Soundtrack of my life

21 Apr

I’ll never forget when I found out Arthur Lee died. I was in my office, when I worked for the City, and got a call from my friend who told me she’d seen it on CNN. I had the distinct displeasure of calling my mom to tell her the love of her life was dead.

When Michael Jackson died, I was in my office at the Red Cross. Everyone on social media was linking to TMZ. I was shocked. I was pregnant with Michaela and remember playing his music nonstop for days, hoping that the baby in my belly would appreciate the good tunes.

I heard David Bowie died while on a school site visit. As I drove back to my office, I turned on the radio and listened to the tributes pour in and to his great music. I wasn’t ever a huge Bowie fan, but there was something about his death that touched me deeply.

And now Prince is dead. I was at work — maybe I should retire, so that rock stars may live? — and saw a tweet about it. “NOT PRINCE, TOO,” I posted on Facebook. Alas. Prince, too.

These men supplied the soundtrack to my childhood. Like all kids in the 80s, my brother and I were huge fans of Michael Jackson and Prince. So was my mom. We would play “rock and roll star,” singing and dancing until we collapsed. Whether we were copying the zombie dance from “Thriller;” pretending we had red shoes while we danced the blues, a la 80s Bowie; dreaming of “orange skies, carnivals and cotton candy, and you;” or wiggling our fingers down our face as a pantomime of doves crying… These are among the fondest memories of my life.

The men are gone but their music remains. For that, I am grateful.

14 Laps!

20 Apr

Michaela’s never been the most sporty kid, but she was game to participate in her school’s jog-a-thon. (Not that we gave her a choice, but…)

She set a goal of doing 10 laps. I have no idea where that came from, but that’s what she picked. This morning at breakfast she said, “Mom, I don’t think I can do 10 laps.” I told her as long as she tries her best, it doesn’t matter how many laps she does. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true.

When the jog-a-thon started this morning, it was already about 75 degrees out. She was wearing her bright green kindergarten-level shirt, a hat she got on our trip, and a nervous smile. The event started and she was off. Slowly, walking with her teacher and another friend.


It definitely didn’t look like her best. She meandered for a lap or two, stopping to eat oranges between laps and drink water, and I offered to walk with her.


Well, she didn’t want to walk– she wanted to run! She took off, holding my hand and pulling me along. I ended up telling her to slow down (not least of which because I wasn’t wearing running clothes) so we could be slow and steady, to hit her goal of 10 laps. We did some laps together and she did a few with other friends, but in the end, she did 14 laps before scarfing down more orange slices.


I was very proud of her, and she was proud of herself. She truly did her best.

Dress to impress

18 Apr

I’m spending part of the week at a very fancy pants conference. In the past – before it moved to San Diego – it was known as “Davos in the desert.” Speakers at the event include Bill Gates, Condi Rice, Sal Khan, Jim Collins (the “Good to Great” author), and more. Attendees are a mix of educators, Silicon Valley types, ed reformers, and a healthy does or millionaires and billionaires.

You know what I realized in all of this?

Expensive business attire is noticeably nicer than Ann Taylor, The Limited, Nordstrom Point of View section clothes. Which is what I wear.

(I never said this was a deep post.)

I walked around the conference today feeling like I should really step up my game! Maybe those nice super nice suits that I quickly dismiss when I see them on Corporette are worth it?

Or maybe I work in public education, dress professionally/in line with my industry, and (outside of today) usually feel pretty good about my clothes choices… not to mention this is a pretty big #FirstWorldProblem… so maybe I should just deal with it.

Yeah, I think it’s that.

How “nice” do you dress for work?

Panama Canal Favorites

17 Apr

I wrote a little bit about our Panama Canal cruise a few days ago, but wanted to share a few favorite pictures:

Feeding the tarpons in the Florida Keys



Beautiful sunsets from our balcony





Peaceful sleeping babies


Selfies (in Costa Rica and Guatemala)





The look on Michaela’s face when a capuchin monkey climbed on her




Guatemala – and its volcanoes – from our balcony



Cabo San Lucas from our balcony



Panama from our balcony




Seeing the Panama Canal up close and personal



Including from our balcony (have I mentioned we loved our balcony?!?)




Picturesque towns (Antigua, Guatemala)



Nature’s beauty, up close and personal




This Year’s Garden

17 Apr

I’ve written before (here and here, for example) about my attempts at gardening. At our “new” (it’s been three years, so it’s not so new anymore) house, we have four or five orange trees and a grapefruit tree, so there’s no shortage of fruit, and I try to plant a vegetable garden each year. It’s waxed and waned; we travel quite a bit, so it’s hard to keep up with it, but I try.

