 8 hours in the library (or, more accurately, after spending 8 hours in the library doing work some of the time), I felt that I deserved a day off. JP and I went to brunch at our very favorite place in South Loop (Bongo Room) and then walked over to the Shedd Aquarium. It was another beautiful day and the walk through Grant Park over to the water is always lovely. We had never been to the aquarium and had been giving admission to it back and forth as a "gift" for several holidays, most recently my birthday (something about getting married and sharing the same credit card makes buying expensive gifts not nearly so fun).

The aquarium was Amazing! If you're ever in the city and need a way to spend a few hours indoors, this is a great option- regular admission is only $8 and the exhibits we found the most fun were included in that. The "Wild Reef" and "Komodo Dragon" exhibits were included in our extra special ticket price and while they were neat, you could have a great experience without them. The dolphin show great fun- something about dolphins splashing around in the water is always entertaining. JP and I both thought about dropping our future careers and becoming dolphin trainers- we have the swimming background, we just need a few classes in zoology and marine biology.

I've been trying to figure out why I like aquariums so much more than zoos and I think it's because the fish don't seem sad that they're in a cage and they're so active. Most of my time at a zoo is spent trying to find the animal and then staring at it stare back at me. I end up feeling guilty for supporting its imprisonment and wonder what it would be doing if it was roaming free in the wild. The fish are in Huge tanks (at least at Shedd) and it doesn't appear that life is much different for them. (I could be wrong and they could all be like Nemo trying to escape but I don't feel the same level of guilt looking at them.) We walked back to our apartment- across Millennium park and through downtown. I thought about how much I love this city and how much I'll miss it. It was 80 degrees out and I tried to imagine what 100 degrees felt like (a typical Texas summer day). I couldn't remember and thought that 80 was plenty warm- being 8 months pregnant in Austin this summer is going to be all kinds of fun.

Now I'm back at the apartment pretending to work on my paper while internet shopping for gold heels for prom. I have complete faith that my paper will be written by the 30th, but I'm beginning to get a little concerned with my lack of concern about actually writing it. Why am I so sure it will get done? And how will it get done while I peruse Hmmm, these are cute aren't they?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Trapped in the Library

It is gorgeous outside. 75 degrees, blue skies, and a light breeze. I am inside a slightly chilly, incredibly ugly library, gazing out the window at people walking by.

Stupid, stupid paper.*

*or, stupid, stupid me for waiting until the spring weather arrived to finally start researching and writing it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

24 Week Check-Up

I spent the last 5 hours in beautiful downtown Chicago- the weather is gorgeous with bright blue skies and 65 degree temperatures. I truly love this city- on days like this I wonder how I can even think of leaving. (Then on days when it snows in early October or April I remember why Texas sounds pretty good.) I walked about 7 miles running errands, going to the doctor, and meeting a friend for lunch- it felt good to use my legs!

My midwife appointment went great. My weight is right on track (or maybe 3 lbs. over), my blood pressure is perfect, and the little guy's heartbeat is still a strong whoosh-whoosh. I really like my OB/midwife practice- they always see me right on time and everyone I've dealt with has been warm, open, and competent. Hopefully that impression will continue up through the labor and delivery phase!

I met a friend for lunch- she's a 1L at another Chicago law school and is planning to start a family with her husband next year (basically the exact same timing as me). She talks just like I did a year ago- so excited about making the decision and impatient about wanting to start trying, while savoring the freedom and alcohol drinking. JP and I were ready months before we could actually start trying- I've had a Target baby registry since March 2006 ;) I found I was more impatient then than I am now- waiting to try, then waiting to test, then waiting to try again. Those months went by so slowly! Once I had the two pink lines I could just sit back, eat pizza, and wait for the baby to grow. I'm sure I'll get impatient as it gets closer to the due date, but for now I'm surprised at how quickly time is going by on its own. Little things like law school keep me busy.

Almost all my shopping today consisted of returns (I feel so financially virtuous) and the purchase of a very cute sundress for my baby shower ($19.99 marked down from $58!). All in all it has been a lovely day. If only I didn't have this PAPER looming over my shoulder. I'm dedicating Saturday to working on it and then Sunday JP and I are going to the aquarium to look at the fishes. After all, I'm a 2L, I can't let any assignment take up an entire weekend, even if it is due in 10 days and I haven't really started.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Collection of Thoughts

I've had a lot of thoughts after the Virginia Tech tragedy (I can't call it a massacre, though it might be adequately described as such, because it makes me too sad). I'm not sure how to write them coherently, but I realized its important to me to write them down, so I'm reverting to bullet points.

