Random thoughts, ideas and pictures of a multi-tasking, yarn-addicted Lady Lawyer

Yes... I really DO have 5 kids

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A new day dawning.

It's now July.... mid-July to be exact... and it's been three months since I posted anything.  I realized that since I was up early and Jenny was still sleeping, I would try and catch up a little.  So,,,,, here's what's new:

When we last left me, I was just adjusting to the fact that my knees were no longer in excruciating pain ALL the time and that, this lack of pain would let me work out, lose weight, have less knee pain and finally break the 29 year vicious cycle I have been coping with as best I can since October of 1981.  When I saw people staring at how fat I was, and even now when they still do so, I wanted to scream at them: "Try walking on these knees... just for ONE day!!!"  By the time I had the chicken cartlidge injected on March 18, 2010, I was on crutches almost every night just to get around my house, taking 3 advils every 4 hours or so and so tired of being in pain that I couldn't stand it.  When I first went back on weight watchers in very late February/early March, I would try and walk more and it was simply NOT possible.  Very few people knew how crushing the pain was -- what was the point in telling people (who don't really care anyway)?

And then I sprouted feathers and now have wings!!!!!!!!  Two weeks after the injections, I started walking 2 miles a day; VERY slowly and tentatively.  In mid-April, I added an elliptical workout, with no resistance and no incline -- I am still VERY careful.  My initial rate on the elliptical was 2.5 mph, but I worked out 3-4 days a week, including starting to do ab crunches and some weight lifting on the machines.  I slowly worked my way up and, as of Wednesday's workout, I am now doing 4.35 mph 3-4 times a week on the elliptical.  I am also focusing very carefully on each section of my abs.  My daily workout routine includes anywhere from 400 to 800 crunches, front, obliques and lower (BLECH!!!) and I now intersperse those ab workouts with free weights -- 3 pound weights at home, 5 at the YMCA gym.  I also swim laps whenever I get the chance and play in the pool with Ryan, Jenny and children of friends of ours -- it's a FANTASTIC upper body workout to be throwing Jenny around like a "beach ball."  Those are HER words, not mine.

And then there is karate class.... the love of my physical lifestyle!!!!  I had signed Ryan up for karate after winter swimming ended because he wanted to do it and I didn't want him to be Slug Boy until summer swimming started.  I would take him to class in his little gi, knit outside the classroom as he did the moves and learned and he really liked the class.  One afternoon when I was working out at the gym (karate is through the Ambler YMCA), one of the instructors/black belts and I got to talking.  He had seen me amping up my workout so I joined karate class too.  WOW!!!!!  What an incredible workout!!  What an incredible hour/90 minutes, three times a week!!!  What an amazing way to help me reach my fitness goals AND to clear my mind of the drama that surrounds me.  After I finish a karate class, I feel better -- mind, body and spirit as the Ancient Greeks might have said.  There have been days in recent weeks where I truly believe I would have cracked completely if I didn't have karate class to look forward too.  Tuesday night was such a night -- but Wednesday was karate and, after clearing my mind and opening it to learning martial arts, I felt human again.

As an example, Thursday started at 6:15 a.m. and ended at 10 p.m. after a swim meet.  This would be my last as Beachcomber's announcer, registration chair, gopher to get water, batteries, computers, printers, copying lineups.... all so that I can be belittled, demeaned and chastised by people who need to get their power kicks on the shoulders of others.  I knew going into the meet that I was done volunteering for a few years because with Melissa's wedding next October, there is NO way I can make a commitment to summer swimming.  I had actually made the decision NOT to be involved several weeks ago when one family had played games with registration -- it eventually got in on time, but the fact that no one "allowed" me to say to this particular game player "STOP!!!", added to the fact that the rules made up by one person (despite her claims to the contrary) apply only to MY child -- her child goes to the practice that is more convenient for her schedule.  Summer swimming is supposed to be a fun way for kids to stay in shape until September; it is NOT supposed to be filled with drama and control freakiness.  There was SO much I could have said to this woman 10 days ago: when we joined the team, there were (I think) 52 swimmers... now there are 112; when I have a written registration policy, no one follows it, but when this woman sets an arbitrary age for participation NOT supported by our league's rules nor voted on by the board or the parents, that "rule" is then used to hurt a 4 year old child's feelings; when I suggest that we have never HAD an actual parents' board election, I am removed from ALL emailings including those about coaches gifts.  The list of her mean actions and nastiness and passive aggressive dishonesty could fill 10 of my very long blog posts.... or I could walk away, have Ryan and Jenny swim next year without participating.

