Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wildfires Follow-up: Correction on Plane Groundings

In an earlier post, I whined about military red tape being to blame for the delay in getting air craft up in the air during the wild fires. I hadn't heard the story firsthand because I was trying to keep the kids away from the media blitz. But Rowena wrote to me that I had it wrong-- and darned if I didn't. So thanks to Rowena for letting me know that my reference to the "stupid military" wasn't accurate.

[As a side note, I never considered when I posted that comment that I might come across as anti-military. I'm definitely not anti-military. I don't know how anyone growing up in San Diego could be. I appreciate all our military does, and I'm awed by how their families hold down the fort while they are away, often on very long deployments. I remember how hard it was for me during Desert Storm when my dad was away and we didn't know for how long, but he was an Air Force pilot, so his time away was nothing compared to what Navy families experience on a pretty regular basis-- and nothing compared to what families are going through nowadays.]

Anyway, the way I'd heard the story was that the planes couldn't fly in California because of military red tape that was not allowing the planes in the air. I had heard that Brian Bilbray negotiated a deal to get the equipment (or people?) here from Colorado. But this was erroneous. The way it works is that air crafts need "spotters" to fly with them, and there weren't enough spotters. And this is a state rule, not a federal one-- which means that it definitely was not military red tape. What Brian Bilbray did was broker a deal to waive some of the "spotter" requirements so that the aircraft could get off the ground. Though it does appear that some military planes (C-130s) were not properly equipped as they should have been, and there is apparently a plan to rectify that.

There are much better explanations than the one I gave on CNN, MSNBC, and USA Today, if you're interested.

Mostly, I wanted to thank Rowena for letting me know I had it all wrong-- I'd e-mail you if I had an address, to thank you more personally. I love that someone out there is actually reading this blog closely enough to call me out on something when I deserve it! So thanks, Rowena.

And if anyone has an opinion about why the spotters are necessary and should never be waived, I'm open to hearing about it. And yes, I do realize that it's entirely possible that even if we had all the spotters we needed and the C-130s were appropriately equipped, the winds might have prohibited the planes from flying!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fish Oil and the Fires

When we evacuated during the fires, I had my wits enough about me to grab Casey's giant jar of (liquid) lemon-flavored fish oil. I packed it in some gel ice and a cooler bag and we put it in the fridge at our friends' house. Each night, we gave him fish oil before bed. This is part of his daily routine, and he asks for "fish owawa" if we forget. For a child who is picky about his brand of peanut butter and who refuses to eat pretty much everything, I'm still not sure why he enjoys the fish oil so much, but he does.

Why give him fish oil? Well, Casey has some difficulty with attention and behavior. Much of this is the result of him be a late-bloomer when it comes to communicating. His speech has improved dramatically with time, and I'm sure he's less frustrated now, better able to sit still and focus. But I also know it's the fish oil. Within a week of starting him on fish oil, every single adult who interacts with him asked us what we changed-- he seemed so much more calm and focused. And fish oil aids the memory, too.

Anyway, when we left our friends' home, I did remember to take the fish oil with us. But we were still evacuated, so we didn't go home right away. Instead, we left the kids with Jason's parents for part of the day, and that's also where we left the fish oil. That was Wednesday. And Casey hasn't had fish oil since.

I did go by and pick up the jar of it this evening. But it's already obvious he's missing it. He got in a heated discussion with his best friend at school today (also called a fight, though they did make up). He threw a tantrum when his teacher told him he couldn't eat the special orange-flavored MnMs I brought home with me from New York for lunch, that he had to eat his sandwich first. At dinner, he talked so much-- about nothing and everything-- that neither Jason nor I could get a word in edgewise, then he shoved two fish sticks and part of a banana in his mouth all at once. At book time, he couldn't sit still to finish a single book. He kept interrupting me with questions. He did take his fish oil tonight, but he didn't go to bed until after he asked me to race him to his room twice, then kiss him good night three times.

And now, he's laying in bed awake. I can hear him. I won't go check on him yet, because he's trying to put himself to sleep. I think. He may just be playing with Lightning McQueen. I'm not sure. But his mind is clearly racing, making it hard to calm himself to sleep.

If I weren't a believer in fish oil before the fires, I sure am now. That stuff is miraculous.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Young at Heart

I hope I didn't worry you all with my previous post-- Old Lady. I knew when I decided to change careers after eleven years in education that I'd be behind the curve. Someone even asked me about how that would make me feel in an interview once. Really, though, how can you know? I don't think it's the age thing so much as being at a different place in life. And I don't just mean that I have kids and the only other female first year associate with children (whom I know of) is from my home office. (Come to think of it, though, that makes me pretty lucky.) What I do mean is that we're at completely different stages of life.

By now I'm mostly used to being with people who are proven, responsible adults. That may mean children. But it could just mean holding down a job. Not partying every single night. And yes, you can do both-- hold down a job conscientiously and still party every night. So I don't know what my problem is. I could just sense the lack of life experience in the room. And that brings me back to age.

There are definite advantages of being older. I recognize the benefits of working for a firm like ours, where they've opted to take the long view of an attorney's lifetime in the profession and really invest in training us. Unless you've worked in places where you have to root around for your own paper and writing utensils, where you ask for things like stickers, scissors, and markers for Christmas from your family and friends, and where everyone you know drives a car that's at least 10 years old, it's hard to understand what I mean. I guess it's not fair to make that generalization. I mean, teachers may have to scavenger for supplies, but I don't think most people do. Still, my point is that sometimes you don't know how good you have it unless you have something else to compare it to. Not in a grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence comparison, but in a gosh-this-is-a-nice-gig-and-I-know-because-I've-been-around-the-block way. And I haven't even been around a very big block-- I'm. not. that. old. Plus, I'm not too proud. I expect my assistant to train me. I ask her to critique my work. I ask her a million dumb questions. I'm not too full of myself to forget to thank her. And I'm not too insecure to ask for help when I need it. Which is kind of frequently.

