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Toddler Nirvana
For a toddler, what could be better than having lots of mulch to play with...

Sticks to eat...

a Bobcat in the front yard....

and a giant pile of dirt?

Life is good!

(My apologies, T, for posting your pic without asking first. You just looked so damn cute, I couldn't resist.)

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Can I Interview You?
In an interesting twist on the meme, ECR (aka Binky) over at 24/7 was interviewed by the divine Mrs. Chicky and offered to interview others. I thought it sounded like fun and Binky was kind enough to interview moi. So here it goes:

1. What are you wearing?

Nothing exciting here folks, sorry. A sort of dusty lilac pantsuit with a black shell and my favorite black Anne Klein sling back heels. Yeah, I answered these at work but trust me, it doesn't get much more exciting in the evening, much to my husband's dismay.

2. Do you like roller coasters?

Hate them. Passionately hate them. I've never been a huge thrill seeker, but as a teenager I bowed to peer pressure and pretended to like them, all the while absolutely convinced that I was going. to. die. I finally gave up the pretense in college when I snapped on the way up to the top of The Demon at Six Flags in Chicago. By the time we got up to the first big drop I was hitting my boyfriend, repeatedly and screaming "Why did you make me do this?! We're going to die!" at the top of my lungs. Our fellow thrill seekers looked a bit alarmed. Ah, good times.

3. Have you held the title of president in any group?

Nope. I'm not a huge fan of networking, so I'm happy to just go along for the ride. In high school I was captain of my cheerleading squad (this is anonymous, right?), but that's about it for my formal leadership roles. Now, I don't want to hear any mocking comments about my days as a cheerleader. We all have our dirty little secrets.

4. What quality don't you possess that you wish you did?

This one I had to think about for quite awhile, simply because I'm lucky to be completely happy with who I am. Sometimes I wish I were more outgoing, more of a glad hand, but I'm not, so why waste time worrying about it?

OK, so I thought of something later - I wish I were one of those super organized people. You know, the ones who keep everything immaculate and would die for their label maker? One of my dearest friends is like that and I would kill for her energy.

5. If you wrote a memoir of your life to date, what would you title it?

I Can't Think of a Witty Title, So Please Buy This Book?

I haven't done anything particularly remarkable with my life. I'm well educated, I work hard, I volunteer, I love my family, and I live my life. From the outside, I'm completely unremarkable. I like to think, however, that there's a hell of a lot more going on inside that people don't see. I'm introspective, passionate about politics and social issues, and my life time goal is to ensure that the world is a better place because I lived. I don't need or want to change the world, but I don't think I should be complacent with just the status quo. And I want my parents, my husband, and my children to be proud of me.

Can I interview you? If you would like me to interview you, leave me a comment or send me an email and I'll send off some questions.


Should I Go to BlogHer?
Well, what do you think, folks? Should I go to BlogHer 2007? I didn't think I could swing it because of vacation and work schedules, but it looks like I may be able to arrange things. Plus, I have a squillion bonus miles I could use for my flight. The hubby is on board and I almost booked my hotel reservation this afternoon. But then I started wondering if I would be that awkward chick hanging out on the side, hoping she'll be invited to sit at the popular girls' lunch table. This is a big jump for an introvert.

So who's going? Talk me into it. Tell me how much fun I'll have!

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Can I Get You Some Coffee, Sir?
I was born in 1972. I grew up believing that I could do anything I wanted. My gender was never an issue. The idea that some people would think less of my abilities because I am female was foreign to me. Thankfully, my parents kept me fairly well insulated from people with throwback attitudes. I never encountered the "fear of math and science" that so many girls experience and frankly I was always taken seriously at school because of that. My mother has a degree in math and my father, degrees in physics and computer science. Maybe that had something to do with my educational self-confidence. I don't know. But I do know that, until I reached high school, no one ever even attempted to make me feel unworthy of my intellect or my dreams because of my gender. Yesterday, I had a 1950's flashback that reminded me why I was so lucky to be so insulated during my formative years.

