Friday, May 30, 2008

Things I Did During My Last Exam

I can't decide if this is a How To or a How Not To, but this is how I took my 2-hour legal profession exam, for which I studied approximately 1.5 hours:

1. Read the first fact pattern, read it again, read it a third time. Wonder if there's really on two issues in it. Shrug, decide, two is certainly sufficient for a C and start reading an outline to learn something about the two issues I managed to spot.

2. Realize I am 37 minutes into the 120 minute exam and I still haven't written anything. Start typing, something- ANYTHING.

3. Finish question 1 after another 15 minutes. Since I am now 18 minutes ahead of my 1 question per hour pace, take 5 to have a mini self-identity crisis about the fact I will no longer be a student. I have always been a student. Who am I without a first day of school outfit, school supply shopping, and a planner? Relax as I realize all of these things will remain in my life as a lawyer- the first day of work outfit has already been planned and now school supply shopping is free in a beautifully stocked supply closet. Smile at the thought of all those pens and highlighters and little colored flags.

4. Look around the room and realize that I won't see any of these people on a daily basis anymore. Get incredibly sad at that thought (yes, I love my classmates, they are wonderful and smart and supportive and nice in a good old fashioned friendly way). Start to tear up, take a bathroom break to snap out of it.

5. Return focused and read fact pattern #2. Figure there must be at least five issues floating around in there but settle on two to learn and then discuss. In the process of reading the outline, get distracted by an interesting case about a horribly negligent lawyer and feel fury on behalf of the client. Note that the case is 25 years old, convince myself the client is fine now, and continue learning about the issues I need to discuss (which had nothing to do with the only case I have now read).

6. Get about half-way done and decide to take a break. Get out a piece of paper and write a to-do list of things to accomplish on the car ride.

7. Finish the second question. Debate whether or not to attack another issue and settle for flushing one out a little more. Get a little sad about the fact that I'm now a completely bare minimum kind of student, but decide the past few weeks have been insane and give myself a break.

8. Spend the last 10 minutes transferring all my now unneeded law school documents to my virtual recycle bin. Take great joy in pressing "empty recycle bin", wish the sound was on so I could hear the crinkling noise.

9. Wish time would move quicker so everyone else would have to stop discussing more issues than I did.

10. Time is called! Turn in exam, run upstairs to print out directions, go meet JP, little brother, Landon, and the cat to begin our 1100 mile, double car trek to Houston. Tear up again when walking out of the law school, laugh when I think about what my 1L-self would have said if someone told her she'd end up emotionally attached to that building. Realize there's a lot of things my 1L self wouldn't have believed she would do over the next three years and decide that's a good thing (tear up again, feel kind of proud of self, then shake it off). Open the back door to give a sleepy smiley Landon a big kiss on the forehead and jump in the front seat next to JP with my barbri book, iPod, and a package of Subway chocolate chip cookies he picked up just for me.

Drive off into the sunset- or more correctly, large thunderstorm with tornado warning; a special goodbye treat from Chicago to JP.

(I'm now writing this in Blytheville, AR a teeny tiny town with a Sonic and a motel that's almost halfway to our destination. JP is feeling good, Landon was about as cooperative as a 10.5-month-old can be on an 8 hour car trip during his awake hours. Hopefully he will remain as fascinated with empty plastic bottles and the fun sound a tylenol container makes when you shake it under close parental supervision.)

Last Supper

Yesterday was my last day in Chicago. I spent it organizing the nearly empty apartment, sitting in a hotel room with Landon trying to study, searching online for a new fridge because the one we ordered is out of stock (I found one, but it was $200 more and will be delivered 6 days later than we needed - argh), and trying not to let it sink in that we were moving the next day. For dinner we all went to Pizzeria Uno, a Chicago institution we hadn't been to yet. I had a Goose Island 312 beer and many slices of deep dish pizza. We discovered Landon loves black olives and lemon rinds (weird, right?). I'm really glad we're coming back for graduation in 2 weeks because this was NOT the final few days in my favorite city that I want to remember. I'm excited and happy about our move to Austin, but not nearly as much as JP is and not nearly as much as I feel like I'm supposed to be. I love living in a big city and I love living in an apartment. I love that everything is close together. JP hates all of those things. Austin is a compromise - almost small enough for him, almost big enough for me. I know it's going to be a wonderful place for us and I'll get more excited about the house once we're in it again, but right now I'm just really sad. I'm so glad I decided to accept my spot at a law school in a city I'd never been to- I may not have enjoyed every minute of school, but I'm forever grateful for our two years living downtown.

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JP update: We thought he was doing better yesterday afternoon - he went to bed with a perfect 98.6 temperature, but he's been taking tylenol and ib profen on the ER doctor's orders so it might have been an artificial temp. He was sure tonight would be a normal night, but he soaked through our bed, the couch, and then our bed again, and I have a hazy memory of him standing up with a towel wrapped around him (the only dry thing left) and shivering. We'll probably be back at the doctor after we get to Texas tomorrow. Although given his obsession with the place, I wouldn't be surprised if the sickness lifted once we entered its borders.

And now I'm off to take a final I never got to study for - my last day as a student feels so anticlimactic. This really isn't the kind of student I'm used to being.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wishing For Tea

I have now switched to ice water in a big plastic cup, but I'm really wishing there was a way to make hot tea without tea bags, a kettle or microwave proof cup, or sugar. I have yet to come up with a solution. Last night was interesting... and something of a blur.

JP came home around 11 with all tests negative and a diagnosis of "viral syndrome" which he felt sounded more impressive and manly than "a virus" or "the flu". We curled up on the air mattress in the living room with folded t-shirts under his head and our fuzzy blanket under mine and tried to go to sleep. Now it gets hazy. I think I was close to comatose, but my motherly/wifely instincts kept me waking up to check on JP. Around 2 I discovered him hunched over on our wood floor with a sheet wrapped around him. Apparently he'd sweated through his side of the mattress and it was now wet and freezing and he didn't know what to do. Our apartment is all wood floors (which I hate, by the way, and will never ever have in a home I own) so there was nowhere he could move to lay down. He was freezing, I was barely responsive, but somehow managed to look up a hotel on line, call them to book a room immediately, write down directions for JP, and send him on his way to a clean bed in a warm room. He didn't even bring anything and his jacket was packed, so he was wearing a t-shirt and jeans on a 44-degree night, and running out to his car to drive downtown. He called me when he got there and I haven't heard from him since - I told him to sleep in as long as he could and enjoy the baby-free morning in a non-soaked bed.

Landon woke up super perky at 7:15. That's 11.5 hours again. There could be (and will be, as long as my life stops being so damn dramatic) a whole other post about how much fun and how good he has been for the past week. That fussy demanding baby of the wedding (and most of the past 10 months) has completely disappeared. I don't quite trust it to stick yet, but I am really, really enjoying it while it lasts.

Anyway, my brother flies in at 2:30 this afternoon to help us with our drive to Austin tomorrow. We have two cars, a baby, and a crazy cat, so we figured three drivers was necessary so one person can always be in the back with Landon. This turned out to be a really good thing because I don' t think JP can drive. I did bring up the possibility of delaying our trip, but JP said absolutely no way in hell was he staying in Chicago a second longer than necessary (my love for the city never took hold of him), and he would leave hooked up to a portable IV if necessary. The firm will pay for up to three nights hotel along the journey so if we have to stretch out the drive, we can do that. I still have another final (yeah, I kind of forgot too); it's tomorrow at 9. JP and my brother and all our stuff (so easy to pack now that there is nothing out except what we need) will meet me at the law school tomorrow at noon and we'll start the drive. Landon and I are about to get packed up to go check on daddy- we'll let him sleep a little longer, but he needs to eat and drink and I'm worried he's too out of it to do that himself. Thank you for all your comments yesterday- I told JP he was loved in the blogging world and that made him feel special (really).

