Wednesday, February 25, 2009

26

Last night I read half a fluffy novel of the historical romance persuasion and then fell asleep for a full eight hours. I woke up to JP and Landon serenading me with "The Wheels on the Bus." Apparently they were going to open with the more traditional "Happy Birthday" but when JP practiced it Landon just sat and stared at him like he had never heard singing before, but when you sing "Wheels on the Bus" he immediately starts dancing in circles with a euphoric smile on his face, so Wheels on the Bus it was. It was an excellent performance that ended with several family hugs, which now fall right after buses as Landon's favorite thing. JP and I hug a lot (I just fit very well against his chest and have a hard time not leaning against him when I walk by, a 7" height difference is perfect) and I've been trying to get Landon to enjoy the family hug moments but he always pulls away because he is so busy and there are so many buses to be identified. But this weekend he got on board and now whenever one of us is holding him, he'll hold out his arms for the other and we'll all squeeze and Landon laughs belly laughs and then leans in again for another. It's probably a bit nauseating to watch from the outside, but it's a fabulous way to kill 10 minutes on a Wednesday morning.

So the day has started out wonderfully. I'm wearing my very favorite pair of shoes, my new secretary made 7-layer bars and a red velvet cake, and JP is picking up a Costco pizza to eat during the Top Chef finale. I'm still insanely busy, but I'm very happy- I realize that might not have come through in the last post, but I meant to comment purely on the craziness, not imply that I'm unhappy about it. I leave work each day feeling good, productive, competent, and part of a team. The beginning of this week was unusually rough because over the weekend I worked every second Landon was asleep, played with him every second he was awake (oh my God he is so fun right now), showed up for work on Monday feeling like it was at least a Thursday and proceeded to work even harder. But it's all good - and today I made time for the preparing of the tea, which I am sipping as I type.

[5 hour break for busyness and a delicious platter of Hyde Park french fries]

I feel this birthday more than I've felt my past few. I'm not sure I can explain this well, but when I turned 24 and 25 I was pregnant and a new mom and already felt quite a bit older than those respective ages. When I meet people with Landon, especially people who know I'm a lawyer, they're always shocked at how young I am. Twenty-four may not be an unusual age to start a family, especially not in the South, but it becomes more so when you are a career-minded woman with a graduate degree. When I turned 25 it didn't matter much because I'd already thought of myself as at least 25 for a while- I was actually a little surprised I'd been only 24 up until that day. But this year I never thought of myself as 26 until now- and it's a perfectly lovely age and I don't feel OLD or anything, but for the first time I'm a little surprised to find myself a year older. It feels good- like my maturity, life plan, and birth date are all in accord. I'm looking forward to year 27 of my life. I'm not planning any big changes or milestones, just lots of time spent with my boys, my extended family, and my friends, lots of trips to the park and walks with the dogs, and learning as much and working as hard as I can while still spending that time with my little family. I'm not sure where I thought I'd be at 26, but I don't think I could be happier with where I ended up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You know you're busy when:

- you make tea right when you get to work and two hours later rediscover it sitting next to your mouse, freezing cold, sugarless, and with the bag still in the cup

- it's the morning after the Oscars and you don't read a single recap, rundown, or Go Fug Yourself blog post

- you realize you haven't visited the firm's candy jar since you switched sections (seven days ago) and you don't immediately head downstairs to rectify the situation

- you get an email that there is an authentic king cake, shipped straight from New Orleans, in your floor's kitchen and you forget to take a piece

- your husband calls you to tell you he's picked your child up from daycare and you worry he interrupted nap time- and then realize it's nearly 6 p.m. and your tea is still sitting next to your mouse and you're pretty sure you haven't drank anything all day

And finally, you know you're busy when all of this happens Monday morning and you don't have time to write about it until Tuesday night at 8:30, minutes before you brush your teeth, decide you're too exhausted to wash you face, and tuck yourself in bed embarrassingly early. Tomorrow is my 26th birthday and I'll be damned if I'm going to face it feeling like I've been run over by a truck. Or a bus. I'm giving myself the gift of 8+ hours of sleep, and right now that seems almost as good as a fancy camera.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Doc Review, a Family Affair

On Friday late afternoon two big boxes of documents arrived from one of the many parties involved in this case, and guess who got the honor of reviewing them over the weekend? Landon!



