Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Apologies to my co-JD Moms for missing my blog last week. A migraine
had me incapacitated most of the day on Wednesday.  For today and
Friday, I've been wracking my brain thinking of something profound and
meaningful to talk about. Unfortunately, I can't think of anything!
Since our vacation, things have been pretty mundane around my house
and (thank goodness for small blessings) work.  Pretty much work for
me, school for the kids, nothing special, same old same old.  I know
that kids need consistency, but geesh, consistency can be downright
boring.  My big event this month was taking the kids to see The Secret
World of Arrietty.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good Japanese
animated movie, especially with Carol Burnett in it, but it certainly
wouldn't have been my first choice of films to see.  From Netflix
we've gotten Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief and Night at the
Museum II.  TV remains limited to Good Luck, Charlie, Pokemon and a
few episodes of Cupcake Wars.  Cupcake Wars notwithstanding, you can
see that some sacrifices have been made in the entertainment portion
of my life. 
Thinking about what I do watch versus what I want to watch got me
reflecting on our vacation. All the things I wanted to do versus all
the things I ended up doing because the kids wanted to do something
different.  I think there may be something profound here after all... and in two parts! 

Part I -Sacrifices we make for our kids
Part II - Sacrifices we make our kids make

Part I -

In reflecting on raising good kids, or at least giving it the old college try, I think its all about sacrifice.  This is based on my personal experience, on my observations of friends and family, and on my experience with families through work.  Being a good mom to young kids and raising good kids
is ALL about sacrifice.  You HAVE to put what they want and need over
what you want and need. Bottom line. And lots of times you have to put
what they NEED over what they WANT. (That'll be Part II - on Friday)  

With respect to sacrificing, my experience and current running theory
is that the more you sacrifice what you want - i.e.:actually being an
adult - watching R movies, having the ocassional drink, dropping the
occasional F bomb without guilt - and focus on what your kids need, the better
off they'll be. That sounds like such a "DUH" statement, doesn't it? But really, if you think about it, it's a tricky business. Because not only do
you have to pretend to enjoy, or at least quietly tolerate, the things
they do and like - Pokemon, Littlest Pet Shops, Good Luck, Charlie - you have to limit their exposure to the things YOU enjoy - CSI, War movies, getting a little tipsy once in a while - and, honestly, by limit, I mean "completely restrict" :)  

And while I disagree that organizations should be allowed to dictate what our kids watch and listen to, and that there is "parental discretion," lets be honest, not every parent is as discrete as they should be. I am not always as discrete as I should be, but that discretion is also sacrifice.   It is entirely inappropriate for a 7 year old to watch an execution; for a 4 year old to watch women giving birth, and for a 2 year old to go to the theater for a 10:30 p.m. showing of The Fast and the Furious. (all true stories, only one of them mine)  It's against the law to supervise your young children when you are drunk.  Just ask many, many of my former clients.  My work case load is replete with cases where the parents decided that they were not willing or not able to sacrifice what they wanted to do for the sake of what was best for their kids. (All CINA cases boil down to the same thing - either the parent is willing to sacrifice for his child or he's not.  If he's not, he loses the child.)  

Young children are not supposed to be exposed to those things for a reason, and when we, as parents, are not willing to give up those things - or at least limit our own exposure to those things to when our children are not around, we are doing them a disservice.  Thus, the sacrifice.  

For a long time before my kids were born, I was not willing to give up the things I liked to do. My husband and I told people we were too selfish to have kids, and while I said it sort of "tongue in cheek" in retrospect I know that it was true.  You can't be selfish and raise a good, healthy, secure kid. You have to sacrifice a lot to get there.  

At the end of our vacation, arriving at the Des Moines airport at 2a.m., after a LONG trip home from Florida and a delay in Minneapolis, we were waiting for our luggage. A man who was also waiting, and was observing my kids interact with each other, asked if they were mine. He said "they're good kids. it's not easy to stay in a good mood at this time of night, even for adults."  WOW! 

I know that, while I don't always like it - and sometimes I downright resent it - the sacrifices have paid off. Compliments from a complete stranger make it all worth while...


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weekend Travel

Last weekend, Husband, the kids and I packed up and set off for Iowa in celebration of my nieces' and nephew's birthdays. I'm not sure how my brother and his wife did it, but somehow they managed to have three kids exactly two years apart, all born within the same week.  It's really a great situation for us: they live pretty far away and the birthday cluster means we can celebrate all three kids' birthdays in one visit.  Because while we'd like to visit more often, it really isn't possible.  And last weekend really just brought that point home. 

