Monday, January 12, 2015

Ear infection

When I last checked in, I was bemoaning my lack of sleep thanks to Ted's breathing issues. That night, he wandered into our room at 1 a.m., complaining that his ear was hurting. Waking up at night and complaining about a non-band-aid-able injury are both uncharacteristic of him. After trying various permutations of Ted in our bed, both of us in his bed, Ted on the couch and me on the floor, I finally accepted that we were having one of those sick kid all-nighters that involves periods of crying and comforting, tossing and turning, dozing for a few minutes, and doing it all again. Around 4 a.m. I turned on the Cars movie and we snuggled on the couch under a blanket until morning.

Ted was a trouper all day, doing a zillion art projects at home and cooperating as we picked up the Zipcar and headed to the doctor's office. He didn't lose it until we got to the pharmacy around 5 p.m. Poor kid, he couldn't nap at home and every time we got in the car, he immediately fell asleep and had to be woken up ten minutes later when we arrived at our destination. I couldn't ply him with snacks, but he did perk up when he saw a minion balloon. He asks for a balloon whenever we visit the store, and this time I finally said yes. His mood changed instantly. He skipped around the store, chanting, "Balloon! Balloon!" He was so delighted that everybody who saw him was delighted too. I saw a lot of people's faces go from grumpy and tired to smiling at the sight of a 3-year old in love with his balloon. The whole way home and all that evening, he sang songs about his balloon.

The next morning, after his first two doses of antibiotics and a full night's sleep (hallelujah!), Ted announced that he felt "great!" The balloon, however, met with a sad end. I was upstairs when I heard a loud wail. Ted came up a moment later and sobbed that his balloon had popped. I wondered how a mylar balloon could pop. Ted swore that next time he got a balloon, he would take care of it and would not slash it with his sword.

After the ear infection excitement (the first time, by the way, either child has had an ear infection -- and about two days after JW heedlessly said, in front of the Universe and the gods and everybody, "You two never get ear infections!") the rest of the weekend was uneventful. Saturday we went to the library and got the next Penderwicks book, then had dinner at a friend's house and stayed out too late. Sunday I was exhausted and spent most of the morning on the couch, under a blanket, reading my book club book from cover to cover. Which was kind of awesome. JW and Ted took down the Christmas tree and lights. I made meatballs. The boys watched football. We played the Busytown game. Sometimes by the end of one of these winter weekend days we're all a little stir-crazy, but this time I was grateful that we got to stay home and spend the day in our pajamas.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Pre-K registration

Tonight has been a night of many activities:
3.5 hours of listening to people talk about intellectual property law, with some bonus babysitter drama through texts during the trade secrets part;
1.5 hours of date night with JW;
1.5 hours of assembling information and filling out forms for Ted's pre-K application.

We needed a babysitter because we learned a few days ago that our public elementary school was holding its pre-K information night at the same time I had my IP CLE. JW returned with a panicked look in his eyes, brandishing the thick registration packet and telling me about the multitudes of other pre-K parent hopefuls who had showed up and would be applying for one of the 18 slots. Preference is given to older kids who just missed the kindergarten cutoff, which is not Ted. At this session they informed us that registration starts TOMORROW and we would have to line up at 8:30 and it could take up to 2 hours. So while JW drove the babysitter home, I started tracking down bills and photocopying medical records and looking up emergency phone numbers.

Date night was a welcome break in the middle of the obligations. As usual, date night was tacked on to our various other activities -- I don't remember the last time we went out purely for fun, without the excuse of a parent-teacher conference or town council meeting. We had a delicious dinner at Il Casale (arancini, calamari, gnocchi with little mushrooms, pumpkin ravioli, profiteroles) and I talked JW down from the pre-K ledge. We browsed around Craft Beer Cellar on the way home. Did you know sour beer is the new trend? And the less new trend is beers that have been aged in casks used for other things, like bourbon or wine.

This week has been a little rough. Ted has been coughing, which for a normal kid isn't a big deal, but for an asthmatic kid means we've been setting our alarms for every 4 hours around the clock to continue his breathing treatments. So much for my Busy Brides exercise routine. (That one looked fun, and they don't have an Overtired Moms one.)