Lilly volunteered to keep the box warm while the documents were being reviewed.



I'm lucky to have so many helpers. It's odd to review documents the old fashioned way- actual hard copies in a cardboard box rather than scans in virtual document containers on a secure website. I think there's advantages and disadvantages to both- I miss the easy flagging and searching by date and keyword, but enjoy the quick thumbing through a 1,000 page financial analysis to decide it's irrelevant rather than having to wait for each individual page to load as I click through.

I can tell that I made the right career move because I have billed far more this past week than I ever have before and yet I've never been this happy at work. I love the new group, like the work, and love feeling competent when I get a new assignment. The learning curve is so sharp in corporate, especially if you've never taken a business class like me, and while that's ultimately no barrier to success, it takes a thirst for corporate knowledge that I apparently don't have. I love corporate and securities law- I have two "model" exam answers on file with the library in those classes, but I found I didn't care much about learning how to read financial statements or understanding the tax implications of a specific type of employee benefit plan. When I had downtime I'd use it to catch up on news, internet browsing, office organizing, etc., and the first-year next to me would read M&A treatises- I think that was a sign that I wasn't in the right area. But now I'm thriving- I know I am doing good work and it turns out, that matters as much or more to me than the kind of work I'm doing.

It's a gorgeous, chilly day here (58 degrees- that's our winter weather) and we spent the morning walking around the block with Landon and his wagon, pointing out all the cars and trucks and bicycles we passed by. He gently and patiently corrected our every identification with a little head shake and whisper of "Busss." We're slow learners.

He's been in an excellent mood all morning and we've shared lots of family hugs, tickle wars (it is completely unfair that I feel like I'm going to die when being tickled and JP isn't ticklish At All), and a big pot of mac & cheese. Now JP is swimming (another difference between us- I finished off the mac & cheese with a big slice of cookie cake and he went to work out for two hours) and I need to take advantage of Landon's nap time and get through at least one more stack of documents without his assistance. Skilled as he is at finding his nose, Landon is not very detailed-oriented, and I think he missed flagging a few important documents. I'll have to dock his pay.



(Oh, and you can see our study is nearly finished- I just need to find the perfect big brushed silver clock to hang behind the desk, between the two bookcases. It's hard to see in these pics, but there is another corner bookcase unit on the other side, it's all coming together.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Laughed So Hard My Face Still Hurts

The Robin William's "Live on Broadway" DVD is one of my favorite pick-me-ups. It never fails to make me laugh and I think this is one of the funniest clips I've ever seen- the fact that I'm a daughter of an avid golfer only makes it better (Warning: lots of cursing, and it's really only the first 2.5 minutes that I wanted to capture).



So when I went online back in November to buy Tran-Siberian Orchestra tickets as a Christmas present to me (JP's part of the present was coming with me with a fake smile on his face) and saw that Robin was coming to Austin in February I changed my plans and bought tickets as a Christmas present to both of us instead. An excellent decision, especially since I've already seen (and loved) TSO and JP would enjoy this quite a lot more.

Of course I bought these tickets back when I was super slow at work and would have no problem leaving at 5 to go home, go out to dinner, and make it to the 8 p.m. show. Now that in a crazy busy section I had to race around all day, skip dinner, skip going home, and jump into JP's car on the way downtown. But it was worth it. I haven't laughed that hard in... ever? And it was so rapid fire that I walked out unable to repeat a single complete line- it was all just funny mush in my head. I'd never seen him live, so I didn't realize how much he customizes the show for each city. The solid first 15 minutes were pure Austin comedy- some of it very detailed and "insider" type jokes that he was able to pull off surprisingly well.

Now I'm sitting at my desk, surrounded by work, and I keep giggling as I remember little bits of the show. My secretary is probably going to start wondering if there's something besides tea in my insulated mug...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

U.F.O.

