Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Interview and the "F Word"

Recently, my law firm has been interviewing new associates. The resumes and interviews have gone through my office like a cyclone. My days have been filled with meeting fresh young 3L students interviewing for their first job.

I take a different approach to the interview process than my partners. I really ask just a couple of questions: “What made you look for a job here in the Quad Cities?” and “Tell me about your life outside the law”.

Most of the time I am met with answers straight from Law Associate Interviewing 101:

 “I don’t have much of a life outside the law, for the law is my life”
 “In my spare time, I enjoy debating”
 "I volunteer my time to teach mock trial"
“My outside life is taking a back seat as I begin this amazing career”.
“Outside of law school, I work, I enjoy working”.

Seriously with these answers I have learned I can roll my eyes internally without being seen. Trust me its a true talent. A talent I plan to use the next time my son asks me again if he can be "Perry the Platypus" when he grows up.

So I conduct my portion of the interview without many questions about law school accomplishments, even though the applicants are dying to tell me they are on Law Review, at the top of their class, and have a high GPA. I take that information and translate it to the sound of Charlie Brown’s teacher: “Wah Wah Wah”. Lawyers are not taught to be lawyers in law school. Sad but true. You don’t learn to be a lawyer until you become one. So the fact you wrote an article about the changing laws on free range chickens doesn’t matter to me. We can teach a law student to be a good lawyer, but we can’t teach them how to be who they are as a person. I want to know the person, not the resume.

In the midst of interviews I met a meek and mild friendly young woman. She started to ask me the normal questions: amount of billable hours, the type of law we practice, the day to day life of our firm. As we talked I could tell she was feeling more comfortable with every question. After the standard questions she got quiet, nervously cleared her throat, fidgeted a bit and said “I’m not sure how to ask this…but I’m about to start a family in the next year or two…is this firm supportive of that??”.

The second the words left her lips, she looked like she wanted to take them back. Her face read: “Great, I asked THAT. She won’t think I’m a hard worker and I won’t get the job”.

I instantly silenced her fears and told her I thought it was a great question. I waved my hand around my messy office at the dozens of picture frames and the Crayola Masterpieces. “My world revolves around the faces in this room” I said. “And my partners have always supported that”.

As I looked at her sigh with relief, I couldn’t help but remember when I was sitting in her chair...literally. At the time I interviewed at my firm I was 27 year old, engaged to be married to my husband and my children were mere twinkles in my eyes. So I sat down in my new black suit, trying not to appear nervous and fielded questions from about 5 partners.

I told them about my passion for civil litigation, my experience at my previous firm, my love of writing. But then I was asked the classic question… “Where do you see yourself in 5 years??”. And just like the applicant in my office, I fidgeted a bit and laid it out on the line. My answer really didn't have much to do with the law. I told them I was engaged to be married and that soon after my wedding I was planning to start having children. I told them that I was a bit nervous about being a working Mom and juggling the lifestyle, but I wanted to a find a firm where I could make it work.

And I did. I was hired, got married 5 months later, took back to back maternity leaves during my first years at the firm, and made partner. I found a firm I love, partners I respect and admire, a firm I am fiercely loyal to. I found a firm I could fit into because I wasn’t afraid to find out if I could actually fit in.

The sad truth is that most applicants won’t ask the “family friendly” question. I guess they think family is the true “F word” to the legal profession. So instead of asking what they truly want to know: “Can I be a lawyer here and have a personal life or be a Mom?”, they choose to paint themselves as billable hour machines. In fact I even had one applicant tell me he “Looked forward to working weekends and couldn’t wait to work late”. Yeah right buddy…no one looks forward to that.

But in my opinion these are valid questions that should be asked and should be received without judgment. The people who ask these questions are merely trying to find out if this is a place they can have a career. And can you blame them? I mean hey, if you are going to go into a lions den, wouldn't you want to know if there is going to be an angry lion waiting to bite your head off or a pride of fun loving lions that will welcome you in by singing some classic Disney "Hakuna Matata" song?? Okay so maybe I've watched one too many Disney movies this week...but you know what I mean. Whether a lions den or a law firm...its always better to know what you are getting into.

But more often than not, these questions are not asked for fear of rejection or judgment. The "I am a machine" persona will be shown over the "I am a person who wants a family and a career". And yes, those machines are probably going to get a call back interview or coveted job offer faster than the family folk.  That's just the way it is. I can’t change the profession. I never will. All I can do is refuse to hide my motherhood in a briefcase and continue to voice my opinion in favor of the ones who dare to speak the "F word"!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A, B, C or D?

As many of you know, I am not your typical attorney. I manage a team in the Operational Risk world for a financial institution. I continue to keep up with my CLE requirements up, pay my Bar dues and continue to field questions from friends regarding wills, cases on Law & Order and other “legal” issues. I had assumed that once I had passed the bar exam, my testing and school days were over. But, you know what they say about assumptions…
In working with some of my team members on their developmental goals, other tests/designations kept reoccurring. CRCM, CIA, CPA, and any other acronym you can think of. And when I actually listened in on a call describing the CRCM exam, all I kept hearing was “multiple choice test” and “taking a chunk of your life.”

As Dr. Doofenschmirtz would say on Phineas and Ferb: “FLASHBACK.” I remember the bar exam vividly, kind of like a nightmare you can’t escape. The squeaky wheel from a wheelchair of one of the proctors, little to no sleep, singing “Eye of the Tiger” as a theme song, and walking out of the multiple choice portion thinking I had not answered one question correctly. But I survived and actually passed the bar exam.

In learning additional details about the CRCM exam, I thought, well, at least it is only 4 hours to answer 200 multiple choice questions. But the time and dedication people put into it was overwhelming. Start studying 6 months ahead of time, make flash cards, take pre-tests…sure all of that is easy if you don’t have a full-time job, soccer practice to go to, swim lessons, making dinner and laundry. When I studied for the bar that was my main focus. Now I have to study again? And when?

Plus, there are continuing education requirements and annual membership for each designation. Really? How about some overlap here?

So, I am frustrated because I really don’t have the desire nor time to take another exam. And it may help me advance in my career, but at what cost? And do another set of initials mean I do my job that much better?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Jean Anne

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Weekend Dash

Weekends are busy around our house.  Both KJ and Sweet Pea take gymnastic classes and KJ attends some sort of hockey lesson most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  Split between two parents, this should be a do-able schedule.  But the classes aren't really splitable - Sweet Pea's gymnastics class is a parent-tot class, and each and every one of KJ's hockey lessons has some parental component.  And since Husband can't skate, that means I have to be at and participate in each and every one of these lessons. Normally, this isn't a problem.  I like spending time with the kids and I consider the parent-tot classes an opportunity to have some special one-on-one time with each kid.  Soon enough they won't want anything to do with me, so I try to treasure these times.   But it makes my weekend busy.  I pretty much rush from place to place, squeezing in grocery shopping and laundry between classes.

