Archive for May, 2011

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Ailments

May 27, 2011

1. Mouse

She has been complaining of a stomach-ache.  Since Wednesday.  On Wednesday, I was concerned.  She had a sore throat, too, and a cold has been going around.  Poor little thing.  She got a cuddle, and a back scratch and was sent to bed with kisses.

Thursday – stomach-ache revisited.  At the dinner table.  After a suspicious absence all afternoon, including during snack time where she ate a healthy serving of gyoza, and then a strawberry popsicle.  But at dinner (a bowl full of very yummy vegetables), oops!  stomach ache!

Fine, says her mother.  You do not have to finish your delicious and healthy vegetables, but you should go to bed early, since this is the second day of the stomach ache, and you have a long day tomorrow.

Suddenly!  No stomachache!  Please let me stay up until my normal time, please?  please?  I was firm.  Said no.  Said “no more talking about it, or it will be even earlier!”  But yet, when the earlier time came along, she said, “will you proofread my project for me?”  And so I said yes.  And found some small mistakes and made suggestions.  Then she came to my room to say, “I have these forms for my health (or, more accurately, sex ed) class that I need to fill out with a parent.  Will you do them with me?”  And so she went to bed only 15 minutes early, instead of an hour early.  Yet!  What a surprise!

Guess what happened this morning?  stomach-ache!!

And so, being the loving mother that I am, I called her a liar.  Not in so many words, but maybe in so many words.  But before I called her on what I still think is a bluff, I asked her about her stomach-ache.  “What kind of stomach-ache?” I don’t know.  “What’s it feel like?” I don’t know.  “Do you feel like you are going to throw up?” No. “Do you feel like you are going to have diarrhea?” No.  “Does it feel like cramps?” No.  Well, dude, help me out here.  “What am I supposed to say?” She retorts, with her old pre-birthday-blush  13 yo crappy-ass attitude.

So I told her to knock it off and go to school.

2.  Lemon

On the way to physical therapy yesterday, “oh, did you hear?  I fell off my bike on the way to crew today.”

Of course, she’s okay.  Perplexing how she thought I would have “heard.”  Was it on the news?  No!  She just kind of toppled over while riding in front of my friend’s car.  Lemon tried to call ahead to the friend she was riding with, but she didn’t hear, and so kept going.  My friend made sure Lemon was okay, and then went ahead to flag Lemon’s friend down.  That freaked Lemon’s friend out, because she didn’t know my friend, and almost made her fall off her bike.

Like I told my friend, the witness to the weird and inexplicable (by all accounts) topple — I am working very hard to just chuckle, and not think about what would have happened if she “toppled” on one of the busier roads, rather than a sleepy one, or if she had been more seriously injured, or or or or.

3.  Writer Dude.

I’m stretching here, to include him in our list.  He has allergies.  And last week, along with the allergies, he had a cold.

4.  ME!!!!

Finally.  Geez.  I thought I’d never get to whine.

A.  I burned myself.  On my clothes-steamer.  It had lint on it, and I was getting ready to steam a top, and didn’t want the lint from the pants (dark) to get on the top (light), so I took the sleeve of my bathrobe, and wiped off the head of the steamer.  Yes, the sleeve of the bathrobe was on my arm.  I guess there was some disconnect in my brain that didn’t realize that wiping the surface of the steamer, which had steam coming out of it (and my vision is perfect), would be the equivalent of wiping my arm along the surface of a hot iron.  Only, because of the steam, it would go through my terry robe as if it didn’t even exist.  Conveniently, the part of my arm that I burned is the very same part – between the wrist and the elbow – that rests on a desk when one is, say, working at a computer.  You know, that thing I do all day long?

Yes, I did/do feel like an idiot.

WD saw the mark and was quite unimpressed.  “yeah, that’s a first degree burn.”  Apparently, he didn’t care that it was 2″ x 3″ in size, and very red – which means very painful!!  But once I got out the door and was walking to the T to head to work*, the center of the burn (which was about an inch long, and 1/3″ wide) was forming a large, distinct blister. Second degree burn, baby! I had put some aloe on the area before I left, and so by the time I checked it again at work, that center was all that was left.  When I got home, I put more aloe on it, and most of that went down enough that it looked like only a small blister area remained in the center of that.

