Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Buttered Biscuit

I have no real content for you today, as I'm working on our response to the motion to compel opposing counsel filed at 9 p.m. on freaking Thanksgiving Eve. They have been highly unpleasant to work with, and while some may find this surprising, that has very much been the rarity for opposing counsel from other large law firms that I have worked with so far. At least their motion is so ridiculous that it's making the response almost fun to write.

So because I can't talk much more about that, but I want to post something, I have pictures of the Biscuit and her big brother grilling us some food for dinner on Saturday. I was working at the desk, QC'ing a document production, while JP and the kids played in the corner of the study. This pretty much sums why I love working from home- I get to see some variation of this scene every time I look up, and I get to hear talking (or in Claire's case, squealing) in the background as I review. Watching the two of them play together always makes me happy:









Because even if you're working on a weekend that you weren't supposed to have to work on at all, it's butter and biscuits-- what could be better?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tis the Season

Today is the day I've been looking forward to for months-- Christmas is officially allowed to arrive! Well, it could have come as early as Thursday evening, but we had other things on our to-do list. I can't stand Christmas before Thanksgiving (and don't even get me started on Christmas before Halloween), and I want the Christmas stuff gone no later than New Year's Day, but I LOVE my 30 days of holiday decorations and lights and the Frank Sinatra holiday station on pandora.com. I've been looking forward to that last one with particular anticipation- it makes my office feel so cheerful.

So at 8:00 this morning JP was getting down our containers of Christmas decor from the attic and I was dancing around to my Christmas mix on iTunes (my brother burned all my mom's Christmas CD's the first Christmas after JP and I got married, it was like having a piece of home in Chicago). We also came across a container with a few of Landon's old toys in the attic, so Clairebear got to play with them while I switched out all our usual decor for holiday items- and then re-organized our study shelves and closet. I was on a roll, and the Biscuit was happy.



I had part of the mantel done when Landon came in from helping JP string up the lights. He paused while walking through the living room, looked at the fireplace, and said in a soft, almost reverant voice, "the house is so beautiful mommy."



This Christmas is going to be amazing. I'm getting all teary just thinking of how much fun we're going to have. And not because of any big plans or expensive presents- we're spending Christmas Eve and morning at home with just the four of us before driving over to my parents lake house, and I'm done with my shopping and I think the present Landon is going to be most excited about are the shiny orange crocs he's getting in a bigger size for his big kid feet- but he's so excited and Claire is so smiley and I think it's just going to be a wonderful holiday.

My grandparents gave me Target gift cards to buy the kids' presents from them to put under the tree. I picked out some great things, but I've decided to give them this nativity set early.



It'll be out when they come downstairs tomorrow morning and I look forward to telling them the real story of Christmas.



This is going to be such a great month!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving and a Partially Broken Vow

I've been struggling with what to write about this Thanksgiving. There's the obligatory list of things I'm thankful for (our health, my job, my wonderful husband, my beautiful children, etc.), but while I truly am thankful, I didn't have anything new to say about them. Our actual Thanksgiving day was very low key, which after hosting large Thanksgiving dinners for the past two years, was a welcome change. We drove over to San Antonio along with my sister, and ate a lovely meal at my grandparents' retirement center. The food was great, the company better, and the short drive and lack of preparation and clean-up perhaps the best of all!

Landon looked quite dapper in his bow tie; and while he spent much of the day in a rather uncooperative mood, he was perfect during the dinner in the fancy dining room (probably because he knew our threats of spending the next four days in his room if he acted up in public were quite real, as was the far more serious threat of not being allowed to eat any of the cookies we baked together on Wednesday). Clairebear was a huge hit among the retirees and bestowed big smiles on just about everyone. We left our house at 11:30 and were home at 5:30. After some crazy weeks at work, it was truly the perfect Thanksgiving for us.



You may have noticed that we haven't seen my in-laws since JP's graduation in May (the only time we've seen this year, actually), and while they were supposed to spend Thanksgiving with us this year, they are quite obviously not here. I very nearly broke my vow to not talk badly about them by writing a scathing blog post about the absurd fight my mother-in-law manufactured back in July. I even typed out a partial draft last night. But then I spent a fantastic morning with my children and sat down at my computer at naptime feeling so happy and joyful that I just can't muster up enough anger and indignation to finish it.

