Cosmo Girl

23 Jul

Michaela is growing to be a cosmopolitan kid.

Tonight, we went to dinner at our favorite sushi place. I ordered her a shrimp roll, which was huge, and she polished it off, along with some miso soup and edamame, neither of which I tried until I was an adult. I know some kids who eat only bread, fruit, and cheese, so it makes me really happy to see how open she is to a wide variety of cuisine.

Before she went to bed, she was flipping through my new Smithsonian magazine that came today. I was doing something else but heard her excitedly exclaim, “I’ve been there!” I looked over to see what she was looking at and it was a spread on Pompeii. Together we flipped through the article’s pictures and she pointed out all the things that we saw when we were there and we talked about the things shown in the pix that we didn’t see on our visit. It just goes to show that at five years old, things “stick” and it’s worth exposing her to them.


13 Jul

Each night before bed, I ask Michaela to tell me about her favorite part of the day. Then I tell her mine. It’s our tradition and I love it.

I’m in Nashville this week, so have been talking to Michaela on the phone and videochatting with her. Tonight we were wrapping up our videochat and she said, “Mom, wait!” I asked her what was up and she asked, “What was your favorite part of the day?”

My heart melted. I think she loves our tradition as much as I do!

What’s in a Name

13 Jul

When I met people for the first time, they often comment on my unusual name. In fact, they do so so much that Mike made me cards with answers to frequently asked questions about my name. (I love the cards; they’re one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given. My husband is a genius.)

One comment I hear a lot is, “I’ll remember that!” or “You can’t forget a name like that!”

Actually, people forget ALL THE TIME.

I can see the wheels turning in their head, when I meet someone who is struggling to remember my name. “It’s a noun. It starts with an ‘M.'” Then they call me Magic or Melody or Miracle.

This week, I’m in Nashville at a professional conference. I’m fairly involved in the field — I am president-elect of the board of the California School Public Relations Association, I serve on some different committees at the local and national level, and last year, I gave a talk to about 100 people on crisis communications. I focused on how school PR people can prepare for disaster before it strikes and it was very well-received.

Where am I going with this?

I was in a room of about 30 school PR people from across the southwest yesterday and one of my colleagues from Arizona said he attended Monica’s session at NSPRA last year on crisis communications and it was a good thing he did. Once he got back home, they had crazy flooding that led to them having to close campuses. He was out on the road and said he had only his cell phone and a link to Monica’s materials.

I was sitting there thinking, “who is Monica and what was her session about? I should have gone to that one!”

But this fella was looking at me and gesturing at me. Then it dawned on me. He was talking about me!

Me. Monica.

Can’t forget a name like that!


7 Jul

This summer has been really busy, travel-wise. We did our three weeks in Europe, then left a couple of weeks after for a week in Oklahoma. I’m here this week, in Nashville the next for work, then back for a couple of weeks before we all go to Denver for a week. I was trying to make plans with a friend and realized that we have something on the calendar basically every weekend between now and Labor Day, after which Michaela will (eek!) start kindergarten!

Still, it has also been a very summery summer. Mike has taken Michaela to the beach. We have had dinner on the patio more nights than not. We walk to the park many nights each week, just to enjoy the longer daylight hours. And, best of all, we have been enjoying gorgeous, delicious, ripe summer fruit like no body’s business!

As I type, our fridge is full of strawberries, watermelon, and blueberries, and our counter is home to apples and bananas. Our orange tree is bursting with fruit, too. I’ve been taking fruit to work as a snack, Michaela’s been enjoying it by the handful, we’re making things like watermelon agua fresca and strawberry shortcake.

Gotta love summer!

A Loss

21 Jun

While we were in Europe, Mike’s Grandma Ede passed away. The last few years had been hard on her but it still was a surprise to lose her. As cliche as it sounds, I’m happy she’s not suffering anymore. Here’s how I’m choosing to remember her:


Silly in a dry way, game for whatever her doting eldest grandson proposed. This picture was taken in 2005, when Ede and George visited Mike in San Diego. Mike and I were dating then, but Ede was incredibly nice to me and we grew to have a special, though not terribly close, bond. I’ll miss her.

Europe 2015

17 Jun

Mike, Michaela and I got back about 10 days ago from just under three weeks in Europe. We flew to Rome and spent a few days there before heading to Civitavecchia to catch a 12-night Mediterranean cruise. The cruise took us to Salerno (Naples), Italy; Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete, Greece; Istanbul, Turkey; and Barcelona, Spain, where we spent another few days before coming home.

It. Was. Awesome.

