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Sidetrip to Iceland
This is part of my continuing Baby Chase series. If you'd like to catch up, you can read Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. A warning for those who know me and are male. This post contains lots of details about my lady bits, menstrual cycles, and mentions the term "cervical mucus" more than once. Proceed with caution. You've been warned.

While I was planning a trip to London with friends in Fall of 2003, several people told us we should fly through Iceland. Apparently if you stay for a night in Reykjavik, you can get really great airfare to Europe. But the last thing I wanted was a side trip to Iceland. I wanted to go to London, dammit. And I wanted to get there as quickly as possible.

That's the story of my life. When I want something, I want it now. Patience is not my strong point.

After the D&C, I was a woman on a mission.

I'm great at school. I'm great at planning. In my past experience, that's the best way to ensure that you get exactly what you want. So charts were employed, temperatures were taken daily, and I did far, far too much Googling. You see, the genetic testing results from the remains (their word, not mine) of the D&C were normal. So my OB told us what had happened was just bad luck and to try again.

Famous last words.

My daily temperature taking, fanatical charting, obsessive OPK (ovulation predictor kit) purchasing, and cervical mucus observing was quite successful. We conceived on the first try every. single. time. That's right. We were professionals at getting me knocked up. Pros, I tell you. But every single time resulted in the same thing. A questionable positive home pregnancy test, a positive beta with crappy progesterone levels, followed by a lower beta, and then a miscarriage. Luckily, I've only endured 2 D&C's. Luckily. Hah!

During all of this, we went through testing. Oh, and, ladies, if you are ever unlucky enough to have an HSG and your doctor tells you it will only be "a bit uncomfortable?" He's lying. Other than that advice, I'm going to ensure that this doesn't become a 72 part series staler than Oceans 23 and cut out most of the wallowing in depression and testing stuff. Suffice it to say that no one was quite sure what the heck was going on.

I sucked at staying pregnant, but I excelled at putting on a good face. Only a few people in my office had any idea what was going on with me. My secretary knew and she was discrete. I confided in 1 female partner who was a mentor and friend and a few of my associate friends knew. The years that all this crap was going on? I billed more hours than anyone else in my firm.

It was a hell of a lot easier to work myself to death than to go home and worry about whether or not I could ever have children. Or speculate about what might be wrong with me. Because it had to be me. I knew it was somehow my fault. This was some sort of karmic retribution for my list of 100 reasons not to have children.

Now that we knew that we were both basically normal and there was no real explanation for what the heck was causing my miscarriages, we started to weigh other options. Before even going there, T and I decided that we were probably willing to do IUI (intrauterine insemination) but probably not IVF. We would adopt if it came to that. But we would have children.

In the Fall of 2003, we decided to take a bit of a break from all this baby chasing stuff. You have no idea how hard this was for me. To stop. To watch that temperature dip on the chart, to see that great "egg white" cervical mucus and do nothing was, for me, pure torture. If I wanted to get what I wanted I just needed to keep trying, right? But we agreed to take some time off and go back to all this stuff in January. It would be a new year and a fresh start.

So, of course, T was scheduled to be in Germany for work when I would be ovulating in January.

Yep. Karmic retribution, I tell you.

So I sat back in D.C. while T cavorted in Germany (at least in my mind) and wallowed in self pity and chocolate chip cookie dough. I had my longest cycle ever. Seriously. And they were already pretty damn long.

I watched for that temperature dip that always foretold approaching ovulation. Nothing.

Holy crap! T would be back on January 6th. Maybe he would make it back in time! You wouldn't believe how incredibly excited I was to be trying that month. I didn't expect a different outcome, but we had to be doing something.

So, of course, my hopes had to be dashed again.

On the 6th, T called me at work. I was a little confused. He was supposed to be on a plane over the Atlantic. He wasn't. He was calling me from Iceland. Where his plane had made an emergency landing.

About half way over the Atlantic, they encountered a "shit load" of turbulence. (I think that's a technical aviation term.) T noticed that the plane's altitude was dropping and the plane seemed to be slowing down. A lot. Watching one of those nifty little tracking screens at every seat, he realized that the plane was now heading North. To Iceland.

Finally, the pilot let them know that they had lost an engine. On a 2 engine plane. And while they could certainly land on 1 engine, they really didn't want to continue to fly half way across the Atlantic on one engine. (Thank God!) So T got a 36 hour stay in Iceland while United flew in a new plane.

Sitting in the airport bar at Keflavik (apparently the 777 was too large for the Reykjavik airport, but everyone felt the need to have a drink), T discovered that many of the passengers sitting on the side of the plane near the engine witnessed the entire thing. And were freaking the fuck out. One passenger told them that when he grabbed a flight attendant and asked about the flames shooting past his window, she had the gall to say "Oh, that happens sometimes. It's nothing to worry about." Yeah. That's reassuring.

Anyway, T didn't make it back to D.C. until the evening of January 8, 2004. My temperature dip? Happened that day. The next morning my temperature was on the rise, indicating that I had ovulated the day before.

Hollis was born September 16, 2004.

We have a great photo of the jet with the charred engine that we found on the Internet shortly thereafter. Because I'm twisted, I also printed out a few articles for Hollis's baby book further pinpointing his date of conception. I'm sure he'll appreciate it when he's 14.

I don't know why I had the world's longest cycle that month. I don't know why we endured 4 miscarriages and several "chemical pregnancies." (Although I have some theories I'll save for my "pregnancy from hell" post.) But something in me can't help but think that this is how it was supposed to be for us. That Hollis was supposed to be.

Apparently, a little side trip to Iceland was just what we needed.

Photo by Celeste Masson.

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Tall, Dark and Geeky
We're now in Day 12 of Wil Wheaton watch. I'm not feeling the love.

Wil, buddy, I've been reading your blog. I know you have a writing deadline. I know you're a busy guy. So right now I'm just waiting for my copy of your latest book to tide me by.

Some say I should give up and stalk someone who will appreciate me more or perhaps take out a restraining order against me. (George Clooney has been suggested more than once.) Either action would be better than being ignored, I guess. But, see, I've got this thing for tall, dark and geeky men. I mean, look at my banner. Geeky is the new cool.

Exhibit A: My husband

Exhibit B: You

So I'm not giving up quite yet.

Your Number One Stalker Fan,

Lawyer Mama


I have new reviews up for The Daring Book for Girls and the Day Runner Family Matters planning system. You're not going to want to miss them.

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How is Breastfeeding Related to Politics?
Did you hear about the flap in the Blogosphere when Facebook removed photos of women breastfeeding from their site and then banned one woman who continued to post them? How about the recent nationwide breast-in at Applebee's restaurants? How about when Bill Maher compared breastfeeding in public to masturbating in public?

