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.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

November catch-up

I'm recovering from the flu. JW is trying to convince himself that he is perfectly healthy because he has business travel coming up. Bill has been coughing for weeks but haven't had a fever, and passed on his cough to me. I'm just waiting for Ted to get sick because that's when the shit hits the fan. The rest of us get sick, we're tired and miserable for a little while. Ted gets sick, he ends up in the hospital. I can't count how many times I've washed my hands in the past few days.

Pre-flu, we went on a Disney cruise with the extended family. The kids loved it. I am not a Disney person. I had an actual panic attack during the welcome party, becoming so overwhelmed by the deafening noises, flashing lights, and crowds that I shoved Ted at JW, sobbed, "I NEED TO LEAVE" and fled. But that taught me to stay within my comfort zone and avoid the parties and shows, and I was okay for the rest. And it was pretty sweet to be building sandcastles on a tropical beach in the middle of November. Bill liked the Animator's Lab where he got to make his own comic books, and Ted loved seeing Santa and Mickey wherever we went. I think Ted also liked the extreme Mom time. We were attached at the hip for most of the cruise.

On the last day, they kick you off the boat early. We ended up at the airport around 10 a.m. for our 3:30 flight. We thought about trying to rent a car and see some sights, but we were all exhausted. It ended up being the most relaxing day of our vacation. The kids drew, played, and watched the Smurfs. I spent the day reading "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and finished it just as the plane touched down in Boston. Nothing like reading a good book from cover to cover, instead of my usual commute-reading.

We went to the in-laws' house for Thanksgiving. I voted to stay home, but was overruled. It turned out okay because Thanksgiving night was when I figured out I was sick. I spent most of the next few days in bed and the in-laws were happy to watch the kids.

And in between and during all this, I've skipped a multitude of social engagements, dropped most of my non-essential chores, and have been working from home. I'm very grateful to have a job where I can work from home for days at a time and it's not a big deal.

Other things that have happened in the past few weeks: mini-bathroom renovation, which mostly took place while we were gone; nothing dramatic, but we now have an exhaust fan and our disgusting old vanity with the veneer peeling off has been replaced with a respectable Ikea model. JW sold the car! He actually got someone to pay us money for it, which I had been pessimistic about. So we are now officially a one-car family, but I'm not sweating it so much now that we didn't take a total loss on the car. And our Christmas tree and lights are up, which makes me happy when I walk home in the dark and see our house shining in the darkness.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Zipcar

I just made my first Zipcar reservation! A big step in exploring life as a one-car family. New experiences make me a little anxious, so I have worries about installing a carseat, the car not being there when I need it, how to drop off the car and get the toddler and the carseat back home if the weather's bad, the doctor's appointment running late so that I'm late dropping off the car, etc. But I'm trying not to indulge that anxiety.

In theory we're evaluating life as a one-car family while the Volvo sits in the garage. We decided to give it two weeks and then make a decision about whether to spend a big chunk of money trying to fix the car or get rid of it. But from the beginning we were leaning toward getting rid of it. We have a one-car garage and winter is coming. It seems like the inconvenience of not having an extra car is roughly equal to the inconvenience of having it.


In other news, I've been feeling so trapped lately. I wrote a few months ago about how I felt like this fog had lifted and I was really enjoying my children and it seemed like such a waste that I had spent so much time experiencing parenthood as a drag, rather than a joy. The fog is back. And I'm back to feeling like my every move, practically my every breath, is circumscribed by these two needy little people. Anyway. It will pass. I'll blame Daylight Saving Time. I've been waking up at 4 every morning and I'm sure that's not helping my mood.

Update: After writing the paragraph above, I went downstairs to spend the morning with Ted while  Bill went to a playdate and JW to a meeting. Ted decided he wanted to play on the porch, on his own. For ten blessed minutes I had peace, ignoring the banging from the porch. When I went out to check on him, I saw this:
"I'm an extruction worker!"
That ten minutes did wonders to restore my mental health. And then for the rest of the morning, he hung out with me in the kitchen while I assembled an elaborate lasagna for dinner. He chopped mushrooms and we told each other stories and sang an all-meow version of "Let It Go."

In the afternoon JW came back and I got to the gym for the first time in three months. I came home and took a shower and for most of the time nobody else was in the bathroom with me. And friends came for dinner to eat the elaborate lasagna.

Mommy meltdown averted. But I really need to get a babysitter.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The past few days

Monday: Daddy out doing election stuff. Apple cider waffles and bacon for dinner. For once, no dinner drama! And the waffles were so good. Breakfast for dinner might become a regular part of the rotation.

