Blog relocating...

You can now find me here.

NaBloPoMo Day 23

Post removed.

[I did post today - in fact, I had a rather scathing, profanity-laced tirade up about my son's sudden refusal to sleep. But upon cooling off and reflecting, I decided that I don't want that post living on in infamy on the internet. Obviously, all parents get frustrated sometimes... I'm not trying to "erase the past" and pretend that my frustration never happened, but I also don't want either of my children to ever read something I've written at a bad moment and wonder if they were ever anything less than 100% loved. No matter how exhausted and tired and upset I am, I always love them, and I never want them to doubt that. So, out of respect for Isaac, I've removed the post I wrote earlier today. Thanks for understanding].

NaBloPoMo Day 22

Isaac woke up at 4:45 this morning. We had a two-hour power struggle about naptime, which he won (by not napping, in case that wasn't clear). I got him to take a brief cat nap in the car around 2:20, but then he refused to go to sleep until close to 9:00 tonight. So I got nothing done today, and instead of blogging, I have about 800 other things requiring my attention.

So... until next time, au revoir!

NaBloPoMo Day 22

BlogHer is down, so no prompt again. Argh. I kind of wish that I hadn't signed up for NaBloPoMo; I feel like it's made my blog really boring. I'm looking forward to finishing it up next week, but I'm going to hold out until the end.

That said, here's my summary of today:
Dropped off my car for an oil change.
Dropped P off at work so that I could take his car.
Went to the supermarket.
Did legal research for a potential client.
Bought books for a baby gift.
Picked up P.
Picked up my car.
Had dinner with P and the kids.
Went Christmas shopping with a friend.
Worked on my grad school application.

And I need to go continue working on that application, so au revoir for now.

NaBloPoMo Day 20

I wish I had something interesting to share today, but I pulled a muscle in my back this morning and have spent most of the day lying flat in bed and trying not to scream out in pain. Thank goodness it was a weekend day and P could take the kids, or I would have been screwed. I'm really, really hoping to feel better before tomorrow; it will be a loooooong day home with the kiddos otherwise. I can't even pick up Isaac at the moment.

Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with a more cheerful blog entry.

NaBloPoMo Day 19

There's no prompt today, and I have nothing interesting to say, so here's a list of 10 people I follow on Twitter that I'd be ashamed to admit to my 21-year-old self:

Perez Hilton
Khloe Kardashian
Melissa Rycroft
Molly (Malaney) Mesnick
Kiptyn Locke
Tenley Molzahn
DeAnna (Pappas) Stagliano
Trista Sutter
Reality Steve
Mike Fleiss

Who's on your guilty pleasure Twitter feed?

NaBloPoMo Day 18

Prompt: "What has been the happiest moment of your life so far?"

The births of each of my children. Hands down.

NaBloPoMo Day 17

Prompt: "Make a list of everyone you've ever had a crush on in your life, then choose one from the list and describe him or her in great detail."

Seriously? Are there seriously people who can name every crush they've ever had in their entire lives?

I'm going to do my best, but know in advance that I'm probably going to miss about 500 people. I develop crushes easily. Luckily, my husband is understanding about this! Probably because he knows that he's my biggest crush. :-*

Okay, the list:

Elementary school:
Bobby B.
Billy A.
Cody B.
Jason S. (my first "boyfriend," meaning we talked on the phone a few times and avoided each other in public)
Jordan from New Kids on the Block

Middle school:
Ben B.
Another Ben B.
Jeremy Jordan

High school:
Ken E.
Nik T.
Micah B.
Tom C. (my first "real boyfriend")
Mario N. (boyfriend)
Matt D. (boyfriend)
John N. (who is still a friend, and has this blog URL, and ohmygodifyou'rereadingthisI'mgoingtodie)
Chris M. (boyfriend)

Chris M. (we were still dating for part of this time)
Kate J.
Nate M. (dated exclusively for a brief time, although not for long enough to really qualify as a relationship in adult world terms)
P! (still my #1 crush to this day)

Law school:
P! (still my #1 crush to this day)
Alix Olson

P! (still my #1 crush to this day)
Several adorably nerdy guys from the Bachelor franchise (oh fine, you want names? Jason, Reid, and Ames)

Random and fleeting celebrity crushes not confined to one time period:
Matt Damon
Jon Stewart

And now I'm supposed to describe one in great detail? Geez. Alright, I'm going to use a random number generator. There are 25 people on that list, not counting repeats (repeats will be assigned the number of the first place they appear). Here we go... :

#17 on the list is... Kate. Really? Ugh. I don't wanna!

Okay, okay...

Kate. Kate was the head of the Women's Center at my college. She was a liberal feminist and activist and I basically wanted to be her. She had short hair and a nose ring and really intense eyes. She also somehow managed to come across as totally intimidating even though she couldn't have been more than 5'2" and maybe 110 pounds, tops.

Even though she was intimidating, she was very sweet. After hearing me on the phone with my idiotic serial cheater of a boyfriend (see #16 on the list), she asked a lot of pointed questions and rubbed my shoulders and helped me see that I deserved better. She comforted me after I spoke at a consciousness-raising event about having been raped as a teen by my then-boyfriend (see #13 on the list). And she totally let me down easy when I accidentally confessed my crush on her via a misdirected email. She was awesome.