  • Just starting on the path to becoming parents has changed the way JP and I look at, and react to, events. When talking about the tragedy on Monday night JP commented that "66 parents lost their child" and that affected both of us so much more than thinking of those who lost a friend or classmate (the perspective we would normally have). There is already such a primal, innate feeling of protectiveness toward our baby, a certainty that we care more about him than we could ever care about ourselves, that to think of parents losing their (grown up) babies rendered both of us unable to expand on our thoughts any further.
  • Annoyance at the media. This is hard to sort out because I'm part of the problem- I've clicked on all the new stories as they've emerged in some effort to understand what occurred. We did turn off the CNN news coverage after a few minutes because watching reporters try to interview students seemed wrong and exploitative. I'm torn between annoyance that people are already moving on and annoyance that the media won't let go. On the one hand its essential to be able to pause, remember, and continue with your life, but to see headlines about American Idol next to Virginia Tech bothers me.
  • Anger at guns. I hate guns and I think they should be illegal. Second Amendment be damned, its how I feel and I really think that read properly that Amendment is about a well-armed citizen militia that we no longer need. I'm not going to use the tragedy to argue against them (I think the high gun deaths in the US do a fine job of that already), but I'm outraged that the NRA lobby immediately used it to defend guns. A quote from an msn article I no longer have the link to: "Lobbyist Neal Boortz went so far as to argue that if the Virginia General Assembly had passed House Bill 1572, allowing college students and employees to carry handguns on campus, the massacre could have been avoided." This makes me want to scream- more guns will not Ever lead to less killing.
  • Lack of understanding at the school's response. I know that anyone involved in the events at Tech cares very much about the lives of their students and will probably always question whether they did the right thing no matter how "right" their response is found to be, so I'm not calling for an inquisition. But I am interested in understanding why there was no email after the first shooting. I know officials thought the initial double homicide was an isolated, domestic violence event and that the killer had fled, but I feel that until the gunman is actually in custody, there's an obligation to notify those living on campus that a killer is at large. I would have wanted to know that before leaving my dorm to go to a 9am class. I hope there is an investigation for the purposes of understanding how best to respond to future events (that will hopefully never occur), while avoiding a public cry for "accountability" that leads to pointless dismissals.
  • That it's all just sad. A close family friend's daughter is a freshman at Virginia Tech and the mother’s email is heartbreaking. “[She] lost a close friend and intramural basketball teammate... [She] was in the architecture building next door to Norris Hall and saw the swat teams go in and could hear the gunfire. It is way more than any 19 year old should have to witness and endure.” The scars from this event will take a long time to heal and will never fully go away.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Perspective on a Bad Day

I had a bad day- for lots of reasons. Then there was the tragic, horrible news of Virginia Tech- my heart goes out so much to those students, parents, friends, family, etc. affected. I can't even write anything else about it, my heart feels too heavy.

My day sucked, but I get to try again tomorrow.

Suddenly Drowning in Assignments

Ack! I've never had an assignment due during the quarter (well, except for the legal research & writing memo and brief last year, but those were the finals for that class) and suddenly I have lots of them. As stressful and crappy as finals are, I think I prefer a horrible week full of exams over a quarter full of assignments. I'm much better under pressure and I like being able to walk out of the classroom and forget about the class.

