Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

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The Holidays Are Coming! That means … visitation issues.

October 14, 2012

[I started drafting this last Monday – Columbus Day.  I didn’t finish, I guess.]

 

I should be packing for my trip.  But the dryer is running, and … I don’t wanna go.*  So I’ll write a post, instead.

Jules is now 5′ 8.5″.  She grew a half inch in the past week or so.  She comes into the room, and I look at her chest, because it’s where I expect her face to be.  But it’s not.  And she’s not done, yet.  I know she has more in her.  No wonder I can’t call her Mouse anymore (although, I do – in real life – call her that all the time).

She went for a quick prep-session today with a voice coach we know.  Neither of the girls had been to see her since the spring, but we were very surprised when we contacted her this month for help with some audition prep and she said, “I really want to help them, but just to let you know, I’m 40 weeks pregnant!”   Jules got very anxious.  “Can’t I go with Emma?  Do I have to go alone?  What if she has the baby while I’m there!!!???”  I tried to explain to her that first babies come sloooowwwww.  It wasn’t going to just squirt out between notes on the piano.  But she remained anxious.

And I’m not sure why she has these anxieties.  But she does.  Not only about babies being born instantaneously, but also about getting in an airplane.

So, here we are.  It’s October.  Jules is 14, and she’s a little more fierce than she used to be in her refusals to fly.  I really do acknowledge that this fear of flying is likely something deeper, but I found myself less than 2 months from this year’s Thanksgiving visit to the Middle of the Country and her NOT in therapy to explore why she’s really afraid to fly.  Maybe the Ex would just shrug if I told him that Mouse didn’t want to go because of her fear, and that Emma wouldn’t go without her sister.  But I think that the girls will be better served by having the opportunity for a relationship with their father.  And while J doesn’t really seem [again, with the need for therapy] to care if she ever sees him again, Em really wants to go, but ONLY with her sister.  So there’s this tension/conflict.

And I don’t want to test it.  I just don’t want to figure out what to do if one of them insists they’re NOT GOING.  So.

Well.

I mean, two years ago David and I went to New Orleans for Thanksgiving.  It was a great time; we loved exploring and tasting.  So — why not do the same in the Middle of the Country?

But then, since David is working now, it wasn’t a given that he could miss work on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  And Emma wanted to play a Powderpuff football game.  But there was no way we could leave at 5 or 6 pm on Weds. and get to the Middle of the Country (Hello, 18 hour drive) in time for them to even spend Thanksgiving with their father.

So – here’s the plan:

Jules and I take Wednesday off from work and school, and we get in the car.  Probably at 5 a.m.  We will spend that night in a motel somewhere in Indiana, and get on the road again the next morning by 7 a.m., the same time that David and Emma will get on a plane.  Jules and I will get to the airport at the same time that David and Emma land, and the Ex will meet us there.  He’ll take the girls, and David and I will drive to Chicago.

We have a couple of days there, including Thanksgiving day & dinner.  We have a huge list of things to do, and not enough time to do it in.  I’m hugely looking forward to it.

Unless, of course, things don’t go my way and I need to be in the Virgin Islands – again – on the Monday after Thanksgiving.  We are asking permission to attend a conference by phone, but we don’t know that will be granted.  Fingers crossed.

 

* Oh, yes, I am a roller coaster.  First I don’t want to go, then I’m excited to go, and now I don’t want to go.  I’m missing a lot this week, and I’m not happy about it.  I’ll be  in “airplane mode” while things will be heated in my case, and I’m not happy about it. It’s one thing to be nervous about my first deposition and my first mediation, and it’s a completely different thing to be worried about all of that on top of — do I have everything I need in my suitcase?  How many binders?  How many boxes of documents?  Will I have a printer?  It’s just too much.  TOO MUCH!  not to mention the other 4 cases that I’m active on and I will be GONE!!!  And – also – the real sadness – is the home life.  It’s a crazy week here, and I’m just —- missing it.  The girls are anxious, they have play auditions, games, meets, tests, quizzes — I want to be here.  I want to give them a hug and a kiss and tell them that they’re wonderful.  I don’t want to call them on the phone and tell them that they’re wonderful.  Bummer.

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Fourteen

May 20, 2012

Mouse’s birthday is this Thursday. She will be 14.

And it just happens to be that time of year where everything is happening – meetings, banquets, annual events, etc.

Mouse has her varsity banquet that night; I have a work function.  I don’t have to go, but it’s kind of something I really want to go to, and was bummed that I’d have to miss.  David and I started to talk it through, and he suggested I take Mouse to breakfast that day, instead of dinner.  My event is from 6-8, so I could be home for cake.

I felt funny about it, though, and hadn’t made up my mind.  He said, “It would be fun, you could take her to breakfast, Lemon can take her to lunch, and I will take her to dinner!”  I thought it felt kinda crappy.  But then Lemon came home with her varsity banquet plan, and I realized that no matter what, we weren’t going to be able to have our usual “Actual Birthday” evening.*  Not this time.  So we told Lemon what we’d been thinking about – her taking Mouse out to lunch – and she thought it was a great idea.  We’d let them both leave school early and walk up to Mouse’s favorite Mexican restaurant for her favorite burritos in the world.

