Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Little Bit of Me

Landon seems to have received 95% of his physical genetic makeup from his dad. The eyes, the mouth, the ears (and their adorable little infection causing malfunctioning Eustachian tubes), the face in general- it's all JP. His hair is kind of from me, the curls and the light blonde color (my hair spontaneously turned red in high school, prior to that I was golden blonde), but if you see Landon standing next to a picture of JP as a toddler, you have to wonder if I had any role in his conception.

But I like to think he gets a lot of his deeper qualities from me- his love of hugs and cuddles, his love for his doggies (well, JP and I can share credit for that one), his love of books, and of great delight to me- his love of shoes. He loves to pull heels out of my closet and drive them around the house in his shopping cart, periodically handing one to me and clapping when I put it on. He has favorites- he gets especially delighted when I take on and off my gold strappy sandals and on Sunday he spent about 15 minutes trying to maneuver his feet through their crossed straps, tongue sticking out in fierce concentration.

Unfortunately this love of my shoes has extended into of love of removing his. He does try to put them back on, but with limited success.

But at least he gives his shoes the focused attention they deserve.

On a nearly unrelated note, I sat down on the floor tonight, worn out from the day, and said without expecting a response, "Landon, mommy needs a hug." He immediately set down his truck book, walked over to me and curled his head down into my chest (like he does with the dogs) and put his arms around me. I very nearly burst into tears at the utter sweetness of his gesture. JP says he gets that from me too.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lingering on the Weekend

This was a wonderful weekend.

I had my first-ever meet up with bloggers, one current and one former, and both utterly lovely. They came over to the house Saturday morning to meet the Landon and then we met up that night for queso and margaritas (and entrees, but for me it was all about the queso and margaritas). It was especially wonderful to meet PT-LawMom in person as she was so unbelievably supportive during the DCFS nightmare. Without even knowing me in real life, she set up and deposited the first amount in our "defense fund" and to this day I'm amazed at her heart and generosity.

[An aside on something that is old and no longer relevant but has been bothering me for 17 months, so I'm going to write about it anyway: PT mentioned that people gave her crap for helping us financially when JP was an investment banker and therefore must be making 6 figures and we must have buckets of money lying around. While JP was an i-banker, he worked for a boutique firm way out in the suburbs, and made less than 1/3 of what I do now (including bonus). We saw him most nights and every weekend and he got to do more interesting things than your average first-year analyst, so it was a worthwhile trade-off. But two people living in Chicago with a baby on a $40,000 salary? We were very, very careful and there were no buckets of money.

That really upset me at the time- that people thought we were rolling in dough and still asking for a handout, but I was too distracted by other accusations to deal with it. As a proudly self-sufficient person, the fact we had to ask for money still bothers me so much I sometimes can't sleep. But as I said then, 90% of our help was from family and close friends; the anonymous ones played a large role because they gave such a boost of hope- that someone who didn't know you would believe you and want to help.

Wow, that was a shitty time. Let's go back to the present that is so, so far removed from that nightmare that most of the time I can barely believe it happened to us at all.]

So, the weekend- it was good. In addition to the blogger reunion on Saturday (is it a reunion if you've never meet before?), I also planted an herb garden! I now have sweet basil, cilantro, and lemon thyme growing in a pretty little planter along our back deck. I have no idea if those were good to pick for a planter, but they're the herbs I frequently buy fresh at the store. The basil smells so good I keep sticking my face in it when I go outside- last night I dreamed dreams of homemade Margherita pizza. I have no experience with these things, but I only killed one of the plants we had hanging on the back deck from last summer, so I'm very optimistic about my little herbs.

Today we worked on a stone path in the backyard (and by "we" I mean JP, Landon and I "helped") and then had friends over for a hot dog cookout. It smelled like summer and I kept having very strong flash backs to my childhood. The smell of a charcoal grill, the sight of colorful bowls of fruit and chips, the sound of children laughing, parents talking- all on a gorgeous sapphire sky kind of day. It was a really, really nice afternoon. Landon and his friend (7 months older) were hilarious- chasing each other and banging on the slide and secretly trying to eat rocks together. I can feel myself relaxing just remembering it. I swear the sound of Landon laughing adds the years back to my life that his first 12 months took away.

