Thursday, May 30, 2013

Winning the Bread

As I'm sure many of you have read, a recent Pew report found that mothers are the primary or sole breadwinners in 40% of American households with children. I read that headline yesterday and thought hmmm, given that part of that percentage is made up of single mothers, and women are outpacing men in the college graduation and graduate degrees, it must mean that we're doing better but still have a ways to go in equal pay. And then I moved on with my day because I was busy doing my job.

But no, as it turns out, I wasn't just busy doing a job I enjoy using a degree I worked hard to earn to provide health insurance and put a roof over my family's head before coming home in the evening with the smart, funny children I love before later cuddling on the couch with a husband I adore. No, I was, in fact, destroying my husband's self-esteem and putting him on anti-depressants, causing "the disintegration of marriage," proving that "society is dissolving around us," and being "very anti-science" because "when you look at biology - when you look at the natural world - the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is a dominant role. . . . having mom as the primary bread winner is bad for kids and bad for marriage, and reality shows us that's the truth."

All in a day's work people.

Clearly, this is absurd. All the quotes are brought to you by a Fox News manpanic panel about the Pew report and an utterly idiotic and illogical video and blog post by Erick Erickson, EIC of, two places I clearly don't watch, listen, or read unless something like Slate is making fun of it, so I won't waste much time debunking the silliness except to make three points: (1) Divorce rates are actually on the decline and the time in which they rose the most was also a time in which more women stayed home because the average middle class American could afford to live comfortably on one average salary, something that is no longer true; no one in the manpanic explains what women working has to do with the disintegration of marriage but facts do get in the way of panics so I understand why they'd want to avoid them; (2) I enjoy, greatly, the citation to "reality shows us that's the truth." All the best legal briefs cite to "reality." (Also, the first time I read it, I read it as "reality shows" show us that's the truth and I thought it was even more awesome than it already was because the only thing better than citing to reality is citing to reality shows); and (3) we're advocating looking to the animal kingdom? really?. First of all, irrelevant. I could cite to you a dozen type of animals that have exhibited a preference for homosexual matings over heterosexual ones in response to all these same people's cries that gay marriage is unnatural and they would immediately tell me that isn't relevant. I would actually argue that in terms of defining what's "natural," it just might be, but I would still be happy to sign on to the principle that we don't need to look to the rest of the animal kingdom for cues on human social norms. But if Mr. Erickson has decided that we should, I'd simply like to point out that females are "dominant" in a number of species, that males rarely have any role (or even presence) after a female is impregnated, but when they do, it's often an egalitarian one, and most animals copulate without any regard to their marriage vows or monogamy and children often don't even know who their father is. Also, I don't know that "science" can say whether a female lawyer lion making more than a male businessman lion would be "unnatural" or would upset the "dominance" of the breed. Partly because I don't think "dominance" can instantly be equated with "earns more money," but mostly because animals don't have paying jobs. So, sir, your analogy and attempt to work the word "science" into your thoughts has all failed and you need to try again, starting with more citations to reality shows.

But moving on to something that isn't pure headline-generating false hysteria, it was actually this CNN Opinion article titled, "When moms earn more, it's tough on dad" that gave me pause. One, it happened to be right next to an opinion article on raising strong girls by dropping princess and sex stereotypes, so that was amusing. Let's all make sure we raise strong daughters, but when she's an adult and out of that college and graduate school we told her she should go to because "she can be anything she wants to be," she better make sure that "anything" doesn't pay more than the "anything" her husband has chosen because then he will be sad and his self-esteem will suffer. So go be that doctor or lawyer honey, just don't make too much or boys won't like you and the one you've chosen to spend your life with, to love and support above all others, will be 5x more likely to cheat on you and this will be your fault for actually believing all that "little girls can be anything" stuff we told you when you were little. Maybe alongside the strong girl articles we could have a few about raising strong boys whose self worth isn't dependent on what they make (particularly, not dependent on what they make "beating" what the person they love makes), or who aren't threatened to the point of manpanic when it's revealed that women are making some strides in earning what they should earn and thus providing their families with a choice on the best roles for each party, or who have an example of marriages based on equality, love, and support to draw on in creating their own unions one day. Maybe we could do that.

But until then, I think articles like the one above should stop pretending like these special man-feelings of isolation or listlessness after leaving their career path to care for children, even when they know it's best for their children and are glad for the choice, are unique to men. All I kept thinking while reading was, you're describing exactly what I would be feeling if I left law for a time, and exactly what I've heard other women describe who, for decades now, have left careers that mattered to them for children who needed them more. It's absolutely real and legitimate, but it's not new. Which gets to the root of my annoyance with really anything that overly elevates the role of the mom in child-rearing and minimizes or outright dismisses the role of the dad and then acts like any switch in the two is cause for great outcry and commentary. Our daughters who can "be anything" and our sons for which that is apparently assumed unless you mean "care for children" will never see equality in the workplace or the home until both choices are possible, and they can't be possible until people stop flipping out about them.

