Saturday, February 26, 2011


I turned 28 yesterday.

The change in age wasn't too upsetting as I've referred to myself as 28 for the past year and now the math I have to redo in my head every time someone asks my age is finally accurate.

Landon was super excited about my birthday, though he was concerned about the fact that I wasn't having a party with all of my friends (or all of his friends, he generously offered, perhaps at a bounce house?). When I stepped out of our room yesterday morning, he raced over to me with a small wrapped box yelling, "Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday! Here, open this! It's a necklace!".

Good thing I already knew that.

I had picked the necklace out at the Embellish nail salon last weekend and my outfit was designed to showcase both it and The Shoes (which is why I informed JP I really needed to open my gift before work. I can't say he understood the fact that my clothes had been picked out a full 5 days ahead of time, but he indulged me). My new jeans were purchased off the Ann Taylor clearance rack for $18 last weekend. They fit perfectly and look super cute cuffed up with heels for a non-work day. The top is from the AT sale rack as well. This has been a month of looser spending standards; I will not be shopping again for a while. (Well, I'm going birthday shopping with my mom in Houston this weekend, but after that, no more.)

It was a good day. My co-workers took me out to lunch, where I ran in to our very own Academomia! She was out and about on her own with all three of her little boys, including brand new baby James, proving that she is as brave and awesome as she seems in her blog. I picked up the kids from daycare and came home to a kitchen table all decorated for my mini birthday party, with my very favorite white funfetti cake all baked and frosted with love by JP. Funfett is an important LL birthday tradition- he said he had to go to four stores to find the proper rainbow chip frosting.

We headed to the patio at Polvo's for some tasty margaritas and queso (there's entrees too, but I was in it for the tequila and melted cheese). While at dinner, with Landon sitting next to me, being sweet and well behaved as usual, happily dunking a tortilla in queso, and Claire sitting across from me, smiling at the table next to us and chasing gerber puffs across the table with great concentration, and JP on the diagonal, making funny faces at his baby girl, I just had one of those moments where everything feels so right. Perfect, really. Not in every detail- we have some stresses and big decisions to make regarding jobs and loans and potential relocations- but in the overall. I am so happy and so blessed and sometimes it's all I can do to just try to take it all in and feel every bit of it.

Yes, I'm 28 and life is so good.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Baby

It's been an indulgent month- what with The Shoes, the badly needed new suit, and the art work I finally bought for my office. And then there was an unplanned purchase. My camera - my beloved Nikon D40- stopped working.

It had frozen a number of times, most memorably while at Landon's birthday party and then while on our vacation to my grandparents' cabin in Wisconsin, but just when I went to take it to our local camera shop, it would start working again! I couldn't get it to fail for someone who could diagnose it, so when it froze up yet again, I decided to invest in a new camera. I use it so much and photography is really my only hobby. Plus, it just so happened that I had a super expensive creative lens just sitting around that I could sell on Amazon (it was given to me by a friend who had also gotten it as a gift, but I just never used it). I sold it for almost the exact price of the Nikon D3100 (Nikon's new upgraded version of the discontinued D40) and couldn't wait to hold my new, free (kind of), camera. But then I got the D3100 and just wasn't sufficiently satisfied with it. So I sent it back and ordered the camera I'd always really wanted -- the Nikon D90. To justify that upgrade, I sold another lens I never use (a zoom lens that came with my D40 kit) on Amazon and came out almost even.

And after only I week, I'm happy to say I LOVE the D90. Love. It is sharp and fast and oh so pretty.

A friend and co-worker purchased a groupon for a photography class in our neighborhood. She got an extra discount code that allowed me to take the same class with her for $59, so I did. That was my Tuesday night from 5-9pm and even though I really hate missing family dinner and bedtime, it was a good investment. I left that class understanding SO much more about photography. I know what aperture is! The phrase, "if your shutter speed is too slow, raise your ISO" finally makes sense to me! It was all very exciting- even if I had to work until nearly 1 a.m. to catch up on the work I interrupted as I dashed out of the office at 4:40.

Um, who are you again?

I also worked well past midnight last night (at my kitchen table, after my usual evening at home), so I headed out of work a little early today to pick up the kids and go to the park for a picnic dinner. Our 85 degree day had turned into a beautiful evening and it was so fun to sit on a towel with the Biscuit and watch Landon and JP throw the football and chase each other.

Oh right, yes, the mommy!

I even put my new photography knowledge into action and took all my pictures in manual mode -- Manual! The one where you have to set everything yourself! I metered light. I set ISO. I evaluated aperture and shutter speed. I got pictures of some of the Biscuit's many faces:

And an action shot of her big brother, in head-to-toe "mommy it matches" camo print, in all of his football catching glory:

They're not professional looking, and I really wish there was a better background for Claire's pictures than a field of dead grass, but they're in focus, which is a huge improvement from my last attempt at manual mode!