And now I'm sitting in the study trying to work on the Complaint I mentioned Friday. I still don't know what I'm doing, I'm still afraid of the blank word document in front of me, but I've got such a happiness hangover from the weekend I'm having a hard time being concerned. I'm sure it'll hit me full force in the form of panic tomorrow morning, but right now all I can think about is Landon and Friend going doing the slide together and giggling the whole way down.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Legal Humor

Legally Certifiable led me to this marvelous little site called Courtoons by David Mills. He posts a new one every day, and while they don't make me laugh out loud quite as often as lolcats (and I'm not ashamed to admit it), I almost always giggle. Here are a few of my favorites:

I'm drafting an initial complaint right now and am especially fond of the Bluebook and honest briefing cartoons. I feel a little overwhelmed. I know I'm supposed to "enjoy challenge" and want "increased responsibility" and I'm sure I used all those buzzwords in my interviews, but as I stare at this blank word document, having been tasked by a partner a want to impress with drafting this complaint, I think rote repetition and menial tasks sound quite lovely.

Also, is it a little sad that I find these courtoons so hilarious? I read this article the other day about an Australian swim coach tossing a crocodile in the pool to make his kids swim faster and my first thoughts were: (1) where are the plaintiffs lawyers? and (2) was there a consent form and what parent would sign it?

I guess it means that I really am a lawyer.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Things I Don't Like

I woke up with a splitting headache and an inability to focus on my work (due in no small part to listening to clips of children's songs on Amazon while investigating all of your wonderful suggestions). And because of this throbbing, pulsing, all consuming pain in my head, I can't write anything positive or thoughtful, so here's a brief list of things I don't like:

  1. black ink pens
  2. gel pens, all colors
  3. cliquey people
  4. mushrooms, shrimp, all peppers, and anything remotely spicy
  5. the fact that I dislike everything in #4
  6. people who drive slow in a fast car (really, all slow drivers, but nothing irritates me quicker than someone in an M3 driving 10 miles under the speed limit)
  7. the squishy part of my stomach
  8. Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, "Dr." Laura, Bill O'Reilly, etc.
  9. the Bella character in Twilight
  10. coffee (sigh)
  11. fruit that has been cooked, dried, or mixed with chocolate (except chocolate covered strawberries, and occasionally a cooked, spiced apple)
  12. nuts in anything (nuts alone are fine)
  13. JP's need to "soak" all pans before washing them. This has quite literally made my head explode with efforts to understand WHY a pot used to BOIL NOODLES needs to soak in a soapy lather for an hour (and no, it's not to get out of doing the dishes, as he will go finish the job without reminder in an hour or two, but still- WHY?!)
  14. high anxiety parents (this could be a whole post unto itself, but probably won't be because it would be mean and I try to keep this blog more about me than others)
  15. headaches

So apparently I have a lot of food issues, and to think I was the "best eater" out of the three of us growing up. I also have a lot of emotion directed toward office supplies, people's driving habits, and flat, horrible 2-dimensional characters in books far more popular than they deserve to be. And dish washing practices. I believe #13 is the reason I woke up with #15 this morning.

Alright, I feel somehow cleansed of irritation I didn't know I had built up. I swear that I'm generally a pretty low stress person who laughs far, far more than she yells. I'm just going to get back to my work, blue non-gel pen in hand, and focus on being grateful that the only thing JP does that irritates me involves him doing the dishes at all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Parent-Teacher Conference and the Easter Bunny

I had an 8:15 parent-teacher conference at Landon's daycare this morning. They schedule them every 6 months so the teacher can meet with the parents and fill them in on how their little darling is doing in class. I got to hear all about Landon's social, physical, and emotional development and, even more fun, look at artwork and pictures taken of him over the past 6 months. It's so fun to see him in his little environment outside of our house. He's very happy and comfortable in his classroom and he's become close friends with two of the kids in his class (both of whom will be moving up to "Early Preschool" with him this summer). I learned some of the songs they've been singing at circle time and suddenly the random hand motions he's been making had meaning- turns out he's been "driving that fire truck" and "climbing the ladder" as per the beloved "The Firetruck Song." We could not figure out why he was doing that any time we sang "Row Row Row Your Boat," but apparently the tunes are very similar.

Our little man still LOVES music and books- we sing and read and read and sing for most of the evening before bed. We finally got the toy box JP's parents ordered for his first birthday present, it's just beautiful (hand-made in Amish country and shipped down to us in a giant box of bubble wrap) and fits perfectly underneath the window in the play room. Landon spends a lot of time stacking and reading books on his special seat.

