Friday, June 27, 2008

Cowtown Camera Girl

I've added one of my favorite blogs to my blog list recently. It is the blog for Cowtown Camera Girl. My friend Nell is a librarian and new mother who, in her spare time, takes pictures. She is amazing! We were lucky enough to have her get started taking pictures by taking pictures of our family. She is so good with the kids and gets some of the greatest natural shots. These are some of the wonderful shots she took of us a couple years ago here. Anyway, I frequently visit her website and blog to keep up with her progress as a photographer as well as to keep updated on the family. I was lucky enough to meet Nell's husband, Logan, when I was clerking at the 14th District Court of Appeals in Houston. He was starting at Cantey Hanger in the fall and I had just finished clerking there so we had a little to talk about. Luckily, I was offered a job at CH and worked there with Logan (aka Ryan) for about a year and a half before I started workign for my current firm. I love my new firm, but I still miss some of my friends over at CH, including Logan. So, my family has been blessed to know Logan and Nell and now their sweet baby Ezra. We've had so much fun having our pictures taken and I know it is time to do it again now that I'm looking at these old pictures. Anyway, I hope you can take the time to visit Nell's blog and see all her beautiful photos - she has an amazing eye! Maybe once we get our family pictures taken you will see some of us on there too!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Missing my babies

I'm really missing my kids today. I was home by 7:00 last night, but I still feel like I didn't get to see them for very long. Plus, I was asleep by about 9:30 although I finally climbed the stairs to my wonderful bed at 10:00. I'm so tired since I'm carrying the little fetus around. I wish I could spend lots of fun time with Luke and Evie tonight, but I have yet another clerk event. I think I mentioned it, at Lanny's. It is very yummy, but sometimes homemade grilled cheese sounds appealing too.

I hope the babies don't forget who I am. Nights and weeks like these make it even harder to leave them at daycare in the morning because I feel like I'm constantly abandoning them. Chuck gets all the fun of being the hero when he picks up. It is the best feeling to walk into their classrooms in the evening and when they see you they light up, call out excitedly, "Mommy!" and run over to you for a hug. It is the absolute best feeling in the world - better than their first smile or laugh. The only thing that tops that is when they say, with all sincerity, "I love you." I love them like crazy!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Melt Down Over Muffins?

So I ran out of muffins for breakfast this morning and I had (unwisely) already offered to give the kids muffins for breakfast. I should have checked my supplies first, but stupid me, I kept going. So, I have one package of the hostess mini muffins left. There are five muffins per package and both kids are starting to crank up their whining meters when they start to realize that there is only one bag. Which kid should get it? The kid who whines the most or the one who doesn't? I actually find this to be a difficult decision. If you give the muffins to the kid who whines the most then the kid is basically being rewarded for his behavior or at least getting his way. But, the whiney kid is then quiet (a very compelling result) and the other, less whiney, kid is whining, but has settled for something less than muffins. On the other hand, if you give the less whiney kid the muffins (to reward his less annoying behavior) then you end up with the whiney kid embarking on a full-fledged fit, lying on the ground, legs kicking and tears flowing. (Yes, I know they are brats sometimes).

So, this morning, I decided to split the 5 muffins (2 in one sandwich bag and 3 in the other) and then split a breakfast bar (1/2 in each sandwich bag) to make up the difference for the incomplete bag of muffins. Well, this did not go over well. Evie melted down on the kitchen floor with big crocodile tears and a look on her face as if I just told her I spent her college fund on liposuction. I just don't know what was so awful about having to split up the muffins. Luke also was not satisfied and said, "I don't like 3 muffins, I like 5 muffins" in that oh so annoying kid voice that they take on when they're being brats. WTF?!? I'm doing my best here to be King Solomon and the kids are still pissed at me! Well, eventually, I told them (and can't decide if this is over the line as a mean mother) that they could either have the muffins and cereal bar I gave them or they could have no breakfast at all, and I reached to take away their bags of food. Each child pulled their food out of my reach and gave me a dirty look. Then, both of them dried up their tears and switched to what is intended to be guilt inducing sniffling. And that was the end of it. Seriously, why can't they just accept the fact that I don't have another bag of muffins, which, in case I haven't mentioned, I fully explained to them and offered them alternative breakfast foods.