But then, sadly, when I was going over Mouse’s project with her, I scraped my nicely healing burn (aloe is AMAZING) along the edge of her cheap-ass pressboard bed, and ripped the whole damned thing (still at least an inch long) open.

So, today – a bandage & some ow.

b.  My hip.

It hurts.  A lot.  Full post forthcoming.  I’m thinking of seeking out a chiropractor.  Or some yoga.  Or both.  It’s reminiscent of pregnancy, which is not a possibility, and I dislike it.  Whine.

Oh well. At least our cats are healthy.

(Even though one of the kittens keeps hunting bumble bees and hornets.  It’s only a matter of time until he gets stung.)

*where I still don’t really have anything to do.  So, “work” is a funny term to use.  I should, instead, say “I took the T to go to another place with another computer where I could sit all day and surf the internet and play with my Flickr account.”  (Okay, okay.  I also had some meetings and some phone calls and some other piddly work.  But it didn’t fill my day.)

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Flashbacks – vol. 1

May 25, 2011

Mouse’s birthday yesterday combined with a lull in work brought me to some huge photo-organizing and cataloging efforts. I scanned hundreds of photos, and uploaded thousands onto flickr. Today, I am going through Flickr and purging/consolidating, in the way I imagine most people do as they go. For now, though, I’m just grateful that we have as much photographic evidence as we do. Of the girls’ entire childhoods, of trips taken, of homes lived in.

I do not have a good memory. I really don’t know why, but either do my siblings. I remember snapshots here and there of every phase of my life, but not an entire narrative. So looking at these old, old photos is very rewarding. It brings it all back, in a way my brain doesn’t do on its own.

Some of the photos jut make me smile – oh, remember when Lemon used to make that face? Oh, there is Mouse’s favorite pillow – the one she loved so much, so intently, so constantly, that it literally disintegrated as the years went on. We* had to cut it down twice, and eventually removed all the stuffing, and she slept with a scrap of material from the pillow cover. She fell in love with the pillow when she was an infant, and it was finally retired when she was 6. So it had a good run.

Here she is, sitting on it when it was still full size. She was about 3 here. It was with her (in the house) at all times. (also pictured, my nephew.)

It’s fun to have a picture bring so much rushing back.

Here’s another:

That’s me. Years & years ago (we think summer of 2004, but 2003 is possible). A couple (ha ha ha) pounds thinner, and with henna in my long, hippie hair.

WD and I had been camping a good bit at this point. Some with the girls, but mostly without, while they were with the Ex. California was good for that – camping was always an option, and in such fantastic settings.

Once we got all set with car camping gear, we decided to try backpacking. We purchased a 2 man tent, a couple of backpacking sleeping bags, and set out to find a destination.

We didn’t want to go too far, because I’d never done it before. So we looked around the bay area, and settled on Angel Island. A very small island in the middle of the bay.

But, see, I remembered that. What this picture reminds me of is a whole phase of WD and my relationship.

I am sitting on that wall, sipping a Starbucks cup. That Starbucks coffee was a very hard-fought battle.

WD does not drink coffee. When we first started dating, he used to give me a very hard time about drinking coffee. At the time, I think I was drinking 2 cups a day. Morning and afternoon.

And he thought it was unhealthy and inconvenient. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I think he mostly thought it was unhealthy. But that day, he was pretty pissy that I was insisting on stopping before we got on the ferry (no, Angel Island does not have a Starbucks).

Seeing this photo, and me with my coffee, I do not dwell on the pissyness. I think about how it’s changed. How that was a “thing” for us (and truly a minor thing, of course).

Probably soon after that, he got over it. Instead of being frustrated that I had to stop for coffee (or suffer the headache later), he just accounts for the time. He no longer offers caffeine as the reason for every ailment I may come across (weight gain? Give up caffeine. Insomnia? Caffeine. Trouble waking up in the morning? Caffeine. Menstrual cramps? It’s the caffeine!!). He found drinks he enjoys while I sip my coffee. He’s bought me coffee pots (2; most recently my adored Keurig).

Of course, I am sure to point out to him every. single. study. that comes out touting the benefits of coffee/caffeine.