I don't have a real end to this except to say I can't imagine being married to someone whose self-esteem was dependent on beating my salary. I wouldn't respect that person and I've found that respect is very important in this successful non-disintegrating marriage of mine. In the words of JP while laughing over the Erickson quotes, "we must not be very dominant if we can't handle our wives putting extra money in our bank accounts." And while the quotes at the top are just stupid in the way that's supposed to be stupid to drum up responses like the one I just indulged in, the more mundane commentary and the examples it all sets unnerves me just as much.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sick Days and Shopping

In the past 5 years we have been very, very blessed with healthy children. Landon has been sick once, in March of 2011, in the days before JP and I were scheduled to go on the one and only vacation we've ever taken away from the kids. The vacation that precipitated the complete schism between our little family and JP's. The last nights we ever spent child-free. I remember it all so well. Landon threw up everything he ingested for five days, giving him nightmares about throwing up for months afterward. He would appear in our room around 3 a.m., sobbing because he'd thrown up, and tuck him back in his perfectly clean bed and try to explain that the bug that made him sick was gone now and all his food is staying in his tummy. He recovered, both from the actual virus and his PTSD and I've never again had a call from school to tell me to pick him up. I'd started to think of him as invincible to illness and never worried about him getting sick when Claire came down with something or a friend would apologetically tell us that her kid was sick and she hoped Landon hadn't caught it.

Until today at 2:00 when I got a call from school telling me my child had thrown up. "Claire again?" I asked. "She was fine all weekend." "No, it's Landon." What?!

The good news is, puking nearly-6-year-olds are pretty on top of the whole situation. Moments ago he just sat up on the couch, leaned over his little trash-bag lined plastic bin, threw up several times, wiped his mouth with my proffered damp paper towel, swished his mouth out with water, and lay back down, asking if I could please rewind the Wild Kratts scene he missed. Claire, who I picked up at the same time to avoid another trip later, was far, FAR more alarmed over the situation. She popped off the couch, crouched near poor Landon and asked him 170,000 questions about what precisely just happened.

We've watched three episodes of Wild Kratts and are now on to A Bug's Life, to be followed by How to Train Your Dragon. All TV limits are off when a kid is sick, though if they are going to insist on getting sick every day for days on end, I might have to revise that policy. (No, no I won't.)

The weekend was good though! Claire was healthy, we didn't know Landon would be sick yet, and there was lots of baking and meeting up with friends. We didn't see much of JP- the pool he is pool directing (he had to agree to be pool director of a local pool in order to run his swim school out of it this summer; the pool he's been using for the school year is closed for camp use all summer) opened on Saturday, so he's gone from sun-up to sun-down monitoring chemicals, adding chemicals, getting burned by chemicals, managing a gaggle of teenage lifeguards, and otherwise directing all operations at a large pool complex. We're all hopeful things will settle down and he won't have to be at the pool 18 hours a day 7 days a week until September, but who knows. We did get to go with him to check out the chemicals on Monday morning:


The water was FREEZING and the outside temps weren't much warmer. I was covered in goose-bumps in my dry clothes, but JP and the kiddos had a good time. Claire in particular loved the "Hello Kitty pool" (I guess she overheard JP call it the kiddie pool and made her own variation; sort of like how she calls the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens the "Kinder Gardens"- there really aren't any words she says adorably wrong anymore, so we're left with wrong titles of things we don't correct).

We also went in our pool for the first time yesterday afternoon when some friends came over (and by "we" I mean the kids, it looked very cold). I successfully removed the pool cover for the first time since it was installed and the kids had a blast shivering and splashing for two hours with our friends.


I also spent a lot of time internet window shopping for various things for the house. I can't buy any of them because you know, money, and also a 4-figure tree trimming bill for all those giant, beautiful trees I loved so much when we bought the house. But someday, when (if) we have a surplus again, probably moments before kid #3 enters daycare and sucks it all up, I have a dining room table and chairs, sideboard, hutch, three area rugs, end tables, desk chair, filing cabinet, front yard bench, and kitchen hutch all picked out!