This sort of episode is what makes being a mother wearing rather than rewarding. It is everyday and it really does add to the shit you take everday, thus decreasing your tolerance for more shit at work. Usually this isn't a problem (thank Heaven), but one must wonder if this is what stay-at-home moms go through all day long. Seriously, I wouldn't make it a week as a SAHM.

Oh, yes, and that episode came after Luke threw a fit about not wanting to wear his swim suit to splash day at school because he didn't want to wear wet clothes. I assured him that his swim suit was not wet and he could change out of it as soon as splash day was over. Why don't they believe me? I really don't lie to them very often. I'll admit that I do sometimes. For example, Luke asked me how the baby comes out and I was really rather disinclined to tell him any more than that the doctor helps the baby come out of my belly at the hospital. Unfortunately, I know there are more questions ahead, such as "How did the baby get in your belly, Mommy?" That is the one I'm not sure how to answer for a four-year old. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

2 Hour Lunch, No billables

Ugh! The bane of having clerks. Today we went to Lonesome Dove for lunch for over two hours! No complaints really, except that my billables took a hit. I was actually quite excited to go to Lonesome Dove which is purported to be one of the best restraunts in Fort Worth, and maybe even FWD. Yes, I know you Dallas folk are objecting strenuously to such a contention. But, really, it is true, the 2005 Zagat Survey results recognized Lonesome Dove Western Bistro as having the best food in Fort Worth, winning the restaurant a spot in Zagat’s coveted “America's Top Restaurants.” Plus, it's owner and chef, Tim Love beat the Iron Chef guy. Anyway, it was quite tasty and I recommend it, especially if you are looking for a gamey menu. We had kangaroo nachos as an appetizer and some sort of rattlesnake sausage thingy. You know everything has a very fancy name. I loved it! The chocolate bread pudding with coffee was also very nice. Two hours latter, stuffed and sleepy, I returned to the office. This is one of the perks of having clerks and working in a law firm.

Thursday night I'm taking my assigned clerk out to Lanny's for a sumptuous dinner and then we're hitting the scat lounge for a little jazz and drinks (only Shirley Temples for me and the fetus though). Gotta go. Late for a meeting!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Part II: Sacrificing the Career or Motherhood?

I think the discussion of this topic is really the key to my entire blog, because this is what almost every working mom agonizes about. Now, I'm not saying that I beat myself up over it, but it is a constant question, and there are new facets to the question as the children get older. When my little ones were babies, I hated to leave them because I knew they were most familiar and comfortable with me and I thought that I was abandoning them to a stranger. After a couple of months of daycare, I didn't feel that way anymore, but I still thought I could have been just as good as the people at daycare at taking care of my baby. Plus, I knew that if I was taking care of my baby myself, my baby would never have to wait to get his or her bottle or have his or her diaper changed. With that said, maybe waiting is a good thing, especially when they get a bit older - that way they aren't so spoiled. But you really do sacrifice seeing them wave for the first time, clap their hands for the first time, being the first one to feel their tooth poking through, watching their first steps, hearing the first belly laugh . . . the list goes on and on. I've resigned myself to that, and things just seem to continue as they grow up, but the worst part about them growing up is their awareness that you are missing it.

Now Luke is 4 and Evie is almost 3. Luke constantly wants to show us the work he is doing at school and if there is an event for Fathers Day, or Thanksgiving, or a birthday party, he is aware when we aren't there and the other kids' parents are. That absolutely breaks my heart to picture him sitting in his classroom, alone, while all the other kids are sitting next to their parents and showing their parents their work. That is worse than knowing you are missing a smile or a laugh, because now your child knows you're missing it too. Luckily, we do our very best to show up to all the events if we can, and he is so excited to see us.

He loves to see me and he loves to show me what he is doing at school and that is special too. If I was at home with him everyday, he wouldn't be so excited to show me all the things he is learning because I would already know. The excitement and pleasure on his face when he names his continents or matches rhyming words is priceless and makes my heart swell. I'm so proud of him and Evie and all that they are doing. I love that they know more songs than I do, that they play games that I've never seen before, that he learned how to ride a tricycle from an older boy at school, that Luke gets to talk about the Aggies and know that there are other schools out there aside from A&M, and that Evie can see that other little girls wear dresses and bows in their hair. She has girlfriends and he has boyfriends. Their little hands fit with one another and they like to share lunches. I just love everything about that even though I'm not there to witness it.

