Thursday, June 30, 2011

Spectator Sport

Landon has been taking semi-private swim lessons with a friend every Sunday at 1:00. Some weeks I stay home with a sleeping Biscuit (since we routinely run roughshod over her afternoon nap, we try to allow her a full morning one), but our favorite thing is to all pile in the car and experience the fun of swim lessons together. The temps have been topping one million degrees lately, but the pool area is shaded and has pretty hill country views.

The lesson usually goes something like this: Landon, while wearing his Spiderman goggles in his car seat, chatters excitedly the whole way to the pool, "I love swimming lessons! Yay swimming! I'm going to swim REAL fast Mommy!". Claire jabbers back, because she too has much to say and prefers to say it one decibel louder than her brother. We arrive at the pool, bag of snacks, water, and towels in hand. Landon remembers that maybe he doesn't like swimming after all. Claire sees the water and tries her very hardest to dive in. Landon alternates between doing awesome and sobbing while floating on his back repeating "I don't want to I don't want to I don't want to." Claire performs serious missions around the pool deck, and occasionally makes a break for the water to show Ms. Christy that she can float too and won't even cry about it. JP cheers, I take some video, it's good times.

This past Sunday, Claire took a break from the heat and her exploratory pool missions to simply be a spectator while her brother swam with his big arms and floated on his back:

My brother is floating. This is mildly entertaining.

Wait, he appears bothered.

Whoah, what are they doing to him? Maybe I should help!

Mmmm, my graham cracker is DELICIOUS.

Wait, wasn't I worried about something a second ago?

Well, everything seems fine, no need to exert myself.

Oh look, my brother is floating, go Landon!

Now where's the rest of the graham crackers?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


If there's one thing I've learned in 3 years of being an attorney, mom, wife, and person who needs to spend a certain number of hours each week sleeping and reading romance novels, it's that a balance of all those things is not something that just happens.  You have to MAKE it happen- seize the moment, plan a vacation on a conference call, read your romance novel on your kindle app on your blackberry while waiting for your computer to boot up in the morning, schedule a home meeting with your husband in the middle of a slow Friday and you know, meet with him.  Individual days may not be balanced, at least not if you were to look at a black and white list of how many hours I spend wearing my various hats, but I feel that when you take a month-long view, I generally achieve a nice mix of everything (not every month, but again, on balance).

For example, after billing 10+ hours a day every day last week, I spent yesterday catching up on one million personal tasks, including planning the details of Landon's birthday party (thank you Mere and Oriental Trading Co.), planning a last-minute inexpensive summer vacation (Galveston here we come! I am ridiculously excited about going to this rather sad stretch of dirty sand in July), calling up all my student loan lenders to get my updated balances (high, still very, horribly, depressingly high), answering over 30 personal emails (sorry those I haven't gotten to yet), cleaning my desk, and entering my time.  It felt SO good.  Then today, when I realized I still wasn't getting my usual non-stop barrage of emails because all the IP attorneys were busy finalizing a brief on a very technical issue (i.e. below my non-PhD education level), I left.  It was 3:00 and I powered down my computer, made a quick stop at home to grab snacks and swim suits, picked up the kids, and had us all splashing in the pool at 3:30.  It was wonderful.  Landon was a little fish, Clairebear tried to drown herself at every opportunity (I had at least one hand on her at all times and she still managed to dunk her head completely underwater for multiple seconds, multiple times; this girl, I'm telling you), and we all had a marvelous time.  I answered about a dozen emails via blackberry, continuing my love/hat relationship with that bothersome little device, and everyone I work either didn't know or didn't care that I was sitting in 2' of water under a giant umbrella (which is really the only way to survive a 103-degree June day).

Tomorrow is going to be busier, I've already received a few emails regarding new things to do on the case, and that's just fine.  Today I spent a bonus 3 hours with my kids, made a relaxed dinner of pork tenderloin, roasted pineapple, rice, and snap peas, and sat on my couch until my butt was half-asleep. 

