TinaIkpa

Crayons in the Briefcase: Auld Lang Syne

Twelve months ago, looking eagerly toward the coming year, I could not have anticipated what was to come.  Sure, there was a plan and an idea.  I hoped that I would amass certain achievements and deftly handle certain challenges, but ultimately my journey was uncharted. I began the year with preconceived notions about how the year would go. I figured there would be an increase in stress and a decrease in free time. As much as possible, I tried to prepare for separation anxiety and keeping my home life and work life distinct. With an eye toward maintaining the physical…

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TinaIkpa

Crayons in the Briefcase: Staying Focused

It’s beginning to look a lot like… I need a three-month vacation. In the life of a busy professional (or pre-professional), it takes almost superhuman strength to get through this time of year.  Between holiday obligations, family situations, finals, work responsibilities, and everything else going on, it can be hard to stay focused.  I know maintaining focus gets to be quite the challenge for me at times. This is why I have had to employ different techniques to keep myself on track. I have never been much of a scheduler.  When I was in school, every August I would excitedly…

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TinaIkpa

Crayons in the Briefcase: Overcoming Fear

My children are both fearless in their own ways. My daughter is socially and athletically fearless.  She will go into any social situation and make a friend within minutes.  (Something I, the perpetual wallflower, see as some kind of magic superpower.)  She just started playing soccer a month ago and has approached it as if she had been playing for years.  For her, there is no question of whether she is good at soccer. It is just a matter of whether her legs and feet will follow what she already knows in her mind. My son, who is more reserved…

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TinaIkpa

Crayons in the Briefcase: Finding Usefulness in Discontentment

One of the perks of having kids is going to kid movies that you actually want to see with zero judgment.  Indeed, as I was experiencing labor pains with my daughter, what got me through it was knowing that in a few years’ time, I would have a legitimate reason to see the next Big Disney Princess on the silver screen.  That, and my epidural.  (Okay, the epidural did most of the heavy lifting.) In the spirit of indulging in the perks of parenthood, I saw Pixar’s Inside Out with both of my children a few weeks ago.  The younger…

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TinaIkpa

Crayons in the Briefcase: Marriage and Dying Flowers

Recently, my husband surprised me with flowers.  My first thought was, “Oh, how sweet! They are so beautiful! My husband is so thoughtful!”  My second thought was, “It will be such a shame when these things die because I don’t know how to keep them alive.” That’s what runs through my mind when it comes to anything that grows—or once grew—out of the ground and is given to me as a gift.  (This is the most likely reason my husband stopped sending me flowers for a while.) I just don’t do well with plants. I think they’re pretty, but I…

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TinaIkpa

Crayons in the Briefcase: Taking (Self) Care

At this point in the year, I had planned to write about how I managed to maintain a healthy lifestyle while pursuing a demanding career and raising a happy family. As I type this, I am in the process of digesting a cupcake. The most action my muscles have seen in three days is climbing up the stairs to my bedroom and hoisting my three-year-old to my shoulder to comfort him for having to wear shorts in the summertime.  (Young children and logic go together like oil and water.) You see, seven months ago, I had this crazy idea in…

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TinaIkpa

Crayons in the Briefcase: Down with “Mr. Mom”

I would like to propose the abolition of the phrase “Mr. Mom.”  Unless somehow humankind discovers a way to make men perform feats that only women can with regard to childbirth and childrearing, such as give birth or breastfeed, a man caring for his child in any form or fashion is quite simply “Dad”.  While we’re at it, the phrase “working mother” could stand to go down in the polls as well.  Really, how often do you use the phrase “working father”?  Take some time to think about it.  I’ll wait. I look forward to a day when phrases like…

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TinaIkpa

Crayons in the Briefcase: Putting your listening ears on

There are whole Instagram feeds and Tumblrs dedicated to children crying and throwing tantrums over the most mundane and ridiculous things.  Most parents quickly become inoculated to the senseless tirades of the small people they have been tasked with raising, and weather the discord with some mix of resignation and grace before moving on to the next (seemingly) thankless duty. It is in this spirit that I grapple with bedtime with my two-year-old son some nights.  While trying to adjust to a demanding career and an equally demanding home life, those bedtime battles can be especially grating.  Some nights he…

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TinaIkpa

Crayons in the Briefcase: Looking the part

Sometimes I think I might have returned to law a little bit too soon.  Yoga pants are still not acceptable courtroom attire (not even the Betabrand yoga work pants), and that is a problem.  When you've spent nearly two years in yoga pants and T-shirts--or yoga pants and your husband's sweatshirts, depending on the season—it’s an adjustment to going back to wearing slacks, or skirts and (Eek!) hosiery. One would think this would be an easy adjustment for me.  After all, for the better part of the six years following my graduation from law school, my weekend uniform consisted of pajamas,…

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TinaIkpa

Crayons in the Briefcase: Woman-on-woman violence

In many ways I am like Leslie Knope.  I may not be white, blonde, perky, always positive, able to see and bring out the greatness in everyone I come across…okay so maybe the only thing I have in common with Leslie Knope is that I work for the government. But I love Leslie Knope.  And even more than Leslie Knope, I love the woman who brought her to life every week: Amy Poehler. Last month’s pick for the book club I’m a part of (because you simply cannot be a thirty-something woman with a respectable career/life/car/hairstyle and not be in…

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