Karate, when added to the Year of Chaos that was 2009, has helped me learn to walk away.  I'm not saying that I am perfect.  I am not saying that I couldn't have handled my disagreements with this woman better (because I DID finally tell her to go f*** herself after she got done SCREAMING in my face" "If I don't have my credibility, I have nothing."  I guess she has nothing then because what her friends say about a meeting without minutes where she then turned that meeting into a rule book which she now points to as if it is the engraved Word of God.... must be nice to be the unelected Queen of the World, but I can let it go because that was my Life Lesson of the last 18 months.  I'm sad for the dynamic that has Mark taking Ryan to Relay Champs today, Individual Champs next Saturday and the banquet which I am not attending, but in the greater scheme of my life, I am going to enjoy karate class and taking Jenny to swimming this week and next Saturday.  I am going to enjoy having next Tuesday night to FINALLY go see Eclipse (since I missed seeing it with friends because of the summer swim schedule).  I am very happy in my life and I refuse to allow mean-spirited and narcissistic smug people get under my skin... much.  The karate pads DID take a pounding last Saturday.

And of course the big news... I was chosen in early May to be the new part--time solicitor for Children & Youth of Montgomery County.  I still run my firm, but I also now have the chance to do that "something positive" that I was looking for professionally.  I love my co-workers (who are some of the most dedicated people I have ever met).  I love the camraderie of an office setting.  I love what our offcie's mission is -- to protect kids!!!  It has been a big adjustment to work 2-3 days at OCY and run the firm and deal with all this swimming garbage AND helping Melissa plan the wedding AND deal with the fact that my husband went on strike in April and therefore had to teach until June 30th (please GOD!!!  Can there NEVER be another strike???).  I feel good professionally... like what I do matters.

And then there is the physical improvement.  Yesterday marked 17 months without a cigarette.  I have now, unofficially, lost 40 pounds.  I feel FANTASTIC and know it is only going to improve.as I work to be a more fit person... not a skinny person (although I wouldn't object to skinny), just someone who isn't a grossly obese smoker, waiting for a heart attack or for diabetes to set in.  When I set out to make certain changes in my life in 2009, I had a plan... so far, so good.  The picture of me, Mark and the 2 youngest kids was taken on July 2nd... I am down another 8 pounds since then.  I am wearing some non plus-size clothing and am knitting myself a VERY expensive tank/shell to celebrate.  NONE of my clothes fit and I absolutely LOVE going to clothes stores and buying COLOR... no more blacks and browns for me.  I wear coral, purple, teals, greens and yellows.  If people want to snicker behind my back now at the fat girl wearing clothes that aren't shaped like tents, let them laugh now.... come next October at Melissa's wedding, I will be the second most gorgeous woman in the room.

Last but most certainly not least... my kids are happy, healthy and thriving.  Jenny can and did swim a full 25 yard lap of the pool without touching the wall.  Ryan has been getting extra swimming lessons with one of his coaches and is now beating me in swim races (which may need to be MY new motivation!!!).  Mark Jr. LOVES Italy and the Air Force... I can't wait until he comes home on leave in November!  hip's substitute/temporary teaching job became permanent and he will be returning to teach 7th grade Social Studies for a 2nd year.  Melissa and Mike are at his sister's wedding today, but we've booked the reception venue and plans are moving forward.

