Little Bug at 2.9

April 27, 2010 at 9:46 am | Posted in little bug, Little O, Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Little Buggy has moved up to the three-year-old room at preschool (I guess that happens at two years, nine months). Her teacher informed me last week that the “transition” is going quite well.

“What’s the difference between the two programs?” I asked. (Would a good mother have researched this beforehand? I felt a bit naive.)

In the three-year-old room, the teacher explained, the children are expected to actually sit for circle time. And to be somewhat quiet. Here’s where Little Buggy gets a “needs improvement.”

“She likes to talk,” her teacher said, “all the time.” Apparently she asks a lot of questions, especially when the teacher is reading books. I can just hear her doing this, just as she does at home.

“What does [insert subject of book here] do?” she asks. Which is her way of asking what something is, or what something means. For example, last night we read the book, Who Pooped in the Park? (Really. My sister- and brother-in-law gave us a treasure trove of hand-me-down books. They are both science teachers, however, so many of the books have titles such as What Happens to Water? or the aforementioned scatology.) So last night’s book was interrupted at every turn of the page with “What do you do with poop in the park?” “What do you do with owl pellets?” “What do you do with deer tracks?”

Her teacher also asked me if we had a pet pig at home. Apparently Little Bug told the teacher we have a pet pig who sleeps in Little Buggy’s bed. We have a pig puppet that she loves, named Piglet Murphy. Is this the pet pig? Hmmm.

She loves school, though, obviously, about which I’m thrilled. I quickly upped her school days from two to four, and on Friday mornings she asks me, “Can I go to school today?” which tempts me to send her all five days. I like having her home at least one day, but wouldn’t she be having more fun surrounded by her friends, and jungle gyms, and endless art supplies then being schlepped around town by me? She’ll go five days next year, though, so I’m going to be selfish until then!

Other things Little Buggy likes to say:

If you ask her to do something such as brush her teeth or go potty, “I already did that.” (No, you didn’t…)

When I pick her up from school now she’ll thank me profusely for whatever I put in her lunch box. “Tank you, mommy, for my delicious spaghetti.”

When talking about pirates, “A-boy, minnies!”

Here is what else she likes these days:

Dora the Explorer (the other night I gave her something and she said, “Thank you. Gracias.”). WonderPets (have you ever seen this show on Nick Jr.? I love it. A little pet turtle, duck, and hamster who go around saving other animals while singing opera.)

Tea parties.

Her ellie. Last weekend, the ellie got LOST somewhere between naptime and bedtime. She had been out in the backyard putting patio furniture together with Tim, so at 8 p.m. he found himself with a flashlight, in the rain, searching in the bushes for the ellie. I convinced her to sleep with ellie’s “mommy and daddy” — two identical gray elephants I had bought in the hopes that a crisis such as this would never happen, but she knows which is which, and she wasn’t buying it. Two days later, the ellie finally was found in the crack between the bathroom sink and the tub. “Oh, my ellie! I missed you!” she shouted. And immediately lifted up her shirt to nurse it.

She likes to talk about what she’ll be or do when she gets older. “When I get bigger I will play basketball and hockey and ride the schoolbus.”

The other day she exclaimed, “You’re a grown up! You drink coffee! When I get bigger, I will drink coffee. And Diet Coke.”

Sometimes she gets her chronology confused. “When I get smaller, I will go in the baby’s swing!”

She is still sneaking out of bed at night, sometimes, despite our bribing her with SweetTarts in the morning if she stays put. She knows to go to her father’s side of the bed. “Oh, daddy, I love you,” she says as she sidles up to him. He’s helpless to such charms, of course, and so I’m usually aware of her presence in the bed in the middle of the night, although inevitably she’ll say, “OK, I want to go back to my own bed now.”

She is aware of her friends. For example, we’ve recently spent time with two little boys, Rohan and Will, the sons of two of my best friends. She now likes to talk about what they are doing in relation to what she is doing. If she’s eating breakfast, she’ll say. “Rohan is eating breakfast. And Will is eating breakfast!” We have a friend named Ella who comes to play on Fridays. She thinks every little girl who comes over, therefore, is Ella, even if it is Maddie or Leni.

Most happily, she is very sweet to her little brother. She likes to share her ellie with him, and to show off for him. “Watch me, O-dog!” she’ll demand. Yes, we have taken to calling Little O “O-dog” around here, which may have to stop soon. Yesterday we ran into a neighbor who asked Little Bug, “What is your baby brother’s name?” “O-dogger,” she replied. The woman looked at me, confused. Oops.

Halfway there (so near and yet so far…)

April 22, 2010 at 5:00 am | Posted in little bug, Little O, SAHM | 4 Comments

I am nearly halfway through my maternity leave. Can this be possible? There are so many things I still want to do.

