Thursday, June 06, 2013

Emotional Roller Coaster

Parenting a daughter is so complicated.

It shouldn't be that hard, right?  But some days, it is.  Like today.  Today Marcie came home hungry.  She asked if she could have mac and cheese.  I was working, and I told her she could if she could make it.  Instead of just asking me for help, she began screaming at me:  "I don't know how to turn on the stove!"

I popped my head around the corner, and I said, "Now you cannot have macaroni and cheese.  You could have asked for help, but instead you screamed at me."

She began yelling more.  I sent her to her room.  (Luckily, she went.  She's almost my size now, and I wasn't sure she would go.)  She screamed and screamed and yelled a little and screamed.

I went to her room and told her she could come out when she calmed down, but no mac and cheese.  She could have eggs, watermelon, cheese, cereal, chips, cheese and crackers, trail mix, a banana - but no mac and cheese.  She stomped past me and pulled a hot dog out of the fridge.  I ignored her until she began banging on the microwave and yelling at it, telling it that it was stupid.  I said, "All you have to do is ask for help, and I will help you."  She screeched back at me:  "NO! I AM NOT GOING TO ASK FOR HELP!"

She screamed some more about how I am mean and a terrible mom and blah blah blah.  And I sent her back to her room to calm down.

The whole afternoon went on like this.  She'd freak out at some inanimate object.  I'd ask if she wanted help.  She'd yell at me.  She also yelled at the TV.  The TV remote.  And the dog.  I told her to sit at the table while she ate (this was to alleviate the dog issue - and after she did ask and I did help her with the hot dog). And then she said the most profound thing:


And I understood completely. She just wanted to exercise a little control over her small corner of the world.

She eventually collapsed into a weeping puddle on the couch, and I held her.  She told me about how she had argued with her friends at recess because they never share a particular toy.  She told me how she felt bad because her brother got a pizza party at school today and she didn't (even though she had an ice cream party yesterday) - she said the "bragging" bothered her.

And then she eventually calmed down, ate her hot dog, and even got the TV to turn out without destroying the remote. Being 7 is a lot harder than I remember it.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

How Karen S Does It

The NY Times Motherlode is running a series to show how, really, none of us does it alone.  You can learn more about it here:

It kicked off with Mother's Day and a post from Debbie Wasserman Schultz

I decided to write my own a few weeks ago, and I'd forgotten about it until I saw another "How We Do It" piece.  What has struck me about each one so far is:

  1. How involved in the day-to-day operations spouses are (managing children, cleaning, cooking, etc.).
  2. How flexible so many women's jobs are.
  3. How much time women are spending, at home, doing work-related business (probably because this is a trade-off for flexibility).

Anyway, here's mine:

6:00 a.m. Alarm clock goes off and I hit a 10 minute snooze, but before I fall back asleep, I hear the puppy whining in the family room.  After I take the dog out, I decide to start making lunches, and I set out the bread.

6:10 a.m.  Marcie appears in my doorway and asks what the weather will be.  HOT, I tell her, while I rub Tate's back to try and get him to wake up.  I head back to the kitchen to finish making lunches and catch the puppy swiping a piece of bread of the counter.  Casey appears on the couch.

6:20 a.m.  I tell Casey to go get dressed.  He ignores me.  I repeat myself three times and then tell him I won't repeat myself again without consequences, so he grudgingly gets up to leave.  I continue making and packing lunches until Casey returns, dressed in sweatpants.  I tell him he will be too hot and suggest he puts on shorts. I ask him to grab milk from the garage for the lunches.  He obliges on both counts.  While I am getting the lunches together and pulling together the after-school-snack I know the kids will eat in the car, Jason is getting Tate dressed for the day. I carry Tate to the kitchen and sit him down in front of a yogurt breakfast he picked out from the store.  When he says he doesn't like it, I make him a pancake sausage.

6:25 a.m. I head back to the bedroom to shower and dress for work.  I hear Tate screaming at the dog, and Jason goes out to help.

