Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Terrific Two

Dear Landon,

You turned 2 two weeks ago and I just can't let the milestone go by without a note for the baby book. I've written this letter in my head so many times and in so many ways- there's just so much to say! You've changed an unbelievable amount in the past year- you do so much, say so much, know so much. You're just my sweet, charming, funny little boy and I can't even begin to describe how much your daddy and I adore you. Starting at almost exactly the 12-month-mark you morphed from a challenging baby (not your fault, but still, challenging to say the least) to such an easy toddler. You left all your bottles for a sippy cup a day after your 1st birthday. You go to sleep easily on your own and stay that way for 11-12 hours. You are never sick and our only doctor appointments in the past year have been for your 12-month, 18-month, and 2-year check-ups. As the pediatrician said at our last visit, if it wasn't for APA guidelines, she'd never see us at all! You LOVE people and adore all doggies and babies. When we run errands you like to stand up in the cart and wave at everyone we pass. You always say "Hi! _____" and "Bye! ____" to whatever person or object you see in front of you. My favorite is when you say goodbye to your toes at night when we put on your footie pj's. My other favorite is when you enthusiastically greet them again in the morning :)

I have so many favorites about you and this fun time in our lives, but since I can't possibly describe them all here, I'm going to focus on one little part of our day together -- nighttime. I'm not going to lie, your daddy and I used to dread putting you to bed. In very large part because of the drama during your first 9 months of life, you never got to learn how to fall asleep on your own. By the time you were 11 months old, you understandably felt getting you to sleep was our job, and night after night your dad and I endured back pain and awkward hunched positions to do it. That all ended with a night or two of crying in the new house and none of us have ever looked back. Nighttime is a joy.

It begins around 7:40 when one of us takes you upstairs for your bath (aka "BUBBLES!"). You walk carefully up the steps, carrying one truck ("BUS!") or another, waving and yelling at everything you see: "Bye Bye Tex! Bye Bye DaDa! Bye Bye Bus!" You also throw in a few "NIGH NIGHTS DADA!" along the way. You love bath time, bubbles, and being wrapped in your monkey towel when you get out. You very solemnly brush your teeth and let mommy or dada finish the job after you've done an excellent job covering one back molar. You like to be chased naked around the upstairs and then tell me about how you're going "nigh night" as I put on your diaper and pj's and turn down your lights.

When all of this is done, usually just before 8:00, we climb into our big recliner upstairs in the gameroom and read two books. The first is always Bark, George "GRGE!" and the second is Chugga Chugga Choo Choo ("Choo"). You snuggle into my lap, squirming so you can get as close as possible, and frequently turn your head, with a big smile on your face, to watch my mouth move as we read the story. After the books are over and you've said "The End," you walk with me into your room, frequently stopping along the way to tell Lilly the cat that you're going nigh night.

And then comes my very favorite part. I hold you in my arms as you wrap your legs around my sides, put your still-chubby arms around my neck, and rest your cheek on my shoulder while I sing "You are my sunshine." I put you in your crib and you lay down, reaching for Puppy, and looking around to make sure your giant stack of books, favorite bus, and whatever extra item you've decided you need that night are all in the crib with you. You put your cheek on the mattress, blow kisses at me with your non-puppy holding hand, and say "night night mama" as I walk out of the room. You're going to roll your eyes when you read this years from now, but more often than not my eyes get a bit tingly as I close the door. You sleep solidly until 7:30 or so and frequently don't make a sound until one of us runs up at 8:00 to wake you up so we can get to work on time, only to find you sitting up in bed quietly reading your books or playing with your truck. I love that moment when you look up with a delighted smile on your face and greet me with a "Hi Mama!"

You are so wonderfully sweet and loving- you give exuberant hugs and cuddles and pets to everyone and everything. You live each moment (the ups and the downs) to its very fullest, and you've been teaching me to do the same since you were born.

We love you so much Lanman.

