Archive for the 'Busy Lady Stuff' Category


Monday, October 13th, 2008

OK, so among the changes I mentioned below is that now I work for a large law firm.

I had thought that I’d already been working at a large firm for the past four years.  (A firm with about 140 attorneys is among the top five or six largest law firms in a town like good old Milwaukee).

But the firm I work for now (although I’m based mostly our of the tiny Milwaukee satellite office), is huge.

Over 660 attorneys nationwide huge, and a member of “Am Law 100” (I’m not even sure what that really is).  Also, according to a new report (that I read about on the firm’s Intranet) it is now  the 98th highest grossing law firm in the world. 

Some of their marketing materials I read also boasted that they are “among the country’s 70 largest firms.”  I thought that was pretty funny. Most people don’t go around bragging about being one of the top 70th of anything….

But anyway, it’s new and interesting to be exposed to a company of this size.

I get intra-firm e-mails all day from all around the country.  And they’re from my co-workers, but they might as well be from strangers, almost.  Of course the people I work most closely with are ‘real’ people, and very nice.

But I’m still getting used to the phrase “time-zone appropriate food will served,” which keeps popping up in the description of the lunch that can be expected for various firm-wide teleconferences and satellite video meetings.

I traveled to and from the Chicago office today, and my exploration of mega-firm continues.  My route from the Chicago train station to the Chicago office can be described as walk to the Sears Tower, turn left, walk six blocks.  Pretty simple.

Maybe in a couple of years, I’ll have at least have met 5% of my coworkers… 


Saturday, October 11th, 2008

So Sarah’s over the ear infection that I last blogged about.  But who knew – the antibiotics caused her to have a ‘yeast rash’ on her bottom!  I’d never seen that before, but Sarah broke out in the worst-imaginable-looking red, almost blistery, diaper rash, and I figured out, thanks to some Googling, what the problem was.  A lot of lotramin and a Dr. visit later, and she’s fine again.

But that seems like a minor happening in light of all the other things that have been going on around here.

It’s going to be a Christmas letter for the record books.  Almost everything about our lives has changed since the last holiday season.

New house, new daycare, new bi-weekly housecleaner, new tenants in the old house, new status as long-distance-landlords with respect to the old house, new baby, new degree (Paul graduated from law school), and now, new job for Kelly(!) and, as of today, new (well, used) minivan for Kelly, too.

That’s right, I said new job for Kelly.  Life is full of surprises, and this was a good opportunity. 

So now I’m a newly initiated member of a subculture of Milwaukee people (when I show up at the station in the early morning, I tend to think of us as ‘the bedraggled masses’) who travel on the 6:15 a.m. Hiawatha Service Amtrack train to Chicago (I come back on the 3:15 p.m.) occasionally for work.  (My new firm has a large office in Chicago that need to visit sometimes).  It’s a new situation for us, but a good one.

All the changes are good, even if they all require some adjustments.

I think I’ll be fine if we don’t have too many other changes this year, though.  We may just be up to our quota for the year!!


Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Clearly, Paul and I have taken on too much, of late…

Moving to a new house, trying to get the old (duplex) house ready for new tenants, looking for new tenants, helping one (family relation) set of tenants to get a new apartment and leave our place because they’ve gotten behind in rent (and owe us money, which is stressful and upsetting), starting Emma at a new daycare, taking care of Emma every day, both of us working full-time, Paul doing his last semester of law school and hunting for a job, AND trying to get ready for a new baby on the way….

We’ve pretty much been stressed out of our gourds.

But finally and importantly, despite all else, we’re starting to make real progress on setting up the new nursery in preparation for our new arrival.

Last weekend, Paul finished painting the baby’s room (of course, it happened to be the ONE room of the new house that needed painting – it had previously been a crazy midnight blue color with an irremovable Bob Marley sticker on the wall – not baby friendly).

Also, during this week, Paul managed to find where, in those mystery moving boxes in the basement, our newborn baby clothes and nursing gear have been hiding! (Now, I’m just a few laundry loads – and a shopping trip for tiny diapers – away from stocking the baby’s dresser with her first clothes and supplies).

And finally, today, after an increasingly frenzied search, he has located the baggie of hardware required to reassemble our crib so that our little one will have a bed of her own when she’s ready for it!!  (Not knowing where that was had started to be a real concern).

So, whew! 

Forty-Seven days to go (if that many) to get ready for her, and now I’m actually feeling more optimistic that we will actually, indeed, be as prepared as we can be.   

And on other fronts, as my belly gets bigger and bigger, my walk (OK, waddle) slower and slower, and my general energy levels lower and lower, I’m being forced to accept that I can only do so much, and that clients and coworkers and fellow board members, the unpacking in the new house, and everything else will just have to do without as much of me for awhile. 

