Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Hate My Newborn Baby . . . What?!?

I just read an article titled, "I hate my newborn baby" from Men's Health Magazine. It is an article written by a new dad (age 42) about his first months with his newborn baby boy and how difficult it was. I hate there are men out there without children who will read the title or the first few paragraphs and decide kids aren't what they're cracked up to be, but I have to admit to being frustrated with my newborns in the past. It is a short article, but I'm sure many of you mom's out there can really understand.

On the bright side, it has a happy ending. Plus, it shows great appreciation for parents who have real problems like disabled children, sick children, no money, or no spouse.

I truly have no idea how I would make it as a single mom. When Chuck is out of town, I feel like I never have a minute to just sit and rest. I get the kids up and dressed, drop of the kids at daycare, go to work, work through lunch so I can leave at a reasonable time to pick up the kids, feed the kids, grocery shop, put the kids to bed, do the household chores and get ready to start over again the next day. With a spouse, you can say, "Honey, can you put them to bed tonight? Can you take out the trash? Will you give them a bath while I change the laundry?" What a great team a couple makes. God bless all those single parents out there. It must be rough.

Lazy Day & National S'mores Day

Okay, we have been trying to celebrate obscure holidays this summer, but all the house renovations have slowed down our social agenda. Nonetheless, things are finally wrapping up around the house and we're planning to meet with a realtor next week. With that said, we are ready to celebrate another obscure holiday and you are all invited!

We will be celebrating Lazy Day and National S'mores Day on Sunday, August 10, 2008. We'll have burgers and dogs, and of course S'mores! Yummy! (Ginny, we'll have to do frito pie later this summer). Party starts anytime in the afternoon - just drop in and feel free to bring your swim suit! See you then!

No history on the Lazy Day (presuming the creators were too lazy to document their reasoning), but here's a little info about National S'mores Day:

"S'mores are a favorite campsite treat for young and old kids. If you're at a campfire, chances are, there's S'mores. Sticky and gooey, and loaded with sugar and carbs, S'mores are nothing short of delicious. Who was the first person to create S'mores? Don't know. But, sure glad they did!

National S'mores Day celebrates this tasty summer treat. It's appropriately placed in August...campfire prime time. But, don't limit your consumption of S'ores to the campfire. They are popular with kids year round, and can be baked in the oven or microwave.
The origin of S'mores dates back to the 1920's. It's believed the recipe was first discovered by Girl Scouts. S'more folklore suggests that S'mores got its name right by the campfire. After eating one, young kids chanted "gimme some more!"

While much is written about National S'mores Day, our research has been unable to verify that this is an officially recognized national day (which requires an act of Congress). Don't let that stop you from celebrating this day with a few S'mores." - Quote from Wacky holidays website.

Looking forward to seeing any or all of you there!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Busy Moms Choose . . .

MomAgenda! Check out this product that my good friend (and Evie's Godmother) Stephanie told me about. (Thanks, Steph!) It is called the MomAgenda and it is a website that has planners just for moms! It is really great and innoventive. I'm so impressed! Why can't I come up with ideas like this?

The planner runs from August to August so it coincides with the school year. On the planner, there is a place for all your commitments and then there are four spots below for activities for up to four children. It is such a great system! Plus, it looks really great since you can buy it in all kinds of fashionable colors and prints.

I know this will be so helpful when the kids start soccer and dance. Which reminds me, I need to get them signed up for soccer and dance. I can't believe my kids are starting all this so soon. As Chuck says, a soccer ball is going to fall out of Lulu one of these days and then I'll really and truly be a soccer mom! Of course another baby is going to fallout of me one of these days and then I'll really and truly be a mother of three! I can't believe this is who I am sometimes, but I sure love my babies!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Vacation Anyone?

OMG! I need a vacation! With everything that is going on with the house, we just can't get away, but I really need to. I just want to take off without the kids for a couple days and go somewhere cool - maybe the mountains. I definitely don't want to go anywhere hot or anywhere that requires a swimsuit - ick! I spent part of my morning touring possible vacation locations such as North Carolina, Wisconsin (Door County - where we honeymooned), and Arkansas. I just want to escape to a B&B that has lots of trees and maybe a golf course close by, although I'm not sure how long I'll be able to golf with the belly I'm getting.
The baby is getting really big these days. I guess s/he is about the size of an avocado now and I'm already starting to feel the faintest flutterings. I just love feeling the baby - it is such a miracle!
Back to my vacation - I must have one, and I'm totally serious. For this reason, I'm taking donations to the Theresa Vacation Fund. If anyone wants to help save my sanity, please feel free to make donations via PayPal! I wonder if I could set it up so you even get a tax deduction for your generous donation. Wouldn't that be nice? We could all benefit. For once, I've actually got a babysitter (thanks mom) who is willing to take care of the kids at almost anytime. Retirement is great! Unfortunately, I don't have a place to go, a reason to go, or a bank account full of cash to spend on a vacation. Oh well.

In my search, I found this breathtaking estate. It is called the Biltmore and was built by the Vanderbilt family. They have horseback riding, tours of the estate, a winery (sucks for me), dining, carriage rides, river tours, garden tours, a spa, and more. I'm totally psyched about finding a way to get there, but it may be a while. Check out how beautiful it is!

Above is a picture of the estate. Below is a picture of the Italian Gardens.

