Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Sweet Smell of Chlorine

After spending ALL day yesterday at various car dealerships finding JP a new car to go with his new 60-mile round-trip commute (the Jetta TDI is the winner with 42 mpg highway and leg room sufficient for his 6'3" long legged body), we decided today should be a day of family fun.

JP had a swim lesson at 10 a.m., so we skipped church and communed at our community pool. It was Claire's first trip to the pool since she was a tiny infant who slept in her car seat while I read books on my kindle... ah my summer of maternity leave, those were some good times.

Claire was decidedly unimpressed with the chilly water ("chilly" being a relative term; it's been over 100 the past two days, but the kid pool hadn't quite hit bathtub temps yet) and stared at the fountains with deep suspicion.

She was a big fan of snack time though. It's only appropriate to refuel with some puffs after working hard staring at your big brother as he gleefully splashes in the uncomfortably cool water.

Landon tried to entice the Biscuit, but she remained happy to cuddle with me on the lounge chair, wrapped in a towel to protect us against the cool spray from the fountains and the wind. Claire's been so busy lately with all the walking and crawling and illicit stair climbing to be snuggly with me, so I soaked up my 30 minutes of cuddles while keeping my eyes trained on her big brother bouncing around in the kiddie pool.

Well, keeping one eye on him and another eye on all the other moms and their swim suits. I'm trying to decide if I can wear a bikini again or if I should just let it go. I've never felt that great in them, but there's this feeling that if I don't do it now, I'm missing my chance and I'll look back at age 50 and realize I looked pretty good at 28 and I should have gone for it, even if I was a 28-year-old with a squishy two kid tummy.

After a little time spent shamelessly evaluating my various suit options as modeled by other moms, I got to experience the joys of a squirmy baby in a dirty swim diaper, so Claire did a deck change into a terry cloth dress. It's good to have at least 3 ensembles for the whole 60 minutes you spend at the pool.

Post-change, Claire became fascinated by the big pool, but luckily daddy finished up coaching his lesson so we could go home and take a nap. Well, Claire took a nap (Landon too, swimming wore him out). I cleaned the kitchen and decided on a menu for the week while JP mowed the lawn. After that we did family pictures at the mall, made my aunt's famous chicken enchiladas, and watched Wedding Crashers on TV. I can't find that movie on cable and not finish watching it, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are such a great comedy couple.

As I sit here, going through pictures and not doing work or folding laundry or anything else I usually do on Sunday night, I'm thinking 3-day weekends are a pretty wonderful thing.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I had a moment yesterday evening when I realized the scene in our kitchen right then perfectly captured an average weekday evening in our house. When I was in law school I wondered, what would it be like to have two working parents come home at the end of the day with two young kids to take care of? So below is snapshot of exactly that. JP was coaching from 3-5:45 pm, so I picked up the kids at 5:50. We both pulled in the driveway at 6. Usually dinner is ready right when I get home and we all sit down to eat it together. Last night, with everyone getting home at the same time, things were a little more piecemeal...

[6:00 pm]

We meet in the driveway and all walk in together. A big pot of water immediately goes on the stove with the gas on high. JP and Landon go on a walk around the house to get the mail. Claire and I go back to my closet to change me out of my light grey pants and silk top. I come back out in sweat pants and a tank top and microwave some frozen peas and carrots for Landon and Claire's appetizers. The radio is turned on. Claire goes in her highchair and begins happily shoveling peas in to her mouth while carefully avoiding the tiny cubes of carrot. JP and Landon return. Most of the mail goes in the recycle. Landon washes his hands and sits at the table to eat a banana and his bowl of vegetables. JP cleans Claire's bottles and Landon's lunch box containers. I feed the dogs and water my new hanging flowers on the back porch (they are beautiful!). Landon is jabbering about the "archyteture" he's learning about in school ("some buildings are super tall mommy. SUPER TALL."). Claire is head banging to the classic rock station JP switched the radio to while I was outside watering the flowers (I prefer pop, JP hates it; we do a lot of switching and occasionally compromise on country).