That trip to Angel Island was awesome. Take a peek:

*At this stage of my life, “we” always refers to my sister and I.  We had both recently become single mothers, me of 2, and she of 1, and we essentially combined our households for a year or two.  I went to work, she stayed home and took care of the kids.  If Mouse got sick at school, my sister would go and pick her up.  When we needed to mend clothes or make some curtains – her job.  When we had to cut pillows down so the torn covering would actually enclose the foam stuffing – her job. Over and over again.  I think it was late 2003 or early 2004 when she moved into her own apartment (across the street), and then soon after, I returned to the East Coast.  But that partnership is definitely one of my favorite pieces of my past.

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Starting off on the Right Foot (and in the Right Shoes)

May 25, 2011

Mouse turned 13 yesterday.

Starting at some point last week, she made it very clear that she was SUPER EXCITED about her birthday.

And so starting at some point last week, I started to stress out.

There would be no party ON her birthday – that’s not happening until June (thanks to crew and soccer schedules).  We had no clue what she wanted for gifts, she wouldn’t tell us what she wanted for her birthday dinner — we were adrift. But she was SO EXCITED, and bouncing around the house about it, that I knew I had to make a Good Day.

Pressure!

Fortunately, at some point last week, I remembered a request she had for some low top Converses.  Simple, but an “extra” (because I just bought her a pair of running shoes, flip flops, and sandals) that seemed perfect for the birthday.  Made even more perfect by the fact that she had sent me a link – months ago – with the exact ones she wanted.  They were $50, which seemed pricey for Converses, but whatever.  But even more perfect is the fact that between my office and the T stop I get on every day … a Converse store.  I thought it was iffy that they’d have what she wanted.  Their selection is always limited, and these shoes were a couple of months away from new.

But!  When I told the helper-boy what I wanted, his eyes lit up!  “We have those, and they are on sale!”  And they had her size.  Woo hoo!  So instead of $50, they were $30.

So I did the most logical thing.  Threw in a t-shirt — that was on sale! — to make up the difference.

I believe it was Friday that I bought the shoes, and then on Sunday night, at the dinner table, she raised the fact that she would really love “to have the privilege” of owning low-top converses for the summer.  I somehow managed to squelch my smile and act all indignant because I just bought her 3 pairs of shoes.  “I know, I know!  That’s why I chose those words, so I didn’t say I *need* them, I just would be very pleased to have the privilege.”

WD found her a very sweet summer weight hoodie (because no teen in this town can be seen in public without wearing a hoodie …), and I put on my Lemon hat and bought her a cute wallet and a pretty, bright umbrella.

And then she came up with her birthday dinner … Burritos!  At her favorite taqueria!

Which happens to be dirt-cheap, super fast, and easy as pie.

Does she want a cake?

No!  Let’s go to J.P. Licks!  And get ice cream cones!  Hooray!

Again with the ease.

Then, the weather gods decided, “This Mouse-Child is a sweet girl.  We like her.  She is pretty, and she smiles a lot.  Let’s give her sun!”

And so on Mouse’s birthday, the Boston area (all of New England?) climbed its way out of a 2 week gloom of chill and rain and drizzle and gray.  And it was 80.  And sunny.  Happy birthday, punkin.

Her friends brought her a cake to school, and “caked her in the face” during lunch (which was, oddly, a highlight of the day).  “I think everyone in the whole grade said happy birthday to me!” And some of them brought her cards.

It was also her first birthday on Facebook.  And we all know what that means.  “I had, like, 60 notifications!!!!”

So many smiles from this girl.

I spent the day  “working from home.”  Quotes used to signify the fact that I spent my day (as evidenced in the previous post) cataloging and scanning old photos of my little girl.  This one, in particular, choked me up:

That little 4 or 5 year old face.  how can that be the same girl of today?

I mean, right?

Our night out was great.  Everyone was happy, the girls got along.  It was bliss.  She was happy.  The burritos were yummy (and super cheap!) The ice cream place had my favorite ice cream, that I can never find anywhere (vanilla ice cream with peanut butter).

And she was thrilled with all her gifts, and very excited and surprised about the Converses.  She looks awesome in her hoodie.  She already put all 4 of her dollars in her wallet.

And as she went to sleep, I commented on the fact that she was a lot more excited about this birthday than last year’s.  “Is it because it your first as a teenager?”  “No, Mom, I think I figured it out.  I wasn’t so excited about my birthday last year, and don’t you remember I wasn’t so excited about Solstice* this year, either?”  “Not really, but okay ….” “It’s because I had boyfriends**.”

Perfect life lesson with which to enter the teen years.  “I am happier when I do not have a boyfriend.”  Yes, my dear.  Yes.