So now we're at 1 day, 1 final, 1 super sick husband, 1 empty apartment, 1 happy baby, and 1 helpful brother. I think we're going to make it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Big Plastic Cup of Wine

I'm not even sure where to begin to describe the past two days. I suppose it can be summed up by telling you that I'm sitting cross-legged on an air mattress, drinking red wine out of a huge plastic cup while JP is in a nearby hospital hooked up to an IV. For those who'd like to know more, I'll take it day-by-day:

Tuesday: JP thought he was feeling better Monday morning, but did too much taking care of Landon all day. And I let him because I was overwhelmed and at the library and wasn't around to watch him deteriorate (and on the phone he insisted everything was fine and he was feeling great and I should STUDY and stop calling to check in). When I dragged myself home at12:30 AM he was on fire and shivering underneath the mountain of blankets on the bed. I took his temp and it was 104.4. He said he'd forgotten to take tylenol all day, so I gave him some and his temp dropped fairly quickly. When I fell asleep at 2 he was hovering around 99.0. He sweated through all our sheets again and woke up looking like hell. I had a final in two hours, but there was no way he could handle Landon, so I made a frantic call to Maya and she immediately agreed to take him during my final (a new baby has taken his spot, so she couldn't handle him all day). I drove to campus in unusually terrible traffic, dropped the little guy off, and entered the law school 60 seconds before my M&A final began. The exam itself was okay- my analysis was very superficial and I hate that, but it was all I could do. I was supposed to spend the next 12 hours at the library learning something about environmental law for the first time in two months, but I had to go get Landon from Maya's. So I spent the afternoon taking care of both my boys. I finally started studying at 10 when they were asleep and called it quits at 2 AM. I was reading so slowly by the end that I didn't even make it all the way through the outline a good friend and classmate so graciously gave me. Luckily I was too tired to let the fact that I had never read the names of the some of the statutes and most of the cases that would be on the final in seven hours(!) keep me from falling asleep.

Today: JP had terrible night sweats twice - once on our bed and once on the couch after he moved there. This morning he was burning up again but I had to take my final at 9 and the movers were arriving at 8. I showed them around the apartment, told Landon to be nice to his daddy, and left the apartment 5 minutes later than I absolutely had to. I had hoped to finish reading the outline before the exam but didn't have time. I ran into the room to find it full and had to make a whole row of people scoot over a spot just so I could sit down, all flustered and clutching my stack of unopened books. Luckily, oh so VERY luckily, our esteemed professor wrote the exam with four separate questions, each focusing on a different statute, so I could read the question, ctrl+f the outline to find the statute at issue, read about it, and then answer it. Less luckily he reduced the time for the exam by an hour so I spent about 10 minutes teaching myself the topic and 20 minutes writing about it. It was a crazy, unsettling way to take an exam, but I think my end result was satisfactory. I picked up lunch for JP, me, and the four movers on the way home and arrived to see an apartment almost completely empty. It feels so zen; I now want to get rid of half our stuff. The movers were very nice and did an excellent job (I'm trying very hard to focus on some of the positives).

JP had deteriorated to the point of curling up on our borrowed air mattress under two blankets and shivering. We decided it was finally time to go the ER (he had been very resistant and the nurse I spoke with Sunday said that as long as his temperature responded to Tylenol, we were okay). So we piled in his car and drove to the hospital a few blocks from us. JP walked in while I got Landon in the stroller. Once there we found out the wait was several hours so the nurse recommended we try a different hospital in our neighborhood. We walked back out to discover that I had locked the freaking keys in the car. I have never done this before so of course it had to be when JP is really sick, it's freezing outside in May (in the 40's!) and none of us are dressed for it, and the only spare is on a semi-truck headed to Austin. I called AAA, renewed our expired membership over the phone, and they dispatched someone to rescue us- which already pays for the cost of renewing our membership. Despite our misfortune we had some luck on our side - the realtor was showing our apartment to prospective renters so she could let JP and Landon in to get warm. (Thank goodness it was a short walk). I waited outside his car in a crappy neighborhood wearing flip flops and a thin long sleeved shirt until a very nice man broke into JP's car in about 45 seconds and retrieved the keys (it was frightening to see how easy it was to get the doors unlocked).

Once I got home with the keys I will never again lock the door without, JP took off to the other hospital and I bathed, fed, and cuddled the Landon. For the past several hours I've been watching the Top Chef weekly marathon on Bravo, trying to do things without necessary objects (like eating without any cookware or sharp utensils - I finally broke into a package of turkey with my car key and ate that standing up by the counter. I believe that was my dinner), and thinking about JP. The last time I talked to him he was hooked up to an IV and they were running a bunch of tests. He said he was freezing though they kept putting warm blankets on him. I just realized that all our pillows were packed and I'm wondering if he'll be admitted to the hospital. The cat is freaking out about the empty apartment and Landon is snoozing in his play yard. He has been a perfect child since I threatened to take away his future siblings- sleeping 11-11.5 hours a night and doing absurdly cute and smiley things. I just realized this post is very rambly and possibly incoherent, but my god I am tired. Tired and worried and suddenly very preoccupied with our lack of pillows.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Kentucky Dandy

While I'm being raked over the coals in my M&A exam (I only made it halfway through the class slides and read a 12-page outline once through), I thought I'd share these pics of my dapper little man from my cousin's wedding in Louisville this past weekend. The first set involves a mini bottle of Blanton's Bourbon (JP's favorite) that was in our wedding weekend welcome basket in the hotel room. Landon was excited to see that the hostess thought of him in the party planning.



Woo hoo, baby sized bourbon! Party time!


What? What do you mean I can't have any?
I thought we'd pre-game before the rehearsal dinner.



Fine, I'll open it myself. It's a party of one, baby.


Hmmm, maybe I can just suck on the top like I do with those bottles.


The next day Landon had a slight hangover, but managed to get his sailboat tie on straight for the wedding ceremony.



That program is seconds away from going in his mouth and about a minute away from losing a chunk of the top corner. The kid is obsessed with paper. Immediately after the processional, Landon and I headed outside so he wouldn't dominate the wedding video with his very special squeaking noises.



Thirty minutes later we were the first to see the bride and groom exit the church. Landon looked more confused than impressed, but I'm sure he was happy for them. It was a nice weekend, even if stressful for me by the end. I'm glad we saw my dad's side of the family and the first of my ten cousins get married- and I admit, dressing Landon up was half the fun :)


Author's note: No alcohol was ingested during the above baby's encounter with the wee bourbon bottle.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Lag Liv Family Miracle

After another scare last night when JP's temperature jumped up to 104.4 and took its time coming back down (I have never felt someone so burning hot), we have experienced a Memorial Day/Exam Week/Big Move miracle. I gave him a dose of tylenol at 3:30 AM and when I woke up at 7:30 his temperature was a perfect 98.4 degrees. Unfortunately accomplishing that 6 degree drop involved sweating through our only extra set of sheets, two blankets, the dry-clean only comforter, and our mattress, but he is feeling 100% better and I was looking for an excuse to get a new bedroom set anyway. And because one miracle wouldn't have been enough to fully recover from the past few days, Landon was a perfect, playful little guy all day yesterday and then slept 11.5 hours last night! Hope and happiness reign once again in the Lag Liv house.

I've spent the morning enjoying my smiling boys and getting all the packing and organizing done for the move. Because my M&A final tomorrow is followed immediately by environmental law on Wednesday morning (the same time the movers come), I need to have everything arranged now. My firm provides a full service move (packing, loading, unloading, taking apart the furniture and putting it back together - these are the kind of perks no one asks about at OCI but really make a difference during this crazy summer), but we'll need clothes and other items for the 10-14 days before the truck gets to Austin. I've finished with our bathroom, my jewelry, Landon's room, and my closet. All JP has to do is keep the movers away from those suitcases and a few other things we'll need for the 2 nights we'll spend in our wood-floored furniture-less apartment (like the air mattresses- those will be very important).