The one thing I was really hoping to buy this summer is a playground type thing for the backyard. Now that we have the pool covered, I can just send the kids out there to play for hours, something we all love, and I was really hoping to get some sort of play structure as a combined birthday gift for them this summer. Unfortunately, those suckers are freaking expensive. Craigslist hasn't been much help. I've noticed its utility varies among cities and it is definitely not big in Fort Worth, and even if I was willing to drive 60 miles to some of the Dallas suburbs, the stuff I've found is not really worth the round-trip hassle (particularly given that we'd have to borrow or rent a truck for transport, and I won't really have a husband until September). So, as long as this post is bouncing from vomit to pools to playgrounds, I'm soliciting input.

I had originally picked out this playscape from Costco. I still love it. I still think that if we were going to spend a significant amount of money, this would be the best item to get and that it would last and entertain the kids forever. But at $1400, there's just no way right now. Which brings me to my quandary- I still need and want to get something for their birthdays, but I'm torn between finding a cheaper playscape (which are still $500-600) v. going another route altogether, like spending $160 on this playhouse, knowing it might quickly be too small for Landon, but they'd enjoy it in the meantime and maybe we could buy a real piece of backyard equipment next year v. spending $300ish on a piece of Little Tikes-like play equipment (like this) that is something in between.

I'm kind of leaning playhouse, because if we aren't going to invest in something I think they'll use for a really long time, then I'd like to just wait on the plaything and spend less on something different (but still fun). Keeping in mind that Landon wouldn't be able to stand up inside, but he likes everything and is genuinely excited to play in the tiny playhouse that belongs to our 14-month-old neighbor, do you think the playhouse is a good idea? I certainly don't want to waste money, and I do want something they'll both enjoy, outside, for a long while.

While I wait for you to tell me what to do with the 18 play-equipment-related browser pages I have open, I'll be passing paper towels to the Lanman and wondering what I should make for dinner. After watching him throw up for the last few hours, I can't say there's a whole lot that sounds good.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Second Trimester the Third

I am now in my second trimester.  I've gained 5-ish pounds, I have a tummy, and remain in that awkward phase where most of my real clothes don't fit but most of my maternity clothes are too big.  I feel completely normal.  This is the part of pregnancy I forget- the part where you feel fine and aren't ungainly yet.  All I ever remember is the first few months where you feel awful and the last two months when you feel like a hippo.  Luckily, the majority of the weeks are really more like this.

It is shocking to me how little I seem to be writing (or really, even thinking) about this pregnancy.  We went back and forth for so long, I thought I'd be panicked much of the time at the thought of another baby once we finally pulled the trigger, but at least for now, I'm almost alarmingly unconcerned.  I even had a firm chat with myself the other day-- do you know you're pregnant? It's done, we can't go back.  Do you know you're about to have a THIRD human child running around?  Do you know how this is going to affect your life, sleep, finances, everything?  Landon is practically off to college- an independent man who needs me for the occasional opening tricky cereal bar wrapper.  Claire has been potty trained since October, in a twin bed since November, dressing herself, buckling her car seat, generally functioning completely independently for months.  Both kids have slept 11+ hours at night for more than 2 years.  They play together for hours and I get to read books in daylight.  We're starting over, there's going to be another baby.

And yet, after this talk, there was no wake up call.  I nodded because yep, it's happening, and I know I'm pregnant by the lack of margaritas in my life (I had a VIVID dream that I drank one, and then, as happens when you have one margarita, I had another, and it was so good and then I woke up consumed by guilt that I would possibly harm my baby just for a frozen tequila concoction and I was awake for minutes- MINUTES- before I realized I'd had pasta the night before and I'd never drink a margarita with pasta so it couldn't have happened at all), but I'm not concerned about it.  Landon and Claire are really absurdly easy children.  They're fun and funny, well-behaved and polite, blessedly healthy, and generally amenable to clear, strict, consistently enforced rules.  And, they really do love each other.  If they were harder, it's far less likely we'd be having another.  And maybe it was all the back and forth we engaged in for so long- we listed and emphasized all the negatives of a #3 so many times that I'm immune to them now, at least until the baby is here and they become real.

But what will also be real is the squishy baby that curls up like a baby wombat on my chest.  The one-piece play clothes that cost like $4 at Target.  Cherries and ladybugs, or trucks and dinosaurs; fuzzy sleepers and tiny socks.  Snuggle time at night with a bottle and a rocker.  First claps, first crawls, first steps.  A chubby little toddler chasing after Claire who is chasing after Landon.  Three kids at the table.  Three kids in the car driving to Colorado and the Grand Canyon and everyone else we want to take them to climb on rocks and jump across rivers.  Three sets of giggles and screams and sets of limbs in the pre-bed pile-on daddy.  Three kids.

