Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It Is Done

WELP. I wrote a book. It's done. Now, once I dig myself out of my work backlog and a wine bottle, I can come back here.

I'm kind of stunned still that I managed to do this. I wrote a fucking book. It's a legal book and highly specialized, but it's a book, all 1,000+ pages of it. All mine.

Friday, October 3, 2014


1. We had An Incident at Lis's daycare shortly after my last post. It necessitated time off from work while I looked for a new daycare, weeks of Toddler In The Office time, too much screen time for Lis, and general schedule upsets. We have a new daycare, and it is going swimmingly. I am still angry whenever I think about The Incident and I wish I had a crystal ball so that I could have seen it coming, and I wish that I had picked up a few things faster, and I wish a thousand things.

I really can't say any more than that about it because there are ongoing...things... as a result. AS WELL THERE SHOULD BE. Cue rage.

So, that is part of the reason I disappeared for more than a month with nary a word--I got so back logged at work I couldn't fight my way out.

2. I found a spot. On my skin. And it's growing. I... well. My parents have both had bouts of skin cancer, so let's say I am rightly FREAKING OUT as I wait to get into my doctor. Not a long wait, but any wait between discovery and examination is terrifying.

Good thoughts or vibes would be appreciated.

3. As if that wasn't enough, I have some how landed myself on the nightly news twice in the last couple weeks. People! They want to interview me! For Reasons! (Not related to Lis's daycare, related to my work). It is...awful to see yourself on camera. I mean, JEBUS camera woman. You are a woman, too! You know you shouldn't film someone from that angle! It's just mean! At least I sounded like I knew what the hell I was doing.

4. Speaking of Fake It Till You Make it, I joked with someone that I was wondering when someone was going to realize that they were putting ME out there in presentations and in front of the camera instead of someone who knows what they're doing. Instead of laughing, this person blinked at me, and was all "You're joking, right? You're becoming the go to person."

Well. I guess I'm not a baby lawyer anymore; I've been faking it long enough; I've made it.

5. My cousin died. Another cousin, from the same branch of the family tree that I lost two cousin last year--one to a sudden heart attack, the other to cancer. This cousin was only 14, and it was a plane crash. Fucking plane crashes.

6. My posting on here will be sporadic until January. My huge publication deadline is the end of December, and it is a dead sprint until then to get it all done.

Fake it til you make it, indeed.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tomato Allergies Suck

Are you a tomato-hater? Are you allergic to tomatoes? I have a pasta sauce for you!

Personally, I adore tomatoes. Vor, alas, is allergic. Tomatoes are in EVERYTHING. I've come up with viable work arounds for lots of things over the years except for two things: barbecue sauce and red, marinara-like pasta sauce. I'm still working on the BBQ sauce, but I have mastered the pasta sauce.

Here you go:

2 tall cans of roasted red peppers
3 golden beets
3 carrots
1 package bacon or other meat
3 garlic cloves
onions, to taste
spices you like (I used rosemary and basil from my garden, as well as dried oregano, pepper, thyme)
cream or half and half
red wine
beef stock

Drain peppers; peel veggies. Sautee bacon, garlic, and onions together (start the bacon first, then add the others). When bacon is done but not crispy, add put in the peppers, carrots, and beets. Add a combination of wine and beef stock to come just short of covering the veggies. I added probably about half beef brother, half wine. Add the dry spices; save any fresh herbs for later (you can also add salt, but I felt like the beef broth was salty enough). Simmer until veggies are soft. Blend very well in a blender or food processor, then return to the pot. Add any fresh herbs, and a splash of cream to get it to the right color. Simmer until it reaches the consistency you want.

I actually stopped when the veggies were soft, let it cool off in the fridge overnight, then blended for dinner the next day. That also worked really well, since the flavors had time to blend.

Another variation: I once sauteed half the bacon, and saved the other half for when I added the vegetables. that was delicious--the bacon cooked with the veggies, and I had some crispy bacon pieces, and some not.

There you go. Red pasta sauce that actually tastes like marinara sauce, but does not make my husband break out in hives.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Seattle: The Vacation That Wasn't

If you can’t handle some venting, imagine tears brimming in my eyes, and just skip down to the disclaimer, and read to the end from there.

Also: This post is likely to be heavily redacted within 48 hours. 

Also known as A Vacation In Four Parts: (1) [REDACTED]; (2) Most Of My MIL’s Friends Are Absolute Dingbats; (3) Weddings Never Count As Vacations; and (4) I Am Never Moving To The Pacific Northwest.

That should pretty much sum up my vacation, but in case you weren’t sure, let me just offer you this mental image: toddler puke, down my shirt, into my bra, in my hair, in MY EAR.

Part 1: [REDACTED] Lis stuff ed her face with watermelon and resulted in some of the most disgusting toddler puke I have ever been witness to. Watermelon puke. Ew.


Part 2: Most Of My MIL’s Friends Are Absolute Dingbats. D is a chain smoker who orders his wife to get him plates of food, and when his wife obeys, he gives Vor a smug look and actually says, “There. See? Learn anything from that?” Vor, wonderful man that he is, responds, “Yeah. That you don’t like sex.” (I LOVE HIM SO MUCH). L is a whiner who revels in being the helpless female. She wants so very much for Lis to love her, that as soon as she sees Lis, she gets in Lis’s face and starts demanding hugs and kisses. Lis responds typically by hitting her or running away, and then L is all weepy and injured. I couldn’t care less. J argues over every.single.dime he spends and whines about the cost of everything. If I had thrown a dollar into Puget Sound off the ferry, he would have jumped overboard to get it. C is an okay guy, but he lets the door slam in my MIL’s face, which bugs the crap out of me. Hold the door for her, dude! You’re dating her! Plus, he has zero experience with kids (not the problem), so when Lis got whinny, as toddlers do, he would mimic her crying and whining (THAT’S the problem). B? She’s really nice and chill. I like her.

Part 3: Weddings Never Count As Vacations. Especially when you or your immediate family members are in the wedding party. In this case, Lis was the flower girl, and Vor was the…man of honor? Best man? Dunno how to say that. His twin sister was the bride, and she was his woman of honor or best woman or whatever, and now, vice versa. So, Vir had lots of set up and duties and parties and obligations and Things To Do, and I…was on toddler patrol. All the time. So I was either chasing Lis in decidedly non-toddler friendly places or I was stuck at home while she slept. We (I) did ONE half day sight-seeing thing of the entire 8 days we were there. Every other time, Vor was busy and I was on Lis duty.

Part 4: I Am Never Moving To The Pacific Northwest. Look, I like rain and clouds. I am a definite sun avoider. But geez, it can be really miserable out there. It’s not just cloudy and rainy, it’s positively dreary. This actually was not a problem for me, but Vor’s moods are definitely affected by sunshine, and he was a grouch. He even admitted he was being grouchy, and then plaintively said, “I just want some sunshine.” Me too, buddy.

I cannot handle the level of hippiness out there. At one house where we had local family, she was getting some trees trimmed, and her neighbors started telling her that she was killing the threes and they could hear the trees screaming. They freaking took pictures to document it. Apparently, you have to have a permit to even trim your freaking trees out there (which she did), but her neighbors decided to report her anyway, for tree cruelty. She barely had them trimmed!  Another dude was pissed that there were signs pointing the way to the rehearsal dinner from the place we had to park to the house. He was walking around, ripping them off. He was grumbling about wasted paper and killing trees and the environment. There were like two signs. That’s it. Vor and I try to be conscious about things, but this just felt like a whole new level.

I can’t stand the “parenting” I encountered either. I took Lis one rainy day to the kids’ museum on Bainbridge Island, and I have never encountered such incredibly rude and manner-less children, and the same type of parents. I take Lis all the time to the zoo and to playgrounds and to the Children’s Museum here, so it’s not like I’m a newbie and didn’t know what to expect. These parents just stood around, talking, drinking their hippie coffee, while their kids (older kids, mind you, old enough to know better) cut other kids off, skipped ahead in line, shoved Lis down repeatedly, snatched toys out of her hands, etc. It wasn’t just at the museum, either. They were all like this, every parent and child I encountered on the island, at playgrounds, at parks, at the museum. I got incredibly pissed at the museum when a 5 or 6 year old shoved Lis off a stool so that she could cut ahead of Lis and take her turn, and I turned to her parent and said, “You should watch your kid so she doesn’t shove mine off the stool AGAIN.” The parent got a snooty look on her face and said, “I believe in free range parenting, not helicopter parenting.” I almost cut a bitch. It’s not helicopter parenting when I’m trying to prevent a mass of the most unruly children I’ve ever met from injuring my much younger, much smaller child, bitch.

