Monday, April 29, 2013

How much is TOO MUCH?

Sitting with my new (purple and oh so cute) yearly planner, pencil in hand, I sat down to do a pretty regular task in my life…plan out my kids’ calendars. 9:00 a.m. – Swimming lessons, for H; 10:00 a.m. swimming lessons for J. Baseball practice 6:00 p.m. H, Dance at 4:00 for J.

But this year my normally mundane task of scheduling my children’s summers took on a whole new adventure…



Yep, things just got REAL.

I’ve blogged about this before, but my daughter J is a competitive dancer. This past year was her first year of competition. She had 2 (adorable and proud to admit award winning) dances. She dances Mondays and Wednesdays and had to practice every now and then on a weekend. It was fine, she LOVED it, and her love of dancing truly became her passion.  
The competition season just finished and now J has been moved up to Home Team at her dance studio. She was super excited, especially at the prospect of being able to do duets and solos.

Before a blink of my eye, my daughter’s “dance card” went from 2 dances to 7, yep, 7! 1 Jazz group, 1 Lyrical group, 1 Tap group, 1 Hip Hop group, 1 Production number, 1 Duet, and 1 Solo. A 7 year old with 7 dances…is that even possible??

I’ve asked my daughter this question 1000 times the past few weeks. And I have to admire her ability to debate her position. When I told her that she had to give up a dance because it was too much she quickly responded: “Mom I can remember them…want me to show you the dance from last year?? How about 2 years ago???”.

But the number of dances is not the only concern. There are additional classes that being part of the Home Team requires – classes with strict attendance policies. Monday – Jazz, Lyrical, and Ballet; Wednesday – Tap; and Thursday is choreography night at the studio and therefore her time to learn 5 of her dances. The other two (her solo and duet) are to be learned on her “free time” on the weekends. Well, I guess not free time since she is taking Leaps and Turns on Saturday. My head hurts again just thinking about all of this.

I’ve sat down long and hard these past couple of weeks and wondered how much is too much? When does the Mom who is supposed to know best, beat out the Daughter who wants to dance? It’s such a fine line between keeping her balanced, and stifling her passion.

I guess the real problem is that I don’t know what’s best. J is my first child, I’ve never done this. I was never a dancer, I have no idea what this entails. I’ve see her work ethic, I’ve watched her passion, no matter what has been thrown at her, she has never complained, not once. So, is it right to tell this girl who knows what she wants to do that she can’t do something just because her Mom is afraid?

And of course the search for advice did not help at all – it was split pretty much equal between the “Oh you are crazy for letting her do this!” to “You have to let her do this Mandi”.

But then there’s the reality of the fact that she is only 7 and there are only so many hours of the day. I literally almost broke my pencil when I wrote down her Choreography Week in the summer where she has to be at the Dance Studio from 2:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. one day that week, the day before her 7th birthday no less.  

But then just when I’m about to listen to the overly protective mother voice inside my head – I look at my daughter and listen to her. She wants to do all these dances, well to use her words, she’ll “die” if she has to give one up. She lights up when she hits the stage, she loves every minute of dancing. She doesn’t do any other activities or sports – she knows where her heart belongs.

So I gave in, and got excited. Let’s do this. But saying something is nothing like doing it and so this week I have been faced with the reality of what all of this means as class registration has taken place. Why does something that sounds okay, look horrifying when you write it down?

Her summer is now booked – between swim lessons and dance, she’s got a full plate. After a week of a lot of thinking about it, venting with friends, and annoying my husband to no end with hours of back and forth on this, we registered for dance classes and finalized her schedule. I decided to go with the flow and let her try to do 7 dances. I decided its much better to be scared to do something, then regret that I never let her try.