The water boils. I dump in a pound of rigatoni noodles. JP puts the bread in the oven and then adds some of his favorite spicy sausage ravioli to the boiling water (it floats on the top while the noodles cook near the bottom). We sit at the table while the kids finish their vegetables. Claire gets a few cubes of cheese. Landon gets his milk. I get the strainer, JP scoops out his raviolis with a slotted spoon and then dumps the big pot of boiling water in the sink. Claire's noodles go straight to her tray. Landon's noodles go in a bowl and are topped with jarred sauce. JP's noodles go in a bowl to be mixed with the already present spicy ravioli which is also topped with the jarred sauce. My noodles go back in the pot on low heat with olive oil, chopped garlic, halved cherry tomatoes, fresh spinach, and kosher salt. After about 60 seconds, that gets dumped in a bowl with balsamic vinegar and gorgonzola cheese. We all sit, say grace, eat our pasta, and continue talking about our days. Our single dirty pot sits in the sink.

[6:30 pm, end scene.]

The rest of the evening: JP washes dishes while I draw the bath for the kids. He meets me in the bathroom after the kitchen is clean and we divvy up the kiddos for pj's, teeth brushing (Landon), medicine (Claire), and meet back on Landon's bed for a bedtime story. We read and snuggle and sing a song (lately JP and I must both perform "I'm a little teapot" while Landon laughs hysterically and Claire laughs at Landon's laughing) before exiting the room with Clairebear and closing the door. Claire gets a fierce squeeze and then goes in her crib with a little pat. JP and I close her door, adjust the upstairs thermostat, and walk downstairs together. It's now 7:15 pm. I turn on my laptop, pour a glass of red wine, and am logged back in to the work system by 7:20.

At 9:30 my laptop is closed and we're on the couch watching the Glee finale (which I hated). We read, straighten up the downstairs, and cuddle, with lights out a little after 11, nearly 4 hours after our kids went to sleep (which is why we really don't need many date nights- every night is a date night!).

[end scene, again]

I never know if reading these things makes someone think our life seems too hectic or too easy, but it's good. There's lots of little things going on at once, but when your husband is your best friend and equal partner, and your kids are still young (no homework or other evening duties) and awesomely trained little sleepers, it makes the would-be hectic time after work and before bed my favorite part of our day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rainbow Party Prep

Do you see this giant baby?

She is turning one year old in 11 short days and it blows my mind.

You look like you're thinking about taking my bottle. Don't take my bottle.

To distract myself from freaking out over how old she's getting, we're hosting a little house party for her. I sent out adorable invitations that my friend designed (the same one her who did her birth announcements) and I've been planning the menu for weeks (and by planning I mean reading a million online recipes and reviews; they're almost as fun as reading online restaurant menus). I have most of the food picked out but have been undecided on the cake. Then I saw this rainbow cake and felt inspired. I ordered these awesome food coloring gels from Amazon and googled rainbow cakes and rainbow cupcakes until I felt I had a good handle on the theory behind the colorful creation.

I was up 2 hours early this past Sunday thanks to a teething Biscuit. I walked in to her room at 5:45 to find a sobbing baby and a Lanman trying to make her happy by playing peek-a-boo behind her crib bumber. It was a highlight from a year of adorable moments between the two of them. I felt his sweetness should be rewarded, and I'm all about seizing pockets of free time whenever they present themselves, so I decided we should test drive the rainbow cupcakes.

Landon thought cake batter for breakfast was the best parenting decision I'd ever made.

Claire thought so too, but she was denied.

But I'm the future birthday girl!

After making the batter we divided it in to five bowls and added a single drop of food coloring gel to each bowl. I made the mistake of using 2 drops of fuchsia in the first bowl and the batter looked radioactive. That gel is powerful stuff.

Then we carefully layered various colors on top of each other in the muffin tins. And by "carefully" I mean that Landon dumped it in spoonful by spoonful. I tried to do a few test cupcakes: one with super thin layers, one with bigger blobs of color, and others with various color combinations. At the time I still wasn't convinced the batter would stay separate- I mean surely if I layered yellow on top of blue there'd be at least a little green, right?

But no! They baked up exactly as they were placed (or dumped) in their battered form.

Landon declared them the most beautiful things he'd ever seen and Claire was just mad I wouldn't let her have any.

The party theme is bright colors and polka dots, so I've decided we'll do some rainbow cupcakes with white buttercream frosting (all homemade) and a bunch of mini cupcakes with only one or two colors and a small frosting "dot" on top to have on plates around the party area. They'll be like sugary little amuse bouches.

