Friday, May 30, 2008

Graduation - Not Mine

This morning I clicked on the video link to my law school's graduation, held this past weekend. The music was not recognizable, nor were most of the faces. Still, watching everyone march in, proudly wearing their caps and gowns, full of smiles and relief made me cry. I was struck by the huge significance of this event for all these people, many of whom were my day-student classmates (day program is three years, evening is four, but we attend some classes together). I was struck by the huge significance this will have for me and my family next year. It symbolizes four years of sacrifice and hard work, huge loans, and the start of a new career. In many ways, it is the passage from one life into another.

Next year, at this time, instead of tending my garden with the kids and hoping I am getting as good of a workout as if I'd trained on ellipticals, I will have just graduated and will be stressing about taking the bar. There probably won't even be time for gardening. Oh, surely I will be able to at least put in some beans, tomatoes and a few flowers, right? Especially with the help of my little Gardener Girl/Princess/Ballerina :)

Strange to consider. One more year. One more year. In one more year I will be the proud bearer of a Juris Doctorate degree. One more year. We can do this.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What about the zoo?

You will all be happy to know there was no need for gps tracking on Boy Wonder! He arrived home safely and excited about what a great time he'd had. Yippee!

"So, what was your favorite thing about the zoo?'

"Collecting things at the information center."

The boy is a paper products junkie, and brochures are just the thing to feed his habit. He will carry them around in a plastic grocery bag for the next week, along with anything else deemed particularly special right now, and may or may not ever look at them. Odd? I don't know since I've never had a six-year-old boy before, but seems a bit peculiar. Harmless enough though, and soon he will realize he can actually read those brochures. Way Fun!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Boy Wonder's Big Field Trip

Today our son is on his first big field trip - the first time out in the real world, under someone else's care, where there are a lot of other people, too. He is at the zoo. Last summer, with his day camp/kindergarten prep class he went on local field trips, but they were about 10 minutes away. Today he is at the zoo, over 30 minutes away. Actually, at work, I am quite close to him. That's kind of nice to think about.

Realistically, we know all will be fine, but still, seems like putting a gps tracker, like used for vehicle tracking, might have been a good idea. What if he is put into a group with the parent of one quiet, well-behaved child who won't have a clue of how to handle rowdy kids who don't listen? Will he wander off and get lost? Will someone take him? Last night, wife reviewed with him, once again, all of the rules about strangers and what to do if he gets lost. We felt better when he told us that their teachers will be at the front gate the whole time. So, there should be no kids from their class passing through those gates until they are supposed to!

Boy Wonder is very excited and I think will do well. We are excited for him, too, but still, just another step for us - especially Wife - of having him out of our control and at the mercy of the world. Hopefully, it will be a wonderful day!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

2 parts fun, 1 part crankiness, mix until chilled

Remember the Facts of Life theme song? OK, some of you may be too young, and some of you may not be freaks about remembering the lyrics to theme songs (I am). It starts, "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life.." Well, that certainly is the truth! Wife summarized our weekend quite well in her post today, and was actually able to leave it feeling way more positive than we felt by the end of it yesterday. As always though, looking back, there were many good times.

I took both kids to Home Depot on Saturday morning for over 2 hours and they were really good. We had fun pricing lumber and other building materials for some garden projects, then picking out some veggie plants and seeds. We chatted about things we saw, watched a forklift, and generally had a nice, easy time. Another shining time was taking our Princess out for a bit of grocery shopping on Sunday morning. We managed to be gone for two hours because that seems to be how long I take to do any shopping no matter the size of my list (right, Wife? *grin*). Our girl is just so sweet and funny - she is wonderful to spend time with alone. We bought a little doll for under a buck - and a few bathtub turtles - on the way home she took such good care of them, introducing them to each other, sharing her slice of cheese with them....just too much cuteness :)

We don't seem to have our summer groove as a family going very well, yet. It i probably partly because we haven't yet had a "normal - no real plans" weekend yet, and also, we have not had reliable summer weather. The gloom is getting to us. Yes, it was about 100 degree last week at the beach, then we had highs during the week that were in the 50's. Crazy. (Side note: grass is growing like crazy, but is too wet to mow. Not looking forward to tackling that job when it does finally dry out a bit!) Now, the Princess and I both have colds..and I know colds are not caused by temperature....but I'll blame the weather anyway. It just feels like the right thing to do.