The Easter bunny is going to get him a (cheap, sturdy) boombox for the top of one of the bookcases in the play room and some kids CDs for us all to dance to. Any suggestions? I've already got Choo Choo Soul (recommended by a co-worker) and Wee Sing Silly Songs (recommended by my fond childhood memories) queued up on Amazon. Landon still refuses to acknowledge the TV so anything kids like solely because of the recognizable character voices is out, and he loves songs with hand motions and actions. I think the Easter Bunny is as excited as he's going to be- "Row Row Row Your Boat" and "If You're Happy and You Know It" are getting a bit old and I'm tired of risking the safety of my laptop to play him songs on iTunes (he's Very enthusiastic about the keys). I think we're set on books for a little while longer, but if you have any particular favorites, especially those slightly off the beaten path, I'd love to hear them. Landon's faves are: Eight Silly Monkeys, Ten Little Ladybugs, Ten Rubber Duckies (one of his first favorites), Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and Is Your Mama a Llama. I've read each of those books at least once a day for the past few months and I don't hate them yet, I'd say that's a pretty strong endorsement. Now I need the same for music!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Work Hard, Play As Much As Possible

I worked a lot this week- never a late night, but insanely busy days. And I liked it, I was good at it, and on Friday around 2 p.m. the partner on the case turned to me and said, "you know, you're setting the bar very high for yourself." One of the things I miss most from school are the finals- not the tests themselves, but the regular, impersonal notification of how you're doing. Most of the time I think I'm doing pretty well in my new practice area, but it's nice to hear it.

I made some time for irresponsibility. On Thursday night the first boy I ever kissed (and married, I believe we were 6) came over to see my house and Landon for the first time. He moved to NYC shortly before I moved back to Austin from Chicago so we just missed each other this past summer. Landon was his usual charming self and once he was in bed we got out two bottles of red wine, sat out on the back porch, and nearly drained them both (there was also some semi-homemade pizza involved: Pillsbury crust, pesto, fresh mozzarella slices, and tomato - very tasty!). It was wonderful to catch up. We became best friends in 1988 at age 5 and were inseparable until he moved to New York in 1995. We sometimes go months without talking and years without seeing each other, but there's a part of me that will always be best understood by him. Though, I wasn't feeling quite so warm and fuzzy about it Friday morning when I dragged myself to work half-hungover, still hating coffee, and knowing it was going to be a crazy day.

I have a semi-big project to do this weekend (as a reward for setting the bar so damn high), but I ignored it today in lieu of going to the Red Bud Isle dog park with JP, Landon, Tex, Rosie, and a friend of ours who has dubbed himself Landon's uncle (he's the one who babysat so we could go out for Valentine's Day, I also lived with him while I was a pregnant summer associate in 2007- he needs a blog name, I think I called him Steve in those old posts) and the dogs' godfather (he routinely steals them from our backyard to run them along Town Lake and today he had new retractable leashes for them- I'm pretty sure Rosie would leave us for him in a heartbeat). It was a beautiful day and we had a great time walking the trails and watching the dogs be sociable and swim in the lake. Landon had a big time picking small sticks off the ground and handing the to me- he had to keep running to catch up to us after he finished clearing the sticks off the path around him. When he runs, he crooks one arm and swings it while the other clutches his belly- it might be my favorite thing that he does.

We returned with wet, happy dogs and a giggly Landon.

I just want to freeze him at this age for a year or five. Why hasn't anyone figured out how to do that yet? And as long as we're freezing time, throw in an extra few hours for my project due Monday, I have a feeling I'm going to spend most of tomorrow choosing play over work, and I'd like to get some sleep before Monday morning.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


As I was leaving work at 7:15 pm Tuesday night, the latest I've ever left, after just spending a full and wonderful Monday at home with Landon, I realized that although I feel no guilt or inner turmoil over the fact that I work (aka "abandon my child to be raised by wolves" or strangers or something), that emotional ease has very sharp limits. When I get home within an hour of his bedtime I hate it, it's like stepping off a precipice as far as satisfaction with my job goes. I laid in bed Tuesday night wishing I someday wanted to stay home. I don't, JP and I frequently have "what would we do if we won the lottery" discussions and staying home full time never occurs to me- sure I'd work less, freed from the binds of our stretched finances I'd find a local organization I could really believe in and throw my enthusiasm and legal training behind it. We'd travel, eat out, replace our cars, and own beautiful master bedroom furniture- but I'd still have a legal position somewhere.