So how much is too much? How do you balance your kids schedule? When is your rule of thumb on when to say no?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Confessions of a Scaredy Cat

For a while now, I've been feeling really super in control.  Totally in my element at work - Focusing mostly on juvenile stuff at work, which I'm confident that I'm at least proficient in; getting the family in the swing of spring activities - including adding Brownie leader to my resume and scheduling around Cub Scouts, Brownies, Softball and Baseball - not to mention showers and homework, which are both like pulling teeth; and proud of my success and comfortable with the current lull in my Thirty-One business (one party on Saturday, then nothing scheduled until August) - Two events to plan for this weekend and a ton of cupcakes to make. NO PROBLEM - I've got it all under control....

That is, until Tuesday. On Tuesday, I learned that a case that I've had for several years - that I am just the "front man" on for a big-time interstate property attorney - is going to trial - next Thursday. AND that the lead counsel, who knows everything about it, is not going to be at the trial-so I have to do it all by myself. Now, I don't talk about it much, but I have a situational anxiety disorder. When I am faced with a situation or a person that I don't have any experience with, I literally get sick to my stomach, my brain freezes up and I go into full-on flight mode.  I NEVER go into fight mode. Flight mode for me usually entails huge amounts of avoidance - avoiding the file, avoiding the names on the file, avoiding the persons involved with the file... you get the picture.  

I've not had an issue like this one for a long time, so when I learned of the trial I would have to do by myself, all confidence and control went out the window. But this time, it happened gradually.  I was able to make all the necessary decisions yesterday about filings, etc. that go along with trial prep, but when I got home I was in a horrid mood, exhausted from all the stress.  Last night I was so completely freaked out that I couldn't sleep; and when I did I had terrible nightmares.  

I've had a bad cough for several months it seems, and with it progressively getting worse and my need to avoid life, I called in sick today.  Of course, with smartphones and internet, I haven't been able to avoid the thing altogether, but at least I have been able to do what I need to without everyone I work with seeing me so crazy.  My staff and partners are smart, though.  They know that I can't go too far off the beaten path before I start to loose it. And generally, they are really helpful at trying to get me through whatever drama there is. 

The irony is that I spend a significant amount of time at home convincing my kids NOT to be scared to try new things and to accept challenges.  and the worst thing is that no matter how many things like this come up, and no matter that I know it can't be avoided forever, AND that when it's over, I'm more confident and assured in my abilities, it's still a struggle.  This afternoon, I got a reprieve. The outside attorney for the trial next Thursday had a last minute change of plans and will now be here to try the case.  I am ashamed about how relieved I am and that once again I was unable to rise to the occassion.  I am a scaredy cat, plain and simple.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Turned Tables

One of the things I liked least about being an attorney was the marketing.  Mingling at cocktails parties, attending rubber chicken dinners and sitting on non-profit boards for the sole purpose of trying to gain business was just not my thing.  I resented those nights away from my family, talking with people I'd never see again and who had no real reason to keep my business card around.  I only ever joined the board of one non-profit, and even while that non-profit was for an extremely worthy cause that I wholeheartedly support, I still hated those nights away from my family.  The non-profit involved children, and I would spend substantial portions of the meetings considering the irony of spending that night taking care of other people's children when I should be at home, taking care of mine.  I was all too happy to leave the marketing world behind when I got my in-house gig.

 But as it turns out, I didn't actually leave that marketing world behind.  I'm just on the other side of the table. 

A large part of my job is hiring outside counsel to handle litigation on behalf of my company.  In lawyer speak, I give out business.  That makes me a target for all those lawyers looking for someone to talk to at conferences, take to dinner or shower with court-side seats to basketball games (I made that last one up.  No one has offered me basketball tickets.  Football, yes.  Basketball, no.).  The realization really came at Christmas, when the firms to whom we had given business started sending in holiday gifts.  Even though I had been at the company less than a year - and taken 8 weeks of that time off to have a baby - I received more holiday gifts that I ever could have imagined.  And they were generous.  Pecan pies from our counsel in the South.  Fruit basket from Florida.  Lemon cake from Cali.  Of course like most companies, we have a policy against accepting gifts and most things went straight into the larger law department snack cube to be enjoyed by all.  But the point is, the marketing was strong. 

