Thursday, January 31, 2008

Law School Auction

Tonight is the Law School's CLF Auction. It is by far my favorite law school event, and this year Landon and JP are coming to join the fun. It's organized by the Chicago Law Foundation, a student group dedicated to raising money for classmates who take public interest positions after graduation. Professors, alumni, law firms, and fellow students donate items to be purchased in a live and silent auction. The event always includes an open bar and lots of yummy donated food. Our beloved contracts professor is the auctioneer and the whole night is a lot of fun.

A few of the highlights for this year's live auction include:
  1. A private swim session for 3 with the beluga whales at Chicago's Shedd aquarium
  2. $1000 and a personal shoper at Neiman Marcus
  3. Custom designed diamond ring
  4. Four Bulls VIP courtside passes with tickets to the pre-game shootaround (one of you gets to be the ball returner), picture at center court, and autographed picture of your favorite player
  5. Weekend for 4 at a professor's fancy lake house
  6. Dinner for 4 at Gibson's, Bulls game, and drinks afterward
  7. Spa day at the Peninsula Hotel for 4 and dinner afterward at Alinea
  8. Private cruise on a law firm partner's 65-foot yacht for 20 students
  9. $2500 Neiman Marcus shopping spree and lunch with the CEO and General Counsel
  10. Two tickets to the NBA draft in NYC, backstage tour, visit to the Green Room, and a meeting with the Commissioner and current/past players
  11. Week-long stay at a Tuscan wine estate (owned by an alum) for four, with a private tour, tasting of all their wines, and round-trip airfare to Italy and four extra nights lodging in Rome
  12. Pick your vacation for two: cruise through the Mediterranean, South American Adventure, or Asian Exploration
  13. Various wine tastings, scotch tastings, poker nights, theatre nights, and very expensive dinners with famous professors at their homes and out in the city. Plus trips to famous alumni judges' chambers or homes for meals and discussion (including Judge Richard Posner and more)

Pretty incredible, right?! Makes me kind of sad we're going to deplete our savings on a down payment for a house in Austin because I would REALLY like a cruise, Italian vacation, and/or shopping spree. Three friends and I have agreed to bid up to a certain amount for the spa day and dinner at Alinea prize. I have a birthday coming up, so I'm pre-spending the anticipated birthday funds. The silent auction also has some fantastic prizes like iPods, restaurant gift certificates, etc.


And the great thing is that while you watch the Bulls from your courtside seats, you know 100% of your money went to helping fellow students pay for the bar and accept unpaid summer positions. Let the bidding begin!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Can A Working Mom Be A Good Mom?"

That was the subject line of an email waiting in my inbox this morning. It was immediately deleted and Landon and I continued our morning routine. The reactions it provoked weren't outrage and anger (although there was some eye-rolling), but instead, a realization that since having Landon, lines like that don't really bother me anymore.

Before I became pregnant, I obsessed over the mommy wars. JP was forced to spend many hours listening to me rant about the fact that working moms are held to such a higher standard than working dads (ever seen the title: "Can A Working Dad Be a Good Dad?" No? Exactly.) and how I feel judged for wanting to work when it's assumed he'll do so. His response was always some variation of, "Why do you care? It's our family, not theirs." And while he was right, it was all the more frustrating because I did care how people viewed me and my mothering- I cared a lot. I've always done things the right way- been the good example- and it drove me insane to think that people I knew and loved could disagree with or look down on my decision. I craved approval and worried that for the first time in my life, I wasn't going to get it.

All of that slowly faded while I was pregnant with Landon. Beginning with my family's less than enthusiastic reaction to my pregnancy, I learned pretty quickly that approval in the world of parenting is hard to come by. More importantly, I found that I didn't really care. JP and I were making the right decisions for our family and opinions from outsiders (even very close outsiders) just weren't the ones that mattered. Reading it now that seems like such an obvious statement, but it was a bumpy road for me to get there. The final step was Landon's birth. At that moment, I was the mom, and I knew that no one else could tell me what was best for me or my baby. And soon I was too busy living the life I had chosen to be concerned about what other people might think of it.

I used to wonder where the working moms were on the message boards- after all there must be some working women who are happy with their life and can stand up to the "shame on you for continuing to pursue your dreams after birthing a child" nonsense. And now I know- they're just busy making it work. I'm sure there will be some sacrifices and trade-offs in my future, and child care options, where we work, and how much we work will all be up for discussion as needed. But taking ownership of my choices, and being happy with them, has been the best therapy for getting over my fear of judgment. I've also found that all the criticism and mommy-warring I used to read about in magazines and message boards are largely products of those enivrons- the people I actually interract with haven't made any indication they think I should be home all day.

So the "can a working mom be a good mom" debate can rage on somewhere else- I spent this evening quacking at Landon, splashing with him in the tub, and rocking his cuddly little self to sleep. He's a happy, secure, and beloved little boy, and I'm a happy, busy, and fulfilled mother- and we're both too busy with the quacking, splashing, and cuddling to read an article about whether or not I can be a good mom.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

4,000 Words

I have a half-written post that I really want to finish, but I'm so behind in my reading that it's not going to happen today. Luckily, we finally got our new camera in the mail (JP dropped and broke ours on New Year's- and he was the sober one!). So I'll leave you with a few pictures:

The Jumperoo


We finally gave in and bought Landon a new plastic monstrosity to play in. He outgrew his swing in early December and we needed something to keep him entertained when I do non-Landon-centric things like make dinner and go to bathroom. He's loved standing up on our laps since he was 3 months old, so we hoped this would keep him happy for longer than his bouncer. And I have to say that he loves it. It was $80 (cheap compared to some of the exersaucers), isn't too big, and keeps him very busy. He just figured out the bouncing aspect of it yesterday and I've got to get him on video, it's hysterical.

Your Move


Lilly has been surprisingly tolerant of Landon, and Landon has been surprisingly gentle with Lilly. He gets so excited every time he sees her and she often goes out of her way just to walk in front of him (see, cats can be people pleasers!). She even curls up next to him on the floor and lets him touch her fur. What amazes me is that he doesn't grab her fur the way he grabs everything else; instead, he keeps his hand flat or his fingers soft and just touches her. He's obviously an animal lover.


Nightly Tricycle Ride


Landon got this UT trike as a gift in December and JP takes him on a ride every evening. Obviously, his legs need to grow just a little more before he can use it by himself, but he seems to get a lot of fun out of it anyway. And so does his daddy.