Love,
mommy


Monday, July 27, 2009

Love Thy Neighbor

It normally takes me 12 minutes to get from my office chair to Landon's daycare lobby. Today it took me 2 hours and 2 minutes. There was a man + gun + SWAT team situation on the highway I take home and even though I left work an hour early I quickly realized there was no possible way I could make it to daycare before close. JP was teaching a swim school lesson up the road where all the highway traffic was being diverted so there was no way he could make it either. Not helping matters was the 108 degree temperature at 6 pm and my car's very nearly empty gas tank. Stress.

I called my friend who works at the firm. She lives in our neighborhood and is currently home on maternity leave after having her second child. She was heading out the door for a pedicure but bravely took her 2.5 year old with her so that her husband could have his toddler car seat empty for Landon. Her wonderful pizza-from-scratch-making, stay-at-home-husband then loaded their 8 week old little girl into the car, picked up my little guy, and took him home for some after-daycare care. They called me on speaker phone so Landon could say Hi and tell me all about the "beebee! mama BEE! BEE!!!" (he's obsessed with babies right now) and how they were making salsa and he had already eaten a delicious dinner with lots of fruit. I started thinking my friend's husband should do daycare pick up every day... When I pulled up to their house- TWO HOURS after leaving work and an hour after daycare had closed, Landon gave me a big hug and then refused to leave. When I finally pulled him away from the toys he waved and said goodbye to the baby the whole way home. Some people say the grandparents push them to have more kids, but for us, the pressure comes in toddler form.

In other wonderful friend/neighbor news, our next-door-neighbor mowed our front lawn for us while we were away this weekend. Just because he knew we weren't getting back until late on Sunday and mowing is such a delightful chore in 110 degree heat. Not living very close to family makes it even more important to have a great support network of friends and we've been lucky to find that for ourselves here in Austin. We try to be good friends and neighbors too. I'm baking some breakfast bread for my neighbors and telling my friend to pick a night to go out with her husband while JP and I babysit the kids (is it bad that I'm slightly terrified of caring for an infant again? they're so floppy !). Feeling grateful for our good friends kept me from attempting to rip my hair out on the drive home; it's hard to be upset when you're feeling thankful. Harder, anyway.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Job Satisfaction

My associate mentor in the corporate department once told me that when her hours drop, so does her job satisfaction. I found this hard to believe since I'd only been working for a week and my biggest fear was being too busy to retain control over my free time. I also thought that getting paid to hang out in my office without much to do sounded like a pretty good gig. And yet I billed 50 hours in the first four days of last week and have never been happier at work. I love what I'm doing. I attended a deposition, helped draft a Motion to Dismiss, and did lots of other substantive, law-filled things. Monday was a long day as I traveled to Houston and back for the depo, but the other three days I still left for dinner and spent my happy Landon time at home in the evening, logging back in after he went to bed. I also received a lot of positive feedback from the partner and senior associates I'm working with and that also goes Very long way in boosting job satisfaction. It was a good week back.

And to celebrate my productivity-filled four days, I left at lunch on Friday to pile my family of five into the car and head to my parent's lake house for a mini vacation. The drive to Houston was horrendous- the usual three hours turned into a five-hour traffic filled marathon of wrecks, closed lanes, and a highly irritated toddler. When we finally arrived my parents watched Landon while JP and I went out for dinner, margaritas, and a movie. We saw Harry Potter, which was good, but after just re-reading the series and spending all my non-billable work time on the Harry Potter wiki page, I have to say I was disappointed. It's not the writers' or directors' fault, you just can't cram that big of a book into a 2.5 hour movie, but I couldn't stop thinking about all the layers and details and characters that were left out and made the story so much better! JP liked it a lot and it was still very nice to get out and flirt without a romance-killing two-year-old at the table. (Though a little odd to be in the same theatre where I went on my first date in middle school and most of my dates in high school; there were lots of pre-marriage memories that kept making me laugh while sitting next to my husband of four years.)

