Christmas is Settlement Season

I have never been so slammed in December.  Last week I pulled an all nighter – basically worked 36 hours straight, with an hour or two break here and there to give the kids dinner, sleep for an hour, take a shower.  I’m digging out . . . it won’t be this way forever . . . but it’s a real pain in the neck that this is happening in December.  Now I did take the morning following my work marathon to sleep in, wrap some presents, and all around regain my composure, before arriving at the office at 11:30 to bill a full 8 hour day.  That break did help, and I’m throwing elbows to make room for that kind of self care during this busy season/holiday season, so I don’t die of a heart attack.  Still, I’m going to have to work this coming weekend and the next, in order to meet all of these deadlines that have randomly fallen all together.  It really chaps my hide when folks purposefully set deadlines around the holidays to try to encourage settlement.  I’m not in control of settlement, but I suffer the consequences of imposing crushing work around a season you’d rather be slowing down – and multiply it by numerous cases, and you have the Reluctant Grownup, reluctantly billing every day of a month that also requires her to generate (and participate in) Holiday Cheer.  Nevertheless, it is what it is.  This job pays the bills and then some, so we make it work.  Also, I have a full week vacation coming up the first week of January, and at this rate I can take that and still be ahead on billables for the year.  This firm is pretty good about leaving you alone on your vacation, so I just have to stagger through the next few weeks and then I can relax and breathe.  [In Disney.  With three small children.  Five if you count the nieces too.  SOUNDS RELAXING, NO?] [I genuinely am excited.  I love Disney.]

Meantime, it’s Saturday and we are motoring through some chores.  The Prof is making Christmas cookies, and we’ll have friends over to decorate them later.  My firm Christmas party is tonight – at one of the old guard restaurants in the French Quarter.  My genius self kept the laundry going through my all nighter (if I’m up and here, might as well), and as a result we have very little laundry to do.  It’s a small thing but I’ll take it!  I’m also checking in on Christmas gifts – we are in pretty good shape, most of them bought and mailed, and just need a few more.  Because I love and rely upon these, I thought I’d give a list here of stocking stuffers I’ve bought for the boys this year.  Enjoying the Small Things always does a great stocking stuffer roundup and gift guide too – check her out!

Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty – I got all different colors and kinds for my three sons and two older nieces.  Secretly I cannot wait to play with this stuff.

Instax mini film – as their main gift, we bought the older boys two small Polaroid-ish cameras to snap pictures in Disney World.  I’m sticking some film in their stockings.

Photo albums – I got some cheap, floppy photo albums for them to put their Disney pix in, not these but similar

Shrinky dink minis – each boy got a different kind (dinosaurs, vehicles, mermaids maybe?)  I think they’ll love making them – I did as a kid.

Blue and green nail polish – Craig is in a phase where he loves to wear nail polish, like me.  His daycare teacher used to paint all the kids’ toenails with blue polish, and he is addicted to it.  I am totally fine if he wears red, purple, pink, sparkles (which is what I have in my personal stash), but I also wanted to get him some more neutral colors.  These are going in his stocking.

Big League Chew.  The kids love this.  It’s kinda weird to be, like, emulating chewing tobacco, but whatever.

Fun bandaids – we go through bandaids like it’s our job, so I always get some for their stockings every year.  This year I got Candyland, Crayon, and My Little Pony (Liam is a definite Brony right now, and Jack loves it too although he is embarrassed to say it and begs me “please don’t tell the boys at school.”  [insert predictable rant])

Toothbrushes and toothpaste, plus candy, because we like irony.

Mickey t shirts – I got us each a shirt to wear in Disney, and I’m going to roll them up and stick them in the toe of the stocking.

Magazines – I always dash to Barnes and Noble and grab a relevant magazine to tuck in the top of each stocking.

So, there’s our list!  Stocking stuffers are my fave – in years past I’ve done geodes, Sun Art (it was cheaper when I did it!), fun erasers, ink and stamp kits, cookie cutters, marbles to go in their marble run, pirate gold, sparkly rock collections, gum, bandaids, etc.  So fun to collect these little treats.

Now, for the week’s meals.  I have to hop onto a conference call in a half hour, so I’ve gotta wind this up, but I’m excited about what we’re having for dinner this week because it’s FINALLY COLD down here and while I’m not sure how long it will last, it’s always more fun for me to cook in the cold.

Baby it’s cold outside.  Hope you’re staying cozy and warm with the ones you love.