Thumbs Up for Chuy's


This is the gift I mentioned here. We received it from a very nice attorney in Washington, DC who took a business trip to Houston and wanted to send me something to remind me of home. When she couldn't properly package and ship my mom or a margarita, she picked up Landon this "i wanna rock-n-roll all nite and potty everyday" t-shirt from Chuy's, the fabulous Tex-Mex restaurant. Landon felt quite snazzy wearing it and I didn't even notice the "thumb's up" he was giving until after I transferred the picture to my computer. He must have picked it up from one of the cool older babies at daycare. Next thing you know he'll be wearing a leather bomber jacket and gelling his hair.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Top-Down Kind of Day

Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry has free admission through the end of January, so JP and I decided it was a good day for a family outing. Landon doesn't get much out of the exhibits yet (although he seemed to like the giant airplanes hanging from the ceiling), so the free price tag meant we didn't have to care if he decided it was time to leave after only 15 minutes. We tried out his umbrella stroller for the first time and he was definitely much more comfortable than in his infant car seat* (which makes me very sad because I love the convenience of that seat and it's stroller frame). The new stroller made it possible for him to sit up and really look around, and we ended up spending a very enjoyable hour and a half wandering amongst the colors, lights, and sounds of the museum.

Driving back home along Lake Shore Drive, we passed a guy in a red convertible with the top down. At first I didn't think anything of it, but then I remembered that we were driving along a partially frozen Lake Michigan, in January, in Chicago. Now I'll admit that the 30 degree temperature felt balmy compared to the below zero weather of the past two weeks, but it's not quite top-down weather. Only in Chicago.

*This means it's time to buy a convertible car seat, and I need recommendations. They all look the same to me- huge, expensive, and far more plush than any chair I'll ever get to sit in.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Home Buying

Today is my day to get caught up in school, and maybe even get a little ahead, but it's already 11:25 and I haven't opened a book. I have, however, spoken with our loan officer, learned several new home-buying terms, emailed our real estate agent, identified our "must have" home characteristics, and perused far too many online listings. Long distance first-time home buying is going to be crazy.

The permanence of home buying freaks me out a little. With an apartment I could walk around, see things I didn't love, and think "oh well, we'll be out in a year." So while I'm thrilled to finally move into something I won't have to leave in a year, it makes the selection process quite a bit more important. I would love to find a place that we could stay in forever. Sure, we can say we'll move up, buy bigger, or build our dream house, but we could stay at that address until retirement. This is why I really don't want a three-bedroom, even though financially, that makes more sense right now. We want three or four kids and I feel like a three-bedroom house has an expiration date for us- and that expiration date is something I want to avoid. Luckily, we're moving to Texas, where a four-bedroom house is not out-of-the question for a young couple with only one person working (and a baby whose daycare costs more per year than my college degree).

Both our loan officer and realtor came very highly recommended and we know Austin pretty well, so I'm optimistic about this first foray into home-buying from 1000 miles away. We already have our plane tickets for a Spring Break trip down to Texas. My parents will get some quality Landon time in Houston while JP and I head up to Austin to find the house. It's amazing to think that this is where we will bring home our future children from the hospital, where our future dog will run around in the yard, where my clothes will live in walk-in closets rather than under-bed containers, and where JP will finally get to arrange his tool collection in a proper garage. I can't wait to find it!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hooray JP!

JP got his acceptance phone call from the University of Texas McCombs School of Business yesterday! He's officially a member of the MBA class of 2010. Hook 'em!!

We had already decided to move to Austin and just assumed he'd get in; and while it was a well-founded assumption, he was getting very nervous while waiting to hear the decision (I wasn't worried). After a difficult past few months, I am so, so happy he got this good news. He'll be a Longhorn again (or, as he corrected me last night, "you're always a Longhorn, I'll just be a student Longhorn again), pursuing his life-long dream of getting an MBA and hopefully one day starting his own business. Within thirty minutes of hearing the news, we had Landon on the waitlist for UT's fantastic and heavily subsidized daycare. It's 18-months long, but luckily he's on two other waitlists for Austin daycares that he should get into before I start work in September. A post on the ridiculousness of infant care and waitlists is probably forthcoming.

We celebrated last night with his favorite beer (love is stopping on the way home from school, in the freezing cold, with a cranky baby, to buy him some as a surprise) and pasties we had ordered from Joe's Pasty Shop in Ironwood, Michigan. (A "pasty," pronounced "pass-tee," is a delicious combination of meat and potatoes, and sometimes other vegetables, placed inside a flaky pie crust which is folded over and sealed around the edges.) Citations makes an unbelievably tasty pasty. They are so delicious that I'd like to hire her as a personal pasty-maker, but she apparently plans to pursue a career in BigLaw and will be billing out at far higher rates than I can afford. Luckily, there's Joe's. My family has been ordering frozen pasties from them for years- they have to be shipped overnight, so when you're buying from Texas the shipping costs are far more than the pasties themselves, but they are so good, and so nice to throw in the oven on a cold night, that they're completely worth it. JP and I only ordered a dozen, so it's a big deal to take one out of the freezer, but I suppose acceptance to business school warranted breaking into our stash. A friend and her husband are babysitting Saturday night so we can go out on the town for a proper celebration. This friend is hoping to nudge her husband in the direction of baby-making, so I'm going to give Landon a pep talk about being especially adorable, with no fussiness or big poops.

Wow, you know you're a parent when you start out talking about graduate school and end up talking about poop! Anyway, we're all very happy for JP; the acceptance was a much-needed boost and he's delayed his desire to attend graduate school for two years because someone in this marriage needed to bring home the bacon (and provide the bacon-eaters with health insurance). Now I get to pay his tuition and he gets to complain about homework and exams- we're both looking forward to the switch!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Unfair Scrutiny

Andrea over at Peanut Butter Burrito, a 3L at Harvard who just had a baby girl, wrote a lovely post today about her husband and how he sees being a dad as just "as important and active a role" as being a mom. Reading it reminded me of the fact that somewhere in my saved, partially written posts, there's one titled "The Evolution of (a) Man" where I described how wonderful it's been sharing my life with JP and watching him change from boyfriend, to husband, to father. And what an amazing partner he is in the parenting process- like even when he was working long hours and I wasn't in school, he still got up for every other night feeding, and didn't think anything of it. He was (and is) so in love with Landon, it just made me love him that much more. I started that post on October 4th, moments before I took Landon to the doctor's appointment that turned our lives into a nightmare. I never had a chance to finish it and reading it now just reinforces how this investigation has affected us because it comes off to me as a defensive rather than loving commentary.

DCFS's decision to indicate JP for "bone fractures caused by neglect" in no way answers the question of how those ribs broke- it was just an easy way for them to end the investigation. And yet I feel like JP is scrutinized far more for his parenting than I am or than he would have been without the investigation. Comments we never would have received before like, "Is JP being careful with him?" and others are so frustrating for him- and to make it worse, I sometimes find myself doing it to. Being identified as the "perpetrator" of your son's fractures is bad enough, I hate that his interactions with Landon feel so watched and judged.

We finally got the official letter from DCFS with the indication finding. Our investigator told us that a neglect finding stays in their records for 5 years, but the letter says it's 20. We were going to appeal anyway, but that just gives us more incentive. Reading it felt unreal- even after all that's happened. How could we possibly be getting a letter from the Department of Child and Family Services indicating my husband for neglect of our child?! My husband who insisted on asking every doctor we saw about that popping noise we'd been feeling in Landon's ribs? My husband who went to my prenatal appointments and was so excited about the birth of his son? My husband who was more confident with our newborn than I was? My husband who has no temper and drives me crazy because he gets silent and calm when he gets mad rather than arguing back? My husband whose arms make our little boy feel relaxed, safe, and secure? Yes, apparently that one.

