Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanks, Giggles, and Optimism

Two years ago, B and I were a couple of DINKS (dual-income-no-kids). We were TWO. We went to Northern California to spend Tgiving with his aunt, uncle, and cousins, and on the way home, we had "THE TALK" about when we would have kids. We figured it would take awhile, he wanted sooner, I wanted later, but we agreed sometime that following spring. If you'd told me then that this Thanksgiving, two years later, we'd be back in Northern California celebrating with the same people WITH OUR ONE-YEAR-OLD daughter, I would have laughed. Yet, it all feels SO perfect, and so right. Then, we were a couple. Now, we are a family. And, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, that is the thing that I am absolutely so thankful for. That we are now THREE.

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving with fabulous people who are just good for our souls, and a fabulous few days in Nor-Cal. We drove back last night so that B could do his marathon training run this morning, and so that we'd have the weekend at home before gearing up for another week.

Sammie B has been FULL of laughs lately. She's clapping, sticking out her tongue, picking her nose (oh yes, I said it . . . found her nose on Wednesday and has been digging it ever since . . . including causing one bloody nose in the car), and just generally providing us with ENDLESS giggles.

This morning, for instance, we were doing dishes and fixing breakfast, with her in her high chair playing with a bowl, and we turned around to see this:

And tonight, we went shopping and Brian showed her this toy chain saw. Her face says it all:

Seriously, she keeps us giggling (and reaching for our blackberry cameras) non-stop. So, this year, I am so very very thankful that we are three. That we get to share so many smiles, so many giggles, and so so much love.

And now, with Monday approaching (even with a FOUR-DAY weekend, Mondays come fast), here's to hoping, after a CRAZY couple of weeks with work, that in December, I am able to find some of the ever-elusive-possibly-non-existent "balance" we working moms like to chase. Here's to that.

Here's to my sweet Bean.

Here's to being THREE.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Schedule Is Mocking Me

This week, my "reduced" schedule has been mocking me, laughing in my face. 80 hours--that's hardly reduced. This has been a VERY hard week for me. I've worked late, I've missed bedtime (twice) and I've had to rush out of the house in the mornings, and it stinks. I have been crazy busy at work (working on an interesting and challenging project, which certainly makes the days go by faster) but also missing time with my Bean and my B, and that just stinks.

In fairness to the partners I work with, however, I have to say . . . the reason for the eighty hour week is a bogus emergency motion filed by the other side in one of my cases, which is just an example of why "reduced" or "alternative" schedules are so hard for litigators to make work. But, I'll keep trying . . .

Sammie B has been totally content of course (though I like to think missing me, just a little ;)), hanging out at home with her Nana . . . who came in this week to take care of her since our beloved nanny is out of town.

It makes me so happy that my Bean is so so loved. I could tell she enjoyed the time with B's parents, because she was all smiles everytime I saw her. I know her smiles melt their hearts just as they do ours.

She is growing so fast -- PT is trucking along, and OT too. We had quite the surge of new (or improved) skills last month (with cobra, rolling, etc.) but I think we are hitting one of the plateaus (motor-skill wise) that are normal in child development, which are always hard for us (and I think for any parent of a child with delays; the "plateaus" can invoke worry and fear and all the things we try to avoid). But the funny thing is, while the motor developments might have plateaued (a temporary thing, I remind myself), Sammie B is taking off in other small ways . . . doing "big-girl" things like drinking from a sippy cup, and feeding herself cookies like its HER JOB (which tickles Brian and I to no end), recognizing her body parts (I think, at least "feet" and "nose"), and following directions (well, some of them, but most certainly NOT "leave your glasses on Samantha.";)).

I'm not sure why she looks like she just got busted with vodka in her sippy cup in that second picture!

Her newest "trick" is sticking her tongue out at us when we stick ours . . . as soon as she sees ours, she gets a coy little grin, excited to show us hers!

Sammie B provides me with endless joy, and even now, as I sit at my desk on a quick break from work (while waiting for edits from the partner; don't worry, I'm not wasting what could be "billable" time . . . just "waiting" time), seeing these pictures, and thinking about how much joy Sammie B brings to mine and B's life just melts my heart. Not a day goes by that me or B do not comment on how wonderful it feels to be a little family.

