Thursday, September 30, 2010

Travel Advice

I love to travel. My whole family loves to travel. And, luckily, I have been blessed with children who LOVE to travel. They always want to go to the “hotel” or the cabin in Wisconsin. And they do great riding along in the Mom Mobile (thank you to the portable DVD players, Cheetos, and the Elmo potty!).  Every year we make a 10 hour trip (one-way) to our cabin in Wisconsin and they are troopers!

I should however, caveat my love of travel. I don’t like to fly. I don’t have a fear of flying, in fact, as a child, I loved going up in my Uncle Charlie’s small plane and flying over my house. Now, however, when I book a flight, all I can think about is getting the plane back on the ground. Maybe it’s the cramped leg room or the crying children. Most likely, it is the motion sickness and the amount of Dramamine I have to take 30 minutes prior to boarding. But to get to certain places quickly, flying is the only option.

Next summer, we are headed to Florida to stay with the hubby’s aunt and uncle. All we have to pay for are the flights and other essentials (Pepsi, Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, Cheerios) when we get there. So we can’t pass up this opportunity – A n’ B’s first trip to the ocean!!

As you may realize, there is quite a distance between the middle of Iowa and the west coast of Florida. Lots of driving, 4+ days in the van, Cheeto breath. So flying is the only practical option.

As you may guess, as a working woman, I have limited time off. As a working mom, that time is cut in half. And as you already may have guessed, I pack the entire family (this includes my hubby – as I always get the “what are you taking or what should I wear” or “do you think I need to take this?”). Since we are headed to Florida for a week, we will need to check luggage, have our carry-on bags loaded and plenty of aspirin and Dramamine.

As many of you know, packing requires strategy. Do I really need all of these shoes? How many books should I take in my carry-on? How much room should I leave for souvenirs? This strategy must increase as I pack for A n’ B. What will keep them entertained for the flight? Should I buy a portable DVD player or Nintendo DS? What if they have motion sickness? How do I teach them to “pop” their ears?

As we returned from Vegas, I noticed how many children were flying, some very young. And all of them seemed to be doing great. So I am reaching out, seeking advice on how to fly with young children. Thoughts? Strategies? Prayers?


Jean Anne

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Partnership Pinch

When it comes to working moms, the legal profession has got it all wrong. For most big firms, the partnership track is 8 or 9 years, which means 8 or 9 years after you’ve graduated law school you are supposed to focus on developing new business and generally start to be able to feed yourself (and hopefully others) work.

But as any entrepreneur will tell you, developing business is hard work. It means being involved in local bar associations. Writing articles. Public speaking. Attending rubber-chicken award dinners. Basically doing anything and everything in your power to get to know business people and other lawyers who can hopefully feed you work. Oh, and you need to do this on top of billing 2000 hours each year.

The problem with this situation is, at the exact moment a woman lawyer is supposed to be upping her game to make it into the elite partnership ranks, she is often also raising a young family. And, if the woman is anything like me, she begins to feel like she can’t possibly manage all of the expectations placed on her. And they leave the profession.

I certainly thought about it. I like what I do and know that I’m pretty good at it. But I’m not about to put my professional life before my family. For a while I looked at in-house legal jobs, but between the already ultra-competitive nature of those jobs and the dismal state of the economy, an in-house position just didn’t seem to be in my future. Instead, I sought out and found a “family-friendly” firm with a lower billable hour requirement.

While the lower billable hour requirement has helped, the move hasn’t alleviated as much of the pull between my personal and professional lives as I would have liked. I still work until midnight many nights. I’m still constantly battling deadlines. I still miss bedtime. In short, I still haven’t found the right mix.

I have, however, had more time to market. I’ve joined some bar association committees and industry groups. And to my surprise, they are filled with other women like me - working moms trying to balance their personal and professional obligations and generally feeling like they are failing at both.

But the truth is, we women aren’t failing. And we aren’t the problem. It’s the profession’s idea of “success.” If a lawyer doesn’t make partner by year 9, they are written off and labeled “of counsel” or let go. But what’s so magical about the 9 year mark?
The same smart, driven women used to surpassing expectations that enter the legal profession are the same smart, driven women who are up for partnership at year 9.  The only difference is that by year 9, those women can no longer focus solely on their professional lives.  The profession should relax its standards to retain those women and allow them to be successful in both their personal and professional lives. 

 But with no industry-wide change on the horizon, lawyer moms like me have no choice but to either play by the rules or blaze our own trail.  For me, I choose the latter. I no longer define career success as making partner by year nine.  I believe that I only get one chance to see my family grow up. I have the rest of my life to develop a book of business. If that means I won’t make partner by year 9, or if I get saddled with the dreaded “of counsel” title, so what? I’ll still have made it as a mother and a lawyer. And that’s all I ever wanted in the first place.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Hike

I’m a Midwest girl born and raised in a small town in Central Illinois. Because of this, I LIVE for the fall. Fall is by far my favorite season, with trips to apple orchards, pumpkin patches and hikes to admire the changing leaves. I love watching everything change…but little did I know this fall I would have to deal with a change that hit a little closer to home.

This past weekend, Todd, the kids, and I met up with my family for a hike at Starved Rock. The weather was perfect and I was looking forward to a fun day with my family.

We started our hike. During the first mile, I looked around me. L, my youngest son, was in our borrowed Baby Bjorn strapped to my husband and bouncing along with him on the hike. J, my daughter, fashionable with her fall accessories, was complaining this was not “her thing” and begging her Uncle for a piggy-back ride through the trees. And then there was H, my middle child and first son. H was in his glory on this hike. He kept stopping to pick up rocks, sticks, and acorns. He truly appeared to be in his element.

As we walked I couldn’t take my eyes off of H. Just as the new fall leaves around me…H was making a change.

H is a notorious “Mama’s Boy” and as a baby would never leave my side. Usually shy and reserved he would always hold onto my pant leg whenever in a crowd or doing something new. He was always willing to try new things…so long as Mommy was near by.

But as we walked deeper into the woods, H wasn’t attached to my pant leg. In fact, he was far ahead of me, enjoying his surroundings without an ounce of fear. He didn’t need me to help him…in fact he was leading our hiking crew, checking out maps, choosing walking sticks, and calling back to us all to keep up.

I couldn’t help but wonder: “When did THIS happen?”. I’m known for taking pictures and keeping memories of basically every moment of my children’s lives…how did I not see this coming?