Because as I look at these pictures from yesterday and this morning, and I bask in how fabulous my little biscuit is, and how much fun Landon is, and think about how much they both have changed in the 6 months since we saw my in-laws (Claire wasn't even born yet), I know that this whole situation is 100% their loss. I may hate that my mother-in-law manufactured drama out of nothing (the story, in a sentence, involves them wanting us to go to Disneyworld with them in September, and us not wanting to go with a two-month old and suggesting we take a trip next year. Really, that's it. She called back 15 minutes later and, through a hysterical voice mail message, canceled their trips out here for Claire's baptism and Thanksgiving.), and I may hate that they don't seem to care that they haven't met their granddaughter (not that they were interested in her at all before she was born, but I thought it might change), but again, their loss. We're their only family and they've completely missed out on 6 months of pictures, stories, and visits to see these two wonderful little people.





So no matter how annoyed I get at the situation, particularly when I know she's somehow made it our fault, I look at Landon and our not-so-little-anymore baby Claire, and rather than anger, I just feel sad for them. And I still hope, despite 9 years of knowing her, that my mother-in-law will decide to swallow her falsely wounded pride in order to meet her granddaughter.



JP doesn't understand why I still care, or why I make him call his dad every now and then at work just to check-in and test the waters, but I can't help it. Family means too much to me and I'm too proud of my own to not want to share it with two people who should most want to be a part of it. And I know that deep down, past the irrationality that frequently rules my mother-in-law's mind, she wants that too.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Big Questions, Cute Pictures

I attended our firm's all-attorney meeting on Friday in Houston. It was a fun time, combining several hundred lawyers with lots of food and drink (and fancy bowling! I got a strike, which was a highlight, along with the sangria), but it left me with a lot to think about. Much of the meeting celebrated the firm's successes, new clients, and newly named partners, which led to wonder (not for the first time), where on earth do I want this career of mine to go? I'm quite happy where I am right now, but the BigLaw career path is unusual (though not unique) in that you pretty much have to decide what you want to do with it in your first few years. It's an unwavering, year-by-year progression toward a single goal; a goal that if you don't meet, you pretty much have to leave. Five to six years from now I'll be up for partner, and I need to have been working pretty hard with that goal in mind in the years leading up to it. It's not something you just fall into. And rather than making things more clear, the big meeting, fun as it was, just left me feeling more ambivalent.

Of course none of this is anything I need to worry about today, or even for the year couple years, but I can't help but wonder sometimes. I like my firm, I like my work, and I like the people I do it with. I've done well so far, working with a lot of high-profile partners in other offices and am generally beloved and requested by those who've worked with me in the past. But I don't know what I want long-term. There are aspects to being a partner I think I would genuinely enjoy (outside of the money, which of course, I would enjoy- I literally fantasize about mailing in final payment on my student loans) and there are aspects, mostly related to the time committment involved, that I would not . And of course there's no guarantee I'd make it even if I tried. Which leads to another quandry- what would I do if I wasn't doing what I'm doing now? Austin is a small market with very few in-house litigation positions. I don't have any desire for the few prosectuor or government jobs available here (though there's a few in DC I'd love, not that JP would ever move there with me). I'm certain I wouldn't want to work for one of the other big law firms in town. I like where I am and if I can't make it work here I don't think anywhere else would be better. There are smaller firms, but from what I can tell, their hours aren't much different and the pay is quite a bit less. Plus I honestly like BigLaw type work. I like big cases where it's worth the client's money to spend a lot of time thoroughly researching, debating, and writing on various topics of law. It's good nerdy fun and perfect for me. I don't know how good I'd be at a real lawyer job; I kind of feel like I'm in academia or still in law school.

The immediate answer to all of this is to just to continue to work hard where I am, keep my options as open as they can be (and since JP's first student loan bill came in the mail yesterday, they aren't open much at all until he gets a job and we pay down most of our $190,000 of grad school debt), and be grateful for the job that I have (which I am). So I'll pretend to move on (but I really can't help thinking about these things and when I think about something a lot I feel compelled to write about it, though I'll probably delete most of this later) and tell you about our weekend, which was the original topic for this post. This was supposed to be my first non-working, non-horribly ill weekend since early September. It wasn't. I ended up working much of Sunday, but it was a lovely two days, and I really, truly enjoyed spending ever single waking moment with the kids on Saturday.

