Friday, September 19, 2014

Weepy Reminiscing

In just 5 days, my big girl will be 6, and in exactly 29 days, my little will be 3.  When people ask how old my kids are, I've already started saying that I have a six-year-old and a three-year-old.  It blows my mind, and I wish I could slow down time (except that each new age keeps getting better).   I'm traveling for work this week (just a quick one-night trip) which always, always leads to weepiness, but when I looked down at the date in the corner of my computer screen this morning and realized how very close we are to Sammie's birthday, my heart skipped a beat.  Six.  So fast.  She's been ready for her birthday for exactly 12 months (since the last party!) and she's had her party planned for nearly as many months (since the movie Frozen came out, to be exact, at which point, she declared she would definitely have a "Frozen" party), but I feel like I'm never ready to admit that another year has indeed flown past.  But it has.  She will be a six-year-old, Mia will be three, and we'll have a (joint) "Frozen"-themed party.   And then we'll start another year.  One that I hope is every bit as fabulous as the one we are putting behind us. 

With that, I leave you with the collages B created last year for their birthdays when my mind was blown over "5" and "2" (which I'd intended to post with their birthday letters last year but never did.  Time flies and all that, and I dropped this ball).  I love collages that show them growing.  That show time flying by in the most wondrous of ways.

This year, there will be birthday letters.  Promises. 

My Sammie B, from 4 months old (bottom left) to "5"

 November 2012 - September 2013
 
 Mia Mia, birth to age "2" - we lost the shirt to the bear we intended to be her birthday picture bear (and he looks ridiculous without it) so change of plans. 
 
 My two greatest loves.
 
Sammie B and Mia.  Your guess as to which one is which is as good as mine ;o)  (I *think* Sammie is on top!)
 
I love them with every inch of my soul.  I also really miss them right now and can't wait to fly home tonight and kiss their sweet cheeks while they sleep.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

This Day

If ever there was a day I would like to etch into my memory forever and ever, it would be last Sunday.  Just a few days before, I'd gotten an email from one of Sammie's new classmate's moms saying that her little boy was having an ice skating birthday party and had sent the invites out before school started and wasn't inviting the whole class, but really wanted Sammie to come . . . she'd already called the rink and asked if an adult could bring Sammie out on the ice, but understood if we couldn't swing it. 

Honestly, my gut reaction was to say "sorry, but we can't make it," as I've done with a few of the indoor playground types of parties that I know just won't have much for Sammie to do.  But I didn't.  Instead, I came home, asked B "how well can you ice skate?  well enough to keep you and Sammie up?"  He said he could (I knew I could not . . . I've only ice skated a handful of times in my life!) so I talked to Sammie about it.  Actually, I first told her that this certain little boy in her class really wanted her to come to his birthday party, and asked if she wanted to go.  She did. So then I said, "well, it's an ice skating party."  And she said, "well, I don't know exactly how I will ice skate!"  I told her that B thought he could take her out, and that we'd just give it a shot.  And so, we did. 

B and I both fully expected Sammie to get there and refuse to go out on the ice.  With things like this -- new physical activities -- she often really wants to go, until she gets there, and then she just wants to leave.  I think she just gets overwhelmed, and she is, after all, so very, very aware of her challenges.  Anyway, we decided not to go for the full two hours of skating and just went about 45 minutes before time for cake.  We got there, rented skates, and took Sammie to see the ice.  And then, they got out there.  At first, Sammie lifted her legs up, just for a minute, and refused to go, but B so very patiently coaxed her into putting her feet down, and then when she got a little scared (of the slippery ice) and kept picking her feet back up, he said, "You don't have to skate, just pretend you are walking."  And so that's how they ice skated -- two times around the entire rink.  B skating, helping her stay up, and her just walking (and chopping into the ice with her heels!) and squealing and giggling with absolute glee.  It was a moment I didn't expect, and I was so, so proud of her.  I stood by on the sidelines, running around the outside of the rink like a crazy woman trying to snap pictures (until my dumb phone died), holding Mia, tears in my eyes, and well, also squealing with my own glee.  It was awesome. awesome. awesome.  Sammie was so very proud of herself, and just absolutely stoked to be out there, doing it.  And her little classmates that were there (all boys!) were so excited to be out there with her.  There was so, so much joy.  Incredible.  My heart darn near burst.