7:05 - 7:20 a.m. I tell the kids to stop yelling in the backyard, where they have been playing with Bandit while I get ready, and I ask them to go get in the car.  As Tate moves past me, I ask him to pick out a change of clothes to leave at school because he used his spare set on Friday.  By the time we leave the house, it is 7:20 a.m.

7:20 - 7:30 a.m.  I hit all green lights and there is virtually no traffic. I admonish Casey for losing my Fastrac transponder, which means I will have to drive in rush hour traffic instead of the carpool lanes.  Then I tell Casey I'm just irritated and not really mad at him.  "I know, Mom," he says.  After I drop Casey and Marcie at the front of their schools and tell them to have a great day, I head to Tate's school.

7:30 - 7:40 a.m. I help Tate put his lunch in the school fridge and his spare clothes in his cubby.  We find a thank you note from his teacher for our teacher appreciation gifts last week, and I read it to him.  When his teacher shows up, he asks me not to leave, but then he realizes one of his best friends is there early.  I suggest a game of My Little Ponies, and the two hold hands over to the ponies, where Tate dumps them out.  "See you later!" he calls to me as I leave the school.

8:25 a.m. I am at work and take the elevator to my floor.  It's a slow week for me - no scheduled appointments.  I meet with a student who stops by and a colleague.  Jason and I exchange emails about a lacrosse round robin and about dinner.  He says he will stop by Costco to pick up a roasted chicken for us since he may beat us home.

2:05 - 2:35 p.m. I leave the office to head to the kids' schools. In the car I listen to This American Life and then chat with my sister on the phone (using an earpiece, of course).  I pick up Marcie and Casey at after-school care, because they'd rather spend the afternoon with me and Tate at the speech therapist's office than stay in after-school care. I pick up Tate at preschool, where he is still napping. He doesn't want to wake up, so he sleeps in the car.  On the way, the kids recount what they have for homework.  Casey asks who made him - and this launches us into a brief, scientific discussion of how babies are made.  Tate sleeps through the whole conversation.

3:20 p.m. Tate works with the speech therapist while Casey plays on his iPad and Marcie reads.

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. We leave the therapy office and head back home. We stop stop at Target to return a broken clock we bought on Saturday.  We also pick up some ice cream bars and stop for frappuccinos from the Starbucks in the Target.  We run into one of Marcie's Girl Scout leaders and chit chat with her for a bit, then finally go home.

5:00-5:20 p.m. Casey works on some homework.  Tate keeps screaming at Bandit, the dog, for jumping up to lick his frappuccino cup.  Marcie works on a project.  Jason arrives home with roasted chicken from Costco and I put some rice in the rice cooker.

5:20-5:40 p.m. I answer work emails.  We are the team manager's for our son's competitive soccer team, so I email the league management regarding uniform and players' card issues while I listen to the kids dancing around in the other room.  I also hear Jason telling Tate to stop pulling all his sister's clothes out of her drawers for dress up.  Tate and I walk out to the mailbox to check for knee socks we ordered online as a reward for good performance/ behavior at speech therapy last week.  Tate is thrilled to get the socks, and he puts them on immediately.

5:40 - 6:20 p.m. I fold laundry I put in the dryer last night and dump a load of Casey's clothes in the wash.  Jason washes strawberries and pulls the meat off the chicken in preparation for dinner.  We sit down at the table to eat, and Jason has to put the dog outside so he will stop jumping up on the table.  At dinner we talk about how peer pressure is not an excuse for poor behavior choices and how good friends do not choose actions that they know will embarrass their friends.  After dinner, the kids run out back to play while Jason heads out to get a hair cut.  I get online to answer some student emails and update the blog.  It's warm outside, and the sun is still out.

6:20 - 7:10p.m. The kids empty the dishwasher and take out the trash, dripping chocolate drink across the floor of the entire house, and into the garage.  I follow after them and clean up.  I hear a crash on the side yard and the kids come rushing through the gate. I have them turn around and pick up all the cans for recycling that they knocked over playing chase.  They play in the yard some more, together, while I switch over laundry loads.  Jason gets home and jumps in the shower - he is itchy from the freshly cut hair.  I answer some more work emails and I read some articles about law school grading.