Landon and Claire are outside playing with the water table (playing, splashing, screaming, and generally soaking their clothes and everything around them) and all I can do when I think of that third little one is smile and look forward to the glorious chaos of it all.  And get back to reading my book (my 5th re-reading of Poison Princess, why do I like it so much?!), because pretty soon I'll have to actively supervise a kid again and who knows how much reading I'll get done then.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Ballet Story

Claire had her Spring ballet recital yesterday. Six months after the first one, we have made some big improvements, though our youngest little dancer in the class may still have a ways to go in recital readiness.

On the improvement front, she wore a tutu! And showed us, once again, the only ballet move we know she knows.


But she is still highly skeptical of the tutu and only kept hers on for the 2 minute it took to snap the pictures above.


At one point I found myself saying, "but Claire, all your friends are wearing them, don't you want to wear one too?!" As she shook her head and looked at me like they (and I) were all crazy, I realized, I'm using peer pressure on my 2-year-old daughter and she is resisting it. I am proud of her, less proud of me, and the tutu went back in the teacher's bag.

When it was time for the recital to begin, my cheerful, exuberant child who yells HELLO! to complete strangers in the grocery store turned into a bashful little flower. After some convincing, and much mentioning of snow cones, she made it on the stage. But we still think that 10 minute recitals in front of a small group of besotted parents, that we've been excited about for weeks, that we're being bribed with treats to endure are SO HAAAAARRRDD.


But still, on the stage = victory.


About a dozen times during the short performance, Claire ran off the stage to throw herself at me (a pregnant me who was on the floor trying to balance a D90 and video camera to capture the preshus memories of ballet recital magic for a daddy who couldn't leave the pool) and yell "I LOVE YOU MOMMY!" over the sound of the music. My videography suffered, but it was adorable.


I did manage to capture a ballet move! On stage!


Soon after this she left the stage again to ask me about the snow cones I promised after the dance, attempting to negotiate down the number of songs and poems that were left. By the time she got back up on the stage the music was done and she looked so sad, exclaiming, "but I didn't get to do it!". The other parents laughed politely.


At the end, she took her bow and then launched herself off the stage and into my arms, yelling, "Mommy, I did GREAT!".


And then we got snow cones.


I had taken the rest of the afternoon off, since the recital wasn't going to be over until 4, so I got to spend a more relaxed evening at home with the kids. I got out the water table and listened to splashes and giggles while I uploaded pictures inside the house. They moved to the front yard while I worked on dinner and once everything was simmering, I came out to join a fast-paced and confusing game of tag-soccer-gymnastics-baseball.


There weren't any rules at all, that I could tell, but everyone was having fun.


Fresh from her ballet success, Claire was at the top of her game.


And I deeply enjoyed getting to lay on the grass, holding a camera I hadn't even charged in 3 months, trying to capture their fun.


I adore that last out of focus picture I think I snapped while rolling onto my back. Adore. But just to show it wasn't all sunlight and giggle filled, right after the kids came back inside Claire threw up red snow cone all over the kitchen. I typed much of this last night, one handed, with a sick little bear wrapped in a towel snuggled against my side on the couch. That saga continues, but for now, let's just focus on the ballet.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Top 10: Books

A co-worker asked me to list my Top 10 favorite books the other day. I couldn't do it in order at the time, I just spouted off favorites until it seemed like I'd hit 10 (turns out, I hit 12, as you'll see below). The conversation started because he said that Ender's Game was his favorite book and I'd never read it. I soon found out that he'd never read the Harry Potter series (WHAT?!), so I'm loaning him my books (one at a time, they're precious and I can't be without them all at once) while he loaned me the Ender's Game 200-page novella. I won.

My list was hard to compile. There's books I love because I read them young and have loved them forever, even if I realize now they're not as good as some of the others that probably should be on my list, and there's books I love right now that I'm in the middle of re-reading for only the 7th instead of the 20th time and who knows what their staying power will be for me, and then there's books that are good in a meta sense and books that are good in a "I enjoyed every freaking second and can't wait for the next one to be published even though they're about teenage witches" sense. I've been reading for more than 20 years. I love books, love good stories and characters and dialogue, and I'm not high brow or picky about content, time period, or general adherence to reality; in fact I rarely find myself drawn to (or enjoying) the books I'm supposed to read according to official lists and recommendations from people more literary than me. I don't want to think very hard, don't want to be depressed, don't want to get annoyed or angry at characters that are overly good or overly evil, and definitely don't want read anything that has any relevance to my daily life. I just want you to tell me a story- a great story with fun, believable dialogue and three-dimensional characters that I want to visit again and again.