Breastfeeding in public continues to be a hot button subject in our society. Everyone seems to agree that "breast is best," the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, even our Department of Health and Human Services. But breastfeeding rates in the U.S. are abysmal. Why? Because no one wants to see mothers actually doing it and our government, employers, and fellow citizens aren't willing to give mothers the time and the respect they need to successfully breastfeed.

Read More about YouTube banning the League of Maternal Justice Video at MOMocrats....

Welcome to Day 10 of Wil Wheaton Watch. As part of my possibly futile attempt to get Wil Wheaton to post a comment on my blog, my good bloggy friend Julie has set up a meme to help me! You know someone is a good bloggy friend when they're willing to help you shamelessly stalk a celebrity. Get in on the action and go tell Wil to send me some love. And post about it on your blog. Maybe if enough of us annoy him to death he'll give in and acknowledge my existence. Or take out a restraining order.

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A Black and White Clock
6:48 am

She sat slouching in the hard plastic chair, the nausea rolling in her stomach and burning her throat. He sat beside her, scratching away at the clipboard, asking occasional questions, "When was that last D&C?" "Is your name hyphenated on your health insurance card?" "What year were you born again? Never mind. I can figure it out."

She answered with brevity, staring at the black and white clock on the wall wondering, inanely, "Why do all institutions everywhere have that same black and white clock?"

7:21 am

She heard her name, the first name stumbled over, the last name butchered as always, "Mister Stephan ___." She stood up, moved toward the indifferent woman in the faded green scrubs who couldn't be bothered to acknowledge the mistaken gender. She remembered, hesitated, looked back at him.

"He'll need to stay there for now. We'll bring him back later."

"Oh no, it's OK. He's going to work. He'll be back to get me later."

Green scrubs looked at her with kinder eyes and turned to lead her inside.

The rows of curtained cubicles, tubes, and beeping machines were frightening. As she followed the green scrubs through the room, she saw some of the patients were asleep. "Or maybe unconscious," she thought, before pushing the thought from her mind. At her blue curtained cell, she listened to perfunctory instructions regarding her clothes, jewelry, hospital gown.

The smell was cold, antiseptic, with a whiff of plastic.

"Do you need a pad?" the green scrubs asked.

Startled, she looked up, questioning.

"Are you bleeding?"

"No, um, no. No bleeding."

She carefully folded her red sweatsuit, gray shirt, panties, and bra. Comfortable clothing, as if it would help. She packed her comfort away in the brown grocery bag with her name labeled in thick, black magic marker. She donned the tissue thin gown and sat on the edge of the bed, covered her legs with the blanket and waited, staring at the clock on the wall.

7:48 am

Green scrubs flung the curtain aside and began efficiently preparing for an IV.

"Lie down on the bed."

The sting was quick, but it burned.

Left alone, she wrapped her arms around chest, careful not to hit the bandage on her arm. She saw the goosebumps and realized she was shivering. Her feet and hands were ice cold.

7:56 am.

Again, she stared at the ubiquitous clock on the wall opposite her curtained rectangle.

Dr. M came, the sight of his familiar face flooding her with unexpected relief. All too quickly he was gone. She watched him at the nurses station in the middle of the pre-op room, joking with the nurses and greeting doctors with small talk. As if this were any other day.

8:02 am

"Hi. I'm Dr. A. I'll be the anesthesiologist for your procedure."

"Why does everyone here call it a procedure?" she wondered. "Is it easier than remembering to insert the name of each surgery while he goes through his spiel 8 times a day?"

"Are you all right?"

"What? Oh, yes, what was that?"

"Can you tell me why you're having this procedure today?"

"Is he checking to see if I'm lucid? Or just making sure I'm not slipping in an optional procedure?" she thought.

"Missed miscarriage. Blighted ovum," she said out loud.

Dr. A left and again she was alone, with a dozen people in sight.

"Missed miscarriage," she thought. "Blighted ovum." Counting the syllables in each word, tapping them repeatedly into the arm of the bed, creating a comforting rhythm with the sterile words.

8:04 am

He appeared in the doorway, following green scrubs.

She simply said, "You're here."

"I couldn't leave."

"I'm glad," she sighed and closed her eyes, her cold hand in his warm fingers.

8:12 am

They wheeled her out of the room and into an operating room. The lights hurt her eyes. Now she was scared.

It was cold. She shivered. Unseen hands piled warmed blankets on her. There was a burning in her arm.

"Count backwards from ten for me."

"Ten, niiiinnnne...."

For everyone who's had to have this procedure and for everyone who has ever dreamed of a miracle they couldn't have. For DD and Julie and Kate and Emily and Jenny and Casey and Joker and Bill (and Mrs. Gunfighter) and Rony and Country Dew and Paula and Lauren and Slouching Mom and Kate and Joanne. And for Bon. Oh, dear Bon. I'm so sorry.

This is part IV of my Baby Chase series. You can read Part I, Part II and Part III if you'd like to get up to speed.

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'Tis the Season ... To Be Depressed
This is Part III of my Baby Chase series where I talk about all the fun times T and I had trying to have a baby. And by "fun" I mean not so fun. You can read Part I and Part II to catch up.

When we left off, I had decided that I wanted to have a baby. T said he wanted to think about it for a few months. Well, those of you who know me IRL know that once I make up my mind, things are happening now. Not in 3 or 4 months. So I basically steam rolled over my husband who was simply trying to be the voice of reason, knowing my impetuous ways.

I saw my OB for a pre-conception consultation and he told me we could start trying as soon as I finished my cycle of birth control pills. Dr. G said there was no increased risk of miscarriage the month after stopping the pill, which was my first question considering my history. Dr. G did add a caveat. He said if, "you're the type who will blame yourself if something goes wrong," then you should wait a few months before trying.

Nice foreshadowing, Dr. G.

I got knocked up the very first month we tried. I dutifully waited until day 28 of my cycle and took a test. That's when I was introduced to the gray areas of home pregnancy test results.

Me: "T, is that a line or am I imagining things?"
T: "I don't see anything. Did you follow the directions?"
Me (smacking T in the head with the box): "Look, here in the bright light. Do you see it?"
T: "Ummmm... I think so."

After a few days of some positive and some negative tests (I think I went through at least 4 or 5 tests a day, an early sign of my developing home pregnancy test addiction), I went to my OB/Gyn. Well, Dr. G was going through a break up with his partners. The office was in chaos. I had to wait 75 minutes for a pregnancy test. Which, because they did a urine test, was negative. I asked for a blood test. The staff said "wait a week and test again." Um, I. don't. think. so.

I got a new doctor. They got me in the next day. By this time, by my calculations, I was 21 DPO (days past ovulation). A home pregnancy test should be positive by 14 DPO and a blood test will pick up HCG earlier than that.