And that that’s OK.  Because I have a wonderful, other, part of life on the near horizion, and my attention has to be more and more focused there. 

It’s all starting to seem very real, and I’m getting very excited about being able to meet our new little one very soon!


Friday, September 22nd, 2006

Starbucks Drive Thru

Originally uploaded by Koog Family.

Cost of maintaining addiction to increase.

Starbucks raises coffee drinks price.

Friday Misery Has Company

Friday, August 25th, 2006

 I realized, as I was pulling into the parking structure at work this morning, that I had an unusually bad work attitude going on.

Maybe because it’s Friday.

Maybe because this has been one of those weeks in which each day, I have faced a couple of major deadlines, with unexpected emergencies arising in the midst to contribute to my sense of feeling frazzled about getting everything done on time. 

Maybe it’s because every night this week, I have taken home files that I really should have stayed up to work on, after Emma went to sleep.  But every night this week, I felt too tired to do that.

Maybe it’s because we are understaffed.  My boss will actually be making contacts with some prospective new hires today.  

Whatever the reason, by the time I had parked and made it to the elevator bank, I was deep in internal dialogue about this working life being the journey and not the destination.  I was reminding myself that, good health and luck, willing, I will someday be able to retire and take more time to do things on Mondays through Fridays other than follow this same routine.

Don‚Äôt get me wrong.¬† I know that I am very fortunate. ¬†For the kind of work I do, I really don‚Äôt think I could possibly find a better place, or atmosphere, in which¬†to do it. ¬†And there aren’t a lot of people who can say that.¬† But sometimes, thoughts of an existence beyond an office-centric one intrude, and this morning was one of those times.

It was then, at the elevator, that I encountered a co-worker.

“Hi.  How are you doing today?” he asked, as I was mid-internal-‘journey not destination’ sentence.

“Okay,” I said, perhaps not too convincingly.  “How about you?”

“Alright,” he said.  I noticed that he sounded as if he was straining as much to sound sincere as I was.

“Facing another busy one,” I said, clutching the file of documents I was carrying.

After a few more seconds had passed, and once the elevator was moving up, he volunteered that “The sad thing is that I’ve already billed two and a half hours today.  I’ve been working from home.”

Whoa.  I went into a brief discussion/justification along the lines of my mornings being filled with getting my daughter and myself up, ready, and to daycare, but that two and a half hours from home was indeed impressive.

He countered that he hadn’t meant to brag or compare, and that he was only seeking commiseration for the feeling that he has “no life.”

(This is not, by the way, the standard stuff of law firm partner elevator chit chat.) 

A few more seconds passed.  Just before the elevator door opened, we exchanged a sympathetic partial smile puncuated by work-week weary Friday eyes.  

“I commiserate.”  I said.

Just as I reached my desk, the phone rang.  It was my hard working, stiff-upper-lip husband, who called to say, very uncharacteristically, that he wished we didn’t have to work all the time.  He expounded upon how nice it would be if we could just all sit around more often and then take Emma for walks during the day.  

We briefly reassured one another with visions of a future retirement before returning, respectively, to our busy days. 

Busy Daughter, Busy Mommy

Monday, July 3rd, 2006

Tired Girl With a Cheerio on her Chin

Originally uploaded by Koog Family.

It’s nice to have a long weekend. My firm is closed today and tomorrow. I’ll be going in the afternoon, though, just to catch up on the mounting piles of obligations.

But for now, I have the morning off from the office. Emma is napping at the moment. Before that, and all with her help, I fed her breakfast, tidied toys, and folded and put in new loads of laundry. After that round of activity, I could use a nap, too. But instead, I have succumbed to the lure of turning on a soap opera (for the first time since maternity leave).

Not much time for philosophizin’ on the blog, lately. I’ve been too busy keeping up with a very active almost-toddler (who has eight teeth, by the way. And she can say “uh-oh” and “eow” [in response to hearing the cats’ mewing]).

She has the independent spirit of a toddler now, which is most evident when I try to get her to hold still when I change her diaper or – to her horror – put clothes on her. Inevitably these days, she ends up, naked, across the room from the diaper/dressing staging area. I have to go catch her, and use ever more sophisticated techniques to get her to stay still long enough just to fasten two diaper tabs. It sounds much easier than, in fact, it is.

On the other hand, she’s so busy crawling around, exploring, transporting favorite toys from place to place, that when she’s tired, she very very tired; like a young puppy that runs around in seemingly endless circles only to then fall into a deep and uninterruptible sleep.

Yesterday, she nearly fell asleep during her lunch. We had to stop the feeding, mid-meal, so that she could lay down for a long nap. But just before that, I got this picture of her – she had no idea that she had inadvertently stuck a Cheerio onto her chin.