Then, after we got home, the Biscuit got serious about her mobility and crawled! More than two shuffles! It's real crawling this time, not just some over-excited mommy-pride-fueled exaggeration. The Biscuit has gone mobile.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's "Too Few Women"

I've been wanting to write about this for weeks now, but just haven't had the time to pay it proper attention. A friend and commenter first brought it to my attention by way of a Corporette post titled "Planning for Babies" which referenced a talk by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook (and former VP at Google, former Chief of Staff for the U.S. Dept. of Treasury, and double graduate of Harvard, first with a B.A. and "top graduating student" prize in Economics, and later with an MBA with highest honors; she's accomplished, is what I'm saying). I thought the post was interesting and bookmarked it for another time. Then, last week, I attended a Women's Initiative lunch at my firm and actually saw the video the Corporette post had been talking about.

It is not revolutionary, and it does not present an actual solution for why there are too few women leaders in business or politics, nor could it possibly do so. But it spoke to me like nothing else on this topic ever has and that I've been thinking about it ever since I watched it. I came home that day, blog posts firing away in my head, quoted it nearly verbatim to JP with increasing speed and volume, ate dinner, put my kids to bed, and then settled in to work on a motion at my kitchen table until midnight. All those beautiful posts never got written, and now you're going to have to settle for this far less eloquent version. I hate it when real work interferes with my plans to blog about working.

I should make clear at the start that I didn't nod my head to everything Ms. Sandberg said, and as always, her advice and talking points have to be tailored to each individual, their goals, and their situation, but I still think everyone should watch her talk. I felt like it was a small piece of the overall puzzle, framed in a way that really resonated with me. It's not about what businesses should do to retain women (though that's important), it's about what we as individuals can do to help the women, including ourselves, who want to stay in the workforce to actually stay there. Because quite simply nothing is going to change until more of us are in positions to make change happen. The video is 14 minutes long, but it's worth the time, and you should watch it.


I'm going to take it point by point.

(1.) Sit at the table. This probably resonated the least with me. Not because I don't think it's important, but because of either my parents, an innate confidence, or both, I grew up assuming I had both a top grade and a deserved spot at any table. (At least up until law school- one of the reasons 1L year beat the formerly self-assured crap out of me.) But what did hit me was the way men and women who are similarly successful by doing similar things are viewed so differently by others. A man is seen as successful and an all around great guy; the woman is seen as successful but a grasper, someone who's probably using people to get ahead. This makes me crazy and so often it's women who are perpetuating the problem.

Also the idea that women put their hands down hit home. I don't remember being this way before law school, but since 1L year I've pretty much stopped raising my hand with either questions or answers. With the questions, I always assume I've missed something and everyone else knows the answer, even though most of the time people ask questions I know have been answered and/or were my exact question. With the answers, I've developed a paralyzing fear of being publicly wrong. But I'm working on it. In my current phase of life, this translates most often to conference calls where people, usually partners, are asking for suggestions or thoughts and I have one I don't reveal until the call is over. I'll mention it to the senior associate whose office I'm in and she almost always exclaims, "Why didn't you speak up?!" I have a new goal to speak on every conference call and to forgive myself if I'm wrong. I know I don't think about the fact someone said something incorrect for more than two minutes after it happened, why would I presume that people would focus on my statements for any longer?

2. Make your partner a real partner. Oh yes. This is a big one. If someone asked me to list the three things that help me to be such a happy working mom it would be (1) my spouse, (2) a daycare that I love and trust, and (3) my super short commute. (Number four would be my actual job.) JP is my partner. We share equal responsibility for parenting, finances, chores, etc. Not equal work, per se, but an equal feeling of responsibility to our children and our home, and the work gets divided naturally according to each person's time and ability. Right now this means that JP does way more of the house and kid duties. When I was in law school I did more. It balances out. But even with the differing abilities, there is a deep respect and care for each other- for each other's rest, sanity, and preferences about having the kitchen counters bare and clean at the end of the day (okay, that's just my preference) that underlies it all. And that love and respect translates to doing things for the other that makes them happy (like the clean counter thing). It's also about expectations. I demand a lot from myself with regard to my role as JP's wife and Landon and Claire's mom, and I expect the same from him. I loved her stat that marriages that share equal responsibility have half the divorce rate and a lot more sex. I don't know about the former, but the latter seems pretty accurate.