The test was positive. My HCG was 63. For the uninitiated, the average HCG at 21 DPO is 1061, with a typical range of 324-4130. They had me in 2 days later for another beta and a progesterone level check. My second beta doubled nicely, so I thought I was safe. I didn't know it at the time, but my progesterone level for that pregnancy never got above 7. Again for those of you who luckily have no idea what I'm talking about, a good progesterone level in the course of your normal menstrual cycle is between 2 and 28. It gets much higher during pregnancy. My doctor later told me he generally likes to see at least a 20 with the first beta. Mine was a 7.

I had my first ultrasound, by my calculations, at about 26 DPO (5 weeks, 5 days). A transvaginal ultrasound conducted with the all-seeing-dildo-wand, put me at 4 weeks, 2 days. They told me I must have had my dates wrong. There was a gestational sac, but they wanted me back in a week for another ultrasound. I did not get a grainy, black and white ultrasound picture to take home, although I desperately wanted one, like all the happy women I saw leaving the office.

Dr. M gave me many warnings about calling if I had bleeding, abdominal pain, or pain (oddly) in my shoulder. A few minutes on Google later that day told me he was worried about a possible ectopic pregnancy if my dates were right.

I spent the next week on Google. I basically couldn't do much else except type in various search terms such as "small sac, gestational age" and "low hcg 21 dpo."

At my next appointment (almost 7 week by my dates, 5 weeks, 2 days by theirs), we again saw a gestational sac, and possibly fetal poles, but it measured 4 weeks, 6 days. Not a good sign, but Dr. M told me we would wait until I should be 8 1/2 weeks, do another ultrasound, and then we would know whether or not the pregnancy was viable if we saw a fetus and a heartbeat.

Any guesses on what we saw?

No heartbeat.

I finally had a D&C at 10 weeks (after several more mentally excruciating ultrasounds) when my body showed no sign of fixing the situation on its own. I had no bleeding at all, but lots of morning sickness. Morning sickness is usually a good sign of a health pregnancy. Ah, the irony.

I scheduled my D&C for July 3rd, rationalizing that I could take the 4th of July off from work (a Friday) without guilt and then be back in the office by the weekend.

After all, I didn't want to inconvenience anyone.

To be continued....

Welcome to Day 9 of Wil Wheaton watch. Feel free to stop over at his blog and remind him that I'm still here. Waiting. Patiently.

I just heard some horrible news that adds some perspective to my post above. A little girl in my son's pre-school class is in Boston right now having exploratory brain surgery for a tumor in the center of her brain. Apparently our local children's hospital can't do anything for her.

She's 3 years old.

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'Tis The Season ... To Be Tacky
I have this rule about Christmas lights. There shall only be white lights on the outside of my home. We put colored lights on our tree and I certainly don't do a designer tree. I love all of the family ornaments and those we've collected over the year. Our Christmas tree is special. It's personal.

But in my yard there will be no inflatable Santa, no plastic nativity scene, no hodgepodge of lights causing seizures among the neighborhood children and sucking up enough energy to power Lichtenstein. This is pretty much Lawyer Mama's Third Commandment. It comes right after "Thou shalt put the toilet seat down" and "Thou shalt not pick your nose in public."

Why the edict on the lights? It's a slippery slope. It starts out as a harmless little lighted mechanical reindeer. Next thing you know, your yard looks like this:

I was flabbergasted when I saw this today. But then puzzled when I thought I spotted an ostrich in the plastic nativity scene. I may be a heathen, but I think I'd remember that from the Bible.

I made T drive around the other side of the house so I could check the ostrich out from a different angle.

Well, it's still tacky.

Folks, today is Day 8 of the Stalking of Wil Wheaton. Alpha Dogma was kind enough to award me a BhD for my relentless stalking of Wil Wheaton. She even offered up some Wil eye candy for my perusal. Even if Wil never acknowledges my existence, at least I'll always have that. Thank you, my dear AD. Thank you.

I'm so putting that on my resume.

And now I'm passing the BhD on to Jenny from Mama Drama and The Blogess, the inspiration for my Wil stalking campaign. Jenny is so damn funny it's almost sad. In a funny way. Her Halloween post nearly gave me a stroke. Jenny excels at funny, but she also excels at the personal and she's a fantastic writer. Plus, she really gets me. I mean, she's semi-stalking Amy Sedaris and even wrote her a letter. With pictures. And gave it to her at BlogHer. Dude. I want to be Jenny when I grow up. Or don't grow up.

Seriously, what is with those Houston bloggers? They all seem to be amazing. Jenny, Julie, and Kyla are almost enough to make me move to Houston.

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'Tis the Season ... of Rampant Consumerism
But H&H look awfully cute with Santa. How could I resist?

It's Day 7 of my campaign to get Wil Wheaton to comment on my blog. Still no sign of him. I hope he's just coming down off the high of his appearance on NUMB3RS last night and will cave soon!

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The Age of Why?
Conversation overheard one night:

Hollis: Daddy, why is it dark?
T: Because the sun went down.

Hollis: Why?
T: Because the earth rotates on its axis and we're facing away from the sun right now.

Hollis: Why?
T: Because of the gravitational pull of the sun.

Hollis: Why?
T: Because ... um... it just is.

Hollis: But why?
T: The sun went to sleep.
Hollis: Oh.

Hollis: Daddy?
T: Yes, Hollis?
Hollis: Does the sun have his pacifiers?
T: I'm sure he does, buddy.

This is Day 6 of Wil Wheaton watch. He's guest starring on NUMB3RS tonight, so I've set my TIVO for some prime time stalking.

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Ode to Flutter
Thou still generous bride of pastriness

Thou baker-child with saucepan, sage and thyme

Souffle historian, who canst thus express

A floury tale more sweetly than our rhyme

What leaf-fring'd foodstuffs do you bake

Of deities, or mortals or both,

On Table or the trestles beneath Plate?

What women or gods made these? Your process bold?

What mad pursuit? What struggle to a taste?

Made this yummy sugar-free red velvet cake.

With my sincere apologies to Keats.

Recipe by Flutter. Leaves by Hollis.

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Soundtrack of My Life
Julie's Hump Day Hmmm topic for this week is music. Egads! This is really a hard one for me. I love music. In fact, I hear music in my head almost constantly. (Not in an "I really need some anti-psychotics" kind of way, I swear!) But music is part of my inner monologue. You know, the stuff I don't let people know about?

My dad is a huge music lover and he passed his music down to my brother and me when we were small. I remember my dad sitting my brother and me down when I was maybe 6 and my brother was 2 or 3. He had us listen to In-a-gadda-da-vida by Iron Butterfly, paying careful attention to the drum solo. Yeah, the song is 20 minutes long. Seriously. Now, I find it a little amusing to know that my dad thought it so important to play us a song where the name came about because the band was too drunk and/or high to actually get the words "in the garden of Eden" out coherently. But that's just the way my family rolls.