She is awesome, in fact. We're still in touch via Facebook. We're both married, with toddlers only a few months apart in age, so we comment frequently on each other's kid-related stuff. I'm no longer intimidated by her and I no longer have a crush on her, but I still think she's pretty great. I mean, if not for her, I might very well have held on to that awful boyfriend much longer than I did... and then I never would have met my husband! So I'm grateful to her for that.

Now I'm going to hit "publish" before I chicken out on posting this... Eek.

NaBloPoMo Day 16

I would love to write a post today, but it is now three hours past Isaac's bedtime and he is still awake, so I can't. P spent the first hour rubbing his back, I spent the next hour and a half silently and patiently returning him to bed over and over, and now he's just... crying and calling me. And I'm taking five minutes to post this before going back because I am completely freaking spent.

And did I mention that Nora's sick? Good times all around.

NaBloPoMo Day 15

I'm once again ignoring the prompt in favor of addressing Nora's school situation.

The conversation I had today with the director of Nora's school went reasonably well. I feel better about some of the issues (the curriculum, the Montessori set-up, the discipline situation), but not really so much better about the biggest issue (the attitude of Ms. O). The director honestly seemed flummoxed that anyone could have a problem with Ms. O's attitude, but I think she started to get it when I gave her concrete examples from my own experience and shared some of the things that other parents have told me. And I appreciate that she was honest about wanting to address the issue, but needing some time to think about how to handle it. The jury is still out on whether it will be handled to my satisfaction, such that I feel comfortable with Nora staying there and Isaac someday going there, but I'm willing to give her a few weeks to figure out how to deal with the situation before I make any decisions about how to proceed.

So, all in all, I feel less furious today. But we have our autumn parent-teacher conference with Ms. O next week, so depending on her level of defensiveness there, that may very well reignite my annoyance.

NaBloPoMo Day 14

There is a prompt for today, but I'm going to ignore it in favor of being furious.

Nora attends a Montessori preschool. She started there in December 2009, so she's been there for almost two years. Until this past summer, I liked it a lot. Her teachers were great, she was making friends, and it seemed like she was learning. All good.

She attends the summer program so that I can work (she doesn't nap and I do my work during Isaac's naps). This past summer, she moved into the big kids' room with a teacher that I shall refer to here by the pseudonym of Ms. Obnoxious, or "Ms. O" for short.

I can't stand Ms. O, and I'm pretty sure that the feeling is mutual. She's rude and condescending to parents and turns every little request into a Big Freaking Situation. I spent most of the summer battling to get her to put sunscreen on my child, for example - which should not have been a Thing, but for her it was all "you should put it on at home" (well, I do, but it's 4 PM when I pick her up and 90 degrees and they've been outside sweating, and it doesn't last that long, so it needs to be reapplied) and "I'm not going to get all up under her clothes to put on sunscreen" (which I was not asking her to do, obviously - I just wanted it on the exposed skin)... and so on and so forth. It took two phone calls and two in-person complaints to the director before Ms. O started applying sunscreen regularly - at the end of August, after Nora had already been burned twice. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

Nora was then assigned to Ms. O's class for the regular school year, and things have just gone downhill since then. I have no idea what they're learning in school because (1) she never gives us the calendar for the month until the month is halfway over and (2) she doesn't follow what's on the calendar anyway. When I ask Nora what she did in school on any given day, she has lots of stories about playing and coloring, but none about learning anything. And although it's allegedly a Montessori school, they often go several days or even weeks at a time without doing any Montessori-inspired activities.

While all of this not-learning has been not-happening, things with Ms. O have continued to deteriorate. She has refused to allow Nora to eat certain foods that I've packed into her lunch bag (specifically, small candies in the week after Halloween), even though nothing I sent was against school policy. She disciplines the kids in ways that I find highly inappropriate (for example, public shaming of the children with "sad face" stickers when they're done something "bad"). And so on and so forth, yadda yadda yadda, she sucks.

I finally reached the end of my rope last week and called the director to set up a meeting to discuss my concerns. I wrote the meeting time in my planner while we were on the phone and confirmed it a second time before we hung up. P came home from work early to watch the kids so that I could go get these issues resolved. And then I got there... and he wasn't there. "I had you on the calendar for Tuesday," he said. I argued with him, I offered to drive to wherever he was so that we could meet today, I was strong but firm... and then I lost my shit. I ended up yelling at him on the phone and then hanging up on him.

Not my proudest moment, not by a long shot. I'm now "that parent." But I'm so sick of this school that I'm seriously considering yanking her out of it and homeschooling her for the rest of the year. And the director blowing off our meeting just felt like the very last straw in a long line of things that all could have been the last straw. If Nora didn't love her friends so much, I think we would have pulled her out last summer.

Argh. I know that I'm going to have to eat crow tomorrow and apologize for my hissy fit, and of course I'll do that. But seriously, if these issues don't get resolved... I'm going to be pissed. I feel like we're spending several hundred dollars a month for my kid to color pictures and be shamed by her bitchy teacher, and that's just not okay with me anymore.