Mile 2. H lagged back to walk next to me for awhile. He showed me all the treasures he had discovered. Suddenly, he tripped over a stick and fell to the ground. Of course instantly I reached down ready to wisp him up and dry his tears. But a strange thing happened. No tears…not a drop. He merely got up, brushed off his hands and pants, and returned to his position as head of the pack.

I had a twinge of sadness come over me… I was in the moment every Mommy faces when they realize their baby won’t be a baby much longer. But my sadness was short-lived as I realized one thing wasn’t changing as we rounded the trails…H was still very much a “Mama’s Boy”.

As we were walking the trails there were moments when H would get close to edge and I would of course panic. So I needed to hold his hand to calm my fears of him tumbling down the side of the steep cliffs. If I asked him to hold my hand, he instantly said “No”…because of course big boys don’t need their Mommy’s help.

So I made a sad face, sort of doing a fake cry, and said to him: “I need you to help Mommy…I’m scared of these steps, can you hold my hand?”. Instantly, without hesitation he reached his hand out to me. He then remained vigilant by my side, helping me down the stairs, and around the tight curves. I knew then that no matter how big he grows…he’s always going to be by my side.

After I was out of “danger”, my little man returned to his leadership position of the pack, laughing and hunting for sticks and rocks with his cousins. But I noticed every now and then he would look back to see what I was doing.

Toward the end of the hike, I asked H if I could carry him. He had walked about 2 1/2 miles unassisted and I was internally struggling with all these growing up images. I was relieved when he reached his arms up to me. I carried him the last half mile…and held him tighter than usual. Feeling his arms around my neck was priceless. It reminded me that this change he was undergoing would not happen overnight. Thankfully, I’ll get many more years of holding his hand and helping him finish his hikes.

We finished the hike and could see the sunshine through the trees. H wouldn’t let me carry him “over the finish line”, but rather wanted down. I mean God forbid one see a big boy’s Mommy carrying him at the end of the hike! I put H down, he looked at me with his beautiful bright blue eyes, smiled, and then ran off after his cousins.

I sighed and shrugged my shoulders… who knew it only took 3 miles for a baby to turn into a little boy?!


Monday, September 27, 2010

The Song Remembers When...(yes, a Trisha Yearwood song)

OK, so this is not a huge, thought-provoking post because the hubby and I are leaving for Las Vegas in less than 2 hours to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary and his birthday! This is our first time away from our kids since they were born (yes, they are 4 years old), and if I stop to think about leaving them, I will start to cry and worry. So I just want you to sit back, relax, and get lost in some memories…

I heard the song in the post title the other day and it got me thinking of how a song can define a specific moment in our lives. Or how the lyrics can touch our hearts and take us back to a special time. Maybe it is a song I despise and it always gets stuck in my head. If I were a teenage drama, like Beverly Hills 90210 (the original) or One Tree Hill, this would probably be the start of the musical montage of my life. And Glee is the show to watch, so maybe I am hip and cool!

Music has always been a part of my life. My Dad is a huge Beach Boys and Righteous Brothers fan. And any time I hear Surfin’ Safari or Little Old Lady from Pasadena, I am 5 years old, twisting and shouting in my dad’s office with the horrible orange, brown and yellow shag carpet in the basement of our house. Car trips were filled with Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. If a malt shop oldies song comes on, you can bet I am tapping my toe and humming along.

In school, I was a huge NKOTB fan (you know right now you are singing Hangin’ Tough right now – just admit it). Plus, I loved Bon Jovi, Warrant, Whitney Houston, Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. And if pressed, I could probably name the songs our high school volleyball team warmed up to (Takin’ Care of Business and The Joker, for sure). But every time I hear REO Speedwagon’s Can’t Fight This Feeling, I am at senior prom, dancing with my high school crush. And Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road evokes a bittersweet smile, a car ride and unrequited love.

In college, a frat party favorite by the Quad City DJs makes me want to ride that train (choo choo!). The B52’s Love Shack brings to mind 1023 University in Peoria, a great group of friends, and a regret that things had ended better. And I met my hubby watching Armageddon, so you know that “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith is one of my all time favorite songs. (Plus, who doesn’t love Ben Affleck and animal crackers?).

For law school and the good times that followed, Once Bitten, Twice Shy makes me want to grab the microphone and do some karaoke! And I don’t think I have ever heard a better rendition of Eye of the Tiger then the impromptu outburst while walking into the Iowa Bar Exam. And yes, we did rise to the challenge!

The month A n’ B were born, My Wish by Rascal Flatts and My Little Girl by Tim McGraw marked their entrance into the world and couldn’t have fit better into the musical montage.

And now that you have endured that trip through time with me (just admit that you at least have 1 of those songs in your head right now), my taste in music may have changed now with A n’ B. A popular ringtone for us is The Wonder Pets “The Phone is Ringing” and I have the Phineas and Ferb soundtrack blasting out of the speakers in my minivan. But we always have some tune playing in the background (even if it is A making up a song about princesses and rock stars).

Each song has a special place in my heart and brings a smile to my face. As I wrote this blog, I wondered why these songs stuck with me. Is it because they remind me of a simpler, more innocent time? Or was it a special moment I shared with a special person? Do I just want to take a break in my hectic day and laugh at the fun time that marked the song in my mind?

What song(s) makes you remember when? What lyrics stir your heart? Would I be surprised to find them on your IPod? And what will A n’ B’s songs sound like?

At Grandma and Grandpa’s house last Sunday night, Grandpa broke out the old turntable and Beach Boys records. And 2 little girls broke out in smiles and surfing dance moves as Surfin’ USA came out of the speakers. Well, 2 little girls and one Mommy…(And one huge smile from Grandpa).

Jean Anne

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Blackberry Bandit

I love my Blackberry. It is without a doubt the greatest invention I have seen in my 32 years of life. It allows me to be a lawyer outside the confines of my office…which for a JD Mom is essential. I can answer emails from clients while I run an errand or am home with a sick child. It allows me to be “there” even when I’m “not there”.

My Blackberry is connected to our work server, which means all of my contacts that are on my computer are instantly streamed to my Blackberry for my convenience. This means my Blackberry holds hundreds of phone numbers ranging from my pediatrician to a southern Iowa Judge’s chambers. Co-counsel, opposing counsel, partners…all their numbers are conveniently stored for my use.

