I’m Baaack!

Photo courtesy of MorgueFile.com.

Photo courtesy of MorgueFile.com.

Well guess who climbed out from under a rock…or should I say a mountain of work and life changing events.

I have wanted to start blogging again for a while, but it was hard to figure out where to begin. I stopped blogging when I got pregnant with my second child and my work demands became much more intense. I was too tired to do anything after work except take care of a two-year-old and grow a baby in my belly.  Then I gave birth to my baby boy, J.J., and I had to go back to my demanding job way too soon after he was born. So with a toddler, a newborn, and a job as a lawyer, I simply had no time or energy to write…or to continue with my unfinished and never-ending house renovations. *sigh* Continue reading

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Is Vacation Worth This?

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I took two vacation days off of work to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend and I am hoping to take a week off over Labor Day. That will be it for my summer vacation. Even taking that limited time off is rough with all of the work that I have pending. It makes me feel guilty going away. Also, the amount of work that I have to do just so I can leave is overwhelming and knowing the disaster that inevitably awaits me upon my return makes a vacation seem not even worth it. It’s somewhat depressing that I feel guilty taking time away because I DESERVE IT and it’s a major reason why I sometimes wish that I was not a lawyer.

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That First Valentine’s Day

Image courtesy of KEKO64 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of KEKO64 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wow, I haven’t written a substantive post in a while. Work has been overwhelming lately and I started a wood refinishing project that has been taking up my limited free time. Blogging has kind of taken a backseat while I have been trying to keep my life under some type of control.

I decided to make some time to continue Part 2 of Chasing a Daredevil and Twins Before We Wed – Blogging Challenge. You can find Part 1 here, which goes through the progression of my marriage in pictures. Since I can’t post daily, I am posting to this challenge when I get time. Here is the challenge:

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Her Juggle: Jess H.

I am so excited to be featured in the series, Her Juggle, over at Breadwinning Mama, an awesome blog that everyone should check out! The “Her Juggle” series focuses on different moms and highlights how they juggle their unending responsibilities. You can check out my juggle here!

I love reading about how other mamas make it all work with their particular circumstances. When I’m feeling overwhelmed (which is most of the time), it makes me feel better knowing that I’m not alone in my juggles and struggles as a mom. Plus, I love getting tips and advice that might help make my juggle easier. I need all the help I can get and, hopefully, other mamas can take something from my juggle as well!

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The Progression of Marriage

I have been married for almost thirteen years and marriage can become tedious after all that time, especially once kids enter the scene.  I decided to join Chasing a Daredevil and Twins Before We Wed – Blogging Challenge because I thought it would be fun to reflect back to the days when my relationship was new, fresh, and kid-free.

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The Annoying Toddler

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Let’s be honest for a minute about parenting a toddler. Toddlers can be unbelievably annoying, like “I need to lock myself in my bathroom to get away from you right now because you are driving me crazy” annoying. Parenting a toddler is not always the gumdrops and giggles presented to us in diaper commercials. Sometimes I can’t stand my kid’s behaviors and her budding personality traits/flaws. In order to help myself deal with my own Little Miss Annoying, I’ve compiled a list of my toddler’s most annoying traits.

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So That’s What My Parents Meant About Responsibility

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Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I remember having an argument with my father when I was sixteen years old.  I can’t recall what started the argument (probably me complaining about the unfairness and difficulty of my privileged, middle-class, teenage life), but I distinctly remember my father becoming annoyed by something I said. 

In response to whatever naïve, idiotic comment I had just made, my father told me that I had no idea what it was like to be an adult, trying to support a family.  I sat at the dinner table, rolling my eyes at him, as he stood by the sink, frowning at me.  He said, “You don’t realize how easy you have it. Someday you will have bills to pay, taxes to worry about, and a family to support. You think you have it hard now, but you have no idea what life is really like.”

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Valentine’s Day Stinks!

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Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I can’t stand Valentine’s Day.  The media treats Valentine’s Day as the one day each year that my husband must spend money on me, put on a big show for me, and act like someone he’s not to prove how much he loves me.  We have been married thirteen years. He is not romantic and I don’t expect him to be. I just want him to be loving, respectful, and helpful.

On Valentine’s Day, I am expected to transform into a sexy-underwear wearing, coy, vixen to please my man. Give me a break.  I don’t have time for that nonsense.

As far back as I can remember, I never bought into this Valentine’s Day garbage. Don’t get me wrong, I was flattered and appreciative if someone gave me flowers or took me out to dinner, but it was never necessary. Some big, phony, romantic to-do where my date and I are just trying too hard is just annoying to me.  Over-the-top romance might work for some people, but not me. I now realize that buying into the expectations that everyone else puts on me about what my relationship should be with my husband will only make me feel disappointed with him, me, and my life. Disappointment leads to anger and I really don’t want to be angry.

