Friday, April 30, 2010

Lunch with John Paul Stevens

I'm leaving for a cross-country road-trip with my Mom tomorrow.  She's helping us drive our car to DC, and Nathaniel is going to fly out next Tuesday with Summer.  So we're super busy with packing and getting things ready, and what better time to blog?

During placement break my 1L year, I took a trip with my grandma to meet John Paul Stevens.  Well, to have lunch with him.  The first time I met him I was in high school.  He took me in his office and I informed him I wanted to go into politics and that I was really impressed with the big books in his office.  I'm sure I made a great impression.

The next time was better.  I got to hear oral arguments in two cases: one was Microsoft v. AT&T and the other was a Fifth Amendment case.  Justices Alito and John Roberts looked straight at me, probably wondering what I was doing in Ms. Stevens' seat.  

We sat next to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Brazil.  My mom informed her that men in Brazil treat women poorly.  The Chief Justice heartily agreed.  

After oral arguments in the Microsoft v. AT&T case, my grandma, my mom, and I went to Justice Stevens' chambers for lunch (my mom calls him John Paul, but since I'm sure he wouldn't recognize me if I said hi to him on the street, I call him Justice Stevens).   We ate BLT sandwiches and potato chips with soda.  Justice Stevens ate saltine crackers and cottage cheese with water.  

He asked my grandma about their family members on the west coast, where she lives.  He asked my mom about her job, and he asked me about school.  

"In class, do you see anyone play spider solitaire?"  

"Yes," I answered.

"Do you ever play?"

"Yes," I said, embarrassed.  I decided against explaining to him that spider solitaire helped me focus on the lecture, especially when I sat far away from the professor.

"How many different suits do you play with?"

"Two," I said.

"Next time, try four.  That's what I do and I'm have a ten percent win rate."

I'm so sad that Justice Stevens is retiring.  I have loved reading his recent interviews and news articles published for his retirement.  I don't agree with all his opinions, but his legal mind is unparalleled and I don't think we'll ever see another Supreme Court justice that's as good as he.  And that's my completely unbiased opinion.  


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Summer's First Birthday Party

Summer had her first birthday party yesterday.

She won't turn one for another four days, but on the second I'll be with my mom driving through Kansas. So we did a little something yesterday.

I spend all my time making food and decorations and didn't get around to making Summer's mop of hair look good. Sorry, little girl.

After eating, we sang happy birthday to Summer and let her go at a cupcake. She really liked the frosting...

Finally, she figured out she cold eat the whole thing and gladly did so:

Then the dress went back on and we opened presents.

So that was Summer's first birthday party, and I think it's going to be her last. I don't like throwing parties. When people leave it's such a bummer because I don't feel like I really got the chance to talk to anyone, even when the party is small. In the future, we'll just have several separate birthday dinners with good friends, because making food and eating it with friends is awesome.

Okay, here are some recipes for those interested.

We ate Asian pasta salad:

1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. oil (part sesame oil, part salad oil)
3 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt & pepper
1/4 c. toasted sesame seeds

Bowtie Pasta
red & yellow peppers, sliced
baby spinach

Bean Dip with Chips:
I forgot about the pita chips, so we just had them with tortilla chips. They would have been better with the pita chips.

We also had sliced strawberries. I have decided that, in the future, I'm always getting my fruit from costco unless I can sneak a sample before buying. Fruit at Costco is more expensive, but they've never sold me bad fruit.

For dessert, we had sugar cookies and strawberry vanilla cupcakes.

When I decided to make cupcakes, my only goal was to make a cupcake that Nathaniel liked. Nathaniel is not a sweets person. He enjoys them on occasion, but he could probably go his whole life without eating anything sweet and would be fine. Okay, well, I suppose most of us would be fine in that scenario, but you know what I mean.

Nathaniel is more than indifferent when it comes to cake. He's actively opposed to cake. When he is served cake, he usually refuses. Sometimes he accepts, though, and then is reminded why he usually refuses in the first place. So, if I was going to make cupcakes, I wanted them to be so good that Nathaniel would actually eat one. Why? I don't know. But that was my goal.

A while ago, I saw a today show clip and Giada made cupcakes topped with a strawberry glaze, which was just strawberry puree and powdered sugar. I thought a strawberry glaze sounded brilliant and so I decided to use that as my frosting. Then I decided on this recipe for the cupcakes:
It turns out that recipe is ridiculously complicated. I spent all day making the dumb things. It probably would take most people less time, but I kept forgetting to buy ingredients and I had to go to the store to get them.

So then I made the strawberry glaze, which just tasted like powdered sugar (I used fresh, not frozen strawberries, btw). So I added 2/3 of a stick of butter, a little vanilla, and a little lemon juice, and much more powdered sugar. Sorry, that's all I know about that frosting.