And as I was saying goodnight to Lemon, I had to say to her “today was the best you’ve ever behaved on your sister’s birthday.”  She got a typical-Lemon wise-ass grin on her face and said, “Well, I restrained myself several times.”  Which is progress.  Restraint is progress.

(They actually got along fantastically all evening.  I was almost – again – brought to tears by it.  And while Lemon may try to say she was just showing restraint in honor of her sister’s birthday, it’s not the entire truth.  They’ve been getting along better for the past couple of months.  And it makes me very, very happy.)

*  We enjoy celebrating the Solstice, and putting less emphasis on Christmas.  Historically, we exchange hand-made gifts on Solstice, and attempt to focus on the season and nature.  More recently, busy schedules have kept us from making anything by hand, and so …. we just exchange gifts.  So, um, yeah.  (As Lemon would say.)

** Boyfriend, in these situations, is defined as either (a) boy who you text occasionally and over the course of 3 months, meet at a park one time, and meet after school for a slice with 6 other friends one time, or (b) a boy who asked you out in school, and in a flurry of embarrassment and surprise, you agree to “go out,” but then the next day, inform him that now that you had a chance to think about it, you really think you’re better off friends.  Apparently, that overnight mind-changing happened on December 21st, this year.

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How on Earth ….

May 25, 2011

Did we get from this …..

Or even this …..

Then this …..

To this!

I mean …. Wow.

And Happy 13th birthday, Mousey.

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Our New Normal

May 21, 2011

Friday Nights at Suzie’s House

Prior to 2009:

The kids and WD would be home from work and/or school, sports, friends’ houses by 5, they’d all wait anxiously for me to get home.  We would have carefully pre-chosen movies lined up.  Rarely were they modern movies.  The girls loved musicals, they loved old movies, they loved weird comedies, they were very flexible, and we had a world of movies to choose from. WD would make a perfect dinner, designed just for the Movie Night, to eat in front of the t.v.  Nachos.  Toastie Dogs.  Pizza (he tends to get plain cheese frozen pizzas from Trader Joe’s, and then doctor them up with each of our favorite toppings).  We’d typically watch 1 movie with our dinner, a second movie with some ice cream, and then go to bed.

Friday Nights in the first half of 2009:

Lemon would call or text to talk about possible plans.  I’d say, “but it’s movie night,” and she’d say, “oh, right, never mind!” and come home for the above.  But we’d struggle to find movies.  Especially ones the girls would agree on.  Lemon likes suspense, Mouse likes comedies.  Lemon still likes the classic films, not bothered by black & white, Mouse wants modern only.

Friday Nights, starting in the second half of 2009.

Lemon would call or text with plans.  “But it’s movie night!”  “Mooo-oooom, can’t we watch a movie on Sunday night or something?”  WD and I would watch a movie or two with Mouse.  Sometimes, even Mouse would have a dance to go to, or a sleepover.

Friday Nights, 2011, an example (last night):

