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BlogHer - Part II: Chloe Dao Is A Sweetie Pie
I am a Project Runway fanatic. So, when I heard that Chloe Dao (winner of Season 2 for those of you who are not addicted yet) would be at BlogHer, I was thrilled.

At the Day 2 cocktail party, Pundit Mom (also a PR addict) and I stalked Chloe Dao. We approached our prey carefully. First, we just took pictures of her from a distance.

Then, we had our pictures taken with Chloe, who was incredibly sweet and approachable.

After we'd had a few glasses of wine, we actually balled up and had a nice conversation with Chloe. She told us about what she's been doing since Project Runway and told us a bit about her work as spokesperson for Dove. When she brought up body image issues, I nearly asked her to marry me on the spot.

We were standing there with Chloe when this video was taken:

You notice how Chloe keeps looking to her right as if she's having a conversation with a group? She was and that was us! Squeal!

Stay tuned for Part III where I dish dirt on Jenny from Mama Drama and The Blogess and her partners in crime, and Part IV where I demand that Elizabeth Edwards run for President. Why settle for Edwards Light (aka John) when you can have the real thing?

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BlogHer 07 - Part I
I've been struggling with what to say about the BlogHer conference.

I don't want to bash you over the head with inside jokes and lots of anecdotes. If I hadn't gone, I'd be super jealous and a bit annoyed. But some of you are demanding dirt!

So here's the recap. I may mention some names, but I know I can't possibly remember every one in one sitting. So if I leave you out, try not to feel hurt. I loved meeting everyone.

Thursday night/Friday morning I got in to the W at 1am. I kept checking to see if I had accidentally walked into a nightclub because the pounding music and mood lighting (as well as general party atmosphere) had me feeling like I was waaaaaay too old for this shit. I staggered to my room and immediately went down to the Whiskey bar on the off chance anyone was still there. There were just a bunch of people practically having sex on the couches, so I dragged myself to my room and passed out.

Since I missed the Thursday evening festivities, I had no idea who anyone was or how to find anyone I knew the next morning. I ended up sitting with the Indie bloggers during breakfast. They were hilarious and so sweet despite the fact that they were about to speak at the first session. Love them. Want to see them again.

It turns out that many bloggers I already adored were sitting at tables behind me or near me and the squealing commenced immediately after breakfast. Shortly after that, I was filling up on some schwag when I saw Jessica walking past. I immediately threw myself at her. Who could blame a girl for that? While chatting, one of my blog idols sidled up and more squealing began (at least on my part).

Bad girl that I am, I skipped the first session with the bad girls below to get some coffee and chat.

Neen, Jess, and Jen skip class

I seriously needed coffee. This guy saved my life.

The coffee guy who saved Lawyer Mama

Then there were some seminars. The only one I really enjoyed the first day, was Catherine's on the State of the Momosphere. I love a rhetorical debate and this didn't disappoint. Plus, Catherine? I'm completely in love with her. I would love to just sit down and talk to her. She had so many insightful things to say in every session she was in.

At lunch, I finally hooked up with my roommate, who was supposed to be on the same doomed United flight as me out of Norfolk. She also flew out of Newport news (United, you SUCK), but at 4:45am Friday. And she didn't get into Chicago until 9ish.

Pundit Mom and Lawyer Mama

The cocktail party that night was great. I managed to hook up with a couple of people I hadn't seen yet, but I lost my roommate again!

Lawyer Mama, Slacker Mommy

Pundit Mom, Mama Loves, Lawyer Mama

I also made some new friends.

Neen from Can We Kick The Bar Here and Lawyer Mama

Oh, and Redneck Mommy? Is a total hottie. And she's intelligent, articulate, snarky, and just fun! I will be stalking her relentlessly now.

Lawyer Mama, Oh The Joys, Redneck Mommy

Dinner the first night:

Left: Lawyer Mama, Jen (One Plus Two), Tanis (Redneck Mommy), Tania (Chicky Chicky Baby), Georgia (I Am Bossy), Casey (Moosh from Indy);
Right: Neen (Can We Kick The Bar Here), Kiki (Sticking To The Point), Kristie (Slacker-Moms-R-Us), KC (Where's My Cape), Jessica (Oh The Joys), Ruth (Ruth Dynamite), Debi (i obsess)

Jen has this thing about having her picture up (can't say I blame her), so I made her into Bill Clinton for the photo. She makes a good Bill, don't you think?

I was worried going in to this conference. Not that I would be standing on the sidelines watching everything. Seriously. I call myself an introvert, but I have no problems walking right up to someone and saying hello. Despite my protestations last week that I need time to warm up to people, this weekend found me throwing myself into the arms of many bloggers I met. I love to meet new people, it's just more draining for me to constantly talk and put myself out there than it is for those extroverts out there. No, I was more worried that some of these bloggers wouldn't live up to the ideal I've created in my mind.

I shouldn't have worried. Pundit Mom was just as intelligent and warm as she is online. Jen is just as kind and smart as I thought. Debi is, well, exactly Debi. Except she's a little larger than life. I think it's the sheer force of personality of her hair that adds to the Debiness. Jessica is nice, funny, and smart. Kristin is a mom to everyone.

Oh, there was one thing. Mrs. Chicky would like everyone to know that she is not as nicey nice as you all think she is. She's a snarky bitch, just like the rest of us. Happy, Mrs. Chicky? I'm spreading the word.

I'll finish this up tomorrow. I don't normally do these "Here's What I Did Chronologically" posts, so I'm tired.

But really, I just want to torture Julie.

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The post I wrote on the plane...

July 26, 2007, In the air, Somewhere between Atlanta and Chicago

Earlier in the day this post could have been titled "United Airlines Can Suck My Left Big Toe."

Today was the day from hell. I raced from work to catch my 5:30pm flight in Norfolk. When I got there, I discovered that my direct United flight to Chicago had been cancelled. No other flight from Norfolk to Chicago and no other United flight had been cancelled. Just mine.

Choking back sobs, I threw myself at the ticket counter. The United ticket agent tried gamely to find me a flight on another airline. Everything was booked.