These are my favorite stories:

1. Harry Potter series, JK Rowling
2. Outlander (the rest of the books can go here too, but the first one will always be my favorite; Claire's name came from this book and if I'd had my first choice, Landon's would have too), Diana Gabaldon
3. Betsy, Tacy, and Tib series (all of them, I'm in the process of buying the whole series for me Claire), Maud Hart Lovelace
4. Here Be Dragons (the rest of the series is also great, but I re-read this one every few months), Sharon Kay Penman
5. Lords of Deliverance (sequel series to the Demonica books), Larissa Ione
6. Lord of the Rings trilogy, JRR Tolkien
7. Circle trilogy, Nora Roberts (I've re-read these so much the pages are getting feathery on the edges)
8. The Hunger Games trilogy (#2 was my favorite, but all three go here), Suzanne Collins
9. Immortals after Dark series, Kresley Cole- very fun actiony, romancy books (MacRieve, book #12 is out July 2)
10. Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase (a great regency romance, though most of Lisa Kleypas's books could also have filled this spot and now I'm wondering if I should switch them out of honorable mention; just read them all)
11. Little House series (my favorite always being Little House in the Big Woods because it reminded me of my grandparents' cabin in Wisconsin), Laura Ingalls Wilder
12. Anne of Green Gables series, LM Montgomery

Honorable mention:
~ Arcana Chronicles, Kresley Cole- I'm looking toward Endless Knight, book 2 out in October, more than any other book on my "coming out soon list."
~ Divergent, Veronica Roth- excellent, but too early to determine if I will re-read it as often as I seem to be doing right now; also, book 2 was a disappointment and I'm waiting for #3 to convince me otherwise when it comes out in October
~ any Lisa Kleypas historical romance, particularly the Wallflowers series, Bow Street Runners, and Then Came You; these should probably be in my Top 12 but I don't know what would come out.
~ JR Ward- love her books, but her dialogue is sometimes too choppy/not believable to be at the very top of my list; fantastic characters and relationships though
~ Nora Roberts "Sisters of the Heart" trilogy- I always skip book 2, but I adore 1 and 3 and read them all the time
~ Through a Glass Darkly (and the sequel Now Face to Face to some extent; the prequel, Dark Angels, was better), Karleen Koen
~ Whitney, My Love (and most others by the author), Judith McNaught

And so many others.

What are your favorites?

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Tragic and Mundane

Sometimes I'm grateful when I accidentally delay a post. I'd written one yesterday evening, at the end of a long weekend in which JP was gone from 10-6 both days to clean the community pool he'll be working in this summer; a giant 500 lb. limb snapped off our big oak out front, blocking our driveway and costing $200 to have it removed from its very high branching point; Landon opened his car door into another car door in a parking lot causing that person to file a claim on our insurance; I scrubbed all three bathrooms on my hands and knees with a magic eraser sponge (many magic erasers) and found 1,000 springtails having a party in my bathtub within 2 hours of my thorough cleaning; and I had a headache so bad I was actually in tears Sunday morning when I found I couldn't move in any direction without nearly debilitating pain.

On the upside, my best friend from high school was randomly in town and able to stop by for a visit on Sunday, and the kids and I went on a date at my favorite taco stand Saturday night when I realized JP was never coming home again.


But mostly, it was a difficult painfully expensive weekend that I would have used far too many words to describe on Sunday. Luckily, the world's weirdest Mad Men episode came on and my brain was too tired (and my headache too strong) to even consider proofing and publishing, so I took my vitamins and tucked myself in bed. Then today my head was better and work was good and the devastating tornadoes hit Oklahoma and now I'm just blinking back tears at the horrific pictures and news articles and stories of children and elementary schools and it's just so awful. My heart and thoughts go to everyone affected. I can't imagine losing everything like that... and for the children and friends and family members who are lost, that's even more than everything.

~ ~ ~

I'm not sure where to go from that. I guess to the mundane? I made this Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce for dinner and it was fantastic. In the words of JP, "this is something you'd get in a restaurant!" and even my children, who insist they don't like chicken (and don't see the logical failure of expressing love chicken nuggets in the same sentence), scarfed it down.

Our vacuum broke, one of the frustrations of my cleaning frenzy on Saturday when the tube that makes the suction work kept falling out with every single push forward of the damn thing. It's a 11-year old Dyson (the very first model, bought by JP his junior year of college) and I would love something lighter, cheaper (much cheaper), good for all floor types (we have lots of wood, plus some tile, carpet, and vinyl), and must have an extension thingy to reach up into my skylights. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I read Ender's Game this weekend. I'm not sure how I missed it in my middle school phase of reading All The Things because according to Amazon, EVERYONE has read this book, but my co-worker brought me his copy (his signed hardback copy that I was so afraid I'd hurt in some way that I kept in a gallon ziploc bag when I wasn't reading it) after a long lunch discussion of our favorite book and it was great fun. I don't think it can ever be as special to me as it is for him because I'm reading it as an adult and the big twist at the end was easy to see about halfway through, but it was still excellent and if I'd read it for the first time as a 13-year-old, it would probably be in my Top 20 book list. A book list I'm publishing as soon as I figure out how to rank books that are beloved because I read them a long time ago and books that are beloved because they're actually that good. Maybe it'll be bullet points. Regardless, it's coming.

