Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Baby's Best Friend (Is Not Me)

Possible Reasons Why Lis is having a meltdown right now:

I took my phone away from her.
I took the iPad away from her.
I took the remote away from her.
I gave her the remote with no batteries in it.
I took my watch away from her.
I won’t let her claw my face.
I yelped and said “ouch!” when she ripped out my hair.
I tried to trim her nails.
I tried to change her diaper.
I put her socks on.
I won’t let her pull the dog’s hair.
I won’t let her eat an electrical cord.
I gave her peaches instead of bananas.
I gave her bananas instead of spinach.
I gave her spinach instead of carrots.
I gave her carrots instead of peaches.
I’m holding her.
I’m not holding her.

Definite Reasons Why Lis is Laughing Right Now:

The dog gave her a toy.
The dog licked her hand.
The dog licked her face.
The dog took the toy away from her.
The dog let her take the toy back.
The dog is chasing her to get the toy.
The dog knocked her over.
The dog gave her a toy.
The dog licked her hand.

Clearly, there is a favorite in this house. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pink and Red and Blue and Green

I had A Thing come across my desk today that really bothered me, as a woman, as a mother of a daughter, and as my father’s  daughter.  I may be reading too much into this, but given what I saw in toy aisle of Target, I’m not sure.

There are two “Dads” events going on in town this year.  One is a golf outing with fathers and sons—the other is a father daughter fairytale ball. 


Look, I am not anti-all Disney princess stuff, if for no other reason than I watched the stuff myself and really liked the music.  I didn’t internalize the need to be a princess, etc.  In fact, the only sad longing I came away with the fact I could not sing like Belle in Beauty and the Beast.  I think some of the princesses are actually strong characters and have many good qualities.  I want any and all strong female characters for Lis. 

But I liked golf as a kid.  I liked sports.  My mom liked sports.  Sure, I would have had fun with my dad at fairytale ball, though not because it was a fairytale ball, but because I was with my dad, having a good time.  In fact, I went to an all girls’ school in high school, and we had father-daughter dances, no fairytales attached, and it was a blast. 

I think there’s two main questions there for me—if it has to be a “ball,” why does it need to be a fairytale/princess ball, and then why does it need to be a ball in the first place?  Then there are the ancillary questions: Why can’t the girls play golf too?  Why can’t the boys have a ball (which entails a fancy sit-down dinner and getting dressed up) with their dads? What about dads who love golf but only have daughters? Vice versa?

Then there’s an “ick” factor for me that is probably not something the creators of these events meant to give out.  I grew up in and around a purity culture, which included purity balls and purity rings.  There’s something about adding “fairytale” to either “ball” or “dance” that sends up the warning signals for me.  It just implies a certain story line—sweet virginal innocent clever attractive girl meets prince, and after some difficulty, they marry.  So, why is the girl going to a fairytale ball with dad instead of her prince?  Is her father her prince?  Aaaand that’s where my crazy flares up, and I remember all the language around purity balls (you know, girls pledging to be pure and always obey their fathers and that their heart is their fathers until he sees fit to give it away to her husband, essentially implying ownership, etc). 

In the end, even without the ick, I still have the basic objection.  Why do the boys do something different than the girls?  Why are they each excluded from each other’s activities?  Why does the girls’ activity have such a heavy stereotype and culture conforming message to it, while the boys get to do something that I think is a gender-neutral activity?

I tried to convince myself that I was really overreacting to this thing.  Grace, I told myself, it’s not like this happens all the time and there is no escaping it. 

That was when I thought back to my weekend trip to Target. 

I cruised down the toy aisle—the aisle I thought contained gender neutral toys—and discovered they were all essentially labeled and packaged for boys.  The colors were varied, the shelves were a normal color, the toys looked neat.  But it was clear it was all directed a boys, since every picture on the box was of a boy or boys playing.  Out of curiosity, I cruised up the next aisle.  It was dripping in pink, like I stepped into a Pepto-Bismol bottle.  There was a splash of white or purple here and there, but even the shelves were pink.  All the pictured girls wore pink and for the most part, they were white.  All of the pictured “little” girls looked slightly off too—when I looked closer, I realized it looked like they had makeup on, their shirts were just a bit too low or tight or whatever to be believable as real clothes, and sometimes, either the toys or the pictures were…odd.  Disturbing. Suggestive. 

I took pity on myself and got some building blocks (lots of colors!) from the “infant and toddler” aisle.  Apparently, as long as you are an infant or toddler, you can be gender neutral and normal and not sexualized.  But once you hit age 3, then you have to move over to the Pink Aisle with little girls who suddenly seem to have bedroom eyes.