I'm looking forward to the weekend. Temperatures in the double digits would be nice too. Also, I would like a pony.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Gardner Museum

Saturday we all slept in and started the day with a family snuggle in the big bed, a rare occurrence. We had an elaborate breakfast of oatmeal buttermilk pancakes, bacon, and fresh pineapple. Then we picked up museum passes from the library and headed to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I love the indoor courtyard, which turns the building into a giant greenhouse. We trailed the kids while they speedwalked around the mansion, then took turns browsing while the kids sat on a bench and drew. (Ted wrote his name and scribbled; Bill drew his rendition of a painting with an ornately dressed king holding a scepter, but he substituted a robot for the king.) Later when we asked what their favorite parts of the museum were, Ted said, "When we drew with pencils." Bill picked the sculpting studio, where he made a snowman out of clay. (Ted made a mess. I carved a goblet out of soap, and was pretty proud of it.) After lunch at Tasty Burger, we headed home for naptime. I downloaded Toy Story and we watched it before dinner. About fifteen minutes in, I said, "I don't remember this part. Isn't there a yard sale?" JW told me I was thinking of Toy Story 2. I watched a little longer, and realized that I was seeing Toy Story for the first time. All these years I thought I had seen it.

Sunday was quieter. It was slushy outside. Bill was invited to an arcade with some friends. I shoveled the driveway and went grocery shopping, then to a nonprofit meeting. JW noticed Ted coughing and asked if I thought we should give him extra breathing treatments, and I, because I am a dumbass, said, "Nah, he seems fine to me." After several years of parenting an asthmatic kid, you'd think I would have learned by now that the answer to that question is always yes. That night, after listening to Ted cough himself to sleep, I ended up setting my alarm for 3 a.m. to give Ted his treatment, in between his 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. treatments. I felt so guilty.

Monday, we were back to our routine for the first time in many weeks. Which is a little sad and a little bit of a relief.

Monday, January 05, 2015

What I'm reading

I am in the middle of four books right now:

"The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin, which I grabbed because it was available at the library; I thought it would be too fluffy and it is a little, but it's actually making me ponder big questions. What role does happiness play in a meaningful life? I'm happy now; if I knew I had a week left to live, would that be good enough? One question she poses is whether happiness and ambition are incompatible, because if you're always striving for more, doesn't that mean you're not content with what you have? I think happiness and ambition can be compatible, and that working toward more doesn't mean you can't be happy until you've achieved your goal.

She also says that she initially felt silly embarking on this project when her life was already pretty perfect, even though she didn't appreciate it as much as she wanted to. But, she says, when life is going smoothly, what better time is there to get everything in order? That way, when crisis hits, you can deal with it knowing that you've tackled the other nagging tasks and changes you needed to make. I mentioned in my 2014 reflection post that this was a year of remarkable and welcome stability for us, so this resonated with me. I should take advantage of this time.

"Mindfulness in Plain English" by Thich Nhat Hanh. I have been reading this very slowly for over a year now, like a few pages a week, and going back and re-reading some parts. It's a good companion to "The Happiness Project." No fluff at all here. This week I'm on the loving-kindness chapter. You are supposed to wish peace, happiness, freedom from difficulties, and the courage, determination, and strength to overcome problems, to yourself, your loved ones, strangers, your enemies, and all living things. He points out that if you have enemies, wishing them ill makes you feel worse; but if your enemies are happy and at peace, then they will no longer be your enemies, so it benefits both of you to love them and wish them well.

"The Nine" by Jeffrey Toobin. A look at the Rehnquist and Roberts courts. Perfect pre-bedtime reading because it's interesting but very put-downable. I mean, I already know what happens next.

And "The Painted Word" by Phil Cousineau, a gift from a friend. This book is all about the origins of words and phrases, which is right up my alley, but I wish it were a little less literary and more technical. Still, it's a fun book, and it makes me smile to think of what my friend said when she gave it to me: "I saw this and knew it would be perfect for you -- and I can't imagine anyone else I  would buy this for."

Friday, January 02, 2015

Last year and this year

Writing a post reflecting on last year and listing my goals for this year has become an annual tradition for me. Here is the 2014/2015 edition.

Last January, I wrote that I was hoping for a year of stability. I'm happy to report that, for the first time in my adult life, I got through an entire year with no big life changes.

