Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Updates

Merry Christmas to all!! We have had a wonderful past few days, though somewhat thrown off schedule by weather. Where to even start? I won't do weather coverage since anyone wanting pictures/updates of the kids can simply go to Wife's blog.

Santa was good to the kids, bringing one big present each, and then filling their stockings with toys, toothbrushes, candy and bath supplies (paint, foam, bubble bath). Mommies, Grandparents and a few distant relatives, including Auntie Stella, did a great job of filling the space underneath the tree, and we are still keeping busy playing with the new toys - kids toys, and adult ones, including a GPS navigational device from Wife that was totally unexpected.

We had a scare on Sunday night, after Christmas festivities with Wife's family (our second Christmas!) when loading the car. Our Little Princess had one of her pallid breath holding syndrome episodes. This is essentially a reflex where her body stops breathing when she gets suddenly hurt....she banged her head on the dvd player in the car while getting in her car seat, she started to scream, but nothing came out. Within seconds was turning blue and went limp. I grabbed her in my arms, started shaking her and calling her name. She did not come out of it as quickly as usual and totally freaked us out. Wife was yelling for her sister in case we needed an ambulance called, but could not run into the house because of a thick layer of ice. When I heard our baby girl gasp for air, it was a wonderful sound, and soon she was conscious again, with no real clue as to what had happened. We all went back into Wife's sister's house to get warm and stop shaking. We had to try to explain it to Boy Wonder, who had not seen it happen in so long that he did not remember it, and was quite shaken. We all were. Even though this is not life-threatening and she is supposed to grow out of it, it is frightening every time because...what if she does not start breathing again? We thank god she does not have something more serious like MS or cerebral palsy, and give thanks that both of our children are happy and healthy. May we always be grateful for that miracle.

Enjoy the Miracles in your life!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Bugs

Want to see some cute weekend snow pictures? Check out Wife's Blog. Note the Boy's two missing front teeth! Probably in the next day or two Wife will post more photos from yesterday and today.

Happy Holidays!

"Let it Snow, let is snow, let it snow!"

Snow!!! Keep it coming!!!

We finally got our snow! OK, well, not the several inches that was predicted. In fact, probably barely an inch, but it was enough to play in, and pretty to watch. Now, everything is iced over and we can't go anywhere, so it may as well keep snowing! I managed to make it to work for all of barely two hours yesterday before dropping temps and accumulating snow sent me racing (OK, driving cautiously) home. By afternoon, all had warmed up and was melting, but then nighttime brought more cold air and snow. Yeah!

Boy Wonder's Christmas vacation has now officially started. We have days ahead of trying to figure out how to keep two kids busy and happy, while possibly being iced in. Snowed in will be much better since at least we can all go out and play in the snow. Could be more snow heading our way. Right now, we've pretty much used up what we had since it wasn't even enough to completely cover the grass. Still, we played in snow saucers, built a small Snow Mickey, and threw some snow balls. Inside it's mostly tv and computer games. We'll get out other activities later, and eventually Christmas movies. Hopefully the Christmas baking that is ahead won't cause us to go searching for Lipovox. Maybe pulling the kids on the saucers will prove exercise enough!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let it Snow! (Please!!!!)

I am home from work for the second day, due to the weather. (Plus, Monday off for Wife's Birthday!) We were PROMISED a HUGE snowstorm. We got a bit over the weekend, which left roads icy. Today, however, the day of the promised storm, there is not even enough to measure yet. I am so sad. I really want to get out into enough snow to sled and have a snowball fight and build a snowman with the kids. How fun does that sound??? I know I have classmates who have not yet finished their finals and the school has closed (again), leaving them uncertain as to how/when they can take the exams. For them, I have sympathy. As for me - I am so happy I got done last week!

We wrapped up Christmas shopping yesterday, plus ran out late last night to get some more wrapping paper in case the storm had us unable to leave the house for several days. Yes, that happens here, where we are not equipped to deal with severe winter weather. We are all prepared to hang out, do Christmas baking, wrap presents, watch movies, surf the internet, click on links for known and unknown products like Chia Pets and Hydroxycut reviews, and play in the snow.

The snow it trying to come down, but it needs to try harder!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Time to Study - Then Shop!

One test down, two to go. I have some things I would like to say about last night's final, but until our exam period is over, I cannot. For now, I can say that the best part is, it is done. This is such an odd time of year for exams. I know it is not unusual...it is interesting, really. There is the dread/anticipation of taking the finals, the excitement of being done for the semester, and the excitement of the Holiday season.

I've done some shopping, but need to do more, and can, once finals are over. I still need to find the Christmas CD's for my car, so I can really start getting into the proper spirit. Without a huge sports fan in my life, I probably will not need any sports gifts, unless coffee drinking is considered a sport. If so, Wife qualifies! It may not be too many more years before I will be buying sport-related gifts and clothing more than we do now. Now our kids are very much still into toys, which are so much fun to buy. Dolls, princess anything, action figures and playsets, computer games, board games, building sets...all of it - so much fun! I will miss this time when the kids are older, and for now, plan on savoring every moment of it!

Monday, December 08, 2008

MPRE Results Are In

I passed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a nice way to go into finals, especially with tonight's exam being the one for "Regulation and Ethics of Lawyers," which is based on my state's version of the rules tested on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE).


Milestones and Missing Teeth

We had a good family weekend, if shortened somewhat by my need to study most of the day on Saturday. My plan is to take all three of my finals this week - Monday, Wednesday, Friday, DONE!

Boy Wonder lost both of his front teeth this weekend, inspiring a true-life story of "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth." See Wife's blog for details and pictures. I will admit, I did prod the teeth a bit, but they have been loose for a long time. Besides enjoying the surprise from the Tooth Fairy, we celebrated in style by going to the local Children's Museum, which was Boy Wonder's choice and something we all enjoyed.

Weekends lately have inspired the need for home theater seating, as we have instituted Friday Movie Night - with an occasional bonus feature later in the weekend. This weekend's movie was preempted by the need to go out and buy Boy Wonder a winter coat to replace the one he lost at school this past week. Some detective work revealed the likely events were as follows: Boy throws coat on cloak room floor rather than on hook. Looks for it later and it is gone. Does not show up in lost and found after 3-4 days. Girl was acting sneaky in cloakroom the day coat disappeared. She is believed to have thrown coat in garbage and covered it with paper towels, but substitute teacher did not put the pieces together until days too late. Boy Wonder now has a new coat, the knowledge of how to look in the lost and found area of his school, and a stockpile of lectures on taking care of his possessions that should last into his teens.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Random Things I for which I am Grateful

Wife just called me and told me about the things our Little Princess has come up with that she might like to get me for Christmas: A little blue Christmas tree and a small plastic rain cloud (blue). I have no idea. Still, her creativity makes me smile.

The peppered turkey that I accidentally bought at the deli. Well, I did not accidentally buy it, but I thought only the outside would be peppered and therefore not too hot for the rest of the family. I was wrong. The pepper must be injected in a liquid form, because it is all throughout the slices, and is delicious to me, but not the rest of the family. That's OK - they got ham and plain turkey, too.

Monogram Queen's kind words letting me know I have been an inspiration for her going back to school. (We've been emailing. I did not simply ignore her comments!)

Hot coffee with yummy creamer.

Jiggle bells hung over door hardware.

Boy Wonder's excitement over finding Jack the Elf each morning. (See Wife's blog if you are not familiar with this new tradition.)

I had my last class last night and now it's a short slide to Christmas break!

There are so many things - I have only to look around and I could come up with thousands of things to be grateful for each day. Hope you do, too.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Gearing up for the Holiday Season

Oh my gosh, where did the semester go? I am technically done with all regularly scheduled classes, but I do have two review sessions left. One I will catch on podcast, but I will go to the other one tomorrow night. Weird. I'm not sure I ever got so into the rhythm of this semester that I was tired of it. That's pretty nice. Yes, there were nights I would have preferred to not be in class, but I was not sick of it, you know?

Now, for the next week, or so, I will be cramming to figure out what I learned, and organize it, so I can spit it back out on an exam. I have three of them. In one class we had a major paper due. I turned it in yesterday! Yippee!

I am already mentally pretty into Christmas. The house is all decorated, our lights are up, shopping for the kids is pretty much done - thanks to Wife and Amazon, and I have done most of my shopping for Wife's Birthday and Christmas. I still have a bit to do, but lots of time, still. We have both gotten very much into shopping on the internet - so much easier than getting out into the crowds, and more realistic considering kids and our schedules. Let's face it, there's not much you can't get over the internet:

Want books or toys - check out Amazon.
Want shoes - check out MBT shoes.
Want meals - try Home Bistro.
Want anything - just do a search, and PRESTO!, there it is.

