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23 Jun

I’ll just go ahead and say it. I hate the BAR exam. Yep.  Hate.  It.

I thought law school was bad, but the time between law school and the BAR exam is filled with studying, stress, anxiety, and frustration, and is far, far worse.

There is an insane amount of work that Joel has to do to get ready for the exam, and that leaves me to manage literally everything else. I know he has to do it, but I can’t help feeling like all I want to do is run away and disappear until the first of August when the exam is over.

I hate to be complain-y, but I’m just being honest. I’m completely overwhelmed with life right now. I’m teetering right on the edge of a breakdown. Just about every day.

Clara has started preschool, which is helpful to me.  She’s also potty training, which is probably going about as well as can be expected, but is still stressful.  She seems to really like school – every day they send home a little sheet telling me what they did and how she was.  Every day they check the boxes beside: chatty, energetic, happy, cooperative, and friendly.  Sounds pretty accurate.

Lucy is sweet as ever. She’s about to be mobile though, which I am totally not ready for. She can pretty much roll across the room in the blink of an eye if I put her down on the floor.  She’s a wonderful baby – happy and quiet most of the time.  Only fussing when she is tired or dirty.  And she’ll fall asleep almost immediately if you put her head in your armpit and gently hold her arms down.  Quirky, I know.

So, here we are in the middle of summer that doesn’t feel much like summer.  I mean, it’s hot outside and all, but summer is supposed to be for fun and play and vacation.  And we are having anything but that.

We are going to head to the beach for a few days soon, which will be nice.  But Joel will still have to be studying, so I don’t know how much of a break it will really be.  And after that, I am strongly considering going to my parents’ every weekend until the exam is over.  My mom and I want to do things like pick peaches, blueberries, tomatoes, and cucumbers… and then can them, making pickles, jam, salsa, etc.  I’ve wanted to do that for a while, so this seems like as good a reason as any to do it.  The kids will love to spend time with Gigi and Grandad, and we’ll have a fun activity to keep us busy.  Anyway, we’ll see.  I’ve got to get out of here though.

I’m trying to make a list of things I want to do after the BAR is over.  I plan on taking all kinds of classes and getting out of the house by myself some.  I want to take a pottery wheel class again – I still have all the tools from the first time I took it.  And I want to do some cooking/baking classes.  Who wants to join me?

The post I wrote, but got deleted somehow

27 Sep

So, there was this day, about 3 weeks ago, where I went to the doctor.  We were having our anatomy ultrasound, so Joel was there with me.  Ultrasounds are always fun – you get a peek at the little creature that’s causing so much change and insanity.

We’d already had an ultrasound saying that we were having a boy, so we were just expecting confirmation of that, along with seeing the heart beating, moving around, and various other things.

So, you can imagine my shock when we were informed that we are, in fact, having a GIRL, not a boy.

I wrote a long and emotional post about my feelings on the matter a couple of days later, but when I went back to edit and publish it, it was gone.  Maybe that’s for the best.

Basically, I was a complete and total disaster for about 3 days.  Crying.  Sitting at my kitchen table crying.  By myself.  Because right after the ultrasound, Joel had to leave me, still at the doctor’s office, to go to class.

I should mention, I have a ton of great friends and neighbors.  My neighbor, Sarah, came over to sit with me for a few minutes and make sure I was ok.  And our neighbors Jodi and Todd brought over chocolate for me after seeing a facebook post about how I couldn’t find any in the whole house.  I am so appreciative of the people who care enough to do things like that.  Thank you guys.

It wouldn’t have been so much of a shock, and certainly not a disappointment, except that we had already been told it was a boy.  I had set some expectations.  I had the little boy with a personality, a face, plans for a nursery… well, you get it.  So, when all that was shattered, I was crushed.  I kept repeating to myself that the important thing is that she is healthy.  And it is.

I had several friends who, absolutely correctly, reminded me that whatever this baby ends up being, it’s exactly who God intended to be in our family.  They are right.  I knew that.  But my heart was having a hard time catching up with my head.  And, if I’m completely honest, it’s still getting there.  I’m sure that this little girl will be beautiful, adorable, precious, and just what we need.  But I’m not quite to the point of excitement that I was when I thought we were having a boy.  I will get there.