And the thing is I know I'm way goofier and sillier and have way more laughter in my life than probably a lot of other first-year associates. Because I'm a mom. Sure, it may be harder for me than for others to take three days off and head to New York-- even for fun--because I have something tethering me to my home. But I can assure you I dance just as much (maybe more), I make funny faces, I laugh openly at myself and my children. I read more books for pleasure, even if many of them only average five words in length. I am more aware of the larger world environment and the way we're leaving things behind because of my kids. Sure, I worry more. And I drink way less-- though I think that getting punch-drunk with the giddiness of the antics of my children is way more fun that stumbling around and forgetting what happened the next day.

Yeah. They're a young crop, the other first year associates. Younger and probably smarter than me. And I bet I can learn a lot from them-- and I'm open to that. But I wouldn't do it over. I wouldn't want to take back the last 10 years as a teacher and instructional designer. They may be young, but I'm young at heart.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Old Lady

This weekend I'm away from my family, in New York City for a first-year associates' training. All the first year associates firmwide are here in Times Square. There are somewhere between 80 and 100 of us. And, well, I'm feeling pretty darn old.

Last night we arrived just in time for the cocktail hour. The food was yummy and the wine was nice. But, well, I pretty much suck at small talk. I suppose not always. I mean, I'm a talker. But I had trouble finding common ground. I'd met a couple really nice, friendly people early on. Then I felt my phone ring, and I saw it was a message from the school district. So I disappeared into the coat closet to listen to the message (over 300 students and 20 staff members lost their homes in the wild fires last week). I scared the heck out of an associate in the San Francisco office who had stepped into the coat closet to hang up her coat. But we got to talking. And she was super cool, so that was nice. I met some other nice San Francisco folks, a couple interesting people from Silicon Valley. And (finally) it was time for dinner.

I was put in a group of 8 to go to Bobby Flay's (is that how you spell his name?) restaurant Bar Americain, where I indulged in some rib eye, some asparagus, and a diet coke. Everyone seemed really . . . well, young. They chatted on and on about the cooking channel (yes, I realize Top Chef has nothing to do with age). Then the subject turned to Saved by the Bell and I knew I was in trouble. I couldn't even remember screeches name. And my childhood shows-- 90210 and Melrose Place-- were apparently popular while the other 7 people in my group were in middle school.

No one else was married or had kids. Everyone else, except my friend from the San Diego office, had essentially gone straight through from undergrad to law school, and most of them were graduates of big-name schools-- Stanford, Yale, Boalt, and Harvard.

At one point I asked a San Francisco associate who had mentioned a couple times that her brothers live in San Francisco if she lived with either of her brothers. I figured this was an innocent enough question. After all, I lived with my older brother when he was a first year associate. And even after I moved out, my younger brother moved in-- and lived with Bob through Bob's marriage and the birth of Bob's first child. Bob was in his early 30s when Bryan got married and moved out.

Anyway, she scrunched up her face and said, "Ew. No. I mean, I couldn't live with my brother. He's old. He's 32."

I laughed heartily and said I didn't think 32 was old-- I'm 33 and will be 34 next month. And besides, I explained, my brother had one of us living with him well into his thirties. Heck, depending on how you look at it, my sister still lives with him (albeit in a separate apartment in his building, but she hangs out in the main house a lot). And then we promptly changed the subject.

But I couldn't shake feeling old. All day long. I called home throughout the day to see how the kids were doing (Marcie was hanging out with Aunt Megan and Casey had a blast at Kaitlyn's birthday party, but baseball and music class were canceled because of the fires). And I missed them terribly. All day long.

Of course I'm not the oldest person here. And I'm not the only first year associate who has kids. And I'm over-reacting and feeling academically insecure. But still. . .

Tonight's event went better. Well, after getting lost finding our way to the dinner location. We went the wrong way down 40th. Then later discovered the place wasn't on West 40th, but West 39th. We found it eventually, grabbed the sparkling wine, then jumped into place chopping herbs, mushrooms, garlic, and onion for the portion of dinner we were making. Next we moved to wine-tasting. Followed by a delicious meal with another 3 wines. Then a tiramisu dessert with a dessert wine. Conversation flowed more easily tonight. I sat next to a New York associate whose wife is from China and has a 5 year old and a one year old. Also at the table was a small group of associates from the D.C. office. Their office sounds pretty entertaining.

After dinner, we walked around a bit, and then my friend Jennie and I bumped into one of those D.C. associates in the lobby of our swank hotel. They were getting ready to head out (and we're off to bed), but Jennie had a little more than half a giant bottle of Saki left from dinner last night, so she gave it to them. They were shocked. And thrilled. And they invited us to go to the village with them (I had to ask if that meant Greenwich Village-- it does). We declined. I told them we're too old and couldn't handle anymore liquor tonight. We all laughed. Then we headed up to our rooms and they headed out.

I'm feeling much better about the people. Still old, though. And still missing my family.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Getting Back to Normal

The fires are still raging. They are now burning primarily east, and the winds have died down. There are still homes and other structures at risk along Palomar Mountain and Lake Arrowhead and in east county. But most residents -- those in neighborhoods where the homes are still standing-- have been permitted to return. Despite warnings that the air is very unhealthy and requests that people stay indoors, I did see a few (crazy) people outside running this morning. A thick layer of muck covers much of the county's sky, and tonight's moon is glowing eerily.

Our kids are fast asleep in their own beds. Their campfire-smelling sheets have been washed. We began the process of washing all our clothes and towels this morning. The kids spent the day with their grandmother, two of their aunts, and their soon-to-be uncle.

As it turns out, their preschool re-opened today. Which I would have known if I'd bothered to call them. I'm so accustomed to using the Internet as a primary source of information that I didn't even think to call. Tomorrow they'll be back in school. Marcie's Halloween Parade and Potluck, originally scheduled for tomorrow, has been rescheduled for Halloween. And I think most people are still planning to let their kids go trick-or-treating on Halloween, even though the fires (and thus the smoke) won't be contained until just before Halloween and controlled until around November 4th. (Contained describes fire-break perimeters, and controlled means the fire has been put out.)