So! Weather, over hippied people, terrible entitled children who are being “free-range” parented. No, thank you.

DISCLAIMER: I love my family. I am especially indebted to my MIL, who is the most awesome grandma Lis could have, and a second mother to me. The wedding was beautiful, and was one of the best days there. I had a great anniversary dinner with Vor (six years!) and we danced to our song at the wedding, which was the same day as our own anniversary. The puke only lasted for 24 hours. I’m sure there are plenty of nice people and children on Bainbridge Island (CP, I’m looking at you!) and in Seattle. I know the PNW is rainy and it’s really beautiful when it’s not rainy.

It’s just the combination of all this that made for a non-relaxing, pretty close to awful vacation, and I am so glad to be in office today that I cried with relief. I needed a break, and I didn’t get one. I am so burned out right now. I know Vor needed a break, but he ended up being so stressed that it was exponentially multiplying my own stress.

As a bonus bright side, Vor and I agreed that the next vacation will be a real vacation: We will go someplace with amazing weather and tons of sun; we will stay in a place with our own space; we will keep Lis with us and not allow other people to interrupt her schedule; if we want time on our own, we will hire a local sitter; we will have no major to-do list or vacation agenda. It’s just that this dream vacation won’t be happening for a long time.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sprint, Not A Marathon

I don't know that I'm going to have too much to say around here until after we get back from Seattle. It's going to be a sprint from here until vacation time; there are general wedding things to be done, packing, all the lists that accompany a long vacation, and oh God, work. So much office work to do before I leave.

I'm super excited about this trip except for one thing: pictures. Despite eating well and going to the gym/running 3-4 times a week, my weight is stuck. I kind of hate everything about my body right now. I feel terrible. I don't even want to talk about it. I sure as hell don't want professional photographic evidence of it.

Daisy posted this thing about life as Mom and whoa vacation lists, and I have nothing to add. Except, you know, my own lists: my list, Lis's list, the general us list, the electronic list, the work list, the food list (we are renting a house and need to get groceries when we get there) and so on. LISTS VACATIONS MEANS LISTS.

Work? Work. Jebus. I'm bringing it home at night, working through lunch. I'm taking it on vacation. I'm flying out for the change of command ceremony for my brother and I'm looking forward to the travel time so I can WORK. IN PEACE. This publication deadline is starting to loom, and I just submitting a grant for $600,000 and if that doesn't make you hyperventilate, then you're a better human than me.

The light at the end of the tunnel? That would be the mental image of me, sitting on the porch of our waterfront house on Bainbridge Island, looking across at Seattle, wine in hand. I will make it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Grief In The Age Of Social Media

My coworker died, having lost her 11 year battle with cancer. She left behind three teenage daughters and her husband, not mention a legion of family and friends.

The day she died, all of her friends, family, and other people associated with her put up a picture of her as their F.a.c.e.b.o.o.k. profile picture. These pictures have been up for a week now, flooding my feed. People are posting messages on her wall, leaving memories or saying goodbye; families members have been posting their own items, memories, photographs, and so on.

Every grieves in a different way. If this is how her immediate family and closest family needs to grieve, so be it. My cousin died last year, and every once in a while, his wife floods her F.B. account with pictures of him and memories. That's how she deals.

I was talking to Vor about this, and I consider him to be a reliable and knowledgeable source; he lost his father ten years ago. I mentioned to him that my coworker had left behind videos and gifts to be watched and opened on certain events, like prom, or a wedding, or the first of a grand baby. He looked upset. "I never would be as healthy as I am now if my dad had done that," he said, shaking his head. "The only reason you heal at all, or move on at all, is because of time. Having the wound reopened at every good memory? I couldn't have healed, moved on. Good memories, like of our wedding, would have that element of sad attached to them, even more than they did already." He sat, thinking. "I do wish I had more video of my dad. I wish I had messages form him about little things, every day things, memories. But it was sad enough at our wedding that he wasn't there. To have to watch, on that day, a message from him about sad he was that he couldn't be there? No."

I told him about the social media thing, with pictures of my coworker everywhere. He sighed. "It's so hard to move on, to forget things. Things follow us everywhere."

"Grief on social media is like a hydra," I told him. He laughed.

I don't know where I stand; I haven't lost someone from my immediate family in a long time. It's hard for me to watch this happen on F.B.; I don't think I need or want to grieve that way. But, although it is my loss, it's not my loss, and it certainly isn't my right to say this is right or wrong.

It's a new frontier on so many fronts, but this grief one is particularly hard to navigate.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Click Your Heels Or Run Like Hell

There's so many trite terrible sayings about going home again that I couldn't even pick one for the the title. Yet, I'm feeling a mix of all them right now.

I love going home and seeing my family and our close friends. I love eating pizza and wings and swimming in my parents' pool, getting ice cream and the local dive, and fish frys in Catholic country. The church I was baptized, confirmed, married, and had my own daughter baptized in is there, in all its splendor, up on a hill, overlooking the cemetery where my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and unfortunately, some friends are buried. I know the best bakery, and the worst traffic intersection. Down that dark alley way, the one you might think is scary, is the place where my mother grew up--a house big enough for three people and yet it housed nine. They were dirt poor, and I mean that quite literally. My mother married hometown royalty, and it was quite the scandal that my dad married the poor street urchin. The nativity that they put out at Christmas? My grandpa made it.

And yet, oh God, I escape. I feel it all slowly closing in over me, cloying, insidious, pulling me back in, slowly boiling until it's too late to get out.

One of my cousins moved back recently. Her husband is also a patent lawyer, and he got a great job with a company that has its headquarters recently. She pounced on me when she saw me; we've always had a lot in common. This time, she was desperate to talk, and even used that word. "It's like getting married really young, then getting a divorce, growing up for fifteen more years, then reconnecting with your ex and trying to fall back in love with your ex. It's not working." I gave her a hug. "It's not forever, S," I told her. "You guys took this job so that more doors could be opened. If there's ever a good time to be stuck here, it's when the kids are small." "Yeah," she said. "It's just that I've never been more miserable."

We talked. There's no diversity there. It's a strange place; it's a conservative island in a sea of liberals, and it makes the people very defensive and feel like they are victims. The constant living in the state victim-hood causes reflective reactions to all viewpoints that aren't in line with their value. Yes, I am know I am really generalizing, but S and I were picking up on the same things. The moment S or I say anything that isn't what someone agrees with, there's no dialogue, thoughtful discussion, or even argument--you just get frozen out. I can see why S is miserable--she's isolated. She left Buffalo, moved to DC and reveled in the culture there, converted to Judaism and married her Jewish husband, and came back to Buffalo. They didn't want her and her experiences and her opinions and her new religion anymore.

Hanging out there on the horizon is a chance for Vor. He could pick up his old engineering company as a client, which would be huge. He could also become their major in house counsel. But that would mean moving back, and I...I feel like I would lose myself, slowly, day by day. I like living here; I like my job; I like my family.It's just theoretical at this point, but man, what an amazing chance for him and for us, truly. But..what about me? What do I do? Try to rebuild a career there? Or just stop?

I feel sick thinking about it. I feel terrible that I'm not breathless with joy at the thought of being closer to my family, whom I very much love. I feel ill about raising Lis in a culture where every one tells her to get married and have babies ASAP because that's what those of us with lady parts should do; where your math teacher tells you that all girls need math for is to count beans; where you are explicitly told it's better to be pretty than smart.

This is so theoretical. I am just going to leave it that way. It's not like I'll go to sleep and discover that a tornado dropped me back there, expect it would be the reverse--it would suddenly be all black and white, no color.

MILP #354

Here's the weekly Mothers in the Legal Profession Round Up. We're moms, we're lawyers, we blog. Sometimes, we manage to do it on time; that day is not today for me. (jebus, there were a lot to post this time, so tell me if I missed you!)

Let's do this one "In Her Own Words" style. For the week ending July 6, I present to you:

Alice in Wonderland: "It is meta. Profound. Universal. SUPER." And with an epic, awesome photo!

Magic Cookie: "We heard a crash around 10 p.m. and it was X, who had leaped up, clawed K awake, knocked over the lamps, and run out into the hallway yelling 'TIME TO PLAY!' I don't think he ever fell asleep." Let's not ever put our kids in the same room together, eh? Lis took all the photos off the wall in my parents' guest room while she was "asleep."