I called United Reservations. A very polite gentleman in India informed me that there were no United flights out of Norfolk available until July 28th. The kicker: because I had booked my flight with my 20 gazillion United bonus miles, they had no obligation to book me on another airline. In other words, United told me to go fuck myself. Politely.

My knight in shining armor (T) rode up on his white steed (cellphone) and found me a flight on Delta leaving from Newport News, Virginia at 7:30pm. Because I hadn't actually paid for my United flight, I was peachy with plunking down $241 for a one way ticket connecting in Atlanta and arriving in Chicago at 11:45pm. Not great, but I could live with it.

I raced through rush hour traffic to Newport News and arrived in plenty of time. My flight was delayed 20 minutes, so all was well.

Do you know what happens when you purchase a one way plane ticket 2 hours before the flight?


Full body cavity search.

Well, it wasn't that bad, but do y'all remember where I was last week this time? On vacation? In Nebraska? On a farm? Where there's fertilizer and lots of chemicals?

Yeah. They got so many hits on my bags and shoes that they had to refill the paper on their little chemical printer detector thingy. (That's a technical term.) When they got the first positive on the outside of my bag, I actually heard the poor TSA agent let a, "fuuuuuuck," slip out.

So, they carefully unpacked my bags and went through everything with a fine tooth comb. Several things were sent back through the x-ray machine. They were very careful to keep my unmentionables out of sight, but it would have been easier to handle them tossing my panties around like junior high school boys than to watch them unpack all 100 of my very cute magnets with my blog and face plastered all over them. Didn't I ask the other day if that was narcissistic? Well, I can now very firmly say yes, yes it is.

I made it on the plane. There were more delays. My delay in Atlanta was becoming shorter and shorter. When I got off the plane in Atlanta I had 21 minutes before my plane to Chicago took off.

I ran through the Atlanta airport, in heels, in 11.2 minutes. That's a personal best for me. The overturned Lawyer Mama Atlanta track record was 13.1 minutes. Although the last time I ran that race, I was 8 months pregnant and my husband dragged me half of the way. So maybe with my pregnancy handicap I didn't actually break my earlier record.

Anyway, I made it.

As I was sitting in my seat waiting for take off, I called T to let him know I'd be making it to Chicago after all and to thank him for all his help. T told me that his mother had called and his grandmother, Nanny, had died earlier that evening.

It wasn't a huge surprise. When we saw Nanny last week in Nebraska, she was tired and a bit confused. Her care facility had just arranged for hospice care for her. It was clear the end was near. It was difficult to corral H&H while visiting her, but I'm glad we saw her. When we left, Holden called out "Nanny" and gave her a big wet, slobbery Holden kiss. Nanny was tickled pink.

Nanny, Aunt E., Holden & Grandma at Holden's christening, July 2006

Now, on the plane, after this news, I sit here looking out at the hazy gray world, the glow of my laptop reflected in the window. I'm thinking, not about the snafu with my flight, but about my little boys. I'm picturing them sleeping right now while I hurtle through the air in my silver tube.

Holden, tucked into a ball, face down, diapered butt in the air, face smooshed up against the side of the crib breathing heavily into his blankie. Hollis, flung across his bed as if he fell asleep in mid stride. His lanky toddler legs half off of the bed. Both of them dreaming the dreams of innocents.

Stop time. Stop it in my mind. For just this moment.

I miss them.

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Steal This Post Because Cancer Sucks
Edited to add stuff at the bottom.

You've probably heard about Why Mommy's IBC diagnosis by now. Well, she's asked us all to steal some of her posts to educate people about the particularly insidious form of breast cancer that she has. I had heard of IBC but knew very little about it when Why Mommy was diagnosed. Her diagnosis hit me hard. She's 34 years old, like me. She has two small boys, like me. She could be me. I could be her. Cancer can strike anyone. So read on and feel free to steal her post as well. I know she'd want you to:

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

I also have a guest post up at And the Pursuit of Happiness today. Ms. Sunshine, Sonia, asked me to share some random stuff about the Commonwealth of Virginia and I've happily complied. Feel free to stop by and say hello.

You all know by now that I'm heading off to BlogHer tonight. I'm bringing my laptop and I will try my hand at live blogging if at all possible. I just don't want to make any promises because technology accidents happen. And they always seem to happen to me.

But, as promised, here is what my magnets look like:

(Notice how I strategically placed letters over my double chin. I'm so crafty.)

See you next week!

Edited to add:

My good friend, L, who wrote this
fabulous guest post for me last week, has finally bitten the bullet and started her own blog. Thanks for encouraging her to get started, folks. And go visit her while I'm gone:

Not Exactly A Princess

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Blog Me, Lawyer Mama, Blog Me
Mocha Mom has asked all of us heading out to BlogHer in TWO DAYS (Woot!) to introduce ourselves in 10 seconds. Now, I don't think I've ever written anything you could read in 10 seconds or less but I'll try.

  • My name is Stephanie. You can call me Steph, but not Stephie. Only my dad gets to call me that.
  • I like dry, dirty martinis. I like them a lot. Only, I don't get to drink them so much anymore because: (a) I don't want to drop the baby; and (b) my employer frowns upon employees drunk at work. If I have more than one in a night at BlogHer, it won't be pretty.
  • I love shoes. I have too many. But I can't figure out how to fit more than 2 pairs into my luggage because I don't want to check a bag. Somehow I think it would be overkill to FedEx my new green wedges to the hotel, don't you?
  • If you're doing the BlogHer scavenger hunt, I wear a 6.5 but I sometimes buy a 7 because my feet are a little wide and nobody makes wide sizes for the really cute shoes. (I used to wear a 5.5, but pregnancy.... Sigh. Need I say more?) Anyone want to be my scavenger hunt partner? And a question: do I count as a blogger from Louisiana (worth some points) or just Virginia (apparently worthless)?
  • I'm an introvert. I may talk a good game here, but I'm pretty uncomfortable in new social situations. So, please don't think I'm standoffish or snobbish if I don't run up to you with a big hug and start chatting as if we're best friends. We can be, but give me some time to get cozy. And if you're a talker, I'm a listener. Come sit by me! But if you're also a listener like me, I'll talk. I swear I will. I want to meet you anyway.
  • Whatever we talk about, don't tell me the ending to the new Harry Potter book. I just started it and I doubt I'll have time to finish it before leaving on Thursday. If you spoil the end for me I may have a public hissy fit.
  • I have magnets to give away at BlogHer. They're super cute (I think) but they have a picture of me on them. Is that narcissistic?
  • I like to talk politics and I love to naval gaze, but I'm unlikely to bring up a controversial subject with someone I've just met. I'm far more likely to talk about these:

I could talk about the boys for hours, but please don't let me. I want to hear about you and your kiddos too.