Short version (Bless you if you've gotten this far)....LIFE IS GOOD and anyone who tries to change that will be unsuccessful... I am no longer all about pleasing everyone.  It's my turn.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Trying something new

My sister has, for about a year, been earning money from home by writing blog posts.  I'm not going to take things that far, but when Blogger added the Amazon link, I decided to try this out.  What's amusing is that I tried to add a link to Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious recently and was unable to do so.  Changing our diets by hiding food has been an incredible experience -- the kids know we're hiding veggies because Mark is so NOT subtle about it.  They are eating healthy, I am shopping in produce aisles and am looking forward to fresher produce as Spring and Summer approach.

Kids are doing great!  Melissa and Mike are making wedding plans. Chip loves teaching, loves his freedom, loves his new car. Mark Jr. went to Venice this weekend, also bought a car, was named Innovator of the Month for his squadron in February (he just told me today) and continues to love the Air Force as he approaches his 1st year anniversary on April 13th.  Ryan is taking karate in the off-season from swimming, still playing cello and loving the freedom to run around with his friends.  Jenny and her friends are inseparable -- playdates turned into family dinners both Friday and Saturday night this weekend; we are thankful that these three wonderful little girls have brought us new friends and a new social life.  Jenny continues to love school, swimming and ballet.

I finally joined Socks for Soldiers, Inc. and am in the process of knitting my first official pair of regulation socks.  This is a wonderful organization that just celebrated its fourth year.  The knitting is structured, but worthwhile.  I am also finishing a sweater for a friend of mine's baby and then will be making another one for another friend who is due in May.  Meanwhile, I've finished two of the three "Best Friend" sweaters for Jenny and Kayla and have the yarn for Katie's.  I can't explain enough how MUCH these little girls love each other!  Also on the needles are a pair of plain gray vanilla-patterned socks for Mark and a pair of green Eagles socks for me in a mock cable.  I recently made three hats for Ryan and his two best friends as well as the girls' sweaters.

The Eagles traded Donovan McNabb.  I would have been turning cartwheels down the street on my new, chicken-cartiledge-injected knees IF they had gotten something good in the trade and IF Michael Vick was going to be the new QB... draft picks and Kevin Kolb...?  Nope.  Not so much.  Phillies look good (not that I'm watching... I promise... not until August or they lose).

Work...... BLECH!!!!!!  I am busy and most of my clients are not making me TOO crazy, but the few who ARE making me crazy are doing so in spades.

Politics....??????  Read the post from a month or so again.  It's the 10 Amendment, Stupid.  It's not "whose spending more money on what pet project."  If it isn't authorized by the Constitution, the federal government needs to get the heck out of it!!!!  That includes health care, marriage, crimes, prayer in schools and anything else not specified

Friday, March 12, 2010

Healthier all the time

Not sure if I am correctly adding the link to this incredible book will work... this is a short post. After I had been one year without a cigarette (plus a week or so; needed to catch up on some lunch dates), the time had come to get serious about the weight thing too. I have struggled with my weight since having kids and having a couple MORE kids at 37 and 42 was definitely tough on the weight control. Add quitting smoking. Add bad knees limiting my ability to exercise at ALL. Add a sedentary profession. Add just plain me being just plain ornery because I wanted to keep SOMETHING bad in my lifestyle.... well those "additions" have added up. My goal is simple -- quitting smoking was step one, making myself more mentally healthy was step two and losing weight HAD to be the final step.