Come on summer sun! We are ready for relaxing nights in the backyard and some barbecue weather! How about some high 70's/low 80's...perfect!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Beach Report

Many of you will have already seen pictures on Wife's blog. Our trip to the beach was fun, and naturally, we wish we were still there. It was very hot the day we arrived, so as soon as we checked into our hotel, we headed for the beach. We'd not been to this particular beach before, and found there was a tiny stream running from the shore (probably from the mountains) to the ocean. It was perfect to be able to play in safely away from the unpredictable surf. It didn't take long for the kids to find they could lay down in the water, and were soon soaked and caked with wet sand. Perhaps some swimwear would have been a better choice than their clothes, but truthfully, we don't get too uptight about those kinds of things.

After fun on the beach, we all cleaned up (way necessary!) and headed into town for a bit of shopping and dinner. After than, we got the kids to sleep at a reasonable time and then were very grateful for some wonderfully quiet time spent reading on the balcony to the sounds of the waves until the sun went down. Ah....Perfection!

We stayed three nights - with the days filled with shopping, eating, playing in the arcade, riding the carousel, and other typical beach fun. The evenings, I must confess, were my favorite times. I love it when the kids are safely asleep, exhausted, and Wife and I can read and talk with the sounds of the waves in the background, and a beautiful sunset looming on the horizon. That is some seriously good R & R. Where do I sign up for more??

Easing into the summer

So, I have been officially done with my third year of law school for just over 2 weeks now. Mostly, I am beginning to feel more relaxed and into the swing of family life, but not entirely. We've been out of town for the past two weekends, which has been fun, and exciting, but hardly "normal." The kids are getting more used to me being home, but the household still erupts into chaos the minute I walk in the door. It is fun to be greeted enthusiastically by everyone, including the dogs, but after that, the kids tend to spin a bit. We are working on normalizing this, but as I said, being away from home has prevented a certain degree of that. Oh - and the kids have started swimming lessons, and I feel so lucky that so far, I have been able to be home in time for them! That could never happen when I am in school. Boy Wonder is doing fantastic - and the Princess is a natural in the water. Swimming is such an important skill, and Wife and I are thrilled they are having so much fun.

So, I am feeling more relaxed, but finding it takes some time to come down from the internship/work/school/home to sleep mode. If only we had some extra cash and a week's worth of vacation we could do some retail therapy - preferably in and near Disneyland - new clothes, a new watch, designer jewelry, maybe some shoes, and something fun with Stitch on it :)

Short of that, it will be gardening, barbecuing and playing in the sprinkler in the backyard. Not a bad way to spend a summer :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Happy Mama Gets Help from Gardener Girl

Ah.....relaxation and happy mode have begun to sink in :) I am sure it doesn't hurt at all that we leave for a three-night trip to the beach tomorrow. Yippeee!!

This has been a fun week (filled with the challenges of everyone getting used to a new routine and acting out accordingly) of being with my family and dreaming about the summer. A very good friend sent me a wonderful birthday present called an EarthBox, which is a self-watering container garden - great for growing veggies! My little Gardener Girl, who has been dedicatedly watering her marigolds since even before they were planted (or existed except in her imagination), was very excited for us to put it together. We haven't bought the tomato plants, yet, but we are ready for them!

In addition, we are going to try some container-grown potatoes,snap peas, green beans, maybe cucumbers and/or zuchini in the garden I hope to put together soon. Ah, yes, and a new sandbox. Lots of building and digging and good physical work for me - and not a single bit of case law reading!