So balance. I picture a teeter-totter; last week I was on the down end, and this week I'm up.  Soon, I'm sure, it'll be back down again, but at least for me, the happiness of the "up" is much stronger and lingers far longer than the feelings I get on the down.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Remember last week when I worked until 2 a.m. on a brief? It was a big one - opposing counsel had filed a motion to strike certain of our answers to a contention interrogatory, answers which, for complicated reasons, they had good reason to try to strike and which would have been devastating for us on damages. And though I had nothing to do with the drafting of the rog, I was tasked with the response. (The chain of events went something like this: I saw the Motion to Strike was filed at midnight the night before; I thought wow, it's going to suck for whoever has to respond to that; I got a call at 9 a.m. that started with "So I remembered you're a really great writer;" Me: "Oh no, you're going to make me respond to the strike aren't you?"; and I was printing off the Motion to read and figure out what I was responding to at 9:15.)

The Motion was set for hearing on Wednesday in Wisconsin, but we got an order on the papers by surprise today and it was a complete and total victory! A slam dunk on all points, plaintiff's motion denied in full, with text from my response copied and cited. The order got sent around to all the partners in my section, specifically giving me credit and praising "LL's great lawyering," and you guys, I almost cried. True success is pretty rare- doing well means not getting called out for screwing up. I work with great people, but we're all busy, we all work hard, and we all do a generally good job-there's no report card that keeps you apprised (and keeps other people aware) of how great you are or are not doing. So to get a clear, credited victory? That is something to be savored. Especially when the cases are huge and worth tens (or hundreds) of millions of dollars and very few projects are truly "yours" to credit anyway.

So today was a good day, and a good day can make up for a disproportionate number of bad days. I also found out last Friday that I had been nominated to TAKE a deposition in this case. I know there are plenty of associates scoffing at the idea that this would be a big deal (and it's kind of silly that it is), but in a large law firm with a cases this big, we juniors and mid-levels basically never get to do things like depositions. The clients are too risk averse and the cases are worth too much. So that was already a huge vote of confidence from my temporary new section (IP) and today's news solidified it (at least until I actually take the depo). So with all of that, plus my weekend without working (first one in a while and badly needed), my job satisfaction is way, way up. This should last me at least until January...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Happy Quick Takes Illustrated

The week is done! We're about to head to Houston for a mini reunion with some close high school friends, some of whom I haven't seen in about 5 years. I'm not excited about the 7 hours of driving, but I'm super excited to see them (and their kids- we have kids now, crazy) and we decided it was more hassle to stay overnight than to just drive back after it was done.

I fear I'm picking bad times to blog because all you're getting is the "holy crap I have so much to do and I'm tired and I miss my stay-home husband with all the free time and the doing of all household errands and tasks." There's been good stuff too- lots of it, actually.

There's the love notes JP leaves for me. I found this one the morning after I worked until 2 a.m. and he'd left at 6 to swim:

There's the Biscuit, who is just awesome. Fierce. But awesome (and still snuggly when she's tired, and she gives the best hugs). Claire is always busy- always on a mission- and she completely dictates the play with her big brother. Landon suggests something, Claire marches off to do something else, and Landon follows behind with, "oh, okay Biscuit! let's do that!" It cracks us up.

It's also increasingly difficult to get her in the camera frame. She moves fast!

She also likes to help. Here her plastic soup pot made its way in to the dishwasher and she was trying to close it up for me.

The $30 water table (her 1st birthday present) continues to be an excellent investment. Both she and Landon LOVE that thing, and we love sitting on the back porch, in the shade, watching them splash and play without having to constantly redirect Claire from doing something dangerous (she always finds something).


Yesterday Landon's daycare class put on a circus performance for the parents. It was awesome. Landon pulled off the great feat of being a non-creepy clown:

(cute, right?)

and then all the kids performance "tricks" they brainstormed after reading various story books about going to the circus. There were elephant rides (low table decorated into an elephant; the teachers helped the kids climb on top and then the kids stood on the elephant's back and did tricks); jumping through "rings of fire" (hula hoop with taped on flames); jumping over an "entire line of trucks!" (wood block with toy trucks taped on); jumping over fire (wood block with flames); balancing acts (balance beam and balancing foam bricks on their heads); and a disappearing act (totally adorable).

The best part was the teachers taught the kids to exclaim, "the show must go on!" any time they messed up. It cracked us up and now Landon says it at home if we drop food on the floor or otherwise make a mistake in our routine.