I also liked her point that men's contribution to childcare need to be valued. I know women always complain that a dad is a hero at work because he leaves to make it to his kid's soccer game, but the women is looked down on or penalized for it. And this is unfair and too frequently true, but that isn't any reason to perpetuate it by knocking men's contribution to their families. I remember when I was studying for the Bar and JP was home all day, every day with Landon, and I mentioned to a colleague that I felt bad about that. She laughed and said something like, "please, you're never going to get me to feel bad for a dad." And yet I know she would have had sympathy for a wife in the exact same situation with a husband studying all day for the Bar. A little thing, but that conversation has always stood out in my mind. Taking care of children, taking care of a home- these are incredibly important things, and they should be valued, viable options for both sexes by both sexes.

3. Don't leave before you leave. This was by FAR the biggest point for me. Basically, Sheryl makes the point that women often take steps to make it easier for them to stay in the workforce after they have kids (usually many years before they even have kids), which actually end up paving the way for them to leave their jobs when they have children. So instead of looking for the promotion or raising your hand for the challenging new project, you start leaning back, working down to a less-demanding role that should be easier to balance after you've had a baby. But, since it's hard to leave a baby to go work, and it's even harder to put forth the effort to balance the two, if you don't have a job you really enjoy and find challenging, there's a much greater chance that you'll end up quitting and staying home. Which is fine for those women for whom staying home was always the goal. But for those who do want to keep their careers- and not just keep, but thrive in, excel at, and otherwise demand satisfaction from that other area of their life, then maybe if you'd pursued those challenging paths five years ago, you'd be at a place in your career post-baby, that makes you want to make it work. Because without really wanting to do it, it's way to easy to decide that you can't.

I am 100% guilty of this- and I know from talking to my law school friends, none of whom have children yet, that many of them are guilty of it too. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard about a new case and hesitated too long before asking to be staffed on it because I'm afraid of the question marks and possible time demands. This is true even when I don't have a full plate and need work, so I end up getting put on something- a something that is almost always less enjoyable or challenging. This is also why I don't volunteer for committees and shy away from clubs, bar association events, and pretty much anything having to do with business development. At nearly every opportunity, I pause, spend three days weighing whether or not I can do it, whether or not it will mess with my fiercely guarded schedule, and it expires. Later, when I see the person who seized the opportunity, I realize that it wouldn't have affected me or my time nearly so much as I let myself fear.

It is undoubtedly important to set boundaries and protect your family time, but I'm doing it at the expense of letting great opportunities pass me by -- opportunities that probably wouldn't have messed up my schedule at all. And what little amount they might have, could have lead to something even better, and perhaps more flexible down the line. If there is anything I've seen true over and over again at The Firm, it's that the women with power are the ones with clients, expertise, and/or some kind of special experience that makes them valuable. They are the ones who can institute flex-time arrangements that actually work and make partner on a part-time schedule, and it's because they jumped up, seized an opportunity, and are now reaping the benefits of it.

This probably isn't revolutionary to anyone else, but I heard this last 2 minutes of Sheryl Sandberg's talk and felt like someone had hit me. It's not the staying in the workforce that is my challenge- as I've said, I like working and have no desire to ever stay home. My struggle is putting myself out there and making the most of this time that I do spend away from my kids. I think only by doing that can I get in a position to have as many options as possible as they get older and I want more flexibility to be with them. I've seen over and over that when I do take on a big case, I can make it work, that by doing a good job and working hard, my family time is accommodated. I'm going to try to stop allowing my own fears or the opinions of others (i.e., "when does she see her kids?" I think women judge each other far harsher than we judge men or than men judge us) stop me from honestly evaluating the opportunities in front of me.

There were lots of other thoughts I had, but this is already too long and I'm trying to keep it somewhat organized. I think the working world would be better if more women were in it. I love the female partners and associates I work with and I think we bring an additional perspective and set of strengths to our client's problems. I'm sad when one leaves the firm after having children- not because I think she shouldn't stay home if she wants to, but because the ones I've spoken with usually don't. They want their careers, they just can't figure out a way to make it work and inevitably they're the ones to step back. That, I think, is a problem. I don't have answers, no one does, but I thought this talk presented a few points worth thinking about.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fab Friday Wrap-Up

Yesterday my day started out with smiles. I drove the kids to daycare and Landon had a book to share at circle time. He decided to read it to Claire, and, concerned that she might not catch the subtle humor of Sandra Boynton, he made extra sure she got the joke: "The pants are ON HIS HEAD Biscuit- they're ON HIS HEAD!" (cue contagious hysterical laughter). We sat in the parking lot for a minute so he could finish up the reading and shared giggling, and I'm telling you, it's impossible not to head to work in a good mood after that.

Also helping with the good mood, despite not being able to watch Top Chef on Wednesday or my beloved 30 Rock on Thursday because of this freaking motion that keeps getting changed causing me to hunt down arcane bits of patent law late at night, I was wearing Showcase The Shoes Outfit #2 (and of course, The Shoes themselves).