Here are some pictures of our EarthBox assembly project. My girl always has her tools at the ready (the same tools were favorites of Kelton's until we started letting him occassionally use real ones)!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day and Wanting What is Best

All you bloggers out there probably know this feeling far better than you wish - you know you had at least three really great blog topics you wanted to cover, but when you finally sit down at the computer to write, they are gone. That is what I am faced with this morning. These were actually real topics requiring almost deep thought and everything......Oh, well, guess I could surf the net for movie trailers, reviews of generic Phentermine, and best ways to make a child-friendly garden.

Ah-ha! I remember one of them - Wife and I spent Mother's Day evening doing a task in the best interest of our son. We filled out a form and composed a letter requesting a boundary exception for our son so he can go to a different school next year. Not just a different school - a better school; the school with the highest test scores in our district and the lowest percentage of students in the free/reduced meal program. We found out from a teacher friend that there is a very direct correlation between the free meal percentage and test scores - meaning a very direct correlation between income and test scores.

Our son's education has caused us to come face-to-face with our own prejudices, level of snobbery and cold-hard reality. The idea of our son being educated in a school of children with mixed economic backgrounds, race, languages...etc. seemed like it could have its benefits. It could, but the reality is that in this school, whose boundaries include a lot of apartment complexes and judging by the number of late registrations, maybe people who either move a lot, or just have no clue how to find out how, or that they even should, register their child for school BEFORE the first day of school. So, what I am dancing around is that there are a lot of people with low levels of education or low understanding of English language and/or "customs." I am voting primarily for poorly educated, possibly struggling to make ends meet and not being able to take time to consider their children's schooling, OR way too involved in partying. We met a few of those parents.

Wife was only kindergarten parent volunteer, and noticed many students never turn in their weekly homework. At this age, that is a parental responsibility even more than one of the students'. There are many areas we are concerned about, and we really want something more for our kids.

My point, if I had one? We realize on some level we are being snobs by wanting our child educated where parents will take a more active role in their children's education and where behavioral problems starting at home to not leak into a large portion of the classroom. More importantly though, we want Boy Wonder to get a good education and have every advantage possible. Being in a classroom where the teacher has to spend a lot of time dealing with kids with behavioral problems, or working on basic skills that the kids should have known coming into kindergarten is not giving him any advantages at all. He is definitely not having the same experience as his friend that is going to the better school that we would like to get him into.

Of course, many people want their child to get into the "best" school, and only so many boundary exceptions can be made. Will Boy Wonder be one of them? If not, what are the other options? We intend to find out!

So, there you have it, a Mother's Day evening spent doing what Mothers do - loving their kids, and wanting what is best for them.

Target or Ye Olde Drug Shoppe?

Remember when all towns did not look alike? Every corner did not have the same dozen franchise stores in the same strip malls? You could drive for more than five miles without coming across a Starbucks or a McDonalds? Towns had character back then. Gosh, am I sounding old or what? I will admit, when driving into a new town, or visiting friends, it is good to know where the local Target is, or that I can grab a familiar burger late at night if their food was weird and we didn't eat much of it. Still, when I think about trips I have enjoyed, and some of the best, but less obvious things I like about the beach, or any vacation destination, it is the uniqueness. It is not knowing what is in Randy's Drug Store or if the Hungry Bear burgers are good that make the experience less like home and more like vacation. Most of us like, even prefer, the "mom and pop" stores, on some level, but the convenience and lower prices of the big names are a bigger draw. Strange times we live in.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

First Night Home As Summer Mama

Finals are exhausting. Maybe it is the end of the year that is exhausting....or we is the rest of the year that is exhausting! School would be somewhat better if my mind was more like computer memory, but even then, just the number of hours spent at work and school would be draining. Now I can finally slow down, take a breath, and regenerate with my family for the summer. I am very happy about all of that, but it is such an unfamiliar feeling - like I should be doing something that I am not. It takes a while to gear down, I guess. Granted, I have been free for less than 24 hours.