I think the lack of control of my schedule is one of the hardest parts of working, especially as a professional service provider because sometimes things pop up at 5 p.m. and I can't leave just because I want to meet my family at the park. As part of the case I'm working on I've been reading all the emails sent around the closing of a large transaction. There's about five days of emails being sent until 1 and 2 a.m. by the youngest associates and I just keep thinking- I couldn't do that. I can work during the day, am actually quite happy to work during the day, just as Landon is very happy at daycare, but I couldn't miss bedtime several nights in a row. I can barely miss bedtime once a month for a law firm event or get together with friends. This probably shouldn't be so note worthy, but it really has amazed me how sharp that drop off is between happy at work while he's at daycare and unhappy at work while he's at home with JP running around the house and getting ready for bed. I'm lucky that JP can pick him up early every day and they can play at the park and have quality time together at home even if I have to work late, but still, time spent together every day is just not optional.

I didn't spend much time dwelling on this Tuesday- when I walked in the door at 7:30 after a crazy day, I heard JP tell Landon, "go say hi to mama" and I could hear him thundering over to me, clutching his belly like he does when he's running his very fastest, exclaiming "mamamamama!" and launched himself on me for a very big hug. We then had a tickle war on my bed while I changed out of my work clothes

and then headed upstairs for some book reading, snuggling, and singing goodnight. This is my favorite part of the day- while I hate putting him down so soon after I get home, he's so snuggly and adorable and full of goodnight kisses that I look forward to it anyway. After reading his three chosen books, I stuck him in his crib for our blowing of the goodnight kisses:

He's very enthusiastic about them.

By the end of the kisses he's usually very excited and bounces on the bed while giggling, waving, and saying "nigh nigh! nigh nigh!"

And then I tell him I love him one more time, close the door (the lights are already off, I was just using a flash), and walk downstairs as he curls himself into a ball with puppy and silently goes to sleep. I wonder when our difficult baby became such an easy toddler. And I think that within the next five years I'd like to be working at 80% time or for the DOJ or other government organization. I like what I do but I have limits, and I have to know that I won't miss many bedtimes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

3-Day Weekend, kind of

I am back at work slogging through a burgeoning inbox after a Monday spent cavorting around Austin with Landon and my mom. My mom is a high school biology teacher also pursuing her master's degree in the spare 5 minutes she's not grading AP labs. She makes me look like I have loads of free time so we don't see her much, but it's her Spring Break and my dad is in Europe for work so she drove over for a 20-hour visit (she's now off to San Antonio to visit her parents and then back home to catch up in graduate work).

If you know my mom, you know that any visit, no matter how short, must involve shoe shopping (some day I envision a blog dedicated entirely to a post a day of her shoes, they are amazing and occasionally ridiculous, and only she could pull them off), so we headed to DSW with a Landon who was utterly delighted by the angled mirrors, low benches to bang on, and long aisles to race across. I think it's now second to PetSmart as his favorite erranding destination. Due to a big sale and my mom's bad influence I came home with four pairs of shoes- but they were badly needed, my mom swore that if I wore my stained white flip flops one more time she'd refuse to acknowledge me in public. Now I have some cute, comfy summer shoes and a pair of brown heels so I can finally wear my $7 brown pants. The brown heels were their own bargain- originally over $100, marked down to $40, and 50% off, so practically free, and because they allow me to wear a skirt and pants that had previously been sitting unworn and worthless in my closet, I think I somehow just made money. We also went to the park, watched Landon run around in our front yard, and drank wine on the back deck while Landon stacked and unstacked the dogs' food bowls. It was really nice to see her and spend a day relaxing with her and Landon. Generally we see only my family around holidays and it's just more busy and stressful when you're the only one with a young child- a one-day vacation in our own house was perfect.