~ ~ ~

I'm checking the news one more time and then going to bed praying that when I wake up, the headlines aren't even worse. Oklahoma, we're thinking of you.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Thank you for the reassurance on the last post. It's not what I meant to write, but my exhaustion and genuine preoccupation with the matter forced itself through my fingers, making me to re-title the post and delete the pictures and other random things I'd plan to include in my update. So thanks. The normalcy of fading memories is nice to hear. It's bothered me for over a year, but since none of my friends in Fort Worth have any idea that nightmare ever happened, I couldn't just drop it into our usual lunchtime conversations about kids. And JP, who never worries about anything, admitted that he worried about it too when I mentioned it to him. Guilt or sadness isn't something I've associated with parenting, at least not since the end of 2007 when Landon's biggest problem was inheriting his father's ear canals. I've genuinely never understood the guilt people talk about with mothering- worry, absolutely, but not guilt. I'm fully aware I'm not a perfect mother, but I also know for certain that I'm doing my best, that my heart and soul go into this beloved role of mine, and even if I were to waver, it's obvious the kids are vibrantly healthy, happy, secure little beings, so I don't usually go looking for trouble. It was an uncomfortable place, is what I'm trying to say, and for 15 months I couldn't get out of it. I feel a little better now, or at least have some helpful perspectives to talk myself down when I can't sleep and end up on that particular cliff.

So moving on to other fun and random things. (1) I got back from Houston very late Thursday night in time to rest a bit before heading to Breakfast with Mom on Friday morning at the kids' school. School makes holidays like Mother's Day (which JP, who never liked his mother, does not really recognize; even when I noted that I am a mother who could be recognized, he looked at me confused and said, yeah, but you're not my mother. This properly calibrated my expectations for his performance on future Mother's Days) a million times better.


We enjoyed breakfast and I was gifted with treasures and very special cards, particularly from Landon who is now old enough to write and illustrate the entire card by himself. Claire colored a giant pot with a tiny flower and was EXTREMELY proud of the plant she grew for me. She talks to it every day on the kitchen counter.


(2) While on the topic of why children are so much fun, I bought two paintings from Target to see if one might go in our new playroom space (a major work in progress; emphasis on work, not progress). I propped them in the corners of the future playroom room and within minutes, L & C had built a house with walls, lovely art, and a getaway car. They played in it all of Saturday afternoon.


(3) That night, JP and I went on a date! We ate our way up West 7th Street with nine rolls of sushi (cooked or veggie, so nobody yell at me, though I did totally have two sips of JP's beer because I have never craved anything so strongly in my life and it was draft Sapporo and it's very hard to say no to that, and I don't believe there is any chance of half an ounce of beer harming my "medium sized shrimp" fetus (side note: do you not love the food allusions in the babycenter updates? I swear they've gotten even better since my last time around)), a giant bowl of gelato, and a gianter bucket of popcorn while watching Iron Man 3. It was a most excellent evening, and much needed now that JP is working 100 hours a week at his exploding swim school (his goal was 30 swimmers; he's up to 75 and just hired 2 more instructors). He's been stretched pretty thin as he gets everything off on the right foot, and it was lovely to hang out for a few hours without children, QuickBooks, or waistbands on my clothes. 

What I wore; also, my submission for why I need a real floor mirror in my closet

(4) On Sunday, we visited my co-worker and the brand new tiny baby kitten his wife rescued outside JP's pool during her daughter's swim lesson.


Unlike my feet, my hands are normal sized. This kitten is actually that tiny and that ABSURDLY adorable.

Claire was in love. Aggressively in love.


I removed kitty to the safety of a basket, where he could be showered with kisses while avoiding her vice-like love grip.


(5) A post on books is coming as soon as I can write it, but I must share my joy in discovering The Roselynde Chronicles in the Kindle store! My sister and I LOVED those books when we were in middle school and high school and checked them out from the Harris County Public Library over and over again until the covers wore off. Unfortunately, the library never carried books 1 and 2, so we never knew how the medieval saga started. On a whim, in Houston's Hobby airport on Thursday evening when I was desperate for a new book to read for my 8th plane ride in 14 days, Roselynde popped into my head. And lo, there it was, for $5.78 in the kindle store. I downloaded it and Alinor immediately and texted my sister with a cryptic message that "I found Roselynde!" She texted back, "OMG, the FIRST BOOK?!" Siblings- who else can properly share your joy in rediscovering childhood memories? 