I still felt funny about going to an event on her birthday, but they all convinced me that our alternate plan is really fun, and as long as we all have dessert together, there is no problem.

So that’s what we’re doing . . .

And now we just added a little additional plan:  Mouse is going to meet me at work on Wednesday, and we are going to go together to the Claire’s around the corner to get her a cartilage piercing.  Just like her sister did in 8th grade, and as her birthday gift.  Then we will go to DSW and look for graduation shoes.

And then Mouse told me last night that a friend of hers is jealous.  She said, “Not fair, you’re having such a special birthday, and my family isn’t doing ANYTHING for mine!”  (They are a week apart.)  So I guess I should get over my guilt for going to this event, right?

 

*  Where the birthday person gets to choose the dinner – which even though restaurants are on the table, my kids always choose something for David to cook.  I always choose to go out. Then we have dessert and presents.

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The Last of the Birthday Trip

February 7, 2012

First, the trip almost didn’t happen, then we had a meal that we will always remember, now – I think I can resort mostly to photos, and lay off all the blah blah.  We’ll see 🙂

On our one full day, we got up early and had breakfast at the B&B.  Then we grabbed coats (that we didn’t need, because it was 55 or so, despite being December) and hopped in the car for our day exploring the entire island, rather than just the towns.

We started out in Menemsha, which is where Mouse spent her time when she vacationed with friends, and where at least some of Jaws was filmed:

There was a fish market there that was known for its clam chowder, and I really wanted some, but we were there too early.  So we had to move on and go around the island to the Aquinnah area.  We enjoyed some overlook views and then went for a very long and very rocky walk on the beach.  I was not wearing the right shoes:

 

One of the things about the beach there is the natural clay, to wit:

Here is the cliff’s worth:

And here’s a shot of a funky little crevice in the clay:

It was tough, but we avoided applying the clay to our bodies.  (heh)

Then, because he loves me and it was my birthday, David drove me back to Menemsha for my clam chowder.

Some sites along the road:

The chowder was delicious. It was worth the zigzag. After the chowder, we drove to South Beach, not far from Edgartown.  This was my favorite beach, and if I one day win that lottery, I will buy me a house near THIS beach.  Even though I’m told it looks nothing like this during the summer, but is instead wall-to-wall people.  I don’t care:

And then, finally, we started to get chilly.  After the entire day of walking on beaches and hanging out outside, we didn’t need a sweater or a coat until 4 p.m.  First time ever for my birthday to be that warm, I’m sure.

And then our funny story of the day:

We to Edgartown for a little bit, because we’d missed a couple of shops before they closed the day before, due to early off-season closing times. We were alone in one of the shops, looking at some wallets, one of which I knew that Mouse wanted, when the door went ding-ding-ding.  An older couple walked in – a polo-clad 60-something man and his fur-drenched wife.  I did a double take and said, “Judge ______?!??!!”  It was the judge I’d worked with during my first summer of law school and his wife.  Very surreal and odd (especially when you think that my true FIRST visit to the Vineyard was the time that I flew there in this judge’s prop plane — I even got to fly for most of the trip.  It was a lot of fun).

He of course was asking me about work and practice and the Big/Old Firm, and I was just about a week out from the lay off news.  I pretended that it hadn’t happened. We just caught up in general. Still, who would have thought?

That night, David went to a more casual restaurant.  I had some oysters, and we had – other food.  I think burgers.  I know it was good, but it wasn’t like the night before.

For our last morning, we got up and did some shell-combing on the beach across the street from our hotel . . .

. . . and headed back to the ferry, relaxed and ready to delve back into our school play.  (Which I plan to be the topic of my next post, but we’ll see.  This series has been exhausting!)

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Birthday Trip Angst (2 months later)

February 7, 2012

I find that while essentially between jobs, my life is dull.  My brain is dull.  I don’t have tons going on.  The girls are doing fine. David is having a more-frustrating job search, but still, that’s fine. Everything is just fine. So I’m a boring blogger.

But there are at least a few things that happened in the past few months that I never had a chance to blog about. I had every intention, but didn’t find the time, and then it felt too far away.  But I’m going to go back anyway.

Back in December, in the aftermath of the lay off news, I was seriously wrestling with whether or not to cancel a planned surprise birthday trip for David.

I’m sure he won’t mind me saying (ha!), but on December 5th, David turned 50.  (Right after I turned 39 on December 4th.)   Of course, we knew this milestone year was coming for quite some time.  I have been saying at least since I was 37 that I want a party for my 40th.  I want us to rent a space and have a BIG party.  Not hundreds big, but 50-big (and that won’t fit in our apartment).  David it’s a “have a party to celebrate ME!” kind of person, but he is a “I want to travel the world!” kind of person, so we always said, a trip for his 50th, a party for my 40th.

As the year/fall came together, I knew I couldn’t pull off the ideal trip (Europe) for his actual birthday.  Not only is it in the middle of an intense time of the school year, but it’s also the weekend before the 7th/8th grade musical at Mouse’s school.  The musical that I produce and for which he runs the lights. We couldn’t go away for much more than a weekend.