Of course when I had to return to work yesterday morning Landon woke up all smiley and happy and non-screamy. You can see the tops of four big molars sticking out of his gums and I'm very glad he has a pause in his marathon of mouth pain, the poor kid really does not handle teething well. His mom doesn't either.

It was still daylight when I got home from work so I decided to pull Landon in the wagon for what should have been a quick walk to the community mailbox. Twenty minutes later we were only three houses down the street because Landon was the one pulling the wagon and I was NOT allowed to touch it. Apparently now that he's a MAN and all grown-up and ambulatory (and drinking from an open-top cup thankyouverymuch), he can pull the wagon BY HIMSELF, and should I attempt to unobtrusively nudge it in the right direction, he will launch himself head first into the nearby grass. Thus, progress was slow.

But slow and steady was fine as it gave me lots of time to nod along with Landon's steady commentary on our surroundings. He got a Big Truck Book for Christmas and even though there's only one bus among a dozen varieties of truck, he has taken to calling any wheeled vehicle a bus. I think he just likes the word- sometimes he repeats it quietly over and over to himself, always with a pleased little smile on his face. JP and I keep correcting him when the object he's pointing at is a train or car or truck, but he just shakes his head at his silly, uninformed parents and emphatically exclaims, "Bus!". Apparently we've already passed the phase where he thinks we're smarter than him.

As we were slowly making our way to the mailbox Landon was pointing out all the buses (cars) on the street. Suddenly, a small plane roared overhead. Landon looked up, surprised to see something vehicle-like in the air instead of on the ground where it belonged. I seized the opportunity to introduce something that was clearly NOT a bus and said, "Look Landon, a plane! Can you say plane?" He looked at me, very focused and a bit perplexed, and started to say "p..." "p..." while I nodded enthusiastically, repeating the word "plane"- and then his face cleared as he realized what that crazy flying vehicle must be, and he said with absolute certainty and a bit of ghusto: "Bus." He then gave a firm head nod in satisfaction of identifying the flying object and continued on his way, with the big wagon and his mis-labeling mother trailing behind.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Day Off

Landon's daycare was closed today for teacher training, so I took the day off to pretend to be a stay-at-home mom. All I can say is it's a darn good thing I work.

I had some warning that the day might not go so well. Landon is getting six teeth- four molars and two incisors, and spent at least 50% of his awake time on Saturday and Sunday screaming and writhing on the floor. We tried motrin, teething gel, popsicles, frozen waffles, sing-a-long videos, walks outside, trips to the park- absolutely anything to decrease or distract him from his pain. And despite the limited success of our attempts, I remained optimistic about our Big Plans to head to the "Baby Bloomers" program at the Austin Children's Museum this morning. I was sure that all the other kids and activities would distract him from his teeth. And they did to some extent- he had lots of fun throwing plastic fruit across the room while exclaiming, "A BALL!" and even more fun carefully walking up and down the curved staircase (because we don't have stairs at home or anything). He enjoyed story time but got a little freaked out at music time when a nearby kid kept banging a set of cymbals near his head. After 90 minutes and a whole package of graham crackers he threw a fit when I wouldn't let him steal a handful of mini rubber ducks from the gift shop- so we made our exit, with me holding him sideways around the middle as he screamed and kicked.

The rest of the day involved no napping and lots of screaming. My insomnia has come back with a vengeance and I don't think I've gotten more than six hours of cobbled together sleep a night for the past week- so that, plus the screaming, resulted in one of the top 5 worst headaches I've ever had and I felt like I was breaking apart from the inside. My beautiful, quiet office - even with its mountain of work - has never seemed so good.