7:10 - 8:45 p.m. I go to a zumba class.  On my way home, I call a friend to chat about her job.

8:45- 9:00 p.m. Marcie is asleep.  I read books to Tate (and Casey) and sing a good-night lullaby.  The dog is sacked out on the floor and Jason is on his computer playing a game.

9:00 - 10:15 pm. I read a book for work while I run the TV in the background.

10:15 - 10:30 p.m. I shower and get ready for bed.

10:30-11:30 p.m. I read some more for work and then go to sleep.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Rock n Roll

Last fall, Jason decided to do the Couch to 5K program, and I joined him ('cause he invited me).  We did Susan G. Komen 5K here in San Diego (to benefit breast cancer).  My time was terrible.  I don't even remember what it was.

But I felt inspired.  So I signed up for a local training group, West Coast Road Runners.  I ran with someone the first day, on our trial run.  Then I found someone pretty close in time the first time I did 8 miles.  I ran a very lonely 10 miles and 11 miles, in  between two pace groups, and found my first-day friend again when we did our 12 mile run (which ended up taking me 12.5 miles).

Along the way to the marathon, I completed a ridiculously hard 10K, that I mostly walked because of the mile-long, 10% incline.  Then I ran the 3 miles back to my car, mostly mad about how darn hard the 10K was.

Last Sunday was the big day.  It was my fourth half marathon. But it's been a long time - more than 6 years.  I have two more children now than the last time I trained.  I sleep less.  I eat (and weigh) more.  I am older.  I have a zillion excuses.  Which is why I needed to join a group.

My goal was 2:30.  And I finished in 2:29.
I'm so proud of myself.  It's my very worst half marathon finish time ever.  But it's not the time that matters.  It's that I finished.  I ran the whole way.  I ran faster (over 10 seconds faster/mile) than any of my long runs.  And I had a lot of fun along the way.  There were some hilarious signs.  Some of my favorites:

  • Four months ago, you thought this was a good idea!
  • Worst parade ever!
  • You've been training longer than Kim Kardashian was married.
  • Runners are sexy.  Your pace or mine?
  • [Woman holding child and sign:]  Hurry up - my arms are tired!
  • Dad, you'll never win at this pace.  Run faster!
  • Stranger, I'm so proud of you!

There are others I am sure I am forgetting.  The thing that overwhelmed me most, though, was just that there were people out there cheering (this makes a huge difference for a runner).  I am so grateful for other runner's cheering squads and for those who didn't know anybody at all.  I was actually inspired to train for my first race when my sorority alumni group signed up to work a water station -

It feels good to run again.  Even if it is slower than before.  Running, like life, won't always be perfect.  But it is doable.  You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Glimpse Into Her Future

In April, Marcie received her First Eucharist.

I'll be honest - it didn't come without a few tears, some raw throats from shouting and some slammed doors. Our church does a homestudy for the second grade sacraments.  And I like that.  The books and activities are thoughtful.  The retreats are focused and age appropriate and entertaining.  And it leaves kids and their parents on the same page.

But the thing is that Marcie is a bit of a procrastinator.  I reminded her regularly that we should get started on the work, but Marcie always wanted to wait.  Until we didn't have much time left -- and then she would get frustrated.  And that's where the tears and shouting and door slamming came in.  But we made it.

And she was beautiful.

She picked the dress and the veil and the shoes herself.  We had a fun afternoon doing that together.  And she had her hair done at a local place:

After the ceremony, her best friend's family joined us at Benihana for dinner, along with one of her Godmothers (and her uncle and cousins) and her grandparents:

It was an exhausting day (did I mention there was a lacrosse game in between there?).  But she had a blast.

And I hope I've glimpsed -ever so slightly- her future.  I expect there will be tears and raw throats and door slamming over the coming years.  And afternoons out, just her and me.  I hope there will be plenty of family and good friends to help her celebrate her successes and victories as she grows into a woman.

