Every year, about a month before Mother’s Day, I gather my two boys, force them to wear nice long sleeve, button-down shirts and trousers (gasp!) and we head to some beautiful location to take family photos.

Last year, Yvonne took our photos and she did an OUTSTANDING job of prepping us for the shoot AND actually taking AMAZING photographs.

So this year, we’re doing a repeat!

It works really well to take family photos around Mother’s Day BECAUSE you can GUILT TRIP your children into participating.

AND since they ALWAYS forget me on Mother’s Day, this is my present.

So to speak.

It’s also perfect because I get my photos ahead of time and then I’m prepared to get my Christmas cards made long before the crush of the holidays hits.

Last year, this was our holiday card.

We chose light, Easter, pastel colors for our photo shoot.

This year, we’re going with a more saturated color scheme – navy, burgundy, and a nice deep gray:

I’m totally excited once again to actually get family photos taken and I HOPE that enforcing this one family activity with my boys will reinforce that THIS IS JUST WHAT HAPPENS IN APRIL.

They MUST obey!

Growing up

I’ve had no dates since returning from Sweden.

It’s not that I’m consciously trying to be loyal to The Swede.

It’s because I simply can’t stomach the quality of men I meet online.

Did you know that one man thanked me for moving my beer on the first date because (as he put it), he “could see my tits better without the glass in the way?”

Mind you, I have behaved no better.

I’m no “holier than thou” woman.


I sent dirty pictures.

I wore low cut dresses.

And I flirted with the best of them.

In the end, online dating is not any way to make a connection with somebody.

Although, I did meet The Swede on Tinder.

Go figure.

One in a fucking billion.

And I had to import him from ANOTHER COUNTRY!

You’d think, given my inclinations, that I’d be missing all those dates, and sexting, and flirtations.

But you’d be wrong.

I’m not missing it ONE BIT.

Maybe it’s because I can skype The Swede whenever I want.

But also?

It’s because I can TEXT The Swede whenever I want.


Maybe he’s a big part of why I’m happy, but he’s not the ONLY reason I’m happy.

I’ve got a hundred other reasons to be happy starting with my boys.

I guess this is growing up.

What I love about Valentine’s Day

I don’t 100% HATE Valentine’s Day.

Although I should.

There’s something about a day where you can tell people you love them that just tugs at my heart strings.

After all, I have two teenage boys whom I adore to pieces.

Always my babies.

And since they’re usually adverse to me hugging, kissing, and snuggling them, Valentine’s Day is a good day to GUILT TRIP them into letting me do it.

This year, I got them each a funny card:

And since Duncan’s hobby is gaming, I got him THIS shirt:

Which I think he has more than enough attitude to wear when he’s out and about.

Gavin, on the other hand, is the daddy to two parakeets – Ross and Smokey.

They are his pride and joy, to say the least.

So I got him this colorful parakeet tee shirt, which I think he will like.

As much effort as I put into training the boys to remember to get me cards or presents on holidays, I think that I will be forgotten this year.

I’m not expecting to get anything from them. . .

. . .unless I HOUND them.

And that’s a possibility since I’m doing a piss poor job of teaching them to remember their loved ones on special occasions.

When swimming with dolphins kinda sucks

Somehow I got it in my head that it would be fun to swim with dolphins.

A lot of fun.

So I plopped down $250 per person for the privilege to do so at O’ahu’s famed Sea Life Park.

Needless to say, I was inundated with comments about animal abuse.

And no, I have not seen The Cove.

It pretty much robbed me of all my joy for the activity so when I couldn’t get my nose piercing out (the park requires all piercings be removed), I wasn’t all that disappointed that I couldn’t do it.

Best to let my boys, who had been shielded from conversations about The Cove, enjoy the activity.

And enjoy it they did!

They swam, hugged, kissed, and rode the dolphins and had a great time.

And I truly enjoyed watching them.

Which was nice considering all the guilt I experienced for doing it in the first place.