The cropped jacket (originally from Ann Taylor Loft, but given to me by way of Landon's godmother's closet three years ago) matched the green in the shoes' heels perfectly. And the jeans are the same Old Navy ones as last week (one of my best purchases ever - they were $15 and I get compliments on them all the time, including one from an associate yesterday who I know never spends less than $150 on hers).

I had a crazy day and spent much of it running around to different floors and offices, but my shoes remained quite comfortable. Given their cuteness level of a 10, I really only require a comfort level of 3 to put up with them. I'd say these are a 6.5, which is a pleasant surprise for 3" heels with zero support or padding on the ball of my foot.

There was a pause in the craziness at 5:30, so I seized the opportunity to run out of my office to pick up the kids. When I got to Claire's classroom she was so excited to see me that she actually CRAWLED! Two whole shuffles forward! She's been so close for so long and she's kind of accidentally crawled forward a bit, but this was the first clear, definite crawl. Her teachers went crazy with the clapping and cheering and Claire immediately fell flat on the ground and looked around with giant smiles like she was trying to figure out what everyone was so excited about. She's repeated her performance a few times since then, but she started to look at us with wariness whenever she's holding a toy, like she's afraid we're going to take it away just to make her come towards it (which we totally keep doing).

Our Valentine's/Birthday/Date Night celebration was lots of fun. My sister babysat, so both kids got to stay up an hour late, and Landon got candy and FIVE books at bedtime. Tia is such a pushover. I got to wear a dress I bought before I got pregnant with Claire and never got to wear. And JP got to eat 6 plates of sushi, a steak, french fries, and bread pudding (I got a few bites in as well). A bottle of hot sake and a half bottle of red wine was also consumed. It was fabulous.

Today is a day of drizzle, grey skies, and early birthday pedicures with a friend. JP will be coaching all afternoon, and the kids and I will be coloring a giant car seat box to play house in. There may also be a game of Memory and/or hide-and-go-seek, of which Landon has finally grasped the concept, and now constantly requests to play. When he's the seeker I always hide the Biscuit, usually behind a door or the couch, and when she gets found they both think it's hilarious. I'd imagine there will be a time out or two involved as well. So perhaps not the glamorous sushi steak dinner of 14 hours ago, but fun and fabulous all the same.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happy Things

My day got crazy yesterday. Without warning I went from "I have a pleasantly full plate of work" to "Holy crap there are not enough hours to possibly do any of this well." I finished a Motion to Compel at 1:30 this morning (that hurt, I'm not going to lie, especially since I knew I wouldn't be able to fall asleep right away and I couldn't take any sleeping pills because I had to wake back up in 5 hours) and some other big stuff this afternoon, so I feel back in control again. In the midst of the madness and the not sleeping, these are the superficial things that have made me happy in the last two days:

(1) Music Video! I'm obsessed with this video of Eminem, Rihanna, and Dr. Dre at the Grammy's. I don't understand my love for Eminem, because I don't really like rap and my official position is to be offended at half of the stuff in his songs, but I do love him and I REALLY love the songs "Love the Way You Lie" and "I Need a Doctor." Best performances of the night, I say:

(It would be embarrassing to admit to you how many times I've listened to this video at work this week, but I think I'm going to be over it soon.)

(2) Office Art! Originally meant as a birthday present, but now designated as a "I didn't take any unpaid maternity leave plus I've been at the firm 2.5 years and should have something on my office walls by now" present, I bought two pictures for my office from (an 18x24 canvas of Windy City Nights and a 16x20 of Time is of the Essence, which seemed appropriate for a lawyer's office). I had them framed at Hobby Lobby (on sale, of course) and picked them up today and they look so beautiful! I'm so glad to have some color in my office.

(3) Snazzy Suit! I haven't bought a real suit since 2005 when I purchased my first (and only) Ann Taylor suit before 1L interviews. I wore that suit approximately 100 times before passing it on to my sister (and then borrowing it back before/after my pregnancy with Claire, and even after all that the suit still looks great and my sis still wears it). I bought two suits when I started work, but they were cheap ones from the Limited that just don't look nearly as nice as my old Ann Taylor one. I've put off the purchase of a "real" suit for over 2 years because they're so expensive, but on Tuesday AT's 30% sale for suits got to me and I drove over to the mall 45 minutes before it closed. I left with a new jacket and pants at 30% off + an extra 15% off with a new AT Card. I also got two extra tops on sale to go with the suit, and went back for a price adjustment today because they added the "extra 40% off sale items" 24 hours after I made my purchase. (I had to push, but they did it.) The suit is beautiful and fits me perfectly and has been informed that it must last me until at least 2017.