Then we can talk politics.

I am incredibly EXCITED! Can you tell?

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Monday Montage - Farm Edition Part I
It's good to be home.

Don't get me wrong, it was nice to see everyone, but now I need a vacation from my vacation. I intend to get one at BlogHer. Now how many people do I owe drinks? Quite a few of you, I'm sure, but even if I don't owe you a drink, just wait until I've had a martini or two and ask. I'm a sucker when I've been drinking.

You'll have to bear with me but I have nearly 300 photos from our trip to Nebraska. I normally edit about half of my photos and it takes a lot longer when you have 150 of them to plow through. I've been editing in chunks, so I'm going to shamelessly use my photos for blog fodder all week while I catch up on all my blog reading.

Speaking of blog reading, do you think y'all could have been a little less prolific last week? You don't even want to know how many unread posts I have in Bloglines right now. There's no way I will catch up before BlogHer, so please forgive me if I don't comment on your old posts.

Before I get to the pictures, I also have to thank my guest bloggers. You ladies were fantastic! Thank you again, Heather, Julie, and Lauren. And, Lauren, if you don't start your own damn blog I'm never taking you shopping again!

And without further fanfare, I give you the Monday Montage Farm Edition - Part I of God knows how many. These photos were all taken at T's Uncle's place in the Platte River Valley on the last day of our trip:

Holden pets a goat, while Hollis tries to figure out how to discreetly scrape the goat poo off of his shoe.

"I'm not sure about this, Mommy."

Standoff at the O.K. Corral.

Holden encounters a goat.

"You can't see me."

"I know you're in there, chickens."

"Chicken! Doodle doo! Doodle doo!"

Photo by Hollis.

Hollis, the Pied Piper of goats.

After a hard day's work, Holden heads back to the homestead and his loyal steed.

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Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
I'm from Louisiana and proud of my heritage. My family has been in Louisiana about as long as Western Europeans have been in Louisiana. (Both sides. Remember, my family tree doesn't fork much.) I have ancestors who fought in the American Revolution and the Civil War, including a rather notorious and famous Civil War-era ancestor who will remain nameless here. (Hint: His initials are J.D. and he has buildings and schools named for him all over the South, including U.S. Route 1 in Virginia. Knock yourself out on Google.)

My ancestry also comes with plenty of negative baggage - slavery and hundreds of years of institutionalized and socially acceptable discrimination. But when I think of New Orleans, my family, and my Louisiana, I think of food: crab and crawfish boils, gumbo, and crusty french bread. I think of music, cemeteries, beautiful architecture, trees draped in Spanish moss, lazy wet heat, family parties, and belonging. There is always a sense of ownership and belonging. Those are my people.

Those people now belong to my sons and, although I no longer speak with a Southern accent, my sons will. Every time I hear Hollis drawling "yeeeaaaaahh" into a two syllable word, it makes me smile. It reminds me of who I am and who my sons will be.

For an Air Force brat, a sense of belonging is important. When I went off to college, I never knew how to answer that first and simplest of all questions: "Where are you from?" A truthful answer could take a half an hour of explanation. Sometimes I said "Louisiana," but that required its own detailed explanation. Sometimes I took the easy way out and said "Nebraska," where my parents still live and I went to high school. But to be honest, I hated to tell people I was from Nebraska. I still do.

When I left Nebraska for college in Miami, it was with the expectation that I would never really live there again. It wasn't my home. I didn't belong. And frankly, I thought it was pretty boring. When I thought of Nebraska I thought of long stretches of flat highway, corn and wheat fields, smelly cows, dust, and maybe, if I was feeling charitable, pioneer Nebraska with a whiff of Little House on the Prairie.

If you contrast the mystery and excitement of Louisiana in the 1600's and 1700's, with the dusty plains of Nebraska in the 1800's, I thought the choice was clear.

Nebraska sucked.

I did, however, end up back in Nebraska, where I met and married T, a born and bred Nebraska farm boy. T and his brother grew up helping his parents work their family farm in Southwest Nebraska. I'll admit that he does have some exciting ancestors sprinkled in there, including Christopher Wren, but I thought that his ancestry and background paled in comparison to my own.

I couldn't wait to leave Nebraska, to view it from my rear view mirror as I drove away for good.

I began to look at Nebraska differently only by seeing it through T's eyes. When we were dating, he took me out to his parents' farm. We tromped out into the middle of a field and T turned to me and told me to stand still and listen.

At first I heard nothing.

No cars, no phones, no planes in the distance, no mechanical buzz of any kind. I didn't hear any of the myriad of sounds we all hear every day and ignore in their constancy. It was a bit freaky, that silence.

Then I heard the wind in the grass, birds twittering, a faint mooing, and my own shallow breath. There was movement all around me, in the air, the trees, the field, the shifting light. But it was still. Suddenly I understood what my husband loved so about his corner of Nowhere. I began to understand the man who would be my husband.

Don't get me wrong, my T has no desire to lead the life of a farmer. It's hard work. Harder than anything I've ever done. And in many cases farming is a direct route to bankruptcy and heart break. Only those who farm bigger or, in some rare cases, smarter, survive. But T loves Nebraska. Much of his love is, of course, caught up in his love for his family, but it's also the love of a way of life and a certain type of person.

Farmers are entrepreneurs, only without the attitude of entitlement. They take risks as lofty as the Las Vegas high roller or the venture capitalist. But farmers don't keep planting or ranching for the love of money. They do it for love of the land and of family. They have a deeply ingrained sense of responsibility to the earth they keep and the people they feed. It took me a long time to understand that.

While we were in Nebraska last week, we helped my in-laws pack up their house. Several years ago they sold the family farm, although they retained ownership of the house and the land around it for a time as part of the sales contract. Two days ago they closed on the sale of T's boyhood home. I know that the sale was undoubtedly harder for T's parents than for T, but still it hurts him. He wants to show the boys his history and the loss of his home means a loss of some part of his childhood. A part he assumed would always be there waiting for him to visit.