So let it be known, if you decide to swim with dolphins in a park, you’re likely to get beaten down with stories about dolphin abuse so DON’T TELL ANYONE WHAT YOU’RE DOING OR ELSE!!!

Watching my boys swim with dolphins was the best disappointment of my whole trip to Hawaii.

Family Photo Time

It’s time again for my annual family photo and I’m so happy that this year the lovely Yvonne will be taking our picture.

She’s already given me GREAT advice about what to wear, bring, etc.

The trick, as always, is getting my boys there.

The first time I did this to them they gave me a hard time about it.

The second time went smoother.

And this time, I think it’ll be even easier.

In true motherly fashion, I have GUILT TRIPPED my boys into taking the photo.


Truth be told, I wish my boys were a little more helpful and participatory when it comes to helping out and doing things.

This past weekend, Yvonne held a party for her late husband and close to 60 people showed up to remember him fondly.

Yvonne is also mother to two boys and they showed up and helped out and were basically incredible.

It made me a little wistful thinking of my own boys.

Hopefully they will mature into men who are more helpful and supportive. Hopefully I’ve laid the right groundwork and it’s just a matter of time until I see them mature into the fine young men I know they can be.

But for now it’s all about video games, and cars, and animals, and avoiding me.


So here are the outfits my boys and I are wearing for our photoshoot – pastel green, blues, and purples for us. Should be BEAUTIFUL!

We’re going to Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz to take our photos.


Awesomeness personified

I’m just going to come out and say it:

My sons aren’t necessarily the most courteous men.

I know.

I raised them.

If they’re not polite and thoughtful, I have no one to blame more than myself (except perhaps their father who has spent our ENTIRE divorce being disrespectful to me).

In any case, they tend toward laziness and boredom.

So imagine my surprise when I cooked a nice dinner for them last night and as he was leaving the table, my oldest son said to me, “Thanks. “

Uh, WHAT?!

He said thank you.


I had tears in my eyes.

Oh fuck, maybe I HAVE done something right.

My younger son chimed in, “Yeah, thanks mother.”

[He always calls me mother, I have no idea why.]

dinner1In any case, if you want to know the formula to get your bored, lazy sons to take a moment to appreciate what you do for them, all you have to do is cook:

  • Seared tiger prawns with a beurre blanc sauce (made from scratch)
  • 4 pounds of King Crab legs served with clarified butter
  • Homemade creamy mashed potatoes with veggie gravy for your vegetarian son and beef gravy for your meat eater son
  • A salmon filet grilled with dry garlic and herb spices
  • A caprese salad made with fresh mozzarella cheese and basil
  • A selection of artisanal cheeses (again, for the veg head in the house)
  • And a white chocolate raspberry bundt cake with cream cheese frosting.

I have to admit, I’m SO VERY PROUD OF MYSELF for impressing my sons.

But I’m baffled that it took this long.

Don’t they realize that their mother is AWESOMENESS PERSONIFIED?!

It’s a Jolly Holiday!

The “other” BIG NEWS for the holiday break is that I got to spend a lot of time with my boys.

Now that they are teenagers, they prefer the company of their friends to the company of their mother. So it was nice to catch up with them while driving them to and from their activities.

I felt like a taxi cab. No sooner had I dropped one son off then the other needed to be picked up and dropped off somewhere else.

But they were (mostly) sweet to me. They gave me hugs and kisses and were generally good teenagers.

I still recall them arriving at my house on Christmas Day after spending Christmas Eve with their father. They were wearing matching jackets that he had bought them and they were obviously so pleased with their gifts.

IMG_8569We had a blast opening presents with the family, especially since my sister from Reno was visiting. That made it extra special.

You could say that I had a very blessed holiday, but that would be an understatement.

I can’t shake this warm and fuzzy feeling and my only regret is that I can’t live the holiday over again and savor every moment a second time.

Happy Michelle!