The letter gave instructions for requesting a copy of our DCFS file and notifying them of our intent to appeal. The appeal will be the first time we actually fight back and defend ourselves, but it's so hard to muster up the strength to voluntarily place our emotional state back in their hands. The thought of going through the file, talking to doctors, meeting with our lawyer, etc. makes me feel tired. Just when our life is starting to feel normal, I'll be thinking about the case again. This time, Landon is safe in our care and the worst thing that can happen is we're left with the situation we have now, but part of me wishes we could just ignore the finding. The in-tact case is basically closed, there's nothing worse they can do to us, and I want to spend a while pretending like this didn't happen. I'm trying not to voice this to JP because it's important to clear his name and I'm behind him 100%, but I'm struggling.

Our in-tact caseworker came by for a home visit last week. I was surprised to hear from him because I thought the file had been closed before Christmas, but to my even greater surprise not only is the case still open, the Safety Plan is still in effect (with me as Supervisor). It was supposed to be terminated when the parenting class began, but his supervisor wants to see the certificate from the class first (because that will provide deep insight into JP's parenting). The in-tact case should be winding down and officially closed soon. I made it quite clear we weren't following a Safety Plan anymore and that we felt our end of this bargain had been fulfilled, and our case manager agreed. He said one to two weeks more, which means that by the time we move in June, the file might be closed.

So that's where we are- DCFS indication letter in hand, and trying to muster up the energy to fight again.

Caught Up, But More Behind

I spend most of my time feeling like I'm treading water and barely keeping my head above it. I enjoy swimming and am very skilled at water treading, so I'm usually pretty happy in this state. But someimtes the to-do lists get overwhelming, and losing my child care on Monday has crippled me for the week. I don't have class on Mondays and use it to read ahead for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. (I also don't have class on Fridays and use it to catch-up in the classes I didn't read far enough ahead for on Monday.) Hanging out with Landon was fun, but I'm drowning now.

Today I used my 1-hour break between con law and sex law to catch-up in my "real life" to-do list. I have a dental appointment made for February, a hair cut set for Saturday, my bar exam application is in the mail, my bar/bri account has been switched from Illinois to Texas, my FedEx package has been rerouted, and we have initiated the mortgage process with our loan officer in Austin. All that sounds great, but now my school to-do list is getting out of hand. So I'm further ahead in life, farther behind in school, and my arms are getting tired.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sleep, Finally!

Last night Landon slept from 8:00 PM to 6:00 AM. That is through the night people. Landon's wake up time is not my top choice, but it's a whole lot better than multiple wakings between 2 and 5 AM, so I'll take it.

After six months of night feedings, night cuddling, and night crying (not just Landon), we finally decided to follow Ferber and our pediatrician's advice and let him cry it out. He is 6 months old, weighs 17.5 lbs, and has a belly that could sustain him for days in the desert. For the past two months when we fed him during the night, he'd only drink about half an ounce and then want to play, so he obviously didn't really need to eat. And the few nights that he did sleep more than 7 hours, he was much more cheerful in the morning (and so were his parents) and napped better during the day. He needs sleep, we need sleep, and that mantra is what got me through the past two nights where he cried for 1-3 hours without us picking him up (as Ferber suggests, we periodically went in and checked on him, patted his back, and left- the visits made him more mad, but kept us from imagining all sorts of terrible things happening to him in his crib). Our pediatrician promised it would work quickly, and it did! The first night he cried, off and on, for 3 hours. The second night it was about 1 hour. Last night, he didn't wake up at all. It was glorious. I forgot what this felt like- to not hear a baby cry at 4:30 am, argue with your husband about who should get up with him (JP actually did more night feedings than me, one of the many reasons why I love him), and then get back in bed just in time for a short nap before your alarm goes off.

Landon was so chipper this morning when I went in to get him, he babbled all the way to Maya's, and had lots of smiles when I handed him over. If I wasn't so behind in my reading and paper writing, I'd have lots of smiles too. But well-rested stress is infinitely better than sleep-deprived stress, so my world is looking pretty bright.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Frickin Freezing


Yesterday my little weatherbug notifier never registered above 0. This morning when I forced myself out to the library to write two papers, my car said it was -6 (and it was NOT happy about it). Now I love winter: the cold, the snow, the beautiful starkness, the big sweaters, scarves, and coats, but below 0 is just ridiculous. Yesterday, Landon and I stayed inside all day and tried to keep warm. Even though our thermostat was set on 75, it was still chilly inside, so I dressed him in his reindeer snow suit and that kept him nice and toasty. I really wanted one in my size.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

So THAT'S How She Does It

Marriage law is quickly becoming one of my favorite classes. The readings are fascinating and the discussion is much better than I anticipated. I was fearing the class would be composed purely of feminists, and while I agree with much of feminism, it would make the class significantly less interesting if everyone just nodded along with one other. Instead there's a complete diversity of sex, marital status, sexual orientation, and political persuasion. Our professor is a well-known feminist, but with with a Chicago "law and economics" twist, which results in some unique reasoning behind her generally predictable conclusions. All in all, it's an excellent class full of the type of discussions I feel like I should be having in law school.

Last week's topic was polygamy (really polygyny- multiple wives) and what it contributes to marriage law and opinion. I fully expected the assigned readings to condemn polygyny, and while most did, there was one offering it up as a solution to modern women trying to "have it all." In the article, Elizabeth Joseph, a lawyer living in Utah with her husband and his eight other wives, praises polygamy for "enabling women, in a society full of obstacles, to fully meet their career, mothering, and marriage obligations." According to her, "monogamous women must make compromises to have it all... the kids need to learn to fix their own breakfast, your husband needs to get used to occasional microwave dinners, and you need to divert more of your income to insure that your pre-schooler is in a good daycare environment." (Brief interjection: my kids making their own breakfasts and my husband getting used to microwave dinners, or gasp- cooking his own, are not the compromises I'm worried about.) Elizabeth lives with one of the other wives and both their children, and that wife is who watches her daughter during the day. At night the two women, now very close friends, share a simple dinner and relax. On Mondays their husband eats with them; Elizabeth says it's a "special day" with the kids "excited and on their best behavior." Sex, because you know you were wondering, is "by appointment." Elizabeth explains that "most evenings, with the demands of a career and chasing after the needs of a toddler, all I want to do is collapse into bed and sleep. But there is also the longing for intimacy and comfort that only he can provide, and when those feelings surface, I ask to be with him." She recalls "with a shudder" the taste of monogamy she got on a two-week trip with her husband- "little things began to grate on my nerves. We ran out of things to talk about . . . monogamy is monotony." The article ends with: "all nine wives are equally convinced that polygamy is God's gift to the modern woman."