Nonsense and Frippery: "Meanwhile my friends in Japan and Canada are finishing up their year-long maternity leaves. Sigh." Yeah. Oh yeah. Leaving that cute behind is a KILLER. 

Only 3 Years: "I've been gone over a month, and it's all the same old stuff." I feel you--lather, rinse, repeat, right?

BJJ, Law, and Living: "I am not panicking, yet. I am just very aware." Preeeeeetty sure I just said the same thing to my boss. She laughed. 

Lag Liv: "Today was the first day I hit an impenetrable wall/cliff as a working parent." Did she EVER, people. I wanted to hand her wine though the screen after I read it. 

Mommy Maddness: "We're here for the holiday." Beautiful! 

Queen of Hats: "She likes the mistake hug well enough that she went from crying when she made a mistake to saying 'MORE MISTAKES HUGS!' which I count as a win." Well, you should! (This post also resulted in me asking for mistake hugs. QofH laughed at me, but when I asked Vor, he looked at me with his head cocked to the side. Note to self: explain concept before asking for it.)

Perspectives from a Hard Boiled Egg: "And yet here I am, at 25 weeks, praying I make it to 38 weeks, wondering, guilt ridden and scared out of my mind." Oh, girl. From one 
complicated pregnancy person to another, you DID NOT CAUSE THIS. It just happens sometimes.

Kderoll: "She is having the 'Is this really a good idea having a second child right now?' breakdown. Unfortunately it is a little too late to be asking that question, but I love having two and am not afraid (yet) of having more." Ah yes. Nothing like the good old pregnancy freak out--the second thoughts come when it's too late! I am glad to hear that some people like having two kids, because every time I talk to parents with two, they give me crazy eyes.

Daisy JD: "I'm back from a 4 night work trip to New York City and since many of you shared suggestions of where to go and what to eat I thought I'd share some of the highlights." Nothing I love more than a good trip roundup with pictures! Keeps the travel bug at bay. 

Full of the Dickens: "Apparently, there used to be a meth lab on our street...the sex offender apartment is still standing proudly...HOWEVER...trust me. It's a cute little neighborhood." (Sorry, CP, but that just cracked me up).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Bar Exam: Up Hill, Both Ways, With A Broken Thumb

I am parked in the same location that I always parked myself in when I was studying for the bar: the corner window seat of the law school library. It's a beautiful room, with 3 story ceiling to floor glass windows that overlooks a nice park, the state capitol building, and downtown itself.

Of course, since I studied for the bar in this location, it's making me angsty, especially since I am surrounded by panicking recently graduated law students who are studying for the bar. In fact, I even know a couple of them, and they keep asking me questions. I'm all like, "Dude, I can field any and every family law question for you, but stop asking me torts questions. I took the bar and promptly erased it from my memory bank." Of course, this makes them come back and ask general questions, like "How do I plan time during the exam to pee?" and "What if my lucky [earring, ring, necklace, shirt, etc] starts to bug me during the exam?" and "What if my feet go numb from sitting still so long and I get pins and needles?"

You laugh, but these are worries. Mine was "What kind of pen is best to use?" I spent hours testing out pens and seeing what I wanted to use the day of the exam. Of course, BEING STUPID AND PANICKY, I finally found the right pen a week before the exam. But, I had been practicing with pens that had a smaller circumference, so the day of the exam, with my nice gel grip pen, I gave myself a stress fracture in my thumb from gripping a pen I was not accustomed to using, too hard, for too long. 

Yes, that's right. I broke my thumb during the first day of the bar exam, during the essay section. I had to finish the essay section with a broken thumb and then do the multiple choice the next day with a broken, swollen, extremely painful thumb. This was the last year before they let you use laptops, so I guess that's not really a problem anymore. 

So, all ye panicking bar takers out there: If I broke my thumb during the exam, yet still managed to finish and pass, you can do it. Hopefully without breaking your thumb. 

PPS: You may (or may not) be wondering why I am sitting downtown at the law library instead of in my office. Well, Kind Reader, that would be because (1) our internet crashed; (2) taking our server with it; (3) with all of our shared electronic files; (4) causing mass lawyer panic; (5) also causing us to use the actual physical books to look up the annotated statutes; (6) causing me to realize that one of the pocket part updates to West's Indiana Annotated Code is missing; (7) causing me to go camp out at the law school library; (8) so that I can use West's Indiana Annotated Code pocket Part to Title 29, Guardianship; (9) as I continue writing this PITA of a publication; (10) end scene.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Fade Away

Fourth of July is Kind Of A Big Deal in my little old hometown juuuuust outside of Buffalo NY. The “downtown” (read: village center) area gets closed, rides are set up, games are everywhere, there is some kind of cross between an antique show and a farmer’s market, tons of restaurants set up booths, and this goes on for a couple days. For a small town, the parade is kind of amazing; it lasts several hours, there are enough firetrucks to sink a battleship, very cool and antique cars, 3 high school marching bands, too many elementary school marching bands to count, three fire departments and their marching bands, at least three police departments and their marching bands, and of course, the veterans.

The veterans. Of course.

Vor and I are in the middle of watching Band of Brothers. We’ve both read the book, but it’s been awhile. I was suddenly struck by a strange, world up-ending realization: I won’t be able to see the remaining WWII veterans in the 4th of July parade much longer, if I even get to see them this year. They are slowly aging into actual history, their stories only to remembered by our collective consciousness instead of listened to by actual ears.

When that struck me, I promptly texted my dad, asking him where his uncle had served. I knew it was the Pacific, but that was about all I knew. I just needed the details, even though it was almost 11 pm. I needed those details to be written down somewhere. I needed to know.

Every year, as the veterans came through the parade, we watched their numbers dwindle. At first, they were mostly still all walking; then there were the wheelchairs; then they were passengers in convertibles. Then, they simply began disappearing. As I sat there, mulling through those particular memories, I was overcome with a crazy desire to plan to run out and hop into the car with one of the vets with a recorder, and drag out every detail. Which is crazy, and borderline disrespectful (if not over the border), but I can’t help but feel sad; sad at the loss of these people and their compatriots, and sad at the loss of their first hand experience and knowledge and wisdom. The same could be said for any person, I know; I think I just feeling it more acutely having had my brother recently return from his deployment.

I was also sitting there, watching the show, feeling somewhat shell shocked by the fact that Lis will never grow up seeing WWII vets walk by in the parade. Then I promptly wanted to smack myself on the forehead. Lis will watch her own generation of veterans walk by her.

There is one thing I can teach her, one thing that stays the same no matter which generations of veterans have come to bear silent witness at our 4th of July celebrations. I will teach her stand when they walk by her.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Two Year Post Op Check Up

Lis is fine. As her neurosurgeon said, "She's clear to do anything but pole vaulting and boxing." We have to go back in one more year to do the usual check up and get her eyes tested. Apparently, that's one of the easiest ways to make sure her skull is growing normally; if there is too much pressure in the eyes, then there's a problem and more surgery is needed.

I'm not going to think about that for at least another 11 months.

It was like I expected, and not. I felt the panic rising as we parked in the garage and drove past the parking spot we used when we came in the morning of her surgery. I saw the red wagons and ushered her past then; we walked down the hall way full of animals and kid friendly colored glass protrusions form the walls. Just when I thought the lump in my throat was going to take over, Vor took a deep breath and pulled out all outside. We walked outside to the clinic area, avoiding our old haunt. I think he must have felt the same.

I wasn't at all feeling the panic while we were sitting in the waiting area, or when we went back to get our check up done. I thought that would be the worst--sitting there with all those other children, some with the same scars, others who clearly had not had their skulls "fixed" yet--I thought that would be the hardest. It wasn't.

After we were done, we wandered down to the gift shop, also known as the safety shop, so that we could see if they had any life jackets. They sell all kinds of safety gear at cost. We were in luck; we picked one out so that we can go boating this summer.

I walked out the door of the safety shop, only to by gobsmacked by the sight of the phlebotomy lab; the place that Vor and I joking referred to as the House Of Vampires. The place where we got Lis tested for her blood type and the place that handled Vor's blood for transfusions. I turned away, and kept my jaw set.

On days where Lis goes in for a check up, she sees two doctors: her original neurosurgeon, and a follow up pediatric plastic surgeon. The usually come in one after the other, about five minutes apart. Today they overlapped and we had a doctor party in our room. Before surgery, Dr. A (the neurosurgeon) was no nonsense and all business. As soon as that surgery was over, she was friendly and enamored with Lis. I suppose that's her way of dealing. She's always glad to see us; for some reason, we must have been memorable.