This is a picture of the Spring Gardens:

And this is a picture of hell: aka Texas in the Summer:

Alcohol While Pregnant: Part 2

I heartily agree with all the posts. I guess it is alright if we are all among friends. It's funny, I usually abstain when I'm in public, but lately my friends and acquaintances have been quick to say, "I thought you could have a drink every once in a while?" Cracks me up. Nonetheless, I abstain and only indulge now and then at home or at a close friend's house. This weekend I had a couple of margaritas out of a pitcher of margaritas that had only a teaspoon of tequila mixed into the entire pitcher - so I was only getting a smidgen of the taste, but very little alcohol so it didn't even come close to the alcohol contents of a glass of wine. Funny, I felt more guilty drinking it because it was liquor even though it has lower alcohol content overall since I'm drinking way, way less. I really crave margaritas when I'm pregnant, and luckily, I can enjoy some really good fake stuff. I tried this new stuff called "Bone Daddy's" and it is quite tasty - not overly sweet like most mixes.

Lisa, I went through the same thing with wine with the last two and even with this one. I still have a glass now and then (and I LOVE WINE), but it doesn't always taste good. It took me a while to enjoy it as much as I used to even after the babies were born. I've noticed my taste buds are really off these days. (Sadly, I still love Cheetos.) Anyway, I would rather have a glass of white wine when I'm pregnant over red wine and the fake wine is really just crap so there's no use in even touching it. I would definitely save up like Roxy if I could visit Gil every week. Oh, also I read somewhere that french obgyns prescribe a glass of red wine a week to pregnant women - who knows if that's true, but I sure believe it based on some of the bazaar things I've heard prescribed to pregnant women.

Lisa, I really hate it when people condescend to me about what is good for my baby. I truly like the idea of reproductive freedom. (Of course, that term usually is in reference to abortion, whereas I am simply referring to the ability to carry your baby the way you want.) If I were you, I'd tell that terrible lady at your work to "Suck it!" and tell her that clearly you are more secure with your ability to discern quality child care and your status as a working mother. Be-otch. On the other hand, you could go with a nicer, more respectful response such as "Everyone is different." The latter is probably more true than the former, but people really piss me off sometimes with their flippant comments.

Can anyone tell I'm hormonal, by the way? I'm a total be-otch lately, so if the blog becomes a little caustic - I'm blaming the pregnancy. I'm sure Chuck will agree. (And my Mom too since she had to put up with it all weekend, God bless her). Heaven help all the people I work with!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Alcohol While Pregnant

Okay, I'm 17 weeks pregnant (into the second trimester) and I recently read on a parenting site a big debate regarding whether it is okay or not to have a drink while you're pregnant. Please note that no one said it was okay to get drunk or booze it up, but the discussion ranged from people who allege that even one sip could cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) to those who think you can have a drink a day and not harm the baby.

I personally have in the past conducted some investigation into this issue - by asking two professional OBGYNs that I trust implicitly as well as researching FAS. I can say that the OBGYN's official position is that no amount of alcohol is safe for the baby, but they also pointed out that not every child whose mother drinks while the baby is in utero comes out with FAS. I think that is an excellent point. Also, the facts pertaining to the FAS studies show that the studies were conducted on people who drank heavily (either in binges or for extended periods). There is no proof (that I have found) of a child having FAS from the mother having one sip of alcohol during the pregnancy or even one glass of beer or wine. Furthermore, it is a fact that in the not to recent past women who went into premature labor would be given an IV of alcohol to stave off labor. Also, wouldn't everyone who was born before 1980 have FAS since almost everyone's parents drank alcohol and smoked back then? Just an observation.

I'm curious to hear everyone's thoughts on whether it is okay to drink while you're pregnant. I'm somewhere in the middle on all this: I don't think it is okay to drink every day, but I certainly don't believe that one sip of alchol will cause your child to have FAS or that anyone who doesn't abstain 100% from alcohol during a pregnancy is selfish and doesn't care about her baby. Here's a quote from the BabyCenter discussion I was reading.

Here's the question: "I'm my last trimester and I have a huge hankering for a beer every now and then. When I go out to eat, everyone looks at me funny if I order one -- even if I only have a few sips. Does anyone else share this craving? What can I do to deter dirty looks? Posted: 12/09/2002 "

Here's just one answer out of hundreds - and I literally mean hundreds!

"How can you deter dirty looks? Don't drink the beer or any alcohol. I think you are being very selfish in drinking beer because you have a craving. What happened to sacrificing for your unborn baby. Do you realize that even one sip could cause your baby to develop Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. There are lots of things women crave when pregnant, some are not healthy. You need to remember that it is not just about you anymore. You need to start thinking about what is best for your baby. Drinking beer definitely is not. This is coming from a special education teacher who has worked with children who have FAS. Please stop drinking.
posted 7/10/2008 by jschulz08 "

Whoa! Pretty strong feelings about this out there. How do you feel? I'll tell you that the majority of the posts in response to this question said, "go ahead and have a beer now and then," but there were also plenty who castigated this woman for even considering having a drink.

Here's the post if you want to check it out:

Let me know your thoughts!


Okay, Chuck gently chastised me last night for referring to the Town & Country as my "mini" on the blog because he thinks it will be confused with the Mini Cooper. I thoroughly rolled my eyes and uttered, "Okay, okay, whatever." So, I have decided to christen my new minivan with a name. We've named all the cars, so here's the new name for mine.

It turns out that this minivan (obviously, used since we got it at the auto auction) was previously used in Hawaii as a rental car. It only has about 12,000 miles on it since it was just a rental in Hawaii. Since I haven't figured out how to change the time on the clock it still reads Hawaii time. Also, the title is from Hawaii and the last inspection was done in Hawaii. Hence, I've decided to name the car after its Hawaii roots and so it's new name is "Honolulu" - "Lulu" for short. So, now when I say, "we were cruising around in Lulu" or "we've decided to take Lulu to Houston this weekend" you will know that I'm referring to our new minivan, which is still fabulous, by the way.

