Chicken Skin Begone

Ever since I was in high school, I’ve struggled with what some call “chicken skin”, but is actually a condition called keratosis pilaris.  This means that I get inflamed bumps on the backs of my arms that look like zits. If I ever pick at them, they become huge and unsightly. I always felt super self-conscious about them, because if I left them alone they looked like zits (GROSSS), and if I tried to get rid of them I looked like I had welts on my arms (also GROSSSSSS).  It was a no-win.

I have tried everything to get rid of them.  Eventually I settled on a regimen of exfoliation and moisturizer, because it seemed to help lessen the amount, but they were never truly gone.  I HATE THEM.  Particularly in the summer.

One day, my husband asked me to pick up some affordable simple face lotion that he could use in the winter months.  A few weeks later, I ran out of my normal lotion so I used a pump of his face lotion on my arms.  When I woke up the next morning, my pumps were gone. No joke. I’ve been using this sweet little bottle of awesomeness on the backs of my arms ever since.

Do I have your attention yet?!  What if I told you that the lotion only cost $6?  And it is fragrance and paraben free?  And it is full of antioxidants?  It is the REAL DEAL, folks.  Here it is:

.

For those of you lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, this can be found with the health and beauty items.  It’s a small bottle, but a little goes a long way.  For those of you who don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, you can grab a bottle from Amazon.com.

Trust me, I’ve tried it all.  This bottle is worth it.

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New York, New York

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In the name of my blog, have you noticed how “life” is the last one in the list?  I will be the first to admit that “law” and “mom” dominate my time, with “wife” a sad third, and “life” getting the scraps.  I’m not complaining – I love my work, I love my kids, and I love my husband.  However . . . every so often it is SO MUCH FUN to put “life” first.

This past weekend, my law school roommate got married.  She and I are from completely different worlds – she grew up in Long Island and Manhattan, while I was raised in a small Midwest farming town.  When we would visit each others’ homes, we always felt like we were in a totally different world.  It was so much fun to share our experiences.  Unfortunately, our paths diverged after graduation, and we haven’t seen each other much since.

When I got the invitation to her wedding, there were a million reasons why I couldn’t go.  Anyone with kids knows the end of May/beginning of June is a tsunami of end of school events.  That weekend, we already had a baseball tournament, two birthday parties, and my husband was going to be out of town.  But, for once, I put “life” first and said I would come.  I lined up a sitter, booked my ticket, and off I went.

This was the best decision I have made in a while.  I didn’t know how much I needed a weekend of self-care.  I walked the streets of New York at my own pace, and went where I pleased.  I had my hair blown out at Drybar, I shopped, I drank coffee.  I laid in a king sized bed overlooking Central Park and ate chocolate.  I attended the most fantastic wedding of my entire life.  I danced for hours, I drank a tiny bit too much, and I ate breakfast sitting on a bench in Central Park.

This weekend was a reminder that putting myself first every so often is okay – in fact, it is important.  I returned to my family feeling rejuvenated, and more like myself than I have felt in a long time.

I guess we are always learning, right?  I am hoping this lesson sticks!

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How to Manage Connectivity

Connectivity is amazing – we can work from anywhere.  I can use my cell or laptop to do almost anything I need to do for work.  However, it can be hard to draw the line and walk away – it used to be that lawyers had office hours and people had no expectation of reaching their lawyer on weekends, or outside the hours of 8:00-5:00.  Cell phones and email have completely changed this game.  Clients think nothing of calling or emailing on a Saturday or in the middle of the night.  It is really easy to get used to this, and to feel like you are an attorney “on call”, and to feel that good client representation means you should be available whenever and wherever.

As a young attorney, I bought into this game.  I would take calls from clients without a second thought.  As an attorney who uses her cell phone as her main contact, I get calls in all kinds of inconvenient places.  Think late at night, early in the morning, during dinner, while outside . . . and my family doesn’t always cooperate.  Spoiler alert:  little kids do not always quiet down because you need them to.  In fact, it is TRUTH that if your house is quiet and you think it is a good time to make a phone call, the children will find you like magic and there will be crises of epic proportions and screaming.