(4) Date Night! My sister is babysitting tomorrow night so JP and I can go out for a combo Valentine's + Birthday dinner using a gift card one of his swim lesson kids so generously provided at christmas. We don't do date nights often. Our kids go to bed early, so we already get 3+ hours of grown-up time every night to flirt and talk about things using words we don't say in front of the kids. Plus, we like being home. But it is fun to occasionally dress up in something special and linger over a glass of wine with my boyfriend.

(5) Pancakes with Peanut Butter! One of the associates in my section is leaving the firm tomorrow so we had a farewell breakfast today with breakfast tacos and 3 kinds of pancakes. A co-worker introduced me to a world of peanut butter + pancakes + a teensy bit of syrup and it is delicious. Also, it's 4:00 and I'm still full!

(6) The Shoes! You know the ones I'm talking about. I have a whole outfit planned to showcase them again tomorrow. I probably shouldn't have such a deep emotional connection with an inanimate object, but I do love them so very much.

(7) 30 Rock! New episode tonight! Last week's was one of the funniest I think I've ever seen. If you aren't watching that show, you should be. ("I want our daughter to be born in America so she can one day become president and declare war on Germany like back when we were awesome." and "I never sleep on planes - I don't want to get incepted." God, I love Jack Donaghy.)

Back to work.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Space Invasion of Love

After dropping down to the 20's again last week, our weather jumped back up to a beautiful (and way more typical) 68 by Saturday afternoon. Landon LOVED our old comforter + toys on the back deck combo last Sunday, and now he asks to "spread the blanket" at least once a day. Yesterday, I was able to oblige.

We have a blanket, a vegetable soup pot (with a dinosaur for added flavor; Landon picked out the toy assortment), a plastic ring set, and a cement mixer/fire truck crime fighting combo. I've got my back against the rails, reading Lover Mine on my kindle for the 5th time. I picked up my camera to pose a quick picture, but then decided to make like a nature photographer and just wait for the inevitable Landon/Claire merging to take place.

Approximately 10 kindle pages later:

That's his baby Claire face. He gets it whenever he pats her head and says in what I suppose is a high-pitched imitation of me, "how are you baby girl? how are you baby Biscuit? hmmm Biscuit? how are YOU?!" Except my voice doesn't sound nearly so cloying or sugary sweet, I'm sure of it.

He's constantly in her personal space, usually with a hand on her head. It's like a compulsion. JP and I try to stay out of it, since Claire doesn't seem to care (and in fact, usually smiles like crazy as he hovers 2 inches from her face), but sometimes it's hard to suppress our grown-up need for personal space. We've both caught ourselves starting to say, "Landon, MOVE BACK!" because one of us is having a hard time breathing just thinking about someone being that up in our space, but we swallow it because Claire's happy, and he's happy -- it's a space invasion of love.

And speaking of love and invading people's personal space, Happy Valentine's Day everyone! (Or, "Happy Valenstine's Day" as Landon says, which I believe I now prefer.) JP surprised me by taking my dead watch (the beautiful one he gave me at our wedding) out of my jewelry box and getting it tuned up, re-pressurized, and new battery'd! It's now ticking happily on my wrist and my left hand feels whole again. I also got some very pretty flowers delivered to my desk at work. The best part about them-- JP got a bargain with discount codes and a coupon and he was so proud. I've trained him well.

For his gift, I bought him a new wedding ring to replace the one he seems to have truly lost. I proposed at our lunch date and he is adorably pleased to have a ring back on his left fourth finger (and I am pleased to have it there; he's mine).

We kept it simple for dinner. A heart shaped Chicago-style pizza from Mangia's and a heart shaped cookie cake from HEB (and an unpictured $9 bottle of merlot from Costco). It was perfect. Me and my Valentine, with our two little valentines, enjoying two of our favorite things. A Happy Valenstine's Day indeed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

on my mind

It's late, my insomnia has been killing me lately, and I've decided to write about something I've been thinking about a lot but wouldn't normally blog about yet because it's so very far from a sure thing. (I'm assuming my exhaustion level will be so high by the time I finish this that I'll hit publish without thinking too hard about whether or not I should.)

You see, I have news. Kind of. It's an opportunity that presented itself nearly two months ago, and since it came about because of this blog, it seems appropriate that I should discuss it with you all: I've been asked to write a book.

Now, I've actually never had any aspirations to write a book. None at all. I like to write and love to read, but I've never thought much of combining the two- at least not beyond blogging (which is only Writing in the loosest sense, as the grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and frequent run-on sentences sprinkled throughout my archives prove; I'm a much more precise and careful writer at work, I promise) and the writing I do at work (I just published another article on that front actually, but they're short and extremely legal). This would be longer (much longer) and more personal and the sheer magnitude of it scares me.