I suppose there’s a good case here for not finding out what you’re having.  Maybe we’ll go that route if we have another.  I guess we’ll figure that out later.

Anyway, there have been other things going on, too.

We had Clara’s 2nd birthday party last weekend, which meant a ton of family in town to help celebrate.  Cake baking.  Decorating.  Cleaning.  Busy-ness.  It was a Sesame Street themed party, which turned out perfect.  When my parents got in on Friday night, I had already baked and prepped the cakes and was just waiting for the icing tip my mom was bringing.  Once they arrived, I got busy creating Cookie Monster cupcakes and an Elmo cake.





Before they got there, Joel put together Clara’s present from my Grammy.  She got her a trike – which is awesome.  This late-night assembly project just reminded me that we have entered yet another new phase in our lives.  I call this one the put-together-complicated-toys-and-riding-devices-the-night-before-a-big-event phase.

The next morning, we put out the rest of the food.  Seriously, the easiest party food/decorations I’ve ever done.  Meet Oscar, Big Bird, and Grover!







The cupcakes were a huge hit with the kids, and the cake (my rum cake) was a big hit with the adults.  I call it a success when the kids recognize the characters on the cupcakes and the food table.  And aside from a crazy tantrum and swatting off half of Elmo’s face before we got to sing happy birthday, everything pretty much went off without a hitch.




Anyway, other things… let’s see… I’m still doing Crossfit, about twice a week.  I love it there.  They’re really good about making sure I don’t push myself too terribly hard, but still get a good workout.  I’ve definitely gotten slower, but I think about it like this: if I can finish a workout, I call that a victory.  I don’t know whether it’s just that this pregnancy is so very different or if the fact that I’m keeping so active has something to do with it (the opposite of what I did with Clara), but I’m feeling really good.  I’m 22 weeks and just have a small bump, which is weird to me, and people keep asking me if I’m sure I’m pregnant.  That’s a weird question.  Are you sure you’re pregnant?  Just think about that for a couple of seconds.  Yep.  I’m sure.  I don’t really know how to answer those people, but I guess they mean it as a compliment.  Strange.

We’re about 1/4 of the way through Joel’s last year of law school.  I can’t tell you how happy I will be to see him walk across that graduation stage.  I’m not sure that I’ll have words for it.  But I do know this, they should put my name and Clara’s name on that diploma, too.  There’s a lot of uncertainty about what will happen after the bar exam.  We’re not sure what the job market is going to be like – without getting too political, I’d be inclined to say it will have a lot to do with the outcome of November’s election.  If you happen to know someone who does federal law enforcement, works in a DA’s office, or works for the US Attorney’s office, I would love to talk to you.  Joel would love to work in one of those fields and he has a law enforcement background.  Right now, I feel like all I can do is pray, iron his dress shirts on interview days, make sure he has a hair cut before an interview, and pray some more that there would be some job for him after graduation and passing the bar.  I guess we will see…

Look out later today (or maybe tomorrow) for a birthday post.  Today is Clara’s real birthday, and we are taking her to the children’s museum, out to lunch, and to get a milkshake (because she drank half of the one I got last night and totally loved it).  I’m bringing my camera, so I should have lots of fun things to share.

The Cruelty of Law School

2 Feb

There is a special kind of cruelty that the families of graduate students know.  I think it’s probably true for any grad school, not just law school, but that happens to be my specific experience.

The first year is tough.  There is so much work that the student pretty much disappears.  You might see them enough to say goodnight before you go to sleep, and if you’re in the unfortunate situation where you work weekends, like I do, you might get to say goodbye to them before you leave on Saturday morning.  Besides that, there’s not much time together.  Exams start and everything ramps up as they study for those first law school exams, wanting to do their best.  And who can fault them for that?

Then comes Christmas break.  That glorious, beautiful, and much needed break after the first semester.  All of a sudden your student is around all the time again.  But there’s also lots of traveling to be done, parties to attend, christmas shopping, decorating… well, you get the picture.

And then second semester hits.  Once again, your student disappears.  And so it continues.

I always have a tough time adjusting when Joel goes back to school for a new semester.  Just when I’ve gotten used to having him around all the time again and sharing those mundane daily decisions with him again, which I have to make by myself when he’s in school – and he’s gone again.  It’s just the way law school is.  But it is difficult.