My husband could care less about Valentine’s Day.  Like any other day, he just wants me to be happy and not complaining or nagging.  He will go along with whatever I want on Valentine’s Day to ensure there’s no nagging.

Here is what I have found that makes Valentine’s Day tolerable and lets me get through it without disappointment and anger:

Lower your expectations or get rid of them altogether.  This is the key to an enjoyable Valentine’s Day.  I think that lowering your expectations regarding something like Valentine’s Day plans is acceptable. During my first Valentine’s Day after I got married, people asked me what special things my husband and I were going to do for our first Valentine’s Day. Since we were both broke law students, I didn’t expect anything. Since I expected nothing, I was happily surprised when I arrived home and my husband was making a surf and turf dinner. It was lovely. In my experience when I expect some perfect scenario in my mind, I always end up disappointed. So I’ve learned to lower my expectations. My advice is to get rid of your expectations and be open to whatever happens on Valentine’s Day!

View it like any other day.  If you treat Valentine’s Day like any other day, then you are managing your expectations. I don’t think there should be expectations on either person to act differently just because it happens to be Valentine’s Day. This doesn’t make sense to me. You and your partner should always be loving and respectful to one another. You should be treating each other like every day is Valentine’s Day. If your partner is only treating you like you are special on Valentine’s Day, then you have bigger problems than what kind of jewelry you expect to receive on Valentine’s Day.  

Work together.  Instead of placing all of the pressure on your partner to come up with some type of perfect romantic scenario for Valentine’s Day, work with your partner to devise something fun for you both. Working together so you both can have a wonderful time certainly helps bring you closer. Working together also manages expectations. By working together, you will be taking the pressure off of each other.  Considering that Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love, have fun planning something special together!

Don’t compare your relationship to others.  This is the worst thing that you can do to your relationship.  It just creates unreasonable expectations.  Remember that the relationships that you are comparing your own relationship to are not perfect either. Your relationship is not like anyone else’s relationship and it’s special in its own way, so stop comparing! If one of your colleagues gets a great bouquet of flowers on Valentine’s Day, don’t feel sad about your situation, don’t feel jealous of her, and don’t feel angry about your relationship. If you are unhappy about something, do something about it.  Your partner isn’t a mind reader.  Tell your partner what you want.  If you would like to get flowers once in a while, let your partner know.  If you want something different in your relationship, then change what you’re doing and talk to your partner about changes you want to happen. Then, move on and enjoy your day!

Focus on your family. Since Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love, why not share your love with the entire family. If you have kids, get them involved. Do a fun family craft activity or plan a family dinner with a valentine theme. Get everyone involved, have some family fun, and show each other some love!

Mama, Who Are You Wearing?

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was on maternity leave for twelve weeks, I watched a popular makeover show every afternoon while I nursed my daughter.  The hosts made fun of some unsuspecting women, often a working mom, who they felt looked a like mess and who I felt looked like me.  They surprised this woman with a fabulous makeover, including new hair, new makeup, and a new wardrobe.  In every episode, the hosts proceeded to turn the disheveled mom into a chic, put-together, modern woman, someone that we all should strive to be.

That show made me feel a little bad about myself because I prefer wearing sweat pants to the grocery store, not a stylish clothing ensemble replete with costume jewelry and heels.  In my post-partum exhaustion, that show actually convinced me that I should be embarrassed for myself because of how I dressed. After the hormonal, exhausted fog I was living in dissipated, I realized that I really don’t care what people at the grocery store think about how I dress.  In fact, most of the people at the grocery store are dressed just like me.  Seriously, who wants to wear heels and fancy jewelry to walk through the freezer aisle and stand in the deli line?

I don’t have time to primp when a screaming toddler is demanding my attention before work, so I have to get ready quickly.  Also, since my daughter uses my clothes as her tissue, I need to be able to throw them in the wash.  My clothing must be comfortable, easy to clean, and not fussy.

These makeover shows, although entertaining, annoy me because they tell women that they must look a certain way to be accepted by others and feel good about themselves. This is also why I can’t stand the vapid, shallowness of Hollywood and celebrities.  The media makes regular women feel awful about themselves because they can’t look like the unreal, airbrushed images of starved and Botoxed celebrities. These celebrities have nutritionists, plastic surgeons, trainers, stylists, and nannies at their disposal.  The media’s portrayal of these unrealistic images is absolutely unhealthy for women, and awards season is the worst.  It’s amusing to watch with the makeup, the designer clothing, and expensive jewelry, but it’s all so fake.

So when I saw that a group of awesome mom bloggers are sharing who they are wearing this awards season, I just had to show off my working mom style as well.

As a lawyer and a mother, I have to change my outfits throughout the day, so I will start with my fabulous daytime look, which I like to call Lawyer Mom.

