Inside Voice

The Powerhouse Preformer and my muse, Ethel Merman

The Powerhouse Performer and my muse, Ethel Merman


(over dinner with a friend)

Me: (squealing and cheering on Molly, creating a ruckus)

Molly: (also squealing and cheering, loving every minute)

Pai: (deep sigh)

Me: (overly excited) And then I said, “That can’t be possible!” (riots of laughter)

Monica: (laughing at an acceptable level)

Hank: (giggling and eating at the same time)

Maria Miguel: (finding everything amusing)

Molly: (head back, rockets of laughter)

Pai: (smiling but exhausted) Yes, all lovely and wonderful but can’t you use your inside voice, Ethel Merman.

Monica: Who’s Ethel Merman?

Maria Miguel: Yah.

Me: (adopting my spot on Ethel Merman voice) Good ol’ Ethel was a star of the silver screen and Broadway with a voice so loud she never needed amplification. She was the funniest.  She was the sunniest. And she was the…

Pai: Loudest.

Me: She could (now singing next to Pai’s ear) belt out any show tune loud enough to drown out the chorus (big finish) and the BAND! (jazz hands)

Molly: (clapping, cheering)

Pai: (semi-dazzled but also exhausted) Yes, but just this once. (comedically pleading) Inside voice? Please?

Me: (back to my normal self, tossing an arm around his shoulder in sincerest sympathy) I am sorry, my dear, but you didn’t choose quiet you chose fun.

Pai: Fun can also be had with an inside voice.

Me: Yes, but I never had an inside voice. Never. Not once. I never learned how.

Hank: (out of no where, sweetly) It’s easy, you just close your mouth.

(a half beat pause before the room erupts at the hilarity, forks hitting plates, napkins drifting to the floor)


Maria Miguel: AHAHAAHAHAHahhahhhhhahahahah!


Pai: Wow. That was… I mean the timing.

Me: (falling back against my chair, fanning myself with my napkin) Apply water to the affected area.

Hank: I didn’t mean… I was just… I wasn’t trying…

Me: (snapping back into mom mode) No. No no no no no, don’t you even worry about it for one second, Hank. You did not hurt my feelings. That was master level snark. Glorify in your moment! (almost rolling out of my chair laughing)

Hank: (worried and not liking all the attention)

Maria Miguel: (turning to Hank) How did you learn to do that? I mean, you’re nine. That was the funniest thing I have ever seen. Like, this could have been a scene in a movie.

Me: (back to pure Ethel) He’s a regular chip off the old block.

Pai: (deep sigh of a man who wishes for quiet but also loves the ruckus)

Molly: (positively purple from laughter) TA DAH! (and a show girl finish)

Pai: Oh no.

Me: Hold on to your hat, doll face. It’s gonna be two against one!


Books Not Bombs

"Understanding and love are not two things, but just one." Thich Nhat Hanh

“Understanding and love are not two things, but just one.” Thich Nhat Hanh


(this morning as Hank was leaving for school)

Hank: Obama isn’t president anymore.

Me: Nope.

Hank: Does he just go back to being Obama? I mean, what is his job now?

Me: He is a former president and that is important. Former presidents do a lot of diplomatic work. You know, former President Obama likes to read just like I do so I bet now that he doesn’t have the 24 hour job of running the United States of America he has a stack of books to catch up on.

Hank: I am scared of Trump being president.

Me: What? Come on.

Hank: He is so mean and he picks stupid fights like the kids at my school get mad over nothing and then they are yelling and he does the same thing. Do you know he got mad at an actress and said mean things about her because she said he said mean things? He doesn’t know how to make a better choice!

Me: (taken aback) Agreed.

Hank: And he has nuclear weapons now. He can hurt people.

Me: Whoa. Slow down. Let’s not get paranoid. The United States has a whole government in place especially for the purpose to check and balance the president’s proposals. You’d be surprised how often the government says, “No Way!” to a president.

Hank: I liked President Obama (pause) former President Obama so much. He listens.

Me: (giving him a big hug) And former President Obama said we have to give (choking back bile) President Trump a chance. Let’s do that. You and me, WE will make a better choice. We will listen and after we listen if we still do not agree we will take a stand peacefully and with a kind heart. Okay?