I had to spend Sunday working to get Monday off (we're right in the middle of depositions on this case and very, very busy, I was thankful the partner in charge was agreeable and almost adamant that I spend the whole day with my mom) and we had the Indians over for darts and a veggie and chicken patty cookout. It was the first time work has truly conflicted with my social plans- I had to keep running back inside to my laptop to do some project or assignment when my blackberry buzzed. (I'd volunteered to be "on call" as things came up while two partners were writing a brief- I probably would have been asked these questions anyway and I was still very grateful for everyone being so nice about Monday.) Luckily the Indians all love Landon, darts, and the combination of a soccer ball and our cul-de-sac, so everyone had lots of fun even as I intermittently toiled away in the study. One of my favorite moments was hearing Vijay read Landon "Brown Bear Brown Bear." His English is excellent, but his accent is very heavy and he just naturally puts inflection on different words than I do- the story sounded so different! Landon was entranced and brought him several more books and listened with wide eyes as though he'd never heard them before. His reading of "Is Your Mama a Llama" also made me crack up, we're really going to miss them when they go back to India after graduation.

There's a green St. Patrick's Day krispy kreme sitting on my desk, so I need to attend to that immediately and then get started on my growing to-do list. It's a gorgeous day and I plan to be home in time to watch Landon jump up and down (new trick, requires much concentration) and mow the cement on the side walk. Swimming along, indeed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Things You'd Have Read if Twittered

I don't do Twitter because I figure with facebook, gchat away messages, and the blog, I should really try to allow some thoughts to pass through my head without sharing them with all of mankind. However, it's now Saturday and I haven't written since Tuesday (I actually just had to open up my blog to check that, it seems much longer ago than Tuesday), but I have no overarching theme or long story, so I'm going to resort to a series of mini posts because I really did want to write about some of this stuff when it happened.

(1) On Wednesday I sent JP (and Landon, they generally travel as a pack) to the grocery store to buy a "fancy" version of mac and cheese to go with our BBQ meatballs for dinner. He arrived home, flush with victory and a pink box of "Crazy Bugs" mac and cheese. I asked how this was any fancier than the regular blue box and he said, "It's bug shaped!" That wasn't what I meant, though it was good.

(2) On Thursday someone told me I must have been a dancer because of my posture, head position, and body type (she was very specific and certain about it). She couldn't have been more wrong, I can't dance to save my life and I was petrified of having to do the first dance at our wedding reception, but it made my day.

(3) Above the Law (a legal news/gossip website) is getting too scary to read. I think yesterday was the first day in weeks that no firms laid off a large number of attorneys. My firm still appears to be doing fine, and I'm certainly very busy, but trying to imagine what we'd do if I lost my job was scary enough to sit down with a financial planner and get serious about our emergency fund. We have 3 months worth of living expenses in there now, but I want it to have at least 6 before we get back on track with our retirement savings (and paying extra on my high interest law school loans and starting a 529 college fund for Landon and paying extra on our mortgage and replacing our 11 and 10-year-old cars with 150,000 miles each and furnishing our bedroom with something besides non-matching craigslist finds and SO MANY other things, even something fun like our first vacation in years). The day after meeting with the financial planner I had to have $600 worth of work done on my car. Of course.

(4) Yesterday I walked up 3 flights of stairs and was so out of breath when I got to the partner's office I had to pause for at least a full minute, right there in front of her, as I waited to get it back- had I realized how out of shape I was, I would have recovered in the hallway. This emabarassing anecdote should be enough to get me back into the gym, but I'm sure it won't.

(5) Landon has started to sing. He walks around the house singing "Row, Row, Row" repeatedly, while bobbing his head and waving his arms. If you continue with the rest of the song he will dance for you. It's fantastic- as is, quite frankly, almost everything else he does right now. We spent nearly 30 minutes Thursday evening reading individually, together- Landon had a stack of his favorite books (mostly involving ducks and buses), JP had his economist, and I had a riveting supplemental privilege log. I think Landon's reading material was the most interesting, but it was a lovely, relaxing, and productive time for all three of us.

(6) I made this pasta on Thursday. It was amazing and Landon ate 2.5 bowls of it. I did switch out chicken for shrimp because I hate shrimp despite every effort to like it (same goes for scallops, crawfish, and other non-fish sea faring creatures, I want to like them I just really, really do not).

(7) Last night I had a crazy day at work and got home late to a beautiful dinner made from scratch by Landon and JP. It was so sweet and I was so tired that I almost started to cry over the tilapia.