By the way, Mom is visiting from Houston this weekend, and I've left Lulu in her care should she decide to take the kids out of the confines of our home. What a treat for her!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pictures Pages!!!

Picture pages, picture pages, la, la, la, la, la . . . does anyone remember that? I think it was something Bill Cosby did. Maybe on Fat Albert, or was it something else altogether? Ah ha! - a few minutes on the internet and here's a blast from the past. I LOVE the internet! By the way, I always loved the noise his marker made when he would draw. Does anyone else remember that?

As promised a few days ago, here are some pictures of Luke and Evie Cruising in the mini. Look how much room there is! You can't even see the front passenger seat in front of Evie!

Here's Evie in her Jessica-Simpson-esque Tony Romo Jersey.

And here's Luke refusing to have his picture taken, because is he such a typical guy - and Evie is telling him that he needs to have his picture taken (because I just got after him for not cooperating). Aren't we all so stereotypical? Okay, so it won't let me add another image - I never claimed to be technically savvy. I'm sure I've screwed something up here. I guess I'll have to add it in another post. Oddly, it will let me add a video, so who knows. Okay, I'm an idiot, I figured it out. I'm glad you all aren't actually here to see how bad I am at this. Notice how she even has her finger wagging at him? Where does she pick this stuff up?!

This is Ms. Evie singing and dancing to Sneaky Snake. If you listen carefully (and I mean very carefully) you can hear the words "Sneaky Snake goes dancing a hhinhhg and a hhinhhg (that should be wigglin' and a hissin'), then she goes on with something that sounds vaguely like "He doesn't have any arms or legs . . ." and then she trails off into nothing. Pretty cute nonetheless

One last shot of Luke and Evie holding up their bedtime story books. Clearly there are more pictures of Evie, but before you start to think she is the favorite, let me just tell you how difficult it is to take a picture of Luke and how difficult it is to keep Evie out of a picture. She's such a ham!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not bad . . .

I'm leaving at 10:10 - not a bad late night. I could definitely stay here straight through until Saturday afternoon and still have plenty to do, but I'm going home to rest. Good night.

Still Working . . .

It's 8:27 p.m - not too late yet - but here I am at work eating dinner and working on depo prep. More blessed billable hours. Missing my babies. Their bedtime is in three minutes. I'm sure they're giving Chuck fits, but I miss them anyway.

Sneaky Snake

Sneaky Snake is a song by Tom T. Hall about a sneaky snake who likes to drink rootbeer. This is the kids' favorite song right now. They ask me to sing it all the time! I listened to it when I was a kid and so I have all his songs memorized from the one cassette tape I had -remember those? My very first tape was Cindy Lauper and my sister Mary bought it for me at a store in Deauville Mall - ah, sweet memories. Anyway, I asked the kids a few months ago if they wanted to hear a silly song and so I sang them Sneaky Snake. It has been revived in the Berend household! We listen to it in the car and we sing it every night at bedtime. They even know the words and sing it with me. It's pretty darn cute and impressive since the only other song they know is the "ABC's." I even have a video of Evie singing it and dancing around her bedroom -- super cute! Some of Tom T. Hall's other songs include "I Love" which you've most likely heard, and "I Like Beer," one of our favortie songs (the kids haven't started singing this one yet!) Does anyone else know these songs? I think Chuck thinks I'm a total dork because I know and love these songs. Honestly, one of my favorite songs is called "The Song About the One-Legged Chicken", but I had not been able to find it anywhere until I finally found it on a CD through I ordered it and now the kids and I are warping our selves every morning on our way to school as we ride in the mini singing Sneaky Snake and listening to all his other crazy songs, including my favorite, the One-Legged Chicken. Enjoy the songs! Maybe I'll find the one-legged chicken one day and you can see how truly warped we all are.




Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I forgot the pics!

Okay, no pics of us in the mini. I forgot my cord to download photos. Trust me, it isn't a big loss, but the pictures I took of Evie in her Jessica-Simpson-Tony-Romo-Cowboys jersey are definitely worth a look. I'll try to remember tomorrow.

I'm scarfing down lunch before returning to the dreaded task of document production. I swear it is the lowest form of lawyering. I hate every minute of it except for the easy billable hours. You know how we lawyers live and die by the billable hour, and if you don't then lucky for you. The only way you will find out is to be a lawyer, be married to a lawyer, or have to, heaven forbid, hire a lawyer. It sucks, but it is a part of lawyer life. Back to the grind. . .

Monday, July 21, 2008

He's back!

He's back!!!! We were so excited to see our Luke Saturday afternoon when his grandparents brought him home. He was gone from me a grand total of 16 days and three hours. I missed him terribly. He was very excited to be home and gave all of us hugs and kisses. With that said, he was much like a boy and sort of shrugged a "yes" when we asked him if he missed us. I kept telling him how much I missed him and that I love him sooo much to which he responded with a bored stare. Seriously, when do they learn to be dejected teenage boys who can't say those three little words? Luke will not say, "I love you." Luckily, Evie says it all the time so I'm not completely deprived. Luke, with his boy genes, has taken to holding up his hand with the sign language for "I love you." Sweet as it is, I have to say, it just isn't the same as those precious little words being said with his own little voice. I'm sure I'll get over it.