The Partner with whom I work closely, took me to a trade association luncheon. I've been at my current firm for almost two years now and I have been slowly getting to know the local players in my little specialty area of the law. Rubber chicken lunches aren't my favorite way of networking, but I was looking forward to attending with Partner and meeting a few new people. It was a good lunch. I met some people in the industry, made some small talk, listened to an interesting speaker, and generally avoided saying anything stupid. That's a good lunch. The real fun came afterwards. As we were making our way through the crowd, Partner introduced me to several industry players. Everyone seemed pleased to meet me and, while no one ever looks forward to needing to consult their lawyers, I am sure that I will be working with some of them in the future. Then Partner introduced me to an Older Gentleman who placed himself in our path. Partner made some flattering comment about how I generally "keep him out of trouble." Polite chuckling ensued and then Older Gentleman proclaimed that he could use someone like that because he could never "remember how to work that pesky teleconference feature on his phone."

Blink. Blink.

Alrighty then.

Partner proceeded to explain that I kept him out of trouble with regards to all things legal. I could tell from the look on Partner's face that he understood that a request to me to figure out his phone would result in my possibly inserting said phone into an extremely uncomfortable area of his anatomy. We quickly beat a path to the door. On my drive back to the office I had to call my husband and rant. I explained what had happened and asked if I was overreacting. T seemed confused for a moment and then he got it. He asked incredulously, "You mean the old geezer thought you were Partner's secretary?!?" Yep. You got it, honey. He saw a youngish looking woman with this lawyer he knows at a trade association meeting, and he assumed I was the guy's secretary. Or legal assistant, if you prefer that term.

Now I realize that I'm a little over-fixated on this small incident, but stuff like this rarely happens to me and it pisses me off. While I do look young, people usually assume I'm a braniac within 2 minutes of meeting me. I've been told it's just the way that I talk and the vocabulary I use. Yes, I work in a male dominated field, I'll give the guy that. But I have never been mistaken for a secretary, especially in a professional setting. Hell, I've walked into rooms full of older men, and nothing but older white men, for meetings and court hearings for years and no one has ever assumed I was there to take the lunch orders. For a moment I was willing to give "the old geezer" a pass because of his age but then I realized that, while he may be 65-70, he's still working in the year 2007. If you are going to be in business in the 21st Century, you need to park your antiquated notions about gender roles at the door. Or this little lawyer might shove a teleconference-capable phone up your butt.

Thanks, Mom & Dad.

Folks, I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with being a secretary or that secretaries are somehow intellectually inferior to the god-like lawyers. I'm just a little pissed off right now, so bear with me. The context in which this incident happened should have told any but the most dedicated neanderthal that I was a lawyer.

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Does This Mean We Have a Problem?
I have a serious addiction. It's a common one that thankfully has not yet been vilified by the public.

I'm addicted to caffeine.

I'm pretty sure there will be no intervention forthcoming because (a) my husband is even more of an addict than I am and (b) I seriously doubt he could find two friends and family members who aren't also seriously addicted.

My little "problem" has been on my mind lately after coming to the realization that our 2 year old knows the location of every Starbucks in a 10 mile radius from our home and will throw the mother of all fits if we don't stop. Of course, that alone wasn't *quite* enough to drive the problem home. Then, on Saturday morning, T and I were enjoying our cups of coffee from Starbucks - because it's soooo much easier to load 2 kids in the car and drive 4 miles to the drive-through Starbucks than it is to load up our own coffee machine and wait 5 minutes. Anywho, my 14 month old was sitting in his high chair drinking his milk when he screeched to get my attention, patiently waited for me to turn, handed me his sippy cup, pointed at my Starbucks cup and said "coffee" as clear as can be. (He was quite annoyed that I wouldn't give it to him, seeing as how his milk in his favorite fish sippy cup was quite the fair trade.) I think I'm in serious danger of having children who demand a nice dark espresso roast be packed in their Blues Clues thermoses for pre-school.

I may have to quit the habit.


Because I'm too Damn Tired to Actually Write

I saw this nifty Visual DNA thing at 24/7 and shamelessly lifted it for my own page.

Apparently I am a:

Dreamer - Always drifting off, their imagination takes control. They have big ideas, and a cool calm manner.

Escape Artist - They are forever slipping off, getting away from the rat race, and recharging those batteries. Independent and thoughtful, they know themselves well.

High Time Roller - They are only seen in the best, the finest, and they love top quality, high end glamour. Always adding a touch of sophistication to the proceedings.