Once the "have to's" of the season are done, then we can simply enjoy the good stuff - the lights, the music, the decorations, even the mall is fun when you don't HAVE to shop. Good family times ahead!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Law School and Family Dynamics

I was thinking this morning about how law school has changed my relationship with my extended family. When we moved to this area, we had hopes that our children would be raised as close friends with my niece's children. We all live relatively close by, had enjoyed each other's company on our visits to see my Mom, and it just made sense. We thought we would become close with my sisters. None of that has happened. I was wondering what did happen. Was it law school? Was it something about our children or how we are raising them? Is is us personally? I suppose it is probably a combination of things, but this morning, I spent some time thinking specifically what law school might have had to do with it.

Due to my schedule, we stopped going to family "wine nights," generally held every Friday night. (In all fairness, I think those dropped off a bit in regularity, but still...) We chose not to attend a family gathering, or two, or three, or more, because of my schedule. When you only get two free days per week, and one of those is spent studying, well, there just is not much time to socialize. We've not gone out of our way to be social. Mostly just casual invitations like, "Hey - when you are in our area, give us a call," or "let's get together for dinner on a Saturday night," Saturday being our main free night. When we do get together with family, we generally focus on keeping our kids out of the breakables of non-kid-friendly homes, which does not lead to sustained conversations.

Those things are enough I suppose, to create some distance. Then, I wonder, are there other things related to law school? I don't engage people in political debates or talk about law stuff, but do I come across as arrogant? Is there some kind of strange social hierarchy thing happening that I am not even aware of....or a jealousy thing? I am the youngest sibling by far; the one who was given everything and spoiled by parents who had by the time I came around achieved a certain amount of success and stability. Is there an extension - oh, now she gets to go to law school? Hey, for a mere four years of your life and $150K, you too can go to law school!

As I write this, I suspect law school is only a part of the larger family dynamics. We are not of either my niece's (and nephews, who now also live close and have children of their own) nor my sister's generations. We are in between both. We have probably not always played the family games according to the rules. Our children rarely see family and when they do, are not content to be seen and not heard, and we've not raised them to be that way, either. Yes....I guess there is probably a lot going on that is way more complicated to look at than the Clean Water Act or the Rules of Civil Procedure. Sometimes, it is easier to stay out of the muddy water. Maybe it is my hesitancy to stir up that water that keeps us at a distance, but, hey, you never know where the 'gators are lurking.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Grateful for a Beautiful Morning

Here's hoping all of you find things to be grateful for throughout your day.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dead Week and Other Random Thoughts

Where has this semester gone?! I cannot believe there are less than two weeks left before reading period, also referred to by some profs that have been around a while as "dead week." I am not sure why this never struck me as odd before. There are no classes for the shortened version of the week, which is only three days since the first two are used as class make-up days, so campus is kind of "dead" except for those choosing to study on campus. It struck me that might also be the mental state of some of us after hours of endless studying.....or the state we fear we could end up in upon viewing the upcoming exams. Multi-purpose phrase...."dead week."

Yes, now the intense paper-writing, outlining and studying begins. On campus we are all whining about how much we have left to do. It is such an excellent time for procrastination. I have heard there are those whose houses are never cleaner than right before finals. Surfing - the Internet kind, not the water kind - is taken to a whole new level. Suddenly movie reviews, diet pill reviews, and clicking "here" to determine your IQ are very important activities. In the end though, most of us are quite good at crunch time, and somehow, the papers, the studying, and the finals all get done. Then - a month off for Christmas break! I can hardly wait!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cool Personalized DVD for Kids

It smelled cold for the first time on my way to work this morning. It was the perfect almost-winter day smell of a wood burning stove, fresh rain, and coldness. That must mean Christmas is just around the corner!

We have already managed a couple gifts for the kids, but that is all. I will barely have time to think about it between now and mid-December when finals are over (Wife's Birthday is right about that same time, too. We've been thinking of moving it to July!) I did come across something fun this morning that I had seen one other time, but it wasn't near a birthday or Christmas, so it slipped my mind.

This company does all sorts of personalized gifts, but my favorites are the customized DVDs for kids. You know the various elf videos that go around at Christmas where you stick pictures of your family's faces onto elves and they have a snowball fight or whatever? The videos operate under the same concept - send a picture of your child, and next thing you know, they are in a Dora episode or hanging with Spiderman. The characters interact and say the child's name....and I have a feeling our Little Princess would love it. There are a variety of options, including a Christmas adventure. Of course, if we purchased one for our Princess, Boy Wonder would need one, too.

Well, we'll see! (Wife - check it out!)

Trade your old stuff for new stuff

Here is an interesting concept - trade your old CDs, DVDs, games and books for new electronic items. The company, which appears to be very environmentally conscious, is called abundatrade.com and have quite an interesting business model. They take in used used cds and DVDs for credit, based on the market value of the item. Mostly it is one item for one credit. Customers then can use those credits to purchase new items. If not enough credits have been earned, the customer pays extra for the difference.

What happens to the used CDs and DVDs? They sell them, of course! The prices appear to be very good. I did notice that under "used DVSs" there were many VHS recordings, so that is something to be aware of when shopping. I did not see an explanation of that particular oddity.

The amount of credits that were needed for a trade was at least 100, and more in the 200+ range....so this site will be best for those with stacks of old items that are still in good shape.

Seems like a smart way to cash in on people's desire to be more environmentally conscious and appeals to the concepts of trading and recycling. I wonder if any of the movies we want for the kids are available...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Completed MPRE? Check!

When I am grocery shopping with the kids, which frankly is anytime I go grocery shopping, other than picking up an "emergency item" on the way home after school, we play sort of a game. After shopping for a bit, I read off the list, and whichever child is with me says "check" if we already picked up the item. (I know, very original, right? *grin*) Sure, I could do it in my head, but it is a fun way to get the kid(s) focused and helping.

This past weekend, I took the MPRE, which is the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, and I am sure I blogged about it sometime in the past week or two. It is sort of like a first step in taking the bar exam. It is only a two-hour test, relatively low-cost, and it can be taken again in March, if necessary. Still, clearly we all want to pass the first time.

For those not familiar with standardized testing situations, such as the LSAT or the MPRE (I won't even try to pretend to know what the bar will be like), I will say they are somewhat surreal events. You stand around and nervously await to file into a room where you present some form of identification assuring that you are the person identified on the test as the test-taker. You then have rules read to you about filling out boxes and taking bathroom breaks. Finally, you take a test designed by people fond of inflicting pain upon others that is supposed to either represent the likelihood you can handle law school (actually first year) and whose outcome will determine your chances of even getting into law school (LSAT) or how well you understand the rules that govern the professional responsibility and ethics of lawyers and how many practice questions you studied. It is very weird to be in the situation and thinking about the situation at the same time. Maybe it's just me.

Well, I feel pretty good about how I think I did, so I will be happy with that for now.

MPRE? Check!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Celebrating the United States

The sheer enormity of this victory, the patriotism and the postive energy that it has stirred up leaves me almost speechless. (Mind you, I said "almost" - let's face it, not much really shuts up a law student. *grin*)

Check out this scene last night.

The Next President of the United States of America

Thank God.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just Vote

This is another fun video. It features well-known celebrities urging us not to vote.


Just watch it. (Thanks for the heads up, Mieke.)

On November 4th, Vote for Change. Vote for Barack.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pike Place Fishmongers for Change

This is not the best video ever.
The message is simple and clear - but not terribly well-tied to the visuals.
No matter. It is totally fun to watch because it is filmed at Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Vote for Change.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Do we want an America that enshrines hate into our laws?

This is from a newsletter I received from Love & Pride today. It is well-written and says a great dea, so I wanted to share it with you here.


Dear Friends of Love and Pride
I was recently asked to share my thoughts on marriage equality and Proposition 8 the proposed amendment in California that would effectively enshrine homophobia and hate into in their state constitution. This measure has the potential to reverberate either positively or negatively across the U.S. We have made such wonderful progress in our fight for the rights of all loving couples even under the last 8 years of a less than supportive administration. We cannot afford to take such a giant step back. Please take a look at the editorial that was recently posted online. And let your voices be heard in a clear and resounding NO to Proposition 8 next week. Whether you live in Wisconsin, New York, Alaska or anywhere else we are all Californians next Tuesday.
- Udi Behr


Picture this.