Evie, on the other hand, is full of affection. We get kisses all the time. She'll put her little hands on both sides of our face and hold us in place as she plants a big, long kiss on our lips. Fortunately for us, she is past the wet kiss stage and these kisses are really quite sweet. Sometimes she'll just come up to us and ask, "Do you want a kiss, Mommy?" Of course we always answer yes and then she'll kiss us and ask, "Do you want a hug, too?" Well, yes of course we do. It squeezes my heart to get hugs and kisses. She's growing up too fast, and soon she'll have outgrown this wonderful phase too. But for now, I'm going to relish every moment of her sweetness. I have this terrible fear that we're going to have one of those dreaded mother-daughter relationships where she hates everything I do and say. I pray that I'll be a hip, down-to-earth mom who appreciates the social needs of a teenage girl, but I'm not sure how well I'll do that. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

By the way, he loves the mini. I'll post pictures of us cruising in the mini tomorrow.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Me and My Mini

The day has finally arrived. I've been looking forward to this for three years! I have finally acquired my very own minivan -- a 2007 Maroon Chrysler Town & Country. Here's a picture of a similar one (not actually mine). I love it! It is great. It's loaded up with DVD player and all other accessories a mother-of-three desires. I can't tell you how much I enjoy driving a minivan now that I'm truly a mom with a growing family. The kids can climb right in. There's plenty of room for everything. I don't have to contort myself or my children to get into the car. The doors slide open at the touch of a button! It is absolutely perfect and I owe it all to my generous husband who humbly agreed to purchase the minivan without complaint! I don't think most husbands would be willing to subject themselves to a minivan without question. Chuck hasn't even been in the car yet, since I just drove it off the lot this afternoon at 1 p.m. Hopefully, he'll still be as supportive after he rides in it and drives it.
To all of you who are balking at the thought of purchasing a minivan, I challenge you to be pregnant with your third child and dealing with a four-year old and a two-year old, and then try to go squeeze everyone into another car or SUV for that matter. The kids have to practically scale the side of our Expedition like it is a mountain to get into their seats. In my Mercedes, I had to fold the kids in half, then slide them into the car over the seat, then unfold them and drop them into the car seat. In SUVs you have a console that blocks your way to the back of the car so you have to twist and practically unbuckle yourself every time the kids want something. With the mini, I can just reach back and pick up the dropped toy or book. I can simply glance over my shoulder and see where it has dropped without having to reach over a console or around another seat. It is great!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Believe In You

I just wanted to share with you one of my favorite songs. I found this YouTube video about a year ago, and I listen to it over and over when I'm having a bad day. Needless to say, with the last week's events I've been listening to it frequently. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Avenue Q

On Sunday evening, Chuck and I went to see the broadway musical Avenue Q. It is a musical with puppets and live actors. It is Sesame Street-esque, except that the characters deal with adult situations, including life's purpose, sex, jobs, racism, etc. Despite it's serious topics and commentary on life, it is hilarious! I highly recommend that you visit their website and listen to some of the great songs from the show, including "The Internet is for Porn," "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist," and "I Wish I Could Go Back to College." I have to admit that I was shocked when the naked puppets started performing sexual acts in all kinds of positions on stage during the song "You Can Be As Loud As the Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love)." Nonetheless, Chuck and I were cracking up! [WARNING: This is not an appropriate show to attend with your children or your parents.]

Hope you all will get a chance to check out Avenue Q. I heard it was great from my friend Roger. He downloaded the very first line of the musical as my ringtone, which says, "What do you do with a B.A. in English?" I was hooked as soon as I heard it! Thus, I made an effort to buy the seats to Avenue Q despite our crazy, hectic life. Unfortunately, I bought the cheap seats. Next time, I'll pay up to get better seats. It was a great show and I encourage you to attend!

Here's a little preview of the opening performance from Avenue Q as performed by the Broadway cast on the broadcast of the 58th Annual Tony Awards. Enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Worst Week In Recent History

I think Chuck and I just wrapped up what has to be one of the worst weeks we've had in recent history. Now, I think it is a blessing that Luke was gone all last week. (he is still gone for the rest of this week and it is killing me).

Although we were busy all week with frustrating situations that would usually have me complaining, I now view those situations as a rather petty complaint in my life because we were also faced with the tragic loss of a young father on Wednesday. Death always puts life into perspective, don't you think? The worst part of my week was when we found out that one of Chuck's friends (Chris Brumley) from Wichita Falls was killed in a motorcycle accident on Wednesday. It was awful. Chuck and I are actually closer to Chris's brothers, Nathan and Tony, but it still hurts to know that some of your closest friends are hurting. Chuck also considers their dad, Dean Brumley, to be one of the best teachers he has ever had. To make matters worse, we found out that Chris and his wife just had a baby 2 1/2 months ago - a little boy named Chase. Chase has a hand painted piece of wood hanging in his bedroom that reads, "I have a hero . . . his name is Daddy." Bless that little boy and his mommy.

We left Ft. Worth Friday afternoon to attend the visitation where Chuck and his entire high school community (and many members of the Wichita Falls community) were in attendance. We hugged Nathan and Tony and expressed our sympathies, but it is so difficult to say anything when you know that the words, though heartfelt, offer little or no comfort in a time like that. (For those of you who know us, you may have met Nathan and Tony at our wedding - I know they went over to Susan, Kari & Lisa's apartment for the post-wedding party), and Tony and Nathan also joined us last year when we attended the Robert Earl Keen concert at Bass Hall.