So, it goes without saying that a Blackberry in the hands of a JD Mom is a necessity… but a Blackberry in the hands of a 2 year old little boy…well that’s a whole other story.

My son, H, has never been a fan of sleeping. In fact, it took him until he was a little over 2 years old before he even attempted to sleep through the night. I have resolved myself to recognizing that for a headstrong, on-the-go toddler, sleep means he has to stop running around and this just isn’t going to happen. So it is the normal course in our household that H will get up in the middle of the night and parade himself over into our bed.

Often I check my Blackberry before I fall asleep so it is usually somewhere next to me in bed when I finally fall asleep. Little did I know that by falling asleep next to my unlocked Blackberry I was placing it in the hands of a Blackberry Bandit. H is fascinated by everyday objects and so a Blackberry to him is an exciting toy…something he can try to figure out. And unfortunately for me…I learned one night that H had “figured out” how to use my Blackberry.

So one morning, my alarm went off and I started to get ready for another crazy workday. I looked down at my Blackberry and noticed I had a missed call. I checked the number – it was a co-counsel I had been working with on a case and luckily a good friend of mine. But he called me at 3:45 a.m. which of course caught my eye. So I emailed him asking if there was something he needed since he called me in the middle of the night. He responded: “Well you called me at 3:45 a.m. and so I was checking if you needed something”! I was so embarrassed…apparently the Blackberry Bandit decided it would be fun to make prank calls from my Blackberry to random contacts in my Address Book. And of course the Blackberry Bandit couldn’t call my best friend, husband, or Mom…no he had to pick a fellow attorney.

I wish I could tell you that this was a one time thing – but the Blackberry Bandit struck again a few months later…again calling another attorney at 2:30 a.m..

So my advice to all you fellow JD Moms out there…always remember to lock your Blackberry devices as you never know if and when a Blackberry Bandit may strike. And for those past and future victims of my Blackberry Bandit…he’s sorry…he’s two…and we’re working on it. 


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Vegas Baby!

Next week, the hubby and I are headed to Las Vegas for 3 days to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary and his birthday. And while I am excited – hello, it’s Vegas and Vacation – I am worried and already feeling guilty for leaving the girls.

As a working mom, I get very few hours of the day to spend with my kids. And while we have the weekends, those are jam-packed with errands, games, laundry and other stuff that doesn’t get accomplished during the week. And I love hanging out with my kids! Whether we are just having a movie night and eating popcorn to going to the zoo, we always have a GREAT time!
Now, I am not saying that there aren’t days when they drive me a little crazy (how many times can I say “please pick up the Candyland game” or “no, you can’t wear flip flops to school when it is 50 degrees outside and raining.”). Typically my “free” or “me” time consists of a run to Target or Hy-vee to pick up groceries or some necessity. And this doesn’t bother me most of the time – I crank up the radio and daydream about a beach somewhere. (Now do I think this “me” time is equal to my husband’s? No, but this is another post for another day).

OK – so you ask, why are you going? Because I realize that I/we need this getaway. I’ll be honest, my focus has not been on my husband/marriage since the kids were born. At first, with twins, we were just trying to make it through the day. We didn’t have time to sleep, much less talk to each other, with the exception of “who needs a bottle” or “can you run to the store and get more diapers?”. And as the kids have gotten older and we have a better routine, life just seems to happen (the lawn needs mowed, soccer practice, one of us has to work late). We try to have a date night every 6 weeks, but even then it is only for a few hours. And we normally end up running errands or just sitting watching a game while we eat dinner (I do miss watching all 4 quarters of a college football game).

Early in our marriage, someone asked me how married life was. I responded with “it’s not like anything changed; we still love to go out to sporting events, work around the house, and just enjoying each other’s company.” But when the kids came, things changed and we changed. And now we both realize that we need to work on being “us” again. So Vegas, here we come.

But my worries linger:

1. Will the girls be ok? The last time I left for work (Scott was still home) they had some “issues” at school with listening and not following directions.

2. What if something happens while we are away?

3. Will they hate me when I return? Yes, I realize they are only 4, but they are like me and hold grudges for a long time.

4. What if they don’t miss me at all? (Grandma and Grandpa are staying with them and, so far, are much cooler than Mommy and Daddy already.)

5. What am I going to talk to with my hubby about for 3 days? And if you know my hubby, he is not a talker!

I realize my worries may be a little extreme and that parents do this all the time, but I am a wuss. So while I am gone, just cross your fingers and say a little prayer that I have hit it big on the slots and can quit my job and be a stay at home mom.

Jean Anne

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Daycare: Survival of the Fittest

 When you are expecting a baby, people give you all kinds of unsolicited advice. Men and women alike almost come out of the woodwork to pass along some nugget of information (or horrifying labor story) that they simply must share. Sleep now, because you won’t after the baby comes. You’ll expose the baby to radiation if you face the microwave while it’s running. Don’t lift your arms over your head or else the umbilical cord will wrap around the baby’s neck (I’m not making these up people – these are all pieces of advice people actually passed along to me).

And these tidbits of advice don’t dry up once the baby is born. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Eating broccoli will give your baby gas. Make time for a date night with your husband once a month (yeah, right). In short, everyone has an opinion as to how you should be living your post-baby life.

It isn’t until you hit daycare that the advice dries up. At the moment you need it most, suddenly the people who couldn’t contain their opinions as to what you should and shouldn’t do are unbearably quiet.

Some of the silence may be the result of the stigma that still goes along with sending a baby to daycare. Any working mom will tell you that the statement that you send your child to daycare is almost always followed by an uncomfortable silence. People just don’t know what to say once you tell them that you’ve decided to leave your little, tiny baby with a room full of strangers and snotty toddlers. I truly believe that the first time a working mother experiences that silence is a defining one. In that moment, the working mother is judged. She’s judged for choosing work over her children. For not having enough money to hire a nanny. For whatever. The working mom may not know what she’s being judged on, but at that moment, she knows she’s being judged. And it sucks.

But that is a post for another day.

The point is, right when you really need someone to tell you what to expect with daycare, there’s nothing but crickets. Oh sure, daycare gives you a packet that tells you to do things like bring an extra bottle and a set of back up clothes in case the baby spits up (or worse). They tell you to bring your child’s security item so at nap time he’ll have a familiar friend. But it’s what that little packet doesn’t tell you that you need to know most. So here’s our list of things you should know about daycare:

1. Never send anything you want to see again (other than your child) to daycare. Daycare is like the Bates Motel: what goes in won’t necessarily come back out. Blankets, shoes, hats and back-up clothes seem particularly subject to this rule.