Tuesday: Bill had the day off because his school is a polling place. I worked from home. We took a mid-day break for voting and pizza, and an afternoon break for tag and races. To keep him from playing video games all day, I made him a checklist of 8 "challenges," including doing a lesson from the "learn to draw" book, building a Legoscape, writing a thank-you card to Grandma, doing several days' worth of homework, coloring a map of Antarctica, and learning a magic trick. He loved it and requested more challenges next time he has a day off. I was surprised to learn that he doesn't want to play video games all day.

Dinner was chili mac, heavy on the mac for the kids. I was completely staggered when Bill said, "This looks great!" and Ted -- Ted, the child who will specifically ask for a food and then will push away the plate yelling, "I don't want that!" --  said, "Thank you for cooking dinner for us, Mommy."

!

He definitely learned that from his big brother.

Today he was back to whining.

(And neither of them finished the chili.)

Wednesday: Bill wants to write to NASA and tell them about his two ideas: plants in spaceships, to provide oxygen for the astronauts; and a jet-pack alternative that acts like a reverse vacuum cleaner. Ted apparently told his teacher, who is in love with him and tells me every day at pickup how smart and sweet and handsome he is and how he is so amazing at tracing and coloring that other parents will stop in their tracks and their jaws will hang open as they take in his incredible skill, that he is going to a different school. I told her, but I need to make sure she understands, that he's not going anywhere for nearly a year.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

MILP Roundup #367

The weekly Mothers In the Legal Profession Roundup is hosted on a rotating basis at the Butterflyfish, Grace, BJJ, Law, and Living, Mommy and the Sin City, Magic Cookie, The 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, 10/27, to Sunday, 11/2. Which means this is the second year in the row I get the Halloween roundup, so once again, guess which costume/Halloween story belongs to which parent:

  1. Elsa, lobster, and Wolverine.  
  2. Power Ranger, Spiderman, skeleton, and burritos.
  3. Dragon and cowboy-detective-robot-ranger.
  4. Pumpkins and sonograms.
  5. An adorable owl. (A little past the roundup end date, but thematically appropriate.)
  6. Turtle and... ninja? (And a Mommy who's ready to quit.)
Answers:
  1. Lag Liv
  2. Full of the Dickens
  3. Magic Cookie
  4. kderoll
  5. Daisy, JD
  6. Alice in Wonderland
And in other news...

Frenchie hits 35 weeks.
It's family voting time for Kate.
In the Hard Boiled Egg family, big brother explains how trees grow.
Suzie, JD is gearing up for the long haul to partnership.
Welcome to the roundup, Dr. Mama Esquire -- who is the default parent in her household.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Halloween 2014

I almost forgot to report on Halloween.

We tried to feed the kids dinner before trick or treating, which was a pain in the ass. Note to future self: don't even attempt veggies on Halloween.

Ted was a dragon. Bill was a cowboy-detective-robot-Power Ranger hybrid.

At each house, Ted warned the people that he was allergic to nuts. And at about half the houses, on his way out he yelled, "Even when you're sad I still love you!" Which confused some people and charmed others.

We ran into a pack of Bill's friends and went around with them for a while. We stopped by one of their houses for a post-trick or treating party, but Bill wasn't done trick or treating so we didn't stay too long.

I was utterly exhausted by the time we got home. The kids dumped their hauls on the kitchen table. While the grownups were busy quarantining the nut-containing candy, Ted was discovering M&Ms. He devoured two packs and carefully stacked up all his remaining packs, then tried to annex Bill's M&Ms.


We put the kids to bed, then ate the Snickers.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

A tale of two shopping trips

The kids were up early this morning, and eventually I realized we hadn't eaten breakfast. Seemed like a perfect time to check out the new bagel shop, rumored to be New York quality. The kids were excited for bagels, so after the requisite amount of yelling and jumping on things we all bundled into the car and headed off to Porter Square.

I should have bailed out as soon as I saw the line stretching down the block. I offered to take them out for breakfast up the street, but they voted for bagels. So we waited. And waited. Bill sprinted up and down the block to stay warm. Then Ted started following, nearly crashing into people and getting too far away for comfort. After nearly half an hour we got into the store. That was even worse. I just barely managed to stop Ted before he knocked over a container full of cookies that was sitting on the counter. I was nearly in tears by the time we finally got to the front of the line. (Okay, I MAY have almost-sobbed, "Can we go home?" and Bill MAY have been so concerned that he started compulsively patting my arm and saying, "Mommy, it's okay. Mommy, it's okay.")