Here were my goals from last year, with a progress report:
  • Re-learn to swim. Check! I took lessons, and by fall I was floating in the ocean and not freaking out.
  • Family: 
    • Do something active with Bill. I trained him for a 5K! 
    • Get X out of diapers. Check! He still wears them at night, but mostly he wakes up dry.
    • Spend more time with JW that is not focused on household management. I think we did this; at least, I don't feel like it's a problem anymore. 
    • Learn more about asthma and how to manage it. Check; did some reading and saw the allergist again.
    • Make a will. I'm embarrassed that I'm a lawyer, with small children, and I STILL don't have a will. I used to do pro bono work drawing up estate documents for low-income seniors. I actually have a form will sitting in my email archives somewhere, that I could just fill in. Then again, low-income seniors are easy because they typically don't own anything or have dependents.
  • Career: 
    • Keep in touch with former classmates, colleagues, and clients. I did OK at this. I've been meaning to send happy new year emails to some former clients I want to stay in touch with; I should get on that before I lose my excuse.
    • Publish an article. Nope. I just don't know how to get started. I asked my boss for advice and she suggested the bar journal, but I don't know how one actually gets an article published in it.  Also, honestly, I didn't make this a priority.
  • Health: 
    • Incorporate more movement into my sedentary day. Check! I finally have a fairly consistent workout routine, and whenever the weather and my schedule allow, I get off the train a few stops early and walk the rest of the way to work. I could still be better about taking activity breaks during the work day. 
    • Make progress toward healthier eating habits. I'm happy with the progress I made. I'm not all the way there, but I have a healthier relationship with food than I did a year ago.
  • Nonprofit: 
    • Put on an event. Check! Our first annual volunteer day was a success.
    • Find a balance with my nonprofit work that I'm happy with. Not quite... but:
    • Have someone in line to succeed me at the end of my term. Yes!! Two someones, in fact, and I'm hoping they will take over before the end of the year and then I can take a step back. I have given so much time and energy to this organization, and while it's been a valuable experience in many ways, I'm looking forward to the day when I can resign from the board and have a chance to focus more on my career.
  • Home: 
    • Have a yard sale. Total fail on this one. JW and I both hate having yard sales. My in-laws came one weekend to help us, but it rained. We'll try again this year. I already collected all the stuff.
    • Turn our basement into a usable room. The basement is still a mess, but I'll call this one a qualified success. I wanted a workout space, and I set one up. As long as my little square on the floor is clear, and my workout equipment is easily accessible, that's all I really need out of the basement right now.
    • Redecorate Bill's room, which is currently wallpapered with pictures of Megaman characters. This was a gimme. I already had this planned for the weekend I wrote this. On January 1, 2014, Bill's twin bed got delivered, Ted inherited the toddler bed, and the crib moved up to the attic. I rearranged both of their rooms and did some redecorating.
    • Set up the new mudroom area. Check! 
    • Plant more things in the yard. Check! 
I'm pretty happy with all of that. Other things that happened in 2014: I started lifting weights; we went on a Disney cruise; we got rid of our Volvo and became a one-car family; we did a few necessary bathroom updates; we got to see our New Zealand relatives, which only happens once every four years or so; I joined a book club or two; we went on an anniversary trip to Vermont; I read a zillion books which I may attempt to list in a blog post; I finally stopped obsessing over my past life in biglaw; we took a road trip with the kids down to Washington, DC. And, I completed my first decade of blogging and printed a hardcover book of my first 10 years of posts! I got all this from scrolling through my blog archives, and I wasn't very good about blogging this year, so there might be more that I'm forgetting.

Here are my goals for this year:
Family: Continue trying to be more active with both boys. Encourage both of them more in developing their talents and interests. Figure out how to regulate iPad/technology use for Bill. Get Ted into the pre-K program at Bill's school. Have regular date nights. Send more letters to the grandparents and great-grandmothers. Actually make it to the annual MLK day SteveSongs concert for the first time ever, despite buying tickets every year.
Career: I have a vague desire to do more lawyerly things, but not enough to translate into actual goals for this year. How about, I hope to position myself to be able to focus more on my career in the next few years.
Health: Get into a consistent weightlifting and workout routine. End the year more fit than I am now. And stop eating constantly at work.
Community: Continue getting out more, trying to make connections with neighbors and friends in town. Hold some sort of informal gathering. Hold a successful second annual volunteer day. Step down as president of nonprofit.
Home: Finally have the yard sale. Continue excavating hidden corners and drawers. Fix up either the porch (which currently looks like hoboes live there) or the entryway (we have a weird tiny closed-off room with no lights or heat, that is currently filled with shoes and smells like feet), or both if I'm feeling ambitious. Improve the lighting in our house. Fix up our bedroom. Hang some of the pictures and art we have lying around. Be prepared for an emergency, with a fire plan, working flashlights, a water supply, and backups of our important documents.
Just for fun: Put some energy into something creative, maybe renewing my efforts to learn piano. Learn how to use a sewing machine. Visit the library maker space and the rock gym. Keep in better touch with far-flung friends. See a play.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy 2015!

Happy New Year!

