Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ponderings II

My current case load at work has me still in my pondering.  I do a lot of juvenile work - Children in Need of Assistance (CINA).  From this I have learned that there are all kinds of families, and all kinds of mothers.  I have also learned that the Department of Human Services, in the CINA realm, has the authority to define what "family," "parenting," and a "mother" should be.  In general, I will say that I agree with DHS about the big things: you feed your kids, you know where they are (or where they are supposed to be), you clothe them, and you don't physically or emotionally harm them.  But I disagree with the DHS philosophy that there is a way that a family is supposed to "be."

Every family is different. Each parent brings into the family his or her own life experience, personality and idea of what parenting should be.  Each child brings a new personality into the family as well.  There is no Cookie Cutter family.  Remember the movie Pleasantville, with Reese Witherspoon? That is the DHS idea of "family."  Hardly attainable, even by those of us who are fortunate enough to have education and employment on our sides.

I've learned through my experience working with parents in these CINA cases that no matter what, most parents genuinely love their children.  But in the realm of juvenile law, love isn't enough.  It seems to be the ability to express the love and convert it into "parenting" that causes so many problems.  By DHS standards, my home would be inappropriate for my children because at various times I have: allowed my son and daughter to sleep in my bed; spanked my children (which I do only when they are VERY naughty); left my 8 year old son home alone for 10 minutes and put vinegar in my son's mouth for swearing.  (Some of you are now gasping in horror, but anyone who has met my kids can tell you they are none the worse for these things.)

I guess my whole point with this is that there is no "perfect" family - there are no perfect parents - I certainly know that I'm not one.  I love and care for my kids the best way that I know how. And 95% of the parents that I represent in CINA cases do the same. Unfortunately, they don't always measure up to the DHS standard of what parenting should be.  Most of us are fortunate enough not be under a microscope; we have the luxury of not being judged for our every move.  It is easy to judge when you are on the outside looking in, but judgment never helped anyone.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Have Kids, Will Travel!

I'm BAAACK....

Yes, although I'm not too happy to say this, I am back to reality after an amazing vacation.

As you know if you read my prior blogs, my family and I took a week long vacation to Tennessee, visiting Memphis and Nashville. It turned out to be one of those vacations I will never forget, a vacation I never wanted to end. A vacation where everything fell into place. Laughter, adventure...and Elvis Sunglasses! 

 Our vacation was a road trip for a couple of reasons: (1) I'm really not in the mood to have to take out another mortgage on my house just to pay for the insanely high price of airline tickets and (2) the idea of being sandwiched between business suited professionals and people without kids while stuffing myself into the small airplane bathrooms because my 4 year old has to pee for the 5th time in an hour, trying to explain to my 3 year old why his ears keep popping, and trying to stop my baby from attempting to pull the hair of the lady sitting in front of us does not sound like my idea of a vacation. I may be eccentric at times, but I'm not crazy!

So last week we loaded up our Dodge Caravan and headed south. The drive took us about 13 hours each way with our planned stops.

Now, if you are like everyone else around me, reading that I took a 13 hour road trip with my 4, 3, and 1 year old you are thinking one thing: "Are you CRAZY????" If you are thinking this, you are not alone I can assure you. Todd and I were called crazy by pretty much everyone, from family, to friends, to a random stranger on a trolley in Memphis.

I've always wondered why people instantly think you need to medicate or drink heavily when you decide to road trip with young kids? And why do people instantly raise their eyebrows if God forbid you choose a destination other than an amusement park or some highly commercialized "Disney world" like destination.

Oh trust me, when I told people we were taking the kids to Nashville and Memphis I saw my fair share of raised eyebrows. I was met with countless comments like "Oh that's more of an adult town" or "Do you have family there or something?" Once I explained to people the 50 state mission we are on with our kids that silenced a few of the "Reallys???" from people, but still simply because my husband and I chose destinations that don't have ads in a parenting magazine people instantly jumped to the conclusion that our kids would be complaining and bored and we would be hitting the mini fridge in the hotel room in search of the tiny bottles.

But you know what? It's this close minded way of thinking that keeps places like Six Flags and Disney World in the black, but deprives our kids of really seeing this country. I want my kids to see this country and all the interesting things in it.

When I returned from vacation and posted my hundreds of pics online for my family and friends to see, I was met with emails and comments like "Wow, how do your kids do so well"? Honestly, my kids are amazing vacationers. They are great in the car, will sit patiently during tours, love being in hotels, and sit relatively patiently at any restaurant you take them to.

There is no secret behind the three amigos' travel ability...they are good at traveling because WE TRAVEL. I'm not one of those parents that says..."Oh we can't drive more than 4 hours because the baby needs to take a nap at 1:00 p.m.". Rather, L fell asleep in his stroller or anywhere he could get a few short winks between attractions. I think parents that think their kids won't do good on road trips or on a certain vacation create those beliefs in their kids. If you are stressed out about the trip...they will be stressed out.  My kids have always traveled well because since they were born we had them in the car. Whether traveling to some dot on the map town with me when I have a deposition or just going for a leisurely weekend drive, we go. That's seriously the only secret.

Now that's not to say that I don't have tips or strategies I use when I travel with my kids.  So allow me to share with you some things I have learned about traveling with kids:

First of all, plan, PLAN, PLAN, and (did I mention) Plan. Once a location is picked for a vacation, I start my research. My favorite site to find vacation stops, restaurants, and hotels is Trip Advisor. In fact, if you haven't already, download Trip Advisor's app onto your cell phones or IPads. Trip Advisor allows you to find kid friendly spots in pretty much every city in the country. I also search blogs, articles, or websites, in search of kid friendly ideas.

Now I'll warn you:  finding stuff is not easy. I promise you if you google "Kid friendly things to do in (INSERT CITY)", you will be brought to the Chamber of Commerce website with a link to a McDonald's Play Zone. So you have to dig deeper.... I found my best sources of information from blogs or sites that parents can weigh in with their opinions on destinations. I'm even going to do my share in my next blog and will give you my kids travel guide to the cities I visited (because honestly I was so frustrated with the lack of help from the internet on my vacation destinations).

 My tips for surviving in the car?? Leave your June Cleaver Mommy self at home and act a little more "Roseanne". You can't be a perfect Mommy on vacation, you have to break the rules. For example, at home I try and limit tv time for my the van its an all out technological marathon with an IPad, IPhone, and DVD player all playing at the same time. At home, I try and push healthy snacks. On the road? Well, lets just say there was more than a few pictures taken of L with orange lips from the countless Cheetos I fed him in the van.  Just go into survival mode...vacation is just that, throw caution to the wind and do whatever you need to make it a fun and memorable time.