And maybe I'll see her in another white dress someday.  That she's picked out, so it's perfect.  With shoes that she absolutely loves.  And her best friends by her side.  If I'm lucky.

But until then, I'm just going to try and savor all the in-between stuff on the way to her becoming a grown-up.  Even the tears and the shouting and the door slamming that we will laugh about one day when she has a daughter of her own.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

We've had a lovely Mother's Day here in the S home.

We started with breakfast out, where everyone got to try a little bit of everything from fried eggs over easy and chocolate chip pancakes to biscuits with gravy and cinnamon rolls.  Then we headed north to the Carlsbad Flower Fields, cooled off with some ice cream and lemonade, and headed back home to enjoy the cool air conditioning we recently had updated and upgraded.

Did I mention that Casey has a propensity for the dramatic when it comes to family photos?  It's really hard to get him not posing.

So we had fun.  The kids and Jason got me a thoughtful and original gift - which I absolutely love.  Check it out:

In case you can't tell what's in the frame, the girl on the left has a paint brush, goggles on her head and swim fins on her feet.  The next figure, a boy, is playing lacrosse and soccer in cleats.  The woman is running, with a cell phone in hand and a camera slung over her arm.  And the little guy chasing after is holding a Barbie doll with books flying out of his backpack.  Jason commissioned the work and told the artist what each of us is into.

It's really perfect for Mother's Day - though I'd love to see the rendition of Jason, too!

So they hit a home run with the gift.  But really, what makes me happiest of all is just enjoying the time with my family.  The day's not over yet, but it's already been one of the best Mother's Days I've ever had. . .

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Marcie and the God Squad - Breaking Free

My kids attend public school.  That's by choice.  So I was a little surprised to hear about this recent encounter Marcie had with some "friends" (and, yes, I guess I use that word lightly).  The interaction went something like this:

Marcie: "Church can be so boring sometimes."

Girl A: "That's not nice to say."

Marcie: "But it's the truth."  (in her head- "at least at my church.")

Girl B: "You should be grateful for all the things you have-- God has given us a lot. [and on and on and on about how great God is and how ungrateful Marcie must be if she thinks church is boring.]"

Marcie:  "It's my opinion.  I'm entitled to my opinion."

Girl A: "I can't believe you don't believe in God!"

Marcie: "I didn't say I don't believe in God!"

I'm not sure if the atheism allegation arose- in Marcie's original telling, it did.  In subsequent tellings she focused more on the first part of the interaction.  In every telling, though, Marcie decided to just walk away.

So she left the group of girls for a bit.  Then she decided she should go "talk it out."  (That's how she described it.)  And back she went.  And when she returned, the other girls told her that she wasn't really welcome.  You know, because of her beliefs. 

And then I showed up to take Marcie home.

It's been bothering me for a while now.  I'm not thrilled about the way I see this group of second grade girls treat each other.  They are not particularly kind.  There is, from my perspective, a ring leader-- though I admit I'm not there day in and day out to observe it.  And I don't know how to help Marcie just. walk. away.  And I mean permanently.  If you are spending your days with a group of girls who build themselves up by putting other people down, it will never be a healthy relationship.  So why does she keep going back?  How do I help her break away?

Any ideas?

[As a side note, why are second-graders engaging in such religious marginalization?] 

Saturday, May 04, 2013


Yesterday, we got an unusual phone call from one of Casey's friend's moms.  Her voicemail message was cryptic.  She made a comment about her child being called to the principal's office and there being an "issue."  The implication was that Casey also made a trip to the principal's office.

So I called the principal's secretary to figure out what happened.  Something was not adding up - Casey usually tells us if something happens at school.  He's never kept from us getting into trouble.  Then again, he's never been summoned to the principal's office either.

So the secretary tells me that Casey was called in.  She has his statement right there in front of her.