Our community is accepting donations and volunteers. You can find more information at poway.org. Of course the Salvation Army and the Red Cross (designate option 2- San Diego/Imperial Counties Local Disaster Fund) are also taking donations.

I read that some of the Rancho Bernardo residents were comforted by President Bush's visit today. At least they said they were when the President asked them point blank. Like what else are you going to say? You're in an assistance center because you've just lost your home, all your belongings, and you escaped a devastating fire at the last minute, with just the clothes on your back. What are you supposed to say? No, Mr. President. I don't feel comforted by your arrival or your kind words. If your stupid military had less red tape, the federal planes that we so desperately needed would have been here sooner. But I understand that you don't really have time to worry about such things as your own citizens-- seeing as how you're so busy worrying about the Iraqis. I know, I know. I try not to get too political on my blog. And it certainly was a nice gesture. I'd probably be pissed if the President didn't even bother to tour the devastation and talk to people affected by the wildfires. But still, if you have to ask if people are comforted, I'm thinking that's a bad sign.

Ok. That wasn't the point of this post. The point was to let you all know that we're returning to life as usual-- or at least trying. The kids go back to school tomorrow. Casey will attend one of his best friend's birthday parties on Saturday. And in less than a week, we'll be eating chili with Jason's parents and trekking our little witch/wizard and our little butterfly all over our neighborhood for yummy Halloween loot, which we'll promptly confiscate after they're in bed, dolling out bits and pieces for about 5 days before telling them it's all gone because they ate it all.

Marcie has been putting on Casey's witch hat, saying, "I'm a witch," and then attempting to cackle. It cracks me up every time she does it. She wanted to be a banana for Halloween, but the banana costume didn't come in toddler size, so Casey helped us put together a butterfly costume for her instead. Gosh, I sure do love being a mom--the kids really ground me. . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wildfire Update: Released to Go Home

We learned around 11:00 am this morning that we've been released to return home-- our entire city has. The winds appear to have died down significantly enough that they believe the embers from the homes that have burned won't blow toward our home. All told, somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 homes were lost in our small city. Those are losses that have been confirmed.

Casey had trouble sleeping last night. He kept waking up, telling me he was scared. And this morning when we told him we were going back home, he said he wanted to stay at Lucas's because of the big fire. But when we got back toward our home and told him we might be able to sleep at home tonight, he seemed relieved and happy.

I am so impressed with the way the county's residents handled the evacuations-- at least so far. Estimates put around 500,000 residents evacuated, and yet our shelters housed only around 10% of that, and maybe less. That means that over 400,000 people stayed with friends or family or in hotels (which were sold out). That means a lot of people opened their homes to displaced residents, and I personally am impressed by that. They have actually had to turn away donations at many of the evacuation centers because of the outpouring of community giving. The evacuation center near our home put out a request yesterday around 2pm for certain items. By 6pm they were requesting no more donations because they were fully stocked. I personally know at least one evacuee staying with family who brought stuff to the evacuation center after checking on his home yesterday. I think that's cool.

It will feel good to go home tonight. To clean out the ash and the soot. To sleep in my own bed. But I'm still pretty emotional about it all. And, again, it wasn't the thought of losing the house that was upsetting; it was the physical displacement of my kids.

The friends we stayed with were very gracious and generous. Their child-proofed home was an oasis for the kids, who had a blast on their extended play date. We entertained them with a trip to the Pt. Loma library (which has a boat in it) and an afternoon at J.W. Tumbles, which opened (for free!). When I get a bit more settled and swipe the photos from our friends, I'll post a few on the blog.

The schools are closed through the end of the week, but businesses began opening up again today. And my family had a trip planned to San Diego, which they plan to follow through on, which will help with child care. I'm still planning to head off to New York for work this weekend. I'm hopeful that as these things all happen, a sense of normalcy will return to our lives.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Still Evacuated

Along with about 10% of the county of San Diego, we're still evacuated. I can't tell from the news reports if the fire has spread closer to our home, but it appears the fire is burning west toward the coast. Of course, the winds are unpredictable, and we haven't been released for return-- but it looks like, at least for the time-being, our home will be okay. A friend did some recon, and he said things looked quiet last night. But this morning I read they had arrested some looters in Ramona, which doesn't surprise me in the least, though does sadden me.

What's more important, though, is that we're okay, we're all together, and our kids are enjoying themselves on the longest playdate ever. I admit it. I'm pretty freaked out. Much more than I was the last time-- and I could see flames from my house then. But, again, there weren't winds and they were able to sort of contain it. The Witch Fire, which is burning houses in our community, isn't at all contained yet, and it's been burning for a couple days now. Somehow, too, it feels like there's so much more to lose. I'm not talking about our stuff, because that's just stuff. But keeping our kids safe and comfortable-- and more importantly feeling safe and comfortable is hard when we're not feeling that way. But I suppose that's part of what parenting is about. Helping our kids live through disaster without really feeling affected by it. Maybe that's a crazy thought. But they're young.

The city of San Diego is pretty much shut down today, and we know our local schools are closed at least through tomorrow. So we're all home from work/ school (well, not home, but you know what I mean). These sure are interesting times . . .

Monday, October 22, 2007

San Diego Wildfire Update-- Evacuated

So much for us being safe and sound at home.

We were evacuated this morning.

We're fine. We don't believe our house is likely to find itself in any of the fires' paths, but the air quality is poor, and there are fires burning, literally, on pretty much all sides of our community.

We have taken up residence in our friends' house. Our kids our playing.

Sigh. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wildfires--

For those of you who know where we live, yes, we are being affected by the Southern California Wildfires. Again.