This last weekend was particularly difficult.  On top of all of the regular classes and errands that fill up our weekends, I also needed to work. I tried to do as much work as possible while the kids were sleeping, but that meant I worked until the wee hours of both Friday and Saturday mornings.  By the time the kids woke up on Saturday morning, I had only a couple hours of sleep over the course of a few days.  I muscled through, going to the kids' gymnastics lessons and buying a week's worth of groceries "on the way" home.  We then rushed around, Husband helping the kids eat lunch while I put away the groceries and collected KJ's hockey gear, all while constantly reminding KJ to focus on eating because we were leaving in ten minutes whether he was ready or not.  And then, in the midst of all this madness, the phone rings.  It was my dad.

Initially, I was irritated.  My dad knew that KJ had hockey in 10 minutes, and he knew that we were always rushed for time between gymnastics and hockey.  We usually have just over an hour between the two classes.  When you try to squeeze errands and lunch for two toddlers into an hour, there isn't much time for anything else.  But I'm so glad I answered the phone.  My dad was calling to see if he could take KJ to hockey.

My dad's offer was exactly what I needed on Saturday.  He didn't know anything about the week I had or how much I had been working.  He didn't know that I was feeling overwhelmed with everything I had to do that day.  My dad  just knew that he had a free hour and if he took KJ to hockey, then he could have some special one-on-one time with his grandson.  But for me, my dad's offer meant an hour break. One whole hour I could have to myself.  So, I took him up on it.

I won't lie and say that I didn't feel guilty as my dad and KJ walked to the van to go to their lesson.  I felt like I should have been the one going with KJ, that I was somehow letting him down.  But as they walked to the van, I heard KJ say, "Papa, I missed you yesterday."  And with that I knew that everything was fine.  I wasn't being selfish by taking a nap instead of going to hockey, I was allowing for a special bonding moment between grandfather and grandson.  It was one of those rare opportunities where what everyone wanted/needed lined up.  KJ and Papa got their special time together and I got a nap. There's no reason to feel guilty about that.


Monday, March 28, 2011


My husband and I recently started a family history project. I’ve always been a history buff and family history intrigues me. My husband and I decided it was time for us to research our families especially for our three children. Our project is to tackle my husband’s side of the family (since my brother has already done massive research into my side). We started looking through census reports, social security records, and began to find long lost ancestors. With every click of the mouse we were “meeting” the people who brought my husband to me. We have two different missions on this journey. Todd is more interested in learning about where he came from. He likes to get back 100’s of years and see the origins of his family. For me, it’s not where he came from, it’s who. I want to know the story of these people. I feel like I need to know more about the people that started the life of the man who truly started mine.

When you see your family tree, with the lines connecting husband and wife and mother and father it gives you a visual reality of how our lives are created by pure chance. It’s the story of those chances that I want to know more about. If Martin hadn’t met Theresa several decades ago, I wouldn’t be here. If Joseph and Mary didn’t leave Ukraine and happen to choose to live in Chicago, my Grandma and Grandpa would have never met and again I wouldn’t be here. It’s amazing how millions of little “chances” have formed the life I have today.

As I sat by my husband at the computer I started to learn about the chances that brought me him. One change in the family tree on that screen and I would not be sitting next to my soul mate. I started to think about our relationship…a classic one of chance. Todd and I are a classic case of “opposites attract”. So when I met him, I wondered if I could date someone so different from me. I can remember asking my friends what I should do, should I take the chance and get to know him better? My reluctance was complicated by the fact I had just gotten out of a horrible relationship. Was I really ready for another relationship? Was he ready to undo the damage of my past relationship? Sure enough, I took the chance and here we are, almost 8 years later, madly in love. I took a chance on Todd. He took a chance on me. And now there our names were together on the family tree. I hang on our family tree with the love of my life, my best friend, my soulmate, and just one change could have made it different.

Then as my thoughts wandered I looked up at our wall with the pictures of J, H, and L smiling at me. One small change in my life and they wouldn’t be here. If I would have gone left when I went right, if I would have missed that call…they wouldn’t be here. I can’t imagine my life without each of my three children, but their existence hinged on so many chances.

Chance. It’s something that’s hard for me to understand, mainly because of the fact that my life feels so meant to be. I am truly happy. I am meant to be with Todd, I am meant to be a Mommy to J, H, and L. Something so meant to be was formed by millions of different chances? It’s a pretty awesome concept to grasp.

So, it’s funny how researching the past can really put your present into perspective. I thank God everyday for the chances that have lead me to where I am today. I can’t wait to see where my chances will lead me next!


Friday, March 25, 2011

What To Watch?

While I could sing the theme song to most kids’ TV shows (Phineas and Ferb are gonna do it all….), I am not even sure I could tell you what shows are on the major networks (with the exception of Wipeout on ABC – a guilty pleasure for our whole family!). But as I strive to balance my life (and continue on my Year of the Mommy!), I am finding a little time to watch TV (hopefully while I am on the elliptical machine!).
So this probably will be a short post today, but what do you watch? Are there shows out there that are a “must see” for you? With my the help of my trusty DVR (what did we do without that?!?), I can view shows at crazy times to match my crazy schedule!

Currently, I MUST watch Modern Family. Many times I catch myself thinking that they hubby and I resemble Phil and Claire a little too much! And I am trying to catch on to Glee, especially when Jane Lynch is on (Waiting for Guffman anyone?). And if possible, I try to catch Burn Notice on USA.

But what else is out there? Is NCIS still on? I love Mark Harmon. Are there great Mom shows out there I should be tuning into?

I realize this post may be a little trivial, but given any mom’s lack of free time, the show must be good if she has to make time for it!

So time to ‘fess up! What show is your guilty pleasure?


Jean Anne

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Winter Food

Last week, March gave us a glimpse of spring.  The weather was warm, the grass was green, the sun shone.  This week, we are back to gray, cold and yesterday, snow.  March in the Midwest is fickle like that.

 For my family, we're embracing the last few days of winter.  Yes, we're tired of gray and cold, but pretty soon it'll be unbearably hot and sweaty and weekends will be filled with yard work.  So for now, we're going to live up the last days of winter.  And in that vein, we're using up the last of our "winter" foods. 