There were some sweet and funny moments, but they were notably all after 6 p.m. when I would have been with him anyway. We've been working on body parts and just today mastered the belly button. With the size of his belly, it's very hard for him to find the button when he's sitting down- he has to pull up his shirt, flatten his belly with one hand, and feel his way around with the other, it's hysterical and he gets so excited when he finds it. The nose remains his very favorite part and he loves to point to other people's and yell "Nose!" with a big smile- he seems to be continuously delighted that everyone he sees has one. I showed him Rosie and Tex's big noses and he thought they were very funny- he kept touching his little nose to theirs and cracking up. And despite my splitting headache, exhaustion, and nearly overwhelming frustration only moments before, I laughed too- and felt my heart swelling with renewed love for that giggly little man.

But that's not to say I'm not still really looking forward to going back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Celebrating Valentine's Day, BigLaw style

Friday was a very busy day. I was at my desk at 6:15 a.m. to finish redactions on a huge batch of documents with a production deadline of 1 p.m. It was early, but perfect because Landon had a Valentine's party at daycare at 3 and JP and I had a big date planned for 7. I was going to leave work around 2, having already put in an 8-hour day, go watch Landon eat lollipops and run around in circles with his toddler friends, come home and relax with my boys, and then get dressed up for JP and my first date night since October. Perfect.

Except it didn't quite work out like that.

First, the privilege reviewers didn't get enough docs done Thursday night so that I, the redacter, could complete the review on pace for a 1 p.m. production. While I was waiting for more documents to pop up in my batch, the partner gave me another assignment to finish before I left. I got that done around 2 and then jumped back on redacting (clearly the 1 p.m. deadline wasn't happening) and didn't move from my hunched over position until we were done at 5:30. Obviously, I missed the daycare party. I was sad about this for the five seconds I had time to be sad about it, but JP was there, Landon was just happy to have a dum dum in his mouth, and I got to watch via the daycare video camera system. From my sound-free, birds-eye view it looked like there was lots of running about, some snacks, and a Landon who was absolutely determined to stand on the table and when denied, crawled under it and stayed there until JP dragged him out by his feet. So, your average toddler party.

I did make it home by 6, and was surprised to find a laundry room full of balloons, candles, a cookie cake, and a Landon holding his Valentine's Day card for me. It was very sweet and JP and I sat on the floor to read our cards and laugh while Landon chased balloons into the wall, only to have them bounce back and hit him in the face. I changed into something cute and non-lawyerly and read books with Landon until our friend and JP's business partner came over to babysit. (I think I've called him "Steve" before- I lived with him in Austin while I was a pregnant summer associate, JP swam with him in college, and they're starting a business together now that he's retired from Olympic swimming.) I'm not sure Steve knew what he was getting in to with volunteering to care for a toddler, but we jumped at the generous offer. After a quick run-down of Landon's favorite snacks and books, a diaper tutorial (the tabs attach in the front), and a briefing on the bedtime routine (brush teeth, read a book, sing a song, stick him in bed, close the door), we were OUT. JP's parents had sent us a surprise $100 Valentine's Day check and rather than save it like we usually do, we vowed to spend every dollar.

We went to a delicious upscale Mexican place and sat outside on a 70-degree night drinking margaritas and talking. Just before the appetizers arrived my blackberry started buzzing- and didn't stop until around 2 a.m. There were some problems with a bunch of the documents and we had until 7 a.m. to resolve them. I emailed the two senior associates to say I was out to dinner but if we needed to back through the docs, I'd log in when I got home. We still enjoyed our meal, lingering over dessert and reveling in the fact that we weren't sharing a table with a ticking time bomb of a toddler with an arm's reach that is always longer than you think it is. Our bill, with tax and tip, came to exactly $99, so at least a few pieces of the day worked out perfectly. We got home, thanked Steve (who said Landon was perfect and asked what on earth JP had been complaining about for all these months), enjoyed some more non-work time together while I waited for my margarita buzz to go away, and then I logged back in to my computer and helped finish the documents until 2 a.m.