2. Your child will never come home from school in his/her own backup clothes. From the best we can tell, it doesn’t matter if your kid has his own cubby, drawer or locker, when daycare puts your kid in back-up clothes those clothes are almost never his or her own.

3. Your child will come home dirty. We cannot emphasize this enough: your child will come home from daycare filthy. Never, ever plan a trip to the store or (God forbid) a visit with the in-laws until you have time to bathe the kid. We don’t know if it’s the paint or the playground or lunch (well, we know it is often lunch), but every single surface area will need cleaning by the end of the school day.

4. Always have a pair of back-up shoes in the car. No parent wants to buy two pairs of shoes for kids who will grow out of them in a matter of weeks, but if your family doesn’t wear shoes in the house, having a second pair of back-up shoes is a must. Imagine the floor around your toddler after he eats. Now multiple that by 10 toddlers. And your kid in his socks. You’ve just justified buying the back-up shoes.

5. Don’t rush out every time daycare sends you a note that diapers/wipes are getting low. When our son first started daycare, I would rush out to get diapers/cream/wipes every time the teachers sent home a note saying he was running low. I felt like if I didn’t immediately get what he needed, he would somehow suffer. Eventually, we had a second baby (or I had a trial, who can remember?) and middle of the night trips to the 24 hour Walmart just weren’t an option. And you know what? Nothing happened. He never came home without a diaper. Sure, there was a time or two where he went to school in Pampers and came home in a Huggies, but so what? I finally figured out that if we were borrowing diapers from other kids it stood to reason that other kids were borrowing diapers from us. And if borrowing a diaper from my son meant some other harried mom didn’t have to rush out at 2 am to buy her kid diapers, then I’m proud to have done a little something to make her life easier. And I thank her for extending the same courtesy to me.

6. From time to time, send a snack for the entire class. When our son was 2, he started to understand what it meant to have friends. One day, one of his friends brought in a special snack for the entire class. Our son talked about it all night long. It was just a regular day made special by a snack. When about a month later our son asked to bring in a special snack to share with his friends, how could I say no? In that simple request I learned he was happy. He had friends. And he had learned the joy of giving. Special snack day turned out to be special for both of us.

7. From time to time, send a note of appreciation to the teacher. It is a sad truth for most daycare families that you child will spend more of her waking time with her daycare teacher than with her parents. For that reason alone, daycare teachers shoulder a heavy responsibility in the development of our children. And, at least in our case, the teachers have often gone above and beyond to not only help us raise kind, loving children, but to help us manage our hectic lives. A simple thank you does not even begin to cover it.

8. Don’t worry about dressing your kid in cute clothes. No one is judging you based on the clothes your kid wears to daycare. See number 3.

9. Go to the Parent-Teacher conferences. We learned this one the hard way. It seems silly to take off of work to go to those transition conferences where your infant’s teacher tells you all about what your kid can do, but trust us – it is so worth it. There aren’t words to describe the pride a parent gets from hearing a third-party describe her child’s accomplishments. But more importantly, you’ll learn that the teacher really knows and loves your child. And, if you’re me, you’ll know that your decision to keep working was not at the expense of your children.

10. Remember that we’re all in this together. In our time in daycare we’ve determined that there are two types of daycare parents: those that show up fed, in ironed clothes looking refreshed and relaxed, and those (like us) who are already late to work and whose kids aren’t even wearing shoes yet. No matter which kind of parent you are, our kids are all in this together. So let’s help each other every chance we get.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"She's My Mom"

One day Miss J came home from pre-school with a project. The teacher asked her to tell the class what her Mommy does for “a living”. I smiled and said…"Well, Mommy's job is called 'an attorney'...", and started to tell her about my job so she would be prepared to inform her class.

A few months passed and I never heard about the project again. At the end of the school year they had a Mother’s Day Luau and J’s teacher approached me. In her hand, she had a picture, a crayon drawing of some stick figures. The teacher smiled and said “I thought you would like to see this”. My eyes filled up with tears as I looked at the paper. When they asked J the question “What does your Mommy do for a living?”…she responded: “She’s my Mom”.

That night as I was tucking her in I said to her, “I thought you were going to tell the class I was an attorney?”. She looked at me dumbfounded by my question and said “But, that’s your JOB”.

I don’t think J will ever fully appreciate how much she touched my heart that day, with a wisdom way beyond her then-3 years. She was right on with how I view myself; My job may be an attorney, but my “living” is being a Mom.

I have the stick figure drawing in my office and I look at it often to remind me that this is my goal as I raise my kids. I want them to know that my life is being their Mom, and the rest are mere details.

This of course is not an easy task to achieve and so I have had to establish certain rules to live by. First, I do not (unless there is an emergency) ever work in front of my kids. This means that I have to often stay up late and work long after they go to bed.  Second, my kids “social lives” can’t suffer because I am forced to work. This means that if my daughter wants to do dance, soccer, and ice skating then so be it…I have to make it work with my schedule. Third, my kids “work” with me. When I travel for work (which I do a great deal), I often take them with me. This way a business trip for me becomes a fun family getaway. Finally, I never let them “see me sweat” i.e. know the stress I hold in my life caused by Mommy/Attorney balance. I may have 2 summary judgments due, a jury trial, and an oral argument in front of the Iowa Supreme Court all crammed into one week….but they will never know it.

Will I succeed at this goal as my kids grow?? Well, that remains to be seen. But I will do everything in my power so that when J, H, and L are grown and are asked the typical “What does your Mom do for a living?” question, they will each smile and say “She’s my Mom”.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Number That Haunts Me...

Just went in last week for my annual physical/exam (yes, ladies – that one!). After dashing out late in the work-day afternoon, sending those final emails, praying that I hit all the lights and there is no traffic (because I left at the last minute to finish up a conference call), I make it with a minute to spare. Victory! (Especially for those of you who know I am ALWAYS late).

So what is the first thing you get to do in a physical? Yep, height and weight check – oh boy! And the praying begins…maybe my scale at home is wrong; it must be my padded bra; or it is still baby weight (4 years later). And no surprise, the scale reads that dreaded number – 30 more pounds than I want it to (there is no way I am publishing the actual number!!)

