Happy Mother’s Day

10 May

The other day, Mike asked Michaela what she’s excited about as she gets closer to 7th grade. It kind of sent me into a tizzy. Seventh grade. Seventh grade?!?! That’s, like, big kid stuff. Where did Michaela’s childhood go? When she she get so old? When did I get so old?

It’s the kind of thing I wish I could call my mom and talk to her about. What was I like when I was going into 7th grade? Did I push her away when she wanted to give me a hug? I wish I could share with her that Michaela got straight As — again — and that she’s thriving in Scouts and that she’s nearly as tall as me.

I feel like I didn’t really become an adult until my mom died. I thought I was a grown up, but I wasn’t. I always could run back to my mommy for comfort or a listening ear or a friend.

Mothering is hard. Mothering without my mother is hard. It doesn’t entirely fill the void, but I feel thankful to many good friends who are excellent examples of motherhood. And to have Mike, who is an amazing parent, and Michaela, who is turning into a great human being who makes me very proud.

Growing Up

25 Feb

With one semester of middle school under her belt, Michaela is thriving. She received awards from her P.E. and elective teacher and, with a 4.1 grade point average (her honors math class is weighted), she made the highest honor roll at school.

That’s part of why Mike and I gave the okay when Michaela expressed an interest in makeup. Last weekend, Michaela and I had a girls’ day that included a trip to Sephora. She was interested in eye shadow and blush; the makeup artists walked us through the different options (powder, crayon, liquid). Michaela had a definite opinion about what color she was interested in and ended up picking out a palette that had a nice mix of subtle colors. For blush, we got her the same shade I wear — something that never happened for me, given that my mom was white and fair skinned and I’m quite brown-skinned. We topped it off with makeup brushes, mascara (I couldn’t help myself), and some sparkly lip gloss. It was super fun!

When we got home, Michaela applied a full face of makeup and looked gorgeous. Not that she needs makeup to be pretty. She definitely doesn’t. But it was fun to see the subtle change in the way she carried herself. I’m thankful she has a good head on her shoulders; she’s worn the blush and lip gloss to school but has mostly kept it pretty natural.

I didn’t think I’d be the kind of person who was buying my 12-year-old makeup, but apparently I am. That being said, Mike and Michaela went to Best Buy the other day and Michaela was checking out hair straighteners. I am definitely not ready for that!

January 2022

27 Jan

January 2022 has had a real March 2020 vibe, don’t you think?

After working way too much during my Christmas vacation, I also worked way too much in January. The state kept changing schools guidance for COVID and doing things like dropping hundreds of thousands of test kits and masks on us. So it’s been very busy!

We’ve managed so far — and hopefully this doesn’t jinx it — to stay healthy. Although I now wonder, anytime I have a headache or am tired or my nose itches or I couch, if I have COVID.

Michaela was able to go to 6th Grade Camp, which felt like a miracle. The week was not without bumps (that’s an understatement), but Mike and I were glad she had the opportunity.

Mike’s been busy with work and busy with some big home projects. We (he) replaced all the old windows in our house with new ones. We (he) ripped down the patio cover in our backyard. We bought new exterior doors and will begin installing those when we’re done with a deck building project that’s now underway.

Today’s my mom’s birthday. It’s very strange that this is the second birthday she hasn’t been around to celebrate. I thought it would be easier than last year, but it’s actually been way harder. I’ve done a lot of crying today.

In other news (quite a transition, I know, but what can you do?), I bought a robot mop. It’s like a Roomba that mops. It’s bringing me a lot of joy. Our house is always dusty because we live on a canyon — and lately because of all the house projects — and we’re DIY cleaners, so anything that can take a little work off my plate is a win.

Hoping February is more robot mop, less mope.

Golden Birthday

20 Dec

Michaela celebrated her golden birthday last week. She turned 12 on 12/12!

On her actual birthday, Michaela was in Borrego Springs at a campout with her BSA troop. The girls sang her “Happy Birthday” and she had a banner to hang on her tent and a birthday headband. Mike and I drove out in the morning with donuts and noisemakers, which were a big hit.

That night, knowing she would be tired from sleeping on the ground in the cold the previous two evenings, we kept it very low key. She wanted to go to a buffet dinner (which I was not excited about, but it wasn’t my birthday), so we did that.

The following Wednesday, which is a half-day at school, Michaela walked with two friends to the local ice cream joint. When I arrived to pick her up — because, duh, moms are NOT allowed at tween birthday celebrations — she seemed to be having a blast.

