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Weekend Fun

10 Feb

Lately, it feels like every weekend is jammed packed with stuff to do. Mostly fun stuff, yes, but stuff. It’s wonderful but can also be exhausting. We had a lot of stuff on the calendar this weekend, so I was expecting to be more of the same. But somehow, it was different.

Friday, I stood in front of Albertsons with Michaela as she sold Girl Scout cookies. I’ll admit– it was a little overwhelming. I like kids and am proud of the work I do (at work) to support them, but in real life, I do better with smaller numbers of children. So two hours with multiple children — sometimes antsy, whiny, off-task children — was kind of a lot for me. Mike texted me asking what I wanted to do for dinner, and I told him I didn’t care as long as I didn’t have to think about it. I was giddy when he showed up at the store as our booth sale was ending, took my hand, and steered us (walking, which I love) to a Mediterranean restaurant nearby. He picked out my food and ordered for me, we enjoyed a delicious meal, and then walked back to the parking lot. Mike took Michaela home (“so you can enjoy some peace and quiet,” he said). It was lovely.

Saturday morning, I dropped Michaela at another cookie booth sale and headed to the Museum of Man for Yoga in the Rotunda. I did a lovely hour-long class in the middle of the museum, which was super cool, and then picked Michaela up from her sale. We hung out for a few hours before heading the Lake Miramar to meet my good friend from college and her daughters. The girls scootered and we walked; we went out two miles before turning around and doubling back. My feet were tired, but my heart was happy. When we got home, I hopped in the hot tub while Mike was making my favorite meal: his New Mexico green chile flat enchiladas. Score! I went to bed at like 8 p.m. Don’t ask me what anyone else did because I was sleeping and not worrying about anyone about myself!

Today, Michaela and I went out to breakfast with a friend. Uncle Rich loves Michaela like a grandkid, so it wasn’t surprising when he suggested she order the Bananas Foster French Toast, which is served with ice cream on top. And then he also got her extra ice cream on the side!!! Michaela was in heaven. Rich and I caught up while Michaela basically had dessert for breakfast. Not too shabby for me, either!

Later in the day, Michaela had a friend over for a while. I went and got a massage (soooo nice!). Then we did another two-hour shift at a cookie booth in front of a local grocery store before picking up Mike and going out to dinner.

It was a busy weekend, but it somehow felt very relaxing. Here’s to more of those!


3 Feb

It rained cats and dogs yesterday. Michaela was happy, though, because she and her friend played in the rain and jumped in puddles. They came inside to dry off, leaving oodles of water on the floor in our entry way. On our new tile. Which, I learned, is very, very slippery when wet.

I was walking down the stairs after doing a stair climb exercise (I’d planned to go to the gym, but bailed at the list minute– a bad decision, as it turned out) when I hit the tile, slipped, and flew into the air. Next thing I knew, I was sprawled at the bottom of the stairs, having landed awkwardly on my back and wrenching my neck. My right hip is badly bruised and my neck is so sore I can hardly turn my head.

I hopped in the hot tub last night and rubbed some cream on it, but every time I moved last night, it was agony. I got back in the hot tub this morning and rubbed more cream on it, but it still was intensely painful. I managed to make it to Trader joe’s to buy groceries for the week, driving extremely carefully because of the whole unable-to-turn-my-neck thing, but crashed when I got home. When I woke up a few hours later, I popped some Ibuprofen and got in the hot tub again.

It’s bad timing because Mike left tonight for San Francisco for most of the week, but at least Michaela is pretty self-sufficient. If this had happened when she was little and I had to carry her everywhere, I’d be sunk! And, as I keep joking to anyone who asks, at least I didn’t break a hip!

The Little Things

30 Jan

The lady who watches Michaela after school called me today saying she’d hurt her back and needed to go to the doctor. She’d worked out a plan to have her parents watch Michaela, but I didn’t have any meetings so opted to go grab her and spend some hours with my little burrito. I picked her up and we ran a couple of errands before stopping at Jamba Juice (for her) and Starbucks (for me). She did her homework as she drank her smoothie and then we came home, grabbed her scooter and helmet, and went to a nearby park.

Michaela scootered for a bit while I walked laps (gotta get my steps in!) and then she ran into a good friend from school. They played for a bit and we enjoyed a beautiful, sunny day. No polar vortex here!

After her friend left, Michaela opted to play on the play structure while I continued to walk laps. (Side note: This is what’s wonderful about having a responsible child who is now 9. I don’t have to watch her like a hawk; we were at the same place but doing different things, and it was marvelous for both of us.)