Since Christmas, the marketing machine hasn't stopped.  I went to a dinner in New York where the shrimp were as big as your fist. . . and just an appetizer to the lobster and steak.  I drank splits of champagne without ever seeing a bill.  And once when I appeared to be stuck in Florida due to the snow, my outside counsel employed his firm's own travel department to find a way to get me home.  It truly is overwhelming. 

While I enjoy being pampered as much as the next gal, I don't need all of these things to make me want to continue working with my outside counsel. The truth is, I like working with them because they are nice people who are good at what they do.  In fact, I'm pretty confident that in many geographic regions, I'm working with the best attorneys in our area of law.  I learn so much from them.  And truthfully, I admire them.  Each of them were able to develop their own book of business - something I could never do.  And they've all become specialists of sorts.  I feel lucky to be working with them.  I should be sending the fruit baskets.

 But that isn't the way of the legal marketing world.  I am attending a three day conference this week, and my boss and I have so many lunch and dinner invitations that we can't accept them all, even splitting up.  Tomorrow, I'll be having dinner at what my outside counsel describes as " the hot new restaurant in town."  He even goes so far to say that the restaurant wasn't taking reservations, but his brother-in-law is a wine salesman, and was able to get us in. While I'm grateful for the trouble he went to, and admittedly looking forward to a dinner where I won't have to cut anyone's meat (and that might be hot when I eat it), I'm sure I'll still spend at least part of that dinner missing the kids and wishing I was at home, sharing in their day.  Even if that meant a dinner of cold leftover pasta picked from their plates post-bedtime. 


Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Mommy Confessions

Friday Night. 7:00 p.m. Well, probably 7:05 p.m. as my clock is usually set strategically so that I feel like I'm on time when in reality I'm usually running late. 

There I was. It was cold, windy. And while others were home cooking dinner, I was standing at the car wash vacuum with three kids getting ready to clean out the minivan I swore they’d never eat or bring trash in.

Yeah for a van "no one is eating in" there are certainly a lot of french fries in here. 

I normally do not spend my Friday nights at the car wash, but I was at that moment where if I had to look at the crap in my van one more day I was going to turn myself into the Hoarders reality show. 

The kids of course were watching a DVD in the warm van while I stood outside trying to force the vacuum to take what I thought were quarters but ended up being Chuck E Cheese tokens. Well two of the three were watching the movie as my daughter had climbed into the front seat…half because she always feels somewhat like a rebel when she sits up there, half because she wanted to warm her butt with my seat warmer. And as is typical of my daughter she just had to call out to me in the cold… “Mom my butt is so warm!!”

Okay so I’ll give her that one…it does feel nice.

Vacuum starts. I was trying to maneuver the vacuum cord while my 2 year old was kicking it off of him thinking it was a snake. The vacuum tackled the mess... sucking up gobs of Lucky Charms, dirt, M & Ms, Oops got a pony tail holder, crumbs, Crap! Hope that was a penny and not a dime. Sticking the vacuum way under the seat hoping it would get all the gross stuff my kids manage to get under the seats. I’m not brave enough to look under there, but the vacuum has no choice.

Suddenly there was a sound, half whoosh, half rattling. I glanced down just in time to see a white square go into the vacuum hose. Wait…that was a DS game! I looked up fast, hoping my 5 year old- video game addict didn't notice that I just managed to suck up his favorite (and to mention $45) video game.

Safe. No one saw it, even though my daughter loudly declared “Mom, I think you sucked up another quarter again”.

Eye roll. Well, she rolls her eyes at me, so it’s only fair.

I finished….well almost finished, as I never have mastered the art of timing that vacuum right. I am always left with a small area of crumbs, an area that is way too small to justify spending another dollar to get another round. Wait, who am I fooling... I only had the Chuck E Cheese tokens left anyway.