A typical New York dinner -- good friends sitting around and pontificating on the state of the world -- with everyone having an opinion on everything. The upcoming election is the topic of the evening. And while the majority of the diners are confirmed liberals -- there is of course, a smattering of Republicans -- well, OK, only one confirmed conservative at the table. I do believe in equality after all.
He gets very quiet while we are discussing the impact of the election on marriage equality -- especially the upcoming vote in California on Proposition 8. Thinking he is just a bit uncomfortable about voicing a negative opinion on marriage rights for gays and lesbians amongst this ACLU crowd, and given how vocal I tend to be on the subject, I turn to him during a lull in the conversation and ask what he is thinking.

The table quiets down as he turns to one of the gay men at the table and says, You know, apart from about 1 hour a week, you and I are pretty much the same. I am really uncomfortable about taking away such a basic right. I always supported an America that gave freedom and rights -- not one that enshrined hate in their laws.

Overwhelmed by his comment and insight, I am encouraged that perhaps the true spirit of Americans will show itself in California in November.

Marriage equality is a reality in California -- a right that we, as Americans from every state, need to nurture and protect from those who would like to see the State Supreme Courts decision set aside. How ironic that we need to protect our lesbian and gay children and family members newfound rights from those organizations with names like the Campaign for Children and Families.

Who do these people think lesbians and gay people are? Where do they think they come from? Dont they get that every gay and lesbian is the son and daughter, sister and brother, uncle and aunt, mother, father -- and grandparent of someone else in this wonderful world.

I have been married for 25 years. Flexing emotional muscles every day is hard work -- whether straight or gay. But the end results can be wonderful. My wife and I have two children, a son and a daughter. They are our family and we only want the best for both of them . We want them to have the ability to experience the universal joys of life. How could parents look at their children and know that they couldnt share the same right to express their love -- our most astonishing gift as humans -- just because of who they were born to love?

Love is our very best quality and the law cannot put a limit on that.

I am a jewelry activist. I express my dreams and my beliefs through my designs. I design jewelry for people who want to make a fashion and a social statement. 10% of proceeds from my companys sales are donated to non-profit organizations that support a world of true equality -- like the one that Lambda Legal fights the good fight for on behalf of the gay and lesbian community.

The right to say I do is fundamental and a life experience not to be denied to 10% of our family and friends. So, if the gay and lesbian community cant say I do, Ill say I dont.

- I dont understand why over 4,000 American soldiers have died fighting in Iraq to bring democracy and civil rights to those outside the U.S. when many more are fighting in California to deny the basic right to love.

- I dont get why foreclosures are up 65% from last year -- and rising with no end in sight.

- I dont fathom how gas is at $4 and we continue to be the #1 global warming polluter in the world.

- I dont conceive how our elected officials can look at themselves every morning in the mirror knowing that our most vulnerable children and citizens dont have affordable healthcare.

- I dont understand why people are surprised at the global economic meltdown with the policies of the last 8 years.

I dont get why all of this is true -- and were still talking about enshrining prejudice and hate in our state and federal constitutions. As if the right of all loving couples to marry is the most important evil to overcome.

Where are the constitutional amendments for equality, diversity and tolerance?

Now I am an optimist at heart. And I believe in the better angels of our nature. But I will keep a vow to say No and I dont until all of us can say I do. I truly hope that others, like my conservative friend, will also say no to hate and send a clear message on Proposition 8 that love and marriage is a basic right for all loving couples.

For me, its truly that black and white. As a jewelry designer, I know that no two diamonds are created equal. But as a husband and a father -- I know that all love is.

A former Israeli paratrooper turned award-winning jewelry designer, Udi Behr is the Chief Designer and Creative Director of Love and Pride, the first high-end designer jewelry online destination for people who believe in equality, diversity and tolerance. Find out more about Udi Behr and his Love and Pride Collection at www.loveandpride.com.

Friday, October 24, 2008

More Weekend Thoughts

You might say I am on a roll today. Hey - it's Friday! I can mostly breathe, after fighting a nasty cold for the past two weeks, and I've got movie night to look forward to. Not bad!

Hey, this is strange, but we've not had a family weekend in two weeks! Since Wife was gone last week, we were not together as a family. It is supposed to be nice. As I mentioned, we'll be doing pumpkin carving, raking, maybe a bit of other yard work. The kids can play on their wooden swing sets. Well, OK, they really have only one swing set, and another swing that is on a raised playhouse that we often call a tree house. Our backyard is filled with kid-stuff - the swing set, a plastic play structure, a sandbox, and numerous balls, golf clubs, Frisbees...etc. Add in the dogs toys that are scattered about, and I'd say we have the perfect playground for kids and dogs alike. Of course, mowing becomes a bit of a challenge, and as soon as the rain starts, one with which I will have to deal again. I haven't needed to mow in months. That's been nice, but we are looking forward to the grass getting green again, rather than the mostly brown of the past couple months. About the time the grass is getting green, the brown and orange leaves start to cover it - and really - it is quite beautiful.

Hope it is a nice weekend, wherever you are.

Higher Education: A Good Reason to Stay Ignorant

C'mon good headline, right?

I was just listening to a short video by James Ray, who is one of the gurus of the Laws of Attraction. Basically, it is a lot of the power of positive thinking, with a bit of science thrown in to make us True Believers. I love this stuff. There's nothing wrong with focusing on the positive things in life, your goals, and watching them happen.

The message was about not letting yourself drown in the negativity of the economy, politics, global warming....etc. - all the bad stuff we hear in the media, if we listen much at all. I realized I simply don't have the time, nor desire, to get too caught up in it. If I let myself really listen to all the sides, research it all, dwell on it day in and day out, there would be no time left for my school, or homework, and probably no drive left either.

Sure, I think about it some, I read about it some, but it has it's place and I cannot allow it to be all-consuming. I can't keep up on all the daily news, or the latest trends - alli diet pills, $500 shoes, $1000 purses. Really, it's hard enough to keep up on the important things, like Boston Legal and Gray's Anatomy, without listening to a politician's latest lies. I'll take my news in small doses, please.

Now it makes sense, right? Sometimes being ignorant is the best way to become educated.

Weekend Plans

Happy Friday!

Our weekend is shaping up to be one of a fall theme: carving pumpkins, raking leaves (with some of the required pictures, of course), maybe some hot chocolate if we get a little chilly.

First there will be movie night tonight and homework much of tomorrow. That whole MPRE thing, and a big paper that's not yet been started are both looming. With my reliance on my laptop, I am happy to report that I have a new memory stick, good not only for transporting files, but excellent for back-up purposes. I sometimes remember that, but at least once a week, I do put my class notes and papers onto our school's web-based storage. Very convenient.

It should be a good and productive weekend.....now if it were just one of those nice, PAID, three-day weekends, we'd be set!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Baby and Law School?!

So, did you see my posting about our zoo trip? If not, scroll down, because it is fun to show off my kids :)

As you can see, they are getting big! At about 6 1/2 and 3 1/2, they are not babies anymore. *sigh* Although we still take the stroller for longer outings, gone are the days that we are longing for the latest Bob stroller, fancy high chair, or baby sling. In fact, the youngest is now ready for her own two-wheeler (with training wheels, of course).

Hard to believe that three years ago, I was entering law school, leaving Wife at home with a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old. I remember saying, "Wow, Boy Wonder will be 7 when I graduate." Now, we are almost there! Someone asked me the other day about having a baby while in law school. While every situation is different, and people have to make their own decisions based on their own life circumstances, my first instinct is to say, "NO - Don't do it!"

I've been lucky to have a partner that could be a full-time stay-at-home mom for our two while I've been working and going to school. The sacrifices she has made have been tremendous, and the constant adjustments (including acting out to get my attention) from the kids were prices they had to pay for my choice. They always would rather I had been home, and often asked me to be when I could not. In my situation, it was not possible to give my all to either my partner, my kids, my school work or my job. Everything was only done to my partial best ability. Well - it was the best I had at the time. Sometimes, that has been enough. Others, I wish it could have been more. I didn't have time for law review or volunteer activities. I could only be home 3 nights a week for dinner, bath time and bedtime. I could only spend one full day per week seeing my kids. Sure, sometimes I have taken time off of work, or school, when one of them was sick, or had a special occasion, but sometimes, I just missed out. So did they.

Having a baby and raising a baby is harder than most people believe it will be. It is also really amazing.

Law school is challenging - mentally and emotionally - especially if you are also working full-time. It is sometimes nearly amazing.

Trying to do both, or rather, all three at once is crazy, if you have a choice.

I'm sure I could say a lot more on this topic, but for now, that is enough.