1. Sleep through the night. Ha!
2. Take some day trips with Little Bug to Drumlin Farm, that museum in Easton, the Children’s Museum, the Science Museum.
3. Take the children to Tim’s office for lunch.
4. Learn to play golf. (Indeed, I have visions of myself in preppy clothes swinging away with a handsome golf pro at our “club”.)
5. Get in killer shape. For me. I want triceps.
6. Get the house organized. In particular, the office and the closets. Maybe call one of those closet pros — a cheap California Closets or something.
7. Take the children to the Regal Beagle for lunch to see their Uncle Rich.
8. Go to New York City for a day.
9. Take Little Buggy to high tea at the Taj.
10. Create a new blog.
11. Write a book.
12. Figure out what to do with my life (yes, on a macro level).

All of these endeavors are somewhat compromised by the fact that #1 has not yet occurred. I remember a close friend of mine, whose son is about six months older than Little Bug, telling me a few weeks after Buggy was born just not to worry about exercise or cooking or whatever until I got my energy back. Which she promised would happen around four months. And it did. I keep reminding myself of that!

Is this (car) door closed?

April 21, 2010 at 1:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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10 weeks old

We are getting a new car. The lease on our Honda CR-V is up, and we have been planning to trade it in for the exact same car. It’s just big enough for a family of four and just small enough to park with ease. The fuel efficiency is good, I suppose, and we’ve never had to bring it in for service.

But now I want a Honda Pilot.

“It’s safer,” I said to Tim. To which he replied, “That’s ridiculous.”

“It has a DVD player!” I said.

“Not sure it’s worth the extra cost,” he said. “Plus, you love the CR-V.”

It’s true; that car is perfectly fine. The Pilot, however, has an extra row of seats in the back and is just that much bigger.

“That much bigger for what?” said Tim.

Another baby, of course. If we get a CR-V, we are closing the door on having another baby. Because where would it sit? I realize the absurdity of my rationale.

Now, I write this post with what I hope is a degree of levity, but I do so also very very aware that some of the people closest to me have not had an easy time having babies. Heartbreaking is too simple and cliched a word to describe what they have been through, to the extent that I could even presume to imagine. I have two beautiful children — a girl and a boy — and, having known the much more difficult paths of these dear people, I am even more aware of my children’s wondrous existence (if that is possible).

Though we are not sleeping so much (have you heard?), with every baby milestone that Little O accomplishes, I think: Is this the last time? The last time I see a baby of mine learn to smile? Or the last time I carefully put teeny newborn onesies on a squirming infant? Little Bug was sleeping through the night at six weeks, and at 11 weeks, we’re not even close with Little O. Perhaps I should be letting him cry a bit more in the night when he’s obviously not hungry. But I bring him into our bed (something I never, ever would have done with Little Bug) and let him nurse on and off all night, as we both drift in and out of sleep.  Every night, as much as the exhausted part of me wants it to be, might nevertheless be the last night I wake up with my infant.  So, after his last, early morning feeding, he stays nestled in my chest until his big sister comes leaping in with the sun. The other morning, Tim left very early, before dawn, and as he kissed the baby and me goodbye he said to me, “You’re in trouble!”

Agree to have another kid, I told Tim, and I’ll sleep train the baby tomorrow!

We bought a house with a guestroom and a small office, one of which might be sacrificed with a third child (but didn’t Tim and I share rooms with our siblings — for better or for worse — for nearly all if not all of our childhoods?). Children — their education and maintenance — are expensive. And Tim and I are on the older side of parenthood. Maybe not, anymore, societally, but certainly physically and emotionally. What about my career? While I have a couple of colleagues who have or are expecting their third babies, they are much more senior — partners or almost-partners. Can one be a very junior attorney with three small children?

I didn’t exactly love the physical realities of pregnancy, but I loved the anticipation. I have two siblings. Tim, of course, comes from a very large family. So I’m not quite sure I’m  ready to say, “This is it.”

Would I know it if I were? Will I know when I am?

Transition to practice (or, why I cried at law school)

April 20, 2010 at 9:17 am | Posted in law school, little bug, Little O, not yet written, politics, read this, tax law is sexy, the firm, the media | 9 Comments
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My triumphant return to my law school last week as an alumni speaker was somewhat compromised by an emotional hiccup. Namely, crying. If you have been reading this blog for the past few (say, ten or 11) weeks, you’ll know that since the birth of my baby boy in February, I’ve been doing a lot of crying. This time, however, the tears were decidedly not hormonal, but, instead, passionate.