Now armed with rest and an early morning sense of accomplishment, I'm heading down to Hyde Park to spend my Memorial Day holed away in a corner of the library leaning something about mergers, acquisitions, and maybe environmental law. I may have mentioned this before, but I cannot wait for law school to be over - FOUR more days! (Although right now that sounds more scary than happy...)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Switching to Intravenous Diet Coke

I have a half-written post from Thursday about the graduating student's dinner and how much I don't want to leave Chicago, but the events of the past few days require me to write (whine) about something else first. It all began Friday morning when my baby morphed from sometime demon-baby to full-time demon-baby just as I started packing for our 2-day trip to Louisville. JP was swimming so I was left holding a screaming fussing non-napping Landon and looking around helplessly at all the things that needed to be done. We left late, but made the drive in just over 5 hours and arrived in time for the amazing rehearsal dinner at the Churchill Downs museum. It really was beautiful- and in such a neat location! We got to take a tour of the track, learn about the history and horses, and eat and drink lots of delicious things. Unfortunately, Landon was not as impressed as we were and fussed pretty much the whole time. My aunt (mother of the groom) has a friend with a baby one month younger than Landon and after seeing how good natured and easy this baby was, and hearing how he slept 12 hours at night and had never been sick, JP and I definitely felt a little sorry for ourselves. Later, when Landon was up every few hours and we were so tired, I just started crying. Every now and then on really bad nights JP will say something about not wanting any more kids, and that night, for the first time, I told him I didn't either. And I really meant it- and I might still mean it. We spent Saturday walking around pretty downtown Louisville and hoping Landon would take a nap. He did not. We went to the wedding ceremony, spent 90% of it outside in the grass so that Landon's squeaking noises wouldn't dominate the wedding video, and then took off for the 5-hour drive back. Given that Landon didn't sleep all day we were sure he would sleep in the car ride home, but he instead chose to scream for nearly two hours before petting his blanket and settling down for a little nap.

Luckily, the Landon seems to know when he has us at a breaking point and he did sleep from the time finished unpacking at 1 AM (he crawled around for that 30 minutes) to 7:30 this morning. I hadn't touched a law book or outline in three days and planned to move into the library until my M&A final Tuesday morning (which will be immediately followed by Environmental Law on Wednesday morning, the same day the movers come). JP started feeling sick yesterday, but I figured it was just due to extreme lack of sleep and he'd get over it with a good night's rest. But starting around 2:00 this morning (1 hour after we got in bed) he was on fire, but shaking with chills. He was covered in blankets and clutching a heating pad and said he was freezing. This morning he woke up soaked in sweat, still burning outside and freezing inside, and feebly insisting that I go to the library while he took care of Landon. Of course I ignored him and spent the morning nursing him and keeping Landon from yanking all of Lilly's hair out. We had a scare when his temperature shot up to 104.1 from 102 in 45 minutes, but with more liquids and some tylenol we got it back under control.

It is now 8:45 and I am opening my backpack for the first time since Wednesday. Both of my boys are asleep and I have a very long night of studying ahead of me. I'm desperately hoping JP is better in the morning because I will be staring at a blank word document on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings for those exams if I don't do spend tomorrow cramming. I still haven't even read an outline and while I was feeling okay about that a few days ago I'm getting that suffocating panicky feeling right now. I have 5 days, 3 finals, 1 move, 1 mercifully pleasant baby, and 1 very sick husband. I know things will work out and I know that in a month we'll be settled in our house, I'll have my JD, and we'll joke (or at least not cry) about this week. But right now I feel like diet coke and some sort of survival instinct are all that's keeping me from collapsing in a teary little puddle on the floor.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spinning Wheels

I'm at something of a loss for how to begin my exam preparation. I always start my outlines late (usually no sooner than the week before exams) and spend the days leading up to finals in a frenzied state. This has actually worked well for me- I get to enjoy most of the quarter and I figure that the week before exams sucks for everyone, so making it suck a little more is worth the tradeoff for not worrying about finals until those 7 days out. However, I have always arrived at that "week before" deadline having attended nearly every class, completed every reading assignment, and briefed every case. My notes are already in near outline form, I just spend a day or two reading them and reorganizing them into overarching class themes.

This quarter is, well, different. I haven't attended Environmental Law and Legal Profession since the third week and haven't read since the second. I've been going to M&A but haven't read for it. My "week before" studying plan doesn't work when I'm staring at a nearly blank class notes document. I know I should be busy doing something, I'm just not sure what to do first. Do I open the casebook? Do I just read outlines? Do I go to the zoo with Landon and JP like I really want to because I'm screwed anyway? I do need to pass, and in the case of M&A I'd like to do better than that.

So far I've printed several outlines and they're sitting next to me in a nice little stack. I should feel panicked, but my first exam isn't until Tuesday, and after spending days in the library frantically working on papers that were due in a number of hours, six days feels like a leisurely amount of time to study for three finals. Although, given that tomorrow night will be spent at the graduating students dinner, and my weekend will be spent driving to and from Louisville for a cousin's wedding, I am more pressed for time than my brain seems willing to admit. But here I sit, staring at my outlines, and googling "nail salons" so I can get a pedicure tomorrow. I am not as stressed as I should be. I have an unsupported, yet unwavering faith that I will not fail my classes and I will walk across the stage on June 13.

I believe this is the very essence of being a 3L.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Done, but not

I finished the paper at 2:05 AM. I battled a gut twisting stomach ache that made my legs shake and left me tucked in a ball under my table (twice), a frozen computer, and jittery caffeinated hands which taunted me in the final hour by hitting the wrong keys any time I typed faster than 20 wpm, but I emerged victorious. I got home around 2:45, took forever to fall asleep, and got about 4.5 hours in before waking up late and racing back to campus to meet with my professor to discuss the paper. I think there's nuggets of good information and analysis buried somewhere in the 28 pages, but I really can't be sure. I'm afraid to read it now.

This paper had a backstory that was supposed to make my life easier (and it did), but which also added a unique stress to the finished product. In the fall when my world was crashing, one of my favorite professors insisted I drop two of my classes and replace them with an "independent research" for him, to be completed at a later date. This is what allowed me to ignore law school almost entirely for those two months and I am so, so grateful for that. I planned to write something during the winter quarter, but then Landon got a million ear infections and no one was sleeping and I was constantly behind and I just never worked on the topic he gave me. Over spring break I went into his office, full of apologies and confessed to not even remembering my original assignment. He waved it off and gave me my choice of a few options, the last one being a particularly interesting topic that I was actually excited about researching. It was so refreshing to write a paper with a purpose beyond the grade and credit; I was going to help him write a law review article by gathering, organizing, and synthesizing information on a fairly new corporate law topic. But then my four classes and other outstanding paper got in the way, and by the second week of class I was freaking out and feeling guilty for neglecting his project. When he heard I had another substantial he said, "why aren't you just getting that credit for me?" and I replied, "because I didn't want to ask you for anything else." He said that was ridiculous and told me his paper could be my second substantial (all law students have to write two to graduate; almost any seminar paper can be made into a substantial one with the requisite length and level of research). That was one of my happiest days this quarter. My cyber law paper now only had to be 15 pages long and I got to write a substantial paper on a topic I actually found interesting for a professor I actually liked.

The downside to all this was that I now really cared about my paper. It didn't help that my two best grades in law school were from this professor's classes (corporate law and securities) so he had a uniquely high opinion of my intelligence which I didn't want to disillusion. I haven't felt smart in this building often and it would be sad to tarnish the only two times in three years that I did. So even though my professor insisted he didn't want his project to be a source of stress, it was. It was no longer about getting credit, I wanted to do a good job, and I wanted the paper to be useful to him in his own larger project. I hope it succeeded; I put more time and effort into it than I really had to give. It was almost refreshing to care again about my work product. I haven't been kidding when I've said I've lost any emotional connection to my grades - this year has become about survival and graduation. But I used to care, I used to be proud of the things I handed in, and I used to count down the days until grades were posted because I knew it was going to be a good one. That all came to a screeching halt after my 1L fall grades came out, which I think kicked off the depression and self-doubt that plagued my 1L year (but that's a different post entirely).