Lastly, and not directly related to my life, but something that made me oh so very happy this week. New York passed the Marriage Equality Act. I could say a lot about this, but basically, two consenting adults can now get married and receive the whole host of benefits the government affords that status. It will never fail to infuriate me that this isn't a given in all 50 states, particularly mine, but rather than get on a "sometimes I can't believe I live in Texas" tangent, look, a rainbow empire state building:


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

random, tired report

I billed 13 hours yesterday, even with attending an adorable in-class bridal shower in the morning for Landon's daycare teacher, taking a summer associate to a non-billable lunch, and leaving work early to pick up a feverish Clairebear who could NOT have picked a worse day to get sick.  And then, in a virtual version of failing to knock-on-wood after my last post, I did not get to tuck my babies in to bed (and thus I did not feel lucky, at peace, or warm in my heart; in fact, I felt quite the opposite by the time I went to go to bed at 2:15).  But even though all I wanted to do was sit on the couch with my sick, snuggly baby, I forced myself back to work after dinner to write a brief that was due in the morning.  I had a lot of case law research to do for it and I just can't read long IP cases on my tiny laptop screen.  It's a little freaky to be at my isolated office building at night, but I was very brave and pushed through the creepiness of being the only light on for what felt like miles. I finished around 2, right when Austin FINALLY got some rain via a very noisy thunderstorm.  And even though it kept me from falling asleep until almost 3, I was still more happy for the desperately needed rain than I was stressed about my impending a.m. exhaustion.  Though when my alarm went off at 6:30 this morning, I was a little less pleased with the precipitation...

Due to Claire's mysterious 2 hour illness that consisted of a relatively high fever and nothing else, I arranged for a nanny to come to the house in the morning.  When I called the firm's back-up service (the best perk we have, by far), I told them to be at the house by 7:30 a.m., still thinking I'd be getting enough sleep to go to work early.  I didn't, but the threat of the nanny knocking on the door while I was still in pj's got me out of bed to throw on some grey lightweight tweed pants, a cuffed men's style white dress shirt, black platform pumps, opted for glasses, and threw my hair in a wet messy bun.  I thought I was slumming it, but my co-worker told me I looked like a sexy, nerdy superhero's girlfriend.  I love her.  Then our extraordinarily obnoxious opposing counsel, who filed THREE more motions between 11 pm last night and 1 am this morning while I was drafting our response to their last motion, called me "vituperative" on a meet and confer conference call.  According to Google, this means I am "bitter and abusive" which, while new for me, is probably a badge of honor when dealing with these people.

So, work, it's crazy.  I keep telling myself it's a compliment to be the busiest person in my section (and it is) but I'm not sure how much longer I can keep it up.  I miss my couch, I haven't responded to a personal email in over a week (sorry to everyone who's sent me one), I can't leave comments on blog posts (though I do still read them!), and I'm just so tired.  Luckily Claire is completely cured- no idea what the fever was about, though I suspect teeth.  She heads back to daycare tomorrow which is good because Landon's teachers and Claire's teachers all commented on how concerned Landon was that she wasn't in the building.  He wasn't jealous she was at home or anything, he just didn't like that he couldn't visit her.  I haven't yet told him that this future land of "kindergarten" that he talks about incessantly will not include a Clairebear.  I designed the invitations for his "Breakfast with Batman" birthday party during a midnight break from my work last night- it's going to be so awesome!  I also read an article about how the Texas drought has eliminated wild birds' drinking water, so everyone should buy bird baths, and now I wonder about the birds I see around our neighborhood and worry that they're thirsty.  JP is good, though also super busy.  He likes his job, and really likes his boss and co-workers, but his work is pretty demanding- he's typing away on his work laptop across the table from me as I write this post (and wait for comments on another brief).  He's home for dinner every night, but he's seeing the kids for half the amount of time he used to and he misses them like crazy. 

So, the adjustment is still ongoing.  We did have a wonderful weekend we did do a much better job of preparing for the week.  Lots of food was prepped and prepared, so we've had healthy and delicious family dinners every night this week.  That's something right?