Then… because all that celebration wasn’t enough… She went to a paint-your-own-ceramics place with her bestie from Scouts on Friday night. The girls painted and then grabbed dinner and Coldstone. I read my Kindle and had dinner alone, checking in on them every couple of hours. It was nice for all of us!

Michaela loves scouts, can set up her own tent and make a fire, and is also into gymnastics, pop music, arts and crafts, and all things on YouTube. I’m proud to say she is smart and kind. She’s thoughtful (even if she’s also very typically sassy towards her long-suffering mom) and independent. And even when she’s driving me crazy — which is often thanks to hormones and tween angst — she remains at her core an outstanding young lady who is destined to do great things.

Thanksgiving 2021

2 Dec

I long for the days of traveling over the Thanksgiving break. In past years, we’ve spent Thanksgiving in Spain, the Philippines, and Costa Rica. Now, thanks to COVID, we haven’t traveled internationally in two years.


We had a nice Thanksgiving!

We spent the Sunday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving at a cabin in the mountains with friends. It was very autumnal, weather-wise. We went for long hikes in the crisp fall air, tromped through piles of leaves, made s’mores and drank hot cocoa. We played board games and laughed and hung out. And, in the case of me and Mike, mostly didn’t work, which was a welcome break.

For Thanksgiving itself, we had Mike’s cousins over, along with one cousin’s boyfriend. My dad opted to spend the day alone and my brother worked, so it was just the seven of us. Mike made a delicious turkey and all the sides (stuffing, green bean casserole, scalloped potatoes, cranberry sauce and rolls from scratch, pie) and we had a pleasant evening together.

Mike and I were laughing. I’m 42, he’ll turn 44 this week. So to the cousins and boyfriend — who are all in their 20s — Mike and I are very old. I like to think we’re old but not totally un-hip, but Mike assures me to them, we’re practically dinosaurs.

As time passes (thankfully, my mom is the only one we’ve lost, of the bio parents and step-parents), we’ll hit a point where we’re the eldest generation. And that’s truly crazy to contemplate.

Alone Again Or

18 Oct

My mom didn’t have many good friends, but the ones she did have were dear to her. One of them, CJ, shared with my mom a love of music and many adventures, and my mom actually lived with CJ and her family for a bit in high school.

CJ and my mom kept in touch via occasional phone calls and more-frequent-than-calls emails. So when my mom died, I emailed CJ to let her know.

CJ, who lives in Utah, came to San Diego last week and invited me to dinner and to a concert by Love Revisited, the current version of the band she and my mom adored. It was a no-brainer to say yes (even if it was weird to go to an indoor concert).

Spending time with CJ was like being with my mom in a lot of ways. They have the same sense of style and some of the same mannerisms. It was a reminder of how much friends in our young adult years help shape who we become. At the same time, CJ made my mom — who was very… unconventional — seem pretty “normal” in some ways. (Let’s just say the late ’60s and ’70s were a tumultuous time and she has the stories to prove it.)

The show was fantastic. The band sounded great and, having grown up on the music (this song, “Alone Again Or” may be familiar to you), I was pleased to see people people enjoying and appreciating their legacy. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was very bittersweet. To be sitting there with my mom’s friend, not my mom, was hard. It will go down in the record books as the first concert at which I’ve cried.

September Milestones

26 Sep

I turned 42.

That’s actually not very exciting. It was a nice day, but nothing special. Mike took me out to breakfast, we opened gifts after Michaela was done at school, and then we divided and conquered — Mike and Michaela to her Scouts meeting and me to the parent-teacher foundation meeting. Very middle age.

Mike and I celebrated our wedding anniversary.

Lucky #13. We didn’t really do anything special.

We hit the one-year anniversary of my mom’s death.

Which was… okay? I worked, so it’s not like I spent the whole day being sad. In some ways, it feels like she died yesterday and in other ways, it feels like forever. My dad and brother aren’t really inclined to do thinks as a family, so we observed the occasion separately.

We finished Route 66!

Well, kind of. Technically, Route 66 goes from Chicago to Santa Monica. This summer we started in western Missouri, so haven’t done Illinois or eastern/central Missouri. We stopped the route in Barstow (CA) and drove home, planning to do the San Bernardino-to-Santa Monica part in the car (because who wants to drive through LA traffic towing a 30-foot-long Airstream?).

This month, we made it happen. Michaela had a day off school so we made a long weekend of it. It was lovely. We went through Claremont (where I went to college) and visited some of my old haunts. We stayed on the beach in Venice. We walked our feet off in Santa Monica. Definitely my favorite milestone this month.