He’s been back in school for about a month now, and I am still trying to get used to doing everything by myself again.  When you’ve gotten used to having two people share the responsibilities of a household, it’s really easy to feel inadequate when the laundry and dishes and trash starts to pile up, and when you forget to think about dinner for your family until 5pm, when it’s entirely too late to really cook anything and have it ready by a decent hour, considering you don’t have any food in the house because the grocery trips are now all your own again as well.

All three of us were also sick the first couple weeks that he was back in school this semester, so that didn’t help my attitude much.  I found myself, sleep-deprived, foggy, and easily irritated, yelling at my 16 month old for doing something she shouldn’t be.  Not my best mom moment.  There have been several of those over the past few weeks.  Just the same way you have bad days at work, bad driving days, bad cooking days… I now have bad mom days.  Might be the worst of all.

I don’t mean for that to sound complainy.  I’m incredibly blessed in my life.  But the reality is that it is really hard for me to entirely change things like this every 4 months or so.  I suppose I’m a creature of habit.  Maybe we all are.

I am really thankful for a few friends who tell me that it’s ok to have bad days, even bad weeks.  And I know that they mean it.  And even though I know that deep down before they say it, sometimes you just really need to hear someone say those words.

What a week!

5 Oct

Hey internets!  I haven’t forgotten about you, I promise.

I have lots of things to post soon – Clara’s birthday letter, birthday party stories and photos, and even more than that.  But the problem is that I have hardly seen my computer for the past several days.

Ok, so that doesn’t explain why Clara’s birthday letter is over a week late.  That has more to do with the fact that I can’t seem to collect my thoughts to write it.  I have started it.  I guess it hasn’t really sunk in yet that she’s actually a year old.  A YEAR??  It really is hard to believe.

The last few days really have been a whirlwind.  Saturday I drove down to Wilmington to shoot a wedding at Figure 8 Island (which is amazing, by the way).  Mary (my second shooter) and I stayed at Millie’s house that night and stayed up entirely too late laughing and telling crazy wedding stories from this year, and ended up getting only 2 hours of sleep.  Sunday morning we headed back north to Topsail Island for an engagement shoot, and then drove home to Holly Springs.  Whew!

Monday I packed up some stuff for Clara and took her to Greenville, where my parents live.  They had agreed to watch her for me when a whole host of crazy things came up for Tuesday and made it impossible for me to keep her with me.  I have a suspicion though that they loved ever second of it!  I stayed there until Monday evening, and we all went out to dinner with my Grammy, who was thrilled to see her great-grandaughter unexpectedly in town.

I have to say, I surprised myself by being really emotional when I left Clara behind.  I never expected to be that weepy mom that cried when leaving their kid behind for a couple of days in the more than capable hands of the grandparents.  But I am.  I drove home with misty eyes and a sad heart.  But I know that Clara had a great time!  My parents have an awesome yard and a big swing and lots of grass and my little girl loves to be outside.  She was in hog heaven.

Tuesday morning I got up pretty early and got in the car to drive to Sapphire, NC.  Where is that, you ask?  Well, it’s about an hour past Asheville up some of the craziest, windiest roads I’ve ever driven.  It is beautiful though.  I met some of my clients up there for their engagement session and a camp that the girl used to go to.  It was a fun time, and then I drove back.  By the time I got home, I was so tired, and had spent over 24 hours in the car since Saturday.

So what did we do today?  Drove to meet my parents in Keanansville to pick up Clara, and then continued down to the beach for a few days.

Last night I could hardly sleep.  I was having dreams of careening down mountain roads out of control.  And in between those dreams, I kept hearing babies crying and waking up to look at the monitor, but wait, Clara wasn’t even there.

I sorta wish I was at home, but I’m just glad to be somewhere for a few days in a row and not get in the car again until Saturday when I drive to Beaufort for another wedding.

Maybe I’ll even get to finish that letter….

2 Months and the First Law School Finals Week

8 Dec

That’s right, my munchkin is 2 months old.  Actually, she’s 2.5 months now, but who’s counting?