The Santa Ana winds are awfully strong-- much stronger than they were in October 2003, the last time wildfires whipped through our area. In fact, I'm not even sure there were Santa Ana winds in 2003. But there are now. Averaging 35-40 miles per hour, and sometimes hitting 60 miles per hour.

We closed up all the windows around 1:00pm this afternoon, when the smell of smoke and the darkened sky became evident. But that hasn't prevented the ash, the soot, and the smoke from infiltrating just about everything.

Our home is in no immediate danger. We are not listed among those who should prepare to evacuate, and we have not been evacuated. We do not anticipate being evacuated. And for that we are quite grateful.

But the smoke is pretty bad. Our eyes burn. Our throats are scratchy. Our sinuses are being challenged by the smell of camp fire.

To combat this, we are camping out in the master bedroom tonight-- the whole family: dog, kids, us. We've turned on three hepa-filter air purifiers in there, and although it's really loud, the air quality is significantly better.

Our public schools are closed tomorrow. We don't know if the preschool is open. We don't know if Jason's office is open-- it's closer to the fires than our house is. We do know we'll be keeping the kids indoors, and maybe heading off to Aunt Tiffy's if the air remains clear(er) up there.

We'll keep you posted.

Problem Solving Skills

A year or two ago Casey began escaping while I was in the shower. He'd just figured out how to open the front door. And he did. And he took little field trips around the neighborhood. One time, I discovered he was missing while I was in my towel and a neighbor had him back on our front stoop in the time it took me to throw on some clothes. As a result of this behavior and our acknowledgement that on occasion we'd have to leave him unattended while one of us was in the shower and the other one not around, we installed a hotel room-style safety latch. It's near the top of the door, as high up as I can reach with my arm stretched up toward the sky. This has worked like a charm. It's a little inconvenient when we have guests, because we have to remember to keep it unlocked. But for the most part it works well because we predominantly enter and exit the house through the garage door.

Today I stepped into the garage to collect some papers that had blown into the yard from the garage. The Santa Ana winds are pretty strong. And there's a brush far about 70 miles east. The high winds have picked up the smoke and dropped it squarely over our home. We did close up the windows and pump up the air purifiers to high, but the smell still permeates the house. I smell like I've been sitting at a bon fire.

I'd planned to take the kids out front with me this afternoon so we could hang up our Halloween decorations-- witch/skull streamers, a giant spider, and maybe a blow-up pumpkin with ghosts chasing each other inside. But the smoke has made that unhealthy. So instead, while I was in the garage putting away the papers I'd collected, I decided to at least hang our front door's welcome sign, replete with pumpkin costume on bear. In the box with all our seasonal welcome signs I found two wooden pumpkins that traditionally adorn our hallway table just inside the front door during October and November. Just then, the kids opened the door to the garage and poked out their heads, inquiring into my activity.

I handed each of them a pumpkin and asked them to take them inside. A minute or so later, I heard the doorbell ring. Again. And again. I thought this was strange since I'd just been outside and hadn't seen anyone approach the driveway. And the repeated rings suggested they were small hands busy at play. So I plowed into the living/play room calling for the kids, when I was stopped in my tracks. And darnit, I didn't have my camera on me.

There, in the hallway in front of the door was a kitchen chair and a little yellow playskool table chair pulled up behind it. The hotel-style lock had been unlatched, the front door unlocked, and I could hear little voices from the other side of the door.

I let the kids back in. They had misunderstood my directions and hand-carried the pumpkins through the house to the front stoop, where they lined them up in front of the door.

It was so cute, I just couldn't be mad. And even though I'm totally bummed Casey has used his problem-solving skills to figure out the hotel-style latch, I'm a tiny bit proud of him, too. And I suspect Marcie understood exactly what Casey was doing, as she had pulled up the little yellow chair so she could copy his activities.

So now I'm looking for new suggestions on how to keep my kids safely inside so that I can bathe every once in a while even if they are awake. Please share. Please.

Pumpkin Patch

Every October, we like to head on up to Bates Nut Farm, where nuts from all over the world come together. Their pumpkin patch boasts a tractor hayride, a horse-drawn hayride, pony rides, a petting zoo, a bouncy house, a rock climbing wall, arts and crafts, and of course nuts, among other food items. I think there may be a corn maze. And of course there are pumpkins.

We've been to the pumpkin patch in sweltering heat, overcast skies, and even rain. This year was quite temperate, but super-windy, with 35 mile per hour santa ana winds (which are responsible for pushing a brush fire our way, actually, forcing us to close up our windows on this beautiful October Sunday).

This year we were fortunate to meet up with some of our friends. There a two couples we socialize with with relative frequency. The other two couples hang out with other couple friends, but we really don't much. Anyway, one of the cool things about them is that their kids are 6 months older than and younger than Marcie. I think of Marcie as "the bridge child," which really is silly because the oldest of the three, Lucas, is much more into Casey than Marcie. And the youngest of the three, Katelyn isn't really into anybody yet-- she's still too young. But in my head, I think our kids will be best friends because they're all close in age. And yeah, I know I shouldn't push that expectation on my kids. I mean just because I like their parents doesn't mean they have to like each other. But I'm digressing. The point of explaining these other two families is that I recently realized we've never tried to get pictures of all our kids together. Until today.

Below is a shot we got (our first one) of the four kids. And I love it. I think everything about this picture is a riot-- from what the sign says to Marcie's expression. It cracks me up.


It's not the only good shot we got of the kids. Though they aren't exactly looking at the camera in the rest of them. Here's Lucas and Casey clowning around:

And here's the best shot (sadly) I got of Marcie and Casey. One thing you'll notice is that the kids are wearing identical I heart Mom t-shirts. I had picked out orange and green tops for the kids, but Marcie insisted on these. She's become quite opinionated these days. And she's letting us know it. Or hear it, anyway. I can tell her second birthday isn't far off.

And the last shot I got of the kids was of them all hanging out in the pumpkins and eating a snack (one of their favorite things to do).