Last night I had a 5-page response paper due in Religion. My actual response was about 1 page, so it took a while to think of 4 more pages worth of thoughts. I finished it Thursday and then completely forgot about it- I remembered at 10pm, 4 hours after the due date, and sent the professor a panicked email. I haven't heard back, so hopefully its okay. Sunday after 6pm is JP and my dinner/sunday night show time and school is the last thing on my mind. I have an "ego surfing assignment" due tomorrow for my cyber law seminar- we have to search ourselves and our professor and come up with all kinds of information about her. I consider myself fairly internet savvy but so far I've only found one thing on her list. It's all hard stuff like her siblings names, ages, and locations, a picture of her residence (after you find out her address), one of her hobbies, etc. This info is surprisingly hard to find! I found a lot on myself- including lots of old swimming articles, times, awards, etc. It was kind of fun to read them again. I'm also in a one week long financial accounting class that begins next week and we have a 150+ page reading assignment to do for the first day. I may be dropping that class- I don't really want to read 150 pages and complete a long written assignment right now. My SUBSTANTIAL PAPER is due April 30 and its probably not the best idea to have 10 extra hours of a new class (and the accompanying daily assignments) the week before the due date... Speaking of the PAPER (its in all caps because its scary and I've started having nightmares about it), I worked on it all day saturday and have 5 worthless pages written. I have collected quite a bit more research and have a slightly better clue of what I'm going to write about, but I'm not sure its possible to get it done in two weeks. Especially since I have all these other classes and assignments to deal with...

Ugh. I just want to play with my baby registry.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lilly's Big Adventure

I realized I haven't written much about our cat and first child Lilly. That's probably because I started blogging right about the time I found out I was pregnant and the upcoming baby is more exciting than the cat we've had for three years. (I can foresee some jealousy issues on Lilly's behalf when the baby comes home). Anyway, Lilly was found abandoned in a box on 6th Street (the bar-filled party street in Austin) my junior year in college. I begged my parents for extra money so I could have her vaccinated and spayed and being the big animal lovers they are, they put a check in the mail. She weighed less than half a pound and I had to bottle feed her special formula- now she's a hefty 13 lbs. with a tummy that wobbles back and forth when she trots around the apartment. She's a weird cat who fears no one and takes an unusual interest in the people that visit our apartment- she usually stands up on her back 2 legs to check them out.

Her recent love is my pregnancy clothes with all their ties in the back (did you know that Every maternity top ties in the back?). Because sitting up against a knot all day gets uncomfortable, I usually untie my shirts when I'm sitting down. I almost always forget to re-tie them and Lilly comes at me in full attack mode when I get up to do something in the apartment. She loves lying on her back in my closet batting at all the ties coming off my shirts. Seeing as this is the only exercise she gets all day I don't really mind. In fact, she'd come in quite handy at school because I end up walking to classes with strings hanging off the back of my shirt and no one tells me. However, given her most recent dinner party experience, she's better off at home.

Anyway- the point of this post- this morning I opened our front door to take out the trash and Lilly, who normally shows no interest in the world beyond our apartment, took off through my legs at full speed. I haven't seen her run that fast in over a year. I think she had been planning this escape for months and this morning was Her Morning. She galloped out, tummy swaying, to the main hallway, turned the corner and headed to the far side. I chased after her and when I cornered her, her tail got pooffy, all her fur stood on end, and she dashed between my legs. This was her one big chance at freedom and she was not going down easily. Then some people she'd never seen before opened their front door. That scared the crap out of her- her tail got bigger, her ears flattened against the side of her head, and she took off back in the direction of our apartment. She ran through the open door, jumped on the couch, curled up in a ball, looked around with a look of triumph, and then proceeded to thoroughly clean her feet.

I have a feeling that this was the most exciting day of her life.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Perfect Diaper Bag

I finally wrote something about law school today and here I am going right back to baby stuff. I have an excuse though- both of my favorite bags (I peruse online stores during class) are on sale and I'm trying to decide if I should buy one now. I am fascinated by diaper bags- I love all fashion accessories and this one will be my constant companion starting in August.

I've been semi-obsessed with this one by Fanci-Free ever since Urban Baby Daily featured it in one of their emails in December. All the reviews I've found on it are very positive, but it is more than I thought I'd be spending. (This would be a summer purchase while I'm on a law firm's payroll.) However, today I saw its 20% off on I've never seen it on sale, which makes me think this is some sort of sign telling me to get out my credit card.

But I found this one in a babycenter email (the content of my inbox has changed so much over the past few months). It looks smaller, but the measurements are 18" x 6" x 13". I like how the Fanci Free bag has a light printed inside, I think it's easier to find stuff, but this bag is quite chic looking for something that's waterproof and will be filled with diapers and bottles.

So for those of you who have been there, are there, or have friends who are there, do you have any thoughts? I want something that looks cute but is very functional. I'd be using this to take the baby to daycare and then during the afternoons, evenings, and weekends when we're hanging out together. How much room does a proper diaper bag need to have? Anything to avoid or that sounds cool but ended up being totally worthless?