I considered doing a Europe trip around Christmas-time, but wasn’t sure I could swing it, financially.  Then the Ex swapped Christmas for Thanksgiving, so we had the girls for Christmas, and we definitely couldn’t afford 4 to Europe. Then the job got shaky, so any of hope of swinging it was dashed.

But I wanted to do something.

He’d been talking for some time about how it would be really cool to be on Martha’s Vineyard during a storm.  We are more wintry weather people than summer weather people, and I thought this could be something that would be a good get-away without breaking the bank.  I checked in with my co-producer back in September, got the okay to disappear for the final weekend of the show, and started making quiet plans.

I checked out the ferry (I wanted to take our car over – the last and only time we’d been to the Vineyard, we went for the day, without the car, and I didn’t think it worked to be there without a car), I checked out off-season hotels.  Prices were great ($100/night, instead of $400/night during peak).  I did enough research to know that we wouldn’t be without any amenities in the winter.  Getting the kids taken care of was tougher – I had talked to my mom, and while she wanted to come and help, she was a little stuck because she was taking time off to come see Mouse’s play the very next weekend.  And my plans REQUIRED us to be gone into Monday, because his birthday was Monday.  If we came home on Sunday – my birthday – then it would feel like I got the trip for his 50th birthday.  Probably weird, but the truth.  It was fine, though, because I instantly had 3 friends raising hands and offering to take the girls.  (As it turns out, my co-producer not only shouldered the play for the weekend, but she also took Mouse in!)

I had fun thinking about how I would surprise him.  Would I tell him the night before “I have plans for us tomorrow, we’re getting up early – no questions asked.”  If anyone did that to me, I’d be pissed, and would never sleep the night before.  I HATE surprises.  But he’s not me.  He loves surprises.  And how would I get him to have his stuff?  I could pack him a bag, but again, if anyone did that for me, I’d be pissed (and my laundry wouldn’t be done, so they wouldn’t be able to get my favorite clothes, and it would suck).  I could tell him we’re going away for the weekend, and not tell him where, but that would be less fun.

In the end, I got laid off, instead.  We were facing a huge unknown about whether we’d end up with no income at the end of February, or if I’d end up taking a 75% pay cut, or what was going to happen.  The trip felt . . . wrong.  But I also couldn’t let go of it.  I couldn’t think of a single thing that I could do for his 50th that wouldn’t (a) suck, or (b) rival the cost of the weekend.  And I got kind of upset about it.

Because of our situation, I felt that I couldn’t just up & go with the plan without involving David in the financial decision-making.  And at some point in the lay off aftermath, I came clean with my plans.  He liked the idea, but didn’t think we could afford it, and that it wouldn’t be wise.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, we started some Christmas shopping for the girlios.  We had a fun day out on Small Business Saturday, and ended up at one of our favorite restaurants in town.  The gift-buying had me thinking about and stressing about his birthday.  I’d ask him what he wanted, and he’d say something like, “Oh, I’d really like a striped hat.”  Or, “I do need a new winter coat.” And I was so frustrated.  It was his 50th.  It was a big deal.  He wasn’t getting a fucking hat.

By the time we were at the restaurant, I was all worked up.  I brought up the weekend again.  He again pushed back.  And then, really not in Suzie-style, I started to cry.  In the restaurant.  I just cried and cried.  His eyes bugged out of his head, and we started to talk about a one-night trip, instead.  The ferry and the hotel together would cost about the same as a nice dinner out in Boston – we can swing that.  No problem.  My mom had even offered to give us a night at the Inn as David’s birthday present, so we could do it.  And we’ll both get jobs, and we do have savings, and okay okay okay.

So we pulled the trigger on a Sunday – Monday trip.  It didn’t take long after that for us to say “oh what the hell” and put Saturday night back into the equation.

[Then, after making the decision, I got an unexpected $500 profit sharing sort of payment thing from my firm, and it definitely helped make this more reasonable.]

And I guess I’ll have to blog about the actual trip in a separate post, since this is already a novel.  Preview:  It Was Awesome.

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Want, Need, Wear, Read – What we did

January 3, 2012

As I’d mentioned previously, I caught wind this fall of the “Want, Need, Wear, Read” gifting philosophy.  Kind of simple, yet really useful.  Of course, we likely always give our kids gifts that fall into some combination of these categories.  But having the categories clearly stated at the outset helped David and I to frame our ideas, and helped us to function with an actual list, instead of just throwing money around willy-nilly.

When we first heard about it, we thought, “okay, 4 gifts per kid, one per category.”  But that’s not what we ended up doing.  It was hard to do that for a few reasons.  First, I wanted to give them more than 4 gifts.  Second, it was tough to keep balance between the girls.  Lemon wanted either a set of Harry Potter DVDs or an electronic keyboard.  But Mouse wanted a make up caddy (I so hope she grows out of this phase . . . ).  So, $70-$100 for Lemon, and $25 for Mouse.  Not fair!!

So David and I thought – okay.  We’ll EACH get them one gift from each category, and make sure things balance out around the whole.  It ended up working out pretty well.  (Of course, us “each getting one gift” is a fiction – since it comes out of the same budget. And while he did find ways to even out Mouse’s wants, he wasn’t thrilled that Lemon ended up with both the keyboard and the Harry Potter DVDs – even though both combined came to well under $150 thanks to some amazing sales).

