My wife and I are both attorneys.  She works for the Legislature, which in Texas means that for 140 days every biennium, she practically lives at the office.

After law school, I opted for the litigation section of a large law firm.  But, after the birth of our first child, I left for the state in the hopes of finding more hands-on experience and a more flexible schedule.

Becoming a parent is itself a reason to want a more flexible schedule, but the need is particularly acute in our house during the legislative session, as I become the primary child shuttler, feeder, and bedtime-regimen enforcer.

When I first assumed this role in the previous legislative session, I did so with the best of intentions.  This was going to be my chance to really bond with our two-year-old, Joe, and to carry on my wife’s well-established household routine: pick Joe up from daycare, serve balanced nutritious meal, engage in stimulating play time, then lights out by 8.

I lasted one week.  Joe was unimpressed with my law school negotiations competition experience.  While he might wolf down fruits and veggies from mom, he knew I’d crumble at the slightest resistance.  We did, however, settle into a predictable routine, which I’m told is good for toddlers:

Monday: Attempt nutritious, well-rounded meal; end up serving choice of frozen chicken nuggets or meatballs.

Tuesday: UT’s baseball team plays at home most Tuesdays, so straight from the daycare to the ballpark.  Hot dogs and nachos with kettle corn and/or cotton candy for dessert.  Food and entertainment (i.e., running around the concourse) all in one location!  In bed by 9ish, depending on how long the cotton candy holds out.

Wednesday: Attempt at nutritional redemption.  Grilled chicken and veggies served.  Chicken nuggets and potato chips consumed.

Thursday: Pizza and movie night!  Pick up slices from East Side Pies on the way home from daycare, eat in front of TV, popcorn on the side.

Friday-Sunday: Mom’s home most weekend nights.  Nutritional meals served and devoured.  Sensible grocery shopping in anticipation of improved menu for the next week.

Monday: Attempt nutritious, well-rounded meal…….


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Joe consuming a bunless hot dog at the Disch

Dustin Howell

Dustin Howell is an appellate attorney for the State of Texas in the Office of the Solicitor General, and is currently serving as Chair of the Texas Young Lawyers Association. After receiving his law degree from Texas Tech, Dustin was a law clerk for Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson of the Supreme Court of Texas. A Wichita Falls native, Dustin now lives in Austin with his wife Emily (also an attorney), where they are raising two boys, Joe and Will Learn More

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