Friday, October 28, 2011

In the Office while Out of the Office

I ended up going to work today, but only for two hours of fun and candy and costumed children enjoying both.

Today was the Firm Halloween party. It's my favorite party of the year- all employees and their kids are invited, there's trick-or-treating around the offices on the third floor, and the conference room is transformed with treats, toys, and food (Whole Foods catered Hot Dogs, chicken strips, tater tots, and fruit- it's very clearly a kid event :). Not even my bone-deep need to get away from work today could keep me away from the party.

And the kids get to try out their costumes before the big day. Behold --

Optimus Prime and Bumblebee!

Partners in Crime and Candy! An Autobot Team United Against Decepticons and Naptime!

And Mommy in Her Magical Crime-Fighting Riding Boots!

We headed to the office to begin the trick-or-treating.

Claire was HIGHLY suspicious of everyone's attempts to give her candy. HIGHLY suspicious.

Why are you showing me that pumpkin filled with delicious candies?

Why are you trying to put candy in my bucket?

I'm taking my bucket purse and getting outta here.

Phew made it through without acquiescing to anyone's need to put something in my purse!

On to the conference center:

Optimus runs SO FAST.

Claire accepts a pink eyeball cup filled with lemonade, but remains suspicious of candy-filled pumpkins.

Shooting in manual!


60 seconds later, both the wings and the tutu were off and my bumblebee (who had already rejected the adorable headband) was running around with the big kids in tights, black patent shoes, and a striped tank top.

We headed home to naps, giggles, piles of pillows and a showing of Toy Story. We cuddled and cooked a frozen pizza and generally did not much of anything for the rest of the afternoon.

It's been a great day.

Out of Office

I fell apart in the parking lot outside daycare this morning. I woke up to a million emails on 3 other, long-ignored cases and a separate email informing me the extension I sought for my article was denied and it needed to be 1,500-2,000 words long, so not at all the little e-lert brief I was thinking of. I had to back out of chaperoning Landon's pumpkin patch field trip (thank goodness I'd never told him I was planning to go), and I forgot his water bottle, and Claire had spontaneously given me the sweetest hug before we left the house this morning, resting her little cheek on my shoulder, and she looked sad when I dropped her off, and I don't know... I got in my car and tears just started falling. I called JP to tell him I was quitting my job, but he was in a meeting and couldn't answer, which is good, because he probably would have advised against that course and I was in no mood to hear it.

I got to work 20 minutes later, closed my door and worked for 6 hours straight. I got a lot done and have successfully cleared my plate to be able to take this Friday, Monday, and maybe Tuesday off. I need time with my family. I need some freaking sleep. I need a strongly worded out of office message.

But first, I need to finish this article (it's 12:48 a.m. and I'm at word 1002; unfortunately, it's a really crappy 1002 words, but they exist and that's the best I can do right now).

In the mean time, iPhone pictures:

At the park yesterday:

My office, after Landon decorated it with post-it flags last Sunday:

"I made it SO beautiful mommy"

My office, as I was leaving at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday morning:

I really do take more pictures of my kids than my office (though I have undeniably seen far more of my office than my kids lately; that's changing), but I use the DSLR when we're at home and I keep forgetting I have a camera on my phone when we're out.

This is going to be a good weekend and the start of a new, better few months work-wise. I've reached my limit- went well beyond it actually- and I can't do that again.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Delirious Stylings

I'm just going to warn you, I got 3 hours of sleep last night and I'm exhausted and my eyes burn and my fingers aren't listening to my brain telling them which keys to hit on my keyboard. There's a lot of backspace going on. Yesterday I was in the office for 20 hours, leaving here just after 4:15 this morning. I can say that without bitterness or complaint because today this case is OVER. The jury will deliberate, things will be decided, and a matter that has consumed 14 months of my life will close (except for the Federal Circuit appeal, but I won't be working on that... much, and technically it will be a new matter number).

This case has taught me a lot and has given me more respnosibility and client contact than I've ever had before, but it is also directly responsibile for the few times I'm in my career I've wanted to cry or quit (or both). Last night's project consisted of drafting two Judgments as a Matter of Law that will need to be filed this morning in that tiny window between the close of our case and the jury leaving the courtroom to deliberate. And because it's a motion that basically says "hey look at all this evidence on our side! no reasonable jury could ever find against us on X issue, so judge, just decide it our way now before they get their instructions," you (I) have to cite allllllll the evidentiary trial testimony to back up your factual statements. And because of various issues in the case and the way the trial was trifurcated, everything I needed to cite came from testimony given yesterday. So I was up until the wee hours reviewing the trial transcripts as they were filed to drop in the citations we needed for statements I pre-wrote based on the direct- and cross-examination outlines, craft eloquent parentheticals to force hostile witnesses to agree with what I was writing, and otherwise re-work my motion with each new transcript I received because I'm not in court and don't actually know what was said until I can read it. (Bonus road bump: there were four transcripts to cover all of yesterday's testimony, covering 700 pages of single-spaced court reporting, separted into volumes A-D. I received each volume about 90 minutes apart starting at 9 p.m. in the order: B, D, A, and C. Extra fun!). I sent it to the partners at 4:30, they read it at 5, I woke up to edits at 7:30 and it's now ready to be filed. And I have to admit, after my final read-through this morning over tea, I'm pretty pleased.

The other issue taxing my brain lately, outside my case and its crazy trial, is selecting outfits for our upcoming family pictures. Our last attempt at pictures was rather disastrous (see Outtakes), so we've re-hired the original photographer who took our beautiful newborn portraits to do a "mini" session to get some updated pictures of the kids in time for Christmas cards (and to replace those 1 year/4 year shots, which have little value beyond their potential for comedic captioning).

Getting four people to "go" but not "match" and to look "nice" but not fussy or too "done" while thinking about what colors will look good in an outdoor setting, in Fall, with cool morning temperatures is REALLY HARD. Also, we all have different coloring, different sets of already-owned clothing, and I have not had time to shop in months. I perused portrait photography blogs to see what I liked and what I didn't like and quickly decided I wanted something simple and fairly neutral. Then I wanted an excuse to buy riding boots, so I decided I would wear jeans, those new boots, and a white or cream top and everyone else would work around that.

Some late night internet shopping and lots of office deliveries and shipped returns later, I have this assortment, which I'm quite pleased with:

Me: new riding boots, skinny jeans, one of these two sweaters (if they fit):


Landon: jeans, the shirt below (rolled up sleeves), and his tan cowboy boots

Claire: one of these dresses, possibly her adorable little tan boots, depending on how they look with the dresses I haven't yet seen in person

JP: jeans, brown boots, the sweater below

Yesterday I found this picture on our photographer's blog and I decided I want it, but with me and the Bear (and, if at all possible, with that woman's hair and body:

And now that my styling job is (nearly) complete (let me know which of Claire's dresses you prefer, I'm leaning towards the lavender), and I've rested my brain for a little bit, it's time to clean off my disaster of a desk and start reading over 200 pages of materials a partner sent me to read for an article I volunteered to co-author with him over 2 months ago. I've never even opened the attachments to the emails and the draft is due Friday. Oops. Back to work.

Updated on request with links to my selections (many purchased last night with the currently available 25-35% off discount codes for gap and White v-neck sweater (Old Navy); white shawl neck sweater (Old Navy); "Becky" brown riding boots (; striped shirt (Children's Place); pink striped sweater dress (Gap); lavender dress (Gap); blue pullover (Old Navy).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Things

Thing 1: I am wearing my new riding boots today with skinny jeans, a cream sweater, and a long chunky bronze three-chain necklace. I feel very equestrian (minus, perhaps, the necklace) and am enjoying the fact that, in case of an emergency, I could ride a horse out of the office. Assuming of course that I had access to a horse (and knew how to ride it).

Thing 2: I've enjoyed your comments on the last post. I wrote it in exactly 8 minutes, edited a comma, and pressed publish. Sometimes that's a bad idea, but I'm letting this one stand. Those really are a lot of the thoughts pinging around in my head right now. Obviously some are more important than others, some are more realistic than others, and many of them can't happen at once, but I suppose that's exactly why they're bouncing around instead of lining up like the nicely ordered bullet points I want them to be.

Thing 3: Remember this motion? It won. BIG. On an argument I fought (loudly and repeatedly) to keep in the motion. Vindication, it is so sweet.

