Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving week! I have so much to be thankful for - for being done with school, for passing the bar exam, for full-time employment while I am looking for "real" work, for my family, my friends, my health, a roof over my head, a car that runs well, food in the ', so much. I hope you are all equally blessed.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Leapster Mania

I may occasionally bash electronics for kids, but let me set the record straight. Sometimes, I love them and believe they can be great learning tools...OK, and babysitters. Take for instance the Leapfrog Leapster. This is a wonderful toy that both of our kids loved! It is a handheld computer device that operates various game cartridges, much like a beginning model of a Nintendo Gameboy or DS.

The Leapster is for younger kids than these other two devices though, and is actually designed to be educational. There are games that help with learning numbers, alphabet, shapes, math, spelling and more. Many cartridges are themed around popular characters or movies, like Dora the Explorer, Thomas the Train, and the Disney Princesses.

Boy Wonder's Leapster, that he got at about age 3, was green, and he used to play it for hours. As he got older, we bought more advanced games to fit his readiness level and interests. Our Little Princess started messing around with her brother's games far before she could understand them, but once she did, she realized they were "boy" games and wanted ones more suited to her. We got her a few "girl" games, and eventually a pink Leapster, partly to make her happy, but mostly because between the two of them, the old one had taken quite a beating and did not always function properly anymore. This is not to say they are easily breakable. They are not. These are tough toys, made for real kids that do play rough sometimes.

I love that the Leapster allows the kids to play video games while learning really important skills, plus, it is perfect for keeping them busy while waiting in lines, riding in the car, sitting in a restaurant, or just any time. It's the right time of year to find a Leapster on sale at many places. This is one toy you will not be sorry you bought!

Slacker Finally Posting

OK, so its been a slow posting week. Would you believe my dog ate my update? No?

Seems like time for a Friday update.

What has the week held? Well - hop on over to Wife's blog to see cute pictures of the kids' visit with Santa a couple days ago. We are already on the third Santa visit of the year. This one was at Picture People and was pretty adorable. (I've already blocked out the memories of the kids' crazy behavior posing for pictures when Santa was not in the room.)

Last night we attended the Harvest Festival at Boy Wonder's school. It was a spaghetti feed, with carnival games, raffles, bake sale and autumn photos. This was all thanks to the PTO, which Wife is Co-President of, and the wonderful volunteers. It was a very successful event, and the kids had a great time playing games, winning prizes, and then for Boy Wonder, trading them with his friends. He seems to have reached an age where trading things is a lot of fun. He's even trading in his Build-a-Bear Bearville online computer game.

On the networking front I attempted or actually made email contact with about 9 people, completed 2 informational interviews, received about 6 new contact names. Although I am currently so tired that it is hard to feel enthusiastic about anything, I think it was overall a pretty good week.

Happy Weekend everybody!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Realities of Electronics

Today a friend and I were comparing the lives of our children with our own childhoods with regards to multiple input. It is not unusual for a child today to be texting and listening to an iPod, while talking to a friend sitting next to her, and there might even be a TV or computer game involved, as well. No doubt kids are better multitaskers when it comes to digital input than many of us adults, but what is the long-term impact? Are they increasing mental abilities, or simply not developing the capacity to really focus, or have much of an attention span?

One of my friend's doctors has suggested the latter, based on an article for which I do not have a reference. She said the tvs, cell phones, and other electronic devices need to be strictly limited until over the age of 18. This makes sense on some level, but there is the reality that children have to compete in the real world. Taking away their technology might put them at a serious disadvantage - limiting their skills and understanding of cultural norms and expectations. On the other hand, it could give them a distinct advantage. Maybe they would develop skills lacking in many of their peers.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Taking Charge of a Monday

It was a nice weekend. Wife and I went to see The Time Traveler's Wife, which was quite good, especially given the complexity of the book. We did a bit of Holiday shopping, spent some good family time together, and I even managed to clean some of the gutters. Perhaps the next rain storm will not lead to a week's worth of dripping from the gutter onto our patio as said gutter overflows!