Why does my daughter only to get to live to the ripe old age of 3 before she has to be “socialized” into her “appropriate gender role” which apparently the leading requirement for that is being a burgeoning sex pot?  Why does she have to be that at the same time she has to be a fairy tale?  Why can’t she just play golf?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Two Tickets To Anywhere

So, when we were coming back from Florida over Christmas, you might recall that we got stuck on the layover from hell.  Our flight was supposed to leave at 6 pm, and we didn’t leave that airport until midnight, and didn’t get home until 3am.  This all occurred with Lis, under the age of one, having an epic meltdown, because all the poor kid wanted to do was SLEEP.  It was a total airline screw up, and it could have been prevented, or at least mitigated, if they had gotten off their asses and done something proactive when they realized at 10 am, 8 HOURS BEFORE OUR FLIGHT WAS SCHEDULED TO LEAVE that there was going to be a problem.  No, instead they waited until after our departure time came and went to try to do something about it. 

ANYWAYS, that resulted in Vor and I each getting a round trip ticket with no restrictions to anywhere the airline would fly.  While it is tempting to use the tickets for some exotic vacation, we won’t be doing that because (1) there is no way in hell I am bringing Lis on an airplane again anytime soon; (2) because Lis is not coming, I am not comfortable going someplace that does not have cell service and requires a passport; (3) also because Lis is not going, we don’t want to go for longer than a long weekend; (4) if you’re only going for a long weekend, what’s the point of going some place exotic or far away; (5) our jobs are both exploding right now and we can’t take too much time away. 

That may have been a run on sentence with bonus abuse of semi-colons.  I feel like Virgina Woolf. 

Our options for a long weekend trip are:

1. New York City.
2. San Francisco.
3. D.C.
4. Vegas.
5. Portland or Denver. (Yes, I am aware of what I did there, but I will explain).

New York City is at the top of the list, because I lived in Buffalo for 22 years of my life and yet managed to escape without going to NYC.  Vor lived there for quite a few years; ditto.  Thus, it is a place that neither of us has been.  We should go.  We would like to go, and it has lots of direct, short flights (Bonus! I have a fear of flying).  Cons? We like quiet get aways, remote places, bed and breakfasts, etc.  NYC doesn’t seem too conducive to that.  Also, what do you do in NYC other than shop?  Perhaps this is why I never bothered to go, even with many chances to do so. 

San Francisco.  Even though I think Vor is settled on NYC, I am still for pushing for San Francisco.  I have one word for this: SUSHI.  Vor is meh on it, because he’s been before.  So have I, but I was there for a swim competition, so I was more touring the pools of San Francisco rather than the city itself.  Also, SUSHI. Plus, when I was younger, I had an unhealthy obsession with Charmed, and I realize that is a dumb reason to go, I want to see the bridge and sigh, and wish that magic was real or whatever.  SUSHI.  I like water.  I remember Haight St., and I remember loving it. SUSHI.  Cons? Vor is not really on board with it; the flights are long and not direct. Yeah, that’s a big killer for me. 

D.C. Hey, we’re both lawyers, and we can’t help ourselves.  The idea that we could plan this trip when the USSC would be in session and get in to oral arguments made us geek out.  We are both proud members of Library of Congress, meaning we have library cards, so we love to wander around in there.  I have family there, and one of my family members just had twins! Tiny babies! Two of them! To hold and squish! Plus, I have a cousin who works in the white house, so you know… maybe?  Just maybe.  Cons? We’ve been there, done that, except for the twins part. 

Vegas.  Yeah, not for gambling or for the strip, but because my best friend lives in Vegas, and there are national parks and hiking and so on.  The actual Vegas strip? I hate it.  I never want to go back.  Cons? My friend is military and she often gets deployed on one week’s notice, so that could really mess up our plans.  Then we would be left with the gambling part of Vegas, which I hate. 

Portland or Denver.  I say these in one breath because they’re not going to happen, but we wistfully added them to the list and sighed.  Portland won’t happen because there is literally one flight per day and if that is delayed, oh hell no I am not going through this again.  Plus, long flight.  Denver has the same problem, with the added bonus of we don’t actually want to be in Denver, we want to be in Estes Park at our favorite B&B, which is like 3 hours away from Denver.

So, it looks like NYC or San Francisco, with Vor and I leaning in opposite directions.  Opinions?  Other suggestions?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


It can't have been four years, but here we are.

My sister called me in a panic at 10:20 at night, saying something had crashed or exploded right next to her house.  That something was Flight 3407, and it was carrying my friend.  It killed my sister's neighbor; it killed my friend; it killed all the passengers, and I knew many of them.