When I was 8 years old, I desperately wanted a Blondie album from Santa Clause. (Let's not talk about what a geek I was. I believed in Santa until I was 9, being the oldest child and all that.) I was a little upset that Santa brought me Puff the Magic Dragon and the Sesame Street Disco Fever album. (Both of which, in hindsight, were pretty damn cool for an 8 year old and I secretly listened to them for years.) But my dad knew I was upset, so he gave me my first cassette tape. It was AC/DC's Back in Black. My dad was the coolest dad evah. Seriously, half of the concerts I've ever been to were with my dad. He rocks.

Music is deeply personal to me, but I don't often share it. I'm a car listener. I can't work while listening to music and we don't even have a stereo system in our home. But in the car, I sing at the top of my lungs and dance around. My kids love it. My husband thinks it's hilarious, particularly since I can't carry a tune. But no one else really ever sees that part of me.

In the car though... well, I'm more me. I'm me and everyone I've ever been in the past. I hear a certain song on the radio and am instantly 7 years old, riding in the car with my dad with the stereo cranked. I'm 11 years old and playing softball in the backyard. I'm 14 and I've just had my first real kiss. I'm 20 and my heart has been stomped and mangled for the first time. I'm 22 and I've just married the love of my life. I'm 32 and I'm driving my newborn around to get him to sleep.

I pull my car to a stop, turn off the ignition and open the door. The music ends and I'm 35 again.

Music is still very important to me and H&H show every sign of following in Mommy's footsteps. Hell, Hollis already has his own ipod with a more extensive play list than I have in my Treo. The Backyardigans feature very prominently, but his favorites also include "One Little Slip" by the Bare Naked Ladies, "Kaboom" by Ursula 1000, "Fly Away" by Tim McGraw, and "Blister in the Sun" by the Violent Femmes.

I've never done any of the music memes that have floated around BlogLand for the simple reason that it would be insanely long. I listen to anything and everything, although I'm not all that fond of country music. But even then, I make exceptions for songs I really like. So, I've created a soundtrack for each of my decades on planet Earth. These aren't necessarily my favorites from each decade, nor are they necessarily from the decade where I've listed them. But these songs would all be on the soundtrack of my life if it became Lawyer Mama, The Movie. (And why does that last line make me think of Spaceballs, The Toilet Paper?)

To start it off, I have some background music for you and it's one of my all time favorites. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

The Seventies:
  • Styx: Come Sail Away and Paradise Theater
  • Harry Chapin: Cat's in the Cradle
  • The Doors: People Are Strange
  • Don McLean: American Pie
  • Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Abba: Dancing Queen
  • John Lennon: Imagine
  • Carly Simon: You're So Vain
  • Jefferson Airplane: White Rabbit
  • Van Morrison: Brown Eyed Girl
  • Pink Floyd: Comfortably Numb

Damn! There are a lot of songs about drugs in there. Maybe I shouldn't feel so bad that my 3 year old can sing the lyrics to Blister In The Sun.

The Eighties:
  • Bryan Adams: Summer of '69
  • John Cougar Mellencamp: Paper in Fire
  • Violent Femmes: Blister in the Sun
  • The Smiths: How Soon is Now, Stop Me, Frankly Mr. Shankly (OK, pretty much anything by The Smiths)
  • Erasure: Who Needs Love Like That (I'd like to clarify - I started listening to Erasure in the 80's, long before they became a hit in the U.S. with Ship of Fools)
  • Psychedlic Furs: Pretty in Pink
  • Beastie Boys: Pretty much anything. (Yeah, I know.)
  • The Clash: Should I Stay or Should I Go
  • INXS: Mediate
  • Peter Gabriel: In Your Eyes

I'm just going to stop now, because I could keep doing the 80's for a few hours.

The Nineties:
  • Wil Smith: Wild, Wild West (C'mon, I went to B_______ West High School and graduated in 1990. It was obligatory.)
  • Garth Brooks: Friend in Low Places
  • Tori Amos: Crucify, Silent All These Years, Winter (OK. Anything by Tori Amos. Still love her.)
  • Eric Clapton: Wonderful Tonight
  • Tracy Byrd: Keeper of the Stars (My first dance with my husband as a married woman.)
  • Dave Matthews Band: Crash
  • Barenaked Ladies: The Old Apartment, Alcohol, Who Needs Sleep? (The law school years. Go figure.)
  • Meredith Brooks: Bitch (My personal theme song.)
  • R.E.M.: Losing My Religion
  • Indigo Girls: Shame on You, Closer I am to Fine

The Next Eight Years:
  • Black Eyed Peas: Pump It
  • KT Tunstall: Suddenly I see
  • Fiona Apple: Paper Bag
  • Eminem: Yellow Brick Road, Lose Yourself
  • Five For Fighting: 100 Years, The Riddle (Yes, I know these are schmaltzy but I'm all hormonal since giving birth.)
  • Eric Clapton: Tears in Heaven (Now that I'm a mother I cannot listen to this song without crying.)
  • Scissor Sisters: I Don't Feel Like Dancing
  • Anna Nalick: Breathe
  • Badly Drawn Boy: The Shining

This post has taken me down memory lane. I think I downloaded about 50 songs while I was writing it.

Now I'm off to go listen to my life.

Welcome to Day 4 of my campaign to get Wil Wheaton to comment. Now, even Jenny said that I must be patient.

I can understand why you commented for Jenny, Wil. She's funny, she's smart, yadda yadda yadda. I've met Jenny, she's also HAWT! But me? I may not be hot, but I am persistent.

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Bad Influence
Last week Hollis's teacher gave us some homework. That's right. Homework. For the parents. (Apparently doing Hollis's homework for him late at night was just the beginning.)

We had to cut out 6 pictures of foods that Hollis likes, as well as 6 to 10 items that we also purchase regularly. They're learning food names in Spanish and this was for a project they're doing. Since Hollis can't really man grown up scissors yet, I can see why we needed to do this. But they clearly don't know who they're dealing with here.

T ended up cutting out the foods because I did the lion's share of the feather in the last homework assignment. T cut out some pancakes, broccoli (I think that was wishful thinking on his part), cheese, milk, you know, the usual toddler stuff. Then he just randomly cut out a bunch of other foods we eat. None were all that notable except for the picture of the wine.

Well, they did say it was supposed to be items we purchase regularly. We just interpreted "food" a little more loosely than most. Hey, it's made from grapes!

I'll let you know if the nice people at Hollis's church school decide to let this one slide.

How on earth could I have forgotten to put in a Wil Wheaton plug? This is Day 3 of my campaign to get Wil to comment. Help a sister out, would you?

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The Baby Chase - Part II
One of my best friends called me last night to tell me that she's pregnant. (Congrats, M! Love you!) We spent almost 2 hours on the phone catching up and talking about babies and motherhood. Hopefully, I didn't overwhelm poor M, but these flood gates opened and I just couldn't stop talking. I really try hard not to bore my childless friends to death with kid and baby talk. So all this stuff we'd never talked about was suddenly fair game!