At this point, I am doing an internal happy dance because my Casey - my beautiful, funny, but not-so-verbally-advanced Casey - gave a statement.  And I got the impression it was in writing.  (Later, Jason and I joked that maybe we could use that as a writing sample for his portfolio- we were so happy he put something down on paper that was coherent.  And we figuratively high-fived ourselves for his fantastic tutor.)

Anyway, apparently boys at school are pantsing each other.  And one of Casey's friends did it to him.  I stifled my laughter when the principal's secretary told me this and simply said, "Wow.  I'm so glad Casey wore underwear yesterday.  He doesn't always."  I know she was thinking, "I know, right?"

The perpetrator's mom is someone we know.  And she felt terrible.

When I asked Casey about it later, he said he didn't want to talk about it because the whole thing was "inappropriate."  Casey was not mad at his friend for doing this-- he blamed the kid who incessantly pressured the pantser into acting.  He was slightly embarrassed but mostly just wanted to move past the incident.

So here's the thing.  Parenting is hard.  Sometimes our kids make poor choices-- even bad choices.  And as parents, it's not always easy to know how to handle it.  Do you defend your child - even if just publicly?  Do you reach out to the victims of your child's poor choices?  And if you do, what do you say?  -- especially when your child has already offered a heartfelt apology?  Well, this mom did reach out to me.  No excuses.  She offered a straight up apology to me and to Casey.  And I gotta say - I was impressed. So often now, I hear about why a person's failures and mistakes are not that person's fault.  I hear a lot of excuses and a lot of blame.

So a little bit of responsibility goes a loooong way with me.  And I'm glad Casey has chosen friends whose parents see the value in personal responsibility, even when it's embarrassing or awkward.  I hope this is a trend.  I hope our generation of kids accepts responsibility for their mistakes and poor choices so that they can actually learn from them and truly move forward.  I hope I'm always as strong and wise as Casey's friend's mom.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

On Having Two Moms

Do you know that book I Love You Like Crazy Cakes?  For years, I have mostly avoided it.  I read it once to Marcie when she was young, and I couldn't get through the last two pages of the story without choking up.  So off the bookshelves it went to live in picture-book heaven.  Because I couldn't handle it.

Enter Tate.

Tate pulled it off the shelf one night as part of his bedtime three-book-routine.  I'd forgotten why it landed on the bookshelf.  And then I turned the first page and started to read him the story.

I change some of it.  It's a story about a woman who adopts a little girl from China.  The rooms full of little girls from China in the story doesn't fit Tate because he is a boy.  So I change the story.  Instead of a room full of baby girls, it's just a room full of babies.

Luckily, Tate can't read yet.  So it works for us.  The story itself is universal.  You know, among children adopted from China.

Anyway, in the last couple pages, the woman in the book cries as she puts her new baby to sleep-- the tears are for the child's Chinese mother, who could not keep the baby.  And the mother promises to always keep the Chinese woman alive in their home.   

Tonight, after we read the story, I asked Tate, "Did you know you have TWO mommies?"  Tate giggled.  I told him (again) that he has a Chinese mommy, and he grew in her tummy.  And I told him that he has me- I get to be his regular, every day, real mommy.  I told him that his Chinese mommy grew him inside her- that she made him. She fed him good foods and kept him warm while she grew him in her belly.  And now I keep him warm and I feed him food.  And I'm so, so lucky to be his mommy now.

Tate asked if I have two mommies, and I told him I did not.  Just the one mommy.  She is a great mommy, by the way.  He pondered this for a moment.  And then Casey chimed in with his story of his birthmom.  He talked about how he doesn't remember her and he misses her.  And how all the kids in our house have two moms- moms that grew them and me.  "You don't have two mommies?" Tate asked me one last time.  "Nope," I said.  "Just the one."  And there was this barely audible response- like a cross between a sigh and a cluck of the tongue.  I'm not sure if it came from Tate or Casey, but it was as if the boys were feeling the tiniest bit sorry for me.

Two things struck me about this exchange:
1.  I cannot possibly understand or predict what it is like to grapple with the concept of having two mothers because one made the choice to place you for adoption and the other so desperately wanted you to join her family.  Maybe nothing.  But whatever it's like, my kids will have each other.  And I'm really glad for that.