But still, T's parents will be nearby in my mother-in-law's childhood home, a place that is still a part of T and the story of his life that he will share with our sons. So now, T is beginning to talk to the boys about farming and tractors, cows and chickens, pivots and irrigation. He is teaching them the language of his people. He is showing them a piece of their history.

H&H are thrilled with anything involving both animals and heavy machinery. In fact, Hollis was in tractor overload on our trip. He spent hours staring out the car window as the scenery passed us by - the scenery I thought of as a boring stretch of flat highway - watching the cows, asking about each piece of farm equipment and the "big sprinklers" (the pivot irrigators).

In knowing and loving my husband, I've grown to know and love his state. Watching my sons discover Nebraska is something else entirely. It's wonderful to watch Hollis's eyes light up when his daddy promises to let him ride a tractor, pet goats, or chase chickens. What boy wouldn't love that?

But I also hope that the boys will someday see Nebraska through their father's eyes. They won't just see chickens to chase and cows to harass. One day they'll look over the rolling hills from their great-grandparent's house in Southwest Nebraska and they'll feel that wonderful silence. They'll understand a piece of their father they could never know without standing there in that spot and listening to the sound of nothing.

One day Hollis and Holden will think of Nebraska and its heritage with a sense of wonder. They will see the floods and the drought, the feast and famine of farming, the flawed beauty of what was once the wild west.

They will belong to Nebraska as much as they belong to the South.

The road ahead.

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The Center of the Universe (to Blog or not to Blog)
Yep. You guessed it, another LM impersonator who has STOLEN the identity of LM while she basks in the baby pool in the wilds of Nebraska. I don’t have a blog so since LM had no frame of reference it isn’t her fault if I stink at the blog thing. Maybe I won’t. I love to READ blogs. I’m just way too much of a slacker to actually blog on my own. But still, I think about it. So here I am testing the waters – what would I blog about? The usual things, life, work, balance, and the Center of the Universe which shifted on April 18, 2005.

Just in case you missed the bulletin the world now revolves around a young Virginian named Caleb. (Hereinafter “C”.) I am 45 years old. C’s brothers, R and T, are 21 and 18 YEARS old. C is two. He is the terrible, incorrigible, adorable, fabulous, funny, willful center of my world. I got pregnant (all three times actually) the old fashioned way: unexpectedly and unintentionally. Yes, I do know where they come from but according to my doctor no more babies should have come from me. He (Cute Dr. J) sent me for an ultrasound to see why I wasn’t having periods. He wasn’t particularly concerned and it took me a few months to get around to having it (hard to schedule at the Navy hospital, new job, missed the first one when my car was left too long in the valet lot and the keys went away with the attendant – you know I was BUSY). I eventually presented myself at the hospital and was chatting with the ultrasound technician about how I’d never seen an ultrasound without a baby in it when she squirted the gel, placed the thingamabob on my stomach and Oops – I still haven’t seen an ultrasound without a baby in it. Sixteen weeks along, all his fingers and toes clearly visible, C.

My equally busy husband, M, was stationed on a ship the year C was conceived and was deployed when I found out. Not a long deployment just gone Monday through Friday most weeks to PREPARE to deploy for six months. I told him on a friend’s cell phone (M NEVER hears his phone ring) as they were leaving Connecticut. M had apparently spent the weekend in various bars with his friends extolling the virtues of being at the “finish line” – said friends all had young kids and we were nearly through raising ours. T was in high school and we could see the childless light at the end of our tunnel. He also had a dream about a fish (apparently a sure sign that a baby is on the way – who knew).

Stunned disbelief followed in short order by fear, amniocentesis, and finally overwhelming relief that the baby was a healthy boy. (I know, I only wanted a healthy baby but I REALLY didn’t want to have to face a 17 year old girl when I was 60.)

M’s ship deployed, as scheduled, one week before C was born (nope, they don’t make special allowances for that in the Navy, and nope, the Navy physicians do not induce labor prior to 38 weeks just to allow Dad to meet the baby before he leaves). This was followed by ten days of exhaustion in the hospital while C had pneumonia, four months of exhaustion and loneliness while home alone with all three boys, and two months of exhaustion and exhilaration when I started work at a new job (which I still love). Then finally, the ship came home, Dad met Boy, and we gradually settled into our present life. Is our present life enough to blog about? I spend plenty of time TALKING about it… But do I have enough to say to fill up a couple of paragraphs several times a week. Maybe. What would I call it? Raising Oops? Not “just” a mom? Afterthoughts?

Recent topics on my nonexistent blog: T’s Selective Service Registration letter (I know R must have received one but I just don’t remember it), T’s high school graduation, vacationing in Myrtle Beach with M’s siblings and their NINE children, sharing a two bedroom condo with the family responsible for FIVE of the nine, beach days with C (and LM – yes, I was present when she basted little H), loving C, loving M, loving my job and still loving C, not having enough time to be great at ANYTHING…

I could post C’s adorable photos. But then I’d have to tell my family and what about when I blog about them? If I don’t talk about what is currently driving me crazy will I really have anything to say? Who knows. Stay tuned. And thanks for listening…

The Times....They are A-Changing!
While Lawyermama is away I have been given the opportunity to completely lower the standards of and degrade what was once an intelligent blog post on the topic of my choice.

What is she......crazy? I mean, she reads my blog! How is she going to turn an obsessive-compulsive neurotic woman loose with NO restrictions or directions? I am already starting off on the wrong foot, as I would have SWORN my day to post was Wednesday of this week! (It's NOT.......I was supposed to post today....and well....it IS still Monday!) Thank goodness the freak in me wanted to practice getting into the site a little early! This only adds to the intense pressure!

Then again...........I must remind myself that I am the QUEEN and as such, I am well versed in handling pressure! Everyone knows the Mayhem is not a stress- free place. Why, Junior Mayhem's behavior ALONE would send the faint of heart careening into therapy, alcoholism, or racing to the nearest adoption center!