Computer Envy

I am grateful for all that I have. I truly am. I must confess, though, that I have laptop envy. I have a three-year-old, perfectly fine Dell laptop for school. It's small enough, compared to ones of 5-6 years ago. It isn't terribly heavy. Still, I look at some of the really thin, sleek, ultra-lightweight laptops and think about how much I would love to cart around one of those instead. I imagine myself booting up my new computer in half the time it now takes, and using only half the muscle-power currently needed to lug my overstuffed computer/book bag around. Maybe one of these days - but by choice, not necessity, please!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Single Mom for the Weekend

Yes, it is true: I played solo parent this past weekend as Wife went off with her friends for an all-girl getaway sans kids and partners. This was her first time ever away from our Little Princess for more than a couple hours. It was also her first chance to not have parental responsibilities in over 6 years. So, the break was far overdue.

I took a bit of time off of work to do the homework I would normally do on Saturday, and starting Friday afternoon, it was just me and the kids! I printed up a schedule, including pictures, so the kids would know what to expect. I planned fun, vacation-like activities so we would have our own special weekend as the other mom was off having fun at the beach.

First, I did once-every-two-week grocery shopping trip with the Little Princess, arriving home in time to meet Boy Wonder's bus. Then it was Pizza and Movie Night, featuring the newly re-released Sleepy Beauty. The waltz lessons in the bonus feature were a big hit! After the movie, I allowed the kids to skip bath and we proceeded with our standard bedtime routine of stories in bed.

Saturday was an all-day trip to the zoo. Big fun was had by all! Lots of money spent! Lots of pictures! Good memories!

Sunday we had an art project - using nature to paint Mom welcome home cards. We had a scavenger hunt in our yard, then used the objects as stamps to paint cards, which I then helped write words in for the Little Princess. Boy Wonder wrote his own message. (Very cool!) We also made cut-out cookies, and decorated them, but not until mom got home, after 3:30 sometime.

What a full and fun weekend! The kids and I did really well together, but we did miss their other mom! (Glad you had a fun weekend, Honey!)

Here is the slideshow Wife put together for us from the pictures I took: (The original is on her blog, along with a slideshow from her weekend. Thanks for doing this, Sweetie!)

MPRE and other things

You know how sometimes there is so much going on to blog about that it is hard to select just one? There's the election, the economy, my fabulous weekend with my kids where I was the only mom on duty, the fact that I have to take the MPRE in just 17 days, big decisions like paper or plastic,
term life insurance or whole life, a Quarter Pounder or a simple cheeseburger, Ebay or Craigslist.....? See? So many topics.

*deep breath*

Choose One.

The MPRE. That is the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, and in most states a person must pass it in order to be admitted to the bar. It's a two-hour test on the rules that govern the ethical behavior of lawyers. Stop laughing. We have ethics. There are rules. They must be followed.

A lot of it is common sense, or the underlying logic is based on common sense, but that doesn't mean that the questions are phrased in ways that the answers are obvious. In fact, generally tests are written so as to confuse test-takers if possible. What does this mean for me? Lots of rules to memorize. Take the test. Pass it. Then the next big test (aside from class finals) will be the Bar Exam.

(*Shhhhhhhhh* We're not thinking about that, yet.......)

California's Proposition 8

I was just speaking with one of the Associate Dean's with whom I work and she is as disgusted with what is going on with California's Proposition 8 as I am. She brought it up, in fact. Proposition 8 proposes to write discrimination into the California Constitution by eliminating the CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to marry for same-sex couples.

The Mormon church has solicited their members to donate TONS of money towards funding the discriminatory proposition. (Google it -Proposition 8 and Mormons.) Reports say that some families are sacrificing huge amounts of their life-savings in order to support this attempt to save marriage for only men and women. Really? That is what this religion is about - sacrificing a person's own family's security in order to discriminate against others?

Followers somehow really believe that marriage between same-sex couples will ruin the sanctity of heterosexual marriage (whose reputation is clearly pristine...) and are donating like crazy, following the herd. Might as well go ahead and get some cattle supplies, because these folks just don't seem to be thinking for themselves.

I guess that is what many organized religions are about though, isn't it? Having someone in a position of authority telling the followers what God or a Higher Power wants them to do rather than figuring out the right things for themselves. To me, that sounds like what church authorities might want, but not so much what a Higher Power would have in mind.

Want to help support the defeat of Propostion 8? Go to www.noonprop8.com.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Don't Throw Away Your Vote

I live in an area with a lot of independent thinkers. Lots of folks don't want to label themselves as Democrat or Republican because they don't totally agree with either platform. They want to vote for the Independent or the Green Party. I understand the sentiment, but please, before doing this, consider the ramifications. We know that ultimately, a Republican or a Democrat will win all of the major races - especially the race for President. That is simply the world we live in right now. Consider which of the major parties most represents your views, and vote that way. To do otherwise is to throw away your vote, no, actually, it is worse. It is helping the party that may be the furthest from what you believe in. For instance, a vote for Ralph Nader is not going to cause him to win, but could put McCain closer to the top since otherwise a Nader vote would likely be a vote for Obama.

I've heard some folks at my school say they will vote for the Green Party. Please reconsider. Cynthia McKinney, The Green Party's presidential candidate, is not going to win. Maybe there are local races that the Green Party has a good chance to win, but not the Presidential race. In 2004 there was quite the stir as Republicans helped fund Nadar's campaign in an effort to split the Democratic vote. Look what happened. Don't let it happen again. Make your vote count.

(Thank you for the prompting from Wife to blog about this. Were I not loaded up on a ton of cold medicines, this posting might have even made more sense.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Colors of Autumn

How cool is this ivy? This is just a camera-phone picture, so imagine how gorgeous it is in real life! It is right outside the building where I work. We have so many amazing trees and bushes that are changing color right now. Some of them are this blazing bright red - incredible! If I had color security cameras, or I suppose even a web-cam, I could take you on an amazing tour. That would be fun. I should learn to do that....OK, well, all I would have to do is remember the camera and figure out how video can be posted to my blog. Probably not that difficult...other than finding the time.

Monday, October 13, 2008

How much fun can you pack into one weekend?

Wow - you know those weekends when you've been so busy and had so much fun that you just need a rest by the time Monday rolls around? Well, we had one of those weekends! Wife had a friend from out of town visiting, and managed to rope her into helping paint our living room and dining room. It looks great - and I am thrilled that I did not have to do it! (I was doing homework.) We all finished what we were doing by mid-day on Saturday, so then we all went out for a late lunch, then to a local outdoors tourist attraction. We enjoyed a little nature hike, and got back in time to settle the kids into bed at nearly their normal bedtime.

Sunday was a crazy day! We started it by going to Kung Fu Panda, as part of a fundraising program that our local second-run theatre hosts. After that, knowing that we needed to let the kids burn off some energy after sitting quietly in the theatre for so long, we took them to a park. As if that was not enough - and it would have been - we realized this was the best (maybe only) weekend we would be able to go enjoy our annual pumpkin patch activities. So, off we went to the pumpkin patch to enjoy pony rides, a hay maze, a petting zoo, a hay pyramid, launching pumpkins with a giant slingshot, grinding corn into feed for the chickens, and a tractor-pulled wagon ride out to the pumpkin field to select pumpkins. That adventure required quite a long walk since the drop-off was in a very picked-over field, and we wanted a better selection. Though we hit a few rough spots in the cooperation department, all in all, it was a good, fun-filled day, made even better by some unexpected sunshine.

Check out wife's blog within the next day or so, as I suspect there will be photos! :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Where do kids get these things?

It is always amazing noticing the things the kids have learned. Boy Wonder is reading and using his imagination in wondrous ways. Our Little Princess has an amazing capacity for gratitude and empathy, and an impressive vocabulary. Sometimes we wonder where the heck they came up with a particular expression, or how they learned to us it in just the right context, but mostly,we can chalk it up to the fact they are sponges.

Case in point - This morning I ate my breakfast while watching Boy Wonder play a computer game. He had just reached a new level, and was doing quite well.

"This is going to be easy!" He proclaimed.

A few moments later he lost a life (actually popped the bouncy ball he was manipulating in a Mario-style game) and had to start the level over again.

"I stand corrected," he says with perfect timing.

I smiled to myself and thought about how I had to remember to tell Wife this one. Instead, I have posted it for all the world to see.

Next thing you know he will probably be designing engineering marvels and casually tossing out opinions on the lastest in music and Oscar de la Renta fashions. You never know what will be next!

Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


I am certainly not one who relishes in the tragedies of other. Frequently though, I am grateful for my own circumstances as compared with someone else. I can honestly say I am truly grateful that I am not the owner of this house.