We cleaned up the kitchen and moved on to a second breakfast of cereal, milk, and yogurt. JP emerged from the master bedroom two hours later and I found him standing at the sparkling clean kitchen counter, blinking at the ziploc bag of rainbow cupcakes, and wondering where on earth they'd come from.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Posts I Didn't Finish from the Past Week

Oh my goodness you guys, work has been crazy. There's nothing like billing 10+ hours a day to make you freak out about your husband's impending new job that is 30 miles away and will change your whole routine of coming home at 6, eating a family dinner that your husband prepared and had ready at 6:01, putting the children to bed at 7:30 while your husband cleans up the whole kitchen, and going back to work at 7:31 because all other household chores were completed by your husband while you were at work. My brief role as a 1950's working man with a stay at home spouse (a stay at home spouse with both kids in full-time daycare so s/he is still cheerful and full of energy at the end of the day and is able to get everything done including working out for 2 hours so s/he looks quite hot) is about to come to a screeching halt. A halt I really am quite excited about, particularly as I realized we can have ALL my high-interest law school loans paid off in 15 months, but which still sends me into a bit of a panic in light of my current case load. His job begins on June 6th.


Two days ago JP and I were watching the kids play together after dinner. Upon surveying the sweet scene, JP said, "see, doesn't that make you want another one?" just as I was about to say, "isn't that perfect? why would we mess this up with another one?" Obviously, we remain undecided (or really, decided, but not in agreement) on that particular issue.


I drove to San Antonio to collect documents at the UT medical school there. The whole drive back I drafted my admissions essay to medical school in my head.


Last night JP and I went out on a date after the kids went to bed to celebrate his new job. I wore a super cute BCBG dress I bought 6 years ago and re-discovered in the back of my closet during my great closet clean-out 3 weeks ago with 4" spike black heels. I neither looked nor felt like an exhausted, overworked mommy of two. We went to Moonshine, one of my very favorite restaurants in Austin (order the cornbread stuffed trout, it's ridiculous), and despite having skipped lunch and never drinking liquor unless it's in a frozen margarita, I thought that 3 cucumber cosmo martinis would be an excellent idea. The good news is that I ate enough food to remain merely "pleasantly drunk" and avoid being sick; the bad news is my headache was so bad by 3 a.m. that it woke me up from a very deep sleep. But that the 3 a.m. wake-up took me back to good news because I drank a large glass of water and woke up feeling fine four hours later- it's been a lovely Saturday ever since.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bound for Santa Fe

Thank you all so much for your good wishes last week! It appears that all the positive energy we generated broke the internet (or at least broke blogger; most of your comments are gone, but I remember them in my heart!) for a few hours. When I got to work on Thursday morning I was still incandescently happy. I was wearing a bright yellow silk top and couldn't stop smiling, even as I dragged myself in two hours early after four hours of sleep to complete a truly awful assignment. I really had no idea how much all of this had been weighing on me. I knew how badly I hurt for JP and how much I wanted him to get good news, but the minute I realized we'd have another income, that it wouldn't all be on me, that I could have options and choices in the foreseeable future, it was like a 100 lb. weight was lifted from my shoulders. For the first time in months I fell asleep the moment I got in bed, with visions of shrinking grad school debt dancing in my head.

The happiness lasted even as I got staffed on another case- an interesting but crazy complicated tax case- and my already busy Thursday hit a whole new level of slammed. You see, I was flying out of town at 7 a.m. Friday morning to enjoy a reunion with three of my very best law school friends in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We'd planned the trip months ago, randomly picking a city where none of us had ever been to meet from our separate corners of the U.S. - Austin, NYC, DC, and Chicago. I hadn't made this known to many of the I work with. Friday is usually a slow day with lots of absences, so I was going to get all my work done Thursday night and then fly out under the radar Friday morning. But thanks to a whole slew of new assignments, most of which were given on the assumption I could work all weekend, I had to throw down boundaries all over the place and promise to get everything done either Thursday night or by Monday morning. I stayed up very, very late Thursday, packing my suitcase well after midnight, and I'll be up very late tonight, but it was totally worth it.