Did it suck to have to get back to work at 11? Yes, a lot. I really, really wanted to be in bed snuggled up next to JP, drifting to sleep in a haze of tequila and lime. And in the moment I was totally planning a whiny blog post about it, but nearly 1,000 legal jobs were lost on Thursday and the total since late last year is higher than that. I have a job I really like- maybe even love, a firm that has not frozen salaries, is not letting anyone go, and is more than willing to let me find my own career path. Both senior associates (one of whom was on vacation) and the partner were also up past midnight working on this project, and I still got to enjoy a wonderful, 2+ hour meal with a husband who graciously offered to get up with Landon for the third morning in a row. I missed my son's daycare party, but his beloved "da DA!" was there, as were dum dums, so he was fine. I think work-life balance is about drawing lines when needed and giving yourself a break when line-drawing just isn't possible. I drew a line at dinner- I wasn't going to suggest leaving early, but I was willing to work later if necessary; I couldn't draw a line at 3, so I let myself decide that missing a Valentine's exchange when he was 19-months old wasn't going to scar Landon for life.

So despite a few moments where I admit to feeling sorry for myself, it was a really good day. And it was followed by a really good weekend with heart-shaped pancakes and a back porch grilled steak dinner. I'm taking tomorrow off and Landon and I are going to a morning program at the Austin Children's museum- I've told everyone on the case that I will have no blackberry or internet access from 9-noon. I'm sure I'll have to work in the afternoon, but that's fine, life is good.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Being a Grown-Up

Tomorrow morning a nurse is coming to our house to draw blood, take our blood pressure, get a urine sample, and ask a lot of very invasive questions all in the name of life insurance. Yes, we are finally acting like responsible parents and insuring ourselves against future tragedy. Right now if we were to die Landon would inherit a house that is almost all mortgage, two big dogs with even bigger appetites, and a savings account with barely enough to keep him in diapers for a year. After tomorrow he would be a multi-millionaire, though until we ground him for staying out too late on a school night I'm pretty sure he prefers us alive and well and nagging him to PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD eat something besides Cheerios.

As part of this "how big is the risk that we'll actually have to pay out this money before the policy expires in 30 years" process, I was given several pointers from our broker for making sure my blood and urine results were as "accurate" as possible. These include: no alcohol for 48 hours, limit salt, cholesterol, and caffeine for 24 hours, fast for 8-10 hours, drink plenty of water, and get 8 hours of sleep the night before the exam. I think if I followed these rules every day I really would be less of a risk- they stopped me from eating so many unhealthy things today (well, I did have french fries at lunch, but who can resist french fries with a turkey wrap? I cannot. And they were delicious- all plump and seasoned and doused in ketchup, mmmmmm). We're hoping to get the Super Preferred status, it's so much cheaper, so I really did try to follow the rules, though I'm greatly missing my little "Landon's in bed and I can sit down for the first time since I've gotten home" glass of red wine.

In other grown-up news, we're also (finally) making a will. The Firm has a program where an associate in the Trusts & Estates group does your will and estate plan free of charge. It's been a surprisingly difficult process. There isn't any estate to plan, we currently have negative wealth, other than the pending life insurance policies, but choosing an executor and guardian and back-up guardian for Landon and future children was tough. But these decisions must be made, and if it's this hard for us to choose, I certainly don't want anyone else deciding for us.

And since I was flush from all these other grown-up activities, I decided to start our taxes today. JP has done them since we were married, but he's even busier than I am and I'm the one who really cares about the refund total- I have plans for that money. I didn't get very far, but I hope to finish this weekend.

So now I have a house, a husband, a child, a mortgage, a job, a will, a life insurance policy, my own turbo tax user ID, and hair curlers I kind of know how to use- and yet I still don't feel like a full grown-up because I can't choke down coffee in the morning. It's like some strange caffeinated version of an inferiority complex, but I swear that someday I'll be one of the cool kids gripping my coffee mug like it's a life preserver at our 8:00 a.m. meetings

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Movin On Up

So, the news I alluded to, it is official. I'm now a litigator and by Monday my office will be relocated one floor up.