Anyway, the cupcakes were a big hit. Nathaniel ate, like, three. But if you're going to do that cupcake recipe, I would skip the vanilla bean. The strawberry frosting (which was really incredible) will atone for any sins of the cupcakes.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

For the love, please help!

Friends, please help me. Summer can get out of her high chair. I turn my back for three seconds and she is standing up, one leg out, attempting to get down. Either that or baby suicide. I don't know.

So I've been feeding her on the floor. I put some food on a plate, put it on the floor, and sit her in front of it. Once, when Summer was heavily distracted by an open refrigerator, I whistled to get her attention. Nathaniel promptly chastised me.

By the way, is there a real Mother of the Year award? Because I'm planning on nominating myself if there is.

Anyway, it turns out that feeding a child who is not strapped into a chair has significant disadvantages. When Summer got distracted in her high chair, it was no big deal, because the food was right in front of her and it always caught her attention again if she was hungry. But now? Now she can crawl away in the middle of a meal. And she does. She crawls everywhere. I've tried setting her on my lap and feeding her, but she'll eat a bite or two and then blow me off.
I'm going crazy trying to get this girl to eat. I used to think babies would eat if they needed it. If this were true, it would relieve a lot of stress in my life right now. Unfortunately, this thinking got me in trouble with the pediatrician.

So do y'all have any advice? Should I try rigging a belt that's stronger in place of the one she can get out of? Should I make sure she's starving before I try feeding her (I kind of think I'm doing that already, though). Should I feed her a diet of pizza and chicken nuggets? Help.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Ghost of Facebook Past

I deleted my Facebook account when Nathaniel and I were dating. I decided I didn't want to waste time on it anymore. But then my family members joined and I had a hard time keeping in touch with friends, so I tried to get back into my account after I got married. For whatever reason, I couldn't and so I created a new account, which is what I've been using since.

But a couple of days ago, I accidentally logged into my old facebook account. It was pretty fun to see my messages from way back when-especially my banter with Nathaniel from our dating days. Oh, and there are some people who have blocked me or de-friended me. But only the new me. Not the old me. So now, I can rest easy knowing that I can see more Facebook walls than ever before.

The pictures I have on there are ones I haven't seen in a long time. Some I love. Like this one:

I took it when I went to visit my dad on a business trip to Chicago. It's actually a giant, reflective bean in the middle of the city. So cool. It brings back memories of the Chicago heat and Greek food with my dad and exciting city lights.

I also love this one:

No, I'm not gay. I just wanted to get a picture with a law school buddy and someone told us to be goofy. So I decided to give my friend a kiss on the cheek (we were already hugging), and then I started falling over right as someone took the picture. And I like it that there's a couple in the back of us, and my hair is almost the color of that girl's dress. That was a fun dance. It was the only time I've actually used the few belly dancing moves I learned.

I don't really get this one:

It was a profile picture. I remember when was getting over Robby and was sad about it I googled "cute animals" and I would look at pictures until I felt better. But why I decided to use a monkey as a profile picture, I don't know.

Please don't think less of me for this one:

I was an insecure kid. Cut me some slack.

With this one, feel free to think less of me:

The caption says, "What I do in criminal law." Okay, how embarrassing is that? I always think it's kind of funny when people take random, low quality pictures of themselves, pick the best one, and post it on the internet, when they already have a perfectly appropriate, recent, profile picture. Like, oh my gosh, I'm insecure, and so I want someone to tell me I look decent, and so I'll dress up for no reason, take 100 pictures, pick the best one, and sit back and wait for people to comment on it and tell me I'm attractive so I'll get a buzz off the superficial confidence boost. And yeah, guess what this picture is? But, not only did I do that, but I did it in criminal law. What was I looking at? I don't know, but it wasn't the professor and it wasn't the computer. Minus ten points for me.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The roller coaster ride continues

And now I'm at the top. This reminds me of my journals from my early college years: I only wrote when things were either amazing (a boy liked me) or terrible (said boy didn't actually like me). Sorry about that.

Conference was good. I feel a bit inadequate as a parent because of all the parenting talks (um, nurturing is supposed to come naturally to me?), but overall it was very reassuring and helpful and awesome. Plus, now that Summer is FINALLY getting over her sickness, I have been able to see other people and it rocks. I am so lucky to have such thoughtful, intelligent friends. Too bad I'm moving to DC in a month and neither of them will be here next year.
But there is something I need to change. From the comments y'all wonderful people left on my post, I think my problem is that I'm a bit one-dimensional. It's funny, even though I've wanted to be a stay-at-home mom for a long time, and even though the church I love and believe in preaches that it's the most important job ever, a day spent doing just stay-at-home mom stuff is not fulfilling. No matter how many smiles I bring to my daughter's face, no matter what new milestones I have helped her reach, no matter how good my cooking is or clean our apartment is, a day of doing just that leaves me feeling, well, not good. That's so weird to me.