The point is that while I can check another item off my to-do list, my lingering attachment to the paper is making that check mark less immediately satisfying. Also crashing the "Hooray! I'm done!" party is exhaustion and the fact that I have yet another paper due at 4pm today for my workshop. I need to read a giant article and write a 3-5 page reaction. Small potatoes compared to my last two projects, but the thought of staring at another blank word document is almost nauseating. At least I'll be coming home from school tonight on the same calendar day that I left in the morning. I'm giving Landon his bath, soaking up all the giggles and cuddles before bed, and enjoying some down time with JP. It's been about four days since I've talked to him outside of IMs, whispered phone calls in the library, and Landon hand-offs out in front of the law school. I'm also looking forward to eating real food at a table and not over my laptop.

And then tomorrow I'll start studying for those three exams I'm supposedly taking next week. Ten more days...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fading Fast

I'm at 23 pages for my corporate law substantial paper and fading fast. It's technically due before the end of the day, but I think that as long as my professor finds it in his inbox tomorrow morning, I'm fine.

I've left the library well after midnight the past 3 days. Last night I noticed around 12:30 that I lost the ability to spell- I had just written a sentence with three words misspelled so badly that spellcheck didn't know what to make of them, and neither did I. I stared at the screen for a good minute, racking my brain to remember the right order of the letters. I gave up, turned off my laptop, and headed home for a few hours of sleep. I have a lot of research and a lot to say on this topic, so I'm not hurting for lack of material, I just have nothing left to give. The fact that I have three finals starting a week from tomorrow is incomprehensible. And the fact that JP has done 100% of the parenting and house keeping for the past few days and all I seem to do is snap at him makes me sad.

Landon, on the other hand, is an absolute delight. He and JP came to visit me for a little while this afternoon and I just wanted to soak up his laughter and excitement at everything around him. He was squealing and crawling and giggling in the green lounge and let me hug and kiss him all I wanted. He's having a grand time with his dad and in eight days has become a champion crawler. I took this video clip on Saturday and he's improved even more since then (I apologize for the shaky camera work and bad lighting):



Seeing him gives me the biggest smile, even when the edges of my vision are blurry and my fingers no longer hit the keys my brain tells them to. I know studying for the bar exam is going to be a lot of work this summer (as is unpacking and organizing a new home), but so much of me is looking forward to two months of being in the same place as my boys all day and working towards one test with one deadline. And even though there is a huge list of things that must happen before May 30, I'm counting down the days (all ELEVEN of them) until we are in a loaded car driving towards Texas, with all of law school behind me.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Day That Fun Lived (for a few hours, anyway)

One of UChicago's many mottos is "Where Fun Comes To Die." I have to say that's true much of the time (another depressingly accurate one is "Hell Does Freeze Over" - maybe they need a new marketing department...), but yesterday I took a break from my paper and spent two very fun hours with JP and Landon at the Summerbreeze Carnival in the main quads on campus. There was free food- burgers, brats, jamba juice, popsicles, cotton candy, and caramel apples, and fun- face painting, giant inflatable toys, and much to JP's delight, a mechanical bull.

Spring only recently decided to come to Chicago, and it blessed us with a gorgeous day- the kind that makes me want to cry at the thought of leaving this city. The main part of campus is really beautiful; it was modeled after Oxford and Cambridge and the Gothic buildings, bright green ivy, and brilliant blue sky all combined to a glorious effect. Landon got to wear shorts for the first time and spent a lot of time petting the grass while mom chowed down on a cheeseburger, brat, and the horrifyingly delicious fried twinkie. (It kind of makes you feel like you want to puke, but there's nothing I'd rather eat that makes me feel that way.)

JP went two rounds with the mecanical bull and the second time just jumped off when the operator couldn't throw him off. Landon wasn't too impressed with his dad's moves, but was very confused by all the clapping that didn't appear to be for him. Every time the group watching the bull riders clapped, Landon would look up with a little smile for whoever was praising him, only to be very confused when no one was nearby. I realized that I don't think he's every heard clapping that wasn't for him! (And we're easily impressed.)

All the action, colors, and grass petting completely wiped out the little man

so JP took him home while I trudged into the library to start my paper. It was a perfect midday treat, even if I'm now pretty sure I can't finish this paper by midnight. I know I could get an extension, but I also know that would be a terrible idea. This week has to be about attending my classes for the first time in a month, catching up in like 700 pages of reading, and preparing for the exams and move that are a week away. [Deep breaths] I'm just taking it one paper section at a time, and am very thankful for a few happy hours and nice weather during our last Saturday in Chicago.

Not What I Expected As a 3L

It's 1:58 AM. I'm about to pack up my stuff and head home. I have a terrible headache, heavy eyes, and no accompanying feeling of accomplishment. I am seven pages into what is going to be a very long paper. And it's due on Monday. And I have a workshop paper due on Tuesday.

In other news, I had the opportunity to eat a fried twinkie today and it was every bit as delicious and terrible as it sounds.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Sartorial Equivalent of a Smile*

On the way back from the appeal hearing we stopped at a boutique in Wicker Park and I fell I love with this dress for graduation.

It's a little more... girly? ruffly? than I usually wear, but it was comfortable, hung well on my body, and seemed so bright and joyous- and "joyous" is exactly how I will feel on that Friday morning. When I came out of the dressing room JP told me I looked like a "porcelain light bulb". Apparently the very bright pink made my very pale skin look even paler (or "more porcelain" as JP so lovingly describes it). It had only just come in and since it was Wednesday and there were two left on the rack, I decided to sleep on it. The store doesn't allow returns and I'm so freaked out about spending money right now that I wasn't sure I should spend $39 on a potentially too-bright dress that made my skin glow like a light bulb.

But I couldn't stop thinking about my beautiful bubblegum dress. By the time I went to bed Wednesday night I was certain that I needed it. Even if it was too bright for graduation, it was only $40 and it was different and fun and it most definitely needed to live in my closet. I left the library early on Thursday to stop at the boutique on my way home; I walked straight to the rack where I'd left it, nestled between all the other too trendy dresses I could never pull off, but it was gone! They had sold out in the few hours between my leaving and the store closing. They called their other location in Lincoln Park and there was one left- and in my size! I promised to go buy it first thing Friday morning. The dress I wasn't sure I should get was now a necessary purchase, so first thing this morning I raced over to Lincoln Park, parked illegally, and dodged traffic as I raced across Clark St to rescue my bubblegum dress. And I got the last one!

It is now safe in my closet, right next to the three long ago purchased and already worn dresses I am wearing to my cousin's rehearsal dinner, his wedding, and our graduating student's dinner. So I can get a new dress for graduation, right? And the new brushed gold shoes that must go with it? I already have shiny gold heels, but they're not right for the daytime wearing of this dress and my feet have barely recovered from the last time I wore them (over a year ago). I think a brushed/muted gold shoe and dangly brushed gold earrings will be perfect. But I have to ask, do you think it's too bright and almost shiny for a graduation? I know that I could wear it, but should I? I don't think it's looking as cute in the picture as it does in real life, and I got one a size too big so it doesn't cling and stretch out the ruching, it hangs just right and looks very soft and Spring-y. Or so I think. JP is no help - whether or not something "should" be worn is way beyond his "that looks great" or "um, what else do you have?" capabilities. It is a really bright color. What do people wear to grad school graduations?

*Super bonus points to the person who knows what TV show that title quote was borrowed from!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Googletopia

In lieu of another post about Landon's teeth trying to kill us all and me starting to really freak out about my papers and finals and moving across the country in TWO WEEKS, here's a few google searches that brought people to my little blog:

"my wife is pregnant and the mood swings arent good"
- I'm not sure where in my blog google brought this frightened husband, but I love the way this search is worded. He's not saying "she's a b*tch" or "she's so moody and irritable I don't even recognize her," it's just a tentative "they aren't good." I kind of want to give him a hug and tell him it will be okay, but until then, be nice and patient and offer her lots of back rubs. I didn't have mood swings, but I did cry about not crying after Landon was born, so I think every woman's emotions get screwed up at some point in the process.