We converged in the Albuquerque airport at noon, rented a car, and drove out to Santa Fe. The views from the highway were just beautiful and so different from anywhere we'd been before. We talked a mile a minute, catching up on each other's lives, not at all surprised that it was like we'd just seen each other last week instead of many months ago. I've been blessed with some great friends in my life, but there's something really special about the women I became so close to in law school. They helped me through 1L, through Landon's time in the NICU, through our nightmare- they volunteered to babysit, they slept on the floor as DCFS safety persons, they threw me the most amazing baby shower I've ever attended-- and now with all of us as junior associates at large law firms, coming to terms with everything we'd hoped being a lawyer would be and everything it actually is, no one understands certain aspects of me like they do. Not my family and not even JP. Our conversations jump widely from high brow authors (I'm rather quiet for that part), to our 401k's, to sex (I have more to say here), to our secret fears about our careers and where they're going- I feel like we can cover topics I can't fully discuss with anyone else.

In between all the talking, we explored Santa Fe, indulged in an evening at an outdoor spa under the stars, toured art galleries, drove to Taos, roamed an ancient Pueblo, bought jewelry, drank four bottles of wine, and repeatedly impressed waitors with the amount of Mexican food four skinny women could consume. I missed the kids a lot. I don't give up weekends with them lightly, but it was a wonderful, rejuvenating 48 hours.

I'm paying for it now as I open up half-finished drafts of documents due tomorrow, but I'm already thinking of ideas for our trip in 2012!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I'm trying to get 5 hours of work done in the next 3 hours, but I had to post this immediately -- the Director called JP ten minutes ago and told him he had the job!!! It's officially official. He has a salary and a title and a business unit and a desk that is not in our study and oh my god you guys I started crying while he was listening on the phone with the world's biggest smile on his face. It's a real, MBA-level job!

The next step will be for both of us to freak the frack out about how much this is going to change our life and our balance and everything else. Two full-time working parents, and one with a new commute that is quite different from his current "I'll just jog over to the pool for my next lesson" routine, but for right this second I'm just going to be very, very happy for him. And I'm going to get back to work with a giant grin on my face that is completely at odds with the serious letter I am drafting to opposing counsel describing our myriad of disputes and grievances with them. I'm going to have to re-work it tomorrow, I'm too happy to be as indignant as I should be. After six months of applications and rejections and more applications, my husband has a job!!

Radio Silence

No news on the JP job front. It is frustrating to say the least. I also had the unpleasant task of telling JP over lunch that I read the emails from the Director differently than him. They said: "Good news! One of our internals is out, so you're up. I'm talking to HR about getting approved for external offers." When JP responded with enthusiasm and asked which division he'd be in, the Director replied, "Not final yet, hopefully X." Businessy optimist that he is, JP skimmed it once and assumed Director meant the offer was his, and the Director hoped JP would be in X division (that's the Director's main division and he'd told JP earlier he hoped to get him). Cautious attorney and careful reader that I am, I read it 52 times and concluded the Director hoped he'd get approval for an external offer, and if he did, JP would be in X division.

As I gently suggested this interpretation, JP pulled out his blackberry, read the email chain, and then slowly put it back in his pocket, saying sadly, "you're right." And so I crushed another dream. I do think the Director wouldn't have told JP about the change in ranking if he wasn't pretty darn sure he could make an outside offer, but I'm also sure he hedged his language for a reason.

JP applied for three more jobs yesterday, all entry level no MBA required, and all making the same as he did at his very first job out of college. And so this whole situation continues to suck.

But other things are good! This park, for instance. It's a new discovery and we LOVE it. We spent an hour here on Mother's Day, in the ridiculous 98 degree heat, kicking a soccer ball and telling Claire not to eat wood chips.

I love that it has two huge playscapes, four swings, a covered area for eating, a big grass field for running, and a sign that says: "Danger Falling Rocks."

I don't love how grown-up my baby boy is looking, but I have thoroughly enjoyed this year between 3 and 4, so I'll forgive him.

We went to Claire's parent-teacher conference yesterday at daycare. These are super fun for babies because the teacher just shows you a bunch of adorable pictures from class and then tells you how awesome your baby is. And Claire is awesome. She's the leader in all things development, and apparently is the ring leader of the whole baby gang. My favorite was a story about Claire starting a "lunch riot" the day before. We even saw a picture of Claire shaking the little baby gate between the play area and the eating area, with all her baby friends yelling behind her.