All this talk of Junior Mayhem ( my precocious three year-old son.....and by precocious, I mean absurdly willful and stubborn) got me thinking about all the things that have changed since I became a mother. The Princess was born in 1998, and on that fateful day my life was forever changed. On that day I became a mommy!

So I thought I would share the changes I have noticed in my life during the last nine years. Please bear with me as I am a fan of the list!

Changes in the Queen Since Entering the Land of the Mommy
Since becoming a mom I have noticed:
1. where once stood a smooth, relatively flat, somewhat in shape stomach is now home to a lumpy, swollen pooch that looks as though it has been marred by a wild, jungle cat! (OKAY! I never had a six pack........but I never looked as though I was smuggling a small tire under my shirt either! Which is only aggravated by the low rise pants.........I mean.... really......do I need to world to know that my stomach is my problem area!!!!)
2. where once burned the passion of a fiery sex goddess now resides an exhausted, stressed woman who NEEDS to sleep! That's right people......I am NOT afraid to admit that sleep has taken precedent over sex at times here at the Mayhem! (Please don't ever tell Mr. Mayhem I said that......if he asks, I told you he is the sexiest man alive and I simply cannot keep my hands off of him....GOT IT? Good!)
3. that I am turning into my mother! Nothing instills fear in the heart of a woman like the realization that you can NOT escape from where you came! Amazingly, I am learning to appreciate that maybe she actually knew what she was talking about....all those years ago!
4. that karma has the capacity to bite you in the ass! Remember all those, "When I have kids, I will never.............." nonsense you said when you were blissfully ignorant of the trials and tribulations of parenthood? Yeah, they disappear quickly when your child is pushing you to the limit, publicly humiliating you, or depriving you of that precious, precious sleep! At that point....it is ALL about survival people!
5. the music, television shows, and movies that I once loved are all rude, crude, and completely unacceptable! This has been a most painful lesson for me, as I am the mom who has their kids singing "Fergalicious" and "Sexyback" in the car. DON'T JUDGE ME........I just could not do the Wiggles another second! However, when after listening the a song that was deemed "clean" on the Itunes site, my daughter asked me what a d*ckhead was. That's right....it was on the song....the song I was blaring in the car with both of my kids riding! I was a little too busy shaking it to the beat driving to notice the offensive word. I just told her they must have said "jerkhead" and promptly deleted the offensive song from my Ipod.
6. that I am "Ma'am"ed by men of the age that I would have SWORN would still be trying to take advantage of my hot, sexy bod! Now I am ALL for manners.......but this one CAN sting! Especially when you are approached by a hawt young thing in a bar library and the conversation begins, "Excuse me ma'am......." OUCH! ( Not that it EVER happened to me!)
AND...last, but NOT LEAST......
7. that my life is happier, more fulfilled, more meaningful, and more filled with love than I could have ever imagined!
No one ever said being a mom is easy........but the benefits are amazing!

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7 ft tall, white teeth and a French accent
Hi there.

I'm Julie, and I normally post over at the Ravin' Picture Maven, but today LawyerMama graciously allowed me into her blog to impersonate her.

Initially I felt a little challenged to the task. After all, there are all the ways in which I am so different

* I am seven feet tall, with white teeth, and a French accent.

Okay so I'm not really So You Think You Can Dance's Cat Deeley. (Who isn't even French, actually, or seven feet tall, but she does have really white teeth!) (And if this makes no sense to you, you aren't watching the right television. You should get on that.) (I don't have an accent either, no, really, I don't.)

* Although I like to play one in my mind---especially when it comes to crimes that really intrigue me, such as the Mysterious Incident of the Vice-President Shooting the Quail Hunting Partner in the Daytime---I am not actually a lawyer.

* On any given Monday through Friday, come 11 a.m. you might find me still in my jammies, hair messily pulled back into a ponytail, and I plead the 5th wrt hygiene.

What can I say, the Kids Are Home For The Whole Freaking Summer Which---Thanks to Legislators Who Clearly Do Not Have Small Children For Whom They Are Responsible---Is Almost Four Months Long. (I hope you are freaking happy, Disney, because I am losing my ever loving mind and so are my kids.)

* I do not have ahh-inducing adorable photos of my children at the beach. My children eschew the camera, and I eschew the great outdoors. We're all pigment challenged here, excluding my husband who is happily nut brown. What can I say.

* My children, are, however, the next Pollocks (thanks Momish for that title!). I do have photographic evidence of this assertion:

But luckily this is a blog and the weekend so you don't expect me to dress as if at tea with the Queen, be lawyer-ly or any kind of -ly, and my teeth aren't so white as to cause seizures (anyway I'm not vlogging).

And since this is not a dry blog, I thought I'd step up and offer my thoughts as to the relative merits of different recipes for sangria. I've been doing a lot of field testing of recipes, and here's what I found:

* I have two recipes I prefer, one that I call Tropical Sangria, which is more Spanish, and one that I call Country Sangria, which is more Tex-Mex (sweeter, fruitier)

* For Tropical Sangria, Rioja is the best base...I don't add any rum, but most recipes call for it.

* For Country Sangria, sweet fruit, rum and brandy are essential. You can make it white or red.

* I prefer white rum.

* Citrus fruit is essential.

* Apples are not good. In fact, skip any porous spongy fruit like this. I have found---as one recipe stated, that fruit such as apples and pears absorb all the rum. We can't have that.

* I don't add sugar to either one usually, but if I do add sugar, it is only to Country Sangria.

* By not adding in sugar or orange juice, it's not so sweet that you chug it like Kool-Aid and wake up the next day with Sangria Regret and take my name in vain.

So here are the recipes:

Note: I do not measure when I cook. I am a dasher and pincher. Somehow, I just know. However, I have worked hard to try to quantify the amount I use. Don't work too hard following this too exactly. I say follow your taste.

Tropical Sangria

* 1 lemon
* 1 1/2 limes
* 2 oranges (I prefer an additional orange rather than adding in orange juice)
* 1 1/2 cups rum (Or thereabouts. You know, 2 cups of rum never hurt anyone.)
* 1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine (Rioja is best, but don't bother with an Alta since you are doctoring it.)