I also follow a formula on vacation...for every site that Todd and I want to see, we work in an activity for the kids. So after a trip to the Ryman Auditorium, the kids swam in the hotel pool....after Graceland, a trip to the Children's Museum. Keep the ratio and everyone will be happy!
So, Have Kids? Well, then TRAVEL!! And TRAVEL OFTEN PEOPLE!! The best memories are made on the open road, I can assure you!!


Monday, June 27, 2011


I don’t have to look far to know that I’m a lucky mom. On top of my kids being funny and happy and literally the light of my life, they are relatively healthy. Sure, we’ve had our bouts with asthma attacks and the year Sweet Pea couldn’t keep any food down, but as scary as those times were, they were nothing compared to what some of our friends and family deal with on a daily basis. Taken as a whole, we are lucky.

I was reminded of this the other day, when we took KJ to Children’s Memorial for a routine appointment with a specialist. For very different, but thankfully both very minor, reasons, both of my children see specialists at Children’s Memorial. Prior to my first visit there with KJ in 2008, I thought that Children’s was only a place for super scary sick kids. You know, the kind of sick that no one wants to even think about. But, when KJ had a relatively minor problem that we wanted a second opinion on, our pediatrician sent us there. So we went. At our first appointment, I was so worried that KJ was going to need surgery (he didn’t) that I don’t remember even seeing anyone else at the hospital. But I remember our second appointment clearly. Our second appointment involved a trip to the main hospital in Lincoln Park. And while I’m sure they treat kids with minor or potential problems like KJ’s all the time, they also treat kids with super scary problems too. And we saw some of them.

I’ve never been more grateful for my children’s health than I was that day. When you are expecting a baby, you are expecting a healthy baby. Or at least I was.  I never really thought about all the things that could be wrong. Oh sure, I did the test for Downs and I prayed for a healthy baby, but I just assumed my baby would be born healthy.  And he was. I never really thought my baby could be so sick that I’d spend weeks or months in a hospital like some of these parents did. I never thought about my baby needing heart surgery. Or being born with one lung. And yet, I know parents for whom this is a reality. Their every day life.

And I felt guilty. Yes, I’m grateful for my kids’ health. But being at Children’s with a relatively healthy kid brought out tons and tons of guilt. Guilt that my child was healthy. Guilt for always having assumed that my child would be healthy. Guilt for being right (so far, knock on wood). But most of all, I felt guilt for taking up the doctor’s time that could have been spent on some other kid who, very likely, was more "sick" than mine.

When we took KJ for his third (and –yay! – final) appointment with his specialist last week, all of that guilt returned. As Husband checked KJ in for his routine check-up, the woman next to him checked her daughter in for a blood transfusion. Then, as we waited for our appointment, our particular doctor was called away for an emergency. When he returned, the doctor apologized for his delay, saying he had an emergency arise that was going to take up “a lot” of his time that night, but then dismissed it, saying we weren’t there to talk about his problems, we were there to talk about ours. But we didn’t really have a problem. Not compared to the kid that doctor was going to spend “a lot” of time working on later that night. Not compared to the girl in the waiting room. As it turned out, not really at all. Yes, KJ remains a candidate for elective surgery, but the key word is elective: he doesn’t have to have it. And we’re electing not to. 

To say I'm grateful my children are healthy is a huge understatement.  Thanks to daycare, we get to deal with the "regular" childhood illnesses almost all winter long.  But things like hospital stays and breathing treatments are still relatively rare.  And that's not something every parent can say.  It shouldn't take a trip to Children's to realize this, but too often I take my children's health for granted.  No longer.  I know I'm a lucky mom, and I'm going to be grateful for that.  And pray for those parents out there who are dealing with the unimaginable. 


Friday, June 24, 2011

The Look

I'm still on vacation, so here's another one of the "crumpled" blogs -- this one is a blog I always intended on finishing but never really could bring it together. But I think the message is definitely an important one. See you next week!

The thing I hate the most about being a working Mom is "The Look". 

If you are a working Mom, you know The Look and you know it well. It is most often found when you run into a friend from a long time ago, an extended family member, a distant in-law, the wife of a rich business man, someone from your home town, a neighbor...

I've become a pro at predicting the exact moment I'll get The Look. For example, I know it will always follow a conversation such as: 

      "Oh, your children are beautiful. Do you stay home with them then?"
      "No, I work. I'm an attorney".
      "Oh" (Insert fake smile here and wait for it...wait for it...there it is: THE LOOK).

The Look is the judgmental look that most people give working Moms. In one look, you "hear" just what the person is thinking: From, "How could you leave these beautiful babies every day?" to "Oh she's an attorney, she has a Nanny" to "Oh don't bother J's Mom honey, she's BUSY?", or (my personal "favorite") the "Oh, that's a choice I could never make...I could never leave my kids".

I hate The Look. I wish people could see that for many working Moms (including myself) it is not a CHOICE that we work. I HAVE to work. If I had my choice I would most certainly be home with my children, but bills need to be paid, college needs to be saved for, clothes need to be purchased…and so I work.

Second, despite the fact that I leave my children during the workday, I am still a great Mom. I still make time to chaperone field trips, stay home to nurse a cold, sit attentively during dance class. I scrapbook their lives, explore and play with them…I just have less time to do that than if I stayed home so I don’t take a minute for granted. In fact, I do a lot more with my kids than many of the people that give me The Look.

The Look holds a vision of a working Mom by the outside world…they see a woman in a suit, who has a nanny, a housekeeper, and a personal chef. A woman with no time for her children, who is cold, and who never plays with their children. That’s not me. I would never think of having others raise my children, and the only Mrs. Clean around my house is me.

Finally, I wish the people giving The Look could see that my children will be okay and in actuality may come out of these years BETTER than if I stayed home with them full time. My kids are smarter, more social, and more adaptable because I am not with them all the time. They will be fine. I will make sure of that.

So next time someone gives you that look…just smile and walk away. I'm realizing that if someone gives you The Look there is really nothing you can do to change their mind. And honestly I much more prefer looking at the looks of love, joy, and happiness I receive from the people that truly matter: my children.


Thursday, June 23, 2011


Pondering today what to talk about.  The topmost thing on my mind is how similar sometimes my job as a mom and my job as an attorney can be.  For example: at home, I have to tell my kids 100 times to do or not to do something, which they inevitably end up doing.  At work, I tell a client 100 times that in order to get the result she wants, she has to do 'X,Y & Z.'  In both cases, I say "trust me, I know what I'm talking about."  In both cases I say "what happened the LAST time you didn't listen to me?".  In both cases I inevitably end up correct and they - kid or client- end up in the doghouse, with some excuse as to why its not really his or her fault.

It's hard to have sympathy for someone who is making all the wrong decisions, against your better advice and sometimes, I think, out of spite.