She also has a huge crush on their weekly visiting guitar player, and can find any toy the teachers hide anywhere. As JP and I frequently say at home- she's wily and I think she's going to keep our hands full as she gets bigger.

Who, me?

With her penchant for outlets, the fact that she crawled up the stairs in 10 seconds out of nowhere the other day, and her drive to explore all the things her brother always had an inherent understanding he shouldn't touch- yes, her.

Good thing she's so darn easy and cute in every other way (and she has a big brother to yell out, "Mommy! Claire's not being safe!" or "Mommy! Claire's crawling up the steps really FAST!" He's like her guardian angel/emergency alert system).

Thank you so much for your support on the last post. I get so much from this blog, it'll get me choked up if I think about it. I promise to update as soon as we know anything.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Wringer

I spent my morning with my office door closed, near tears, and alternating between hoping for and dreading JP's return of all my calls. He found out on Friday that he didn't get a particular job he'd been really excited about and had made it to the fourth and final round of interviews for. That was a blow. But there were still two openings in a different division of the same company and he'd had a great final interviews for those last Thursday, so we still had hope. In fact, just this morning as we were getting dressed he commented on how optimistic he was about those interviews and how depressed he was going to be if nothing worked out. Because after this, he's pretty much exhausted the Austin MBA market and it would be time to look elsewhere. And while looking elsewhere makes a whole lot of sense for both of us, I'm not ready to leave and neither is he. As I kissed him goodbye this morning I desperately hoped he was going to get good news this week. And only in small part because of the fear of moving. Mostly I just worried for him and wondered how I could be enough support for him if he got another no.

And then at 9:30 a.m. he got the call saying the jobs weren't going to work out. Oh, they liked him. In fact, the Director insisted he was their #1 outside candidate, they've just been "encouraged" to use internal transfers over new hires and there were two current employees who had applied for the position.

My heart just broke for him. I said the things I've been saying- that he's great, that he'll find something, that it's their loss, and I meant every single one, but I don't think he believes me anymore. He believes that I believe it, and that's something, but it's not enough, and I don't know what else to say to make it better. I don't want to take anything away from how hard all of this is on him, but I will say that watching the person you love go through the demoralizing rigors of a job search is its own kind of hellish.

I want to call up the people he's interviewing with and yell at them for not immediately grasping how awesome he is. Can't you tell how smart he is? What a hard worker he is? How driven he is? HIRE HIM. Except don't, because I've now decided you don't deserve him.

And so I spent the morning with my door closed, going through periods of fierce productivity and then pausing to stare at my computer monitor feeling like I was going to cry. I just felt so terribly for him and I couldn't do anything with those feelings.

But then, he got another email at 3 p.m. from the Director informing him that one of the internal candidates was switching to a different division, so now he made it! Except then he got another email at 3:30 saying, wait, that's not final, it has to be approved by Talent Management. So now I have no idea what's going on, except that it's not a no, there's hope, we might get to stay at Austin, and I'm mad at this company for making me emotionally exhausted without giving me a conclusion by the end of the day. But JP is smiling while playing his guitar on the other couch, so I guess that's something.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mom's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies out there! Yes, it's a Halmark holiday, but I like the impetus it gives schools, daycares, and kids of all ages to honor the moms in our lives and mark the day with gifts of painted hand-prints and cute cards I can put in a box and look at every year. Plus, for 24 whole hours, I can excuse myself from every dirty diaper and "mommy I went poop, come see!" situation. That's all for daddy while the cuddles are all for me.

We don't tend to do big gifts on the Parent Days, just a card and a special brunch or dinner at home. But this year, JP stepped it up and sent me flowers at work on Thursday (a few days early so I could enjoy them on my desk in anticipation of Sunday, which was very sweet and unusually forward thinking of him). And then this morning, Clairebear walked (walked!) over to me in the play room holding a little brown box. Inside was this beautiful necklace from etsy. I had shown it to him on my computer a few months ago, and then we went and tracked it back down to order.

It was a very sweet surprise and I carefully chose my church outfit to match it:

(Also, I got a haircut yesterday. I have hopes I can actually blow dry it to curl at the ends like that again, but it's doubtful. And Landon wouldn't take a picture with me because we did our family portraits last night and he felt he had smiled at a camera quite enough for one weekend, which was probably true. Good thing I have two kids and the Biscuit is always camera ready.)