First up, family Christmas pictures! We just did the fancy newborn portraits, so holiday pics were a quick session at Portrait Innovations. Claire had to be stuffed into her 6-9 month Christmas dress, which she will definitely not be able to wear on Christmas and Landon forgot how to smile. Seriously. He looked like he was in pain, and JP and I realized how hard it is to describe to someone else how to smile ("open your mouth, no wait don't; show your teeth, no not that much; just think about something funny! lift up the corners of your mouth- no, not like you're trying to eat something, like you're happy; you know, just SMILE!"). But we did get one good shot of the two kids:



But even there, you can tell he's on the verge of a pain-filled smile grimace. Poor kid, he really was trying. The Biscuit, on the other hand, smiled her way through every single shot. I have a CD of 102 images of Clairebear smiling. This picture is already framed on my desk:




JP had 5 hours of swim lessons lined up after the photo session, so the kids and I headed to the park. Landon somehow became a Big Kid overnight and swung on the swing all by himself. It was very nearly an emotional moment for me. But then I realized how mis-matched his self-selected outfit was and started laughing instead.



(He is also wearing one black sock, and one navy blue sock, just to complete the image.) He made a new friend, a little boy about the same age who had recently moved here with his parents from India. He spoke using about 90% Hindi words and 10% English, but he and Landon jabbered away as if there was no difference. I don't think Landon even noticed; after all, his sister talks to him all the time and she doesn't speak English. She gets her point across just fine using other sounds, and apparently this little boy did too. They ran around and made up all kinds of games- it was really quite awesome to watch. I chatted with the little boy's mother, who wanted to know all about the neighborhood and the schools and what it was like having a second child. She admired Claire, who had been hanging out happily in her stroller watching the world go by (and smiling at it, of course).



I told my new friend that my view should be taken with a grain of salt, because Claire is an unusual baby, but having two kids was wonderful and seemed a lot easier than having one the first time around. She laughed and we traded war stories about our firstborns. As a working mom whose kids are in daycare most of the day, I don't usually spend much time at parks or talking to other parents, and it was really, really nice. I was sad when they had to go.

We spent the rest of the day reading books, building magnificent block towers, and making Claire laugh (I've got to get her laugh on video, it's fabulous). JP came home, we made dinner, played on the couch, and tucked the kids in bed. And even working from 9-11:30 that night, and getting up with a teething Clairebear every 1.5 hours after that, couldn't mar what was an otherwise perfect day.



P.S. This is from Sunday, but I LOVE this picture of my little football-watching duo. Landon still won't watch TV, but the Biscuit will sit with her dad forever, playing with toys and watching the colors move around on the screen. JP has started narrating the game for her and I've learned more about football than I ever bothered to know before.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

ABC magic

During my pregnancy with Claire I spent a lot of time being scared of the idea of caring for two children. I was super excited too, but the excitement was mixed with a moderate amount of terror. Luckily, as it turns out, it really isn't all that bad. Oh sometimes two is 16 times harder than 1, particularly and when you're down one parent and both kids are angry. But in general, having two kids has been at least as much fun as it has been hard (and usually more).

Part of the reason for this is that the older child can entertain the younger child. Landon adores his baby sister and JP and I are not above using that love to make our lives easier. Landon is our baby entertainment system. If we're making dinner and Claire starts to fuss from the play room, Landon knows to run over to her and sing to make her smile. If we're in the car and she wants to eat but we're not home yet, Landon immediately pulls out the songs. It's awesome.

Her favorite is the alphabet song. I have no idea why she loves it so much, but we sing that song a lot around here. Because Landon spends so much time around the infant room, often instructing Claire's teachers how best to care for his sister, they've started using the ABC trick too. One day a few weeks ago they said Claire woke up from her nap crying so they started singing the alphabet and by the time they got to "F" she was smiling through her tear-filled eyes. It works every time.