When its my kids, I at least have the luxury of thinking "well, they just need to learn things the hard way." I did, I had to see everything for myself. (I got three broken bones and some serious permanent scars for it); I also have the luxury of thinking that I've got at least 10 more years to straighten them out.  With clients, it's not so easy.  Instead of looking at another timeout in their rooms or another week without the Wii, my clients are looking at prison, or never seeing their children again.  What is it that prevents someone, kid or adult, from making the choice that seems so obvious to the rest of us?

I used to think it was all about the way the child was raised - 'bad' adults weren't taught the right way to act.  Now, I know that's not true.  Lots and lots of 'criminal thinkers' come out of safe, stable homes.  That is what scares me the most. As an attorney, I can think "Well, I told you!" and watch my client move on to the next phase of his/her life with a clear conscience.  As a parent, I can only wait, watch and pray that the lessons I am trying to teach my kids - about self-respect, respect for others, respect for rules, etc.-are 'sticking.' That when they are older and I'm not there to give them advice, they will remember and most importantly FOLLOW my advice.  There won't be any clear conscience when it comes to my children.  I don't think there ever is

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Case of the Missing Unmentionables

Yesterday was one of those days where I didn't see the kids awake.  I had to drive to work yesterday - something I hate to do.  But I had an after-work meeting at a place that is generally inaccessible by public transportation, so I had no choice.  I left before the sun was up, knowing full well I'd come back home only long after the kids were asleep. 

Because I didn't see the kids awake yesterday, I was particularly excited to see them this morning.  KJ woke up early this morning and crawled into bed with me.  We snuggled for a while and I told him how much I missed him yesterday.  A few minutes later, we got up and went to get ready for school.  KJ and I headed to his bedroom to get him dressed for the day. 

As we walked into KJ's bedroom, I picked up some of his folded laundry to put away.  I went to his dresser and began putting away his underwear and socks as he took off his jammies.  I turned around to ask KJ what he wanted to wear today.  KJ was standing there, in his super cool blue Cars underwear.  Underwear that was identical to a pair I had *just* put in his drawer.  Which would be awesome, except KJ doesn't have two pairs. 

Me: "Um, KJ, where'd you get that underwear?"
KJ: "What?"
Me: (calling to Husband): "What underwear did you put KJ in yesterday?"
Husband: "What?  I don't know.  Whatever you put him in after his bath the night before."
Me: "KJ, did you wear monkey underwear to school yesterday?:
KJ: No answer
Me: "Did you have water day at school yesterday?" (Water day involves the kids wearing swimsuits)
KJ:  "Yes."
Me: "Who got you dressed after water day?"
KJ: "We got ourselves dressed."

And with that, I knew what had happened.  Think what you will, but there isn't much privacy at daycare.  I'm pretty sure the kids all get changed in a giant group after water day.  Which means that clothes were probably everywhere.  KJ probably saw this underwear that looked like his underwear (and also, which were cooler than the underwear he had to wear) and put it on without a second thought.  I'm not sure why the kid whose Cars underwear was swapped for monkey underwear didn't speak up, but however you cut it, two kids came home wearing the wrong undergarments. 

I threw the impostor underwear into the wash this morning, and tomorrow, Husband will be faced with the task of locating the pair's rightful owners.  I guess that's one of the benefits of never doing drop off or pick -up: I also never have to worry that an email chain I wrote attempting to locate my son's underwear will become subject to production in litigation.  I'm actually not optimistic that we'll find the Cars underwear's rightful owner.  And I'm pretty sure we'll never see our monkey underwear again.  But I hope that the other kid's mom got a good laugh last night when she changed her child only to discover him wearing underwear she's never seen before.  These boys certainly keep us on our toes!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Mandis

Well as you know, I'm on vacation this in the course of my preparations I looked throught my "vaults" of blogs. The blogs I liken to the crumpled pieces of paper near a songwriter's garbage can. Blogs I started but never finished, or blogs I drafted but then something came up that seemed more relevant at the time. So this week, allow me to "uncrumple" a couple of my vault blogs.

During a date night with Todd we were sitting in a dark theater waiting for a movie to start. I sat there in my "wife" role, and realized that my life is made up of so many personalities. I vary a great deal depending on the role I am put in. So allow me to introduce you to the Mandis:

The Attorney Mandi - My attorney persona, the one I spend half my day in, is ironically the most different from the true Mandi. In fact, in the legal world "Mandi" isn't even Mandi: I go by Amanda in my professional life (because Mandi didn't look right on the business cards). At work, I am generally more serious, quiet, and I must act completely different from my personal life as people who only know me as "Amanda" are so surprised when they friend me on Facebook or get to know me "out of the courtoom". I will admit that over the years I have let "Mandi" shine a little more in my professional life, but still it makes me laugh sometimes to hear people who only know me as Amanda describe me. It's completely different than how my friends or family would describe me.

The Wife Mandi - My wife personality is the one that loves to dress up, wear makeup, be "girly", i.e. the girl my husband met long before I was running around after the three amigos. The hopeless romantic personality, the one who loves to be swept off her feet more than sweeping the floor. I love date nights where I can get dressed up and head out for a fun night with my husband - it reminds me of the years where this was really my only persona.

The Sister Mandi - I love being around my two brothers, because then my sister personality comes out. My brothers are among a rare few that have the same sense of humor as I do. Even Todd will look at me with raised eyebrows sometimes when I laugh at one of my favorite movies. In those moments, I text my brothers, knowing that they will think its hilarious!

The Friend Mandi - The friend Mandi is my vulnerable, open side. Whether they like it or not, my friends get the "joy" of dealing with the dramatic Mandi. Although I have to "keep it together" as a Mom and attorney, I can call or email my best friends and admit to my faults, my mistakes, and the drama that is my life. The perfectionist Amanda can admit that she too has faults!

The Mom Mandi - And then there is my favorite personality...the Mom Mandi. The role I feel the most comfortable in. The role that is the closest one to the true Mandi. My Mom personality is my fun, child like side. As a Mom I don't take myself too seriously. I have fun, color with crayons, run through sprinklers and just enjoy being with the three greatest people to ever come into my life. I think this is why I am a Mom first and foremost, because being a Mom is merely being true to my self.

All of my personalities come together to form...well Mandi. I take a little bit of the personality traits that shine out when I'm with certain people and combine them all into who I am. I think this "multiple personality" world is just part of being a Mom. So if you ever want to talk to the most interesting people in the world...always start with the Moms of the world.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Blue Toes

The other night, while Husband and KJ were out getting haircuts, I painted Sweet Pea's toe nails pink.  It was something I had been thinking about for a few weeks but Husband was resisting.  I understood Husband's hesitation: Neither of us want to "impose" what we think are grown up things - like earrings or nail polish - on a baby.  But I had a very soft, baby pink color (that Sweet Pea had actually picked out some weeks before) and I knew she would love it.  So I went ahead and painted her toes.  And she was thrilled.