One little cheat I had was their stockings.  I added an extra thing here or there that was more substantive than your typical stocking stuffer.  Mouse had a pretty nice wallet and a watch.  Lemon had a similarly priced necklace.  They both had movie theater gift cards ($20 each) – and, of course, Broadway tickets to see Anything Goes.

I also had a last-minute cave.  The girls and I really enjoy the t.v. show Gilmore Girls.  So far, we’ve seen one season, and ended up watching it by “renting” episodes via iTunes.  Not cheap.  It annoyed me.  They want to watch season 2, but we haven’t kept up with our hard disks from Netflix, and it’s not available by streaming, and I refuse to keep “renting” them, and if I were to “buy” them through Netflix, my hard drive would explode.  Out of curiosity (because we were talking about ordering disks from Netflix to watch in CT), I checked the price for the entire series on Amazon, and it was . . . lower than expected.  And because I have Amazon Prime, I ended up accidentally clicking the “quick purchase” (or whatever it’s called) button, and waa laa!  An unplanned “want” that wasn’t on the list.  “But it’s for both of them!  It’s a joint gift!”  I whined at David (after the fact).  Despite the caving, it is still remarkable that this was the only instance.

Even though we did more than 4 gifts, we still felt like using the Want, Need, Wear, Read philosophy helped us to stay sane in our gift-buying, and to make reasonable, well-rounded lists.  Seriously, last year, I just wandered around the mall and bought things that looked nice (ended up heavy on the “wear,” and honestly, it didn’t even turn out that they even wear the stuff that often).   This kept us from doing that (ignore previous paragraph).

We will do it again next year, I’m sure.  Depending on how all this job stuff turns out, we may very well be forced to stick to one gift per category – we’ll see what happens.

Funny thing about this year — I’m sure that we spent well under HALF of what we spent last year (if not 1/3), and still, the girls walked away saying “This was the best Christmas ever!”  Pure success.

 

 

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The End of Year Meme

January 1, 2012

I know I already did my “looking back at shit-year” (I mean – 2011), but then I saw this meme at Pantalones del Fuego (I miss November, when we had a post a day – love this blog), and decided I can’t resist.

1.  What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?  My own trial.  That was the best. Something I had once looked at and thought “I can never do that . . . ” and then doubted why the hell I went to law school if I couldn’t handle the end-game?  But then I had the trial, and it was awesome.  I loved it.  Cross examination (especially in a very casual venue where there had been no depositions, so I had no freaking clue what the witness was going to say!) was the scariest, and the most fun.

2.  Did you keep your new year’s resolutions and will you make more for next year?  I kept some, I didn’t keep others.  I am making more this year (post still to come), but am also carrying over at least one (weight loss) that I didn’t keep.

3.  Did anyone close to you give birth?  Not this year.  But a baby is due in early February, and I’m excited about that.

4.  Did anyone close to you die?  No.

5.  What places did you visit?  New York City, Southbury, CT (my parents’ house – hardly counts), Jamaica, VT, Ocean City, MD, Virginia Beach, VA, Washington, D.C., Cape Cod, MA, Martha’s Vineyard, MA, Otis, MA.  I think that’s it.

6.  What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?  Wow.  I kind of have to come back to that.  I was going to say some kind of career success, but I didn’t really lack career successes this year.  No, I won’t stay at this job, but I don’t think it’s because I lacked successes.  My first entry here was about a huge success, career-wise.  It was thrilling and exciting and amazing.  And it wasn’t the only instance.  But still, my performance as a lawyer is not 100% about where I work.  So, I guess, still, I will say that in 2012, I would like to have a job that I feel is a good fit.  Where I can grow and learn and expand my skills and opportunities.  That is what I did not have (for the most part) in 2011.  (I would also like to have millions of dollars, so paying for college is not an ever-present stress.  But this is about reality – not fantasy.)

7.  What dates from 2011 will remain etched on your memory, and why?  Sadly, 11/16 – because it was the day I was laid off.  Maybe also August 27 – the day we were supposed to check into our beach house in the Outer Banks, and the day Hurricane Irene took our place. December 27 was pretty cool, because we took the girls to see Anything Goes on Broadway, and it was really amazing for all of us.

8.  What was your biggest achievement of the year?  Oh, my trial was pretty cool.  There were a few other work things.  The play I produced was amazing.  (Seriously . . . amazing.) David and I made an amazing Christmas season for our girls.  Those things were good.

9.  What was your biggest failure?  I got fired.  I didn’t read the signs clearly enough to get my ass out of there while it was still voluntary.  I was lazy.  There and at home.  I didn’t lose my weight. I didn’t keep up with my laundry.  I spent too much time on the computer – too much time watching t.v. (although, admittedly, that was only during the work freak out).  Fail.

10.  Did you suffer illness or injury?  Well, other than my persistent bad foot – no.  I don’t even think I had a cold.  Oh – I had my first back pain of my life. When I first started running.  Probably why I let myself give it less than my all for the rest of the year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?  Oh my god.  My iPad.  I love it.  More than I love myself, I think.  (not really, but it is my very favorite possession). (The awesomeness was compounded by the fact that I WON !!! an iPad on the same day — so David and I both have one.  Made me feel less selfish.) Second to that may be the tickets for Anything Goes.  Juliette CRIED, she was so happy.  She cried!