Great – now time to talk to the doctor about my weight gain and high blood pressure (the latter because I have been rushing to this appointment, I have a presentation due tomorrow for upper management, I will have to make up the 2 hours I left work early, and I need to leave soon in order to pick up photos at Walgreens, get a birthday gift at Target, and pick up the girls before soccer practice). So when the “need to eat better and get more exercise” lecture begins, I ask for another hour in the day and explain my daily schedule:

6:15 AM – wake up and get moving slowly
  • Shower
  • Make-up
  • Get dressed (hoping my clothes fit, match, are clean(ish))
  • Blow-dry hair
6:45 AM – wake up hubby to get moving; take Jetta outside

7:00 AM – get bags in the car, juice/milk ready and hope there are granola bars to eat on way to work

7:15 AM – wake up A n’ B – get them moving (slowly…)

7:45 AM – leave for work/daycare (this could vary to 8 AM)

8:15-8:30 AM – get to work (if everything goes smoothly with drop off at daycare, Mommy didn’t forget anything, girls are dressed appropriately for field trip, dance class, extra clothes for soccer, etc.)

Noonish – Lunch? HA! Normally between conference calls and emails I make a quick dash to the microwave, provided I remembered to bring something (see 7 AM).

5:15-5:30 PM – Leave work

6:00 PM – pick up A n’ B from daycare

6:15 PM – home
  • Start a load of laundry, get dinner going, change out of work clothes, review what A n’ B might need for next day, possible run to Hy-vee or Target
  • N/A if soccer practice/swimming lessons/horseback riding lessons
7:00 to 8:30 PM – have dinner, clean up, laundry, try to get outside for play time

8:30 to 9:00 PM – bath time

9:30 PM – bed time for A n’ B (maybe…)

10:00 PM – I would like to go to sleep, but realize I have not spent any time with my hubby. Hmmm…might be nice to talk to him. Or log on to answer a few more emails…

11:00 PM – Sleep?

Please note this schedule is dependent on everything running smoothly. Sick kids, practices/rehearsals, travel plans, unforeseen meetings at work, etc. are not factored in. And I value sleep! I am not taking away from the 7 hours of sleep so I can work out (isn’t the norm 8 hours of sleep/day?). So if anyone has any ideas, please share :)  In the meantime, I will keep hoping someone picks me for one of those mom makeover reality shows which includes a new haircut, stylish wardrobe and liposuction (and keep avoiding my scale in the bathroom).

P.S. My doctor just laughed when I told her the above daily schedule. And then gave me information on eating healthier.

Jean Anne

Friday, September 17, 2010

Glimpse of Heaven

In the midst of chaos last night, KJ gave me the best gift a three year old could give his mommy.  He got out of bed, came downstairs and scared the daylights out of me at about 9:15. 

We have had a somewhat chaotic week.  KJ transitioned from his daycare room to preschool this week.  Husband and I were both working a lot at our jobs.  We all got home around 7 last night, which meant a mad dash to get dinner on the table, kids in the bath and stories read.  Still, I had thought KJ was fast asleep when he stepped out of the shadows of the playroom into the family room, almost causing me to drop my diet coke all over the floor. 

 For some reason, KJ couldn’t sleep.  Now, Husband and I have very different approaches to middle-of-the-night wake up calls from our kids.  Husband always puts the kids back in their beds no matter what the problem is.  I’m (way) more likely to let the kids lay in our bed or rock them to sleep – especially if they are sick.  Our daughter never really liked to be rocked and with the warmer weather, I haven’t had much opportunity to rock anyone lately.  So I capitalized on my moment with KJ yesterday, turned on the cd I always played when rocking him as a baby, took him to the rocking chair, and rocked him. 

What an amazing experience it was.  We sat there, just the two of us in the dark playroom rocking and just holding each other.  Preschool had been a big step for both of us.  For KJ, it meant a new routine, new classroom, new friends.  All changes that are hard on a three year old.  For me, preschool meant another step my baby took away from me.  Another milestone, already here.  A reminder that my rocking days were numbered.  But in the rocking chair, for just a few minutes, we could both hold onto his babyhood just a little bit longer. 

When the cd was over and it was time to bring KJ up to bed, he did not protest at all.  He went to sleep, just like the big boy that he is and I went back to laundry or whatever it was that I had been getting ready to do.  But all night, I found myself thinking of KJ, and thanking God for my little boy.  And thanking KJ for my glimpse of heaven.  


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dear Mr. Walmart and Ms. Target...

I am writing you today on behalf of a class…the Working Mommies of the World. This class has been seriously overlooked in your stores although we are by far your largest customer base. Our lives consist of running to your store for one child’s diapers, only to return home and find our other child is out of diapers, and only to return home from that trip to start a load of laundry and discover there is but a drip of detergent left. And even when you think that 4 trips a day to your store would be enough, we will for sure arrive with our children at daycare the next morning to find a notice waiting for us that our child is out of wipes, diapers, and formula.

We are the ones who run over our lunch hour to grab a single container of baby wipes only to get stuck behind the person who found a sale on Banquet meals and so decided to buy out the entire freezer case. We are the ones who shop with our children at night, during the times they are the most crabby and hungry because if we leave them with their fathers they will proceed to throw a fit because we are going without them.

On behalf of this class, I propose you create “The Mommy Lane”. Before you say it, your Express Lanes do not help us, because us Mommies are always the ones that have 13 items instead of 12.

In the Mommy Lane, items should magically be rung up without stopping for price checks. We should get the discounted price even if we don’t have time to cut out coupons, and the cashiers are not allowed to ask us “How are you today?” while our 4 year old is throwing a fit because she didn’t get a Barbie and our 2 year old is knocking down all of the Chapsticks you have lined up by the checkout.

In addition, we ask that items cost what they actually do. For some reason we cannot get out of your store for less than $50.00 no matter how hard we try. Even if we are going for one item…our bill will be over $50.00, regardless of your rollbacks or discounts.

And one more thing: please kindly remove all candy and toys from the Mommy Lane. We’re on to that trick already. It’s amazing how our bills jump about $10.00 each trip from M & M’s, candy with little fans on top, Pez Dispensers, and small pocket princesses. We know you have figured out that our 2 year olds are going to throw a fit while waiting in line and the only thing that will appease them are the $2.50 Buzz Lightyear Yo-Yo’s you have conveniently placed on the bottom shelf. You may, however, continue to place magazines and soda in the Mommy lane, so we can get our caffeine fix, find out whose baby Jennifer Aniston is having now, and discover how to lose 10 pounds in 5 minutes while eating a gallon of ice cream.