But isn't my little necklace pretty?! Also pretty? My top. I LOVE it. I ran to the mall at lunch on Thursday to buy some shorts for Claire and saw it in the window of the Limited. It's been a while since I've bought anything from there, but I've recently decided I can wear certain shades of yellow and I just loved the colors in that shirt. It called to me. I had a coupon in my purse for the Limited- a coupon I very nearly threw out when it came in the mail but then saved just in case, so I walked in and bought it. I wore it to work on Friday with dark jeans, black platform pumps, and a black 3/4 sleeve blazer. It was maybe my favorite outfit ever and I now have a single yellow shirt hanging in between the orange and green sections of my closet. As one of my partner's would say, I just lost the point of my paragraph, but this wearing of yellow thing is very exciting for me, and I do just love that necklace.

Also love?

My kids. (Obviously.) My necklace nothwithstanding, I'm not sure there's any better gift than walking in to the church nursery and hearing the teacher say, "your kids are just so sweet! Landon is always walking across the room to check on Claire and bring her things and make sure she's happy." They make my every day and I love that Mother's Day is always on a Sunday so I can spend all of it with them.

Friday, May 6, 2011

On My Working Motherhood

I've been thinking a lot of about motherhood lately, specifically working motherhood. Nothing concrete, and nothing I felt I could turn in to a blog post even if I'd had the time lately to write one (which sadly I very much have not), just a lot of circular, directionless thoughts. Maybe it's Mother's Day and reading the card in the flowers JP had delivered to my office yesterday ("Love, JP, Landon, and Claire") and realizing wow, I've been a mom of two kids for almost a year, or maybe because I've now been a lawyer for as long as I was a law student- which means I've been a working mother lawyer for three whole years, something I thought would be so Big and Hard and worthy of constant commentary- but the conclusion I keep reaching is something along the lines of: the kids are alright, we're alright, this is good. This working mother thing just isn't nearly as earth shattering as I expected it to be. It doesn't dominate my thoughts, I don't agonize over it, and I honestly don't give a damn what anybody else thinks about it. It is simply our life and my goodness is it wonderful the vast majority of the time.

Which isn't to say it isn't sometimes hard to drop off my Clairebear and think about all the cute things she's going to do that I'll miss, or that I don't sometimes get home at the end of the day and look longingly at the couch and fantasize about how nice it would be to sit on it, alone, instead of cleaning bottles and lunch boxes and directing traffic in the kitchen, or that I don't frequently wish the day was 28 hours long and all four of the extra ones could go to the kids, or, most of all, that I don't worry about how this will work as the kids get older and busier and it matters more that it is JP or I who spends the post-school time with them - because all that is true.

But what has surprised me since having children, probably because I grew up in a stay-at-home-mom dominated community and extended family (which was absolutely wonderful, but which nonetheless made the choice of the Working Mom seem like a Very Big Deal that needed to be agonized over and feared before ever having children), is that it just isn't. I work, my kids go to daycare, we come home, we eat together, we play, they go to bed, and I go back to work or snuggle on the couch with JP (or both) ... this is our day. And it's a day that is filled with more happiness and satisfaction and security and love than I ever hoped to experience- working or not. It's not a debate of quantity v. quality, or selfishness v. selflessness, or my future v. theirs. It just is. My kids are happy, secure, affectionate little people who have no doubt who their parents are and no doubt they are loved, and any time I hear some nonsense about the poor children of working mothers who are "stuck at daycare," I think of Claire excitedly clapping with her baby friends or banging on the guitar of their weekly musical guest or the way her teacher's beam when they tell me all the adorable and amazing things she did that day, I shake my head at the silly small minded person and think of how little my kids need their pity.