2. In American society today, normal is whatever you make it.  The other day, we talked about how our families have long histories of lengthy marriages.  My grandfather is just about to turn 90, and he and my grandmother have been married for more than 60 years.  My parents have been married for over 40.  Jason's parents have been married for more than 40 years.  And they all still like each other, too.  But other families look different. Some have step-parents. Some have half-siblings.  Some kids have three or four grandmothers.  Some kids have two moms who are raising them.  These constructs don't matter so much to me.  Or to the kids.  And they don't seem to care - or mind - how they got here.  At least not yet.  So we're creating our own normal.  And I feel pretty good about that.

Monday, April 22, 2013


No.  We're not there yet.  Thankfully.

But today I had a funny conversation with Casey about it.

One of the things I absolutely love about Casey is that he is not shy about asking me questions.  They usually come at bedtime or in the car.  Which is one of the reasons I didn't want to miss out on all the trekking of kid from pillar to post.

So today, he says, "Mom, how old will I be when I start dating?"  Of course I replied, "What do you think?" I mostly respond this way (a) because  I am trying to figure out where he is coming from and (b) because whatever answer I give is going be mostly arbitrary.

He didn't have a thought-- so I said maybe in high school.  And he seemed okay with that.  At least for now.

Then he asked, "Will my voice get deep like Blank's?"  (Name replaced with "Blank" to protect the "innocent.")

"I hope so."

"What else will happen?"

"Well, Casey, there's this thing called puberty.  And when it happens, your voice will probably deepen.  And you will grow hair under your arms.  And your sweat will really get stinky.  And you may even start to grow a moustache and beard."


He cracks me up.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Super Heroes with Laser Beam Eyes

I feel a little silly posting about the trivialities of my daily life in light of the bombings at the Boston Marathon yesterday.  I don't have anything really insightful to add -

Unlike the Newtown massacre at Christmastime, this time, my kids were not immune from the news.  It's a hard conversation to have.  Even without visual images infiltrating your mind.  We were flipping through radio stations when Casey heard a piece of news about the bombs.  I changed the station- but not fast enough.

So we talked about it a little.  The kids wanted to know if our family is okay.  (My extended family is in the New England area; my parents are from Boston; my grandparents still live there.)  They are, I presume.  Seems unlikely my almost 90-year-old grandfather ventured out to cheer on marathoners.

Then we talked about who launched the attack.  The not-knowing is not very comforting - especially for kids who sometimes see the world as a big, scary place.  Plus, kids (at least my kids) have such a heightened sense of justice and fairness, and someone hurting people for no reason is definitely not in the realm of fair.

As we drove to school today, Casey told me he wished he were a super hero.

"What kind?" I asked, half-listening as I made my way through morning traffic.

"I'd want laser beam eyes," he explained.  "One red and one green."

"What would you do with them?"

"With them, I would be able to tell who the bad guys are and I'd laser them to death," he responded.

Sigh.  If only we could tell about the character of a person by looking deep inside them.  If only.

After school, Casey and I talked about all the helpers.  The people who ran toward the blasts.  His eyes grew wide as I told him about the everyday people who stepped up to help the injured.  We talked about how brave those people were.   We talked about how we have a responsibility to the people around us. But I know he already felt that deep inside.  That's why he wants those Laser Beam Eyes.

Monday, April 15, 2013

But the Princesses Saved the Day

It's been a while since we've been to Disneyland.  We used to go pretty much annually over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend.  It's after the holidays and before the February breaks.  And the weather isn't always cooperative, so people seem more reticent to take the risk.

In 2010, we went to Hong Kong Disneyland.  That was Tate's first time in a stroller, and he was less than happy about the opportunity to roll around instead of sitting on me, attached by a baby carrier.

In 2011, we went to Disneyworld with Casey's birth family.  It was hot.  And Tate was whiny.  And, in the end, the kids enjoyed go-kart racing and feeding alligators more than they liked Disney or Universal.  That figured.