I went home and we had a nice evening yesterday, which was my first day home for dinner on what would normally be a school night. I made tacos, since Boy Wonder had been begging Wife for them earlier in the week. She doesn't cook tacos, so her answer had been no. I personally am thrilled that my boy likes Mexican food. One of our first signs that Wife was pregant (the first time - with Boy Wonder) was that she had a craving for Mexican food. That NEVER happens. I knew that had to be MY BABY causing that craving :) Anyway, we ate tacos, played outside, did baths and bedtime stories....a good night.


My last final was turned in at 1:00 yesterday and I am done!!! School is out for the summer!! Yipppeeee!!

Now I am completely exhausted. I totally feel like a zombee, staring at my computer, reading my emails, trying to think about work, but finding it hard to focus. I think a nice vacation is in order! Heck, even just a trip (without the kids!) to a local mall would be nice - I could browse through Bath and Body Works, Yankee Candle, get a slice of pizza, gaze a the beautiful mens gold watches at the jewelry stores, maybe look at some new clothes for the summer, then take in a movie. Sounds relaxing, doesn't it?

Vacation from my Laptop

Odd to think that I bought my laptop computer three years ago this fall. I wonder if I need to increase my laptop memory? I suspect it is woefully outdated by now. Although, for what I do, it suits me just fine. If it will hold out another year, it will have served me well.

I rarely see my laptop over the summer. I have a few projects I may need it for this summer at work (for use during lunch), or at home while Wife is on the big computer. Strange, as I mentioned last year around this time, how it is such a big part of my daily life while at school, and then it just disappears for three months. Right now, not needing to be on the laptop for a while sounds pretty darn good!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Training Ethical Lawyers?

Last final - today - 24 hour take-home - done tomorrow.

Am I happy or what? Not so happy about the exam, but happy that the end is so close I can taste it! I feel somewhat prepared for the test. I am not sure how prepared one can feel for an exam in a class where we read over 1000 pages. Public Lands - open notes, closed book. Odd right?

Here's an interesting topic - honesty. In my naivete, and dedication to the honor code, I just believe everyone will follow the rules and not open their book. Wife thinks I am cute to be so trusting, but that I am out of my mind and will be competing with those who are cheating. She points out that lawyers are not exactly known for their trustworthiness. I suppose that is true. We talked about how people will justify it to themselves - those extra few points on an exam score might put them right over the line to get a scholarship or win a job interview so they can pay back their student loans....blah, blah, blah. I feel like we are at a really ethical institution preparing very ethical lawyers, but maybe I really am terribly naive. Ultimately, I can only control my own behavior and do what I know is right for me.

I know what is right for me now is a vacation!!!! *grin* I need info on cheap flights to Disneyland! I also need to stumble upon a few extra thousand dollars to pay for such a vacation.....Maybe I will just be satisfied with some tropical drinks and T-ball in the backyard with the wife and kids :)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Drinking and Law School

There are a lot of events at our school that involve alcohol - lunchtime parties with kegs, evening receptions with wine and beer, and sometimes, we just bring our own to dinner. I wonder if it is this way at all law schools, all graduate schools, maybe just private schools?

I think it may be no coincidence that many professional publications for lawyers include ads about alcohol rehab programs. They apparently train us early to imbibe. (Like any of us needed training at this point....)

Mostly, I don't think it is a problem, especially among the older students that know how and when to stop. A glass of wine or two at dinner can be really nice, but I've watched some of the younger students drink way more than they should prior to going to class, or while attending a professional event. As we are constantly reminded, our reputation starts the minute you enter law school. Do you really want people to remember you as that guy who drank too much at the Blah Dee Blah Dinner?

On the other hand, this post is a little heavy. Heck - school is out, or almost out, and I know that I am thinking a bottle of wine with my sweetie during backyard cookouts sounds like the perfect way to end a summer day! I won't be trying to impress anyone or learn anything, other than maybe how to get the kids to bed more expeditiously. Pop that cork!