Now we're up at the lake. The dogs are running about with my parent's two labs, Landon is napping after spending an hour racing back and forth across the property in 100 degree heat, and JP and I are lounging on the couches admiring the view. Due to some impending hearings and other deadlines, August is going to be very busy at work. But July has been a nice balance of business and pleasure and I feel ready for it. I'm so happy in litigation and like the people I work with so much, it's hard for me to believe I spent five months in M&A. I feel so much more knowledgeable about this practice and I love being able to craft arguments and delve into the complexities of corporate and securities law from a legal and persuasive standpoint. I also love long court-imposed schedules that allow for some measure of planning and vacations. I know my job satisfaction will go up and down throughout my career, and there will be times when it plummets down to the "I should have gone to med school" level, but right now I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The End of a Blog

Every now and I then I think about when I will stop this blog. I never thought about stopping after graduating law school because I never thought law school defined the story I was telling. But I wonder- will I still be writing in 5 years? 10? What will I have to say that I haven't said before? With a job I can only talk about in an oblique manner and children who are older and deserving of increased privacy, will I have anything to write that people want to read? Do I have some obligation to continue updating? It seems odd to feel a duty to those you've never met, but I know that I wonder and worry about bloggers who have fallen away. I continue to think of them at times and hope they are doing well. I miss sharing in their daily adventures and I occasionally check their old url to see if they've come back.

I know a lot of people stop writing for fear of retribution from their law firms or other employers should they find out an employee is writing a blog that mentions work. I like to think that when done properly, blogging and employment can coexist. I don't want to ignore the fact that I am a full-time attorney, it is a big part of my life and why I want to share it. When I was in law school I found dozens of blogs by law students and law student mothers and they were an invaluable resource for me at that time, but I couldn't find many stories from practicing attorneys. Undoubtedly part of this is the time commitment involved, but there is also a sense that now that you are working you can no longer talk about that major part of your life in any way and that's really too bad. No one in my family had been a professional working woman with a young child, and even though I knew I would find my own way, I longed for more examples of those who were happily and successfully living this life. I think our story is a valuable one and I know that I have gained much by reading the tales of others.

These thoughts were prompted when a blogger friend of mine (you may have seen her on my blog roll on the right, we'll call her "ND" and she was a single mother and public interest lawyer) was forced to take her blog down very suddenly. She wasn't allowed to say goodbye to her readers or offer any explanation as to why her blog suddenly disappeared, and I know she is very sad about this. ND had a unique story to tell and she told it with humor, wit, compassion, and an amazing love for her daughter. Please don't mention the name of her blog in any comments to this post, but should you wish to say goodbye to her, she is reading and would love to hear from you. I know I will greatly miss her presence on the interwebs and hope she continues proving "it can be done" as a single parent with loans on a public-interest salary.

For me, I hope to continue writing until I no longer have anything interesting to say (assuming of course, that half of what I write now is interesting). I hope that any decision to stop writing is my own. I hope to have a chance to say goodbye to you, my wonderful readers who have been through so much with me over the past 2.5 years (See for example Nightmare, The and much of May 2008). In the meantime I hope to give someone like me, pregnant and googling variations "baby and career," a happy, honest example of someone combining both of those things. I think it matters that we working women and parents can share our struggles and successes and I'm very sad that ND will no longer be bringing her unique and frequently hilarious voice to the table. ND, you will be greatly missed in the blogosphere and we wish you all the best.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Resurfacing

Tonight ends my 9-day, only semi-interrupted staycation, and I feel happy and rested and delightfully close to bored. I did some work at home on Monday, worked a very long day Tuesday, and have sent only a single work-related email since then. I spent Wednesday with our birthday boy, who danced this very special birthday dance upon awaking from his nap:



Together we spent several hours watching daddy coach and manage his swim school at their temporary outdoor location; we baked brownies for a few of our friends taking the Bar next week; we read books and made up animal noises neither of us had ever heard before; we laughed and chased and and danced and giggled. We opened presents and played with a new fleet of buses.