Home Soul - Their heart is always at their nest, they place real importance on friendships. They are family minded and forge strong relationships.

Well, I guess I agree with all of this except the High Time Roller part. And it's all because I picked that yummy looking Cosmo as my beverage. But there were several hints about laziness in my more detailed profile, probably because of my affinity for all those pictures of people sleeping! Well, they got that one dead on, although I'm not sure if it's laziness or extreme sleep deprivation.

Well, go on. You know you've got to do one of your own now. Who can resist the appeal of being typecast in 30 seconds?

Happily Ever After
The other night Big H demanded yet another story to prolong the inevitable bedtime. I gave in and started to read his proffered book - the Disney version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from a Disney Storybook Collection he received as a gift. I started reading with trepidation. It's been awhile since I've seen the Disney movie, but I was pretty sure I remembered something about Snow White cooking, cleaning and keeping house for seven little men. Not really something I want to pass on to my sons. But hey, I figured since Big H can't read yet, I could just change the story a bit. Well, I made it about half a page into the story:
Once upon a time, there lived a lovely princess named Snow White. Her lips were red as roses and her hair was the deepest ebony. Snow White's father, the King, had died, so she lived in the castle with her stepmother, the Queen.

The Queen was very pretty, but also very cruel. She was jealous of Snow White's beauty and treated her like a servant.

Snow White was obedient and hard working. She dreamed that someday a prince would take her away.
She dreamed that a prince would take her away??? Yeah, that wasn't going to do it for me. So I tossed the book aside and gave Big H my own very abbreviated version of the fairy tale:

"Yeah, that's not how it works these days, sweetie. Yes, Snow White was stuck with an evil, vain caretaker who tried to swindle her out of her inheritance, treated her like a slave, and tried to have her killed. But in actuality, Snow White didn't go off to cook and clean for a house full of men. She went to see the law firm of Doc, Happy, Sneezy, and Partners, LLC. Mr. Grumpy, DHS&P's best litigator, helped Snow White bring a civil RICO action against the evil Queen, by showing that the Queen had been using an enterprise (the Kingdom) to conduct a pattern of racketeering activity (such as kidnapping and murder) indictable under federal law. Snow White recovered her fortune and the Queen was brought up on federal charges, including some nasty allegations of involuntary servitude. Unfortunately, there was some question as to the Queen's sanity because she kept talking to this mirror and claimed she was getting answers. In any event, the Queen spent the rest of her life in a very comfortable community based mental health facility. Snow White then went on to abolish and dismantle the monarchy and G.W.B. Dopey became the Kingdom's first democratically elected leader.

Oh, what's that? You asked about the Prince? Well, he lived off his father's money, went clubbing all over the world, became a one hit pop idol, then a reality TV star, and went on to marry Paris Hilton. Snow White lived happily ever after.

The End."

So, how does your fairy tale end? Write me a modern day fairy tale (nothing overly long required). Let me know in the comments & I'll post all the links.

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And the Academy Award Goes to....
Oh, yeah, sorry. I was in my little Jennifer Hudson Oscar fantasy there for a moment. I've snapped out of it. But I have recently been awarded something I just don't quite think I'm worthy of. Pundit Mom was kind enough to bestow the Thinking Bloggers Award upon little old Lawyer Mama.

Pundit Mom is one of the bloggers I've been religiously reading since the very beginning of my little blog obsession. Her blog is a nice mix of politics, current events, mom stuff, and women's issues that has always has me thinking. So, I'm even more honored to know that I make her think as well.

All the intensity surrounding moms and why we blog over the last week has led to some great exchanges on several blogs. I've been awed by the wonderful people in this little, OK, HUGE, blog lovin' community we have here. And to make things even neater, I met a real live blogger this week! That's right, CPA Mom and I met up for lunch and a chat. She was just as nice and funny as she is on her blog and she even brought some clothes her Tigger has outgrown for H&H. How sweet is that? All of this bloggy lovin' has made it even more difficult for me to narrow it down to just five bloggers who make me think. So, in the end, I ignored whether any of these bloggers had received this award already and just went with my gut. (Of course, if you've already received one, I'm not going to make you nominate anyone else!) And the winners are....

Mom, Ma'am, Me
Mom 101
Pundit Mom
Bub and Pie
i obsess

You all rock.