Anyway, this year, we revived the experience.  Now that Tate is three, we knew he'd be able to more fully appreciate Disneyland.  Plus, he absolutely adores all things castle, princess and Alice in Wonderland.  It was more crowded than in years past (thanks to the Tinkerbell Half Marathon), but still not as crowded as summertime.

First, we went into the castle-- at Tate's request.  I forgot how dark it is in there.  And that the fairy tale of sleeping beauty (as told in pictures) is kind of scary for a 3-year-old.  He entered all smiles.  He exited clinging for dear life and bawling.

We were in Fantasy Land at that point - and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride had virtually no wait.  So we hopped aboard.  Tate was a little more apprehensive but put on a good face.  By the time the ride was over, he was screaming in fear.  I forgot that you end the ride in a fiery hell of sorts.

After Tate calmed down some, we hit Alice in Wonderland.  He asked to go on it.  He loves the movie-- not the animated one, the Johnny Depp one.  But of course that was a bust, too.

"We have to have a positive experience," I told Jason.  And he readily agreed.  Small World it had to be.  And as we wandered toward It's a Small World, Tate spied the princess walkway and asked if he could meet the princesses.  In the end, it was probably the longest wait we had.  But it was totally worth it.  He loved meeting the princesses.  He asked each one where she slept.  And he told Princess Aurora that she should talk to the prince about getting a night light in her castle!

Things got better after that.  We met up with some of our favorite people and explored more of Disneyland.  The next day, we ventured into California Adventure, where are children were completed disinterested in Cars Land, which had just opened.  It never ceases to amaze me how unappreciative our kids can be.  I mean than genuinely; I am surprised by it.  If my parents had taken me to Disneyland for two days in a row, I think I would have been ecstatic!  Not my three.  They would have preferred to spend an afternoon swimming in the hotel pool to wandering around an amusement park.  It's crazy to me.  Anyway, here are some other shots of the trip:

The last night we were at Disneyland, I had a grande latte sitting on the top of Tate's stroller while I stopped to pick up some popcorn for Casey.  It was lodged in the closed-up shade.  Tate decided to grab the shade and flip it, sending the coffee flying all over.  Here's the thing.  Not only did the Disney workers not simply hand me a pile of rags and napkins to clean up the mess Tate just made - and it was clearly our fault, but they called two people over.  One cleaned up the mess.  The other noted that it looked like my cup had been awfully full and walked me over to the Starbucks where he went and got me a replacement drink.  Wow.  Talk about awesome customer service.

On a separate note, I used to be able to set the size of the photos-- anyone know how to do that under this newest version of blogger?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Zen and the Art of Pet Parenthood

We used to half-joke that we couldn't own anything nice while our children were young.  Tate was our worst offender.  Last August we finally repainted the walls.  They were covered in hand prints and foot prints.  They had the lingering stains of spilled sodas.  And Tate liked to decorate with pens and pencils and even nail polish.  So we repainted.  It's plain, but it looks clean at least.

We've managed to go many, many months with limited damage to our walls.  Or our floors.  For the most part.

So I don't know what I was thinking when I agreed to add another member to our family.  After all we have clean walls!  We can buy nice things again!  Our family is complete!  But somehow, getting a pet felt okay.  And the opportunity just fell in our laps.  It was a fluke- a high school teacher (and colleague) of mine - someone whom I adored and who was always very good to me - bumped into my family at the grocery store the day before Easter.  We got to talking, and it turned out he breeds Labrador retrievers.  He very graciously gifted us one.

As much as I love children, I'm not so much a pet person.  I've never had a puppy. And I'm pretty sure I could have made it through life without ever having had one.  But the kids are happy. And Jason is thrilled.  And the dog is cute.  We thought of all sorts of names we liked, but I didn't want to give him any names that would lead to self-fulfilling prophecies (like Digger).  I pushed hard for Dozer.  But he's not a sleepy puppy.  So we landed on Bandit.

Here's the new family photo:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

January - Casey Turns Double Digits!