Chuck and Tim (chuck's best friend who lived with Chris for a short time) went to Chris's house after the visitation to drink with Nathan, Tony, and others. The next morning we attended the funeral (without Evie) and it was truly heartwrenching. His wife held their baby and walked down the church aisle with Chris's parents and her parents. They all sat on the front row next to the casket and listened to scripture, songs, and stories, and sorrowfully watched a slideshow of Chris's adventurous life. The funeral opened with the song "Stairway to Heaven" and ended with "I'll Fly Away." Chris was 35 and a "man's man." May he rest in peace.

This event prompts me to write that I love each one of you, those far away and those close, my friends and my acquaintances, my family and your family. Everyone's life has a purpose, and I truly believe that Chris's purpose had been served when he was called home to Heaven. So, while I am sad and heartbroken for those Chris left behind, I know that there is a reason and a plan, and I take comfort knowing that God has embraced Chris and holds him close.

Much love to you all.

For the parents out there, below is a poem that was given to Chris's parents by their pediatrician. It was read at his funeral, and brings tears to my eyes at the thought of losing my own children or at the thought of other parents losing their children. Nonetheless, it is a reminder of the blessed times we have with our children and with each other. May we never forget how precious each day is.

God's Loan

"I'll lend to you for a little time,
A child of mine," He said,
"For you to love him while he lives
And mourn for when he's dead."

"It may be six or seven years
Or twenty-two or three,
But will you till I call him back,
Take care of him for me?"

"He'll bring his charms to gladden you
And should his stay be brief,
You'll have these precious memories
As solace for your grief."

"I cannot promise he will stay
Since all from earth return.
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn."

"I've looked this wide world over,
In my search for teachers true.
And in the crowds that throng life's land,
I have selected you."

"Now will you give him all your love
Not think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call
To take him back again?"

It seems to me I heard them say,
"Dear Lord, thy will be done.
For all the joys a child shall bring,
The risk of grief we'll run."

"We'll shelter him with tenderness,
We'll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we've known
Forever grateful stay."

"And should the angels call for him
Much sooner than we'd planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes
And try to understand."

- Author Unknown

Friday, July 11, 2008

Perceptions of Motherhood in the Workforce: My Response to Roxy (a whole post to herself!)

Sorry to mislead you, Roxy. No, I have not decided to stay at home. The title of my last post, "The Unexpected Decision to Stay at Home" was meant to indicate that it is a suprise for some mothers when they have the baby and realize that they want to stay at home. I, however, am firmly entrenched in the workforce and do not plan to leave anytime soon. I think I've failed to explain the perceptions that exist in the legal community (although those attitudes are progressively changing and I will have to fairly address those changes in another post).

Unfortunately, in my industry it is frowned upon (by some) for women who exit the workforce to stay at home with their kids. I think this is more often the view of other women who don't have kids yet and see the struggle to the top being thwarted by the constant reminder to the male partners (who are already at the top) that women tend to leave their jobs to stay at home. In a way, women are almost written off for long-term careers because there is a constant suspicion that the woman will not be around in ten years after she has her kids. It makes it all the more difficult for a woman who wants to stay in the workforce to convince the older colleagues that they aren't going to leave. I have faced this over and over as I've popped out kid after kid (well, just two kids) and announced yet another pregnancy. I would have thought that after having stayed after my job after two children, it would be obvious to the world that I'm a working mom and not a stay at home mom, but people continue to ask me if I'm going to stay at home now. I love what I am and I wouldn't change it. I feel like I made the right decision for myself, just like you Roxy.

I believe that this repeated question of whether I'm going to stay at home actually derives from the "old-fashioned" nature of my community (and yours - perhaps it is a Southern thing or a conservative thing). Here at my firm (and I swear I'm not throwing stones at all), there are 23 male attorneys out of 31 attorneys. I won't say that this is without exception, but I believe that almost all their wives stayed (or currently stay) at home to take care of the children. Now, I think some of their wives have jobs now that the children are grown or had jobs prior to having had children. I can think of one partner (I call them partners but they are in reality shareholders in my company so forgive me if I go back and forth) whose wife left her job as a nurse ansethistist after having her second child, but they had to experience the complications of a having two working parents. (by the way, nurse anethistist are highly educated and experienced and paid professionals with demanding schedules). Nonetheless, there wasn't a single attorney (to my knowledge) that really had to deal with their spouse working, and even if there was, I doubt it was like having a spouse who is a doctor or a lawyer who has deadlines and meetings that might conflict. Now, I obviously can't speak in abosolutes about the situation because I might be wrong about one or two, but it is definitely the majority of the situations around here. Also, it was the same at the firm I worked at previously. In some ways, there was also the perception from older attorneys (male attorneys) that if you're a woman and you have a child then you should quit your job to stay at home. It is either you quit your job, or you shouldn't have children in the first place.

As for the other women at my firm, there is only one woman who has had a baby at this firm. All other women have left the firm and one decided to stay at home with her baby before it was born. The one woman who had a baby here, had the baby 20 years ago and I think she went part time, but I might be wrong about that. She is our only female shareholder. We have seven female associates (two more to start in the fall). Three of them either do not have children or have grown children. Three of them do not have children, but have not dismissed the idea of having children. And then there is me - the only working mother of young children at the firm. I have a different schedule. I have different priorities. I'm the only attorney at the firm that calls in with sick kids. I am the only attorney in the firm who has to split days with her husband when one of the kids is sick. I am the only attorney in the firm who has to take off for a child's doctor's appointment. It is my reality and my choice, and I make the best of it. The greatest part is that the firm makes the best of it as well.