We also met up with some friends of ours who have kids who are a little older. It was so nice of them to trek all the way up to Valley Center to hop on a hayride and wander through the pumpkin patch with us. I'm always so impressed by how well-behaved their eight- and ten-year olds are. Casey spent quite a bit of time chasing their 10-year-old all over the pumpkin patch. And I even snapped a couple photos of Casey with him-- which I'm withholding for privacy sake because I haven't asked his parents for permission. Suffice to say, Casey had a blast following the 10-year-old's lead. And then Casey had a monstrous meltdown. He couldn't adequately express to me what he was so upset about, but his whining was getting on my nerves and the random screeching he directed at me told me it was time to race home. So we immediately did just that. Without even so much as a good-bye to our friends! Yikes! Their parents, though, so I'm hopeful they understood what happened. Casey didn't really calm down even after we got home-- but he is napping now.

Oh. And although Marcie's not smiling in this picture, I promise she's having a good time. Here's our annual family pumpkin patch photo:


Thursday, October 18, 2007

"I Would Gather Children"

Last summer Jason began telling people we plan to have five children. It was news to me. But I wasn't upset by his statements-- more amused than anything. Shocked, people would say to me, "FIVE?!? REALLY?!?" And I'd just laugh it off.

But truthfully, I have never really given any thought to the number of children we'd have in the end. I mean, I knew I wanted three. But I didn't foreclose on the idea of more.

There are plenty of reasons not to have a troupe of children, high among them the costs associated with raising them. I could post about the estimated cost of raising a child today, but it's not actually the point of this post. Children are expensive. It's true. But they are more than money-sucking-machines.

One thing I love about my parents is that they really appreciate me and my three siblings. And they tell us. They tell us how happy they are to see us happy. To see us enjoy our time with our own children. To see how in love we are with our respective spouses (and fiance in Megan's case). My parents know many people who have more expendible cash either because they opted for children-free lifestyles or because they opted to wait (and collect financial resources) before starting a family. And I've heard them comment frequently that they are happy they started their family young, happy to have four children-- they may know others with more cash, my dad recently told me, but they would be hard-pressed to find others as rich as they are. And he's probably right.

It's definitely a life philosophy.

Today I came across this poem, and it made me think of Jason and his announcement last summer that we were going to have five children (which we actually haven't decided, by the way-- all we've decided at this juncture is that we definitely want three kids). So I'll end this post with these words:

I Would Gather Children
-- author unknown

Some would gather money
Along the path of life,
Some would gather roses,
And rest from worldly strife.

But I would gather children
From among the thorns of sin,
I would seek a golden curl,
And a freckled, toothless grin.

For money cannot enter
In that land of endless day,
And roses that are gathered
Soon will wilt along the way.

But oh, the laughing children,
As I cross the sunset sea,
And the gates swing wide to heaven
I can take them in with me!

Addendum to Run Off the Road

Tonight I headed out for another jog through the neighborhood.

Once again, I donned my reflective shoes, shorts, and running vest.

Paranoid that I'd run into that darned CRV driver, I jumped up on the sidewalk pretty much every time a semi-SUV-looking vehicle headed toward me.

Near the end of my run, as I was getting ready to run the big hill back up to my house, a convertible with two male passengers slowed to a stop. I ran toward them and could see the driver was talking to me, but I couldn't hear what he was saying over my i-tunes. Thinking that perhaps they were lost, and keeping my distance, I pulled an earbud out of my right ear to listen:

"I just wanted to compliment you on your vest," he called to me.

"Oh?"

"Yes. It's very good. I could see it from really far away."

"That's the idea," I called back.

"Well, it works," he said. "It took us a long time to reach you-- we could see the vest for such a long time. Just thought you should know how well it works!"

"Thanks," I grinned.

And away he drove, me following slowly behind, trudging up the hill home. Somehow, I felt redeemed. . .

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Run Off the Road

I've been pretty good about working out on my lunch hour, but today it didn't happen. I tried to run on the treadmill while Casey was at swim class, but Marcie saw me and she wasn't going to leave me in the "wellness" room. So after only five minutes, I stopped. Later after we got home and got the kids settled in eating dinner, I decided to go for a run through the neighborhood.

Now, when I run at night, I wear running shoes with reflectors, I wear a light colored shirt, and sometimes I wear my visor with reflectors or my lightweight running jacket with reflectors (tonight I wore the jacket). Then, I wear a reflector vest so that I'm easily visible.

Also, when I run, I don't run on sidewalks if I can help it. I run on the side of the road, just outside the gutter on the asphalt. I run facing traffic (not with it). And if I see a car headed toward me and there's a parked car in the road, I jump back on to the sidewalk so I don't freak out the driver.

The reason I run in the street is because it's a softer surface and better for my knees. Also, the up and down of the sidewalk with the driveways make it an uneven surface, more likely I'll lose my footing and also not so great for my knees. The reason I run facing/toward traffic is because I want to make sure drivers see me, and even if they don't I certainly see them, so I can get out of dodge if I have to.

I'm pretty careful and pretty respectful. I don't stay in the street on corners where I know cars take the corner tightly. I run in well-lit places. I run through the neighborhood and never on the main thoroughfare because it's better lit and feels safer. If I were to get injured, at least I could crawl to a nearby house or something. And even though I could run on the dirt track at the park at the end of the street, which is lit and closed to cars, there are a lot of bushes and it just doesn't feel self for a girl alone at night.

But tonight some asshole decided it'd be funny to run me off the run. Or to try to. And I don't know that it was a guy. I just have a hard time calling a woman an asshole-- seems like a term more appropriate for a man.

So I was running on a flat part of the neighborhood (there's only one flat section in my neighborhood, and it's less than half a mile stretch). There were two cars heading in my direction. I was just past a streetlight. There were no parked cars on the road. And as this Honda CRV passed me, it veered directly into me, and the driver leaned on the horn.