Posted in Bitchin in the Kitchen, Holidays and Celebrations, Lawyerin' | Comments Off on Christmas is Settlement Season

Saturday Morning Meal Planning and Train Track Engineering

My shirtless three year old son (soon to be four!  FOUR!) is studiously banging a wooden hammer on some wooden train tracks, to make them “stick together.”  Our Christmas tree lights are a-twinkle – the boys decorated it and so it is predictably bottom heavy with ornaments and bare at the top.  I artfully arranged some glass ball ornaments in bowls and vases around the house, and Liam keeps helpfully emptying them and putting the ornaments on the tree.  “I found these over here so I hung ’em up for ya, mom.”  Thanks bud.

The Christmas season is upon us.  Halloween is probably my favorite time of year, but it kind of blew past me this year and I never really got into the swing.  You know how some years, a holiday is just sort of perfect, and other years, a holiday sneaks up on you?  I missed a good Halloween, so I’m trying to wallow a little more in Christmasness to make up for it.  I even put up the tree on a random Tuesday night after work while the Prof was at a work event, just so we could have it up a little longer.

We had a really wonderful Thanksgiving at my parents’ place in Nashville.  All but one brother in law and my brother were there.  My brother is living in Germany for a bit, and couldn’t swing both a Thanksgiving and Christmas visit – my brother in law had other obligations that kept him home.  But all of my sisters, two of their spouses, and their children were there, and we made a happy and contented jumble.  The boys ran around outside with the neighbor children, and we did a lot of eating and drinking and cooking and did some adult dot-to-dot pictures that a partner bought me as a thanks for working a difficult case.  (Adult as in hard, not XXX rated!)  I was also able to bill quite a few hours on the drive up and the drive back, which allowed me to take four full days off (Wed – Sat).  That was great as I have worked most weekends lately – full days in some instances – and I needed a break.

This week’s meals are a nod to the fact that we have tons of evening activities and may have to heat something up individually certain days.  I have 3 (count ’em, THREE) evening holiday events next workweek, and the Prof has two, and then we have my work Christmas party next Saturday.  I’m tired just thinking about it.

So, meals are as follows:

  • PW cauliflower soup.  I made this before Thanksgiving and froze it, so all we have to do is heat it up.  It’s delicious – tastes a lot like potato soup, and the Cajun spice gives it a nice kick.
  • Dressed up ramen.  Not a great idea to eat ramen too often, as it’s full of sodium, but on a chilly winter evening, a steamy hot bowl of noodles hits the spot.  I throw in frozen veg and usually swirl a raw egg in the boiling broth til it cooks (sort of “egg drop soup” style), easy, peasy, cheap and good.
  • PW chili.  This week’s rotation is heavy on the Pioneer Woman, but that’s cause her stuff is usually pretty simple and crowd pleasing.  I made this Thursday from stuff we already had in the pantry and fridge, and I made double so we’ve got enough for this week too.
  • 12 minute chicken and broccoli.
  • Spaghetti with frozen meatballs and jarred sauce.

Happy December to all!  Only 23 days left in the advent calendar, til Santa Claus comes.

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Sick Day

It’s Wednesday, and I am siiiiiiiick. I’ve spent the day alternating between flopping on the couch, flopping on my bed, and stalking Meredith Salenger and Patton Oswalt’s wedding photos on Instagram. I intended to bill some time but I just canNOT. Everything hurts too much to think deeply. I did make this honey mustard slow cooker chicken and this jambalaya, wash and fold two loads of laundry, and emptied and refilled the dishwasher, but really those small chores were sprinkled throughout the day and really just an excuse to get up out of the bed a second and see if my head really does hurt this bad. (Yes, it does).  Everything is tender, nose is drippy, throat sore, and my joints ache. I caught this from my secretary, who had it at the end of last week and through the weekend. She did go home once it hit bad, but not early enough to spare me. Blerg for illnesses.