On behalf of your friends and loyal supporters,


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dance, Soccer, Swimming – You Want To Do What Next?

A & B are 4 years old – yes, 4 years old. They already have been in swimming lessons for 3 years, dance lessons for over a year, and just started soccer and horseback riding lessons this fall. Plus, our garage is filled with softball gloves, helmets, the ESPN Better Batter®, t-ball set, basketballs, footballs, horseshoes, and an outdoor bowling set. Plus, Mommy found Barbie® tennis sets (pink balls, water bottle, bag and Head® racket) on sale last week and thought “Oh, what a great Christmas present!”

We have been to Iowa Cubs baseball games, Bradley basketball games (Go BU!), Drake, NIU and SEP football games, and Iowa Stars and Des Moines Bucs hockey games. And if we lived closer, they would have already “Jumped Around” at Camp Randall or observed Touchdown Jesus in South Bend (don’t worry – soon!).

As you may have guessed, Scott and I are huge sports fans! Between both of us, we have pretty much played every sport (even bowling)! Ok – so no soccer or water polo, but pretty much the basics for small town athletics. Scott even played baseball locally until the girls were born. Plus, we still enjoy a round of golf in our “free “ time. And we love to watch sports – college football, basketball, hockey – you name it, we probably have a favorite team.

So, we get excited when the girls mention they want to try something new – especially when it involves sports. In addition to just our love of sports, it is a great way for them to stay active, learn new skills (including respect and listening to their coach), and meet new kids. This however, brings a new set of challenges for us.

1. Scheduling – when does practice start? You do realize I don’t get off work until then, right? Plus, when do they eat? Practice normally means that I leave work early (i.e. log in after the girls go to sleep); drive like a maniac to pick them up, make sure that I have all of the gear packed up (including snacks); rush to the field and hope that they are excited for practice.
  • Yes, I do drive a mini-van
  • Yes, I am a soccer mom
2. Free time – Soccer clinic on Monday night, dance on Wednesday, soccer practice on Thursday night, soccer games on Sunday. Factor in dance performances ever month, plus errands/parties/travel, and we are almost constantly on the go.

3. Competition – Scott and I are extremely competitive, but we try to realize it is only a game and A & B are only 4! Already we have noticed some people are CRAZY! Is it really necessary to keep your “top scorer” in the whole game? Isn’t this the time when the game is supposed to be fun?

4. Burn out – yep, I said it. I still want the kids to love the game. I believe they need to practice and focus on teamwork, but at the end of the day, I just want them to have fun.

5. Trying new things – I want them to try everything and find something they like. Which means = more activities. And I don’t want to limit them because I am a working mom and it would be a scheduling nightmare.

So with all of that being said (whew), I would love some advice /thoughts from other moms on what they do for activities. Maybe I should have titled this post “Too Many or Not Too Many?”

To top it off, B asked the other day when basketball would start…
Jean Anne

Monday, September 13, 2010

Growing Pains

I love fall in the Midwest. I love the crisp, cool air. I love the leaves changing color. I love wearing sweaters. And I love how it magically arrives out of nowhere one night, just when you think you can’t stand the sweat of summer for one more second.

But this year, fall’s arrival was slightly less sweet. Of course I was thrilled the morning I woke up to cool air and crispy leaves. It was glorious. But then I had to get the kids dressed. And Sweet Pea had no fall clothes.

Now, I’m a daycare mom. I always shop in advance. I know that when the weather turns cool, you need to have the appropriate clothes for your child THAT DAY, because she is going out on the playground whether you’ve had time to buy her a winter coat or not. Plus, time for shopping is scarce. The only reason my kids have anything to wear half the time is because my work has not yet blocked access to Old Navy online.

But Sweet Pea has been a notoriously difficult child to buy clothes for. Despite being born at a respectable 8 pounds 11 ounces, the girl just does not gain weight. For the first year of her life we struggled to keep food in Sweet Pea. Now, she eats like a high school football player but continues to fall off the growth chart. So after buying the same super-cute outfit two summers in a row, and Sweet Pea not getting big enough to wear it either summer, I stopped buying her clothes in advance.

And on Saturday, I paid the price. Sweet Pea grew over the summer.

Of course, I didn’t realize how much Sweet Pea had grown until after I had dug through the piles of winter clothes I so diligently stored this spring. And it wasn’t until I got those 6-12 month size pants on her 20 month-old body that I realized there was no way Sweet Pea could wear those clothes to school.

Thankfully, fall came on a Saturday. I dressed Sweet Pea in her too small pants and took her to Carters for some serious shopping. And as I was buying just about one of everything in the girls’ side of the store, I noticed my counterpart on the boys’ side, scooping up all of the in-season clothes and essentially ignoring the sales. When our paths crossed, I confirmed. We were both working moms taken by surprise by fall’s early arrival.

A few hundred dollars later, Sweet Pea is (mostly) ready for fall. And I’ve learned my lesson. We’re not waiting to see what size Sweet Pea or KJ might be this winter. It may be September, but both of my kids will be getting winter coats this weekend.


"Mommy, I forgot to tell you..."

Monday mornings in our house are always extra chaotic. We are notorious for cramming our weekends full of events, all the things we couldn’t fit in during the work week. It’s our family time… our “make it up to our kids for having two working parents” time. Our weekends include everything from ice skating, to birthday parties, to road trips to see family. In fact, it’s not unusual for me to be more tired after a weekend than I am after a work week.

Monday mornings we start back to the routine of getting everyone up, out of bed (usually our bed since J and H are now frequent visitors to our bed at night) and off to work and school. So with a 3 month old, a 2 ½ year old, and a 4 year can imagine that our Monday mornings resemble a scene in a movie that is on fast forward.

So there is nothing quite like Miss J’s classic “Mommy I forgot to tell you…” to throw a wrench into an already crazy Monday morning.

One particular Monday, with a half hour to spare before leaving for school and work, I was quickly dressing J. As I was putting her dress over her head, Miss J calmly reported to me… “Mommy I forgot to tell you our ‘brown bags’ are due today”.

It is here that the stop button is hit on our fast forward movie.