This situation made me feel like a cruddy attorney and a cruddy parent.  If I was at home with my kids, I constantly found myself checking out to answer a work call.  If I was working, I constantly found myself interrupting work to do other things.  My email notifications and cell phone were making me multitask too often, and not always for the best.  I always felt like I was doing everything a little, but nothing well.  It started to wear on me big time, especially since I am a Type A person who likes to do things right.

I experimented, and began telling clients that I would be available for phone calls and emails between 9:00 and noon during weekdays.  Afternoons were reserved for client appointments and big projects, and if I received a voicemail or email after noon or on a weekend, it would be returned the next weekday morning.

Guess what?  IT WORKED.  My client may think she needs to talk to me at 8:30 pm, but barring an emergency, she doesn’t.  Whatever she needs, 99% of the time, can wait until morning.  By explaining to clients that this system allowed me to concentrate on their legal matters each afternoon, while still having a time of day devoted to answering questions, I maximized my efficiency.  I learned that drawing boundary lines was up to me – if I led my clients to believe that I would be available all day and night, they would grow to expect that from me.  My disjointed life was because of my lack of structure.

Now, clients know when to call me and the number of off-hours calls has dropped dramatically.   This means I no longer have to take calls in the middle of dinner or a soccer game.  My afternoons are devoted to project work, and I have found I am a much better writer and attorney when I am not stopping to take a call or answer an email constantly.  Best of all, my work time is mostly spent actually working, and my family time is spent mostly with my family.  I  no longer feel like I am doing everything poorly, and that is a big relief.

Good client representation does not mean being a concierge.  Don’t be afraid to draw some boundary lines to keep you sane – if a client isn’t okay with some boundaries, then maybe she wasn’t the right client for you anyway.

Life Interrupted

In case you haven’t noticed, I have been absent from blogging for a while.  Like, for a year.

One year ago, my baby girl was diagnosed with a food allergy.  I was already driving a pretty full apple cart, what with the law practice and parenting and life, but the allergy really threw me for a loop.  My full apple cart tipped over.  Blogging was the easiest thing to drop, and it would wait, so it did.

I’m back, with a new blog address and a new take on blogging overall.  I am really looking forward to honest posts about things that work, things that don’t, and sharing ideas with you all.

Holiday Gift Guide for Moms

Hey there, husbands and boyfriends and partners.  This one’s for you.  You’re welcome.

I love my husband, but he’s not always great at Christmas gift-giving.  Gifts I have gotten in the past include snow boots and flippers.  Yes, these things are practical and yes, I use them.  However, I spend all year long putting others first and I kind of want to be spoiled a bit on Christmas.

Here’s a list of items I’d be thrilled to find under my tree.

Tiffany Jewelry.  You give us something in a baby blue box and we’ll love you for life.  Anything from the Paloma Picasso collection is amazing, and not totally bank busting.  Hint:  check what color jewelry your lady likes to wear so you can buy something that matches.  My personal favorites are:

Paloma Picasso®:Olive Leaf Band Ring Paloma Picasso®:Knot Ring Paloma Picasso®:Hammered Crossover Cuff   Paloma's Venezia:Luce Pendant   Tiffany Solitaire<br>Diamond Earrings

High-end workout gear.  Yes, I know we work out in these clothes and it can be hard to rationalize the price, but we are worth it.  These high end items make us look good and feel good.  Plus, they make us feel spoiled, and isn’t that the entire point?

Wunder Under Pant III All The Right Places Pant &go Everywhere LS All Sport Support Tank  

Boots.  I know, I said earlier that boots weren’t a great Christmas gift.  Practical boots, not a great gift.  These boots?  AWESOME gift.

Women's Joan of Arctic™ Boot    Women's L.L.Bean Boots, 8" Gore-Tex/ThinsulateWomen's L.L.Bean Boots, 8" Gore-Tex/ThinsulateWomen's L.L.Bean Boots, 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate

Anything from the Nordstrom Designer Sale, which is currently 40% off.  Seriously, anything.  My favorites are here.  Just put in your lady’s size and price limitations, and she will be thrilled.

