Even the Judge Asked, Did I Really Just Say That?

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One of the most memorable moments in my legal experience happened before I was officially a lawyer.  I attended law school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1994 – 1997. During the summer of 1995, between my first and second years of law school, I interned for one of the state court trial-level judges.  One of my law school colleagues also interned for this judge.  We had a number of interesting experiences with the court and its staff that summer (car chase, anyone?), but the most interesting legal experience happened during one of the many trials which my colleague and I observed.

The case arose from a dispute between two neighbors in a rural part of Davidson County, the county in which Nashville was located.  As I recall, one neighbor was a fit policeman who liked jogging and little dogs.   Let’s call him Sport.  The other neighbor was an older, probably retired man who lived a couple of doors down and liked neither jogging nor little dogs. Let’s call him Gramps.  Gramps was irritated by the fact that Sport would jog in the middle of the street.  Gramps complained about this. At one point, one of Sport’s little dogs – a toy poodle, if I recall correctly – barked or lunged at Gramps.

Gramps was the first to escalate the dispute to court.  He filed a vicious dog charge against Sport. Sport prevailed against this charge and filed a malicious prosecution charge against Gramps.  Sport won, and Gramps was ordered to stay a certain number of feet away from Sport at all times.

Sport continued jogging in the middle of the road, and Gramps continued to be irritated by this. Gramps decided to get evidence of this.  He stood out in his front yard and videotaped Sport jogging in the middle of the road.  Sport noticed this and went back to court, complaining that Gramps violated the restraining order by videotaping Sport.

Our judge had to listen to the evidence and decide whether or not Gramps violated the restraining order.  If he did, then our judge was going to have to put Gramps in jail for a certain amount of time.  This decision was the judge’s alone.  Because it was a bench trial, there was no jury to vote for either Sport or Gramps.

After the lawyers for Gramps and Sport finished putting on their cases, the judge excused himself from the bench and ordered my colleague and me to join him in chambers.  He asked us what we thought he should do.  My colleague gave an excellent and well-reasoned answer about how Gramps had a constitutional right to be in his yard, videotaping or not.  The judge then turned to me.  My words slipped out without much thought.  I said something along the lines of, Gramps needs to get a life.  He needs to get a t.v. show or something, like Matlock.

The judge took a few minutes to consider our input then reconvened the trial to issue his ruling from the bench.  After describing for the record the general issue and the possible penalty at stake, the judge indicated that he was not going to put Gramps in jail.  Instead, the judge told Gramps that he needed to get a life.  That he needed to get a t.v. show or something. On the record.

After the case was dismissed and we all gathered again in chambers, the judge looked at my colleague and me and asked if he had really just said that out loud.  In court.

Today’s Photo: Real or Fake Background?

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Katherine at Whetstone Park

One of the things I like about this photograph is that the hazy weather almost makes the background look fake, like one of those pull-down screens at the portrait studio with the sunflowers and rugged wooden fence.  It reminds me of my parents’ trip to Paris back around 2000.  My mom wore a beautiful bright red raincoat in most of their outdoor pictures.  Between the overcast weather and the color of the streets and buildings, it looked as though she had been green-screened into someone else’s Paris photographs.

Future Soccer Player?

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Will she follow in the footsteps of her talented cousins?

In addition to swimming, we hope that Katherine will enjoy playing other sports when she gets bigger.  Her cousins both play soccer competitively – perhaps she’ll do so as well.  Of course, she will first have to learn that the soccer ball is for kicking, not teething.

Arm Pain, You Have a Name. And I Can’t Pronounce It.

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Have you heard of DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis?

Last week, my right wrist and elbow started hurting.  I told Ryan that I thought was getting tennis elbow from carrying Katherine around.  I wondered whether others had experienced this.

Then I read an article from a daily newsletter from the WhatToExpect website which gave this pain a name and explained it:

“Many new moms note pain in the inner part of their wrist (thumb side), which gets worse when picking up a baby under her arms. It’s not carpal tunnel (which you may have experienced during pregnancy), but a condition called DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis (a fancy name for an inflamed thumb tendon). It’s caused by the excessive use of the wrist (such as when picking up the baby, because the wrist and thumb are shouldering most of her weight).”

The article suggests various methods to relieve or prevent the pain, including weightlifting to strengthen arms and shoulders, carrying the baby and baby paraphernalia with the other arm, and using a heating pad.

My arm did not hurt when she was this small.

Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

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Lately, whenever I volunteer to make a meal for someone, I make this dish for them.  It is easy to assemble early in the day and then refrigerate until about one hour before dinner time.  Roasting the vegetables in advance gives extra flavor to the dish.