Public Speaking Maniac

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

I gave a two-hour presentation this morning, again, on the topic of HIPAA Health¬†Privacy Law.¬†¬†This was my¬†6th rendition of this topic,¬†the¬†5th time at this location, and the 7th¬†time¬†doing any public speaking at all since March of ’05.¬†

Dang if I’m not starting to get good at it.

Next time I¬†present¬†will be¬†for a program at the State Bar in late summer.¬† Then I think I’m¬†up on HIPAA again in November and December.¬†¬†

I’ll be on fire by then.¬† The poor suckers in the audience will never even see the¬†geeky¬†Internal Revenue Code¬†jokes coming.¬†¬†¬†¬†

No More Anxiety Dream? Should That Worry Me?

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

For several years now – did it start sometime in college?¬†- I’ve had a recurring anxiety dream of the academic sort.¬†

I don’t have it very often.¬† But it pops up from time to time – usually¬†during a period in which¬†I’m busier than usual,¬†and always with the same general theme.

In the dream, I suddenly remember that I have a test to take or a long paper to turn in – either that day or the next day.¬† The setting of the dream (as well as the theme of the class)¬†can vary, but these frequently “take place” in¬†either my highschool or my middle school.¬† Inevitably,¬†I realize that I’ve forgotten about the class for the duration of the now-ending¬†semester.¬† I panic and wonder how I’m ever going to pass the class.¬† And mostly, I feel upset and astounded that I’ve forgotten this obligation altogether.

Well, I’m wondering now if I’ve dreamed my last of that dream. . .

Earlier this week, after being awake for most of the night listening to and taking turns caring for a teething (and ear-aching) Emma, I was exhausted.

I slept soundly only between 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.  And during that time, I had the dream.

But it was different this time.

For the first time ever, when presented with the fact that I had a physics exam that I was not in the least prepared for . . . my attitude, with a general, shoulder-shrugging¬†lack of concern and even disdain, was “So what!?¬† Give me a¬†D or an F.”

I’m not sure what to make of this odd development.¬†

I’ve never heard of “conquering” one’s own anxiety dream before.¬†

So I’m not yet sure if I should feel triumphant, and applaud my evolution, or whether I should be very concerned.¬†

Is it a bad thing to have reached the state, in the waking, as well as the sleeping¬†world, that I just don’t let the stress get me down anymore?

Have I achieved a state of Zen, or am I just too tired to care?

I really¬†do have more projects to do at work than I can get done¬†within a reasonable time.¬† And as I told a colleague earlier this week, “When you have 25 ‘urgent’ projects, none of them seems quite so urgent anymore.”

The jury is still out on whether my sense of peace with it all is a good or a bad development.

Maybe the answer will arrive in another dream.   

What I Did This Week

Saturday, May 13th, 2006

Can’t think of anything particularly inspiring to blog about just now, but I suppose I have an excuse.¬† Here’s what I’ve been up to¬†lately:¬†

On Monday, I gave a nearly two-hour presentation to some Wisconsin-licensed insurance agents on the finer points of HIPAA health privacy law.¬† It’s hard to know whom to feel sorrier for – me, who has to prepare these things, or them, who have to listen to something that they really don’t grasp at all.¬† This time around, I tried to make the topic more accessible by tying it more into their personal experiences, as health care patients, instead of addressing HIPAA issues that they might encounter in their work so much.¬† And I always try to throw in some cute graphics on the power point slides to keep everyone awake.

On Tuesday, we had a big meeting at work about some major benefit plan changes we need to do, ASAP, for a client.  This comes at a time, of course, when I already have more than one person can really handle.  Luckily, I get to delegate most of this project.  Found out that the Internet access at our house went out Рpart of switching our cable arrangement around because of the change of guard in the tenants, upstairs.  Realized that I have a bad addiction to the Internet. 

Wednesday:¬† Had a conference call, with just me on one end, and two clients on the other, to discuss some revisions needed¬†on their screwed-up, home-cooked¬†(those are¬†legal terms) health plan documents.¬† Found out that some relatives I don’t get to see very often will drive in from several states away for a little visit next month.¬†

Thursday: Attended a lunch presentation hosted by a local benefits group on the topic of the ‘latest benefits developments in DC’ from a Washington insider-type.¬† Decided to¬†do some power networking and invited a guy who sat next to me (and who once interviewed me for a job) to participate in a program my boss and I are¬†trying to line up for the¬†State Bar Association later this summer.¬† Dig it.¬†He said yes.¬†

Also spent two¬†hours Thursday¬†night at the church we belong to (cynics among you: note that I said ‘belong to,’ not ‘attend’) -¬†helping to assist them with revising their Employee Handbook.¬† I got recruited for a little pro bono “HR Committee” work.¬†¬†Missed Emma’s bedtime while I was there.¬†¬†):¬† Came home and proofread Paul’s final paper of the semester.¬†