* 1/2 cup white sugar (Or substitute. If you do substitute, make sure to adjust amounts.)
* 1 cup orange juice

1. Have the fruit, rum, and wine well chilled. Slice the lemon, lime and orange into thin rounds and place in a large glass pitcher. Pour in the rum. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours to develop the flavors.

2. When ready to serve, crush the fruit lightly with a wooden spoon and stir in the wine.

3. Taste. If you need to, add in a bit of sugar (or substitute). Adjust sweetness to taste.

4. I find the flavor is best with at least 4 hours marination. Next day it's even better, and the fruit...don't waste the fruit. ;)

Country Sangria

* 1 pint strawberries (or half bag large frozen)
* 1 pint blueberries (or half bag frozen)
* 1 orange
* Additional fruit such as peach or apricot, or any other berries (black, raspberry, etc.)
* 1 cup rum (or so, don't go getting too measuring cup on me, that spoils the mixing fun)
* 1/2 cup fruit flavored brandy (match to fruit, e.g., peach or apricot)
* 1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine (merlot is even fine) or white wine (white sangria is really fun, give it a try)

* 1/2 cup white sugar (or substitute)

1. Have the fruit, rum, brandy, and wine well chilled. Slice the orange into thin rounds. Slice the peach or apricot into approximately 1 inch chunks. Place in a large glass pitcher. Add in all berries. Pour in the rum and brandy. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours to develop the flavors.

2. When ready to serve, crush the fruit lightly with a wooden spoon and stir in the wine.

3. Taste. If you need to, add in a bit of sugar (or substitute). Adjust sweetness to taste.

4. This one is best chilled overnight. And remember...don't waste the fruit!


And thanks to LawyerMama for letting me use her space.


P.S. Leave lots of comments, you know, so she doesn't rue the day she asked me to step in for her. ;)


Leaving On a Jet Plane...
No wait, that's not right. We're leaving tonight in a car, driving 3 hours to DC in rush hour traffic (better make that 4 hours), staying overnight, flying to Omaha, and then driving 6 hours to the in-laws. So I guess I'm leaving on a car, a jet plane, and a rented SUV. It's just that it's hard to sing that line.

I know, I know. Try to contain your disappointment, but Lawyer Mama will be absent for more than a week. If I survive the almost 26 hours of combined travel (half of it on Friday the 13th) and then the withdrawal from Internet access, I will be back in 10 days.

I can, however, offer you something even better than a consolation prize. I have guest bloggers scheduled for you! You'll have to check back to see who and what and to party in my absence. I just ask that you pick up all your empty beer cans from the lawn and remove the drunk people from the bathrooms before I get home. Oh, and try not to let the cats outside.

Before I leave, I do want to thank The Queen of the Mayhem, not only for letting me trash her castle in her absence, but also for the Rockin' Blogger award she bestowed upon me. You're the best, Queenie!

I have to pass it on to some other Rockin' Bloggers that I know, so here it goes:

CPA Mom - She keeps her main blog private. Damn. it. But you can check out her reviews here and catch her at The Soccer Mom Vote. You'll have to trust me when I tell you she is one rockin' chick. I know she's been tagged with this before, but she deserves two. One for each blog.

Julie at The Ravin' Picture Maven - Julie keeps me thinking and on my toes with her wonderful thinky posts and her Hump Day Hmm's. If you haven't participated in one of her roundtables, you should. It's a great way to exercise your brain. I think Julie's gotten this one before too, but she also deserves two. One for each hand. Why not?

DD at TKO - This lady keeps taking hits and coming back for more. He blog touches on infertility quite a bit and that's a personal subject for me, but her observations on life, love, and the pursuit of baby are amazing. I don't know how she does it, but she makes me laugh through tears on a regular basis. I don't know if she's been named a Rockin' Blogger before but she deserves two anyway. She's just that fabulous.

I also have to say that there isn't a blog in my blog roll that doesn't deserve this. And many more blogs that I've been too lazy to add to my blog roll, but that I read all the time. You're all fabulous but, once again, I'm too damn lazy to put any more links in this post.


Don't forget to go check out Julie's Hump Day Hmm's for the week. They're all up now at her place.


I leave you with this:

We had a loud storm last night. In fact, it was a dark and stormy night. (I've always wanted to legitimately use that line!) We were having a hard time putting the boys to bed, with crashes of thunder that rattled the house. I heard Hollis tell T, "Daddy, the thunder scared me."

T, carrying him to the window, "Well, you go right ahead and scare thunder back. Tell it who's boss."

Hollis crawled up on the window ledge, scrinched up his face, curled his hands like claws, and growled, "ROOOOOOWWWWWWRRRRRRRR!!!" through the window.

"Thunder scared now, Daddy."

Hollis went right to sleep.

You see why I love my men so?

Try not to have too much fun without me.

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What We Carry With Us
My youngest son, Holden, my baby, has a security blanket. He calls it Blankie or, sometimes more formally to others, Blankettt. The "t" is carefully enunciated, his little tongue very deliberately meeting his baby teeth.

Blankie is a soft red chenille with a cheery yellow embroidered sun, giraffe, and palm tree and a blue rick rack border. The perfect blanket for such a sunny boy.

When Holden catches a glimpse of his blanket, a smile lights up his face, he exhales a breathy "Blankie!," and dives face first into his Blankie with no thought for personal safety. There have been many bumped and bruised foreheads in the name of Blankie love.

He forgets about Blankie for long stretches of time during the day, but if I put him in his crib with no blanket, he looks around and then up at me, quizzically. "Blankie?"

In the mornings, Holden drags Blankie with him as I lift him from his crib, warm and snugly. We sit in the corner of the couch and Holden folds back into my lap, his neck in the crook between my shoulder and arm, his head on my chest, his damp diapered tush on my leg. Blankie wraps around us both. Holden looks up at me and smiles his sleepy, enigmatic smile. We bask in mutual adoration.

They really know how to make us love them, these children of ours.

I remember my own childhood blanket.

When I was 3 or 4, I think, my parents were out for the evening and I had a babysitter. I don't remember if my brother, B, had been born yet, so I'm unsure about my age as well. There was an accident, my parents were called, I was frantically driven to the emergency room.