The entire house slid right down the hill this morning, totally demolishing the house. Neighbors rescued the home owner. I wonder, does home insurance cover this sort of thing, or is it an "act of nature" and this poor homeowner is just out of luck? Crazy.

Yes, today I feel very fortunate!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Family Day

For a grocery shopping day, it actually ended up quite good. First off, I have not been dreading it since Thursday. I've decided that is just a terrible way to go into the weekend, and is a set up for failure. Both kids were good in the store - got lots of groceries, a new shirt for the Princess, batteries, bar faucets - well, maybe not that, but there were a ton of bags, so I can't be really sure.

After putting away the groceries, we had a picnic on a blanket in the living room. Later Wife went to a baby shower and the kids and I found several fun things to do in between me trying to get chores done. For the last week or so we've been playing "Halloween," which could be any of a variety of games focussed on dressing up and playing "trick or treat" at the bedroom and bathroom doors. We played one of these games today, with background music found on Youtube - like Monster Mash and the Addams Family theme.

The night ended with me discovering that I could walk with one kid attached to each foot (I had told Boy Wonder earlier in the day he was too heavy and I could not do that with him anymore), tickle games, bath and bed.

It was a good day. Now for some quiet time with my Wife. Good night, all.

Politics or Weather Only?

So, is it good to talk politics with your family, or not? Maybe yes, maybe no......Due to the email discussed in my previous post, I had a very long conversation with the family member who started the whole thing. I realized how dark and scary her world seems. There is too much input from the tv and internet and it is all bad, negative news that she worries about - A LOT. I personally don't think it represents a particularly balanced view....but then, I tend to live at the other end, trying to almost always focus on the positive.

Also as a result of the situation, I spoke with my mom a bit about politics, and remembered other perspective - that of not really caring enough to get passionate about politics. I've certainly been there before....especially before children, but now, as a lesbian who created children with her partner and adopted those children in a legal action not allowed in all states....well, I am more aware now.

It is useful to understand where others are coming from and remember how our lives are all very different. It does mean it is harder to pretend you share the same world view, though. Preserving that fiction is one reason for not talking with family about politics and just focussing on ligher subjects instead - best lowfat ice cream brands, the weather, how to remove blackheads - that sort of thing.

I think I will reserve judgment on the issue for now.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Political Parties and Families

My extended family is a mix of Democrats and Republicans. You can imagine how it is not easy being a lesbian, with a wife and kids, with family members who are Republican. They support US, of course, but because of their other beliefs, still support Republican candidates. It is hard to not feel very offended that their candidates do not support my life and family, and would prefer not to offer any kind of protections for us, but I realize a party is more than a single issue. That said, I wrote a very long email to them today in response to a family member sending an email encouraging us to check out alternative media, like Fox News (?!) and other conservative choices for the real story.

This is really long, and may not be that interesting, but you will never know unless you read it!

Reasonable minds can differ, and I agree that the media has not been telling us the truth for a long time. However, I find it interesting that all of the sources you suggest we go to get alternative views either are, or recently were, Republicans with a mostly conservative slant. In fact, a quick Internet search on all of them quickly reveals the word “conservative.” O’Riley and Dobbs both call themselves independents or populists and are not happy with either political party. OK, that is certainly reasonable. Colmes, the Fox liberal, admits he is really a moderate and often takes conservative positions (his words, not mine). Alternative media implies a balanced view, but really it is “alternative conservative media” you suggest we turn to. I am sure alternative liberal media is no more balanced. Each side strongly believes it is right, and is therefore not good at representing the other side, or sides.

Among more liberal folks, Fox News is considered bought and paid for by the Republicans and/or the Bush Administration. Guess we cannot really separate the two. There was a 2004 documentary called Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism that criticizes the Fox News channel and its owner, Rupert Murdoch, claiming that the channel is used to promote and advocate right-wing views. Fox, of course, has taken issue with the documentary. What the truth is, we may never know, but I would be cautious about buying their stories hook-line-and-sinker.

Some of the folks I know rely on getting their news from the BBC or Canadian news sources. It is amazing how much more Canadians know about our government, politics, economy..etc. than most Americans. Sad, really. Another great source, not exactly for news, but for checking how accurate either side is being: factcheck.org. This is a really interesting site to read after the debates because they take candidates’ statements and explain, with citations, what parts were true, and which were false. Often it is not that the person was lying, but that what was represented was not quite accurate. From what I can tell, this is totally non-partisan.

Yes, we do all need to consider multiple issues and how they align with our own personal values – AND what the consequences of supporting those positions will or could be. Since without saying it, you are encouraging those of us likely to vote for Obama to vote for McCain, I will outline the facts for why this does not support my values.

I could make this even longer and explain why Obama’s stance on each of these issues is more palatable to me, but I think it is pretty each to see what the opposite of each of these issues is, so I won’t do that. The one thing I will say specifically about Obama is to seriously look at his views, put them in another body and another face –maybe a 56-year old white man and see if you still feel the same way. Casey and I have spoken with people that are afraid of Obama because he might be a Muslim. First, it seems to have been proven he is not. Next, what if he was? We do still have freedom of religion in this country. Not every Muslim is a terrorist. Most are not, in fact. Get over the fact the guy is black. We have racist roots going way back, so deep that most of us do not even see it when we are up against it. Don’t think it is not at play in this election.

OK – so this issues:
Woman’s Right to Choose – McCain is pro-life. That is a nice way to say it, isn’t it, because who isn’t in favor of life? What he means is he does not support a woman’s right to choose what happens with her own body. He supports repeal of Roe v Wade – one conservative judicial appointment, and it could easily be done. What does that mean? It means back alley abortions that used to exist become prevalent again. It also has other ramifications. Just yesterday I saw proposed legislation for a “pro-life” bill. In the fine print is prohibitions for physicians giving pain-relieving drugs at the end of life if the dose could be fatal. This is a right-wing, religious issue and most of the proponents don’t just want to control the beginning of life, but they want to control your decisions at the end of your life, too. Probably most of us are anti-abortion for ourselves, but I sure don’t feel like I should be able to make that decision for anyone else.

The War in Iraq – McCain intends to win the war. He has stated that. Is this a war we can win, and at what expense? He has backed Bush all the way in a war that we started under false pretenses. He is a war president. That is one of his main priorities – and a strength – if military victories at all cost are something you value. Can we afford to keep spending hundreds of millions of dollars (estimate seem to range from $343-750 million per day) that we do not have on a war when we still have not adequately helped the victims of hurricane Katrina? I have heard the argument that the Iraqi citizens want us there – sure – in any country where we go in and start building roads, and water systems and improving the level of poverty, the citizens will appreciate it. We cannot save the world. We are not even taking care of our own citizens. How many people are now homeless or soon might be due to foreclosures? How many people are or soon will be without jobs?

The Economy – No one can argue that McCain was not a part of what has happened. He has been quoted all over the place backing Bush and encouraging deregulation. (Now he is all for stricter regulation.) When asked during the debates how his plans as President would change in light of the economic crisis his first response was to take care of our troops and our vets. The military is his first priority. Yes, a strong military is important, but again, at what cost? It seems to me we have serious problems here at home, but the fact that his first response was about the war really concerns me.

The Environment – McCain says he is pro-environment, and the fact that he was against some of the Bush administration policies is hopeful. HOWEVER, his conservative bias tend to indicate he will appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court, which could be disastrous for our environment. Also, of great concern, he chose a person who does not even believe that man has contributed to global warming as his running mate. (She has done nothing in the area of clean energy in Alaska.) That means he supports her views, or wouldn’t believe she was a good choice. She is pro-drilling, supporting expanded drilling in Alaska, including the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. She opposes listing polar bears as a species threatened by the effects of global climate change. She leads the National Governors Association Natural Resources Committee which works to promote the expansion of oil and gas usage.

Equality for Gays – of course I could not leave this one alone. While McCain is not as conservative as his running mate on this issue, he did vote for the CA proposition 8 of marriage being defined as between one man and one woman. He feels gay marriage should be left up to each state and does not favor a constitutional ban on gay marriage. He feels “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell” policy works fine. Tell that to the veterans who after having served honorably are kicked out when their sexuality comes to light. A lot of people support the idea that marriage should just be between one man and one woman, but that gays should be allowed equal domestic partnership rights. That is still discrimination because there is power in language. The word “marriage” automatically means something to people. It legitimizes the relationship. McCain not really supporting and not really opposing gay rights in general is more of the “if you aren’t with us, you are against us.” If we let states VOTE on civil rights, the day might not be far away where Casey and I are not even allowed to live together, same sex adoptions are made illegal (not legal now in many states), and my rights to Boy Wonder and our Litle Princess could be severed. That is extreme, but when we let extreme religious conservatives start running things (Palin, for example), that is a path we open up. That is not a value I can support.