Actually, I know exactly why we were memorable, but I hate to think about it. Lis's surgery was nine hours, about three longer than they anticipated, because of some incredible complications. I think we made it into a cranio/facial paper write up she did.

But here we are, almost two years post op. Things look good; we didn't freak out in the hospital; Lis can climb and play soccer to her heart's content.

All is well.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Smile, And Other Things

I went out to a birthday dinner with my friends. We sat outside, along the canal, enjoying the weather and the breeze. We ate and laughed and talked as people walked by along the canal. I noticed a man walk by us, then walk by us again. When he walked by again, I began mentally writing the details into my memory: white, about 6 foot, buzz cut, brown eyes, crooked nose, blue shirt with logo, and so on. Why? Because I am a woman. Because men hovering around me can be a potential threat.

When he walked by a fourth time, he stopped by us, on the otherwise of the patio railing. He flashed a grin at us four women, and promptly demanded, “Smile!” My three friends gave him nervous smiles, smiles that clearly read If we smile, will he go away? I hope so. I stared at him, stony faced. He turned his attention to me, and flashed an even bigger grin. “Smile! I bet you’re so pretty when you smile!”

“This is a private conversation. We are having dinner. I do not smile for men on command. Please leave.” I said it all very flatly, no trace of menace or bitchiness in my voice. His grin turned to a snarl and he turned and left. My friends stared at me. I couldn’t tell if they were aghast at my refusal, or his audacity.

Make no mistake, it is rudeness and audacity that fueled him. He thought, just because we were women out in public, that he could come up to us; interrupt our dinner; insert himself into our private conversation; demand our time for his pleasure; make demands that we do something for him; demand for us to be pretty for him. He thought that because he is a man, and we are women.

I looked at my friends and shook my head. “I don’t smile on command for anyone, especially strange men who think they have the right to demand something of me, just because I am a woman who is in public.”

“Cheers to that,” one said, and raised her wine glass. We clinked glasses, and that was that. Or that was mostly that; you better believe that I was on the lookout as I walked back to my car.

I learned an interesting thing in law school, something I routinely put into practice as a lawyer: when someone gets aggressive with you, especially if you are a woman and the other person is a man, the best move is not to back up, but to step forward into that person’s space, making him back up. I routinely see male attorneys take steps towards other attorneys, male or female. Oftentimes, the other attorney will step backward, and the dance continues, until the “aggressor” has backed the other attorneys into an uncomfortable space, whether its physical, in a corner or against a wall, or mental, that he or she has a pattern of backing up and submitting.

I never, ever take the first step forward. It’s rude. But, come hell or high water, if another attorneys starts getting verbally or physically aggressive towards me, I take that step forward, and invade their own space. It’s amazing how quickly that will de-escalate the aggression, 99% of the time. I will not let you intimidate me.

I had a trial where one of the people was a thrice convicted violent sexual predator. He was in between attorneys, and asked to speak to me, an attorney representing another party in the same case. “How can I help you?” I responded. He motioned to the door, leading to a small secluded hallway within only one exit. “Can I talk to you out there?” he asked. “No,” I responded. “We can talk here, in the courtroom.” He stared at me for a minute. “I’m not gonna hurt you, honey. I just want to talk somewhere private.” I stared back at him evenly. “We are in private in the courtroom. There is no one else here. There is no need to go into that hallway,” I told him. He got frustrated, and demanded that I talk to him in the hallway again, and said, “You asked how you could help me! You said you would help me!” I took a step towards him, and repeated, “No. If you need to talk about your case, we will do it here.” He never challenged me again, but I saw him do it over and over to every other attorney that crossed through the case.

I have a backbone, but oh God, it is a hard won backbone. I went through hell to get it, and then I tempered it in more and more. All my life, I had been taught that I asked for it, it was my fault, it was my sin, it was temptation I was offering, just because I was a little girl who could later become a woman, just because I am now a woman, just for existing. No; no more. I know now that it isn’t true, and what’s more important, I stopped believing that.

How do I give this backbone to Lis? Can I gift it to her, as an heirloom, a treasured thing passed from mother to daughter? Or do I have to let her make her own? Can I give her my own experiences to help forge her, as a way of learning how to build her own? I cannot, will not accept that the answer is that she has to experience what I did in order to be able to stand up for herself.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Lessons Learned

Whoever would have thought of McD's play place as being a place to learn some interesting lessons? NOT ME.

LESSON ONE: Age Appropriate Description of Scars And Surgery

Lis went with me to the office at 7:30 this morning. She held on until 10:45, when that feral toddler look came into her eyes, and we quickly made our exit, ending her time as the Office Baby on a high note. As a reward, I took her to McD's, where she has never ben before. I got her a happy meal; she ate the apple slices, and looked at the french fries. She held one out to me and asked, "Stick? Stick?" She thought I was trying to feed her tree bark. She did not eat the french fries or the chicken nuggets.

I turned her loose into the play place area, and she went wild. She was DELIGHTED. Two little girls, obviously sisters, who were about five and ten, began playing with her. The three of them laughed and giggled and climbed and slid, and generally had a blast.

When Lis came up to me in between frolics and gave me a hug, the girls asked me about her scar. "What's that?" asked the little one. "How'd it happen?" asked the older one.

I was momentarily stunned. For the most part, people never ask about her scar anymore, because you can't see it. Her hair is long and curly, and it covers the scar. Whenever anyone did ask me about the scar, it was always adults, and obviously, you give a different answer to adults than you would to kids.

"Um. When she was a little baby, she had a problem with her head. The doctors fixed it, and that mark is where they fixed it." The five year old nodded like of course, and ran off with Lis. The ten year old stayed for moment longer. "What was wrong?" she asked. Oh God, how do I explain this without being graphic or scary? "Well..." I paused as I tried to translate. "When she was a baby, her head wasn't growing right. So that's why the doctors had to fix it."

The girl smiled. "Doctors are great. My mom's a nurse. She helps fix people, too." I nodded. "Yes. We loved all of Lis's nurses. They helped us so much." The girl ran off to join Lis and her sister.

After a few minutes, the mother came over. "Sorry about that," she said. I shrugged. "Kids are curious. I would rather they ask and get an answer." She smiled. "I'm a nurse at Riley. I recognize the scar your daughter has, so I really appreciate you telling them, but not telling them the gory details, you know?"

Whew. Okay. I guess I took the right track on that one. We chatted for a few more minutes until...

LESSON 2: My Daughter Is Not A Pushover

A six year old boy was playing on the play place with all the other kids. Out of the blue, he walked up to Lis and shoved her to ground.

Obviously I was on my feet in record time and was going to intervene. In the time it took me to stand up and start forward, Lis stood up, walked up to him, and SHOVED him as hard as she could. He stumbled backward, a surprised look on his face, and almost fell over.

Lis walked off, and if she had known the motion, I am pretty sure she would have dusted her hands off, like mission accomplished.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Yellow Brick Road That He Followed Back Home

“Every deployment is different,” my brother said, as he laced his hands behind his head. He looks too thin, just by a shade, and still tired. “I’m glad I’m stuck here in limbo for a few days. I’m doing jack and squat.”

I laughed. “Maybe some quiet time and sleep are best right now.” He nodded at me. “Yes. The hardest reentrys have been when I fly 13 straight hours and landed on my doorstep 14 hours after leaving a war zone. It’s…too much. It’s just too much. To feel, to process, to handle, it’s too much that way.”

I looked at him quietly while he spoke. “You know, you hadn’t deployed for awhile before this. I was pretty young the last time you deployed. I don’t think I ever understood, really, before, as much as a family-civvy can understand. But now…I’ve seen friends come back, changed. They had to change to survive. And I’ve seen friends come back in boxes, dead. I think I understand more this time. I was so much more afraid this time.”

“Maybe because of the large target painted on my back that said ‘---[my brother’s rank, title, and position]---‘,” he suggested wryly.

I laughed again. “Yeah, before it was SO easy-peasy, nice and breezy, when you were just a fight pilot jock,” I teased. “Now you have to actually DO something!”

Just as I said that, the lights dimmed, there was brief static on the screen, then the image of my brother flashed up again. He looked mildly concerned, but not alarmed. He looked around, said a few things that weren’t audible to someone off screen, then turned back. “No biggie,” he said. Yeah, sure, I thought. I know what that was, because the last time that happened, your base was being bombed.

