Lately

3 Nov

Michaela’s golf team did really well– they won the challenge, thanks in no small part to the fact that we had a lot of friends and family who came to support the team. The kids’ parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles came (not Michaela’s, of course), and we even had several neighbors who brought their kids. And since the contest was based on votes, it was a pretty easy win.

We’ve been making good progress on the house. The new sliding glass doors are installed in the master and guest bedrooms, meaning we now finish patching holes, painting, and putting in new carpet up there. And once we do that, we can buy new bedroom furniture (include a king size bed, which I am super excited about) and put stuff up on the walls. Yay!

We’re getting close to our Costa Rica trip. Michaela is looking forward to zip lining and seeing sloths. I’m also looking forward to sloths, but also to getting away. The last few months have been really busy at work and I’m ready for a break.

The other fun thing on the horizon is a mother-daughter trip to Paris for spring break! Mike and I subscribe to a flight deals service, and they emailed us about really inexpensive fares to Europe. Mike said he didn’t want to go but would gladly book tickets for me and Michaela to Paris and I, of course, said YES. So she and I will head to gay Par-ee in March. We’ll eat crepes (Michaela also wants to be sure to have frog legs, which I will skip) and see the sites (I’ve never been to the top of the Eiffel Tour, and that’s on our list), and enjoy some quality time together. How do you say, “I can’t wait” in French?

Inclusion

20 Oct

The local high school has a challenge for students in the elementary and middle schools that feed into it. The kids can form a team of up to six children and then they build their own mini golf hole. This year’s theme is sustainability.

Mike and Michaela were really excited about the challenge, so Michaela picked kids for a team. Her best friend, C, of course. And C’s brother. Another girl friend, a boy from her class who Mike calls his “second-favorite 4th grader,” and a boy we’ll call M.

I don’t spend much time at school, so I don’t know much about M, but I think he’s autistic. Relatively non-verbal. Stimming behavior. It was a big deal a couple of weeks ago when he say Michaela, looked her in the eye, and said “Hi, Michaela.”

That must have been on her mind because Michaela invited M to be on her team. Mike sent an email to all the parents and M’s mom wrote a very lovely, emotional email back about how touched she is that M is being included and how that doesn’t happen that frequently.

The team got together last week to brainstorm ideas for their golf hole, and they’re outside as I type actually building the thing. M has been accompanied by his dad, and everyone seems to be having a good time.

I’m sure most people think their kid is the best, but seriously, my kid is the best. This wasn’t a pity thing, like “I feel sorry for him so I want to include him.” It was just a nice gesture to someone who could be a friend. I hope she can continue to have that attitude as she grows up!

40

15 Sep

Yesterday was my 40th birthday.

It is still weird to type that.

In some ways, 40 sounds terribly old, and in others, it does not. I mean, many (most?) of my friends are older than that and it’s not like they’re geriatric or anything. That being said, 40 for me has meant a lot of contemplating that my life is probably halfway over (assuming I don’t keel over tomorrow or get hit by a car or what have you). And that is a mind f—k.

When I turned 35, I made a list of 40 things to do before I turned 40. I officially completed 22 of them. 18 still to go. A friend at my birthday party last night told me she thought I had all this year to get them done, too, and — given that I still have 18 to do — I liked that idea a lot. Ha ha.

Speaking of my party, I had such a fun time! I had a party at Skateworld, the local rollerskating rink. My goal for it was simple, stress-free, and fun, and thanks to a ton of work from Mike, that was achieved. We had a little private area where we set up catered food from Rubio’s, did a Costco cake (not fancy, but simple and stress-free), and people skated as much as they wanted for three hours. We had about 60 people from different parts of my life, from my oldest friend to college friends to former coworkers to friends I’ve made through Michaela.

I got to spend at least a few minutes with everyone and it was really nice to (re)connect.

I put in the invitation that I didn’t want any gifts, but if people wanted to get something, I would appreciate donations to #HappyPeriod, a charity that donates menstrual products to women experiencing homelessness. I didn’t really expect much so was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of my friends. They came in with giant boxes and bags fill of pads and tampons and wipes and pantyliners. It was incredible. I will be taking the donation to #HappyPeriod this week and am so happy to be ale to do something nice for someone else, given how much kindness has been shown to me in my 40 years on the planet.