This particular argument for polygamy had never occurred to me, and while I rejected it out of hand, it kept me thinking long after the class was over. Why is my "singular" marriage so fulfilling (and so far from monotonous), and why is Elizabeth Joseph's lifestyle so repugnant to me? And I think it comes down to the deep friendship- the bond between soulmates- that JP and I share. Marriage goes so far beyond the sharing of children and a bed, it's about sharing a life and a future. For me, marriage is cuddling on the couch, talking about whatever comes to mind: our day, the news, politics, Landon, our retirement, whatever. Marriage is feeling him next to me at night and knowing that when I have a nightmare he'll be there to hold me. Marriage is knowing what the other person means without explanation. Marriage is laughing, flirting, and arguing. Marriage is placing your future in the hands of another and trusting in the life you're building together. Sex and sexual attraction are critical, but the idea of sharing JP's bed with another wife isn't as offensive as the thought of sharing our daily interractions and random intimate moments. Don't get me wrong, if JP ever cheated on me, I'd leave him, but a thoughtless one-night-stand wouldn't be nearly as devastating as another woman taking my place as his confidante, best friend, and first phone call.

Reading the article made me sad for Elizabeth Joseph. She may think she's having it all, and she may honestly not mind sharing her husband, but she has no idea what compromises she's making.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Grandma Beats Science

I couldn't sleep last night. Like Landon, when I'm overtired, I have a very hard time falling asleep, and I'm so far beyond overtired, I'm overexhausted. The benefit of all the tossing and turning is that I wrote about 6 blog posts in my head. I think some of them were even good- I just can't remember any of them now. Luckily two headlines caught my eye this morning and provided me with some quick blogging fodder:

The first is a Penn State study comparing the effectiveness of different cough remedies for kids ages 2-18. Pediatricians enrolled more than 100 children to compare the effects of no medication, honey, or dextromethorphan (DM)—an over the counter cough suppressant—on cough associated with a cold. The results: Among the three types of treatment, dextromethorphan and honey turned out to be better than nothing, but honey scored the best of all for cough suppression, children's sleep, and parents' sleep.

The second is the FDA's conclusion that over-the-counter cold remedies are not safe for children under the age of 2 and probably should not be given to children younger than 6 (they have yet to officially rule on that age group). According to their studies and scientists, there’s no evidence that the drugs ease cold symptoms in children so young, and they may even do no good at all. And while serious side effects are fairly rare, they do occur. As one scientists put: “It’s one thing if you’re curing cancer, but we’re talking about a self-limiting illness... If there’s really no evidence of benefit, you don’t want to risk the rare problem. Then you’re left with tragedy that you can’t justify.”

So it turns out grandma's old-fashioned honey remedy is not only safer, it's more effective. (Note: you are not supposed to give honey to a baby younger than 1 because of the risk of infant botulism, so for kids younger than 1 the "treatment" is just fluids, sleep, and cuddling.) While I love modern medicine and have made frequent use of its gifts (ex: the epidural), I'm a big believer in old home remedies as well. As shown here, some of them are better and safer than what we've tried to recreate in a lab. I think that a nice combination of the two approaches is best. Any other good ones I should know about?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Video Test, take 2

video


This is the same clip I posted earlier today, but I'm trying to figure out how the blogger video format looks and works as compared to the YouTube "blog this" application.


And since this is a random post that will probably be deleted later, I'd just like to add that I hate how Google Reader doesn't update after you change or delete a post. Like my last one- the first time I tried publishing from YouTube the video didn't work, so I had to do it again. Google Reader still only shows the text and no video for that post. Or when I press "enter" to select a label and the whole post publishes itself when I'm not done, and that's the one that remains in the Reader preview window. So the lesson here is click over to my blog when there's a new post, because half the time I've added, edited, or at least spell-checked whatever was accidentally published first.

Doing the Tripod

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

6 Months!

Dear Landon,

Today you are 6 months old! I can't believe half of your first year is over. When I was rocking you to sleep last night and you were cuddled up in my arms and holding tight to my fingers, I got a little choked up realizing that time is passing and you won't be content to snuggle in my arms forever. The days of a hug from mom making everything in your world better are numbered, but we're trying to enjoy every one of them!

This morning you had your check-up with Dr. O. You always give her several of your signature sideways smiles and she calls you her "handsome little man". You also threw a few coy smiles to the nurses and have quite a little fan club at the office. You've grown since your last visit. You are now 27" inches long, which is between the 50th-75th percentiles (you had been hovering in the 25th). Your weight is up to 17.5 lbs. which put you in the 50th percentile, down from the 75th. Dr. O says that's because you're more active now (and yes you are!). Your head is still huge at 45 cm and in the 90th percentile; Dad considers this to be proof of your brilliance. You used to hate getting naked at the doctor's office, but now you seem to revel in the freedom to pooch out your belly as much as you want- you proudly showed it off to the nurse when she weighed you. You were very patient while the doctor examined you and very brave when the nurse gave you two shots- you didn't even cry! You were chewing on your bib at the time, so maybe that served as a leather strap to help you cope with the pain. Or maybe you're just easily distracted.

Lately you've been refusing to sleep and making your mommy and daddy very tired. It's been hard on everyone in the apartment (and probably the entire building)- even Lilly the cat is distressed. Last night you were up almost every hour, and it turns out something was wrong! You have an ear infection. While I was very sorry that your ear hurt, I was happy to find out you weren't just trying to drive us crazy. You now have some medicine and should be feeling better soon.

Month 6 was an exciting one for you! You found your toes and think they're the silliest things ever. You also figured out how to eat off a spoon. Sometimes you forget and spit the food everywhere, but I'm pretty sure you're doing it on purpose because you smile while you spit. You love carrots, squash, peas, green beans, pears, and peaches. You hate bananas, tolerate sweet potatoes, and projectile vomit after eating applesauce. We're going to start you on Stage 2 foods soon; every time we have your rules somewhat figured out, the game changes. You've become a pro at rolling from front to back and like to play a game at night where you flip over and cry until one of us rescues you. You look like a turtle on its back, flailing your arms and wailing. We're hoping you'll figure out how to roll back soon. Your other big accomplishment has been mastering the art of the tripod-sitting position. You still fall to the side after a few minutes (I blame your 90th percentile-sized head), but your endurance has been steadily improving. Your new move is to sit, bent forward, hovering over your belly with your arms out like you're flying. It cracks us up. You've discovered Lilly and find her endlessly entertaining; you like to pet her soft fur and sometimes she even lets you.

The past month also brought your first Christmas celebration- and even though you weren't quite sure what the day was all about, you knew it was a special one. The wrapping paper was fascinating and you loved all the attention from your grandparents and great-grandma (and mom and dad). Last weekend Mom hosted a brunch and you had eight lovely ladies fawning over you- you had no idea how lucky you were!

So Landon, in spite of your continued refusal to sleep through the night, and your remarkable ability to attract rare medical ailments, you are an absolute delight, and mommy and daddy can't imagine their days without you. We love your smiles in the morning, your cuddles at night, and the joy you find in the ordinary things around you. The past six months have introduced a new range of emotions- higher, lower, and deeper than we'd ever experienced. Our lives our infinitely richer and our laughter more frequent because of you. Happy 6-month birthday little guy!