This year we got to spend New Year's Eve with our friends Dr. CT and Dr. Mr. CT, who recently moved back to Boston after a long absence. We always used to celebrate New Year's Eve together, and it was great reviving that tradition (except in the olden days it used to involve sequins, booze, and leaving the house). This was the first time in many years that I managed to stay up past midnight. For the past few years I haven't even attempted it.

On the menu was squash, pear and cider soup with homemade Parker House rolls, courtesy of our guests; our annual individual beef Wellingtons; and black bottom oatmeal pie, with creamy chocolate ganache on the bottom and a pecan pie-like, chewy, oaty top.

While the kids were still up, we carried out our other New Year's ritual of making a toast to the new year, with champagne flutes and twisty straws, and eating twelve grapes for luck in each month of the new year. This year we added a song: the first verse of Auld Lang Syne followed by "HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR," with an accompanying dance. After the song the kids blew out the candles. It was very festive. This year Bill had a glittery hat with gold pipe cleaner antennae. (His preschool class makes hats at least twice a week, and he always has an occasion-appropriate hat.) I think next year we should institute a hat requirement for everyone. I like the idea of making the tradition progressively more elaborate each year.

Today I intended to start the new year off right by getting back to my exercise routine, which has been neglected for a while since we've all been sick. Instead I made blueberry muffins and have been eating slivers of pie every time I pass through the kitchen. But JW and I have both been on a mission today, in between entertaining and feeding children, to clear out closets, sock drawers, and toy chests. I like having a fresh start for the new year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014

I'm grateful this year, as I am every year, for having an extended family where people are nice to each other and have each other's best interests at heart. This year we spent Christmas up at the lake with the in-laws, where we also got some quality time with visiting relatives from New Zealand, and then headed down to my parents' house where the kids all ran around together.

At the lake, everyone kept getting sick and passing their illnesses around. Grandma was frantic because the visitors included one vegetarian, one gluten-free, and one with food allergies. And Grandpa, worried about the septic tank, forbade us from showering or flushing. But we persevered.

We did our annual Santa scavenger hunt, where Santa leaves a trail of clues with a present at the end. Bill's big gift this year, jointly given by the grandparents, was an iPad mini. This is a new frontier for us and we'll have to come up with some rules and restrictions, but we'll save that for the new year. Ted's favorite gift was a "cutting with scissors" workbook and a new pair of scissors. He spent the afternoon, into the evening, carefully cutting out shapes and leaving scraps of paper all over the couch.

On the next leg of our trip, we visited close family friends with a new baby, hung out with my brother and his family, and got together with a group of my high school friends. It was warm enough that the kids got to play at the playground, a Christmas miracle.

And now we're back home, preparing for the new year, and trying to all get healthy again.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Kid snapshot: Christmas edition

Every morning for the past two weeks, Ted has woken up asking, "Is it Christmas?" No, not yet. "Is it Christmas Eve? Did Santa come?"

And every day for the past four days or so, Bill has spent all day wearing a Santa hat. I think Bill has caught on that Santa might not be strictly real, but he is intent on believing.

The boys are sadly apart right now. JW and Ted are away visiting family. Bill and I were with them, but returned home for two days of school and work. Bill misses Ted so much. In the car he told me, "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually miss Ted's yelling." And you should have seen Bill's face light up when he heard his little brother's voice on the phone -- especially when Ted said, "I love you and you're my best friend."

Here is Bill at age seven and three quarters: His passions are still comics (both writing and reading them) and video games. For Christmas, he's giving everyone copies of his masterpiece, "Robo-Invasion 2."

Bill is my philosopher. He genuinely tries to be a good person, and thinks about what it means to be a good person. I was telling him about the Serial podcast, and he asked, "How long has he been in jail?" "Fifteen years." He grabbed my arm and said urgently, "Mom. We have to get him out."

Bill has a confidence in himself that I did not have when I was his age. He can disarm bullies with a deadpan joke. He is well-liked -- last year, his teacher told us his biggest problem was that everyone wanted to sit next to him at lunch and sometimes he didn't know how to handle that, and this year his teacher praised him for staying on task even though the other kids always want to get his attention.

Do I sound like I'm bragging? I'm more impressed than bragging. At least right now, he is a good kid. He's patient. He's grateful for what he has and doesn't make a fuss when he's disappointed. He's emotionally mature and increasingly independent. The other day I was laying out his pajama choices and he said, "Mom. Just let me wear what I want." I retreated to another room. Once he had changed, he came back out, put his hand on my arm, and said, "Mommy, I want you to know that I appreciate all the things you do for me. Thanks for taking care of me."