My brother's family lives 5 1/2 hours away.  It's an easy drive and one both Husband and I know well - one or the other of us (most often Husband, who was at the time Boyfriend) made that drive every other weekend while I was in law school.  But 5 1/2 hours when you are single is a lot different than 5 1/2 hours with two kids, a house and two jobs.  First of all, it no longer takes only 5 1/2 hours.  Now there are bathroom breaks and dinner breaks and stop-kicking-my-seat breaks.  And the packing is a lot more labor intensive.  We were planning to stay at my brother's house, but since he already has a pretty full house staying with them means bringing air mattresses and sleeping bags and extra blankets and just generally a lot more stuff.  Of course, it's way more fun to stay with them, but it makes packing a bit harder. 

We had a plan in place to make the trip run smoothly.  I (of course) had to work on Friday, so Husband was going to stay home with the kids and get things packed so that we could leave when I got home from work, which would hopefully be early.  Unfortunately, Husband got called into work on Friday.  And I did not get home from work at a time I would describe as "early" when planning a 5 hour drive.   At 6 pm, I was just walking through the door, the kids had not been fed, no packing had been done and Husband was still typing away madly on his laptop.  Not a good sign. 

Thankfully the kids were troopers and helped me throw a bunch of stuff together while Husband wrapped things up.  The kids also staved off hunger for a bit so that we could get on the road and get going before stopping to eat.  In the end we drove about halfway to my brother's before we threw in the towel and got a hotel room for the night. 

The next morning, of course, we had to get up early to make the rest of the trip.  And it went fine.  The kids traveled well, and the promise of seeing their cousins in a few short hours was exciting.  We had a fantastic visit with my brother and his family, and I so enjoyed seeing my nieces and nephew. 

But the next day we had to turn around a go home again.  And this time, we had to go all the way home.  The kids were good in the car and made up a few new games.  Really, the time went quickly.  But despite leaving in the very early afternoon on Sunday, we didn't get home until after the kids bedtime.  We had to get them to bed, unpack and get all of our stuff - and all of their stuff - ready for the day ahead.  Just looking at the mountain of laundry that night, I knew we were in for a rough week. 

And a rough week it was.  It took most of a week for us to get back on track.  Between bring-in items for school, mountains of mail and getting a week and a half worth of clothes clean and back into dressers, it took a while for us to get back into the groove of things.  I was never so excited for a "regular" weekend as I was this past one.  I never would have thought that a weekend with "just" dance and hockey and gymnastics would seem so free.  And I greedily started looking forward to next weekend, when for some reason both gymnastics and hockey were cancelled.  That is, I was looking forward to it until Husband casually mentioned that since the kids' sports were cancelled it would be a good weekend to go visit his parents. 

He's right, it's a good opportunity.  But I'm not sure I'm ready to take on any more traveling just yet!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Line Jumping Lives

I’m having one of those months…

The months that come around for all working Moms, months we feel like we are losing the grip on the thousands of juggling balls in the air. The months where we feel completely overwhelmed.
Yes, I'm having that kind of month.

The months where you are so busy that you can’t even count anymore how many times you have had to eat girl scout cookies from your desk for breakfast (Sidenote: Lemonades are my favorite “breakfast” cookie). The months where you wake up in the middle of the night certain you missed something, but you can’t think of what it is and then it keeps you up wondering if it was something important.

For me, these months happen when my two worlds, work and personal, collide. We’ve all seen those moms that can keep their two worlds completely apart, their work life and personal life walk side by side without touching or converging. Well, my lives are not like that. My two lives push and shove and line jump all the time. They simply cannot co-exist side by side peacefully for very long.

It never fails in my life...the busiest weeks at work always seem to be the weeks when my husband has to work overtime and so I’m here in my office kids in tow working on jury instructions. The activity that my kids beg to do always seem to fall on an off time. For example, tonight we start t-ball which they scheduled at 5:00. I hate the person who invented start times at 5:00 p.m. Even if you leave work early (which you must to catch this activity), you don’t have time to feed the kids and therefore you are juggling hungry kids, in your suit, and trying to watch the one actually participating in the activity!