12.  Where did most of your money go?  That’s a tie between groceries and rent. Happy to say that the runner up is savings.  Thank god.

13.  What did you get really excited about?  This is sad.  I was so excited about my vacation.  So excited.  And it didn’t work out. Second runner up was the play.  It was exciting, and fantastic.  And it did work out.

14.  Whose behavior merited celebration?  My Lemon.  She’s 15.  She’s had a few ups and downs this year – and she’s been amazing.  She has absorbed sadness and moved on. She had her first job.  She learned and excelled at a new sport.  She traveled alone. She’s been doing amazing with her grades —- working so very hard, and getting the pay off.  She has been engaged with the family.  She is fun to be with.  She takes correction without explosion — I am proud.

[Mommy guilt forces me to say — Mouse is awesome, too!  I hope when she’s a sophomore and tackling these same issues and changes and responsibilities I have the same to say about her. But Lemon is already dealing with increased independence and responsibility. And with that comes my delight at her making positive choices with less and less involvement from David and I.]

Runner up – my Ex. Because when he came here in August, he admitted that It Was All His Fault.  (he was right.) (His behavior hasn’t stayed great, but only about money – not about our past.)

Second runner up – my Firm.  Because while I don’t have a job after 2/29 (Hooray for leap year!), they’ve been really decent about it. Complementary – not making excuses, generous (hello?  bonus?  we can thank THEM for Anything Goes!)

15. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?  Fortunately, no one who lives in my house.  But!!  Just to make sure that all is right with the world – the Ex!  He’s a liar and a fink!  Maybe also my brother and his wife – they drive me insane.  If I had to read one more email about why they wouldn’t come see Mouse as the lead in her last school play – when I didn’t even ASK them to come (it was their idea), I swear, my head was going to explode.

Also, kind of, my mother.  But I guess I can leave that there.  Because she can be here, she can be up there in the last question — I guess it’s just a mother type of relationship.  But I don’t like it. And I don’t want it with my kids in the future.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?  Anything by Elbow (but especially Bones of You).  Anything by Florence + the Machine [I’m obsessed with the new album!!]. Adele.  Anything Goes (Cole Porter); You’re the Top (Cole Porter); Friendship (Cole Porter).

17.  Compared to next year are you —

  • Happier or Sadder?  I think happier?  Most of the changes this year have been for the better.  The job transition IS for the better – the unknown and lack of definitiveness makes it a little scary, but I right now am nothing but optmistic.
  • Fatter or thinner?  The same right now. But I wanted to be thinner.
  • Richer or poorer?  Richer.  But it’s short-lived, I’m almost-certain.  I think.

18.  What do you wish you’d done more of?  Thinking about and planning my next-steps, career-wise.  Not since the news that I’m laid off, but before.  Also – laundry.

19.  What do you wish you’d done less of?  Sticking my head in the sand about what was happening in my department/career/firm/development.  I think (because, really — the head in the sand resulted in several months of this salary — if I end up without employment at the end, I regret it.  If I work it out seamlessly, then I don’t).

20.  How did you spend Christmas?  In Connecticut, like I spent the vast majority of my 39 Christmases.  It was a good Christmas.  I’m glad we went.  David wasn’t thrilled about going, beforehand, but ended up also having a good time.

21. What was your favorite TV program(s)?  American Horror Story (obsessed!!); Gilmore Girls; Mad Men (almost forgot it was this year . . . )

22.  What were your favorite books of the year?  A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. The Game of Thrones Books (while they have many flaws, I became obsessed — do you notice the use of this term?  Obsessed?  I have *that kind* of personality, apparently).  The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I think that’s all – but that’s just what I read on the Pad – there may have been a couple of hard copy pursuits (what????)

23.  What were your favorite films of the year?  I loved Super 8. Midnight in Paris. Another Earth. Rosemary’s Baby (yeah, really — I may or may not have seen it in the past, but when I re-watched it with Lemon and David this year, I was enthralled and thought about it for days – it also created the background for my love of American Horror Story).

24. Did you fall in love? No.  I was already in love. My husband, my daughters.  I hope that I fall in love this year, with a new job.

25.  What did you do for your birthday in 2011?  Oh, this happened during my silent period.  David and I went to Martha’s Vineyard for our birthdays (I’m 12/4, he’s 12/5).  We had a fantastic weekend – amazing.

26.  Did you make new friends this year?  Technically – no.  But I’ve strengthened existing friendships. And friendships that had just started to blossom last year became real this year.

27.  What did you want and get?  My weekend in the Vineyard. My iPad. Housecleaners (Oh my god, that should be first. Because the life changing aspect of that is HUGE.)

28. What did you want and not get?  To be thinner. A new computer – mine is dying, and I thought that my typical end-of-year-bonus would allow me a $2,000 purchase to replace it – but alas, I was fired instead.  I am still fortunate enough to get a bonus, but not enough for that.  I also didn’t win the lottery, and I really, really wanted to.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?  Having the security of knowing that I had a job come 3/1/12.  Winning the lottery.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?  Um . . . I’m 39. How to look modern enough while acknowledging my age and still complementing a less-than-perfect body?