NaBloPoMo Day 13

No prompt again? I guess they don't post prompts on weekends? Bah.

Today's great realization: I need a break. I have been on-duty with the kids nearly all week because of P dealing with his aunt's death. While I understand that and I'm happy to do his share while he does what needs doing with his family, I'm going to need to recover some of that time. I'm not functioning well at all right now.

As I posted yesterday, the kids have been in a HORRID mood this week. On top of that, Isaac is flat-out refusing to nap or go to bed at night without someone staying with him until he falls asleep... and I just.can' I can't spend 30-45 minutes, twice a day, staring at the wall waiting for him to conk out. So I leave, and he screams, and I check him, and I leave, and he screams... it took an hour and a half to get him to bed tonight. Friday night took two hours. When I've already spent all day dealing with a surly, cranky toddler who tells me how much he doesn't want to be with me and slams doors in my face... well, I just don't have the patience for a 2-hour-long bedtime battle. My patience is fried.

I'm tired. I'm so tired. Last night I was so tired that I didn't even stir when Isaac left his room, opened the gate, and went downstairs at 2 AM. P was catching up on schoolwork in the basement and heard stomping coming from the first floor hallway. He thought someone had broken into the house, but it was just Isaac, banging around on the floor. And I hadn't noticed! If you had any idea how light of a sleeper I normally am, you would understand how astonishing that is. The heat kicking on usually wakes me up, but last night I slept through my toddler escaping his room and going to another floor of the house. That terrifies me. What if P hadn't been awake?! He could have unlocked the front door and left and I never would have noticed.

So... a break. I need one. I have a meeting tomorrow night, which means that I'll miss bedtime. Hopefully it won't still be going on when I get back. I have a networking event Tuesday night, which I can't even imagine going well at this point, but I need to go. So... Wednesday. I'm supposed to do something with my friend S on Wednesday, and we need to make it something good. I'm craving that adult time so badly right about now.

And for what it's worth, I feel like the world's crappiest mom for not being able to roll with these punches. I love my kids, but I still find the hard weeks to be really hard. And then I judge myself for not being able to be Supermom. My kids deserve a Supermom.


NaBloPoMo Day 12

There's no prompt for today, so I'm going to complain about my wonderful, awesome, impossible children.

My kids have been wild animals this week. I don't know if it's the time change, the full moon, the fact that they were up late a few nights in a row, or what, but they have not been pleasant the past couple of days. Nora has been cranky and whiny and full of attitude. Isaac has been disobedient and screamy and mimicking Nora's bad attitude. Holy hell, let me tell you how fast that makes my blood pressure rise. Have you ever had a 21-month-old scream, "It's no fair! I don't like it!" and then slam a door in your face? It is completely freaking infuriating.

When Nora gets sassy, she can be disciplined. Logical consequences generally work; when they don't, a time-out will almost always do the trick. Isaac, however? Logical consequences mean nothing to him at this age. So we introduced time-outs for him this week, even though he's not two years old yet (which is, as I understand it, the generally accepted "correct age" for beginning time-outs). We've only been using them for the worst offenses (hitting, throwing toys across the room during a tantrum, etc.), and only after other forms of discipline fail to stop the behavior. He'll willingly sit in time-out and he'll apologize when it's over... but then he goes right back to what he was doing. It's maddening. And my patience is waning.

They're usually such sweet, well-behaved kids, so when they go through phases like this, it always catches me off-guard and makes me wonder where we've gone wrong. Nothing else is working, so tomorrow I'm resolving to do what I always do when other forms of discipline fail - love-bomb the heck out of them. P has been away several times this week due to a death in the family and I think it's possible that they're acting up because they miss Daddy and haven't been getting enough focused attention. So I'll give them lots of extra cuddles, do my best to stay as patient as possible, focus on engaging them in kid-centric activities rather than dragging them along on errands, etc. Hopefully that will do the trick because otherwise, I just might lose my mind.

NaBloPoMo Day 11

Prompt: "It's 11/11/11. Make three wishes."

1) I wish for enough money to become debt-free and live out the rest of our lives without financial worry.

2) I wish to always have a happy, loving family, including a strong marriage and healthy, well-adjusted children (and as long as I'm making wishes, I'll just add that I'd like there to be three healthy, well-adjusted children in this family...).

3) I wish for an end to suffering, including war, hunger, poverty, abuse, hatred, bullying, and torture.

NaBloPoMo Day 10

Prompt: "What is your secret (or not-so-secret) passion?"

There are so many ways that I could answer this prompt. I'm passionate about my kids, obviously. I don't think I've worked harder at anything in my life than I have at trying to be a good mom for them. I love them wholeheartedly and devote most of my time, energy, and headspace to them.