My brother spent the last year going to meeting where he would bring a gun, with the safety off, just in case someone wanted to kill him. He once told me that he wouldn’t get out alive, but he would make sure that at least someone that he was commanding got out alive to tell the tale. He had no heat on Christmas eve or Christmas day, and he was woken up on Christmas day to discover his building being bombed. “Merry fucking Christmas,” is what he told me about that incident. He was scheduled to be on a helicopter that was shot down, but had to change his plans last minute. I lost a year of my life in those few hours where we waited for news, to see if it had been him.

I sent him so much jerky that he told me to knock it off, because “I could build a bridge from the Middle East to home with the jerky you’ve sent me.” I sent him other sweets too, like Sour Patch gummies and Swedish Fish, because I knew he kept those in a jar on his desk to make everyone come to him. They did, and they flocked, and they would clean him out of the sweets.

Now, he’s waiting for his next flight out, the flight that brings him home. His wife and his kids and waiting excitedly, and making preparations for all the things they want to do, and things that have to be done. I also know that his wife is making other preparations—not the kind you excitedly announce to everyone, but instead, the kind where you figure out how to help a solider with reentry. I know he’s changed from this deployment, but how? Does he know? No, I don’t think so. I can see it, but I can’t define it. It’s not necessarily bad, but that doesn’t means its rainbows and unicorns either.

Perhaps more to the point, I don’t care. He’s almost home. He’ll be home in three days. We can make it three more days.

(Updated: I wrote this, then waited three days to post it, because...I don't know. I felt like I was asking for trouble if I said we were almost safe. As I type this, he is landing on US soil, and his family is waiting for him at the airport.)

Friday, June 6, 2014


So. I turned 30. Yep.

I tried to get worked up about it, one way or another, but it all amounted to one massive MEH. Yes, I’m getting older. I’m halfway to sixty. I’m no longer 21 or 19, or whatever. Yes, I have all this awesomeness ahead of me. I don’t want to ever be 18, 19, or 21 ever again, so I don’t feel nostalgic; and I’m not amped up and thrilled about the future, because for the foreseeable future, my life will be just like it is now, which is good, really good, but I don’t feel the need to laud it.

I do remember being a kid and thinking it was forever between birthdays, and how each birthday I would think, Yes! I am finally grown up now and I can make my own rules! And when that birthday finally did come (19 for me), I was excited. It was a good feeling. And I haven’t cared about birthdays since then. I didn’t really care about 21, since I’m not really a drinker and was never interested in alcohol. 25 was nice, since I could rent a car without an upcharge.

It’s the ancillary things that I find it hard to get my brain to comprehend; the fact that it was 14 years ago that I knew my grandmother was dying, and would be gone in just a few days. The fact it was 9 years ago that Vor gave me that lovely pearl necklace for my 21st  birthday. The fact it’s been 11 years since my grandfather died, and I watched him take his last breath. The fact it’s been two years since our first trip with Lis to Buffalo, just days after her diagnosis.

I do this thing sometimes, where my mind wanders and I find myself imagining or daydreaming or seeing in some weird out of body experience this situation where I open my eyes and someone else besides me is seeing through my eyes, with me. Usually, it’s my grandparents; so I’m imagining that my long deceased and much loved grandpa or grandma is seeing through my eyes with me, kissing Lis on the cheeks with me, meeting Vor vicariously, watching my fingers pound the keyboard at work. It’s a nice daydream.

So, I guess thirty has been weird, but not for the usual reasons (oh! I’m old! I shall never be young again! I’m going to die someday!). It’s just realizing how long past some of those most hated and most treasured memories are; it’s seeing how far I have come, yet how far still have to go.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

FYI All Ye People Who Come Here Searching For Craniosynostosis Stuff

I've noticed a huge upswing in people coming to this blog on craniosynostosis searches, and browsing around the cranio section. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Go ahead. Email me. I don't bite, and I'm happy to chat about it. Lots of people do just that. It's graceandpressure @ yahoo dot com.

Enjoy (ENJOY! HA. Not so much), browse, ask, and just know it'll be okay.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Lis: Mommy! Sit!
Me: Lis, I'm cooking dinner, but as soon as I'm done, I'll sit.
Lis: MOMMY SIT. (claps at me, like "chop, chop!")
Me: (mouth hanging open) Did you just...clap at me? Like I'm the dog?
Lis: Telly, sit (claps hands).
Telly: (sits)
Lis: MOMMY SIT (claps hands).

Lis: Turbo.
Me: That has to do with engines and going fast.
Lis: Fast! Like doggie! Baby gets doggie. Turbo. Doggie Turbo. (translation: She wants a new dog and to name him Turbo).

Telly: (sees his best dog friend and runs into the street after the other dog)
Vor: DAMN DOG! (chases dog)
Lis: DAMN DOG! DAMN DOG! DAMN DOG! (dissolves into giggles)
Me: Oh, shit.
Lis: OH SHI--
Me: Lis! Say cucumber!
Lis: (mommy's bad word forgotten) COOCOMER.
Me: (muttering about tragedies being averted)

Monday, May 26, 2014

There But For Grace Itself

I lost a friend last year. He died over in Afghanistan, one of many killed during this war. I miss him. He is buried back home, and it's too far of a trek for me to make just to visit his grave. Instead, today, I dug out an old picture of him from high school and sat staring at it for awhile.

I still think that above post (Serve) says all this, all the things I want to say about Memorial Day, about the 4th of July, about Veterans' Day, the best.

I have many, many more friends and family members who serve this country. My brother is still (STILL) deployed, and they are talking about extending his deployment (!!!!#$&@!!!!). Every time I see that yet another bombing has occurred, right by his freaking office window, I cringe and hold my breath, sure that this time, our luck has run out. So far it hasn't.

I keep praying and hoping it won't.

MILP #347: Better Late Than Never, RIGHT?!?

Well. SOMEONE can't remember what day it is and keeps writing April on her pleadings and her checks. I had completely convinced myself that it was a completely different week than it actually was, so when I entered the roundup into my May calendar...well. HERE WE ARE.

Butterflyflsh gave us some mini posts, like a glimpse into the life.

I totally stole CP's idea of the art gallery in the kitchen (it's now in my office), but I have no intention of stealing her running injury.

But I Do Have A Law Degree had a really great Mother's Day, and the first picture of her kids nearly killed me with cute.

You know who else finished the job and slayed me with cuteness and new baby cheeks? Dinei.

Magic Cookie exited the comfort zone, which is always a completely terrifying and uncomfortable thing to do.

Only 3 Years had so much going on in one post that my head swam. Jet lag and catching up, indeed.

Kate's daughter might have morphed into Snow White, and that would be pretty badass, because have you all SEEN Once Upon A Time? Snow White is pretty much amazing. Oh, and, you know, there's that THING called the BAR EXAM, but no big deal, right? (OMG).

LL's Cora is six months (!!!) and is totally adorable. When I saw that dress that LL bought, my eyes turned green with envy. Love it.

Momttorney gives us a great update on Mia, and the cupcake batter picture is priceless.

The Queen Of Hats dreads the "why" question, but not from the usual suspect(s).

Perfect Yellow Yolk gave me two favorite things to ponder: new books to read and baby names!

Daisy JD gives us a funny memory, and it's pretty fun to go back through your own memory treasure chest to look for the one that makes you laugh every time.

Kderoll talks about life with two kids: maybe not always fun, but always funny. I totally get that.

If I missed you, tell me. I'll add you in.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

2014 Garden, Planted

Lis helped ("helped") me finish up the garden this weekend, so! Brisk clap! The 2014 Garden Looks thusly:

Petunias planted alongside the house where I ripped out the evil rose bushes.

First Garden Bed: (1) Purple Cherokee Tomato; (2) Summer Girl Tomato; (3) lettuce; (4) Alyssum and marigolds; (5) Rosemary; (6) Thyme; and (7) I gave Lis a bowl of leftover seeds and let her plant them, so I suspect we will see some surprises. I've already seen the beginnings of other tomato plants, but I've no idea what kinds they might be.

Second Garden Bed: (1) Big Rainbow Tomato; (2) Pink Brandywine Tomato; (3) Pineapple Tomato; (4) random tomato blend, so we will see what pops up; (5) spinach; (6) a random radish or beet leftover form last year; and (7) Once again, the Lis special of random things. I've already seen sweet pea popping up, which might be pretty and climb up the garden fence.

First cedar barrel: Mint and chocolate mint, chives, zinnias, alysum, bells of Ireland.