I'm terrible about remembering to video things, and usually JP is even worse, but when I was in Denver last month, JP caught an ABC moment on film. He was cleaning up after dinner and Landon was on "keep Claire happy" duty. When I got home from the airport around midnight that night, I found the video camera on the counter with a note to watch the last clip. I was so tired, and had missed the kids so much after 2 nights away, I started crying. I just watched it again today and realized that I must have really been wrung-out because there is nothing emotional about this video (and Landon totally devolves by the end), but it is cute. I'm traveling again, this time in Houston for the night, and my Biscuit videos are keeping me company.



One more ABC memory. On Saturday when I was lying on the bathroom floor wanting to die while JP was still coaching, Claire started to cry from her jumperoo. I couldn't get up to get her, and I didn't want to get her sick anyway, so I begged Landon to go sing to her. Though I felt awful from the virus, and now horribly guilty for forcing my son to be the parent, I couldn't help but smile against the tile floor when I heard his little voice coming from the play room between Claire's screams, singing, "A, B, C, D..."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Big Nights In

Now that I'm feeling better and the contents of my stomach are staying in their rightful place, our evenings can get back to normal. I've mentioned this before, but I love our nights at home. I read the facebook statuses of my footloose friends, and while I'm glad they're having fun, I truly don't feel any envy.

I love coming home to a toddler who races over to hug me tight, a baby whose smile, while usually already present, grows even bigger because she sees me, and a husband who has already started dinner. Someday the kids will have activities and homework and JP will probably have his own demanding job (so we hope, though while a second paycheck would be very nice, I have to say I'm enjoying the status quo), but right now, things are pretty easy. We eat dinner together, we talk about our days, we laugh while Claire attacks her spoon of sweet potatoes. We clean up the dishes, Landon plays, Claire watches. We take baths- both kids in the tub with me, or Landon taking a shower while Claire gets a quick sponge off. Then, my favorite part, the playing before bed. Even if it's only 5 minutes, and due to Landon's recent habit of taking FOREVER to eat his food, it frequently is only that long before it's upstairs for a book and a tuck-in, but it's still my favorite.





Lately we've been playing a board game if Landon finishes his dinner in a timely manner (we don't do dessert incentives because I refuse to bargain with food; I don't like the concept, particularly with a growing daughter, and it doesn't seem to do much but add a lot of "how many bites?" and "does this count as a bite?" and next thing you know everyone is mad and no one has dessert), and that has been really fun. But there's something extra laugh-inducing about rolling around in mom and dad's bed.




Monday, November 15, 2010

Alive and Blogging

I'm headed to bed to finish up my most recent fluffy romance novel (I've read four of them in the past three days, I suppose being sick has at least one advantage), but I just wanted to let you all know that I am alive and appear to have beaten back the stomach bug that tried to kill me. Or at least kill my first free non-working weekend in seven weeks. A weekend in which we were supposed to go to a toddler birthday party and then to San Antonio to meet up with my parents and celebrate my grandpa's 81st birthday. And then on Sunday I was supposed to go to the Four Seasons for an afternoon fancy tea baby shower, a baby shower for which I was a hostess! I'm still very bitter about missing the last one, though I was glad to hear it was lovely and went off without a hitch. But obviously I am better if I can mourn the loss of those fabulous tasty treats instead of throwing up at the mere thought of them.

I stayed home from work today, and with both kids in daycare and JP out coaching and going to doctor appointments, it was very restful and exactly what my body needed. I even ate pizza for dinner (from Costco, of course) and was excited about it. I'm cured.

One of the worst parts about the weekend, besides how hideously awful I felt every waking moment, was how much I just wanted the day to end so the kids would to bed. I kept looking at the clock, moaning as I moved my head enough to get it in view, and thinking, "how the hell is it only [whatever] o'clock? Why isn't it 7:30 yet?" And I hated that. It was for the best that I never touched them or played with them, we certainly didn't want them catching whatever I had, but it made me sad underneath my wishing they would just go away so I could hurt and vomit in peace. I love our weekends. Even when I have a ton of work to do I never wish them away, we always find a way to happily work and play around each other, and it made me even more miserable to know how desperately I wanted each day to end- which might be okay if it was because that I was thinking it would bring me one day closer to feeling better, or because I wanted the kids to escape my germs, but really it was because the end of the day means the kids are in bed and not awake and wanting to be with me. The guilt in feeling that way did not aid my recovery.