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What I know as the mother of all boys

IMG_8236I have two boys. My friend has two girls. Yet another friend has two girls and two boys.  I envy mothers of girls from time to time.

For my birthday I got a card from my “sensitive” son that was addressed to “Birth Giver.”

Yeah, I scowled at that one too.

Boys are so different from girls. In many ways I appreciate their simple cause-and-effect mentality, in other ways I can’t help but pull out my hair because they’re always going Going GOING.

Here are some things I’ve learned about having boys over the years:

Grocery bills are sky high. They eat and eat and eat. My 14 year old is 6’3” tall and weighs 140 pounds. I don’t know where it all goes but we go through a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread a day. It’s OUTRAGEOUS!

Rough play is par for the course. You think it’s fighting. And it usually degenerates into fighting. Boys are just very physical. I spent a lot of my boys’ childhoods breaking up fights. It’s like watching wrestling with the ones you love the most in this world.

No shirt? No pants? No problem. Boys just inherently are more apt to go naked. Nudity doesn’t bother them.

Bathroom humor is a regular thing. Oh sure, at first you try to correct it but then you give up and *hope* your boys don’t do it around grandma and grandpa. Or you’re a failure as a parent. Whatever you do, DON’T pull any fingers!!!

The bathroom always smells. It’s just a fact. And usually there is pee on the seat. I’ve tried my hardest to get my boys to lift the seat, wipe the seat, and flush but they stubbornly refuse. I’m reminded of every single toilet I ever encountered at frat parties in Isla Vista at UCSB my freshman year in college.

EVERYTHING can be a weapon. A butter knife. A towel. Even a Lego toy when aimed properly. I’ve told my boys to “put that down!” and “stop beating your brother with the remote control!”

So there you have it. My life in a nutshell with nothing but boys to keep me company. But you know what? Those remote control wielding, superhero play acting boys will melt your heart with their hugs, kisses, and snuggles making you so thankful to be the mother of boys.

More power to him

While arguing in the hallway of our house, my oldest son recommended to me that I better not let my youngest son kick him in the balls because, as he put it, “I’m your best chance of having grandchildren.”

He of course is referring to my youngest son being gay. When he was 12 he came out to the family standing on the stairs in our house, yelling it out for all to hear.

To this comment, my youngest son responded, “Haven’t you ever heard of a surrogate, stupid?”

Okay, I may not agree with the stupid part, but I definitely agree with his way of thinking and I think it’s symptomatic of a generation that’s growing up without the same boundaries that were forced on their parents. A generation of problem solvers and creative thinkers.

I am, of course insanely proud of my children, and especially my youngest son who faces judgments, criticism, and people who mock him every day and still manages to stand tall and proud of who he is.

As for having children, I think it’s incredible that he’s thought about it already and decided that he has options if he wants to start a family.

More power to him, I say.

The kid is unstoppable!


While on vacation I decided to do something brash. Foolish, some might even say.

I got my nose pierced.

The first question out of everyone’s mouth is the same:

“Did it hurt?”


I actually flinched when I got pierced.

My boys and my sister were there and they saw it. Gavin photographed the piercing and he took some good photos of me freaking out:


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Although it was momentarily painful, I am so pleased with the results.

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Even my boys who were quite confident that I’m too old to have my nose pierced, were happy with the result, although somewhat reluctantly.

I hear this a lot from my boys, “You’re too old for that.”

Apparently I’m not just too old for nose piercings but also monokinis and Burning Man. If they associate it with their generation, then I’m just too old for it, according to them.

What I hope they learn from me doing all the crazy and wild stuff I do is that age is merely a number and that lifelong learning is the key not just to happiness but also to youthfulness.

I can’t imagine how boring I’d be if I wasn’t doing all the things I do and I’m dumbfounded that my boys would wish for that kind of a mother.

Can’t they see I come alive when I’m trying out something new?


My Aunt Stacey and cousin Jennifer got their noses pierced the same week!  Look how beautiful they are: