Wednesday, November 30, 2011

portraits of 2011

I got the proofs from our family pictures today.

Every outfit but Landon's is different from what I originally picked out, and the kids were only borderline cooperative-- and in only 2 of the 60-something the photographer took are we all actually looking at the camera. But. We look happy, and we look relaxed. And no matter what else is going on in our lives, that is how we usually are around each other. And that is exactly what I wanted the pictures to capture.

This has been an interesting year. It was not marred by any bad events or tragedies, but more mundanely complicated by a series of smaller struggles and adjustments. There was the struggle of JP's job search hitting its 1-year mark, and then the adjustments that came with the wonderful job he began in June. And my job, which had been a consistent positive, finally threw me into a brick wall of hours, travel, and (low) morale. But, we are all healthy and whole and remarkably blessed. A few weeks ago I saw this quote, "If you take care of this moment, you take care of all of time." I would add that while taking care of the moment, it's helpful to at least run a few google searches on whatever you plan to do next, but still, it's been a nice little mantra for me lately. Taking care of the moment- whether that means lingering over something wonderful, or pushing through something hard or difficult to get on to the next thing, just take care of it. It's what you've got.

We're still figuring out this life of ours (something I suppose will never really stop)- determining how it's going to work now, how we want it to work in the future, and where we want it to go next. But anytime I get caught up in the question marks, I just try to remember that I have everything I need in JP and my family, and together we'll work out each step along the way.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I love this time between Thanksgiving and New Year's. From Thanksgiving Day itself, with all the food and wine and relaxation, through the whole month of December, with the lights and anticipation and music everywhere, I adore it all.

I found the motivation to put up the Christmas decorations on Saturday (after finishing Landon's shutterfly photo book! and starting the first page of Claire's...). The kids LOVE them. We read "The Night Before Christmas" and when we got to the line "The stockings were hung by the chimney with care" Landon exclaimed, "our stockings are hung there too!!". What a coincidence.

We picked out our Christmas tree last night. Landon was very proud of our selection.

Claire just ran around and giggled and then gave me about 25 kisses when I picked her up. She's very into giving kisses right now, complete with a little smacking sound. I love it.

The weather FINALLY decided to let go of summer and the temperatures dropped to an appropriate 50 degrees yesterday. We went for a bike ride while it was still in the 40's and this is how Landon prepared:

Cowboy boots, blue pants, justice league t-shirt, green jacket, Ironman gloves, Spiderman mask, and, of course, the green shark helmet. He assured me he was very warm.

here to save the day, or, maybe rob your house

Claire did not have the benefit of the Spiderman mask and squawked several complaints from her stroller when the winds kicked up. I blame the fact that she was born in Austin and not Chicago. But as long as she wasn't being forced to go on walks in 40-degree weather, she was her adorable, delightful, entertaining self all week.

All in all it was a wonderful, restorative 9 days off work for me (3 vacation days has never stretched so far!). I loved being with the kids so much. I loved watching them play together, eating dinner together at 5 (JP worked all weekend, but he did it from home), and gathering on the couch in pj's- with everyone bathed and the kitchen cleaned- to watch old claymation Christmas movies at 6:30. I'm not sad to be back at work today- in fact, I felt more enthusiastic about work today than I have in months (it helps that I can now play the Frank Sinatra holiday station on Pandora, oh that makes me so happy), but it was unreservedly wonderful to spent the last week solely as a wife, mom, daughter, niece, granddaughter, amateur chef (I cooked a giant brisket!), and creator of photo books.

Now, on to the next legal brief. (With a bit of cyber Monday shopping on the side.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pictures and other things

It's been a great past few days. Our trip to Houston was wonderful.

new princess dress from Gigi

We went to the zoo, spent time with aunts, uncles, and cousins, and watched Harry Potter 7.2. JP missed us terribly and was very happy to come home to us on Tuesday night. He's been working like crazy, and is on conference call number four of his six today (with five more scheduled over the weekend). I, on the other hand, have not worked for a single minute since last Friday. And it's a good thing- only one of us is allowed to complain about our jobs at a time. Plus, one adult needs to be available at all times to entertain and/or generally supervise the children.

The Bear, with the bears

Since we returned I've been pleasantly busy crossing off fun (non-legal) to do list items. We baked pumpkin bread, I read the new Lords of Deliverance book (the sequel series to Larissa Ione's awesome Demonica series), and after a brief Target run today, I'm 95% done with my Christmas shopping. I started making my lists for the kids, JP, and my immediate family over the summer- thinking of things they might like and figuring out the price range for each. This year I've done a good job of sticking with it. I have exactly what I want for the kids and spent about $75 for each (most of it is from Santa). Now I just need to avoid stores for the month of December so I don't get tempted by anything else. I have a weakness for children's books and toys, particularly the ones I had when I was little (someday I will re-buy all my "vintage" Little People on ebay... someday).

very intently watching The Incredibles and Papa and Gigi's

But by far my biggest accomplishment has been finishing Landon's "Year 4" photo book on Shutterfly. Those things take me FOREVER- if I billed that time, the book would be worth about $100,000, but I love and cherish them so much when they're finished. My problem now is that I started these books when Landon was an only child, so we have "Landon's 1st year," "Landon's 2nd year," etc. I'm going to make a "1st year" book for Claire, because there's so many milestones in those first 12 months, but I'm not really sure I want to continue making a separate book for each kid. Finding the time each year to make the one book is hard enough. And then what about a general "Lag Liv Family" book for each year? I'm not going to want to hand all these books over to the kids when they move out, so maybe I should be buying two copies? My other dilemma is timing. Because Landon was born in July, each book I've made so far runs from July-July of each year. Claire's will run June-June. But if I make a general family photo book, I'd rather it just be for full the calendar year. So do I start that now for 2011? I'm 6 months behind just trying to make 2 books- and I haven't even started Claire's yet- so I'm not sure why I'm puzzling over the time frame for this hypothetical third series, but I do feel like making a transition to a "family" book would make sense. There's just not enough time in the day- or the wee hours of the night, which is when I work on most of them- to make it all happen.

family picture in two parts
(taken before Claire dumped milk all over herself at dinner)

We ate Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparents' retirement center in San Antonio yesterday. It worked out wonderfully. A 60 minute drive, no shopping, no cooking, and no clean up. And we got to eat with all four of my grandparents at the same table- four grandparents who were thrilled to have us there. Landon picked out his outfit (including the bow tie) and Claire finally got to wear at adorable dress I bought for her a year ago (you can't see them, but there's a row of gold buttons down the back, it's very snazzy). Both kids behaved generally well in the formal dining room and Claire made lots of new peek-a-boo friends at various other tables.

if it has wheels, Claire would like to ride in it

JP is now outside stringing up Christmas lights between conference calls, so I suppose I should do something about the three boxes of Christmas decorations sitting on my kitchen floor. But I really just want to play with pictures and make another photo book while the Frank Sinatra holiday station plays on Pandora. I love Christmas, but I'm already kind of over the whole idea of decorating for it. And I don't do nearly as much as my mom did when we were little. I'm just keep reminding myself of the magic of coming home from school one day in early December and finding the whole house redecorated- it was pretty awesome, and I figure I can at least do a slimmed down version of that for my kids.

With a full 9 days off work and UT winning the football game last night (a football game I actually watched- at least for the last thirty minutes- and got seriously stressed out about. Who knew I had it in me?! JP is now glad I usually don't care because I spazzed out on the couch the whole last quarter and kept gripping his arm and repeating things like, "this is SO STRESSFUL!" and "I CARE! I seriously care! THIS IS STRESSING ME OUT."), perhaps the only thing that could have made this Thanksgiving week better is if the weather would drop below 75 so we could pull out the kids very nice Fall clothes and stop wearing the very worn out summer clothes. But I'm not going to be picky.

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone. I'm thankful for so much and that includes all of you. I can't tell you how much it means to see your comments and to know you're out there reading. It was only four years ago that Thanksgiving was a little darker and things were a lot less clear. I'm so thankful for where we are now, for the role you all played in that, and for the fact that you're still along for the ride.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


The kids and I are in Houston. We drove over yesterday, jogging stroller, bright orange bike (with lime green shark/dinosaur helmet), and pink blankie in tow, and we're staying with my parents until Tuesday. I'm taking this whole week off work. James was supposed to be with us, but then he found out the week of Thanksgiving is one of his group's craziest weeks, so he and the dogs are holding down the fort in Austin (and missing us like crazy). I realized a few months ago that I hadn't spent much time in Houston this year, and when I had, it was always for some event or party, with much fun and little down time. Now that we're only 3 hours away from my parents, we're both terrible about taking real time to see each other. We get more frequent visits, but they're much shorter, so we planned this trip for the days before Thanksgiving to just relax and enjoy the family and the neighborhood. At 29 hours long and counting, this is now my longest trip home this year and it's been everything I'd hoped it would be.

I'm always surprised at how nice it feels to come home- how familiar and warm. We've lived in this house since I was 5. Our hand prints are set in cement in the driveway- then a young family of 4, recently arrived from Los Angeles, and awaiting the birth of baby #3. There's so many memories here- my new baby brother coming home from the hospital, packing for camping trips with the trailer in the driveway, waking up at the crack of dawn for swim meets- finding the cereal bowls my mom had set out the night before and listening to Queen and other "pump up" music on the stereo. Elementary school, middle school, high school- I loved every single year I lived here; it would be impossible to pick a favorite. My best friend lived across the street and every other friend lived less than 5 minutes away by bike or rollerblade. I learned how to drive on our circle. I got ready for my first middle school dance, my senior prom, and my wedding in the upstairs bathroom that all 3 of us had to share. I remember when I brought James home for the first time from college. It was October of my freshman year and he'd brought a bottle of wine for my parents that neither of us could legally buy. We pulled up in the driveway and honked the horn and I had this vision and thought, one day we're going to do this with our kids. Later that night, after he'd snuck into my room from the game room where he was supposed to be sleeping on the pull-out couch, he said, "you're going to think this is weird, but when we pulled up in the driveway today... I could see us doing that with our future kids in the backseat." We'd been dating for 6 weeks. Eight years later we pulled into my parents' driveway, in that same green 4-Runner, with a one-year-old Landon in the back. We opened our wedding presents on the ping pong table on the back porch. After our wedding reception, we didn't want to say goodbye to our friends just yet, so we came back to my parents' house, tapped a keg on the back porch and partied till 3 a.m. Two days later, when it was time for James and I to drive up to Chicago so I could start law school and our new life together, we waved, all smiles, and pulled out of the driveway to start our long drive. I was sobbing before we got 10 houses down the road. James kicked the car in reverse and zipped back up my driveway so I could jump out of the car and give my parents one last hug in the kitchen (where I found them both crying).

So. Many. Memories.

I was thinking today that James and I seem to move about every 3 years, and I could see that pattern continuing. There's so many places I want to live- different parts of the country I want to explore and new cities I want to experience. I wonder where we'll eventually settle and where our kids will consider home. I wonder if there will be a house we live in for the 20+ years my parents have lived in this one. But then I think about something my dad said about 10 years ago. About how his parents' house, then in Florida- a house he never lived in growing up- was home, because they were there. And there was something about walking in the door of that familiar place and knowing, you're home, because mom and dad are there and for a few days, you're a "son" again, along with your usual daily roles of husband and dad.

And I think there's something to that- that there will still be a feeling of "home" - of comfort and warmth and security - wherever my parents live next, because they will be there. But then I think about how we took a walk this morning to my elementary school and I was able to show Landon the window of my Kindergarten class. And that part of me-- the part that loves telling Landon, as I tuck him in bed, that this is the room that mommy slept in when she was a little girl-- that part knows there's something special about the feeling of family combined with this physical place that simply can't be replicated. And I'm really glad I still get to come here, to come home.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I just lost 6 inches of hair. My last haircut was in April- I'd been wearing my hair back in a messy bun pretty much every day for weeks, and that's my sign that it's time to finally call the salon and make an appointment. And of course it was on the day we FINALLY get a good hard rain (which is YAY! x 1,000,000, but it totally messed up my post-cut blowout).

The expression on my face says, "oh crap I hope this is the right button to press on the phone because someone's going to walk in any second and wonder why the hell I'm taking a picture of myself in front of a mirror." The perils of self-portraits in the firm bathroom (well, that, and terrible lighting). Anyway, I think I like it. It's shorter, it's lighter- I feel like I've lost 5 lbs. just by cutting it. My favorite length is about 2 inches longer than this, so I should be there early in 2012.

P.S. Claire says hi.

P.P.S. That's one of our favorite books, "Mommy's High Heel Shoes." It's a cute, positive book with a happy working mama (and her awesome shoes), that has bright, colorful drawings (and a hidden heart, cupcake, and ladybug) on every page. Landon went through a phase where we read it every night. Our other favorite working mom book is "Oh My Baby, Little One." I think that one's applicable for any kind of separation, including mother's day out, preschool, etc., but the mom does happen to go to work while the little one is at school and I like that. It also contains my all-time favorite closing line:

"But oh my baby, little one,
the sweetest thing I do
is sweep you up and hold you tight
and come back home to you."

So true :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Adventures, pt 1: the Application

10 pm, Nov. 14th, 2011

I don't know when I'll be able to post this, but feel compelled to write. I submitted a cover letter and resume for my dream job today. I haven't written a cover letter since 2006 and hadn't updated my resume since my summer associate internship in 2007. I made my secretary and good friend read both before I sent them because I suddenly become irrationally afraid I'd included a typo. My hands shook when I sent it. Both because I'm so excited about this job it scares me, and because it is such a huge step for my family. It would involve a move, a new city, a new daycare, new schools, new friends, new everything. It is terrifying on both levels- that I'll get it, and that I won't.

I've mulled over applying for a week. When I got the call inviting me to do so I sounded hesitant- it's my nature. The job sounded amazing, but my mind immediately jumped to the 100-item task list I would have to write to move my family. I thought about it for a few hours, talked to JP, and spent 3 hours on citydata forums picking out a neighborhood and a hypothetical house. Okay, I thought, we can do this. I called the person back the next morning. I wanted it, I said. And I did.

My biggest concern was JP, followed by the kids. They're young enough that I think they'll be fine in a new place. Both are gregarious, both have been in childcare since infancy. It hurts to think about leaving our daycare. We just had our bi-annual parent-teacher conference for Landon and loved hearing the stories of his day, all of which illustrate just how much he is thriving in that school. He's the leader of his pack of friends during outside time- he narrates all their imaginative play, generally involving Power Rangers, knights, and "fighting princesses." The day after I found out about the job, Claire had a tough time at drop-off. It's rare, but it happens, and she clung to my neck and cried and cried as I pried her off. I hate those mornings, but by 11 a.m. I had two emails- one from her former infant teacher who stopped by to check on her (upon hearing from the front desk lady, and Claire's biggest fan, that "our Clairebear" had a tough morning), and one from her current lead teacher, letting me know that she was happily playing with her friends after a few minutes of special cuddles from Ms. Molly. I'm going to cry on our last day there. Hell, I'm crying now. It's been a special place.

But JP was my biggest worry. He just spent 12 months looking for a job, how could I possibly ask him to do that again only 6 months after finding one? I wouldn't, I decided. I could wait a year- maybe going part-time at the firm for that time- and wait until he'd worked for Current Employer for 18 months. I told him about the phone call, because I tell him everything, and he said, "apply for it. It's exactly what you want. I'll be fine." I laughed a little and admitted it wasn't pure selflessness that had me skittish, his looking for work was hard on me too. "But we'll be fine, you know that," he said. And it's true, we're stronger than any of that. Five minutes later, I heard JP call out from the study, "I found a master's team I can swim with!" And so we checked off a task that wasn't even on my imaginary list.

On our weekend hike I mentioned that I was already worried about daycare. JP looked confused- why? Did we pay for the whole year already? I gave him an annoyed look, "no, a daycare for the new city." Oh, he waved a hand, that'll work out. Breathing deeply to avoid a tirade about how things don't JUST work out, they work out because I spend hours obsessively researching things and MAKING them work out, I decided I could delay most of the worry until I had some indication the move was likely instead of just possible. And then we hiked up another hill and talked about how much we loved Austin.

I just priced moves, checked on my hypothetical house, and talked to our old realtor about selling our house. I'm so excited. I'm terrified at how much I want this job. I'm overwhelmed at the thought of actually moving to a new city where we don't know a single person. I'm so excited.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Austin Adventures

Another personal resolution was to take better advantage of this beautiful city I live in--at least in the cooler months. Most people don't think of trees and forests and rivers and breathtaking hill country views when they think of Texas, but Austin has all of that and more.

(from a separate hike, two weekends ago)

We took our family pictures yesterday at Bull Creek Park. Landon was the only one dressed in something from my original selection of outfits; I wasn't thrilled with my top and Claire did NOT appreciate being given direction on posing or facial expressions, but I'm hopeful that we got a few good shots. Bull Creek was a new park for us, but we couldn't explore much because we were in our "handsome clothes" (as Landon calls them) and Claire needed a nap, so we drove back early this morning to explore.

And explore we did!

JP and Landon jumped the creek first to climb up the steep rocks on the other side. Mommy watched from the other bank, trying not to yell "Careful!(!!!)" while Claire looked on with her concerned face.

When they came back, I wanted a turn at the fun, though Landon insisted on going first because he was now the "climbing expert."

(I totally love this picture)

After we climbed the rock faces, we decided to hike one of the park trails.

Claire worked really hard.

We came across another part of the (drastically lowered) river bed; this one had old wagon wheel tracks that a sign told me are from the 1800's when this was a popular route for commerce, before the dam was built. Pretty cool!

The hike back was a bit longer than we expected, but Landon is a trooper and JP has nice strong arms to carry the Biscuit. We drove home along 360, admiring the limestone cliffs beside us and the hill country all around and below us, and alternated our discussion between a very-possible, near-term move and how very lucky we are to live here now.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Personal Resolutions

I have at least 6 half-written drafts in blogger from the past few days. I'm trying to save you all from rambling brain dump drivel, save me from oversharing about work, and save everyone from the ping pong balls in my head going: "you have a great job and you LIKE it;" "I need to work less;" "I don't like the jobs that promise I'll work less;" "and I like my job way more it's coming across in my blog posts, I should fix that;" "but I should stop talking this in general because work angst boring and it's all I've been writing about;" etc.

So, moving on. Many moons ago I mentioned I was embarking on a self improvement project. I made many of the improvements and then forgot about the project until blog reader/new friend CZ asked me about it during our meet up dinner in Palo Alto in August. The good news is that I'd forgotten about it because I'd actually incorporated several changes into my daily life. The bad news is, in forgetting about the reason I made those changes, I've let a few things slip. So now I'm writing it all down to introduce elements of internet permanence and public shaming into my personal project.

My list, in brief, with the possibility of expansion later, of the things I decided sometime early this year I wanted to do to improve myself:

1. Speech Therapy. I stutter. I have since I was little. I doubt people notice it much anymore as I've learned my words to avoid and don't get as flustered when I get stuck, but I hate it and it is the #1 thing I would change about myself if given the opportunity. What finally motivated me to try speech therapy was hearing Landon stutter. As it turns out, for him, it was a very temporary, developmental thing, but the flashbacks to being made fun of as a kid gave me a near panic attack as freaked out about it to JP. Within a week, I had my first speech therapy appointment. It gave me hope I wouldn't always have to avoid words like calculator, emergency, and Israel (oh I have a whole long list, which includes my own fucking first name (curse words, incidentally, are never a problem)), but then I got busy and stopped going

2. Family Dinner- now with vegetables! As I've mentioned many times before, we have family dinner every night and missing it is a complete killer for me work/life balance-wise. We've been doing this pretty well for years (I've never gone through a drive-through after work, or ordered takeout mid-week, ever), but I noticed we'd been lax about side dishes - making pasta, but not having a salad or vegetable. So now, (almost) every night, there's a vegetable- even if it's often a bunch of frozen peas dumped in a bowl with some water and nuked for 2 minutes. Pizza nights are the hardest- I hate chopping veggies for a salad, but I also just never feel like eating green beans, carrots, or peas (my go-to frozen veggies) with pizza. But I do because it's good for the children (and also, those little cubed carrots and peas are one of Claire's favorite foods- she eats them with her own little spoon and always looks so pleased with herself when she gets multiple peas on her spoon and all the way to her mouth; like pretty much everything about the Bear, it's adorable). But we should really add some more vegetables to the mix- and some new entree ideas while we're at it.

3. Physical Activity. I don't work out in a traditional sense. The last time I was in a gym was 2006- I don't have time, and if I did have time, I have admitted to myself that I wouldn't use it to go to the gym. But I'm an active person. We go on walks most nights (for a while it was every night, then it was 10000 degrees outside and we got lazy- and justifiably concerned about being incinerated by the sun), we go for hikes on the weekends, I pretty much never sit down when I'm at home... little things, but they add up I think. We're getting back on track with walks every night - sometimes it's just once around our big circle (about 3/4 mile) while the water gets to boiling on the stove before dinner, but I think it's important- for us and our increasingly pudgy dogs.

4. Classic Clothes. This is more superficial, but I've decided to stop buying clothes because they're on sale and start buying pieces that are well made and classic (with "on sale" being a sought-after bonus). Like my general decorating philosophy, I'd rather have one nice thing than five cheaper things and I hate clutter and I'm applying that to my closet. This has gone well, but mostly because for the past several months, I've been too busy to shop.

5. General Health. I finally made a general practitioner appointment a month ago. In our "why are you here today" talk I mentioned insomnia, severe chronic headaches, and chronic stomach trouble. I'm 28 and a poster child for what stress can do to your body. So I'm working on all of the above- there's some bloodwork and traditional medicine, perscription drug type therapies, FSA-approved massage, and I bought a groupon for yoga. I've haven't actually gone yet because yoga intimidates me (I can't touch my toes, it's embarassing), but I'm determined to try. I need to learn to meditate, I need to stretch, and I should probably get more physical activity. Beginner yoga seems like a good place to start. I just have to make myself go...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Little Moments, in Hipstamatic

So my 4-day weekend last week wasn't enough to recover from The Case (the case to end all cases; the case that very nearly made me quit my job; the case that made me cry TWICE- 2x more than the births of my children made me cry -- that case). I returned to work on Tuesday, relaxed, but utterly apathetic. I worked on things, I did a good job- an acceptable job- but not a me job. I gave nothing more than the minimum, I had no burning desire to get more involved in these new matters. I just wanted a week of sitting at my desk and playing on the internet- was that too much to ask?

Yes. I'm now on four cases. I should be flattered I got snapped up so quickly, and I suppose I am, but mostly, I just really wanted to do a little online Christmas shopping and maybe secretly re-read a few books on my iPhone thanks to my Kindle app and a strategically placed book of the federal securities statutes.

So I left early last Thursday and stayed home last Friday. I had a cold, which gave me an excuse, and an appointment with a plumber to fix some sort of valve that was causing our pipes to shake and moan every 30 minutes between 2 and 5 a.m. (which was just awesome for an insomniac and light sleeper). I kept the kids home with me, of course- I find myself generally unwilling to be parted from them for long. It would be easier to get back into the work groove if they would make caring for them difficult- if there was a tantrum or a day without napping or something... but no, they're absolutely freaking delightful. They play together more and more- not just near and around each other, but together in the same game. Claire's personality grows bigger every day, but as big as it is, it barely rivals her sweetness and smiles. She gives impromptu hugs and kisses on your cheek, and also throws kisses from a distance with a widely outstretched arm and a loud smacking "bwaaaaa" sound. Landon is almost always dressed as some sort of super hero and Claire is always his side kick. When he goes anywhere- even just to the living room from the kitchen, he'll say, "Claire, do you want to come too?!" and she'll nod very seriously, climb down from whever she was, and toddle behind. On Sunday, I spent about an hour on the floor of the play room just hanging out with them- sometimes playing with them, often just watching them play with each other and it was perfect. I can't believe we ever questioned adding Claire to our family. Later, when we were playing outside on the driveway, Landon fell off his bike and skinned his knee, and before I could get to him, Claire had run over on her chubby little legs and hunched down to kiss him all better.

Today was a good day at work. I got in at 7:45 and plowed through a whole lot of work on four different matters. I was assigned to a 5th one as I was leaving and am working on a Response to a Motion to Expedite as we speak (or as I type?). And as I research case law and massage legal holdings into pursuasive language, I become engaged again, and I remember why I like so much of what I do. But then I field head hunter calls and calls from former colleagues with job leads and wonder if I should make a change and what change should that be? When I leave the office at 2:00 in the afternoon to take my kids to the park because I worked late the night before and have a lull between rounds of revisions, I wonder, is there anywhere else I can do that? But then I think, maybe at that other mythical job, I wouldn't have been up until 2 a.m. drafting a brief in the first place.

I don't know. I look at my happy, healthy, thriving, loving children and know that they're okay. They're in a wonderful daycare with teachers who care for them. They have a structure and constance to their days, and barring the very rare late night in the office, we eat dinner and play games and read books as a family every night. They're good, I truly believe this. And JP and I are good too- we can do this, this two full-time working parents thing, we're making it work. But, we've started asking ourselves- why? and, do we have to? If we each had the option to step back a bit at our jobs- make slightly less money, and maybe delay or pause a bit on the career ladder- why wouldn't we do that? For our own sakes, just to have that extra time with two ridiculously sweet children and with each other? And even though I used to grind my teeth when anyone asked me if I was going part-time, mostly because no one ever asks the male working parent that question- I no longer think that stepping sideways for a bit will permanently unend my career. Though, I admit, that thinking that and actually stepping aside are two very different things. And the fact that we pay 3x the cost of our mortgage in childcare + student loan payments each month is a road block to certain options, but not all.

I think JP and I both will have made certain changes to our jobs and/or schedules by January. Or at least they'll be in process. Just thinking and talking and planning for them is a step. A step that makes me happy and calm, even as I have about 4 more hours of work to do tonight (and it's now after 11 pm).

This post was supposed to be about the iPhone pictures I took below over the weekend. I love having a camera on my phone- it captures so many more of the little moments. But I guess that's what the above rambling is about though- the little moments and how we can be there for more of them. We're working on it.

Landon and Great Uncle Carl the Pilot on Friday,
watching airplane videos on youtube while mommy worked a bit
(we love when Uncle C has layovers in Austin)

Saturday hike in my beautiful city

urban view

Claire, following Landon up any rock he climbs

making daddy so pretty

Claire's favorite set of wheels


Batman mask from the back of the Cheerios box
apron from mommy's kitchen drawer

wearing every Batman item we could find in the house

heading out for the day: blankie and a lunch box

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Continued coverage of Halloween 2011

I took a few days off from pretty much everything except my children, my husband, and that darn 2,000 word article. It was lovely. I feel so much better and I no longer fantasize (much) about JP and me quitting our jobs and traveling the country with our two children in a beat up Winnebago (or anything else that is the polar opposite of our life now). Perspective, sleep, a pedicure, and a large amount of candy corn--and four straight days with only brief separations from my children-- and I'm much better.

It already feels like a lifetime ago, but it would be a blogging travesty not to update my riveting Halloween coverage with pictures from the actual Halloween day costume parade and trick-or-treating experience.

First up, the daycare party and parade. Claire morphed into an mad little hornet and yelled at anyone who told her she looked adorable in her tutu.

angry bee

Landon had fun, but was really just holding out for the evening trick-or-treating. For the first time, he remembered the year before and he knew it was going to be AWESOME. He checked with me about six times to make sure he was allowed to have TWO pieces of candy after trick-or-treating, and then after making sure of his future good fortune, spent the rest of the afternoon reminding me that I'd told him he could have two pieces of candy after trick-or-treating.

We spent the afternoon of cooking, cleaning, dancing, and napping, before our good friends came over to eat dinner and trick-or-treat around our kid-friendly, conveniently circular neighborhood. I made chili, and because we're fancy, the kids ate Halloween shaped macaroni and cheese without any vegetable side dish. We attempted to herd the children for a group picture, but ended up with a series of kind of awesome outtakes. Finally, at 6:30, we headed out with our wagon, our glow sticks, and our adult beverages.

The picture above notwithstanding, Claire was a very happy bee. And Landon (who has generally stopped letting me take pictures of him, which is why I had to include the one above) was SO excited to show the two younger girls the ropes of trick-or-treating. Everyone thinks this about their kid - and everyone should - but Landon really is a special little 4-year-old. When our friend's 3-year-old daughter walked in the door, Landon couldn't wait to show her his toys and even tried to send her home with a few. He wants everyone to be happy and safe and he made the girls' positive trick-or-treating experience his own personal responsibility. He spent the whole night using his sugary sweet high-pitched I'm-talking-to-a-baby voice saying things like, "Okay, this house has its lights on! We can trick-or-treat here!" and "oooh did you get a good piece of candy?!" and "See that house? We're going there next okay?!" Cracked us up.

line leader

Despite Landon's tutelage, Claire was bemused by the whole process. She would carefully select a piece of candy only to put it right back in the person's bowl before turning around and leaving. She also kept trying to walk in the person's house and was continually surprised when they didn't let her in.

first house!

But she did insist in going to the front door of EVERY house, generally 30 seconds after Landon and E had finished and were ready to move on.

She also insisted on taking her OWN path to that front door. A path that usually lead her over grass, bushes, and drought-killed flower beds.

She also communed with lawn decor, giving these flamingo skeletons a bat just before punching them in the head. Repeatedly.

She never rode in the wagon we brought, preferring instead to push it from the back or tromp through people's yards. At one point I lost sight of her between houses, only to spot her between some bushes in an unlit side yard, attempting to climb up the gated side of someone's porch. As our friend said with a laugh about halfway through our journey, she's a character.

The kids had a blast and we adults had a lot of fun ourselves. There's something so happy about Halloween- at least at this age. Before the slutty costumes (oh ugh) and the I'm-too-old-to-trick-or-treat-but-I-put-on-a-mask-give-me-candy thing, there's just this magical night where the kids are running ahead of the laughing group of picture-taking adults and half of the fun is that it's past their bedtimes and getting the candy is as exciting as eating it. I had so many flashbacks to my childhood, running around a similar circle of houses where we knew all the neighbors, with the dads and their beer wagon and the giant post-treating candy exchange on our living room floor at the end of the night, and it just made me happy.

It was a good time and I'm looking forward to next year just as much as our resident super hero.

I'm sure Claire is looking forward to it too, but mostly she just wants you to go get her milk.

Happy belated Halloween everyone.