I wrapped the vacuum hose around the car wash vacuum, well tried to (another thing I have yet to master). I climbed into the front seat. I kept checking the rear view mirror. I was feeling guilty… oh God please don’t let it be the Mario game he just got. Could it maybe have been the Toy Story game no one wants to play? 
Why was a DS game under the front seat?

“Here H” Chimed J. “Your Toy Story game was here between the seats”.

Perfect timing J, as usual.

Eye roll again.

Guilt. The feeling of knowing I did something wrong. Wait a minute, am I actually feeling bad about sucking up a DS game in a car wash vacuum? Fake laugh. I mean come on, H needs to keep better track of his stuff, I didn’t mean to do it. Why am I feeling guilty and the sudden need to confess my “crime”.

I must be spending way too much time with J, the girl notorious for telling you she did something wrong before she even did it.  

Of course, as is my luck, this crime had to occur on the week I was already feeling guilty about H. H is my middle child. He has an incredibly busy older sister and needy younger brother. He’s often lost in the shuffle. He used to be a notorious Mama’s Boy and never left my side. Now, Dad is much cooler than Mom. And Mom also a day earlier was late to our lunch date because I had to file a brief and so his planned lunch of Red Robin literally turned into a McDonald Happy Meal in the front seat of my van that we had to inhale in the 3 minutes we had until Kindergarten Round Up.

Poor H. Mommy sucks this week, buddy....literally. 

I felt the need to tell someone my crime…share the load. Make me feel better. Certainly not H, and God forbid if I confess to J she’ll just turn me in. I could text my friend…no she’ll just type LOL and that’s the last thing I want to hear right now! Okay, I’ll text Todd…he’s legally obligated to deal with my overreactions to simple situations anyway.

“Uh oh….sucked up H’s DS game in vacuum. I suck.”.

(Yes again literally...apparently I'm a master of ill timed puns).



Watching the … dots that means he’s typing. And of course since I’m texting my husband I should have been prepared for the next message…

“Just get it out of there”

Eye roll.

Thank you Mr. Obvious. I would love to but no one but me is at the car wash at 7:00 p.m. on a cold and windy April night.

“It wasn’t Mario was it?”

Crap. Salt in the wound. Mario is basically a saint in my son’s world. He loves his Mario games.

I knew I should have texted Megan. She would just have just said LOL and probably told me to go buy a new one before he noticed.

“Mom, are we seriously going to sit here all day?” – chimed J from the back seat quite annoyed that I made her crawl back to her unheated back seat.

Eye roll..yet again, another thing I'm a master at. 

I shifted in gear. Okay, tomorrow is Saturday, I could just replace it and he wouldn't notice. But wait a minute…I have absolutely no clue what game it was.

Pull into the garage.

I’ve got to tell him…wait seriously overreacting again, it’s a DS game…and come on he has ruined plenty of my stuff right? Was he not the one that jammed all playing cards into the DVD player? Oh crap, that was L. 

“Mom” I turned to see the blue eyes of H who had climbed up to the front to apparently snap me out of my overly dramatic inner monologue.

I can’t believe I am getting this worked up over a DS game.

“I sucked up your DS game”.

There I said it. I said the words fast as if I was admitting to a crime under interrogation. 

Okay, this isn’t J so the chance of big time waterworks or guilt trips is less. Maybe he’ll just ask for a new one.  

“Was it Mario?”

Crap. Does everyone have to ask me about that Italian Plumber?

“I don’t know, but it was white, and so I think so.”

Wait for it…wait for it…after all to a 5 year old boy a DS is pretty much the most important thing in the world. And to my 5 year old who is forced to sit and wait on his Diva sister for hours on end…it’s a lifeline.


Snapped out of inner monologue again.

“Can I have chicken nuggets for dinner?”

What? Okay, so I just had a dramatic 15 minute guilt trip over sucking up a DS game and the only thing he cares about is chicken nuggets?