Okay, deep breath Mommy…we got this. Step one: find out what the “Brown Bag” is. “Okay honey, tell me about the brown bag.”, I said in a fake-relaxed tone hoping and praying these bags that have now ruined my morning didn’t have to contain a family heirloom or baked good of some sort. Miss J looked at me, of course not sharing my stress, and calmly responded… “I don’t remember”.

Really? My daughter can remember all the lyrics to every Top 40 song out there but cannot remember what her teacher told her about the “brown bag” just two days earlier?

I slip into my panic mode. See, I am always paranoid as a working Mom that my kid will be “that kid” in class. You know, the one whose mother forgot to send her to school with treats to share, or pajamas for Pajama Day. I am often haunted with visions of my children standing in the corner having to miss out all because I forgot to send them with something. In my visions I can even hear the voice of their teacher consoling my child with “It’s okay honey, your Mommy was probably busy and forgot”. It’s one of my biggest fears as a working Mom. I never want to be “that Mom”.

So while we are brushing teeth, going potty, and getting our shoes on I continue to interrogate Miss J on the now-infamous “brown bag”. I obtain scattered short clues….it needs to be something to show the class…it has to fit in the bag. Okay…(light bulb goes off) so show and tell with an item in a small brown bag. Gotcha, I can do that. And as luck would have it my daughter’s entire world can all basically fit in a brown bag. Between Barbies, Polly Pockets, jewelry, Strawberry Shortcakes, play make-up…we got this covered.

Miss J settles on one of her Tinker Bell dolls and puts it in her backpack. I then proceed to lecture my husband that if he gets to school and everyone has brown bags, he must go to the store and buy a brown bag and bring it back to J (in record time of course). Yes, I am that kind of Mom and wife that will send my husband for one brown bag at a busy morning grocery store, just so my child is not the only one without a brown bag.

And of course after all this added stress to our Monday, Todd reported back to me after drop off that NO ONE had “brown bags” and show and tell was not until Friday.

Happy Monday everyone...may your day be un-eventful and free of the "Mommy I forgot to tell you's"!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Just a Mom with a JD

Well, first off, let me be honest. I don’t have the typical “lawyer” job. I don’t go to court; I don’t write briefs and I am not up to date on the latest Supreme Court decisions. In fact, I don’t even wear a suit to work! (Thank goodness, because my suits would not fit!). I work in a Compliance Department for a financial institution. I do research, presentations, reports, procedures, etc. I have managed a team of up to 5 people, balanced budgets, ordered equipment and written meeting agendas and minutes. So I have some different challenges to face being a Mom JD.

1. On a conference call while working at home on a snow day, you may hear my daughter tell the meeting attendees “Mommy, I have to go potty.” And yes, I can blush over the phone.
2. I dread the phone ringing at my desk. Every time I see an outside line, I pray it isn’t daycare telling me A or B (or A n’ B) is sick.
3. If the girls are sick, it is possible I will be on a conference call on my work phone while trying to track down my husband or Gma/Gpa to pick up the kids by email or cell phone.
4. I have to tell my kids “No, Mommy can’t see you at swim lessons today. I have to go to work.” And hating every word I am saying.
5. When the boss tells me I have to fly wherever for an offsite meeting, I smile weakly, knowing that my family can’t go with me (and the guilt and scheduling that comes with me leaving).
6. If I am in UAT, my test names will probably follow a Disney pattern (i.e. First Name: Perry; Middle Name: the; Last Name: Platypus or First Name: Princess; Middle Name: Ariel; Last Name: Mermaid)
7. I will not be joining in playdates and don’t know anyone at dance lessons/soccer lessons.
8. I will show up to soccer practice in a skirt and dress shirt.
9. I won’t be VP by 33 because I won’t be staying late to attend a networking event or requesting extra work.

Yes, I have heard it all regarding being a working mom. I do know that I am very lucky to have a job. Especially one that is very understanding about scheduling around doctor appointments, daycare, etc. I knew when I went to law school that I just wanted to do legal research and stay in-house.

And yes, I do understand that I could not live in as big of house, have “luxury” items (not sure what those are, but ok), and save more money. Then I could stay at home and not complain about work/missing my kids. But right now, I know that (or I comfort myself with):

1. A n’ B are learning more with their teachers and friends at pre-K and daycare then I could teach them.
2. They have definitely made some wonderful friends at school.
3. I am teaching them that as a woman they can have it all
4. I do like my “luxury” lifestyle.

Will this change? You bet! I would love to work part-time. I want to be able to take the girls to practice, school, dance lessons. And yes, I want to be the Mom that always has yummy treats (don’t laugh – I can cook!). But right now, I am just doing the best I can.

Jean Anne

Mommy, J.D.

I’ve wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember. I don’t come from a family of lawyers, and I don’t particularly recall knowing any lawyers growing up. I truly think it came from my parent’s keen ability to identify their children’s strengths and steer their children into a profession that would capitalize on those talents. But either way, I always wanted to be a lawyer.

I’ve also always wanted to be a mom. I think like many little girls, I grew up taking it as a given that someday I would grow up and get married and have babies.

But I never really thought about how those two dreams would work together. Pursuing my career was a given: a million different things could have prevented me from having children – or caused me to need to support myself and my children. So wanting to have children someday would not have prevented me from going to law school. And having children (or at least trying) was a given. By the time I started my Big Law job at the tender age of 24 I was engaged to my now husband and we had every plan to share our love with a baby. Having a law career wasn’t going to prevent me from having a family.

So here I am, seven years later: Mommy, J.D.

Being a mom lawyer hasn’t been easy. My husband, my kids and I have all had to make sacrifices to get where we are today. And even that is far from perfect. But being a mommy lawyer means sacrifice. It means short-changing work to attend soccer. Missing bedtime to prepare for trial. It means routinely working until midnight and effectively ostracizing all non-working mommy friends (and sometimes my own husband). It means feeling guilt that I can’t pick my child up from school. And guilt for leaving work right. at. 5. Being a working mom means a lifetime of chasing the ever-elusive work-life balance. But for me, it also means living my dreams. 


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Life of a JD Mom

Back in 2003 I obtained my Juris Doctor or "J.D.". At that point in my life it was my greatest accomplishment, the thing I was most proud of in the world. Little did I know that my J.D. was about to take a backseat to three strong-willed adorable babies who quickly supplanted my degree as my greatest accomplishments! So, I guess you can say that when my children were born my degree magically transformed into a “Mom J.D.” and I entered the fabulous, often chaotic, sometimes sad, often funny, challenging, and gratifying world of being a working Mom attorney.