But the time has come for Step Three. I went back on Weight Watchers 2 weeks ago and have been losing steadily and at a healthy rate. I'm making healthier food choices for me and the family and Mark and I are committed to doing so as much as we can within the confines of the craziness that IS our life. Enter Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious." Because Mark and I have such crappy eating habits, our kids do too. Jenny is fine -- she's watched me TRY and eat healthier over the last year and is very good about fruits and veggies. Ryan...? Not so much and it's not a problem for him. Now. Ryan swims a lot. He takes karate now. He runs around with his friends. But his eating habits are atrocious and that's our fault. No problem now... in fact, he could probably stand to gain a little weight... but I don't want to set up an issue for him later in life.

All else is good. Work is too overwhelming to think about on a Friday night with 2 briefs due in the next few days. I like where I am, where I am going and how I am starting to feel.

Ohhh... and I learned to knit right-handed (that's a story for a WHOLE different posting) and the sweater that Jenny is wearing in the picture above has left-handed back and front but right-handed sleeves. The picture is from yesterday at her Star of the Week pizza party at school -- please note that I am eating a salad!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

We the People of the United States of America...

ok... here it is. I have been mentally cooking how to phrase this blog post for well over a year but I have finally, on the eve of the President's 1st State of the Union Address, had enough. I have had enough of spin, of rhetoric, of talking heads who twist each and every piece of data and poll result into an object lesson for their side. Let's start off from my own political perspective because the labels no longer fit the majority of the voters and to just slap a label on me is to underestimate where my vote may or may not go on Election Day.

I am a small-"c" conservative and a member of the Republican Party. Since 1982, when I first registered to vote, I have voted in almost every primary and every general election except one (1984 -- it was a geographic thing). For a time in the 1990s, I was a registered Democrat and switched back to the GOP because the Dems simply did not understand what the People were saying to them. The Republicans seemed to understand the concept of smaller federal government in favor of local control of most issues. Or they used to understand that concept better than the Democrats. Now, neither side of the debate, on a national level, gets it. Every problem that we face as a country could be better solved if the national politicians not only "got it", but acted on that indefinable "it" in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution of these United States.

I am personally pro-Life. I believe that Life begins at conception and ends when God decides that person's time is done. I do not believe that anyone else gets to make that decision for another person though -- up to a certain and reasonable point. My belief in the point in time at which Life begins is just that -- my BELIEF. I have no scientific ability to back it up. I am not God nor am I His messenger on Earth. People should get to make that decision on their own belief structure up until that decision takes a viable life. My own solution would be to allow abortion up until the end of the first trimester so long as counseling on other options is actively provided AND so long as the person is over the age of 18. I believe in parental consent laws. I do NOT believe abortion should be legal after 12 weeks or so unless the mother's physical health/life is in documented grave danger. That is MY belief; agreement isn't necessary. I am not running for President or Senator or any other national office that seems to have taken over yet another local issue for the federal government.

I am also, therefore, anti death penalty. Save your arguments about why the death penalty is ok -- it's the law of many states and the wish of the majority. I disagree with the majority on that issue because I do not believe the government has the right to take a life. What if the government gets it wrong? Even if they get it wrong ONE time, it becomes state-sponsored murder. I am not ok with that. I am a huge fan of real life sentences without the slightest chance of parole. Throw a convicted murdered/child molester/terrorist into the deepest, darkest, dampest hole you can find. Do not give that person internet access or unlimited appeals. But taking their life is just plain wrong. And again, criminal law should be a state-based issue. Federal government can deal with criminality in the military or from terror attacks (and in military tribunals for God's sake!). Let the states deal with issues locally wherever possible.

Is anyone sensing a theme yet? Without going into an endless lecture about the limitations placed on the federal government by our Founding Fathers, let's just say it simply: Jefferson and Madison et al. got it correctly. Small federal government is best and should have LIMITED powers to deal with the bigger picture issues. It is simple. If I have a problem with cars driving too fast near my son's bus stop, I will make that problem known to my local Board of Supervisors in my township. I will NOT ask my two senators to pass a federal law that ties highway funding to the number of tickets written by all jurisdictions in America with no money set aside to track such tickets and with no controls on how long the program lasts. The abuse of the federal powers is rampant in this country and neither side gets it.

