Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Silver and Gold

Any former Girl Scout readers out there? You must remember the song "Silver and Gold". I was thinking about that song as I've struggled to both maintain friendships I had in Massachusetts and create new ones in Texas. Four months in and I've yet to reach the level of "hug" friend - probably just at "decent acquaintance". I thought I'd get into some techniques I've been using and challenges I have to overcome. I welcome others thoughts - it is so.much.harder to make friends as an adult.
  • New England mannerisms. I consider myself a very open person. I talk to people on elevators for goodness sake. And make eye contact! But am I "Texas" open? Its a fine balance between not saying too much too soon and being friendly. I struggle with this (especially if I've had a few glasses of wine). And they all ask me how I'm adjusting but don't want to hear anything negative about the town we live in (no matter how good the schools are Texas is 43rd in the nation for education, people).
  • All about the kids. Everyone here brings their kids to EVERYTHING. No one really has a support network and for some reason don't like to hire babysitters (they use this place Adventure Kids which is drop off but gets pretty expensive once you exceed 2 kids). So if you want to really get to know someone you have to do it over your kids heads (forget about complaining about Ned's kindergarten teacher). Plus I'm dealing with a demanding 3 year old (I should have just written 3 year old since they all are) so I'm having snatches of conversation between demands. And you end up just talking about the kids! I also miss having friends without kids - people you can call when you're home alone with Husband traveling and they want to watch Scandal with you.
  • Church/Activities. Since all the kids here do every activity under the sun (I wish I were joking) the window for making friends is limited. We are pretty lazy on Sundays since we aren't a church family but everyone else is.
  • Work talk. I've been pleasantly surprised how many women I've met work. But no one talks about work. Which I find weird because I've always done work anecdotes. I'm trying to remember how to trot out "getting to know you talk" but again, defaults to kids.
Here is what I've been doing to try to make friends:
  • Say yes to everything. I went to Bunco at my neighborhood - of course, it didn't start until 1.5 hrs after the start time (I was already tired before I went), I wasn't drinking (diet - makes it even harder if you can't eat carbs or drink) and I prefer games of strategy. People were nice though so I'll go back - just not arrive until 8 pm (don't these people also have to get up at 5:30 am?). I went to a PTO meeting but it was in the middle of the day and I.just.can't be a part of something that so blatantly discriminates against working parents - they do awesome work though. I went to a "Newcomers Club" meeting with Aaron until I realized it was for women only. I stayed a while and realized that every member is an empty nester who moved to town and had no other way to make friends. Our neighbors have invited us to parties and we say yes to every one. I'm sort of afraid to reciprocate because they are good parties (different post on that!). We go to every neighborhood event, school event, etc. Yes, sometimes I am BORED out of my skull but maybe I'll make that connection.
  • Invite.Invite.Invite. I met a mom at daycare drop off this summer - bam, we had a family BBQ playdate a few weeknds later. I met a guy through a job application and bam, we had a family playdate and they just had us all over for dinner (they seem keepers). I'm constantly asking moms to have coffee or playdates with our kids. It's nice that I'm working parttime so I have time for this. I've invited a mom to go for a walk.
  • Example for the kids. I tell my kids all the time when I'm going out or not attending to them because I am talking to a parent that "Mom has to make friends too." I am showing by example. Some moms might worry about not making their kids a priority but if you read this blog you know I think it's important to have a job and friends that don't involve my kids - just like they have lives (school, activities) that are their own.
  • Network Mom. Find out who the best networked mom is and ride her coattails. I've been doing that with a mom from two doors down. She knows EVERYONE.
It was easier to make friends in college because you had so much free time to be together. And at work (especially Big Law) because you are forced to spend so much time together. It's hard to make a deep and lasting relationship with once a month groups or the occasional family playdate. I feel like I've been working on making friends like it is my JOB for four months and I've made so little progress. Sigh.