The bagels weren't even good.

Later that afternoon, JW came home. I begged him to let me have some time to myself and he readily agreed. I almost sabotaged my free time by suggesting a family trip to Costco, which seemed like it would be terrible for my sanity but essential to the running of our household. The kids loudly protested and started jumping on each other again. JW asked me if I really thought this was a good idea. I came to my senses and called off the family trip, but volunteered to use my "me time" for a solo Costco run.

I was so happy, wandering the aisles by myself. I tried on four sweaters. I looked at all the different types of cereal, pens, and food storage containers. I bought some ice cream for $1.44, including tax, and ate it while examining everything on the right side of the store, where I never go because we rarely need anything from there. I scored a giant puffy coat for less than a third of the price I had budgeted, and snow pants for Bill. I came home refreshed.

It's funny, the things that you relish when you're a parent. One of my other moments of supreme relaxation that I remember vividly was sitting in the airport with JW, cups of coffee in hand, waiting for our flight to board.

Friday, October 31, 2014

What I'm watching

I'm going through "The Good Wife" withdrawal. After spending all my free time watching it for a week, I had to start dealing with real life again -- answering emails, making little Halloween goody bags for Ted's class party. I watched the first twelve episodes last week and I'm hooked. I love how Julianna Margulies is such a badass in this show. Love her expressive silences. Love the fancy law firm, which is feeding my biglaw nostalgia. Of course, legally speaking, so many ridiculous things happen on this show. Nobody is bothered by either the rules of evidence or the rules of professional responsibility. I'm avoiding any Googling because I'm several seasons behind and don't want spoilers, but I'm sure somebody out there has written an analysis of the professional ethics in this show and I'm looking forward to reading it one day.

My other new favorite show is "black-ish." I had my mouth hanging open through most of the pilot. I'm not black, but as a minority I was shocked to see my experience up there on the screen, on a mainstream sitcom. I kept flashing back to so much shit people have said to me in my life, like when the dad's colleague at the ad agency asks (for research) how black people say "good morning." The pilot set up two interesting sources of tension. Andre, the dad of the family, is excited about his promotion which will make him the first black SVP at the agency... until he learns that he's the head of the newly created "urban division." Meanwhile, at home, he sees his kids blending in a little too well in their wealthy suburban surroundings -- his son wants to play field hockey instead of basketball, the twins aren't interested in playing with the only other black child in their class. He becomes increasingly unhinged, insisting that his family act "more black" at home while wanting to be recognized for his skill, not his skin color, at work. His family, especially his physician wife, acts as a nice counterbalance. They're not troubled at all about whether they're "black enough" and are content doing what they like. It was an amazing amount to put into a pilot. And funny, too! In later episodes the show goes more into typical family sitcom territory, but always with a twist. For instance, in the episode where the dad has a sex talk with the son, the son just won't stop sharing and, days later, is still revealing his every urge. I particularly appreciated the one where Andre shows up late to a meeting after dropping off the kids and his boss commends him for putting family first, but the woman who walks in immediately afterward gets dirty looks when she says she has a sick kid. Andre leans over and tells her she needs to get it together.

Are you watching anything good?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Training

All-day training session today. It was more fun than work. By the end, I was surprised to find myself slipping back into old habits I thought I had left behind long ago. There were team exercises throughout the day. I took on the role of group coach, tasked with keeping us on track and redirecting when appropriate.

The last group activity was a problem-solving exercise. At first I was actively participating, but after a while I got tired of having to loudly interrupt and be loudly interrupted whenever I wanted to say anything. The group was six people, including one other woman (who didn't say much during this) and all software developers except me. Nobody was being rude, just communicating in the way they were used to. A way that was very familiar to me from my engineering days. Now I have the social skills to speak up and hold my own in a group like that. But by the end of the day I felt depleted and I didn't have it in me to make that effort anymore. So I just sat back and let the guys take over.

That hasn't happened to me in a long time. I thought it was because of my aforementioned development of social skills and confidence. But I realize now that the problem wasn't that I couldn't handle it, it's that I don't like it. It's tiring to have to constantly fight to be heard. One thing I value about being a lawyer is that I have automatic credibility.  People assume that I have something of value to say. They can bloviate and bluster all they want, but in the end they need to listen to me. And if I speak quietly, they lean in to hear me.