She wanted to go on this revolving spinner thing but a littler kid got there at the same time as her. I was so proud because she stepped out of the way and asked the boy, “Do you want to go on this?” When he said yes, she gently spun him around, being careful to not spin him too fast. It was such a sweet moment. Michaela’s big heart makes me strive to be a better person.

When we were leaving the park, the little boy’s father actually stopped us to tell Michaela thanks for her kindness with his son. She didn’t know if she should say “you’re welcome” for his thanks or “thank you” because he complimented her for being a good person. It was adorable.

I’m sorry that our babysitter hurt her back, but I’m also so, so glad!

The Eyes Have It

30 Jan

I have wondered off and on over the years if Michaela didn’t have some sort of vision problem. We had her eyes checked at Kaiser (our medical provider) and they said her eyes were fine, but it was a quick exam and something still seemed off. When Michaela started complaining about headaches and her tutor said she was concerned that Michaela holds books very close to her face when reading, I decided to take action. Fortunately for me, the action was to hit up my college roomie who is now an eye doctor!

I’m so lucky to have Way in my life for a million reasons, and the latest one is the thorough and caring eye exam she gave Michaela when we flew up to the Bay Area last weekend. I know there are eye doctors in San Diego, but I don’t trust any of them even half as much as I trued Dr. Yu. Way spent a ton of time with Michaela, carefully explained what she was doing in kid-friendly (but not condescending) language, and was just as awesome as an eye doctor as she is a friend.


And to top it all off, after the appointment, Michaela and I went to a super cool park in Berkeley, where we were later joined by Way and Kevin and their two adorable boys. It was really neat to see our kids play together and share snacks and explore. I still can’t believe we’ve known each other for nearly 23 years!



Thank you, Dr. Yu, for the eye care, and thank you, Way, for two decades of friendship!



11 Jan

The other night, I made roasted fish and vegetables for dinner. Michaela complained I gave her too many vegetables. When I brushed off her concern, she started to use her hands to measure the veggies on her plate.

“My hand is seven inches,” she said, holding her hand parallel to the length of her plate, then parallel to the width. She started muttering to herself. “Seven…times…three…is 21…,” she trailed off for a minute before triumphantly exclaiming “The area of these vegetables is 21! That’s too many veggies!”

I nearly died laughing, then corrected her claim that her hand is seven inches long. I totally forgot about the whole thing until we got a “happy new year/back-to-school” email from Michaela’s teacher. In it, she wrote that the kids were learning how to calculate area and that they were really enjoying it. Then it clicked! Now I know where that super random “too many veggies” defense came from!

I emailed her teacher back with the story. She responded that she’s been telling the kids it’s a very useful skill to have in real life. Apparently Michaela has taken that to heart.

2018 in Review

31 Dec

Looking back at the calendar to get a sense of what the heck happened in 2018, my overwhelming thought is, “Man! What a busy year!” Mike was out of town a ton, so Michaela and I had lots of time together perfecting our daily routine. But we also did a lot of fun things as a family, just the three of us, including hosting Nibblet, the 2nd grade class guinea pig, during spring break and for a month during the summer, going to a taiko drum performance, and getting Michaela get on the jumbotron at a San Diego Gulls hockey game. We traveled as a family to Oklahoma for a week, and to the Philippines for just under two weeks around Thanksgiving. Mike and Michaela even joined me for an overnight when I was at a work conference!

I feel like this year, I got to spend quality time with friends. We’re at the point in our lives where there’s a lot of 40th birthday celebrating, so there was plenty of that, but also two girls’ trips with college friends this year (one a baby sprinkle and one our usual annual trip).

Michaela and I had many mother-daughter adventures. With Mike being gone, the two of us did a lot of rollerskating, we participated in the 32nd annual Bay Bridge Run/Walk and our third Live Well 5K. We marched in the Women’s March. I chaperoned a weekend campout with her Girl Scout troop. And in the summer, she and I had a girls’ trip to Palm Springs, which was fantastic. I love traveling with her!

We bought a new house in August, which is obviously a highlight, but also the source of a lot of stress! Moving sucks, and our house is still a construction zone. But we have the nicest neighbors, and there are a lot of kids on our new street. They all play together, riding bikes and scooters and jumping on a trampoline that someone has in the front yard. Heck, one family that doesn’t even have kids opens their pool up to the neighborhood kids! Not to mention impromptu dinner parties and sharing drinks and conversation.

Michaela started 3rd grade after a summer of new camps (jump rope camp and Camp Cahito) plus her long-time favorite Zoo Camp. She tried glassblowing! And of course she celebrated her 9th birthday in December.