Monday, September 23, 2013

First Week of Fall Roundup

Signing About the School Time Germs

I knew schools had germs but I've never been that fastidious with my kids and Ned and Penny did go to pre-school so I figured our germ transition to elementary school would be painless. Ha, ha. Since school started a month ago we've had the following illnesses:
  • Stomach bug: Penny and Jo. Penny's was the first weekend after school started, Jo's was this past Saturday night. Both girls managed to use the wastebasket we put by their bedsides for round two and required no missed days of school, just missed Mom and Dad sleep time.
  • MRSA & strep throat. Ned had some dots on his face (clearly not bug bites) and his nose was bloody for 3+ days each morning (just kind of oozing) so I took him to the doctor. Well, not the doctor because you have to be "established" to get evening hours and a real doctor to see your kid. And how do you get established? By a physical that you can only have once a year per your insurance company. Grr. But the nurse practitioner was nice and she said "oh, probably a staph infection" we'll give him antibiotics and that cream you have for Jo (see below) will work. We'll just "check" for MRSA. Fast forward 3 days - yup, MRSA. All we had to do in addition to his antibiotics for 10 days was a stronger cream that all three kids are on (in their noses) for 7 days.
  • Yeast infection: Poor Jo kept complaining her "bum" hurt. I took her in because I thought I noticed some discharge and yup, yeast infection. I figured it was from the bathing suits they wear so much on the weekend. Luckily next time I don't have to take her or Penny in, I can self diagnosis.
  • Random fever: Jo was sent home from preschool with one and of course that meant I had to keep her home the next day even though she was totally fine. Thankfully that coincided with Ned's missed day a la MRSA and our afternoon nanny was able to watch both for me.
Penny is sad because she is going to see the ENT today (she's been snoring again for last 6 months - did you know adenoids grow back?) but isn't missing school and Ned and Jo got to miss school. Side note: Do you know how freaking hard it is to get appointments after school hours? I told her she could win the "perfect attendance record" if she goes to school every day. God, I hope there is one. And that I don't ruin it by taking her on vacation somewhere.

Is it Fall Yet?

The weather is FINALLY starting to be a little cooler in the morning. However, sweatshirts are just one more thing for Ned to forget at school so for now I'm telling them that they don't need a jacket. It's 85 in the middle of the day, for goodness sake!

They did have a Fall Festival at their elementary school last weekend. It was far and away the nicest elementary school fundraiser I've been to. And it was just for their school (they are 4 other elementary schools in town). There was a petting zoo, miniature horse rides, 5 bouncy houses, some sort of ball you get inside, princesses, each grade did a song (Ned didn't do it of course), games, princesses and face painting.
Can you see Ned in there?
Penny shook her tushy on the dance floor. I hope she is always this enthusiastic and never embarrassed about her dancing.

We also checked out the Fort Worth Zoo which was nice. Not as nice as the Columbus Zoo but a little more interesting than Franklin Park or Stone Zoo in Massachusetts. A few weekends ago we went to the Fort Worth Science Museum which was great - especially if you get there when it opens. So many kids have sports/church/etc. in the mornings that we've found if you get there when something opens then you have the fewest crowds.

What about Mommy Esq.'s Hunt for Friends?

Excellent question. I've been working hard to make friends with a few moms in my neighborhood. I'd love to skip to the part where people are all "hey, I know, let's ask Mommy, Esq." over/out/whatever. It took me years to make those sorts of friends in Boston and I'm impatient and lonely here without any. Since I put some of the weight I lost back on when I went off the Ideal Protein program I'm back on again which means NO ALCOHOL. Did you know alcohol is a social lubricant. Yeah. So there's that.

Women here work HARD to look good. At preschool drop off at least half the moms are in workout gear (if it's their youngest kid). And when Husband and I went to a fundraiser for the schools a few weeks ago I was amazed at hair/makeup/figures/clothes (I made a much more comfortable shoe choice and was happy about that by the end of the evening). I'm impressed how these women fit it all in. One mom in my neighborhood wears real clothes and makeup to the bus stop at 7:30 am. And she stays at home with four kids (one of whom is a newborn). I bet Husband would be tickled pink if I did all that plus met him at the door with a martini but that is just not how I roll. I can't even do it when I work part time at home all day.