And, even though my work is fun (most of the time), exciting, and challenging, and I want to set a good example for my daughter about how women CAN have whatever careers they want, there's also a part of me (a HUGE part of me) that just wishes I was there, not here, on this Sunday evening, and that I was sitting on the floor, playing with my Bean, and not pouring through a thirty-page brief. For now, though, until the brief is put to bed, I'll have to be content with the pictures (and grateful to have a hubby who is so supportive of my career that weeks like these don't make him want to run in the other direction; instead, he gets out his (figurative) pom poms and gives me all the cheerleading and support I need to make it through the days).

My sweet sweet Bean!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Redefining Myself

This is the post that has been stewing for awhile. I am constantly struggling in my head to 'define myself' both as a lawyer and as a mother and as a wife and as a person. Mostly, lately, its the career part that has had me so confused. Before Sammie B, I was the kind of young associate determined to kick ass at what she did, determined to get good assignments, challenging ones, and rise to each and every challenge so that I impressed the hell out of the partners I worked for. I was the kind of associate that wanted to be partner; not the kind that just wanted the big firm paycheck.

But after Sammie, EVERYTHING changed. And after we started the early intervention program with her, I truly felt like my world was upside down. Its been VERY hard for me to have a nanny taking her to many of her PT appointments and the person that spends the majority of her waking hours with her. Somedays, I just wanted to RUN from my career so that I could be that person. The one that gets to spend her entire day with Sammie B.

Work became something I HAD to do, rather than something I chose for myself. I found myself content with the less-challenging assignments, because those I could get done and get home. I never felt on top of my lawyer game. And, on top of that, I felt like I was constantly rushing to be at one of Sammie B's appointments, or feeling like I should be working with her when we were instead out running errands, or whatever. There was little time that was just solely "mama & bean time." B is off every Friday, so those are Daddy-Bean days, but I didn't get MY Bean days.

So, after a whole lot of struggling and soul-searching and a ton of talks with Brian, I made a change. I proposed an alternative work schedule at work, a reduced work load, and it has been approved. Now, in lawyer-world, particularly in big firm land, a "reduced work load" by no means is "part-time." I'll still work 40+ hours a week; but with a little more freedom. Basically, at the end of the year, I'm responsible for less billable hours, and I took a paycut. My plan is that I will not be in the office on Tuesdays, but instead will work from home, and a shorter day. In the afternoons, Sammie B and I will attend a mommy & me group at the place where she does OT. Our Tuesday afternoons will not be about "working" together or running errands . . . those afternoons are solely for me and my Bean to have FUN together.

In law firms, these schedules don't work out for everyone, and require a great deal of flexibility, but I'm going in eyes wide open and optimistic that it will work out. The partners I work for have been incredibly supportive. Many have warned me about the risk of going on a reduced schedule with a reduced salary and still working 100% of the hours. Honestly, I feel like if that happens, it happens. At least then I'll be an overachiever, and not feel like I'm always just barely doing enough.

I also spent last week with my friend from law school and we talked a lot about our careers, and I realized something . . . When I talk about work, I sound so much less excited about what I'm doing than I used to. I remember a year and a half ago, when my father-in-law was in the process of applying for a patent, and I'd just come home from a month-long patent trial. I was so excited to talk nerdy patent law with him. So, after this week in Texas, I realized . . . I'm way too young in my career to feel apathetic about it. And, I DO still have the desire to be a superstar. And, I'm determined to prove that it's possible to be the kind of associate I want to be, on a modified schedule, while still being "mom" (because at the end of the day, that's still the MOST important thing to me). I want to feel challenged at work, I just also want to feel like I'm succeeding in the family part of my life too. Hopefully, this small window of freedom (and my Tuesday afternoons) will help me balance it all a little better.

Since I got back from the short vacation, I've volunteered to write a big brief in one of my cases. Yes, it has had me a little stressed, and it is challenging, but it feels good. I've been pouring through the case law, getting up to speed on both the substantive issues and the facts, and I've found that my days at work are flying by. I found myself washing my face for bed the other night, standing next to B at the bathroom sink, and telling him about work, excited about my project. It feels good.

Hopefully, the reduced schedule allows me to return to my old kick-ass associate self; while being the kind of mama I'm also determined to be.

Here's to optimism! (Who knew . . . sometimes even MY glass is half-full!).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Happy Birthday B!

Today was Brian's birthday. We had a great day. His parents are in town, so we all went to lunch and then walked on the beach. Then we came home and relaxed for a bit before heading out to the Bday dinner B chose.

Both B and I have been reflecting on what a FABULOUS year it has been, and how much has changed since last year.