Needless to say, there are a lot of views out there on having children and working (whether good or bad). I am personally among the women in the workforce who want to continue to work and who want to prove to everyone that we can have it all. Unfortunately, I'm not sure anyone can actually have it all (in the truest sense of the phrase "having it all"). We all have to make choices - hence the topic of my earlier post "Sacrificing Your Career for Motherhood."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The unexpected decision to stay at home

I have several friends who worked before they had kids and decided before they had their children that they would continue to work because they just loved their jobs. Several are attorneys since that is what I am and I shockingly tend to keep attorney friends. I don't know why since most attorneys are purely mean, but there are some out there who are great people and luckily, I work at a firm full of them. I digress. Most moms take their time off, whether that be six weeks or three months or longer, and then those of us that return to work have to face the agony of leaving our most prized possessions (not that children are possessions, but you know what I mean) in the arms of a virtual stranger. Now, I know the caregivers are great and do this kind of stuff every day, but still I know that they don't know my baby the way I do. They don't know how she likes to be held, that she likes it when you swaddler her really tight or that he likes to kick his feet out of the covers while he naps. They don't know that the best way to burp him is to lay him on his tummy and gently pat and alternate with a rub. They don't know that she really hates sitting in her bumbo for more than five minutes. And they don't love and worship this child they way I do since no one could possibly come close to loving this child more than me. But, if you're going back to work, you still have to leave the baby. Have no fear though, you'll have a constant reminder on your shoulder as you sport a lovely spit up stain that baby managed to land on you just before you leave her behind at daycare.

There are many moms who, though dedicated to their profession, find that they are unable to leave their child in the hands of a virtual stranger because of many reasons. Some people can't stand all the issues that are listed above. Some people never get past the fact that the person taking care of their baby is a stranger. Some think the baby will grow more attached to the caregiver than to its mother. Others just plain miss their babies. Other babies get sick too often (I've personally experienced this, but had no option but to continue to power through). Still other moms become instantly attached to their little angels so that they never even get to the point of considering going back to work because they can't imagine doing anything other than staying at home with the new baby.

The problem with this is the stigma that is attached to mothers who change their minds. I know there is a stigma attached to mothers who work too, but my experience is the stigma that the workforce attaches to a mother who decides, for one reason or another, not to come back to work. The problem with this is that we, as women, cannot judge one another about how we react to our children. I happen to be one of those mothers who is fine being away from my perfect children all day long - this is actually what I attribute their perfection to. If I was at home with them all day long, I don't think I'd be so enamored of them. Other mothers, however, miss their children desparately every minute they are away and this sometimes comes as a great shock to the mother who fully planned to return to work right away.

Before I had children, I found myself disappointed with the mothers who left the workforce in masses to stay at home with their children after they had worked so hard to achieve success in their education and in their careers. In my field, a woman must spend seven years in undergrad and law school combined before entering the work force. Then you have to spend another seven to ten years working endless hours in order to achieve partner. So, women work for three years, have a child and then give up all the hard work they've put in so they can stay at home. It is incredible the pull that a child can have, because a woman (or a man - I must be fair to the opposite sex since I know a male lawyer who has also chosen the stay at home dad route) gives up so much in their long-term career to stay at home with a child. You lose time - valuable time and experience - when you stay at home. You have to go back to being a three year lawyer when you've been out of school for ten years, but you spent the last seven at home. How do you keep up with your Continuing Legal Education (CLE - which is required to remain licensed)? How do you climb the ranks at a law firm again? How do you justify that you should be paid a third or fourth year salary when you've lost the edge on all the experience you had when you left? How do you start again and feel okay about the fact that the people you graduated lawschool with are now partners making big bucks while you struggle up the ladder to bill the required hours and collect three and half times your salary? Now, I'm not saying it isn't possible but it makes the decision all the more difficult.

With that said, it speaks volumes that the decision isn't all that difficult for most moms (and dads) who decide to stay at home. Even if they love their jobs, they love that child even more. And honestly, I don't see why this should garner such a negative stigma since you are putting a priority on the most important thing in your life. I mean, hell, you can screw up a job and that is fine, but can you really afford to screw up your kid? You can find another job, but you never have a second chance at raising a child and you never have a second chance to watch him/her grow up. So, seriously corporate america, give parents a break and congratulate the parents that decide to sacrifice their careers so that they can do what they think is the very best for their children. Encourage parents to feel good about their decision, because trust me, they definitely have a long road ahead of them if they ever decide to enter the work force again.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Frito Pie

I just ate a frito pie for lunch. When is the last time you had a frito pie? I can't even remember when I had a frito pie? It was delicious, but it is so nasty, greasy, and bad for me that my stomach is already protesting and I only finished eating about 15 minutes ago. How can something that looks like a dog vomited into a bowl taste so good? I have to admit that this picture looks a lot better than what I just ate. Hopefully, I won't throw up, but I'm pretty sure this experience isn't going to have a pleasant ending.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Selling the House