But I'm also passionate about women's rights issues, especially relating to reproductive rights, pregnancy, and childbirth. I find it hard to see eye-to-eye with anti-choice people and I've given great amounts of time and effort towards working on issues of reproductive choice. As for pregnancy and childbirth, I never had much interest in either until I got pregnant with Nora, but I'd now define myself as a fierce advocate for the midwifery model of care and for natural childbirth. (Note: I do not mean that I think midwifery-based prenatal care and natural childbirth are the One True Way, but I do believe in empowering women to believe that their bodies are equipped to handle pregnancy and birth and that they don't need to buy into fear-based models of care. I also believe that women should be permitted to decide how they want to labor and birth and that hospitals too often restrict the rights of laboring women to do the things that will help them manage labor and birth pains without medical intervention). I would love to be a midwife in theory, but in practice I'm skeeved out by blood and don't want to do shift work - so I'm just here, advocating from the sidelines.

I have lots of other passions too, but those are the big ones.

NaBloPoMo Day 9

Prompt: "When was the first time that you realized your home was not like other people's homes?"

I'm too tired to answer this right now. This has been a very, very draining week for my family and going into deep emotional stories just isn't in me right now. Sorry.

So I'll give the short answer: sometime in elementary school, and it mainly involved my stepfather being a screaming tyrant that my friends were afraid of. I'll discuss in more detail another time. The end.

NaBloPoMo Day 8

Prompt: "Has anything traumatic ever happened to you? Describe the scenes surrounding a particular event."

I'm going to take a pass on this particular prompt on this particular day. I have plenty of trauma that I could share, but today has been rough enough without tapping into deep emotional pain.

Completely off-topic: Right now I'm sitting on pins and needles waiting for the results of the Mississippi personhood initiative. I really hope it doesn't pass. If it does, I'll have a different kind of trauma to write about here. Stay tuned...

NaBloPoMo Day 7

Prompt: "Making family time is important to me. How do you balance your children, relationship, and work life?" - guest prompt by Ricki Lake

First of all, I heart Ricki Lake. If you haven't seen her documentary, The Business of Being Born, go watch it. Now. Seriously.

Now that that's out of the way...

I don't actually feel like I have a great balance. I have lots and lots of time with my kids, which is awesome. But that time definitely comes at the expense of a vibrant professional life. I work by myself - during naps, after bedtime, and on random mornings or afternoons in the office when P can take time away from his job to cover the childcare. I'm lucky that his job is flexible (for now, anyway), so this arrangement mostly works in terms of allowing me to finish what needs to get done. But it doesn't allow much time at all for networking events, doing the legwork that would be necessary to really grow my practice, or just meeting casually for lunch with other professionals. My business phone goes straight to voicemail most hours of the day - by necessity, because I can't really answer a call that might be from a client or a court with a toddler shouting in the background. Being at home with the kids inhibits my professional life in a lot of ways.

This doesn't mean that I'm complaining, exactly, because this is far better than when I worked for a big firm and my work obligations came at the expense of my family. I will never, ever forget the time that I spent all night in the ER with a 3-month-old Nora, very sick with RSV, and then stayed up the rest of the night writing a memo for a partner at my firm while I watched her breathe laboriously next to me. I will never forget how horrible it felt to leave my tiny, helpless, extremely ill infant with just her dad, unable to nurse her (obviously) to make her feel better, so that I could haul my exhausted butt into the office to hand-deliver the memo and print off copies of the cases I'd cited for the partner in question. And I resent, to this very day, that when I told the partner what the situation was, he made me stay at the office anyway. I wasn't participating in the call, I had done the work he needed, and my baby needed me - but I had to sit there, just in case he had a question about any of the cases while he was on the call. And of course the call got pushed back later and later, so I ended up spending most of the day there, practically falling over from fatigue and worry. I have never, ever had such a wrenching feeling in my gut that something was wrong.

So yeah, all things considered, if things must be out of balance, I prefer the balance to favor too much time with my kids over too much time at work. I miss the money from that job every single day, but I have never - not for a single second - missed the job itself or the stress that it put on my family.

But then there's my relationship. Things are way, way out of balance there. I can count on one hand the number of times that P and I have been out without the kids in the last year: (1) for a day trip to DC last October for a friend's wedding; (2) out to a comedy club with friends for P's 30th birthday; (3) out to lunch and coffee for an hour and a half on our anniversary in August; and (4) out to dinner and a movie while my mom was visiting this October. Hey, look - that's one hand, with a finger left over. Ouch.

To be blunt, we can't afford to spend $15/hour on a sitter, so we only get to go out when my mom is available to babysit. My mom lives 5 hours away, so that's not often. We did have P's parents babysit for that hour and a half anniversary lunch, but it went so poorly that I will never leave my children alone with them again. Also, P has since told me some things about his parents' actions when he was a child that make me hesitant to even let the kids out of my sight when they're around, much less leave them alone together for any period of time. So.

To be brutally honest and blunt, the lack of couple time has been really hard on us. This has been, by far, the worst year of our relationship. P would agree with that, I know, and I don't think he'll mind me sharing it. We've been under a lot of financial stress, we don't get any time together, and staying connected and remembering that things won't always be this tough has been really, really difficult.