Lately, my personal life has been trying to butt in a little too much on my work life. Last week was one of those weeks where my personal life completely line jumped and began to try and shove my work life out of the way.

Monday, I left work ½ a day early to attend a family wake in Chicago. Tuesday, I left work ½ a day early because of the kids valentine’s parties, Wednesday I actually kept the personal life in check long enough to get a well needed day at my desk. But Thursday, my personal life was back to strike again with a doctor’s appointment for L. Friday, I performed two jobs…half attorney and half girl scout cookie saleswoman!

Then my weekend came and it was just worse. Between basketball, little league sign up, cookie booth sales, gymnastics, kids night out, grocery shopping, church, cleaning the house, laundry…I honestly was more exhausted after the weekend than all week.

My “line jumping” lives go in waves…sometimes they are civil and can work together fine. Other times, well not so much. But I can’t help but be afraid that things are only going to get worse. I used to think that my work life would get more “time in the spotlight” once the kids weren’t babies anymore. Wrong! Once they are kids that just means they are involved in more activities. Before I just had to cart J around town to different activities…now she’s headed to Acro ½ hour before H has to be down town at t-ball.

So my job is simple…I’m basically a line referee in my own life. I'm involved in the never ending quest to keep my work life and personal life separate and co-existing peacefully so that I don’t turn gray by age 34 (which by the way I'm having my hair colored next week just in case I'm already there)! Wish me luck!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's February

This is a blog post of many apologies (So sorry!)

First, I need to apologize for my prolonged absence from the blog. Last week I was attending a conference in Scottsdale, AZ (correction – last Thursday I was mainly in airports/on planes trying to get home!). And the week before that, I was preparing to take the week “off from work” to attend the conference. So I am sorry I have been absent. 

Second, I need to apologize for the content of this post. To quote a Darius Rucker song title “I’ve Got Nothing.” (Probably need to apologize for the bad grammar there too!). I have been trying all week to come up with a good topic, and yet, nothing. Zero, zilch, nada.  And what a boring title!

Third, I need to apologize for my attitude (see #2 above). I am in a rut. Yes folks, it’s February and I am stuck. Don’t get me wrong, life is good (at least I think so, but I have school conferences for A & B tonight, so let’s hope it goes well!). But I don’t have anything planned or a goal that is just, well, WOW!

Sure, we have vacation plans, kindergarten graduation, Spring dance show, soccer and softball, but nothing really out of the ordinary. And last year, I had the goal of running a 5K. While that goal didn’t pan out, I am still in the gym 4 times a week, have added Zumba to my workout and toned up.  

So what next? Does anyone have anything exciting or big goals for 2012 that you are willing to share  Thanks!

Jean Anne

P.S. Sorry for the whiny tone of this post. I should be thankful for the “normalness” of my life.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Okay,  here I am, another week out from vacation and still feeling as if I'm on the ship. It still stinks, but I am getting more used to it, and therefore able to remember our vacation fondly.  This was our first real vacation and I was SO excited. So were the kids, but I was SOOOO excited. Everyone looks so happy on vacation in the commercials, right? No fighting, no bickering, just smiles and laughter and love.  Well, we were happy...MOST of the time, but I have to admit that I was a little disappointed both during and after. 

I expected the entire trip to be like the 30 second snippets of the commercials. The first part was.  The kids were excited just to stay at the hotel down by the airport in Des Moines. It has a swimming pool, so they were in heaven.  They were fascinated with the idea of getting up at 4:30a.m. to get to the airport on time and were actually perky in the morning. I, on the other hand, was slugging down the coffee as quickly as I could before I had to toss it out at security.  We were not prepared for the flight - had no snacks or drinks - and almost missed our connector flight in Atlanta. So tension was running high between Dad and I by the time we got to Florida.  The kids were in heaven and wide awake when we got to Florida and were in their swim suits by 11:00a.m. 

