Little friends

15 Apr

The people who live directly across the street from us have a daughter who is 10 days older than Michaela. Lilly lives in Orange County, but is down relatively frequently to visit her grandparents. The girls have spent a little bit of time together and seemed to hit it off, but it’s not like they see each other all the time.

Today I got a call that Lilly was here and wanted to give Michaela something. I told Michaela the good news when I picked her up from school and she was so excited! The plan was, Lilly and her grandparents would come over after they had dinner. I guess their dinner went late, because Michaela waited and waited and waited. It seemed like she asked me “When is Lilly going to come over?!?!” every 10 minutes. At about 7:40, I finally told her to go look out the window to see if the neighbors’ car was in the driveway. At that very moment, they arrived home and Michaela started jumping up and down clapping.

A few minutes later, Lilly, her mom, and her grandparents walked across the street to our house. Michaela took Lilly into her playroom while the grownups chatted. The girls had a great connection, conversing (Which is the cutest thing ever, really) and sharing. I finally told Lilly’s family that they should go home and I’d bring Lilly home in a little while. And that’s how Michaela ended up having a playdate at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night.

But it gets better.

The girls had changed into a couple of princess costumes, so when it was time for Lilly to go home at 8:30 — an hour after Michaela’s bedtime! — I was escorted by Sophia the First and Snow White. The minute Lilly hit her grandparents’ threshold, she whipped off the costume, followed by Michaela, who asked for a snack. The grandparents were more than happy to oblige and that’s how two shirtless girls enjoyed an ice cream treat.

Meanwhile, because turnabout is fair play, Lilly’s family told me to go home and said they’d bring Michaela back. So after I made my exit, the girls finished their dessert and then bowled for a half hour!

In the end, Lilly’s mom carried my shirtless, shoeless burrito across the street wrapped up in one of the grandparents’ blankets. The girls said their goodbyes and made plans for another play date soon.

It was the best.


11 Apr

Michaela is content to spend hours doing art. She comes home from school with multiple pieces every day, and at home is always asking to get out the big box of art supplies. Markers, crayons, paint, stickers… coloring books, plain paper, cardboard boxes… She loves it.

Let’s Boogie

11 Apr

For Christmas, I gave Michaela a game for the Wii U where you dance along with your Nickelodeon friends (Dora, Diego, et al). I thought it would be fun for her to bop to the music and that it would be something she could do in addition to her usual art, reading and imaginary play.

Today, out of the blue, she asked to put the game on. It was the first time she’s used it since Christmas. And she was into it– she had it on for a long time–even though she isn’t really good at doing the moves along with the characters. In fact, she’s really bad at it. As it turns out, in addition to brown skin and a button nose, Michaela also got my (non) sense of rhythm. Poor thing!

Quotable Quotes

5 Apr

Michaela: Who are those people?
Me (reading a story about an exhibit of photographs of survivors of the genocide in Rwanda): They live in Africa.
Michaela: Africa? That’s where the jungle is.
Me: There are other things in Africa besides the jungle.
Michaela: Yeah, like leprechauns.

# # #

In the car, I’m singing along to some song on the radio.

Michaela: Mom, will you please shut up?

# # #

Birthday Party Arms Race

5 Apr

Michaela and I went to a birthday party today for one of her friends from preschool. It was lovely. Really, really lovely.

There were custom signs that directed everyone to the various areas.

There was a face painting booth, with two pro face painters offering 30 different options.

There was a temporary tattoo area with hundreds of tattoos.

There were rented tables and canopies for adults and multiple matching sets of kids tables.

There were custom “[Birthday Girl] loves you!” rubber bracelets.

There was a school supply room-style dispenser with four giant rolls of butcher paper, and a crafts area that included tulle, ribbon, stickers, eight kinds of tape, glue sticks, tiaras, clip on ties, mustaches, and more.

There was a giant Connect 4 board. It was probably 3 1/2 feet tall and wide.

They had a “make your own sandwich” station with six different types of bread, five different types of mustard (seriously!), all sorts of sandwich toppings. Plus coolers and coolers full of milk, juice and water for the kids, as well as eight different types of beers, mimosas, four different kinds of soda for adults.

I could go on, but I’ll stop.

It wasn’t overly “Pinterest-y,” and it wasn’t that it was so fancy, but it was really NICE. It was the kind of party where you get there and look around and think, “Wow, I’ve gotta up my game!” Or at least, that’s what happened to me. And that’s when you get into the birthday party arms race, where every party has to be bigger and better and cooler than the last one.

I don’t think we’ll do that–Mike, Michaela and I have a good thing going with our birthday breakfast parties–but I certainly understand the temptation.

Of course, the most important part is that everyone had a blast. It was the first time I’ve done anything socially with parents from Michaela’s school, and I met several really nice people who I’d like to get to know better. Michaela got her face painted to look like Hello Kitty, ate a ton of sugar (two cupcakes, fruit, yogurt raisins, a juice box, candy, strawberries and watermelon, etc.), ran and played with her friends–and then totally crashed when we got home.


3 Apr

Somewhere, Michaela learned about robots. Well, she learned that robots speak robotically and say things like, “I am a robot. I will destroy your city.” Which is pretty funny in and of itself.

Last night at dinner she topped even that. She was talking like a robot and then let out this giant belch. Mike and I gave her the stink eye and she, without missing a beat, said, “I am a robot. Robots don’t say ‘excuse me.’” Then we all dissolved into giggles.

Michaela-1, Manners-0.

Sleepy Thanks

4 Mar

Today was one of those days that alternated crawling and flying by. Mike is out of town, so it’s just me and Michaela. She started to show signs of illness last weekend and I’d sort of anticipated her being so sick I’d have to stay home one day; as it turns out, I was right.