Husband has also been working a little to make friends. Same goes for him planning weekend activities and actually taking the initiative to feed the kids, etc. Of course the uncharitable side of me would be annoyed that he is making an effort here when he didn't in Massachusetts but I'm trying to bright-side. Wouldn't you know the night he goes across the street to hang out is the night Jo puked twice and I was left cleaning it up solo because he had turned his ringer off on his phone. He has been traveling 3-4 nights a week but he's trying to get his work schedule to travel only every other week. With all the kindergarten homework (more on that later) it really takes two parents at night. And he's flying to NEWARK for his client. And the "no way to get there easily from here" situation that it presents. If we lived in Boston he'd only be gone 2 days at a time. Oh, the irony.

Overall though things are going well. I like working part-time but am keeping my eye out if the right opportunity presents itself. I refuse to drive into Dallas so it will probably be a while before anything decent comes along. I'm planning on going to my 10th law school reunion and I've been attending lots of Association of Corporate Counsel events in the DFW area. Last one was at the Four Seasons and I got pool use and a free spa treatment.

Let me know if you're interested in hearing about anything in particular about moving from New England to Texas or the Esqs generally.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

You Had Me At "Free Hot Dog"

Husband has been traveling 3 nights a week for work the last few weeks. Since I work at home it has been manageable - especially since with my part time status I can stop working at 4:30 to grab the kids from daycare and do something fun.
Yesterday I decided we should go get library cards after I picked them up at "camp" (the lies we tell our children and ourselves to avoid saying "daycare").

The town center has a big outdoor mall - very new and trying very hard to be charming. It's well planned. In one green space the parks and recreation department was celebrating national hot dog day by giving away free hot dogs. Despite spoiling their dinner we had to get one each!

Signing up for library cards was a bit hectic (I of course had to fill out 4 forms). Does anyone else think that libraries are too quiet? I felt like my kids were too rowdy and they aren't really rowdy kids - it's amplified by the hushed environment. And I'm always worried about forgetting to return books or if the

kids lose them. Penny picked out a book of math riddles, Ned a Magic Treehouse (but he doesn't like that there are "so many words") and Jo one about bees. I already can't locate 2 of the 3 books in our house.

We had "lunch" for dinner which they enjoyed and it was easier on me - a medley of grill cheese, peanut butter sandwiches, apples, grapes and 1 carrot each that only Ned ate.
I can't help but think though when I yell at the kids (the dawdling! the dawdling!) that Nanny April had more patience than I do. I'm working on it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Will You Be My Friend?

This Spring Husband made a case for moving to Texas. His company had offices there and he was looking for a change for our family. After many discussions, a little therapy and lots of sad good-byes we moved away from the Boston area (and my parents, brother, friends, work connections). My company agreed to keep me on part-time as an independent contractor working remotely.

So we're here. We bought a house I did not see until we moved in. How crazy is that? But a necessary evil when houses are sold the same day they are listed in the town we chose (and there is no rental market). Sometimes they sell before they are even listed.

The kids are adjusting - in fact they have been incredible. They are in daycare this summer and all three in school this fall - Ned and Penny in kindergarten and Jo in pre-school.

It helps that we have a pool and a swingset.

Working at home has its pluses and minuses. I need a little more time doing it before I can let you in on them.

In the meantime I'm trying to make friends. I "hit on" a mom at daycare yesterday. She gave me her info and I already sent an email for a playdate. Thank goodness for kids - they make it easier to make friends.

I don't think I'll ever consider myself from Texas or a Texan but I'm giving this a shot.
Do you see Husband in the background?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Penny: Then and Now

Sometimes I wonder:

How did we go from this -

(four months old) 

To this -

(four and a half years old)

In just a blink of an eye?

Well, I have noticed wrinkles sprouting around my eyes. I guess being a parent of three kids will do that.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Not-So Ideal Diet

There are cons to my Ideal Protein diet I raved about last post. Every "diet' or "lifestyle" change has its downside.

1. Sleep. I mentioned that my energy level is through the roof. The flip side is that I cannot sleep at night. It takes forever to fall asleep. I miss my solid nights of sleep. Of course I'm not actually tired the next day - I hardly ever even yawn any more.