  • I get home from work around the same time Lemon gets home from crew.
  • Mouse is still at soccer practice, not due home for an hour.
  • Lemon has a performance to attend at the high school, and will need to leave before Mouse gets home from soccer practice.
  • WD decided that since Mouse is a vegetarian and we are carnivores, we will just eat before she gets home, and she can eat later “if she even comes home,” he said, knowing that she is with her best of friends, and may end up finding something else to do along the way.
  •  We eat dinner (delicious flank steak and curried veggies) at the table.
  • Lemon leaves.
  • WD and I make our way to the living room.  Still have at least 30 minutes before Mouse will be home, so we start looking through instant watch movies on Netflix.
  • Mouse texts (predictably?) “Can I get a burrito with my friends?”  We laugh, say yes, start our movie. We purposefully chose something lighthearted and short, knowing interruptions were inevitable.
  • An hour into the movie, another text “Can I go to my friend’s house to watch a movie?”  We laugh, say yes, finish our movie, start a second movie.  Now we know we have more time, so we go with something more serious. [I loved it, by the way.]
  •  30 minutes after that, “Can my friends and I go to [boy’s] house?  Oh, but wait.  That’s a first.  “Are his parents home?” Yes. “Who else is there?” One other boy. “What do the other moms say?” They said yes.  WD and I ponder whether we need to call the boy’s parents, to be sure they’re home.  But the boy is new in town, and I don’t really know his parents.  We say yes, and tell Mouse to call us when she gets there.
  • At 9:50, I get an email from another of the girls’ moms.  She is bringing all the girls home at 10:15ish.  She’d coordinated with the boys’ parents.  All is well.
  • 10:15, Lemon comes home.  We tell her we’re at the end of an intense movie, don’t ask questions.  She goes to her room instead.
  • 10:30, Mouse texts.  She’s in the car, but has to make the rounds to friends’ houses to pick up stuff she’d left behind throughout the afternoon.
  • 11 p.m., our movie ends, girls come in the room, all chatty & happy.  Lemon wants to watch X-Files, I say “you gotta be kidding me?  It’s 11 p.m.!!” (I’m notorious for falling asleep well before the rest of the family on Friday nights – being awake at 11 was miraculous).  Also, Mouse doesn’t watch X-Files, and she’s not tired, either.
  • Mouse tells stories about her evening.  Interesting to find out that the boy whose house she went to lives in a condo complex/brownstone building where a couple of other boys live, and so they were boy-house-hopping.  “No, we just went over there to GET [other boy]”.
That was the end of my night.  I went to bed at 11:15, and I thought WD was right behind me.  The girls had asked permission to watch DVR’d episodes of Parks & Rec (such an awesome show … Ron is my favorite), and permission was granted.  I guess the episodes were too funny to allow WD to leave the room.  At one point I was woken by Lemon’s laughter (kind of a cackle, I have to say), and knew they’d switched over to SNL episodes.  It was 12:43.  I have no idea when they went to bed.
So this is it.  Friday nights.  Girls being social, hanging out with friends, keeping in touch via text.  Not our first time experiencing a certain freedom gained now that we have older kids.  But still felt like a notable change.
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Brats & Stuff

May 19, 2011

Mouse is gonna need a new moniker.  Something like “porcupine” or “pirahna” or “evil child who is rude to all parental figures.”

Rounding the bend to 13, it’s not a fun time.  Who knew that trying to create a special birthday celebration for your child could result in such animosity?  Such drama?

________________________

I had my bi-annual review yesterday, and all went well.  The department remains on the quiet-side, but I still have things to do from older re-activated cases.  I still feel like I want more to do.  I’m also starting to explore job postings.  Not to actually apply, but to get a sense of what’s out there, what employers are looking for, etc.  I keep dreaming that I’m a family law lawyer.  Interviewing or practicing.

_________________________

Relatedly, I met with a family law lawyer yesterday about my own struggles.  It went well.  I think even if the Ex and I are able to come to an agreement without the need for lawyers, I will utilize a lawyer to get my whole agreement updated and moved to Massachusetts.

_________________________

WD and I are both working on tightening our belts.  In two ways at once.  We’re working on doing better with finances, as our financial advisor has us shoving significant 4-figure amounts into savings each month, and we’re both working on trimming our waistlines.

Needless to say, we’re grouchy.

_______________________________

Crew is almost over.  I think there’s only one more meet.  That was a very fun ride.  Lemon will be doing crew all summer – starting before school lets out and continuing until the first week in August.  She may have only a few weeks with no sports, and then start right up into field hockey.  OR, she’ll skip field hockey – depends on her auditions for the Shakespeare play.

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Watching Her Grow Up

May 11, 2011

The other day, WD, Mouse and I went to see Thor.

It was Mother’s Day.  I hadn’t made the plans ahead of time, and Lemon had already made different plans.  She was going to have a friend over, and then go see a play at the community theater group that she’d been a part of until, well, exactly a year ago, when she graduated.  The play wasn’t movable.

I felt kind of bad that I, all spur of the moment, said “let’s go see Thor!” Because it meant we were planning Lemon out of the trip.  But she had plans, so she was fine.  But then her plans fell through.  Her friend who was going to come over could not.

She asked tentatively – when’s the movie?  When do you think it will get out?  There was no way she could come to the movie and get to her play.  WD advocated for the movie to still happen – Lemon made the plans to see the play, and I (Suzie) shouldn’t feel bad about it.  I decided not to feel bad.  Lemon was really okay with it – in a “more mature than her mother” kind of way.  So I swallowed it.

But while we were at the movie, she was on my mind.

At one point, hopefully during a boring part of the movie, I *really* had to pee.  I got up and ran out.  Peed at the speed of light.  Ran back.