Sweet Pea, thankfully, is a girly girl.  She likes dresses and hair bows and nail polish.  It isn't anything I've done to encourage her.  If anything, I've gone to the other extreme.  We play hockey together and her most recent present from the Easter bunny was a baseball mitt.  I avoided buying anything even remotely related to a Disney princess until earlier this year, when Sweet Pea received a princess book from my brother and slept with it for a week.  We're not trying to raise a girly girl.  She just is one. 

And oh, how happy that makes me.  Don't get me wrong, I'd love Sweet Pea no matter what.  It's just that I never thought I would have a girl.  For some reason, I always thought I'd have all boys.  I have two brothers.  Husband has two brothers.  Neither of us have any sisters.  Boys just seem to run in the family.  And boys are amazing.  I was perfectly content with a family of boys.  Looking forward to it, in fact.  I had plans for my boys to share a room.  I thought about how lucky I was that they'd be close in age.  And I hoped that they would be best friends.  But then I gave birth.  And the doctor said words I never thought I'd hear: "It's a girl."

There aren't words to explain my happiness in that moment.  I'm pretty sure that I would have felt the *exact* same way if the doctor had announced I had a son.  But he didn't.  He said "a girl."  My heart just melted.  I had a boy and a girl.  I was the luckiest woman alive. 

Two years later I still feel the same.  Having one of each allows me to experience, in my opinion, the best of both worlds.  I go from playing babies to hitting baseballs in the blink of an eye.  I know all about Lightening McQueen and Pinkalicious.  I get to play in the dirt and paint toe nails.  And I get to do all of these things with both kids. 

Sweet Pea was so excited about her "pink toes" that they were all she talked about for two full days.  She showed all of her stuffed animals her "pink toes."  She showed my parents - in the middle of a church service - her "pink toes."  She even showed strangers in stores her "pink toes."  In short, Sweet Pea got a lot of positive reaction. 

It only makes sense then, that about a day after I painted Sweet Pea's toe nails pink, KJ approached me and told me he wanted me to paint his toe nails blue.  Sweet Pea was getting a lot of attention, and KJ was probably a little bit jealous.  Plus, when you are three, colored toe nails are pretty awesome, no matter how you look at it.  Husband promptly freaked out.  To Husband, painted toe nails are for girls.  KJ is a boy.  Husband therefore spent a lot of time and energy trying to change KJ's mind.  But KJ held firm, and a few days later, I painted his little tiny toe nails blue.

I've tried to tell Husband that there isn't anything weird about KJ's toe nails being blue.  He's three, after all.  To KJ, his nails aren't just painted - they are painted blue.  And blue is the best color ever.  That's all that matters.  I've also tried to tell Husband that the nail polish phase is just like KJ's barrette phase: when Sweet Pea first started wearing barrettes, KJ wanted to too.  Rather than have a battle of wills, every morning before school I'd let KJ wear a barrette in his hair for a few minutes.  It didn't take more than a work week for KJ to figure out that barrettes weren't so comfortable and stop asking to wear them.  I tried to tell Husband the same would happen here. 

Plus, I don't see any reason for us to tell KJ that painting toe nails is a "girl" thing.  I would never tell Sweet Pea that baseball is only for boys.  Why is it okay to stereotype one way and not the other?  KJ will figure out what he's comfortable with all on his own.  And to be frank, if he's going to experiment with wearing nail polish, I'm glad its now, when he is only three, and not in high school. 

Husband is still not convinced, and just this morning commented that he wished I had taken off KJ's blue polish before KJ's doctor appointment later today.  Apparently, Husband thinks KJ will get some note in his medical file about us being weird parents for letting our boy have "blue toes."  But I'm not so worried about a note in the doctor's file.  If the doctor asks KJ about his blue toes, he'll see pretty quickly how happy that little bit of paint made my boy.  Something so harmless that brings so much joy to a child can't translate into too bad of parenting.  Besides, if you really think about KJ has a point.  Blue toes are pretty awesome. 


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Leaving in a Caravan!

Okay so I had to tweak the Peter, Paul, and Mary classic "Leaving on Jet Plane"...but here I am a few days away from our family vacation. So happy its finally here!

In my world, getting ready for a vacation is extremely exhausting. Not only do I have to make sure my family life is ready for the trip, I have to make sure my work life is well taken care of. This means a ton of preparation. My job is fast paced, high volume, and full of "has to be done this second" moments. This means I have to spend weeks getting everything in order. Yes, this means I'm going to have to tackle that "I'm trying to pretend you're not there" research project, I have to respond to the dozens of "you should have responded yesterday" letters. I have to make sure that my world will run smoothly without me in it for awhile.

Then of course there is the packing. I am the family packer...the one responsible to pack for each member of my family, including my husband. And this usually leads to beautifully packed suitcases for my kids, maybe a missing pair of socks for Todd, and a suitcase of "well there's always Wal-Mart" for me as I tend to forget everything.

It's funny that even in this age of "connectedness", where I am taking the iPhone and iPad that keeps me on the pulse of my life, its still really hard to get ready to leave. Why is it that you can have a week of absolutely no fires to put out, yet the week you happen to take a vacation all hell breaks loose??

So this week I have been in a mad dash to get everything ready. This has led to lots of late nights, lots of checklists, lots of "I'll be out of the office"-type warnings to all the insurance adjusters that will have to handle their files solo for the week.

So in just a few days, off we will go on vacation! I can't wait. But for a woman that tries so hard to keep complete control, complete balance of my life it will be hard to leave the chips where they may lie and step away from reality for awhile. I have to admit I miss the days when I was a kid and I had no cares in the world as I left on a family trip!

Wish me luck...luck for happy traveling kids, luck for beautiful weather, luck for time to slow down so I can enjoy this family time, and of course luck that I'll remember to pack Todd's toothbrush and deodorant (otherwise it might not be such a fun trip!)


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Family Affair

A few weeks ago, my 8 yr old son B asked if he could come to work with me.  I don't expect that he has a real interest in the legal profession - in fact, I don't think he really has a firm grasp on what I do, except, as his Dad says "Lay down the law!".  I think it was more the result of summer vacation.  The kids have been spending all day every day with their Dad and, bless 'em, they want to spend more time with me. 

So, when he asked, I reviewed my schedule, found a day when I'd be in court with a friendly, receptive Judge and only a single hearing and said "Sure."  He was sooo excited; told all of his friends that he was coming to court with me.  The day before, he picked out his 'respectable' summer clothes, showered and went to bed early.