On a very opposite note, when I first started feeling queasy on Saturday morning, I was laying in bed, watching JP get dressed to go help Landon with his breakfast, and said, "this is exactly what it feels like to be pregnant." He paused, looking at me questioningly, and I exclaimed, "I'm not or anything, I'm just saying, this is what it feels like." And then I kind of laughed, "thank goodness, there's no way way I am, right?" He just shrugged and said, "Actually, it'd be kind of great, then we'd just get it over with."

And you know what? I was secretly thinking the exact same thing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

One Stomach Flu Away From My Goal Weight

I'm just going to warn you now, I'm going to complain in this post and I'm going to do it without any attempt to look on the bright side because as far as I can tell, there was absolutely no bright side to my day yesterday.

I woke up 7 a.m. when Clairebear started crying up in her room. She's been a little off the past few days. Still super happy the majority of the time, but her happiness is punctuated with short bursts of crying and spitting up (and throwing up, but just that one time). As soon as I sat up in bed, I knew I didn't feel well, but I've been working so late each night that JP has been getting up with the kids every morning and I didn't think he'd be very sympathetic to a request for another morning of sleeping in. Thirty minutes later, my stomach was clenched up and hurting, my body ached, and I had a splitting headache. I crawled back in bed, moaning my apologies, and he got up (I'm pretty sure he was glaring at me, but I felt too terrible to notice or care very much).

Because I haven't been really sick in years, I was confident that these yucky feelings would go away quickly, so I told him not to cancel his morning swim lesson. Oh, I'll be fine, I said, it's only an hour. But very much no. Within 10 minutes of him leaving, I was in the bathroom throwing up over and over again with Landon standing behind me keeping up a steady stream of one-sided conversation, "Mommy, why are you trying to go potty backwards? Mommy why are you sitting on the floor? Mommy, can I have a yogurt? I really want a yogurt. Can I have milk? Mommy, why are you laying on the ground?" Then Claire started crying from the living room and I couldn't stand up without falling back down and Landon started to get mad that he couldn't have a yogurt (and every time he said the word yogurt it made me heave again, though I had nothing left in my stomach to give up). It was really quite awful. I tried calling JP even though I knew his cell phone would be in his swim bag on a bench far away from where he was coaching, so I just counted down the minutes, all 60 of them until he was coming home. Claire cried a lot, Landon cried a lot, and I lay on the tile floor crying a bit myself. He found me, 65 minutes later (yes, he was 5 minutes late and they were the longest 5 minutes of all the minutes combined), still on the bathroom floor. My whole body hurt and every time I tried to sit up the room would go black and I'd have to lay down again. It was so very bad.

Then, because I still hadn't learned anything about how this day was going to go, I told JP to go ahead and take Landon to his toddler friend's birthday party. Claire had just gone down for her nap and she always sleeps for at least 3 hours, so we'll be fine!, I said. I'll sleep, she'll sleep, you'll be home in 2 hours.

Claire woke up 40 minutes after he left. I carried a bottle upstairs, since there was no way I was going to risk carrying her down the stairs, and fed her through the bars of her crib. I was afraid I'd drop her if I tried to pick her up. I soon realized I'd left my cell phone downstairs, so I couldn't call JP to come home early, but in that moment, going back down and then up the stairs seemed harder than just sticking it out for another hour and a half. Probably the wrong decision, but I really didn't think I could walk that far.

The rest of the day involved me moaning, trying to eat 3 sips of chicken soup, throwing up several more times, blacking out twice, and spiking 102 fevers ever hour or so, between otherwise normal temperatures. Even small sips of water all came back up. I don't get sick often- in fact, I've only thrown up once in my life for non-alcohol-related reasons, and that was when I had the flu in 7th grade. I didn't know the warning signs so I ended up throwing up bright red spaghetti sauce all over my mom's new cream living room carpet. I figured out what was happening a little quicker this time, so at least I didn't make a mess. My body hurt all over and if I ever moved faster than a snail, my limbs would go numb and my vision would black out.