72

2 Sep

Today is my dad’s 72nd birthday. Michaela and I called him in the morning and didn’t get him — in typical fashion, he was out at a car show — so left him a “Happy Birthday” serenade on his answering machine. When he called us back later, he said my mom hadn’t made him a cake, so Michaela and I resolved to make him one. Michaela had the idea to put sprinkles in the cake batter, making our own Funfetti-style batter, and we put his favorite chocolate icing on top.

We drove the cake to my parents’ house, singing to him again before he offered Michaela a slice (complete with his favorite French vanilla ice cream). He seemed genuinely tickled, and happy to spend a little time with us. It was really nice.

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As I get older (hell, 40 in less than two weeks), I’m becoming more and more aware of how fleeting time is and how important it is to savor moments like today’s birthday celebration. I’m lucky my dad is alive and in good health, even if he does sometimes drive me crazy (so. many. questions. about the operation of his cell phone). And while I hope he is, it’s possible he won’t be here to celebrate 73. So I gave him a big hug and a kiss and wished him a happy birthday and counted my blessings to be able to do so.

Happy birthday, Daddy!

Another Milestone

2 Sep

Michaela started 4th grade last week. I know, I can’t believe it, either. FOURTH GRADE.

Mike and I both hoped Michaela would get a certain teacher, but kept it under wraps so Michaela wouldn’t be upset if she got a different teacher. And we all hoped Michaela’s best friend Claudia would be in her class, too (they were in different classes last year and it was sad for both of them). So when we got to the big teacher reveal at school — the Friday before school starts, they put up lists of teacher assignments and have food trucks and booths for different clubs and after-school activities — we were all thrilled to see that Michaela got the teacher we wanted and Claudia is in the same class.

So when it was time to bundle her off to school the following Monday, it was pretty easy-peasy. She put on the new romper she’d picked out, grabbed her new backpack (new, but she transferred the 8 million keychains she had on her old backpack to the new one), and off we went to school.

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Doesn’t she look like such a big kid?

At the end of the day, I asked her how school was. “GREAT,” she said. And that was more or less that.

Catch Up Post

10 Aug

Just checked and the last time I wrote anything here was May 26, so I guess there’s a lot to catch up on!

Quickly:

We had an awesome block party with our neighbors. Mike pulled a permit and we closed down the street. We rented a dunk tank and bounce house, had gobs of food, an outdoor movie, a glow stick parade, and more. It was super fun and a nice way to kick off summer.

Michaela made Mike to cutest thing for Father’s Day. It’s a shirt with a grid drawn on the back of it, with a corresponding grid on a piece of paper. Mike puts on the shirt and, using the paper grid, can tell Michaela which part of his back to massage. Isn’t that creative and also sweet?

Work has been nuts, in part because I got a promotion! My new role (which includes all my old responsibilities) is a good match for my long-term career aspirations and is a really nice acknowledgement of what I bring to my organization.

Mike and I went to see Paul McCartney in concert. The show wasn’t as good as the last time I saw him, but it’s still pretty cool to see someone of his stature. He’s a living legend and he played his heart out.

Michaela did Zoo Camp, which she loves, a STEAM-focused camp, a jump rope camp, and a week at Camp Cahito (aka. Camp Tired and Dirty, because your kid comes home exhausted and filthy). She spent some time with Mike doing Camp Dad, and she’s currently in Colorado for her annual trip to visit Nana and Papa.

One of my good friends from college was pregnant, so a couple of my other friends and I had a day-long baby shower/get together that was a total blast. She’s since had the baby, who is gorgeous and who I’ll get to see in October for our annual girls’ trip.

Mike, Michaela, and I spent several days in Washington, DC. It was so much fun! We walked our feet off and sweated like crazy (hello, heat and humidity!), saw things like Mt. Vernon (where George Washington lived), Ford’s Theatre, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and the Smithsonian Museum of American American History (which deserves but probably will not get its own post here). Mike keeps talking about how cheap the trip was since he has a companion pass for Michaela, he flew on points, and my airfare was paid by work because I attended a conference in DC after our trip. We booked the hotel on points and all the Smithsonian museums are free, so it was relatively inexpensive. All the more cash to spend on a trip at Thanksgiving, I say!

We have made progress on the house. It’s officially been a year since we moved in and we finally have floors installed downstairs. That sounds lame, but it’s a huge deal. No more scarred concrete; now it’s beautiful Italian tile and hardwood. We need to buy furniture and unpack, but that’ll come in time.