"can good moms have careers"
, "what's good about being a working mom?", "am i a bad mom because my baby is in daycare?", and lots more along those lines. This makes me really want to continue my blog after I start working because I probably get 2-5 searches a day asking questions like that. Yes, good moms can have careers. No, you're not a bad mother for putting your baby in daycare. And there's lots of good about being a working mom: sanity, self-satisfaction, and supporting your family to name a few.

"diet coke brownies done wrong" Is there a way to do diet coke brownies right? Because if there is a way two combine my two favorite things, I must be told immediately.

"get chlorine smell off skin"
Well, I hope you liked that chemically-laced perfume because you really can't get the smell off. Time, scrubbing, and lotion all help. But because I associate it so strongly with JP and the whole beginning of our relationship, I find it to be quite an intoxicating scent.

"i need cheese"
Who doesn't?

"pregnant and feeling fat"
Yes, I spent much of pregnancy feeling that way- especially in the beginning when you don't really have a bump, you're just getting thicker. I didn't worry about it nearly as much as I thought I would, but I still had to obsess a little. The good news is that it can all go away. I was +42 pounds the day I had Landon (a month early!) and now I'm -14. My advice is to let go, try to eat things with nutritional value, and enjoy the desserts. Your days of lingering over a brownie fudge sundae are limited- from delivery day on you'll be lucky to eat half your now cold food while standing up bouncing a baby.

"picture of a picture of a surgical nurse"
I can't help you with that, but I have to ask- do you really need a picture of a picture? I have a surgical story in pictures, but that's probably not what you're looking for.

"my fiance changed in law school"
I'm sorry for that. Law school is hard and like any trying time, it can make you stronger or expose weaknesses in your relationship you didn't realize you had. 1L year was a really difficult year for me, but it was a wonderful one for my marriage (well, except the night I made JP sleep on the cough because he implied my fall quarter grades weren't perfect. I already knew that and had just said it, but apparently he wasn't allowed to respond with anything except, "you're brilliant and awesome and pretty, here would you like some chocolate?").

"there is nothing fun about being pregnant"
I agree, except feeling the baby move. And getting to buy new clothes. Oh, and I'm usually an insomniac, but I slept like a baby while I was pregnant. I miss that a lot. But in general, yeah, it wasn't my favorite 8 months and I would like it to be JP's turn next time.

"i have two days until my law school final and haven't started studying"
Welcome to my world.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hopeful, but Wary

Short version: We're home. I think it went well. I know it didn't go badly. We'll have a decision in 30 days.

Long version: JP took Landon to Maya's this morning (one more bonus day with the babies for him!) while I got ready. He returned home an hour later and I was still not dressed - absolutely nothing in my closet fits. I tried on every suit I so proudly purchased for my firm job 1L summer and they looked ridiculous. I could pull them down without unbuttoning them, and I just couldn't have my pants falling down in court. Thirty minutes later, and 5 minutes after we were supposed to leave, in the deep recesses of my closet I found a cheap brown suit from the Juniors section of Macy's 6 years go, threw it on, and we ran out the door. There was traffic, parking was impossible, and we raced to the building to meet our attorney a few minutes before the hearing. While it was a little crazy and I might have snapped at JP while driving through downtown, I think all the rushing and throwing of clothes all over the bed kept my mind off the impending hearing.

We met with the lawyer representing DCFS and the administrative law judge who would be hearing our case. It always amazes me how informal much of law is, especially in an area like this where the same lawyers see each other over and over again. Our "court room" turned out to be a conference room and we gave our testimony from a folding chair at the front. The only witness from DCFS was our investigator (Dr. K declined to come and just wrote a statement reiterating her earlier report saying Landon's injuries could only be caused by intentional abuse; it was barely even mentioned in the hearing since it didn't agree with DCFS's theory or ours). I was excluded from the investigator's testimony so I sat in the hallway and edited my cyber law paper. When she left the room she asked how Landon was and said "I hope you win this thing," which was nice. JP later told me that her testimony helped us more than them because she emphasized that anything done was playful and unintentional and there was no proof of anything.

I came back in the room for my testimony. I swore to tell the truth and then immediately panicked that I had forgotten all the details and doctor appointment dates and would end up lying under oath on accident. Our lawyer asked me questions, the DCFS lawyer cross-examined, our lawyer followed up, and then I was done. You know how on TV shows and movies you yell at the witness to "STOP TALKING" and just answer the question because he's just hurting his own case? (or is it just law students who do that?) Well, turns out, it's really hard to stop talking; especially when you're innocent because you want to show that you're open and honest and have nothing to hide and see, look I'm just volunteering information over here! I was only moderately successful at answering only what was asked, but I tried and I don't think it mattered much. The DCFS attorney did her job of defending her client, but she wasn't overly zealous about it.

JP then testified, was cross-examined, and answered a few follow-ups from our attorney. There were some short closing statements and we were done. Our lawyer emphasized the fact that while we don't know what happened to Landon, that doesn't mean that JP should be indicated. The "theoretical" possibility that tossing a baby in the air could break ribs is not "proof by a preponderance of the evidence" and there is absolutely nothing else in the record to support their decision to indicate him over anyone else who had contact with Landon. Our lawyer thought things went well and said he'd call when he got the decision. The DCFS attorney and judge wished me luck on the bar exam, and we walked out the door.

And because the court room (conference room) was on State Street we went to Macy's to use up the last of my gift cards on lunch and I bought a pair of capris so I'd have something to wear all summer that fit. JP is taking a nap, Landon is playing with his baby friends, and I'm about to start another paper. I think we both secretly expect the indication to be expunged but we're afraid to say it, so our official statement on the day's events is: "we'll see." But I have to admit, it's a hopeful "we'll see."

Update, July 28: We won.

While We're Out

I had a dental appointment a couple weeks ago and my friend, her sister, and parents all watched Landon for an hour (they were visiting and had heard so much about the little man they all wanted to meet him). Her sister is a budding photographer and took these pictures. I love them.














I'm not sure when the hearing will be over. Our attorney said to clear out the whole day because you never know when you'll be called before the judge and cases are rarely called when they're supposed to be. I'm sure I'll post something when we get back. Until then, enjoy the pictures.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Paper Writing Crime Scene


Photobucket


Last night at 11:58 PM, I finished paper #1. It was the shorter, 12-15 pager, and while it needs some serious editing and footnote/citation work, the bulk of the writing is done. Completing the task involved many cookies, much hot tea, and of course, Mike & Ike's; it takes a lot of energy to force such poor wording and sentence structure out of my reluctant brain and onto the paper. I got home around 1:45 but couldn't fall asleep for nearly an hour. Landon woke up screaming at 3:45 and it took both JP and I soothing him to go back to sleep around 4:30. The boys left early this morning to pick up my bar/bri books and get my tires rotated and I just woke up at 10:25!!

I feel refreshed, I feel indulgent- I feel a little less intimidated by the fact that in the next 17 days I will: start, write, and edit the big paper (both papers are due May 19); attend Env Law and Legal Profession for the first time in many weeks and try not to hyperventilate about the fact that I'm hundreds of pages behind (last class day is May 23); catch up 200 pages in M&A, the only class I've at least been attending; take three finals (May 27, 28, 30); prepare for the movers arrival on May 28 by setting aside everything we'll need to keep with us until we are reunited with our boxes on June 8; drive off into the sunset for a 17 hour trip to Texas with two cars, a baby, and a cat immediately after my last final on May 30. There's also the hearing I'm trying not to think about tomorrow*, and we're driving to a family wedding in Kentucky the weekend between my last class day on Friday and first final on Tuesday.

But having one thing done really does make it all seem possible. In fact, I now feel so much less overwhelmed I think I'll eat lunch with my boys! Hmmm, perhaps that feeling is not calm, but delusion?

*I really appreciate everyone's comments of support on that post. It was important for me to write and I think doing so worked out a lot of the built up fear and dread I was holding on to; I just had to get something less vulnerable and depressing at the top of the page because we really are doing pretty well.