Pediatricians like to see kids when they are 2 months old, apparently.  Along with a lot of other month-mile-markers.  It’s kinda fun.  You get a chance to see how your baby is growing.  In Clara’s case, at 10lbs 5 oz, and 22.25″ long, she’s growing well.  She has a big head – in the 85th percentile – which you don’t really notice until you look at how tiny her bottom half is or put her beside a kid with a normal sized head.  It’s kind of hilarious actually.

The other thing that happens at these appointments is vaccinations.  She had her 2nd dose of Hep B at her one month appointment, and it didn’t seem to bother her too much.  She was just extra snuggly.

I didn’t mind that a bit.

So I was completely unprepared for what happened when we went in for her 2 month appointment.  She got 2 shots and the oral rotavirus immunization.

And her face turned every shade of red you can imagine.

And she didn’t breathe for 20 seconds.

Because that is how angry she was.  Ohhhh she was not happy.  Not ONE little bit.

So we took her to Target.  Because Target makes everything better, right?  Well, I guess she hasn’t learned that lesson yet.  Our visit to Target and a ride in the shopping cart worked temporarily, and she slept for about 2 hours, and then she woke up A.N.G.R.Y.  That’s when we started the Tylenol.  You know, Tylenol takes entirely too long to kick in.  They should really work on that.

My sweet, mild-mannered, happy baby became a very unhappy, sad baby who didn’t know what had happened.  You could hear it in her cry – what happened to my world, and whyyyyy?

The timing of this appointment was extremely poor planning on my part, because it fell right smack in the middle of Joel’s final exams.  His first semester’s final exams.  Law exams.

I’m not sure I quite understood what exam time would mean for our little family.  As it turns out, it means that Joel disappears for 2 weeks to study – holed up in the office or the bedroom with books, flash cards, and notes – and Clara and I hang out.  That could be fun actually, for a little while.  But not knowing this, I scheduled photo shoots and other things to happen this week.  Things for which I needed to have Joel watch Clara.

Thank goodness that Pam came in on Wednesday and was able to stay and help me with Clara while Joel studied.  And even more because Clara was just miserable for about 3 days.

I have to say, I am a believer in vaccines.  I know there are other opinions out there, and I suppose you’re entitled to your opinion as well.  But I think that if it is possible to remove the threat of diseases that kill people, then it’s worth a few days of sad baby.  It breaks my heart to see her in pain, but it would be even worse to lose her to something that could be prevented.

So, lessons learned here?
1. Do not, under any circumstances, schedule Clara’s shots during exams.
2. When she does have them, clear my schedule for 3-4 days, knowing that I will need to focus on her.
3. When Joel has exams, plan for his mom or my mom or someone to come and help me with Clara.  Or go on a trip somewhere.

As far as exams go, I think Joel is doing pretty well.  He has been working so hard, and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort he’s putting into it.  We’ve learned some lessons about being prepared for any circumstance.  You should always take your computer in case the professor forgets to leave bluebooks, and take pens and pencils both.  You know, just to be prepared.  Also, he should be doing more during the semester to outline his notes, create flash cards, and just generally be studying more in addition to completing assignments so that the end of the semester isn’t quite as stressful.

But you live and learn, right?

Law school and parenthood are definitely learning experiences.  We try something, find it doesn’t work as well as we wanted it to, and try something else.  Or we luck out and find something that works well the first time, only to find it doesn’t work the next time.  It seems like life is that way sometimes.

My Clara is back to being her normal, beautiful, happy, mild-mannered self, and I’m so glad!  And we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of exams as well.  His 4th one is this morning – Contracts – and then there are only 2 more left.  We’re going to celebrate when they’re done!


In other news, how is it that Folgers always has the ability to make holiday commercials that make me cry.  Dangit.

How Infants are Like Jiu-Jitsu… and other randomness

22 Oct

Leave it to my husband to equate babies to a sport.  Since I married Joel, I’ve heard about brazilian jiu-jitsu over and over (and over) again.  He loves to go up to his gym – Forged Fitness – and “beat up” other guys (or get beaten up as the case may be).  One of the things I’ve heard him mention more than once is that to be successful against your opponent you have to control their head and their hips.  After we were home from the hospital for a couple of days, Joel says to me: “You know, I’ve always been afraid to hold other people’s babies.  I didn’t know what to do, and I was afraid I’d drop them.  But I realized babies are really like jiu-jitsu… you just have to control their heads and their hips, and you’re good.”  I laughed for quite a while at this, but he is kind of right… I just never would have equated it to that sport.  That’s my husband for you…

Clara has decided that her new favorite game is trying to squirt whoever is changing her diaper with poop while the diaper is off.  Now, normally I would think its pretty gross, but for some reason I just find it hilarious.  One night, she had a particularly explosive poop, and despite having a wipe in his hand that he could have blocked it with, instead, Joel turned her and aimed it at me!  Luckily, he missed, but we had a great laugh about it, and I’ll never let him live down the fact that he tried to get Clara to poop on me.