Landon of course picked yesterday to be the kind of toddler that he NEVER is- throwing multiple tantrums, refusing to do what we asked him, saying "No" to things- there were several times I just looked at him like "who are you?!" He spent a lot of time in his room. Claire was needy and never slept for more than 45 minutes at a time, though she kept her food down just fine and was usually in a pretty good mood when awake. JP didn't feel well himself; just a scratchy throat, but he was feeling quite sorry for himself (and, in my opinion, not nearly sympathetic enough to me) since I laid on the couch all day while he did everything around me. We had to cancel our plans to go to San Antonio to celebrate my grandpa's 81st birthday, which made me so sad, and I had to back out of a baby shower I was hosting today for a close friend.

All in all it just sucked. At 7 p.m. I gave up on attempting to eat or drink anything and took 4 ibuprofen (my body ached so much, it was like all my bones were hollowed out and filled with pain) and 2 prescription sleeping pills, and went to bed. I woke up at 6 this morning, feeling cautiously better. I just ate half a bagel and so far, so good. I really hope today is a better day.

P.S. Unrelated, but I can't have a post so entirely depressing. So behold the Biscuit in happier times:


Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Photo Shoot and other happenings

My firm's annual meeting is coming up and it's tradition to show a slide show of all the new babies born in the past year wearing their firm onesies. I got a "high importance" email this afternoon warning me that the deadline to submit a picture is tomorrow. Now I knew the pictures were due November 12th. I even had it written in my nicely organized and constantly updated to-do list. I was just shocked to find out that November 12th and tomorrow are the same day. How are we already near the middle of November? (And our 80-degree weather is not helping me keep track of what month we're in.)

So, because it would be wrong to deny several hundred lawyers a chance to experience the Biscuit, Claire and I had a little impromptu photo shoot this evening before dinner. She was, of course, ridiculously smiley. So smiley that I'm not sure the pictures really even look like she's smiling; it's more like she has her mouth open really wide. I have 20 shots and they are all some variation of this (though, without the firm logo blurred out; I promise, it coordinates well with leg warmers):





About an hour after these were taken, my sweet little Clairebear threw up a mind-boggling volume of super stinky alimentum formula ALL over me. Then, just in case the chair and I wasn't completely covered, she did it two more times. I don't understand how that much liquid could have possibly been inside her little body. I am not proud to admit that I shrieked and then just sat there, frozen in horror as the slimey, smelly goo dripped off my legs and the glider and onto the floor. Claire looked at me surprised for a few seconds, and then decided to be mad (at me, of course) because she had about 5 drops of regurgitated liquid on her legs and she didn't like it. Her cries brought me back to action and I jumped up, stripped us both, and took a long bubble bath with my stinky baby while JP scrubbed everything. He's a good man.

And because I can't leave you with that horrible image of parenthood (but the story is too fresh in my mind not to share), here is the Biscuit in happier, cleaner times:



(her face in this one just cracks me up)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Filler

I have half a post written about living my work-life jumble. Something about maintaining happiness and a sense of balance in a 220 billable hour month, but I don't know if I like it. Does it matter how I do it? Everyone has their own set of circumstances different from mine, so is it even relevant or interesting? Also, I get like 60 minutes a day right now to do things unrelated to law or my children, and today I really just wanted to watch Glee and read a new book (at the same time, gotta maximize the indulgence). But I felt guilty that I hadn't posted anything since Saturday, so I give you this tiny piece of a conversation I had with Landon on Sunday. I know these "my kid said this adorable thing" vignettes don't sound nearly as cute in text, but it made me laugh and I need to preserve it.

So, Sunday morning. I'm working of course (quality checking a document production set to go out Monday), but in the study with the windows open. Clairebiscuit is bouncing next to me in her relocated jumperoo and Landon is sitting on my lap, very focused on deconstructing his Lego fire truck. Suddenly:

Landon: Mommy what are you doing?
Me: I'm working.
Landon: Every day I do some work.
Me: Oh? Where do you work?
Landon: in Austin.
Me: What do you do at your work?
Landon: Well, sometimes people come see me and we color and we are very happy.

This sums up everything Landon thinks about my job, and explains why he really wants one of his own. He looooves coming to my office. On weekends, if I need to run in to print or PDF something, he always wants to come with me. I set him up with a stack of scrap paper (I keep any printing mess-ups in a special drawer to wait for him) and some colored highlighters, and he "works" while I work. When I'm done we visit the library (he likes to run through the stacks) and then go up and down the internal staircase a few times. It's like Disneyland- with free juice!