And was struck by a memory — the first time we all went to a movie together that I let Lemon go to the bathroom by herself.  I was so nervous the whole time she was gone.  But she (of course) came back.  It was crazy how quick it seemed.  And I was watching as she came back in.  Watching the entrance for her show up; sighing with relief when she did.  She made her way across the theater and back to our seats just as if she were an adult.  She was probably 12.  And I remember being struck by how small she was.  “Just as if she were an adult,” but small.

I realized, as I remembered, that if she were with us today, and if she had to run to the bathroom, and then came back (quicker than expected), it would be “just as if she were adult,” but no longer small.  The sentence would need to end.

She’s not small, anymore.  I’m not sure if she’s full-grown or not yet, but she’s 5’5″, and taller than many of my friends. She wears a size 9 shoe, a size 4 pant, and an adult medium shirt.

There’s no more small.

_______________________

Lemon had therapy tonight.  Her appointment is at 7, and her therapist stretches her schedule to make it work.  I don’t know if it’s what is helping, but my daughter is doing very, very well.  She seems to be thriving in all of her friendships.  She is a joy to have in the house more than not.  She is proud, she is successful.  Things are good.  Maybe because of therapy, maybe just concurrent with it.

But to get her there, our schedules are tight.  She is at crew – in another town – until at least 5:30 p.m.  She rides her bike home … eventually.  Pulling her stuff together quickly, well, it just doesn’t happen.  She’s a lollygagger.  (yes, I made that word up.)

Also, I am a lawyer in a big firm.  It’s not easy for me to get out of work before 6 p.m.  If things are busy, 6 p.m. is a real stretch.  Things are not busy (see previous post), but I still find myself on the phone with colleagues, or organizing emails, maybe filing some papers, and before I know it, it’s after 6.

I was rushing home, texting WD, worried about dinner.  He was aiming for a 6:30 p.m. dinner, and i got off the train at our local stop at 6:19.  I was trying to stay focused on the walk (3 blocks?), but I cross through the park and sports field for the high school.  I walk along a baseball/softball diamond.  Two teams were warming up.

Ahhh, yes.  The town’s rec league girls’ softball.

It was Lemon’s first sport.  In the spring that we moved here from California, she was interested in softball, and we signed her up.  For the little ones, it was in a park far away, and it was hard for us.  We had to get a Zipcar, because we didn’t yet have our car.  So on Sunday afternoons, we’d make a day of it.  We’d get the car, hang out at the park, watch Lemon draw pictures in the dirt at short stop, maybe 3rd base.

Then she moved up to a different field.  Closer to home, no car needed, but it was a healthy walk.  At that point (4th grade), they added in Wednesday evening practices, from 6-8 p.m.  Lemon and many of her friends had the rehearsals for that aforementioned community theater program until 5:30 p.m.  Us parents took turns …. we’d pick the girls up, shove some food down their throats, and get them to the field for 6 p.m.

I remember my turn so well.  I picked them up on foot.  I walked them all to a burrito place, between the theater and the softball field.  They were in 5th grade.  I know this, because that was the year they had “Health.”  I know this, because while we were in the burrito place, the girls started to have a very interesting conversation in very loud voices:  “Did you hear when Ms. _____ was talking about an ORGASM?  They said that girls can have ORGASMS, too!!!”  There were at least 6 girls with me that were not my own, and I was not entirely certain that all parents would be thrilled with me for explaining to them that conversations about orgasms were best had either outside of public places, or in quiet tones.  Was I squashing their sexuality?  teaching them to be ashamed of their bodies and its needs?

I don’t know.  But I do know that my law professor and his daughter of the same age were 2 tables away, and I was devastated.  (I was in my second year of law school ….).  I should have just thrown it in:  “Hell, yeah, girls, we can!  And you shouldn’t settle for anything less than three per session!”  But I didn’t.

Anyway ….

Once they hit 6th grade, they moved to a field so much closer to home, it was bliss.  It was a short walk from home (but not from the theater), and it was right here — by the high school.  The very field I passed tonight.  6th, 7th, 8th grade.  Lemon and her closest friends played softball on Wednesday evenings in the spring, from 6 – 8 p.m.  Once I started work, and we moved here near this train stop, I’d get off the train, cross the street, and meet my friends (pre-dinner for me, post-dinner for them) to chat while our daughters played.  The girls were already getting to the point where our opportunities to just observe were limited.  It was a real treat to sit on the bleachers, or if were stuck on the far field, to sit on the grass, and chat while our kids flitted around us.  The playground days already so far behind us.