The Appeal

Tomorrow morning at 10 AM, JP and I will be in court for his DCFS appeal. We will both testify on his behalf, listen to any testimony against us, and then wait for the decision that is supposed to arrive within 90 days. I haven't written much about it, even though it's been on my calendar and my mind for weeks. There's been plenty of stress from other sources (like papers and teething) as well as other happy things to write about (like prom and crawling babies with giggling video clips). And the DCFS stuff seems so over the top and caused such a firestorm of drama back when I was writing about it day by day that I'm almost embarrassed to bring it back up again. I also just haven't had a lot to say, in real life or in this blog. I'm dreading it-- dreading putting any hope back in their incompetent hands, dreading having to search for words to convince another stranger of what a wonderful father JP is to Landon, dreading seeing Dr. K again and listening to her testify with certainty that we're child abusers, dreading the flash backs to those horrible days when we saw Landon for an hour in a supervised room and didn't know when he would come home...

I don't want to go. I'm not yet angry about what happened; when I let myself think about it at all I just feel sad and scared and weak with relief that it's over. I told JP that I would support him 100% in an appeal, but he had to make the decision to file it because if were up to me I wouldn't do it. I know I'd regret it later, and I think the moral victory is important, but I like pretending we're done and we're fine and that I don't think about what happened in October a hundred little times a day. I wrote a few weeks ago that I go whole days without thinking about DCFS. I've realized since that wasn't true, I think about them all the time. The difference is that those thoughts no longer paralyze me; they pass through my brain and move on, sometimes I barely notice they were there. That feels like a big step forward and makes me wonder if there will ever be a day when I don't think about some moment of that nightmare at least once. I'm not sure there will be and I hate them for that.

There is reason to be optimistic. The burden of proof is higher for the appeal than the investigation. DCFS must prove "by a preponderance of the evidence that abuse or neglect did occur." I have no idea how they will show that, which is perhaps why the appeal success rate is 75% in Illinois. It's also comforting to know that the worst case scenario is the status quo, and that we're doing okay with the way things are. We're permanently leaving the state and the odds of his indication mattering in Texas are extraordinarily small. Of course it would be wonderful to win - to clear his name and to feel like we finally pushed back, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up. We won't pursue the appeal past this stage (which is in front of a DCFS administrative law judge)- it's not worth the time, money, and stress- especially from 1,000 miles away.

I wish we could just bring in the mountain of video clips and pictures that show how much Landon adores his dad. I've had to make JP leave the room when I'm taking pictures because Landon won't look at the camera if he can somehow get a glimpse of his daddy's face instead. Here is an example from last week when JP standing to my right and Landon would not look away from him:


JP is an amazing, loving father and it is beyond absurd that his name will be on a child abuse registry for the next 20 years. I've always thought of myself as a fighter, as someone who would never just roll over when falsely accused of something, and I hate that they've shown me I'm not as strong as I thought I was.

I don't want to go tomorrow. Not. At. All. But for JP I will.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Present

Yesterday was a very nice, very simple day. Landon made me waffles with fresh strawberries and bananas, which were carefully selected for me at the store (he had a little help from daddy with the waffles, but apparently the bright yellow bananas were all Landon). I didn't go to the library, but instead worked at my desk in the living room in my hot pink flannel pajamas and slippers all day. Landon was very cooperative and took two nice naps so I could get some writing done (four more pages!). I loved being in the same room as my boys and it was nice to glance up from a case and see them practicing their crawling and building crazy towers with as many different toys as possible. Landon went down at about 7:30 with minimal fuss and JP and I ended the night eating a two-layer marble cake he made from scratch (well, from a box, but that's from scratch in our house!) and watching Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters. He went to bed and I stayed up until 12:30 writing and editing a little more. I fell asleep dreading the 3 AM screaming fit from Landon and was shocked to wake up to his babbling at 6:45. It was the perfect present- 6 whole hours of uninterrupted sleep!



A close up of my handsome little guy.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Babies and Dinosaurs

or: Parenting Advice from Jurassic Park

Last night I got home from the library around 11 having written FIVE whole pages for my cyber law paper. The writing of those five pages required a king sized box of Mike and Ike's, three chocolate stars, a Jimmy John's sandwich, chips, and chocolate chunk cookie, two diet cokes, and take-out pad thai. All that clicking to open up new Lexis windows works up quite an appetite. When I got home I kissed Landon good night and whispered to him that sleeping until 6 AM would be a wonderful Mother's Day gift. He must have misunderstood me because he was up at 3:30 crying and screaming and it took Motrin and then nearly 45 minutes to get him back to sleep. A few of the thoughts running through my head near the end:

Me, while patting then rubbing his back: Okay, his breathing has slowed... start rubbing slower and lighter... like I'm barely even there... Okay, good, no breathing changes... Now stop and just rest the hand lightly on his back. Alright, it's looking good, now take one step towards the door without moving the hand. Wait a second.. now slide the other foot over... very good. Now, slowly lift up the hand...

[a soft cry comes from the corner of the crib]

Me: FREEZE. Don't move - don't even breathe - and he won't see you. Wait, isn't that for a dinosaur? Like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park? Why would I think that would work? My god, I'm tired.

[Still frozen, but no longer sure why] Hmmm, it seems to be working though, maybe I can duck down and then crawl out the door.

[Crouch only to hear one big sustained wail coming from the Landon, curse out loud] I wonder when I need to stop saying bad words in front of him... probably now. Why, WHY won't he go back to sleep? I hate teeth. Alright, let's try the bouncing again... Wait, it's officially Mother's Day - daddy's turn!

[End Scene]

Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies out there from me and the Landon:



------
updated to add: He crawled for the first time! The hand, knee movement finally came together and he just crawled towards his toy truck. I'm really excited about his little milestone but it's also sinking in that our lives are never going to be the same again... the Landon has gone mobile.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Prom Redux, reporting from the library

I woke up this morning to a splitting headache that had nothing to do with alcohol and everything to do with the papers hanging over my head (although my severe lack of sleep and teeny tiny prom food may have contributed). Last night was a blast. We were a little late as Landon had a meltdown right as we were leaving (which I think had much more to do with regular nighttime fussiness and teething than the fact we were walking out the door), so we stayed to calm him down and stand him up by the coffee table so he could hit it with his hand- that always keeps him busy and happy for a good 20 minutes. My friend who goes to John Marshall law school was babysitting and she did a wonderful job- she had Landon sleeping soundly not long after we left.

We arrived at the hotel about 10 minutes before the bar was closing for dinner- JP managed to grabbed four beers for himself and a glass of wine for me. Dinner was mediocre, as most large seated dinners are, but we had a great table of friends to laugh and talk with. I tried to get a good picture of JP and I all dressed up, but he kept screwing it up with funny faces, rolls, sticks of butter, etc. By the time he smiled nicely for the camera, my own smile was completely fake and I look like I'm going to kill him. It's actually kind of fantastic and my picture card looks like one long outtake reel. I found that the teal satin of my dress reflected the light from the flash so that I really stand out in pictures (also in the picture: $12 shoes and the upside of having a 22 lb. baby who insists on being carried ALL THE TIME, especially between the hours of 4 and 6 AM- toned legs! I'd prefer sleep, but I'm trying to focus on the positive.) The greater than expected shininess of the dress led me to this year's Halloween costume- Malibu Barbie! I just need some plastic shoes and a blonde wig and I'm set. I attempted lots of dancing, took lots of funny pictures, and admired how nice my classmates look all dressed up. There were some really gorgeous gowns (and tuxes!), and unlike previous years I didn't see anyone noticeably drunk. I think this had to do with the vastly understaffed bar and long lines for drinks; actually, maybe the hotel did that on purpose... One of many highlights of the evening was a classmate coming up to me and saying, "wait, did you have a baby?" When I said yes, he replied with a complimentary "Damn..." He may have been a little buzzed, but it's still fun to be complimented by someone who isn't married to you :) All in all a very nice night out. I got a little teary eyed when I realized it was probably my last one; three weeks from today we'll already be in Texas and I have papers and finals and a Louisville wedding taking up all my time before then.