After I became a Mom I find it hard to confess my mistakes. Pre-kids I’d be the first to say “Yep, I screwed up”…yes my daughter got that trait from yours truly. But somehow as a Mom even minor screw ups feel like epic failures. I think I’m just too worried about being a “good parent”, whatever that even means.

But we all have our Mommy Confessions…our screw ups as parents that taste so bitter leaving our tongues. But I need to remember that what you think is a major screw up is usually forgotten by the kids in 2 minutes or in the case of my daughter after she turns you in to her teacher, her friends, and probably strangers on the street. 

So go ahead fellow Moms (as Moms are the only ones still reading this way too long blog about sucking up a DS game...the Dads gave up by now I'm sure)....confess your Mommy mistakes. We all screw up, we all do stupid things, we all…well some…okay just I, suck up DS games in car wash vacuums. Just admit you’re human, confess, and hope to God your kid has a craving for chicken nuggets when you do.

Good luck out there. 


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring Break 2013, Part 2

Since my last post, I hope that you have been waiting with baited breath for the next post. (Ok, so probably not, since we all have kids, jobs, errands, laundry, etc.) But, since I feel that this is somewhat of a diary for me, I will continue the saga of Spring Break 2013.

Dodgeville, Wisconsin is not a large town and does not have a large selection of dining spots. But after 2 recommendations from the hotel front desk, we headed out. Unfortunately, the 1st spot had a 45 minute wait and the 2nd spot was about the same (thank goodness for the internet and cell phones!). Given my father’s lack of patience, my husband’s desire for food other than pizza and my kids’ mounting hunger, we were lucky to find a bar/restaurant within walking distance serving a corned beef special. Whew! Crisis averted…or so I thought.

After sitting down to dinner, placing orders and enjoying some libations, my father puts on his glasses and attempts to read the menu. That’s when he started bleeding…from his bad eye.

If you know someone who takes blood thinners, your biggest worry is how am I going to get him/her to stop bleeding? And to make matters worse, it was coming from my dad’s eye that he just had surgery on.

No panic here, just lots of napkins, gauze and trying to keep the girls distracted. We were lucky to get the bleeding to slow down to a trickle, so my dad (and the rest of us) could eat. So back to the hotel for my dad to lay down and the girls to swim.

Time for bed and the girls decide to sleep with Auntie J and Uncle R –score for the hubs and me! Woo-hoo! Drama done and we can finally start our relaxing vacation, right?

So morning rolls around and there is a call on our hotel room phone. I quickly pick up, thinking it is the girls, but no one is there. Oh well, I roll back over for more sleep. Then, a knock at our door. No biggie, right? Just the girls ready to go swimming. Nope. It’s the hotel receptionist letting us know that someone is trying to call us on our cell phones (my was off and hubby’s was on vibrate). So, check the messages. Always great to hear this from my mom:

“Your father started bleeding again last night, so we are at the emergency room in Dodgeville, since we can’t get the bleeding to stop. We are probably going to have to go to Madison.”

What? So many emotions going through my head at that time…at it was only 8:30 AM.

The day only continued to get more emotional…

Jean Anne

Sunday, April 14, 2013


I big puffy heart love Instagram.

I am a huge picture person…I am fairly certain that by the time my kids are 18 if they really wanted to see what they did on almost every day of their childhood, I could show them that. My kids have been raised with a Mamarazzi Mom who always snaps pictures all the really all the time!

Even when they are sleeping they are photographed!! 

I normally shoot with a large Canon SLR camera, which gives me amazing shots…but is incredibly bulky. So for years I carried around a second camera to catch shots when I’m on the go. But I would still sometimes forget it. And it never fails that the best moments in life are the ones when your camera is not in your purse! But when I got an IPhone I was thrilled because I never miss a photo opportunity because my camera and I are never apart! 

But the problem is that although phone cameras are handy, I hate the look of cell phone pictures. 