Admitted Student Weekend

2 years ago I took my first ever trip to the fabulous city of Chicago for admitted student weekend. I had an amazing time- I'm still good friends with my host, I met some of my best 2L friends, I fell in love with the city, and I fell in like with the law school. Despite never laying eyes on the city or the school, I'd already committed to coming here because JP had been transferred to Chicago and the situation worked out so well for both of us. I believed all the stuff they told us about the accessibility of famous professors (true), the benefits of the quarter system (false), that Chicago's "rigorous" reputation is overrated (false), and how easy it is to get a job regardless of your grades (pretty true). I love the city of Chicago far more than I love my law school and because of that I wouldn't change my decision- this move was the right thing at the right time for both JP and I.

So this weekend I'm a day host for two admitted students. I'm a pretty honest one- I think this school is perfect for a very particular group of people, great for lots of others, and wrong for a few. When they ask me how hard I worked 1L year, I'll tell the truth- but I also know that any numbers I give them won't mean anything until they're actually doing it. When my host told me he studied 15 hours a day before winter quarter finals, I thought things like "well, I never study as much as other people" or "okay, I can do that" - but until I actually was living in the library watching life pass me by, those numbers had no real effect on me. I'm sure it'll be the same way with my admits- like any challenge, you can't understand it until you're going through it (I would imagine this applies to thinks like childbirth and taking care of a newborn as well ;)

We did get Gorgeous weather today- Chicago should try to impress visitors more often.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

An Avalanche of Poundage

So I've been keeping track of my weight gain on an excel chart. I'm a little OCD and adore Excel and the chart has been quite useful- each cell is a day, organized by week, so I always know how many weeks/days pregnant I am or will be. When I find out a friend is getting married June 16, and I'm a bridesmaid, I can immediately look and see how pregnant I'll be (32 weeks and 3 days). I've also been writing little milestones on the days they occur- first time we saw him, first time we heard his heart beat, first time I felt him move, etc- and those will eventually end up in his baby book. The up and down side of such a chart is that I can see exactly how my weight has been gained, and that's the issue that is starting to disturb me a bit. (I say a "bit" because I'm eating mostly healthy things, am enjoying only the occasional cupcake indulgence, and I'm not going to get in the way of this weight gain process- its just an interesting progression).

For the entire first trimester I actually lost 3 lbs. It turns out that eating macaroni & cheese and pizza continuously throughout the day is a type of diet- who knew? Now I feel like I'm back to my regular eating habits and it doesn't seem like I'm eating much more than usual, and yet I've been gaining 2 lbs. a week the last month or so! Last week was 2.5! That seems like a lot. So overall I've gained 15 lbs. That seems perfect- I'm a little over halfway there and you're supposed to gain between 25 and 35 lbs. But when you look at when I gained it, those first 13 weeks barely count, so if I continue on this path, I'll be quite a lot over 35 lbs.

Did other people have a really rapid spurt of weight gain in the 2nd trimester and then calm down? It's not so much the weight gain itself that's bothering me, its the rapid rise of it- there's no way I can gain 2 lbs. a week for the next 17 weeks. (I started this whole process at my ideal weight.) I was reading through some of the yahoo message boards but quickly got irritated with the women who responded, "I only gained 4.5 lbs. the entire time I was pregnant". Hmmm, how nice for you , and yet that's not such a helpful answer. As a side note, the little guy is getting more active and I'm hoping JP can feel him soon. I've noticed his hand touches my stomach more, like he's hoping to feel him move, but doesn't want to be obvious about it- it's quite endearing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Random Baby/Pregnancy Update

First off, I would like to apologize to those who read this because its supposed to be about law school. If I had started a blog last year it would have been ALL about law school, and it also would have been dark, gloomy, and depressing and might have scared 0L's away from law school (or at least this one). Anyway, the truth is that 2L year, while still quite hard and time consuming, is just not as ALL-consuming as 1L was. I've accepted the randomness of grading, I read cases faster and take better notes, and I don't have any double-quarter classes to cause my stress/depression levels to sky rocket. This quarter I finally picked classes that sounded interesting and really just aren't that hard, so now I can focus on what, to me, is the far more fascinating part of my life- being pregnant.