Friday, I handled another conference call, solo, with two other clients with questions on the¬†health insurance premium differentials permitted under the proposed “bona fide wellness program”¬†regulations.¬† This evening, Paul, Emma, and I, Paul’s parents, my mom, Paul’s¬†brother and¬†his fiance made our second annual outing to the Lobster Boil at Arrowhead High School for the benefit of the many special needs programs the school offers.¬†

While there, three 11-year-old boys visiting from France for the week (Antoine, Thomas, and Maxim) were quite taken with Emma, and made friends with her.  Thomas even kissed her goodbye on the cheek when he left.  Europeans are so smart.  They love babies and give kisses to new acquaintences.  How can you go wrong on either of those?

And we have Internet again.¬† Yay!¬† Now I won’t have to expend my nervous, post-Emma’s-bedtime energy¬†on any other unhealthy compusions.¬†

I’m so swamped with work that I have to be in the office much of the day Saturday.¬†¬†

And then Sunday, will be my first actual, really, official Mother’s Day! I was pregnant last year, but I definitely have more to celebrate this time¬†around.¬†

An all-day nap would be a great gift, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.¬† But a short nap would still be great.¬† And while I’m wishing, I’ll just go ahead and hope for a vacation day, too.¬†¬†

What the H-E-Double Toothpicks !? (as they say in Wisconsin) 

New Addiction – Nourishing, Too

Sunday, April 2nd, 2006

I ran an errand today that felt like the pinaccle of yuppiedom.

With Emma in tow, I drove to “Dinner By Design,” a new, popular kind of dinner preparation business to pick up my 6 pre-ordered entrees (each consisting of about 4-6 servings of food).

There are other places like this, too, called “Dinner Solution,” “Dish Delish,” and “Thyme Savvy.”; the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did a review of the local portion of this business sector here.

These business are based on the batch cooking model originally captured in cookbooks like “The Freezer Gourmet” and “Once A Month Cooking.” The concept was that if you devote two days a month to nothing by shopping, chopping, and cooking, you can freeze batches of a variety of entrees, and just heat them up the rest of the month. I even own a couple of theese cookbooks. But I confess that the idea of preparing 8 different dishes inside of two days, and all the prep work that would go into it, intimidated me so that I never made one recipe from either book.

I guess I wasn’t alone. Now these businesses have come along to do the planning, shopping, and chopping for you.

The more commonly advertised use of Dinner by Design-type places is that large or small groups of people pick a time to go there and prepare pre-selected meals. All the untensils are ready, as are the pre-chopped food ingredients. All you have to do is follow the instructions and combine the ingredients as you socialize with your friends (bringing a bottle of wine is encouraged). At the end, you take home your newly prepared creations for freezing, and later eating. Viola. No grocery list planning, no shopping, no chopping, very little cooking, and no cleanup.

But I discovered this week that there’s also a zero-ingredient-mixing option! Yep. You can cut out the two-hour ingredient combination session, and just have the Dinner by Design staff do that part for you! I place my order on the Internet on Friday, and I picked up my meals the next day! The ingredients are listed on the heating instructions sticker, and it’s all fresh, real food – no preservatives. (That means that little babies, once they are ready to share adult food, can eat the stuff, too!)

For the convenience, the price is REALLY reasonable. And if I keep doing this, every 6th or 7th purchase will basically be free, thanks to their customer reward program.

I tried the first dish tonight (the selection of entrees varies monthly). The Chicken a la Puttanesca was lovely. And the heating instruction label even included a serving suggestion (i.e. to serve the dish with “your favorite pasta, garlic bread, and a salad”). I followed the suggestion. We had company tonight. Paul’s friend, T., is in town this weekend to help with fixing up the upstairs bathroom in preparation for our new tenants. And the dinner was a hit!

I have a feeling that we’re going to be eating a lot of food from this place. It’s an easy solution to my working mother timecrunch anxieties. I’m inviting my mom over Tuesday night to help me sample the Blackened Catfish with Lime/Cilantro Butter.

I topped off this yuppie errand with a quick trip through a Starbucks Drivethrough. (Well, the baby was sleeping, and I didn’t want to disturb her!).

I would have felt overly bougiouse if I hadn’t been driving around our “Grandma Car,” a late-model Buick that we inherited from Paul’s Grandma. We like to think of it as part of our retirement savings program. It’s hard to beat not having to make a car payment – even if ‘the Grandma’ is looking kind of well-used these days. And then my next stop was at a church rummage sale to see what Baby stuff I could find. I picked up some outfit pieces to supplement our growing girl’s wardrobe. When I got home, I realized that they’d only charged me $.50 per item (!) – less then they should have, according to the homemade labels.