One of the best things I love about daycare is that there are other parents who are experiencing the same thing and some of these people are our very best friends. And they experience the same twinges of guilt and love that we do. It is easy to talk to them about their careers and their opinions about the education our children are receiving. For example, one of our closest friends is PAH. She is an OB in her last year of residency and she is going to join my OB's practice in the fall. We're all very excited about this. But you should know that this residency program has been very difficult on her and her family, but they've weathered it admirably. PAH and LH have a daughter who is two weeks younger than Luke and they have been in school together since Luke was about three months old. We've watched her grow up and she and Luke have been close friends from the beginning. She LOVES him and he likes her just fine. Sometimes it is a sad little love triangle, but we've all agreed that Luke will be kicking himself when he is 16 because will definitely be gorgeous. Sorry, I digress. Anyway, PAH started her residency at the hospital when little girl was only three months old and since then she has worked her butt off. I don't know how she does it. She works 12-hour shifts and she works a week of nights once a month. That alone would totally screw me up. Whenever we see her she looks exhausted and worn out. She and little girl love on each other, and Dad is constantly single at dinners with us or just out on the town. When I say "out on the town" I don't mean he is hitting bars, but he will hire a babysitter and go to Barnes & Noble or take a long run. And seriously he deserves it because little girl is hyper just like him. He spends a lot of time with his daughter and PAH spends a lot of time with her job. Unfortunately for her family (but fortunately for her patients), the job requires that she spend that much time there taking care of her patients. She and LH love each other, have been married for 13 years and are contemplating having another child, but it is so difficult to comprehend how they make it work since PAH has to miss so much of their daughter's growing up. Don't get me wrong, she makes it to recitals and birthday parties, but dinner every night is an impossibility.

So here is yet anothe example of a mother who is great at what she does, but I'm sure she wonders just like me, whether it is the best for her little girl. Plus, PAH used to be a teacher before med school. I know PAH is better off as a doctor and makes a difference delivering babies, but I also know she misses her family.

Must get to work now.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sacrificing the career or motherhood?

So a couple days ago, while Chuck was "out of town" I received at my ofice a beautiful flower arrangement from my beloved husband. (When I say "out of town" I mean that he was away on business to the extent that he stayed at a hotel away from home for several days and could barely contact or see us, but it turns out he was holed up in a hotel across the street from my office building). Now, we've been married for over 10 years, and while flowers ussed to be a common occurence in my life, they are not the norm anymore. I dont' blame it on loss of affection or anything as ridiculous as that, I simply blame theloss of fresh flowers on our busy schedules. Nonetheless, when flowers appear from out of nowhere and not attached to any significant event, a girl gets a little suspicious. Honestly, I think he really just plain loves me, but it makes me contemplate whether we've gotten ourselves overcommitted in life. I have to admit that I'm probably the overcommited one, and Chuck constantly encourages me to continue to participate in my community service and social activities.

And so I ponder today, Do you sacrifice time with your children (your most beloved treasure in the world) so that you can have a stellar career or do you sacrifice your career so you can be a stellar mother, or, in my case, do you settle for mediocrity in your career and as a mother?

It is difficult to choose how to balance work and home life. I choose to work full time (about 9:00 to 6:00 - not a lot of hours for an attorney), and see my children in the mornings and the evenings. I actually feel that they are better off getting an education from professionals rather than from me. Plus, they get to experience an environment with other kids where they have to share and they get to learn from children who are older. Secondly, I love that when I'm with them I get to do all the fun stuff (not always, but a lot of the time), so we get to spend Saturdays at the zoo and evenings at Central Market on the playground. Luke and Evie don't see me as their constant disciplinarian (although I feel like I am one) and I don't have to feel guilty about all the stuff that they aren't learning becuase I don't have a degree in early childhood development. If you've got it, I say go for it and stay at home with your children. After all, they will only be this age once and it is so very precious to mold a child and watch him or her grow. I truly wish I could be more a part of their lives, but I wonder whether that would be better for them than what they already have, which is two loving parents (luckier than some) and a great education. Seriously, Luke is four and knows his continents, and is already starting to write and read.