My parents wrapped me in a soft cotton baby blanket, white with large pink and blue flowers. I remember being carried through the dark in the blanket. I remember bright lights and a very white, blinding room. I remember clutching the blanket to me and refusing to let go. I don't remember much else. But I do remember the blanket.

That blanket became my talisman, my sleeping aid. My memory of being cocooned and comforted.

When I reached adolescence, I folded the blanket up and put it in a drawer, but it was still nearby. When I left home, I packed my blanket into a box, where it remained, and carted it from home to dorm, dorm to apartment, apartment to home.

Now, the blanket resides in a box in the attic of our house. Sometimes I will picture my blanket up there, creased from years of folding, the fabric soft and threadbare from hundreds of washings, pink and blue flowers strangely their original hue, the blood stains still faintly visible, reminding me of its history.

At 18 months, Holden's Blankie is still its original cherry red, unmarred by stains, unfrayed by time. I know that his attachment to Blankie is appropriate for his age and quite common. I also know that he may not need Blankie much longer. He may forget about it in a few years or only a few months.

But when he does, I will fold his Blankie and put it in a drawer. And when Holden leaves his childhood home, I will pack Blankie in a box and send it with him as a reminder of home and of me.

I hope that Holden will carry Blankie with him always.


This post is part of Julie's fabulous Hump Day Hmmm Roundtable. Our topic for this week was "The things you carry with you." (I was at a loss for a title for my post, so I shamelessly stole it.)

If you haven't already, please also check out the Just Posts for June. The list of Just Posts seems to get longer every month and that is fabulous! And I'm not just saying that because some kind soul nominated me for one this month.

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Party At The Mayhem!
The Queen of the Mayhem is on vacation, so I'm house sitting over at Miller Mayhem for today. I thought we'd have a little party with some friends, some music, a few kegs. Heather even gave me her password, so I thought that I'd auction it off for charity after everyone's really wasted. Oh, but we've already managed to clog the toilets, so bring your own jelly jar, m'kay?

Come on over and join us! Here's a little preview:

Last week, I had a small meltdown when I discovered that Johnson's Bedtime Lotion's scent had changed. Even though I mentioned it on my blog, I'm not done being bitter yet. So, I give you an open letter to the CEO of Johnson & Johnson:

Dear Mr. Weldon:

Read More....


Love Of My Life
Today is my twelfth wedding anniversary.

When I met T, he was 23. I was 21. It was January 1, 1994, and a college friend had invited me over for her Orange Bowl viewing party. I had nearly met T easily a dozen times before that day. I nearly met him when I was involved in a serious relationship (as serious as all the drama of twenty can be). Again I nearly met T when that serious relationship was ending, of course, in a hail storm of acrimony and hate.

For more than a year T shadowed my footsteps, or I his, and we never realized it. But "exactly at the time when it was quite natural that it should be so, and not a week earlier," we met.*

At the football party, Nebraska was playing Florida State, and while I'm definitely no Seminoles fan, at the time I would have rooted for pretty much any team over the Huskers. So I cheered for FSU in a subdued manner to avoid lynching by the crowd. Florida State won the game and as the evening progressed, that cute guy who kept staring at my chest got drunker and drunker. I somehow ended up taking care of him when we all made the inevitable late night run for pancakes. T made several drunken passes at me.

Somehow I avoided smacking him.

Three days later he finally got over his post-drunken remorse and screwed up the courage to ask our mutual friend for my number. When T called, we talked for three hours.

And when we had our first date, we sat in the car and talked all night long. (Well, in all honestly, we didn't just talk, but T will kill me if I go into details.)

That was it. I knew he was The One.

But I had no idea if T knew that I was His One. And when he finally got around to admitting it a few months later, we both knew that we would marry.

We were incredibly lucky. T was 25 and I was 22 when we wed. We were babies. Who meets their soul mate at 22? How do you recognize a kindred soul when you don't even really know your own soul yet?

I can't answer that question. I can't explain it. If I think about it, our relationship defies logic.

Logic is the lodestone of my life. But logic can't explain why T loves me. It can't tell me why T believes that I'm beautiful and, more importantly, that I'm funny and smart and a good mother. (Boy do I have him snowed!) But I do find it illogical that T loves me. Sarcastic, overly analytical, neurotic, pessimistic me.

You see, T is the best man I know. I chide him for his political beliefs, but I know that T would save the world if he could. In fact he does try to do so in ways I can't talk about here because T is so private. He carries too much responsibility on his shoulders, my Atlas, but I cannot imagine a better man to raise our two boys. He's a far better person than I am. Even more so, because he doesn't realize that he is indeed the better person.

The thing is, I don't believe in fate. I think that life is what you make of it. Off of the top of my head I would probably tell you that I don't believe there is only one person out there for each of us.

But if I really stop to think about it, on this day, our anniversary, maybe it was fate. Maybe I was destined to be here with T and our two boys today. Living our simple, happy lives.

Oh, how I love my T.

But I still hate the Huskers.

* Jane Austen, Mansfield Park


Something To Make You Smile
From our Fourth of July at, of course, the beach:


I have a small rant to share about Johnson's Bedtime Baby Lotion. I've been using it on my boys since they were infants. I associate that smell with my sweet little babes.

Now Johnson & Johnson has gone and made their formula "New & Improved." Did no one learn Coke's lesson? And they completely changed the scent! Now the scent is too heavy and perfumey. The smell is less "baby" and more "whorehouse." So, of course, I sent off a ranty email to J&J using those exact words. I'm sure they'll take my "whorehouse" concerns very seriously.

I'm unreasonably upset about this. I've lost that smell forever and now it feels like I've lost my boys' babyhood.

Has anyone else ever had a psychotic break over the smell of baby lotion? Yeah, I didn't think so.


What's the worst question you've ever received as a new parent or when pregnant? (And men, when your wife was pregnant?) My personal favorite - Isn't breastfeeding gross? You can read about it at Lawyer Mama Review.

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Happy Independence Day
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

- John Hancock

How could we not feel pride reading this document, those powerful words? Although, as a country, we may have gone astray, this document is how it all started.

This is our history.

Happy Independence Day.


The Litany of Motherhood
Karma is not normally something I write about, unless it's the punchline in a joke. I make fun of my co-worker when she falls down and then karma gives me a bitch slap and I fall down in a spectacular manner, of course, in front of half of my office.