Sigh, back to work.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Snug as a Bug

I have several favorite moments in my day: When I wake up between 4 and 5 a.m., feel the relief that it's not yet time to get up, and scoot closer to JP so he'll do his auto-snuggle reflex and pull me up tight against him with a satisfied sigh.  When I go in to Claire's room around 7:15 a.m., pause outside the door to smile at the duo of giggling as Landon entertains her, and then open her door to watch her hyperventilate with happiness at my arrival.  When I get to my desk around 8:15, freshly steeped cup of earl grey tea in hand, still full of optimism that today won't be as bad as the last 15 workdays have been (today's was worse, actually, but I didn't know that at 8:15). And when I walk in the door at daycare, usually at 5:30 p.m., but lately at 6:05, and Claire's roaming the halls with her teacher, looking like she owns the place, and then she sees me, smiles, and runs to give me a fierce, chubby armed hug.  Those are all great moments.

But my very favorite happens around 11:00 at night when I go back upstairs to check on the kids before JP and I go to bed.  I tiptoe in to Claire's room, find her perpendicular to the bed, turned half on her side, with all her blankets tucked in a ball at the opposite end.  I put her back in the right spot, tuck her little blanket over her, and kiss her on her head saying, "night night sweet girl."  Next is Landon's room, where I usually find him on his back, knees bent up, one arm thrown across the bed, covers pushed to the bottom.  His animals are on the floor, a dump truck is probably on the pillow, and his disco light is on, pulsing neon light across the room like a downtown club.  I turn off the strobe light, relax his legs, and pull up his covers.  He gets a light kiss on the forehead and "sleep tight buddy" before I close the door and walk downstairs.

And for whatever reason, it's that moment-- not the mortgage, bills, or health insurance spreadsheet I just made to compare JP's coverage to mine, but the tucking-in of chubby-cheeked children who are sleeping with utter abandon because they feel such safety under our roof, that makes me feel like a responsible grown-up. A very loved, very needed grown-up.  And while I love having them awake to laugh and play with, no moment makes me feel as warm inside as that one.  And that warm feeling carries me to my own bed, where I curl up with my husband and know that no matter how crazy and exhausting the past two weeks have been, we'll get up and do it again because we're lucky, and this is all a privilege, and life is good as long as I get to tuck them in tomorrow night too.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I am completely overwhelmed at work. So busy that even the usually comforting thought that I am in high demand is not at all dulling the edges of my sleeplessness and bloated time entries.  So busy that I just wrote a whole paragraph about hating anyone currently living a life of leisure based on the wealth of others while secretly desperately wishing I was one of those people. Then I deleted that paragraph because it was stupid and self-pitying and working is simply what I do and I have a good job and I am grateful for it and one day I will have earned the right to live leisurely too and blah blah blah. I mention it only to show how far I've fallen, it has not been a great past 10 days. I also renewed my vow to kill my blackberry in a long and tortuous manner and chase it with a night of sleeping without a red message light haunting my dreams at 3 a.m.  I look forward to that event, tentatively schedule for the day I finish paying off my law school loans.

Now, on to humorously bad pictures! 

A few weeks ago we had a photographer come to our house to take family pictures. I wanted to update our family portrait from the one we took 6 days after I had Claire (puffy tummy alert) and to get some cute, casual shots of the kids as they were about to turn 4 and 1. We (unwisely) planned for these magical moments to be captured at 5:30 p.m., when the light turns softer and kids turn crankier.  It went exactly as you might imagine- the entire CD of images is pretty much a roll of outtakes, with a few gems buried underneath. These are not the gems.

First, an attempt to recreate the family picture on mommy and daddy's bed. 

This was the first shot and probably the best take. 

It quickly devolved.


(They love each other, really.)


Hmm, maybe a few shots upstairs in the kids rooms.

Claire: Why in the hell am I in my crib?!  You haven't fed me dinner yet! I demand dinner!


Diabolical (yet cute) honey badger face.


Freakishly long baby legs.

Ooh, let's read a book. Claire loves books!

(Claire takes book reading seriously and won't look up from the prop)


Photographer: Maybe Landon can read her the book?
Landon: Okey dokie.
Claire: Wahhh, Landon took my book!


Landon: Pet the fuzzy page Claire. PET IT!


Moving it outside. 

Almost a great shot, if only we could photoshop away her entire hand.