After we'd been on the phone about an hour, M and I started discussing how each of us had decided it was time to have children. M and her husband J had been adamant for a long time that they weren't going to have kids. T and I had been nearly as adamant. In fact, last night M reminded me of the list T and I once started - 101 reasons not to have kids. Every time we saw a toddler in the throws of a tantrum in Target, we'd turn to one another and say "231," or whatever number we were up to. What had started out as 101 reasons, ballooned up to almost 600 before we stopped keeping track.

It's not as if T and I had never discussed children before. We had. Many times. We weren't really adamant that we didn't want children either. We just knew that we didn't want them now.

When we got married, T was pretty clear that he wanted children eventually. I was on the fence, but told him I could be convinced eventually. As long as he didn't immediately expect me to warp into Susie homemaker and begin darning his socks. We decided we'd discuss it when he hit 30. When T did hit 30, it was the Summer before my last year of law school. We put off the discussion. But that fall, something unexpected happened.

I got pregnant. Equally unexpected was my reaction when I saw those 2 lines on the pregnancy test. I expected to cry, feel overwhelmed and basically freaked out. But as I told T the news, I realized I was smiling through my tears.

The pregnancy did not end well. But T and I weren't ready yet anyway, we told ourselves. If anything, that unexpected and ill timed pregnancy made something very clear for both of us. We did want children. Despite our protestations to family and friends, T and I both very much wanted children.

Still, I can't remember exactly when my biological clock started ticking. I think it was a gradual progression. When my college roommate had a baby and I saw the pictures of her infant I thought I heard a soft "tick tock." I immediately clamped my mind shut and went on with the business of living and making money.

Then I heard that my sister-in-law and brother-in-law were expecting a baby. This time the "tick tock" was unmistakable. But whenever I found myself day dreaming about babies, I began singing to myself, humming, or doing anything I could to redirect my thoughts. It's a great way to stave off the inevitable cognitive dissonance.

My best friend from high school announced she was pregnant.

"Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock."

It was too loud to ignore this time.

So I brought up the subject with T.

T and I have very different decision making processes. I make decisions pretty quickly and once I've settled on a solution, it's hard to change my mind. T, on the other hand, likes to mull things over. I call it procrastination, but he calls it "weighing his options."

I told T I wanted a baby.

T said, "Let me think about it for a few months."

Pre-Hollis me, with my first baby, Sir Hillary

To be continued....

I've decided to keep harassing Wil Wheaton until he comments on my blog. If you have a Typepad account, feel free to go over to Wil's blog and pimp me out tell him how nice I am and how he should acknowledge my existence and make my year.
I'm not subtle, am I?

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Crush on the Crusher
T, if you're reading, you may want to pass this post by. I know you won't be jealous, but your techno geeky co-workers are bound to give you some ribbing for this one. Sorry. But I do know how to check IP addresses, so if you and your friends try to f*ck with me, I'll know!

My bloggy friend Alpha Dogma is a huge Star Trek fan. Some of her recent posts made me decide to "come out" (so to speak) about something.

I have a crush on Wesley Crusher. I loved Star Trek the Next Generation.

I know that the subject of Wesley Crusher can be quite polarizing among Next Generation fans. It seems that many people either hated the character or loved the character. I don't understand the hatred. I loved Wesley Crusher! In fact, his was the character I identified with the most. Perhaps it's because we're same age (he's 2 1/2 months older than me) and he's really cute. I don't know, just a guess.

Anyway, I nearly wept when Wil Wheaton left the show. I've purchased all of his books. I'm ordering his new book. {Edited to add} Scratch that. I just ordered a signed, numbered, limited edition of his new book. I read his blog. If I ever went to a Star Trek convention, it would be just to see if I could spot (dare I hope, meet?) Wil. I don't quite stalk him, but I heart Wil Wheaton. I guess I have a soft spot for cute guys who are also self-professed geeks.

Jenny from Mama Drama and The Blogess actually got Wil to comment on one of her posts once. I wonder if he'd make my day and do the same for me...? (Hint, Hint, Wil.)

Daydreaming about Wil? Perhaps....

Wil, you know you really want to comment!

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The Baby Chase - Part I
I'm recycling this post I originally published on January 12, 2007 under the title "The Opposite of Fertility is Infertility." Casey recently wrote about her issues with infertility and I've been following DD's trials and tribulations closely, afraid to breathe the wrong way or whisper any hope for her in fear of jinxing her.

The one period of my life and one area of emotion I've thus steadfastly avoided writing about is my Miscarriage Era. It's time to rip the band aid off of that wound, so I'm going to write a bit more about my quest for a baby over the next few weeks. (Damn NaBloPoMo!) So here's a refresher and some background:

Fertility is the ability of people or animals to produce healthy offspring in abundance, and of the earth to bear fruit. In the English language, the term was originally applied only to females, but increasingly is applied to males as well, as common understanding of reproductive mechanisms increases and the importance of the male role is better known. The opposite of fertility is infertility.
- Wikipedia

In the past, on this blog, I have alluded to the fact that T and I did not have an easy time of it when we were trying to make a baby. I had many miscarriages. D&Cs were necessary. I had painful and invasive tests.

I'm not really sure how to describe my feelings during the Trying To Have A Baby time period. I was depressed, yes. But I was also scared. Scared to death that I would never have the one thing I hadn't really realized I wanted until it was perhaps too late. Scared that my husband would blame me. Even more scared that it really was my fault. Every time I got pregnant, we would wait for the other shoe to drop and the pregnancy to end. All the coping mechanisms in the world couldn't help me through that.

The problems we were having were made more difficult because we couldn't really talk about them. Well, some very good friends understood that I needed someone to listen, be there for me, and not act like my life was exactly the same as it had always been. But I can't even count those friends on one hand. Most people who knew (and many did not), simply ignored the problem. Pretended I'd never been pregnant, pretended we'd never lost anything. Unfortunately there were also people who felt the need to talk about it and who made me feel worse.

Don't get me wrong, I truly believe that anyone who has ever spoken to me about my lost pregnancies was very well intentioned. But I'm sure you can understand how frustrating it is, having experienced so many losses, to hear even well intentioned people attempt to console us by saying, "if you just relax it will happen," or, my personal favorite, "at least it wasn't a real baby yet." As if that made our loss less real as well.

We were incredibly lucky. In January of 2004, I got pregnant again. (That's a story for another post!) Once again, my beta was low, my progesterone was horrible, and I could tell by the look on my doctor's face that he thought we were going to lose another one. But he smiled bravely, and I smiled cautiously back, playing the role of the optimistic mother-to-be patient.

When we saw the heartbeat at 7 weeks, we cautiously informed close family. At 13 weeks, we told the world, but I still couldn't get excited. At 20 weeks, my tests came back with an extremely increased risk of Down Syndrome. When the amnio results came back a week later - a normal baby boy - I cried. And then I finally bought something for the baby. For Hollis.