31. What kept you sane?  My house/home/family. When things felt out of control, not knowing what was going to happen on the work front, just walking into my house gave me peace.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I’m 39.

33. What political issue stirred you the most? Gay marriage; bullying of gay teens.

34. Who did you miss?  My sister.  Sometimes, my daughters (they’re busy, I’m busy, they need me less, I know less about their lives). My friend Abigail in California.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.  This question does not mesh with my personality.

 

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A Little Bit Awkward

January 1, 2012

In the past month or so, I’ve been applying to jobs as I see ones that pique my interest, but haven’t gone whole-hog.  My firm has provided me with a professional career consultant, and I’ve started that process, and our plan is to really kick things up after the new year (you know, tomorrow?)  But when I see things that I don’t want to go by me, I send my stuff.

Last night, David and I went to a New Year’s Eve party where one of the other attendees was one of the bosses of a job I applied for.

It’s an odd situation I find myself in – I socialize with people who are far ahead of me, career-wise, because of my gap between undergrad and law school, and because I had kids at a (relatively) young age. I’m 39, and several of my peers here in my hometown – fellow parents of kids my kids’ ages, are 50 and up.  10 years older, plus my 10 year gap – they’re 20 years more advanced in their careers.  So when I was graduating law school, attending a school fundraiser, I was seated next to someone who had just been appointed as a federal magistrate judge. One of the volunteers for the play I just produced is a senior Attorney General in my state, and another is a Senior AUSA who is close with one of the partners at my firm.

It’s not that I’m not used to this difference. I am.  But it is the first time that I’ve been on the job market, and these people who are much senior to me may be potential employers.  So when I reviewed the invite list of the party I’d already RSVP’d for, I developed some butterflies.  What if he’s seen my resume? How do I talk about my situation?  Do I say that I’ve been laid off?  Do I mention that I’d applied?  My “career consultant” thinks I need to be very open about my situation, as it’s valuable networking – but if this person knows I’m not leaving my firm voluntarily, will it hurt me?

In the end, it didn’t really come up.  The party was big enough that while I did intersect with and chat with him, we didn’t have a detailed conversation. We laughed and joked a couple of times, and I chatted with his wife (also a lawyer).  I had a couple of conversations with my close friends about the situation and the job search thus far, and at one point, I did think he was tuned into what was being said – but I had to let it go.  I wasn’t going to shove the job search in his face at a holiday party — if he has seen my resume, he already knew who I was (I have a pretty public presence at the school, because of the plays and other volunteerisms).

But it was a little odd.  More so conceptually than in how it played out.

 

 

 

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Taking Stock of 2011

January 1, 2012

Yesterday’s realization that 2010 sucked, and then 2011 sucked, was kind of daunting. It’s also a little weird, because I’m far from being an unhappy person, or thinking that my life sucks.  How can my years suck, if my life doesn’t suck?

Looking back at last year’s end-of-year posts, I see that I was right about 2010 – it wasn’t a great year for me.  2011 wasn’t really a bad year, except for work.  And work didn’t leak into home in the same ways that it did in 2010.  When things weren’t going well this year, starting in April, it was because I had so little to do.  That resulted in less time at work over the summer.  I spent more time reading, I took a day to go to the beach with a friend, I came home from work earlier.  So the effect on home was a good one.  So that’s something, at least.

According to last year’s posts, I had the following resolutions:

1) Lose weight.  I didn’t, really.  I went up and down with the same 10 pounds, but didn’t really make much progress here.  I need to step it up.  I did run a good bit, starting in April or May.  So I have habits in place – but I need to kick it up a notch.  I need to run more, run harder, and do more than just running.  I need to do some strength training, and I need to be more careful about food.  I’m not letting go of my “fit by 40” goal.  I can do this. I have 11 months, and I can do it.

2) Draft my resume.  I did that.  But not until I was up against the wall and on my way out the door.  But it’s written, and it’s been reviewed by professionals, and it’s in good shape.

Then my littler areas of focus:

My extended family: My sister and I are definitely back in touch and things are good there.  I do try to be better with my parents, and I think I’ve been less irritable with them.  My brother is no different, but I’m not taking responsibility for that.  He and his wife are a bit too overwhelmed by having young children and a job (him, not her) and bills to pay, and I have a very hard time  commiserating with them.  Because – really?  Who DOESN’T have young children and a job and bills to pay?  At least at some point?  You’d think that they believe my teenage daughters sprung fully formed out of my forehead and that I somehow have a trust fund and pretend I’m a lawyer for show, for the way they’re convinced they’re the ONLY people with young children and a job and bills to pay.  If I hear either of them reference my brothers “10-12 hour days” one more time, I may barf.  Instead, I hold my tongue, and don’t try to “one up” them with stories of my years in their shoes – with a husband who was in grad school and making NO money (but still working 12-20 hour days . . . he was clever like that), or the years where I was a single parent with young kids, a job, bills to pay, and no second parent in the house.  I just say “yeah, it must be hard.” And don’t call again.

So, no.  No improvement there.