This is not the fault of the kids in any way - they certainly aren't the reason we don't go out (i.e., they're well-behaved for sitters, don't freak out about us leaving, etc.). It's a money thing - related to the lack of work-home balance for me, sure, but mainly a money thing. It's a problem that I'm trying to find a way around, but so far I haven't really found a solution. I've suggested a babysitting swap with a friend a few times, and she always says that she's interested, but I don't think she really wants to do it (and they have lots of local family help and don't really need us to babysit for them, so I don't want to force the issue too much).

It's tough, this balance problem. Everything impacts everything else and I often feel slightly helpless to do much about it. I'm mostly trying to be proactive with the work stuff - carving out space to work on my business, applying to grad school, etc. - and hoping that with that will come more income, and thus more disposable income that can be used to fund couple time. It's hard, though. Tough, tough stuff.

Menu Plan Monday - week of 11/7/11

Monday: Black bean and tomato quinoa, steamed broccoli (this didn't get made last week)

Tuesday: Baked ziti, salad, garlic bread

Wednesday: Leftovers (I have a board meeting)

Thursday: Lentil and kale soup, crusty bread

Friday: Breakfast for dinner (eggs, veggie sausages, toast and jam, fruit)

Saturday: Three-bean rice and vegetable skillet, rolls

Sunday: Something easy - leftovers, sandwiches and a vegetable, etc.

I'm linking this up to Menu Plan Monday at

NaBloPoMo Day 6

No prompt again today? Okay... I'll just babble then.

The big news here today is that Isaac is sleeping in a bed! We weren’t really planning to move him into a bed on the first day of non-Daylight Savings Time, especially considering that he woke up for the day at 4:17 AM and was cranky and overtired, but he had other plans. When we went to get him after his nap, he was busy climbing out of his crib, cheerily announcing “I climb!” So that was that.

To our great surprise, he was completely unperturbed about the change in sleeping arrangements. When we put him down, he rolled around for 5 or 10 minutes and then got up. I put him back down and he rolled over and went to sleep. Much, much different from when Nora switched to a bed and required a week or two of 45-minutes-a-night returns to bed.

Of course, it could just be that he’s saving his rebellion for naptime tomorrow. I certainly hope not.

(Note: These pictures were taken this afternoon when we first moved the bed in there. We do not actually put our child down for the night in regular clothes).

NaBloPoMo Day 5

There was no prompt posted for today and I'm exhausted, so I'll just share a bullet list of my busy, fun day:

  • We went to the natural science museum. They have a bug exhibit going on now and I observed the biggest, grossest beetle I've ever seen. As always, the kids had a blast in the dinosaur exhibit.
  • Nora and P built a 3-D model of the Eiffel Tower while Isaac was napping. I watched and took pictures.
  • After they finished that, I played Candyland with Nora while P put air in my tires, filled my gas tank, and bought me diet coke. He's a keeper.
  • When Isaac woke up, the kids and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. Then I spent 15 minutes reading in bed while the kids hung out with P.
  • I took Nora to a belated Halloween party this evening, where she had a blast and I enjoyed talking to the other parents that were there.
And now, I'm ready to CRASH. Goodnight.

NaBloPoMo Day 4

Prompt: "When you are writing, do you prefer to use a pen or a computer?"

I prefer a computer for everything except writing poetry. Poetry just seems to flow better from a pen.

(I'm not really feeling these prompts. Normally I can't shut up, but I don't really have anything to say about most of these. Oh well, it least it's getting me to post everyday...).

Craft projects for the uncrafty

I'm always looking for easy craft projects to do with Nora while Isaac is napping. I'm not remotely crafty, but she loves all things art-related, so I force myself to do it for her sake. It's a nice way to spend time with her, even if her projects ultimately look less child-made than my own.

I happened the other day on something she loved and which kept her occupied for quite a while. It was easy, too, so I'm going to share for anyone out there who may be similarly uninspired (crafty people, feel free to laugh - I'm sure you do this and more before breakfast everyday).

Glue and Glitter

Step 1: Use glue to make a design on a piece of paper.

Step 2: Shake some glitter onto the glue design.

Step 3: When it's good and glittery, have the child give it to a parent to shake the excess glitter into the trash. (I guess if you're braver than me, you could allow the child to do this her/himself).

Step 4: Ooh and ahh over the glittery picture. I forgot to take a picture of the picture Nora was working on above (a birthday cake on a table), but here's her princess:

And here's her butterfly:

Optional Step 5: Decorate with other art supplies. Nora added a sponge-painted heart to her name design.

The finished product:

See? Simple. And no real craftiness required.

Now, just don't do what I did and leave the glittery pictures to dry on the kitchen table. Unless, of course, you also want your younger child to smear his/her face in glue and glitter when s/he wakes up from napping...

NaBloPoMo Day 3

Prompt: "Can you listen to music and write? What song did you hear today?"

I write much, much better with some kind of noise in the background. I don't generally listen to music at home (there, I'm much more likely to leave the TV on for background noise), but at the office, I often leave Spotify open to an Ani DiFranco or Dar Williams album while I work. The background noise helps to drown out all of the other "noise" in my head so that I can focus my brain on the task at hand. Writing that out sounds crazy, but it works for me.