In the morning, Steve and I talked to him about courtroom etiquette: sit still, be quiet, no talking to Mom while she's examining a witness.  He got a little spooked and at the last minute changed his mind. I went to court alone.  I suspect that he regretted his decision the moment I pulled away from the house and, surprisingly, so did I.  As I was driving the 35 minutes to the courthouse, I just kept pondering how fun it would have been to have him in the car with me, answering his never-ending questions about what to expect, who he would meet, etc. I was sorry that I did not get to share this part of my life with him. 

As an attorney, you're only allowed to talk about your job so much - and hardly any of it is appropriate for little ears, so my kids don't really know what I do.   I am very proud of what I do, and as I was driving, I pondered how I wish they did know so they could be proud, too.  I would like my children to see me in a role other than "Mom;" to see that in my profession I have earned the respect of my colleagues and the judiciary, and that I deserve their respect, too, for what I do everyday. 

That morning, as I sat in Judge's chambers, chatting with the judge, I was also regretting not being able to show my son off.  I am incredibly proud of him; he is seriously smart, genuinely kind (except to his sister ;) ), and cute as a button.  I would have loved to have seen his reaction when talking with the judge and the serious look on his face when he was being questioned by the big, bald probation officer!  I would have liked the opportunity to earn my colleagues' respect as a parent as well as an attorney.

I used to wonder how parent/child law firms could exist.  If I had to spend that much time with my mother, I'd kill myself!  But sitting that day, pondering, I could only think how incredible it would be to have that kind of influence over my children.  To have their respect as a person and as a professional; to instill in them the respect and love that I have for the legal profession...and to maybe, one day, do the job that I love best with the people I love best every day.  

B wants to come to court with me next week... I think I'll let him....

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Gift for Mommy

Well, it's official. I'm writing my very first blog from my brand new iPad!

This weekend my husband surprised me and decided to go out and get the iPad I have been craving for the past year. My husband knows that unless he goes out and makes a big dollar purchase like this for me. I'll never go out and do it myself.

When I became a Mom a strange thing happened to me: I developed a BIG case of buyer's remorse whenever I buy something for myself. Sure its common for Moms to put the needs of their children first, but for me its sad to say but shopping (for myself) lost all fun once I had kids.

I have yet to fully figure out why this happened to me. Historically, I am a die hard shopper, the reason they developed mugs that say "Shop-o-holic". In fact I heard the quote: "Mandi, you have champagne taste on a beer budget" so many times from my Dad it was my "middle name". In college and law school all I did was shop: designer handbags, clothes galore, a bunch of stuff I didn't need but still wanted anyway. I had my hair colored every 6 weeks like my stylist recommended, and I loved hitting the malls.

Of course, as you can probably predict, this love of shopping led to mountains of debt that I had to carry into my marriage. I'm surprised Todd did not up and run the first time he saw my "bottom line".

But alas he didn't run, and in fact whipped my horrible financial self into shape and paid off all that old debt. Our kids then arrived, and I went completely to the other extreme: from an avid shopper to someone who rarely buys anything for myself. Something changed in me. Perhaps it was the reality that I was responsible for the tiny baby in my arms. This responsibility made me feel guilty if I dropped a few hundred in the mall on one purse. Why would I do that, when I could be using that money to buy stuff for my adorable daughter??

And thus I went from one extreme to the other, and I'm trying to find a happy medium somewhere in the middle. Sure I shouldn't go out and blow our hard earned money on stuff for me, but there really is no reason that I shouldn't splurge on myself every now and again.

Finding this happy medium has not been easy for me. Even though my "beer budget" has risen a bit over the years to a "bottle of decent table wine budget" my taste has changed. And now, if I do break down and buy something for myself I am left with horrible guilt.

What is even more strange is that I don't have this guilt at all when I buy things for my kids. A trampoline for the back yard, Matilda Jane clothes, and a ton of Monster Trucks. Somehow buying for my kids silences my guilt.

So, when it comes to me now, I do what I did with the and talk and TALK about it until finally my husband steps in. He finds it funny that I spend less money now then when we first started off making hardly anything. It's ironic but the man who came into my life, paid off my debt, and got me on the right track financially is the one that reminds me that I have to splurge on myself rom time to time.

So if I am debating a purchase, and Todd knows we can afford it, he'll go off and "pull the band-aid" for me. That way he knows I'll get what I want and if I'm complaining when I enter the entry in the checkbook, I can always just blame him! (Now that's love right there).

So alas here I sit, with my brand new iPad compliments of my husband. I'm in absolute heaven.

Okay so I know what you are wondering: do I feel guilty? Well, I did until I spent the evening with my new toy and discovered all it can do!! Yep, I'm drowning out any guilt I might have courtesy of the ITunes and App Store! It's funny how a few games of Angry Birds can wipe out any buyer's remorse.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer School

Lately, KJ has been asking when the last day of school is.   I don't  know where he heard the idea that school has a last day, but somehow, he knows and he's asking about it. 

Since "school" for him means daycare, the answer is never.  But I've found that "never" is a hard answer to give.  First of all, it is hard to explain to a three year old that he goes to a different kind of school, the kind that doesn't have a "last day."  And it's even harder for me as a mom to think about what that means for my kids.  My kids will never have the kind of summer I had growing up.  They will never have the chance to sleep in as long as they would like.  They will never spend entire days riding their bikes with their friends or spending long afternoons at the pool.  They can't even take normal swimming lessons because I can't not be at work from 10:30-11:15 for two weeks straight.  The fact is, because both Husband and I work, our children will always be enrolled in some sort of day camp or structured summer care.  And that is going to suck. 

I hate that my kids won't ever have a lazy summer.  That they won't ever get to sleep in past 6.  And I hate to think about them being stuck in summer camp.  I remember seeing summer camp kids at the pool when I was growing up.  It didn't look like that much fun.   I tell myself there has to be another alternative, but I don't know what it might be.  With Husband's aversion to nannies, I don't know that other options exist.  Who watches your kids during the summer months?  Do you hire an au pair or a nanny?  Is summer camp really fun?  Or are you secretly hoping that your district goes to year-round school before you are faced with the problem? 


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summertime Blues

It’s summer again.  My kids got out of school a week and a half ago and I’m already struggling.  It is never so hard to be a working mom as in the summertime, leaving in the morning when the kids are still asleep or still in jammies.  Not only do I hate having to tell my kids “I can’t, I have to go to work today” because of the looks of disappointment on their faces, but because in the summer, in all honesty, I’d like nothing more than to ditch work and hang out with them at the local swimming pool.  My motivation to work just goes out the window and I contemplate – every year – whether I should just start my own part-time practice, force my husband to go back to work, and spend the summers with my kids. 