And on that note- I really look pregnant now. There are still a few tops that make me fall into the ambiguous category of pudgy v. pregnant, but any maternity top will make my baby belly quite apparent. It still surprises me when I look down in the shower and just see it there- blocking half the view of my feet. I find it very odd that it's attached to me. I've gained 13 lbs., pretty much all in my belly-region, although I swear my face is plumper. JP denies this, but that's probably out of self-preservation rather than "truthiness". I've been going to the gym several days a week and feel SO much better about myself. I walk on the treadmill or do the elliptical and lift some arm weights. Before now, I never went to the gym unless I had at least an hour to spend there because a 30-minute workout just didn't seem worth it (lots of bad logic there, but it was true). Now, 30 minutes is perfect, so I've been going much more often. There's no pressure to get a "great" workout in- I just want to use my legs and arms and feel like I still have some control over my body's appearance.

Speaking of legs and appearance... I read about how your legs can swell while pregnant and now I've seen it. I spent several hours sitting at my desk on Saturday and when I sat down on the couch afterward my legs were HUGE. They looked like giant sausages- all the way down to my feet. It was very distressing- I've never seen them look like that and I'd rather not see it again. I'm now trying to be more mobile while "studying" (looking at birth announcements on the internet)- if I drink as much water as I'm supposed to, the frequent bathroom breaks seem to do the trick.

Law school prom is coming up May 5, so I'm searching for a maternity prom dress. Did you know there are entire websites dedicated to this purpose (and even more for maternity wedding dresses)? I've found two dresses that I love at Nordstrom, they're due to arrive any day now, and I can't wait to try them on. I also have a formal wedding to attend in May, so I can wear it at least two times. I was surprised JP wanted to go to prom after my drunken-throw-up-in-the-cab-all-over-his-lap fiasco last year, but he decided that pregnancy will protect me from the perils of the open bar and he secretly loves getting dressed up and dancing.

May looks like it will be a very fun, very crazy month. I just have to get through April, with its snow and 30-page papers.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter

Easter is a big holiday in our family, not quite Christmas-big, but pretty close. We always went to Good Friday service, which is my favorite church service. I love the solemnity of it and how it completes the whole Easter story. The church was always draped in black and at the end of service the lights would slowly dim, the pastor would read about the tomb closing, and we'd all walk out in silence. On Easter morning the church would be covered in white and flowers and everything would be so bright and celebratory.

When we woke up that morning (well really, when I woke up, because I always woke up first and then roused my brother and sister) we'd call to mom and dad and let them know we were coming down. We each had an Easter basket that my dad would hide somewhere downstairs. Looking back, its kind of incredible that it took us more than 5 minutes to find them because the baskets were not exactly small, they were full of stuff, there were only 3 rooms they could be in, and we've lived in the same house since 1988- and yet they always took a while to find- my dad is tricky, and I think we all wanted the fun to last longer. Each year we got a swim suit, a few summer tops, flip flops, candy, and my brother got a squirt gun. We'd put on our Easter dresses, go to church, get doughnuts on the way home, and then have a big Easter breakfast. In the afternoon we'd go to an Easter pool party (this is Texas) at someone's house in our Care Group. (A Care Group is a group of families from our church, the adults had Bible study ever other week and we all had holiday parties and camping trips together- we're all still really close.) We splashed, ate, egg hunted, and played. It was always such a wonderful weekend. I talked to my parents this morning and my sister and brother (now 21 and 18) still hunted for their hidden Easter baskets before church :)

Last year, my first Easter away from home, I spent the whole day in the library working on our 1L appellate brief. Today, JP and I made a gourmet breakfast (I consider it gourmet because we used all our pans, but it was pretty simple fare), and then I went to the library. Next year, I'm planning to put bunny ears on our son, go to church, have a mini Easter basket hunt, take lots of pictures, and Not go to the library!

Childcare Quest, Part 2

JP ended up leaving work early yesterday, so he was able to come to the two daycare appointments with me. I was actually kind of surprised that he wanted to come, but he's taking this whole fatherhood thing quite seriously :) I had my notepad of questions, pen ready, and just screamed "first-time mother".