Thing 4: JP surprised me with a beautiful white iPhone 4S last Friday. He was supposed to be buying himself an iPhone for his 30th birthday present (he turned 30 on Tuesday; I was totally excited it, he was rather morose). He's had a tiny, terrible phone he can't operate for over a year so when he got his job I told him he should treat himself to the iPhone of us his dreams, but he decided to wait until the new one came out. Then, he got to the Apple store last week and found out he wasn't eligible for his "new every two" phone for another 10 months and to just buy an iPhone was $650 and he would never spend that much money on himself, so he bought me one instead! Happy Birthday! I had gone without such Apple indulgences because the firm gives me a blackberry for free and I just couldn't justify spending the money on an unnecessary second device, but secretly deep down inside, I lusted. JP knew this, and I have to say, after spending a week with this new electronic love of my life, besides our children and my wedding rings (and wedding watch), it's the best gift he's ever given me. The biggest benefit is probably the camera. I don't always lug my DSLR everywhere and the kids do cute things without warning. My 7th firm issued blackberry broke 48 hours later (perishing in a fit of jealous rage, I think), so I purchased an indestructible Otterbox iPhone case and got the firm to switch my work email to my new love. And then, to be all Gift of the Magi-ish, I sold an old camera body and lens on ebay to force JP to spend the extra money on his own iPhone already because (1) he desperately wants one, and (2) I'm tired of him not answering calls because he can't operate the cheap, half-broken one he currently has.

And now, for the important question- which apps do I need? I have Hipstamatic, Instagram, a Headache diary tracker (awesome), Kindle, Bank of America, Blogger, Pandora, Flashlight, and Angry Birds (though seriously, what was the big deal about that one? I'm just not a computer game person because other than finding the birds adorable for the first 10 seconds, I have no interest in playing). All but two of those were free, which is preferred. Is there anything else awesome (and free?). Which Hipstamatic lenses, film, and flashes do you like? I haven't yet found my preferred combo.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I've been doing an unfortunate amount of thinking lately. Mostly this involves the same bullet points running around in my head, but because the bullets frequently contradict each other, none of them lead to any conclusions (except that it would be awesome to have a large trust fund) and they mostly just bump into each other and keep me from sleeping.

My thoughts, in no particular order:

I want a job that challenges me, in an area of law that interests me.

I want a smaller house in a different city.

I want to live in a different part of the country.

I want to live overseas.

I want more time with my family.

I want to pay off my student loans. I want that very, very much.

I want to want to feel done at 2 kids.

I want a family with 4 kids. More correctly, I see a grown family of four kids.

I do not want to spend $240,000 putting 4 kids through full time daycare.

I do not want to stay home full-time, ever.

I want JP to want to stay home in a few years. JP does not want this.

I want to travel with my family, a lot, everywhere, someday.

For reasons outside of my control (having to do with firm direction, etc. and the future of my section), I need to think about lateral job opportunities. This scares me. It opens up options which might be great, but there's too many of them and all have effects I can't see.

I am terrified of working somewhere people expect me to be physically present in the office after 6 p.m. I am terrified of working somewhere that does not provide me with the flexibility I currently have. I bill 2,000 hours a year, but the ability to move those hours around when necessary (for family dinner, for a daycare parade, etc.) makes my hours livable.

I need at least one more year at my current salary level to make a dent in my loans; JP not working for a year slowed down our accelerated repayment plan.

I want to be okay with paying off my student debt slowly and just carrying it for the next 25 years, but I am not. I want it gone.

I'm scared of taking a step back career-wise. I genuinely like what I do. I don't want to take a step back.

I want more time with my kids, now. In the day-to-day, it's fine, but I don't want to look back and wish I had more.

I want to re-learn how to take pictures with my DSLR in manual.

I want the next step to be clear. It isn't. It never is, I suppose, but that doesn't stop me from wanting it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Maybe the best day all year, illustrated

The upside of the downside of last Friday is that I am no longer quite so busy. After billing 220+ hours for the past 3 months, I decided the Lag Liv family needed a vacation. And after reading Becca's blog post, I decided that vacation would be a day spent in Burnet, Texas. I did a little research on Monday, was super excited by Tuesday, and found myself practically giddy as we pulled out of our driveway at 8:45 a.m. Saturday morning for our 90 minute journey. Vacation! Family time! First Saturday in three months JP and I weren't working!! (!!!!!!)

First stop: Longhorn Cavern State Park.