And as long as I'm just writing text with little flow or overall point, a few other things: JP is doing great. He has a Frankenstein-like scar along the back of his ear (they just cut all the way along the back of the ear and opened it up; kind of gross, kind of awesome) and it's healing nicely. He still can't swim, which is killing him, but I'm loving it. He dusted today! Dusted and polished! all because he was bored and antsy. His follow-up appointment is next Monday and we eagerly await the surgeon's thoughts on the procedure's long-term success. The biscuit has started solid foods and loves sweet potatoes. She also finds them very funny, I have no idea why. And finally, the Pigeon Play on Sunday was lots of fun and Landon was so excited to be there. He was worried that Claire "would be lonely" while we were gone, but then he told everyone in a 5-foot radius that he was "there to see the pigeon because he's a good big brother." It was great.

Everything is great. Busy, but really quite great.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lanman, Love, and Pigeons

His teacher, Ms. A, sharing her favorite stories about Landon at yesterday's parent teacher conference:

"The other day when he was laying down on his mat at nap time, Landon turned to me, heaved a big sigh, and said quietly: Ms. A, I just love my baby sister so much. He sighed again, like it was just too big a burden for his heart to bear, and continued staring up at the ceiling for another hour until his friends woke up."

That story made me smile all day.







Love.
(playing on our bed before work and daycare)


In other conference news, he's doing awesome in his new class, despite being the youngest (darn summer birthday). He remains an incredibly mellow kid who shares, has close friendships, and listens and sits still as well as his classmates, some of whom have already turned four. He loves to run and ride bikes and can throw a ball farther than anyone else in his class (they have "gym" now, which cracks me up). He has a huge vocabulary and a bigger heart. His teachers love him and he loves his teachers. At three years old, there's really nothing more we could want for him. We celebrated the good report with a big Costco pizza that we got to eat AT COSTCO. Truly the highlight of Landon's week.

And tomorrow we have a special Big Brother outing planned. There's a children's play at the historic Paramount theatre in Austin each November, and this year they're doing the Mo Willems pigeon books. Landon loves Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, so I'm SO excited for JP and I to take him out for this special treat (like really excited, more excited than anyone should be to see a play about a pigeon geared towards 3-7 year olds). I have about a million hours of work to do before then, but it's still good to be at the weekend. Clairebear is in her jumperoo next to my desk, grinning away at me as I review documents (or really, review the contract attorneys' reviewed documents), and I can hear Landon and JP outside taking down the Halloween decorations. It's more of a work-life-jumble than a work-life balance, but it works!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This Girl

My baby biscuit is five months old tomorrow. I have been insanely busy at work, but by sacrificing sleep and all personal free time, I have not missed out on any of my usual time with my kiddos. I've really been enjoying my work lately, but Clairebear is truly the higlight of my day (along with her brother of course, but this post is about her).

She is so unbelievably happy. I know I keep writing that, but it is simply the most true, most overwhelming thing about her. When she wakes up in the morning she just hangs out, making little noises in her crib until someone comes to get her. When you pick her up (or really, when she sees you walk in the room), her smile takes over her whole face. Everything about her tells you that she is absolutely DELIGHTED by your presence



And it is fabulous to be the focus of a Clairebear smile.

Claire continues to adore her brother and he continues to adore her right back. Her teachers told me the other day that Landon knocked on their classroom door from the outside while he was on the playground (apparently he does this often). They answered and he said, "Where's my baby sister? Is she sleeping?" They said no, she's out in the buggy. Landon's face lit up and he said, "Where?!" They pointed her out in a far corner of the playground and Landon took off, yelling "Thanks!" over his shoulder. He then walked next to Claire all over the playground. He sings her the ABC's and has taught the daycare teachers to call her Biscuit (I hadn't admitted to them that we call her that, though I say it so often upon seeing her I was constantly stopping myself mid-word. It's nice to relax and let the "Biscuit!!"s run free).



I love our family time together - sitting around the dinner table, reading books before bed, going on walks around the block, etc. I wrote about this before in my letter to Claire, but it is just amazing to me that we feel like such a unit even though we've only known our fourth member for 5 months. It is almost bizarre to look back at pictures and posts from last year and think we had an only child. And we were very happy that way, and there was no hole or feeling that something was missing, but this is somehow better, fuller, more complete.