 If you are a super couponer like me, your pantry is likely stocked with an odd assortment of things like 4 jars peanut butter, 14 cans of diced tomatoes and 27 single-serve puddings.   Right now, super couponing has filled my freezer with roasts.  And while I think I've mastered the beef roast (thanks to my amazing mother-in-law), making a tender, delicious pork roast has evaded me.  Until now.  This week I found the best recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook: Pork Pot Roast in Cider.  It was moist, delicious and - the best part - made in the crockpot.  For those of you with freezers stocked with roasts thanks to Jewel's sale four weeks ago, this one's worth breaking out your crockpot:

 Better Homes and Garden's Pork Pot Roast in Cider

1 - 1.5 to 2 pound boneless pork blade or sirloin roast
2 - tablespoons of cooking oil
1 1/4 cups apple cider or apple juice (I used juice)
2 teaspoons instant beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut (I just used baby carrots)
3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut (I omitted)
1 onion cut into wedges
1/3 cup cold water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Crockery-cooker directions:

1.  Trim fat from meat.  In a Dutch over, brown meat on all sides in hot oil.  Drain off fat.  (I skipped all of this). 

2.  Place potatoes, carrots, onion and parsnips in crockpot.  Place meat (I used frozen) on top of vegetables. 

3. Stir together apple juice, bouillon granules, mustard and pepper.  Pour over meat and vegetables. 

4.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Transfer meat and vegetables to serving platter, keep warm. 

5. For gravy (I skipped all of this step too): measure juices, skim fat.  If necessary, add enough water to juices to equal 1.5 cups.  Put in saucepan.  Stir cold water into flour.  Add to juices in pan.  Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.  Cook and stir 1 minute more.  Serve with meat and vegetables. 



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When Mommy is sick...

Lately my world has been less-than-perfect, as I have been battling being sick for the past week. And as any Mommy knows: when Mommy is sick, life is bad....very bad.

It started last week with just a lack of energy. And a lack of energy cannot be tolerated in my world, since I am on the go all the time and my night hours are precious to me as they allow me to get work done without affecting my Mommy role. But I started to notice I couldn't even stay up past 9:00 p.m.!

Of course next followed the head cold, the aches and pains, stomach know the drill. Over the weekend, I rested the best I could but still nearly a week later, my cold/flu still has a hold of me. And man this is a stubborn illness as I will feel good one day and think I beat it only to find myself exhausted the next day.

In the Mommy world, being sick is nearly impossible. In addition to be being a Mommy to three very small children I am often a single Mommy as my husband works 4+ nights a week. It's really hard to be down for the count when your kids are counting on you. Luckily I have a daughter that loves to play nurse and so what she thinks is a game has been my method of survival this week.  There have been several nights this week of Mommy laying on the couch and J bringing me glasses of juice and fruit-snack "pills".

And being a working Mom only makes the concept of being sick harder to deal with. In addition to being pulled in several directions at home, I have a world of attorneys, adjusters, clients, and partners waiting on projects, return calls, and letters. Although my schedule is extremely flexible, taking days off work is not really an option in my world. Now this illness has hit me so hard that I did take a day off last week, but taking a day off actually made me feel worse as I had to return the next day only to climb into a large manhole that was left by all the work piling up. Since just one day off,  I have been playing a massive case of catch up. So the option of taking a few days off work and not emerging until I feel better is not a path I can take.

So now in addition to swallowing countless Advils and cold medicines I am swallowing the large bitter pill of being overwhelmed as I have so much to accomplish with about 1/3 of my energy. This week I have a huge brief to write, an all day mediation, a trip to Des Moines for depositions, and a powerpoint presentation due by Friday. Throw on top of that all the running around I normally do with my kids and you can see how large of a pill this is to swallow. What happened to the days when I could just bury myself under a mountain of blankets and catch up on soap operas when I was sick??

But alas, I must keep moving and hopefully this fog will lift very soon!! A massive down-for-the-count illness like I've been struggling with doesn't come around very often (knock on wood) I just keep reminding myself that if I can make it through this life will be back to normal before I know it!!

Hoping all of you Mommies out there are steering clear of the spring illnesses. Start dosing yourselves with Vitamin C me!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Keep In Touch

I think everyone writes that at the end of a letter (or nowadays, email). I know I do. And, for the most part, I mean it. And most of the time, I fully intend to do just that. Unfortunately, a little problem arises…a problem called time.

*Disclaimer – the “most part” and “most of the time” is meant for those casual acquaintances or business partners that you had to work with, and don’t have any basis to continue the relationship.*

With all of today’s technology, you would think I would be better at keeping in touch. A quick email there, a short “hello” on Facebook – these should be helpful tools, not burdens, right? Unfortunately, sometimes I feel like my brief connect could be construed as a weak attempt to reconnect or a little too late thought.

I would like to think that I am a great friend/family member/co-worker, but honestly, I am selfish with my time. When I have “free” time (and most of you know this is a mirage!), I am actually trying to do stuff for ME! Yep, Year of the Mommy continues, albeit on a much smaller scale than I had hoped. But with the weather getting warmer, a free moment for me means my iPod and a run/walk. Or outside grilling out and watching A & B play in our yard, while soaking up the sun!

For the people I would like to reconnect with, I feel that a short conversation or email is not enough. But I also am not sure what to say other than “Hey, how’s it going?” or “What have you been up to in the last XX years?” Plus, it is not like I have a multitude of exciting things to mention in summary for the last XX years.

Now, this isn’t a pity or a try and alleviate my guilt post. I would really like to know your thoughts on how to get and keep in touch!

And to those wonderful people I have lost touch with, please know that I think of you often and wish we could sit down over a piece of pie and talk.

Jean Anne

Monday, March 21, 2011

Out with the Old

Every year around this time I start to feel like my closet resembles the weather: everything is dark, tired and dull.  After a winter full of heavy, dark days, my soul longs for something bright or playful, something that hints at the promise of summer.  So every year around this time I go shopping. 

This year was no exception.  Thanks to some fresh-to-me designs and irresistible sales, I have some new additions in my closest and a not insignificant balance on my credit card. But I still don't feel like I've made a dent in my dreary wardrobe.  The fact is, a few new items can't entirely change the tone of an entire wardrobe.  And the tone of my wardrobe was old. 

 With a preschooler and a toddler, I'm no stranger to the Goodwill truck.  We have a box of stuff for them almost every month.  But I hadn't really given my own closest a good once over in apparently years.  I was wearing clothes that I had purchased pre-kids and in some cases, pre-career.  These are not items I spent a lot of money on with the anticipation that I'd have for years and years to come.  They were make-due-at -the-moment kinds of purchases that should have been disposed of long ago.  Why was I still wearing these things? 

The answer is simple: I never made time for myself.  There always seemed to be something better to do with the time or the money that would have been spent on a Karen-exclusive shopping trip.  But, as I've mentioned before, I think it is important for working women - moms especially - to look fresh.  Having an updated wardrobe is part of that.  And looking good makes me feel better about myself.  I don't need to be showing up at soccer practice in the latest designs, but I don't need to be wearing some worn-out black pants from 2003, either. 

This year I bought more than one or two things to spice up my wardrobe.  And I donated almost every item that pre-dated KJ (some suits a notable exception).  While I have fewer items to choose from each morning, the items I have are better.  They are more professional, fit better, are more true to who I am today.  A lot has changed since 2003.  And I'm glad to say now my clothes have too. 