I'm very excited- excited in a way I haven't been excited in quite some time. I am also extremely busy. I billed 14 hours yesterday and got close to that number today. I've been given an increasing amount of responsibility on this case (the one I got drafted onto in December when the corporate section was slow and the litigation section was slammed) and even though I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, I feel more competent than I have since I graduated law school. For example, yesterday I was asked to draft an affidavit for a director of a certain Board Committee. My first step was to google "affidavit" just to make sure it was what I thought it was. Then I did a search for all the minutes of the Committee in our 50,000 produced documents, wrote out a clear and succinct summary of each meeting, found some affidavits written by other associates who work with this partner to copy the form, printed it out and handed it over. The partner read it and and said "great, we'll send it to the client tomorrow." WHAT?! No edits, no changes, no covering the page in red pen? I almost asked her to check it again, just in case, after all my first step in this assignment was to use google- that doesn't exactly inspire confidence. But then I just got excited- I had done something well! I had written FIVE pages of my own text- no blacklines or changing party names- actual writing. Angels sung from the heavens and I knew I'd made the right decision.

I started to realize back in November that transactional lawyering might not be for me. I loved corporate and securities law and I was interested in deals in an academic sense (I liked analyzing the ones that went to hell and landed in my casebook), but the sense of relief I felt every time I avoided being staffed on one didn't seem like a good overall career move. I'd listen to attorneys around me on speaker phone, hammering out the finer points of a deal and just think, I don't want to do that- even if I understood it, I don't want to do it. I think I liked the idea of doing deals, of being a quasi-business person, but in reality I didn't care enough about the business side of things and truly had no interest in leading negotiations or figuring out corporate structure. I understand why other people like it, and I really wanted to be one of those people, but I wasn't.

It really wasn't that I actively disliked corporate work, it was finding out how much I actively enjoyed litigation work that prompted my switch. I liked digging through discovery and finding the documents to build our case, I liked researching possible defenses in the case law, and I really liked writing. Man, I missed writing. I've had enough distance from law school to realize that what I hated about legal memos wasn't the memos themselves, it was just how difficult and time-consuming they could be. And even though I loved complaining about them, I also enjoyed the process of molding case law and my own words to create an argument. I'm also very good at it, and feeling good at something can go a long way towards job satisfaction. I look at the partners and senior associates in litigation and think, "I can do that," and much more than that, I think, "I want to do that."

So last Tuesday I asked the head of the litigation section out to lunch. Despite our 25-year age difference we're good friends and he's been trying to get me on his team since he interviewed me at OCI in 2006. He was thrilled (though oddly, not surprised) by the news and said he always knew I was a litigator at heart. He then met with the head of my section and the managing partner of the Austin office and got everything approved. I sat down with the corporate head partner this morning and had a nice chat about my switch- he was supportive, but wanted to make sure I wasn't acting in response to the slow deal flow or worries about job security. As a career-long transactional attorney he couldn't fathom why anyone would want to do litigation, but he was happy I seemed to have found a reason and wished me all the best. I will genuinely miss working for him, his assignments were my favorites- researching various corporate matters and writing summaries of the legal issues for clients- and realizing how much more I enjoyed those than any deal work actually precipitated my move.

So there it is, my first career move. I'm excited and exhausted and heading to bed. I feel a little bad that after all that talk about my writing, this post is so much less eloquent than the one I wrote out in my head over the past week, but I must get some sleep and I wanted to share the news. To distract you from any possible misspellings or grammatical errors, here is a picture of Landon, also excited about his mommy being a litigator:



Well, maybe it's the beloved Ladybug Book he's so excited about, but if he knew what a litigator was I'm sure he'd be excited about that too.