Second cedar barrel: leeks, scallions, random flowers that Lis planted.

2 matching pots: 2 blueberry plants.

2 hanging containers that are sitting on the stairs because the hanging planter stand couldn't hold them: Italian Ice Tomato; Black Pearl Tomato; basil; lettuce; alyssum.

So far, the tomatoes are rocking out. I love tomatoes. Vor is allergic to them. So I get to eat ALL THE TOMATOES. I am surprised and pleased with how well this variety of spinach is doing; it actually seems to like the heat. I am really excited about the fact that I planted flowers in with the veggies this year, to give it some color and some pretty.

Lis has been hilarious with the garden. She was so delighted to throw seeds everywhere and then go around and push them into the ground. She was less interested with translating actual plants, but she water the hell out of these plants. I got her a small, toddler-sized watering can and she just fill sit it up and goes around and waters all the plants. It's actually really helpful. We are working on learning what plants are okay to eat, so now she just walks up to the chives, swipes a handful, and eats the chives. She is NOT a fan of mint.

I'm really looking forward to doing this garden with her this year

MILP Roundups, #343 - 346

Oops. Forgot to do that! What a couple of weeks its been.

Magic Cookie had Roundup #343.

The Reluctant Grownup had Roundup #344.

Perspective of a Hard Boiled Egg had her debut roundup in Roundup #345.

Butterflyfish had the Mother's Day Edition, Roundup #346.

And I do believe that we are back to me this week!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Waiting, Rushing, Hoping

I've struggled to write something on here for a few weeks, and the bare truth is this: I am watching a beloved coworker die from cancer before my eyes. I swear that there are really good, awesome things in my life right now, too; it's just that this has been so consuming for the last three weeks that I can't think or write about any of the great stuff.

We are so very close to the end now, and everything is happening so fast, yet it all feels like slow motion. I knew she was in treatment, but the cancer was in remission; all of a sudden, the day before my last post, it came back with a vengeance to finish the job.

I'm too busy at work to even breathe, let alone cry. We've all taken on this coworker's responsibilities to order to lighten her load so that she can stop working and spend time with her family. Work apparently never stops. She's a mother of three daughters. I saw her yesterday for what was probably the last time, and it was so surreal to have her standing before me. She was altered, definitely, it was still very much her. Her voice was weaker than usual, her gait more unsteady, but she was still witty and sarcastic. She was still beautiful, but her face is yellow, the sign of liver failure.

I was with my grandpa when he died, and yet, that was so different from this experience. To be saying goodbye to someone who has not had the chance to finish everything, her own life; to actually know that the conversation  you are having with this person is last conversation; to pick those words out is impossible.

I know there's no hope left, but that doesn't stop hope. Hope is irrational; it lives on, clinging to your emotions, aggravating your grief. After a while, it becomes a ghost that haunts you, never letting you let go.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Highly Specialized Mommy Wars

Because generic mommy wars are never enough, AMIRIGHT?!?

I went off Face.book and T.witter for Lent. After 40 days, I signed back into FB. My FB feed was littered with posts from a support group for parents of children who have been diagnosed with craniosynostosis. At first, I just scrolled past them, because people do tend to post quite a bit in that group. I kept scrolling until my eye hit on one word—


Okay, I said to myself. What are we calling barbaric? So I moseyed over to the page, and lo! Some mom started a “conversation” by saying (essentially) “Well, no one has really given me any flak for my decision, but I feel like people MIGHT give me flak for my decision to use the endoscopic method, and how do you deal with being judged by all those other horrible people who got CVR and want to feel smug about it?”

This is where a quick step back is necessary. There are multiple methods to deal with craniosynostosis. One of the most commonly used ways is CVR (cranial vault reconstruction). That’s what Lis had. It is the “most” invasive, though to some extent, ALL of these surgeries are really invasive, because you are dealing with the skull and the brain. CVR is the most extensive, but it is the most widely practiced, and has been in use in one iteration or another for at least 50 years, if not more. The endoscopic method is newer, and somewhat less invasive. It has great potential in a certain category of cases and babies, meaning certain types of craniosynostosis and babies of certain ages and stages of growth and development. It also requires the use of a helmet for awhile after the surgery.

So! Back to Ye Olde FB. I sat there for a moment, stunned. I mean I paraphrased her words, but really, it wasn’t just an attitude that I was picking up on—it was her black and white words. She was posting something just to start an argument and be all “poor me” when she admitted in the next breath that no one had said a bad word to her about her choice.

Of course, people chimed in and basically said, “Nope. We made the right choice, it’s such an individual choice, based on your own circumstances, no one would dare judge, etc.” I felt better. That is, until another woman chimed in and said she was so happy that she had gotten the endoscopic method for her child, because CVR was BARBARIC and her doctor agreed that it was a BARBARIC procedure, and how could any GOOD parent do that to his or her child, etc.

Cue me, sitting there again, stunned again. Really? This is what we do in a support group? We’ve all been through a shared terrible experience. We all know what it is to see our babies with eyes swollen shut for days, and to hear their cries change and become more desperate and high pitched because of fear and pain. We all nod knowingly when someone talks about clammy hands and a racing heart whenever she enters a hospital, any hospital. We offer alternatives to plain old hand sanitizer, because we can’t stand the smell of the stuff that they used in the hospital (citrus hand sanitizer FTW!) We share each other’s joy when it goes well, when our babies begin rolling or crawling, and we share each other’s sorrows when we find out that it was too late, and damage was done, or another surgery is necessary.

Some people jumped in and said just that. Others pointed out that using the word barbaric for an acceptable and highly effective medical procedure that saves lives is wrong, rude, and offensive. I said nothing. I just kept looking at the word barbaric.

Oh, I could show you pictures. I have terrible pictures. Pictures of Lis when she looks nothing like herself; she is so swollen that her face looks like it was painted onto a balloon. I have pictures of her incision, and it’s brutal: dark, black slashes weaving in and out of her skin, fifty of them, and those were only the visible ones. Let’s not forget the dark blue antenna on top of her head—where the non-dissolvable stitches were tied off. Why non-dissolvable stitches, you ask, when all the rest were dissolvable? Well, that’s because her condition had drastically worsened between the scan and the surgery. They had to move her skull so far apart they couldn’t stretch her skin back over all the way. Pieces were grafted on, and new skin had to grow, so we got to take Lis home with a hole in head.

Oh, yes, I could show you pictures that would make your stomach turn and your tears fall.

That doesn’t mean it’s barbaric, though. Barbaric is savagely cruel; exceedingly brutal; primitive; unsophisticated. There is nothing savage or cruel about saving a life of a child, even if the methods have to be extreme. It’s not brutal, which implies savagery or violence. I suppose, if you’re going to be one of those people that argues that all surgery is violence upon the body, then, well. I welcome to you the century that we live in, and I invite you to invent the first medical tricorder.

If I impute all charity possible to this woman, then what she must have meant instead of barbaric was primitive. Maybe I can see where she was going if I tilt my head and look at it like this: CVR is a primitive solution to the lack of skull growth, because it cuts the entire skulls apart and moves it apart. Endoscopic is not primitive because does not requires cutting the entire skull, targets the problem area, and uses a helmet to mold the skull more naturally. Maybe that’s what she meant. While I think she’s wrong, I think that is more charitable and less offensive, and certainly less mommy-war-ish.

CVR is well practiced and effective. Because it’s been done effectively for so many years, many, if not all, of the “trouble spots” with the surgery have been identified. For example, when doctors were first doing CVR surgeries, the main thing from which children died was blood loss. Doctors then made it standard practice to immediately begin a blood transfusion as soon as the surgery started, thereby eliminating a number of deaths. There are many other items such as this one to complement this view; too many to list.

The endoscopic method is newer, and results have not been tracked over a longer period of time. Depending on which source of data to which you turn, it looks likely that there is a higher risk of a second surgery with the endoscopic method. I think this method has amazing potential; I also think this method will likely become the standard of care for certain types of craniosynostosis in a certain subset of children. However, there are some children for whom this method will not work—Lis, for example. Lis was on the cusp of not being a candidate for the endoscopic method because she was four months old when diagnosed. We would have had to have the surgery IMMEDIATELY. This was not feasible for a variety of reasons (fever, insurance, parental shock). By the time Lis was cleared for surgery, she was six months old, and was too old for the endoscopic method in her condition. Even if we had done the endoscopic method at that point, we would most certainly be facing a second surgery because of how much her condition had worsened.