When I was at my sister's house in June of 2012, a plane flew overhead.  We were outside with a large group of people from the neighbor and everyone went silent and stared at the plane until it was out of range.  Then they all went back to talking, not even noticing what they did.

They do that every time.  It's been four years.

Oh, E.  I miss you.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Minor Expectations

I have been endlessly frustrated with my parents lately.

There is part of me that has insight into myself and my family dynamic, and so, I know exactly what is going on.  First, for all our closeness, my family members are NOT good communicators.  We are bottle-it-up-ers (except for me, and that is with some detox help from Vor).

Second, I'm frustrated that my parents just aren't HERE for me now that I have kids the way they were for my siblings.  With my sister, they lived in the next town over.  Although my brother was stationed at various places in the states, my parents traveled frequently to see them, and would spend extended periods of time with them. Me?  Not so much.  I get that I live far away, and that they're older, and that they live part time in Florida now, but it just smarts that they're just not as involved.

Third, and related, they're older.  I am the "oh-shit-didn't-think-that-could-still-happen" baby, meaning that my closest sibling is sixteen years older than me.  So, my parents are older than most other parents of people my age.   This results in more forgetfulness, less activity, no filter, and a certain amount of (how do I say this without sounding like a jerk) more self-centeredness.

For example: I call my mom today, really down because I'm worried we will be admitting Lis to the hospital later (days of puking, now refusing water and food, etc).  I get the obligatory verbal pat on the head, and then she shifts into her exercise routine and how swimming is better for hip than biking is, and how she thinks the problem is in her spine, etc.

For example: I am having a crappy week, and when I am not endlessly cheerful and grateful and sunny, my parents gang up on in me a Facetime call, and tell me that if I am a "grumpy, negative" person, then I will turn my daughter into a "grumpy, negative" person.  No filter.

For example: My mom calls, when I am trying to work at home with a puking baby, demanding a recipe.  I tell her Lis is starting to throw up again; she takes the opportunity to say, "Wait! Was that a half a cup of cheese, or a quarter cup of cheese?"  I hang up the phone.  My dad is mad that I am mad that they called me with such a stupid thing when they KNOW I am way behind on work and I am at home with a puking baby.  He makes sure to tell me so.

These snippets make my parents sound like jerks.  They're not.  They will Facetime and Skype endlessly with Lis, and when I was a brand new mom and Vor had to go out of town,  they were on a plane to help me out before I even asked the question.  They shower her with love, and they worry endlessly about me.

It's just that I was expecting the parents that my siblings had when they became parents; I was expecting the same grandparents that my nieces and nephews had when they were this age; I was expecting my parents to still be the parents I had always known.

I was expecting them to never change, and to never age, and I was expecting the same of myself.

I also know that part of my frustration is sheer terror.  I can't imagine a world without my parents in it.  I get angry, really angry, when I think about how little time Lis will have with them compared to her cousins.  I resent being a late in life child.  I'm pissed they won't consider ditching their New York residence and keeping an apartment here, so they can get to know what is likely their last granddaughter better.

Then there's the other terror, the kind I talk about with Vor, and no one else: I know (I KNOW) that when the time comes, I am the one who will bear the responsibility of caring for my aging and ailing parent(s).  If one dies, I will have to drag the other one here.  I am the executor of the estate, so there's that complication some day.  For all my frustration, I am closer to my parents than my siblings are, and I am certainly kinder to them.

There's the last terror, the one I don't even talk to Vor about.  I am afraid my mother is losing her mind. Her forgetfulness is really increasing, and she is starting to have trouble forming new memories.  Complicated information doesn't stick at all.  Conversations are starting to repeat.  She is an animal handler at a zoo, and today, she couldn't remember the name or the type of animal she was handling.

It's just so hard when you had these expectations, and things turn out so differently.  It's just so hard knowing what will come.  Inevitability.  It's a bitch.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hey You

To the person who found me by doing an image search for "craniosynostosis" and "indents in baby's forehead:"

The internet is a big scary place with lots of images.  It's a place where information is just tossed out there, correct or not, and you are left searching, hanging onto to every conflicting detail you find, and if you're like me, yelling at a computer screen that does not speak back. 

There's an email address down there on your screen, in the lower righthand corner.  Go ahead and ask the questions.  I don't bite, and it might make you feel better, or at least, better aware.  I'm not an expert, but I did do it, so if nothing else, I can tell you it sucks, and then you survive.


Six months since her surgery quietly passed without me really stopping to think about it, probably because turning one seemed like a much bigger occassion than six months post op.