Michaela had a rough night last night. she cried and coughed and tossed and turned (in bed, next to me). Throughout the morning, she mostly hung out on the couch watching television. We took a quick trip to Jamba Juice for a smoothie– helps her sore throat and is conveniently located next to a Starbucks for me– but otherwise, we were home all day. And except for that smoothie, Michaela didn’t really eat or drink anything until about 6 p.m. That is now I knew for sure she was sick!

Because Michaela was so lethargic, I was able to get a lot of work done today. I was on a conference call for nearly four hours in the morning while Michaela dozed. Today’s PBS pledge drive featured a James Taylor – Carole King special that knocked her right out!

By the evening, she was starting to feel somewhat better. Just in time to manage to fall out of one of our bar-heigh dining room chairs. While I was on the phone with someone from our next tax preparer’s office. “I have to go, I’ll call you right back!”

Bedtime was rough. She was back to feeling unwell, was missing her daddy and didn’t really want to go to sleep (even though she definitely needs the rest). Just after I tucked her in, she said, “Mom, I need a stuffed animal to snuggle with!” I went and got her one and in a super sleepy, tiny voice, she said, “Thank you.”

And just like that, it was a great day.

Adventures with Rey

27 Feb

Our new house has three gates. One of them we use for most of our trips, one we hardly ever use, and one that we use about once a week to take the trash out for pick up. I’m kind of a fanatic about keeping them closed because given the chance, Rey will escape and I’d like to avoid him getting lost or hit by a car.

Well, tonight I let Rey out to go to the bathroom while I was getting Michaela ready for her bedtime routine. Mike was gone, working. After the requisite amount of time, I went to let Rey back in… and he was gone. I knew immediately what had happened: Mike took the trash out to the curb earlier and forgot to close the gate, and Rey took advantage. But it was almost 8:30, Michaela was in her jammies and we were alone. I couldn’t very well just leave her here while I scoured the block looking for our dog!

I told Michaela to get on her shoes, grabbed a flashlight and my phone, and we hit the street. I started calling Rey and Michaela put the pieces together. “Rey is missing? REY IS MISSING?!?! OH NO!” And she promptly broke into hysterical tears. She was so upset! Practically inconsolable. So there we are, it’s dark out, the ground is wet from the day’s rain showers, walking along in our PJs. Me calmly calling Rey, Michaela freaking out.

We get about 2 houses down when we see a flash of fur. It was Rey! Michaela screamed, “REY!” in a plaintive emotional outpouring of love. It sounded a bit strangled, like she was overwhelmed with relief. So much so that some of our neighbors came out to see what was the matter.

Don’t mind us. We’re just… walking our dog?

Three Dollars

24 Feb

This weekend was the Big Three, a weekend-long swap meet that’s home to all things car and a lot of really cool non-car-related stuff, too. My dad has been going to the Big Three since I was a kid. I hadn’t ever been until after Mike and I got together. Now we go every year and take Michaela. It’s a blast! We walk until our feet want to fall off, look at the old cars (ranging from hunks of junk to beautifully resorted collectors items) and parts, eat hot dogs and, in my case, talk to guys who have known me since I was in utero. It’s really fun to take Michaela now. My dad dotes on her so, and she loves getting to spend time with grandpa. She kept telling us  ”You can go walk around. I’ll stay here with Grandpa!”

This year, I gave Michaela a whopping three dollars and told her she could spend them however she wanted. I turned it into a chance to practice our math (“If you have $3 and spend $1, how much will you have left?”), to talk about the importance of really thinking about purchases (“If you spend all your money on that toy, you won’t have any left. Are you sure you want to buy that?”), and to talk about responsibility (“Which pocket do you think you should put that money in, to make sure it doesn’t get lost?”).

She was so funny. At first, she wanted to buy everything she saw. Then she started to figure out that some things actually cost a lot of money– more than she had. In the end, Michaela bought one little toy for .25 and put the other $2.75 in her piggy bank. Then she wanted to give people her money: we stopped at an open house on our way home and Michaela offered the agent a dollar, just because. I think the money was, as the expression goes, burning a hole in her pocket.

I love teachable moments like these!

Neighborly Gestures

16 Feb

At work on Friday, I got a call from one of our neighbors. It freaked me out because why on earth was she calling?!?

She told me that a week or two ago, Mike and Michaela came by because Michaela wanted to have a parade. She got all dressed up in an outlandish costume and they marched up and down the street with Rey. They noticed that our neighbor was home, so stopped by to show off the parade. Our neighbor was sick, but came to the window and, as she related, was cheered and touched by the parade.

“I felt so bad and I wasn’t going to see who was there, but I’m so glad I did! Michaela looked so cute doing her parade and she told me she hoped I felt better. She was so sweet! And I love parades! It was just so nice of her.”

Apparently Michaela’s gesture made such an impression that our neighbor made cookies for Michaela in honor of Valentine’s Day (and was calling to see if we were home so she could drop them off).

Mike, Michaela and I went to dinner tonight at California Pizza Kitchen (CPK). It’s not on our usual rotation of restaurants, but we had a gift card and who doesn’t like pizza?

We ended up being seated next to a couple that looked to be about our age and had a newborn baby. A tiny, beautiful, sleepy little girl. We didn’t really interact with them at all, except to sneak glances at the cute little one.

Imagine our surprise, then, when they told us that they weren’t going to eat the dessert that came with the meal deal (Valentine’s combo– appetizer, two entrees and dessert for $30) and that they wanted to give it to Michaela. It was so sweet!

My point? Never underestimate the power of kindness, and of youth.

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