Karma is not, however, something I think about consciously in my day to day life. Nor do I think about it as it pertains to justice or forgiveness. If someone were to ask, I would say that I don't really believe in karma. This poses a problem considering our task for this week's Hump Day Hmmm. Julie's topic for us is to, "Discuss the concept of karma, and what you think of its role in justice, injustice, and forgiveness."

The problem, I think, with invoking karma is that it takes things out of my hands. Some people see karma as actually helping one to control life. After all, if you are the best person you can be, won't life treat you well? But for me, the idea of karma makes the events around me uncontrollable. Why? Because good things don't always happen to good people. As a certified Type A personality, I don't deal well with things beyond my control.

Nor can I brush off an insult, a crime, or an injustice with the thought that "karma" will pay an individual back for their misdeeds. I'm more of a fighter. If I see an injustice, a crime, a slight, I get mad. And I fight back. I invoke the justice system. I don't sit back and let "karma," that slacker, do its job.

Do I think that bad things will happen to bad people who do bad things to others? Yes, I do. But probably because of the circumstances, not karmic retribution. A bad person who hurts another, for instance, is far more likely to be thrown in jail for such a crime than the innocent bystander, assuming we've controlled for all confounding factors. Do I think that "karma" has anything to do with that? No.

To tie this post in with the Hump Day Hmmm two weeks ago regarding accidents of birth, I also think that reliance upon karma can, again, be used as a pass for those who feel that the problems of this world are not their responsibility. If "karma" controls, then has the poor child born with AIDS in Africa done something to deserve this accident of birth? Has a teenage girl who is raped done something to deserve her treatment? Does a 34 year old mother of a two year old and a five month old deserve her recent cancer diagnosis?

I think most reasonable people would say, not just no, but HELL NO!

I can, however, see karma's role with respect to forgiveness.

I've written here before about how I am not a forgiver. Forgiveness does not come easily to me, even for small slights.

For many years, as a child, a twenty-something student, and even as a thirty-something professional, I could not forgive my mother for her faults. My mom became a mother at a young age - 22 - an age at which I could fathom being responsible for a small person. At 22 I was at the bar three times a week, absorbed in my own little dramas and passion plays. But my mother, my mother was raising a family with a husband far away.

My father was a navigator in the Air Force and, while he clearly loved us, he simply wasn't there. My mother did most of the heavy lifting in our family. She was the disciplinarian, the teacher, the sounding board, the confidant. She bore the weight of three worlds on her very young shoulders.

My mother was also moody and distant at times. She liked time to herself, without the constant demands of two soul sucking small children and, later on, the demands of being a student and then a high school teacher. In hindsight it seems we begrudged her every second of time alone.

I catalogued every perceived slight and error my mother made until I could recite them as a prayer, my unholy liturgy of blame.

Of course now that I am a mother, I understand. I understand the pressures of working and raising children. Of struggling to find an identity outside that of "mother." I, with my sense of self firmly entrenched before having children, cannot imagine how much harder that struggle must be when there hasn't been any time to develop that individual identity, to grow up.

Now, having suffered the sleep deprivation, long working hours, and a sometimes absentee husband, I understand all too well the depression I saw in my mother. I understand the isolation she must have felt moving far away from her family and friends only to have a part-time husband and co-parent.

And so, in my hard earned wisdom, my mother and I are redefining our relationship once again. I have forgiven her and, I believe, she has forgiven me as well. But without that first step, those first token words or steps taken towards forgiveness, how does it ever happen?

I firmly believe that those who are forgiven are more likely to in turn forgive. So I guess, maybe, I believe in karma just a bit after all.

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Are They Trying To Kill Me?
For the love of God, I swear someone in my office is out to get me.

By now, you all know that I am a klutz. I am in fact so klutzy that I must warn all passers by with a hot pink sign and matching wristband. I am the woman who once fell down while standing still and talking to a co-worker. I have fallen down in half the bars of the District of Columbia while completely sober.

And I swear I don't have any sort of neurological disorder.

Have I mentioned that our offices are being renovated?

The new offices are starting to look great and I think it was time. The place hasn't been renovated since the late 70's and, hopefully, it will be a cold day in hell before that decor comes back into vogue. (And please, if it has, just don't tell me. I'd rather kill myself than decorate in early 80's.) So the partners sucked it up, busted out the check-book, and started renovating.

The office is also expanding from the West and middle sections of our building, into the recently vacated East wing on our floor. The building is one giant U, so it's now quite a hike from one side of the office to the other. During the various phases of the build out, the powers-that-be have been moving us around to temporary offices and housing all the secretaries in card board boxes out on the street.

During the second stage of the renovation, I moved into a windowless closet for three months. It wasn't too horrible. I still had a door I could close and, usually, electricity, although that was spotty at times. You think I'm joking about the closet thing, but I'm not. I could touch both sides of my office if I extended both of my arms at the same time.

Fast forward to the next, and THANK THE DEAR LORD, final, stage of the renovation. I am now in my permanent, nicely renovated office with a gorgeous view of the downtown area. And I usually have electricity. What more could a girl want? (Aside from a working bathroom on the same floor as my office? But that's a topic for another post!)

Because the office is being renovated in sections, the East and West wings are largely complete now and nicely appointed. The contractor is currently working on the middle section, which includes the reception area and most of the conference rooms. Oh, and the bathrooms, but again I digress. (A few UTI's are no big deal anyway. That's what antibiotics are for, right?)

Anyway, to cut down on dust and to semi-isolate the construction area, the contractor has erected a really long tunnel between the East and West wings of our office. It's a crime they weren't doing this over Halloween because it would make a fabulous haunted house. All joking aside though, Lawyer Mama, the woman who once practically broke an ankle while strapping a small child into a swing (it's a long story), now has to make several daily treks through the Chunnel or, what I like to call, The Lawsuit Waiting to Happen.

I took some video to share:

Alas, I didn't record any sound so you are missing the high pitched whine of power tools that rounds out the whole experience.

Our office administrator swears they're taking the tunnel down this weekend.

If I make it until Friday without killing myself and taking down half of the office in the process, it will be a miracle.

Does anyone have a bucket I can borrow?

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Lawyer Mama
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