Just be sure to pass the award on to 5 bloggers who really make you think and link back to the original Thinking Blogger post.


Mommy Blogs are the New Pink
The recent brouhaha over at Pundit Mom's has made me think about a lot of things. Some are obvious if you've been following Linda Hirshman's attack on Pundit Mom and the aftermath - what I think feminism should be, of course, and combining motherhood and family. But a comment by a poster at PM's place really stopped me cold. A 25 year old, childless law student, I suppose in defense of Linda Hirshman, went after PM personally. She managed to hit below the belt, attacking a blogger I consider a "friend" and an important part of this little blogging community I've found here in cyberspace. I made the mistake of responding to her comment, which was clearly intended to provoke ire, by pointing out that it is awfully easy to judge women with children when you don't have any yourself. Only I didn't say it quite so nicely. I believe my exact words were "come back to play when you're a bit older and maybe we'll listen to you." That resulted in an interesting comment exchange on my last post, where she insulted all Mommy blogs as "creepy:"
[...]the theme on all these mommyblogs seems to be an almost creepy mantra of "mothering is the most important job." Why the need for constant restatement of your position? I don't understand it. In other words, if you (plural) knew in your heart of hearts that mothering is the most important job, or more important than lawyering, why do you (plural) need to state and restate it at every chance you get?
Yeah, I know I shouldn't have let myself get drawn into a pissing match, but I did. Live and learn. However, the whole exchange has made me think quite a bit about how my life has - no, how I have changed since having children and why it is that I, and so many others, feel the need to blog about it.

Before you have kids everyone tells you how much your life will change, blah, blah, blah, blah. But you don't get it. You can't get it. You won't get it. Until you join that sleep deprived, wondrous, frustrating, awe inspiring, hands in poo, overwhelming, beautiful, baby puke covered, life altering Mommy Club. (Or Daddy Club.) I hate to quote that corny Johnson & Johnson commercial (makes me cry every time, damn it!) but having a baby changes everything. Being responsible for this little creature not only feels like someone cracked open your chest and pulled your guts out with a pitchfork, it changes how you think and how you view the world. You start to see the world through the filter of Motherhood, with a capital M.

I watch the news or hear about a car accident, a murder, or even worse, abuse of a child and through my Mommygoggles, I picture one of my children dead on the side of the road/stabbed/battered and beaten. Having children has changed how I view war and global warming and even my job. I think very carefully about how I treat people, how I act, the example I set, all in a way I never did before. As a mother, I am motivated to truly make the world a better place in a totally different way. Welcoming a child into your world fundamentally alters everything about you in way you couldn't possibly have expected. It's the converse of a brush with death, but it alters you in a similar way - you realize that your family, the people you care about, your children, are the most important thing in the world.

And then we all step into the dark underbelly of the Mommy (or Daddy) Club.

The guilt. The judgment.

The fear.

Oh, the fear. We push it out of our minds, and move back to the guilt. And the judgment.

Nothing evokes more passionate feelings of hatred and judgment than the work versus stay-at-home debate. We're hit with it from both sides. If you stay at home, you're wasting your education and are a drain on society (ala Linda Hirshman). If you work and enjoy it, you're worse than a child abuser. (See comments). If you have to work to pay the bills or work part-time, then you're somewhere in Mommy purgatory. But really, honestly, all of us are part of that same wonderful, scary Mommy Club. We should support one another rather than tear each other apart. Deep down, I think every Mommy who lets a grenade fly knows that. They know how hard it is to make a choice.

The complaint I got from the comments of the vitriolic poster I quoted above was that we (meaning Mommy bloggers) keep repeating over and over that motherhood is the most important thing in the world unnecessarily. What she didn't understand, and I don't know how to explain, is that being a parent is the most important thing that many of us will ever do. But motherhood, and the way it elementally changes you, is scary as hell. And so we write about it. We try to make others understand how we feel, we seek others who understand, and we share all those frightening and overwhelming feelings in the way we know best. We've built our own little blogging community of people who understand exactly why it is that our families are more important than any paying job we will ever have.