Friday, March 18, 2011

The Bully

On the day my daughter came home telling me a little kid called her “Bossy”, I knew it was time to teach my children about people I wish they never had to deal with…bullies. So I started giving them my guide to dealing with bullies. I told them the text book, "right thing" theory on bullies: Don’t pay attention to them, just ignore them, walk away, and never go down to their level. Little did I know I would have to heed my own advice this week…

As an attorney, I have a reputation of killing them with kindness. I am always good to my fellow attorneys because I have found that if you are nice to your colleagues they will be nice to you when you need it. So far in my career my professional courtesies have done well for me. I have avoided Motion to Compels, gotten in last minute evidence, and have no problem rescheduling hearings and depositions for family commitments.

This week I had to take a plaintiff's deposition. The plaintiff’s attorney was a young attorney, fresh out of law school, who I had come across only a couple of times. Normally new attorneys are overly nice to older attorneys because they are trying to form their reputation…well not so with this particular attorney.

In my plaintiff’s depositions I usually follow the same script, go through the background, injury, a little bit of medical history…it's usually one of the easiest and most enjoyable tasks I do as a litigator. But, this deposition was different, compliments of the bully across the table. After pretty much every question that left my mouth, he fired objections…

Me: “Now when did you first notice pain in your neck”.
Him: “Objection. Vague. I mean can you clarify pain?”

Really? I have to clarify what pain is for a personal injury plaintiff whose whole case is based on the fact that they felt pain? I tried to keep calm and not get thrown off my deposition game plan, but the objections continued….

Me: “Did you ever have pain in your neck before the accident”
Him: “Objection. Vague, can you define before?”

Now as a Mom to three children, including one H, I have learned a great deal of patience. It honestly takes a lot for me to get angry. And I’ve dealt with my share of jerk attorneys in my career, so I am usually pretty good about navigating around them. But a Plaintiff’s deposition that normally takes 45 minutes was bordering on the 2 hour mark due to the interruptions.

Me: “At your prior job, what were your duties?”
Him: “Objection. Vague. I mean what do you mean by duties?”
Me: “What did you do at your last job?”
Him: “Same objection. I mean what do you mean by what did you do?”

Oh come on. Really? Each objection seemed more ridiculous than the next. I could feel my face getting hot, which is always something I hate that happens to me when I get angry. The last thing I wanted to appear like was a beaten down female attorney who was getting flushed in the face.

I kept going. The fight continued. I kept my cool for the most part although I occasionally fell into his argument traps. The deposition finally concluded. The bully went down the hall, beaming with pride thinking he had beaten a fellow attorney to a pulp. I looked at the court reporter who rolled her eyes at his behavior. I just smiled, loaded my bag and said “I just don’t practice law that way”.

I walked away knowing that I had taken the high road and not gone down to his level. But unfortunately, not sinking to his level actually made me feel worse. The fighter bone in me that all attorneys have was yelling: “You just got beaten down…by a rookie attorney…and you let it happen”. Then came the couldas, shouldas, wouldas. I could have dosed it right back at him in his cross, I should of not responded that way on the record when he fought with me, I wish I would have said this or that. It hit me as I drove away that taking the high road, even though it’s the right thing to do, is definitely not the easiest thing to do. And well frankly, it can make you feel like crap.

That night at dinner, my daughter asked me about my day. I said “Oh, Mommy dealt with a real bully today”. H, piped up from his macaroni and cheese… “Did you walk away Momma?” “Yes, H, I did…and you know what?”. I intended to go into a deep story and dispense the lesson of how it’s not easy to do the right thing, and even though it may make you feel bad afterwards doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to do. But, as I looked into their innocent eyes, eyes that have never laid eyes on a true bully, never been in a fight…I realized there was no way they could understand this now. So I stopped and changed the subject to a game of “Who can find the Scooby Doo shape in their Mac and Cheese”. We’ll just save this lesson for another day.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Love March!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! It is set to be a beautiful day and I, for once, don’t have any meetings over lunch, so I can go watch the parade at noon – woo hoo!! Or…I can head to lunch and watch something much more exciting…

Yes, folks, it is that wonderful time of year again. It’s tourney time baby (and say it like Dickie V would!)! No serious, thought-provoking post today. Nope – I have spent way too much time agonizing over my bracket to even think about a meaningful topic. And have I chosen correctly? Will my 12 pick over the 5 seed really win? Who will be the Cinderella team this year? All these questions and much more to be revealed on CBS over the coming weeks!

Whether you are a college hoops fan or not, March Madness® cannot be ignored. It changes our TV viewing schedules, topics of discussion around the “water cooler,” and top articles in the newspaper. Luckily, my family LOVES college hoops, so we are excited for March (even if my team is not in it!). And, I slyly try to work in some “learning” during the games. Such as identifying numbers and names on the scoreboard, or working on time using the shot clock. Plus, spelling also comes into play with “I-L-L-I-N-I!”

So what does your family do to celebrate? Do you have everyone fill out the brackets and whoever wins gets a prize/bragging rights? Are you sporting your favorite team colors or jerseys? (This was difficult today for my hubby, as he is a Wisconsin Badger fan, but had to wear green for St. Paddy’s Day!) Did you take the day off work to watch the games?

Well, whether you are a “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” or one of the “Cameron Crazies,” enjoy the fun! And next year, let’s hope the BU Braves can make a run for the MVC tourney title!

Jean Anne

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


As a lawyer, I am no stranger to guilt. Every day my clients are accused of some wrongdoing or another and it's my job to defend them.  Questions of guilt permeate almost every decision we litigators make -  from litigation strategy to settlement value.  But despite my close working relationship with guilt, I was unprepared for the tsunami of guilt my three year old unleashed last night. 

 Last night I had to work late.  As usual, things are very busy around my office and at 7:30 last night every litigator was still here.  Every. Single. One.  While I normally complain about having to work late, I think my work has been pretty reasonable with its expectations lately and really, in all jobs you have to work late sometimes.  So I didn't think it was overly burdensome to stay late this one night.  Plus, I had been home early-ish the night before and got some quality play time in with the kids.  So while I would have rather been home with my family, I wasn't begrudging my late work night either.  Until I called home to tell my kids good night. 

I routinely call home on the nights I work late.  Even if I'm not there to tuck them in, I try to call home and wish them a good night every single night.  And KJ usually loves the phone.  He'll beg to talk to anyone who calls and tell them all about his day.  It's really quite cute and one of the things I look forward to when I work late.  But last night he wouldn't get on the phone at all.  He refused to talk to me until Husband brought the phone to him and told him to talk to Mommy.  And it only went downhill from there:

Me:   Hi KJ!  How was school today? 
(No answer) 

Me:  KJ?  How was school?
(long pause)

KJ:   Mommy, why do you have to stay late at work? 