Beautiful and educational.

listening with rapt attention to the tour guide

We embarked on this trip with less than my usual obsessive research, so I didn't fully comprehend that the only way to see the famous cavern was to go on a 90-minute tour. A tour in which you are literally locked in the cavern for the duration of the journey into the deep recesses of an underground wonder. Also, there are tight, low passages, and it's pitch black in front of and behind you. In other words, it's AWESOME.

unauthorized rock climbing

Awesome unless you are 16 months old and you want to GET DOWN and climb the rocks BY YOURSELF. Or if you are that 16 month old's parents and you have to carry your 26 lb. dead weight of a baby through 90 minutes of cavern walking.

Without toys or snacks at our disposal, we spent a lot of time trying to get Claire to look for things that weren't there. Claire, do you see the airplane?! Claire, can you find the kitty?! Claire, do you see the doggie?!

there really was a dog, totally the highlight of the tour for Claire

In truth, she did great and we loved the tour. At 4 Landon was plenty old enough to enjoy it, and Claire put up with our inane requests to find invisible objects with mostly good humor. If you live anywhere near Central Texas, you must go. The history is incredible- that cavern has served as a Comanche council room, a Speakeasy, and a hideout for outlaws, not to mention the physical rock formation and the crystals inside are just amazing. When the tour was over, and my arm truly felt like it was going to fall off (I have no hips, I support the full weight of that toddler on my right arm), we were sprung from the cavern and the kids got to run around on the grounds and inside the old house/museum.

Landon has no idea who we are or why he's in this picture

he remembers

I tried to be Rapunzel in Tangled, but Landon told me my hair was WAY too short

By the time we were done burning off some post-tour energy, it was almost 11 and my lack of breakfast, plus my unusual uptick in a.m. physical activity resulted in a very hungry and very nearly crabby LL. We headed back to Marble Falls, a town we drove through 15 minutes before getting to Burnet, to eat at the Bluebonnet Cafe because I had seen a billboard for it on the way up and my mind fixated on it as though it was our only possible source of food. The billboard told me the cafe had been open continuously since 1929, so I figured it must be good. A line out the door was another good sign, though just to be mean, we had to wait next to a huge display case of their famous pies.

Of course, we had to order a few slices. Landon was pretty excited about the rare post-lunch dessert treat:

After lunch it was on to Sweetberry Farm, conveniently located in Marble Falls along with the pie, to pick out a few pumpkins and do whatever else it is you're supposed to do when you visit this famous farm I've been hearing about for 3 years.

The kids discovered a love for sitting on pumpkins, so they did that for 15 minutes while JP agonized over his pumpkin selection.

We ran into a co-worker of mine and she took a family picture for us-- a picture that prominently features our new family pumpkins:

There was quite a lot to do, but there was also quite a lot of people, and not being a fan of crowds or lines (and with kids who didn't really care about all the activities), we decided to head back to Burnet to visit a state park park I remembered camping at when I was little.

And Inks Lake did not disappoint. It was just as beautiful as I remembered, and thanks to a giant dam, the lake hadn't disappeared with our drought.

The kids waded and JP dove in and swam in his shorts (my packing consisted of two diapers, a travel thing of wipes, a towel, and an empty sippy cup- we were not prepared for swimming, or much of anything else). I took pictures from the shore and basked in memories of a childhood spent camping in lots just like the ones all around us.

It was the most fabulous day. We were gone for 8 hours, spent just under $100, and I couldn't stop smiling the whole way home.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I had a shitty day on Friday. Easily the worst in my 37.5 months at the firm. It would be unprofessional to get in to the details- unprofessional and unfair given that the person largely responsible came up to my office and apologized in full for the whole mess today. And when a partner makes an all out apology to you, an apology which actually moves them to tears, you either decide to let go or you leave. And since I don't have any feasible offers at this very moment, I rallied some grace and thanked the person for making the apology- while also rebutting a few of the proffered explanations.

That was a victory. Not in getting an apology, though that was undeniably nice to hear. But in accepting it, without offering more. I've spent the last year working to be stronger in confrontation. I am a people-pleaser, a smoother of troubled waters, someone who physically cringes when someone else is uncomfortable in a movie and skims over awkward conversations in books. When another person is at fault, I go out of my way to play it down and make them feel better only to be infuriated later by my utter lack of support for myself. It galls me to know that even when everything was terrible and wrong during the Chicago nightmare, I still hated anyone being uncomfortable around me. I apologized for the situation- a situation I did not cause- countless times, frequently to the people who actually had a hand in causing it. The only person I call out on anything is JP and it is no coincidence that our relationship is the best, strongest, and most honest one in my life.