The first provider was "fine". She seemed very nice, obviously enjoyed children, and the kids there seemed happy and comfortable with her, but there were too many of them for our liking and it was all just a little unorganized and messy and dark and... I'm not even sure, but it just wasn't right for us. The second one we loved. The woman was very nice, spoke barely-accented English (it was extremely hard for me to understand the first provider, I don't think perfect English is necessary for an infant- I care more about other characteristics, but I need to be able to understand her on the phone and in person), and her apartment had a very warm, inviting feel. She has four babies/toddlers right now- one is leaving in August, so she'll have a spot open for us. Our baby would be the only infant with the next oldest 13 months. Each parent provides their own playard for the baby/toddler to sleep in (I like that) and she has a quasi-schedule for the kids with different activities each day. There were two still waiting to be picked up when we arrived and they were both very happy, smiley, and obviously comfortable with her. All of the parents who use her are graduate students and she had Excellent recommendations (I called them all- one started her daughter there at 6-weeks, our son will be 7-weeks, so it was nice to know another parent was so happy with her when their baby was so young).

So I don't think we're looking around any more. I really really liked the second provider and think I will feel comfortable leaving our son in her care while I'm in class (whether or not I cry on my way to school that first day anyway is a whole other issue). A dad came to pick up his toddler while we were in the hallway walking up to her door, and we heard her tell the dad all about what his son did that day, how much he ate, how much he slept, etc. and the little boy gave very cheerful waves goodbye and "see you tomorrows" as they were leaving. I just had a good feeling about everything there.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Childcare Quest

This is the beginning of April and I don't need childcare until our classes begin at the very end of September, but this afternoon I am interviewing two in-home daycares. This seems very early, but turns out I'm just barely on schedule- according to some, I'm even behind. The quest for childcare is a rigorous one.

JP and I have decided on a small, in-home daycare (sometimes called family daycare) for our son when I start my 3L year. I didn't want to use a bigger, fancier daycare with an infant because they just felt too institutional- I want him to get more attention from the caregiver and not spend so much time hanging out in a crib. The toddlers and older children at those centers seemed to be having a great time, so I could see us using one when our baby gets older. JP was in daycare for most of elementary school and Loved it- he has very fond memories of going there. I also didn't want a nanny to come to our apartment because I'm just not comfortable with that yet- our baby can't talk to me and tell me how the nanny is, so I feel more comfortable in an environment with other babies and toddlers and other parents coming and going (especially with graduate students- their pick ups and drop offs are all throughout the day). I think a nanny is a great option, if you can afford it, when you have more than one child and will be gone all day. It would be nice to come home after work to a house that's been "lived in" while you were gone (and maybe even some of the kid-related chores done!). I also like the idea of my kids being able to come home after school and do all the normal things like go to friend's houses, go to their activities, and just play and relax in their own house. So by the time we have more kids, and they're in school, I can definitely see us going the nanny route. I visualize a progression from in-home daycare with an infant, to a slightly bigger daycare with our toddler (UT has a wonderful one that we're hoping to use while JP is in grad school), and then eventually to a nanny in our home. I'm sure there will be changes along the way, but that's my general view of our childcare future for now. JP's new plan is to own and operate a ranch outside Austin (seriously), so who knows, maybe he'll be home with the kids (and horses and cows) and we won't need childcare at all!

So anyway- I have interviews with 2 caregivers this afternoon in Hyde Park. Both names have come to me highly recommended from other graduate student parents at UC. I'll post about how they go and what I took away from them. I'd be happy to hear other people's comments about childcare experiences and whether they agree with what I felt were positive and negative aspects of each option. I'm really glad that I get to do this first while in grad school- I'm not dropping off my baby for an entire day or an entire week. I'll have a light class schedule next year and while I'm hoping to stay on campus for a little while and study (I know I won't get it done at home- I can't get anything done at home now!), I can always leave and pick him up if I miss him :) Also, JP is planning to stay home starting in January, so we won't need any childcare from January until August when he goes back to school. I think this will be a good, initially temporary way to adjust to childcare for all of us.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

My Own Little (Virtual) Community

I was just reading through the excellent comments and advice I received on my last post (thank you all!), and the thought occurred to me that I don't actually know any of you.