Hence the reason the inventor of Instagram is my hero. 

If you haven’t discovered Instagram – it’s like a magic wand for your cell phone photos. You take a picture and can fix it with several different filters. The results are amazing and a regular everyday photo becomes a professional looking masterpiece. It just adds drama to a picture. 

For example, a picture that looks like this: 

In Instagram looks like this: 

The problem is my Instagram pictures are some of my favorite shots, but I really didn’t have a way to display them except on Facebook or the Instagram App itself. I wanted to find a way to bring the Art of Instagram off my phone and onto my walls. 

So one cold and dreary Saturday my kids and I gave InstaGlam to my Instagrams!

Here’s what you need for this incredibly easy project (my 6, 5, and 2 year old all assisted so it’s definitely a family friendly project).

1 large piece of foam board. - I bought a huge piece because I wanted my art to be big and dramatic, But you could do this with any size. Foam Board is perfect because its thick enough to look dimensional on the wall, but not heavy.

Oh how I love a blank canvas! 

Extra Strength Glue Stick

Mod Podge  - I used Matte, but Glossy would give a cool effect as well.

Command Strips Picture Hangers.

Instagram Pics. I used a total of 150 on my huge board. There are several sites that will print Instagram pictures right from your phone. I used Walgreens but MPix also has an option. The best part about Instagrams is they print out 4 x 4 so they are perfect little squares without any cutting. Remember Instagram pics will not print out right on a 4 x 6 so make sure you are printing from a site that does Instagram pics.

Step One: Pick your pics.

                I think the key to this is to pick a variety of pictures. I chose simple activities, day to day life. I mixed these in with a few professional shots that I Instagramed (you can Instagram any picture by taking a picture of it with your phone and then putting it into the App). But I think the best shots for this are shots that capture your family everyday. I chose a variety of pics of my three kids individually and group shots. And don’t forget to throw in Mommy and Daddy and the pets!

 Bonus points for cute kitten and sleeping kid in one picture! :-) 

Step Two: Lay out

I laid out all 150 pictures on the board without glue first to check and make sure I liked the layout. This is a part the kids can definitely help with because with no glue – you are just basically laying out the pattern. 

Once you get the pattern the way you want pick up the pictures in order so you can permanently place them. 

Step Three: Time to Glue!

This is a part I did while the kids were watching a movie and napping because this is where you really need to make sure the pictures are lined up. Starting from the top left corner lay out the pictures with a strong glue stick. Let the top of board be your guide but make sure the bottoms of each of the squares line up.

You can use a laser level but when I tried to use this my cat kept jumping at the light and my son thought it was a laser gun to attack his who needs a level? 
Continue until you fill up the board.

Step Four: Grab the Podge!
My kids favorite part of this project was the Mod Podge time. Put a light layer of Mod Podge over the art. Make sure and let your kids help with this part because it’s neat to see what texture they do. Just make sure to follow behind them and smooth out any drops or globs.

Let the first coat dry for at least 20 minutes.
Do one more coat to seal the pictures, and create awesome texture and gloss.

Step Five: Hang your Art
Let the art dry. My board was huge so I let it dry for a few hours. Once it is completely dry, place your command picture hangers on the back (I used three across the top) and attach to the wall.

Step Six: Admire your Gallery (and Instagram it of course!) 

And you’re done!! Instant Art Gallery with personality. I was amazed how artsy, edgy, and cool the project looked. And the best part. My kids helped too!!

A friend of mine suggested doing shapes for this as well. You could cut out a heart, a circle would be cool. 

Just use your imagination.

And there you go…InstaGlam for your Instagrams!!

Enjoy and if you do this project let me see your art work!! Post a pic on our Facebook page or send me one! I can’t wait to see!! 


Monday, April 8, 2013

It's Monday...

It’s Monday.