That's about all you've missed. Landon just got up from his nap and we're about to plant four trees in our backyard. It's 47 degrees outside and Austin ground is hard as rock (literally, it is rock) so this should be super fun. But I suppose after reading #4, I shouldn't snub exercise in whatever form it presents itself.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Swimming Along

I was going to title this "Getting By" or "Moving Along" but that didn't seem positive enough, so then I wrote something with "Swimmingly" but thought that would make it seem like things were too easy, so I finally settled on "Swimming Along" to describe the rhythm of our lives. This summer I thought I'd have so much to talk about once my job began- the balancing of the demanding career and even more demanding toddler, the busy husband in grad school (and I had no idea he'd simultaneously be putting in 50 hour weeks to start his own company a month into a time-consuming MBA program), the new house, the dogs, the steep learning curve of corporate law - surely I'd be able to fill the pages of blogger with my thoughts and stories.

But then it all started and we found our groove and I got busy and Landon suddenly became so much more fun than work and everything just felt Right. And it's not that my life isn't hard or tiring because it is both of those things, it's just that when I sit down to write about the more difficult moments all I can make myself feel is an overwhelming sense of gratitude for it all. I've found it's harder to write when you're happy than when you're angry or scared or on the verge of a nervous break down.

Landon woke up this morning with a 101 fever and a need to keep himself wrapped around JP or I like a little monkey at all times. I could write about the stresses of flying through my work this morning, skipping breakfast, lunch, and ignoring my tea yet again, in order to get home before JP's meeting with a potential investor, and then working from home all afternoon with a sick toddler, but the thing is, that all worked out fine. My job is portable and my colleagues are understanding, JP has the flexibility of an entrepreneur on Spring Break, and Landon was a happy, mellow febrile patient. JP and I both got done what was needed and spent a lot of time snuggling with our little monkey, plying him with diluted powerade and crackers, and reading the same few books over and over and over again. And when nearly every headline on Above the Law names yet another firm firing 100 more attorneys and when the unemployment rate is at its highest since I've been alive, an abandoned breakfast taco just doesn't seem worth complaining about.

I do wish I had more to say right now. I used to wonder where all the happy mothers were on those mommy war message boards that were filled with formerly working moms bitter about their experiences (often quite justifiably so) and a small but vocal minority of self-righteous stay-at-home moms determined to make others feel guilty about their choices (which are so often not choices, someone must make money if you have a child and it isn't always the one who contributed the sperm), and I realize that I'm a happy working mom and I have neither the time nor the desire to go anywhere near those boards. Our life works and I can't imagine defending that to anyone, especially if they don't know me and my family. I don't get enough sleep, I haven't been to a gym in nearly 3 years, and I frequently get research assignments that I have absolutely no idea how to begin- but I'm almost always home my 6:30, my husband still flirts with me while we're making dinner, and my toddler is happy, affectionate, and knows he is loved down to the tips of his toes.

I know there are going to be times when being an attorney and a mother are going to conflict in ways that are not mere inconveniences, and I'm sure I'll write about them. But for now, though the days fly by, certain segments of them- cheering as Landon flung himself down the slide last night while we cooked out on the back porch with friends, snuggling and singing with Landon before bed- those moments seem to move slower, and that keeps me feeling like we've got our heads above water.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Vacation Destination

One of my best friends from law school flew in from Chicago for a weekend of fun in my new hometown. She had never been to Austin, so we had to give her a good sampling of its shopping, food, and general quirkiness. Friday involved a stroll around the boutiques of South Congress, Amy's ice cream for lunch, El Arroyo for dinner, a mix of 4th, 5th, and 6th street for some night life, all capped off with a stop at HEB for a nice bottle of wine to sip out on my back deck while talking until 2 a.m. (Proof that you're old: looking at your friend twenty minutes into your clubbing experience and realizing you'd rather split a $20 bottle of wine in the comfort and quiet of your own home than pay to yell at each other over your over-priced drinks. I used to find that really fun.)

On Saturday we went to the Lake Austin Spa and Resort for massages. I had a nearly expired gift certificate from my in-laws and my friend was up for a little pampering. WOW is that a nice place- the Hill Country location was beautiful, the robes were plush, the massage was badly needed, and the plethora of complimentary organic fruit and teas made me feel detoxed from my queso overload the night before. I had never been to a real spa and I can't imagine having the money to be blase in the face of all that luxury- we were nearly overcome with giddiness at every new sign of plushness. We finished our day of detox with pizza, brownies, ice cream, caramel popcorn, and another bottle of red wine. You know, just to keep our bodies in balance.