Worse than McCain on gay rights though is his running mate. Sarah Palin claims to be a friend of the gays, but when the Human Rights Campaign went to Alaska, they couldn’t find any of her friends. Her record reveals that she not only is very concerned about preserving marriage for one man and one woman, but also that she supports denying benefits to same-sex couples. She actively sought to ban books about LGBT topics from the Wasilla library . (Sound like censorship to anyone? Is that ever OK?) The GLBT people in Wasilla are very frightened that she could become VP – check out this video with the people in Wasilla made by HRC. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfL2l1dk8nA

Sarah Palin – no, she is not a political issue, but she can’t be ignored. She could be in the number 2 position in our country. This is frightening people, it really is. A lot of people worry about McCain’s health, and what if he dies in office and she become President? She doesn’t even have to die. What if he just needs to undergo surgery? At his age, that is not unrealistic. Sarah Palin becomes Commander-In-Chief until he is able to resume his duties.

Please, please, listen to her interviews with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson. They are on Youtube. The woman does not have the knowledge and experience to lead our country. You can see she is desperately trying to remember the words on the flash cards she’s been provided. She struggles for answers. She says things she probably should not say. She is out of her league. We all know that she is being tutored and prepped like no other candidate ever before. Do we as regular citizens get to prep for a job interview like that? I want to know what she knows NOW, what she thinks NOW – she could be governing in just a few short months and we need to know real abilities that do not just reveal how well she crammed for the test of the debates and other public appearances.

Want to know where people stand on the issues? This is a really helpful site: http://www.ontheissues.org/default.htm

We all have to make our own decisions when voting, and they should be well-thought out ones. They should be informed by multiple sources. They should not be just because we have always been a Democrat or a Republican, but because the party and the candidates embody our values. Casey and I have been talking with a lot of people and it is shocking how many people vote with a party just because their parents did, and their parents before them. Times change. Issues change. Parties change. The Republican and Democratic parties of our grandfathers, or our fathers, are not the Republican and Democratic parties of NOW. Be an informed voter, because then, when we disagree, at least it really is reasonable, educated minds disagreeing about real issues.

If you stayed with me this far, thank you for your time.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Real Law School-Related Post

A fellow law student introduced herself to me last night as someone who reads my blog. ** Hi Mary! ** We started talking about some of the challenges of having a family while going to law school, whether the family is a wife and human kids, or a spouse and furry kids, there are still sacrifices all around. Sometimes decisions are made, and other times they are forced upon us by circumstances, to put off parts of our life, or lose touch with friends, or not be as present for our family as we'd like. People tend to not talk about the emotional toll that the sacrifices take - on us as students, and on our partners, children, animals, and others. First year especially is kind of a mind-game and it forces us to call into question a lot of our own priorities and values. I think that is easier to see in retrospect than when you are going through it, and probably easier to value in retrospect, too.

I think more folks should be honest and open in their communication with others about what they are experiencing emotionally - at home, with friends, and maybe people would feel less alone. I know I've found a few people similarly situated and it has been nice to know we're all going through the same challenges, but not everyone is as up front, or has that kind of support. As lawyers-in-training we are taught to put on this all-knowing, in control-facade and it does us a disservice as students. The fake it till you make it mentality is necessary in the real world, but with each other, sometimes we just need to admit that we feel like we've been hit by a fleet of moving trucks. We are tough, or we wouldn't be in law school; we will bounce back, but sometimes the long hours, the studying, and the competing demands take their toll.

A lawyer recently gave me some advice about studying for the bar. She said that everyone around me will be saying they are doing great, all is going well, and the truth is that for most people, that is not really how they will be feeling. She said not to let that behavior psych me out. It ended up that most of the people she knew were actually uncertain and nervous while studying for the bar. So, it is OK to let our guard down sometimes, admit that what we are doing is often tough, even it if is mostly because we haven't seen our partner or children all week and almost nodded off twice in class.

(I am personally doing great this week, this is just a topic that came up in discussion that I thought was post-worthy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Maddie the Great

There's nothing quite like our love for our dogs, is there?

Thought today I would share some really good photos that Wife just took of Maddie. She's the Boxer-Whippet mix we adopted in February. She's a great dog - but way more great (and quiet) when I am around than when I am not. She drives Wife a bit crazy by afternoon, when the barking starts...if its not her, it is Jordan, the dalmatian, who often just barks to get Maddie to play with him. Too bad Maddie can't come to work with me. She would love it, and everyone would love her.

In the photos, she is soaking up the sun by one of the kids' play structures. She's got the right idea. Somehow, that activity sounds way better than hearing about effluent limitations and the Clean Water Act, which is on my agenda for this afternoon.

Have a good week, my friends!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tired of School

I'm actually coping better than many of my classmates, but can I just say it here - I am done. Not really, of course, but I am feeling done with the full-time job, going to school, then going home to mostly not see my family because they are sleeping, and then doing it all again. Don't get me wrong. I am actually mostly enjoying my classes. I wish I could get paid to go to them instead of the other way around.

I miss my family. They miss me. I want to be around each night to put the kids to bed and then watch TV with my wife. All the new shows are starting and law school is definitely going to interfere with the new season. Yes, I know, TV is mostly mindless entertainment. THAT is the point. I LIKE mindless entertainment.

We watched Grey's Anatomy last night. I got to talk to my co-workers about it today. That was fun. I want to see what everyone is talking about the next day - and I hope that soon it will have nothing to do with Sarah Palin. It can be sex, drugs, money, how to get unlocked cell phones, fast cars, fast women, family drama, silly fun - I like it all!

I am looking forward to family fun this weekend. I don't know quite what that will look like, but I do know there is still homework tomorrow. How fast can I read (and comprehend) 100 pages?

Happy Weekend, Friends!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This was my view as I walked into my building at work this morning. I have added that to my list of things to be grateful for today. May you all find something beautiful in your life today.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend Ramblings

At our school last week we were honored to spend time with Justices O'Connor and Kennedy. It was an amazing experience that I want to memorialize in a post that is worthy of the event(s). However, it is a busy Monday, my mind is going in several different directions in a sort of non-distracting, functional way, and I'm just not feeling a deep post happening. It will come, just not today.

The weekend was good, but short. Had my first paper of the semester to write, which I need to polish and print today. It didn't put me too far behind since I put a bit of reading off for between classes today. It was grocery shopping weekend, which is hard on us all. Since I study Saturdays, about half the day, that leaves Sunday as our family day. Saturday we generally do something fun, or get a couple errands done - but big errands or big fun must wait for Sunday. Grocery shopping is an all-in-one trip involving two shopping carts(includes things like heat pump filters, kitty litter, medicinal supplies and this weekend, a new - and the first - booster seat for our Little Princess who is about to outgrow the car seat in my car), and about two hours. Then we have to come home and put it all away. Overall, very time and energy consuming! We spent the remainder of the day visiting family and delivering coupon books that were a fundraiser for Boy Wonder's school. (Hopefully, the only selling event that will happen since this year's PTO is against it. Yeah!)

Wife and I both had memory stick-related issues this weekend, which raises data back-up issues. Our external hard drive is full and we need to get another. I wonder, do any individuals use tape drives, or is that more of a business thing? No idea. We'll probably just look for another external hard drive.

So, that was our weekend! (Except the good part about family movie night and pizza - something we did a bit over the summer, but may try to fully embrace this year in order to keep our Fridays calm and predictable for tired kids - and their moms!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

What Do Alaska Women Think of Palin?

Even though it may not have gotten much press, The Alaska Women Reject Palin Rally was Huge.

The link above is from a blog of a woman who lives in Alaska and attended the rally. In case some of you believe it is a fraud, here's the Snopes verification, including video footage. The women of Alaska who are most familiar with Sarah Palin's experience and leadership are very worried about the possibility of her becoming the Vice-President, and let's face it, McCain's health is in question so, she could easily become President.

The video posted on Snopes has interviews with the attendees who speak up about why they do not support Palin and how she is severely under-qualified for this potential position.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Palin - Feminine Power with No Clout

This is an amazing article by Rebecca Traister of Salon.com.

Here are a few really insightful excerpts, and I hope it will make you want to read the whole article and forward it to your friends:

What Palin so seductively represents, not only to Donny Deutsch but to the general populace, is a form of feminine power that is utterly digestible to those who have no intellectual or political use for actual women. It's like some dystopian future ... feminism without any feminists.