Mike, Michaela, and I traveled to Oklahoma for our annual trip to see the family. The group has grown– it’s Mike dad and stepmom, two brothers and their wives, and now a total of  six kids (this year ages 10, 9, 6, 3, 2, 2 months). Michaela went tubing — her favorite thing to do there — and we did all the usual stuff like swimming, boat rides, eating, and napping.

While we were in OK, I went kayaking!!! That’s one of the things on the “40 Before 40 list” I created when I turned 35. Hard to believe that was five years ago… The kayaking couldn’t come at a better time, because I’m basically a month away from turning 40 (eek!) and there’s still a lot of stuff left on that list.

When we came back from the lake, we brought Michaela’s cousin P with us. As when we took him to Europe with us, I am reminded that having two kids is very different than having one, especially when one is a boy and not yours. We’ve molded and trained Michaela, and have a good routine and set expectations; that’s not that case when you throw in a new kid. But it was great, and Michaela enjoyed spending one-on-one time with her cousin.

We have a couple more weeks of summer and then Michaela will be a 4th grader. Not sure how that happened, but I am, as always, proud of the person she is. She told me a few weeks ago that she’d been thinking about the street dogs we saw when we were in the Philippines and that she wants to do something to help homeless pets. On her own she came up with the idea of saving cans and bottles to recycle, to raise funds to donate to an animal charity. We did some research together and she settled on supporting the Baja Animal Sanctuary, which helps animals in Mexico get adopted in the US and runs programs to spay and neuter street dogs. Her first bag of cans and bottles raised $3.13, so we have a ways to go, but it’s such a sweet, loving gesture that it doesn’t really matter.

And that’s about it! A couple of months in a nutshell. Posting regularly on the blog is part of my list, so I guess I should get on that…

My Girl

26 May

Girl Scouts sends a survey to Michaela each year, to rate her satisfaction with being a scout. It also includes some questions about how she feels about herself and her life. I find the answers fascinating, and I wanted to share some of them here.

She said “agree a lot” about these things:

  • I care about doing well in school
  • I am a hard worker in school

She said these things sound “exactly like me”

  • I want to make the world a better place to live in
  • It is important to me to make a difference in my community
  • When I see a problem in my community, I figure out who can help me solve it
  • When I see a problem in my community, I think of many ways to solve it
  • Girls like me can do important things
  • Girls like me can be leadersGirls like me can be good at many different things
  • When I see someone being picked on, I feel sad
  • When I see another person who is hurt or upset, I want to make them feel better
  • When I see someone being taken advantage of, I want to help them
  • When someone does a good job, I tell them
  • I do what is right, even when it is hard
  • I tell the truth, even when it is not easy

These were interesting because they remind me of myself. It’s hard being a perfectionist!

  • Even if I am afraid of making mistakes, I still try new things: kind of like me
  • I don’t give up, even when things are hard: A lot like me
  • I try things even if I may not be good at them: Kind of like me

She’s a good kid. I love her to pieces!

Odds and Ends

26 May

We have the best neighbors ever. On Easter morning, many families hid eggs in their yards and about a dozen kids ran up and down the street hunting eggs. I made muffins and mimosas and we all had a nice time hanging out and watching the kids. Michaela recently learned that Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and Easter Bunny aren’t real, but she very sweetly kept that news to herself. She was happy to hunt the eggs, even if she did know that I was the one who put them out.

Progress on the house continues to be slow and steady. Emphasis on slow. Mike installed floors in one of our living rooms, which we’d already painted, and we got a couch to go in there. The room still needs trim and the rest of the furniture, but at least it’s something. This week, Mike installed two new sliding doors and two new windows in the other living room and dining room. Now we can have the drywall done and then paint, and once that’s done, we can do floors in there.

Michaela was presented her “cookie ladder” patch. She has now sold more than 1,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Michaela takes cookie sales very seriously and I’m proud of her for hitting her goals.

Mike and Michaela made me feel incredibly special for Mother’s Day. They made me a delicious breakfast with all my favorites (including cinnamon raisin French toast!) and then we played “Jeopardy: Mom Edition.” They had made a Jeopardy board with categories like “Rhymes with Mom,” “Places Mom’s Been,” “Family Connections,” and “Mom’s Favorites.” Michaela had a whole spiel about the contestants (“Communicator of the Year Mommy” and “Videographer Mike Watson”) and the questions — actually, the answers — were adorable. Best of all, the $500 answer in the “Family Connections” category was “The best mom in the world.” And the question was, “who is Mommy?” It was adorable and I cried happy tears throughout the game.