Although quite ill, I did manage to do my home physical therapy exercise. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here, but I’ve had back trouble for years that has slowly gotten worse – it’s gone from a twinge now and again to constant back pain and sciatica down the left leg, wrapping around now to the front of my left hip and basically making life terrible.  Long time readers will recall I broke the transverse process of my L-4 vertebra in July 2011  – just a few weeks before my sister’s wedding.  I’m told that in the course of healing, my muscles got into a weird symbiosis with each other, where the muscles surrounding the break stopped engaging to protect me from the pain of yanking on the broken place, and the others stepped up and worked a little harder to keep me upright. And they never really stopped doing that, leading to extremely weak muscles and loose ligaments in my low back and rigid, tight muscles and overly tight ligaments up in the mid to low spinal area. The physical therapist, who I saw for the first time yesterday, pushed on parts and pulled on parts and tested my legs (determining that my left leg is significantly weaker than my right, due to the sciatica), and gave me some very tight, tiny exercises to do to focus on loosening the death grip of the strong muscles, and building up the weak ones. So it’s misery, I’m here to tell you. I can barely be upright, everything hurts – independently of the illness making everything hurt. But that’s unavoidable, I guess, so I’ll soldier on.  This conservative treatment should take care of it, so I won’t need surgery or anything major.  A few months of torturous (and very expensive) PT will hopefully make me right as rain.

Everything else is humming along. The boys are doing well in school, doing well in piano lessons, enjoying Cub Scouts, etc. Craig’s daycare teacher from last year is getting married in a couple of weeks and has asked if I would bring him to see the ceremony, which is so darling.  Fingers crossed he’s a good boy – he loves Ms. Megan to pieces, and I could see him dashing down the aisle to get a hug and kiss at an inopportune moment. We’ve been invited to the ceremony only (totally fine with me), so hopefully  he can keep it together for the twenty minutes that he has to.

The job is fine also – I enjoy the work, I enjoy the folks I work with, and I’ve gotten used to the number of hours now. We have been able to hire a cleaner who comes biweekly, and we’ve got a small savings account together now, so those are two things that this new job has bought that have had a major impact on my happiness and sense of security.  It has its moments, like any job, but as a sixth year I’ve reached the point where I am no longer stressed to the max about it.

Thanksgiving next week. The year flew by, didn’t it? Wishing a lovely holiday season to you and yours.

Posted in This One Time I Broke My Back | 1 Comment

It’s Been a Minute

I’ve just returned from a business trip to Manhattan. I had to wake at 3:45 am on Sunday to catch my 5 am flight, which was fairly miserable. Even worse – upon arrival, I learned that my firm travel service had failed to arrange for early check-in, so while I was permitted to dump my bags at the desk, I had no room to go to for about five hours. I had flown on the same flight as another brand new associate, so we made the best of it and strolled through Manhattan a while, then had a long leisurely lunch at a diner (shocking Mike Pence, I’m sure). My colleague got married a couple of months ago, a couple of weeks after he took the bar, so I asked for every detail and got to know all about him and his lovely wife.  After brunch, it started to rain, and so we squelched back to the hotel and waited in the lobby until our rooms were available.

That evening, I went to a fantastic Indian meal with friends in town, and billed some time in the hotel that evening. The next three days were workdays, but I did manage to squeeze in an early morning visit to see friends and their new baby in their 28th floor apartment just off Park Ave, which was wonderful. I also did a quick shopping trip through Times Square one evening – it was frigid and raining, which made it less-than-fun, but I got some birthday and Christmas gifts, and tried to enjoy it despite the miserable weather. After that, the firm sent us to a large, 5 course meal at a great little Italian place, and I had some good conversation and got to know the group well.  The flight home was extremely turbulent, but I managed to bill several hours, and got home midnight-ish. The next day was a full one at work, but I did manage to go to the ortho and get my back looked at. He was very impressed with my flexibility (“I can tell you do yoga!”), and after some x-rays and manipulation, he prescribed physical therapy for now. I also bought a standing desk, and after using it a couple of days it’s made a huge difference. It’s convertible, so I can spend time sitting and standing – hopefully it helps. I’d given up running for one month to see if that helped my back. It did not, but I gained (NO JOKE) 9 pounds. Bad idea to give up running around Halloween. So hopefully the PT, standing desk, and continued yoga will get me up and running (literally) again.  It took me almost a year to lose 10 pounds, and one month to gain it all back. Grrrrr thyroid grrrrr.

Just generally, between travel, work projects, and going to aaaaaall the doctors before our deductible re-sets in January, October through early November was a wildly busy month.  This weekend half the clan went on a Boy Scout campout, leaving me behind with a very stressed out Craig, who has Ireland trip PTSD and always worries that Daddy and Brudders have gone for weeks on end, instead of just one night. However, campout aside, the weekend was much more tame – they were only gone one night – and so of course I have used that time to rearrange all of the kitchen cabinets and pantry. Now there is a place for everything and, for the time being, everything is in its place. I’ve also managed to bill about five hours, pre-make some chicken fajita soup, and go to church for the first time in weeks. It’s good to be back in a routine – though we’re traveling for Thanksgiving, and then comes the madness of December. At least I enter the holiday season with a pantry that’s organized as all heck.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve got to run to Costco, so I’ll wind up this little update with our meal plan. I’ve eaten out a lot lately due to travel, so it’s nice to be home and cooking again!