Palin's femininity is one that is recognizable to most women: She's the kind of broad who speaks on behalf of other broads but appears not to like them very much. The kind of woman who, as Jessica Grose at Jezebel has eloquently noted, achieves her power by doing everything modern women believed they did not have to do: presenting herself as maternal and sexual, sucking up to men, evincing an absolute lack of native ambition, instead emphasizing her luck as the recipient of strong male support and approval. It works because these stances do not upset antiquated gender norms. So when the moment comes, when tolerance for and interest in female power have been forcibly expanded by Clinton, a woman more willing to throw elbows and defy gender expectations but who falls short of the goal, Palin is there, tapped as a supposedly perfect substitute by powerful men who appreciate her charms.

But while the Republicans would have us believe that Palin can simply stand in for Hillary Clinton, there is nothing interchangeable about these politicians. We began this history-making election with one kind of woman and have ended up being asked to accept her polar opposite. Clinton's brand of femininity is the kind that remains slightly unpalatable in America. It is based on competence, political confidence and an assumption of authority that upends comfortable roles for men and women. It's a kind of power that has nothing to do with the flirtatious or the girly, nothing to do with the traditionally feminine. It is authority that is threatening because it so closely and calmly resembles the kind of power that the rest of the guys on a presidential stage never question their right to wield.


To all of my friends out there who are women, lawyers, future lawyers, moms with daughters, moms with sons who want more from our culture - is this really what we stand for, what we are willing to have represent us just to see a woman in the White House? I think NOT.

The Ignorant or the Enlightened?

The world is full of bad things. This has always been true, but it seems like more and more we hear about devastation caused by both man-made and nature-made catastrophes. Not only do we have hurricanes (arguably increasing in intensity due to global warming - hence man-made) and drought, but some of our biggest, most stable financial institutions are crumbling, gas will probably be near $5.00 a gallon again soon, and American women seem to actually be stupid enough to fall for the Republicans' gamble on that very thing in the form of Sarah Palin. Really, people? Really?

It is hard not to be negative sometimes; hard not to focus on what is wrong with the world instead of what is right. Yet....there have always been tragedies, wars, economic crisis, and stupid people - and some people through all those times have remained optimistic. Does that make them the ignorant, or the enlightened?

From a Toshiba Satellite laptop I can pull up all sorts of information about how beneficial it will be to my life, my career, my health, my family, my friends and my community if I focus on what is good in life. If I am grateful for my children, for sunsets and for hot showers maybe that is a way of holding onto how much I really have. Yes, we have serious problems, but getting mired down in them so all I can feel is hopeless will not help anyone. I choose to be positive, happy and grateful. If nothing else, it will make me and my family feel better, and those at work more likely to enjoy being around me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ramblings on food and such

Wow - what a busy week!
Not only are classes in full swing, but I'm in the midst of a huge project at work that has been taking up all my time! Said project will be completed by tomorrow. I have a feeling that being as busy as I have been could have been a better weight loss method than the best diet pill in the world, except for the fact that there has been free food available. I actually consider it a perk, but were it not so handy, I wouldn't be eating it. Good lesson for life, I guess. I have found that I am drinking a yogurt drink and munching a breakfast cookie during break as my dinner for my back-to-back-to-back class night. Pretty low-call dinner, really. Easy and reasonably healthy and filling.

I don't know why I am posting about food, other than I am really, really tired, and there are two beautiful muffins on my desk waiting to be taken home for my lovely wife who has been incredibly supportive during this crazy-busy time. In fact, it is time to head home! Yeah!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Three Day Weekends - More Please!

Let's have more three day weekends! It is not quite 12:30 Saturday afternoon and my homework for next week is already done! Cutting out Monday classes makes my reading load much lighter :)

Right now I am out in our garage, sitting at my office furniture (OK, a card table and a dining room chair) getting ready to pack up my school work and listening for a car in the driveway telling me my family has arrived home. They went out to run errands and play at the mall, both to occupy themselves, and keep the house quiet so I could work faster. We are all about me getting my work done so we can all have family time together. I think the sun is even cooperating so we can have a pleasant afternoon outside, if we so choose.

Wow....only 12:30 with 2 1/2 days of free time left ahead! Right now, that is sounding like pure bliss :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Week 1 - Complete

Well, at least I have gone to all of my classes, including the extra one that I registered for in case I decided I didn't like one of my classes. I did like the class I was unsure of - Legislative and Political Process - so now I get to drop the spare.

I think it will be a good semester, and I am especially happy that our Crim Pro prof, a prosecuting atty and first-time faculty member, seems like he will be very good. Quite entertaining and clear, plus the polish one might expect of a TV prosecutor. I really appreciate that during a twice-a-week class that runs from 8-9:30. As I have said many times, I pay good money for this and I want to be entertained. Some people just really want a sharp professor that will teach them the law in a way that challenges them. I want an entertainer that can also educate me. Better chance it will stay in my memory that way.

I only have classes three nights a week, leaving other nights for homework, which is good. I anticipate my stress level being relatively low this semester, so perhaps I should save the wine of the month club membership for my last semester. I am already not satisfied with my class schedule and I will be fully into the stress that is the bar exam - applying for, prepping for, and eventually taking. Ugh. "Go to my happy place." "Go to my happy place."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Advice for First Years

As I sit in my office at work, enjoying the sun shining through my window, avoiding starting a new project because there are only 13 minutes left before I leave for school, I consider that it is the time of year when new law students tend to find my blog. So, if you are a new reader, welcome!

I am a 4L or 4E (4th year evening) or some simply lump me into 3L, but I know I've already been doing this for three years, so that doesn't sit well with me. I work a full time job by day, play law student at night, and try to keep in touch with my family - my wife and 2 children - during the early morning, late evening and weekends. It's been a tough gig for us all, but the light at the end of the tunnel looks to be daylight. We're going to make it!

(By the way, Wife's blog has all the family stories and pictues. When would I upload photos?)

Each fall I like to give out a few tips that I've learned over the years that I wish I'd known when I started. If you do a word search on this blog for "first years" you will probably come up with posts from years past. I could look back through those, but I would really like to offer something fresh and insightful. I've been doing this for three years. I should have accumulated some great tips, right?

RIGHT! Unfortunately, they may be muddled up with some mediocre tips, so you may have to weed through the junk. Very much like reading a case. Hey - there's a tip already - sometimes you have to wade through a lot of junk to get to the good stuff.

It may feel wonderful, or terrifying, or both, to be starting law school. It is probably both, but remember, ultimately, it is just school, and if you are in law school, you probably figured out already how to do school. Only this time, keep up on your reading. Really. You don't want to get behind and think you will make it up later.

Sometimes you will be on top of everything, sometimes you will feel lost and wonder what you are doing. You will wonder what you were thinking - going to law school! Crazy! Everyone I've talked to about this subject has gone through feeling this way at some point during their first year. It is OK.

Take advantage of career workshops, speakers, receptions, all of the extracurricular opportunities you can manage and still do what needs to be done. It is so useful hear from lawyers in your community about what they do, what their path was, what advice they have, and you never know who you will meet that might be able to help you out later. For those who don't know what they want to do when they get out of law school, these are great ways to become familiar with some options.

Grades matter, but they really are not everything. There is more to life than your GPA. For many of us, this is the first time we experience not being at the top of our class. In a class of formerly A students - suddenly we are divided into A, B and C students. It's a forced curve and it is reality. It's going to be hard for a while. Ultimately, it will be OK. After your first legal job, no one will care what your GPA was, at least, that's what I'm told :)

Lawyers like to help law students. Most are very willing to do informational interviews, or less formally, have coffee or lunch, with a student who wants to talk with them about their field of expertise. This is a great way to get relevant advice, figure out what a typical day is like for that person, and maybe even make a connection that will help you land a summer or full-time job. Your career services folks, and your professors, can usually provide a list of people or even make introductions for you.

Make friends.

Share notes - especially when you miss a class.

Don't worry about the "right" way to do a case brief, or any other notes. Figure out what works for you.

Try not to play too many online games or surf too much during class. It is really distracting both for you and the people behind you.

Have fun. This is just 3 or 4 years of your life, and it is an opportunity most people never get. Enjoy it!

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day Back to School

....but not until 4:30. So, here's what I have today:

I wish my camera phone took better close-ups. This snail was absolutely beautiful. I sent a picture to Wife's cell phone, and minutes later I got a call from Boy Wonder.

"What's up with the snail picture, Bro?"