There are other things that scare me about it as well. Mainly, the proposed topic. It's probably easiest to just copy the email that was sent to me by the agent. She's a fellow UChicago law grad who now works at a well known literary agency in New York (they represent several of our RRA authors, funny enough, not that mine would be in that category):

". . . I don’t remember how I first discovered it, but I’ve been reading your blog for years now — since you were going through everything with DCFS — and I’m a big fan of you and your writing. I honestly don’t know how you have the time to write so consistently with two kids and an incredibly demanding job, but I’m glad you do! A new post from you is always the highlight of my day.

I’m writing to you now because I’m wondering if you’ve ever been approached by an agent about writing a book. As I said, I think your writing is very strong, and I believe that you have a story to tell. I envision the book centering around what you went through with DCFS and Landon, but more broadly about your life in general—meeting JP in college, getting married young, having a family and facing these huge grown-up problems. . ."

She adds that I could probably repurpose many of my old blog posts, so it might not be as much work as it sounds, and the blog-to-book genre is very popular right now. I've spoken with her by phone and exchanged a few more emails and she is very excited about the idea, as is her boss (who is the big name agent in the company). In fact I think she might have enough enthusiasm for the both of us, which is probably good because I, I'm just not sure.

Number one, I have a hard time believing anyone would want to read it. I average about 1,000-1,500 hits a day on the blog, but I figure many of those are miss hits, people who know me personally, and people (like me) who enjoy blogs but don't usually read memoirs. I'm trying not to be a wimp and reveal how afraid of failure I am, but well, I don't usually fail and that's partially because I tend to only do things I know I'm good at.

Relatedly, I wonder why anyone would want to read this story. It's sad and scary and depressing. It ends well, of course, but it certainly doesn't fit my personal reading requirements of quick, fluffy, and don't make me think or feel anything too deep.

But let's say I trust my would-be agent and her boss, and move past the insecurities of "but what if no one wants to read it?" The real question is, can I write it? I've now read my archives from that time and I think I can mentally handle going back there. It would almost be like writing a story about someone else - the LL of October 2007. I already think of her as a different person. I have mental impressions from that time that are completely divorced from any feeling or identification with the woman I see sobbing on the floor of our living room in Wicker Park. It's hard to explain, but I view the woman crying on the floor from the outside, not from her perspective. I feel sorry for her, but I don't feel her sadness or fear. Reading my archives actually helped with that. I got caught up in the story and it was so foreign from every other time in my life, it was much easier to read it as someone else's.

So I'm pretty sure I could write it. My next stumbling block is the idea of reducing my life - a life that has otherwise been so perfect and happy and marvelously mundane - to what was really an aberration. Something that shouldn't have happened, that was never explained, and that now has nothing to do with us. That aberration would be my book. The only book I'll probably ever write and probably the future top result when you google my name. Right now it's only "LL" and a DCFS nightmare that are forever connected through google key terms searches. This would be my name. I'd lose a lot of anonymity, and almost certainly the anonymity of my little blog, and you can't get that back.

But now that I'm thinking about all this, I think my two biggest fears boil down to these: (1) a fear that I'll be seen as whoring out this one really shitty time in my life and trying to make it into something bigger, and more dramatic than it really was; and (2) a fear of those interweb whispers, the generally anonymous ones, bringing up doubts and JP and me. Over three years later, there's no solid answer to clear our name and resolve the story- to this day no one knows how Landon's ribs broke, and that question mark haunts me for this project. Not because I have any doubts about us, of course, but because I fear others will. And maybe it's only five out of a million, and maybe they shouldn't matter (well, I know they shouldn't matter)-- but while I think I can handle writing the story, I also know I can't handle the headfuck that is reading someone's doubts about me or JP with regard to it. Although maybe it would be easier now, on this side of things, than it was to read that stuff back when we were in the grips of it.


This all sounds so much more negative than I feel, because despite everything I just wrote, I continue thinking about this hypothetical book every day. When I'm driving, when I'm lying in bed at night... I've planned my first chapter, how I'd progress the story, how I'd end it. I enjoy writing and I've been given an opportunity to do something with it. I've always taken a very predictable, very risk free approach to life, maybe I should be open to this little side path...

It would involve a ton of work, and while I'd have an agent, it's not like there's publishers lined up - there's still plenty of question marks along the way. The biggest one probably being will I even try? Will I take the first step and finally call back my would-be agent (whom I already love for understanding my fears and not pressuring me while still making the occasional contact just to let me know she's still excited on her end) and tell her I'm ready to start putting together a proposal?