All the beautiful lighting in the world can't compensate for cranky children.



Attempt at capturing a tender moment between Mommy and Landon:

Landon: This sucks.
Mommy, upon seeing the blown-up picture: Holy crap, are those really my crows' feet?


Attempt at capturing a tender moment between Mommy and Clairebear.

Claire: You will get me dinner and you will do it now.


Attempt at capturing a tender moment between Daddy and Clairebear.

Claire: Alright, you, daddy man, YOU will get me dinner.


Last attempt at anything.

Claire: Camera Lady, GET ME DINNER.


Mommy (the only one still looking at the camera): Oh fuck it let's go get some tequila and queso.


Annnnnd that's a wrap (and we did go out for tequila and queso (and other food)).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Think of it as a roll of film...

A roll of film you can scroll through, with bonus commentary!

This post is a whole week late and I still haven't had time to edit and sufficiently cull the 100+ pictures from Claire's first birthday bash. So, you're getting a whole roll of film's worth (for those who never used film, that's 24 exposures. It kind of blows my mind that it would take weeks for me to use them all so I could take it to the drug store and pay $7 to have someone develop it. I don't miss the expense, and I really don't miss the lack of flexibility with the images, but I do miss that feeling of excitement when you opened up your film envelope to see what on earth was at the beginning of your roll.)

You've seen the invitations and the cupcakes, behold the good times that followed:

Oh wait, first, there was a little daycare party, hosted by Claire's teachers for each of "their babies" when they turn one. JP and I were able to be there (marking the exact moment when I lost complete control over my next week's work schedule) and we were so excited to see what Claire would do with her first ever sugary treat:

Claire: Mommy is here. Daddy is here. I was picked up, I waved bye bye- why am I out of their arms and back in my chair?

What is that?! Why do you want me to touch it? Suspicious foreign object! Suspicious foreign object!!!

The foreign object has been destroyed. Now, who is this strange boy trying to touch me?

(author's note: Landon's class had a "funky Friday" party which apparently means they got to wear make up, spray dye their hair, dance, and eat popsicles. It was a day of awesome and win for a bunch of 4-year-olds.)

Next up, Sunday party day! (We pretty much skipped over her real birthday on Saturday. She got lots of "Happy Birthday Biscuit!" exclamations over breakfast and her official present of a back yard water table, but JP had hours of swim lessons to coach, I had a million rainbow cupcakes to bake, and then we both had to attend a firm recruiting event at my managing partner's ranch that night. Claire had her Gigi in town to babysit, so I promise she didn't mind.)

Now, party prep! Claire helped.

The food and drinks (including Mexican Cheesecake dip and Bobby Flay's delicious sangria):

The sweets (painstakingly layered rainbow cupcakes with homemade butter cream frosting lovingly piped by yours truly, and a cake bought from the store)

Friends arrived at 3:00. The birthday girl and her brother slept until 3:20, when they came downstairs to find an extra 20 people in their house. Both took it well; Landon because he knew people = cake time, and Claire because it meant a bigger audience to clap for her every move.

Birthday girl with her daycare poster, tutu, and adorable birthday tee from Hang to Dry! (and me)

Landon finally gets a cupcake (with Gigi and Clairebear)

3.5 hours of billable time:

Beautiful and delicious.

High stakes game of washers (notice the rolling grass in place of the broken playscape and gravel pit thanks to days of hard work by JP; also, pretty flowers, thanks to 10 minutes of work by me!)

Birthday biscuit!

Borrowed bounce house; a big hit with all ages. (I love how tough Claire is, we call her the "honey badger" for her general fierceness)

Back inside for cake time. Claire loved her hat.

Claire: What the heck is going on?

Oooh, something for me! Everyone seems really excited about this, I'll clap for them, they like that.

Must use great caution in investigating the new, bigger foreign sugary object.

Ohh, it's edible! And delicious!


So, it's really okay that I'm making a huge mess and also occasionally taking bites of this thing?

Best day ever!

Purple dyed frosting on everything. Claire's $1.99 Birthday Girl bib proved to be an excellent investment as her custom shirt was the only piece of clothing in a 6 foot radius without a few new, semi-permanent dots of purple.

Happy Birthday baby girl, we love you so.