I was more startled by the horn than the swerve, and I turned to try to catch a glimpse of the license plate, but it wasn't in a lit frame, so I missed it. Plus, I knew there was another car headed my way.

It happened too quickly for me to get all the way up on the sidewalk. And to be honest, if I had made that leap, I would have landed literally into a set of mailboxes. I muttered a couple of choice words that I won't put in writing here. But they sure wouldn't make my mom proud, and I kept on running. I ran through the scenarios-- what if the car came back for me? Where would I go? Would I be confrontational? Would I run like hell in the opposite direction of the car? Should I try to find where the car went so I could report it?

In the end, I just ran. And ran. And felt super paranoid for the remaining 20 minutes of the run. I never saw the CRV again. And I didn't change the way I ran. So if the asshole was trying to "teach me a lesson," all I learned was to pay closer attention to license plate numbers when running in the dark. I mean, really. Was it supposed to be funny? Was I supposed to scream? Was he trying to teach me a lesson? There's no city ordinance against running in the street. Runners and pedestrians in generally don't have to follow the typical road rules followed by cyclists and drivers.

If I'd gotten the license plate number, I really do think I'd file a report. Who wants an asshole like that speeding through their neighborhood? There are much better ways to express yourself than attempting to scare the heck out of someone. Someone trying to keep stress down and weight off, no less. Someone trying to lead a healthy life.

Come to think of it, isn't there a tort I could sue for? I just had a flash back to Bar Review-- and studying assault. In criminal law it has two meanings: attempted battery or intentionally causing anxiety or fear. In tort it's just the latter. . . Hmm. Well, nothing I can do about it now, except keeping my eyes open for the white- CRV-driving asshole in my neighborhood. Yeah. Good times.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Weekend in Review

Ok, so I cheated a little. The first two photos are of Casey and Marcie on their respective school field trips to the pumpkin patch last week. Fortunately, Other Grandma (my mom) was in town to take Marcie.

The rest of the photos highlight the weekend. The third photo cut off Geoff's head, unfortunately, but those are "the boys" in Vegas, and the next picture (row two, far left) is of "the girls." Both were taken at the Four Seasons, which has the most amazing breakfast buffet, complete with a donut guy who made me two donuts to order while I watched (and directed). I felt slightly entitled because I'd actually gotten up by 8:30am and gone running on the spa treadmill. It was a pricey run ($27 just for day access!), making me think I should have just scheduled a treatment and gotten the access for free! Once again, though, I digress.

The next series of photos are Casey and his cousin Joey at the annual Fire Station Open House. It was rainy (which San Diego really needed, so no complaints from me-- particularly given that I was out of town). Then, the bottom row, middle, is of me and my dad. The last time I took a photo with him, I was sticking my tongue out and he was looking on disgustedly. It was his idea of a practical joke on me, and if I had more time, I'd link to the original post with that picture, but I'm too lazy to search the archives, so you'll just have to trust my description of things. Anyway, while my mom was here in So. Cal., Dad was able to schedule an overnight in Vegas. So he joined the gang for dinner at Michael Mena's Strip Steak, the new restaurant at Mandalay Bay. Dad was good, too-- he had salmon, not steak. It was fun to catch up with him; it always is.

And the last photo is one Casey took tonight at dinner. After we returned home, we headed over to the Halloween Super Store to help Casey pick out a witch costume. He has his heart set on it-- just like in the Charlie Brown show. And although he initially told us he wanted a green face, once he saw what that meant (make-up), he changed his mind. But he loves the hat he picked out. We still haven't decided on anything for Marcie just yet. And neither has she. Anyway, the store was right next door to Casey's favorite restaurant, and after our last debacle there (where Jason ended up with cold food, my burger was missing half the bun, the server literally threw a cup of apple juice at us, and we were seated in a bustling mall alleyway), this was a much better experience. Really, it was like eating at a completely different restaurant! Casey's getting pretty good at snapping photos, and even though he cut off Jason's head a bit, I love the picture of Marcie with her dad.

One last thing-- my mom did manage to make pumpkin pie from scratch. Two of them. Jason says it's delicious (I haven't tasted it yet). Casey, who was the one all gung-ho about doing it, took one, gigantic bite, then practically gagged and spit the pumpkin pie out. It was fun to help make it, but he won't be partaking in pumpkin pie again any time soon (wish I had a photo of his expression!). . .

Alas, it is Sunday night, and I'll be off to bed soon. When I was in law school, I never went to bed before 11pm or midnight. Now I'm lucky to make it to 10pm. And I'm at least a week behind in television! Geesh!

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's Official: We're Paper Pregnant!

We have our official Log-In-Date (LID)! This is wonderful news. It's the date China will use to match us with B.S. #3.

Our LID is October 9, 2007!

If the current estimates of 24 months pan out, we should be traveling in early December of 2009.

If the (more likely) speculation pans out (a 36 month wait), we should be traveling near the end of 2010. Yeah, it's a little later than we'd like, putting five years of distance (well, maybe 4 1/2) between Marcie and B.S. #3, but anything can happen.

And if the wait looks like it'll stretch longer than three years . . . well, I'd prefer not to contemplate that possibility. But being a worst-case-scenario planner, I realize that we may get antsy waiting and take alternative action in the mean time (translation: adopt another child while we wait for B.S. #3, who I suppose would become B.S. #4 at that point-- though, technically, if we label our kids in order of when we started the process, B.S. #3 will always be B.S. #3 even if he or she arrives fourth. But I digress).

So Other Grandma (the name my kids have given my mom) is in town this weekend, and Jason and I are off to Autumn in Vegas for a couple nights. Looks like we have something to celebrate (other than the new job, I mean).

The kids will keep O.G. (Other Grandma) busy-- yesterday they sliced up the pumpkin and cooked it like squash and mashed it. I think they plan to make a real pumpkin pie from scratch tonight (aren't grandmas great?!?). And tomorrow they're going to the annual fire station open house (after music and sports classes, of course).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pictures at long last

Finally I have some images to share!