Now I am a little spoiled. I live in a Republican township, in a Republican school district and a Republican county where the elected officials pride themselves on keeping our taxes as low as they see possible (they don't always succeed, but they DO try). I can and do use our public schools for my kids. Because I am involved with my community, I know who to turn to if there is a problem. Not everyone is so lucky. The gluttony of the federal government over the past two decades is now so out of control that if you put a stop to one piece of spending, it becomes an unraveling of the entire federal government and therefore the state governments that have become addicted to the federal funds that they should never have received in the first place.

So step back and imagine what the federal government SHOULD look like under the Constitution with its current amendments. National defense? Absolutely... mandated by the Constitution. Postal service and currency...? Yep. Articles of Confederation didn't work so well when we were first starting out because 13 colonies with their own monetary systems wasn't so great. Immigration...? Yep... it relates to the borders. Interstate commerce...? Yep.... but not everything IS interstate commerce that is claimed as such; that's the second biggest power grab in American history. Maintenance of federal highways...? Of course, but not as a political blackmail tool to get the states to comply with unrelated federal legislation. Banking regulation.....yep. Within reason and only because currency and the value of the dollar relate to the value of the federal dollar. That being permissible, there is an extremely fine line between regulation and dictating to private companies. The banks insured by the FDIC (a federal agency) should be required to be responsible in their overall practices and report problems in a timely manner -- they should NOT be charged fees which WILL be passed on to their customers and which will further tighten lending and therefore consumer spending. Common sense.... what a concept.

Everything else... let me repeat that EVERYTHING else is in the purview of the state or local governments under the 10th Amendment. Without the 10th Amendment, 4 or 5 of the 13 colonies would not have ratified the Constitution. Period. The Founding Fathers did not believe that a large federal government was a good idea. We fought a war over this in the 1860s. I know that the South lost and that history is written by the victors, but even the Union troops are rolling in their graves at HOW big the federal government has now become. Some areas where the federal government should not ever, ever be...? Education, Health care (except as it relates to crossing state borders which should be regulared as the banks should be; a Glass/Steagal Act for the insurance companies), Welfare, Unemployment, and all of the "social issues" for which there is a tremendous variance across the country.

Auto company bailouts....? I don't think so. Not ever!!!!!!! I don't see the federal government lending my small business a large chunk of money that allows me to pay myself a huge bonus. Like all small business owners, I am struggling right now. If my struggling clients don't have money, I don't get paid. I am still providing legal services, but these people can't pay what they don't have. Federal Government having summit after summit -- on race, on the middle class, on climate change -- NO, NO, NO!!!!! I want the transparency the President promised when he ran for office. How much did President Obama's trip to MA to stump for Martha Coakley cost the taxpayers????? That is political action. How much did the trip to go get the Olympics to Chicago cost???????? Add up all of these junkets and travels and photo opportunities and you are talking REAL money. All the pork in the so-called Stimulus Package (also inappropriate)...? I want to see every penny posted on the internet like we were promised. Oh wait.... President Obama is great at speaking. Not so much with the governing.

The GOP is equally at fault. Not only did former President George W. Bush never meet a spending bill he didn't sign, but the GOP (nationally) is so damn worried about social issues in which the federal government has NO business that they are just as guilty of the spending. Stop running to the Far Right, guys.... I am looking for fiscal conservatives who give more than lip service to the size of federal government. I don't care if, in running for federal office, you share my beliefs and values. Those running for federal office need to learn the lesson of NJ, VA and MA. That lesson is NOT that the GOP candidate should win or will win... that is simply a decent by-product of the lesson because it limits what the Far Left can do to us.

Both parties are SO far away from what Joe and Jane Smith want or need from their representatives. Maybe THEY should stop listening to Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olberman tell them we want. Maybe they should listen to what We the People are telling them... because we are shouting it over and over again.