When I was growing up in my picture-perfect suburb outside Houston, Texas, all the moms on our block would sit on lawn chairs at the end of a driveway, drinking a glass of wine in the late afternoon, and watch us kids play. I imagine they talked about babies, and sleeping, and feeding, and all sorts of other issues that I'm blogging about now. I'm sure their friendship and camaraderie kept them from going crazy as stay-at-home moms with husbands who traveled. I feel like blogging has created my own little community. My family can't quite grasp the concept of blogging, of sharing your life with total strangers, but for me it has been a very positive experience so far. I had no idea how much being pregnant would affect me and the topics I want to know about- I started this blog fully intending it to be about law school and now I've found that law school is quite secondary (sorry to those of you who have no interest in babies). People's comments on pregnancy, maternity clothes, the bar, and even the emotionally charged breastfeeding v. formula issue have been thoughtful, helpful, and supportive. I'm the first pregnant person among my friends and the only one at the law school, so I love being able to get comments and read posts from other women who currently are or recently were pregnant. I enjoy reading about other people's law school experiences and about their lives as attorneys. I like reading about their interests outside the law and take pleasure in knowing that even those who are incredibly busy have time for hobbies.

Reading other people's stories has become a part of my day. I look forward to posting about our son's arrival, about being a 3L, about balancing the bar exam and a baby, and about being a working mom- and I look forward even more to reading your comments and advice on all of those topics. So basically this is just a thank you post- thanks for reading about my life and sharing yours!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Barbri Timing

So this seems a little early to be worrying about barbri, but we're signing the lease on our new apartment Wednesday and I decided to check out when the Texas bar classes begin so we could pick our lease end date. Because UC is on the god-awful-quarter-system-that-I-despise, my finals 3L year don't end until June 1 and graduation isn't until June 13. The Texas barbri course begins May 21- three weeks before I've graduated! My 3L friend is just skipping town immediately after finals (they end earlier this year) and not going to graduation- but I just can't leave JP and the baby to move by themselves and I really want to go to graduation! I've spent almost 2 years gazing longingly at Rockefeller Chapel, dreaming of my graduation day- in fact, I think I've fantasized about graduation more than my own wedding.

While exploring and cursing the quarter system, I found the iPod course option. Basically it costs $1100 more (yay for firms picking up the tab) and you get an iPod to listen to the previous session's lectures. It requires you to be disciplined enough to actually listen and work through each lecture. Normally, this would be a huge problem for me, but I'm hoping the importance of the bar exam will force me to be responsible about studying for it. It will be hard to stay on schedule since all the other Texans will be starting their barbri class while I'm still attending law school classes and preparing for and taking finals. We'll also be moving across the country with a 10-month old and getting settled in our new home somewhere in there. I'm sure everyone faces those same basic distractions (unless you were lucky/smart enough to go to law school in the same city where you plan to work). My biggest concern is being really behind in the classes by the time finals and graduation end. The Bar Exam is exactly 6 weeks after our graduation, so I'll definitely have to work in the 13 days between finals and the ceremony (why is there a 2-week gap? WHY UC?). I'm not sure when it is better to move- June 15, immediately after graduation, or July 1, giving me two more weeks to study in Chicago. I need to decide by Wed. evening.

What have other people's experiences been with barbri and the Bar Exam in general? Is there anyone out there who has actually done the iPod option? I googled it and most of the reviews or blog posts I could find were pretty positive.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

A New Home

So I mentioned yesterday that while I was supposed to be researching my paper, I was actually looking at apartments for our summer move (actually JP will be doing the moving, I will be working in Texas, probably directing him by phone). I found 3 promising places in our new chosen neighborhood, emailed the contacts listed, and set up showings for this afternoon. We completely fell in love with place #2. It is gorgeous- just built in 2003, 2 big bedrooms, 2 baths, big closets, stainless steel appliances, washer and dryer, huge back porch with a grill, balcony in the front, and a 50" flat panel TV mounted on the wall that the owner "doesn't feel like moving". It includes parking and is on a very pretty tree-lined street just off a busy/fun street. After seeing place #3 (a total dump) we called that realtor and said we'd take it! We sign the lease on Wednesday and are all done! It's pretty amazing to think that's where we'll be when I go into labor (well, unless it happens at my fancy Chicago law firm) and that's where we'll bring home our new son from the hospital. There will be so many memories made during his first year there!

So it feels good to check "find apartment" off the to-do list- now if only someone would pick a paper topic, research said topic, write my paper, and do all my casebook reading for the week, then I might be able to take care of the really important things like finalizing my baby registry and looking at birth announcements online.