After Sammie went around twice, Mia Mia also got brave (when we first got there, she'd clung to me and said she didn't want to skate) and so B and I traded girlies.  Sammie hung with me while B and Mia went around the rink.  A whole lot more squealing and giggling.  A lot more joy.



That night, I felt like I was floating on air.  I kept looking back at the pictures, hearing Sammie say "Well, I don't know exactly how I will ice skate," and then picturing her doing it with the help of her dad, and the encouragement of her peers.  As I sat looking at the pictures, B walked in and said "I keep looking at the pictures from today!  I'm just so proud of her!"  Yep.  So proud. 

The day I watched my three favorites ice skate, two of them for their first time.  This day goes down in the books as one of my favorites ever. 

So, so proud of these two little girls.  And also so, so grateful that they've got this guy as their dad.  I'm pretty lucky to be sharing this life with these three. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

In the Summer Time . . . A Season In Pictures

We had a bit of a whirlwind of a summer.  Sammie's private preschool went pretty late in the year (until mid June) and her public elementary school started early, so we only had two months.  Her preschool had a sweet graduation ceremony, Sammie picked out a new dress (which was an event all in itself; every dress we looked at at the mall, she said, "I like it, but NOT for graduation."  I honestly wasn't sure what she had in mind, and finally said "pick one Sammie or I pick."  She settled on something simple, and looked adorable.)


I loved that her teachers spent so much time talking to the class about graduation, and about how they would all be going on to kindergarten, and to new and different schools.  All summer, anytime her new school would be mentioned, Sammie would remind us that was not until August.  

Her first three weeks of her "break" were spent in another intensive physical therapy program, like the one we did last year.   She did AMAZING (so amazing that it deserves its own post!).  But then, after those three weeks were up, still not much time for "summer".   Our regular nanny took a few weeks off, so we hired someone for just a few weeks and Sam loved her and they went on tons of fun adventures to the science center, aquarium, etc., and we even had the temporary nanny hang on a few extra days after our regular "banana" came back, so that she could do the same sorts of adventures with Mia, who is usually in day care and doesn't always get to do those things during the week.  But overall, we had a pretty tame summer.  No big trips (more on that in a moment), just lots of hanging out and being a family.  And a lot of work.  Meh.  

For those lawyer-moms still following this blog, I had the busiest summer at work that I've ever had.  I had two different big cases that both blew up at once, one of which I only jumped on last minute to help with the chaos because the team lost a few members, one to maternity leave and one to another job.  I took more depositions this summer than I'd taken in the 6 years prior.  I was traveling for depositions, preparing all night, taking them all day, then going back to my hotel to work all night to finish briefs for other cases, catching red-eyes cross-country so as to not miss a moment with my girls, and just running on empty.  That was the part of the summer I did not like.  We even skipped our plans to drive up to Tahoe for a week because of the craziness of it all, and I totally regret it.  [Lesson learned and advice for other lawyers: No loosey-goosey vacation plans like "we'll just drive up to Tahoe for a week sometime this summer," because it is far too easy to abandon those plans or postpone them and then suddenly school is starting and you never went.  BOOK vacations, with actual reservations, block them out on your calendar, and communicate to your teams "I'll be out such and such week" and gooooo.]  Anyway, we are making this up to ourselves with a mini-getaway to Palm Springs for Labor Day weekend.  We've booked a house with a hot tub and a pool, and plan to just relax, swim, and "be."  Sammie's favorite friend from last year's preschool class is also coming with her family and they've rented a house super close.  We are so excited, and it is a much needed break.  I also have a massive brief to finish between now and then, so I am earning that vacation, no question. 