This year’s garden is now in the ground– and on the wall! I planted some seeds in a vertical planter that I got for Christmas. Assuming Demeter is kind to me, and that I water, in a few weeks, we’ll be eating cucumbers, two different types of lettuce, spinach, onions, oregano, and pumpkins.


I also planted a bunch of stuff in the ground in one plot:

  • Rosemary
  • Red peppers
  • Green peppers
  • Basil
  • Watermelon


And in another plot:

  • Two types of tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Strawberries



Plus some things in containers:

  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Cilantro
  • Pumpkin
  • Green onions

Now, as one of Michaela’s favorite books is called, we Water, Weed and Wait.

New friends

11 Apr

We’re back from a wonderful 15-night Panama Canal cruise. That brings Michaela’s total countries visited to 11 and mine to 17. So many more to go!!!

One of the best things about this trip is that we made some very lovely friends. All of us — Mike, Michaela, and I. There was a family from Scotland who had an almost 5-year-old daughter and a family from the US that lives in Mexico City who have a 5-year-old son, and all of us — the moms and dads and parents (the Scots had her mom along and the Americans had his mom, dad, aunt, and uncle with them, and we had Nana and Papa) and kids — really hit it off. It made for such a great trip!

As on our last trip, Michaela enjoyed the ship’s kids’ club. This time she had multiple friends to hang out with. While the kids were doing that, us parents were in the bar, having martinis, and playing trivia. Go Team Fun Factory! (Yes, we named our team after the kids’ club. That’s what brought us together, after all!)

We had a seriously giant wrap-around balcony in our room and hosted several sail away parties, where our new friends and their relatives came and we drank wine and had snacks and watched whatever port of call get smaller in the distance.

And on our last night on the ship, we all headed to the Constellation Lounge (the forward bar/lounge on the top deck of the ship) for a Fun Factory talent show. Michaela drew a picture, her new friend Isla sang a song, and her new friend Sebastian danced– with all the other young kids doing backup for him. And each of those kids had a 13-person strong cheering section to celebrate.

I’m always sad to leave vacations. It’s really hard to go back to the real world! But this time I was even more sad because it felt like we were leaving a community. Fortunately, thanks to Facebook, we’ll stay connected. And who knows, maybe we’ll arrange a visit someday…

Gold-Colored Glasses

17 Mar

For as many years as I can remember, I’ve worn the same type of sunglasses. Black frame. Big but not too big lenses. Tinted a dark-ish color.

Secretly, though, I’ve been wanting a pair of aviator-style glasses. I wasn’t sure I could pull them off. My face is pretty round; would they look weird?

Well, I finally pulled the trigger and bought a pair and I love them. The thing I like best, though, is something I didn’t anticipate.

They have gold-tinted lenses. So when I put them on, the world literally looks brighter and sunnier. It makes me so happy! I never realized that looking through a darker tint darkened my outlook on life, but judging from these glasses, I think it did.

Proof that it’s good to step outside of my routine and try something new every once in a while.


20 Feb

On the work front, the year 2016 has so far has involved crises like snow days (yes, in San Diego!), mudslides, electromagnetic fields, and invasions of student privacy. Oh, and I’m planning a three-day conference in another city for 170 people. And I have family responsibilities (like selling Girl Scout cookies!). To say I’ve been busy and stressed out is an understatement.

I was lucky enough this weekend to spend a night away with an old friend– another Type A working mom whose opinion I value and respect a great deal. It’s funny how something as simple as an empathetic ear and a nice dinner totally helped recharge my batteries!

Good girl

5 Feb

Michaela accompanied me to the doctor today. I had to have some lab work done and she spent the whole time chatting with the extremely friendly and competent tech who took my blood. Michaela told her all about how I need to eat more spinach (test was to see if/why I’m anemic) and how she LOVES broccoli. They chatted about carrots (“I LOVE carrots! Especially carrot smoothies!”) and Michaela told her she’d asked me if we could go to the library when we were done.

The tech turned to me and said, “She loves carrots and broccoli and is begging to go to the library? Good job, Mom!” I was super proud, not because of the external validation (though that was nice), but because I do feel like Michaela is growing up to be a good person, which has become one of my main goals in life.

What do you want on your tombstone?

25 Jan

“Mom, do you know what these are?”

2016-01-25 19.26.59-1

“Umm… Our tombstones?”

“What’s a tombstone?”

“Never mind. What are they?”

“They’re us! I’m going to draw our faces.”


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