I re-read all seven Harry Potter books (my God they are good, I read them so fast the first time I couldn't fully appreciate the brilliance of their details), I wrote Landon's thank you notes, and then I didn't cross another single thing off my to-do list. JP and I took midday naps while Landon took his. I cooked big dinners. Landon and I made muffins and visited two new parks. We spent a day with my mom and Landon discovered the joys of gelato.



I head to Houston tomorrow at the crack of dawn to attend a deposition with a partner. I'm sad the week is coming to an end, but I'm ready to put certain parts of my brain back into use. This week has reaffirmed everything I thought I would love about staying home and everything I knew I would miss in that role. My working full-time is right for us right now, but it was nothing less than wonderful to spend 5 uninterrupted days floating somewhere in between.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Present for Mama

I'm taking a staycation this week. I knew we couldn't afford to travel anywhere and I decided that with a house and a Landon, it would be just as fun, and probably much more relaxing, to use my vacation days to stay in. I'm working from home today and tomorrow and then Wednesday through Friday I am offline. My last day off didn't go so well, but I've been looking forward to this for a while.

And it was perfect. It was as though Landon gave me a present for his birthday (which really, given that we grow and give birth to the children, should be the way it works). He went to daycare in the morning so I could do some work (and today was "gymnastics class", which Landon apparently adores), but I picked him up at 11 because I missed him. I arrived in the middle of lunch and it was hysterical to watch Landon freeze in his chair making frantic "eh! eh!" noises while he tried to decide what to do- shove all his food in his mouth and then run over to me, or just run over to me first? I ultimately won and we celebrated by having more lunch at home.

I still had work to do but for possibly the first time ever, Landon played happily and independently around my desk and in the play room. I think it's the ridiculous number of "buses" he received at his party. He hasn't had any new toys since Christmas and I think he's finally old enough to really be excited about the newness of them.



After nap time we went to the park. It was only 102 today, with a nice breeze, so it was almost pleasant to be outside helping him dig up wood chips to put in the bucket he carried around like a purse.



He also did lots of climbing on equipment outside his age range and three times I had to chase after him because he'd spotted a dog he wanted to pet wayyyy across the park by the mailboxes. Once I reached my maximum heat intake for the day we headed back home where Landon played with his buses and I did some more work. I even managed to have two conference calls without any yelling of any kind! I interspersed my typing with peekaboo and racing cars down the hall. My sister just started her first post-college grown-up job here in Austin, so Landon and I decided to take her out to dinner (JP had a company thing). He loves his aunt and spent much of dinner smiling at her and eating her tater tots. When we got home it was past his bedtime, so we headed upstairs for the bath/book routine. The dump truck ("BUS!") had to come up too, which added approximately 17 minutes to our climb up the stairs, but we made it.



After the bath it was time for a book. Landon selected "Bark, George," as he has done every night for the past two months, and then he crawled into our reading chair and tried to look too cute to be put to bed.



After we read our books, he magically accepted the fact that we needed to motor our buses into his room and go night night. At this point, he had absolutely convinced me that he was too perfect and too sweet to be put to bed, but I was trying very hard not to tell him that.



Once in the nursery we put his two favorite buses into bed, stacked up his favorite books, and swapped out his orange blanket for a bus covered sheet. I was expecting at least some of the usual protest, but nope, I put him in the crib and he snuggled down with puppy and exclaimed "Night Night Mama!" When I got out my camera to get a picture of him with his new trucks, he popped up his head and said, "Cheese!"



He said "night night" again as I closed the door to his room and I haven't heard another peep. I'm now sitting here in the study giggling at all the adorable things he did today and feeling so, so grateful to spend this time with him. Having a child is the hardest thing I've ever done and while I have been brought to my knees with exhaustion, fear, and frustration, I've also been blessed with days that make my heart hurt with wondering how I could possibly love him more. Today was one of the heart hurting days. Nothing extraordinary happened and we didn't stray more than 2 miles from home, but it's one of the best vacations I've ever taken.