A friend recently asked me if work had gotten better/easier since I made partner.   Here's my answer: NOPE.  A whopping, resounding I thought that after making partner, the work/life balance thing would get easier, but honestly, it hasn't.  It's different, but harder in many ways.  Now, it's not always another partner emailing me needing something right away, it's client calls I'm needed on, and questions from associates that need my answers (lest things get slowed down or bottle-necked).  I also feel far greater responsibility for my cases -- I'm answering to the clients now.  It isn't the same as just taking on some discreet part of the case as my project and sending work product off to someone else on the team.  They are my cases, I'm supposed to be aware of all the moving pieces, and thinking about overall strategies.  Strategies that keep me up at night.  Or cause me panic in the shower or driving down the road.  A lot of responsibility.  Rewarding in many ways, yes, and there are moments that I feel so stinking proud that I made it here, and clients call me for legal advice about bet-the-company questions, but it has by far been the most stressful year of my career.  The pressure to respond to emails right away is even more intense now than it was as a first-year associate; the emails are just from different people.  Rewarding in a ton of ways, but also the work/life balance part has been hard.  Really hard.  Like cry in my office hard.  I had a few slower months in the spring, and consistently left early enough to pick Sammie up at gymnastics, be home for dinner every night, etc., and well, the girls got used to that.  We all did.  And that made the busier times even harder.  But somehow we made it through what (I hope) was the worst of it unscathed, and I know I've grown as a lawyer this year.  Times many.  But still, there were days/weeks where it didn't feel sustainable and I have a lot of mixed feelings about it all.  On the one hand, the flexibility of my work is something that can't be beat.  I can ALWAYS work from home on a day Sammie has an appointment, and I do work from home or take off the vast majority of Wednesdays to take her to appointments. . . that's the (supposedly) reduced part of my schedule.  BUT that often means I'm actually just working until 3 am on Tuesday night so that I can have that Wednesday off.  Tough.  Anyway, I'm not entirely sure what to say except that it was a hard summer, challenging in many ways that I loved, and many ways that made me cry in my office.  I love the substance of what I do tremendously, but sometimes, it feels a little (or a lot) unsustainable.  I'm hoping that with a full-time school kiddo now, that swings back the other way a little.

The craziness at work also led me into a spiral of eating like crap all the time, not taking care of myself, and I'm really, really working hard to reverse that now. I want to be a good model of health for my girls, and I want to live a long, healthy life with and for them.  So, some new leaves being turned over (again) by me.

But wait!  This isn't just a pity party because here's the thing . . . despite all of this, we had some great times this summer.  My parents visited twice, and while they came (purposely so, to help us) during my two busiest weeks at work and hardly saw me, they got to spend TONS of great time with my girls.  It made my heart lighter to know that while I was at work, missing my girls, they were getting so, so much extra love (and B and I even got a day-date with friends to wineries in during one of my parents' visits, and an overnight trip to the beach when his parents visited . . . so really, all was NOT lost this summer, despite the workload).  

After a week of billing 88 hours in less than 5 days (yes, gross), I took two days off and spent one with my Sammie B at Disneyland, and the other with just Mia at Disneyland.  It was amazing, and just what we all needed.  We each needed some one:one special time, and we each needed a day that felt like a vacation.  It was glorious.

Sammie's Disney Day with Me:


Her mother is a sucker, so she got a new dress. 

Her dream come true. (Also, she refused to touch Elsa's hand.  Wise girl). 

I hope I always make her laugh this hard.
 Mia's Disney Day with Me:


She had SO much to tell Minnie. 

Her mom is also a sucker ;) her dress pick. 



The time alone with each of them, just having fun, was just what I needed after things settled down at work.  I felt re-charged.  When things are crappy, these two have the power to lift me up, every single time.

We also had a couple of beach days, which were awesome, particularly after we got Sammie B's new  beach wheelchair from this amazing organization  She was an absolute celeb at the beach the day we took it.



That was me, trying to get a selfie with Mia.  




Okay, okay, after seeing the beach pictures, I feel a little bad whining about no vacation.  But we needed a week away.  Just our little family and we should have done it.  We didn't, and in spite of that, we managed a lot of "daycations" that were also awesome and fun.

Our Saturdays were spent at ballet with Mia (just a low-key class at our YMCA), swimming and then lunch out.  We've hit the same little diner every single Saturday for years.  I love our Saturdays (though the girls have given up naps. I miss Saturday post-swim family naps.  Really, really miss them).  
MiaMia Ballerina on the right with B

One of THE most exciting developments this summer has been Sammie's new bike from Freedom Concepts.  I will be honest.  It cost a pretty penny.  A LOT of pretty pennies, and the decision to buy it was a tough one.  We took a leap and it has been worth EVERY CENT.  She rides it, completely independently, up and down our street, shreeking with glee . . . "Look at me!"  "Look how fast I'm going!  I'm going so fast!  I'm so proud of me!"  (My heart hath exploded, ya'll!).  She and Mia race up the street, having the times of their lives.  One night, Sammie said "Mia this is so fun!" and Mia turned to yell back to Sammie "Yeah! I know!"  Seriously, the best.  I've run up and down the street chasing them, taking pictures, and generally just bursting with joy.   We've spent so many evenings just going up and down the street with the girls on their bikes. This bike has changed our world.  Changed HER world.  If you could just HEAR those squeals of glee.  Worth every pretty penny. 