Songs I've heard today (not while writing, but in the car): "Telephone" by Lady Gaga, repeatedly. Isaac is OBSESSED with this song. As soon as we get near the car, he starts begging, "Gaga, phone? Please?" When it ends, he says, "Phone again!" I am seriously sick of Lady Gaga. Nora loves her too, so when they're both in the car, they bicker over which Lady Gaga song to play. It makes me craaaaaaazy.

For the record, this problem is limited to my husband's car. He's set up a Gaga playlist for them on an SD card - and they know it. In my car, they listen to whatever I put on and don't complain. However, I've been driving P's car for the last several days for various reasons, so I've been the one subjected to this nonsense.

When I got home last night from shopping with a friend, I announced to P that the best thing about the trip was spending two hours in the car without a single person asking me to turn on Lady Gaga. It was nice hanging out with my friend, of course, but the lack of Gaga was absolutely divine. 

NaBloPoMo Day 2

Prompt: "If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?"

I would totally gorge myself. The appetizer would be bruschetta from the restaurant Toscana (which is or used to be on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC - I wanted to link to it and the fact that it's not coming up on Google right now is distressing me. I hope it hasn't closed!). Dinner would be spaghettini from Teodora in NYC, some of my own baked ziti, and a slice or two of some really good pizza. Dessert would be Ben & Jerry's cookie dough and/or peanut butter cup ice cream.

In sum: My name is Lisa and I love sugar and carbs. Yum.

NaBloPoMo Day 1

I'll be participating in National Blog Posting Month, hosted by BlogHer, for the entire month of November. The theme this month is "blogging for blogging's sake." I don't know how much I'll stick to the theme, but I'll do my best. It depends a bit on how inspiring I find each day's prompt.

For example, today's prompt is "what is your favorite part about writing?" For me, as someone who blogs about my life and the people in it, writing about writing doesn't interest me all that much. If all of the prompts involve writing about writing, I'm sure I'll veer off-topic fairly quickly.

For today, I'll just say that I write to share my life with others and forge connections. I love blogging and have done so, in some forum or another, for nine or ten years now. I've had different blogs for different periods and  stages of my life, but I'm hoping that this one will be the one that sticks. I purposely designed it to NOT be a mommy blog or a non-mommy blog or a work blog or a fitness blog. It's about all of those things and none of them. It's just... me. And I hope that by blogging as just me - rather than as Me the Mom or Me the Lawyer or whatever - I'll be able to meet some new people, stay connected to the people I already know (because I love reading others' blogs as much as I love writing mine), and have a record of my life to look back on someday.

That's it. Simple, right?

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Strawberry Shortcake and my little monkey!

Menu Plan Monday - week of 10/31/11

Monday: Pizza (something easy for before trick-or-treating!)

Tuesday: Baked vegetable rice

Wednesday: Pasta with tomato sauce, salad, garlic bread

Thursday: Black bean and tomato quinoa, steamed broccoli

Friday: Sweet potato and lentil burritos

Saturday: : Tofu and veggie stir-fry, brown rice (this never got made last week)

Sunday: Something easy - leftovers, sandwich and a vegetable, etc.

I'm linking this to Menu Plan Monday at

Snow day

We had slushy, wet snow today - not a lot, but enough to keep us home all day and make me mutter about not having migrated far enough south when I decided to jump ship from upstate New York all those years ago. Snow in October? Not okay! The kids are going to freeze when they go trick or treating on Monday.

But we had a nice day. We had a lazy morning, then P made crepes with fruit for lunch. While Isaac was napping, P hung out with Nora and I cuddled up in bed with our kitty and took a nap. And then in the afternoon, we ventured outside to play.

Bundled up and ready to go.

Isaac liked stomping around in the slush.

Nora LOVES snow. I think she was bummed that we didn't get more.

We came back in when the freezing rain started smacking us in the face, but the kids enjoyed themselves for the short time we were out there. And then P's relatives came over and started helping him tile our basement (our carpet was destroyed by the flooding from Hurricane Irene), so hopefully within a few days, we'll be able to return all of the basement stuff to its rightful place and have room to walk and play in the rest of our house again. We've been waiting on them to be available for over a month now, so the snow served at least one useful purpose!

Now I'm just crossing my fingers that our poor pumpkins aren't too soggy to carve tomorrow...

Changing course

Earlier today, I started working on an application for admission to a master's program in social work. The program is at the same institution from which I received my undergraduate degree and has both full-time and part-time options (I am applying for the part-time program). I still need to write my personal statements, get my transcripts, and figure out what to do about recommendations, but at least the application is started. If I'm accepted - and more importantly, if I'm awarded enough financial aid to attend - I'd start in September 2012.

This is a big, big, BIG deal for me. I've hated being a lawyer from the get-go - during my summer associate job the summer after my second year of law school, I used to get a huge pit in my stomach as soon as the city skyline came into view on the drive to work. I've stuck it out for six years at this point - first at the firm, then on my own - but I'm pretty much positive that this is not the right way for me to spend the rest of my working life.

I've been resigned to being a miserable lawyer forevermore because I didn't really see a way out. I've been focused on teaching as a possible alternate career path, but teaching at the high school level doesn't pay enough and teaching at the college level would require a Ph.D that I don't have the time or money to get (Ph.D programs are generally full-time and we can't afford for me not to earn an income for the 6-8 years it would take to complete a degree).