Family-wise, we lost Grandma Pat in February. Another low point was my mom’s liver cancer diagnosis, but the treatment she had appears to have been successful and she tolerated it very well. That’s a huge relief, although there’s still a lot unknown. We’re at a point where our parents are getting older, which is why it’s nice we’re able to spend time with them. Mike’s mom and stepdad came out in September and stayed with Michaela while Mike took me on a surprise trip to Mexico City to celebrate our 10th anniversary, and Michaela spent her customary week in Denver with Nana and Papa (followed by a weekend trip to Austin to meet her dad for a father-daughter trip).

On the professional front, I ended my tenure on the board of the California School Public Relations Association, was a finalist for the San Diego Business Journal 40 Under 40 awards, and picked u several awards for my work from the San Diego Press Club. And on the personal front, I went to several concerns (Erasure and Morrissey– my 13th time!) and got a personal trainer and worked out with her weekly beginning in June.

I have a lot of things I’d like to accomplish in 2019:

My “40 before 40″ list has a lot still to do.

Mike, Michaela, and I have talked about a family resolution that each Sunday night, we’ll make pizza and have a board game night at home.

Michaela asked that I re-up my resolution from 2018: spend less time on my phone.

I also want to continue cooking at home more and eating out less, and get back to doing yoga.

Here’s to a happy new year!

Born to Ride

27 Dec

(Much to my parents’ chagrin) we have been remiss in teaching Michaela to ride a bike. I bought her one a couple (few?) years ago, but wasn’t ever good about making time to work with her on learning to ride. We lived on a very busy street on one side, and on a hill on the other, and between that and our busy schedules and the fact that Michaela’s bike is really big because she’s so tall and therefore too big to fit in my car for transport to a better place to learn to ride, well, it just never happened.

The other day, though, I decided we should pick it up again. Our new house is on a flat street, kids ride and play in the street all the time, I’m on vacation, and there’s no time like the present. So we got our her bike, Michaela hopped on, and I walked alongside her while she tried to pedal and steer and balance herself.

Fortunately for both of us, our neighbor Justin was out in his yard while we were practicing. Justin is like six and a half feet tall and built like an oak tree. He’s also the sweetest man I know. He saw us and came out into the street, asking if it was okay if he helped. I told him yes and before I knew it, he was going along with Michaela, one hand on her back, urging her on. “Pedal faster,” he said, “It’ll be easier!” So she pedaled faster and started to get the hang of it. I took over from there and a few short minutes later, Michaela was able to ride down the street, as long as I helped her get started and she didn’t have to turn.

I was so proud of her! I ran inside and got Mike and his mom, who came out to watch and cheer her on. At the end of our riding session, Michaela was thrilled to eat an Otter Pop and I was thrilled to have a kid who can ride a bike!

Today she asked to go out again, so she strapped on her helmet and we did some more riding. She’s getting better at getting going and at turning. I think by the end of vacation, she’ll be able to do it all. We’ll just have to keep up our riding so she doesn’t get rusty!

I’ve long wanted to go on an international vacation and do a biking tour of a city, but there were two main obstacles: 1) Michaela couldn’t ride, and 2) For most bike rental/tours, riders have to be at least 10 years old. I’m so excited we can now cross one of those two things off the list!

Christmas 2018

26 Dec

We were fortunate that Mike’s mom Laura and stepdad Var were able to join us for Christmas this year. They came in about a week before and immediately got to work painting Mike’s office and part of the downstairs hallway! Seriously, we are so lucky. Between that and hanging out with Michaela and doing some last-minute Christmas shopping… and taking a little bit of time to themselves, visiting Kono’s (their favorite) and the beach… Laura and Var were go, go, go. Michaela was in heaven, of course, because she loves it when they’re here. She did art with Papa Var and crafts with Nana Laura and enjoyed having them pick her up from school a couple of times. We even made it to Coronado, which was beautiful but cold.


On Christmas Eve, the five of us (Mike, Michaela, Laura, Var, and I) took it pretty easy before settling in for a Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Christmas Eve pizza is a tradition from my childhood, and I love being able to share it with my family now.

Michaela was quite concerned about Santa coming (yes, she still believes). Our new house has two fireplaces, one upstairs in the master bedroom and one downstairs in one of our living rooms. The downstairs one is under construction (as is much of the rest of our house), so there’s no mantle on it right now, meaning we had to hang the stockings in the other living room. She left a note for Santa — facing in, towards the fireplace, so Santa could see it if he popped down the wrong chimney — so he would he needed to head downstairs. Fortunately, Santa found the right place and filled our stockings. He also left his (unwrapped) presents on the landing where she could see them as soon as she woke up.


Santa brought Michaela a scooter, some extreme dot-to-dots, a fashion plates kit, a large Beanie Boo unicorn, a bunch of books, thinking putty, an LOL Surprise thing, and more. I’ll be honest: Santa didn’t give as much this year as he has in the past, but that’s because Mike and I went a little overboard in terms of the things we got for her.