Plus, I wonder how much time I should spend out of the house in the evenings even if it is for a worthy charitable cause. In my last blog I gave you an example of a very busy week where I had an event every day of the week outside of business hours. It can get rather hectic. Chuck has times like that too where he has to go 48 hours without seeing the kids because I pick up and drop off and he is out of the house before they wake up and not home until after they are asleep. I'll admit that this is the extreme and most nights we spend together for at least an hour or two. Still, I would hate to have the realization when my kids are 16 and seeing a therapist that I should have spent more time with them.

But on the work side of things, a lawyer actually needs to be more committed than I am. I do my best to stay active so that I can overcome what I consider some of my weaknesses in the industry. I'll admit that I'm no Clarence Darrow, and this won't be a surprise to anyone at the firm. You can even look at more modern achievers like Hillary Clinton. If you go to her campaign site, which I imagine has been pulled by now, you will see that she breaks up her life into sections and one 20 year section is entitled "Advocate and Mother". If you read the section, however, there is very little to comment on about her as a Mother. Politically I can see that she wouldn't want to focus on PTA or other parent related activities, but would rather emphasize her professional experience. But still, doesn't it make you wonder how much time did she spend with Chelsea if she was a partner at a lawfirm and eventually first lady. So the question remains,
"Do you sacrifice time with your children (your most beloved treasure in the world) so that you can have a stellar career or do you sacrifice your career so you can be a stellar mother, or, in my case, do you settle for mediocrity in your career and as a mother?" If you have the answer let me know, because I'm still not sure.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Clerk Season

Another day, another dollar, right? Ugh. I love my law firm, but sometimes I'm not sure I'm in love with the law. Luckily, I'm enjoying today. Lots to do. Responses to motions. Four subpoenas, calling bankruptcy trustees - tons of fun, right? Well, it's not bad, but I'm telling you it is beautiful outside and my golf clubs are calling to me. Wake UP!

I'm stuck here until late since Chuck is finally back from "out of town" and he can pick up the kids. No excuse to go home early and obviously plenty to do. The big thing that is going on is that we are in clerk season. This is where law firms hire law school students to work at the firm for part of the summer (about 6 weeks). We are currently in week 5 of 6 with our clerks and it has been exhausting. There is at least one event a week, and usually more, plus lunches. I love the clerks because it makes me feel as if I've actually learned something since I got out of lawschool, but it takes a lot of time. If there is one thing I don't have, it is more time.

In case you don't know, I'm a member of everything (or at least it feels like everything). I'm president of my undergraduate university's Alumni Association, I'm on the board of directors for my law school's alumni association. I am Secreatary for my law school law review alumni association, I am VP for the local young lawyer's bar association, and I am a member of Junior Women's Club (and Year Book officer) That's the bulk of what I participate in, but there are always little things outside of that like volunteering at the school (I admit I've only done this once) and then there is the whole part about living in general - getting nails done, hair done (I haven't had mine colored in 5 months), taking the pets to the vet, making sure all the wine glasses are clean, etc.

So, back to clerk season. Understatement: I'm swamped. Last week we had a baseball game on Monday, I had an Alumni meeting on Tuesday, a clerk event Wednesday night as well as a Junior Women's Club meeting, a Young Lawyer's Happy hour on Thursday, a clerk happy hour on Friday, and a clerk brunch on Saturday morning. I'm tired. Only a week and a half to go, and then I'll be missing the clerks and all their events. But I won't be misisng all the babysitter costs and time away from my angels.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hair Cuts for Royalty

So, Chuck is "out of town" for the next couple days so I am acting as a single mom. Seriously, I have no idea how single moms do it! It is a whipping. There are some good parts. I get to do whatever I want with the kids without consulting anyone else's wishes. For example, last night I took the kids for a haircut at Sweet n Sassy. If you haven't been there, it is overpriced fun. Honestly, the kids like going there and they are very attentive to making it fun for the kids - mainly for girls. Luke got his beautiful head of curly hair cut and lightly styled and then it was Evie's turn. The poor girl has very little hair, but what she has is soft, blond, and slightly curly. They trimmed it just a little - becuase, as I said, there isn't much hair there to begin with. Then they styled it and sprayed it with glitter. And to top it all off, they gave her glitter stars on her cheeks and glitter lotion for her arms. These people are totally about glitter. Even the floor is painted in glitter. It is completely over the top, but the kids love it!