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2015-06-03 17.50.58


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Before we left, I happened to read “How Doing Nothing Became the Ultimate Family Vacation,” an essay in the New York Times that, in part, contrasts European and American attitudes towards children. So I was especially attuned to how children were treated while we were there. Like the author, I found Europe to be very child-friendly in the sense that children weren’t looked upon as a bother, but rather small people who are welcome in public spaces. Kids ride free on public transport, get into even pay toilets for free, and aren’t sneered at by strangers. (In fact,  Michaela made an entire Barcelona metro car full of people go “awwwww” when she gave a hug to a man who gave up his seat so we could sit.)

Between that and the fact that we were in a fabulous cruise with a fabulous kids’ club — which Michaela never wanted to leave because of the great staff, fun offerings, and friendships with other kids — I managed to get in quite a bit of “myself” time on this trip. Likewise, Mike and I got to spend grown up time together (the kids club was free except for certain hours of the day, when it was only $6/hr. It was open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m., so rather than putting Michaela to bed and sitting in our room, we could take her to the kids’ club and go out for a drink at night or to play backgammon in one of the lounges or wander the decks of the ship).

A couple of days, we left Michaela on the ship and explored the ports alone. She liked that because she got to have fun with her friends; we liked it because we could, for example, hike the Acropolis, or explore the Spice Market in Istanbul without having to worry about where we walking too much or too fast.

Michaela did great in port. Even on our first day in Istanbul, when my Fitbit said I walked nearly 28,000 steps, Michaela was a champ. She must have walked twice that much, since her legs are shorter than mine. She was a trooper! She seemed to enjoy the Vatican Museum and Pompeii and the Colosseum and all the other places we went, even if she didn’t 100% understand every bit of their history.

My favorite city was Barcelona, which has gorgeous architecture, friendly people, ridiculously cheap juice (Michaela’s self-declared favorite thing besides the kids’ club), and a great vibe. I could totally live there. I’d have to learn Catalan, but in the meantime, my Spanish would get me by. Speaking of which, it was super cool to hear Michaela’s Spanish vocabulary grow during the four days we were there. It has me even more inspired than before to help her acquire a second language.

I know some people might not be sold on taking their five-year-old on this type of trip, but I can’t say enough how lovely it was for all of us!


14 Jun

Went to pilates yesterday for the first time in two months. Started getting sore about 12 hours later. Went again this morning. Started getting even more sore a few hours after that.

The soreness is my body’s way of chastising me for taking time off. Let’s hope I don’t make that mistake again!


25 Apr

Since our upcoming trip to Europe will include stops in Rome and Greece, I decided to see if I could find some books of mythology to read with Michaela. I *loved* myths when I was a kid (like when I was 10, maybe?), and obviously this is way earlier than that ago, but my hope was it would give Michaela some history and context. I found two books and each night for the last few weeks, Michaela and I have read a different myth.

The first myth we read was about how Athens came to be called that. Zeus was deciding between naming it after Athena and Poseidon; long story short, he picked Athena. After we read the story, I told Michaela about how we’d be going to Athens, showed it to her on the map, talked about what we’ll do there. She was really into it!

The next myth we read was Daedalus and Icarus. Remember that one? Icarus dies because he doesn’t listen to his dad. So there we are, right before bed, reading that myth. I finished it up, turned out the light, said “goodnight, Michaela,” and immediately thought… “Hmm, maybe we shouldn’t read these depressing stories right before bed!” But we’ve continued and she loves it. She told her babysitter all about some of the stories and recently said her two favorites are King Midas (which she totally predicted! “Mom, how’s he going to be able to eat if everything he touches turns to gold?!?!”) and Echo (the other day, she was going on and on about how “I’m a chatterbox, like Echo!”).

Interview with a 5-Year Old

25 Apr

I interviewed Michaela a bit ago, just for fun. The answers to many of these questions is entirely dependent upon what’s happening in the moment. Like what she lists as her favorite snack? Is just what she happens to want right now.

How old are you? 5

What’s your favorite color? Purple

Who’s your best friend? Payton [A girl from her preschool]

What’s your favorite snack? Peanut butter and cracker sandwiches

Where would you like to go to on vacation? Europe

Why Europe? Because that’s where I’m going with you, remember?

What’s your favorite toy? My animal train.

What’s your favorite thing to wear? My “pedal power” shirt.

Who’s your favorite Disney princess? Anna and Elsa

What’s your favorite book? Beauty and the Beast

Which is your favorite myth? King Midas and Echo

What’s your favorite song? Shut Up and Dance

What’s something you’re really good at doing? Twirling

What’s your favorite thing to do outside? Swing

What’s your favorite restaurant? Souplantation

What’s your favorite game? Candyland

Who do you love? Mom

Why? Because I love her snuggles.

What do you love about Dad? I love going to the Children’s Museum with him.

What makes you happy? Kisses and snacks.

Michaela had a question for me: “How come you’re writing a blog about me?”



Scene from a Construction Zone

20 Apr

We’re in the middle of a kitchen renovation that includes putting in a couple of new windows.

2015-04-12 14.33.03

Nice view.

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