Marcie eating ice cream (what a mess!):

Marcie's 100 Good Wishes Quilt (isn't it gorgeous?!?):

Casey riding the bus to school for the first time:



Video of Casey and his friend Lucas at Baby Loves Disco (I've never tried uploading video before, so I hope this works!):

video

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Keepin' Busy

So today I actually went running during my lunch hour. And took a shower. In a public locker room. I can't remember the last time I did that. Heck, I'm not sure I've ever done that. Maybe once. Do dorms count? Hmm.

So I opted to join the Y. It's not as nice as the super-swank gym in the office building. In fact, it's downright dungeon-like. But after checking out the Y near our house over the weekend and discovering they offer affordable year-round swim lessons, it was hard to justify joining the swank gym. Instead, we joined the Y as a family. We signed up Casey for baseball and swimming, and now that I'm home when the kids go to bed, Jason can even go work out if he wants. So the Y it is.

Aside from running, though, I'm keeping busy. At work. But just as much at home, too. This past weekend, Marcie had music and Casey had sports. Then after nap Jason headed off to a birthday party with Casey and Marcie. They got to see their cousins Joey and Ethan and their cousins, too.

Sunday Casey insisted we go to church. I was exhausted because I'd spent Saturday afternoon and evening scrapbooking (working on Marcie's baby book finally). It wasn't until we were on our way that I realized Casey's real motivation-- he knows if he behaves during church that he gets to go to the Walter Anderson's afterward to watch the trains run through the Bonsai display. After watching the trains, we made a special stop at Starbucks for child-friendly snacks, then headed over to the Y to enroll. After naps, Casey boogied it up at Baby Loves Disco here in San Diego. We met up with a couple of his friends and he danced away at a night club set up for toddlers and preschoolers. The best part was after the hula hoop contest, which Casey didn't participate in. That didn't keep him from slowly making his way to the front of the dance floor during the announcements of the winners. When the woman finished awarding the hula hoop prizes, I saw her say something to Casey, who was standing directly below her. Then she put out the microphone toward him, and I heard Casey's voice over the speakers say, "CASEY!" and then I observed him clapping for himself. It cracked me up. He did run around a bit, but mainly he was enthralled with the projection of the They Might Be Giants DVD of alphabet songs onto a wall in the club. He recognized the video immediately, but it took me a couple songs before I realized what it was. I don't know what he liked more-- seeing the videos or watching his shadow on the wall! Anyway, I will post pictures as soon as I download them.

Yesterday Jason joined Casey's class at the pumpkin patch and bought an extra pumpkin. Jason convinced Casey that Other Grandma (the name Casey has given my mother because she doesn't live in our city) can make pumpkin pies from actual pumpkins. I tried explaining that my mom usually uses the pumpkin that comes in a can, but it was to no avail. You see, my mom is coming to visit for the next few days, and Casey has been chatting to her on the phone, insisting that she make pumpkin pie with him-- from actual pumpkins. Jason and I will be out of town for a couple days, so I'm interested to see what Mom and the kids come up with while we're gone! (I'm personally all for pretending to heat up/mush up the pumpkin or whatever you do and just pouring the canned pumpkin in the bowl to show what happened during nap time or something!)

I guess that's about all. Oh. Except that the top of Marcie's 100 Good Wishes Quilt is finally complete! Vicki, who I used to work with, has been working on it for about a year now-- and it really is amazingly gorgeous. I was thinking of not doing one for B.S. #3, but after seeing Marcie's, I think I'm going to. Well, I'm not going to quilt it, but I think I will ask for that fabric from friends, family, and strangers alike! :) I'll post pictures soon. I promise.

Monday, October 08, 2007

B.S. # 3- Dossier Delivered

We just received word from our agency that our dossier was hand-delivered today to the CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs). Though it's in their hands, they have not officially logged it in yet. It's that LID date that's magic! We'll keep you posted. . .

Friday, October 05, 2007

Stuck in an Elevator

No, the elevator didn't break down. And there wasn't an emergency that necessitated stopping the elevator, either. But I somehow still managed to get stuck in the elevator when I left work this evening.

I was working on a project and lost track of time. Suddenly I realized I needed to be at the pool with Jason to pick up Marcie in 15 minutes' time. But the drive is 35 minutes from work. So I packed up my things, and booked out. As I rode the elevator down to the lobby, I dug through my bag for my car keys, but I couldn't find them. When I got the bottom floor, I still hadn't found them, so I figured I must have left them in one of my desk drawers.

By the time I came to this conclusion, the elevator door had closed and I was alone. I pushed the button to my floor, but the elevator didn't move. Unconcerned, I realized it must be after hours. So I pulled out my key card and followed the directions on it. There's a slot in the elevator below the floor buttons with an arrow. And the key card says "This side up" and has a directional arrow as well. So I inserted the card, slid it through the slot, and then pushed the button to my floor. Nothing happened.

I tried a couple more times. Then I tried flipping the card around, sticking it in the long way, sliding it the other direction. Nothing worked. Sometime during all this, Jason called and asked where I was. I explained I was stuck and that I'd call him back. I also noted that I had reception in the elevator. From my cell phone provider which has a terrible network. Next thing I knew, the elevator was moving. Up. I had no idea why.

It stopped two floors above my floor, but the doors didn't open. I guess some of the elevators hang out by the higher floors so they come more quickly when they are called. Frustrated, I finally pushed L for lobby, and the elevator took me back down to the bottom floor.

I exited, made my way to the guard area, and explained I needed to get back up to my office where I'd left my keys. I showed the gentlemen by key card and asked if they would show me how to use it. One of the guys sighed but agreed to follow me.

And as luck would have it, just as he was showing me how to use it, someone else actually got on the elevator. And used his card. I felt seriously dumb.