Love,
mommy

Monday, January 14, 2008

3.5

That's how many hours of sleep I got last night. It's not enough.

Landon went to sleep at 8:30. I went to bed at 11, but it takes me a long time to fall asleep, so I was still awake when he started crying at midnight. I went in to check on him, saw that he was fine, and decided we were not getting in the habit of eating in the middle of the night (his 17 lbs. and large belly are more than capable of going longer than that), so I gave him a few pats and went back to bed. Normally Landon will fuss a little and go back to sleep, but last night he cried, fussed, and yelled until we finally broke and fed him some bottle at 3am. He took a few sucks and fell asleep, only to wake us back up at 6:45am. I have no idea what was going on with him- he obviously wasn't that hungry, his diaper was fine, the crib was fine- he was fine! You could tell he was trying to settle and he'd even fall asleep while one of us was patting his back, only to wake up crying less than 5 minutes later. Is he teething? Is he trying to kill me?

I've had 2 cups of tea and my eyes burn every time I close them. He greeted me with a giant smile when I blearily shuffled over to his crib 6:45- it's a good thing he's so cute.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ladies who Brunch

I love throwing parties. They're a great way to hang out with friends and the only time I get to use the beautiful serving dishes we received as wedding gifts. Today I combined my love of breakfast with my love of hostessing and threw a brunch party for a seven of my law school girlfriends. Normally I wouldn't risk trying out new recipes when I'm cooking for others (JP complements and eats even my biggest disasters), but one of my guests is allergic to gluten/wheat and another is a vegetarian, so I had to work outside my tried-and-true recipe box. Luckily they all turned out great! The brunch had three courses. The first: Party Mimosas (apricot and mango nectars, pineapple-orange juice, and champagne), Poppyseed Bread with Orange Glaze (my mom's delicious recipe), cheese slices, and fruit salad. The second: Crustless Spinach Quiche and a Broccoli and Ham Quiche (same recipe as the spinach, different filling). The finale: Fruit Pizza. The spinach quiche was especially good- and so easy! I'll definitely make it again. It was a fun gathering of friends and food. Landon was the perfect co-host (JP had escaped to the pool); he loves the ladies and basked in their adoration all morning.

As we were all sitting around chatting, it sunk in how much I am going to miss these amazing women who have become my support group and close friends. I didn't leave college with the mythical group of girlfriends I saw on TV and movies- my activities were too varied for any of my friends to know each other. It's funny to me that it was law school, when I was a newlywed, then pregnant, then new mom, and always happily divorced from the social scene, that brought me my first real group of girlfriends since middle school. They're my answer for all those times I asked myself, as a depressed and overwhelmed 1L, why I picked the University of Chicago. We better follow through on the reunion trips we've so often discussed or I'm going to have to force at least one of them to move down to Austin.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Day in the Life of Landon

-described by Landon, transcribed by me-

2:30/4:45/5:00 AM: I wake up, either because I've flipped over onto my back and I DON'T LIKE IT, I'm hungry, or I'm sure my mommy and daddy have missed me and I want to give them some quality Landon snuggle time. One of them comes in to rescue me, I think they take turns, and I dig my nails into their neck and try to calm down. Sometimes it's very hard. They pop a bottle in my mouth, which I'm enthusiastic about at first, but then I just want to play. Mommy and daddy refuse to believe that 4:45 is morning, so even when I'm doing my very cutest tricks, they usually just change my diaper and stick me back in bed. I fight it as hard as I can, but when they turn on that rain forest soother thing I know I'm defeated. I take my revenge by flipping over on to my back and yelling exactly 15 minutes after they put me down- right when I know they're drifting back to sleep. Then sometimes I do that two more times. Other times I let them off easy after one.

7:30 AM: I wake up for real. I love it when mommy picks me up with wet hair because I like to stick the long strands in my mouth and suck on them. She always pulls them out though- sometimes she's no fun. Whoever is the most ready for work puts me in my highchair and prepares my gourmet breakfast. This morning I had oatmeal and pears. I'm getting very coordinated with the spoon- sometimes I even swallow before spitting the food out. So far pears are the only fruit I'll eat. My response to bananas is to stick out my tongue as far as possible and hold it there until the threat of bananas has passed. I won't even smile when daddy makes his silly faces because smiling is when they shovel in the food (they think I haven't figured that trick out, but I'm super smart). I like every vegetable I've ever tried- especially carrots, carrots are delicious. I like to hold the spoon and stick it in my mouth- sometimes I hit my nose, but my aim is improving.

7:45 AM: I get my hands and face wiped off. I try very hard to suck on the wet washcloth before it's taken away, and then someone dresses me in my daycare clothes (usually another set of pj's). I get very excited whenever I see my toes- they're SO silly. I grab them and try to put them in my mouth, but my belly gets in the way. Sometimes my toes disappear into my clothes and don't come out- it's very strange, but then I forget all about them and get so excited when I discover them again. Ooooh- TOES!

8:00-8:30 AM: Dad goes to work and Mom sticks me in various things to keep me entertained while she gets ready, cleans up my breakfast mess, and packs her bag. Usually I cooperate, sometimes I don't; I like to mix it up.

9:00 AM: Mom drops me off at Maya's. I get very excited when I see Maya and she says hi to me in Russian, which is the silliest language- it makes me smile a lot. Mommy gives me a hug, gives Maya my bottles, and goes to school.

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM: I play with the other babies, drink my bottles, and take my naps. I love seeing the other babies. There's a lady baby who's a month older than me and can sit up on her own and play with toys. My daddy says it's good to be around a woman who challenges you. She's explained the mechanics of sitting to me and I'm starting to get them right. I think my head must be bigger than hers because it's very hard for me to keep it balanced in the middle- if it strays from center, I fall over right away. But then when I'm on my side I see my TOES and I forget what I was trying to do before that... those toes are crazy. The other two babies can move around- it's amazing! I can't wait to do that.

5:00 PM: Mommy picks me up from Maya's and I give her lots of big smiles. She puts me in the car (why do I always have to face the backseat? so boring) and I tell her about my day. Sometimes she puts on the radio and I fall asleep; more often, we get stuck in traffic and I tell her how much I DON'T LIKE that. I prefer to go fast in the car.

5:30 PM: Home! Mommy and I play with my toys, sing songs, read books, talk to daddy on the phone, and practice our sitting and rolling. I don't like it when mommy goes more than 10 minutes without playing with me. She tells me she's doing things like "making dinner", but my dinner comes from a jar so I don't know what she's doing for all those minutes in the kitchen. I've gotta keep my eye on her. Sometimes she puts me next to that crazy white fluffy toy that walks around and makes noises and I get SO EXCITED- that toy is the coolest. I try to grab it's tail but it always moves away. I can't wait to chase after it.

6:30 PM: I eat my dinner. Last night it was carrots and green beans- yummy! I like to dive my head into the spoon when it's carrots- they're so delicious. I also like to put my hands in my mouth at the same time mom is putting the spoon in my mouth- it makes things more fun. My hands are delicious too. Actually, almost everything is delicious- except bananas. Bananas are gross. I drink some bottle after dinner and then we play until dad gets home.