If you have been reading this blog since its inception, you’ll know that I had my first baby in between my second and third years of law school. When she was six weeks old, I returned to campus, armed with a breast pump and lots of coffee. “How did you ever manage law school with a newborn?” I’m often asked. Here’s a secret: by your third year of law school — at least, in 2007-08, when the legal hiring market was still running at pre-recession speed — you can pretty much coast. I chose my classes based on when they met, as opposed to content, for a flexible schedule. I had friends who supported me with notes from missed class and law review offices in which to pump milk. And I had a few professors (all women…) who were stalwart champions of motherhood and the law. It was one of these professors who asked me to come speak. And because one is always flattered to be asked for one’s expertise, I blew out my hair, put on a suit, heels, and lipstick, and, feeling vaguely like the lawyer I only so very recently was, I set out for Newton.

The topic was transitioning from school to practice. My professor also had asked me to speak specifically on transitioning to practice with a child and after a maternity leave. I had typed a few thoughts into my iPhone on the transition in general:

  • Ask questions.   No one expects you to know what you’re doing for the first year. If a more senior associate or partner is giving you an assignment and asks you, “Have you heard of the 40 Act?” you may nod yes because you kind of remember skimming that part of the 750-page text book, but you don’t know the 40 Act. Better to pipe up and ask, “Well, what specifically about the Act as it applies to this matter?” then to be stuck in the office at 11 p.m. not knowing what you are supposed to be doing when the client wants an answer by 9 a.m. I’d argue that asking questions makes you look like a thoughtful, careful — indeed, intelligent — lawyer.
  • Worried about work/life balance? Let it evolve organically. It will become clear fairly quickly how different partners/supervisors expect assignments to be completed and how you can assess the urgency of a task. If I’m given a new task on top of a full plate, I’ll tell the partner, “I have this memo due for so-and-so tomorrow and an upcoming filing deadline. Do you think I can still get this new assignment done in the timeframe you need?” You kind of put the ball back in the senior lawyer’s court. In short: don’t freak out before you start that you won’t have a life. If you want a life, you can make it happen. But that’s a whole other post (and blog, dare I say tantalizingly?)
  • Find a peer group. As I’ve discussed previously, I found a support system of other lawyer-moms at my firm. I relied on them  heavily, on matters both professional and personal. But I think this advice can apply to new attorneys no matter where you are in life and no matter what your professional situation. Are you newly engaged, juggling wedding planning  amongst your billables? Find another attorney in the same situation. Are you single and married to your work? I’m sure you have coworkers who would love to have a beer with you at 10 p.m. after along workday.

Oh, wait, you want to hear about the crying part, don’t you. Eventually, my professor asked me about my maternity leave. She asked if I worried about taking it, and whether I was worried about transitioning back. I was prepared with tips for others, not to discuss my own situation, and she caught me off guard. Yes, I worried about going on leave, I answered:  Was I too junior? Would all of my great clients and assignments, which I had worked hard to cultivate, be given to others? Would I forget everything I had learned about tax law? When I returned, would I be able to ramp back up quickly enough to bill enough hours? Should I return part time? Full time? Flex time? In a BigLaw environment, did any of that even matter (which I sometimes suspect it does not…)?

“But I’m grateful for my firm’s generous maternity leave policy,” I said. And as I sat there, dark circles under my eyes, sleep deprived, my mind suddenly obsessed with all of my fears about returning to work, the tears arrived. I’m so, so tired (have I mentioned?). My baby is 10 weeks old and not sleeping through the night. Neither is my two-and-a-half-year-old. What if I, like most women whose companies’ leave policies are not even half as “generous” as mine, were back on the job already? What if I had to worry about keeping up with my coworkers and my assignments and my clients operating on four or five hours of sleep, worrying about who was taking care of my newborn?

Why do I have to qualify my maternity leave with the word generous?

I love being a lawyer, and, for the most part, I really like working, as I suspect many mothers who work do. Perhaps some women drop out of the workplace after having a baby because, instead of the oft-cited, “I just can’t leave my baby,” their harsh reality is that they only have four weeks maternity leave. Because society pressures them to breastfeed but doesn’t allow them the time to get their babies on a schedule, nor provides the space and time to pump milk at work. Because, even when they are senior executives, coworkers refer to their maternity leave as “vacation.”

My maternity leave shouldn’t be thought of as “generous.” It should be standard. Hell, it should be a starting point.

I cried because I’m angry.  I’m passionate about my children, and I’m passionate about my career and my education, and why won’t society support this duality?

If you haven’t read Judith Warner’s Perfect Madness, and you care about these issues, please read it. I know Warner has her critics, and I realize that she’s writing about a particular sliver of the population (highly educated, professional women), but I happen to fall into that sliver, and her book has resonated with me to a degree that surprises me in the passion and anger it has inspired. We need a movement. We need quality affordable day care. We need realistic maternity leave. And no one seems to be doing anything about it.