Me:  I have a big, important project due tonight and we need lots of people to help to get it done.  It doesn't happen very often, and we'll make up for tonight by having lots and lots of fun when I'm home ALL DAY on Friday. 

KJ (crying):  But you said you would play hockey with me. 
(Drops phone)

Try as he might, Husband could not get KJ back on the phone to talk with me.  I was left to turn back to my work with my heart broken, my little guy crying and the knowledge that I had let him down.  I've never felt so badly about working as I did at that moment. 

 Of course I didn't know on Monday when I told KJ that we'd play hockey on Tuesday that I'd have to work late.  And of course I would have rather been playing hockey than working.  But no matter the "of courses" the end result was the same.  I let my child down. 

 I keep telling myself that I did the right thing.  I needed to be at work and I was.  KJ was at home with his dad and sister.  He didn't need me to be there.  But no matter how I try to rationalize things, I know that I missed a moment with my guy.  It didn't feel good last night, and it doesn't feel any better today.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Beautiful Dumpster

There’s a new addition at my house this week. Located on our driveway in front of our white two story house is a sight that most may see as an eyesore…A BRIGHT ORANGE DUMPSTER. But to me, this oversized dumpster is a beautiful sight…spray-painted-over graffiti and all.

This dumpster has been both a subject on my Facebook page and a popular discussion topic amongst my neighbors. Are you remodeling? New Roof perhaps? Moving? No. No. Wish it was true, but No.

We are spring cleaning.

Spring Cleaning is a huge event in my world. While some may dread those two words…spring cleaning is one of my favorite times of year. Maybe it’s the smell of lemony Pine-Sol, maybe it’s the sound of a crisp black garbage bag as I throw in last year's “why on earth did I keep these” receipts and papers. Whatever it is, Spring Cleaning shakes me out of the winter funk that permanently attaches to my body mid January. Spring cleaning, like the season that gave it its name, is a time of re-birth and revival.

Why a dumpster you ask? Oh trust me the fact that I spring clean with a dumpster has raised a few eyebrows, gotten a few chuckles, and even earned me a few name-callings of a “packrat”. So allow me to clear this up. My family and I are not messy packrats. We aren’t those people who you see on reality TV that some person has to come and rescue from under 10,000 salt and pepper shakers. We are simply a family…a family that accumulates junk over the years. Although I am sure that my neighbors and others who do not know us have visions of our house wall to wall with junk and garbage…we are “closet” junkies. Literally. If you walked through my house, unless you rooted through my basement storage room or closets, you really would have no idea that we had junk capable of filling a large orange dumpster. Yet every 2-3 years we do a major spring cleaning overhaul and the dumpster (or as J calls it the “junkster”) is beckoned.

I blame the need for the dumpster on a stupid city official in Davenport, the one who came up with the idea that every family in the city should be limited to 1 garbage can. Who ever came up with this rule obviously did not have young children. I mean come on…1 garbage can is supposed to hold the garbage of 5 people for the week? Sorry Mr. City Official…get real. And trust me this isn’t just me that feels this way. I have driven to work many a Monday morning to the sight of fellow citizens basically standing on their garbage cans lid to fit just one more bag. So because I am limited to 1 garbage can a week…and I have diapers, wrappers, cat litter, etc. that must go in there, the non-stinky junk is left behind. You know, the broken Buzz Lightyear toy; the old bills and bank statements, the lamp that doesn’t turn on right, i.e. the stuff that you don’t want but you can’t sell or donate.

So this week I have been in major spring cleaning mode. I started a list of 16 rooms, closets, projects…Basement Storage Room, Garage, Kids closets, Kitchen drawers.  Each night I was armed with three bags…(1) Garbage Bag; (2) Donation/Yard Sale Bag; and (3) Get in a Rubbermaid bin and save bag. Off I went to rid the house of our junk and bring it back to a state of organization.

Ahh…organization…probably my favorite word in the dictionary. This is probably why Spring Cleaning is incredibly therapeutic to me. I am a notorious organizer. If stores like the Container Store had poster children, I’d be their president. I love nice, neat, organized closets, drawers, rooms. And over the years as I added more and more to my plate and led a busier life, my need for organization has increased. See I think I am capable of juggling all the baggage that comes with being a working Mom…I just need that baggage organized, and perhaps color coded and labeled.

But in my fight to keep my chaotic world organized; I, like many people trying to make a change, am met with The Resistance. This Resistance is headed up by my husband and his three little henchmen, J, H, and L. I live with 4 people that do not share my love for organization. My husband and kids are tornados that go through rooms faster than a F5 hitting a small town in Kansas. Where I keep important work documents in sub-files organized in my desk drawer, my husband sticks his papers between our champagne flutes and our gravy boat (which I actually discovered during this round of spring cleaning we owned). So, as is the norm when there is a strong resistance, a battle ensues. And because I am outnumbered by The Resistance and the sheer lack of hours in the day, I often have to waive the white dusting cloth in surrender and deal with disorganization. Spring Break is my time to get the Resistance on my team and prepare the battlefield for yet another year in this war.

This year my kids were old enough to help me with spring cleaning. My team this year included Captain Coin Collector and Princess Please. Captain Coin Collector (H) made it his mission to stop me in my tracks mid-drawer or couch cushion clean to rescue a stray penny before it was swooped up. I am happy to report that Captain Coin made out like a bandit pocketing about $20.00 in loose change this week. His cohort Princess Please (J)? Well, she was the defender for the unable-to-speak junk and launched several “Please Save the Missing Barbie Shoe”, or “Please Save the Few remaining letters of an A-Z magnet set” campaigns. My biggest mission this spring cleaning week was to keep Princess Please occupied just long enough so I could sneak out the donation bins full of 3T shirts she swore still fit her size 5 frame.

Spring cleaning week is coming to a close. The dumpster will soon be gone and I will retake my house back into its organized state. My closets are clean and organized, my kitchen’s junk drawer, less junky. I walk into my house feeling revived, refreshed, and ready for another year. As a busy working Mommy…I deserve that feeling! Happy spring cleaning everyone!


Monday, March 14, 2011

Easy Like Sunday Morning

First and foremost, let me start off by saying this is not a religious post. I am not trying to convert anyone, nor am I about to get on my soapbox about any religions. This post is merely for selfish purposes only. 

Second, I am not here to offend anyone. If you go to church or not, I am not judging you. But if you do go, I want to know your secret for a good experience.

Third, I am not the most religious person you will meet, and at times, I am unsure of my beliefs. But I don’t want my confusion to affect my children.