2. Social Settings. Booze and food are social lubricants. Take that away and frankly some social settings seem more boring. In fact being on the diet makes me less inclined to do stuff with friends unless it is shopping or some activity that doesn't involve food. Prior to The Diet that was my usual social encounters - dinners with girlfriends, lunch with girlfriends. I also never leave the office any more - I bring my lunch and just eat it at my desk. I feel less interesting. I'm sure someone could write some sort of treatise about how this reflects on my psyche but I'm just being honest.

3. Back End. And I do mean the "back end". You eat less so there are fewer trips to the toilet. 'Nuff said. Not sure I really care that much but I know it bugs Husband - men really enjoy their daily duces.

4. Exiting the Program. It's hard to imagine being done but Husband is "phasing" out of it - he's on Phase III and it tries to have you introduce doing all your own food prep/cooking on the regime and it is a pain in the ass. I joked to Husband that I was just going to stay on this diet forever. I may continue to do the high protein drinks for breakfast and lunch - I love the energy level I have sooo much.

This weekend the entire Mommy, Esq. extended family will be together. I am taking a break from The Diet to enjoy wine with my sisters and to toast my cousin getting married. All our kids will be running around in fancy clothes so I'll be sure to take some photos and share them.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ideal Nutrition

Regular blog readers know I don't talk about diet or exercise. Largely because over the past 13 years I have put on Law School Weight, Big Firm Weight (mixed in with Baby Weight), and In-House Weight (springing from the "oh, I don't have to work tonight so how about some wine").

Late this winter I decided to do something about it. In consistent Mommy, Esq. fashion I was looking for a plan that made sense to me, not necessarily a sensible plan. My uncle and his wife did Ideal Protein last summer and so I delved into the details, going to some information sessions, pricing it out, and once Husband said he'd like to do it too (he's a fan of "crazy" diets) we got started. My goal was to lose a ton of weight and then look into a different "maintenance" plan (like Weight Watchers).

There are Pros and Cons to this diet (I'm sure you're all thinking that the most obvious is that it is a "diet" and not a lifestyle change). I will get to the Cons but let me tell you why this crazy diet works for me.

1. IV Line. I used to tell people when I worked in Big Law that I just wanted to have an IV drip in my office for nutrition. No hunger, no distractions. Someone else to regulate my exact intake so I wasn't making bad choices and no hunger pains to distract me from the crazy workload. Now I just have some tea and small talk with co-workers when I need a break instead of hitting Starbucks or scheduling a lunch out of the office.

The "skinny" on this diet (see here) - here are the foods you can eat. You have an IP food for breakfast (I always do a drink - organge, tastes like Tang), for lunch another IP food (again, I do a drink - berry) plus 2 cups of an approved veggie, for snack it is an IP food snack (they are pretty good - a ton I like), dinner you do 8 oz of protein plus 2 cups of an approved veggie. The diet is designed to be low carb (a few in the snack) and low calorie. I use dijon mustard, apple cider and a bunch of spices from our Penzi shelf to make my own dressing when I do salads at night if Husband is traveling. Otherwise I make him cook dinner!

2. Choose Your Lab Produced Nutrients Adventure. Husband likes this diet because the food is created in a lab. I like this diet because once I realized I liked the drinks and a few snacks I have the exact same drink for breakfast every day, the same drink at lunch and a little variety at snack time. The only choice I have to make is what protein/veggie to cook for dinner. And if I am feeling really lazy and Husband is traveling for work I'll just have another drink to replace dinner. I do not miss eating. I do not miss cooking. I do not miss making choices. I can walk into a party and know I will not make bad choices (wine, apps) because I just make NO CHOICES. Yes, as I will explain on my con list it is hard to be in social settings without wine/carbs, but I'm a working parent - how often do you think I get out?

I cannot describe how liberating it feels to not make choices. It's almost lunch time as I'm typing this and I know exactly what I'll be having and it took me 5 mins to prepare - blueberry cran-granata drink plus 2 cups of cut up red pepper. I pretty much have that every day, sometimes I mix up the veggies. I bring my breakfast drink in the car and sip it on my way to work (in one of those big red solo cups so it totally looks like I am chugging beer at 8:30 am). Dinner requires a little more thought since we are trying new recipes that meet the guidelines but if we plan a little over the weekend it isn't too hard - plus we find that just doing a protein and veggie means we eat earlier (8 or 8:30 instead of the 9:00 pm plus that had become customary).