This day has been a fog from the moment my husband nudged me ever so lovingly (okay more like pushed me awake) to tell me it was time to get up.
7:03 a.m. - Searching frantically for socks for my son and secretly cursing myself because I seem to be physically unable to put away clean socks after I wash them.
7:15 a.m.- I packed my daughter’s lunch put it in her bag and then moments later asked her “Where’s your lunch bag I need to pack your lunch???”
9:00 a.m. - Sitting in the vet (AGAIN) with our new kitten because she is the incredibly sneezing cat and her first antibiotic didn't work. Interrogated the vet to find out if the cat is going to die because of course its my luck that my daughter is so attached to a cat that can't get over a cold!
9:30 a.m. - My calendar entry reminded me that I needed to sign up H for summer camps but by the time I logged on I noticed that all the Moms who are actually organized snagged the spots.

10:09 a.m. - My voicemail told me I have 13 messages because I never can seem to find the time to delete my messages after I listen to them on my computer.

10:15 a.m. – Trying to do discovery and answer clients emails at the same time led to some “thank God I proofread that before I sent to my client" moments.

11:04 a.m. – Making a mental note to myself, then getting real with myself and emailing my husband to remind me (since I know I will forget) that I have to do my tax withholding this week.

11:36 a.m. – Scary panic moment of emailing my assistant to see if I actually did a project because it just popped into my mind.

12:00 p.m. - Fabulous outdoor lunch date with my husband - simply because lunch is really the only time we don't have our three kids in tow.

1:32 p.m. - Back to my desk ready to answer countless emails and wondering how I'm going to manage to feed the kids before 9:00 p.m. since I won't be home from J's dance class till 7.

Yes it’s definitely Monday.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Or, at least, I hope my absence from the blog makes you miss me. I missed the blog terribly, however, circumstances beyond my control – mainly the flu and Spring Break – made my posting goals unattainable. But enough about me…well…wait, isn’t this blog my venting spot?

So Spring Break brought all the craziness and wild times that you associate with a college student’s thoughts of Spring Break…just with a much more mature focus. No there were not any wild keggers, but we did have trips to the hospital, rental car issues and drama. Not so much the relaxing vacation this Mommy desperately wanted.

Back story (yes…all I can think of when I hear/type back story is Dr. Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb): My father has been dealing with eye issues (broken blood vessel in one eye, torn retina, eye surgeries). In addition to all of the eye issues, he is always concerned about this blood levels (he takes blood thinners daily). Two days before we were supposed to leave on break to Wisconsin, he has eye surgery for the second time, on what was supposed to be his check-up day. Luckily, he was given the all clear signal on Friday, with the stipulation to take it easy and no swimming. Have you met my father?

Day 1
Everyone is packed and ready to head to our first destination, The House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin. We all load into the van and actually leave on time (HUGE!). With all 6 of us in the van, it was interesting, but I thought it would work out great. My hubby could drive, leaving my dad to rest, and we could save on gas. Plus, A & B travel great! After a while, it was my hubby driving with Gpa in the front seat relaxing with his head on a travel pillow; A and Gma in the 2nd row (one playing her DS and one reading); with B and I in the back seat sleeping. We didn’t even have unscheduled bathroom breaks and were able to meet hubby’s aunt and uncle in Wisconsin almost on time!

After a great lunch (with goodie bags for A & B), we headed to House on the Rock (HOTR). Did you know you walk 3+ miles? It was amazing and so weird all at the same time. Pictures to come soon – but there was no consensus on which was the best part. The Infinity Room or the carousel? The dollhouses or the musical instruments? The whale?

HOTR was a great adventure that lasted about 4 hours (and hopefully I lost some weight). But all that walking made everyone hungry, so we headed back to the hotel and out to dinner. And that’s where things got interesting…
To be continued….
Jean Anne

Monday, April 1, 2013

Pay No Attention to the Kids in the Van....

As a JD Mom there are two inalienable truths: (1) I have to work and (2) I have to be a Mom. Trying to balance these two together is something I have attempted to master for years.