I can't even tell you how much Hollis has changed my life or how lucky and special and blessed I feel to have him. And when Hollis was 5 1/2 months old, we discovered that I was pregnant again. Although the first words out of my husbands mouth were "Oh, fuck," when we had a moment to get over the shock, we were thrilled. But still, I waited for the other shoe to drop. I felt as if I'd snuck a pregnancy in and someone or something was going to take it away. Despite all of my paranoia, in January of 2006, Holden joined our family, turned our lives upside down again, and made us feel doubly blessed.

After what we've been through, you'd think that I would just know what to say to a woman who has been dubbed infertile. But I don't. A couple we know has been trying for many years to have a baby. They've undergone IVF, miscarriages, and several late term pregnancy losses, including the loss of one set of twins. But B, the woman of the pair, has always been optimistic. (Part of it is her personality. She's always bubbly and welcoming, the kind of person you really want to know.) Well, they had one frozen egg left and they were going to try one last time. Even knowing the odds for a frozen IVF cycle, I couldn't help but be convinced by her optimism. But just before Christmas, we heard that their cycle was unsuccessful. No baby.

Attending their annual Christmas party, I couldn't help but notice that B looked like a caricature of herself. B with a smiley party mask on her face. Her smile was a bit forced, her laugh brittle, and I could tell that she was hurting. Stupidly, we brought our boys to the party. We were told they were welcome, but I should have known better. I felt as if I was parading my fertility under her nose while she was stuck with, well, the opposite.

Due to the large crowd and two very fast and small boys, I didn't have a chance to simply walk up to the hostess and bring up such a festive subject. But when I went to say good bye and thank her for the party, I saw the mask drop. Another (very pregnant) friend was giving her a hug and I saw all the naked pain on her face and the tears in her eyes just for a moment. And then the mask was back.

So I still haven't said anything to B. I still haven't called her up and told her how sorry I am or had her over for dinner and a chat. I have no idea why, despite how horrible it made me feel when people simply ignored my pain, I can't simply say something. It's as if some part of me thinks that she won't want condolences from me, mother of an "accident" and his older brother. I know that's not the case, however, and seeing my thoughts here in writing has made me realize that. I just hope it's not to late to tell her how sorry I am for her loss, her very real loss.

Follow up: I think my friend is now, if not OK, accepting how things are. And yes, I have told her how sorry I am. Oh, and that is actually an ultrasound of Holden, not Hollis. I didn't have one of Hollis scanned in and I really like the 4-D picture of Holden. It looks just like him now!

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The First "I Love You"
Do you remember yours?

Holden has been saying "I love you" to me since he was about 1. Whenever I say it, he repeats it to me, usually in exactly the same phrasing. "I love you, sweetie," sounds adorable coming out of a 1 year old, by the way. But I know Holden doesn't really know what that means yet. He's learned to repeat the phrase just like "please" and "thank you." It's just what you do.

Not so with Hollis. Hollis has never been a big one for saying anything when he knows it's expected. We only won the "please" and "thank you" battle by withholding whatever Hollis wanted until he gave in. He's a stubborn little cuss (no idea where he gets that), so if there's nothing in it for him he refuses to perform like a trained monkey. Consequently, I had never heard "I love you" from Hollis until a few days ago.

Three nights ago our sitter's son was playing in the junior high football city championships. (They won by the way. WOOOOT!) Our sitter, M, took the boys to the game and T and I met them there and stayed to watch some of the game. This wasn't the boys' first football game. They've been to a couple of other games and loved it. Holden likes to cheer with the cheerleaders and Hollis enjoys stomping on the bleachers and pointing out M's son to everyone he meets.

T and I found M and the boys and climbed up the bleachers to sit down. Holden immediately flung himself into my arms, as he usually does, but Hollis said "Hi, Mommy" and went back to his stomping of the bleachers. After Holden wiggled away, Hollis came over to tell me about his day.

When Hollis approached, a big play happened on the field and T, sitting in front of me, picked up Hollis so he could see over the crowd. Hollis looked back at me and said "I want Mommy to hold me, OK?" When T handed him back to me, Hollis threw his arms around my neck and squeezed as tightly as he could and gave me a kiss. Then he looked right into my eyes, smiled and said, "I love you, Mommy," as the crowd roared around us.

I don't remember the first time Holden parroted "I love you" back to me. But I know I'll never forget my first, "I love you," from Hollis.

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Why Holden May Need to Enter Witness Protection
I live in Hokie territory. In case any of you don't know what that means, just try burning a Virginia Tech flag in effigy in Virginia and see what happens. Needless to say, T and I are not huge VT fans. I went to Miami.* I'm required by some sort of green and orange bond to hate Virginia Tech and all things Hokie. I'm pretty sure they covered that in orientation.

A few years ago, T and I scored tickets to a VT-Miami football game in Blacksburg. To be fair, the people of Blacksburg were as nice as could be, even to the Miami fans. The game itself was a bit overwhelming, with turkey calls and keys rattling. I remember that football fever and frenzy from my days at Miami, but I've rarely been to games where I've been in the minority. It was, um... interesting. And yes, Miami sucked donkey balls and T and I were able to escape without being torn limb from limb or anything.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago. The kids got a new movie, Chicken Little. As with all new movies that enter the house, they must watch it obsessively until they have something new to distract them. Consequently, we've seen the movie 548 times in the last 2 weeks. And that's only a slight exaggeration.

Today Little H walked with his sitter to see a neighbor on the corner. They walked past a house with a giant Virginia Tech flag flying in front. (You can't swing a dead dog cat down here without hitting a Hokie fan. Um, sorry. That was a really bad Michael Vick joke.) The flag featured the Hokie turkey quite prominently. Hollis turned to M, started hopping up and down excitedly screaming and pointing, "Look, Miss M! Look! A chicken! A chicken!"

T and I think this is hilarious, but M is worried that her family will have to move if word gets out that Little H has been calling the Hokie Bird a chicken.

Those little ones are awfully intuitive, aren't they? Maybe the new VT fight song can be the Chicken Dance.**

* Yes, yes, I realize that Miami is stinking up the football field this year too. I know, I know. No need to rub it in.
** I didn't realize until I reread this post that it could actually seem like a reference, in very poor taste, to the tragedy at VT last year. I assure you that this is just good natured ribbing from the fan of a football rival. I only mean to disparage the VT football team and its former player, Michael Vick. Please take it in that spirit.

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Don't Fence Me In - Wordless Wednesday

Hmmmm.... Can anyone guess the theme? Yeah, I thought it was too hard.

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The Thirteenth Tale
Can you keep a secret?

I can't. I've never been able to keep secrets well. When I buy T a Christmas or birthday present that I know he'll love, I'm always tempted to give it to him right away. Why wait? Same with the kids. If something big happens in my life, I have to share it. In some ways sharing a secret can make it more real. You can discuss that oh so important happening, tidbit, revelation, or gossip with someone else. But, of course, once you tell someone else it's no longer a secret, is it?