So today was a step forward. When someone 4 feet in front of me felt bad, I accepted that without telling them they didn't need to feel that way. I thanked them, genuinely, for coming up to tell me so, but I did not simultaneously brush off how I felt. Without knowing me, I'm not sure you can know what a huge step that was. Friday I was furious. Today I am simply annoyed. More steps.

Because Friday was what it was, I was a bit down this weekend. I started wondering what else I could be doing, what other jobs I might enjoy, where else we could live... those thoughts can be productive in the abstract, but when you're asking because you actually want a near-term change they're just a black hole that leads to a skull-splitting headache. Luckily, my parents came to town to join my sister and her boyfriend in the largest cheering section the 4-year-old soccer team had ever seen for an 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning game. Landon scored a goal and we followed the game with a celebratory brunch.

Landon on the sidelines, holding a Clairebear who wandered into his lap

The rest of the weekend was relaxing. I gained perspective. I organized three closets and all our used baby and toddler clothing. I took a car load of stuff to Goodwill. I slept for 13 hours on Saturday night. I did not work. I bought a gorgeous pair of brown riding boots. I ate a lot of candy corn. I watched an amazing Breaking Bad season finale. I slept more.

Today daycare was closed for an in-service, so JP took one for the team and fielded conference calls from home with two children bouncing around him. I gave him a break and took the kids to lunch at Five Guys (double cheeseburger with bacon and fries for me; hot dog for Landon; fruit, crackers, and the marrow of several dessicated french fries for Claire) and then Landon begged to go to my "work." I finally gave in, warning him that it would be a LONG time and there was to be no complaining. Also, boys wear collared shirts and no crocs are allowed in the office. He complied with both requests:

He was so good. SO good. He colored, he watched a movie, he filled out half of the "pre-K workbook" I bought off Amazon before Easter and forgot to give him. I was able to work steadily for five hours before telling him it was time to go home. He looked so disappointed- "But you said it would be a long time!"

I tried to explain that 5 hours was a long time and daddy was probably very ready for a little help with a Bear who was probably desperately missing her big brother. That worked. Landon put away his tape-paper-marker masterpieces, re-packed his Batman backpack, and we headed out, his boots thumping on the floor with the click of my high heels as we walked together. I felt good. I remember loving to visit my dad's work. I'm glad someone loves to visit mine, even if, occasionally, that person isn't me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pictures from That Day I Had Fun 4 Days Ago

I billed 8 hours after 7 p.m. on Monday. Possibly the lowest moment of my legal career came at 3:01 a.m. as I was crawling in my bed and setting my blackberry alarm for 6:02 a.m. (I couldn't bear to set if for 6:00 and admit I was getting even a minute less than 3 hours of sleep). I had to wake up the kids at 6:50, which I hate having to do. I had the car all packed with my stuff, their stuff, and little to-go breakfasts. When I tapped Landon on his shoulder, he just rolled over and silently pointed to the door. When I woke Claire up she gave me a sleepy smile and held her hands up for snuggle time, but when I put her on the changing table and started taking off her pj's, she shook her head like, wait, no, this is not what I thought was happening, put me back to bed. Even better, I was also sick- my throat was on fire and I lost my voice- which was awesome for my 8 a.m. meeting with the partner to present my newly drafted arguments.

So, let's not talk about work. Instead, here are a few pictures from my very relaxing, restful, fun, family-filled weekend. We went to three parks, I baked cookies, and I slept. It was a little piece of heaven I can barely remember all these billable hours later.

Me and my girl:

You say: Claire, can I have a hug?
And Claire runs to you like this:

I make sure to do it several times a day.

She LOVES the slide. At one point, she threw herself down and landed face first on the wood chips at the bottom. As JP and I rushed over to her, she popped up, brushed off her hands, and ran over to the steps to do it again. Later we noticed she had two bloody knees; I think she sees them as a badge of honor and I freaking love that about her.

Dare devil moment part 2. Aka, "I can do anything my brother can do."

Claire really is our crazy little honey badger. She turned 16 months old yesterday and somehow manages to get more cute, more sweet, more funny, and more brave (also: crazy, foolhardy, utterly unconcerned with gravity and its effects) every day.

My case goes to trial in 12 days; I should have my life back in 17. There was a time I could survive on no sleep, but at 28, I appear to have already aged out of it.

Back to work.