We spent the first day at Disney, just swimming and checking things out, then left for the ship the next day.  WOW!! Disney knows how to do things right. We had a really good time, but from the beginning, my crazy son wouldn't stop talking about his computer game...this game he plans all the time at home. I got so tired of hearing about we were, trying to give him a vacation of a lifetime, memories of fun he would have forever, and all he wanted to do was talk about his sodding game! I'm a little ashamed to say that it hurt my feelings.  But I forget that he's a big kid, now: 9. He has his own interests and things that he enjoys. The ship had so many things to do, all at the same time, that it would be impossible to do everything even if you took the cruise three times! I wanted to have fun my way; he wanted to have fun his way... just because my way was better (according to me) doesn't mean his way wasn't fun, too.  H was that way, too. She had an agenda of her own.  Considering that the ship's policy was that anyone 8 or older could check themselves out of the kids' program and roam the ship unsupervised, I guess I should not have been surprised. 
  Once I came to terms with the fact that the kids didn't want to do the same things I did, I let loose a little - sent B off on his own, sent H with Dad, and did those things I wanted to meet Mickey Mouse!! B met Mickey, too, but only because I MADE him! He just wanted to take pictures of the ship.  Can you believe it?! Take pictures or meet Mickey Mouse...that's a no brainer! In retrospect, it's probably unrealistic to expect that four people, stuck in a tiny stateroom on a ship and/or a hotel room, for six days in a row are not going to get on each other's nerves. But in the end, I was so happy that we did it. 
I highly recommend Disney for vacation - they cover everything-from transportation to food to fun! EXCEPT that Disney has NO Diet Mountain DEW!!! My recommendation: do it, but don't schedule events in advance (like snorkeling) if you've never done them before. You may be disappointed that you laid out money for something your kids hated (like snorkeling). Although, I have to admit, it was a good photo op! Happy Vacationing, everyone. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lots of Love

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!  For many people, Valentine's day means cards, fancy food and chocolates, and my house is no exception.  Well, except how we go about the cards, fancy food and chocolate. 

For us, Valentine's day is a family affair.  I see Valentine's day as a day to celebrate love in all its forms.  Love for spouses, love for kids.  Love for our parents, siblings, friends, even co-workers.  Love for our pets.  Love for our neighbors.  It's a day to celebrate something that's good in all of us.  A day to really live up to Christ's calling to love one another.  A chance to celebrate that love. 

So, it starts with cards.  On Sunday, we sat down as  family and made Valentine's for the kids' friends at school.  As we wrote out the valentines, we talked about what we liked about each friend, and how they were special.  When we were done with the class lists, each of my kids made a valentine for the other.  It wasn't something Husband or I told them to do; it was just that our kids understood that giving a valentine meant making someone feel special.  And each wanted to make the other feel that way.  You'll just have to trust me when I tell you that nothing can make a kid feel more special than a Lightning McQueen or Sleeping Beauty valentine with a sucker attached! 

Then today, each kid awoke excited to share in some special Valentine's Day food!  Thanks to the amazing effort of each of my kids' daycare teachers, each kid's classroom is hosting a special Valentine's Day meal with mom or dad.  We got lucky in that Sweet Pea's class is hosting breakfast; KJ's class is hosting lunch.  Each kid was so excited this morning to have lunch or breakfast with Daddy and just share some one-on-one time.  While eating lunch at a three-foot high table, sitting in tiny chairs is a far cry from the candle-light dinners of Husband's Valentine's Day past, I'm pretty sure Husband will cherish these meals today more than any of those others. 

And then, there's chocolate.  As the off-site daycare parent, I didn't have any hope of making the special V-day breakfast or lunch with my little guys.  So I set off to make their day special with some chocolate.  Tuesday nights are a bad night in our house.  We generally go straight from work/school to KJ's hockey, getting home around 7 pm.  Then it's time for a quick dinner, bath and bed.  Not a lot of time for celebration.  But last night, I stayed up and made my kids a "special" dessert.  It's only pudding (and instant at that), but it's enough for my kids to know that they are my valentines too.  It's something a little special I could do to physically show them how special they are to me. 

If you are still looking for some family-friendly ideas on how to make your Valentine's Day a little extra special, check out this link for a bunch of recipes, crafts and other ideas on how to celebrate.


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Diva Train

Thanks to J I have been pretty much every kind of Mom out there…Dance Mom, Cheerleading Mom, Gymnastics Mom, Ice Skating Mom, Girl Scout Mom, (brief period of) Soccer Mom. . . etc. etc. etc. J has always been a girl with 1000 different activities.
Up until this year I have been pretty good at filtering activities J wanted to do. She wasn’t quite to the age of strongly voicing her opinions, so I was able to guide her away from things that I didn’t think were the best for her.  But, my headstrong daughter soon caught on to that and began to start voicing her opinions. She knows more about what she wants for herself at 5 than I do at 33.