Now that all of my disclaimers are out of the way, away we go…

As you know by now, I have 2 wonderful 4 ½ year old twin daughters. And every weekend that is not packed with travel, practice, errands, etc., my hubby wants us to go to church. Please note that I am not against this in the least, just opposed to the normal last minute “hey, since we have a free hour, we should go to church.” This thought usually happens about 45 minutes before we should be a church, everyone is still in sweats and/or pjs, we still need to eat, and it takes us approximately 25 minutes to get there.

I know that I should/could(?) make this a priority. But Sunday morning, I actually like to sleep in (as do A & B)! And Saturday night sermon is great, and kid friendly, but I just can’t seem to get excited about it. Plus, the girls normally spend most of the time drawing on the nicely provided paper and crayons. Are they (and I) getting anything out of it?

Although, on Sunday morning, A & B could go to Sunday school, but since we are so spotty on attendance, they would rather go to the toddler room and play. *Side note – in the toddler room, there is this wonderful older woman, Esther, who loves them to pieces – so I can’t blame them!* And having them sit through the Sunday sermon is almost impossible.

For full disclosure (and maybe to make you think I am not totally terrible), we do prayers at night (and sometimes before meals), discuss what we are thankful for, and read Bible stories, so I am hoping that I am not depriving the girls of anything.

So, with my laziness on display, I would like to know anyone’s thoughts on getting their kids to church. What could I do to make this more of a priority? And how to keep the girls interested?

As always, many thanks for your thoughts.

Jean Anne

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Inevitable Question

First, let me apologize for my absence. I was traveling for work last week and mixed up my blog days.

Second, if there are any spelling errors or typos on this post, please forgive me. I managed to contract a bacterial eye infection and am having trouble seeing. Luckily, this is not contagious, but the ointment is a pain to use!

Now, to the blog…

As many of you know, I am not a “traditional” lawyer. I work-in house for a financial institution in the operational risk world. And while the corporate world has many attractive features, one feature that is not my favorite is the annual review. The review revolves around past and current goals, objectives, etc. It also talks about developmental plans, and since I am new to my position, this was pretty easy. But then my boss asked this:

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” (Cue the dun, dun, dun music)

Hmmm….where do I see myself in 5 years? Are you kidding? I am just trying to make it through the week without running late to a meeting, answering my emails, folding laundry and trying to find a time to work out. 5 years?

As a working mom, I have lots of plans and goals, but many of them are focused on the Mommy world (not the working world). In 2013, I want to take the family to Disney World. We have our annual trip to Wisconsin, and this year we are headed to Florida. Tee ball practice starts March 31st, and soccer begins soon after that. Plus, we have family birthday parties in April and May, and Easter dinner at my house. (I am not even mentioning kindergarten in the Fall…)

As for the working world, given the uncertain times, I am mainly just happy to have a job. Since I am so new to my position, I could see myself in it for a while. But career plans? At one point, I thought I would love to be “in charge of” or the “leader” in the compliance world. But as I look around, those “in charge” don’t seem to have that home/family life that I want. And while I may send emails late at night, it is because I left the office early for swimming lessons or a dentist appointment. And it is not that I am lazy or do not have initiative, I am just at a point in my life where I am comfortable.

At this point, I could segue into a discussion into why women should be able to have both roles, but I just don’t have the time to get on my soapbox right now.

And you may ask, what was my answer? It went something like this “I am happy where I am right now.”

Luckily, my boss just smiled. Thank goodness he has kids too!

Jean Anne

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Baby Steps

L turns 10 months old this month. I can’t believe it, but it’s true.

I knew watching L grow up would be harder on me than the first two. I mean after all he’s my baby. For J, I knew when she was born that I would have more children, so watching her grow was exciting and new. For H, he was such a colicky baby I prayed every night he’d grow up fast! So I never had those feelings that most Moms have about feeling sad about new stages. I embraced the new and looked forward to each day.

But my feelings about watching L grow are different, simply because he’s the Caboose, my youngest child. Once he is done with the baby swing or car seat, instead of being stored in our basement it’s donated. When the buttons on his dinosaur jammies handed down to him from H won’t snap anymore, off they go to another owner.

Now I’m not stupid. I always knew that when I was done having babies I would be sad. I love babies, I love being pregnant (well except during the summer), I love being a Mom. In fact, when I tell someone that L is our last baby I am usually met with eye rolling and scuffs of “Oh, you’ll have more…it’s who you are”. Sure, I have always dreamed of a large family…but unfortunately I have to live in reality and in the real world three is the maximum we can do. It strictly came down to economics…daycare is overwhelmingly expensive and we could not afford 4 daycare bills. Raising children is expensive, college is expensive. So although Todd accepted this much easier than I did, we made the painful decision after L was born that he was it. Three was our magic number.

So far, I have been happy about our decision. I look at L and feel complete inside. His pregnancy and C-section were incredibly hard for me, so it does feel good to not have to go through that again. And L is the best baby to end a wonderful run with. So, I have actually been better than I thought watching L grow. When L outgrew the 0-6 months clothes, I happily packed them up and took them to Salvation Army, excited to have some extra storage room in my basement. When L finished baby food and turned to table food I was actually happy I didn’t have to look and smell Baby Squash and Peas. I have survived sitting up, rolling, and crawling with nothing but sheer happiness. I started to think… “Okay maybe this will be easier than I thought”…

That was until recently. Just as L turned 9 months he started to pull up to objects. After about 2 days of standing proud against objects he started to walk around objects with ease. Now it’s his favorite activity. He is the King of the Coffee Table and loves walking around his activity tables.

This past weekend I noticed that L started walking from object to object and often stands only with the support of one hand. Wow those changes mean he’s going to be letting go with both hands soon. As he smiled in self-pride at me while he was doing this and waited for me to cheer and clap like I always do…I was overwhelmed with sadness for the first time. Seeing him stand there, mere months away from walking was the first time it hit me that I was about to say goodbye to the baby stage forever. He was changing from a baby to a toddler before my eyes.

There will be no more pregnancy tests, no more first kicks, no more ultrasounds, no more newborn baby smell, no more first smiles, no more rocking forever in the rocking chair. I’m not ready to close this chapter of my life, no wait yes I am…I’m flip flopping everywhere these days.

And to make matters worse, L’s baby stages have gone so much faster for me than for my other two kids. I feel I’m missing things merely from the fact that I am pulled in 1000 different directions. It used to seem to take J and H months to master a trick…L masters it in mere days. The second you get used to him standing up, he’s moved on to walking around things; army crawling on Monday, crawling into the next room by Tuesday.

In just over 2 months I will be sitting at L’s First Birthday Party. I can’t believe that. I have always heard people warning to enjoy every minute because kids grow so fast…I really didn’t understand this until now. It’s so true.