The commenter above also made a valid point - that everyone can have something to say about the work versus family debate. I completely agree. I agree that everyone in our society should be able to join the discussion about combining work and family. It's an issue that concerns all of us, male and female, young and old, childless or not. But how do you explain to someone who doesn't have children, who doesn't yet know what's in store, just how hard that choice between career and family is? How do you explain how wonderful and terrifying it is to be so completely and irrevocably changed by another human being? I have absolutely no idea. But I think that all these Mommy Blogs are a damn good start to the conversation.

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Raising an Introverted Child
Hollis is one of the great loves of my life but sometimes watching him grow and find his place in the world can be painful. It's painful because I see so much of myself in him. I wouldn't change a thing about him, but I know that he will have a harder road ahead of him than many other children simply because he is an introvert.

By the time Hollis was 18 months old we knew he was introverted. He is cautious in new situations and around new people. Don't get me wrong, Hollis loves people. He is an affectionate, energetic, and fun little kid, but he isn't going to immediately warm up to someone who walks up and starts to chat. Yes, he is going to need more down time than many other children, but I have always thought of introversion as a good thing. I'm an introvert and I know first hand the rich internal world of the innie. I know that Hollis will probably have no problem concentrating intensely and shutting out the world. I know that he will probably have a very active imagination. I also know that occasionally he will shock people with his insight and observations. He will be a quiet kid, but there will always be an awful lot going on inside.

I have to admit though, that I hadn't really thought much about the downside of Hollis being an introvert until recently. A few weeks ago, however, I took him to a birthday party for a 3 year old friend of the family. The party was at one of those places with inflatable bouncy toys and slides, called The Jumping Monkey. (Actually, that's where Hollis acquired the "monkey balls" from last week's post.) It was a party of 15 kids Big H has never met (with the exception of the birthday boy), with loud music and pandemonium. Hollis was clearly out of his element. In fact, I couldn't get him to try any of the bounce houses or slides. He spent most of the party glued to my side or in my arms. At one point when he lost sight of me he actually freaked out until I got to him thirty seconds later. I know it is not unusual for an introverted child to react like that to such an overwhelming environment and I wasn't surprised at his reaction. I was, however, surprised at my own response. Seeing Hollis so uncomfortable and scared disturbed me because I remember that feeling. I remember it well.

I've written about being an introvert in an extraverted world before. Seventy five percent of people are extraverts and it can be difficult to be so different from the majority. As a child, I was painfully shy around new people and in new situations. It was a horrible feeling to be standing on the sidelines wanting to join in and just not able to do so. In fact, Hollis's experience at the party brought back a specific memory for me. I must have been 4 or 5, but I was standing by the merry go round on the playground and I desperately wanted to get on. I watched it whizzing by me with kids smiling and laughing. I was afraid to jump on but also afraid to ask anyone to stop it for me. An older child came up beside me and asked if I wanted help getting on. I just stood there, mute, and shook my head. He shrugged and hopped right on.

Over the years, I have overcome my fears. As I grew in age, experience, and confidence, new situations and people weren't quite so overwhelming for me. Now, I'm a litigator and I spend a good part of my career putting myself in what many people, even extraverts, would consider uncomfortable situations - networking, trial work, and client contact. A large part of my job is really internal - developing arguments and case strategy and writing - but I argue publicly for a living. I argue for a living, sometimes in front of large groups, and I'm perfectly comfortable doing so. In fact, most people I know are actually shocked to hear that I consider myself an introvert. What they don't know is that I have had to learn how to talk to people I don't know well and learn how to react to the new situations and arguments that trial work can throw at me. But even now I over prepare for hearings and meetings and I hate to be caught off guard. I don't like to attend networking events where I know only one or two people. And it can be truly exhausting for me to spend a full day with an extraverted friend. I need time alone to regroup and be alone with my thoughts.

I know what to expect with Hollis because of my own experiences. What scares me is knowing that making your way successfully as an introvert in an extraverted world takes a lot of self confidence. Confidence that I know I might not have if I had been raised a different way, by different people, or had different experiences. I worry that Big H will be picked on in school because he's quiet, or we'll do something wrong, and he won't have that confidence. I don't want him to be paralyzed by fear of the unknown or locked in his own head and unable to share his beautiful self with others. I look back on my life and see the path that led from the scared child by the merry go round to the person I am now. I just hope that I can help Hollis find that path as well.


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