For us, daycare has become an important and very positive part of our life, and I am fundamentally okay with sharing my children with the amazing teachers who work there. It provides a structure and routine to my kids' day that they wouldn't have if I was home, and while I don't think socialization is at all necessary for babies, I do think Claire has enjoyed it (and Landon has absolutely thrived with it). And thanks to this daycare I trust, my kids have a mom who is happy and fulfilled and who honestly loves every single minute she spends with them. When I was home with Landon, and even on maternity leave with Claire, I spent so much time wishing they'd go to sleep so that I could do things- shower, eat, clean, sleep, be alone! But then the day would end, and I'd tuck my baby in bed and feel a crushing guilt for wishing away our hours together and not enjoying them enough. I constantly felt guilty for that. But then I went back to work and the guilt fell away. I know it's different for a lot of other working moms, but as I've said before, I feel no guilt for working and providing for my family. In my heart I truly don't believe my kids are suffering for it, and I'm not going to imagine unhappiness where it doesn't exist. While I do frequently wish for extra time together during the week, I know I am engaged and present in nearly every minute we do have, and the memory of our separation during the day reminds me to read that extra requested story or stay on the floor a little longer tickling the Biscuit.

I dropped Landon and Claire off at daycare today so I could partake in the Mother's Day festivities. Claire (who, by the way, is walking with confidence as of last night; she did multiple rounds of 10-15 steps with lots of pauses for clapping and to make sure everyone was looking at her) gave me a card with her little hand prints and a poem that made me cry (something about growing up and hands getting bigger and I don't know, my vision blurred and I slammed the card shut). Landon gave me an adorable little apron he made ALL BY HIMSELF (except, with help, though he did pick out the fabric and did the cutting and supervised the sewing machine action). Also, his teacher did a short interview with each kid about their moms and recorded all the answers. My favorite, and the inspiration for this whole post which has somehow eaten half my day (though sometimes you just need to do that), was:

"My mom's favorite thing to do is: to work at work for a long time."

Now I know some moms would read that and be sad, but it cracked me up and I immediately walked in to my favorite partner's office and read it to him (also, "My mom is really good at: doing work." I feel that should be included in my next review). Landon is 3, so I don't think he can imagine doing anything he didn't love for very long. So, since I work all day, I must love it. (Also, the "long time" thing probably means anything over 30 minutes.) But the thing that made me smile most about his little remark is that I really must never complain about my work or anything related to it. I don't assign any negativity to it (not when he's awake anyway), and neither does he. He just sees me happy, and how great is that?

Monday, May 2, 2011

5 Loves, material things edition

In celebration of a great weekend and a not terrible Monday, I present a list of things I love right now:

# 1. Method Cleaning Products. Omg. I LOVE this glass and surface spray. Love it. I use it multiple times a day, on everything, and my counters have never looked so glossy and beautiful. I also love the way it smells, and even JP, who hates mint with a passion, thinks it's "quite nice."

# 2. This Cetaphil cleanser. I solicited recommendations for facial care products, and I got LOTS of them. I made a chart, with type, price, and number of individual references (with double points for enthusiasm and urgency of the recommendation). I read reviews on line. I interviewed co-workers. I tried Aveda products and while they were good, they didn't blow me away and fair or not, for $25+ I need my face to be transformed pretty much overnight, so I returned them. I went to Target to buy sunscreen and in a fit of madness, bought some $7 face soap I hadn't heavily researched... and I love it. It makes my face feel clean and smooth but not tight or dry. It removes makeup. It's inexpensive. It's like a dream come true. (Though the search for the perfect lotion is still on.)

# 3. This dress. I bought it on a lunch break during the 40% off sale at Ann Taylor and it is magical. It is comfortable, makes my waist look tiny, transitions easily from work to weekend, and draws compliments like you wouldn't believe. I love this dress.

# 4. This stroller. We've only ever owned an inexpensive umbrella stroller and while it's good for travel, I've found myself avoiding walks just so we don't have to push it very far. But walks are important- for me, the kids, and the dogs- so I decided we needed a jogging-type stroller. And because I think $400+ is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a stroller, I looked beyond the Bob and purchased this $120 well-reviewed gem from Target. And it is AWESOME. It glides over pavement and dirt, turns on a dime, and moves forward with little effort. I make excuses to go on walks now and I've even jogged with it twice- and you can't imagine how much I hate jogging.

# 5. This painting. Purchased after Christmas, I continue to love this painting and how it looks in my living room. The wall above the TV was screaming for something and Target provided. Yes, it's mass produced Target art, but I don't care. It looks pretty, matches my colors and decor, and makes me happy. I'm smiling at it right now.