I think that in order for mothers to be the best they can be, they need to spend a little time doing non-mom stuff. For me, it'll be studying for the bar (awesome, right?). It's hard because Summer never lets me focus on anything except her, unless we're in a new place. She'll play by herself, as long as I'm paying attention to her. If she catches me looking at my computer screen she starts bawling. So I have to study during naps (which, by the way, have gotten lots better - two 1.5 hour naps a day. Thank you, God, for answering my prayers).

I love my baby so much, but frankly, I get tired of her. It's the same with Nathaniel: I love him more than I thought possible, but I don't want to be around him all the time. When we are together, our time is special and meaningful. And when Nathaniel takes Summer and I get a break from her, when I come back, I fall in love with her all over again and she is the sweetest, most precious being on the face of this earth.

So I'm going to study for the bar. Right now I'll have to suck it up and just study during Summer's nap time, but when we go to DC, we'll get a babysitter for a couple of hours a day so I can do what it takes to pass this sucker. I'm not using a bar prep course, but I have gotten what seems like good advice from some people I know who've studied on their own. I think I can do it. I have to do it. And then, I'll be a real life attorney. I plan on practicing here in Provo when that happens and the thought thrills me.

Oh, and about cream of condensed soups: they're fine. I've eaten many a good meal with cream of condensed soup. I don't use them because only once have I cooked something containing a cream soup that was actually edible. Since then, I've found a better way to make that particular thing. But if you offer me funeral potatoes, I will jump for joy.

Oh my goodness, could this post get any more random? Of course it could. And it will. Here are some pictures:

Summer likes cords.

And she can throw a fit when she doesn't get her way.

Nathaniel got second place in the 1L moot court competition. This makes me happy, but also annoys me because unlike Nathaniel, I actually tried to do really well and I was only a quarter-finalist. But I still love my husband.

She points.

And she's really cute.

The end.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Well, Crap

For six months I've been looking forward to my mission reunion, only to realize that I missed it. I thought it was tomorrow. It was tonight.

I wanted so badly to go. I wanted so badly to connect with amazing people I met on my mission. I wanted a break from my present routine.

Life as a mom is nothing if not a roller coaster. Some days I think I'm the luckiest person in the world because I get to stay home with my little Summer. Other days, I just think of ways that I can get out of my present situation.

I remember so well reading a talk that was maybe from General Conference. It was some time ago, and I can't find the text, so we'll just have to go with my hazy memory here. Whoever was speaking at General Conference met some young mothers in the park. They all had at least a bachelor's degree and maybe some had more education. She asked them how it was that they were able to turn their backs on careers be so happy being mothers. The response? "We know who we are and we know our purpose."

I always thought of this tableau when I contemplated motherhood. I thought I would just talk with my friends outside on a blanket while our babies played sweetly and the sun shined warmly. It seemed much better than working eight hour days in an office where people who don't really care about you order you around.

But that quaint scene is not my reality. Summer has been sick for three weeks now and so, even if I had a group of friends who basked outside in the sun with their babies, and even if Utah got basking appropriate weather, I couldn't go. And what did I think these women were talking about anyway? Sorry, but I can only talk about diapers and coupons and dinners that involve cream of condensed soups for so long before I go crazy.

Sorry if that was mean. But I have had such a hard time connecting with people since I've had a baby. I feel lonely. When you're working in an office, you work with other people. I'm a social person and I'm sure that even if I didn't like work, I'd get the social interaction I need. It's hard with a husband who is gone all the time and a little baby who demands most of your time and attention.

I understand that Nathaniel needs to be gone. We have a frightening amount of student loan debt that needs to be paid off and the legal market is tough. So I basically want him to be away from 7 in the morning to nine at night. I want him to get great grades so we don't have to declare bankruptcy.

So as Nathaniel is gone, I hang out with Summer. I meet our basic needs. I feel like I just survive.

It's so easy to isolate myself. It's so easy to fill my days with stroller rides and patty-cake and feedings and grocery shopping and a little facebook and some blogs here and there. It's so easy to pass weeks and barely speak to another soul aside from Summer and Nathaniel. It gets easier when, in the course of interacting with someone, I realize that my social skills have atrophied along with my belly-dancing muscles and I am now one of the more awkward people I know.

I do have friends, some of whom are mothers, and for that I am grateful. I actually have a basking friend who is really cool. I just need to take the initiative more. I know. And I know this post underestimates mommy groups. I'm probably just too cynical and proud and I haven't tried hard enough to make more friends. I probably just need to figure out who I am and what my purpose is.