(P.S. Has anyone noticed the new header?! I slaved over it last night! Okay, maybe not slaved, but I am not naturally digitally or creatively inclined, so there was at least a tiny a bit of struggle involved.)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sunday Stories

Landon and I used to run a lot of errands together, back when he was little and immobile and easily entertained. Now that he is none of those things, I find that I shop a lot less. I refuse to be That Parent, blithely ignoring their screaming child while leisurely pushing a cart around the store. The last time we went to Wal-Mart I had to abandon a semi-full cart in the middle of an aisle because a screaming Landon was repeatedly attempting to throw himself headfirst to the floor. But on Sunday JP was studying and we really needed a few things, so despite my very vivid memory of that last trip, I decided to try again- surely my nearly 19-month-old is way more mature than the 15-month-old who tried to dive bomb out of the cart. In preparation I packed a few of Landon's favorite books, some fruit snacks, and a cup of water and out we went. I set him in the main part of the cart with his diaper bag full of goodies and he proceeded to "read" Brown Bear Brown Bear and keep up a steady stream of chatter the whole time we were there. I did a quick run through to get the items on my list, but he was so busy, I went back to peruse the kitchen gadgets. It was a downright pleasant experience- we didn't even need the fruit snacks!

After we returned from our errands, Landon grew oddly attached to a blueberry. I made the mistake of handing one to him when he was on the floor, not locked securely in his highchair, and rather than eat it, he carried it around the house very carefully between his extended thumb and pointer finger. The blueberry was very big, very juicy, and very blue. My carpet is very clean and very white. I followed him around for a few minutes, hoping he would tire of holding it, all the while fighting visions of smeared blueberry juice all over the carpet. When the visions finally overtook me, we were at the top of the stairs about to feed the cat. I plucked the blueberry from his chubby little fingers, thinking he'd be distracted by the Lilly wrapped around his legs, and he lost his shit- screaming, crying, writhing on the floor, and eventually, mounting an attempt to jump off the top of the stairs. Luckily I was right there to block him and moments later we were bouncing on the air mattress, blueberry totally forgotten. Toddlers may be a bit prone to hysterics, but at least they have the memories of a goldfish.

So the lessons here are: (a) do not attempt erranding with a toddler without the necessary supplies and (b) always stand between your overly dramatic toddler and any precipice when you're about to make him very mad, and because that could happen at almost any time, just generally orient yourself in front of the stairs. A third lesson, unrelated to parenting- when you need to be in your office by 7 a.m., go to bed before midnight. It helps with the cursing when your blackberry cheerfully chirps at you at 5:45. I've been reading a series of books set in Scotland and must have been dreaming about them because a choice bit of Gaelic and a few "bloody bleeping bleeps" flew out of my mouth. JP found it amusing, but I did not. I really need to start working on that coffee-drinking, or develop a taste for red bull (ugh), because I am way too tired to be doing the work I need to get back to doing.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Blogging and Other Hobbies

I realize there hasn't been much content on this blog lately. There are two reasons for this: One, our lives, while incredibly full, have settled into a sort of groove where one day isn't that much different from the next. JP goes to school and spends every spare non-family time minute trying to get his company up and running. Landon goes to daycare where he dances and smiles and gets kisses from his girlfriend (though he apparently had a pretend picnic with a different girl yesterday, so there might be some drama there we don't know about). I go to work where I mingle with adults, come home to chase Landon and make him laugh, and then cuddle up next to JP on the couch with a good book while he works on spreadsheets I don't care to understand. It's busy, but quite wonderful the vast majority of the time and I've found I simply have less to say when things are going well.

The second reason is the opposite of the first. There is one relatively major thing happening but I can't write about it until it's official. And just to head off speculation, the news does not involve a Landon 2.0. Landon 1.0 is currently sprouting five new teeth and his mouth is swollen and sad, causing him to wake up every hour last night. That brief reminder of what our lives were like one short year ago eliminated almost all desire to procreate ever again. I'm sure it'll come back, probably as soon as I visit my friend's new baby again, but for now, we're good.

But never fear, for I do have other non-mundane, non-too-big-to-share news. I have decided to pursue a hobby. I know this is bold. I have free time, but very little of it is exclusively mine and even that is subject to the whims of my job, my toddler, and my body's occasional habit of forcing me to sleep. But I need something of my own to be excited about and to make time for. JP has his swimming- even in Chicago with investment banking, freezing temperatures, a non-sleeping baby, and a two hour commute, he always swam at least four days a week and still does. I find that both impressive and unbelievably irritating- there's so many things he doesn't have time for and yet he always finds (makes) time for a work out. I'll admit that a large part of my simmering irritation with his swimming is jealousy. I don't make time for myself like he does. Sure I can couch it in terms of not wanting to sacrifice time with him or Landon, or even more selflessly, I don't want to ask him to cover for me so I can get away, but the truth is I'm unnecessarily playing the martyr. JP gives up sleep and free time for his hobby and he's frequently offered to help me to the same.