Sunday began Kerbey Lane, a quick stop at work to complete an assignment for a partner flying out for a deposition tonight, and a trip to the Lady Bird Johnson wildflower center where I finally got to play with my new camera (that I still have no idea how to operate):

This isn't a macro or zoom lens, but the petals are still pretty sharp

A test shot with my fun fisheye lens

A very helpful "what to do if you encounter a mountain lion" poster.
Turns out you should not run away, but instead wave your arms and speak loudly. Yeah.

Afterward there was a bit more brownie eating before driving to the airport. It was absolutely wonderful to spend time with her and it made me realize with a blow just how much I miss that amazing group of women I was lucky enough to meet in law school. They really must all move here.

P.S. Landon was an excellent host as always- full of charm and giggles and even helped feed the cat so I wouldn't have to. I really cannot tell you what an easy, loving, joy of a toddler he's become, there are just no words.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


There's a lot swimming around in my head about work, money, the economy, and mothering, but it all seems rather heavy and I don't yet feel like ordering my thoughts to write about them. So instead I bring you a fluffy discussion on the glories of fluffy novels.

Since I started my job I've been reading a lot more. I used to turn the TV on just to have it on after Landon went to bed, but now I watch about 4 shows a week (Top Chef, which just ended with no Project Runway to start up again, The Office, 30 Rock, and the Desperate Housewives/Brothers & Sisters combo because I like sitting down on the couch on Sunday evenings and JP secretly loves watching them with me) and spend the rest of my off-duty mom time curled up on the couch reading. And not reading anything intelligent or work-related, in fact, I read less news and legal publications than I did in law school- now, it's all about escape. Most recently I've been journeying to 18th Century Scotland, via Diana Gabaldon's Outlander (my favorite book series ever, well, besides maybe Harry Potter, but it's too different to compare), to early 19th Century America with Sara Donati's Into the Wilderness, or to England's king and courts through Philippa Gregory. I don't want to read anything that makes me think- so far, I don't even want to read anything I haven't already read before. I've been flipping through worn pages, skipping ahead to favorite parts, and getting lost in a world without Blackberries or document review (or hot running water or a woman's right to vote, but we're not nit picking here).

I love leaning about another time- while all those books are categorized as "historical romances" the reason they're my favorites is because they're heavy on the historical- well researched and rich with detail. I hate the shallow, typical romance novels with the same plot line that always ends tied in a bow with the brave, rich hero and the beautiful, young heroine triumphing over some misunderstanding that kept them apart for 100 irritating pages. The Outlander series is my favorite because it is one of the few series I've read (Harry Potter being another) where everything fits together perfectly book after book. There's no plot lines discarded halfway through, no repetition in dialogue or plot, and despite a span of more than twenty years the characters and their relationships remain lively. It takes the author about 3-4 years to write each book and you can tell. The 6th came out two weeks before I started law school in 2005 and the 7th comes out this September, I'm greatly looking forward to it.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I'm not reading anything that challenges me, but I need a way to unwind at the end of the day and thumbing through a well-worn paperback seems healthier than a few of the alternatives. It's hard for me to start anything new because I have a bad habit of staying up all night to finish a book. I'm a very fast reader and it's so hard to stop when I keep promising myself "just a few more pages"- JP has come out to the living room at 4 a.m. to find me still sitting on the couch speed-reading through the final few pages. When I need to get up for work (or school or swim practice) a few hours later I'm furious with myself for not just closing the book and going to bed, but then I'll do it again with the next one, which is why I stopped reading almost entirely during high school and college. But now reading is back and I'm determined to exert slightly more self-control (though I did stay up till 2:30 last week finishing Dragonly in Amber, a book I've read at least three times before. Ridiculous, I know), so if you have any suggestions of books that will be entertaining but not too thought-provoking, please share!