Hank: Why do presidents only get to be presidents of America for eight years?

Me: (putting on his scarf and hat) Can I answer that question when you get home from school? That is a bigger conversation than we have time for now.

Hank: Okay. Oh, and one of the monitors (aid) at my school asked me if we were going to the March in Washington and I said no because it was too far away and I have school, obviously, but I told him that we were going to the March in Porto and he was really proud of me for having things to say and going to say them because I am an American, too and it matters to me.

Me: It matters to all of us. That is why we will listen as much as we speak out. Listen first, think and then speak otherwise you will never learn or understand where someone with an opposing view is coming from.

Hank: Okay. I will call the elevator. (opening the door and calling over his shoulder) Don’t get too sad today, mama.

Me: I will do my best.


Author’s Note: First, for our American readers it is important to note that in Portugal there is nothing rude or insensitive in talking about politics.  Everyone talks about politics, including American politics everyday. I cannot leave my house without being prepared to discuss the latest political developments and Hank is present for most of these conversations, has questions of his own and formulates his own independent opinion. He is always given access to both sides of an issue.

Hank has been preoccupied with nuclear weapons as of late. It started with the death of Fidel Castro and his questions about why there were so many sanctions placed against Cuba while he was in power. What started over a question about Cuba’s awesome classic cars morphed into many, many conversations about communication, weapons and war. Our family is far from finished with these conversations and please know that Hank’s fears about Trump and nuclear weapons have not come from his parents opinions but something Hank has formulated on his own. Please understand we are teaching our son to be informed, but we also need to teach him to trust and his nine year old heart is finding it hard to trust the upcoming administration at the moment with his new knowledge coupled with the hate rhetoric President Trump used during his campaign.

I hate that my son is worried about America’s nuclear arsenal and I am looking forward to the incoming administration along with our family conversations to help alleviate his fears.

I drew the image above for Hank and it hangs above his bed.  I am offering it for free download here.





The One Night We Try and Skip A Bedtime Story

Molly's current favorite bed time stories are the Charlie and Lola series by Lauren Child. They are about a big brother and his little sister.

Molly’s current favorite bed time stories are the Charlie and Lola series by Lauren Child. They are about a big brother and his little sister who is small and very funny.


Molly: MAMA! Oh, Mama!

Pai: Tem calma (calm down), Amália. It’s time for sleeping. Everyone is sleeping. Look at your mano (brother).

Mano: Mana (sister), I need to sleep. I am so tired.

Molly: No quero (want) sleep. Não quero (I don’t want) go to bed. Quero (want) mama! Mama!

Pai: Your mama is sleeping.

Me: (entering the room) I was sleeping (a white lie) but then I heard a very sad chicken.

Molly: Oh mama. (reaching out for me)Mama.

Pai: Can you hold her?

Me: Molly will help me by holding on tight. Right, MaGoo? (taking Molly from her dad)

Molly: (hugging my neck so tight)

Me: What is the problem tonight, little one? Did you have your milk?

Molly: Sim (yes).

Me: Do you have friends in your bed?

Molly? Sim, olha (Yes, look) Mickey!

Me: Micky is such a nice friend and is he sleeping?

Molly: (finger to her lips) Shhhhhhhh.

Me: (whispering) Oh, then we better not wake him up. Are you ready for sleeping?

Molly: No. Book. Mama, Book? Book, Charlie and Whoa-Wa (Lola)? Pleeeeeeeeeeesssssssssss?

Hank: (groaning, rolling over) Mama, I am so tired.

Molly: Shhhhhhhh, Mano sleeping? (taking my face in her two tiny hands) Book mama. (nodding intensely) Open door? Book? (toddler singing the song from Frozen) Open doooooooooooor?

Me: (giggling) Since it is for literature. Say good night to your mano (brother).

Molly: Night night, mano (brother).

Hank: I love you, please leave now.

Me: (giggling, setting Molly on her feet because I can’t hold her any longer)

Molly: (toddling out of the dark room) Book! Book! Book! PAI? Book? Oh PAI!