What a difference a year makes!

Celebrating B's 30th Bday last year (Sam slept through the entire celebration):

And tonight, celebrating another year of B (Sam's face cracks me up!):

Lately, we've been talking about how we feel like life just KEEPS getting better! Although we couldn't have predicted the intensity that this first year with Sammie B would bring to our lives, we feel so lucky that we can look at our lives and be completely content with where we are and what we have as a family.

So, to B,

Thank you for being the calm to my crazy.
Thank you for being the glass half empty to my glass half full.
Thank you for being my best friend.
Thank you for being the best daddy to our Bean I could ever ask you to be.
Thank you for making me laugh on a daily basis.
Thank you for still being able to make my heart flutter.
Thank you for being you.
I can't wait to see what each new day brings for our little family.
I'm so lucky to be sharing this life with you.

Halloween, Texas - Letting the Pictures do the Talking

I'm way behind on blogging, so I want to catch up. We had Halloween without B because he was at a work conference (boo! and not the scary kind!) but we spent it with my wonderful friend from law school and her family, so it was a great night. Sammie B was not thrilled to be Sammie BEEEE, but she tolerated it, and looked darn cute.

Then, two days later, we flew to Texas to meet B after his conference and spend some time with friends. Sammie B was an ANGEL on the plane. And, I had a blast -- I had three hours to just sit and play with her . . . no work to worry about, no laundry, nothing but time with Sammie B. So, we played for two hours, then she slept (it wasn't sold out, so we also SCORED a whole row to ourselves!)

We were stoked to get to Texas and see B (we missed him!) and to spend time with friends. Both B and I have old friends in Texas, so it was FABULOUS to see them! Highlights of the trip included a day at the Fort Worth Zoo, and a tour of the insane new Cowboys stadium, where Sammie B did her super cool "cobra" move in the endzone.

In other great news, Sammie B is doing fabulous in PT and OT. She's sitting like a champ, leaning, reaching, pushing up into the cobra position, and just generally showing signs that she's getting stronger. Sometimes I lose sight of the progress, but then I look at a picture like this:

And I remember when THIS felt impossible. I literally have this picture etched in my memory - of the moment I realized she was sitting there, just playing, totally stable, and I felt confident enough that she wouldn't topple over that I went and got the camera . . . and she was still sitting when I get back. When I start to feel like we are in one of the "plateaus" that are a normal part of child development, but especially tough for me, I just picture this, and I remember, . . . all things are possible!

And, now a final few pictures just for cuteness sake . . . Bean playing with her Dude. Has there ever been a sweeter, happier girl?

This little Bean never ceases to melt my heart.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I haven't blogged in a bit (vacation last week, and crazy busy at work this week, lots of posts brewing) but couldn't let today go by without an entry. Today, November 11, Madeline Alice Spohr would have been 2 years old. But she died in April, at only 17 months old. I first heard of Maddie when her mom spoke, just weeks after her death, at the March of Dimes walk that Brian, Sammie and I walked in. I was so moved by her speech. In fact, I wrote about it in my very first blog entry. And though I never met Maddie, I've since found her mom's blog, and I read it daily. This little girl that I never met (and her beautiful, eloquent mother) have been such an inspiration to me. On days that I feel overcome by worry, or overwhelmed by the OT/PT sessions that Sammie has each week, I remember Heather, Maddie's mom's, speech at the March of Dimes Walk. She said that Maddie handled her twice daily breathing treatments that she had for her entire life "with grace," and that they just looked at them as "minor inconveniences on her way to conquering the world." And those words never fail me . . . they give me the inspiration I need to tackle one more OT session, one more PT session, and they make me oh so grateful to have my beautiful Bean in my life. To be able to hug her, squeeze her, and giggle with her. I wish that Heather could still do the same with Maddie.

Maddie was born at 29 weeks -- the same gestational age at which I first went into labor with Sammie B. Who knows what would have happened had the medication and bed rest not allowed me to keep Sammie B in for another few weeks. It doesn't matter. I know that . . . I can't answer those "what-ifs" because the only story that matters is the story Sammie B has. Not the ones she could have had (that goes for the "what if she'd been born earlier" as well as the "what if she'd been born just a few weeks later" what-ifs; because I often allow myself to wonder that as well, which isn't anymore productive).

So tonight, Maddie, I'm thinking of you, and your family. And tonight, I wear my purple March of Dimes shirt in honor of you. May one day all babies be born healthy.