My parents, brother, and brother’s girlfriend joined us for Christmas breakfast and presents. It was the first time in years that my brother joined us for Christmas, so that was nice.


It was a loud, raucous meal that started with Mike’s famous homemade cinnamon rolls, plus eggs and bacon and hash browns and yogurt parfaits.



Eventually my family left and we had a quick break. Then it was time to start cooking again. Mike and his mom did most of the work while I was on dish duty. I swear, I washed every dish we own multiple times on Christmas! In the late afternoon, my brother and his girlfriend came back, and Mike’s cousin and her two roommates came over, and the 10 of us had dinner. As usual, Mike outdid himself (with Laura’s help!), making ham, green bean casserole, twice baked potatoes, salad, two loaves of homemade pesto swirl bread, cranberry relish and cranberry sauce, charcuterie, and an antipasti board with marinated mushrooms and five different types of olives. Because that wasn’t enough, we also had apple pie and ice cream.

Sadly, Laura and Var left that night to return to Denver. Mike took them to the airport, all of our other guests left, and Michaela and I snuck in a little rest. A couple of hours later, we walked down the street a few houses for (more) dessert and drinks at a neighbors’ house. We spent several hours there, eating and chatting (and in Michaela’s place, jumping on the trampoline). It was really wonderful.

Hope your Christmas was similarly full of good food, good friends, and lots of love!

Birthday Wrap-Up

26 Dec

Both Mike’s and Michaela’s birthdays are behind us now, as is Christmas. Honestly, I don’t know where the time goes!

Mike requested Korean BBQ for his birthday, so Michaela and I gladly indulged him. We were too busy eating to snap any pictures, but I think (I hope!) Mike started 42 off right.

As for Michaela, she had a looooong birthday celebration. The weekend before her birthday, we hosted 10 of her friends at Cerami Cafe, a place where you can paint your own ceramic figure.



The girls had a blast painting and then we had pizza and an amazing cake Mike and Michaela made from scratch. It looked like a cat emjoi with heart eyes, and when Mike cut it, the girls literally squealed because take cake inside was blue and purple swirls.


On her actual birthday, Mike was out of town. As I posted on Instagram, I was really worried about how her actual birthday would be. She’s a huge daddy’s girl, and every time her birthday came up in the weeks leading up to it, Michaela cried because Mike would be gone. I tried extra hard to make it a good day for her, making her requested birthday breakfast of chocolate chip-Nutella pancakes (and I *never* make pancakes!) and taking her and her best friend to the movies. Heck, I even splurged on movie theater popcorn/soda/candy packages!


(Side note: how do people afford to go to the movies? We went to a weekday matinee and our three tickets were nearly $30, plus another $30 for the food. It’s nuts!)

After the movie, we wandered the mall and then had dinner at Fuddruckers. We’d never been there, but Michaela requested burgers and there was one at the mall, so that’s what we did. It had a small arcade in it, so the girls played after eating… Before we headed for frozen yogurt! It was hours and hours of fun, and that was before we got home and Michaela saw the helium balloons and presents I’d put around the house for her.

By the end of the night, she was pooped, but had just enough energy to talk to Mike on the phone. It was a good day!

And that wasn’t the end of the celebration. A couple of days later, we went to Corvette Diner, a local restaurant that Michaela really likes. She ordered a giant burger, we got her a balloon animal, and we listened to classic feel good tunes throughout our meal.


The following day, Michaela finally opened her presents from her grandparents, and she spent the rest of the day enjoying them.

Hard to believe she’ll hit “double digits” for her next birthday!


6 Dec

In less than a week, Michaela turns 9. NINE. How did that happen?

I remember being pregnant and people telling me, “the days are long but the years are short.” I sort of rolled my eyes at the hackneyed wisdom. Then I had a baby and learned how truly long the days can be, and now more and more I appreciate the truth about the years being short.

In what seems like the blink of an eye, we’re at a place where Michaela is halfway through her childhood. Halfway through the traditional amount of time a kid lives with their parents, halfway through the K-12 school experience, halfway through the time I have to impress upon her lessons that will serve her well for the rest of her life.

Granted, some kids don’t go off to college and nowadays, many kids move back in with their parents if they do leave. And as long as Michaela is doing what she’s supposed to do — working or studying (or both!) and being a contributing member of society — there will always be a place for her with me. But still… This feels very momentous somehow.

It’s also interesting to think: the remaining nine years will go by very quickly, so it’s probably time for Mike and I to start thinking about what we want life to look like once our nest is empty.

My vote is we move our nest to Barcelona, but that’s just me.