P suggested social work as a good option for me and I kind of brushed it off at first - I'm not cut out for going into rough neighborhoods and confronting parents about how they're treating their kids! But then I started reading about social work as a profession and realized that there are a lot of social work jobs where that kind of thing isn't required. Reading about what social workers actually do, and the many different kinds of social work jobs that are out there... well, it started to seem like a good fit for me. I decided to apply to the program at my old college and see what happens. Maybe I'll get in or maybe I won't. Maybe I'll be able to afford it or maybe I won't. But just starting the application made me feel... lighter. It was like a huge weight was taken off my shoulders. It feels like there just might be a light at the end of this tunnel.

I think I'd be a pretty awesome social worker. And I actually think I'd enjoy it. I went to law school because I wanted to help people and only realized after the fact how little helping is involved in the practice of law. Social work would allow me to do a different, more personal kind of advocacy.

I'm excited about the potential here! I don't think I'm ready to tell people in real life about this, not just yet... but I'm ready to share with the anonymous bloggy world. That's a start, right?

My two amigos

I was in the bathroom earlier today when Isaac came bursting through the door. "Square!" he shouted at me, holding up the square piece from his shape puzzle. I congratulated him on being correct and then shooed him out... because I was in the bathroom and seriously, how many more years until I can pee in peace? A moment later he returned. "Circle!" he shouted, proudly holding up the circle piece.

I heard giggling coming from the hallway. "Show her this one," Nora whispered. Isaac scurried back out to the hall and I heard Nora whispering, "Tell her it's a triangle." Isaac reappeared, holding the triangle. "Angle!" he said. I heard Nora cracking up.

Annoyed as I was about being barged in on in the bathroom, I couldn't help smiling. Now that Isaac is getting older, the two kids are playing so well together. It's awesome. Nora likes to try to teach Isaac things and loves to read to him. Isaac will do pretty much anything Nora says. She adores her little brother and he thinks his big sister hung the moon. As P noted the other day, they're the best things that ever happened to each other.

And it's always been like that, pretty much. Nora was a couple weeks shy of three when Isaac was born and we were prepared for lots of jealousy, anger at the new baby, potty regression, etc. She never went through any of that, though. She was a little skeptical of him at first, but never outright hostile. And within a few weeks, she was his greatest protector and champion. Sure, there are moments when they both need attention at once and the one who doesn't get it first gets frustrated. And sure, they fight like cats and dogs sometimes, especially when Isaac barrels through the living room with his trucks and knocks over Nora's elaborate block cities or stuffed animal play scenes. But for the most part, they're really good friends. They obviously love each other to pieces. And they have a lot of fun together.

I love my two little sillyheads. I am a very lucky mommy.

Menu Plan Monday

Look at me... starting a new blog and then immediately getting too sick to post! I think I've kicked my multiple-day allergy/cold fiesta, so hopefully I'll actually be able to write this week.

Trying to eat more mindfully was a mixed bag while I wasn't feeling well, but I think I'm doing better at it than I was. Not perfect, but better. I'm trying not to let the imperfections overpower me and make me stop trying altogether. It's hard, but remembering the Great Stuffed Shells Incident of last week is helping me keep my resolve. I don't want my kids to end up battling food the way that I do.

On a semi-related note, I eat so much better when I take the time to actually plan my meals out each week, but I've been slacking on doing that lately. I want to get back into the habit, and when I saw a menu planning link-up on a blog this week, I thought that would be a good place to start. Accountability for myself + ideas from others = awesome. So here's my first effort at Menu Plan Monday (or in my case, Sunday... but late Sunday, in any event), which I'm linking up over at

Monday: Veggie burgers, sweet potato fries

Tuesday: Fragrant chickpea stew, basmati rice, chapatis

Wednesday: Three-bean rice and vegetable skillet, biscuits

Thursday: Crockpot lentil soup, crusty bread

Friday: Ravioli with tomato sauce, steamed broccoli, garlic bread

Saturday: Tofu and veggie stir-fry, brown rice

Sunday: Something easy - leftovers, sandwiches and a vegetable, etc.

Teaching myself to eat well so that I can teach my kids to do the same

Last night at dinner, Nora ate a lot more than she usually does. We were having stuffed shells - one of her favorite foods - and she probably had 5 or 6 shells, along with a piece or two of garlic bread. Towards the end of the meal, she started complaining that her tummy hurt because she was too full. I reminded her that it's her job to fill up her belly when she's hungry, but also to stop eating when her hunger is all gone. She was still chomping on a piece of garlic bread as she complained about her stomachache, so I suggested that she save the rest of the garlic bread for another time. "But I want to eat it!" she exclaimed. I told her that we'd put it in a bag in the fridge with her name on it, so that everyone would know it was hers and nobody else would eat it. Reluctantly, she agreed to save it for later. Less than an hour later, she claimed that she was hungry again and asked to eat it. Not wanting to make it a Thing, I let her have it as her before-bed snack.

