Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Family Friendly

I want to take a moment to say that I am so thankful that I have such a family friendly employer. Seriously. It is hard being a working mom. REALLY hard. Its even harder when, like me, you don't have a traditional 40-hour a week type job. Being an attorney is a demanding job, both mentally and in terms of time committment. I honestly do not think I would be able to continue doing it if I didn't have such an amazing boss and firm.

As with most associate attorneys, I have a minimum billable hour requirement that my firm expects me to meet each year. Its pretty ambititious and requires a lot of hard work to meet it. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons (mostly Bennett's multiple hospitalizations and illnesses this past year, and his insane number of doctor appointments), I just was not able to meet that requirement. I was definitely working hard, but the demands of life were simply too much.

So, I was rather expecting that my boss would really get on my case about it. I prayed on more than one occassion that they please not fire me! I went into my year-end review with a healthy sense of nervousness and anticipation.

Now, don't get me wrong, the issue definitely came up. But my boss said to me "You are a wife, mother and lawyer. If you have to be mediocre at any of those things, it should be the lawyer." Wow.

A lot of employers claim to be family friendly. But when it comes down to it, they really aren't. I am SO incredibly thankful and lucky to be able to work for a firm that really truly is family friendly. When I was in the hospital on bedrest while pregnant with Bennett, they didn't push me to work. They said to do what I could. After Bennett was born and during his 9 week NICU stay, they told me to focus on my baby. When my maternity leave ran out, and my baby was still in the hospital, and later when he was home on oxygen and a gazillion medications and there was no way I was leaving him yet - they compromised and let me work from home part time. No one blinks an eye when I roll out of here at 5:30 p.m. No one says a word when I miss time because I have to take Bennett to this doctor or that doctor. They have my welfare as a person in mind, and realize that being a mom is a HUGE part of who I am. If they were not so accomodating, there is no way I would have been able to continue pursuing my career. They made it so I didn't have to choose between my career and my children.

I do not take this for granted. Not one second. I know this comes at a cost to my firm. I know they are making a long-term investment in me. This type of work environment is invaluable. It makes it easy to be loyal to a firm like this. The more they invest in me - the more I want to invest in them. If only more employers were like this!!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry (belated) Christmas!

Be forewarned - there will be a picture explosion in this post! I take that as a sign of a great holiday!

Our festivities started Christmas Eve! Carter and I set to work in the kitchen busily cooking up a storm! See me here modeling my new apron my mom made (yes, with her own two hands) for me!
Carter and I baked a delicious cranberry-apple pie! It was very yumm but a tad tart, so of course, you must pair with vanilla bean ice cream. Of course!

Pie in hand, we headed north for a celebration with my family. Here is Grandpa with his two boys! These kids adore him!
Bennett tackling Grandma!My sisters made the most wonderful gifts for the boys this year! My sister Katie knitted stuffed animals - a lion for Carter and a rabbit for Bennett! They are toooo adorable!

And my sister Tia knitted each boy a blankie with their initial on it! Bennett instantly took to his!
Katie also made me this adorable wall hanging! Well, she didn't carve the frame, but she sewed the little quilted picture that went inside! She is opening an Etsy shop soon, and I will share that info with you once I get it. Of course!

Then we made the late-night trek back to our abode. Christmas morning, Carter came downstairs and warily tiptoed toward the family room. Afraid to peek in, he stopped short and said "Mom, did Santa come???" Then he did his happy dance and bee-lined toward the mountain of presents. Now, I should put a disclaimer that this mountain also includes presents from Nana and Pop Pop - we don't spoil our children that much. Nope, we let their massive family do that!

Bennett seemed to prefer to climb on top of his presents...
The poor thing isn't heavy enough to operate his bouncy-turtle, so we have to bounce it for him! Soon little buddy, soon...
Modeling the new boots daddy got mommy!
Chillin' in his new wheels - his absolute favorite gift. From Nana and Pop Pop!

Later Christmas day, we headed to Ace's parents' house. Here I am with my gorgeous sisters-in-law!

Here is the whole clan! Including Ace's 99 year old grandmother!
Our little family. Don't ask me why Ace wore orange on Christmas....My favorite part of Christmas with Ace's family are the games his dad comes up with! Each year, he has several games, and he awards cash prizes to the winners! This year, we had diaper races with the babies! Here are my nephew Ethan and Bennett (who are only 2.5 weeks apart in age!) racing! I loooved the awesome racing shirts my father-in-law had made for them!
Bennett took off with zest, only to be intercepted by Carter, allowing Ethan to take the lead and steal the win!
Then the big kids decided they needed to race too! My niece Charlize handily won that match :)
We had such a wonderful holiday this year! Everyone was in the Christmas spirit! So much love and laughter.

Merry Christmas!!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Birth Stories! Birth Stories!! Calling all Birth Stories!!!

I love birth stories. LOVE them. I love hearing how a woman feels at each stage in that incredible transition to motherhood. So, give 'em to me!

Now! That's an order! ;)

Please??? Pretty pretty pretty please???

I'll post mine too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Only Time is Now

I think I have made at least five half-hearted attempts in the year 2009 to lose weight. I'm hanging on to about 10 lbs of Bennett weight (I blame 6 weeks of total bedrest) and about 10 lbs of weight I had accumulated over the years prior. So, 20 lbs. Eeek!

Well, now I'm fed-up. I have GOT to lose this weight. Its weighing me down.