So now we have entered the stage of her trying to take the wheel in the ride that is her life, and demoting me to riding shotgun. So far the ride has been fairly smooth, the Diva is pretty predictable about what she wants. But, recently we hit our first speed bump as J has a new obsession. J wants to do pageants.

Now I guarantee you that after you read this you made some sort of face. I’m not surprised, I mean the stereotypes of pageants are absolutely everywhere. And to be honest with you I actually share most of the popular voice’s opinions regarding the same.

But this is J, and she could care less what the popular voice thinks. She wants to do it and I noticed this was not a phase that was going away. My brain told me not to let her go down this path. I mean what will she do if she loses? What if they put a ton of makeup on her? Is this really good for her? So many thoughts filled my mind. Plus, okay I’ll be honest, I knew I would have to deal with a ton of “Pageant Mom” and “Jon Benet” comments.
But J was insistent. And for the first time J and I wanted to go in two different directions. I mean don’t get me wrong,  J is my world, I want to be her cheerleader, not her warden.  But I still am her mother. So do I do what my heart wants to do and stand by J as her loudest cheerleader, or do I take the wheel and turn her off this path??

So like any Mom, I overanalyzed the situation. What exactly was I “shielding” her from? Yes, I know the Toddlers & Tiaras stereotype of pageants. But I’ve known a lot of girls who did pageants and it was nothing like that. I realized after thinking about it that I was probably trying to shield her from disappointment or failure. I mean, come on, they pick one girl out of a zillion to win. And what will I do if, as the odds dictate will most likely happen, that girl is not J.

Then I thought back to my childhood. Not once did my mother ever stop me from doing something I wanted to do. Sure, I was not a girly girl like J so I never asked to be in a pageant, but I realized that no matter what I wanted to do my Mom supported me. I mean come on, my Mom drove in a snow storm when I was a freshmen in high school to take me to the Shedd Aquarium’s Career Days because I was certain that I was going to be a marine biologist. The idea of me in a science career where I can hardly even add was as crazy as the thought of J winning a national pageant title. But my Mom let me choose, and not once did she ever not support me. I want to be that Mom.

I realized that I was trying to shield my daughter from trying something new, simply because I was afraid that she would lose. What kind of message is that sending to her? That Mom is only going to get behind you if I know you can win? Certainly that is not how I wanted to parent.

So I made a decision to support J’s quest to be a pageant princess. But of course the lawyer in me treated this as a mediation, a settlement of sorts. I agreed J could do a pageant, but it had to be on my terms. Yes, I know that J would wear a face full of makeup and be spray tanned 365 days a year if I let her, but I insisted she would have to do a natural pageant. If J is going to be the beauty queen she wanted to be, I wanted to actually see her beauty. She agreed and I started to research pageants.  She had her first open call this weekend. She was on cloud nine.
One of my closest and most wisest friends joked with me one time telling me “You better get on the Diva Train before you get run over by it”. Even though it was lighthearted, she was exactly right. I’ve realized in J’s 5 years that she is who she is. And my job as her parent is to support her in whatever crazy adventures she wants to take me on. I was so proud of her that at 5 years old, she wasn’t scared to try something new. She walked off with the girls and did her interview without once looking unsure or scared like me.

So all aboard the Diva train….where it stops nobody knows…but I'm just so happy I have the privilege to ride along!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Well, we are back from our family vacation, and while I should be posting all the pictures and gushing over the wonderful tie we had, I can't - or at least I don't feel like it.  Since the last day of our cruise (a week and a half ago) I have felt terrible.  First, I contracted a nor-virus, then, as I have self-diagnosed, Mal de Debarquement syndrome.  Apparently, women of a certain age are more prone to this condition and as any who knows me knows - if there's an "old lady" medical issue out there, I'll get it.

Mal de Debarquement is basically a failure of the brain/body to readjust to being on land after a prolonged period of being at sea.  What that means is that I always feel like I'm moving, as my body still thinks it has to adjust for the roll and waves of the ocean.  Know that feeling you get when you are a little too drunk? That condition that the "walk and turn" field sobriety test is designed to catch?  That's the feeling I have all day, everyday since I got back.  It's exhausting and as far as I can tell, will be with me indefinitely.