7:30 PM: Daddy comes home! I give him lots of big smiles. Then mommy gets me naked- ooooh TOES!- and puts me in the big bathtub with daddy. Daddy says this is his favorite part of the day and it's one of mine too. I like to suck on my washcloth frog, my boat, my blocks, and my squirt toys. Water is sooo delicious. I try to stick my mouth in the bathwater, but daddy always stops me. I love it when he pulls me through the water and I can practice my swimming- it's SO fun. Mommy sits next to the tub and talks to us while we splash. When I announce that I'm done, she lifts me out of the tub and cuddles me in my fluffy hooded towel. We always stop to look at the silly baby in the mirror- that baby cracks. me. up. Every time. We stop by all the mirrors on the way back to my room where I get a new diaper and pj's (my toes usually disappear again at this point- they're crazy).

8:00 PM: Mommy and Daddy alternate eating their dinner and cuddling me. I drink my bottle, complain a little about the fact that the day is ending, and then I rub my eyes and bury my head in their chest. Daddy puts me down in my crib and pats my back and then I go to sleep. Except when I don't. Sometimes I like to do the roll over and yell trick that I do in the morning. I can't let my parents think they have things figured out- I defy schedules and planning, it's my job and I take it very seriously.

9:00 PM: I'm pretty much always asleep by now. Mommy and Daddy are doing whatever it is mommies and daddies do when their babies aren't around to entertain them. I think it involves the TV and talking. Boring. I'll probably wake them up at 2:30 just so they have something fun to look forward to...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Time to Use the Alarm Clock Again

This morning is my 8:30 AM class, so Landon and I needed to be out the door by 7:30. I stayed up too late watching CNN New Hampshire results and then took forever to fall asleep. Landon woke up at 5am, drank some bottle, went back to bed, flipped himself over 3 times, and freaked out all 3 times until I dragged myself out of bed to flip him back. I fell back asleep at 6- just for a quick nap- and we both woke up at 8am. 8am!! In my pre-Landon days, I might have been able to throw on some clothes and get to class only a few minutes late. But now, with having to wage the battle between Landon and his oatmeal, clean him up, get him dressed, keep him entertained while I get dressed, and drop him off at daycare, there was no way.

We haven't used an alarm clock since Landon was born. He consistently wakes us up earlier than we want or need to be, but I guess I'll need to start setting it again.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Picking Classes

I believe I have settled on a winter class schedule:

Constitutional Law II (Freedom of Speech): T,Th 9:45-10:50, W 8:30-9:35
Sexual Orientation and the Law: T,W,Th 11-12:05
Marriage: W 1:30-3:50, Th 1:30-2:35
Law and Politics Workshop: T 4-5:15

That gives me 11 credits, so I only need to take 9 next quarter to graduate with the 105 required. I don't have class on Mondays or Fridays which means I can use those days to catch-up and get ahead as needed, as well as write those two pesky papers hanging over my head from previous quarters (and run errands, research the Austin housing market, and maybe go to the gym. Maybe). I didn't have to spend a penny on books, so I'm forcing myself to pay back the loan refund check I was issued this quarter. I always take out the full amount for tuition (nearly $40,000) and then some extra for books and other expenses. Just thinking about all my loans is depressing, so we'll save that topic for another day. Moving on!

Con Law II is interesting, taught by a great prof (who co-wrote our massive casebook), and is one of those topics I feel like I should know more about before leaving law school. Two things holding me back from taking the class were the ridiculously expensive casebook and the dread of the final, but a friend loaned me her book from last year and I suppose one final won't kill me.

Sexual Orientation and the Law (I need a shorter name for this class... Gay Law?) is fantastic. It's a topic I'm really interested and I love that it's such a current, evolving area of the law. The professor is the perfect mix of a practical and entertaining practictioner (he's at attorney at Lambda) and ridiculously smart theorist. He's also hilarious- as are some of the state statutes against gay sex and marriage. For example, a Washington sodomy statute explicitly bans carnal knowledge of a bird. Yes, a bird, because such behavior undercuts the moral foundation of our society. Or whatever the justification for those laws is... Other pluses: the reading assignments are really short and we can write a paper in lieu of the final.

Marriage: I haven't attended this class yet, but I read past course reviews and they were all very positive (and just as important, rated the difficulty of the class as a 2). It's taught by a pretty famous feminist and I may very well be the only woman in attendance who is married, changed her name, and has a baby, but it should be interesting and fun. There's no final and the grade is based on participation and short reaction papers.

Law and Politics Workshop: I discovered this little gem yesterday. It meets every other Tuesday from 4-5:15 (our seminars normally run from 4-6 and I have to get Landon by 5:30, so I haven't been able to take any this year) and involves a professor from some other law school presenting a paper on a topic related to the intersection of law and politics. We have to write a 3-page paper about a weak or interesting point in the paper and prepare two questions to ask at the workshop (though we don't actually have to ask them). It continues through the Spring quarter and gives me just the right number of credits.

So I think that's it. I've finished the bar application (at least the parts under my control- still waiting on the certified copy of my birth certificate, copy of my law school application, and kindergarten report card). I have not started my substantial paper on criminal justice and cyber law (or picked a topic) and I have not started my research paper for my helpful professor friend from last quarter. I'm in a constant state of almost being behind, but so far, I feel like I'm staying ahead of the curve. Of course, we're only 4 days into the quarter...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Deep Thoughts on the Cashmere Mafia

After watching Desperate Housewives, a Sunday night dinner tradition we greatly missed over the holidays (not that JP would admit it), I kept the TV on for the premiere of Cashmere Mafia while straightening up the apartment. The show is about four MBA-holding, corner office sitting, unrealistically thin and beautiful, best friends- all with different hair colors, of course. It was way too reminiscent of Sex and the City in parts and completely vapid in others, but every now and then there was something that rang true. One such scene involved Zoe, managing director at an investment firm and mother of two, scrambling to find a replacement nanny. I immediately told JP, "See! That's why working women have it so much harder than men- things like that always fall on us. You'd never see a male executive making frantic phone calls and rearranging his schedule to interview nannies." To which JP replied, "Are you kidding? You'd never let me make that decision." As I opened my mouth to respond that I would love to not have tasks like that fall on my plate, I realized I'd be lying. If I delegated that decision to JP, I'd be calling constantly to see where he was in the process, asking for copies of the girls' resumes, and making him tape the interviews so I could watch them later. It would not result in less work for me and it would drive him crazy.

And I think that's true for a lot of the things I complain about having to do- even if JP volunteers to do something (as he often does), I turn him down because I don't want to relinquish control over an important decision. Childcare isn't the perfect example because both parents should be involved in that process, but things like doctor appointments, researching vacations, organizing our finances, and looking for houses are all things I could, and should, let go of a little- or at least stop complaining about. I think delegation will be my biggest challenge in the working world- I work quickly and neatly and I hate watching someone else do something I know I could do faster and better. But I know I can't do everything myself and I need to learn to let go of the small stuff.