I know, you're saying "Oh yeah, fabulous idea to start a diet right before Christmas, genius!!"

Yeah, that will suck. But there is no time but now to do something. Now is all we have. Plus, if I can manage to drop a few lbs between now and the New Year, that will make my New Years Resolution more palatable, right??

So, I expect you all to hold me to it this time. No quitting. No flaking! Tell my pansy ass to man up and DO what I set my mind to do!

The "rules" are simple (and based on what has worked for me in the past):
* I can eat all the lean protein, fruits and veggies my little heart desires.
* No dairy.
* No processed foods (with the exception of salad dressings)
* Most definitely no processed carbs (breads, pastas, etc.) or added sugars
* Only water to drink, and must drink 100 oz per day (bye bye coffee with yummy creamers!)

That's pretty easy, no? Its not totally carbohydrate free, as I will get some from the fruits. I can do it. I CAN DO IT! I CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now for the all-important question - In addition to a new fabulous figure, what should my reward be when I hit my goal? Ideas????

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Grams, Ounces, Pounds

Ok, so I will admit it - Bennett's growth has been somewhat of an obsession of mine. It started when he was in the NICU and I would anxiously await the daily verdict of how many grams he gained (or lost). I tracked his journey through the NICU to our home in grams - each one hard fought for and well-earned.

When your baby is born so small, grams mean more than pounds. When Bennett was born, he weighed 1417 grams. 3 lbs, 2.4 oz. 14.5 inches long. He lost a lot of weight the first few days after he was born. Some of it was water weight since the doctors infused 3 bags of IV fluid into me while I awaited my c-section. And some of it was caused by the fact that he didn't actually start getting any food until he was a week old and was entirely dependent on TPN - nutrition through a PICC line. His lowest weight was 1219 grams - 2 lbs, 11 oz.

So yeah, we obsessed over each one of those precious grams, because each and every one of them mattered so much.

When Bennett came home from the NICU at nine weeks old, he was 6 lbs, 2 oz. Almost twice his birth weight!
But our worry and concern over his weight gain didn't stop. Nope. Bennett has always been incredibly small, even if you look at him according to his "adjusted age" - how old he would have been if he was born full term. In fact, his weight has never even been on the growth chart. He's never reached the 3rd percentile growth curve. Ever. So you can see, we care about the ounces. We've tracked and agonized over each and every ounce this child has gained.

At one year old, Bennett was 17 lbs 5 oz. Still not on the growth chart. Sigh.

Oh, but I had high hopes! I really thought that at his 18 month appointment he'd have reached 20 lbs! I am not sure why, but 20 lbs has always been a big milestone in my head for Bennett. But nope. He came in at 19 lbs 6 oz. And you may think "Big deal! He's almost there!" But in my world where we count each and every last ounce - it matters. He was at the .3 percentile.

Well, yesterday Bennett FINALLY got his victory. Just days shy of 19 months old, he tipped the scale at EXACTLY 20 lbs!!!!!! Few people will ever understand what a feat this is!!!! If nothing, it is a psychological victory for me.
At 19 months, Bennett is now the same weight that Carter was at five months old.
Look at that delicious chunka-baby-love! Carter was a "healthy" one, he was!

From grams, to ounces, and now pounds. You've come a long way baby. We love you so much and we are SO SO SO proud of you!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Just when I thought I was ahead of the game, I realized I still have several laps to go.

Christmas. Oh, beloved and festive holiday. Oh blessed and holy time of reflection. Why doest thou causeth me so much anxiety and angst??


I had an afternoon to myself about a month ago to do some Christmas shopping while Ace took Carter to a movie. By "myself," I mean me and Bennett, but Bennett has no clue what is going on, so he doesn't "count" on this particular occassion. I briskly roamed the aisles of Toys R Us and Target and snatched up the things that were on my list for the kids and rushed home to stash it all in the back of the laundry room before the boys got home. (That's a pretty safe place to store the goods considering that I am the only one who ever even opens the door to the laundry room.) I was pleasantly surprised that everthing on "The List" was available at the store, and much of it was marked down.

And yes, I am quite glad I got that little head-start. I sat back and had a good laugh at those who waited for those coveted Black Friday deals this year. Apparently, retailers are maintaining lower inventory (anticipating that people wouldn't be shopping as much due to the recession), which actually has the opposite effect of driving the prices UP when the products are in higher demand. I was amused to see that nearly everything I had purchased a month prior was actually marked UP on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Neener, neener, neener!!!

So, I was feeling pretty darn good about myself and patting myself on the back for making the holidays this year a little less stressful. That was until I realized that the presents were only the start of it...

On my Holiday To Do List still remains:

* Advent Calendars (yes, I realize its already December 2nd...)
* Christmas cards, and I haven't even taken photos of the kids yet... And I was thinking about doing one of those family "newsletter" dealios this year too...
* The Tree (and I'm dreading the logistics of keeping Bennett from knocking it down...)
* The stockings
* The compulsory gifts for various people at work
* Make something for the grandparents from the kids
* My "secret santa" gift for Ace's family's gift exchange.
* WRAPPING said gifts...

And what would the holidays be without the umpteen events and get togethers? I mean, that IS the point, right?

I do love the holidays, but there is just so much that goes into the production, especially now that I have children and am charged with the responsibility of creating the "magic." I guess I better start listening to the Christmas channel on the radio to get myself in the spirit!

Am I alone? Does anyone else feel overwhelmed??!! Who is in the spirit? Pass me some of your happy-juice!