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This look consists of:

Outfit – Sale price Anne Klein black suit, covered in dog hair; Sale price Victoria’s Secret dress shirt under the suit jacket that can be thrown in the washer and does not require ironing; Black socks, covered in dog hair; and Black dress boots with a practical and comfortable low heel.

Makeup – Powder and mascara.

Hair – Uncut for over 10 months because I don’t have time to go to the salon and pulled out of my face with some bobby pins.

Accessories – Toddler and wedding band.

After work, I change into my stylish evening wear.  I call this look Comfortable Mom.

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This look consists of:

Outfit – My great-grandma’s hand-me-down fleece zip-up sweater with toddler snot on the shoulder; Pittsburgh Steelers tee under the fleece; TJ Maxx fleece duckie pants that my daughter loves to hug; Nike athletic socks; and J. Crew fleece lined moccasins.

Makeup – None.

Hair – Unbrushed bun.

Accessories – Wedding band.

I know that I have serious style and I pull off my looks flawlessly, regardless of what that makeover show says.  So mamas, who are you wearing this awards season?

Pregnant With No Home of My Own

My husband and I spent four years renovating our lovely 1927 craftsman in a great suburb. After finishing all of the projects, we got bored and decided that eventually we wanted to purchase an even older home with more projects. However, we weren’t serious about selling yet because we planned on starting a family soon and I certainly did not want to worry about moving in the midst of a pregnancy. I wanted to “nest” during pregnancy, not upheave my entire life. Plus, there was nothing interesting for sale, so we were staying put.

My husband and I wanted to test the market, so we met with an agent.  The agent told us how much we could expect to get for our house, which was not enough to convince me to deal with the hassle of moving.  I had no interest in selling at that point, so we decided to list our house at an unreasonable price, thinking that we would never get it. We hoped to see what type of interest and feedback we received, make a couple small changes to the house based on the feedback, wait for another year or two, and then list the house at a reasonable price in a stronger housing market.  No one, including our agent, ever expected the house to sell at our jokester list price. When we were offered full asking price in cash within the week, we figured this was a sign that it was time to go. No appraisal necessary! The whole situation was crazy and unexpected. Just three weeks earlier, we were happy in our home and there was no discussion about moving.  Now, we were selling with nowhere to go.

My husband’s parents offered to let us move in while we searched for a new home. So off my husband, my two dogs, and my two cats, and I went.  Soon after moving in with my in-laws, I learned I was pregnant.  So much for “nesting.”  I was now pregnant with no home of my own.

My husband, my pets, and I took over the third floor of my in-law’s house.  It’s the stuff good reality t.v. is made of.  I was a pregnant and hormonal crazy person, trying to deal with my steadily enlarging body, my stressful career, and my marriage, while also trying to be as respectful as possible to my in-laws and their home.  On one hand, I felt guilty and embarrassed by my violent mood swings and the fact that my husband’s parents had the rare opportunity to get very close and personal with their pregnant daughter-in-law. Try getting into hormonal arguments with your husband in front of his parents in their house.  It’s pretty uncomfortable.  I didn’t want to be an absolute jerk, but I was so tired, bloated, and uncomfortable that I simply wasn’t willing to change my attitude. My husband’s family was so kind and gracious during all of this. Looking back, I feel like an idiot knowing that people other than my husband got this glimpse of me. Fortunately, everyone in the house is extremely easy-going and forgiving, so everything worked out. We learned a lot about each other and I feel that we all grew closer as a family.

During my pregnancy, my husband found a one-hundred-thirty-year-old Victorian that was literally falling apart.  We bought it and my husband began restoring it, along with acting as general contractor on the project.  I didn’t see much of him during this time because he worked at his job all day and restored the house at night. The most frustrating thing was I couldn’t help at all due to my pregnancy. So much needed to be done on the house and I felt like an utter waste because I was contributing absolutely nothing. I spent a lot of time alone with my in-laws and they provided me with support during this frustrating time.

After my daughter was born, there were seven adults, one newborn, five dogs, and three cats in the house.  My husband was working so hard to get our new home habitable that some days I didn’t see him at all.  It was tough being a new mother and hardly interacting with my husband. I was overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, unsure of myself, and confused about how to properly care for an infant.  I didn’t know what I was doing.  It was so weird because although I lived in a full house and I had a newborn with me at all times, I felt extremely lonely.  I was so tired and it was just me and the baby hanging out on the third floor for days at a time. Fortunately, my family and my husband’s family reached out to me, pulling me out of my reclusive funk. That meant a lot.  It was a good thing that I was staying with my husband’s family at that time because I don’t know how I would have dealt with having no one around.

Once our new home was habitable, we had to move on though.  I was sad to go.  My in-laws house had been my home during this life-changing event.  No more family dinners every night where we talked about our days at work, no more t.v. time where we discussed the news or reality t.v., no more daily time between my daughter and her grandparents.  Leaving felt like closure to a very important chapter in my life and the beginning of another chapter.  We were finally moving into our own family home.