Other good ideas?  These aren’t working for you?  Here are good standbys:

  • leg warmers
  • gift certificate for massage, yoga classes, or manicures
  • a seriously amazing date night
  • tickets to see her favorite band
  • a weekend getaway

Happy holidays everyone!

Bullies

Hard topic coming – I am looking for advice, thoughts, reflection . . . whatever you have to offer, I’m receptive.

My daughter (age 6) came home from school yesterday in tears, reporting that at recess her best friend refused to talk or play with her, instead sending “messages” through a third girl that they were no longer best friends and that my daughter was not allowed to play.  It seems her best friend wanted to play with someone new, and my girl was not part of the plan.

*BIG FEELINGS* on all parts here.

I was bullied mercilessly as a child – not in the way we often think of bullying, where some older kid takes your lunch money every day.  I was subjected to what they now call “relationship bullying” – where one person is excluded from the group and talked about behind her back.  I am not sure there was a name for it back in the 80s, but that’s what happened to me.  I have BIG feelings relating to this time, and it remains a raw spot for me, even twenty years later.  Whenever I think about those girls, feelings of insecurity and anxiety wash over me.  This is the stuff that lasts, people.

So, to see my baby girl feeling this so early (first grade, really????) set off some alarm bells for me.  I did my best to squash my own history, and to approach the problem with her in a calm and reasonable way.

We strategized:  if it happens again, instead of trying to convince the others to let her play, my daughter agreed it would be better to just find someone else to play with that day.  She shared there were several other girls in her class who saw her sadness and tried to comfort her.  She agreed that playing with them might be a good idea for a while.

We practiced:  I pretended to be the messenger, bringing mean messages.  My girl practiced saying “STOP” and walking away from me.

We planned:  We talked about what to do if these two things didn’t work – if the girls persisted and if saying “stop” and walking away didn’t work, we talked about asking for help.

Then, after she felt confident in the plan, I reached out to the mother of her best friend.  I don’t think that the best friend was necessarily being malicious – they are too little.  I think the BFF probably just wanted to play with someone new that day.  Heavens knows, my kids can be thoughtless from time to time and it is part of growing up and learning about relationships with others.  That being said, I did not want this kind of thing to become a regularity, and at this age, we mommas still have a lot of pull with our littles.  Thank goodness, this momma was receptive.  She and I worked together about how to handle the issue, and she was 100% on board to help.

When I sent baby girl off to school today, my heart went with her.  I sit at my computer, praying and hoping that the day will go well.  That everyone will be nice to her.  She has a big heart and big love, and I don’t want her to lose her love and trust in her friends.  I don’t want her scarred, like me.

Friends, have you encountered this with your little ones?  How did you handle it?  Did I do okay?  Is there anything I could do differently if this happens again?  Parents of older children, do you have any advice about to handle this sort of thing as our kids get older?

Butternut Squash Hash with Pulled Pork and Heirloom Tomato Salad

Late summer is here, and my garden is full of amazingly good things that I can’t wait to eat!  This summer has been a rainy one, and this means that my plants have a lot to offer.

Most notably, our three butternut squash plants are going craaaazy.  We have several squashes ready to eat every few days, and we have been experimenting with new ways to prepare them.  We don’t want to limit ourselves to squash soup!

I made pulled pork in the crock pot on Friday evening, and we had a good amount of leftovers.  So, for last night’s dinner, we hit the garden to supplement our meat.

First was an amazing simple tomato salad – we simply cut up several tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled diced, fresh basil on top.

The showstopper was the butternut squash hash with pulled pork, however.

Heirloom Tomatoes with Butternut Squash Hash and Pulled Pork

Butternut Squash Hash

  • butternut squash
  • butter
  • salt and pepper

Peel the butternut squash and clean out the “guts”.  Then, coarsely grate the orange middle into shreds.  Salt the squash, then squeeze out the excess moisture using a nut milk bag (a cheesecloth would work too).  Then, saute the squash shreds in butter in a cast iron skillet until browned.  Salt and pepper to taste, then scoop out onto plates.

To serve, we formed the squash hash into small, flat circles and spooned pulled pork on top, then topped with a dollop of sour cream.  It was heaven.