Some days it is hard to keep a positive perspective on the job search, or maybe I should just call it "Project Network." Although there is an occassional non-lawyer job posted that I could, and do, apply for, by and large that is not how people get jobs, and really not how new lawyers get hired. It's mostly word-of-mouth, unless you were fortunate enough to actually have clerked for a place in a position to make a job offer. I did not.

At any rate, I did not give in to the "blahs" today! I wanted to, but instead I took a walk in the chilly November air, then sent out 6 emails to folks to whom I've been referred, and actually did conduct one brief informational interview. Now, I have the ball rolling for the week! Yeah, me!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More Networking Happenings

Networking update - again, I remain grateful for the generosity of those willing to spend time offering advice and insight to me as a new graduate and job hunter. My progress this week has involved eight outgoing emails, responses on about half, one completed informational interview, two new contact names, four names that I already had (second referrals) and three people who all want to call me tomorrow. Friday seems to be the meeting day for these busy attorneys. I was also reminded of three professional organizations that I needed to look into for activities and other information. I also listened to one Career Services workshop session regarding networking.

One interesting thing that has happened in the course of my conversations is that another field of law related to environmental law, tribal law, has been suggested to me as a possible area to pursue. This interests me greatly, and is a good fit with my undergrad studies. So many possible paths on this journey!

So, for those of you looking, as I am, or those still in school who may someday find yourself in my position, this is what I'm doing about a month after being sworn in. I certainly remain optimistic that the right contact is just around the corner, or has maybe even already been made. All it takes is just one person, at the right time.

Online Education

Isn't it interesting how even a few years ago, online higher education degrees were just coming into popularity, and there were really only a few schools doing it? Now, it seems like the options are plentiful - both via traditional schools that are now offering programs online through a virtual campus, or through speciality schools who only offer online programs.

I came across a degree program for Organizational leadership masters the other day and read through a bit of their material. I could be mistaken about this, but it seems to me that this type of program is really geared towards the more practical components of a higher degree, rather than a lot of theory. It seems like that is what the target market would want. These programs are mainly aimed at adults with jobs who are fitting an online program into an already busy life. These people want to gain practical skills that they can put to use, rather than spending hours (years!) on academic theory.

It will be interesting to see how this trend develops over the next decade, and whether the online universities are ultimately given as much respect as a degree earned at a traditional school.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All the Answers

Yesterday was our Little Princess' first day of her 7-week, 2-day-per week preschool run by the local high school. She was so excited, and has been for months! She is so ready for school, and thankfully, had a truly wonderful day.

Last night, when I got home, she noticed that the dogs had left muddy footprints on the kitchen floor and wanted to mop them up. She has her own kid-sized cleaning tools, so she got out the mop, and the bucket, that I do not believe we've ever let her use except for the purpose of carrying around supplies. She informed me that the old-fashioned way of mopping is to fill the bucket and dunk the mop. I agreed, and even finally agreed she could put a little bit of water in the bucket.

As she filled her bucket, I told her not to get it too full. Here was her response, full of 4-going-on-14 attitude and delivered with the patience one reserves for those who are a bit mentally slow:

"I am a big girl now, Mom. I am in school now, you know!"

Well, guess she told me!

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Count!

Ha! This is a picture from our work party that was just sent to me. Reminds me how crappy I was feeling last week! Still, I made a pretty fine vampire! :) (My make-up during the next night's Trunk or Treat was even better.)

My Week in Review

So, we've reached another Friday.

My week did not end as well as it started.

Boy Wonder has been out of school, experiencing a fever all week. Doc checked him on Tuesday for possibilities of pneumonia, but he's clear - Thank God - and cough seems to be getting better.

Only spoke with two attorneys this week on the networking road, but do have two more set up for next week, and one that is on constant reschedule. I have several emails out there awaiting responses. I sent three new ones today.