We got home just in time to hear Landon wake up with a scream. He kept trying to stick our hands in his mouth and looked around with big, sad yes. After some Motrin, Orajel, and cuddles he was back to sleep and stayed that way until 7 AM! After many mornings of 4 AM wake-up calls, that totally made it worth the crying baby buzz kill at midnight. I left for the library at 9 and am determined to make headway on a paper today- at this point it's really less of a goal and more of a necessity. The frantic paper writing and long sprint to the finish begins now!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Not So Fast

Because every other school in the country finishes up before we do, random people keep congratulating me on earning my law degree. I don't want to tell them I don't graduate until June 13, and that in fact several graduation requirements are not near completed, but it feels funny to just say "thanks". I don't think it's sunken in yet that I will be done soon- no more drives down to Hyde Park, no more briefing cases, no more studying for exams (we're not talking about the Bar yet)... I've been in school for so long it's strange to think of my life without it.

Although if I don't finish these papers I won't have to! Here is the home paper writing set-up I had going on yesterday:




Notice the large insulated cup of black tea (English breakfast with two Splenda), the cup of Fresca with ice and a straw (always a straw), nearly empty bag of Skittles, printed out research I'm verifying, laptop with about 15 Lexis windows open, comfy couch, perfect for sitting indian-style in the corner, and finally, a Landon in the lap. Landons are actually not conducive to studying, but are fantastic for a giggle break.



And if he hadn't woken up screaming at 4 AM, and continued screaming through cuddles, motrin, bottles, singing, and swaying, until 6:30 AM. I would totally recommend that everybody go get one.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Day in Snippets

I'm still very behind, I'm still very stressed about being very behind, and the papers still aren't done. I stayed at the library until 11 PM on Monday and Tuesday, but came home on Wednesday at 7 PM to find a little boy sitting in the tub where my little baby was supposed to be. I swear he looked older, although that might have been because I spent the morning putting together mini photo albums of "Landon through the past 10 months" as Mother's Day gifts for the two grandmas. It already seems like so long ago he was just a lumpy little baby...

Today I had a doctor's appointment at 1, so I stayed home in the morning. JP took Landon to daycare and when he got back I decided to ignore my stacks of research for a while and go on a date. We went to one of our favorite neighborhood brunch places and had a wonderful time. Daytime dates are my new favorite thing - we'll have to do them more in Austin. Then I went to the doctor, came home and was surprisingly productive until JP and Landon came home from Maya's. Landon was in a very cheerful mood and I just enjoyed being in the same room as my boys, even if my productivity plummeted. We went on a long walk after Landon's dinner to a nearby park and pond where he looked at the ducks with deep suspicion (he likes my quacking better than the real thing) and had big smiles on the swing. JP and I talked about our plans for the house- what projects we want to do first, how we can make our summer funds stretch as far as possible, and how much Landon is going to love his little playscape and the nearby pool. Landon had a bath, snuggled, and went to bed with unusual ease... he's definitely working on at least one more tooth right now, so I'm not optimistic that his great evening will translate to a peaceful night, but every time I make a guess about his sleep, I'm wrong, so who knows. I went back to work on some caselaw research and JP chefed up a delicious meatball sub for dinner (with meatballs he made from scratch). He came up with the idea in the grocery store, got all the ingredients, and executed it perfectly - it really was delicious and he was so proud :)

And now I am going to bed. Still stressed, still behind, but happy that I enjoyed the day. I figure next week is going to be horrible no matter what (the papers are due Monday the 19th), so I might as well enjoy the delusion that I still have plenty of time left before I can't make myself believe it anymore (like the night of the 18th). Night!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Gift for Maya

Friday is Landon's last day in Maya's daycare. Despite predictions to the contrary, I didn't cry when I dropped him off on his first day, but I'm certain I'm going to cry on his last. Maya has truly become part of our family and we are all going to miss her very much.

I know there are heated discussions taking place in message boards and play groups all over the country (world?) about staying home vs. working, and it seems that daycare and "letting someone else raise your child" is central to the argument of those against moms in the work force. Here's an actual example of a particularly passionate comment: "Unless you're about to starve there is no reason for you to be at work. If you didn't want to raise your children, you should not have had them. It's child abandonment." Obviously, I think that's nonsense and I have little respect for the intelligence of someone who views the world in such black and white terms. And I'm comfortable enough with my decision (really our decision) to leave our son in the care of another for part of the day to respond with little more than an eye roll and a sigh. Parenting does not take place solely between the hours of 9 and 5, and I truly believe that Landon has benefited from his daycare (and that benefit is separate from that of having a happier mom). I think kids have an unlimited amount of love to give and the fact that Landon loves Maya, as I know he does, does not mean he has less love for me. And the fact that he gives her a big smile when she opens the door doesn't lessen the big smile he has for me when I pick him up. She has loved him, cared for him, and worried for him for 9 months and I refuse to believe that any care besides a parent's is unworthy or unimportant.

So now, how do we say goodbye to this woman who has played such a big role in Landon's life? What can we give her to say thank you for patiently caring for a baby that not only had acid reflux and ear infections, but also made her shut down her daycare and take a lie detector test? After much thought, I've finally settled on buying something for her babies. I wanted to get something for her, but I couldn't think of anything that wouldn't just add clutter to her small apartment and private life. She mentioned this morning that some of her toys were getting old and I hope that by buying her a few new ones she will have a little extra money to spend on herself however she wishes. This morning I carefully picked out four of Landon's very favorite things. I hope that her future babies enjoy them as much as he does, and I hope that she will think of him when they do. A few of the toys, like the peacock and the clutch cube, have kept him entertained for up to an hour at a time and I figure that's probably the best gift you can give a daycare provider!

I know Maya will miss her "good boy" (I can't imagine how he got that name, given his first few months in her care), but we've promised to keep in touch with pictures and emails. She said she still gets pictures of babies she watched 15-20 years ago. She has been a blessing for our family and I hope that our next daycare arrangement works out as well as this one.

Monday, May 5, 2008

SNAFU

This weekend was one big mess. Saturday was one of the worst days I've had in parenting (and I've had a few). Landon cried 95% of the time he was awake and only slept for one hour all day. After exhausting all his toys, I took a picture to see if the flash would distract him and make the tears stop for 5 seconds. It didn't work:



I cuddled and sang and read books and made barking/quacking noises and rocked and reminded myself many, many times that he was a full little person, just like me, and something was bothering him and he couldn't tell me what it was, and making him feel better, not making the noise stop, was my goal. The latter could have been accomplished by putting him in his crib, closing the door, and taking a 3-hour shower, the former could not. I call this "reframing the problem" and I "reframed" about every 15 minutes. It was a hard day.

Fortunately he slept well that night; unfortunately, I didn't. It took me nearly two hours to fall asleep (stress from school is really starting to affect me) and then spent the hours of 3-4 AM listening to a very loud fight outside our building, which made me feel very safe, lying all alone in my bedroom with a door leading directly outside to the alley where this was taking place. I woke up exhausted and comforted myself with the fact that JP would be arriving at 8:30, but of course that didn't happen as planned either. After going straight from the 6th street clubs to the airport, he found out his 6:00 AM direct flight was delayed, then delayed more, then boarded, then canceled, then he was put on a flight to Dallas, which was delayed, then he finally got to Dallas, then to Chicago, and then sat on the runway for 30 minutes, and then finally - 7 hours after he was supposed to, he arrived home. (The same thing happened on his way out, except throw in an additional delay in the layover they added to his itinerary and some lost luggage which they forced him to check because the plane was full... I hate air travel.)