Family (home):  Like I said – this year’s job stuff  gave me more time with my family, not less.  Lemon was a bit of a snarky kid last year – and this year, she’s in a groove and easy to manage and thriving.  Mouse is starting with the snark, but it’s less constant than Lemon’s was, and so far, we can deal.  She’s still thriving, and that makes us happy. They’re very good kids.  David and I are good – of course some months we’re totally in sync, and others we are “off,” but overall, we’re very good.  I’m still grateful every day for being married to a partner.

Community:  Well, I just wrapped up producing the Best Play Ever, and I delved into it more than in years past, because I had more time (the good side of no job . . . or transitioning out of a job).  This spring, I plan to be involved in the planning and executing of Mouse’s 8th grade graduation (I know, I know, “graduating from 8th grade is STUPID!” But these kids have been in this K-8 school since, well, K.  It is a big milestone, and I would like the stupid-callers to do so elsewhere.  Thanks!)  I know I should do something else, now that I’m wrapping up my volunteer efforts at the kids’ school, but right now, less than a month after producing the play, I don’t want to.  I want to say I’ve put in my time, and I’m done.  And as far as the kids’ schools are concerned, that may be my final conclusion.  I think I’d like to shift my focus to the town-level.  Not sure what yet, but I still have time to explore and figure it out.

Finances.  David and I did, in fact, see a financial advisor this year.  It was illuminating.  Depressing, but illuminating.  We do NOT have a house fund.  We are perma-renters.  We did start aggressively socking money away into savings, and our 401k has been doing well.  If we hadn’t done that, this job-news would have been a lot more devastating.

Travel.  We did some.  Not enough. We did New York City in February, I went to Wisconsin with Mouse in April, we went to the Berkshires. We went to Vermont.  We went to Maryland/Virginia/D.C. (when my Outer Banks vacation was thwarted).   But I still haven’t brought these girls to Europe.  And we still haven’t gotten back to California.  I want to see my friends, and my sister.

Some positive outcomes from 2011 that I cannot overlook, and that I hadn’t included in my list:  Friendships.  I have enhanced existing friendships and found new ones.  This was especially obvious with the job-issues, as my support network was so very  strong.  While two of my three most supportive friendships at work have been in place since my summer associate days, another is one that has really taken shape this year.  I’m very grateful for this friendship, and glad that I got over my assumption that she and I would never really “relate” to one another, because she’s young and has no kids.  Not the case.  I’m very glad to have made this friend.

Another new friendship on the home-front, in my running partner.  We’re very like-minded (and our mini-me older daughters have found this in one another, as well), and clicked instantly.  I have a comfortable easiness with her that I haven’t had with someone in a very long time.  “Wanna come over?” without caring at ALL that there’s dirty laundry on my bathroom floor.  A really great find this year.

Still to come — looking ahead to 2012.

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Well, Hello, 2012!

January 1, 2012

Hoping to end this prolonged hiatus.  Not 100% sure why the silence happened.  Despite the recent job news, I haven’t really been wallowing or otherwise in a funk.  But I did throw myself into a few other things (Mouse’s school play, the holidays), and found my time pretty full.

Here are a few highlights:

  • I tried to post a video, back in December, of my Mouse in her play.  I may try again – I think I have to upgrade and pay WordPress some money before they’ll let me do it.  The show was Anything Goes, and the kids were outstanding.  The show is currently on Broadway, and a few of the kids had already seen it in New York.  Mouse wanted to see it more than anything in the world – but we were playing coy, and citing job issues and saying “we’ll see.”  In the meantime, we bought tickets, and were trying to figure out how to best unveil them as a holiday surprise.  She ended up with one of our school play tickets in her stocking, with the date crossed out and the Broadway date written in.  It took her a minute to figure out what it all meant, but then she had actual tears of joy.  It was cool.  (Lemon was also thrilled, as a Broadway-loving gal, but had less of a connection to the show.)
  • David and I had a really good holiday season.  We shopped together for the girls for the first time in years.  In years past, while struggling with my work schedule, we’d sort of taken the divide & conquer approach.  And I took the “divide and spoil” approach.  We also tended to do a lot of shopping last minute, because of the timing of my end-of-year bonus.  That was different this year, in light of not being a regular associate anymore, and so our shopping schedule changed.  Our volume kind of changed – but we just made wiser choices.  If we hadn’t bought the Broadway tickets, it would have been easily 1/2 to 1/3 of what we’d spent in the past, and the girls would have STILL been thrilled.  I’m still going to write a post about the Want, Need, Wear, Read system that we used (and perverted) this year.  We found it interesting and helpful.
  • The holiday(s) itself was also lovely this year.  We went to my parents’ house in Connecticut for the holiday itself, but also had a more intimate celebration at home on Solstice (actually, we did it on the 21st, which I *thought* was the solstice, but this year, I was wrong).  The kids opened most of their presents then, so we didn’t have to cart them to and from CT (and unbeknownst to them, NYC, for the show).  In the end, the girls were saying, “this was the best Christmas ever!”  David and I gave each other a few high fives.  We were really happy with the way things worked out.
  • New Year’s was mellow this year.  For David & I.  Not for the girls.  We wandered down the street for a party from 8:30 – 11:30, where Mouse already was and had been pretty much all day long.  Lemon had friends over, and I felt like, theoretically, it was weird to leave a house full of 15 yos without supervision.  But, realistically, these kids were more than fine.  A handful of girls who were fighting over house rules for Apples-t0-Apples when we left, and who begged me to make them a cheese plate before leaving . . . they were more than fine.  David came home before me, and found them in the middle of a game of Life.  They’d had some Sprite and potato chips.  We all watched the ball drop together, and then David and I retired to our room with our iPads.  We ended up playing games. Until 3 a.m.  Once we finally went to bed, we crashed, so we had no idea that Lemon & Company stayed up all night long, and went to the park around the corner to watch the “First Sunrise of 2012.”