Well Underway

6 Sep

Michaela’s first week of 6th grade was a complete success.

After some hiccups, we were able to get pick up her uniforms. She looked adorable on the first day (complete with lip gloss… because apparently middle school is when a desire to wear makeup starts), decked out in a skort and logo polo and new shoes.

She made a new friend, with whom she’s been eating lunch and hanging out before and after school.

She likes her teachers and we haven’t heard any complaints about classes being boring.

Heck, she even had good things to say about school lunch!

Mike and I were very sure of our choice to send her to a local charter school, even though Michaela wasn’t very excited about it. At the end of the first day, I asked if it was better than, worse than, or the about what she expected. She said it was better. And I count that as a win.

My favorite story from the first week comes from Mike, who picked her up on the third or fourth day of school. He pulled up and held up the little sign we were given to indicate which kid is ours. The staffer at pick up started to radio for Michaela but then looked around and saw Michaela and directed her to the car. This person, who sees every kid getting picked up, knew our kid by face and name after only a few days. Then, the PE teacher came by, saw Michaela, and told Mike, “Michaela told me about her Scouts fitness requirement. We’ve got a plan and are going to take care of it.” Again– this PE teacher is the coach for the whole school and knew who Michaela was and could point to something specific they’d talked about and how they are going to work together to help Michaela meet a goal.

That’s part of why Mike and I picked a school that has 400 kids instead of 1,100. We wanted our kid to be known by name, strengths, and needs. So far, so good!

Pop Quiz

28 Aug

I interviewed Michaela when she was 5 and when she was 10, and now, two days before she starts middle schools, we gave it another go.

How old are you? I’m 22.

How old are you really: 11. But I feel 22!

What’s your favorite color? I like teal and mustard yellow.

Who’s your best friend? I don’t know.

What’s your favorite snack? Ummmmm…. I’m a fan of sour cream and onion Ruffles, but I don’t eat them more often. A More plausible snack is Ruffles.

Where would you like to go to on vacation? Hawaii, if there were fewer COVID restrictions.

Why Hawaii? Because it looks really beautiful and I want to go to a really clear beach.

What’s your favorite toy? I don’t have a favorite toy. I like making crafts, though.

What’s your favorite thing to wear? I like my oversized mustard yellow t-shirt with white polka dots.

Who’s your favorite Disney princess? I don’t have a favorite Disney princess, but I can name my favorite teen sitcom.

Okay, then. What’s your favorite teen sitcom? Bunk’d Season 2. And only season 2.

What’s your favorite book? Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself.

Which is your favorite myth? Like Greek? I gotta say Hercules. And my favorite of his tasks is when he kills the nine-headed snake by dipping his arrows in poison.

What’s your favorite song? Maybe “Wonder” by Shawn Mendes or “Better When I’m Dancing” by Megan Trainor.

What’s something you’re really good at doing? Tripod handstands. Also drawing cats. But not drawing cats while I’m doing tripod handstands.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside? Walk to the park. Also do cartwheels.

What’s your favorite restaurant? I don’t go to restaurants anymore. [Due to COVID] But previously, I was a fan of Souplantation. Before they closed.

What’s your favorite game? Like what kind of game? I’m a fan of Sorry!

Who do you love? My family.

Why? Because they raised me. Paid for me to squat at their house. As an unemployed minor, I can just live here. I don’t have to pay taxes. I don’t have to pay them for WiFi. I get free food.

What do you love about Dad? I like his snuggles and his life lessons. He’s kind of like Dad Brady, you know, when he calls you down to his office and has a talk with you. You know, like on the Brady Bunch?

What do you love about Mom? I love your kindness and all the niceness and letting me live at your house and your snuggles, and letting me sleep on the floor. [Note: I added this question because last night, Michaela pointed out I didn’t ask about myself. So today I did, but I should have asked this question when she was in a better mood because this was a little bit of a half-hearted answer. The “sleep on the floor” part refers to something we did on Friday night, when she said her room was hotter than our room, which has very plush carpet and where she managed to grab a full 10 hours of sleep!]

What makes you happy? Laughing at my own jokes. Talking to my friends. Playing on the play structure with my friends.


15 Aug

When I was younger — can’t remember if I was a ‘tween or a teen, but somewhere in there — I said something smart to my mom, who grabbed me by the chin and said, in a low, angry voice, “Let me tell you something, little girl.” I can’t remember what words came after that, but I know it was an epic take-down (like this but mother-to-daughter).

Years after that, we’d laugh about the incident. I never understood what would make my mom do that. But today, as the mother of a sassy ‘tween, I understand. I feel it in my bones.