The last time I had any ‘real’ summertime time with my kids, my son  was 2 and my daughter was 6 months old.  I took a month off between jobs. We went to the beach…the park…you name it, we did it!  My son is 8 now.  Now, I’m lucky if I get a good hour and a half at the swimming pool between ending the work day and bedtime.  Unfortunately, as an attorney, I can’t just shut down my practice for a month, a week, or, unfortunately, even a day without a LOT of preplanning.  When the Court calls, I have to answer.  It is a constant balancing act between work obligations and family, which, in my life, creates a lot of guilt.

As I said before, May 24 was the kids’ last day of school.  We had planned a few weeks in advance to go to the Henry Doorly Zoo the following day.  It was a big deal and the kids were really excited to show me the animals. (My husband and the kids had been there three times last year without me).  Blocked off on my calendar and everything!  But then, as inevitably happens, I had two hearings scheduled – one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  I had to be there, so there went my “best laid plans.”  The worst part is that, despite all the excitement building up to the day, it was hardly a letdown for the kids.  They just decided they would go without me.

This, of course, made me think that they must be so used to me bailing on things that this turn of events is no surprise to them.  Mother’s guilt…it is alive and well.  My feelings were hurt because anyone who knows me knows that I try to get to EVERYTHING – even the practices.  And I’m ashamed to admit that I was just a little bit satisfied when the day turned out to be cold and rainy.    On the other hand, maybe they weren’t broken up about my cancellation because spending ‘quality’ time with me is not so rare that they were devastated when our plans went astray.  When they cut their zoo trip short because of the weather, I was able to go with them the next day. 

As I sit in my office today, my thoughts wander from the Suppression Motion I am supposed to be working on to the pool – will it still be warm outside when I leave at 5? Can I get the kids fed, suited and to the pool on time to make the trip worthwhile? Are there any days next week that I could ‘play hooky’?

Truth be told, though, as much as I feel that I am missing out on summer, I know that I could not be a stay at home mom for any length of time.  (More guilt!)  I need my job.  Maybe it is the joy of stolen hours spent well that keeps JD moms and their children close.  It’s like a snow day…or an unexpectedly short afternoon meeting – you’re free to play…without the guilt!  


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lesson in Loyalty

Loyalty is not a word you will find used favorably in the law. It's a virtue the law tries hard to ignore.  To the law loyalty is the obnoxious cousin the law tries to pretend is not part of the family.

This is probably because disloyalty is the favorite son of the law, the trophy child who gets all the attention. I mean think about it, most (if not all) lawsuits are based on some disloyal person being, well, disloyal. The divorce from an unfaithful spouse, the breach of contract, the covenant not to compete that gets ignored, the trademark infringement.  And don’t even get me started on “hand shake” agreements. If I had a dime for every time I have been in court over a "hand shake agreement", I’d be sitting on some island drinking an icy beverage right now.
And of course this world of the un-loyal permeates off the case books into our law firms. Don’t believe me? Just google search “mommy-tracked” or something like that. Most attorneys feel like loyalty doesn't exist in a law firm. Many attorneys feel they have been cheated or treated poorly without regard to how long they have been at a firm. Partners in law firms are stereotyped (often rightfully so) for advancing people based on hours only, with no consideration for loyalty to the person billing those hours. Associates often are job searching while working at their firms eager to find the next higher paying job.

As a defense attorney, my job is to defend the people who are accused of being anything but loyal. Dealing with all this un-loyalty can cause one to become a little cynical. It's happened to me too. I am starting to wonder if loyalty is just a dead art, something long forgotten in this world of selfish gain.

Well, yesterday thanks to my son, I was reminded that loyalty is still very much alive...  
A couple nights ago I was doing laundry (I know...big shock right?). I took out a load of laundry and started to fold it. I went to pull out L’s light blue puppy dog pajamas. As I lifted it up to fold it, I noticed that one sleeve had been cut off. The cut was jagged. I showed Todd: “Look at this, do you think it got caught in the dryer?” Todd smiled and said “Nope, looks like someone  got a hold of some scissors”. I looked at the cut trying to figure out if it was possible for the kids to cut through the light fabric with the only scissors they could potentially have gotten a hold of: the plastic safety scissors in their art boxes.

And thus started the “Who cut the Puppy Jammies” Mystery. The mystery had a bit of urgency to it, as both Todd and I had a fear the kids had somehow gotten a hold of regular scissors. Of course always giving our kids the benefit of the doubt we first started with our washer and dryer to make sure the sleeve hadn’t gotten stuck somehow. No sleeve.

The next day I decided it was time to interrogate the two prime suspects: H and J. Of course as every good child interrogator knows, the first step is to change your tone into a happy, calm “no one is in trouble tone”. I started with my daughter. “J, did you cut this sleeve?” J sat for a minute looking at the sleeve and adamantly denied any involvement. Todd chimed in: “Come on J, did you do it?”. Normally, J is easily cracked so when she stuck to her “No” after a few minutes I was pretty sure she was in the clear. That left H. H had an uphill battle already in this interrogation considering his prior “criminal history” in our house including involvement in such famous crimes as: “Who stole all the straws off the Capri Suns” caper, and the “Who stuck Uno cards in the DVD player” fiasco. But, still, the lawyer in me knew he deserved a fair “trial”.

            “H, did YOU cut L’s sleeve?”

He stuck with his no’s in the same fashion as his sister. Todd, not having the patience in interrogating that I do, started to get a little annoyed: “Come on, one of you did it, and whoever did it is not having scissors anymore”. Todd walked off to see if he could find the sleeve in their room, some sort of clue into the culprit's identity. 

Todd and I were fairly certain it was J, considering her love of art, her wish to be a fashion designer, and the fact she is usually the one with the safety scissors. So we kept asking her questions trying to get her confession and trying to find out if somehow she had gotten sharper scissors that we needed to get out of her room. She kept saying no, and started to whine and cry at the repeated questions. H stood watching.

I sat there playing with L, J "fled the scene" off to the other room, and Todd was hunting for evidence, the sleeve, the scissors, anything.  Suddenly, I looked up and there was H, hanging his head low, trying not to make eye contact with me.

 “Momma” he said in his soft sad tone “Momma I did it. I cut the sleeve”.

The lawyer in me got excited for the confession. J came around the corner to find out what had happened. She stood there quiet and watched as H was “booked” for the crime. Booking in our house usually means a short lecture of “We don’t do that” followed by a time out or taking away of some privilege. H stood there during his booking, again not making eye contact. He walked upstairs ready to take his time out. You could see on his face, he felt bad. “Why did you do that H? Where did you get scissors? Can you show me the scissors you used?” I asked. All he said was “I did it".

Through the threats of never having scissors again from Todd, and the look of disappointment from me, H took it all. But as the minutes passed, H’s story started to have some “kinks”. Todd demanded to know from the culprit where the sleeve was. H said “It’s under my bed”, nope not there. “It’s in that corner”, nope not there.