I recently joined Mother Talk because, well, who wouldn't want free books? All I have to do is read them and tell y'all what I think. Well, it's a rough job but someone has to do it.

For my first review, I read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It's a gothic-esque novel set in the modern day. Our protagonist, Margaret, is a biographer treading water through life and living through books in the antiquarian book store she runs with her father. A notorious novelist, Vida Winter, asks Margaret to write her story, an unexpected coup because of Ms. Winter's mysterious past. Two stories, and many secrets unfold throughout the course of the book, Ms. Winter's and Margaret's.

Although I'm not normally a fan of the Gothic novel, there are a few classics of the genre that I absolutely love, one of those being Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre, the novel, appears over and over throughout The Thirteenth Tale as do many not-so-subtle allusions to the Bronte classic, along with a hint of Wuthering Heights. A few things about the story made me crazy, including the fact that I was whacked over the head with Jane Eyre at every turn. The other is the big plot twist that I can't tell you unless I spoil the story. I can't decide if I'm annoyed because I don't think it's believable or annoyed because I wasn't really expecting it.

The book did, however, make me wonder if I could keep a real secret. I mean a secret that changes lives, not simply the fact that I ate the last oatmeal cream pie in the cabinet. I don't think that I could. At least not the sort of secret that's hidden in The Thirteenth Tale. So much of what happens to us defines us. By keeping it a secret, aren't we denying who we are?

Well, if anything, I hope I've at least piqued your curiosity about the big secret in The Thirteenth Tale.

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Friends and Football
This is my blog and I can break the rules if I want to. So I give you a Monday Montage on a Tuesday.

We had dear friends visit this weekend, Tiff, her husband J, and their son Little J. Tiff and I went to law school together but we're very different. She's got too much energy. I'm a lazy sloth. She's Martha Stewart. I'm, well...not. (And I don't mean that in a white collar criminal, lie to the feds kind of way.) She's a Republican. I'm well, you know. A Liberal. She's very religious. I'm a heathen.

Somehow, despite all our differences, we compliment each other. In all the ways that matter, we're the same. I don't just mean that Tiff enables my shopping habit, shares my love of beautiful shoes, and enjoys making snarky comments. Tiff is one of those rare friends that we only encounter a handful of times in our lives and, if we're lucky, keep forever. I don't know that I could have made it through law school, trying to conceive, and early mommyhood without her.
Now if only I could get her to start a blog....

Tiff maneuvers around Hollis.

She's making a break for it!

J and Hollis take Tiff down!

"Here you go, Mommy!"

Little J hams it up for the camera. Don't you love those curls!

Little J, Holden and Hollis demand a ride.

Quarterback in training?

Taking a walk.

Tiff and J. At their wedding, the pastor pronounced them man and wife, introduced them to the congregation, and then J picked Tiff up and carried her down the aisle. That's just the kind of guy he is.

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Better Living Through Pharmaceuticals
"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."

-- A. A. Milne

OK, folks, brace yourselves. It's time for another Lawyer Mama "woe is me" post. But this time I decided to write about depression on a good day. On a day when I can stand back and look at the Big Monster with a bit more detachment. Hopefully I won't get any anonymous "suicide prevention" pamphlets left in my office by well meaning co-workers or frantic phone calls from family members checking to make sure I haven't driven myself and the boys into the Elizabeth River.*

Life is made up of hard days and good days. I know that. I've also been keenly aware since adolescence, that I seem to have more bad days than most people. But days that most people would consider bad, I just call, well...usual. I'm moody, contemplative, a little bitchy and extremely sarcastic. But that's me and I like it.

I think too much. This is the curse and blessing of being an introvert. Much of what is best in me is never seen by the outside world. Some of the best discussions I've had about life, love, history, politics, and the law have been internal. That's just how I process the world. Internally. But with this internal world comes a necessary detachment from the external world. Striking a balance between the two was difficult for me growing up, but it became easier with time and practice.

Then I had children and my internal world started spilling over into the external. I had all this love and all these thoughts I couldn't keep to myself. Or I would burst from the wonder of it all. I watched my Hollis with all the love in my soul shining right through my eyes. Emotions and thoughts I'd been protecting and bottling up and hoarding for my own private use came spilling right on out. Crawling there, across the floor, for all the world to see.

With this escape of my internal world also came an inability to escape into my internal world. Life became overwhelming in a way it never had before. I couldn't keep my internal world in, and I couldn't keep the external world out.

Life as a new parent is overwhelming for even the most balanced and emotionally healthy of people. I understand that. Everyone needs help coping at times, whether it be through a support system, some time away, or medical intervention. I know that too. But I denied that I had any problems. I denied that my life wasn't perfect. I denied that my life could be anything other than blissfully happy with my new baby and my great job. I don't ever admit that I need help. That's just the way I roll.

Eventually, something happened. I wish I could tell you what. It may be this blog. I started writing about things I normally keep hidden. It may be finally getting to know good friends in my area that I could talk to every day. It may be finally settling into a new routine in a new place with 2 new children. I don't know what it was. But I finally admitted that I needed help. And it took me a little while, but I finally got off my ass and got some help.

I saw a new doctor. After listening to my symptoms and, more importantly, listening to what I thought was wrong with me, she asked, "How do you feel about anti-depressants?" And giving me permission to admit that I wanted the help, she followed up with, "I'm a big believer."

So Lex@pro and I got to know each other. The first week or so, I thought I'd made a huge mistake. The drugs made me feel a bit foggy. Things didn't bother me the way they used to, but they didn't bother me at all. I felt as if I might not be bothered to say "ouch" if someone dropped an anvil on my foot. On the plus side, the kids could scream as much as they wanted and it didn't faze me a bit.

But I wasn't me. The contemplative, moody, complicated part of me that I love (and I like to think those who love me, love) wasn't there. She went to sleep for a few weeks. I worried that she would never be back. That simply wasn't an option for me. After talking to T about it, he also agreed that it shouldn't be an option for me. So we agreed I would give it a month. After that, I would ask my doctor to switch my medication.

She came back.

She's still here. She writes on this blog every now and then. Sometimes she gets nostalgic. Sometimes she thinks too damn much. But she's me. I like her.

I hope you do too.

* Sarcasm, people. I haven't actually had any pamphlets left for me. I have had phone calls and concerned emails. Yes, I appreciate those but I also promise you all, family members, friends, random passers by, regular readers, and total strangers I sent to my blog, that I know when and how to seek professional help. But thanks for your concern. "Mwah!" (That's a kiss in Holden-speak.)

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Post-Election Revelry
I'm thrilled that elections are over for this year. First, the Democrats took control of Virginia's Senate. Wooooooo Hoooooooo! But more importantly, those annoying political ads have stopped.

For now.