A few of my other favorites are Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen (the sequel Now Face to Face wasn't nearly as good, but the recently published prequel Dark Angels was fantastic). The Angelique series is amazing but very hard to find (and usually expensive when you do)- if you can read French you'll actually be able to finish the story as the last few books were never translated to English (and if you do, you must tell me what happens!). There's more I'm sure, but I can't think of them at the moment. I haven't had a lot of time to read over the past several years, but it's once again become an important part of my evening routine.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Birthdays and Buses

I hostessed a small birthday dinner party this past Saturday. My sister had been planning to drive over and babysit so JP and I could go out to celebrate, but we'd just gone out for Valentine's Day and I didn't want to spend the money on another big restaurant bill- plus going out TWO nights in the same month just seemed excessive and we certainly don't want to get spoiled. So I decided to make a party of it and invited my brother (now attending college in San Antonio- I think he lives exclusively on easy mac), his new girlfriend, a childhood friend (this is our 18th birthday together- it's funny that even though it's my 8th birthday to celebrate with JP he'll never catch up to Meg), her new boyfriend, and our friend/JP's business partner who has named dubbed himself Landon's second uncle. I made a big pot of my mom's spaghetti, my guests brought wine, and JP baked and decorated my funfetti birthday cake all by himself.

Truly a masterpiece. The fun dinner was topped off by our first trip out to a movie theater in at least a year. We saw Slumdog Millionaire and even if we have to wait another year to see our next movie, I'm glad we saw that one.

Landon had lots of fun entertaining his guests. He was sporting the new hat I bought him for Easter and pointed out everyone's noses, and his own belly button, several times during the meal.

I really can't even describe how much fun he is right now.

And this has nothing to do with my birthday party, but it made me laugh. I dropped Landon off at daycare this morning and after I pushed his chair up to the table where his pancake awaited him, I noted the new transportation pictures on the wall. His teacher saw me looking at them and suddenly asked, "Does Landon say bus a lot at home?" And right on cue, Landon turned, pointed his pancake at a picture of a dump truck and said, "BUS." Then he gave a firm little head nod and went back to the business of dipping his fingers in syrup. It made me giggle the whole way to the car.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sweet Dreams

[A post I wrote two days ago but didn't have time to edit and publish]

I just put Landon to bed. At 7:45 I sat cross-legged on the floor in his room and he snuggled into my lap to read a selection of books- his current favorites involve monkeys jumping on the bed, ten ducks "all ready to race", and three furry little monsters pointing out their body parts (including a "fuzzy tummy we all like to pat and a little belly button in the middle of that" - which always sparks a search for our belly buttons). At 7:55 I picked him up and sang "You Are My Sunshine" as he tucked his head into the space between my neck and shoulder, his hands each still gripping onto a book, dangling down by my side. I put him in his crib, waited for him to set down his books, and then waved bye bye as I backed out of the room. He stood up to wave, exclaimed "nigh nigh!", and blew big kisses at me with both hands- always making the kiss sound after throwing his hands out in front of him. At 8:00 I blew him one more kiss, received several more, and closed the door with a big smile on my face. Landon was wide awake but never made a peep, and when we checked on him later we found him stretched diagonally across the crib, surrounded by books, with his puppy under one arm.

It's hard to believe JP and I used to argue over who had to put Landon to bed- it was such a struggle for such a long time and now it's one of my favorite parts of our day. I love the way he whispers "nigh nigh" and then lays down, all warm and clean and sleepy and loved. I love coming back downstairs, feeling all warm and loved myself, to spend time with JP- whether it's working silently side-by-side (something I have dubbed "quality time by osmosis") or snuggling on the couch to watch TV.

It's at this time, when I come back downstairs, worn out and looking forward to time with JP, that I wonder how can we possibly have another baby. Right now things are so good- we work a lot but spend a lot of time together- time as a full family of three, time alone with Landon, and time with each other. We don't get enough sleep and our social life is a shadow of its former self, but it works and it works well. And Landon is such an utter delight that I don't want to split my time with anyone else, not even my own future child, and I know that most of the reason that JP and I can stay so tune with each other is because we are off-duty as mommy and daddy from 8pm - 6:30am every night.

But at the same time, as I close Landon's door, smiling and feeling borderline-sappy at his enthusiastic kiss blowing, I know to my very core that I want to experience this all again (and again). I know that we will find a new groove as an expanded family and I won't be able to imagine life without baby #2. I know I will discover an even deeper capacity for love, and happiness, and sleeplessness. I also know that despite any cravings I might have, I'm not ready yet- I feel too strong a need to soak up Landon for a while longer. It's just funny that the moments that make me unable to imagine having more children are the same that make me sure I will one day do just that.