So there you are. Five things I love, pretty much in order of how much I love them. I'm thinking of buying myself another method glass and surface spray just to keep one in my office because it makes me so happy. That's love.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hell Yes.

People will say more, better, later, but right now I just have a huge HELL YES at this headline:

This is the first joyous death announcement I think I've had in my lifetime- it's like Hitler for my grandparents (interestingly, his death was also announced on a May 1st), but I love that I have this happy memory of where I was when I heard the news that Bin Laden had been killed by US forces to keep company with that horrible memory of exactly where I was when I learned of what was happening on 9/11.

There is spontaneous singing on the street in front of the White House and fireworks are going off in New York. I'm all choked up on my couch in Austin.

God Bless America.

Woodland Retreat

As I mentioned in my last post, the Lag Liv family headed out for a brief vacation to my aunt and uncle's (and three cousin's) house in The Woodlands this weekend. We headed over on Friday. I basically snuck out of the office after filing my motion. I'd been up working until 2 a.m. the night (morning?) before and felt justified in my 11:30 departure. JP and I packed everything up in less than 30 minutes, picked up the kids from daycare, and headed out. As I thumb-typed furiously for the first hour of the drive, I've never been so glad for blackberries. It was an easy trip, made even easier now that a 3.75 year old Landon has finally expressed interest in the TV and was willing to watch a movie in the car. Oh wow, is that electronic babysitting thing nice.

We arrived in time for dinner on Friday. The kids were perfect, especially with a new set of five adoring fans. Claire seemed to feel pressure to entertain the crowd and showed off all her tricks. When she'd run through her current repertoire, she buried her head in my neck like, "My goodness, what more do these people want?! They just keep clapping for more!" My aunt, uncle, and cousins are very big fans of babies.

After dinner, Landon asked me to put him to bed, making my aunt's jaw drop. Apparently it's unusual for your 3-year-old to say, "Mommy, will you put me to bed please?" at 7:30. I tucked him in the trundle of my youngest cousin's room, with his new Optimus Prime figure he'd adopted from the same youngest cousin, and he went to sleep. By 7:35 Claire was tucked in her pack-and-play in the pool house where we were going to be sleeping. And at 7:36 I was back on the couch in the living room, ready to watch 3 hours of DVR'd royal wedding coverage. (I loved Kate/Catherine's dress, LOVED IT, and I hope it inspires more wedding dress designers to make dresses with sleeves. I hate the ubiquitous strapless gown.)

On Saturday morning we headed to the barn to ride their horses. Now I've lived in Texas for 20 of my 28 years and I've never sat on a horse. I know! We don't have any cacti in our yard either. Pictures from that are coming separately, but we all got to ride one, including Landon, and now JP is planning for stables in our future retirement dream house (kind of like a barbie dream house, but less pink).

After getting hot, sweaty, and dirty at the barn, we headed back to their house to spend the rest of the day in the pool. JP had a blast and did approximately 52 front flips into the water in an attempt to stick a landing on a blow-up rocking horse. He never did make it.

(I took this picture in Manual and I froze the action/water droplets! FROZE them! Just like I wanted to! It was very exciting.)

Landon made it on his first try.

Claire and I found the water a bit chilly, so we sat in the chairs with the other girls and chatted until we felt warm enough to get in the pool.

And even then, we opted for the hot tub.

I looked at my cousins- bouncing from raft to raft and splashing up a storm, and I so remember being that age (any age younger than 18) and absolutely not understanding why any grown-up wouldn't want to get in the pool and play for 5 hours on a nice afternoon. JP doesn't understand either, but he did respect my harshly whispered threats enough not to throw me in against my will. After another month of sun, I would have been all over it, I promise.

We grilled out for dinner (by "we," I mean my aunt and uncle) and played scrabble after the kids went to bed (JP beat me by 200 points; I was both proud and supremely annoyed). We drove back early this morning and have spent the day enjoying our freakishly cool 50-degree weather.

It was a very fun weekend and the kids had so much fun with this new family in "other" Houston. One problem with having nearly all your family 1-3 hours away is it's hard to take specific trips to see one without seeing more. It was really nice to spend a weekend with one branch, though my mom did stop by for an hour on Saturday, which was a bonus. Landon has asked to go back "in a couple days" and I'm sure Claire misses her very vocal, very appreciative audience.