In law school news, Joel had a midterm in one of his classes the week after Clara was born.  He tried his best to study, despite all the distractions that were going on.  And it paid off.  I’m proud to report that Joel got 34 of 35 questions right on that exam, tying with 3 others for the highest (or second highest, I can’t remember) grade in the class!!  Way to go, Love!  I’m so proud!

Remember this?  I love this movie, but this part is really my favorite – I’ve taken to calling Clara “my Squishy”, because she is so squishy and lovable.  I love our cuddle times… oh man.  Can’t believe that sooner than I like to think, she’ll be too big to want to cuddle with us.

4am Ramblings

9 Sep

Well, good morning.

Today I woke up at 4am, for no good reason except that my back was hurting.  It was just better to get out of bed than keep tossing and turning.  I’ll be napping later, thank you very much.

So, lucky you, you get to read what my brain thinks of on 4 hours of sleep.  If you’re a regular here, you might want to get used to it… I hear that this is going to be my common state of being very soon.

1. UPS Deliveries
I love getting packages from the UPS man, or the FedEx man, or even the mailman.  I don’t discriminate.  When I know a package is coming, I check the tracking numbers obsessively.  When it’s a surprise, well, who doesn’t love a surprise package in the mail??
Yesterday I got 2 packages from the UPS man.  The pump I ordered and my diaper bag.  YAY for the diaper bag, especially.  I LOVE it.  I’ll do a full review soon, but suffice it to say, it was well worth it.

If you like sending packages, I’ll give you my address.  I love getting them.  Hahaha.

On a side note, why do the delivery guys always put the door mat over top of a large box?  What about that says “nothing to see here” ??  To me, it just draws more attention, because people are like “what the crap is going on with their doormat?”  Any thoughts?

2. My desktop computer
I have been working on a large and daunting project the past couple days – getting all my photo files organized and backed up (again).  Never fear, they are backed up.  I have had too many hard drives fail on me to chance that again.  But the issue is that everything is kinda all over the place, on multiple different harddrives, and while I have a list of what is where, I would like to have it consolidated.  The computer has been working fine – sometimes slow, but I figure that’s because it’s been on constantly for 3 years.  But for some reason, last night it stopped working.  I just tried to re-boot again, and it just makes that apple boot noise – you know the chime I mean – and spins and spins and spins.  I guess I’m going to have to make a trip to the apple store to get them to look at it… but man, I just really don’t want to.  I want it to magically start working again.  What do you think my chances are of that?

3. The office
Yesterday I had a long list of things I wanted to take care of.  I got 2 of them done.  But, to be fair, at least one of them was a large project.  I touched up the paint in our master bathroom.  This has needed to be done for a while – we put up new blinds and my first paint choice was still in existence where the old ones came down.  The second project was cleaning and organizing and decluttering the office.  Does everyone have a “dump room?”  The office was definitely mine.  It’s a single-purpose room (at least it was – now Joel uses it for studying), and easy to cut off from the rest of the house if there’s a mess in there.  Just shut the door.  Throw everything in there and shut the door.  That’s what usually happens.  And then I have to always make time for a big cleaning.  Since we’re trying to sell our house, that doesn’t really work anymore.  So, I got out my trash bags, empty plastic bins, and went to work.  It took literally all day, but I finished.

4. Selling the house
Yep, it’s on the market.  We had a showing last Saturday – our first.  We were out of town, which was probably a good thing.  I cleaned before we left on Friday, and decluttered as much as I could.  It’s a process, people.  I would love to live in a house that looks like a magazine all the time, but that just isn’t how life works.  At least not mine.
We are painting our downstairs this weekend.  Apparently, the green I painted my living room and dining room aren’t appealing to everyone.  I kinda knew this going in, but it’s our house, so we did it anyway.  So it will be a lovely barely-blue to go with our grey kitchen, white cabinets, blue countertops (we inherited those and they made the color selection process WAY more difficult… but it works now), and hardwood floors.  My dad is coming up to head up the process, and of course Joel will be here to help.  My mom and I are escaping to look at houses or visit the farmer’s market or something fun like that.