I can’t stop L from growing up. So as he is learning to take his first baby steps…I’m going to take some too. That’s the only way I’m going to get through closing this chapter and moving on to the next…Baby steps. I’m sure as we take these steps together L will need to hold my hand for support. Little will he know I'll be one holding on for dear life.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Mornings have been a little soggy around my household lately.  KJ has had accidents during the night for the past two nights.  And of course, he wasn't wearing a pull up either night.  Which means that every morning lately we've had to change the sheets, do a load of laundry and give KJ a bath before we even got started on all of the other things we do each day before we leave for work/school.  Yesterday, I was late for work.  Today I got up super early to accommodate, but still just made it into work on time.  Yikes.  What's a working mom to do? 

When we trained KJ we did it the old-fashioned way - bribery.  He got an M&M every time he told us he had to go potty, went potty and washed his hands.  It worked fine.  He was trained well before his third birthday and I was sure we'd be done with accidents by now. 

But for some reason consistent nighttime dryness eludes us.  Many nights KJ stays dry.  But when he doesn't, he really doesn't.  I've tried to find some triggers to his nighttime wetness, but haven't come up with anything consistent.   I'm not sure what the problem could be. 

There is, of course, an easy solution for right now - keep KJ in pull ups at night.  But he doesn't want to wear them and I want to encourage him to want to be a big boy.  Plus, we know he can make it all night long - he's been doing that for months.  But I'm kind of out of ideas on how to keep him dry consistently.  And I'm certainly tried of doing a load of laundry before 7 am each day!  Any tips from our readers out there?  What did you do to teach your child to stay dry all night long?


Monday, March 7, 2011

The Fabulously Abnormal Miss J

I was sitting at J’s dance class one day and overheard two fellow dance Moms talking. One of them said to the other… “I’m worried about my daughter…I mean she’s a little abnormal”. I looked up intrigued, but  trying not to appear I was listening. “I mean she isn’t like regular 4 year olds…she’s so quiet. We went to our doctor and he thinks the next step is some medication or therapy”. “She just isn’t like other kids”.

I eventually got tired of listening to this conversation and stood up, biting my tongue. I looked in on the young dancers. My eyes caught a young girl who, while the other 5 girls were in blush pink or black leotards, was proudly dancing in a lime green tutu. I smiled. That girl was J, my fabulous and yes happy to report, abnormal daughter.

“Miss J” as she is often called is about as different from an average 4 year old as they come. Those of you who know my daughter just shook your head in agreement at that last comment, didn’t you? J is a self-proclaimed Diva and seriously is 4 going on 24. Inquisitive, dramatic, loving, loyal, stubborn, emotional, loud yet timid, too smart for her own good and proud enough to admit it. A true personality.

When the ultrasound tech first told me I was having a girl, I started to cry because I desperately wanted a little girl. As I wiped my tears of joy, the tech said “So, you better start buying PINK”. Little did I know I REALLY needed to heed her advice. J is the most girly of girls. Let me put it this way…you know in craft stores and tourist spots you see those fuzzy hot pink dice, furry boas, or signs that say “The Princess is In” or “Diva and loving it” in pink sequins and you wonder who they make that stuff for? Well, I now know.

My daughter is a notorious fashionista. I mean she calls trends faster than any fashion magazine. She believes that every outfit looks better with cool shoes or some hair accessory. I hate to admit it but this girl can out-dress and out-style her Mommy every day of the week. Events like birthday parties or holidays have more costume changes than a Cher concert. I may not save a lot for my retirement, but I am certainly doing my share to keep Gymboree, Matilda Jane, Old Navy, and Gap in the black.

Miss J loves music and art. She breaks out in song all over the house. She has an IPod which she fills with a wide variety of music ranging from the Beatles to Black Eyed Peas to Taylor Swift to The Wiggles. She recently has developed her first celebrity crush, getting a big case of Bieber Fever. She dances everywhere she goes and believes that a bad day can be made better merely by getting lost in the shoe department at Von Maur.

J loves to pretend. Even something as mundane as cooking dinner on a Tuesday night will be made fun by Miss J saying “Mommy, pretend we’re at a fancy restaurant and I’m Hello Kitty and you are Madame my waitress”. In the bathtub its “Mommy, pretend we’re at a salon and you’re giving me a pedicure”.

Someone once asked me if I was concerned about J’s Diva personality…as she truly believes that she is fabulous, she knows what she likes, and can sometimes act like we are all just living in her world. I laughed when I was asked that. Not only am I not afraid of her attitude, I love it. I don’t discourage it. As a woman she’ll need that gumption. She’s going to have enough years of low self-esteem that she should cherish these years of self-centeredness.

One night as I tucked J into bed she said to me, “Mommy, I want to be you when I grow up” as she pulled on her light pink earphones to listen to her lullaby play list. I smiled and hugged her close. Even though I doubt she heard me over her beloved Sarah McLachlan, I whispered “Please don’t be like me”. She may look like a brown haired exact replica of me from when I was a child…but the appearance, a handful of certain traits, and our love of Disney movies, are all we share in common. So far at the core, J is really nothing like me. Rather she’s the me I always wanted to be and still try to be. I doubt myself, care too much about what others think, over analyze things, worry too much, can (although I hate to admit it) be sometimes pessimistic, and I limited several of my life experiences because of fear. J isn’t like that. Sure she’s a notorious scaredy cat and can be very shy and reserved about certain things or around new people…but unlike me that wouldn’t do something if I was scared…she’ll do it, reservations and all.

So I’m blogging today to say what I wasn’t brave enough to say to that Dance Mom. So your child isn’t normal…mine isn’t either. But, I’m grateful every day for that and I pray she stays that way. Find the beauty in abnormality. Encourage your children to be who they are regardless of who society or the medical profession says they should be. Of all the goals I have as a Mom I think the one I strive the most to achieve is to let my children be who they are without imposing my desires, my dreams, my “wants” on them. Let them march, or in the case of the Fabulous Miss J, dance to the beat of their own drum. And instead of worrying about if they are dancing like everyone else…just dance along.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

At a Loss

A few days ago I posted on the JD Moms facebook page seeking advice on how to handle the death of a parent in KJ's preschool class.  Despite KJ being in the same class with the boy who lost his father since infants, I don't know either of his parents.  Husband does drop off and pick up at daycare so I very rarely interact with anyone from the daycare.  Plus, Husband tends to know the other dads who do drop off and pick up, and it appears that this kid's mom is the one who works with Husband.  So, despite our kids doing everything from learning to walk to potty training together, we really don't know each other.  But Husband and I still wanted to do something for their family, we just didn't know what. 

The thoughtful comments to my facebook post were very helpful.  Most people said send a card.  And in the end, that's what we decided to do.  But then I Googled the father's obituary, and learned that the family lives in the same small town as we do.  And to me, that changes things a little. 