The other scene that made me point/yell at JP is when two of the women's husbands are counseling a third's fiance on being married to a high-powered wife. Their biggest piece of advice:

Husbands: "Never use the R-word, it's like the C-word."
Fiance: "What's the R-word?"
Husbands: "Relax."

SO true. There is nothing that gets me worked up faster than JP telling me to relax. He found it hilarious that other women apparently do the same thing.

I'll probably watch the next episode if Landon lets me. It's mindless, but so is most television. I enjoyed the fact that the writers didn't make the women total disasters in their personal lives. Too many stories do that and it irritates the hell out of me- no woman who manages to rise to the top of any corporation can be as klutzy, forgetful, and generally unlucky as most of the chick-lit heroines out there. Competent female characters, even those with too-perfect figures and hair, are a welcome addition to my personal TV lineup.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers

I sent out an email a few weeks ago thanking those people who donated in the midst of our nightmare. (If anyone is reading this and thinking, "I didn't get one"- I sent it using my personal email and realized afterward I probably should have referenced the blog name in the subject line because some of you have no idea who I am and might not open an email from an unknown sender. Please let me know and I'll send it to you again.) Now that the darkest days have passed, I want to close that desperate chapter of our lives. I've amended this post and any other mention of the fund.

I've already written about how much people's support meant to us, and I've mentioned how much the doubt stung (if "stung" could encompass feeling punched in the stomach at a time when you desperately need to be believed and losing more sleep laying in bed at night obsessing over what someone else wrote about you). For once, I've managed to push away the criticism and focus on the fact that so many people reached out and believed. It's really pretty incredible- people I have never met, and will probably never meet, looked past the skepticism and cynicism of today and helped a stranger. Here's part of the e-mail I sent them:

"You all are the amazing people who helped us in the midst of our nightmare. I apologize for taking 2+ months to write you. I've tried to draft this email in my head countless times, but have never been satisfied with the results. I've now accepted that words just can't sufficiently express our gratitude, but I'm going to plunge in and try anyway. And I'll start by stealing something a close friend (some of you know her as Citations) wrote in our defense in a blog comment: 'Now, about the fund. I was sitting next to her in the hospital when she got the message about the fund being set up. She gasped, and clasped her hand over her mouth, and pointed at the screen to get JP to look at it. And there it was, at the lowest and most horrible moment of their young lives–when the entire Establishment was calling them criminal and taking away their baby, they knew that someone, somewhere, believed in them. It was, for them, a miracle. A sorely needed boost.' That almost perfectly sums it up (she has a way of doing that). In those days after they took Landon, one of the only bright spots was getting emails from PayPal saying people had donated." When everyone around you- doctors, social workers, detectives- is thinking the worst and you can't figure out how to make them understand that you would never hurt your son, that physical manifestation of belief meant everything. In the end, the financial cost of our false accusation, not counting medical expenses, the appeal, and without ever having to pay for a trial, came to just under $8,000. That's a lot of money. And incredibly, the donations almost exactly matched that. The large amounts came from our families and close friends, but the smaller internet donations added up to a substantial amount.

And of course beyond the financial support was the outpouring of emails, comments, and prayers from people all over. We just received a package from an attorney in Washington, DC who worked with a classmate of mine over the summer. The beautiful card is one of the only things I'll be keeping after all this is over, as her message perfectly encapsulates the kindness we received from strangers:

"Happy New Year! We've never meet, but I have followed the ups and downs of the past few months on the blog. Some time ago I emailed [redacted] to let her know that I was heading to Houston for a business trip and asked if there was anything I could pick up for her there that would remind her of home and lift her spirits. Unfortunately neither of her requests (sending margaritas and/or her mother) were feasible, but I did manage to pick up a little something for Landon from one of my favorite places in Houston. I apologize for being so tardy in sending this package (part of me was hoping to send it after all this nonsense with DCFS was over). However, I thought that the New Year would be an appropriate time to send this note. I sincerely hope that 2008 holds nothing but good things for your family (starting with a successful appeal and hopefully culminating with passing the Texas bar). You all have been in my thoughts and prayers on a daily basis over the past several months and I am so happy that this nightmare is drawing to a close. The strength and grace you have shown in the face of such horrific events has deeply touched me. I hope that the coming year presents fewer opportunities to demonstrate your admirable skill at overcoming adversity. Warmest Regards,"

It's unfortunate that the good people do isn't as advertised as the bad because there's a lot of good out there. I'm immensely grateful that included among all the negative effects of this investigation is a sense of awe at how wonderful people can be.

Aftershocks

I have several posts, half-written or entirely in my head, about the aftermath of the investigation. I'm still working through what happened- there's anger, disbelief, gratitude, exhaustion, and outrage- and they all present themselves in varying degrees at different times. The vast majority of the time, I don't feel much of anything. We live our full and busy lives with Landon, and DCFS has no place in it. But sometimes the emotional aftershocks almost knock me down. My therapist compared my feelings to PTSD- JP and I both have nightmares and there are triggers that immediately bring me back to the darkest days. Last week, Landon took a nap on the exam table while we were waiting for the doctor. I was sitting with an arm on each side of him and when I lifted up one hand to check my watch, I had a clear vision of him rolling off the table and no one believing my story. It was a moment of complete panic. I couldn't breathe, my heart was pounding, and I could see myself trying to explain what happened to faces that had already made up their mind. I wonder how long things like that will happen- that an injury to my child will not make me first worry for them, but instead make me worry that they will be taken away.

The first post in this series will be about gratitude. It's the easiest to write as it's an emotion I had experience with before October. Future posts will probably appear at random- intruding in this blog about shoes, law school, and Landon the way they intrude inside me. I heal through the writing of them- like there's an emotional checklist and every time I address one, the dark memories fade even more.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Another Page in the Medical File

In addition to biting my fingernails all day waiting to hear from DCFS, yesterday was also the day of Landon's appointment with a plastic surgeon for the bump on his eyebrow (and my first day of winter classes, but I'll get to that later). I had asked about the bump several times while we were stuck in the hospital in October, but no doctor ever gave us an answer- if it wasn't related to child abuse, they weren't particularly interested. Our pediatrician was also unsure of what it was and got us this appointment. Within 10 seconds of seeing Landon, the incredibly kind and qualified plastic surgeon (you should see his resume) diagnosed it as a dermoid cyst. Which is: "a congenital defect that occurs during embryonic development when the skin layers do not properly grow together. A dermoid cyst is lined with epithelium, which contains tissues and cells normally present in skin layers, including hair follicles, sebaceous (skin oil), and sweat glands." Apparently it will grow infinitely larger until it is removed in entirety- we've already noticed substantial growth in the past 5 months.