1 box of oven ready lasagna noodles

12 – 14 oz of pasta sauce (I like Classico)

8 oz container of ricotta cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

2 – 3 zucchini, diced

2 – 3 yellow squash, diced

1 onion, diced

2 – 4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 – 3 tsp thyme or oregano

Dash of salt to taste

2 -3 tbsp olive oil

Toss the zucchini, squash, onion, garlic, olive oil, and spices in a large bowl.  Transfer to roasting pan (I use 2 metal cake pans) and roast in the oven at 375 degrees for 12 – 14 minutes.  Place in large bowl again and stir in ricotta cheese.

In a 9 x 12 (or thereabouts) casserole baking dish, grease the bottom only and spread a couple of tablespoons of pasta sauce on the bottom.  Place one layer of oven ready lasagna noodles.  Spread half of the vegetable-ricotta mix on top of the noodles.  Spread about 1/3 of the pasta sauce on top of the vegetable-ricotta mix.  Repeat once more – noodles then ricotta then pasta sauce.

Place one last layer on top of the pasta sauce.  Spread the remaining 1/3 of your pasta sauce over the layer, then cover the sauce with the mozzarella cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil.

At this point, you can put the lasagna in the fridge or deliver it nicely wrapped to your lucky recipient.  When it is time to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bake for 45 – 50 minutes with the foil on, until the lasagna is bubbling.  Remove the foil and back for another 10 – 12 minutes, until the cheese gets nice and golden brown.

Infertility Survivor

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At the first moms’ group meeting I attended at the Elizabeth Blackwell Center in February, a t-shirt worn by one of the other moms caught my eye.  It said something along the lines of “I survived infertility” or “infertility survivor.”

As our friends and family know, it took Ryan and I 5 years to have Katherine.  Having her was a pleasant surprise.  We had just started a domestic adoption process when we found out that I was pregnant.  At this time, we are not pursuing the adoption.

I had always wanted to write about our infertility journey, but it was too painful while we were in the midst of it.  Infertility happens to far too many people, and it is more painful than anyone can possibly know unless they go through it themselves.  So now I want to share my experience.

Have you ever noticed how much our society values people who handle adversity with grace and good cheer?  We love hearing about the people who kept a positive mind-set.  In terms of infertility, picture the long-suffering woman who is genuinely happy for her friends who get pregnant and who goes to baby showers with the beautifully wrapped gift and a smile on the outside and inside.  How inspiring and uplifting would that woman’s infertility story be!

Guess what … there was a long period of time when I was not that woman.

Oh, I may have been smiling on the outside and saying all of the right things.  But I was miserable for a couple of years.  I was the person who continually said, “why me,” “it’s not fair,” “when is it going to be our turn?”  I could not stand going into a Babies R Us.  I braced myself whenever I spoke to one of my girlfriends who I knew was also trying to get pregnant, for fear that she was going to tell me her good news.  I admire people who handle infertility with grace.  I wish I could say that I had always done so as well.

I’ll never forget the time we went to visit a good friend in the hospital a day or two after she had her first child.  We walked into her hospital room and saw her sitting up in bed, glowing in her serene happiness.  The baby lay quietly and calmly in the arms of one of her other friends who had come to visit.  The baby was so tiny and perfect.  The father proudly introduced us, and they told us about their labor and delivery experience.  We expressed congratulations, fawned over the baby, and wished them well during her recovery.  The father accompanied us back to the elevator to say goodbye.  As soon as the elevator doors closed and he was no longer in view, I broke down and sobbed.

I am sharing this now for two reasons.  First, I suspect others out there can relate, and I want them to know that they’re not alone.  Second, I want to share how I started to feel more at peace with our situation, even before we began the adoption process.  Rather than trying to put all of my thoughts in one post, I will post more in the coming days about this topic.  In my next post on this subject, I’ll share how the most meaningful advice I received on how to deal with infertility came from Archie Griffin.

Growing up!

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Children, Photos

I have found it very easy to forget how little Katherine once was.  I look at her now and think that she came out this size, all 28+ inches and almost 20 pounds of her.  So I enjoy looking at pictures of her when she was first born to remember how little she actually was.

Daddy and Katherine - 2 days old

Daddy and Katherine - 6 months old

Summer fun with baby

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Children, Photos

What, you lookin' at me?

A lot of our summer fun has involved the water.  I love to swim, as does Ryan.  When I found out that our gym provides Red Cross-certified swim lessons for children starting at 6 months, I decided I would sign Katherine up for lessons as soon as she turned 6 months old.  Ultimately, I waited until she was about 7 months old before she began lessons, partly due to the timing of the class and partly because I was a bit apprehensive about being in the water holding her.  Being so young, she is not getting much out of the class beyond learning to enjoy the water.  I, however, have found the class absolutely worthwhile because it has given me a decent comfort level for taking her into the water with me.

This picture was taken at Ryan’s parents’ house in Rushsylvania, Ohio.  Our gym has bigger pools than this.