But tonight, as I passed the field, the girls were strangers to me.  The coach wasn’t my dear friend C, dad to one of Lemon’s closest friends, husband of one of mine.   The names being called out weren’t the same that called the house “Hi, Suzie, is Lemon home, it’s _____”

I texted WD to remark on the fact … this is the first spring in 5 years that we aren’t here – if not this here, then another here – watching Lemon play softball.

_____________________________

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Career Thoughts (or Evidence of a Lack Thereof)

May 11, 2011

Yesterday, I spent my entire day in family court.  The hearing was set for 9 a.m., but we had to wait for interpreter for my client, and then the judge decided we should try mediation, then we had to wait again for the judge, then we ended up (surprisingly) waiting for the Department of Children and Families, and then again for the judge, and then back to mediation to craft a visitation schedule, and then back to the judge for approval.

I left at 5 p.m.  And I was not near to my home.

But it ended up fine.  Because while I was gone all day … nothing really came up for me at work.

Things have been relatively slow.  It’s been the case department-wide, and so I’m not concerned about me as an individual.  I’ve relished the ability to leave early, to chat with my colleagues more, to generally have a less-stressful life.

But it also gives me a bit more time to think about where I’m going in my career.  Or rather, I have less things preoccupying me so that I can ignore thinking about where I’m going in my career.

And I find that I have no clue.

I know that I am not going to make partner at my BigLaw firm.  I know this because I have worked very hard to balance my work and family lives, and I think I’ve done a good job.  As a result, I do not have off-the-chart billing numbers.  Which, I believe, makes clear to those with Power that I am not as “Hungry” as my counterparts who have higher billables.

It’s fine.  I think.

There are two areas of law that I practice here that I could potentially – ever slight possibility – develop to the point of being marketable for an in-house position in those fields.

And there’s the area of law (i.e., family law) that I practice consistently as a pro bono attorney, that I could likely transition into without too much difficulty, but with a considerable pay cut.

*****************

You have now come to the end of the extent of my thinking on this subject.

I so need to get on the ball.

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Struggling to Maintain Civility & Dignity.

May 9, 2011

So, the Ex and I have been exchanging some emails.  We had our initial confrontation, he didn’t deny lying to me, seemed to acknowledge that some increase would be forthcoming, but still said, “suck it,” essentially.

I stayed in my paralyzed funk for a bit (a week?), and then I wrote him to request his last 2 years’ tax returns.  He waited a day or so and wrote me to say “of course” I’ll agree to him redacting his wife’s income & assets.  I said no, I do not agree.  Definitely not on the income (because if she’s making a decent income, I’ll feel less guilty about the whole thing, not because her income would increase his child support owed), and the only way he can redact her property is if there’s a prenup.  Because otherwise, it’s his property, too.  (Which also doesn’t affect child support #s, as far as I know, but again, will make me feel less like an ogre.)

Then he said he had more to “disclose,” in the way of additional income.  From what I can gather based on his cryptic statements, it’s $20-$30K of additional income, each summer, for at least the last 2 years.  He says he will not agree to any arrangement that factors in that money because it’s summer income, gained through competitive applications, and there is no guarantee he’ll get it again.

But I’ve since asked him FOUR times if he’s getting it again this summer, and he’s ignoring the question.

I’ve also called a lawyer.  She’s going to get back to me.  I will use her to help me set reasonable expectations in the first instance.  And then, if negotiations break down, I’ll have her file the necessary papers.

With the Ex’s resignation that some sort of increase is imminent, I am thinking we can potentially resolve this without going all the way to a legal dispute.  Since the first day, even with the disagreements, we haven’t been “fighting,” and have been carrying on concurrent conversations about potential visits with the girls this summer and about braces, and other little things we need to interact about.  Without arguing.  Cooperating, even.

It’s really been fine.

What I’m thinking is that any increase that we end up implementing (voluntary or otherwise), will go directly into a college savings fund.  I will even let him make the deposits himself.  I am not trying to get myself extra spending money – I am trying to secure the girls’ future as much as I can.  Even if we do set this up as I envision it, he’ll be putting 1/3 the amount away for their college that I am.  Or maybe 1/4th.  But I will not complain too much, because I hadn’t thought this much would be happening.  I guess in some ways, despite the conflict that results, this whole thing still provides me with an unexpected and pleasant benefit.