And that, my friends, is exactly the way it should be.

Sorry, I can't make it rotate.  Yes, I gave my kid a lemon.  JUDGE AWAY.

School picutres, wherein I died from cute.

Chtristmas Eve outfit, in Florida.  Wherein I also died from cute. 

Christmas morning, one week before her birthday.  Can't even see the scar.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

It's Only Wednesday, Though

On the home front, we have RSV, double ear infection, the return of the amazing non sleeping baby, dishes as high as the roof, and a husband who has X ridiculous number of patent applications and appeals to complete in Y insufficient weeks.

On the work front, we have the start of the job transition, a 9.1.1. call (made by yours truly) from the freaking courtroom, plucking a doctor off the witness stand from the next courtroom over (also preformed by yours truly), arguments with court staff over whether yours truly followed proper procedure re: 9.1.1. call, calling deputies into courtroom for crazed violent parent, AND SO ON.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Your Personal Penguin

Lis has this Sandra Boyton book about having your personal penguin who slavishly loves you and follows you every where so you are never alone and talk to you constantly and really, the whole idea sounds like a nightmare.

I am aware that sentence is not grammatically correct, but I feel it best conveys how I feel about the book, or the idea of having my own personal penguin, or most likely, having my own personal ANYTHING follow me everywhere to do everything with me.

Okay, and that sentence too. Plus the sentence right before this one. OKAY STOP.

SO! (claps hands) I have this new job coming up, and and I've already lost ten pounds since January. I've been stockpiling gift cards and cash since Christmas--

--I have to interrupt myself here and tell you a totally unrelated story. I am sitting in a chair at my bedside, watching Lis sleep on my bed, because, well, you can't leave a sleeping baby on a bed. She went down for a much needed nap HARD and she just started snoring so loud I thought it was Vor standing in the doorway, making fun of me, but no, it's Lis, snoring---

since Christmas, and I want to go shopping. I hate shopping, and I loathe clothes shopping, but I've tossed most of my wardrobe out or sent it to Goodwill, so I have very few things and I am constantly doing laundry.

I need: (okay, want/need):

A few nice tank tops
New slacks (multiple pairs, and this is a need, since I have ONE pair)
One new suit
Blouses or nice shirts to wear with suits
A casual alternative to jeans (which would be...what?)

Where the hell do I shop? I lean towards classic and tailored, and save my "trendy" for jewelry to go with the classy and tailored clothes.

Do you want to be my personal (penguin) shopper and go with me? Or better yet, do it for me?

Friday, February 1, 2013

What You Wished For

I’ve mentioned, here and there, a few times, every so often, etc., etc., etc., that while I love my job, I love the nonprofit I work, I do good and worthwhile work… I want to change jobs.

I don’t want to leave the company—it’s just that I have had on my eye on the research/writing/presentations/end of things.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved what I am doing (litigation), and I’ve built up a nice name and reputation.  But, I really wanted to get in on the publication and policy end of things.

An opportunity dropped in my lap a few weeks ago—a chance to apply with a position similar to what I described above, but not with my small nonprofit.  I would have to leave.  I hemmed and I hawed, and then just as I was deciding to go for it, door number two open, the angels sang, and another things dropped in my lap. 

Unfortunately, it means one of my co-workers, my friend, is leaving.  It means giving up the job I have. 

I’m really torn about this.  I’m upset (okay, I’m downright pissed) that this person who I have become friends with didn’t bother to tell me a damn thing beforehand, and just announced it en masse.  Really?  We hang out, our husbands hang out, we drink beer together, we go to movies, we carve pumpkins, and this is how you tell me?  REALLY? 

I’m somewhat regretful about leaving the litigation end of things.  It’s the area where it feels like you do the most tangible good—you are actually there, representing the child, making a quantifiable difference.  Although I dislike public speaking and at one point, I thought I would rather die than be in a courtroom all the time, I’ve found that I am really quite good at it.  Other people think I do well at it.  Judges appreciate my civil, low-key but direct style.  I’ve actually come to enjoy the courtroom.  I like being out and about with all the other attorneys and judges and clerks.  On the other hand, I won’t miss some of the extremely nasty pointless behavior by other attorneys.  On the OTHER other hand, part of my new job description is still carrying a (reduced in size) litigation docket, so I guess I may not miss this at all. 

I’m excited about the writing, and the publications, and the research, and the presentations.  And then, I’m nervous about the presenting and have abruptly decided that at least twenty pounds needs to go before I’m standing in front of crowds of people all the time (VANITY WHAT). 

So, my next few months are going to be super busy, is what I’m saying.