  • Chicken fajita soup. Made this yesterday, except instead of cream of chicken soup I used cream of mushroom, and instead of salsa I used Rotel (this is because I had the latter items, but not the former items, on hand). We’ll eat it later this week and see if it’s terrible or what!
  • Pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans.
  • Balsamic chicken salad with lemon quinoa
  • Jambalaya
  • Meatball subs – I’ve got some delicious frozen meatballs and pasta sauce – add bread and provolone and you’ve got yourself a good sammie.

Now that I can stand more at work, I should be more inclined to write here more often. (When you sit at a computer all day, you don’t want to sit a computer ANY MORE once you get home, believe me.) We shall see – I intended to do NaBloPoMo this November (stands for National Blog Posting Month), but didn’t remember until November 7th, so there went that plan. Maybe I’ll have my own personal NaBloPoMo in January . . .

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Paying bills, reading the news, watching College Game Day, spilling cheesy eggs all over the laptop keyboard. These are the trappings of an eleventh anniversary.

We are doing nothing, because we spent money on other (fun) things this month and we’re temporarily broke, and also we really did it up fly for our tenth anniversary. And that’s fine. Last year (literally one full year ago) I bought him a piece of art for our anniversary, which has been apparently sitting on our floor for a FULL YEAR waiting to be framed. Perhaps next month, after we get paid again, I’ll frame it as a belated 11th year anniversary gift and we will hang it somewhere. Eh. No rush. CLEARLY.

Last weekend I had a wonderful visit from some far-flung professional friends. We covered just about every inch of the French Quarter, and ate our weight in pastries and John Besh goodies. Also, they’re all moms, so naturally everything that needed to be done to keep the weekend afloat got done without us even communicating to each other about who would do what. A team of moms could really run most everything in the world better than it’s currently being run, I’m here to tell you.

Then the real world came crashing back. It was an emotionally difficult week for reasons entirely un-marriage related. I have a pro bono client in trouble, whose realistic and overwhelming anxieties I had to soothe, while being unable to do anything constructive for her. (Family Law and Public Interest Law folks – I salute you. I could not carry these people’s burdens as a matter of course, day in and day out.) And there was other family stuff plus work stuff this week, none of it interesting or juicy, all of it inappropriate for a public blog, but all of it requiring some emotional heavy lifting. Each of these individual problems is relatively minor and easily absorbed one at a time, but literally about five separate things came to a head in a space of a couple of days and zoinks. I’m flagging a bit.

I would love to go for a long run – that always helps clear the head – but my bones, you guys. Is everyone else at age forty-ish just feeling musculo-skeletal misery like I am? Is it possible I am reaching an age when I can no longer do a 7 mile run because of my back? That can’t be right – I see 80 year olds running marathons. I’m going to my PCP and getting a referral to a back doctor. The lower back pain has started wrapping around to the front of my hips, to the point where I find myself holding my breath and clenching because it hurts so much, especially after a long day at my computer. I always do some yoga before and after a run to keep stretched, but there may be some other stretches, exercises, etc. I can do to deal with this better. For all I know I’m exacerbating the issue by continuing to run the way I do, and it would go away if I had different posture or shoes or something. We’ll see. I’ve been to a billion doctors lately – checking thyroid, dermatologist, routine one year well check, etc. I haven’t seen a dentist in two years but it seems like I take time off to go to a doctor at least twice a month, for one minor thing or another. Nevertheless, I’ve just gotta make time for my teeth and my back.

Could this BE anymore boring?  The Reluctant Grownup Gets Old, should be my new blog title.  And I’m not even yet 40! The children have aged me before my time. Yes. Let’s blame it on them.

So let’s abandon this whine, plan the week’s meals, and then get up away from a screen and go for a (gentle, non-stressing, orthopaedic shoe involved) walk outside.  This week’s meal planning must include a serious amount of vegetables. We ran out of frozen veg – my go-to towards the end of each week once we’ve eaten the fresh stuff – and so I haven’t had a vegetable in DAYS.

That’ll do us for the week. Let’s hope it’s a less difficult one, eh?





Posted in Bitchin in the Kitchen, Domestic Bliss | Comments Off on Eleven