The books are just as good as I remember. If you like 12th century historical fiction/romance (heavy on the fiction, merely allusion-heavy on the romance), they are great fun.

(6) And finally, because this photo popped up on my iPhone photo roll and I'd totally forgotten I'd taken it, I offer you the ugliest painting of all time, from the hallowed halls of the University of Chicago law school. I had to pass under it every day to get to my locker and it is closely linked with my nightmares of 1L year. I could barely repress a shudder when I came across it again on reunion weekend.


With that, I wish you all a blessed evening

Monday, May 13, 2013


I am worn out. I'm not really sure why, other than the baby-growing and single-parenting in the evenings while JP is coaching his lessons. Still though, I fell asleep on the couch out of nowhere yesterday while Claire was taking her nap. I woke up nearly 3 hours later completely freaked out by how much time had passed, and also by the realization that Landon had been completely on his own for the first hour or so while I was asleep before JP got home from his pool director meeting. Thank goodness he's a naturally well-behaved kid. I think it was all the travel. I can't sleep on planes and don't do much better in hotels. Luckily, I think I'll be staying in the Fort for at least the next month or so.

On a somewhat related pregnancy note, it's been bothering me again that I feel like I don't remember anything about Landon's babyhood. I'm worried I've blocked out all the good, or didn't savor it enough in the moment to be able to recall it, because of the cloud of bad that hung over so many months of it. I know, definitely know, that we had happy moments at the time. I see pictures and video, I remember thinking at the time how much I loved Landon's big round-headed smiley self, but I feel like I don't remember the actual moments. And then I freak out that this has set an off, or slightly distanced, course for my whole relationship with Landon forever. I'm so close with Claire, so very in the moment with her, and I remember her babyhood with such pure joy, that I occasionally can't sleep for comparing the emotions of the two. But then I read my blog posts from Landon's toddlerhood- years 2 and 3 and I know I felt the exact same way with him. Twelve months to four years is my absolute favorite time with the kids so far- it's so immediate and exuberant and full of growth and change. I read my letter to Landon at 17 months and I recall those intense feelings of love and my complete joy in him with such clarity. Any distance (and it's not really distance; it's more a guilt that I was able to feel more happiness sooner and more fully with Claire's infancy that I then project out to now) I perceive now is purely based on his growing up into more of himself and the fact that Claire, at 2, is still very much an extension of JP and me.


And yet, his babyhood really is mostly a black hole. Will it come back? Does it matter? He has no idea, and again, I know from pictures and video that he was quite as happy and smiley and babbley as Claire (at least once we got his first set of ear tubes, poor guy). But it bothers me. It's been bothering me more lately, and instead of reassuring me, watching his little video clips make me more sad because I'm so clearly watching a dated and labeled video of my baby. I'm not remembering the moment that was videoed at all.

It bothers me.


Landon's babyhood was unique in so many ways, I can't even read many of his blog posts from 3-5 months without a physical reaction, that I can't tell if this is a normal phenomenon- the paling of the older child's babyhood memories while the younger one's remain strong. In five years maybe I'll be looking at videos of Claire and saying the same. I don't know, and I don't know why I'm so fixated on it right now, but I am, and I can't fix it and I can't remember.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


It has been a week. As noted by a concerned commenter on the last post, that is unusual for me, but I have been doing more traveling (and leave on another trip tomorrow), so I've been spending my evenings either packing, away, or unpacking/recovering from being away. And of course Sunday is dedicated to whatever AMC is showing, which currently happens to be Mad Men (do you watch Mad Men? do you read the Tom and Lorenzo reviews and Mad Style posts? You should, they are some of the best things on the internet). Now we catsup!

First up, I had my 12 week check-up for BBIII the day before I left for Chicago. The heartbeat was strong and swishy and, as always, a joy to hear. My next one will be May 31 and the doctor said we'll do a sneak-peak ultrasound in the office to see if we can tell the sex, just for fun before my real ultrasound at 20 weeks when they do all the official measurements. I'm excited- (1) to see the baby again in all its babyness (I didn't do a first trimester genetic scan this time; it's not the norm with this doctor and JP and I are both young and low-risk enough that I'm okay with delaying it, though it's totally freaking JP out, so I didn't get the 12-week pictures of my bean with little arm and leg buds like last time); and (2) to start planning the nursery. I debated not finding out the sex with this bonus baby #3, but decided rather quickly that I couldn't do that. Again, two reason: (1) I hate being pregnant with a fiery passion and planning for the baby and decorating the nursery in thoughtful detail is one of the only aspects I enjoy; and (2) it is going to take us four months to figure out a name we like. We're picky and apparently I strongly dislike 99% of names in existence. With Claire we mostly just didn't dislike her name when we selected it, but by the time she was born and we'd been saying it for weeks to my belly, we loved it. That is what I need to happen again.