Such a silly boy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

End of Summer

We are in mourning today. Although we tried to enjoy our last pre-back-to-school day as a family, we were all sad that this is the end of summer. It will be four nights a week that I do not see my kids and they do not see me. I will see Wife for anywhere from 30-minutes up to maybe 90-minutes before going to bed on those nights. We'll both be too tired to really do much more than pack my lunch and dinner for the next day and catch a little TV. Friday nights will likely mean homework, as will a good part of Saturday, leaving Saturday night, and all day Sunday as our family time. *sigh*

On the bright side, we go into this time with a much more organized garage, thanks to Wife. She did some serious cleaning up/getting rid of this week - organized the extra shoes, beach toys, Halloween costumes, CAT6 cables, old CDs and assorted other stuff that takes up room in our garage. It looks better. Still not what we hope it will someday be, but much better. We also have a new bed set - a really, bright colorful set that reminds us so much of a beach towel that we bought some fun beach-themed bathroom accessories to compliment it. Wife then got a beachy-looking basket for misc. hair products that sit on the counter, and has started replacing dark picture frames with white ones. What a refreshing change that we are both enjoying! We are well on our way to having a tiny little beach oasis in our very own home. It will be nice to come home to everyday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Last Minute Beach Trip

Wife and I got in a last minute family trip to the beach this past weekend. Yippee! When we found out it would be over 100 degrees at home, we lucked onto a place at a beach about two-and-a-half hours away. We were only going to stay Saturday and Sunday nights, but were having such a great time, we opted for another night! Yeah, us! We stayed at a condo two nights, which was nice, but not quite on the beach. For our bonus night, we stayed at a nice hotel right on the beach - a quick walk down two flights of stairs and we were in the sand :) The view was spectacular and we will definitely stay there again.

Besides the ocean, what made this trip especially fun was that we found out the local casino has a child care center that you can drop your kids off to have fun while you go and gamble. Well, at least I believe that is the intent. We've barely even walked into a casio, but imagine our excitement when we found out you could leave their resort and go wherever since the center gives you a pager! There was lots for the kids to do and they loved it so much wanted to go back, so we let them go two days in a row. Mommies got to have a child-less breakfast and lots of shopping at the outlet mall. Way fun! We managed to get some clothes for the kids, a purse for Wife, hand soap from Bath and Body works for me, and while we did not see any Clarks shoes, there were many shoe stores to check out, too. Big fun was had by all.

This weekend I start on my homework for next week, but the last HURRAH sure was worth it!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Stumbled Upon a Great Read

I've been reading a really good book called The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. It was a book I found in the out-of-the-way trading library in a lunch room at work. The description caught my attention, and since I'd been hopping from one book to the next for the past few weeks, nothing grabbing me, I figured it was worth a shot.

From The Publisher's Weekly review: "Caldwell and Thomason's intriguing intellectual suspense novel stars four brainy roommates at Princeton, two of whom have links to a mysterious 15th-century manuscript, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. This rare text (a real book) contains embedded codes revealing the location of a buried Roman treasure. Comparisons to The Da Vinci Code are inevitable, but Caldwell and Thomason's book is the more cerebral-and better written-of the two: think Dan Brown by way of Donna Tartt and Umberto Eco." It's been fun to delve into the Princeton atmosphere through the eyes of college kids young enough to still be dealing with acne and first love, but also deeper issues such as the nature of friendships and the paths chosen throughout life.

The Da Vinci Code was more of a heart-pounding, page-turner than The Rule of Four, but this book is nearly as enjoyable in that it works on different levels. The relationship between the characters is almost a story that could stand alone without the mystery element. Fun stuff! I'm not really ready to trade in my fiction escapism for case law books. Oh, well, ready or not, here they come!

Family Fun Can be Exhausting!

Wow! What a week it has been! Starting last Saturday we've been on vacation. Our activities included the opening of a local park (which included a dog park opening, agility course for dogs, kick ball and parachute games for the kids and a free BBQ), visiting Wife's family 4 hours north of home for more park fun, a petting zoo, two family birthday parties and BBQs, a few kidless hours of outlet mall shopping for Wife and I, a nice morning on a beautiful beach, games at Chuck E. Cheeses, and after three nights, back home for the Children's Museum, a local park which included a 1.2 mile hike around a lake (Princess spent about a quarter or so of it on my back), and going to see Wall E. Oh - and camping out in the backyard. We are on our third night :) Whew! At this rate of activity, there will be no need for diet pills. Family fun is quite a work out for us all!

The kids are finishing up videos while Wife and I blog, and soon we'll tuck them into their beds in the tent, pop our own DVD in the laptop, and settle in for 2-3 episodes of Boston Legal. Neither of us is ready for vacation week to end, but we are squeezing in every last bit of fun we can!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Boston Legal - Seaon 3 - What Happened?

So, any other Boston Legal fans out there? I know there is at least one of you who lurks. What the heck happened with Season 3? After two sharp, tight, witty seasons, the first couple of episodes of Season 3 feel almost like a different show. My first guess is a new set of writers. There are two new characters which I hope I grow fond of because right now, I only kind of like the woman, but not so much the man. I don't expect this tv show to provide the secrets of the universe, or even an acne cure, but I do
want my old, familiar characters, challenging situations and witty banter, thank you very much.

We will continue Season 3 tonight and hope it gets better.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

This summer we discovered Boston Legal. Oh, I know we were not the first to discover it, but like our ancestors before us, things are not truly relevant until we are involved. We are now involved. Deeply, passionately involved.

I love the relationship between Denny Crane and Alan Shore. Denny is so wonderfully unpredictable and does not hesitate to use his money and power in inappropriate ways. His republican stances are ridiculous enough, though played completely straight, that there can be no mistaking where the writers' political preferences lie. Alan is pure brilliance in human form. Wife was in love with him from nearly the beginning, wanting to somehow heal his wounds. I enjoyed his boldness, but was not a true devotee until season 2 episode 6, "Witches of Mass Destruction." In this episode, Denny is very angry with Alan for taking a case that calls into question governmental activities in the war. Denny believes that good Americans always support their government in times of war. Alan says some profound things to Denny including that as loyal Americans, we have to start talking about the war, even if we don't agree, we must not remain silent.

This show is filled with social and political commentary, but in such a way that it is blended in perfectly with what is really a character-driven series. It is smart, sexy and very funny.

Being a William Shatner and Candace Bergen fan, I always figured I'd enjoy Boston Legal. Wife has friends that have told her we should watch it. Still, we just never made the time, plus, it is hard to start a show mid-season. Thanks to Netflix, this summer we've made it most of the way though the first two seasons, and hope to have watched season 3 by the time I start back to school at the end of August. Good times!

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Love Al Gore

I just watched a video of an amazing speech given by Al Gore. In it, he poses a challenge to the American people:

When JFK challenged America to put a man on the moon in a decade, many called it impossible, but we did it. Today's challenge: power our nation on clean energy in 10 years.

The devastation being caused by climate change, by our economy, by our reliance upon carbon based fuel sources is bleak, and only getting worse. Al Gore addresses the harsh reality head on, but then also proposes a solution and his reasoning for why it will work. Moving to clean energy NOW is our chance to save our environment, bring good jobs into our economy and become a true world leader again. Check out the video.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Camping Adventure Games

This past weekend we set up the tent and had a camping adventure right in our own backyard. While we did not manage to sleep outside as a family, we still had loads of fun! (Night #1: Boy Wonder could not sleep with the neighborhood noises still happening, so he and I went in while Wife and the Princess slept outside. Night #2: Neither child could calm down enough to sleep outside, but were out within minutes once we retreated to their own bedrooms.)

As a fun thing to do, I bought a bunch of inexpensive party prizes, plus a few large water blasters as "end of the game" bonus prizes, and set up a bunch of "camping" games. We had an adventure trail, complete with a stop where we saw a snake and had to balance on one foot for the count of 10 before proceeding, an obstacle course, a river crossing that looked remarkably like a slip-n-slide, two fishing holes and a treasure dig (prizes in the sandbox). We also did a 3-legged race (I agreed to hop on one foot so they would have someone to compete with), a potato sack race, a knock the cups down with a ball game, and a game I made up called "Bugs and Bats" (Boy Wonder wanted to be able to imitate a bat...so I went with it.) that allowed the kids to move forward a certain number of spaces based on whether the bug named crawls or flies, with bats thrown in occassionally for fun.

Below are a few pictures of the fun. If you check out Wife's blog, she is likely to post more about this within the next few days. (The first picture is their adventure map of where all the games were located.)