I'll admit it: I was pretty freaked out by this series of events. Nora is generally pretty good about self-regulating her food intake, but lately I've noticed her eating more than she really needs of certain favorite foods - mostly cheesy pasta (stuffed shells, tortellini, etc.), breads, and waffles. I know that it's more than she needs because if I tell her that she needs to eat something else (such as a vegetable or piece of fruit) before I heat up more of the food she's asking for, she'll announce that she's not hungry after all and wander off to play, and will not mention being hungry again until close to the next scheduled snack or meal time. And I worry about her because I'm overweight, I struggle with binge eating (especially on carb-heavy foods, just like the ones she's overeating), I have trouble self-regulating my eating, and I don't want her to grow up to struggle with her body and her relationship with food in the same ways that I do.

In sum, I worry that she's learning to overeat by watching me do it. And I'm worried that I'm primarily responsible for messing up her ability to self-regulate her intake of these types of foods.

A few months ago, I read a very enlightening book called Like Mother, Like Daughter: How Women Are Influenced By Their Mothers' Relationship with Food - And How to Break the Pattern. As I was reading it, I was really struck by the author's message on the dangers of yo-yo dieting - both to our own bodies and to our daughters' perceptions of their own and their mothers' bodies. I put the book down and resolved to eat when I was hungry and "trust my body" from that point forward. Sure enough, within a few days, I'd started binge eating again and become convinced that I wasn't strong enough or smart enough to interpret my bodies' signals. I gained several pounds and immediately went on a diet - a diet which went straight to hell after a few days because I got stressed and ate more than I was supposed to and then couldn't get back on track. And so the cycle continued.

I think there was some part of me that thought that as long as Nora didn't know exactly what I was doing to my body, and as long as I continued feeding her well and giving her the "right" messages about eating when hungry and stopping when full, that she would be okay. "Do as I say, not as I do," or something like that. I was careful to weigh myself when she was out of the room, not to enter calories into my tracker in front of her, etc. I don't know why I thought that would work. She's a bright kid! Even if I wasn't announcing my intentions, she could still observe on her own that I was eating only a little bit of food for several days in a row, then eating a whole lot of food for several days after that. She could certainly see which foods I was overeating. And she was apparently learning from all of that, even when I thought I was hiding my own body issues oh-so-well.

So basically, the authors of that book were right.

I really, really, really don't want to pass on my messed-up relationship with food to my children. Until last night, I actually thought that I could teach them regulation, self-control, balance, moderation, and a love of eating without figuring out any of those things for myself. That was naive, and Nora's actions last night have made abundantly clear the necessity of confronting my own demons if I'm ever going to be able to teach her and her brother how to eat well and respect their own bodies.

I've been trying to do that today. Breakfast was a bowl of cereal (plain Cheerios), a small glass of skim milk, and 2/3 of a banana (Nora ate the other 1/3). My morning snack was a handful of blueberries, a couple small wedges of melon, and a glass of water. Lunch was three soy chicken nuggets, a large serving of peas, and half of a baked potato seasoned with black pepper and sea salt. My first afternoon snack (I'm sure there will be another at some point because we eat a very early lunch over here) was a glass of chocolate milk and a package of peanut butter crackers. I've been trying to cut back on soda and add in more water - the rule I made for myself is that I have to have a glass of water between each can of diet coke. I'm on diet coke #3 right now - which for almost 2 PM, is actually really good for me (I'm generally on #4 or #5 by this point). I haven't tracked any calories and I don't intend to. I'm trying really hard to just listen to what my body is telling me, feed it when it's hungry, and make good nutritional choices without sacrificing flavor and the joy of eating.

It's hard! I'm coming off of a few days of overeating, so I'm actually still pretty hungry right now, even though I've eaten what I consider to be a reasonable amount of food so far today. The temptation to (a) ignore the hunger or (b) overfeed the hunger is really strong. I'm realizing that I'm afraid of being hungry - it's not a sensation that I generally respond to in an appropriate manner. I'm planning to go and eat an apple when I'm done writing this - that seems like a good middle ground between starving myself and downing three bowls of cereal, which are my more natural inclinations when encountering hunger at a time that I don't want to be eating. But it's really hard. It's a big, big struggle for me.

The other struggle is with giving myself permission to not be perfect at this. I've been yo-yo dieting for decades at this point. Expecting to immediately be able to turn off those ingrained habits and just start eating "normally" is unrealistic. But I'm a perfectionist and it's so easy to say, "well, crap, I suck at this... might as well just do what I want, then." Especially when what I want is to forget about all of this "treating my body with respect" business and eat a whole bag of Oreos.

But at this point, it's not just about me. It's about Nora, who's emulating me. It's about Isaac, who won't be far behind if I don't get a grip. I'm hoping that I can do for them what I've never been able to do for myself. And yes, I recognize that the self-worth issues tied up in that statement warrant their own soul-searching... but one thing at a time. Baby steps.

And Isaac is waking up from his nap now, so I guess I'd better go get him and eat that apple.

Back to Home Back to Top Blog content (c) 2011 by Lisa at Chaos and Quiet. Blog theme: Ligneous. Theme adapted for Blogger by Chica Blogger.