Sugary Goodness

Yesterday evening we hosted Landon's birthday party at the house. There was lots of food, drinks, toys, games, guests, new baby friends, and most importantly, cupcakes. Last year Landon refused to touch his cake and we had to stage his frosting-covered face. This year that was not a problem.


Very carefully selecting his birthday boy treat


Trying to avoid making a mess (that's my boy!)


First bite!


Not Pictured: Landon surrounded by 2 other toddlers eating their own cupcakes; Landon greedily eying those cupcakes; the other 2 kids going to play, leaving half a cupcake behind...


And Landon eating the abandoned treat:


I don't think he knows what a birthday is yet, but he thought yesterday was very, very fun and requests that there be more cupcakes in his future. I'm writing a real party post with more pictures and details on the celebration, but I'm working from home today and decided to keep Landon home with me (a move I couldn't resist but will probably regret while I try to write this 12b6 Motion with him underfoot), so nap time needs to be VERY productive! I'm going to eat a leftover cupcake (I was too busy watching Landon yesterday to eat one myself!) and get to work.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The "Two" Game

A How-To Guide from Landon

(1) Yell "twooooooo!" as you run with arms stretched behind you towards your dad. Mom will also do, but dad seems to enjoy it more. Ignore your parents when they try to explain that the counting process that begins with one (or that a proper countdown starts with three), the number two is all you need to warn your victim that an attack is imminent.



(2) Launch yourself full speed at the dada and take that 6 foot 3 inch, 200 lb. man down.







(3) Yell your victory to your mom so she can clap and give you kisses. Run away. Laugh a lot. Repeat 52 more times.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Working with the Menu

So, interesting comments from Monday's post- and I mean that sincerely. It's one of the reasons I published that particular diary blog entry - because even though I love my life and generally fail to publish posts not because I'm hiding unhappiness but because finding new ways to describe the urge to pinch myself would be boring and borderline obnoxious, I have doubts. I have moments where I wonder if law school was the right path and I wonder where I want this path to take me. And I know other people have those too.

Up until this point life has been full of options- in high school the future is so far away and on my first day of college I felt I could pursue anything. I initially chose medicine, switched to law at the last minute, and still thought I had a million options before me as I ran full speed towards law school. Once there I tossed around career possibilities and waxed poetic about how I would handle work and family- something easily done when you have no knowledge of the reality of that balance. But now, at the end of my formal academic journey, I am entrenched in my legal path and switching off of it will involve a lot more than randomly deciding to sign up for the LSAT instead of the MCAT.

And that's okay. I know that some of the best opportunities are those you never planned for and that's one of the reasons I'm the only associate in my class without a new luxury car. Our financial focus is paying off my loans so that we can embrace (or at least seriously consider) the opportunities that present themselves down the road. But those unknown future possibilities, while exciting, are not very comforting when you're lying in bed at night wondering if that path you chose to race down at 100 mph and 21 years old, was the right one.

All of that said, I like being a lawyer. The late night freak-outs stem from (a) the ohmygod realization that I'm an adult with an expensive, time-consuming degree, a job, and financial commitments and if I decide tomorrow that I want to be a doctor I can't do much about it (at least not tomorrow) or (b) the lack of a set plan to get whatever it is I want and not being sure if I'm doing enough or too much to get where I don't know I want to go. But that's life on the other side of the ivory tower and I'm just chronicling the adjustment process.

To address a more practical concern many people had, I love where I work, I have every intention of working there for quite some time, and I don't believe anyone at my firm thinks I want anything less than making partner as quickly as possible. In fact, the senior associate I work for the other day sent me an article titled "ten signs you're a workaholic" and told me to be careful. JP laughed for about 5 minutes when I told him that because I am so very far from a workaholic, but I figure it's a good impression to have unintentionally made. As far as children and perceived commitment to your career, while I greatly respect the opinions and advice of those who have worked longer than me, I do think that Austin is a little different. All but two people in my section have children and the last two women to make partner both have three. Many attorneys are flex-time and I can't think of a single person who doesn't have a very time consuming hobby or a family or both. My floor clears out around 6 pm and people work later from home as needed. I work with some phenomenally smart and talented people, but they've self-selected for this office. If you want to be a superstar rainmaker you just don't choose to work in Austin- you go to New York or DC or at least Houston or Dallas.