I can't think of Claire without smiling. A glimpse at my blackberry with its background picture of Claire the Lobster starts me giggling. I'll smile in the middle of very serious meetings about very serious cases because my mind has suddenly jumped to a moment the night before when we were all laughing over something adorable that Claire was doing.



I need to get back to work, but I just had to take a minute to say that I quite simply adore this little girl.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Space Lobster, Part II: Zombie Edition

I'm sitting in a surgical waiting room, mooching wireless internet off the next-door doctor's office (which is backward- it's the surgery center that should have internet). JP is having ear surgery. I'd tell you what kind but I really don't know; the inner workings of the ear are the one thing (well, that and geography... and organic chemistry) that I absolutely cannot make my brain understand. Every time JP tries to explain why his ears don't work (something about having a hole he shouldn't, or not having one he should, or something), I try so hard to memorize everything, but it just doesn't work. When I was at the ENT with Landon on one of his many visits I mentioned that my husband had ear problems. The doctor was of course very interested to hear what they were, but all I could manage was "Um, they don't work. Wait, I mean he can hear, but they don't drain... stuff, and there's something about a hole..." JP takes Landon to all ENT appointments now.

Anyway, this surgery supposedly has a 90% chance of curing the ear problems that have plagued JP all his life, and since our family deductible was paid in full this year (Landon's ear surgery, my pregnancy, Claire's birth, etc.), he decided to go for it. I really hope it works - it'd be so awesome for him to be able to jump in a lake or swim without an ear plug, cap, and immediate ear infection. Less awesome is the recovery and the fact that he can't drive for a while and this scares me because the reason our life works right now - why I can bill 230 hours in a month and have that be okay - is because he does all daycare drop-offs, pick-ups, errands, and nearly all the cooking and household chores. This week is going to be all me, and probably with a grumpy husband who has some very uncomfortable packing in his ears and a big bandage on his head.

But still, I'm very excited and optimistic about the surgery and the hopeful fixing of the ear problem thing. He's been in the OR for just over 2 hours and I'm starting to get anxious. Not that I think anything is wrong- JP's had about 14 ear surgeries in his lifetime, plus major jaw surgery, and surgery after his lung collapsed in college (and his wisdom teeth out), so I know he tolerates anesthesia just fine, but there's something about sitting for too long in a waiting room thinking about the father of your two kids, the love of your life, and your very best friend that makes you want the doctor to come out right now and say everything went great and then give me a lecture on incision care.

So - Halloween pictures!



After all the pumpkin patch parties and daycare parades and whatnot, I thought actual Halloween night might anticlimactic. I need not have worried - Landon was SO excited about "Trick or Treat Night!" and it was a blast. A good friend of mine came over with her daughter to take advantage of our awesome little neighborhood (and the fact we live on a circle) and the two kids had so much fun. Clairebear did too. She didn't know what was going on, but she knew that a lot more people were smiling at her than usual and she liked that a lot.



Despite his sweet tooth Landon has never had much candy, so he didn't really understand what was being put in his bucket, but he was excited nonetheless. Here we have the "double reeses dance". I think it was initiated because his favorite color is orange, and not because Reeses are delicious, but soon he will know that the combination of chocolate and peanut butter is a magical one:



We walked all the way around our circle, which is quite a feat for a 3-year-old and 18-month old (though no problem for the 4-month-old in her stroller with her favorite toy duck to chew on). The kids did great and had their "trick-or-treats" and "thank-yous" down. Most of our neighbors do a great job with the decorating and treats. Here we are at a yard much cooler than ours:



It was a great night and Landon got some great candy (not that I've already gone through it and taken out my favorites or anything). He loved being a spacer RANGER and I've promised to wash his costume so he can wear it to daycare later this week. He was a little concerned that JP and I didn't dress up. Hmm, maybe with the bandage on his head, we can tell Landon that JP is a mummy!

P.S. The surgery ended up being 2.5 hours long, but JP's doing fine. He's home, somewhat comfortable (courtesy of percocet), and sleeping while I'm at work, trying not to fall asleep before I go down to speak to a new set of contract attorneys for a doc review I'm heading. And then I'm probably going straight home because after a 220 hour month and last night's 4 hours of sleep, I'm owed a half day off.