I, personally, was uncomfortable with the endoscopic method for two other reasons. First, I felt like I was being sold something by a salesman. The people and doctors touting the method were just too…too. I don’t know how to explain it, but I felt like I was being sold on something rather than given data and medical opinions. Second, I was extremely uncomfortable with the idea of a technician shaping my child’s head instead of a doctor, which would have happened with a helmet. NOTE: All that being said, this was my feelings within the context of our daughter’s care. If, at any point while reading this, you find yourself saying But the endoscopic method is XYZ/better/safer/cooler, I invite you to reread above where I mention that I think it is fantastic for certain cases and will likely become the go-to method for those types of cases. Just not ours. I ask you to extend the same courtesy to me.

Don’t we, as parents, have enough to deal with without creating drama? Especially as parents of children who have had traumatic surgery—don’t we have enough on our plates? Don’t we get enough judgment from outside sources on our choices, whether it's everyday choices like McDonalds or daycare, or extraordinary choices, like medical treatment? When I took Lis out into the world the first few weeks after surgery, I got so many looks from so many people—horrified, scared, pitying, disgusted. Some people actually stopped me and asked, “What did you do to your baby?”

In the face of this, I thought that a support group for craniosynostosis parents would be a safe place, where no one would ask me a question like that one; yet, there was, in black and white, from another parent who should have had the same sensibility that I do: What did you do to your baby?

I should have known better. And my answer is, and will always be: I saved my baby, just like you saved yours. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Let It Goooooo

One of the things Vor did with Lis while I was gone this past weekend was to buy Frozen and watch it with her, his friend J, and J's two kids.

I promptly made the mistake of letting Lis watch the music scene where the princess sings "Let It Go."

It is STUCK in my HEAD. I've never even watched the movie--just that one scene, and it is stuck there, forever. Ugh.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kinesthetic Memory

On two separate occasions, I brought my bathing suit to the Y, then changed my mind and just worked out instead. If that doesn’t give you an idea of the conflict within myself, I don’t know what will.

For the most part, I can bounce along in life, and as long as I do something well, I am satisfied. I know that isn’t the case with swimming. It awakens the competitive beast within me, and while it’s an impressive thing to have, it’s also a bitch to harness.

This morning, I dyed my husband’s hair grey—

(Obviously, I am not just going to drop that in without an explanation, since it’s awesome. He is participating in one of this state’s law schools IP moot court competitive, and he is supposed to be a 50 year old expert. He and a partner were talking about it, and decided that Vor should actually look the part, the 50 year old part, that is. So, I got out the baby powder for a trial run this morning, and wiped it all over his hair. Yes. I can actually say I made my husband’s hair turn grey.)

(Also, I am a grey person, not a gray person. I think there is even a difference in the way I pronounce with when I vary between the two words. Are you a grey, or a gray?)

(I digress)

—I dyed my husband’s hair grey, and shooed him out the door to work. “Aren’t you going to work out today?” He asks, as I am containing the tiny airplanes that I brought back from Tucson. Instead of verbally answering him, I pull a Superman. I’m wearing a wrap v neck shirt, so I flash him my bathing suit, and he cracks up. He leaves, and I gather up Lis for school.

Then, before I know it, I am standing in the Y, in my bathing suit, gazing at the pool. It’s been ages since I put a cap on, but my hands remember the motions, and It is smoothly pulled over my too-long hair, lose ends easily captured. My goggles—Speedo Vanquishers, my personal favorite—slide easily on, no fogging, and before I can stop myself, I slide underwater. No going back. I’m back in, in a way I haven’t been in ten years.

My hands reach down to my hip, right side, to touch my nose clips. I’m startled when I find them missing, then I laugh to myself. Old habits don’t die hard. They just never die at all. I didn’t bring my nose clips with me this time. This is just to swim laps.

I swim laps for a half hour. Although my body moves in exactly the same way as it always did—I have great kinesthetic memory—I tell it lacks the power, grace, and flexibility. My arms are tired after only a half hour; I used to swim laps for three hours straight, no stopping. I look down at the bottom of the pool as I swim, watching the light from the windows dance around. I wish there was a mirror on the bottom of the pool so that I could check my form, but there isn’t. I’ll just have to rely on my memory.

After my half hour is up, I start to cool down. Instead of just kicking and paddling, my brain says, why not? and I kick into my basic sculls, four laps, one lap of each. Since that felt good, I do laps of fast eggbeatering, and I feel like I’m going to die. Definitely not as strong as I used to be. But even still, I keep my shoulders well above water the entire time, and I can see the lifeguard watching me, her head cocked to the side, wondering how it looks like I am walking on the bottom in the deep end. Oh, yes.

I’m tempted to go under water and see how well I keep my legs and straight, but that’s exactly why I didn’t bring the nose clips.

Old habits, you know. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jet Plane(s)

My brother deployed last June/July (I say this as a slash, because part of the deployment was almost a month stateside, away from his family, no visits allowed, doing what he called his James Bond training). He'll be home this July.

My family, and my SIL's family has taken turns visiting her and the kids to break up the deployment. This past weekend was my turn, so I went out to Tucson.

Thunderbirds, flying formation! I also have crazy awesome video of them flying directly overhead, as well as A-10s (my favorite!) flying formation. There was also the Red Bull helicopter, which is the only specialized designed acrobatic helicopter (I could be wrong about the only part, but I'm pretty sure I'm not). I almost had a heart attack watching it. It's not my first rodeo when it comes to airshows, and as the daughter of a helicopter pilot, and a frequent flier in one, I generally know what they can and can't do. When I saw that helicopter start to go straight up to do a loop, and go FREAKING upside down, I almost screamed. Helicopters don't do that! Except this one, of course. It was amazing. I actually got to meet up with some friends I had not seen since 2010. My friend S was watching with me, and remarked, "I'm pretty sure that's how you crash a helicopter. Not fly it." Red Bull apparently really does give you wings.

Tucson is one of my top three or four favorite places in the US. Beautiful, warm (hot), sunny, mountains, dry, glorious place. I spent some QT with my nieces and nephew and SIL on their porch, under this tree, looking at the mountains. I also have lots of embarrassing pictures and video of me and the kids, but those are not blog fodder. I love this place, and I always hate to leave it. A long weekend is too short to spend here, and certainly too short to spend with family, but it will have to do for now. 

We come back and Christmas, this time with Vor and Lis. My entire family will be here--all my siblings, all their kids, my MIL, and probably's even Vor's sister. It will be amazing. We're planning a huge family photo in the desert.

As much as I loved my time, and as much as I hate to leave my SIL and the kids and the desert, I am desperate to get home to my husband and my baby. I miss Vor and his humor and his kisses and his quirks. I miss Lis and her still baby-ish legs and her sloppy kisses and her temper and her curls. I need those toddler arms wrapped around me, ASAP. 

So, a short, busy vacation, but a good one.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

One For The Baby Book

Scene: Lis races up to me, with something in her hand. I can’t see what it is, but she is really animated.

Lis: F#ck. You.
Me: (jaw drops open)
Vor: (jaw drops open)

Lis is obviously displeased that we don’t get it, and gets more insistent, waving her hands around.
Lis: F#CK. YOU. F#CK. YOU.

Me: Lis, sweetie…can you say that again? Can you show me?

Lis: (holds out a FORK and a SPOON) F#CK. YOU. (translation: Fork comes out Fuk, and Spoon comes out Ooo, with a soft n at the end).

Me, Vor: (fall to floor laughing)
Lis: (delighted at our laughter) F#CK! YOU! FORK! SPOON!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Toe In The Water, Part II

“Why don’t you switch gyms?” Vor asked. “The hours at the gym you’re going to now are horribly inconvenient for you. Go to the Y. It’s right next to your office!” So, Grace joins the Y.

(One week later)

We’re lounging on the bed, ipads and laptops and papers and books all cluttered everywhere. It’s the life of two lawyers—your child is asleep, so you hide in the bedroom and steal time together, quietly, so that she doesn’t wake up. You laugh and work, argue and read amusing or thought provoking passages from books to each other and argue some more. The dog takes up more than his fair share of the bed, but it’s chilly—we have the window open, hoping for spring, and he’s keeping my feet warm, so I don’t care.

“Is that the gym class schedule?” Vor asks, leaning over and taking it. “Wow, they have lots of programs!” He turns it over, then hands it back, thoughtful. “There’s a synchronized swimming class.”