One thing that has been clear to me is that a huge part of the "luck" involved in stumbling across your dream career opportunity is being a great attorney and having a good reputation among those you work with. And at work I am focused on learning everything I can and doing a great job for those above me; any thoughts about alternative paths or career-identity crises are kept to myself. I've learned a lot from listening to my coworkers talk about their own plans- after all, the firm has no interest in everyone sticking around to go up for partner in eight years, so talk of non-firm futures is rampant. The last two people to have my office are now at the DOJ and we have section lunches with them every other month. It's been comforting to see all the well-defined roads that lead away from the firm.

Today was a good day. I wrote a memo that elicited two "excellent work!" emails from the receiving partners and I sang along to the radio the whole way home. On days like today I can see myself wanting to be a partner, and then I arrive home to a smiley Landon racing through the house yelling "mama! mama! mama!" and I spiral back into doubt over what it is I want after all. But I can live with that in the day-to-day. After all, I don't have a lot of other options right now and hopefully these nighttime musings will have the upside of enforcing a willingness to consider new opportunities as they come. I don't know that you can order a perfect career a la carte, but I'm happy to have one that works right now.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Career à la Carte

Mondays are so much harder after a 3-day weekend. Last night I lay awake thinking about how wonderful it was to spend three full days with just Landon and JP and how much time I miss with them during the week. I let my mind roam over the idea of what it would be like to not work, to have this free family time. I started to wonder what I want in my career and what I'm willing to sacrifice to get it. And then I fell asleep, woke up at 7 a.m., and started our usual Monday morning routine without a second thought.

And that's how it usually goes. Most of the time I love everything about my life, but every now and then, usually at night, I wonder what I'm doing and where I'm going and whether it's the right path for my family. Sometimes this comes as a mini "what if" session, a chance to play out different scenarios in my mind. Other times it turns into a near panic attack over what on earth am I doing- do I like being a lawyer? do I want to be a lawyer forever? what do I want to do with the law? I invested 3 years and $150,000 becoming a lawyer, I damn well better like it! but oh my God Landon is growing up so fast and I'm missing parts of it and what if that's not okay and oh holy shit JP WAKE UP! And then we talk and my head stops spinning and we reach conclusions like "yes, I like what I'm doing" and "no, you don't have to know your life-long career goals right now at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday" and "yes, you have to work because we're grownups with a mortgage and need for health insurance." And then I feel better- after all, why freak out over options that don't currently exist?

But I do wonder -- when JP is making money or when we've paid down my law school debt, what do I want? I know that I want to work- but it's more than that, I want a career. I want this time spent away from my family to matter- both to me and to others and I want something to continue building when my children leave home. I want to use my education and the talents God gave me. But at what? I don't think I want to be a law firm partner. I don't care enough about the money or the prestige to make it worth the trade-off in family and free time. But I don't want to do contract work or be on my own- I like being part of something bigger and I have absolutely zero entrepreneurial ambition (quite the opposite, the mere idea of risk or being on my own is terrifying). I'm also not interested in a smaller firm- it doesn't seem like the hours are sufficiently better for the decrease in pay (and the increase in the amount of control any one partner can have over your life). There's aspects of working for the government or public interest that I like and right now, that's the shape my nebulous vision of the future takes in my late night thought sessions.