So, I made an appointment at 6:30 because, I'm a working mom and had to leave the office at 5:30 to pick up the kids (which is really too early to be leaving my job). We made it to the mall right on time, maybe even with a few minutes to spare. Now, this store franchise just openned and there is one stylist and one customer there - I'm not exagerating. They tell us that the stylist is just finishing up with the customer. We look around for a while at all the glitterly wares they have to sell to children and their unsuspecting mothers who better have just gotten paid. We also played on the runway that they have for birthday party dress up stuff. My little hooligans just love to dance and the music was pumping (even though there was no one there) and they had a blast tumbling and be-bopping to the music. Aside - I've got to get Evie into dance lessons. So we do that for a while and then they turn a movie on - Sleeping Beauty - and the kids watch that for about 20 minutes. At this point, I'm not too pissed, because the kids really don't have to be controlled in this environment and the stylist is still working on the little girl that was there when we got there. What totally hacked me off, however, is that the mother of the little girl is nit-picking every little thing about the girl's haircut. The little girl, by the way, looks pissed and has red puffy eyes, which looks like she was crying before we got there. The hairdresser patiently addressed every concern and misplaced hair on the child's head until finally - after about 40 minutes of waiting, the mother was satisfied. Thank Heaven!!!!

So, we finally go over and my kids are done in less than 20 minutes for both of them combined. Seriously, people, your six year old daughters are not getting married or meeting royalty or attending the Academy Awards - they don't need to have a flawless haircut! So, I spent over an hour at sweet n sassy waiting to get the kid's hair cut. But, I have to say that Luke and Evie were perfect angels while they got their hair cut. I was very impressed because it is usually a screaming fit for Luke and Evie puts up just a little fuss. This time - they were P-E-R-F-E-C-T!!!!

After the haircut we went to Chik-fil-a for dinner and a little playtime. Luke ate like a horse (he must be in a growth spurt) and Evie ate like a bird. Then they played for about 30 minutes in the playground until I realized it was already 8:30 - their bedtime. We got home at 9:00 and the kids didn't get to bed until 9:20. Still, it was a fun evening for them, even if I didn't get a thing accomplished at home. So, the house still sits in chaos with unfolded laundry in the living room and the painters strewn across the house while we have our remodeling done. Another day in the life of a working mother.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Back in the Saddle

So, I have several friends who seem to find time to blog everyday, but I swear I don't have the time. I work too hard at home and at work to find time to write, but I think it might behoove me to use this forum to express how difficult it can be to be a professional mother. Actually, that was the point when I originally started this blog, but that is the reason that I can't seem to keep it up.

I'm in at work this a.m. at 8:30 (an early start for me) since Chuck took the kids in. Now, I'm fast and furious working on Subpoenas and letters to opposing counsel. There's just no free time since every minute has to be billed to someone. I hate the billable hour.

My comment today is that I think it is so different for a working mother because it is generally (not absolutely) the duty of the mother to keep track of the random day-to-day matters. In my case, this includes snack day, type of snack, birthdays, splash day at school, does Chuck have enough clean clothes, is there enough milk to get us through the week, did I feed the dog this morning, do the kids have extra clothes at school, scheduling kid check ups, scheduling car check ups, all the scheduling for family holidays and parties, and the list goes on and on. Luckily, Chuck really does handle a lot of what is going on, but it is easy to forget things. For example, I bought strawberries at the store yesterday and I forgot to clean them and put them in the refrigerator. That is one of the first things Chuck talked to me about this morning. I mean, come on, so I freakin forgot! I forget things all the time and so does he. For example, after that discussion this morning, he forgot to pack lunches for the kids. Ugh.

Sometimes I really hate Mondays, but then I think that I'm lucky to be alive and able to work at such a great job. So here I am, plowing away through the legal paperwork that is my job and answering crazy minutely detailed questions. I hope to keep up my posts, so that I can show you how crazy it gets sometimes.

Oh, by the way, because we didn't have enough going on, Chuck and I have decided to welcome a third child into our family. For those of you who are asking, this was completely planned and we are very excited. I still have my questions about what we will do with three kids and how we will handle three bouts with a cold and three extracurricular activity schedules, but I guess this just keeps life exciting. I would hate to think that there is something we can't handle!