I'm fully aware that next year's crop will be even worse and will last longer given the upcoming presidential primaries and election. I cannot stand political ads. It's not just because I've already picked my candidate. No, the negative campaigning just makes me want to shriek in agony and throw things at the TV. And then rip up my voter card, burn it, and stomp on the ashes for good measure.

I can't be the only one annoyed and, yes at times, infuriated by these commercials. They're all pretty much a carbon copy of one another:
{Cue ominous music}

Jane Smith voted to raise taxes on Virginia's working families 5,345 times while accepting campaign donations from evil pharmaceutical companies/oil companies/Chinese lead factories.

{Insert unflattering, grainy photo of Jane Smith with mouth pursed or wide open while she appears to be drop kicking an infant or stealing a lollipop from a toddler.}

{Music perks up}

{Insert clip of John Doe with Stepford family and
then shaking the hands of working folk.}

John Doe understands the needs of Virginia families. He walks on water and is the second coming of Christ. He'll drop down to his knees and pleasure each of you individually if you vote for him. He'll even enjoy it if you'll also give him money.

{Cheesy, smiling photo of John Doe with waving flag in

John Doe, working "hard" for Virginia families.

"I'm John Doe and I approved this message."

(Those annoying automated phone calls are also frustrating to me. I hang up, but they just keep calling!)

If you actually go do your research, you discover that Jane Smith has never actually voted to increase taxes, but has voted for bills that indirectly increase fees or has voted in committee for bills that *might* potentially raise taxes 85 years from now.

Why do politicians do this? These commercials insult our intelligence and lower the discourse of political debate. I know, I know. Negative campaigning works. But I don't have to like it. In fact, I'm going to keep bitching until a nice guy or girl finally wins.

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Shoes
For some reason that title makes me start singing "Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music.

Now, if you're a shoe-a-holic like me, you'll love this post. If you're not, I'm sorry. I'm not sorry that you're suffering through my post, but sorry that you have never discovered the unwavering love of that perfect, amazingly beautiful pair of shoes.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite shoes, as seen by me. Please forgive my nasty seriously-in-need-of-a-pedicure toes and the spots on my mirror. It's a hazard of living with people who are 3 feet tall and like to touch things.

I bought these Anne Klein red, patent shoes with a kitten heel for my 34th birthday. I even blogged about it. They look great with jeans and are super comfortable. I can wear them anywhere that doesn't involve dirt.

These BCBG silver and black, peep toe pumps are my favorite evening shoes. I feel super sexy in them and the 3 1/2 inch heels make my legs look amazing. (If I can say that about myself.)

These are my favorite daily staple. These black, Anne Klein, sling black pumps go with everything and are quite comfortable. The heels are a modest 2" so I wear them to court or lunchtime shopping excursions on a regular basis. I've had them re-heeled 3 times. I will keep wearing them until they fall apart.

I got these red Via Spiga pumps for a song at Nordstrom Rack in early fall. Red is my favorite color, so I wear them a lot. They have a 3 inch heel, so they aren't great for court or lots of walking, but they're perfect for the office.

These black, Nina, peep toe satin pumps are surprisingly comfortable. I can wear them with dressy outfits and to the office. I get compliments on these shoes more than any other pair I own.

I picked up these red, suede sling back pumps at Payless last Spring for $14. That's right. Fourteen dollars. I wore them all Summer and they're still holding up great.

Because I'm a total b*tch. I've made this a meme. Queen of Mayhem, Sonia, Pundit Mom, Bub & Pie, and Sarcasta-Mom, consider yourselves tagged! Show me at least 2 pairs of your favorite shoes, even if you're not a shoe person.

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Tell Me What to Read
Friends of the Blogosphere, I need your help. I'm running precariously low on reading material right now. Shocking, I know. Normally, I have piles and piles of books waiting to be read. This year I just haven't been replenishing my stores the way I normally do.

I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love right now and I'm enjoying it. Which is saying a lot for me, who normally thinks that books like that are a bunch of transcendent crap. I must be mellowing in my old age.

The last book I finished was The Thirteenth Tale and I'm writing a review about it, so I'll leave my detailed opinions off here, but I would probably read it again if I had life to live twice.

I'll read pretty much anything: fiction, non-fiction, biographies, it's all good. I'm not a big fan of popular trite like James Patterson, Danielle Steel, or Tom Clancy. (I loved Tom Clancy's first three books. They were great thrillers. It's gone steadily down hill from there.) I like books that make me: (1) think; (2) laugh; or (3) feel. If I can get all three together, even better.

What do you recommend?

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Filling a Pail

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
- William Bulter Yeats

I'm a product of public schools. I've always insisted that my children would attend public schools. After all, we all have an obligation to make our schools better and that won't happen if involved parents and their children flee to the private schools. I was quite judgmental about the topic and looked down my nose at those who spent a small fortune on sending their kids to one of "those" schools.

Well, then I had children. READ MORE....

The DC Metro Moms and all our sister sites are discussing education today. Stop by to read my introductory post and all the discussions about education throughout the day.

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Next of Kin: Dona Nobis Pacem
Julie's Hump Day Hmmm for this week is participation in the Blog Blast for Peace. Until this evening, I honestly had no idea what I would write, aside from the obvious, "End the war in Iraq."

Then, I got some mail.

It was a postcard addressed to "All Family Members of Company G" from the Family Support Group in Medina, Ohio. This is my brother's National Guard Reserve Unit that's being mobilized soon. We had some good news recently. His unit won't be mobilized for training at Ft. Hood, Texas until after the first of the year. My brother had expected to be in Ft. Hood over Christmas, with a few days off for the actual holiday break. Everything has been pushed back a few months, but the end result is the same. They'll be in the Middle East next year.

The postcard itself was innocuous. It was about a holiday party for the reserve unit and their families. No, what stopped me in my tracks was what this post card meant. I've never received anything like this with regards to my brother before. But tonight, holding that piece of cardboard, my heart skipped a beat and my stomach did a slow flip. I came to a sickening realization.

I am my brother's next of kin.

If something happens to B., mine is the number they'll call. A car will pull up in front of my house, an officer in Army green will step out and walk up my driveway and ring my doorbell. My world is the one that will tip on its axis first.

I will have to call B's girlfriend, his aunts and uncles. His grandparents.

Our parents.

It's easy to talk about war and peace in the abstract. It's easy to debate whether military action is necessary, or "right," or just. It's easy to talk about troop movements and IED's and snipers. It's easy to declare that fighting terrorism, or championing democracy, or even stopping the war is the most important issue facing our generation.

It's much harder to talk about real solutions. It's much harder to look at the photos of soldiers killed in Iraq. It's much harder to think about their wives, husbands, parents, and children. It's much harder to look at your own family photos and picture someone missing.

I don't want one more doorbell rung, one more family crushed, one more photo framed in remembrance. Peace is really the only option. The bigger question is - how do we get there?

Cross posted, with changes, at MOMocrats.

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