Casey hit double-digits in January.  And for his party, he insisted on a soccer tournament - the Casey Dia Soccer Tournament.  He picked the name because of the play on "Casey dia" and "quesadilla."  He put his friends on soccer teams and they played in a round robin tournament.  There were ribbons to signify how the boys played.  There was a homemade soccer ball cake.  There were cousins and friends and lots of smiles.

Our local pizza place- usually closed on Sunday morning- agreed to provide us food. So we had good pizza and great salad to scarf down after the soccer play and before the cake.

On Casey's actual birthday, instead of cake he opted for frosted brownies.  We kept it low key, but we celebrated all the same:

I can hardly believe he is 10 years old already.  Sometimes I feel like I blinked and here we are.  When I left my big firm job to take a job teaching and directing an academic success program at a law school, I thought for sure people would think I was insane.  To jump off the partner track.  To walk away from all the money. To leave just when I was really getting the hang of it.  And after all the years of sacrifice, just as we were starting to catch up financially.  And to do it before I'd finished paying off the student loans.

So I was surprised that I got quite a different reaction.  I'm sure there are people who thought all those things and were polite enough to just not say it.  But a number of people told me they were proud of me.  Called me brave.  Said they were impressed that I was making this choice, at this point in my life.

The money was nice.  I liked going on vacation every year.  But some days, many days, I felt like I was living to get from one vacation to the next.  I didn't interact with the kids' teachers.  I didn't know the names of the kids on their soccer teams.  I felt mostly removed.  And that was by design-- Jason was handling the home front, and I had plenty on my plate with work.  But I missed it.  I looked around and saw another three or more decades of working long hours with limited interaction with my family.  I know it's not like that for everyone.  But it was for me.  I'd watch partners go on vacation -- and then answer emails constantly or set aside 2-3 hours a day to work.  And I'd wonder if I'd be resentful doing that for the rest of my life.  I don't have an answer to this.  Customer service is incredibly important when you're an attorney-- you really can't just drop off the face of the earth for a week.  And I thought I'd be okay with that.  But then I began to think more about it.  I was in law school when Casey and Marcie were little.  Which meant I saw them for about an hour a day, four days a week.  They don't remember that time, of course.  But I do.  And now I was sacrificing more time.  They had a full-time parent at home.  But I was struggling with it.  I just kept thinking that I'd blink and they'd be in college, and I'd never really have known them.

What's the point of going through the effort of adopting children you never really know?

Sometimes I miss it.  I still dream about practice.  I miss the complexities and the competition of it.  But I don't regret the decision.  At least not yet.

Leave it to me to turn a post about Casey's birthday into a post about me.  But the point is this.  I have eight more years with him and then he'll be off to college (hopefully).  And I want to be here for these eight years.  Because Casey is this warm, funny, interesting kid.  He is athletic.  He wants to make good choices.  He is thoughtful about what makes a good friend.  And I don't want to miss out on being a part of his everyday world while he grows into a man.  Life is just too short.  And he is just too cool of a kid.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Like an Old Friend

I've been composing blog posts in my head lately.  I guess that's better than composing them out loud.  Sometimes I wonder if anyone would hear me anyway.  After all, with three kids competing for talk-time, it's not like they are listening to me.

I looked back at some cake pictures I took when Marcie was younger, and I was so glad I had documented it.  And then I felt sad that I've documented virtually nothing for Tate.

I really do think it gets harder to blog about the kids as they get older.  Things are so much more personal because the consequences are bigger.  I mean, if you yell at your 18 month old every once in a while, the toddler is (hopefully) not going to remember it.  But the 7 and 10 year olds?  Yeah.  Memories like elephants.  Not for the good times, of course.  Just the mis-steps.  Sigh.  I guess the good news is that by the time they are my age, their whole childhoods will mostly be blurs-- and hopefully, with a little luck, what they will remember is an overall positive feeling.  That's what I'm aiming for.

So I have some thoughts.  And I've begun drafting.  And I hope someone is still out there who cares enough to read them because they're coming very soon . . .

Along with pictures.