3. Hunger free. Because this diet is high in protein I am never hungry. Sometimes around 11:30 I think hmm...is it almost lunch? But I'm not dying for it the way I was on my carb heavy menus.

4. Energy. I cannot believe how much energy I have! I'm an energizer bunny during the day. They also have a schedule of vitamins (calcium, potassium, multivitamins) because you aren't getting those from eating and they encourage use of salt since you aren't eating processed food so you need it to retain water. I think remembering to take the vitamins is my biggest challenge. You don't have to exercise on this diet but you can after first three weeks. Let's just say I nodded about that "getting back to exercise" since we all know I haven't been doing it anyway.

5. Weight loss. The add says 3-7 lbs. I average about 3-4 lbs a week. I've "cheated" a weekend or two when I've been kid free so my overall total has been I've been really pleased - 35 lbs since end of January. No way am I revealing how much I want to lose! Husband is already done with the weightloss phase (men!) but we are still eating together at night on the IP plan. At this point I am in the clothes I was wearing when I went back to Big Firm after the twins (and I had lost all my twin weight then) - so just Big Firm weight left to go - that's 6+ years of weight left to go. My sisters laughed hysterically when I said I wanted to be the same weight I was at 21. I'm not that unrealistic - but hey, a girl can dream, right?

6. Cheating. Speaking of cheating, it is counterproductive to cheat on this diet as your body will go out of ketosis - I was just happy I didn't gain weight during that week following a weekend when I decided to cheat (an affair with wine and carbs). My uncle did 6 months without cheating - that is willpower! Since you can't just say "oh, I'll make the points up (Weight Watchers) tomorrow" you just don't cheat - there is no point. Unless you plan a cheat like I did for a sanity break. Randomly someone told me that people in ketosis can end up depressed so that maybe it isn't bad to have a cheat day once in a great while (like once a month if that) - but I have no idea if that is true.

7. Ketosis. What is ketosis - see here. How awesome is it that you can change the way you eat and have it be fat burning diet? My dad is a doctor and he says this is totally legit - he has patients regulate their diet to go into ketosis before and after surgery to help with healing depending on the procedure (apparently the liver works harder on this sort of diet - good thing drinking isn't allowed!). It's true what the literature says - first three days (especially third day) of going into ketosis sucks - it is your body withdrawing from carbs. And man, I was a carb addict!! But I noticed that going back in after my cheat wasn't as hard as that first trip into ketosis.

Okay, this is not an infomercial, I swear. But if you have questions let me know. Part two will be the cons.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Suit Up

Yesterday after work I dropped off some items for a charity fundraiser for my kids' school to a mom whose daughter is in Ned and Penny's pre-K class.

We chitchatted a few minutes and since I was dropping off items that are branded the company I work at I mentioned that I was in-house counsel at said company. "Oh!" she said enthusiastically, "I used to be a lawyer too!"

She asked me what I did for childcare.  I made a joke about being able to have a cup of coffee uninterrupted at work. She mentioned not being able to have an important phone call while schlepping the kids in her minivan.

After a few more minutes of parenting jokes/comments I clicked away in my heels to my car and drove off to get home in time for bedtime antics.

I wondered what that woman thought about me that night. Did she think about her life choices? Did I feel a little too smug about my work challenges I spent the day on instead of mediating constant sibling fighting?

People who are friends with me on Facebook know I am a huge proponent of women in the workforce and how to fit in it on existing terms (less about how to "change" the system). I think a lot about disadvantages/advantages of being a working parent vs. a stay at home parent. I make my choice to work evaluating all those ups and downs because I think deep down I recognize that if I *had* to (or wanted to) I could stay home (does my husband think that about himself too?). Some women don't have that choice so when I "suit up" for work I often feel like I have to be sure every day that the positives outweigh the negatives. Really being focused on my job and career is a choice I make, a check in the "Yes" I work box every day.

What choice are you making? Or do you feel like you have no choice? If you want my full view on working parent see this blog post - it is one I often reread to see if I still believe it. I do.