AND another new set of wheels . . . after a year-long process of back and forth with insurance the vendor and God only knows who else, Sammie FINALLY got the power wheelchair she was approved for a year ago.  So we've also been taking spins up the street on these wheels.  This thing weights 300 lbs, so it's intimidating to say the least (I was not expecting it to be so intimidating to me; I can't even imagine how she feels).  If you've never taught a 5 year old how to drive a 300-lb piece of machinery, you haven't lived.  We have a lot of practicing to do, and aren't sure this will ever be her "primary chair" (she's so comfortable in the manual chair, she propels it well for short distances, and it's easy to pop in and out of any car, so practically speaking, it actually would be easier for her if the manual chair were her primary one) but we want her to have this option for longer distances. So, we're working at it!  We've made some, um, mistakes along the way (as evidenced by the hole in our drywall in our foyer from a little crash) but those things can all be fixed.  [When it happened, her eyes got so wide, she got so sad, and she said, "I'm so sorry."  I made sure she knew I wasn't mad, we are all learning together, but this is something that we have to be very, very careful in.]   We are indeed all learning together -- I also took out a plant in the front yard when I was trying to drive it, and Sammie yelled, "you are a terrible driver!"




Eventually, we'll get a converted van ourselves so we can take these wheels out and about, but for now, while we are just practicing, we are signed up for our city's public transportation for disabled people.  To qualify, Sammie B and I had to go downtown to the bus station, the appointment took HOURS, and she had to take a little driving test with the power wheels (ha!).  She did fabulous, and we were approved.  Now, we can take the power chair out to practice in malls, etc., not just up and down our street.  (By the way, when the van came to pick us up for the appointment, she was enthralled.  She immediately said "we need a van like this mama! it has a ramp for me!"  my heart my heart. . . now we just need to "find" forty thousand dollars or so!).   In the meantime, we are lucky to have the public transportation option available.


We've managed to get in a few hikes, which is something new for our little family.  B loves to hike and hiked a lot before I came along, then drug me with him on many in our youth (ha!) (including one where he proposed) but since having kids, we haven't really hiked.  Initially, B could wear Sammie on his back for a hike but then Mia came along, and I wasn't sure I was strong enough to wear her on the hikes B chooses, and pushing Sammie up was REALLY tough, so we sort of just let this fall onto the "too tough for us to do" list.  But this summer, I discovered a park near us with tons of hiking trials and great views, and some trails that aren't even that steep.  I took Sammie out there one day after a particularly crappy few days at work, in search of some perspective (I found it . . . there's nothing like an incredible view to help me feel small in the world again . . . ).  Sammie and I loved it so much that we had to take B and Mia back.  We managed to hike up a pretty steep incline to get to the top, each with a girl on our back.  A feat for our family in so many ways.  I feel like between finding a way to make hiking ours again, signing up for this public transportation that allows us to go places with the power chair, the beach wheelchair and the new bike, we've taken a whole lot of things on the "too hard for our family" list and knocked them out.  Shown Sammie that we will find ways to make sure her life is unlimited.  Find ways that work for us, for her, to do whatever we can.  And that feels darn good.
Helping Mama find perspective, without even knowing it
 

This picture symbolizes so much to me.  Knocking down barriers.  Him being her legs. Also, I hiked up a steep incline with Mia on my back and I lived.  She did tell me I was walking too slow, but I've forgiven her. 
Finally, we did one of the color runs where they throw dye at you.  Not totally our character to even do organized races, but I'd been running some (pre-being slammed at work) and signed up.  Sammie LOVED it, Mia did not appreciate the people throwing colors at her, but nonetheless, a fun experience.

The Before Shot
 



Mia's face tells her story here.  She was not having it.  