Landon was delighted to have his daddy back and was so good that JP wondered if I had been exaggerating the previous day's events. We had a date night planned to use up a gift card I've had since Landon was born. I think we would have rather gone to bed, but friends had offered to watch Landon and this was the last possible day for us to use the gift card before we move. So we went to the beautiful restaurant, ordered the cheapest things on the menu to keep the bill at or around the $75 balance, and ate the biggest and best piece of chocolate cake I have ever had (and I've had lots!). I got to hear all about JP's trip, which was wonderful- he got to see about 20 old teammates who are now scattered all over the place, and we relaxed and flirted and forgot we were the proud parents of a possessed 10 month old. When the bill came ($88, so only $13 for us!) we handed over our gift card and the waiter said: "we don't accept those." WHAT?! On the back of the card it says go to www.website.com, and I did, and this restaurant was listed. He said "we haven't been associated with them for two years and have repeatedly requested to be pulled off the site." I was not. happy. We sighed, paid the bill we would never have gone to the place to get, and went home. I called the restaurant's parent company this morning and complained to three different people until I was told to send in the card with a letter and they will consider refunding me the card amount.

This morning I spent about 3 hours on the phone trying to get various administrative things done for the move, graduation, Landon, etc. I then actually starting crying talking to a friend about how much school work I have to do. Despite the occasionally dramatic way I talk about school in the blog, this is the first time it has brought me to tears. I usually deal with stress well, but my papers are due in two weeks, I'm exhausted, and I'm a good month behind in all three of my classes. I know that grades don't matter and I really don't care about them, but even getting a paper to the point of existence takes more effort than I feel I can give. I'm more overwhelmed than I've felt in a very long time, maybe ever, and it sucks to spend my last few weeks in Chicago like this.

But because it also sucks to end on a note this whiny and depressing, here is a super cute picture of the transformed, post-daddy's return home, picture of the little diaper model:



As I say anywhere from 5 - 1,000 times a day: "It's a good thing he's cute!"

Saturday, May 3, 2008

1 Day, 3 Eras

This post was supposed to be up on Friday, but Landon has not been cooperative. Now the congested little man is finally sleeping and I'm about to follow him as soon as I digest the giant bowl of pasta I finally got to eat (it had been mocking me from the counter for the last two hours I spent trying to put Landon down).

Law School Prom is next Friday and I can't wait. Some people are oddly opposed to the idea of Law School Prom and don't go on "principle", whatever that means, but I can't figure out what's wrong with a night of fancy clothes, friends, eating, drinking, and dancing. Last year's prom was one of the most fun nights I've had in law school (not that that's saying much... one of UChicago's mottos is "where fun comes to die" and it's depressingly accurate). 1L prom did not go as well. It turns out that spending 6 months studying in the library every night just killed the alcohol tolerance I worked so hard to build up in college. I drank a very large quantity of wine and ended the night throwing up all over me, JP, and the cab. We were still a few blocks away, so when the angry cab driver kicked us out, JP handed over all his cash in apology and then carried me the rest of the way home. Thank god he was legally bound to me because he had to have been tempted to leave my sorry self sitting on the curb. Last year I was pregnant, so the open bar was not a concern. And this year I expect that my increased wisdom and maturity, and the fact I have a baby and two papers to look forward to the next morning, will keep us all safe from $100 dry cleaning bills.

One of the best parts about prom is the prom dress shopping. Since JP was off with his boys and Landon was hanging out with his babies, I met up with a couple of friends to take advantage of the big sale at Marshall Fields on State St. (I know it's Macy's now, but it will always be Marshall Fields to me). I had $140 in Macy's store credit to use up, so it was going to be a day of shopping without spending real money! The sale was amazing; hundreds of dresses, some beautiful, some delightfully hideous, marked down enough to make them worth the expense for one night of wear. I ended up with this wonderfully "prommy", perfectly fitted, teal satin dress for $40 (originally $250).



Isn't it fun? I'm wearing my silver shoes and rhinestone jewelry and expect to have a blast on Friday. I also picked up a gorgeous pair of black satin heels for $18, marked down from $120. My companions were also successful in finding their "perfect" dress and we ended the day at my apartment cheering on Landon's nightly rolling show, eating a very random mix of pasta (I had about 1 cup left in six different boxes), and watching "27 Dresses", which was cute, but made better with the drinking of wine and eating of cookie dough.



I just had to take this picture of my counter in the middle of our get together. It captures my social life so well - a simple home gathering complete with wine for the ladies and formula for the Landon (and sadly, his formula costs a lot more than our wine). My friends stayed over until nearly midnight talking - I haven't had a female roommate since my junior year of college, so it was so fun to borrow some for a night. Not so fun was the fact that 10 minutes after they left Landon woke up crying for the first of many times. After a day of feeling very high school with the prom dress shopping, and then very collegey with the late night deep talks over bottles of wine (although in college, midnight was not a late night), the 2, 4:30, and 6 AM baby wake up calls were a sharp reminder of the grown-up present!

In Need of Baby Ambien

JP is in Austin for a boy's weekend. His best friend, who's originally from Israel, swam with JP at Texas, and now makes absurd amounts of money as a banker in Manhattan, is moving to China on Monday for some new business venture. This friend decided on Thursday that he wanted to see JP and his first American city before he left the U.S. for good. JP initially declined the all expenses paid offer because he knew I had so much work to do, but I made him go. I have girl's nights and brunches and dinner parties all the time and he hasn't hung out with his friends since our wedding. Besides, I'm going to need to stay at the law school until midnight every day this week regardless of what I accomplish this weekend, and at least this way I won't feel as guilty about it. So yesterday while I was prom dress shopping, he took off for Austin. It's the weekend of Masters Nationals so they're getting to see about 12 former teammates who currently live all over Texas and the U.S. Three of them are sleeping in our (unfurnished) house and the very hard to impress best friend called me last night with many compliments.

I'm really happy he's there. I know he misses those guys like crazy and he's having a well-deserved blast, but I am dying here. Landon chose last night to get sick and not sleep at all. He was up crying for 30-60 minutes at midnight, 2, 4:30, and finally just stayed up at 6. In the past 10.5 hours he has taken two 30 minute naps and cried most of the minutes he's been awake. How can a baby function on this little sleep? I sure can't! I know there are single parents and women whose husbands travel or are serving overseas, so I feel a little ridiculous whining when JP is almost always here - and I don't think I'd be complaining (out loud) if Landon was acting like his normal self. But he has transformed into the possessed ear-infected version of himself (I don't think he actually has one, it's just a bad cold, but I'm having flashbacks) and I'm about to sit in his crib and cry with him. The unstarted papers and the unread casebooks sitting on my desk aren't exactly helping to keep the tears at bay.

I did get a fabulous prom dress yesterday, which you'll read about whenever this child freaking SLEEPS. I have the post written but it takes too long to insert the pictures and Landon is bouncing in my lap about to run out of patience with my typing. Luckily JP lands at 8:30 AM tomorrow, so we just have to survive one more night. A night which will hopefully involve sleeping in stretches that are longer than 45 minutes.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Free Man, kind of

Yesterday was JP's last day of work as an investment banking analyst. He is now just a student waiting for school to start in August- well, that and a dad, husband, and to-do list task master. This morning I left a long list of phone calls and other things that needed to be done for the move and he called me at 11:30 with the list completed. I could really get used to this...

He then went to work out, stopped by the school to say hi to me, and picked up Landon at daycare (the little man doesn't have to say goodbye to his babies until next Friday). While things are going to be tight financially until I start work, and that adds no small amount of worry, we decided it was worth it for the overall stress reduction for me and the overall increase in happiness for him. It makes a huge difference for me to be able to stay at school past 4:30pm and to arrive before 9:30 (especially since I'm up at the crack of dawn anyway). And there's a reason analysts don't stay analysts for years on end if JP were single and carefree he would have been in business school long ago. This was our plan since before Landon was born and we've saved everything we could to make this summer possible- and we're young enough to completely deplete and then rebuild our savings, right?

Plus even with all the craziness of the move and the bar exam, and how obsessive I am going to be over our budget spreadsheet, I think this is going to be a really nice summer for us. We'll be at home together for probably the last time until we retire. We can take Landon to the park and the pool and JP can breathe a little before grad school. He's been working since a week after he graduated college and I'm glad he can relax. Well, as much as you can relax while caring for a 10 month old who has no need for sleep and a wife who is continually thinking of things for you to do...

Luckily Landon and I are benevolent bosses who pay handsomely in smiles and kisses, and I know JP is very pleased with his new position.