The kids' daycare is NOWHERE near our house.  My kids commute over 2 hours every day to go to school.  In light of this long commute, it was surprising to learn that someone in KJ's very same class makes the same drive, morning after morning.  It also means that this friend could be a friend of KJ's for a very long time.  The town is still pretty small, and the chances of the two boys being in the same classroom or sports team is very, very high.  And I like the idea of KJ carrying a friendship from preschool to regular school.  If the boys are indeed friends (and unlike "Jackson" of an earlier post, I haven't heard any bad things about this boy), I want to encourage that. 

Our proximity also means that we actually are in a position to help this family.  We are making the exact same drive day after day.  We are going to the exact same locations.  Surely in the near future there will be times where the mom needs to send her son to daycare but take care of some business at home, or she'll need something from work or she'll just need some time to herself.  And we could actually help.  We could bring her son to or from school.  We could have him over to play.  We could do something to make her life easier. 

The question becomes, how do I get her to let us? 

I'm a stranger to her son, there's no question about that.  KJ and Husband are not, however.  How can I convey in a card that we'd be happy to have her son over to play sometime, or that we'd be happy to take her son to or from daycare?  How can I convince a stranger that we want what's best for their family too?  If I write in the card that we live locally and to call if she needs anything, she'll never call.  But at the same time, I don't know her address, so I can't just stop by with dinner for her kids.  Can you think of any way we can meaningfully reach out to this family?  How can we actually help without putting more of a burden or worry on her? 

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Bio

A couple years ago I did a presentation at the annual meeting for a legal organization. Much to my surprise I was asked back to do a Part Two to my talk, this time at next month's Spring Seminar. I was excited that my idea of thinking outside the box in defending cases was a concept my fellow colleagues wanted to learn more about.

I had a lot of ideas for my new talk. I sat down with friends, mentors, colleagues and before I knew it my outline was complete. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I had put together a presentation I could be proud to put my name on.

But putting my name on it turned out to be the biggest challenge to my presentation. Along with turning in my outline, I had to provide something I dread...


 Ooh bios...I hate even saying the word. I despise drafting bios of myself. The "what to write to make these people think I deserve to be giving a talk or writing an article" actually gives me much more stress than the actual presentation or article itself. Whether its the blurb on our firm website, or a couple sentences at a presentation before I go on... I struggle with the "Here's who I am" to go along with my name.

It's not that I don't know who I am or am not proud of my accomplishments, its the narrowing down 32 years into a few sentences and gearing those sentences toward a specific audience that makes it difficult for me. Maybe the problem I have is that when I look at myself in the mirror I see myself as a Mom long before I see myself as an attorney. To borrow from my best friend's blog from yesterday...I see myself in the pink fuzzy yoga pants before the three piece suit.  I'm a Mom who's life happened to put me into the working field and led me to a career I am passionate about.

So I did my best and drafted my bio, rolling my eyes and gritting my teeth as I typed.  Of course I put in my, "oh how I was wish it was longer" list of career accomplishments....graduation with honors, my partnership, my positions with legal organizations. But as I read about "Legal Mandi", I wasn't happy with it. It wasn't complete. How I can write a "here's who I am" without mentioning the main part of my life??

So I decided another sentence was needed: "Outside of the legal world, Mandi is a mother of three and a co-creator of JD Moms a blog about balancing babies and billable hours".  I smiled. Yes I knew they didn't want to hear that I was a boo-boo fixer, crock pot chef, bad dream fighter, mini-van chauffeur, agent, teacher, social director, housekeeper and a best friend to three of the greatest children in the world...but just mentioning them in a small way made me feel better. And I threw in a shout out to the blog to show my personal life had some sort of relevance to my legal world. 

I had doubts I drafted my bio correctly. And since I'm a avid perfectionist, I had to get a 2nd opinion. So, I sent my bio over to one of my partners, a woman who not only is the attorney I strive to be, but also a Mom I seek advice from, and a friend. She's always the one I use as my sounding board at my firm.

She responded quickly. "Looks good...but most of the time they don't put in the 'outside the legal world' stuff. But, it's up to you".

It's up to me? Of course as usual she was right. This was a statement on how I wanted to be viewed. And yes, she was right that most of the time attorneys stick to the legal world bios with the occasional "a die-hard (insert sports team here) fan" or "a try-to-be good golfer" to gain a smile or clap from the audience.

So I sat at my computer debating much longer than I should for a 3 sentence bio. To include the complete picture or stick with one-dimensional Legal Mandi ??? That was the question. I decided to go with the complete Mandi in my bio and include my outside the legal world comment. Ok so the fact I am Mom to three who strives for balance may not make my audience believe I am the best qualified to give them tips on freshening up age old trial tactics...but I felt better. As I hit send and turned in my bio I was proud of myself. I didn't follow the norm, I chose to introduce myself in a complete way. They wanted ME to give the here I am...on my terms.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sweatpants Phase

Similarly to being stuck in a rut, I am stuck in the Sweatpants Phase of my marriage. What is the Sweatpants Phase? Well, it means going around most weekends in sweatpants/windpants/warm-up or yoga pants and t-shirts/sweatshirts. And I am not just talking about around the house. No, you will often see me in Target or Hy-vee on a Saturday afternoon in Adidas running pants and a Bradley University sweatshirt, with the hair pulled up in a pony tail (possibly even with a scrunchie) and no make-up. It also means on the rare date night, I may throw on some jeans, a Gap shirt and maybe some lip gloss and call it good.

Gone are the days of trying to look my best for my hubby. This became ever-so-apparent this weekend. As my family headed to the craft show (yes, I said craft show!), we run face-to-face into hubby’s good friend, B. And, more importantly, B’s much younger girlfriend. And there I was in pink, fuzzy yoga pants, layered shirts, no make-up and damp hair. And there she was, looking adorable in a cute cardigan, jeans, boots, scarf, hair looking perfectly in place and light makeup. And as B introduced me to his girlfriend, I suddenly felt very aware of my sweats. (Did I mention B is very good looking?)

When did I give up trying to look cute for my hubby? Are we too comfortable with each other? On one side, I know that no matter what I wear, hubby will think I look beautiful, because he sees past the outside and knows the real me. But, part of me misses those days where I wanted to look special for him.

And is part of my sweatpants phase due to my working mom wardrobe? Every day for work (except casual Fridays), I am in dress clothes. I normally do not wear suits, unless presenting/facilitating, but you can find my in dress pants, a nice shirt or sweater and dress shoes (sometimes even heels!!) most every weekday. My weekend is my time to relax and be comfy. Plus, running errands with A & B often resembles more of a workout then a quick trip to the grocery store. If only I could learn to run in heels?!?! And, honestly, some of it stems from the fact that I need to lose weight and don’t feel that “cute” anymore. My “date” clothes are definitely dated and a little tight!

So, is anyone else in the same boat? And how do you avoid this phase? And how do I find time to work out while I am in my work-out pants?


Jean Anne