Once I realized that this is not something that will go away or that I can MAKE go away, I decided to just embrace it - don't fight it, enjoy feeling drunk...being drunk is fun, right? Yeah, well, not so much when you are trying to be "normal" and concentrate on work either at home or at work.  It's difficult to sit and focus on the computer screen and watching my fingers as I type is making me slightly nauseous. But really, what are my options? I can't stop working indefinitely, and the three days after coming back from the cruise I spent in bed were enough to make me want to anywhere but there. So, like so many other things that are out of my control, I have decided to just grin and bear it...and try not to look as if I really am drunk. 

My kids don't get could they? I wouldn't understand it if I wasn't going through it.  So, they expect all things to be the same.  I am trying very hard to keep things normal for them. 
I am doing my best, but it is mentally exhausting having to consciously control even the smallest movement...kind of like having to force yourself to remember to breathe.  Enough Boo Hooing.

We did have a fantastic time on our cruise, and I will give more details net week. But, here's a teaser for now! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Girlfriends (or the Lack Thereof)

Lately I've been lamenting my lack of girlfriends.  I don't deserve any sympathy because this problem is completely of my own making.  Even before I had KJ I had trouble making many girls' nights out.  With my time-intensive job and long commute, most working women were calling it a night before I was anywhere close to home. 

And then I had KJ.  Nothing else changed in my life - I still found my friends engaging and interesting and wanted to spend time with them - but every potential outing meant time away from my baby.  And time was already precious enough as it was.  Between working and commuting and KJ's 8 o'clock bedtime, my only chance to really spend time with KJ - or Husband - was on the weekends.  So I tried to make the most of that.  But sadly, that meant I saw my friends even less.

When I worked at a large firm, my lack of local girlfriends was easier to ignore.  I worked with a lot of intelligent, engaging women.  Several had kids right around the same time I did, so our struggles were similar.  We had a lot to talk about, and a built-in support group who understood things like the need for emergency back-up care and need to negotiate after-hour events with one's husband.  These women understood the need for 9-5 friends, with no outside of work time commitment required.  Of course, as we all moved our separate ways we've kept in touch.  But without seeing each other every day at work, our contact has (understandably) waned. 

Even when I first started at my current firm the lack of women wasn't so bad.  I quickly became good friends with the other woman attorney, and found we had a lot in common.  She had kids both older and younger than mine, and brought a much needed fresh perspective to my working mom life.  I felt so lucky to have her.  But then she left.  And now, for months, I've been all alone. 

It shouldn't be a big deal to be the only woman at my job.  The guys treat me well, and they generally are as understanding about family obligations as they can be.  But I've found that they just can't take the place of another woman.  And the fact that I now have no women friends at work or at home just leaves me feeling sad and lonely. 

As I said when I started this post - I know this is my fault.  I need to make time to get together with the girls.  But weekdays are truly impossible - I often don't get home until close to 8  - and weekends require coordinating around at least two separate families' kid and personal obligations.  Even on our best weekends I barely have time to do anything for myself (e.g., I had to cancel a hair appointment this weekend that I've had for ten weeks).  The thought of carving out a couple of hours seems almost impossible. 

Am I the only working mom that feels that way?  That I've given up all of my friends so that I can be a working mom?  Am I just a bad friend, or are the other moms out there sympathetic to my position?  Do they understand that I do want to know what's happening in their lives and I do want to see them, but that Facebook messages and twice-yearly visits are the best that I can do right now?  I'm obviously hoping for the latter, and that my friends are forgiving.  Because I do care about them and miss them more than I can express. 


Monday, February 6, 2012


I’m a person who lives for advice. This is probably because I am smart enough to admit I don't know a hell of a lot. I’m the youngest child in my family so I have always gotten to watch others go first. I think this has shaped my persona as I always watch and learn from others.

But I learned this past month that the best lessons in life come from unexpected sources. I am finding out that you don't have to literally be able to look up to someone, to look up to them. In fact, the three biggest role models, mentors, truth-tellers in my life are very small in comparison to their wisdom...

Here's a few lessons I have learned this past month from my favorite professors in life: my children J, H, and L.

Lesson #1: NEVER Give Up

Lesson #1 comes from my oldest, J. Now so far in her life, J has had things relatively easy. Not to sound like a “bumper sticker (my kid is the best)” Mom, but normally things come pretty easy to J. However, this easy lifestyle and her Diva personality created a bad habit when she was 4. She refused to try when she was faced with something she couldn't do.   A sort of …okay I’m not the best at that so it must not be worth doing diva-ish attitude.