I honestly don't know.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hello Lovers (updated)

Remember the beautiful shoes? I first fell for them on January 7th when TLo posted this Kate Spade ad on their blog. It was the first time I ever truly, really wanted something designer, and I remember going back to stare at the shoes on Ms. Bryce Dallas Howard's feet several times that day. Then, on January 20th, a reader sent me a link to the very same shoes because their color was named "Biscuit" and I am the mother of a Biscuit. THEN, a few days later, another reader sent me a $50 discount code- in the month of my birth, on the day I got my bonus, two weeks before Valentine's Day, and within a year of my not taking any unpaid maternity leave.

So I bought them.

Twelve hours later they had sold out of my size.

The estimated delivery date was February 1st, an appointment I immediately entered into my work and personal calendars. I obsessively tracked my shoes until they got stuck in Dallas for EIGHT days because of a few ice cubes on the ground. They finally arrived in my office on the 9th.

Hello lovers.

Aren't they gorgeous?

I'm wearing them to work tomorrow with jeans and a coral belted jacket for good luck during my year-end evaluation.

It'll be like having happy little rainbows trail behind me everywhere I go.

We're going to be so happy together.


Friday, 8 a.m. Update: 24 degrees is way too cold for the short-sleeved coral jacket, so I found a coral top with a pretty, detailed neckline and a tan corduroy blazer. Off to work I go!

It's going to be a fabulous day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Marker Masterpieces

Landon's daycare held a special art gallery event for the parents about two weeks ago. From 7-9 a.m., your child could use a pointer (a much coveted teacher tool) to show you their artistic masterpieces over a range of mediums. We first had 3-D clay art out in the hall. Landon's was called "ball" though it was really more of flattened oval. I think it was a statement about the inevitable deflating of the balls we juggle in our life. That, or he just likes smashing clay balls with his hands.

We moved next to the door where Landon pointed out his "free form" picture.

It was titled "rainbow" and he told his teacher that it was for Claire. Rainbows are a recurring theme in his work, I think because they symbolize the happy, hopeful way he views his world. Also because they involve orange, his favorite color. And, just maybe, because they are pretty easy to draw.

The poor kid isn't inheriting any artistic talent from me, after all.

Our next stop was "Still Life." Landon drew a rock. A long flat orange plateau of a rock that the camera flash obliterated. It's possible that it was intended to be a banana.

Then, cityscapes. It was here that we noticed one child had actually drawn recognizable office buildings with windows. JP and I decided she must really be a short 6 year old. Landon, a legitimate 3.5 year old and the youngest kid in his class, drew a "purple." A beautiful, almost restrained purple though, don't you think?

Lastly we had self portraits. This was my favorite, mostly because it was so obviously a Landon. The big tummy totally gives it away.

Though I'll admit the part of me that remembers all the cellular biology I took in college (and who is the daughter of high school biology AP teacher) also saw a bactrium with two flagella:

We finished up with 3 shortbread cookies and little cup of apple juice. It's always fun to see Landon in his daytime habitat and he was so excited to show us his drawings. My office wall is sporting several of his earlier works, including a cow, a snake, a butterfly, a penguin, and a flower, and I think they really add something to the space.

The Biscuit did not have a gallery showing, but she did receive several pieces from Landon last week with "for my biscuit" transcribed at the top by his teacher. Daycare has fully embraced the nickname and when JP and I were walking around his classroom, several of his friends were asking where the Biscuit was. Poor thing. I promise we'll stop using it when she's older. But for now, it just suits her way too well.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunny Sunday

So this was our on Friday: freezing, snow on the ground, city shut down.

And this was our weather today: sunny, blue skies, 75 degrees.

Landon and I lived outside as much as possible today. After church we ate a picnic lunch on the patio while Claire took her nap. I was actually hot in jeans and short-sleeved shirt. I thought about putting on shorts but wasn't sure I could handle the pasty, squishy state of my legs this early in the year. Claire woke up and I changed her into her superman shirt at Landon's request (he likes to match, and that's really they're only matching ensemble). We spread a blanket on the back deck and soaked up some indirect sunlight for 2+ hours. The kids played with a fisher price farm and the Noah's Ark animals that now live there, and I read a book on my kindle. It was fabulous. Days like today make me wonder if I'd really move back to Chicago if given the chance.

The rest of the day was just as nice. JP got home from coaching earlier than usual (2 pm). He went on a run with the dogs (with Lanman pedaling furiously behind them on his Spiderman big wheel) and I made assorted Super Bowl snacks for our little party. One of our Indian friends from business school came over and I got to learn a lot about football while he asked questions of JP throughout the game. I usually don't care enough to ask why the men jumping on each other on the field are doing what they're doing, but it was interesting to learn out some of the strategy behind all the running and falling down. Plus, I got to make queso, 7-layer dip, and shredded bbq chicken and call it dinner! My grandpa is a HUGE Packers fan (he's even a shareholder) so I found myself stressed out during the second half of the game on his behalf. But they won and now I have a new Glee to watch! A perfect Super Bowl Sunday.