In response to the questions regarding our house, here you go. Yes, we are planning to sell our house, but for many different reasons so I thought this deserved an entire post to itself. Let me start by saying that Chuck and I pretty much love our house. It is, in my opinion, beautiful! It is in a great neighborhood and a great location overall. In fact, we are in the most sought after neighborhood for an elementary school in Fort Worth - Tanglewood. With that said, (and now I'm going to sound like a total snob, but I'm not because obviously we intend to leave the neighborhood), we're in the best part of the neighborhoods that go to Tanglewood, but, by no means, do we have the most expensive house. The house across the street from us is probably the best (again, in my opinion) in the neighborhood. It is on a huge lot overlooking downtown Fort Worth. It has a terraced backyard leading to a pool. The "Minor Estate" is huge and beautiful and I've been lucky enough to go inside for a dinner party and I can testify that it is even more beautiful on the inside. Sorry, I digress. All that is to say, that my house is not that beautiful, but it has the potential to be beautiful and sought after. So, what is strange is that our neighborhood is in a bubble in this whole housing crisis issue. It seems that people are still fighting to get into our neighborhood. When we bought the house back in 2004, we paid more than we really should have for a home, but we looked at it as a good investment because the price per square foot was low. The house was in great condition, but really pretty ugly on the inside and there are a few drawbacks that we still consider drawbacks today. For example, we never wanted a pool. Now we have a pool that was probably installed in the 70s or 80s and it is old and really, really deep with about 5 feet of shallow area - not enough to really be able to float and have fun with children. We enjoy the pool very little, although it is great for people who come over and adds an incentive for people to attend our Summer parties (this year is the Summer of Obscure Holidays and we previously hosted the Summer of Beef). A good time, if I do say so myself.

Now, our neighbor (Rudy) owns a house that is set back from the street and also looks like an Estate, but not like the Minor Estate. Rudy does not live in his house and it is falling apart. It is really an eyesore, and I've been really surprised that anyone in our neighborhood would allow their property to reach such a state of disrepair. Rudy has a guest house and he lets students rent out the guest house. About a year and a half ago, one of the renters (Shelby) had to move out of the house because the ceiling caved in! Can you believe it. Anyway, we get people who actually knock on our door to find out if Rudy would be willing to sell his dilapidated old house and say they would gladly offer a million dollars on the spot. I think this is insane, but it happens frequently and regularly. This led to Chuck and I wondering, if someone stopped at our door and offered to buy our house, what would be our walk-away price? Well, we set that price and agreed on it and thought, yeah, if we get that then we could pay down our debt and set ourselves up for a great position for a new house.

So, later on (and completely unrelated to the story above), Chuck and I were looking to refinance our home because interest rates weren't as good in 2004 as they are now and we were also considering a home loan in the refi to fix a few things on the house. In order to do that we had an appraiser come out and give us an appraisal of the house. What shocked the hell out of us was that the appraisal price was almost at our walk away price. Hence, Chuck and I said, let's fix some stuff up and put this sucker on the market. We are looking at something like (and I'm terrible at math) a 60% increase in value - which I think is insane. But, if someone wants to pay me that kind of money for my house, I have to say, yes, it is just a bundle of pretty sticks and bricks and I can find another pretty bundle of sticks and bricks. It just doesn't make sense to sit on that money when we have things we could do with it, such as putting a huge down payment on a new home and having a lower house payment. Plus, with number three coming along, we need a few hundred dollars more a month to pay for a nanny.

So, that is our long-winded story about the house. It is beautiful and we really like it, but sadly, we like the money more. I would love for people to see everything that we've done to it, but at the rate people visit us, I think it is rather unlikely.

The saga of fixing the house continues. We have granite installed Wednesday, the painter is finishing up Wednesday, and the contractor will start working on the outside of the house on Wednesday. I hope to have the house wrapped up by the time Luke gets back. Oh, plus, I have to buy a new car since my lease is up on the Mercedes. And, everyone, you heard it here first - I'm buying a minivan and I can't wait! More on the attributes of the mini van tomorrow!

Roxy - If you think we're having a girl then we're in for a big, big surprise because I was almost positive that it was a boy and my other "fetus whisperer" said boy. I'm putting you both to the test. Luke will be terribly disappointed if it's a girl though. Still, we've got a name either way it goes - I think we'll name the baby George if it is a girl or a boy. (Well, George for a boy and Georgia or Georgianna for a girl, but we'll call her George or Georgie). I don't think everyone likes these names (particularly in light of our current president), but I love it and that's all that matters!
This is a picture of our pool. The backyard looks a little different now, but can you see how it takes up the whole backyard? We really want to find a place with a big backyard for the kids to run in and where I can set them loose and only check on them every five minutes or so instead of having to stand vigil by the pool. Luke fell into the deep end only about two weeks ago and scared the living heck out of me. I have nightmares about seeing Evie at the bottom of the pool; it's just no way to live. No pool for me unless it is adequately fenced in and locked. This picture was taken at Luke's 2nd birthday. Look at all the kids crowded around the pool. It is an attractive nuisance and there's no getting around it.
Below is a picture of our house in the snow this winter. It was dark by the time we got home and tried to build a snowman, which you see in the background on the left. Although it is dark, this gives you a little idea about what the house looks like. I'll have to take current pictures so everyone can see what it looks like now. Of course you can also see my sweet angels standing in the forefront of the picture; they were really the subject of the photo.

Monday, July 7, 2008

"Where's Lucas?"

So, Luke has been gone from my presence for three full days and today is the fourth full day. I should really count Thursday too since he left after lunch Thursday. Evie is seriously missing him. She asked me three times on the way to school today, "Where's Lucas?" She is too precious for words. She is terribly lonely, and spent all day yesterday watching princess movies. I feel bad that we let her just veg out in front of the TV, but Chuck and I (more chuck than me) were furiously working on the house and getting it ready to sell.