Student loans have me in a state of panic/depression/run-for-the-border and change my name. I am looking into my options, and although it seems bad now, I think it will actually end up OK, or close to OK. Clearly, when I entered law school, and took on so much debt, I did not count on the economy being in the toilet. Eventually, the tide will turn, and I know I will be happy for my fancy credentials. Today, well, the tide is out.

Here is something good about this week:
Jake Drake: Class Clown. This is a chapter book that I started reading to the kids at bedtime this week. Wife found it for Boy Wonder. It is a fun book - about a second-grader trying to deal with a grumpy student teacher who won't smile and is making everyone's life miserable. He finds power in becoming the class clown. I think I may be enjoying it even more than the kids, although, Little Princess was laughing out loud, slightly hysterical, at the antics two nights ago.

Yes, that is a good thing.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Today's confession: I apparently am about 12.

Ever attend one of those meetings that you are sure is going to be all talk and no substance, and then sit across from a friend that you've recently talked to about playing Bullsh*t Bingo at said meeting? Yes, me too - yesterday. My friend and I should not have sat across from each other where we could catch each other's eye, because that was all it took to nearly send me into spasms of laughter. I was so close to losing it entirely. I tried looking at the floor, the ceiling, my can of Coke. I tried thinking of serious subjects. I settled for nearly biting my tongue in half while thinking, "You are a professional. Pull yourself together." You got it - that just made it worse.

Remember the "Chuckles the Clown" funeral scene from Mary Tyler Moore? OK, many of you are too young for that reference. There was something more recent.....George's funeral on Gray's Anatomy. I was afraid that was where I was headed yesterday - totally inappropriate laughter over something that wasn't even funny.

Ah, good times.

Maybe today I can snicker if someone says the word "duty."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Networking Update

It appears that I am finally getting the upper hand on what has probably been a case of H1N1. Beyond the first couple days of being mostly miserable, it just left me, and Wife, wiped out. Today, it is actually past noon and I am still functioning well. Boy Wonder has had a relapse, so we are watching him closely for signs of a secondary infection, but so far, appears to be either another bug, or an actual relapse. We've been in touch with his doc so we know what to watch for in case he needs to be seen.

I had mentioned tracking the job search here, but then last week was pretty much a lost week all around. This week, I have already made two phone appointments for informational interviews and completed one of them. The other would have been completed yesterday, but the other attorney got tied up, so we had to reschedule. ("Other attorney" - that sounds pretty good, right?)

I have over 40 people on my networking list - some I have met and/or spoken with, others are names that have recently been given to me and I still need to contact. Everyone I have spoken with has been so generous with their time and ideas, and many have offered names of colleagues they think may be able to offer useful advice. There is much good work being done out there, I just have to find my way in!

Monday, November 02, 2009

A Rewarding Late Start

After a great weekend of Halloween fun, Boy Wonder awoke with a fever this morning. We may be heading into Round 2 of this thing, and most of us were not at 100% from Round 1. Ugh.

So, because I was quite tired and moving slowly, then taking care of the boy, I got a late start out the door this morning. I rushed to my car to be greeted with ice covering the windshield. Great. I started the car and called in to Wife to please open the garage door, because my ice scraper had been tossed in the garage in favor of Friday's trunk or treat decorations - tombstones, spider webs, spiders, spooky lights and dry ice. (I suspect photos can be, or soon will be, found on Wife's blog.) She graciously came out and scraped my windshield (Thanks, honey!) while I ran back in the house for a quick potty break - fearing my late start would mean a long drive in.

A few minutes later, I was on my way, and was rewarded with a spectacular sunrise - full of that amazing pink-orange color rarely enjoyed outside of sunrise or sunset. As I drove across the bridge, the sunrise colors spread out behind the mountain and then stretched into purples and blues, and then into a low lying fog bank. It was simply magical. I half-expected a castle to appear from behind the fog. By the time I arrived at work, the sun was up, and it was clear it was going to be a beautiful morning. I snapped the above shot on my way from the parking lot.

Happy Monday!