“I know it,” I tell him. He’s still silent, looking at me with his head slightly cocked to the side. I know how well he knows me, because he picks up his latest treasure from the used bookstore—a book of essays—and starts reading. He’s decided to wait me out. I fidget with the class schedule. “It might be fun,” I venture.

“You were kind of obsessed last time,” he says, without looking up. Still waiting me out. He’s not going to engage until I actually say it. “It was the best exercise I’ve ever had,” I offer. Maybe that will be enough. “Obsessed,” he responds. “Yeah,” I sigh. Obsessed doesn’t cover it.

“Don’t you think it would be a little…boring?” He asks. It’s my turn to cock my head. “It was many things to me,” I tell him, “but it was never once boring.” “No, no,” he says with a laugh. “I mean that you are way above that level.” He sets the book down, and stares at me. Say it or not Grace.

“No. It wouldn’t be boring. And I—they—we could adjust to whatever level I am at. They’re good coaches. It would be fun. To do that, just for fun, just for the creativity, just for myself, with no hope or desire to compete.  For once, I would like to do that.”

Vor smiled and leaned over, kissed me. He’s got great, generous lips. “Then sign up”, he tells me, and picks up the book.

Later, I went up to Lis’s room to check on her before going to sleep myself. She’s burritoed herself in a blanket, with her stuffed animals standing silent watch over her. Her hair is curly from her bath, and her hand is tossed carelessly out to the side, palm out, as if she is a supplicant even in her sleep, asking for anything, and everything. Or, maybe she is my sovereign, and her palm out is her gesture of acceptance and an offer of love. Maybe it’s both.

My own mother was a national level athlete in her own weird sport—racquetball. She was also a phenomenal volleyball player, and a softball player, and taught me how to play both. I loved to watch my mother play her sports. She could be a shy, timid, subservient woman, but god, when she was playing her sport, she was suddenly taller and completely confident. She could be ruthless, this gentle woman, and she took no shit from anyone. She was clumsy in the kitchen, and once fell off the driveway (how do you fall off a driveway?) but she was grace itself with a racquetball, or a volleyball, or a softball.

I think I would like Lis to see that in me, so that she can find it for herself, if she wants it. That I can be, and often am, quiet and thoughtful. I prefer to avoid conflict and get people to work together. But I also want her to see that I have a reserve inside me that I can draw on when I need it, that allows me to compete and win; that I have skills on which I worked for years in order to make a national name for myself; that I can be aggressive, towards myself or towards others, when I have a goal to meet. I know I can show her this in the courtroom, as a lawyer.

I want to show her this in the water; I want to preserve this part of myself; I want to show her how strength and beauty, joy and determination, happiness and pain can combine into one person. It never has to be one or the other. It can always be both. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

MILP #341

Kate has it.

Toe In The Water


I swam competitively as a a speed swimmer from kindergarten until second grade. Then, I found synchronized swimming, and I swam competitively in that from second grade until my junior year of college. When I say I swam competitively, I don't mean for giggle. I was full out hard core. I swam at least 3 hours a day, four days a week. I worked out on days I wasn't swimming. I swam division 1. I used to cheerfully joke that I could drown you and keep you company while I did it. I probably could have, too. I have several boxes packed with medal and ribbons, some of them being national titles, and titles from US Opens. I loved it. I breathed it. When I didn't love it, it was still my life substance. How do you live without air? How do you live without blood? You don't.

Then, one day, I walked away.

It's hard to say what did it. It's a thousand things, none of them individually accounting for it. Some are good real reasons--it was interfering with my school work, I wanted to become a lawyer, I needed lots of time to study for the LSAT, I changed my major and I needed all the spare time I could find to take seven or eight classes a semester. Some are terrible, terrible, reasons: a boy. A stupid, abusive boy at that, but let's not talk about THAT.

Some of the reasons are neither good nor bad: I just couldn't anymore. The thought of hurling myself into a pool at 5:15 am had become repellent. I dreaded every moment of practice and competition. I had spent the summer in Ireland, and I didn't once get in a pool, which was a first for me. It had been the longest I had been away from a pool since I was in kindergarten. It was the happiest I could remember being. So I left.

I should have done it better. I know that now. I left the team in a lurch, but god, I just couldn't bear to live with myself one more day as a synchronized swimmer. It's been years since I've been in a pool. Sure, I've waded into to play with babies and kids. But I have done a single synchronized swimming move, I haven't gone under water, I haven't put on a cap and goggles and swam.

I took Lis for her first swim lesson yesterday. You already see where this is going, right? I'm like an addict. We got in, we splashed around, we sang songs, stuck our faces in the water, gave the instructors high fives.

And there they were--the synchronized swimming class. They were over there in the other section of the pool, and it was like a fist to my gut. I had to drag my gaze back to my daughter, away from them. It wasn't panic--it was sheer jealousy. I was in the water, studiously keeping my hair above it, like a good suburban mom who likes to sunbathe more than swim, like one who has no idea of the clarity of sound beneath waves. They weren't too bad, and I could tell their coaches knew what they were doing--probably girls form the local team. It's a really good, and it had just broken onto the national scene when I was leaving high school.

Part of me was screaming. You could go over there. You could SHOW them HOW IT'S DONE. But hell, I haven't done that in years, YEARS now. Could I really show them how it's done? Would my body respond the way my brain commanded it to? Probably not. That's a painful thought.

Just playing in the water with Lis was wonderful. I didn't feel that sense of dread, the burnout that I had felt all those years ago. Instead, I was gliding around with her having fun, something I can barely remember doing.

Would it be fun now? Would it be fun to join the Y and put on a cap and goggle, go swim some laps? I can imagine gliding under water again, watching the sunlight stream in, though fractured and waving. I can taste the silence--it's wet and heavy. I can feel the chlorine--it's gritty and makes my skin taut. Could I get in the water without gravitating towards the class? If I did, would it be so bad?

...What if I did go over there? What if I just...signed up? For a synchronized swimming class? Like someone who is interested, but has never done it before? It's that me, wanting to brush up? To reconnect? It was the best exercise I've ever had--physically and mentally challenging. It would be a cool skill to keep. Or is it something more sly, like wanting an ego boost? Because even if I am rusty, it's likely I would blow everyone else away, and get my ego stroked for being awesome. God, just listen to me. Stop. I don't know.

But I'm thinking about it.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Pop Quiz: Aced


Despite the doctor's fears (and mine!) it was not a poisonous spider bite. Lis apparently has eczema, gifted to her via me, so that's a delight we can share in together. Then, she had an allergic reaction to the laundry detergent, but it only manifested itself on the eczema patch. All in all, it ended up looking just like a really dangerous and getting worse bite.

Of course, after playing outside all day today, I looked at Lis's neck, and she has two little puncture marks close together, so she was clearly bit by the vampire that lives under our deck.

Really, the challenge was going to be me. I knew that whatever Lis's problem was, I was addressing it, and it would be remedied. I was unsure of my ability to keep my shit together while explaining the bite/patch/whatever to the doctor, let alone wait while tests were run. I was terrified of her saying, "Yup. ER." And yet, I did it. I was calm, I soothed an increasingly pissed off toddler DONT TOUCH ME MAMA DONT LET DOCTOR TOUCH ME, I showed changes in the patch, etc.

It may seem stupid, especially how it played out to be nothing, but I am pretty proud of myself. The last time Lis had a medical procedure done was when she had pneumonia and had to have a chest xray and I stood there, tears just rolling down my face, paralyzed. Nothing major had to be done this time, nothing that was too reminiscent of our little sojourn in the hospital, but I was hanging out there under threat of the ER, and I still kept it together.

Baby steps.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

MILP Round Up #340

So! This is my first time hosting a roundup! This is the MILP (Mother In the Legal Profession) Roundup, where we gather out posts for week.Let’s just try to get this one right, hmm, and we’ll worry about a theme next time, okay? I promise you, if I left you out, I didn’t mean to. It’s not you, it’s me.

LL has now sent me on a shopping scamper twice: once for books, and once for really cool things that I didn’t know existed, but I now know that I need (like that floating coffee mug).

Dinei is overdue, and doing the childcare dance, no thanks to her family.

CP took a trip and made me drool for BBQ.

RG has found that one of the side effects of reality TV, specifically HHI, includes nostalgia.

Queen of Hats described her ideal book club.

Shan is really moving her revolution forward!

Hard Boiled Egg is finding that just a taste of spring is not enough, and might be worse than no taste at all. 

Daisy would like to know if you are her people?

Go tell Kate congrats for surviving the MPRE!