And so now here we are.  First day of 2012.  I’ve been thinking about “resolutions” – but I’m not really into it.  I thought about saying this year’s resolutions will be to make my bed every day, and to keep up with my laundry.  Pretty productive, not overly introspective.  I guess I could say “find a job,” but . . . duh?  What if I don’t make that my resolution?  Will I end up unemployed all year?  Of course not.

So I’ll keep pondering.  While watching the Patriots catch up to and then kick the ass of the Bills.  I’ll try and be more introspective this evening.

I know one thing, already, though —- I’m not sorry to see 2011 out the door.  And I wasn’t sorry to see 2010 disappear, either.  I know I’m ready for a good year.  Very ready.

 

 

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I’m not ungrateful I swear . . .

November 25, 2011

I tried to do a “things I’m grateful for” post on Wednesday.  But then Lemon came home from a friend’s house and proceeded to have the usual “I’m leaving for the Middle of the Country tomorrow!” meltdown, and I got distracted.  Then yesterday (Thanksgiving), WD and I mostly stayed off our computers.  We took the girls to the airport for their 7;15 a.m. flight, and then went back home and into our bed.  I slept only fitfully until I knew the girls had landed safely, and then slept HARD until noon. Then we sort of hung around and read books and chatted all afternoon, until our delicious dinner out.

Today, I was up early to meet a friend for a walk, which was good.  It was a nice crisp but sunny morning.  Now I’m back with my Dragons, and with my laundry and my play producing.  I’m talking WD into putting up our holiday lights on our balcony, and we’re thinking about Christmas shopping for the girly-q’s.

Last year, we were relatively obnoxious with the Christmas gift buying. This year, we will not be obnoxious.  I found the “Want, Need, Wear, Read” outline over at Mom to the Screaming Masses, and plan to adopt it as my mantra for this year.  We will tell the girls that things will be a little more modest this year — but we won’t be quite all the way to austere.  Their “wear” will probably be Uggs, and I think Lemon’s “want” will be Harry Potter movies.  Not sure yet how many (I haven’t done the shopping) (oh, wait – I just did.  The complete set of all 8 movies on Blu-ray is $70.  So she’ll get that).  But she also wanted a keyboard, but she can’t get both.  For “need,” I can’t think of much that they need.  (Nice, huh?)  I am seriously and without a shred of joking thinking about socks & underwear.  Maybe socks, underwear & “extras” (what we call scarves, gloves, hats).

I have less ideas for Mouse.

But that’s my day.  Gift-planning, reading, walking.  Encouraging light-stringing.

Here’s the partial-post from Wednesday night, exhibiting my partially-formed list of things I’m grateful for.  If I had finished, I would have added anecdotes about my friends, my parents, my cats (I do love my cats).  At least.

 

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As easy as it may be to wallow in the week following a lay-off, I find myself having a good time, and feeling very, very grateful:

  • Last night, I checked in on my 15 year old daughter just before she went to bed, as I usually do. She is 15!!  That age where people are supposed to be glum, and supposed to hate their parents.  Stuff like that.  I offered her a hug, and she took me up on it.  The hug lasted a very, very long time.  When she was 1, 2, 3, 4, even 5 — thinking about having her on my lap for minutes upon minutes was nothing.  It was accepted.  But last night’s prolonged hug wasn’t “nothing.”  I am grateful for the hugs that I still get.
  • Today, Mouse called as she was leaving school at noon (pre-holiday release time).  She was thinking of seeing a movie.  She was going to have lunch at a friend’s.  “Oh, and hey – mom?  A is making me say this:  Um, J and I are a thing.  As of today.  Okay?”  J is a boy that I’ve suspected as a possibility for some time, but Mouse has denied it. A is Mouse’s closest friend (since 1st grade!) – the one who insists that she’s my third daughter, who posts on Lemon’s Facebook wall as ‘your other sister’ every day.  I am grateful that even when my teenage daughters do NOT want to confide in their mother, I have a relationship with their friends that kicks in.  I know this is a lighthearted middle school relationship, but I do truly believe that if there were a problem – a real problem with my girls –  the same would hold true.
  • My girls are leaving tomorrow early in the morning to visit the Ex in the Middle of the Country.  I don’t like this.  I like them here.  But WD and I are doing what we can to make the holiday special, even without the most special parts of our days.  I am grateful for WD.  Because he helps to make my days special.  He knows what’s hard, and he works to make it better.  We are going out to dinner tomorrow night, at a nice restaurant.  We are /

(That’s where I stopped.)