About 5 minutes passed of H being in the hot seat. Suddenly J  came up to me with a look of guilt on her face. I could just tell what the look meant. “J, you did it didn’t you?” I said. J shook her head yes. Yep, she did it, and she let her brother take the heat until her conscience caught up with her relief of getting off the hook.
This whole thing took about 10 minutes, but in that short time I learned a valuable lesson. There was H, at just 3 years old, taking the heat for his sister. Without being asked to he took the punishment, and sat there for a few minutes probably thinking he would never again own scissors in his life. But through it all , he stood loyal to his sister, even though I am pretty sure she would not have done the same. A sister who when he blinks wrong will come and "turn him in" to Todd and I. Now if that's not true loyalty, I don't know what is.

Needless to say, H did not get punished for the scissor incident. Instead I came up to him and gave him a hug. His loyalty for his sister was much more important to me than some footsie doggy jammies.



Do what you will, always

Walk where you like, your steps

Do as you please, I'll back you up

-Dave Matthews

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sooo Big

This weekend was an emotional one for me.  Husband and I finally took a day and did something we've been talking and thinking about for months: we bought Sweet Pea a big girl bed.  Sweet Pea has been ready for a big girl bed for months.  But because Sweet Pea wasn't our first child, there wasn't just an extra bedroom and furniture waiting around for her to move into.  Transitioning Sweet Pea to a big girl bed meant a bunch of serious considerations on Husband and my part.  Like, do we give up the guest room or take down the nursery?  Do we repaint?  What kind of furniture should be buy KJ?  And, how much sleep would we lose if we just put a mattress in KJ's room and put off the decision even longer? 

I have no qualms with putting my mixed gendered kids in the same bedroom.  I think the kids would love it and have a good time.  But that's the problem.  I don't think they'd actually go to sleep.  Plus, if both kids shared a room, we'd have two essentially unused rooms: the nursery and the guest bedroom.  It seemed ridiculous to leave two rooms unused just so that I wouldn't have to decide between the nursery and the guest room.  So we sucked it up and made a plan. 

We're moving Sweet Pea to the guest room.  The guest room has always been my favorite room in the house, but I am just not ready to give up the nursery yet.  Having a nursery means that I haven't yet closed off the possibility of more children.  And I like having that option.  But that means bye-bye guest room.  And it means the days of my children waking up to their visiting grandparents in the room next door are over too.  I'm a little sad about that.  But I'm hopeful we'll be able to make something work when it comes time for grandparent visits.  After all, in just a year or two KJ will think "camping out" in the basement is the coolest thing ever, and that will free up a bed. 

Location decided, we then had to go buy furniture.  I've been looking at furniture for months.  Literally.  When we were little, my mom bought us all a nice set of furniture for our rooms.  And now that we are all adults, we each have that furniture in our own homes.  I wanted to do something similar for my kids.  While I think IKEA is fine for some things, I wanted my kids to have bedroom furniture that would fit them always.  But few places sell solid-wood furniture any more.  And even fewer sell twin beds.  After all, most people  just convert their cribs.  Ever the rebels, however, we bought a (now banned) drop side crib, that obviously doesn't convert.  So we had to buy everything - and we had to buy it for KJ, since he was currently using my furniture from when I was a girl that was to go to Sweet Pea. 

To me, buying lifetime furniture for a boy is like picking a name for a boy (although admittedly much less important).  You have to pick something that fits the boy now, but will still fit him 10 years from now, when he's more of a man. Something that isn't too baby but isn't too big.  It's a difficult balance to find.  Thankfully, my months of searching paid off and I found a nice, solid wood set made in the U.S.  On Saturday, we ordered it. 

And then we went to buy Sweet Pea her bed.  Buying the bed was easy - we went to the local mattress place and picked out a mattress and box spring very similar to KJ's.  The kids ran around the store throwing Serta sheep the salesman kindly gave them.  And on Thursday, we can go pick it up (we wanted a low profile box spring which had to be ordered).  Everything is pretty close to ready for the big transition. 

Except me.  There have been a lot of times already in my kids' lives where I wished I could freeze time and keep them the way they are.  But I've never wanted it more than right now.  KJ is just so amazing.  He's funny and smart and learning so much every day.  He helps his sister and is the best problem solver.  And while he still has some babyish tantrums, we're able to reason with him, and leave him a decision.  More often than not, he makes the mature decision and follows what we say.  I'm so impressed with him.  And Sweet Pea is just adorable.  She's giggly and cute and so strong willed.  Sweet Pea has always had a personality on her, but now it just shines through.  She loves thoroughly and knows what she wants.  And she doesn't take no for an answer.  She's the perfect girl for me.  And I want them to stay just.the.way.they.are. 

But of course they won't.  This weekend's shopping spree was fact enough that in 8-10 weeks, both kids will have different bedrooms and the nursery will be empty.  I'm happy that they are growing and developing.  And I know how lucky we are that they are well.  But boy, I do wish it wasn't going by quite so fast.  Thank God for the 8-10 week delivery time.  Maybe by then I'll convince myself that I'm ready for this. 


Friday, June 3, 2011

Family Vacation

This week I have started a process I have never gone through before…planning a family vacation. Okay, so let me clarify this comment for those of you who know that I have traveled before with my family. Yes its true that I have planned vacations before in my past, we took J to Texas, H and J RVing in South Dakota, and traveled out to North Carolina, but this year is entirely different. This time, my kids (well 2 of the 3) are old enough to voice their opinions on vacation and, therefore, vacation planning has entered a whole new dimension! Now we have to please the requests of many “vacation voices”.

When kids are babies, vacation planning is easy. Now remember I said, vacation PLANNING is easy, I know the actual vacation (especially packing) can be quite difficult. But if you think about it vacation planning for a baby involves merely looking to find out what you want you to do and maybe checking to make sure the locations you tour are stroller friendly.  But a baby doesn’t care if you want to take some historic tour or eat at a trendy restaurant….you want to do a 3 hour walking tour of some Presidential Library? Go for it! Just remember to bring a bottle, pacifier, and Gerber Graduate Puffs and learn away.

But as the kids grow and their “wants/dreams/desires” have to be considered…vacation planning becomes more challenging, and actually more rewarding.

Vacationing with our kids is not something we merely love, it’s a mission. When J was born, Todd and I came up with this idea that we want to take our children to each of the 50 states before they “leave the nest”. We knew we would end with the really cool locations: Hawaii for J’s high school graduation, Alaska for H or L’s graduation. But we really didn’t plan how we would start this journey. Now, we knew that we didn’t want to be “those parents” that visited all the really cool locations when the kids were too young to remember. Don’t hate me but I still think it’s cruel when parents take their babies to their one and only shot to see Disney World.  I mean come on, take them when they can remember the joy and magic! So, Todd and I decided that for the first few years we’d hit the states that we think we will enjoy, but that the kids won’t feel jipped that they “missed”.