Maybe I can. Maybe we all — I say to you, my small but perhaps similarly inclined readership — can put our collective heads together and do something.

Stay tuned.

Vanity or Insanity?

April 7, 2010 at 6:18 am | Posted in Little O, running, the 'burbs | 7 Comments
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Gretchen Rubin writes often of exercising for the sake of sanity, not vanity. This is a noble goal, and I’m sure most of us feel better with endorphins racing through our body after a run, but let’s be honest: most of us likely exercise for at least a degree vanity. I simply cannot force myself to eat salads and fruit all day long. I don’t eat a lot of meat, and my husband will not eat fish: ergo, we have pasta for dinner almost nightly. I also like sugar. I need to exercise to keep my clothes fitting properly.

Exercising immediately after having a baby is not fun. There is a lot of relaxin still coursing through your body, so after a three-mile run, if you’re not winded from a few weeks or months of laying off the cardio (or having modified it down several notches), your hips feel loose and kind of achy. I have found, with both of my children, that nursing — far from helping me shed the pounds quickly, as celebrities are so quick to claim nursing does for them — makes me retain a bit of weight. I’d like to think it’s biological and that my body needs this weight to produce enough milk. But it may also be that jogging with three sports bras is not all that comfortable, and so my running is less enthusiastic than it might otherwise be. I’m an impatient, instant-gratification-expecting person, however, and I want my old jeans to fit now. Not in four or six or eight months when I stop nursing. It’s time to get drastic.

Regular readers might recall that for the past two years I’ve run half marathons with my law school friends: the Great Bay Half in 2008, which I ran about nine months after having Little Buggy, and the Run to Remember in Boston last May, which I ran four weeks pregnant with Little O. In a burst of energy I signed up to run the Run to Remember again this May with Ellen, although only after warning her that I would be running with only the expectation of finishing — no thoughts as to time or even trying to run it without walking breaks.

Run to Remember, 2009. Don’t we look like we’re having fun?

I love training for races. It forces me to get out and run three or four times a week. I love the feeling of completing an eight- or ten-mile training run, but I’m not the sort of person who would ever run such distances without “having” to, without a goal at the end. This year may prove a bit more difficult: not only did I have a baby two months ago and am perhaps not physically totally ready, but my energy levels are low from getting up once or twice a night. In addition, now that I’m in the ‘burbs, I no longer have the gorgeous esplanade along which to take four, six, or ten mile loops. Ellen and I will have to make a concerted effort to meet from our respective suburbs to train together.

Hopefully, all of these challenges will make completing the race that much sweeter. And, to be completely frank, hopefully my jeans will fit perfectly by then, as well.

What’s in my bag

April 6, 2010 at 9:30 am | Posted in SAHM, Starbucks | 2 Comments
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Lindsey at A Design So Vast tagged me to reveal what’s in my bag. Lest I try to manipulate reality to make me seem more organized or stylish than I am these days, I took a photo of my bag and its contents the moment I read her blog post. Thus, the Starbucks background in the shots below.

Actually, 75% of the time I do not carry around a purse. I stick my iPhone in my pocket and lug around my five-pound wallet (the baby’s carseat is a convenient place in which to tote said wallet). I have gorgeous Kate Spade diaper bag filled with all sorts of baby and toddler necessities, but I only drag that around for extended outings (a trip to Starbucks does not qualify).

The bag:

Neutral patent leather for spring. It’s quite small because I really only use it for going out to dinner or when it pinch hits as an abbreviated diaper bag, as it did on this particular day (see below).

The contents:

Thanks you notes for baby presents, my enormous green wallet, bottle of milk, black fountain pen for thank you notes, Charlie Card (this had been long-lost until this exercise made me empty out the pockets of this bag!), pacifier, and five — yes five (?!) — lipsticks/lipglosses, which are all generally the same color red (from left to right: CoverGirl Lipslicks, Clinique Black Honey gloss, Mac 3D, Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick, Benefit Benetint). The iPhone is not in the picture not only because I used it to take the photo (duh), but because it’s usually in my hand, my pocket, or the drink holder of the car.

In case you are wondering, the baby is perched in his carseat to the left of this picture. Otherwise, I might not walk around with a bottle of milk or a pacifier in my bag…

Thanks, Linds, for this fun diversion!

I tag:

One of the Three Clever Sisters (though it most likely will be Karen or Marie, unless Sara feels like a break from nesting with her brand new baby boy!)

Jessica of Mommy Wants a Drink

Birthday girl Kristin of Mommy, Esq.

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