I will call Monday to schedule the appointment, but he should have it out in a fairly quick surgery under general anaesthesia in about a month. Usually the patient can go home soon after the surgery, but because of his past respiratory problems and tracheomalacia, the doctor wants to keep Landon overnight in the hospital. If the surgery is early in the morning and twelve hours go by with no hiccups, there's a chance we could go home the same day, which would be great. Normally I wouldn't mind staying, but this will be the same hospital we spent 9 days in while under investigation and I'd really prefer to not sleep there again. So hopefully this will be one medical issue that is as simple and straightforward for Landon as it is for everyone else!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

News, and Relief

JP finally got hold of our investigator around 6pm (I tried to write this post then, but Landon was NOT amused by my inattention). Apparently she just needed JP's statement that he had tossed Landon because her notes only had me saying it. Since this is what they've pinned the entire neglect finding upon, they needed the story to come from him. Never mind that it was in the orthopedist's report and the hospital social worker's interview notes, and that there is no possible way that action could break the ribs of a normal baby, and the whole finding is bullshit... but that's what it was. JP was IMing me during the phone call and in response to my typing "WHAT IS GOING ON?" about 10 times he wrote, "there is no change. the supervisor will sign off and we'll get the notice in 2-3 weeks." I expressed my relief and he said, "it's still slowly dying. when we get the letter she said to give it to [our lawyer] and appeal." He got the impression she's still irritated that this is how it ended and thinks our chances at appeal are quite strong. So after another night of DCFS-induced worry, hopefully our last, it was nothing.

I hate the emotional wreck of a person this investigation has made me. I am normally a calm, practical, and emotionally stable person who is successful at focusing on the realistic and positive in any situation. But I was a mess while waiting for JP to tell me the result of that call- and then once he told me I started crying. Like out-loud, tears streaming down my face crying. I never cry! I was just so relieved it wasn't anything worse- even though the rational part of my brain (what's left of it) knew it didn't make any sense for the finding to change at this point. It's just that I got a hint of those feelings of fear and helplessness while someone else makes a decision that affects your entire world again, and it terrified me. Once I was done crying and hugging a mildly perplexed Landon, I wiped off my cheeks, got out some squash puree, and fed the little guy his dinner.

Back to normal.

A Label I Haven't Used in a While

This is the post, with it's now ironic title, that I was working on yesterday before I came home to that ominous message from our DCFS investigator (no update on that yet, despite JP's many attempts to reach her):
--------------------

One of my New Year's wishes is that this blog will contain more law school related posts- not because I think UC law provides fascinating blogging fodder, but because I truly hope law school occupies a larger part of my life and thoughts this quarter. When I'm whining about being behind in my reading or when impending exams are keeping me up at night rather than a custody hearing, that will mean my life is back to normal. So let the law school complaining begin!

Winter quarter starts tomorrow and I still haven't picked my classes. I just can't muster the energy. I've spent the last 7.5 hours in the law library (more time than I spent in here all last quarter) working on the Application for Admission to the Texas Bar. Yuck. Trying to remember employment information from 6 years ago, when I was 18 and a summer league swim coach, or who my supervisor was for the three months I worked at Banana Republic before law school, is not fun. Thank god for the internet- what did we do before that? I've made some substantial headway on the application, tracked down most of my old supervisors' current contact information, printed out applications to get certified copies of my birth certificate and marriage license, and talked with the attorney employment manager at Future Firm to get my MPRE costs refunded, start date set, and bar/bri iPod course approved. It's been a productive day on the law career side of things, but as I mentioned, I still don't know which classes I will attend tomorrow. Which means I also havent bought my books or read the assignments. So much for not getting behind...

I'm trying to talk myself into taking classes like con law, evidence, or tax, but I just feel burned out on those classic law school courses. The thought of working through a massive fact pattern on the exam with yet another outline I'll have to create from a million court holdings just makes me feel tired. After years of overachieving, I'm quite enjoying the easy road. And it's not like any course here is actually easy. (Do you notice how easily I was able to tell myself it's okay not to take those classes I totally should take- it's a skill.) I'll probably just sit in on a bunch of classes for the first few days and then make a decision based on how interesting the professor is, how many of my friends are in the class, how expensive the book is, and what the grade is based on. Who knows what I'll end up with...

---------------
Isn't that a lovely, normal post from a 3L? Some whining about the bar exam and a bit about doing as little work as possible during my last year of school. My life felt like it was getting back to normal- I was a mom, wife, and law student and trying to balance them all. Now I'm back to being a parent falsely accused of child abuse, who can't make strangers believe in me, my husband, and our absolute love for our baby, and feeling completely helpless in the face of whatever it is they're calling about. The bar exam seems a mere trifle. I'll let you know when we hear anything.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Shit.

I was in the middle of writing a post about law school and how I hope I use that label more this year- because that should be the source of drama in my life. And then I came home to a message from our DCFS investigator. The one we wrapped things up with on Dec. 5. The one who said we wouldn't be hearing from again. Yeah, her. And she didn't sound happy. It was the tone of voice she used when she told us the indicated finding for JP- like she didn't like the decision and didn't want to deliver the news. She said, "this is Mrs. X, investigator with DCFS and I have a message for Mr. JP. It's Wednesday, January 2nd at 11:20am. Please give me a call back at ____. Once again, this is a message for Mr. JP." He tried to call but she had already gone home, so now we wait and obsess.

What could that possibly mean? Can they change the finding a month later, after her supervisor signed off on it? How much worse could it be after 3 months of no new breaks, with still no evidence of abuse earlier, with all those earlier doctor appointments, with even more recent doctor appointments, with a healthy, happy, and obviously thriving baby?

As soon as I heard the message my stomach dropped and my hands were shaking... I didn't realize how tenuous my sense of calm and security was. I tried to continue playing with Landon- making funny noises and watching him smile, but I just wanted to curl up in bed and cry. Maybe it's nothing. But I just can't think of any good (or even neutral) reasons she'd be calling us now.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008!

The last day of 2007 was a good one. Yesterday's silver shoe mission was completed at the first place I stopped. My friends threw a great party and Landon slept through the revelry in his pack 'n play in one of their bedrooms (it was so weird to be partying with my classmates and remember there was a baby in the other room- my baby- my baby that would not care if his mommy was hungover, who would want to eat and play at 6am even if his parents went to bed at 3am... it's an incredible transformation when you become a parent and your life no longer revolves around you). This was JP and my seventh New Year's together- it's fun to look back at each year and how they've shaped us. This was the first time we've truly said good riddance to the year before. 2007 had its ups: a joyful pregnancy, five fun weeks in Austin, a great experience at Future Firm, and of course Landon's big debut. But those last 3 months contained the darkest days I've ever experienced; and even though scars remain and the memories will never disappear, it's good to see time pushing us all forward.

The weather has perfectly complemented the ending of what has happened and the hope for what is yet to come. It was grey all day yesterday and the night brought a dusting of pure white snow- everything looks so bright and new. In a few days the snow will be dirty and pushed to the gutters, just like my New Year's resolutions to not get behind in my law reading and go to the gym... But for today, it's almost believable that I could change my procrastinating ways and find an extra hour or two in the day.

I hope 2008 brings you all joy and happiness, as well as loving friends and family to pick you up on the days that lack both. Happy New Year to you.