But this attitude did not last long at all, for when J turned 5 she completely changed. Suddenly she refused to give up. When she was faced with something she couldn’t do but others around her could, she became insistent and passionate about beating that challenge. Now some challenges were easy for J to overcome, such as bike riding, swimming, and cartwheels. A bit of practice and she was on target. But then there was the…(cue dark music here) MONKEY BARS. The monkey bars was something J could NEVER do. Every trip to the park J would try (with me holding tight on to her legs) but always failed. School was like salt to the wound  as her school's playground has enough monkey bars to keep a large zoo of monkeys busy for hours.  But no matter how hard she tried, or how often she tried, she couldn’t do it. So yesterday we took advantage of this odd February weather and headed for an afternoon at the park. As we played I noticed J sitting with her brother watching a young girl do the monkey bars. The girl reminded J of this challenge she had shelved for the winter. I watched her head over to the bars, a determined look on her face. She tried time and time again but kept falling.  On what seemed like the 1 millionth time suddenly her inner monkey let loose. She did it! I probably looked like a fool in the park as I screamed louder than a Mom whose kid won Olympic gold. But I was so proud of her that she conquered this...her hardest challenge.

 I get overwhelmed in my life, I am pulled 1000 different directions and I sometimes wonder if I can do it. Many challenges in my life are like those damn Monkey bars…and no matter how bad I want to conquer them or how hard I try, it seems like I can never get there. But J reminded me to just keep trying…I’ll get it, as long as I never give up.

Lesson #2 It’s Okay to be a Little Fish in a Big Pond

My second lesson this month came from H. Now H has a November birthday and so he is usually the oldest in all activities he does. When he finally could play three year old summer soccer, he was nearly 4. This of course means that usually he is the big fish, older than the crowd.

But that changed this winter. H is in preschool and so when the Y put out their winter sports schedule, I saw the preschool basketball offering and thought H would love it. So when we walked into basketball on the first day I was slammed with a reality check…I had forgotten that H has two years of preschool and so all the kids on H’s team were obviously on their 2nd year. To use a basketball analogy he was the Spud Webb on a team of Shaqs.

When practice started, all of these 5 year olds were able to shoot the basketball with ease. But Mr. 4 year old H, could not come close. I remember watching him that first day thinking that he looked like a toddler compared to the boys. I silently cursed myself thinking “Great, he’s the only one that can’t make a basket, so now he’ll hate it and give up on it”. But not my H. Over the weekends I have watched my little fish swim proudly right along the big fish. He doesn't seem to care, or even notice, his little fish position.

I must admit I feel like H a lot, as most of the time when I head into court I am the small fish in the sea. It always seems like I am up against more experienced attorneys. Attorneys who know more, bill more, are more seasoned. But H has taught me its okay for the little fish to swim with those big fish. I may have to work harder but I can still go fin to fin with the best of them.  

Lesson #3 – Go your own way….proudly.

And then there is the lesson I have learned the most from this month and shockingly it comes from the youngest member of my family.

At just 20 months old, L is teaching me volumes each day. I blogged about this before but a couple months ago L’s teachers came to me stating they were concerned because he wasn’t talking a lot. He wasn’t doing what the other kids were doing, and most importantly (to them) he wasn’t doing what his brother and sister did at that age. For months we had to hear “Oh he doesn’t like to color as much as H” or “He’s so quiet, J loved to talk”. Poor guy even gets “Wow, he looks nothing like his brother” comments from random strangers. It was like people thought something was wrong with L simply because he was different.

But alas, my baby has had the last laugh in that suddenly he has blossomed and surprised everyone in the process. L talks all the time now and has amazed his teachers. He has taught me that everyone is different and that’s not a bad thing. It’s okay to go your own way and make your own path. L went from hardly talking to doing his ABC’s and numbers all in about a span of one month. I sometimes secretly wish I could teach him to say “That’s right!” to people when I see him doing things that his siblings never were able to do at that age.

In legal world, I’m a lot like L. I don’t fit in with the typical attorney mold. I’m just not like a lot of attorneys I know. I sometimes get down on myself for this. But L’s lesson has taught me that it’s okay to fight comparisons. I can simply be me.

Wow if they are teaching me this much so far, who knows what the future holds! But I'm so grateful for every day and every lesson.