So even without a vacation, even with a summer of more work than I would have chosen, it was still a summer full of adventure, love and silliness.  And I couldn't ask for more.




 

Everyone always says the secret to "balance" as a mom and lawyer (particularly in a big firm, and a litigator who is often a slave to court-set deadlines) is to learn to suck it up during the crazy times knowing that during the slow times, it will all right itself.  I know that to be true -- and certainly, once I'm not busy, I can just choose not work for a week or two or three and soak up everything with my girls.  And I have done that this past spring and summer, as the workload ebbed and flowed, but the guilt and sadness (not to mention stress) that comes with the insane times are sometimes hard to bear.  I'm working hard to help the girls understand that I'd pick to be with them everyday, every time, but we all have to work hard, and this is part of me working hard.  I hope someday, they remember all of these amazing family things.  That they remember how they literally LIT UP MY WORLD every time I walked into see them.  I hope I always light up their worlds in the same way.   For they would always, always be my first choice to spend time with.

It was an incredible summer.   Despite vacations that didn't happen, there was so much fun, and so much joy, but at the same time, I'd be being dishonest if I didn't "own" the fact that it was also personally a very, very trying summer.  But 15 years from now, I won't remember the sad (humongous) plates of delivery food I devoured alone in my office at 9 pm. I may not even remember working until 3 or 4 am only to come home, shower, nap for an hour, and then get the girls up and ready for the day before heading back downtown to do it all over again.  I'll remember the days at the beach, the bike rides up the street, the days at Disney, their dress-up costumes, the hikes, and all the other moments in between with these girls and B.   I hope those are the moments that remain forever etched in their memories too. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Three Posts, Three Days

After months of not posting, I'm back and back with a fury, I guess?!  Three posts, three days.  The thing is, I miss this blog when I'm away.  It is an outlet for me.  It is something I do, just for me, sitting at my desk or on my couch, that is not work, and not mindlessly scrolling through social media, and I need this outlet.  So, I'm back, and I'm hopeful that I haven't lost all my readers in the interim. 

Just one quick thing for this post . . . I forgot to tell you something about my Sammie B's new school!

UNIFORMS (or really, a dress code)!  


Trying on new school clothes after a shopping spree!

How stinking cute is she?  So cute.

Who knew plain navy, blue, white and khaki could be so cute? 

They do have free dress Fridays every week, and Sammie B has already told me on Fridays, she will wear purple, and "sometimes, fancy dresses." 

And let's not forget little sister in all the back-to-school flurry.  Mia doesn't change classrooms at daycare until the New Year, but this morning, as I left to take her to daycare, with her wearing a dress that I bought for Sammie right when Mia was born, I looked at Mia, and the "little girl" looking back at me just took my breath away.   She's growing up too.  In the blink of an eye, just like her big sister. 
 
August 2013 - August 2014

Time slips away so quickly, doesn't it? 

How blessed am I to be the one they call mama. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Five First Days

I already posted about Sammie's first day of Kindergarten, and we now have one week of Kindergarten in the books.  My heart has been weepy and nostalgic all week, but at the same time, joyful and optimistic about the promise and potential ahead for our girl.  And last year's school experience really showed us that with the right community of people around us, school really can be a wonderful, incredible part of this girls' (and our family's) journey.  It takes a village and all that, and this school . . . well, this school is a pretty incredible village.  They've already gotten two different walkers for her, and been trying them out in ways that don't disrupt her day or her time with the other kids.  She has the support she needs while still being included with her peers in a real, meaningful, seamless, inclusive, way.  The way inclusion should be done.  I truly nearly dissolve into happy tears a million times a day.

This little girl.  Oh wow.  She's gone from a sweet little baby, to a sweet little toddler, and now, just a sweet, cool little girl that I adore more than words could say.  Heart so full it could burst kind of adoration.

December 2010 (Starting an EI Pre-School Program at 2 years old)
October 17, 2011 (First Day of Preschool, 3 years old)
[Also, much to our surprise, her last day as an only child, baby sister Mia surprised us all and arrived the next day!] 

August 2012, 2nd Year of Preschool

And her last year of preschool; September 2013

Ready for Kindergarten; August 2014
From our little baby in the lavender glasses, to our little girl in the fuchsia ones.  It really does happen in the blink of an eye.