So I'm taking up photography. I've long been an enthusiastic picture snapper- I'm probably responsible for 90% of my family's pictures of vacations and big events growing up. I even have pictures of my brother when he came home from the hospital- I was 5 1/2 and took them with my my blue plastic Fisher Price camera. I've graduated from Fisher Price to a series of inexpensive point and shoots, but I'm increasingly dissatisfied with their picture quality, especially indoors, and I feel it's past time for an upgrade. Plus, I'm now responsible for capturing the ever-changing images of my children; it's important work and deserves to be done well. Or so I kept telling myself to build up the courage to press "checkout" on the camera I spent way too many non-billable hours researching on Monday and Tuesday.

Here is my new baby (and it won't ever wake me up at 2 a.m.):



It's a Nikon D40 Digital SLR with 18-55mm AF-S kit lens and separately purchased 55-200mm AF-S VR lens. It shipped yesterday and I can't remember the last time I was this excited about a purchase. I've never spent this much on myself- it took all of my anticipated birthday money and I feel wonderfully indulgent. (Though I did find a great deal through Adorama- the camera and both lenses for $509!) I've borrowed photography books from a friend and in a particularly bold move, signed up for a digital photography class through UT's informal class program. For four Wednesdays in April I will need to be on campus by 6pm for three hours of lecture and lab and maybe even note taking! God I miss school. I just hope I can beat my work schedule into submissive cooperation.

I'm still researching camera bags, so if you have a suggestion I'd welcome it. I'm liking this Lowepro Fastpack for going out and about but think I'll also need a basic case to store everything in the house. Are there any other necessary accessories? I can't wait until my camera arrives next week so I can start playing with it and reading the manual (I'm a big fan of manual reading)- I'm practically squealing in my office. Happy early Birthday to me!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

Blank Slate

[last night, in bed, just before midnight]

Me: What are you thinking?

JP: Nothing.

Me: Nothing? You can't think nothing, there has to be something in your head.

JP: Nope. Nothing.

Me: I don't understand. Do you just not want to tell me?

JP: What? No, I really wasn't thinking anything.

Me: I don't think that's possible. You have to think about something.

JP: I don't.

[a few minutes of silence, JP lapses into sleep, grateful that I've decided to let it go, but he should really know me better than that]

Me: Okay, let's just say hypothetically that it is possible to think of nothing. Is your mind blank by default and you have to add thoughts to it or do you have to clear your mind in order to achieve nothingness?

JP, muttering sleepily: What? Are we still talking?

Me: Yes! I need to understand.

JP: I don't know... I guess I just stop thinking and it goes blank.

Me: But HOW, how do you do that?

JP: I just stop.

Me: Impossible. Doesn't something else immediately pop up? I think I have about 100 things on my mind at once, if one were to go away 10 more would take its place- there's never just nothing. I can't even pray or meditate without mentally going through my to-do list or grocery list or list of things I need to remind you to do, and even if I can let go of those I'll jump to planning out the floor plan of my dream home or wondering why the woman in front of me wore those shoes with that dress. How can you just clear all that?

[Silence. I suspect he's fallen back asleep. I firmly but lovingly knock my shoulder into his side to reengage him in the conversation.]

JP: What?! I don't know.

Me: That's not helpful.

JP: You should try it- just clear your head and fall asleep. Like this...

Me: I HAVE TRIED IT- it doesn't work. This is why I lie in bed awake for hours at night, I can't turn it off.

JP, mumbling and borderline exasperated: So I noticed.

[Pause]

Me: It's a good thing you love me, huh?

JP: I was just thinking that.

Me: Well at least you're thinking something.