Second, I got my Land of Nod playroom orders! No changes to the house so far, but the kids are greatly enjoying the boxes and empty floor baskets. They sit in one on the front porch every evening, eating a pear, drinking water, and waiting for daddy to get home from coaching. At night, we move the box indoors for reading, coloring, and quiet time. This year I think Santa is going to bring everyone a box for Christmas and mommy will order her dining room furniture.


Third, I went to Chicago for my 5-year law school reunion! If I'd been blogging regularly you would have gotten a long post about that, but in summary: (we'll do letters this time): (a) I had a fantastic time reconnecting with lots of friends and classmates; (b) I really can't believe it's been 8 years since I started 1L year, but I no longer feel anxiety and dread when I approach the law school, so I suppose 8 years is about right; (c) It was really, really nice to be back on campus doing nerdy things like attending a lively debate between Judge Richard Posner and Prof. Richard Epstein on everything from patent law, privacy (J. Posner: "Privacy is another work for concealment which is just another form of fraud."), cynicism (J. Posner: "The starting point for viewing any person is cynicism."), and the work ethic of Supreme Court justices (J. Posner: "how do you know they work hard? They're swimming in law clerks."); and (d) after our pep talk from the Dean, I'm not sure I would get in to my law school today. The average GPA is now a 3.9 and the average LSAT is a 172, which is crazy, but the rank has moved up to 4th, so I suppose that means my law degree is maintaining its investment value which is nice while I continue to pay off my $100,000+ loan balance. I really did think the dean gave a great talk about the goals of the school and the new initiates they're pursuing. It almost made me want to go again. You know, if it were free and I could skip 1L year.


Apart from the nerdy school stuff, I was honored to attend a reception for Grant, our classmate who passed away 3 years ago, to introduce the first recipient of his memorial scholarship created by our class gifts and other donations. It was a tough event, his parents were there, and his father spoke in a quiet steady voice that faded in and out in volume and left me (and everyone else) sobbing, but I am so, so glad we had it. His death was so sudden, and the funeral was in Michigan, so many classmates (like me) were unable to attend. And while I'm sure it was very hard on his parents, every day must be hard, and I hope it helped to spend one of those hard days surrounded by people who loved him, remember him, and miss him so very much.


The weekend also included a fancy cocktail reception at the Museum of Art where I got to drink water and eat all the snacks, a fancy dinner where I got to drink fancy mocktails and not eat all the sushi, and a lot of walking and shopping and staying up late girl talking with my bff Jill who was my roommate for the weekend. (Her name isn't really Jill, but it's impossible to type "my bff" and not follow it with Jill.)


Every time I go to Chicago I wonder if maybe all my talk about it is just me playing up a time in my life that I miss or that is just different from the one I live now, but when I ride the L in from the airport and it gets close to the city and I start being able to read the street signs and I see Congress Ave. and State Street and the streets we used to live on I miss Chicago with such a fierce physical longing it takes me by surprise each time. I truly loved living there. True, it was home to one of the worst events and periods of my life, but the city itself is a place I love deeply. It poured rain on me while I walked around the city by myself on Friday afternoon, but I was smiling like an idiot the whole time I was out.


And speaking of walking, after limping my way through the city in my cheap absolutely support-less Steve Madden flats, I am now on the hunt for an acceptable pair of comfortable, supportive shoes that don't make me cringe at their aesthetics. I went to DSW today at lunch and spent a full 90 minutes searching for such a pair, but ultimately walked out empty handed- which was a victory because I very almost bought a gorgeous pair of nude patent strappy wedges that would really have been more of a failure than walking out with nothing. I did find a pair or two of genuinely cute flats, but nothing I could wear very long for travel, and the few Clark's and Merrell-types that I tried made me want to weep into their sturdy orthotic soles. I don't know how I've been working for 5 years, traveling the whole time, and still stare blankly at my closet when it's time to pick out my outfit for the plane and city exploring. I blame my large narrow feet that make the sturdier shoes look like giant barges and thus 10x uglier than they look on the display.


In the meantime, Landon and Claire have escalated their fort building to include an umbrella appropriated from my suitcase and another toy basket that I'm not sure will ever get to have toys in it. I am off to Houston tomorrow for 28 hours to attend a symposium I never would have found interesting a year ago and have dinner with my mom (dad is in Amsterdam, his jet setting is far more exotic than mine). Then I will be home for hopefully many weeks in a row, moving all the furniture around my house and continuing my search for the perfect walking shoe while lusting after the many, many imperfect ones.