So what does it mean to be a JD Mom? Well if you ask me I will tell you…

1.   It means that I may pull out a file in court to find a Thomas the Tank Engine sticker has been placed on top of it.

2.   It means that I may accidentally misspell the last name “Bell” as “Belle” in a brief multiple times (true story by the way) because the Disney Princesses are everywhere in my house.

3.   It means I know the heartbreak of my children screaming “Mommy don’t go” as I leave them at daycare.

4.   It means that my brand new suits may have “hopefully non-noticeable to others” finger sized grease stains on the bottom from my morning good-bye hugs.

5.   It means that if I get 5 minutes in the morning to curl my hair this is a huge accomplishment so my hair may not be perfectly curled when I walk into court.

6.   It means the degrees that are displayed on my office walls are overshadowed by dozens of priceless fingerpainted works of art.

7.  It means that my calendar is full of “green” events right next to my blue and red events (“Green” being my chosen colors for personal events). And my daughter calls it my “rainbow brite” calendar.

8.  It means I will often be one of the last attorneys to arrive at a hearing or before a deposition…I will never be late, but its not unusual for me to be running in right at the start time.

9.   It means you will often receive emails from me after midnight because my house is finally quiet and clean (well…clean enough) and I can now tackle that huge mail pile.

10.  It means my “sick days” have been replaced by my kids’ sick days so although I stay home to nurse my children’s colds…you’ll see me sniffling at my desk dosed with Day-Quil.

11.  It means I understand that I will never, no matter how hard I try, be a perfect Mom or a perfect attorney so I am content to be “decent” at both.

12.  It means my direct line at work often rings with such riveting questions as “Honey, what should I feed the kids for lunch?” or “Honey where are the diapers?”.

13.  It means that I understand that I did and will most certainly miss things like my child’s first step, first word, etc but that doesn’t stop me from deeming the date I saw it as the actual date and the one documented in the baby book.

14.  It means when you call my office to schedule a deposition with me I often have to tell you I am “tied up” leading you to think I’m busy with another case when actually I’m off to dance or soccer.

15.  It means my billable hours will never be the highest and I have had to constantly tell myself that the quality of my work makes up for the quantity.

16.  It means my kids will probably grow up thinking all dinners magically come out of a freezer or a crock pot.

17.  It means my power lunches now consist of me running home to eat grilled cheese and cheetos with my kids and getting a quick "fix" before finishing my work day.

18.  It means that when I travel out of town for a deposition, I sometimes take the family with me and turn it into a family road trip.

19.  It means that sometimes bedtime stories to my 3 month old consist of me reading Iowa Supreme Court cases out-loud in a nice calm relaxed tone.

20.  It means I'd rather be climbing a ladder in a game of Chutes and Ladders than the corporate ladder.

Being a Mom J.D. is a part of my life. It’s who I am...the hand I was dealt and so I embrace it. I truly hope that when I look back on these years I will smile knowing my children and myself learned something from this crazy journey!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Here Goes Nothing. . .

Welcome to JD Moms! We are three law school friends who are navigating the waters of being lawyer moms. Despite taking different paths to get to where we are today, the three of us have faced many of the same obstacles and shared many of the same joys along the way. This blog is about our journey as moms and lawyers, and about balancing those worlds.

To get to know us a little bit better, here is a short description of us:

Jean: Wow! A description of me? Just the basics of a 32 year old working Mommy:

  • Mommy to adorable 4 year old twin girls, A n’ B
  • Wife to Scott for 7 years this September
  • Compliance Consultant at a financial institution
  • Daughter to awesome parents (n/k/a Gpa and Gma)
  • Born in a small town in IL (no, we don’t have a stoplight!)
  • Living in the “big city” in Iowa now.
  • Motto: Every day is an adventure (adopted when the girls were born)
Basically, I just want to be the best Mommy, wife, worker, daughter, friend, cook, laundry worker, boo-boo kisser, maid, etc. I can be. And most of the time, that doesn’t happen or I excel at one and not any of the others. And as for “me” time – HA! From my posts, you will learn that I am pretty honest about my accomplishments, failures, and I am definitely not perfect. I just hope the posts will brighten your day and possibly provide an outlet for me.

Also, please note that I am not a writer. I have extremely talented cousins who excel at writing/editing/composition, so I am hopeful they won’t be too harsh with the “red pen.” And, as you can probably tell from the bullet points, I give PowerPoint presentations most of the time.

Mandi: I’m nearly 32 years old and reside in Davenport, Iowa. My world involves juggling between the 4 most important people in my life (my husband and three children) and being a litigation attorney. Although I strive to find balance, my scale always tips toward my family. I am a Mom through and through, its what I was born to do and what I do best!

My husband, Todd, works for a local factory in the Quad Cities and unfortunately works nights. We essentially are forced to be “tag team parents” most of the time, where I come home from work and he goes off to work. Our first child is our only daughter, Miss J. J is truly a diva; she’s 4 going on 30, precocious, inquisitive, always fashionable, and has a social calendar that far surpasses mine (filled with ice skating, dance, and soccer). Our second child is our first son, “H”, and let me tell you he is all boy through and through. H teaches me to laugh at life and his smile and ice blue eyes can melt your heart. In May of this year, we welcomed our third and final child, another son, “L”. L (3 months) is the happiest and most laid back baby I have ever met… calm, cool, and collected. L’s smile can light up a room.

When I am not chasing around after my 3, I am a civil defense attorney working for one of the largest law firms in the Quad Cities. I’m licensed in Iowa and Illinois and so between the two states my court calendar stays packed.

Karen: Is a commercial litigator in Chicago. A former Big Law associate, I recently moved to a smaller, “family-friendly” firm to spend more time with my two children, KJ (3) and Sweet Pea (20 months). I commute over three hours every day, which in theory gives me lots of time to plan meals and update baby books, but in reality is used to squeeze in a little more work or sleep. I am blessed with a wonderful husband and amazingly supportive parents who never mind a 2 a.m. call from me asking, “does this cough sound like croup to you?”

In the end, we hope the readers of our blog can identify with us, support us, or at least laugh with us as we go through this journey together.