Friday, February 4, 2011


It's not Snowmageddon or snOMG or a snowpocalypse, though those are actually happening in other parts of the country (like my poor, poor Chicago). We just have a snowdemonium. This occurs when you get less than 2" of fluff but your entire city freaks out and shuts down. Schools are closed, daycares are closed, my office is closed. I've received no less than three emails warning me about driving on the snow and gas stations and grocery stores have been ransacked. It's supposed to be 58 tomorrow and 65 on Sunday, so I have no idea what people are stocking up for (it was 81 last Sunday, three days before our Wednesday high of 20; our weather is crazy). My facebook feed is cluttered with pictures of friends' snowy lawns (clutter I totally added to, getting snow here is like getting an extra Christmas, without all the work and expectation, but still with the pj's and the smiley kids).

I'm pretty excited about having a day at home with just the kids and JP and everything canceled on our schedules. Weekends are great, but JP's swim lesson business has gotten so busy lately that we don't see too much of him on Saturday and Sunday. An impromptu snow day means forced quality family time with no errands toddler birthday parties.

First, we put on some clothes and got a few pictures of Clairebear in her first snow. She's wearing Landon's old furry reindeer suit and found all the white stuff very interesting.

Also silly.

With that commemorated, we came back inside to a Landon who had thankfully pulled himself out of his "I don't want to wear my heavy jacket/I don't want to see the snow so NO ONE can see the snow" tantrum. He came upstairs to help the Biscuit with some crawling practice.

Sorry, that clip is a little long (though I cropped it from it's original 6 minute length, I really kept thinking she was about to move forward- she did it last night, I swear), but we've been terrible about getting video of Claire and I'm trying to be better.

Claire is also 8 months old today, which I just can't believe. For some reason 8 months suddenly sounds many months closer to one year old. I never thought I'd say this, because I loved months 12-24 (12-43, really) with Landon so SO much, but I want her to stay a baby longer!

I hope everyone is staying safe and warm today!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ice Cold

It is freezing here. I know Chicago and many other parts of the U.S. have it much worse right now (check out the pictures on the Chicago Trib website, holy crap that is bad and scary), but here in Austin we are NOT emotionally or physically equipped to handle 18 degree days. Thank goodness it's not supposed to rain or snow any time soon because the whole city kind of loses its mind when there's any amount of frozen water on the ground.

(baby Landon in a light Chicago snow)

Our power went off around 5:30 this morning and by 7 a.m. our house was noticeably cooler. The wind has been really bad (and really LOUD) and that was not helping the freezing temperatures. We called daycare and learned that they had power, so we dressed the kids by flashlight and dropped them off early. I was trying to play up the flashlight adventure to a skeptical Landon, but he was not buying it. He thought the flashlights were cool, but he kept saying things like, "but mommy, if we turn on the big light it's even BRIGHTER!" and "maybe we can turn on the big lights too?!" He'd say this while nodding his head, like that would help convince me to quit it with the puny flashlight shenanigans and turn on the GD lights so he could find his spider man underwear! I mean GOD. Luckily, both kids were in their bright, warm daycare by 7:30 a.m. and I got to monopolize our two working flashlights to try to get ready for work. The mix of bluish LED flashlight on my left with the dim, wide yellow flashlight on my right made for some great makeup lighting.

Our house didn't get power again until 4:00 pm. Much of the state is experiencing rolling black-outs, but we just had a solid black out. For the first time, JP didn't think the working from home thing was such a great deal.

There's ice and snow in Dallas and two very important packages I've been obsessively tracking have been stuck there for 2 days. One of them may or may not be the most beautiful pair of shoes in the whole world, for which a reader, to whom I am forever grateful, sent me a $50 discount code, so I jumped off the cliff and just ordered them already as a birthday/Valentine's Day/I didn't take any unpaid maternity leave present, and I'm so glad I did because 24 hours later they were out of my size and now I desperately want them ON MY FEET but they appear to be very stuck in Mesquite, Texas. Boo to you freezing weather, boo to you.

(our first big snow in Chicago, I was a little excited about the novelty;
this snow didn't keep me from beautiful shoes)

Also, thank you for all your skincare recommendations. I've made a chart by type, number of times recommended, fervor of recommendation, and price, and I look forward to trying some of them out! And an all-caps, heartfelt THANK YOU for the excellent, insightful, and honest comments on the last post about law school. I know a lot of you put time into those responses and I think that with your commentary, that post has been morphed into a truly great repository of advice for anyone thinking about law school. Go internets.

Boo ice.