5. Dishes
I hate doing them.  That is all.

6. World Market
They are having a fall clearance sale.  I love that store.  It is kind of amazing and they have the best chai mix I’ve found.  I have tried chai almost everywhere in Raleigh since we got back from India 2 years ago.  Starbucks’ chai is terrible.  Sorry Starbucks.  I like you, really I do.  But your chai is awful.  Helios isn’t much better.  The best coffee-shop chai I’ve found is at Coffee and Crepes.  But it is still lacking.  But World Market sells a mix… I know, I know.  A mix.  But seriously, if you use milk (NOT water), it is the closest thing I’ve found to the chai I had in India.  Even Joel conceded that it’s pretty close.  Nothing will ever touch the freshly hand-ground spice mix there… but it’s close.
Also, I got a little 4-drawer library drawer set there.  It’s adorable.  Someday, when I have room an money for it, I want a big library cabinet.  You know what I mean – the card catalog kind with the little drawers?  Dude, they’re expensive.  But one day, I will have one.  And perhaps I will paint it some bright color.  Or just stain it a beautiful deep wood color.  And fill it with craft supplies.  Or something.  One day.

Oh, I could spend a fortune here.  I bought all the paper I used for our wedding invitations from this site.  They have all kinds of amazing things on this site.  Just a few things I’m drooling over… (but not buying because I’m DE-cluttering):

Who wouldn’t love to get mail in one of these beautiful envelopes??

If this calendar doesn’t make me want to stay organized, I don’t know what will.  I have a thing for typography and letterpress-looking numbers and letters

Oh there is so much more that I could show you, but you should just go check it out.

8. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
I love this show.  It happens to be, in my opinion the funniest late night show on television.  I am watching Friday’s show right now, and my favorite segment is on… Friday Thank You Notes.  If you haven’t seen this – well, you are missing out.  For example, “Thank you, omlette, for being a much more popular way of saying ‘egg taco.'”  I mean, he just makes me laugh.  It could be the sleep deprivation, but I’m pretty sure I just find him hilarious.

Jimmy, if you happen somehow to read this, thanks for making me laugh, even at 4 in the morning when I want to just cry because I’m awake.  Also, if you want a photographer to come visit your show, or SNL if you ever host, I’m your girl.

Ok, now I am completely delirious.

9. Doctors
I see them again today.  Hoping they announce that I’m making progress and baby girl will join us soon.  I guess we’ll see.

Until then, I’m going to sip on some ginger ale and crushed ice.

Law School: 2 weeks in (almost 3)

1 Sep

Well, here we are, 2 weeks in.  Ok, I guess it’s really just one official week of class, but orientation lasted a week, so that’s gotta count for something, right?

So far, so good.  I couldn’t be more proud of Joel and how hard he’s working.  He’s spent every lunch break studying, reading, or briefing cases.  He’s spent hours and hours working at home and at the library.  It’s clear he’s motivated, and it’s really encouraging to see.

Now, I haven’t really seen him much for about 2 weeks, and that is taking some getting used to, as we’re used to having lots of time together.  I’m sure, though, that I’ll manage that transition ok, and it helps knowing that Joel is so motivated to do well.

His professors at Campbell Law School have been really gracious about our situation – what with a baby arriving in the next few weeks, Joel emailed them all to let them know there’s a possibility he might have to dash out of class someday soon to take me to the hospital, and that he might miss class for a few days.  They’ve all been accommodating, and most of them have had humorous responses, signing their responses “Professor X, who loves babies more than anything,” and saying “Not only can you keep a cell phone on you during class, but you better! Would you rather have a professor slightly annoyed with you, or a wife who is justifiably angry?”

It’s helpful to know that they are understanding of our situation and the challenges we’ll be facing this year, and they’re willing to help Joel make sure he’s staying on top of everything at school.  Thanks professors – for real.  We appreciate it.