We're working on everything all at once and it is totally stressing me out. We had a painter come in to texture and paint three or four big rooms, but I've decided that we need to finish up all the little stuff on our own. We also pulled up a bunch of carpet and had the wood floors underneath refinished and stained. We had new tile laid in two bathrooms. We got a new fence. We had our sprinkler system worked on. Money just seems to be pouring out of our bank account into the hands of various subcontractors. Now we just need to have our granite counter tops installed Wednesday and the outside of the house needs a face lift - nothing too major, just something like microderm abrasion. Unfortunately, that will probably be the bulk of the cost on the entire remodel. I'm ready for it to be over, but I'm dreading the idea of selling our house and, even more so, I'm dreading the idea of buying another house and starting the remodeling process all over again. Ugh! Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on whether I'm looking at the glass that's half full or half empty), the market is really good for us to sell our house right now just because of the area we live in. It's an odd situation to be in given the state of the real estate market in the rest of the country, but I guess I should be thankful that we have such an opportunity to make some money on our house. It has been a great investment.

The fourth was good. Lots of good company with Em, Ben & Maddie, and Lorry, Patty & Savannah. Wish Luke could have spent the holidays with us, but apparently he's having a good time where he is.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Birthday and Happy Fourth of July!

I'd like to wish a very happy birthday to my friend Robin! She is celebrating her third 29th birthday today and her very first birthday as a mother! Congratulations. Give Daylan lots of hugs and kisses and have a wonderful Fourth of July. That goes for everyone else too!

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! Please take a moment to thank the men and women who protect us and this nation everyday.

Much love to you all!

Here's a picture of newborn Daylan for your viewing pleasure

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Two Weeks?!

Okay, so Luke is going to his grandparents' house for TWO WEEKS! I know it's okay and going to work out, but I'm really a wreck about all this, which is totally pathetic and I know it!

First, my in-laws (his grandparents) live in Arkansas (about 8 hours away). Second, they never have their cell phone with them or turned on, so I can't talk to him or even check to see how he is doing. Even if they answer the phone, it will be a miracle if I get to talk to him at all since he hates talking on the phone anyway. Third, he's never been away from me for more than three days at a time. When he has, he gets homesick and cranky around the third day. Fourth, he doesn't see his grandparents on a frequent basis so I don't know how comfortable he will be with them. Now, this isn't to say that he doesn't see them on a regular basis, it is just that it isn't as often as I would like. He probably sees them every other month.

On the other hand, he is going with two of his cousins who are about his age and who he really loves to play with, he will be taking swim lessons which will be great because he fell in our pool last week and scared the sh*t out of me, he isn't afraid of and doesn't dislike his grandparents, and he seems really excited about going and asked to stay for 5 weeks (this is some consolation even though I realize he doesn't comprehend how long five weeks or two weeks is). My other concern in that Evie isn't going to know what to do with herself! She'll be so lonely!

For my part, I know part of my anxiety is due to my raging hormones with the fetus nestled so snuggly in my body, but I truly think that two weeks away from home is a long time for a little guy. Heck, I think two weeks at camp is a long time for an 8 year old. I know I spent two weeks by myself with my grandparents in Michigan when I was 7 and I was terribly out of sorts and not myself. It was pretty hard. In that case, I actually flew up there by myself and then my parents drove up and picked me up. Enough about this. I'm dealing, although not very well. I'm sure it will all work out in the end. We'll see.
Here is Luke with his cousins at Easter:

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Just a shout out to good old Mom. My mother who graduated from college when I graduated from high school just retired today! Congrats, Mom!

If you don't know about my mom, here are a few facts:
Born just before Pearl Harbor
Father shipped out soon thereafter
Army brat (12 schools in 12 years I think)
Oldest of 9 children
Had six children of her own (first 5 in 7 years (ouch!), then I followed 7 years after the youngest)
Husband (my dad) sadly passed when she was about 49
She went to college for the first time when I was 14 (guessing she was about 50 or 51)
She graduated from college when I graduated from high school (guessing she was about 54 or 55)
All of her children graduated from college
She has 11 grandchildren (one more on the way)
She passed her CPA
She worked as a CPA for a major oil and gas company since she graduated from college
She is retiring at age 66.
She still loves kids and will play with the four-year-olds like she is one of them. An amazing mother and grandmother.

She is a truly admirable woman and I'm quite proud to say she is my mother. Congratulations again, Mom!

I love Movie Tavern!

No time to blog, gotta work! Wish I had more time,b ut I spent 10 hours in mediation yesterday and the settlement didn't even go through. Bummer!

Luke and Evie had a fun weekend at home. We went to the movies on Saturday night and saw Walle. It was a pretty good movie, although there is a creepy part of the film when you realize that all humans who have abandoned earth for hundreds of years (so that the earth can be cleaned up) have evolved into fat beings who are unable to walk or even move on their own except to eat meals as a drink through a straw. It creeped me out, but Chuck and the kids were fine with it. Evie wasnt' a fan because there wasn't a single princess for her to see. Oh well. It was definitely worth it.

Oh, and I would also mention that Movie Tavern is great for kids! The theater is spread out and big and each kid has his/her own seat that doesn't eat them up like a normal folding theater seat. Trust me, you would understand the hazards of movie theater seats and children if you ever tried to place a two year old in a seat. You pull down the seat, plop in the kid and then the seat flips back up folding your poor child in half. It is quite sad. Luckily, Movie Tavern has big comfy leather(like) seats that you can lounge in and swivel in while you watch your movie and order your popcorn, candy, really bad bar food, and (a plus) ADULT BEVERAGES! I love it! Someday I'll even be able to partake in an adult beverage or two. Once the baby comes, however, I think we won't be able to go to the movies as a family again until the littlest one is about 2 1/2. Oh well.