At the same time, I asked him to contribute to their summer activities.  He said he’ll “have to think about it.”  I’m sure he’ll come down on the side of “no.” But I thought I’d put it out there.  I really am shelling out obnoxious #s of thousands to keep these girls engaged this summer.  Just when I thought I’d finally squeezed every ounce of blood from every stone to get things covered, Lemon came home with info on a Crew program for another $2K.  Jesus.

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A Good Mother’s Day.

May 9, 2011

My public plea for patience worked.  I think that we had a nice, mellow visit with my parents.  WD had to field a few prodding “I am a conservative and you are a liberal, lets see if I can goad you” questions from my father when they were alone in a car.  Oh, and Lemon had to defend her boycott of Target, which led my parents to roll their eyes (she/we boycotts based on their financial support for political candidates who oppose gay marriage).

Otherwise, we had a very good weekend.

Lemon’s race went very well.  Six boats from our school raced, and hers was the only one that took a medal (silver).  My parents got a taste of the kids, the community.  My mom helped me to work the food tent, where parents pitch in to feed the 50+ athletes throughout the day.  She chatted with some of Lemon’s friends, and walked away quite impressed with the state of 14 yo’s in this day and age.  (Because they rock.)

Then Mouse had a soccer game.  My dad, WD and Mouse left the race at 11 to get Mouse there early, as is required.  Mom and I stayed behind to finish our shift at the food tent.  We were running late for the game, thanks to traffic, and by the time we go there, so had some thunder & lightning.  They called the game, and so we all went home.

Potentially Awkward Thing That Ended Up Not:

In December of 2009, my mom asked me what WD would want for his birthday.  I said a GPS.  She said, “great! That’s a good idea!”  We were shocked when the GPS arrived at the house, because it was obviously a used and very outdated model.  At first, we thought they just gave us theirs.  Either way, I was pretty offended.  I mean – new GPSs are $100.  My parents often gift around $150-$200 for birthdays, etc.  True, WD is not their son, but still.  They hadn’t done that before.  We were very confused, and I was a little pissed.

When I spoke to my mother on the phone later, she said, “I spent forever trying to find our exact model!  We love it so much, and I don’t know anything about them, so I thought I should just stick with what I know.”

It may very well be that the gift was punishment for me.  Because my mother has this …. thing.  When she buys gifts for me, my sister, or anyone in our families, she wants it to be not just a gift-giving process, but a gift-buying process.  This means spending hours on the computer or the phone looking at options, clicking on links, and making suggestions.  I find it very frustrating, and I always try to get out of it.  I thought I did get out of it with the GPS.  “I don’t know what to get, tell me waht you want.”  To which I responded, “I don’t know, Mom.  I don’t know anything about them, either.”

And we got the used, outdated, software-less, instruction-less, charger-less GPS model.  Lesson learned.  I guess.

So, 6 months later, we said forget this crappy GPS model.  We’re getting a decent one.  We went to Best Buy during tax free weekend, and we picked out a Tom Tom.  It was $125, if that.

We spent some months saying, “what if your/my parents notice that we got rid of theirs? What will they do? What will they say?”

This weekend, they noticed.  My dad ooh’d and ahh’d, and my mom said, “what!?  It tells you what LANE to go in? I want that one!  Give me the model number!”  (And has since emailed me twice, asking for the model number.)

So, they weren’t offended.  At all.

My Parents left on the early side after brunch on Sunday.  Lemon had her Latin lesson, and then was due to have a friend over.  I was quite happy to have an afternoon with little to do.

But then I remembered that Thor came out this weekend, and was suddenly very interested in going to a movie.  And it was Mother’s Day, so what Suzie wanted, Suzie got.

We should probably be embarrassed about our love for what we term the Big, Dumb Movie.  But we do love them.  And they tend to be the ones we see in theaters.  Non-dumb, and non-big, movies are easily viewed at home.  But the Big, Dumb Movie is best seen on a huge screen.

Last Mother’s Day it was Iron Man 2.

This Mother’s Day, Thor.

Both were very fun for me.

Maybe next Mother’s Day will be the Avengers.

So, that was mothers day.  Wishes granted; happiness had.