So I have no idea what my long-term goals are. I've always been a very goal oriented person - from graduating high school, to college, to law school, there was a clear path. And now there's no path. Usually this is fine- I wake up, go to work, do the best job I can and come home. But it's strange to not know what I want from it or what I'm working for. Especially when whatever it is that I'm working for is what keeps me from spending every waking second with this guy:



And if I'm not going to be with him every second, shouldn't those seconds matter? I can talk myself in a circle every time because a career is a hard thing to have on your own terms. Even if we didn't need the money, I would want to work and I would have to accept the time commitments and sacrifices that come with it. You need to do a good job for your clients whether you need them to pay their bills or not. There was a superstar associate at our firm who quit after having her second baby to go do contract work. Her words were "I need a job, not a career." I can understand that, on some days very, very well, but if I'm going to be spending that time away from my family, I think I want it to be more than just a job.

A summer associate commented yesterday on how envious she was at my perceived ability to balance everything and seem so happy and certain about my life. I started laughing, telling her that I just had a mini crisis on the phone with JP, asking him him when he thought I'd have the option of quitting my job just in case I ever wanted it. So I am far from certain about any of these things and against my better judgment, I'm publishing this rambling, insomnia-fueled post to prove it. I'd say that 90% of the time I simply feel lucky that I like what I do and who I work with. I have enjoyed far greater flexibility and job satisfaction than I ever expected in my first year at a Big Law firm. I thank God that I have a kid who loves daycare and never gets sick, and a husband with a flexible schedule and egalitarian view of parenting and housework. But sometimes I wonder what I'm working for, wonder if I'll think it's worth it ten and twenty years from now, wonder where I'm going, just wonder...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Suburban Bliss

Yesterday at work one of my colleagues asked about our Fourth of July plans. "Oh, nothing too big" I said, "we're just going to the country club party on Friday night and then walking in the neighborhood kids parade Saturday morning." And then it hit me. Oh my God, we're suburbanites. And I'm happy about it.

The party tonight was such fun. Our real estate agent hosts a "VIP grove" on the 18th hole during the neighborhood country club's 4th of July event. We get to enjoy live music, covered seating, a fajita buffet, drinks, and a prime spot to watch the fireworks. We attended last year and Landon stood up on his own for the first time (showing off for an 18-month old lady baby who we met again this year!). It's amazing that in one year we've gone from a wobbly stance to racing around the green playing soccer with JP.



JP was constantly surrounded by summer league swimmers and their parents and made all sorts of new contacts for the swim school. Landon mostly busied himself with the patriotic beach balls. Action shot:



I made JP operate my scary camera so I could be in a picture. Landon's hair is getting a bit out of control.



The best part of the evening was the fireworks. We almost left - the idea of beating traffic, putting Landon to bed, and sitting in our air conditioned house was winning out over seeing yet another fireworks show. But then we ran into a group of summer leaguers who invited us to have a drink and it seemed rude not to at least stay and chat for a few minutes. Landon was surrounded by fans and one mom quickly had him decked out in Fourth of July regalia:



2 1/2 feet of pure patriotism


Moments later the first rocket was launched from across the green. The show was incredible. Not because the fireworks were anything groundbreaking (though they were Very good), but because I was watching it through Landon's eyes. He was enthralled, captivated, amazed -- I can't even think of a word to capture the look of excited wonder that came across his face when that first burst of colored light exploded in the sky. He was sitting in my lap, with my arms wrapped around him in case he was afraid of the noise, and he pointed, face turned up to the sky, and looked at me like, "Whoa, what was that?!" And he continued to point, clap, laugh, yell boom!, and intermittently attempt to attach words to what he was seeing. The red bursts were followed by "apple?", the multiple, little white bursts with a questioning, "bubbles?" I loved it- loved that he was embracing something so new and potentially scary, loved that I have such an adventurous child, loved reveling in the magic of fireworks from the eyes of someone who has never seen anything like them before. I think it's one of the most fun aspects of having a child- being able to re-discover the excitement of things that have become ordinary.

We pulled into the driveway at 9:45 and immediately gave our sleepy, sweaty little guy a sponge bath and tucked him in bed. As I was closing the door of his room behind me, Landon suddenly lifted up his head and said, "more boom?" and then fell asleep without making another sound. It's been a good 4th so far.