The “50 states” mission is important to me. Sure it’s a cool scrapbook page in their books as I color and date each state as they hit it, but it’s also something I feel passionate about. I want my kids to love travel, to look forward to exploring new places. I want them to never be afraid to visit or live somewhere new. I think this stems from the fact I was born and raised in a small rural town in central Illinois.  Everything compared to my town was a “big city”.  My parents did an amazing job showing my brothers and I life outside small-town Illinois. My Dad made sure we saw the historic things, my Mom made sure we did the fun stuff. So because of them I’ve gotten an excellent opportunity to see our states…but still at 32 I haven’t seen them all. I want to change that with my kids.

So this year we sat down to decide what everyone wanted to do for vacation. I knew we were going to drive somewhere, as airline tickets are way pricey, and the idea of having a 1, 3, and 4 year old on an airplane didn’t sit well with me. Todd and I looked at how far we could get in 10 hours or under, a distance we knew our kids could handle with ease. Lots of ideas came up: Mall of America, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas, Ohio, Tennessee.

I love vacation planning with my husband, because he (unlike me) does not have a tourist-y bone in his body. You know the places that people have on their “Must see before I die” list?  The sandy beaches of Florida, New York City, California, Hawaii,  Disney World? Well my husband doesn’t have the drive to see those places. He’s a traveler that seeks out unique and different locations…he finds the beauty in regular locations. He finds the fun in locations that frankly not a lot of people see as fun.  Instead of sitting in an all-inclusive resort on a beach, Todd would rather be in some rural mountain area with not a tourist in site.

Now me, I’m the opposite. I want to see all the popular places…I LOVED New York City and can’t wait to take my kids there, I would live in Austin Texas in a heartbeat, Disney World is high on my list of priorities, and sipping fruity beverages from an umbrella straw on some beach by the pacific is a huge dream.

So I think Todd and I make perfect planning partners. With the two of us, you know you will see the popular spots, and walk off the unbeaten path a bit.

The other two vacation voices…well they are too  young to have developed a “vacation personality”, but their voices are just as loud as ours. If you ask them what they want to see, most of the time what they say sounds like things they do on some regular Tuesday. Mommy do they have:  “Children’s Museums” “Parks?” “Swings”, “Playgrounds”??  

I’m happy to work these “regular” locations in for them, because honestly they are the ones my kids remember. For example,  if you ask J to tell you about the RVing trip to South Dakota we took a couple years back, she won’t tell you she hiked around Mount Rushmore, stood for pictures in front of Crazy Horse, laughed at Wall Drug. Nope she says one thing: “We stopped and ate at Arby’s”.

So with our four planners (and one baby just waiting for us to make up our minds), here we are planning our annual vacation. We decided that Nashville and Memphis Tennessee were the perfect distance away (9 hours). So presto…we have a vacation destination.  

With the locations picked we then sat down to decide how to please the: Unique Traveler (Todd); the Tourist (Me); the Shopper (J); the Park ranger (H); and the Stroller Rider (L).  

We started with an internet search. I’m finding it really hard to plan along with the internet when you have such strong personalities of varying ages to please. So I asked friends and family members for advice.  After a few nights we penciled in some “Must sees”…Grand Ole Opry, Opryland Hotel, Beale Street, Memphis Zoo, and of course what trip to Memphis would be complete without a trip to Graceland (Uh –huh –huh).

Although our planning hit a great stride, we did encounter some road bumps. This trip marks the first time we discovered the new unexpected challenge of booking hotel rooms for a Party of 5. We called the Opryland Hotel and were excited to get a reservation. Then we were told “You have too many people to fit in one room.” Suddenly a $400 hotel bill jumped to $800.  I was disappointed the hotel was out, but luckily, the Hyatt Opryland saved the day as it is very close to the Opryland hotel and they do allow 3 kids in the room. Then as I penciled down that I wanted to see Sun Studio in Memphis, I saw the bright yellow lettering on the web-site telling me kids under 5 are not allowed. But I took all the road bumps with a grain of salt, its part of the adventure that is family vacation planning.

We hit the road to the music capitol in a couple of weeks and will be Walking in Memphis before we know it! I’ll be sure to let you know how our first official compilation planned vacation turns out. I know L will LOVE the zoo, J will be excited to get on the Opry stage, H will just be happy if I can find him a playground. And Todd and I? Well, we are just excited to get out and about on a new adventure with our family.


Thursday, June 2, 2011


Today, I turned 40.  Talk about a time for reflection. In the last ten years, for example, I have started law school, become a mom, completed law school, become an attorney, become a mom again, found a job that I adore and started the process of becoming a partner at my firm.  Not a bad showing, I'd say.

When I think back and wonder "what would have happened if...?" there really isn't a single big decision over the last ten years that I would change.  Which is funny, thinking about it, because seriously, who would have expected me to end up in a small town EVEN SMALLER than the one I grew up in?  Certainly no one who knew me before.  I was the girl who got on a plane three days after high school graduation and flew to California.  I was the girl who got the crazy idea to spend a full year in Japan during college, and who moved to St. Louis within a year of graduating from college!  How in the HECK did I end up here?!

Happy coincidence?  I really don't think so.  Looking back, I think in my heart I was always a small town girl.  I love it that my children can go play in the backyard and up the street without worrying about them.  I love it that my kids know every single other kid in their grade, not to mention those a year above and below them.  That when I walk in to the courthouse, people know each other and that my son calls the Sheriffs' deputies by their first names. 

Today is a great day.  It's been a great life... It's good to be 40.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vacation Time!

JD Mom Jean is going to be taking a brief vacation from blogging for a bit.  As if juggling the twins and every day life weren't enough, Jean's been given a huge project at work that requires a lot of additional time and travel.  She's also trying to squeeze in her own personal vacation this month. 

While I know we will all miss Jean's posts, I'm sure all working moms can relate to Jean's situation.  Sometimes, there are simply too many things to be done.  The JD Moms are excited for Jean's new project, and we want her to be able to focus her time and talents on work and family.  When things settle down, we'll be ready and waiting for some more Jean stories. 

In the meantime, and as Mandi previewed for you on our Facebook page, we have very exciting news to share. We are expanding the blog and a new full-time JD Mom will be joining us this week.  We're super excited to have her, and know that you'll love her too!  We are proud to welcome Christine as the newest member of our crew.

Christine has been a guest blogger on JD Moms in the past but we are thrilled to have her join us as a full time JD Mom. Christine has a small general practice in Guthrie County, Iowa. Christine is married with two children. We can't wait to follow her adventures and hear her voice.

So please help us welcome Christine to JD Moms and stay tuned for her first blog debuting tomorrow! Welcome aboard Christine!
JD Moms