Bill only wants to wear clothes that have pictures of Minecraft, Megaman, or Super Mario Brothers. Preferably T-shirts, even in the dead of winter. He leaves his clothes all over the floor, sometimes inches away from the hamper. And he has a weird new habit of having his shoes half-off, so his heels are squashing down his shoes instead of being inside them. But, at least he is over his former aversion to underpants. It used to be that when I would empty the hamper, there would be a week's worth of clothes but only one pair of underpants.

And here is Ted at age three and three quarters. If Ted were a Muppet, he would be Animal. He has a big personality and he yells a lot. Not for tantrums. Just for fun. Actually, he's not a tantrummy kind of kid. When he's upset he can usually be easily distracted. He's a handful because he's so loud and has lots of energy, but when it comes to big things like sleeping, potty training, and managing his health issues, he tends to be very flexible and easygoing.

Ted still constantly talks about his office. He constantly talks in general, but his office is a favorite topic. In the car the other day, he announced that his office has a store. "What kind of store?" "A food store." "What do you sell?" "Money. When someone brings me a fish stick, I give them a dollar." JW and I simultaneously remarked to each other that it didn't sound like much of a business model. Ted then spent the next five minutes yelling, "I DON'T HAVE A BUSINESS MODEL!"

Ted always wants me to sing "Let It Go." He also likes me to tell him stories about himself, sometimes with Bill as a sidekick. He will interrupt me and add his own parts of the story.

Ted is emotionally resilient, in a way that I can learn from. He's the one member of the family who lets things roll off his back, instead of worrying about what did I do wrong and are they mad at me and how can I make up for it. He doesn't hold a grudge. If I stomp out of the room in a huff, he's smiling when I get back.

On the other hand, he does remember things, pretty much forever. When he saw my mother, who he hadn't seen for a couple of months, the first thing out of his mouth was, "Remember when I went to your house and you gave me a 'lergic cookie?"

Ted is rarely shy and will engage strangers in long, perplexing conversations. He will hug on demand, even distant family members he doesn't remember.

Ted still likes to color and cut paper. He will concentrate intensely while he fills up the entire paper with color, leaving no white spots, or cuts it up into tiny rectangles which he puts in his scrap basket. Ted puts his creations on the fridge and gets upset if he catches one in the recycling.

And those are my kids. I like them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

MILP Roundup #371

The weekly Mothers In the Legal Profession Roundup is hosted on a rotating basis at theButterflyfishGraceBJJ, Law, and LivingMommy and the Sin CityMagic CookieThe Reluctant Grownup, and Perspectives of a Hard Boiled Egg blogs. Leave a comment if you'd like your blog to be added to the Roundup.

This edition of the Roundup covers the week from Monday, 12/8, to Sunday, 12/14

Mommy and the Sin City tells Lucy's birth story!
The Queen of Hats is done with her homeschool email list after a Fahrenheit 451 situation.
Dr. Mama Esq. is experiencing some pains in the neck.
Daisy takes family pictures.
Kate makes fudge.
The CP family cuts down a Christmas tree.
Lag Liv's peninsula has allegedly gone to rejoin Mother Earth.

And here in the Magic Cookie household, we managed to sell our car and were grateful to have some financial breathing room... only to find that what we expected would be a minor home repair ate up  nearly the entire amount we received for the car. The universe giveth, the universe taketh away.

Book clubs

I missed being in a book club. I hadn't been in one for years.

I mentioned this to a friend, who invited me along when a neighbor of hers decided to start a book club. I'm the only one who's driving distance away, so I'm not sure if I'll ever end up hosting. And they all know each other. But the first meeting was fun, and I'm looking forward to the next even though I have to read a Dave Eggers novel.

The same night as that book club meeting, one of my neighbors emailed me to say she wanted to start up a neighborhood book club. Talking about books and hanging out with neighbors are both things I like, so I said yes to that one too.

I finished the book today. I think I strained my eyes from rolling them so hard. The book is about a cooking class where everyone sensuously runs their fingers through grains and deeply inhales the heady aroma of rosemary, which brings them back to a sun-dappled afternoon in Greece where they licked olive oil off their fingers and made love slowly, gently, as the wind blew the scent of the prickly green bushes on to the veranda. Everyone doesn't realize that something in them is broken until they close their eyes and allow themselves to taste, abandoning themselves to the moment, in which they are healed. And everyone, including the teacher, is paired up by the end. It's basically like a novelization of a Lifetime original movie.

I like these neighbors, so I'll need to figure out how to be tactful about their abysmal taste in books.