I'm an attorney licensed in two states, and so there is a lot of traveling that comes along with my job. Traveling 5 hours one way for a 1 hour deposition is par for the course in my job.

Work trips are never fun, especially the over night ones where I know I am leaving my kids. So, one of the small ways I try to cope with this is by "packing" three very important things with me when I travel for business.....

Yep, I certainly do not travel light.

I'm a JD Mom, so why not bring both of my worlds together when I can! I love taking my kids along with me on work trips. It's the perfect "kill two birds with one stone" kind of thing. I travel for work, and my kids get to come along for a "vacation". Lucky for me a vacation for the 7 and under crowd is defined as anywhere you go where you stay in a hotel. It doesn't matter how far away that hotel is.

When my kids were younger the three amigos went almost everywhere with me. I remember the doctor's deposition where my Mom and J came along and my Mom had to walk to the nearby hospital with 8 month old J to change her diaper. Or the trip to Sioux City where I watched out the window as my Mom and J walked the sidewalks with the stroller. People sometimes ask me why my kids are so good in the car...the answer is simple - they were pretty much raised in one!

But unfortunately, my kids are out of the strollers now and into the classrooms. School has put a huge damper on my travel as the kids often can't come with me anymore.

So a few weeks back J was on spring break, and I talked my husband into traveling with the kids along with me a couple hours away where I was to have a mediation. The mediation started very early in the morning, so I had to stay in a hotel...

and remember hotel = vacation!

We drove that evening to our destination, had dinner at our favorite restaurant and went back to the hotel to relax. And although the trip had me crossing off items of my bill to turn into my client (I'm pretty sure they don't reimburse me for Twizzlers and M & Ms) it was the perfect time.  I could be Mommy at night and attorney by day, just like I like it.

So the next morning I went to my mediation. My client had flown in from Colorado for the occasion. I stepped out of my minivan a Mom with kids yelling "Have fun Mom" and walked into the law firm as an attorney. My suit was on, my laptop ready to be fired up in the conference room. Mommy hat off, professional hat on.

As we spent the morning trying to settle the large lawsuit, my husband sent me pictures on my phone of the exciting and riveting places my kids the mall play zone and ooh the Chick Fil-A!!! I love how easily entertained my kids are! You would have thought you took them thousands of miles away to an all inclusive resort!

As we neared the end of our mediation and I was ready to once again put my Mom hat on, my client suddenly turned to me..."Would you mind giving me a ride back to my hotel?"

It was almost like I could hear screeching brakes in the background. On one hand, I didn't want my client to have to see that their all business, professional attorney traveled in a messy minivan with an entourage. On the other hand, I couldn't very well tell my client she was on her own back to the hotel.

I could have probably thought of some excuse, but I decided that I have spent way too many years  apologizing for my working Mom status. I simply smiled and said "Sure, I'd be happy to, if you don't mind riding with my little travel companions!"

Even though I was proud that I owned my JD Mom-ness, as we rode down that elevator and walked out to my minivan I could almost hear the Jaws theme song. Would the doors open to my screaming two year old? Would my son find it the perfect time to practice burping in the back seat? Would there even be room for us to sit with all the junk my kids carry with them? As we neared the van, I sort of fake laughed and said "Please don't mind the kids in the van...ignore them!"

The door opened and we stepped in. I introduced my kids to my client and sat nervously in the back seat praying that my kids would act like kids on the pages of a Parenting Magazine for the 10 minute ride to the hotel. My hands seriously were sweating.

You know, I don't really know why I was nervous. I mean, I'm a working Mom, there are millions like me. But still somehow I felt like someone from my professional life seeing me in my personal life was...well wrong.

But it wasn't wrong. I am who I am, and that is not going to change anytime soon. I dropped my client off and even smiled when my three yelled in unison "BYE" as she stepped out of the car.

Just another day in the life of a JD Mom.