Once I got back up to the office, I discovered that my keys were, in fact, with me the entire time. I'd apparently torn the lining of my purse and the keys had slipped into the space between the purse exterior and the lining.

Needless to say, I didn't make it to Casey's last swim lesson before it ended. And I didn't get there in time to save Marcie from hanging out in the men's locker room while Casey showered. I don't know, though, the thought of my daughter in the men's locker room, even if she's not quite two yet, sounds a little more disturbing than my son in the woman's locker room. I know, it's sexist of me. But what do you want from a law school grad who gets stuck in an elevator her first week on the job?

BS # 3-- DTC (Date to China)

Woo Hoo! We received an e-mail this morning. Our completed dossier was mailed to China yesterday. That means our DTC, or date-to-China is October 4, 2007.

China used to match families based on the date their paperwork was mailed, not the date it was received, which is why the DTC matters. Now China matches families to babies (or vice versa) based on the date the dossier was received, or logged in (this is the LID). There is some theory that on occasion, when China doesn't get all the way through a particular date, or if that were to happen, they would honor the DTC. That means that if my paperwork was sent October 4th, but China didn't log it in until October 20th for some reason, theoretically we should get matched before someone who mailed their paperwork October 10th with the same LID of October 20th. Not sure that's accurate. Anymore at least.

We should know our DTC within the next 8 weeks. That doesn't mean our LID will be some time in December; it just means that we'll know what our LID is by early December.

To further complicate things, China has an enormous Trade Fair in October, and the CCAA shuts down for a while (maybe a week?) during it. They were closed this week (October 1-5, 2007). Our paperwork won't arrive for a few days (it usually takes about 4 days), so it may not impact us.

In any event, once we have our LID, we'll officially be paper pregnant for B.S. #3.

Still, a DTC is something to celebrate!

Monday, October 01, 2007

B.S. #3-- On to Translation

We made it through our adoption agency's critical review. I was a little nervous because we're supposed to send 8 family life photos of both Jason and me with other people doing stuff. Truth be told, we're actually pretty active, but one of us is usually taking the photos! So we had several photos of both of us with Marcie, and several of us just the two of us. Even one or two of our whole family. But not many "outsiders" this time. Guess it was fine.

So now our dossier moves into translation, which is when our agency provides translated summaries of all the major information before binding everything together to send it to China, where it's hand-delivered to CCAA (the China Center for Adoption Affairs). CCAI (our agency) estimates it will send out our dossier within a week. That will be our DTC (date to China).

We'll definitely update you all again when there's more news to share!

New Day, New Job

Today I started my new job. I'm not an attorney yet. You have to be admitted to practice to be considered an attorney. I'm just a law school grad being paid to work as, basically, a law clerk. Which means conducting research, writing memos, doing grunt and shadowing real-life attorneys.

Of course, I didn't do any of that today. Today was a luxuriously slow-start to what I hope will be a busy career. Today we attended and participated in computer training. Which consisted of reviewing how to access, edit, and send documents which are all housed in a central computer. We ate lunch and listened to the firm's risk management presentation, which was a reminder of our professional responsibilities. Aside from not being able to call myself a lawyer yet, I am also forbidden from giving any legal advice to friends or family. Ever. About anything. Unless they are clients of the firm. So I can't help you with your divorce, write your will, or review your prenuptial. Sorry. But I can refer you to someone who can. I know. It's not the same thing.

Later we attended more computer training. We tried to access the firm's version of Instant Messenger, but alas we have been deactivated, so we were not able to. We were able to access the firm's legal files and figure out how to request case files. We also viewed a Welcome message from the firm's Managing Partner, which was short and to-the-point (he scores big points for brevity!). And we filled out some paperwork, most of which I was unsure of and took home (like my California withholding form suggests that I withhold seven exemptions-- I must have done it wrong, because I always withhold zero and still end up owing something at the end of each year!). Finally, we were sent off with our keycards and parking passes.

The most important decision I'll likely have to make in the next week is which gym to join. I'm already a member of 24 Hour Fitness, but I can't use the Sport clubs. The firm was offering a deal for something like $24/month with no sign-up fees for all clubs. There's one near the downtown office, but it's about 6 blocks away. Across the street from the firm is the Y, which was supposedly renovated in the winter of 2006. It gets mixed reviews, but it's only $38 for membership and a whole lot more convenient. Plus it has a towel service. For $77/month, my whole family can join and we can go to any YMCA, including the one closer to our home. This is tempting for obvious reasons. Finally is Pure Fitness, which is in the building. It's $59/month, but it has clean facilities, classes and exercise equipment outside (the down side of that being that people in higher-up floors can look out their windows and see you exercising), and an amazing locker room with towel service. Plus every treadmill has a personal DVD player (the ones at the Y do have individual TV screens, or so I hear). But the cardio room is cramped and a little musty. So do I go for the least expensive, least convenient option, or the most expensive and most convenient one? I really don't know. For now, I'm doing nothing. I'm going to try running at night or in the morning at home, like I have been, and see how that goes. But as winter fast approaches, I know that will get harder and harder to motivate myself to do.

Today's trainings were in one of our San Diego offices, but my personal office will be downtown, and tomorrow I get to find out exactly where my personal office space will be. There's some down-time in between training sessions tomorrow, so I'm hopeful I'll be able to hit up one of the senior associates or partners for some good old-fashioned work. I know, I know. There's plenty of time for work-- but geez, I'd like to not fall behind in billables my very first week. Plus tomorrow evening is a big wine and cheese shindig for the Lawyer's Club, which I'll be attending. I'm not a great schmoozer, so these social events with the larger legal community are hard for me to feel excited about. . .

Anyway, that's how things went. I was a little homesick my friends at my old job. I wonder what they did today. I bet they sat in a whole heck of a lot of meetings-- not unlike me, actually. But at least they had each other. Which isn't to say I don't have anybody. The other first year associates are actually fun people. But, you know, change is, well . . . different.