We took Michaela and a friend to see “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the traveling Broadway play. I was surprised at how dark it was in parts (they seemed to get a lot of joy from the agonizing deaths of the other kids), but the kiddos enjoyed it. We had great seats and access to the President’s Circle lounge, where there was food and drinks. Michaela’s friend seemed to delight in the VIP experience. My kid, of course, took it all in stride. She’s super lucky… which I am constantly reminding her.

Michaela and I did the Navy Bridge Run for the second year in a row. They only close the Coronado Bridge down twice a year — once for this walk, once for a bike race — so it’s a cool chance to do something uniquely San Diego. The weather was iffy, but it stayed dry while we walked. Once we were done, though, the heavens opened up and we ended up soaked!

This week, I found myself with some ice cream supplies that were leftover from an event at work. We invited the neighbors over and had our first-ever Thursday night ice cream social. It went super well. Kids and adults made sundaes, we put on music and the kids danced, and we spent a couple of hours just hanging out. We’ll definitely do that again when it gets to be summer!

Cruising Along

26 May

In the very, very old news department… We went on a cruise! In March. Oops. I’m a little behind in blogging.

Mike’s dad and stepmom came to visit at the end of March. They stayed with us for a few days before the five of us sailed off on a Mexican Riviera cruise. It was a cruise Mike, Michaela and I had done several times before, but it was the first time Bruce and Lynda had been on a cruise.

It ended up working out well that we’d done the trip before because Mike and I were able to ferry our little group around with ease. We have places we like to go in each of the cities, things we like to do. Bruce and Lynda aren’t big walkers, so our trips to town were relatively laid back. We walked a lot less than if it had just been the three of us, but we still managed to hit the high points.

Mike and I sprang for a Neptune Suite, so we had this extra big, beautiful suite at the aft end of the ship. It came with extra stuff like concierge service, fresh fruit delivered to our room every day, an escort off the ship in the tender port, access to a special lounge with very fancy coffees and teas, etc. That was a nice treat. It’s going to be hard to cruise like a regular person in the future!

The cruise was only a week (good thing because as it turns out, Lynda did not enjoy cruising), and it felt so ridiculously short! We usually take 10-day or two-week trips, and I have to say, that second week makes a big difference. We don’t have any international trips on the calendar right now, but I’m counting on the next one to be two weeks long… at least!

Catching Up

17 Mar

I need to be better about posting regular stuff, not just epic weekend stuff. We do so many fun things, and Michaela is so adorable and fun and feisty, that there’s a ton to memorialize day-to-day.

That being said, since it’s been a month since I last posted, here’s a quick rundown of life lately:

Michaela and I went and saw “Aladdin.” It was an amazing performance. The guy who played the genie was so, so talented, and the sets were fantastic. The show started an hour late due to some sort of electrical problem in the theatre, so Michaela and I only made it to intermission. It was 9:30 and she was pooped and had school the next day! So we gave up our seats (which were fantastic– fourth row center) and headed up, which was perfectly fine.

Michaela and her friend Angie did a trapeze lesson! Angie got the lesson for Christmas and her mom generously got one for Michaela, too. The girls were scared at first — as anyone would be — but gave it a try. Angie ended up not being a fan, but Michaela got really into it! She kept going even after Angie had stopped, eventually managing to do a cool trick on the trapeze. When we got home, she told Mike she wanted him to install a trapeze in the backyard.

Michaela and I went to the Ramona Camel Dairy! Yup, it’s just what it sounds like. We didn’t try any camel milk, but we did use the camel soaps, and Michaela even got to ride a camel!

I was named Communicator of the Year by the California School Public Relations Association. I knew I had been nominated, but I didn’t expect (at all) to win, so I was shocked when they called my name. Speechless. That never happens. It was a tremendous honor. I’m so lucky to love what I do, and to get to help make public education better, so the recognition from my colleagues across the state means a lot to me.

We had the tile done on our fireplaces. When we moved into this house, the two fireplaces (one in one of the family rooms and one in the master bedroom) were covered with very outdated stone. We (Mike) took that off, and our wonderful tile guy came a coupe of weeks ago to apply stacked stone to the fireplaces. They look great! There’s still so, so much to do on our house, though…

That’s mostly it. We leave for a weeklong vacation one week from today. I. AM. COUNTING. DOWN.